Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in its own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as have walls hung with numerous tapestries that 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. The stone is carefully leveled 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 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. It's plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr, instead feeding people in shifts as they come off duty. On occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are borrowed from all the other areas.
There's also a big fireplace set into the western wall, 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, the largest an archway to the northeast that leads outside. Near it there's an alcove with hooks for coats and shelves for muddy boots. A tunnel to the east goes to the infirmary, and a set of stairs just a little south of that lead up to the offices and administration area. To the south, a long and sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs. The kitchen is off to the southwest, while the residents' quarters are reached by tunnels going west, deeper into the cliff.
It's early afternoon and lunch is in high swing. S'ai is sitting mostly by himself. Though rather gregarious overall, he's still a stranger here and seems to be sitting by himself. It could also be because he has no small amount of plates in front of him. He's currently cutting through a large roast tuber, dipping a chunk in some sort of viscous green sauce likely made of various herbs, and pops the piece in his mouth.
It's with a young man that Gaedrielle is speaking when she wanders into the general vicinity. There's smiling and laughing, the usual sort of exchanges between people who seem to enjoy one another's company. And when they pause, it's pretty close to behind S'ai's seat. Close enough that it might be considered inconsiderate. "You just need to remember that they're innately dumb and the logic that /you/ think makes sense won't necessarily make sense to them. It's like… trying to describe the world to a baby that doesn't know what the world is yet. You have to give them a frame of reference first." Fortunately, the man, after offering his thanks, excuses himself. And that's when Gae turns, forgetting that there's a chair so close. At least there's not enough momentum to do anything but kind of bounce off of it. "Oh, gosh, excuse me. I'm so sorry."
Mouth full of food, the Fortian rider tilts his head slightly at the noise from behind. Okay, it may not be nice to eavesdrop but they're /right there/. Kinda hard not to. When Gaedrielle stops and takes notice as her companion departs, S'ai is caught blinking and glancing ever so slightly over his shoulder in an expression of having obviously been tuning in on the chatter. He hastily swallows and clears his throat with a low cough, "Oh, no worries. Big cavern but kinda hard to not still run into someone or be standing right there, ya know?" He says good-naturedly. "Especially at lunchtime."
"I saw you as I came over, I think." She just forgot once he was out of sight again. As one does. Gaedrielle glances over the table, taking stock of everything even as she asks, "Are you waiting for other people? I was going to get something to eat. Would it be weird if I joined you? I don't really know anyone— I mean, I don't know you, either, but at least we've interacted so asking you isn't as awkward as walking up to someone else unsolicited and asking /them/. I don't really want to sit alone. " Sort of like how he is right now. She probably doesn't mean anything by the implication that it's undesirable to sit by oneself, though.
S'ai glances to the table in front of him and scan the plates. Bit by bit, he tries not to make a scene of condensing them to make room. "Nope! Just me. Feel free to grab a seat, who am I to hold dominion over the dinner table?" He asks in what sounds to be a rhetorical fashion as he gestures to the empty space. "And so it's less awkward, I'm S'ai. Here from Fort thanks to Zeruth, my bronze. Figure our names have gotten around the place but, eh, still feels weird to go mooching space with the wings."
"Fantastic!" Gae might even leave right then to go get her own food, but she's totally distracted by introductions and talking in general. Talking is way better than food. So she sits down in the next closest chair and props her chin up on one hand. "I'm not really from around here so you'll have to excuse my ignorance. But I think I've heard those names. The eggs, right? They're yours? Well, your dragon's, I mean. You must be proud!" Pause. "Is that a thing? Do you all get proud of that sort of thing?" Then, without hardly a moment to breathe, she adds, "I'm Gaedrielle. Or Gae, I guess. It's kind of a mouthful." But she's clearly an expert at forming a ton of words in a short amount of time, so it kind of suits her.
S'ai utters a quiet laugh at the slew of commentary. He doesn't seem to mind though as he responds, "Totally. I'm proud of him, that was his first flight! No sooner do we graduate weyrlinghood then he's marching over here and catching himself a gold. It did not make things terribly easy, my poor wingmates barely got to work with me before I had to march myself over here. It's well worth it though. It's crazy. I've a weyrbrat, my mom's a weyrwoman so I've seen tons of clutchings firsthand. Totally different story when they belong to your dragon though. Can't wait to see the hatchlings." His grin is wide and toothy, beaming even with the glee of it. "It's good to meetcha, Gae. So where ya from? Gotta admit, nice to meet another non-native. Not that I'm native to Fort either, but.. eh, minor details."
