Xanadu Weyr – Caverns

A massive cavern in it's own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as are the walls where numerous tapestries hang to provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt, leveled carefully but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.
The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area, however, is the one near the Kitchens where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. Its plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr and equally plain that on such occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are appropriated from all the other areas.

A big fireplace is set into the wall near the Kitchens as well, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, a big archway the largest and that leading outside. Shallow stairs to the west lead to the offices and administration area while tunnels to the east lead to the infirmary, kitchen and resident's quarters. Southwards, a sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs.

The daily bustle of the caverns moves about at its usual pace, people heading this way and that in the midst of their various errands and responsibilities. But Arabet's pace is her own: slower, aimless, a leisurely disparate glide amongst the swift-moving currents. She's weighed down by a couple of bags strapped to her back, another slung across to her hip, carrying as well the wrinkled and windblown look of traveler. But in lieu of a lost expression, she wears one that, unlike her clothes, is apparently unruffled. There's something quietly alert as her blue eyes move from person to person. But it's difficult to look for someone when you have no idea who it is you're looking for, and so she tries to catch the attention of a passerby with just the upward jerk of her chin.

Just passing Arabet is a stylish young woman, about the same age as the traveler. While the traffic in the caverns does tend towards the brisk, know-where-I'm-going sort, hers is more leisurely. Her high heeled steps take her in long, graceful strides from the direction of the Infirmary, one hand pushing a wheeled cart that is loaded…with clean and folded crisp, white linens. Apparently for the infirmary and yet headed back towards the halls where the laundry room is. In iceblue eyes is the light of battle, but the smirk upon tinted lips is amused and quite satisfied. She's not so intent on her errand that she misses that chin lift and so pauses, her attention - if not her thoughts - given to the stranger. "Can I help you?" There's a polite smile that, while it doesn't completely erase the ire of moments past, at least warms her enough to be accommodating, if not friendly.

Arabet's gaze takes a steady and unveiled once over of the well-dressed woman in front of her, but whatever she makes of her, the newcomer keeps it well hidden behind her eyes. There's only a quick toss of her head to flip some of that dark, tumbling hair away from her face. "I'm looking for the headwoman," she answers, her voice quiet but throaty instead of demure. There's nothing particularly solicitous her in demeanor, either, no polite smile to smooth the edges, just a glance at the next person passing by who could very well be the one she's looking for. Needless to say, she doesn't realize that she's already found her mark.

That glance would skim a petite, a tailored skirt and jacket ensemble, with silvery threads woven throughout to create a subtle floral pattern, brightening the otherwise drab grey matelasse. The neckline plunges, modesty barely achieved by the translucency of powder blue faille blouse, the skirt shows more than half the length of her thighs. She doesn't fit the perceived expectations of what a headwoman ought to be; she likely knows and is unconcerned with both the fact and the lack of recognition. Her free hand lifts languidly, manicured fingernail flick sliver-blonde strands if hair back over her shoulder, revealing that yes, she's wearing her knot, even though the colors clash with her outfit. "That'd be me," she says casually, unhurried.

Arabet's attire is hardly so striking — just a pair of dark pants fitting snugly to her slim legs and into her tall boots, a shirt unbuttoned low on her chest and billowed faintly from the wrap of a wide leather belt about her hips. It's functional, maybe flattering in a hapless way. She has no knot to speak of herself, just strings of necklaces hanging down her chest and a few bracelets at her wrists. But Darsce's knot does get a bit of a reaction, some vague lift of Arabet's eyebrows to indicate her surprise. There's no sign that the new arrival is any more impressed by the woman's rank than she was by the click of her pretty heeled shoes, but a slow, cool smile starts to curve at her mouth. "I'd like to rent a room," she says without explanation or preamble. It's not exactly all business, but she doesn't seem one to mince words.

