Winter Showers and Craft Apprenticeships

Xanadu Weyr - Stables

The Stables of Xanadu Weyr are composed of one long building, lined with box and standing stalls that are kept thoroughly clean by the resident grooms and stablehands. Runners nicker and neigh at everyone who enters, save for the obstinate ones that just flicker their ears in indignant curiousity that they dare not make visible. The foremost stalls near the door to the Barn Yard are the grand box stalls which are home to the prized runners of Xanadu, as well as the most pregnant, those which are so far along that they require constant observation by the Herders, so as to ensure easy foaling.
However, the primary design of stall which lines the broad pathway that is covered in saw dust which is the main avenue of the Stables, is that of the Standing Stall. Many runners are in the standing stalls, with ropes strung across the front so as to keep the runners from leaving their designated containers. A few hay bales sit here and there along the avenue, some of which act as seats for the stablehands and grooms on their breaks, others as snacks for those runners who can reach out their necks far enough. Buckets and baskets of grooming supplies, brushes and combs, and the like also sit here and there, occasionally knocked over by a wayward hoof or inquiring muzzle.

Drizzly, weary weather marks the early morning hours at Xanadu. The chilly rain is punctuated by driving wind and freezing temperatures; winter is showing its teeth. The stables at Xanadu are enclosed and cozy, though the standard of cozy is defined by the animals within, not the humans. Most runners sport fuzzy winter coats, and those that do not sport colorful man-made blankets. Beginning her first full day of new duties is Amelia, standing beside one of those non-fuzzy horses- the very one, in fact, that her father and Toban had fought over months ago. The cross-tied chestnut mare is now quite pregnant and not particularly fond of the quite colorful blanket Amelia is working on attaching- the runner keeps nibbling free the stays.

All sorts of unusual is suddenly making its way into the stables. Drenched to the bone is a rather young looking man, his reddish-brown hair is plastered tightly to his hair as is the…jacket and clothes he is wearing. If you could call it clothes, anyway, for today A-di is wearing a interesting jacket of yellow with purple polka-dots, as well as a pink shirt that seems to be hidden except for the neck collar and shirt-tails. As for pants? Well, those are purple as well. "I swear…I am going to get rid of this once and for all." The man grumbles quietly under his breath, looking over his shoulder at the rain, as he attempts to wring the water from his clothing.

Shivering from the biting cold the wind shoved into her bones, Rylavi - a skinny, bony blonde tomboy - slips into the stables and heaves a sigh of relief. So much easier to move when there isn't a winter gale fighting you every step of the way. As she moves further inwards, she has to duck around the … neon sign of a man and does so quickly. Keep eyes averted and face to the ground. As she makes her way further in, down towards the draft stalls where her mare and geldings are stabled, she pauses on the way to distract that chestnut mare with a new person to sniff at and be petted by. It's nice to make a new equine friend, and it gives whomever's trying to work a break from inquisitive pony-face.

Being on new duties has Amelia working double hard to be attentive to entrances, and while she may have dried off and warmed up by now, each new entry means a gust of cold wind and water on the floor. Rylavi's entrance is missed at first as she stares at A'di. "You look like a wet horse blanket!" she calls, "There's some new racks for wet jackets, just there by the door… try not to trail water all over?" And then she's giving a groan of exasperation. "Sunny, come on now, quit chewing your ties. Would you hold that tie?" she points at the front chest tie, glancing at Rylavi, mistaking the girl by the mare's nose to be one of the stableboys.

A'di looks up and offers a shrug to Amelia, unzipping his jacket and frowning at the racks, "Why does everything have to be so freaking high?" He mutters in annoyance as he stands on the tips of his toes to put it on and takes off his shirt to wring it between his fingers, not seeming to care. "Dalasith picked it out, I've been trying to get rid of it for turns now, it just seems to keep popping back up." A'di sighs as he runs his fingers through his hair, shaking his head to get the water out.

