Always a Competition

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.

Now that it is Spring and it is starting to slowly warm up, Briari is more than overjoyed as the snow has melted away and starting to be replaced with the fresh sight of new life springing from the grounds and dangling from the trees. Having just finished a shift of working dishes in the kitchen, the young candidate is settled at a table, eating a meal and wearing a blue dress with a hint of silver trim threaded throughout the material. Her white candidate knot is proudly displayed over her left shoulder strap. As always, her faithful guitar is settled near by her, as well as her apron tied about the long neck of the instrument.

Mur'dah has managed to find some mud among the melting snow that lingers in the forest, and the brownrider looks a disheveled sight as he tromps into the caverns. Filthy? Well, sure, as he pulls his wet tunic away from his sculpted chest with a *squelch* sound. "Sharding Faranth forsaken mud," he mutters, tromping through the caverns to the drink table and finding himself a tall glass of water to gulp down. Next is a cloth, damp for washing tables, which he uses to wipe down his face and get most of the mud off of it with a crooked grin. "Who wants a hug?"

Colder weather suits Kiena just fine but then her work often has her around hot forges all day and heavy work that keeps her plenty warm enough. Now that her shift is over though? The bluerider hit up the hot springs for a quick wash but is still donning her work clothes despite their less then clean state. Stifling a yawn, she'll spy Briari and offer the familiar Candidate a quick wave and a cheery "Afternoon!" as she shuffles over to the serving tables. Only there's a mud-clad rider there first and her nose wrinkles and before her retort can fly, recognition hits. Her laughter rings out, "Shards, Mur'dah. What'd you do this time? Fall from Kalsuoth? And here I thought I was being rude by still wearin' my Smithin' clothes." she drawls, hands resting on her hip as she smirks at him.

Lifting a hand to wave, Briari gives a smile over to Kiena, then goes back to her meal. Her lips tug upwards in an amused grin at the sight of Mur'dah, though her eyes 'may' linger a bit too long at his 'sculpted chest.' She may as well appreciate the finer things in life for a few moments. Slicing a piece of meat off the bone, she pops it into her mouth with a stab of her fork.

Mur'dah grins wide and crooked as he spots Kiena, shaking his head. "Wasn't my fault!" he says cheerfully. "Just slipped while chopping some wood, is all. Sharding mud." He tugs at his tunic again with a little twitch of 'ugh-ness', and then he just peels his tunic right off and drapes it over the back of a chair, sprawling into it with a creak. "Come give me a hug," he calls to Kiena, patting his lap invitingly. Bright eyes look around and spot the Candidate's gaze lingering, and his brows lift. "Afternoon."

Kiena quirks a brow, "Uh huh. Don't remember you being the clumsy type." Is she buying it? Not quite. Then she just rolls her eyes as Mur'dah peels off his tunic and smirks, glancing sidelong to Briari. Oh yes, she saw that lingering look too but the bluerider seems unruffled. "Men." Is all she says to the Candidate for now and a mock, long-suffering sigh. She is going to get some food! For the both of them (and maybe a few more towels). "Really? But I just bathed," Kiena grumbles as she sets the plate of food down, shaking her head and giving Mur'dah a playful smack (more a nudge really) with her hand upside his head. So not a hug! "Fine!" Down she plunks herself in a casual flop, likely elbowing the brownrider on purpose. "Done with chores for the day, Briari?" she calls with a grin. "They not workin' you too hard, are they?"

Propping her chin up in the palm of her hand, Briari's fingers lightly curl about her jawline as she dazes for a moment as she stares at the shirtless rider, before giving a blink and a shake of her head. "Uh, yeah, men, right?" She coughs out for a moment as her cheeks flush. "Yes ma'am, I'm done with my chores and then some. But, no, they are not working me too hard, though they may think they are. I'm used to hard work. You don't get anywhere in life by taking the easy way out. I like working, it keeps me focused." She cuts another look back to the man again before she goes back to studying her meal. "So, uh, he obviously works out." Cough. Sputter.

