All's Fair in Love and Water War

Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.

Xanadu Weyr. A land in the grip of chaos, mother to warriors born of necessity, bathed in blo— wait, wrong script. What was it? Water, right, water. The water wars rage, breeding distrust and betrayal like a good pastry breeds joy. NOW IS THE SEASON OF OUR WET DISCONTENT. The seeds of vengeance long sown leaving no man, woman, nor child safe. This sanctuary of the young has not been spared. Despite Rukbat shining in a cloudless sky, high noon finds the place of play dripping in the damning evidence of a battle long and— wet. It's wet. Everywhere it's wet. Some degree of pre-planning happened here as there are split barrels not normally part of the play space's accoutrements staged strategically around the area for the refill of buckets, cups, and even more creative make-'em-live-and-regret-it devices now scattered across the grounds, lending the whole strangely vacant area an air of desolation (for those with a dramatic mind and inclination to think so~). Tej is not normally one to appear at this place designed for human beings near-universally forgiven for their lack of understanding about why their hands are constantly sticky, what they should do about it, and all manner of other things the grown have come to know in their time walking the planet. In fact, it's just about the last place she'd be found - having traded almost every chore involving children to those that inexplicably see things to like about them, but as she slips near-soundlessly onto the scene of the battle, eying cautiously those few sopping children at the outskirts being wrangled by nannies to head back to the caverns to make lunch benches wet, she might as well be a Valkyrie (despite Pern's not having them and all), come to search the remains for the valiant… or just in need of some new gear to stave off whatever next wave (get it? WAVE?) comes in the war that will have to end ONE DAY, even if that day is not today. Scavenging is the aim of her game (or did she have a cleanup chore here today? Both?) and she sets to with efficiency, and a wary eye— even if she is barely dry, clothes and hair bearing the matted signs of earlier battle, lost or won.

Tejra is not alone. Oh no. No, there are other candidates here, too, though most have dragged their war water-sodden forms off the battlefield to seek dryer pastures and a change of clothes. Their time in the fray has come to an end and they'll get gone while the getting is good. But then there are the true veterans of this aquatic assault and Ligeia is among them, having employed her duo of 'lizards to ferry cups of water and upend the contents on the unwary like undersized bombers of a bygone era. The nannies's brood departs the warzone and leaves only a smattering of others in their wake, too shellshocked and dazzled to move to safety. Plenty for a scavenger to pick clean of whatever passes for Pernese water balloons or sprayers - or even defensive items, like the large platter that some poor candidate on kitchen duty was lugging around - for all that it protected him in the end (it didn't.) Ligeia? She is definitely here, but skulking around behind the dragon-shaped sit-toys which yet gleam with water. Moving from dragon-shaped shield to dragon-shaped shield, she hauls along a bucket of her own water that sloshes softly within its confines. She's soaked, too, a veritable mess of water-clingy clothes and a bun gone gloriously awry, but that matters not; Tejra might be a scavenging Valkyrie, but Ligeia? A stubborn warrior, a relic from another time - and one that yet bides her time, waiting for the right time to strike.

There are times that not being a favorite in the barracks works against a person. Aloofness combined with bouts of humor-gone-wrong and even downright prickliness are hardly things that endear one candidate to another - not to mention all the times the Harper is simply gone much to the relief of some~. Despite the lack of general comradery with those she sleeps near (a decided disadvantage with war now declared), some of those dazed few find her stopping to murmur words, perhaps even of the encouraging sort since one or two end up with a smile, and another too far gone for words is proffered water, not to further the fight, but in the form of a small canteen pulled off a clip at the back of her unusually utilitarian belt. Maybe she can't be all bad~ It isn't long before the redhead's semi-haphazard path brings her cautiously in range of Ligeia, pale gaze taking in the warrior who hasn't quit in all her disarray, dropping further to the bucket. A single brow arches ever so slightly as one hand reaches to a pocket to produce… a white rag. It's whipped in the air, less effective as a flag than it would be were it not as damp as she is, but managing a soft snap for its trouble before the candidate is taking it in a second hand to spread it out. "Do you think they arranged this whole thing so there'd be more hands giving the Weyr a thorough cleaning with no one the wiser about having volunteered their effort?" One might think the rains would do that well enough, but there's something to be said for added elbow grease as Tej takes a careful few steps in toward Ligeia, glancing directly at her once more before she's dipping gracefully into a crouch to use her flag of truce (or whatever it was) to start to polish one of those dragon-shaped sit toys.