Even Gaedrielle has to look kind of impressed by that bit of information. And she probably barely knows anything about the mating practices of dragons. Except that it, of course, happens. A lot. "Were you here when it started? Or did you plan to be here for it?" Even for a dragonrider, he's a long way from home. And if she's prying, she seems pretty oblivious to the fact, judging by her own bright smile. Getting caught up in other peoples' good feelings is kind of nice, after all. "I'm from Landing, mostly. Programmer, here on business."
"No and no." S'ai says with a shake of his head. "I was on my way to visit family and Zeruth up and went on a side trip. Next I know we were up there," He remarks with a point to the hidden sky. "And the flight was on. It was a complete surprise during and after. I guess it still is, slightly, but.. a good one." At her further words he perks up even further, a bright gleam touching his eyes. "Really? Just joined the Techcraft myself. I'd like to check that place out sometime. I never got much experience with stuff like the heavy tech but I'm a fair hand at tinkering and coming up with crazy ideas. Once the eggs crack and we're good to travel I plan to check it out. I know Zeruth wants to see it all."
Perhaps not sure she can trust a dragonrider not to give her /details/ about the during and after, Gaedrielle readily focuses on the craft-related change of subject instead. "Congratulations! It's always nice to see, uh, older students apprenticing to such exciting crafts. I'm sure Tech will be better off with you in their ranks." That, possibly, is just an encouraging thing she says to everyone. "I'm not so great with building anything, myself. But talking to things? Pretty good at that." That's probably not very surprising at this point.
"Never tried it myself." S'ai remarks, "But my family was pretty traditional. I definitely want to give it a shot though even if it's not my thing." At this he glances towards the cavern's entrance with a faintly distant, thoughtful expression, though it's quick to pass and breaks back into his more easy-going smile. "Course hearing that, and eavesdropping in my brain, Zeruth now has a million questions on how you talk to something like that. He also wants to know if they think, feel, get hungry, desire to fly, dream, or talk back." He gives his head a shake at this. "He's persistent when he needs to know something."
"Traditional? You mean like dragonriders not joining crafts?" Gaedrielle should probably wait for a moment if she actually expects an answer, but no. She just keeps talking. "Seems like crafts and dragons go together pretty well. We sure need them to get us where we're going, you know. Seems like having your own would just be… easier." As for the dragon's questions, "Oh, no. Nothing like that. Sometimes it's easy to pretend that they do, though. It feels a little personal sometimes when you can't get something to work right. Like it's working against you on purpose. But everything they say is something they're programmed to say."
"Weeelll, not the more 'modern' ones." S'ai says with a faint waggle of a hand. "Mom's Harper-trained, dad's a Smith. New tech really isn't their thing. Not that they'd care what I did eventually as long as I did something productive. I was perhaps a bit of a disappointment for a good portion of my youth." He hitches up his shoulders in a shrug, seeming utterly unconcerned about such a thing. "But crafts are good these days, I suppose. Not like Thread is falling. Us and the beasties gotta do something productive, especially with new dragons popping up all the time. You have a chance to stop and see the eggs yet? I was just getting ready to head back that way, change out the watch shift."
Gaedrielle has a warm smile for the bronzerider despite, or maybe because of, that talk about disappointment. "It's good to feel useful. I like it, anyway." As for the eggs, Gae's smile brightens just a little more. "I haven't seen them yet, no. But I've been meaning to make it a stop before I go home. And now that I know the rider of their /sire/, it seems kind of exciting." Well, she knows his name, anyway. That's probably more than enough for a person like her. "Like they're more… Well, I know they're real. Tangible, maybe."
"Oooh they're real." S'ai says with a chuckle as he rises from his seat. "And bigger than you think, though really, that should make sense. I mean, a dragon can't hatch from a tiny egg. Well some have but those are usually little dragons. I swear they get more colorful too with every generation. You're welcome to come along. Sands are off limits, of course, but the arena has tons of good views far less close to a moody mother. Right now it's still quiet now the initial rush has worn off." He stacks his dishes, though a drudge is quick enough to beat him to taking them to be cleaned.
"I'd /love/ to join you. And stay at a perfectly safe distance." Which could very well be further than even necessary. It's /good/ to have a healthy respect for the size difference between dragons and people. Never mind the big teeth. Gaedrielle beams even at the drudge that comes to clean up after S'ai. If she'd meant to actually eat, though, she seems to have forgotten that particular need for time being. There will always be a chance later, after all!
Xanadu Weyr - Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.
The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.
The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.
Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.
