An Adventure in the Making

Xanadu Weyr - Beach

The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

Farrah picks her way carefully over the sand, walking on the shifting surface with slow, deliberate steps. After a fashion, she bends down to undo her sandals, holding them in one hand as she permits herself the pleasure of walking barefoot at the water's edge.

R'zel makes his way along the beach, sketchpad in his hand and a pencil tucked behind his ear, eyes scanning the shoreline for something to strike his fancy. There's a somewhat distant look in his eye as he surveys the landscape, as if something has him distracted from the scenery. He snaps out of it when he spots Farrah, a wide smile crossing his face as he approaches the healer. "Hello there!"

Farrah looks up at the greeting, returning the smile in a smaller form. "Ah, hello! R'zel, was it?" Her brows dip downward in concentration as she takes a stab at the name.

R'zel looks just a tad disappointed that Farrah has to work to remember his name, but shrugs it off quickly enough. At least she got it right. He gives her a grin as he steps over closer. "Yes, that's right. And you're Farrah, isn't it? Glad to see you found the time to make it down to the beach."

Farrah nods at R'zel as he gets her name right - two for two on names, they are. "Of course. It comes quite well recommended, and I can see why." She wiggles her toes as one of the placid lake waves rolls over them. "It's calming."

R'zel smiles warmly as he looks out over the water at the rolling waves. "It is. I've painted it many times. And the water remains warm enough to swim in through most of the year… so! I'm glad I ran into you." He says, stating the obvious. "I was wondering, could you use any help on this firehead project? Say, from an apprentice?"

Farrah tilts her head to the side as she fixes R'zel with her gaze. His words have piqued her interest. "Hmm. I think I could, probably. I take it you know someone who would be interested?"

R'zel grins and nods, crossing his arms over his chest. He's clearly pleased to have her attention. "I do! She's a very bright hard working healer apprentice currently posted at Landing. She's looking for a mentor and an assignment that can get her back here to Xanadu. I was wondering if you might mind taking her under your wing. I gaurantee she'll do a good job."

"Certainly, certainly. Always nice to have a fresh set of eyes on your research." Farrah is more than eager for an extra set of hands. There's a puff of a sigh, and then: "Of course, it does help to have some research to need eyes laid on it."

"Perfect." R'zel says, quite happily. "Her name is Phylicia. If you're interested, I'll pass it along during my next visit to the crafthall. I'm sure she'll be a great asset." He chuckles a little. "See, isn't it great to have a helpful guy like me around?"

"Hm." Farrah's gaze turns inward as she hears the name, most likely seeing if it rings any bells with her. Nothing seems to come to mind, though, for there's no comment save the decision: "Yes, sounds like a plan." To his question, she answers with a genuine smile, "Yes, I am thankful that you've found me some help."

"Perfect." R'zel says, clearly pleased with himself. "I think you'll find I can be a fantastic person to know. How about we get to know each other a little better over that dinner we talked about last time?" He looks a little worried as he adds that detail, perhaps concerned the entire conversation might have slipped from her mind. "I did grab some Benden wine during my last delievery there."

"Yes, of course," Farrah says, as if to reassure him that she /did/ indeed remember. "Shall we get something from the kitchens, then?" is her suggestion, oblivious to faux pas of serving fine Benden with the Pernese equivalent of cafeteria food.

R'zel does indeed look reassured. Perhaps her earlier uncertainty regarding his name worried him. "Well, as fine as our serving table fare is here, I thought perhaps we'd have a slightly nicer selection… so I also picked up something from the bakercraft hall. Of course, if you're craving something in particular, I could have my firelizard Rock fetch it."

Farrah looks surprised at the offer from R'zel. "Oh, you didn't have to go to all that trouble!" she exclaims, in a case of Not Getting It. "No need to trouble poor Rock, either. I'm sure it will be… just fine. Really." She looks flustered at all the consideration.

R'zel laughs and shakes his head. "Oh, don't you worry about it! I'm part of the transportation wing, it's my job to go to these sorts of places… there was a package that needed to be taken there, so I took the job and picked up a few things on my way. It's not a serious inconvenience. Now then… the only question remaining is where to eat." He smiles and offers her his hand. "We could eat at my weyr if you'd like some privacy. Or we could get a basket, eat outside somewhere. It is a lovely day."