Darsce doesn't seem to much care one way or the other if she impresses people. Her answer had been given in a matter-of-fact manner, the brushing hair away from the hidden knot more likely done to save time assuring whomever that, yes, she really is the headwoman, really-really (apparently she's done it enough times that the gesture is by now automatic). Likewise, there's no reaction of surprise from her about the wanted room, her eyes have already taken the woman's measure, dubbed her 'new-comer'. "We have some empties," she acknowledges evenly. "For how many and how long would you like?"

The steadiness of the headwoman's responses seems to add a little fuel to Arabet's mild expression, a smile that's for herself rather than Darsce. "For one." Just her, just her and her bags. "With a lock," she specifies, in case things are a bit more trust-thy-neighbor than she's accustomed to. But this is a promising start at least, and so she lets her glance skim aside, observation of other passersby, the cart before the headwoman, all a bit more leisurely now. And she wonders to satisfy idle curiosity rather than make or break the deal: "Does rent cover food?"

Darsce considers. A room for one, not a family and with a lock. So a single cot will do. "You won't want the common dorm then," she decides coolly. "Those'll be a bit more, but all the doors have a key-lock." She names a per-night price, adding, "That includes your daily meals and a deposit to cover a replacement handle with lock if you forget to turn in the key when you leave." Shaped brows lift fractionally, the implied question to prompt the answer as to when that will be. Not that the woman isn't welcome to stay as long as she likes, but fluctuations in residency is something she has to track.

It's a bare shake of her head that agrees; Arabet is not looking for just a cot in the dormitory. "Less by the month?" she wonders upon hearing the price, so Darsce's brows can ask whatever they like, but it seems they'll only get that prelude of an answer. The deposit is meet with no objections at all, just the veneer of an amused smile for the likelihood of 'forgetting' to turn in her key. And then it's Arabet's eyebrows that rise, to see if they're ready to strike a deal, a faint tip of her head toward the cart acknowledging that the headwoman was in the middle of something before this interruption.

Darsce remains unruffled. She's met her share of evasive folk, is aware that plans can be fluid things, changing without notice or upon whim; she doesn't press. She does name an adjusted price, adding, "Should you wish to keep your personal funds from depletion, you could see the steward about work. The Wandering Wherry and the Treetop Cafe see frequent enough turnover that they can use dishwashers, wait staff and cooks often enough." Her head tips towards the door past the hearths, "Through the administration hall, the office just to your right would be his. Ask for Jethaniel." And she lingers politely, no indication of whether she needs to hurry off, to see if the woman wishes to reconsider her options. One night? Several? A month?

Arabet looks where Darsce's tipped head guides her, the hall, toward the office she can't see from here. She turns back to the headwoman with just an empty smile, not, it would seem, all that eager to go tracking down employment, no matter what her funds might look like. "Just a month, to start." Plans, they're very fluid things, but apparently she intends to be here for at least that long. So there's payment to be handed over, a room to be assigned and a key delivered, and that cart still waiting to find out if it belongs in the laundry or the infirmary. Arabet leaves it to Darsce to determine the whens and wheres of these things, waiting patiently to learn how the headwoman would like to proceed.


Xanadu Weyr - Headwoman's Office

This grand office belongs to Xanadu's illustrious Headwoman. With walls of mahogany, dusted and polished to an elegant shine, this office gleams of cleanliness and organization. An entire wall is covered from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, upon which are catalogued each and every tithe delivery, complaint, report and gathering organized by the Lower Caverns Staff. A fairly simple desk sits off center of the office, made of the same red wood that the walls are built from and behind it sits a hard, high backed chair.
A large rug, woven of the same design found in the Weyrleaders' Office upstairs can be seen on the floor, greeting those who enter this office for whatever reason with the crest of Xanadu Weyr, making it hard to forget where exactly you are. Glow lamps are situated here and there, but the largest of which sits upon the clean surface of the Headwoman's desk, kept neat with the writing utensils situated off to the side.