Mur'dah eyes his weyrmate with a smirk. "Me? Not clumsy?" Does she /know/ him? He certainly has his moments! "Ow!" he protests her smack, but he happily loops his arms around her waist when she settles, with only the smallest of grunts for the elbowing. "We can take one together later," he drawls, in high spirits with a crooked grin and a wink. "Briari, huh? Nice to meet you. Mur'dah." He looks down at himself and laughs. "The life of a dragonrider, Candidate. Don't work out so much as /work/. Comet keeps me busy." Did he flex? Maybe.

Kiena snickers under her breath. Yeah, she knows Mur'dah well enough. Settling in comfortably, she'll casually pick at the food she dragged over and then snorts, "Later." she promises with an equally crooked grin and maybe another elbow (gentle!) to the ribs. "Don't let him get to ya. He's a joker, this one." she drawls with an amused smirk to Briari as she pops a bite of food into her mouth. "Like the way you think! Bit of hard work never hurt no one. Hmm?" Work out? Kiena's head turns and maybe she catches Mur'dah flexing or she connects the dots and she laughs. "Nah, like he said… Dragonridin' keeps you pretty much fit on its own. Helps too with what you do. He's Transport and I'm Smithin' most days. So you're settlin' in alright then as Candidate?"

Smirking slightly, Briari simply admires the flexing for a moment before she straightens up. "I work out twice a day, as Kiena has seen earlier in the week. I'm up before the sun, get a work out in, then I do my chores, then a bit of socializing, then another workout before bed." The blonde in the blue dress gives a slight flex of her own arms, showing firm, taut muscle under her sunkissed skin. Born to climb mountains and surf the largest waves. "I'm Briari, journeyman Harper by the way. Guitarist and singer." She pauses for a moment, then says, "And you're distracting me, in a good way." Her teeth flash for a grin.

Giroux seems to almost always have a smile on his face and it seems today isn't any different. He pauses at the entrance for a moment before he looks around, his eyes seeking out any of his candimates or any of the riders he's so recently gotten to know. It's a quick glance and then he's off to get some food and a glass of juice before he turns back towards the gathering of people, finally noticing a couple of somewhat familiar faces. He heads that way, carrying his tray and his mug and offering up a "Hello everyone." When he gets into speaking distance.

Mur'dah reaches around Kiena, who sits in his lap, to take some of the food she brought over, eating with his fingers. "Well met, Briari. And am I? Well as long as it's in a good way, then I won't apologize." There's another crooked grin and even a wink for the Candidate, all in good fun. "What's your favorite way to work out?" he asks her curiously. "Have a good day in the forges?" he asks, softer, to Kiena with a smile.

Kiena drags the plate a little closer so that Mur'dah can reach. She chuckles, "Found her workin' out in the Observatory Level of the Hatching grounds." she explains with a grin and then leans back against the brown rider's bare chest as she nibbles at another piece of food. "Sounds like you've your schedule and routines down pat! That all you do then? Y'said you're a Harper too. Keepin' to your studies while a Candidate?" she asks curiously before rolling her eyes again. "Mur'dah, you're awful, you know that?" she teases him, while offering Giroux a broad smile. "Afternoon, Giroux! Done your chores too then?" With her free hand, she flicks it to the empty chairs. Come join! "A busy one," Kiena replies softly to Mur'dah.

"If you don't mind him flexing, just don't get mad if I keep staring. He's as close as a real man I've seen about here since I got searched. Everyone else is skinny and whimpy and sulky." Briari says with a smirk on her face as she lets her eyes trail him once more before she shakes her head. "My favorite workout?" She pushes herself up and gives a few hops of her feet. "One armed pull-ups." She states with a firm nod of her head. "I try and do ten reps of push ups, five hundred crunches, three reps of pull ups with both hands, then one rep with one hand." She says as she picks up her empty plate and cup. "But one armed pull-ups are my favorite. I can really get a good burning going with them."