Farrah's eyes narrow with a hint of suspicion as he suggests his weyr, and does her best to lean strongly towards the second option without looking like she's doing it. "It really /is/ such a lovely day. Do you think we could make a picnic of it on the beach?" There's just a little too much eagerness in her voice, giving her away.

R'zel picks up on that hint of suspicion, quickly latching on to the second option as a way of deflecting any worries about his motives. "I don't see why not! I'll have Rock fetch the basket… and a blanket. Wouldn't be good to get sand in our food, after all." He's silent for a moment, likely concentrating on getting the firelizard's attention. A moment later a big brown 'lizard pops in from between, screeching and holding a large and somewhat worn blanket in his talons. "Perfect! Thank you, Rock." R'zel says, trying to take the blanket without ripping it on the claws.

Farrah's apprehension quickly disappates, with both R'zel's agreement and Rock's appearance. "Ah, such handy creatures they can be!" she exclaims, particularly delighted with the brown - blanket-ripping or otherwise.

R'zel manages to get the blanket free without doing too much damage, and sets about laying it out on the sand a good distance away from the high tide line. Enjoying the praise, Rock croons happily at Farrah, flapping his way over to her in hopes of getting some scritches. R'zel just chuckles as he smoothes out the blanket.

Farrah holds out her hand with bent fingers to make an appropriate perch, should the brown choose to land on it. Like many, there's a fascination with the creature, but her Healer eyes pick out different details than the casual observer. "Interesting. They're not /quite/ minature dragons, really. There's some differences."

Rock is, of course, only too happy to make use of that finger perch, crooning happily and stretching his neck out for scritches. R'zel laughs a little at the lizard's desire for attention. "Yes. Especially in terms of personality… you'll see when you meet Mikalath. Or are you familiar with a lot of dragons already?"

Farrah is more than willing to oblige Rock - perhaps, with his small size, he's less of a potential threat to her than his owner. Although her fingernails are trimmed short, there's still enough of an edge to delicately scritch at the firelizard's hide. "Only casually. I have friends who are, or became riders, but it certainly has that feeling of meeting a friend-of-a-friend. Or a husband or wife, even."

"No riders in your family, then?" R'zel asks, curious, as he moves to take a seat on the blanket. Rock just eats up the attention, making very happy warbling sounds. R'zel laughs. "Okay, okay. You can get more attention when you get the basket, okay Rock? It's the one in the pantry." The lizard looks a little disappointed to go, but he betweens away after a moment.

Farrah shakes her head, explaning, "No, no. I'm the eldest, and it looks like my sister is going to end up a crafter, too. A Harper, even." There's a dismissive snort for that. "Will he be able to carry the basket?" she wonders, looking at the spot where the brown was as she judges the size of the imagined basket.

"You have a sister? Is she as beautiful as you?" R'zel says with a smile that he clearly thinks is charming. He scoots over to make room for Farrah on the blanket, patting the spot behind him. "Oh, I'm sure he will. He's big for a brown, tough too. I'm sure he won't have any problems with…" Before he can finish that thought, Rock reappears above the blanket with a large basket precariously grasped in his talons. He flaps, trumpets with alarm, and drops it unceremoniously on the blanket with a clatter. R'zel goes wide-eyed and inspects it, then breathes a sigh of relief. "Okay, the wine bottle and the glasses didn't break. Good job, Rock." Rock, relieved as well, lands on the blanket and rests.

Try as she may to stifle the grin, Farrah can't help but be amused at the firelizard's save. "Poor dear. He does seem to have tried his best." And poor R'zel, who is being upstaged in Farrah's eyes by Rock, who has the benefit of being smaller, cuter, and having a pair of wings. "Thank you, Rock, and thank you, R'zel," she says, as she carefully sits on the edge of the blanket.

R'zel does seem to realize that Rock is having better luck impressing Farrah than he is. Still, try as he might, he can't bring himself to be annoyed with the little guy. The firelizard crawls his way over to Farrah's side, hoping for more scritches. "He's a hard worker. And you're quite welcome, Farrah." He reaches into the basket for the wine bottle and fetches a corkscrew, working on getting it open. "I hope you like red. Oh, and help yourself to the food." The basket is filled with delicious goodies from the crafthall, mostly sweetrolls and pastries. There's also some fresh fruit and meatrolls tucked in there.