Accustomed, by now, to being mistaken for any number of things - most of them boys - Rylavi doesn't question the order. Long, bony fingers grab the tie and secure it while she uses her other hand to rub gently at the concave notch just above the mare's eye. It doesn't take long for recognition to set in. Ryl's more observant of horses than people and she knows this mare. It takes slightly longer for her to place names and places with that recognition and when she does, the young teen has to bite the side of her tongue to keep both quiet and still. Only once she's regained control of herself does she manage a hoarse - and therefore decidedly more masculine sounding - question. "How long has she been here?" The mare, not the person working. "Did you buy her from Black Rock or from one of the other traders?"

"Right… dragons have the oddest tastes, I've found," Amelia says to A'di distractedly, mostly focused on tightening the near side tie of the blanket. The mare snorts a little disagreeably even with the rubbing, and tries to shove her nose into Rylavi's chest to get her out of the way of the front tie. She's a tricksy one, yes she is. "Yes, my Dad bought her before we left the hold nearly a turn ago- she's been here ever since." Amelia smiles a little fondly, patting the mare. "She got ridden too hard and wasn't useful to them anymore." The journeywoman finishes with the near side and hurries around to work on the far side.

After having wringed out his shirt, he pulls it back on, his feet flicking idly in the air, the soles squishing with hints of being soaked. "You haven't met Dalasith." A'di says simply as his eyes drift to the mare in question, though doesn't seem quite as interested as the girls are. He's mostly here to dry off and get out of the rain.

Keziah has wandered in from the rain, soaking wet and looking like some kind of drowned vermin. Course she has a tendency to look like that anyways with rescuing critters from the muck as she tends to do. And it's likely she has again, for there is the distinct scent of swamp muck on her, even if it is a bit faded on her brown pants. "Odd tastes? Can't be any worse than some of the concoctions I've seen poured up and all when someone's trying to become the High Whatsit or another. I mean eggs and toast and spices and jam and such in porridge and milk and red beets and all?" She shudders "I'd rather having flamin' wool anyday." she remarks as she nods to the groups whose conversation she has no problems intruding on. After all, even after all these turns, she still considers these her stables. She's such a snot.

"I know." Rylavi doesn't say anything more to Amelia about this particular mare, instead bracing herself against the muzzle nudge. Lips that very rarely let a kind word pass are silent, while her fingers do the talking. Gently she moves her petting hand to several different places - the poll, the jaw, the sworl of hair on the chest - looking for that 'sweet spot' that all animals have, somewhere. Keziah's entrance startles her and she jerks just a little. Only the very close presence of Mare keeps her from showing that surprise further. Instead, sharp yellow-green eyes follow the new woman's entrance and progress.

The runner, of course, dances sideways, preferring to make the tying job as difficult as possible. After all, she's pregnant, hot-blooded and every bit the mare. Pausing halfway through tying the knots, Amelia stretches onto tiptoes to peer over the mare's withers at Keziah. "Hi there!" she calls the greeting down the aisle, smiling a little bit. "What brings you out here this morning?" As she greets the other journeywoman, the mare starts to make faces, for Rylavi has finally found the sweet spot along her neck. Amelia, taking advantage of the stillness in the mare's body, ties up the last knot and starts giving the mare pettings on the other side of her neck. She nods gratefully to Rylavi. "Thanks, Ed-er, oh hey. You're not Eddie. Who are you?"

A'di turns his attention to Keziah, a brow arching on his forehead, "Sounds like something Dalasith would do, just to see if it would taste good." A'di chuckles quietly, watching the two girls with the mare. He frowns thoughtfully as he rubs at the back of his head. He idly leans up against a rail to watch the show with a hint of amusement. "Do you need help, though, I'm not sure how much help I'd be. Runners are different than dragons. Dragons listen…when they want to at least."

