The Secret of the Old Clock

Xanadu Weyr - Administration Hallway
On the north side of this tunnel, a slightly wider section holds an impressive set of double doors of highly polished fellis that lead to the Council Chambers, a meeting room for all the Weyr's staff. Each is carved with a skillfully rendered depiction of the Xanadu Weyr badge and the big, fluted handles are finely polished brass.

There's a small waiting area just outside the Council Chambers, a pair of armchairs with blue upholstery that are more attractive than comfortable. To either side, single doors of polished fellis wood are carved with stylistic representations of fancy knots which give a clue to who occupies the office beyond. A more easily understood identification would be the delicately painted stone plaques fastened to the wall at about chest height beside each door, the lettering done in the Weyr colors of orange and blue.

Along the southern wall are smaller offices and a rather less impressive meeting room, and on past those the archives lie buried into the stone, away from excess light that could damage hides and tomes.

Andy, who had an excellent track record as a candidate for rising to the occasion for Leirith's sometimes mandatory suggestions, is apparently determined to continue earning full marks for trying hard as a weyrling. It's undoubtedly not been an easy first month at all for the sweet-faced baker and her toddler-genius blue, and perhaps this morning isn't one of those that's gotten much easier despite the establishment of routine for the outwardly mismatched pair. Maybe Qilaeth is asleep post-breakfast — or somewhere outside privately commenting to his partner about every single being that passes while positing that he is most certainly not tired; either way, the brunette's expression still cycles rapidly in the way of someone trying to separate from the bleeding of one consciousness into another while she trots down the hallway with a hopeful look toward the weyrleaders' offices. Whether or not they appear to be occupied, the girl continues onward … and takes another turn past the entrance some minutes later. And another. Her movement can't quite be called pacing, but she's certainly intent on her mission — or, at least, the messily-wrapped brown parcel that's carefully cradled in her arms as she wanders past the doorway yet again with a fourth peek past the wall.

O LORD, SHE COMIN'. You probably think we mean Risali, but we don't. We absolutely mean Leirith, probably to wherever poor Qilaeth is just trying to live his best life without being squished by the obsessively affectionate snoot of his dam. BUT HERE WE ARE. The dragons, at least, are unimportant. Or, at the very least, they are irrelevant to the current setting. The weyrleaders both are occupied – but not in their office. The doors are closed, the office beyond sits empty, and Risali herself appears on Andy's fourth pass with a slow gait that bespeaks somebody tired and slowly trying to reconcile themselves to the fact that they are awake. She stills when enough consciousness bleeds into awareness, alerts her to the fact that she is, in fact, not alone in this current expedition down the hall and instead is facing down the curious appearance of one of their newest weyrlings. A beat as her brain catches up, and then, "This isn't an assassination attempt, is it?" comes sleep-husky but no less playful. "If it is, tell me you're here for R'hyn. He's been driving me mad lately." And then she's moving again, a hint of a smile on her lips, the corners of grey eyes harboring that self-same amusement as she moves to walk past Andy and to the doors of her shared office, shouldering the heavy wood open and then holding it with a press of her back against it as her gaze finds Andy. "Hi, Andy," comes around a soft smile, just before the sweep of one hand towards the interior of the weyrleaders' office. "Please, come in."

Qilaeth might even be delighted to see his mother in an eye-rolling, oh-hi-mom sort of manner, tolerating the affectionate press of — my, what a large nose you have! — just long enough before he's impatiently wriggling a few steps away with a decided lack of coordination. Frustration blazes in the curl of a solar flare. Almost simultaneously, Andy starts once Risali comes into view, doe-like eyes wide. "No ma'am, " isn't quite a squeak, but the weyrling still looks sheepish as she peeps into the office before obediently stepping inside. "I'm sorry for disturbing you, but I wanted — that is, we wanted — " She breaks off, face scrunching into a little frown, tries again. "Um, this is for you, Weyrwoman. And Leirith, too, if she likes it." The haphazardly wrapped parcel is proffered up in both hands as if it's something rather precious with a hopeful smile. What it is, in reality, is … a deep green and gold, handmade, polished-to-like-new cuckoo clock, shaped like a little cottage with open green shutters around the clock face. It's of the appropriate size for mounting on a wall, certainly too large and unwieldy to use as a freestanding device on a desk. "I hope you don't already have one that looks similar, " adds Andy into the beat that follows, because surely Risali, the Weyrleader-attested lover of clocks, must have quite the collection~

