Chowder Conversation

Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.
The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambience.
During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.

Xanadu might be fortunate that their winter isn't anywhere near as harsh as some other climes, but that doesn't mean everybody is happy about the colder turn the weather has taken lately! Rhodelia is one of those poor souls that's not dealing with the change well at all, but she's not going to deviate from her normal routine either! The walking pile of blankets that she has become has managed to find the way up to a prime seaside view in the TreeTop. Sometimes the view is worth braving the cold, and the soon to be setting sun could be one of them! At least she has a giant bowl of soup to cling to while she watches.

The colder weather doesn't really bother Kasle that much. Her only consession to the chill in the air being wearing a waist length coat instead of her usual long vest and adding gloves and a scarf to her outfit. Dinner sounds like an amazing idea, especially one that she doesn't have to prepare herself. (Or try to choke down one of her mother's attempted meals.) The teenage gardener steps into the cafe, already taking her gloves off and stuffing them into a pocket. She smiles at the view and sighs, lifting her chin in quiet greeting to one of the servers. The girl's dark eyes fall on the lone, soup eater and she pauses for a moment before seeming to make a decision and walking over to where Rhodelia sits alone, "Mind if I join you?" She barely waits for the older woman to look up before she plops gracelessly into an empty chair.

Rhodelia moves to nudge the empty chair with her foot to allow for easier plopping. "Help yourself." To chairs at least. Ordering still requires more interaction with a server. There's probably a chalkboard menu somewhere, but Rhody's at least got a few more words for that. "You should try the soup. Mmmmm… chowder." And the various little aquatic creatures added into the delicious milk bath. And if that advice wasn't good enough, a few moments later, one of the servers does swing by with two water glasses (refill for one woman and new glass for the other) and a menu along with a 'I'll give you a few minutes…' before off again.

Kasle grins and peers in the other woman's bowl, "Chowder, huh?" She grins, "Sounds good, actually." The server's arrival earns another beaming grin, "Thank you. I think I'll have what she's having." She takes a sip of water and quickly puts the glass down so that she can offer her hand in greeting, "I'm Kasle, by the way."

"It is!" Rhodelia tries her best to give a sage nod, which probably isn't helped by the pink blanket wrapped about her shoulders. And before the server leaves, she holds up a finger to flag his attention as well. "And some extra crackers, please." The handshake is met with a very brief frown as the older woman now has to rearrange her bowl holding hand, but soon enough the bowl is transfered and the appropriate hand is extended with a smile on her face. "Rhody." Sure, she has a few more syllables in her name, but who needs those? "And what is it that you do around here, Kasle?"

Kasle's default epression seems to be a friendly grin, "It's nice to meet you, Rhody." She chuckles softly, folding her hands in her lap, though one knee starts to jiggle slightly the longer she sits still, "Oh, I'm a gardener! I'm really kinda bored right now, though… There's not nearly as much to do during the winter, you know. Just clearing beds right now." She tilts her head silghtly, "What about you?"

With introductions out of the way, Rhodelia returns to make herself comfortable with her bowl of soup, which involves completely ignoring any table manners her mother may have taught her and actually drawing her legs up to her chest to serve as a closer make-shift table for her soup than the actual table. Less room for possible spoon malfunctions! She does give a sympathetic mmmm-hmmm at the mention of boring winter gardening. "I can imagine. I had to help the gardeners a time or two for some candidate chores… but right now I'm just doing odd jobs here and there." Technically true, if not the whole truth.

Kasle nods sagely, "We get a lot of help from candidates when there are eggs, but we can't rely on that help all the time." She giggles, "There aren't always eggs, after all, right?" The teenage gardener doesn't seem bothered by poor table manners, resting her own elbows on the table, "Nothing wrong with doing odd jobs. I did that a lot before I found my spot." She wrinkles her nose slightly, "And I followed the guards around a lot…"

Rhodelia nods as well. "Yeah, but doesn't seem like we ever go too long without some eggs. I think I've stood now like… five times? Maybe six?" She shrugs it off easily enough, apparently not too bothered by it. "And from that, I think I can safely say, you might not want that help all the time. Some might be more likely to burn a plant down then help save them." A lot might, actually. "And yeah. They need doing. Mostly paperwork lately. Scheduling…" Another shrug, although the teen's last comment earns a grin. "Better than the guards following you around a lot, eh?"

Kasle giggles and nods, "Oh yeah. There are some flower beds that we don't let the candidates touch." She nods again, "Sounds kinda boring to me, but I have issues with just sitting behind a desk a lot of times." At least she doesn't seem to be at all shy about admitting her obvious difficulty sitting still. A difficulty that is ever more evident in the increased jiggle of her right leg. The comment about the guards earns a quick bark of laughter, "Well, I had that, too. My mamma's a guard. She would sometimes get her friends to follow us around to keep an eye on us when she was busy."

"Oh, it's rarely boring!" Rhodelia responds perhaps a little too quickly. "But then, I have to deal with complaints." And just general shenanigans. It's Xanadu. There's a lot of them. Have you seen Leirith? Rhody finishes scooping up the last of her soup and discards the bowl on the table, but that doesn't mean she's getting up anytime soon. The mention of being followed gets her recoiling a bit, complete with nose wrinkle. "Ugggh. Didn't that feel like ah… ahhh.. an invasion of privacy or something?"

Kasle wrinkles her nose, "Ew… You have my sympathy." She'll do without complaints, thank-you-very-much! When the server returns with her own bowl of chowder, the girl beams happily, "Thank you!" She leans over and takes a deep, appreciative sniff of the soup, "Mmmmm…" She picks up her spoon and stirs it around the bowl, letting it cool a little before she takes a bite. She wrinkles her nose and shrugs one shoulder, "Well, yeah, but Mamma only did it because she was concerned. She didn't want us getting in trouble when Dad was on duty." It's what she grew up with, after all, and seemed normal enough because it's what was 'normal' for her.

