Making Mudsic

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Just because it's summertime in Xanadu, that doesn't mean every day is exempt from rain; quite the opposite, in fact. MUCH LIKE ANY PLACE TO EXIST ONLY EVER, Xanadu has its very own set of monsoon season. Today it is making a show of exactly how monsoon-y it can be by assaulting the entire weyr with a deluge of water, turning the meadows into a mess of mud and muck, transforming the weyrwoman into a monster, darkening the skies with grey clou —. Wait, what? THAT'S RIGHT. If one cares to follow the heady beat of bass and drums seeping with indiscriminate abandon (and a couple of, « I AM DISAPPOINTED MINION. THAT WAS… DISAPPOINTING. ») into EVERY SINGLE MIND, then they will find NOT ONLY A GOLD MONSTROCITY (who is now only gold by virtue of size because of that thick layering of brownish-black mud all over her), but they will find the weyrwoman in an equally muddied state. It's gross, actually. Her hair is absolutely covered in it, her face is painted in streaks of it, and it's hard to tell whether or not she's even actually got on clothes beneath WHATEVER'S GOING ON THERE (she does) because it's so. damn. thick. Maybe why becomes obvious, when Risali reaches down to grab mud in her hands and chuck it at her dragon, when she pauses to double over with laughter and, with a shriek of realization, tries to run away only to be CAUGHT by a dragon paw and DRUG BACK THROUGH THE MUCK AGAIN. "LEIRITH, NO!" See. Xanadu weyr is proud of their heritage. Proud of their home. They are probably even proud of how muddy it gets when the skies decide to open up and drown them in rainwater. They are not, however, proud of the dignity their Senior Weyrwoman always seems to discard as often as she can. Probably. There are definitely a few people passing by and whispering to each other with glances at Risali. HARD TO SAY IF THEY ARE GOOD WHISPERS OR NOT. RUN, STEFYR. RUN!!!

Stefyr is a man on a mission. It's a well known fact that when a sometimes thick-headed man gets an idea in his head, little or nothing can dissuade him. In this case, the rain hasn't managed it. Nor has the mud that covers his boots and splatters his soaked pants. The only part of him not totally soaked is his peeling face, having acquired a wide-brimmed hat (that might be ruined now) that's keeping some of the water off his face. He had slogged out here with the intention of tracking down the Weyrwoman, but per usual, what he gets when encountering Risali is not even a little of what he might have planned for. At least it's becoming familiar enough so that he doesn't gape. No, this time, he simply stops at what he (poorly) assumes the limit of the current field of play is, arms crossing over his chest and spectating. The gardener's lips start in a close-lipped smile and then it spreads, to a grin and finally until he's chuckling and then laughing. Then, he does the unthinkable: he draws attention to himself. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he calls through the deluge, "Go Leirith!" He's probably only cheering for the dragon because she's over there and he's over here and he as a gross misestimation of the amount of time it would take a muddied dragon to cross the divide (or a muddy goldrider, for that matter).

Risali hears that laughter. Leirith hears that encouragement. It's giddy, sunbright, bursting joy that beats back at Stefyr, that carries an answer of, « HE KNOWS WHO THE BETTER IS, MINION. I HOPE THAT IT BURNS. I WILL GO, OTHER BIGGER-BUT-STILL-DISAPPOINTINGLY-SMALL MINION. » And that, that is why Risali-the-mud-monster is calling out, "BETRAYAL!" amid another laughter when Leirith catches her once more to drag her through the mud. One thing is certain: Stefyr is not safe. THERE IS NOWHERE SAFE. Nowhere at all, because Risali crawls her way away from Leirith amid bass and drum laughter, and then SUDDENLY SHE IS ON HER FEET. RUN, STEFYR, RUN!! Risali has a hard time of it, but not a hard enough time of it, pulling off her boots with hop-hop-stumble clumsiness as if bare feet might better propel her forward and then — STEFYR. YOU SHOULDA RUN WHILE YOU HAD THE CHANCE. Because now she's throwing herself forward to catch him around the legs and bring him down. She brings him down, and she laughs, and she clamors up the length of his body to sit on his stomach while she TRIES TO SHOVE SOME MUD DOWN HIS SHIRT and then smear his face in it. "Take it back, you monster." TELL HER SHE'S THE BEST.

Stefyr jerks, slightly, when Risali starts toward him. It's almost like his self-preservation circuits try to fire, but don't quite get there. This one is a really, painfully obvious instance. He doesn't run, of course, in the end. Does he even know how? One might well wonder. He does shift enough that he was probably ready to catch her… if only she had aimed higher, where he expected to be hit. The legs catch him by surprise and with an impressive thwack and squelch sound, he ends up on his back in the mud. He's too stunned in the moments that follow the hit - winded as he must be - to try to stop her. As such, it's not until that mud is all over his face that he acts. His hands seek purchase on her forearms and his hips buck, one booted foot slipping but then finding a toehold in order to push his middle over first, meaning to roll them both so she ends up on her back in gooey mud, not that she can really get much muddier at this point. "Make me!" is his challenge to the goldrider. The way he moves in the mud and his lack of real bother being be-muddied himself… well, it's probable that this is not the first muddy throwdown he's been party to. He does have 7 brothers and 4 sisters and 15 cousins on a farm after all.