Keziah blinks a moments at Amelia "Ya don't know the kid and you're lettin' 'em handle yer mare?" She just shakes her head, boggles the mind some people. "Well figured, I'd take a break and relax and all. Just spend the wee hours bringin' in some long horned critters that had the bright idea that the fruit out on the islands in the swamp were better then what they had in reach, got themselves stuck good." She snerks at A'di "Thats the truth, a runner knows better than to eat something too foul usually, course a dragon can't eat just two fowl though so hmm."

Turning back to her steady contemplation of the mare's hide, the pale, skinny teen tenses. "Rylavi. Rysson's eldest." While her name might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, her father's name - as one of Black Rock's beast herders and wild runner catchers - would probably ring at least a bell in someone from the area. Keziah is given a scowl and the young girl lifts her chin. "I came in here to check on three draft beasts I brought in the other day. I saw the mare was being difficult and helped." She sniffs twice. "What's wrong with that?"

"Oh please, I know her. She's from back at the Hold, I only didn't expect her to be here this morning," Amelia covers quickly, then peers at Rylavi, a lightbulb going off in her mind. Some manner of recognition, perhaps? "She's very good with gentling, just like her father," Amie adds. Pulling a leadrope from the mare's stall door, she clips it to the halter and begins unclipping the cross ties. "Time for this lady to spend some time outdoors. Did everyone make it back safe from bringing in the long-horns?" Amie asks of Keziah.

Keziah hmms a moment at the teens question. "Aside from a hoof being planted into your brain? I suppose not much." She smirks a little and then tilts her head. "Rysson huh? Well, I suppose iffen ya get a hoof in the skull in such a silly manner than you ain't worth yer Blood and thus again, nothin' wrong with it." she smiles brightly "You got spunk kid. I like that." She grins at Amelia "Well, iffen ya know her, alls the better. As for makin' it back safe? Well, the people did, but not all the critters, so Alosynth had a decent breakfast and all."

A'di grabs at his jacket and pulls it back onto his body and heads back out to brave the rain without so much as another word.

With a sidelong glance at Amelia for her compliment, Rylavi steps out of the way and moves to visit her draft mare for a few moments, an eye and an ear on the other women's conversation.

"Well, I suppose that's good, then. Good breakfast in the middle of all this rain, that is. Mine was a little sparse." Amelia smiles a little at Keziah then watches Rylavi step away. She shrugs and gives the chestnut mare some scratches as she lets the cross ties fall back to their regular hanging positions. She walks the mare down the aisle so they are nearer to Keziah. "So… I was told I should go find myself some new apprentices yesterday. Do they just mean… recruiting from anywhere? Dad wasn't too clear on what that actually means." Amie asks Keziah, voice lowered to keep it between them.

Keziah chuckles brightly and then shakes her head a little as she lowers her voice. "Nah, ya don't wanna be recruitin' from just anywhere, afterall, thems with an interest in machines aren't always so good with the critters." She eyes the mare and nods softly as she smiles. "Always did like lookin at a good piece of flesh." she notes louder and then the eyes the kid after a moment with the draft and then turns away as all seems well before contining again in a softer voice. "I've tended to snag when the gettin's good. You see someone promisin', you snag them up before somethin' else take's their attention, else you have some that just have the call for it. It pulls them and the only sure bet is ta teach them just to get them out from under foot."

Amelia nods. "Well, I didn't mean exactly anywhere. But yeah," she glances back towards Rylavi. "I didn't really know her when I lived at the hold, being I was busy studying myself, but I remember her… seems she's been hanging around the weyr lately, and it just makes me wonder what she's doing here." The younger woman shrugs a little and, turning the mare around again, her voice returns to normal tones. "Anyway, best be getting this lady outside. She is pretty fine, isn't she? Dad 'n me are super excited about the baby- the sire is his most solid stud, hopefully it'll be the start of a line of lookers who can well handle the variable climate down here."