The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.
S'ai makes his way out into the afternoon of Xanadu Weyr, squinting at the adjustment from dim interiors to bright exteriors. Oh! But there's a convenient shadow. Zeruth, so helpful. No sooner is his rider emerging then the bronze is there, tromping up towards the entrance with that shambling gait of dragons. Silly shorter forelegs. S'ai is quick to hold up a warding hand, giving the dragon an affectionate eyeballing. "No, no. No bombarding. I know that look. It's my look." To which the bronze utters a low, sullen harumph and a snort at his rider.
Oh, look! A giant dragon! Gaedrielle hesitates for just a moment. She's a little more used to the smaller ones that tend to give her rides. And not a one has shown her much more than passing interest. If she ends up standing just slightly off to the side and /behind/ S'ai, maybe it's just a coincidence! "Hello," she says to the bronze. "We were just going to look at the eggs." More quietly to the rider himself, "Is that okay with him? That one's /yours/, right?"
"Don't mind him, he just wants to ask those bagillion questions from earlier. He's added a few." S'ai rubs a hand over his face as he glances back (only slightly) to Gaedrielle. "Some days he's quiet as a rock, others he will not stop asking things. Like a kid." He looks back to the dragon, who utters a decidedly humanlike, disdainful sniff. Mention of the eggs brings his faceted eyes to turn down upon the young woman and there's a pensive rumble uttered. And then he's speaking right to her, unabashed and open. His voice is a near perfect echo of his rider's with the underlaying timbre of a metallic thrum. It's accompanied by a vast landscape of night, steel and glass in endless black with lights of a bright welcoming blue. « You may. » And to his rider he looks, a gleam of green in his eye. There's a moment of apparent silent discussion, the expressions on S'ai's face shifting from considering to accepting some point the beast must make to a wave of his hand in a dismissing 'yeah yeah' sort of way. "Apparently he finds you quite interesting. Course, that may be because you know mystical tech speak that he adores, but… any chance you might be able to stick around? I know you're here on business, buuutt… if you really want to get a close look at those eggs you're officially invited to be a candidate, Gaedrielle."
Sure, she's pretty good at talking to various things, both animate and less so. But a dragon in her head is not something she's exactly prepared for and it leaves Gaedrielle uncharacteristically speechless, mouth open and expression an interesting mixture of curiosity and uncertainty. "I, uh…" she says, lamely, when S'ai is talking again. It takes a few more moments for her eyes to flicker back toward the rider. Maybe she's forgotten the question. Or just that she's supposed to give /some/ sort of answer. "I think that would be… fascinating." And there's finally a hint of a smile pulling at her lips again.
"Er, sorry about Zeruth." S'ai says with an apologetic grimace as he reaches into his riding jacket and withdraws a white knot, straightening it out from being just slightly rumbled, and offers it over. "He's not shy about chatting to someone when he wants and he does not give any warning. It can be weird if a dragon's never talked to you. Every one feels and sounds different but, uh, hah.. you'll find out! Even the eggs have their own personalities, it's pretty amazing. But welcome, Candidate! I can show you where the candidate barracks are, cots are pretty much first come first serve."
"No, no. It's okay. I just… I've never… it hasn't happened before." But he pretty much already figured that out. "Maybe I can come talk computers with him sometime. If he'd like that. Or if you would, even, I guess." Gaedrielle's smile is brighter again, apparently getting over her initial shock easily enough. That or hiding it pretty well. "Thank you. I… sure. Yes! I don't know if I could guess where the candidate barracks are. Or you can just point me there and I can find them later. You said you needed to get back to the eggs, didn't you?"
"Ah right." S'ai says with a faint roll of his eyes, though the ever present smile is still there. "Probably best not to keep big momma waiting, she takes her break time seriously. But yah, I'm sure we'll get plenty of time to talk. Zeruth will likely want to make sure everyone keeps on their toes. Apologies in advance if he decides to wake you all up in the middle of the night. The barracks are thataway." He says with a point to the appropriate direction, "…now that I finally remember that…" He mumbles and then adds, "it's not nearly as scary as it seems, promise. Just have fun, get to know folks. It goes fast.”
Gaedrielle glances 'thataway', then back at S'ai. And even Zeruth. Her smile is back to its previous brightness and there's something more excited in her expression. "I'm going to go check that out. But maybe I'll see you later. I still want to take a peek at the eggs." For a moment it looks like she might do something crazy like /hug/ the bronzerider, but instead she bites her lip and half-twirls off in the direction he'd indicated to explore her temporarily new home.