"Hey, I resemble that remark!" Giroux states as he comes up and sits his plate and mug down as he looks over towards Briari. "But don't let me being small fool you." He admits, grinning a bit impishly at her before he looks at Kiena and waves. "Hello Kiena." He nods to the man, giving him a salute. "Sir." He reaches down and takes the mug and slurps a swig from it in a most gentlee manner. "See?" he pulls his shirt up just a little bit, but it's enough to show a rather well toned six pack. Surprising even, given Giroux's blood status.

Mur'dah gently kisses Kiena's shoulder in silent thanks when she moves the plate closer, and then he grins crookedly at her, giving her a squeeze around the middle. "Hey," he greets Giroux, returning the salute absently. "That's not bad!" he compliments the younger man, looking down at his own six - almost eight! - pack. "You must'a hit puberty early, to already have that muscle tone." He gives his stomach a gentle pat and returns to eating, only to nearly choke at Briari's list of things. "Shards and shells, girl, hahaha." He laughs. He doesn't believe her. Clearly.

Kiena smiles as she turns her head to peer back at Mur'dah and she rests her one arm over his at his squeeze. Careful! "Mhm?" With her other hand, she'd just taken another bite of food only to cough and almost choke. "Oh for Faranth's sake…!" she sighs, giving the brownrider a look and then Giroux too (and yes, she sneaks a peek — curiosity!). "You boys are so typical! Quit with the competin'! Next thing you know you'll be comparin'…" Kiena catches herself and grins impishly. "… Well, just quit it, alright? Some of us are tryin' to enjoy a meal." Uh huh. "Me? Mad? Nah," Kiena scoffs to Briari and lazily rolls one of her hands. See? Not fazed at all and not a hint of jealousy! "What's wrong with the skinny ones? Too much muscle is… eh." She shrugs and then chuckles, mostly to herself. "Jays! You're pretty serious on your workouts, eh, Briari? Why such the intense routine?"

Glancing over to Giroux's stomach, Briari grins slightly. "Not bad for a start." Rising upwards, she looks down at herself in her long blue dress, though it is sleeveless. Smirking, she gives a rolling flex of her arm, letting the muscle in her bicep and shoulder pop. With a tilt of her head over to the pair, she looks to Kiena and grins. "If they start comparing -that-, I think I know who the winner of that'd be. I'd show you my stomach but, it's covered by this dress. Anyways, I like to work out. Dad and I would go mountain climbing and ocean diving and other things. I'd help him out in the Smith Hall once in awhile when I was younger. I guess I just want to feel and look good."

"I'm not comparing. Just showing I'm not all squishy like most people around Weyrs think of Holders." Giroux quickly counters, blushing a little as he replies to Kiena before he offers up a quickly worded "Thanks." To Mur'dah for his compliment. "My dad and brothers got the I'm as big as a Wher genes." He admits, before he frowns. "Hey!" He says to Briari. "You have no idea." There is even a bigger blush on his cheeks now. "And that sounds impossible." He sits down and moves to eat, his face aflame with embarassment.

Mur'dah grins /wide/ at his weyrmate. "I'd win /that/ one too," he murmurs to her, though it's not /entirely/ quiet. He flashes Briari a toothy grin, nodding as he briefly looks her over and then his attention returns to the food. "Well, Briari, it's working." Tilting his head, he winks at Giroux, leaning over to murmur something to the boy.
Mur'dah mutters to Giroux, "… just… kid…."