"Red should be fine," Farrah assures R'zel breezily, keeping quiet on the subject of wine. Luckily, that's easy to do with a basket full of carb-tastic pastries awaiting her. Carefully peeling back the lid - there's something surgical about her precision of movement, even with everyday objects - she eagerly selects a flaky, buttery meatroll as her first victim. A bite later, and she's crooning happily, too. "Oh, that is fantastic!"

R'zel looks quite happy to see Farrah enjoying the meal. "I'm certainly glad to hear you think so." After a little effort he pops open the wine bottle. He retrieves the glasses and pours them each full, returning the half-emptied bottle to the basket and handing one over to Farrah. "So. Tell me more about yourself." He fetches one of the meatrolls from the basket, setinng it down by Rock. The firelizard chomps down happily.

"Mmf." Farrah holds up a 'just a moment' finger as she works on chewing the meatroll bite into something soft enough to swallow, although it doesn't take long with the soft bread and tender meat. "Well. I'm not sure what to go over that you don't know already. I was born at Landing, became a Healer, studied there and at Fort and I'm not at Xanadu."

R'zel smiles as he listens to the abbreviated biography, finally claiming a sweetroll for himself and digging in. "Mmmm. These are good. And yes, I do remember all of that. But I mean more like… well, what sort of person are you? What do you do for fun? Where do you like to spend your free time? What do you… look for in a man?" He tries to slip that last one in casually, and utterly fails. He hides his expression by sipping some of his wine.

Farrah hasn't had quite enough wine to be brutally honest yet, so R'zel's last question will have to wait a while yet for an answer. Nibbling at the meatroll, she spends a possibly uncomfortable silence thinking before answering, "I suppose I'm sort of a… microscopic person. I get all caught up in the details of something. Very narrow."

"I see." R'zel says in a tone that suggests he probably doesn't actually see what Farrah means. "I suppose that would be an asset in your line of work. I wouldn't want my healer overlooking things." He takes another bite of his sweetroll, finishing it before he speaks again. "Tell me more."

"Well, yes, and no." Farrah directs the conversation away from herself by waxing philosophical about the nature of Healing. "It depends on the situation, exactly. For Healer, it's a very fine line you have to walk between being careful enough to catch the details, but also able to step back and see how they all fit together. So many ailments share symtoms - cough, fever, joint paint - that you have to try and find them, and then recognize the connection."

"I can see how that would be difficult… I don't think I have the kind of mind for that sort of thing anyways. I prefer more… creative pursuits, where there isn't just one right answer." R'zel says with a smile as he sips his wine. Rock, having devoured his meatroll, seems on the verge of napping. "But I'm curious to hear more about you. Surely you must have some hobbies. Interests outside of healing. A boyfriend, maybe?" Clearly, he has yet to give up on the interrogation.

Farrah is amused by R'zel's single-mindedness, but still wary. "I /do/ garden. I suppose that's cheating, though, since most of what I've raised has been Healer herbs anyhow," she reflects, staring off at the similarly reflective water. "As for boyfriends, I suppose it's none of your business, hmm?" There's a stern raise of one eyebrow - the weapon of mothers and other henpecking women everywhere. "But I was not kept under lock and key, if that's what you mean."

"Oh, really? I know one of the local gardeners… well, actually, she's a farmcrafter now, so I suppose she's on to bigger projects." The sternly raised eyebrow earns a sheepish smile from R'zel. "Ah. Well. I suppose you're right. I just wanted to… well, nevermind what I wanted to." He has another long sip from his wineglass, nearly emptying it as he tries to think of a graceful way to change the subject. "So. How is this book coming along? I'm quite eager to get to work on it. Will you be providing me with samples of the plants you want drawn? Is it just going to be plants?"

Farrah gives R'zel a long look that hints, rather heavily, that she has some idea of what he wanted to do. Or at least, the thing that most girls think boys want. "Well, it's a bit slow-going at the moment. You weyrfolk seem to be preternaturally healthy." His second question makes her think a bit, and she asks, "Have you ever worked with a microscope?"