She's braced. She's ready. Ligeia's pulled herself up in a tight crouch of the sort that will give her all the leverage she needs to lift that bucket and send its comfortably cool contents flowing forth in a torrent of justice. She sucks in a breath, perhaps preparing for a battle cry of epic proportions, the last bellow of the last fighter standing for the side of good (or evil, but who can really say when the battlefield is soaked through and through as it is?) But that white flag is enough to suck the wind out of her sails and there's a 'thpbbbpbppbbt' of a sound as lips flap and her crouch deflates, bucket coming to rest with a heavy thunk on the ground next to her. Her firelizards are recalled, though they've spent their cups of water already - on each other, as it turns out, because both greenlings are freshly wet. A phbbt raspberry escapes her at Tejra's observation, chased quickly by an impish grin that's a bit tip-tilted as if with the burden of wry humor. "Oh, probably. I mean, between Healers telling candidates to go look for buckets of 'elbow grease' and right-handed fallopian tubes- or were they left-handed?" She might have eidetic recall, but the specifics don't really matter here and she flaps a hand, dismissive. "Anyway, I bet they're all in cahoots. From the top all the way down." She pushes to her feet slowly, stretching things out while Herb and Newt decide to plunk themselves in the bucket itself. "Though, if I'm honest? It probably helped with some of the funk in the barracks. Some of the boys-" she trails, fanning a hand before her face.

It isn't the moment for diabolical finger-steepling as such a gesture would undoubtedly put the one whose just come off her guard back on it— and fairly, it doesn't much seem that Tejra's white flag is a ploy given the way she's using some of that long-sought-but-never-found elbow grease to knock hardened bits of nature off the toy with a level of effort that shows she's cleaned things a time or two-thousand in her life. The firelizards are given a fleeting glance as they return to their mistress, dismissed as an immediate threat as her eyes slide over to the younger woman and she flashes a smile. "If it were cosmic accident, mayhap." Tej's slight accent blurs the 't' of it into the softer 'w' of were. "Seems to me that sort of coordination would require more sophistication than I'm inclined to imagine here, but perhaps things've changed since I was last posted here." A scrub or two later has the Harper at least partially revising, "If the masterminds of this Weyr," and she will apply that term with only the humor of the use of the term itself, not with the sort that implies she doesn't believe what she's saying, "will put their considerable clout into freeing the barracks from funk, I'll not be one to look that giftrunner in the mouth." Who, living there for all that time, would? There's a beat before, "We've not had much of a chance to speak before." One might think such a thing nearly impossible with all the months of candidacy already behind them, but that would be discounting Tej's ability to be alway going when one is coming or duck deep and meaningful exchanges with casual competence on the regular. "Perhaps these aren't the ideal circumstances to seek allies, but—" 'Here they are' indicates the gesture of the rag as she rises enough to shift sideways and work at a new section. "I'm Tej." Surely Ligeia knows that much, but if one is seeking allies, a real introduction might seem an obvious starting point, no matter how late in the game. Things in the war aren't so desperate as to require they dispense with all decorum, after all~