Keziah nods thoughfully as she eyes the mare some more "Well, certainly wouldn't be fer a lack of tryin, course breedin's a funny thing at times, always a surprise in there somewhere. I need to work on my Bloodline some more, get some more stamina in their, but they've been doin' good in the swamps and back trails, been great little runners and all." she notes as she glances down towards her line of runners." A glance back at the girl "Well, iffen she's been hangin' round here, my guess is she might be spreadin' her wings and all, but one never knows iffen she'll just fall or fly, like any youngster." There's a thoughful pause and then she glances back to Amelia and murmurs softly "You've already got yer on one don't ya?"

"Oh, you know… I know it's tough at Black Rock right now. That's why we came here- it was so rough with Toban, and now with Johanna being touch and go, it's bound to be worse out there for those who were loyal to her rather'n him," Amelia answers again in lowered tones, then brings the subject back to the runners. "I sure love those back trails… D'son and I went out to the waterfall one day- course, it wasn't runnerback, but I mean to go there runnerback when it's spring again. My favorite girl, Stormy down there," she points to a dapple gray mare a few stalls over, "is such fun on the trails- solid as a rock but curious at the same time."

Keziah nods softly "Things are tough all over, not always easy and such. 'Nother reason why Weyrs seem so popular and all, not that it ain't tough here as well, but still I dunno, it's not as cramped I guess." she hmms and then chuckles "It is nice on runnerback down some of them, course some of them are just to plain small for some of the bigger beasties people fancy. Now the littler ones do just fine and all, and well me being so little an all too, well it's certainly workin' out fairly well and all." she looks too thoughful "Curious and all is good, cept when their too curious and then that's just downright trouble."

A little lost in her own mind and world, the skinny blonde is busy scritching at an itch behind the mare's ear. The name of her Lady catches her attention and she tilts her head with sidelong glances down that way, paying much more attention now.

"Haha, not as cramped usually. Too bad about those bedbugs… still, for crafters we've got our craft complex, and I 'spose you as a rider have your own weyr of some sort." Amelia laughs a little ruefully and, glancing down the aisle again she calls, "Rylavi… come back, would you?" The chestnut mare gives a little snort as if to punctuate the request, and while she waits for the girl, Amelia nods at Keziah. "Yeah, fortunately Stormy's getting on into her late teens, so the troubling sort of curiousity is gone. Course on occasion she'll startle, but she's seen so much it's getting harder to surprise her."

Keziah mms softly as she gets the slightly far-off look many a rider get and then she nods "Tis a weyr, any place a dragon calls home is weyr, it has the most wonderful little stream with little falls that help keep my little pool full. All nestled in amongst the trees, it's a wonderful little spot to relax and all. " she then gives herself a little shake. "Sounds like a good runner and all. I've only seen a few that won't spook at anything. Most, even those bred up around them will still spook with a dragon and all, and course when one's get older their sense ain't so good and when all is said and done, they are prey animals and well spookin can help keep 'em alive. Though sometimes not."

At the sound of her name, Rylavi turns and focuses sharp eyes on the pair of older women. Two blinks of consideration and she turns the rest of her and ambles on down their way. Unsure of her welcome or her standing with either of them, she looks from one to the other and back again, finally settling on the horse nearby. "You wanted me for something?" She manages to keep her voice level, but her gaze stays firmly on the mare. Much easier place to focus attention.

Amelia grins at Keziah, again patting the mare's neck. "Well, that spookiness factor is exactly what my dad's working on breeding out. Trying to get a line that will be solid 'round anything, to help with search and rescue and emergency response ground teams and such, when all the dragons're overhead and things are crazy. Breeding'em solid and trusting of their human riders so they won't run off." She shrugs, smiling a little. "That's the whole idea, anyway. It starts with just training, and he's got a handful good enough for it." When Rylavi answers, Amelia nods. "Yes. Come on back over here. Have you got plans for your future? Would you like to stay here? I'm just, ah… looking for apprentices, I suppose."

