Of Beauty and Passion (When Two Artists Meet)

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 and southwest is a wide tunnel, carefully roped off to avoid accidents.

It's the early evening, and the dinner hour has passed for most folks here. The crowds are starting to dwindle, although there is still a sizeable number of people left behind enjoying their meals. Lorenze has one of the coveted spaces by the fire during this chilly winter evening. He's at an otherwise unoccupied table, enjoying a mug of ale and the heat from the hearth. Right now, he is occupied with a sketchbook in his hands, eyes intent on the paper as he sketches something with a pencil.

As meals end, some who've been brought together for the duration begin to part ways. Among them Ashkeia, bidding farewell to a shorter woman with a cheerful, "Will do. See you tomorrow then, Nene." Steam still rises from the mug she holds in one hand as she approaches the hearth, though the beverage lacks the strong odour of klah. Tea, perhaps. She pauses to watch the man sketch, waiting for a point when his hand has paused to interrupt with a quietly voiced, "Good evening. Mind if I sit here?"

Lorenze seems to be working on a sketch of some outdoor scenery, perhaps finishing it from memory. If she's familiar with it, Ashkeia would likely recognize it as the nearby lake. He's apparently absorbed enough in his work that he doesn't notice Ashkeia until she greets him, at which point he looks up and gives her a bright, friendly smile. "Not at all." He shuts the sketchbook and gets to his feet, pulling out a chair near his for her.

Ashkeia looks a little startled for the gentlemanly behaviour, a bemused smile touching her lips. "Thank you," she says sincerely as she sits down. A sigh follows as soon as she's settled, content as she lifts her mug to take a cautious sip. "You have quite a good hand," she compliments, with a gesture for his sketchbook. "Have you trained formally? Or is art just a hobby?"

Lorenze retakes his seat, his smile growing wider at the compliments to his work. "Why, thank you. Very glad you liked it. I'm a professional… or, well, trying to be, at any rate." He says with a little laugh, taking hold of his ale again and having a sip. "Truth be told, I get most of my income doing repairs around the weyr these days. But a few people buy my paintings. Hopefully someday, I'll be able to spend all my time making art… my name's Lorenze." He says, extending a hand towards Ashkeia.

Ashkeia sets her mug down, interest become more dominant in her expression as she listens. "I see. Are landscapes just one of many subjects, or do you focus on them?" She hesitates, seemingly self conscious before extending her hand to meet his — her own somewhat chapped and reddened, signs of manual labour and being unused to such, though there are traceries of old, thin scars, long faded on her fingers and across the back. "Ashkeia. Nice to make your acquaintance, Lorenze. Are you a long time resident or recent arrival?"

Lorenze gives her hand a shake which is firm without being overly strong, smiling as he withdraws to take hold of his ale again. "Oh, I draw many things. Mostly people, animals, and dragons, really. But lately I've been doing more landscapes…" He looks at her with a slightly inquisitive expression, eyebrow raised. "You sound quite interested. Are you an artist yourself?" He has a sip of his ale before answering her question. "I've been here a few months. I will probably stay until I run out of things to draw. What about you?"

Ashkeia's next question, given her interest, might be predictable: "Do you ever show anyone your sketchbook?" She nods then, chuckling softly as she curls her hands together in her lap. "I am. A glass painter and etcher, specifically. I was posted here a little over a turn ago now, and wasn't expecting to leave until I'd attained Journeyman or my Hall decided I would serve better elsewhere, whichever happened first. Things have become a little more… fluid now, I guess you could say." She shrugs her knotted shoulder to accompany that last comment. "Do you travel widely then?"

Lorenze smiles widely and hands the sketchbook over to Ashkeia. "I'm always happy to share my work, especially with a fellow artist. Look as much as you would like." He insists. "I'd be curious to see your own work as well, if you feel comfortable with sharing." He notes the knot as he has another drink. "Ah, candidate. Congratulations! I'll be wishing you the best of luck… and I do travel, yes. Usually I move once or twice a turn. Keeps the creative juices flowing."

Ashkeia grins brightly, her eagerness contained but evident as she accepts the sketchbook and opens it, her fingers light on the edges of the pages so as not to contaminate his work with skin oils. "Thanks. I don't mind showing my work; my own sketchbooks are in the barracks though. I don't like to risk getting food dumped across one. Maybe if we meet up at another time?" She glances up briefly, before carefully turning to the next page. Oddly, she looks a trifle discomfitted for the congratulations for a moment, before again offering a "Thank you; that's kind. Does it? What is it that inspires you, then, if you don't mind my asking?"