She's a savvy one, Ligeia is, and the first signs of trouble will be met with- well, something. Maybe a bucket filled with as much firelizard as water? Maybe. After a good stretch, though, she pats herself down in search of a cloth or something and comes up with a kerchief that, while soaked, will probably do the trick to help in some marginal way. Her other hand plucks at clothing that's stuck to skin with water's adhesion, prompting a wrinkle of her nose when cold, wet fabric touches skin again. "Maybe. But, who knows, you know? Maybe it's all coincidence. Maybe it's all conspiracy. I lean toward conspiracy, but that makes the better story, you know? Improbable, sure, but dramatic!" And people love drama. Her wry-tipped grin blossoms into a more full smile, one wide enough that her nose scrunches a smidge before it relaxes. "Yeah. Well. Maybe we should keep buckets of water in there all the time to keep things at a comfortable level of B.O. Just huck 'em at the offenders." Not serious, that; so far, the water wars being waged have been a nightmare when they make it into the barracks. "Mm. Yeah, I guess not, but- with chores and everything else," she shrugs, "it makes it hard to meet everyone and get to know them all." She'll take the end of the dragon that Tejra's not working on as she replies, "Nice to meet you, Tej. I'm Ligeia. That's Newt and that's Herb," in the bucket. "How are you feeling? It's probably not long now before they hatch."

"Perhaps," Tej allows, a false gravity settling into her voice and expression, her head canting toward Ligeia to imply a shared confidence without going to the effort of actually creating what would qualify as privacy. "But if that's the case, I'd not go around speaking it too loudly. Conspiracies aren't the sort of thing people like being known. If they did, they'd just call 'em committees." She flashes a grin of her own at that. "The water discouragement sounds promising, though there's no saying mildew would be a better perfume to lull us to sleep if those same offenders won't take the time to properly air and dry out their mattresses." She pretends to think a moment before suggesting, "Presumably the weyrlingmaster staff might feel the need to step in when its mattresses bound for future candidates at risk rather than just our olfactory peace at stake." At least then they'd be able to spend someone else's effort to enforce dealing with the problem~ "Well met to you three. You may've seen mine," the well-trained trio often remarkably sedate in the barracks setting if more true to their playful and wild natures further afield. "Pirouette's the green, Tesko the blue, and the bronze is my Solace." There's a wryness to the smile that accompanies that introduction, though its not without a very subtle tinge of something heavier as that last name might suggest. "I'm not sure whether to hurry them on or ask them to hold off. The anticipation is agony, but the results…" The way a single shoulder rolls and a fleeting look of doubt and perhaps an anticipatory chagrin indicates the way the dice roll lands might be worse. "How about you? I haven't heard yet if this is your first clutch to stand for." This much might imply that she's heard other things, or more importantly that she's been listening, even if she hasn't been putting herself directly 'out there' to buddy up with the majority of the class.

She hums, thoughtful, with a slight bobbing of her head at Tejra's observations and a persistence to her smile that speaks to something as amused as it is contemplative. "Oh, I know, I know. If a committee comes for me, though, just know that it was probably the conspiracy about the stinky candidates that did me in." A wink follows, with Ligeia crouching to get at a particularly stubborn spot on the dragon. "Well met- and, yeah, I think I've seen them. I suspect mine have tried to get them engaged in shenangians or something." Her duo aren't exactly troublesome, but they are mischievous and that can be a problem. She might yet pick up on the heavier quality of the bronze's name, though, and a slanted look settles on Tejra for a lingering beat or two before conversation clicks right along. She sucks her teeth a bit and bobs her head, gaze fixing keen on a muddy streak that needs remedying. "Yeah, it's- um. I dunno, I love surprises. I love the anticipation," yet, her teeth find the inside of her cheek all the same to worry and gnaw while she works through her next words, "but this doesn't get any easier. It's my second time through," which feels strained, but she doesn't dwell on it, even if her voice dips to a murmur, "and it still feels as weird as the first time. Like- hm. Like having a fever that needs to break - but there's no breaking it. It'll just do it in its own time and it'll just get worse and worse until it's done and you can breathe again. Until then, it's all sweat and clenched fists and fever dreams."