Kiena just smacks the palm of her hand to her face as her previous comment is elaborated further. Well, what'd she expect? She should've known better! "Really you guys! Men!" she snorts again, giving Briari another smirk. "It's always a competition. Everything is," she mutters but there is still amusement in her voice. "What's that supposed to mean, Giroux? Big as whers?" She will lift her hands and mime width or length (or both) for body type. "And I don't think we were sayin' you're the squishy type and Holders can be some tough workin' folk! Shells, I know my home cothold was. Fishermen, mostly. Lots 'n lots of hard, miserable labor in that." There's a grimace then and she goes to bite into more of her food, only to pull a face and promptly set the other half down. "Ugh. Spiderclaw. Why do they hide it in delicious lookin' things? Ain't fair, that…" Looking up again, Kiena looks curious again as she eyes Briari. "Mountain climbing! Really? And your da's a Smith?"

Grinning as she looks back and forth between them, Briari is wildly amused. "Hey, I say let them going. I want to see who wins that one." No longer blushing, she is absolutely thrilled. Take them off! Take them off! "But yes, mountain climbing. Dad took me when I was five for the first time. At about ten I quit using equipment. I love it. I love being up high and feeling the wind in my face. Dad is a real hard worker. He's huge. Kinda like six foot five.. uh.. built like a brick house. But yup, he's a Smith. Journeyman and rider of Bronze Treasath. He's getting up there in age now but I think he could kill beat just about anyone up." She gives another flex of her arm, looking at the muscle rolling under the skin.

"Big, wide." Giroux begins before he looks over towards Mur'dah, an eyebrow raised towards him. He manages to stifle what he seems like he's going to say for a moment and offers up a "Thank you, sir." To him, which is genuine in it's sound. "My name is Giroux, by the way." He holds his hand out towards Mur'dah before he looks to Kiena. "Remind my father of that when you go visit Nerat. We have lots of fishstocks, being well…Nerat." A snerk there. "I'm sure you would." He pauses. "I don't think we've been properly introduced, by the by." His hand turns from Mur'dah to Bri. "Giroux."

Mur'dah reaches forward to pick out the spiderclaws from Kiena's food, happily eating him themself. Such a gentleman. "My grandfather's hold was a hard one too. Don't think that stereotype holds water anymore, these days. Folks have'ta make a living…" He looks at Briari and lifts his brows, and then he's standing, gently moving Kiena off his lap and reaching out to shake Giroux's hand. "Mur'dah. C'mon," he says, gesturing to Giroux with eyes gleaming. "Come over here for a second…" Into the inner caverns. Just for a second!

Kiena looks relieved when Mur'dah helps himself to the spiderclaw-cloaked finger food. She even helpfully pushed it all to one side! Picky eater, this bluerider (only to certain seafood!). "Please," she groans to Briari in a mock-pleading voice. "Don't get them started!" No encouragement! Maybe it's a good thing she's sitting on Mur'dah's lap and the brownrider can't easily move? "If you weren't a Candidate, I'd offer to take you out to the cliffs! Only I'm sure I'd be skinned alive if I took any of you Candidates out on something that'd risk injury…" She grimaces before laughing again. "Beat anyone up? Got a temper does he?" she muses to Briari, before glancing back to Giroux. "Who's your father? 'N you from fish stock then too? Or Blooded?" To Mur'dah, Kiena smiles only to grunt as she's moved off his lap. "Mur'dah…" she stresses his name and gives him That Look. Don't do anything stupid! "Be nice." That too.

"Hey, enjoy the show, Kiena. It's not every day that I get to meet a couple of normal hunks that actually like girls. Sides', if I impress, I'm on bedroom lock down for a couple of years. At least let me have the eyecandy while I can." Briari settles down next to Kiena as the two boys head to move off, then lets her grin drop and she sobers up. Almost in a split instant. "Anyways, now that those two are off checking each other's yardsticks out, let's get real here. If we go mountain climbing, I promise I won't fall off and we can use equipment if you want. I'm dying to stretch my muscles out a bit. It'd do me some good up here." She taps her skull. "And, I wouldn't say that my father has a temper. It's more or less he just has no problem popping someone in the jaw when they get mouthy with him. He has a low tolerance for stupidity."