The sketchbook contains a wide variety of subjects, each done in the same detailed style. As he said, most of them are of people or dragons, usually engaged in some sort of work or task, likely unaware they were even being drawn. Lorenze watches her expression carefully, perhaps hoping for a hint of what she thinks of the work. "I'd like that. I'm always thrilled to see the work of others." The question earns a thoughtful, contemplative expression. "Beauty, I suppose. New things. New people, new places, new experiences. Sorry if that sounds cliche."

Ashkeia's expression settles into a half-smile as she studies each drawing, pausing to give each its due before moving onto the next. Sometimes her brows might quirk, hand lifting to trace the air above a particular line or patch of shading. "These are lovely," she expresses. "So full of life, and the way you've captured the sense of motion… that's something I still struggle with." As she looks up again her smile grows and she shakes her head. "I don't think that's cliche at all. If one is going to create beauty, it helps to appreciate it, after all. And looking for new experiences keeps things fresh, full of vitality. Keeps the art from becoming stagnant." A faint flush comes to her cheeks and she ducks her head. "Sorry."

Lorenze gives a beaming smile, clearly thrilled to have his work praised. "I'm so glad to hear you think so. You're very kind to say that…" He chuckles softly. "Of course, sometimes it would be nice if people stood still while I drew them. Might make things a little easier on me. But I'm glad you like the results all the same." He grins and leans closer. "Why apologize? I agree completely with what you're saying."

Ashkeia laughs quietly, reaching up to brush her bangs out of her eyes before gently closing the sketchbook and handing it back. "Merely honest," she replies. "With talent like this, I'm sure you'll be able to turn your hand to art full time successfully. You just need to get the right exposure, and people should be lining up to request pieces." She picks up her tea, another careful test finding it now cool enough to drink deeply. "Ah, but then you'd lose the natural ease. It's pretty rare, I've found, to find someone who can pose without ending up looking a bit stiff." Tilting her head, she lifts her brows in a sort of facial shrug, "I'm more used to people who find such passion a little… odd. Or impractical. People that believe there are more useful things than art, to be learned from the world and the people and creatures within it. And there are, I know. But the world would be awfully dull if everything about it were practical, don't you think?"

"Couldn't agree more." Lorenze replies as he takes back the sketchbook, carefully tucking it into his jacket before he picks up his nearly-drained mug of ale. "I'm not sure a life without passion and beauty would be worth living. I hope that doesn't sound too overly dramatic." He says with a little laugh. "And you have a point. Drawing people who are actually posing does sacrafice a little bit of the spontaneity. But there are benefits as well… have you drawn a lot of the locals?"

Ashkeia relaxes back into her chair, stretching her legs out beneath the table. Her eyelids droop a little as she turns her gaze towards the fire in the hearth, watching the flames dance from over the top of her mug. "Perhaps a little dramatic," she chuckles, turning her head to look at Lorenze once more. "But I agree with you. Life should be a rainbow, not shades of gray." She nods, "I've drawn several, though most without their knowledge. People fascinate me, on all sorts of levels. And there's just something that feels more… more real, I guess, catching them in moments when they're not conscious of being watched. At least, not watched and also drawn. Sometimes they are posing, just not for me." She grins a bit, amusement in her eyes.

"Ah, well, that's something in the nature of weyr life, isn't it?" Lorenze replies with a little laugh. "I think I would very much like to see your work. Maybe we could collaborate on a project… or if nothing else, you'd make an excellent subject, if you have the time." He says, draining the last of his ale before going on. "I have a small space in the residents hall that they've let me turn into a studio. Would you like to come by some time?"

"Yes, indeed. Makes things more interesting, though," Ashkeia agrees, eyes sparkling. She blinks a bit and sits up abruptly, the surprise in her face perhaps making it apparent that she's never thought of herself as a suitable subject for sketching. "It would be interesting to do a collaboration," she seizes on that, instead. "I've not really done much such exercises, barring a few assigned projects during my junior apprenticeship. I would like that, yes. Perhaps on my next rest day, if your own duties permit?" She lingers for a short while longer, so they can either agree upon a time or just to play things by ear. But before too much longer she has to take her leave, departing with a warm smile and a "Good night, Lorenze."

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