"Well, us dragonriders at least all have to be strong and vital. It's part of the job, you know. We're all exceptionally fit." R'zel says with a smile, in another terribly unsubtle attempt to charm Farrah. The question seems to confuse him a little. "A microscope? Well, I've seen them. I think I fiddled around with one in the infirmary as a kid… but no, not really. Why?" He asks before downing the last of his wine.

Farrah's wine has yet been untouched, and she decides to try some upon noticing that R'zel's had the last of his. It being Benden, that first sip soon spawns another, and more continue to punctuate her sentences as she chases the nuances of flavor. "Well, I have a hunch that fire-head might be caused by parasites, which, by and large, tend to be small. Well, at least at some point in the lives." It's when they get big that they become /truly/ horrifying. "I'd like someone to be able to draw a picture of them, if I can isolate them. They're very simple to use, microscopes. Just need a gentle touch - one hair's breadth can seem like a pace when you're looking at the slides."

Sensing an opportunity to try to be suave, R'zel tries to turn that one around as well. "Well, I'm the man for that job. I'm an artist, my whole work depends on fine detail control. I know exactly what to do with my fingers. Very precise." While he's saying this he pours himself another glass of wine. Unfortunately, he's too busy trying to smile charmingly at Farrah to look at what he's doing, and he accidentally spills some on the blanket. "Erm… I'm sure that will come out in the wash." He says before filling up the glass, trying not to dwell on that.

Farrah can't help but appreciate the irony in the wine spill, but she diplomatically chooses not to call attention to it. "Excellent. I've managed to borrow one from Landing, at great expense. Seriously, I do think these Healers would have more easily given up a firstborn son than this microscope. And probably less disappointed if I broke the son." She snorts in disapproval, despite her own eccentricies.

"Well, I'm certain I can help. I'll have to show you some of my work… I can't say I've ever drawn parasites before, but it can't be too different from drawing other forms of life." R'zel says with a smile. He pulls the basket over closer to himself to grab another roll. In the process he covers the spot from the wine, hoping to put it out of sight and out of mind rather than continually calling attention to it.

"They're really quite fascinating creatures," Farrah gushes, partially due to the wine but mostly due to a pathological enthusiasm for microscopic vermin. "If they weren't tiny, they would be nightmarish. And in a way, we are almost entirely defenseless against them." Charming thought.

"Well, at least they'd be easier to spot." R'zel says, clearly thinking he's being clever. He has more of the wine, which will surely only enhance his wit. Perhaps hoping to take the conversation someplace more romantic than dangerous parasitic organisms, he leans in and smiles. "How's the meal? The wine? Should I get Rock to fetch anything else?" That might be tricky, since the brown is definitely dozing by now.

Farrah shifts in her sitting position so she can draw her knees up to her chest and rest her chin on the groove between them. "Hmm. I don't know what would be worse to face - giant felines, or giant tapeworms." Thanks to that first glass of wine, she is easily kited away from the subject. "Oh, the meal and the wine are first rate, really. You said this was Benden red?" Her life must really be myopic, to be ignorant of Pern's most famous wine.

"Well, either one can be easily dealt with by a dragon, I'm sure… you said you were going on an expedition, right? Don't forget to bring us along, I'd hate to see you in danger." R'zel smiles and lifts up the wine bottle again so that she can see the label. "It is indeed. Would you care for more?" There's about a glass worth left in the bottom.

Farrah gives a chuckle at R'zel's concern, reassuring him, "I promise, I won't forget. You'll even be top of the list for bodyguards. — Yes, please." That last refers to the wine, and she holds out her empty glass, fingers pinching the stem. She looks over the wine label, but it might as well say 'Jug o' Wine' for all she cares.

R'zel pours the remainder of the wine into her glass, then tucks the empty bottle back into the basket. "Good. I'd hate to see something happen." Belatedly realizing that the horrors of feline mauling might not be the best track to put the conversation on either, R'zel makes another attempt to charm. "So tell me more about yourself. Surely a woman as intelligent and beautiful as yourself has some interesting stories to tell."

Farrah takes another sip of wine before venturing forth, "I… suppose. Although most of the stories I would tell, well… As Healers, we sort of start to get desensitized to all of the gore we experience. And we forget that the most interesting stories make most people lose their appetite." As she talks, she swirls the wine in the glass, admiring its rich, gem-like color.