By the time Ligeia's done speaking, Tej's rag has arrested and she's leveling a flat look on the younger woman. She waits long enough for the silence to become the kind of awkward that invites a glance over to see if one's conversational partner has up and died or wandered off (OR BEEN KIDNAPPED - this is wartime, after all, and people DO love drama as has been previously noted), just so the look gets seen before she comments with unusual directness, "That is entirely too uncomfortably accurate a description." DON'T DO IT AGAIN, LIGEIA. Tej might just have to run aaawwaaaay~ Despite the implication of displeasure, the redhead's lips tug into a small smile after a beat, perhaps indicating the whole moue to have been naught but a joke, "Perhaps that's why they're keeping us soaked to our bones and busy turning our anxieties-" NOT THAT TEJ HAS ANY, OKAY? "-on our so-called friends," she might have some of those, if not so much among those in white knots. "I stopped counting after my second time." The older(est) candidate could probably put a number on it if she was encouraged to recount them as a story, but it's likely no one cares enough to pin her down long enough to get it out of her based on the adamance lacing that declaration. "You're right, though. It doesn't get any easier. Not the second time or any other, in my experience." This much she can give Ligeia, with a softer look, "Here's hoping it'll be your last time bearing it. The canteen in evidence long before is present once again and it's lofted in toast before she drinks… and then with a sharp motion expels some of the water within in Ligeia's direction, smile turning sharp and a little feral. Perhaps things were just getting a little too heavy and the truce will persevere this smol betrayal. Anywhere but on Pern it could claim to be a BLESSING~ Perhaps Tej has just doomed herself to another dunking with a side of firelizards… Time will tell~

It wouldn't be the first time that Ligeia's run people off through the power of her words - nor will it be the las- oh. Wait, no, Tejra's still here. Whoops. "I've had a lot of time to think about it," she replies with a laugh that leans sardonic, too sardonic for her youth and worldly inexperience. "And, mayyybe that's how it was also described to me, too." If she says that quickly enough, maybe she can get away with the description not wholly being hers. The words are hers, but the layering of experience? Far greater than her own, drawn from deeper wells than she has yet to dig for herself. "Maybe that is why," she'll agree after a lengthy gnaw of her lower lip and a slipping of her gaze away from her fellow candidate to- something. Somewhere. The middle distance looks nice this time of year. "Oh. I couldn't even- gosh, to lose track?" That seems to horrify her on a level deeper than visceral. "I hope this is your last time, too," she replies, momentarily wide-eyed at the nightmare that isn't hers and, yet, there it is, flashing across her thoguhts. That makes her a fine, fine target for that sharp splash of water, prompting an equally sharp gasp and yelp and, just like that, the seriousness of the moment fractures in a flurry of wet firelizard wings that go all a-flippy-flappy. Her duo ascend from the bucket and she grabs it - but not to throw at Tejra, no. Rather, she's making a break for it, leaving Newt and Herb to lend a little obscuring mist to cover her tracks. "I'll get you for that!" Later. When she's least expecting it!

The laughter that is at once too sharp and too wild could be misconstrued as VICTORY. Tejra has been ceded the territory of the dragon-shaped toys! Of course, one imagines that means she's going to have to do all the labor in this little section of the Firelizard Theatre, too, unless or until someone comes to drive her off and away from the prime real estate (which, judging by the sounds of markedly young voices drawing nearer if not yet in sight, won't be long~), but the sardonic notes of Ligeia's laugh are echoed here - an unhappy kinship to share to be sure, but at least neither is alone being alone with it? It isn't in Tej to shout after the younger woman that it will be her last time, will or nil, because Time, much like SO MANY XANADOANS in these water wars, has no mercy to give. "Do your worst!" is, instead, the invitation called after the retreating candidate, and it might be bravado or simply that in the face of the topics just covered, the idea of being a little wet is far less devastating than just about anything the Harper-turned-candidate for a decade can think of~ After all, it's just a little water, right? There's still time for her to learn differently.

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