Giroux looks surprised at that. He looks between Kiena and Bri for the moment before he shrugs. "Blooded, remember. My father's Lord Nerat." He turns from the table to follow Mur'dah off with a slightly puzzled look on his expression.

Mur'dah stretches after he's stood, and walks off with Giroux. They're not gone but a few minutes before they're returning. "It's a tie," Mur'dah announces, returning to his seat to gobble down that spiderclaw.

"Ahh, right! Sorry, Giroux." Kiena remarks sheepishly but to her credit, at least she's not treating him oddly for his relation to a Lord Holder? "Plenty of guys who like girls here. Just not all of 'em are good guys…" Kiena grumbles but still good naturally and she smirks, "Oh, like I said, eye all you want. Just no touchin' or funny stuff. And it's not so bad, that 'lockdown'. Shards, you're so wrapped up in your new dragon the first few months it's all a blur anyhow! Won't miss it." As focus will be elsewhere with a baby dragon bound to you! Kiena snickers and shakes her head, "IF that's what they're doin'. Knowin' him, they're up to something else entirely." she points out, only to lift her brows as Briari sits beside her and lays out an… offer? "Dunno… Even with gear there's a risk, isn't there? Plus we're just getting out of Winter. You ever do this climbin' of yours with ice and snow?" There's another snort and grin for mention of her father and then the boys are returning and Kiena's just eyeing Mur'dah suspiciously. "You didn't!" she drawls, trying to call his bluff.

"Well, seeing how I haven't been with anyone, period, I don't think a bedroom lockdown will be too bad. I just haven't found a guy who's worthy enough to even get me out to dinner. Most of the guys I meet end up being jerks, or got some weird social issues, or, hell, gay as a rainbow." Briari says with a shift of her shoulders upwards in a shrug. "And of course they're not really comparing. They're gonna come back, Mur'dah is going to say something to try and impress me, and three… two…. one.." She snaps her fingers as Mur'dah rearrives and opens his mouth. "And, boom, goes the dynamite." She drawls out with a knowing look to Kiena. "And of course I have gone up in snow and ice. It's mountain climbing! There's no other way to do it!"

"Honest and True." The young Lordling says with utmost calm, his hands folded behind his back as he approaches the pair before he seats himself again. "You certainly sound as if you're placing someone on an awful high platform for even a date," he remarks to Bri. "And I'm not going to impune my good friend's honor by answering any questions asking about details." This is directed towards Kiena, slyly. "Now, I thought it was well and good to have relations, but not get pregnant, by the by."

Mur'dah loops his arm around Kiena's shoulders again and grins at her. "Of course we did! It's a guy thing. What dynamite is that? Something happen over there?" he asks, grin crooked as he takes another bit of spiderclaw to pop into his mouth, licking his fingers. Such good table manners. "Maybe they'll abandon you all on an island like they did with my group." He grins at Giroux, reaching over to try and clap him on the shoulder. "Right. Men have some of their own secrets. And what're your criteria for a man anyway, Briari?"

Kiena shakes her head and gives Briari another crooked smile, "Eh, give it time, girl! You're young and there's plenty of men out there. You'll find one. Take it from me… Makin' the leap too soon ain't a wise thing. Some men are good at playin' false." she points out and for a moment her mood sobers, her eyes flickering with something darker before she gives herself a little jolt and her grin is back. Leaning against Mur'dah, she laughs. "Alright, alright! So that was a dumb question about the climbing! We'll see, 'kay? And as Mur'dah put it, for all I know they're shipping you lot out and dumpin' you off somewhere. Was an island for this poor guy," She points to Mur'dah. "'N the swamps by Mire Hold for the last batches. Remember that, Mur'dah?" Who'd forget it? Giroux's sly remark has Kiena snickering, "What'd you mean by that?" she prompts him as she reaches over to grab the last non-spiderclaw bite of food from the plate she'd been sharing with her weyrmate.