And Risali waits for the right moment to interject a gentle, "You could never disturb me, Andy," before she lapses back into silence to listen. Grey eyes drop to that parcel when it's brought to her attention a second time, confusion drawing at her brow quickly replaced by a pleased kind of surprise when Risali gently takes it from Andy's hands and cradles it in her own. It takes her a moment, two, five to manage tearing away the wrapping without dropping her gift and – "Oh. Faranth, Andy, this is beautiful." And Risali moves further into the room, allowing the door to slip closed behind her as distracted steps take her to her desk and she pulls herself up to sit ontop of it without ceremony, eyes fixated a moment more before they come back up to find Andy again. "Thank you, Andy. Did you make this?" A beat, and then another slight hint of confusion, a physical manifestation of her inability to grasp what she did to be worthy while also wondering at the second half of Andy's statement. "Why would I already have one?" The walls are bare but for a single clock probably meant to remind of meetings and when to go home (though Risali is hard pressed to observe the latter). SPOILER ALERT: R'HYN IS A LIE.

Careful, Risali; as with everything else, Andy may well take that 'never' to heart! "You really like it?" And Qilaeth's weyrling positively beams, simultaneously pleased and relieved. "I hope it meets Leirith's standards, too. I've been trying to find just the right one for the past few months, so the timing of her, ah, request, worked out, and — " Now it's the teenager's turn to look befuddled. "I wouldn't know where to start making something like that, " not to mention she's still probably barred from entering the workshop in the clock tower. "We found it. It just needed, you know, a little bit of paint and some wood polish." Dark eyes flit from wall to wall as the absence of a collection of clocks and the Weyrwoman's confusion begin to register. Hesitantly, and in a suddenly smaller voice: "You, um. You don't collect clocks, do you." It ends on an already-resigned note, followed by an embarrassed flush. "I had it on good authority that you really love clocks, so I thought … " Somewhere, a small blue dragon is probably doing the equivalent of a mental facepalm.

WE HOPE SHE DOES. Harass Risali all of the time, we mean – and watch her (Risali) ENJOY THE HECK OUT OF IT. "I really do." Like it, she means, just as much as she enjoys the flood of humor that trickles down her spine when Leirith approves in the only way that Leirith can: obnoxiously. Loudly. With gusto. « I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A CLOCK, SLIGHTLY LESS TINY MINION. LITERALLY. I CANNOT SEE THE CLOCK EXCEPT WITH MY MINION'S UNIMPRESSIVELY DISAPPOINTING EYESIGHT THAT'S ALMOST AS DISAPPOINTING AS SHE IS. AHAHAHAHA. BUT THIS CLOCK IS NOT DISAPPOINTING. THIS CLOCK IS HAPPY-APPOINTING. A HAPPIPOINTMENT, IF YOU WILL. » Sorry, Andy. If you expected less (OR BETTER) from Leirith, prepare to be disappointed. But Risali, despite the humor in her eyes at the expense of her dragon's whole wheat, gluten free AUDACITY, drags her gaze back from that gifted clock to Andy, nodding once to show she understands the need for a little bit of polishing and new paint. Then her attention turns to track Andy's gaze, taking in walls void of clocks as the smile on her lips turns apologetic. "No," she says softly, bringing her eyes back to Andy, "but if you bring me anymore like this, I just might have to start." She won't speak to who she suspects that 'good authority' might be (though her attention does stray momentarily to R'hyn's desk), but she does slide off of her desk and move to stand beside Andy. There's a gentle shoulder-bump preceding a soft, "Hmm. Where do you think we should hang it?" Because it is absolutely going up on the wall. "Somewhere that everybody who walks in can see it, I think. Between our desks?"

