Looking For Herbs

Xanadu Weyr - Garden

garden.jpg

An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place. On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.

Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.

The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also eluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.


It's a beautiful day in the Xanadu gardens. The sun is high in the nearly cloudless sky as noon approaches. For the most part, the gardens are just filled with weyr gardeners working on maintenance, but a few folks are wandering through simply enjoying the weather. R'zel is somewhat obviously out of place, dressed in riding leathers with a dragonrider's knot on his shoulder. He sits on a bench, a sketchpad and pencil in his hands, apparently drawing a small grove with a tree in the middle.

Maelona is lost. Or at least she looks it. In her hand she has a basket, and on top of her healer uniform she wear a strange hide apron that looks like she has extra legs on her trousers. On the way to the garden she had to stop and as for direction a few times, and as soon as she finally spots something gardeny she looks relieved. "Garden!" She adds a mental 'thankfully', and begins to look for herbs which puts her right in R'zel's path for a moment.

R'zel can hardly keep sketching with a healer straight in his path. He sets the drawing pad down beside him and tucks his pencil behind his ear, observing the girl for a moment, perhaps trying to determine whether or not he has seen her before. He gives her a friendly smile. "Looking for something?" He asks, curious.

Maelona jumps a little, turning to look at R'zul and smiling back. "Oops. Sorry. healer.. um.. I guess Rubicon's duties now." At least she has some manners, though she doesn't offer a hand or anything. "Herbs." She nods. She's looking for them. "I don't suppose you know where? I'm supposed to take come cuttings back for the garden we're making."

"Ah. Well, that is the obvious reason a healer would be here in the gardens, I suppose." R'zel says as he gets to his feet, offering the girl a hand for a shake. "All the way from Rubicon, eh? I'm R'zel, rider of brown Mikalath. And I can probably help you. What kind of herbs are you looking for?"

"I could be hiding." She grins, rubbing her hand on her apron before taking his. "Rubicon, now. Not been there long though, my aunt just got posted and I came with her." With a smile she adds, "Maelona. Healer apprentice." Herbs next, "Um.. I have a list somewhere." Her basket is pushed up her arm as she pats for pockets."

R'zel grins at that suggestion as he shakes her hand. "Fair enough. I snuck off here more than once back when I was a candidate. Lots of great hiding spots in this garden. It's a pleasure to meet you, Maelona." He steps back towards the bench and picks up his sketchpad, holding it out to her. "You know, I probably won't know the herbs by name… but I've been drawing in the garden all morning. If you see anything you need in my sketches, I can show you where I drew it." Indeed, the pad is full of very detailed drawings of various areas in the garden.

"Aconite, hazel, nettleweed if you have it." She reads from the list once she finds it. The sketchbook is taken carefully and looked at. "You're good! I never got beyond a blob with blobby petals when I did flowers." She looks through and points at one drawing. "That looks like pinkroot. Can we start there?""

R'zel beams at the compliment given to his work. "Why thank you very much. I was a professional artist back before search. I try to keep up with it." He peers at the sketch in question when Maelona finds it, nodding. "Ah-hah. Yes, that's right this way." He turns and heads off down a garden path, waving for her to follow.

Maelona keeps looking at pictures and doesn't see R'zel leave at first, hurries to catch him up. "I can tell. You were professional I mean. Or at least you should have been. It's good that you get to still do it sometimes, does your dragon like it?"

"Are you kidding?" R'zel says with a beaming grin. "He's just as much of a creative spirit as I am. Maybe moreso. You should see his riding straps, he designed them himself… ah! Here we are." R'zel stops by a particular patch of the garden, crouching near a small cluster of herbs. "Is this what you were looking for?"

Maelona shakes her head. Why would she be kidding? "I'd like to! I was born at Fort Weyr so I've met a few dragons, but none of them ever liked pictures of things." Once she tops, she does too. "That's it!" She bends down to gather some, her apron keeping her trousers from getting muddy, and the sketch book ending up in the basket too. "And prickly lettuce too." Some of that goes in the basket too. "Oops." She takes the book and shakes off some dirt. "Sorry."