"I'm really not all that eager to find a guy, honestly." Briari says with a grin on her face. "I may like to check one out now and then when they got their shirt off and strutting about like a peacock, but in the long run, I'm not really all interested in 'having' a boyfriend." In regards to Giroux's statement, she says, "Xanadu does not have rules against candidates having sex. They just can't do it in the barracks or get pregnant. It's just frowned upon, that's all." With a lick of her lips in thought, she looks curious. "My criteria? I don't know. Just be able to have a normal conversation with me. Would prefer they're taller than me, athletic enough so to keep up with my healthy lifestyle. Not asking for the world. A guy who isn't afraid of a strong woman, because I'm not a fancy frou frou girl." Then again, she's wearing a dress.

Giroux grins at the clasp to the shoulder. "What Mur'dah said, Kiena." He thumbs over towards the man next to him. "That's what I meant by that." He turns his attention to Bri as she speaks. "You're wearing a dress, however." Giroux says before he leans back into his chair and munches on some of the food he brought as well. He looks so young and has such soft features, but his voice is unmistakenly male. "And you're a lot taller than me." He snaps his fingers. "Gotta check that one off the list." He teases, winking in Bri's direction. "And dropping us off. Interesting." He states, his finger coming up to tap absently at his chin

Mur'dah nods his agreement. "Kiena's right. Or just find someone to have a fling with, no strings attached." That's not very good advice. His arm tightens around Kiena's shoulders and he gives her a gentle, loving smile. Then he snorts. "Of course I remember." He rolls his eyes. Then he coughs. "I'm not strutting about like a peacock!" He looks at Kiena. Was he? As Briari lists her criteria the brownrider laughs. "Too bad I don't have a brother."

Kiena snickers, "So you're just browsing then for now, is it? No harm in that." she admits with a little shrug to Briari and then nods, "Mhm. Pregnancy is an automatic out for a girl from Candidacy. Can't be raising a babe and a baby dragon and you sure as shardin' can't go out on the Sands preggers… Just asking for Bad Things." Not that she speaks from any known event of this happening! "Ahh, gotcha." She winks to Giroux and then laughs softly when he points out what Briari's wearing. "Hey now. A tough girl can wear a dress and still not be frou frou about it! Even I enjoy a skirt or dress now and again. Just not when I'm Smithing." Bad idea, that. Smiling back to Mur'dah, she then grins wryly and holds up her hand with her index and thumb held apart a small amount. "Juuuuust a bit?" she teases him about the strutting.

"I like to wear clothes that compliment my body." Briari says teasingly to Giroux as she passes a wink to him. "Too bad you don't have a -twin- brother." A brow lifts up to Mur'dah for a moment before she shakes her head in bemusement. "But, seriously, I don't need or want a guy in my life. I put myself out there a few times and got disappointed as it was. The quality of men on Pern seems to be disintegrating, or, they're already taken. So, for now, I'm going to focus on hopefully impressing my best friend, then become the best dragon rider I can be. That's the most important thing in life right now." She rises upwards, smoothing down her dress. "It was nice to meet you guys. Giroux, come find me in three years." She teases as she starts off once she snags her guitar, sliding it over her shoulder and back.

"Mmhmm." Giroux snickers and waves at Bri. "Take care, see you at the barracks." His attention turns back to Kiena and Mur'dah. "I've got to get going as well, I've got some studying to do as well as getting my cot all neat and such before bedtime later." He stands and places his plates together so it's easier on the drudges. "Nice meeting you, sir." He holds his hand out to Mur'dah. "And good to see you again, Kiena." He nods his head to each.

Mur'dah flashes a grin at Kiena. "I /like/ you in dresses." Briefly his look turns a bit heated, and then he's standing, pulling on his tunic over his head. "Sorry, Briari, I've got a twin sister." Reaching down, he tries to help Kiena to her feet and then shakes Giroux's hand. "Later, Candies! C'mon, Kiena, let's go have that bath." And other things that grown ups in committed relationships do.

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