"Happy-appointing, " echoes Andy weakly, pushing a piece of dark hair behind her ear in a shuffling sort of fidget. As Risali's attention so briefly strays to R'hyn's desk, the baker studies her feet, peeking back up again with undisguised surprise at the shoulder-bump. Does her chin turn just enough to show that she's looking over her shoulder in a quick back-forth to make certain that it's her opinion that's being sought? (Yes, yes it does.) "Between your desks?" In true Andy-style, that comes out more question than affirmative. "It's your office." Helpful. And R'hyn's, who should undoubtedly get a chance to admire the clockwork specimen on future entries~ "Just, um, be careful when you hang it. I noticed one of the metal things on the back is a little, well, loose." And bordered by the finest of outlines with a tiny hinge to suggest that it might come away with a little prising for someone more observant.

"Yes," Risali answers, as if Andy requires affirmation that 'Happy-appointing' is, indeed, what she just heard. "I wouldn't recommend trying to make sense out of anything Leirith says. She's – " « AMAZING. FEARLESS. BADASS. » " – ridiculous." And Leirith booms laughter as Risali hugs the clock tighter to her, eyes sweeping the room until Andy speaks again and her eyes drop back to the gift now in her safekeeping. There's a long, long pause, and then a small huff of breath as Risali exhales laughter. "It is," she agrees, because it is her office, "but only because you've all somehow managed to tolerate me for so long." Still, her fingers slide over the back of the clock, as if she's attempting to find just which hinge is loose until her finger catches on it and Risali blinks, once. "Does this open?" comes faintly, with a glance up at Andy before Risali tests the theory for herself, attempting to find a way to pry whatever secrets that hinge might hold at bay open.

"Maybe all dragons are at least a little ridiculous in their own ways, " Andy supposes tentatively, cheeks pinking afterward with the small smile of one who is surely trying to learn to incorporate one interdimensional being dragon's particular brand of such a trait into her life. "I really can't imagine it being anyone else's, " says the Xanadu-native weyrling earnestly, for whom there has literally been no other Weyrwoman in her entire life thus far. Shoulders lifting and dropping in a rolling shrug, the teen watches the older woman fiddling with the clock with marked interest. "I don't know. I thought I heard something rattle a little while I was wrapping it earlier, but I just assumed it was the, um. You know. The little round things with the edges that click-click inside?" As luck (or storytellers!) would have it, the hinged bit does come open with a little mechanical encouragement, revealing a small compartment just large enough to hold …

Risali's nose scrunches, humor hitting her eyes and the sideways lilt of her lips before she looks back down to the clock in her hands. "Xanadu dragons tend to be a particular brand of ridiculous. It's almost like we're cursed or something, but in a fun way." Because she is biased – she has to be. And then there's another huff of laughter that pulls from her lips, leaves her smile crooked as grey eyes jump to Andy again before dropping back to her task. "Yes, well, thank you for making me feel old, Andy. Maybe whoever told you I love clocks should have convinced you I needed a cane." She is teasing, but her focus is right back on opening that compartment. "it might just be the little round things with the edges that click-click inside, but this –" comes free, and Risali blinks before pressing small fingers into the cavity it's revealed, only to pull out… "A ring." A beat, as Risali pulls it into the light proper and turns it on her finger before extending it out for Andy to see. "Is this secretly a proposal, Andy?" comes on a whisper, humor in every line. "Because you know dragonriders can't get married." The ring is beautiful, though, clearly crafted by either a master or somebody devoted to the point of obsession.