Honestly, some of the complaints are kinda hilarious, not that the complainees will ever see them that way. Rhodelia still doesn't seem convinced that the whole guards following thing is normal seeing as she's still looking at Kasle like she's a foreign creature or something. "Uh-huh… but isn't that what the weyr's got nannies for? And if the kids are old enough not to need to be left with the nannies…" She shrugs. "They can probably survive a couple hours while their parents aren't looking." Rhody probably isn't the best person to give any parenting advice, but she'll dole it out anyways.

Kasle shrugs, "I guess so. It was usually when one of us had gotten in trouble, though." She stirs the soup a little more and takes a bite, rolling her eyes and savoring the flavor, "I'd forgotten how good the food is up here." She grins, "I think the height might make it taste better, don't you?" She doesn't seem to take offense to the questioning of her mother's parenting methods, "I spent most of my time with them, anyway." She giggles, "I thought that I wanted to be a guard when I was little, anyway."

"If you say so…" Rhodelia will shrug and flag for another server, placing an order for an actual drink. "Although I guess my father didn't need to stick guards on us. If we screwed up, the whole sharding Hall would know." Too bad drinks can't just magically appear because she could really use the one that's still on its way, but settles for tapping fingers against her leg instead. "And not everybody is suited for what their parents did or what they think they might want to be when they were young." She gives yet another shrug. "But I think it might be the view that makes it all taste better too."

Kasle nods, "Well, I'm sure everyone in Galaxy knew when we were in trouble, and I know that all of the guards did." She shudders a little at the memory and makes a face, "At least they don't do it anymore, anyway!" The girl suddenly smiles again, "But I'm friends with most of the guards, so I still hang out with them sometimes." This time, by choice! She turns her attention to the view and nods slowly, a contented smile playing at the corners of her mouth and making her eyes almost glow, "I think you may be right. It is beautiful up here…"

Finally, that drink does arrive, something red and punchy with a nice little umbrella in it. Rhodelia takes a big sip as soon as it arrives, nodding her approval for it. "Yeah… parents totally tell their friends about their kids screw ups. And they might not follow you anymore but…" She's pretty sure the talking still happens. "Good your friends with them, I guess. I ended up running halfway around the world instead. Or bribing a dragonride here anyways." Different strokes for different folks!

"Oh, probably, but they also brag on us." Kasle grins, "Dad is all the time talking about how proud he is that I've taken to gardening. He was a gardener, too, before Raspirth, you know." She makes a face, "I think he thought his big lug," obviously a phrase the rider uses often, himself, "Wouldn't be happy sitting around watching grass grow all day, so they trained hard to join search and rescue." She grins, "He says that I've taken to gardening like 'a flitter takes to the sky'." The familiar phrase gets a giggle.

Rhodelia shifts a little awkwardly in her seat. "Some do, anyways." Her father wasn't exactly the bragging type at least not for her. As for the gardener turned dragonrider going to search and rescue, she nods. "I don't think they would just grow grass… I've seen one of the farmer-riders and his dragon out digging rows or something." Any more details would be more technical than she can provide! "But good you found something you like so young."

Kasle tilts her head thoughtfully, "I could see it, actually." A dragon digging rows. She scrapes up the last bite of her soup, "I'm sure your dad loves you. All parents love their children." That's her experience, anyway, "I mean, they can be harsh sometimes, but that's just to try to push their kids to be the best versions of themselves that they can." Right? Right! The briliant grin returns, "Oh, I love digging around in the dirt. And it's so -satisfying- to see all our hard work pay off in the mature plants!"

"He loves some of his children…" Rhodelia mutters before straightening up with a cough. "I'll be honest," FOR ONCE, "I haven't spoken with my father in over four turns. He probably doesn't even know where I'm at." Probably because she didn't tell him, but details. "It's fine though. I couldn't be what he wanted me to be. And so I'm here." She waves to their surroundings which happens to include a beautiful view of the sun just beginning to set over the sea. "That sounds it. Plus you can skim off a few of the best berries or what not before they get picked?"

Compassion floods Kasle's face and she reaches out to try to give the former candidate's arm a gentle squeeze of sympathy. She nods, "At least you're doing something you like somewhere you like?" The last earns a giggle, the girl's dark eyes dancing, "Well… Not officially, you know. But I do like to share with my friends." She offers a conspiratorial wink, "I'll look for you when it's closer to harvest." So she considers the other woman a friend, now. Or at least someone that could use an adopted little sister?

Rhodelia isn't old enough that she's escaped candidacy forever! For now though, she just shrugs and downs the rest of her drink. "I am… although I think tonight I need to do something more exciting. Like darts!" Gathering all those blankets is a process, but she's starting it, even as she's nodding at that conspiratorial wink. "I'm easy enough to find. Just stick your head down the admin corridor and yell 'Rhody!!!' It's what some other folks do." Most everybody, really. "But for now, I think I'm heading to the Wherry. Hug your momma, Kasle. Or your dad." Rhodelia might not admit she could use some family, adopted or otherwise. But she does know that drunks can make good at least temporary friends!

Kasle giggles and nods, "I'll remember that." How to find her. She grins, "That sounds like fun. I should probably be getting back to my sprouts, anyway. I'm trying an experiment with crosspolination. If I'm lucky, there will be seeds ready in time for the spring planting and I'll get something really pretty!" She offers a little wave to her new friend, followed by a wave to a server so she can order some dessert, "Have fun tonight!"

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