R'zel looks interested, raising an eyebrow. "Really? You're weyrborn too, then? And you got posted out to a hold? How are you handling the transition? It's a big change, I hear." He looks a little worried about the dirt on the book, but his friendly smile pops back soon enough. "Oh, no worries. They're just practice sketches, after all. Can I help?"

Maelona nods. "My mother works in the kitchen there, but I've been away for a while. Since I was ten. It's not so bad at the hold, though they're a bit stuck up sometimes. Need to be polite." She gives the books back in case she damages it more. "Did you see any dragon's tongue? Um.. it's like aloe, but thinner? Spikey."

"Yeah. I'm part of the transport and delivery wing, I have to deal with holders a lot." R'zel says with a somewhat wry grin as he flips through his sketchbook. "Don't get me wrong, they're mostly nice people. But they can be extremely uptight… does this look like what you're looking for?" He asks, turning the sketchpad around again and pointing to a sketch of a spikey plant.

"The warden's nice at Rubicon." She replies and looks at the book again. Her head tilts to one side. "Maybe? Might be aloe, it's hard to tell if you can't see the ends.Can you remember where it was?" She remembers her basket and stands up to check her list again. "Ineed aloe too so we're fine no matter what. Thank you, I really appreciate this. I'm only a little sorry I interrupted you now." She smiles, making a joke."

R'zel grins as he gets to his feet again, shutting his sketchbook. "Sure. It's not too far. This way." He says, heading off down another path. He makes sure she's following him before he goes too far this time. He chuckles a little at her joke. "No apologies necessary. As a dragonrider, assisting visitors is one of my duties, you know."

"I'll have to make sure I come to the garden first if I visit again. In case I can interrupt you again." She looks down for a moment, but smiles again and makes sure she keeps up. "Oh! Hold on." She moves to the side of the path to gather something large and bushy. "Thorn apple.""

R'zel moves over to the bushy plant, apparently intent on helping gather it. But when he realizes it has 'thorn' in the name and he has no gloves, he thinks the better of it. "Well, I'm always happy to help. You can stop by and knock on my weyr door if you need help again, it's not far from here."

"You have a door on your weyr?" She is confused by that since Fort has the usual cave weyrs. She has collected the plant before and though she does scratch her arm slightly she manages to get a piece for planting later. "It's nice to have help. My aunt doesn't really like plants, she likes babies and things.""

"Oh yes." R'zel says with no small amount of amusement. "Have you spent much time in Xanadu? We're a very modern weyr. Most of the weyrs here are ground buildings. I have a little cottage for myself, with a nice big space for Mikalath. I've also got a little workshop. Personally, I'd take it over a cave any day." He eyes the scratch on her arm, frowning a bit. "You okay there?"

Maelona shakes her head, "This is my first time, which is why I got lost. it must be nice to have your own cottage, I've always had to share. Though I think I'd get lonely. but you have your dragon for that." She nods at him, licking a finger and wiping the scratch. "It's fine, that on's not poisonous or anything. Some of the others you have to be very careful with."

R'zel shrugs his shoulders, thoughtful for a moment. "Well, sometimes the privacy is nice, especially when I'm working on a major project… but it can get a little lonely sometimes. Mikalath is the greatest companion I could ever ask for, but there are times when only human company will do, if you know what I mean." He eyes her scratch for a moment, then shrugs. "If you're certain you'll be alright. What now?"

"What sort of projects do you do? Portraits and things?" She guesses, since she likes what she's seen of his work. She nods in reply, "Alone is good, but sometimes you need a hug." Another nod. She's sure. "To the dragon's tongue, hopefully?""