Qilaeth certainly fulfills the expected brand of ridiculousness, given the way he keeps trying to put at least one talon into a caverns entrance some distance away where small dragons absolutely have zero business, all the while marshaling some argument to share with Leirith about why the rules about boundaries shouldn't apply here to him. (No one ever said they couldn't stand in a doorway if they can fit, did they?) Andy's little inhale and subsequent squeak see her hands flying briefly up to her mouth. "Oh, Weyrwoman, I didn't mean — that is, it would be really strange to see someone else, you know, here." She's thankfully saved from inserting her foot any farther into her mouth by Risali's most timely discovery, for which there's a wide-eyed look before she steps closer to get a better look at the pretty piece of metalwork. "No?" comes out higher-pitched, followed by a moment where she awkwardly clears her throat. "Do you think that's what someone meant for it to be?" Who knows how long it's been hidden away or where it came from before it surfaced for this scavenger hunt of sorts?

SWEET QILAETH. WHERE IS THE GRACE? THE DIGNITY? THE NOBILITY? You are a Xanadu dragon. You are supposed to be the EPITOME of virtue and propriety. (And if you believe that, we have a bridge to sell you.) All of his daringly disastrous attempts are important, but we will come back to that in a moment. Now is for Risali and Andy, for the expelling of breath from lungs that carries more laughter, for the shift in balance that brings Risali's much-too-small body in against Andy's with another shoulder bump before she's allowing the focus to shift back to that ring, to a proposal likely meant for somebody, but not, apparently, for her. "And here I was, finding you terribly romantic." She's teasing. "But I'm not sure what it was intended for," comes honest, Risali leaning closer so that they can both see better. "Look, there's an inscription inside of the band." A shift as Risali turns the ring up for both of them and squints at lettering small enough to threaten at non-existence, 'Y&G.' There's a soft hum before Risali is tilting her chin to glance up at Andy again. "Do you think that you can find out who Y and G are? This seems pretty valuable. Maybe they want this returned –" Welp. Risali's head snaps up, lips parted in unfinished words and soft surprise as her attention whips to the door behind them because HAVE YOU MET LEIRITH? Qilaeth didn't need to marshal any arguments or find any reason to speak of rules and boundaries and why they were a gross injustice to his tiny cuteness. Leirith, in typical Leirith fashion, whole-heartedly agrees that rules and boundaries shouldn't apply here – and definitely not to him. Qilaeth might step an itty-bitty dragon talon over the line, but Leirith is right behind him to SHOVE HIS WHOLE ENTIRE BODY INTO THE CAVERNS – LITERALLY. « NEVER LET THEM TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN'T DO SOMETHING, MY QILAETH. AHAHAHAHAHA. EAT A BUBBLY OR FIVE FOR ME. » Cue Risali bringing her free hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose before she exhales and sets the clock gently down on her desk. "Right. Well, this ring is your task now," comes as she catches at Andy's wrist and pushes the object into her palm, "but I suggest we both go figure that –" a gesture towards her door and beyond, to the caverns where an itty bitty dragon has just been given license by his dam and, more importantly, his queen to run amuk, amuk, amuk, " – situation before I have to field anymore reports about why this definitely should not be my office anymore." QUICK FEET, ANDY. Risa's already turning to take not nearly long enough strides back out of the doors with a, "LEIRITH," that's met only by a cacophony of too damn much bass and drums conspiring to be laughter.

"How would I even begin?" Andy wonders with a little frown. "What if they live halfway across the world by now? What if they don't want it back? What if — " What if one's tiny, blue partner just successfully gained entry into the caverns with mother-queen's permission? There's a mortified swear that tumbles from the girl right as the ring changes hands, hands which now fist at her sides as she scoots around Risali with a rapid-fire, "Yes-good-idea-excuse-me, " to run in the direction of her all-too gleeful charge (who is taking those instructions literally and attempting to maneuver his way toward the human-intended food). The mystery of the clock's ring must, for now, remain just that!

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