R'zel thinks on that for a moment before realizing that Farrah is probably right. Lest the topic return to parasites or something equally unpleasant, he tries something different. "Surely that isn't all you've occupied yourself with. If it has, well…" He grins and lifts his own glass. "I think it's important to be well rounded. And you're in a perfect place for some adventure. We should have some fun while you're here."

Farrah gives R'zel a skeptical snort as she asks, "And what makes you think I don't plan on having adventures? Why, what do you think tromping around in the woods is? In fact…" She becomes more animated now, gesturing with her free hand. "I think we " R'zel has apparently been recruited on her mission. " will have to go deeper into the interior of the continent to find fire-head cases. It may be that whatever we're chasing has been elimnated from the Xanadu area."

R'zel is initially a little concerned that Farrah has missed the point he was trying to get across, but he quickly forgets it when she includes him in her adventuring plans. "I suppose that does sound really exciting. Hiking out into the wilderness, surviving on our wits… I have an old tent from the candidacy camping trip we could use."

"Maybe not… /that/ remote," Farrah finds herself tempering R'zel's enthusiasm. "After all, fire-head is, as far as I know, restricted to humans. But!" And here a finger points upward, with boundless hope. "We may find a similar disease among animals, which are much easier to study." Since you can cut them up without too many people getting upset.

"Well, I suppose that's… something." R'zel finds it hard to conjure up enthusiasm for the idea of hunting down diseased animals, but he makes due by substituting his enthusiasm for treking into the wilderness with Farrah. "Well, I'll leave the science to you. I'll just be along for protection and my wilderness survival skills. When will we head out?"

Farrah thinks about her schedule for a moment - a task made no easier by the wine she's had - before she realizes, "We really could go… whenever. How about tomorrow?" She feels the need to explain, "My duties as a Healer really aren't… time-bound ones, I guess you could say." Ah, graduate students.

"I can certainly be ready to go tomorrow." R'zel says with an excited smile. "I'll have Mikalath ready with all of our wilderness survival gear and rations. How long should I pack for? Do you think we'll be out there long?" He thinks for a moment as he downs the last of his last glass of wine. "Hmmm. You think I should do your painting before we go? You might tan after a long outdoor trip. Then again, that could be good…"

To judge from the expression on her face, Farrah hasn't quite thought this all the way through, especialyly not the 'gear and rations' side of things. And certainly not the painting side of things: "I mean, if you feel it's necessary… but won't that take… um, a while?" Just a ballpark estimate, there.

"Well, yes, probably most of a day to do it right…" R'zel considers, his enthusiasm being tempered just a little. "Hmmm. It may be best to start when we return then, so we aren't rushed. I want to capture you exactly right after all. So! How long will this trip be?"
Farrah thinks hard, fighting through alcoholic muzziness. "Well, with a dragon to fly us… I don't think it'll take more than a few days, perhaps, at least for one section of the outlying areas. How are you with maps? Drawing them, I mean."

"Basic cartography is something everyone in my wing has to be familiar with… it's probably why they put me there, what with my background in the arts. I could map as we go along. And I'll pack supplies for a full sevenday, just to be on the safe side." R'zel says with a smile. "We'll head out in the morning. Now, the only question is what to do with our evening."

For Farrah, the answer is obvious, and pragmatic: "Pack." There's a ghost of a 'Duh!' hanging around it.

"Ah yes. Well." R'zel should have seen that coming. He ponders his next course of action for a moment, then grins. "Ah, well, once you're packed, why don't you come over to my weyr? We can get Mikalath loaded up and leave first thing in the morning. It'll make it easier to get an early start."

Farrah is agreeable, at this point, so R'zel gets a nod. She starts to push up from her seating position, wiping errant, invasive grains of sand from her palms. "Excellent." She decides to take a sweetroll for the road, and bends down - carefully! - to grab one from the basket. "Excellent. I shall go and pack immediately!"

R'zel seems surprised that she actually agreed to that one. Still, not one to look a gift runner in the mouth, he starts packing up the basket and preparing to depart. "Great. I'll meet you over there. It's right by the meadow. I'll see you when you're all packed."

After swallowing her mouthful of sweetroll, Farrah admits, "You'll have to stand in the doorway, or something. I'm sorry, but these weyrs all look the same to me." And then she's off, once she gets the assurance from R'zel, that is.

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