R'zel smiles and nods. "Portraits, landscapes… although I usually take my easel outside when I want to do a real proper landscape. Portraits are easier indoors. Why, would you like one?" He asks with a grin before leading off in the direction of the spikey plant.

Maelona laughs. "Me? I couldn't pay you for one. And I don't have a wall to put things on. Not that's my own anyway." She follows on, glancing around for more herbs for her basket, "I'd like to see some maybe, if you show people?"

R'zel grins and shakes his head. "Oh, don't worry about payment. I don't do this professionally anymore. I just like to paint for people who will appreciate it. If you'd like to see some, though, I'd be happy to show you… okay, does this look like what you're looking for?" He asks, crouching down near another plant.

"I'd love to." She smiles, and quickly looksat the plant. "That's it!" She takes a piece, and a bit of another plant next to it. "Mint." Rubbing one of the leaves between her fingers she smiles, then offers her hand over to R'zel to smell. "Smell's lovely, makes good tea.""

R'zel leans in to sniff the mint, grinning. "I recognize that one from some things I've had from the bakercraft. Smells tasty." He watches her gather the plant, then takes a look around the nearby garden. "Anything else you need to gather?"

"I'm supposed to get some box thistle, but it's the wrong season for it even if you have it." She sniffs her fingers herself and smiles, "And it gives me an excuse to come back sometime.""

R'zel grins. "It is a lovely weyr, isn't it? Great place to visit as often as you can arrange it… did you have any other errands you needed to take care of while you're here?"

Maelona shakes her head, "Not this time, my aunt will probably be looking for me soon too. She went to see your weyrhealer. It is a nice weyr though, what I've seen of it." her basket goes back on her arm, safely so she can't forget it. "Maybe if you ever come up to Rubicon I can show you around? So long as I don't get lost again. it's pretty, not nearly as big as here though so you don't stay lost for long."

"Oh, really?" R'zel says with a bit of a grin. "I know the journeywoman who runs the infirmary here. She's, ah… nice. In a very odd sort of way. And I'd quite like that, I take it you just live in the crafter residences there?" He scratches his chin. "Hmmm. Do you think you have some time to see some paintings? Or will you be dragged back shortly?

"Most healers are odd. I think we have to be." She giggles, joking again. "We have our own rooms off the infirmary, so we're close by if people need us. But hopefully I can work in the garden a lot so you might find me there?" She considers the invitation, but has to say no. "I should probably get back. She's a bit strict about the apprentice rules and things.""

"In that case, maybe I'll take the next delivery that needs to be brought over to Rubicon." R'zel says with a smile. "I always like seeing new places." He looks just a touch disappointed, but nods. "Of course. Duties always come first. If you happen to come back to Xanadu, stop by. My weyr is the one with the chimes in front, over by the meadow." He gestures in the appropriate direction.

"Meadow. Chimes. Got it." She smiles, tempted to stay but not wanting trouble. "I'm sure we'll be back now and then. I need the thistle after all, and it might grow different here than back home. So I might need to check it sometimes." Handy excuses."

R'zel seems to sense the girl's reluctance to leave, a slightly mischievious smile appearing on his face. "You know…" He says as he takes a step forward, placing a hand on her shoulder. "If you ever need a day or two off, just let me know. I'm sure I can get the healers here to give you a 'special assignment' with plenty of time off. I remember what it was like, sometimes you just need a break."

Maelona looks at his hand, then back up at his face with a giggle, "I get rest days sometimes, everyone does. I'll maybe see if someone will bring me down one day." A fiant blush appears and she looks away for a moment. "Walk me back to the meadow?"

"Just send me a message and I'll pick you up. It is my job, after all." R'zel says with a smile. "Better than ferrying some stuffy holder around, I'd say." He offers her his arm and nods, preparing to head back to the meadow. "Of course."

Maelona takes his arm, though will drop it before they get to the meadow in case she gets spotted and lectured. "I'll try." As she leaves she waves to him. "I'll see you soon R'zel!"

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