Keziah gives a nod "Tis always a good trait to breed fer and all. Course, iffen ya get any midgety ones, I wouldn't mind a few iffen yer cullin' 'em." she notes and then she glances over at the lass as she comes back over and a little impish gleam enters her eyes "Ya sure ya wantin her? She's short one and all." As if she's one to talk "And on the scrawny side as well, with the pale skin, she doesn't seem to have seen much sun and all, makes her look a little sickly." Yup, Kezi's being a brat and all." You might be getting more work out of some of those lads that came in with the traders that've been makin calf eyes at the stock." She wouldn't be proddin to see more spunk now, would she?

Taken aback by Amelia's slew of questions, Rylavi flounders and finally latches on to Keziah's barbs. Still young, she has no idea that she's being played and as such, falls right into the older woman's hands. "I've been working with my father's runners since I could walk, and I do more than my fair share of the work." She shudders back into the folds of her clothes, trying to make herself seem bulkier. "And I can get into places people bigger n' me can't fit to." So, there.

"Well then, you're perfect. Would you like to take your runner knowhow to the next level? Join the BeastCraft? Stay here at Xanadu? I teach you, and you can pick out your favorite things to study along with the regular bits." Amelia grins at Rylavi as she makes the offer, and, that said, she gives a grateful glance towards Keziah, acknowledging the older journeywoman's part in baiting the girl.

Keziah gives a nod to the girl "That'sa girl. Never be afraid to stand up to yerself. Iffen ya can't stand up to yer own kind, how ya gonna stand up to a critter of another kind. You got spunk kid. I like ya." she smiles and then grins at Amelia "I think ya got yerself a goodun there, she ain't gonna be no layabout." A pause and then a glance back at the girl "Provided of course she's got the guts to stay." She adds with a smile.

Rylavi looks from one woman to the other; distrustful, considering. Finally, slowly and carefully, she answers. "Aye, I've no problem staying on to learn." And here she takes a deep breath. "And especially if it means learning more about the beasts I tend, but I've got one condition." Yes, she knows she's not in a place to be making conditions and demands, but it doesn't seem to matter. "When Lady Johanna recovers and returns home, I want to option to return to Black Rock and continue my studies in her service."

As if that will /ever/ happen, given the current political climate and Toban's rumors of a new bride waiting in the wings for the angel of death. Amelia doesn't mention these things, though; it's hard enough that Johanna is away, and having lived there, she knows how loyal some residents got to their lady. "That'll be fine, there are journeymen still posted out to the hold- have to be." Amelia smiles a little bit. "Let me get this lady on outside- sounds like the rain's stopped. Then we can go have a chat with the weyrwoman and get you set up with a cot in the apprentice dorms, and I'll sort out the knot from the Hall. We'll go have a visit there soon as I can set that up."

Keziah smiles and nods, yup. Spunk. "Well, I'll leave ya to getting her settled, I should see what MIrai's up to anyways." she notes as she turns to head out as well. "I'll be in a day or so and can give ya a ride and all." she adds and then smiles at the lass "Welcome to the craft girl, I so believe you'll give us a fine showin'."

And Johanna is - not was, not yet - a fine lady, one it's easy enough to get attached to. "Aye, then I've no problems at all." Oddly enough, Rylavi's face doesn't lift in a smile, neither to return Keziah's or respond to Amelia's kindness. There's politeness and a care not to cross a line that would get her in trouble, but no smile. She nods in farewell to Keziah and follows Amelia and the mare out into the - still chilly - morning. "Where is it?" she asks quietly. "The Hall, I mean."

"Thanks, Keziah. 'Course. Forgot a moment you've a lifemate." Amelia gives her a grateful nod, and answers Rylavi. "The Hall is near Keroon. We'll probably hear word of Johanna when we go, whatever's the latest. I doubt we'd be able to visit, though. She's well protected these days."

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