And a name to be added to her ledger along with the key number, to which the headwoman, upon hearing the length of time required for rental says briskly, "This way then." The cart and she head in the direction of the administration hallway, where she turns not to her right, but to the left; the door is directly opposite the one she'd mentioned. The homeless cart is left in the hall; she enters the office and moves behind the desk, sits, pulls out a ledger and flips to the appropriate page, all movements economizing time but without overdue haste. Reaching for a pen, she holds it poised over the line of entry while iceblue eyes lift to the woman. "What name would you like entered?" Not, specifically asking personal questions here, says the small and somewhat knowing uptick of her mouth. A pseudonym will do just as well as long as the marks are genuine.

Arabet follows as bidden, keeping up with a easy stride, her flat-soled boots quiet beside the heels and the cartwheels, though there is a little jangle of bracelets as she lifts a hand to run through dark hair, abandoning the motion before her fingers can separate the windtossed waves. When they reach the door that is left instead of right, she lingers at the threashold, leaving distance to grow between herself and the headwoman while Darsce so efficiently deals with her ledger. Arabet's hand takes an idle touch of the white linens on the waiting cart, but by the time she looks up again, it would appear that the paper work is ready to be filled out, and she enters, finally, to stand before the desk. A half-beat passes as she glimpses the upside-down page. "Arabet." Pseudonym or not, it will do.

The scratching of the pen writes, the script flowing, artful but readable. Maybe not upside down though. Name, Arabet. Room number, 113, the amount paid, date of deposit, date of renewal - if needed - all noted. The pen is then placed back in its holder, the ledger is flipped closed and slid back into the drawer, which is then shut. The headwoman's chair swivels, she opens a small metal cabinet and removes a key from one of the tabs. "Payment is in advance, should you decide to leave early, come to me and I'll see that you are refunded." The key remains in her hand and while she waits for Arabet to make her payment, she says, "Your room is in the residents hall - that's the one nearest the bathing caverns. The latrines are just beyond yours by a few yards. The room is a small one. There's a dresser, cot and shelves; the bed is made up. You'll need to drop off your used linens and pick up fresh in the laundry weekly." She's been through the spiel often enough, but its spoken pleasantly. "Should you find anything amiss, see me. I'm Darsce." No title required.

Payment. For that, Arabet animates, slinging the one bag from her shoulder so that she can free the strap of the second and then finally the third, lugging it front-ward with a foot on the chair to rest the hefting weight on her knee. There's rummaging and adjusting, all the while a nod here or there for the latrines and linens, and eventually the necessary marks are produced and set on the desk before Darsce. It takes a moment for the traveler to go about cinching everything back up and swinging it all back into place. After that she's ready for her key. The woman's mouth curls again, satisfied and conspiring, a smile to share, steady eyes on Darsce's face. "Thanks," she says, a blanket gratitude to cover everything.

Iceblue eyes twitch just a bit as the sole of Arabet's shoe contacts the upholstery of that chair. She says nothing, merely receives the marks and busies herself storing in in the daily accounts receivable box that will go to the steward at the end of the day, then rises with a fluid motion afterwards. Apparently she's either heading back out or will be seeing Arabet to the door. "My pleasure," she says amiably, her own smile if not wide, at least genuine. Once they're out in the hall, her office is shut, locked and the hapless cart reclaimed. "Meals are three times daily, but there's always something on the serving tables between. The bathing caverns are less crowded between wing rotations and midmorning is the best time to avoid most of the men, if that matters." Darsce's grimace says it matters to her. "Late at night they're almost deserted. Towels and bathing supplies are kept there. Welcome to Xanadu." Then with a flutter of fingers she - and the cart depart.

Hopefully Arabet's boot doesn't leave too much behind — she did come across a rather damp field to get here — but there's no second glance to check, so it would seem that's a discovery for Darsce to make on her own. Instead, her key in hand, the dark-haired woman treads back to the door, her cool glance cast up and down the hall as she listens to all the insider's recommendations about various amenities. The bit about bathing without men brings a private smirk to her mouth, but ultimately she says nothing about any of it and when Darsce offers her welcome, all Arabet says is, "Thanks," again. Perhaps the 'see you around' is implied somewhere. And as the headwoman heads off to get back to her work, the newcomer turns in own direction and, with any luck, some exploration will find standing in front of door #113, eventually.

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