SQUEESH, SQUOOSH, SQUELCH. Don't worry, that's just Leirith, making her way downtown, WALKING FAST, FACES PASS AND SHE'S RISA-FYR BOUND (by which we clearly mean that's the gross-noise she's making as that massive, hulking body picks its way through the mud to small, muddied humans). Listen, she can see just fine from back there, but seeing it THIS CLOSE means that she gets to observe the fine nuance in the way Risali reacts to being rolled. He grabs her forearms, she tries to hold tight to the fabric of his shirt. His hips buck, and she shrieks some kind of warning that sounds suspiciously like, "Stefyr, don't YOU DARE!" And then she is on her back, and for just a moment she's defenseless because he has hold of her arms and she's too busy laughing and trying to catch her breath to really, really fend him off (or try to roll him again). Still, once she gets back some of her mobility, she's reaching under his shirt to smear more mud on him. "Tell me that I'm the -" give her a moment, she's shriek-laughing again, "- the champion of the mud. Say it!" SMACK. Well, a gentle smack, anyway. That's her cupping his cheeks between both of her mud covered hands and then pinching and pulling so that she STRETCHES HIS FACE if he doesn't stop her. "'Risali, you're the best there ever was, I am awed by your prowess.'" … Yes. Yes she just did make her voice an octave higher (like STEFYR IS THE WOMAN) and pretend like it was him talking. Rude. Straight disrespectful. Probably as rude as her grabbing another glob of mud to try and smear into his hair.

Stefyr almost definitely had to fight his sisters in mud at some point because tickling seems to be considered fair play, although not to breathlessness, just in some combination of attack that probably accounts for some of Risali's laughter. "I'm very daring!" He won't tell her straight up, "No," or "Never!" But he will just avoid having to make reply on the matter in some form that isn't mud. Instead of grabbing at her hands when she squishes his face, he rolls away, but not before he's snatching at a wrist, trying to keep it as he pushes onto his knees, meaning to pull her to him - and over his shoulder. "Leirith! Where's the nearest body of water to drop her into?" It might be that pond at the feeding ground. Super clean. Some part of all of this seems to have jarred the nervousness with which he approached the gold to the back of his mind. Then again, he does have more clear and present dangers, like Risali trying to shove mud up his nose or everywhere but.

RUDE! And when Stefyr rolls away, Risali's wrist is caught and she's scrambling to her own knees in just enough time to collide her smoll softness against his NOT SO SMALL HARDNESS. If it's jarring, she only laughs, then shrieks her indignance when she finds herself over a shoulder. "This is CHEATING! STEFYR!" And those smoll, ineffectual fists SMACKSMACKSMACK (gently) on his back, she maybe makes a muddy grab for his hair and thrashes so that it's not easy for him. BUT DON'T WORRY, BRO. LEIRITH'S GOT YOUR BACK. … Literally. Addressed, she lifts her head with those whirling blue eyes and then SHOVES HER SNOOT RIGHT ON STEFYR'S BUTT. « THIS WAY, MINION. » TO THE NEAREST WATER! Which… okay. Look, Stefyr. If you want not that puddle of questionable depth that formed with the rain in a divot in the meadow, Leirith isn't going to be much help. « FINISH HER. » "WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?" « MY OWN. AHAHAHAHA. »

Well, that was unexpected. Unexpected enough that Stefyr ends up stumbling and falling to his knees with a grunt. Still, he doesn't slacken his grip on Risali's legs. "I'm changing the game," he calls over the rain to dragon and rider alike. With another grunt, as though she weren't so small after all, the gardener pushes himself up onto his feet, and squints through the rain, momentarily distracted by the slick grab for his hair that makes him aware of his lack of hat. A glance around is taken to see if it can be spotted (no luck), then he's turning to trudge toward the beach. "So, Risa, while I have you here. About that job." But only if the goldrider will stop hitting and thrashing long enough to have a civilized conversation. Covered in mud. In the rain.

Listen, Risali can be uncivilly civilized when she chooses to be. If we're being honest, that would probably be the name of her memoir, so when it registers to the goldrider that Stefyr has actual words to say on his journey to probably getting her even more thoroughly soaked than what the rain already has, the goldrider does cease her assault. She stretches, languid and lazy as a cat, then settles one elbow on his back so that she can drop her chin down onto the palm of her hand while he continues them onward, towards DOOM and relative cleanliness while she listens. Or tries to. It's raining hard and she has a lot of hair that's absolutely coated in a gross amount of mud. "Go on, I'm listening." But the way she says it — it's teasing, slow, smug. It's like she's PRETTY SURE he's about to tell her yes (or scream, 'NO!') because who doesn't want to work for the woman who literally makes MANDATORY FORT DAYS when it's snowing out, where she shuts down the weyr and turns the administrative offices into a huge blanket-pillow fort monstrocity where everybody gets to camp out beneath desks and various things with mugs of hot cocoa and treats and share stories or just share in each other? THAT'S RIGHT, STEFYR. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IN ON THIS MUDSLINGING BADASS'S TYRANNICAL REIGN. Who else is going to leave you wondering how the hell Xanadu Weyr hasn't literally caught fire and burned to ashes? ARE WE SELLING THIS HARD ENOUGH TO YOU IN META YET? … Just kidding. Not about the things, Risali actually does all those other things (IT'S DOCUMENTED FACT), but maybe his answer is going to be 'No'. Still, she waits, probably looking comical for all those poor, soaked weyrfolk they pass by on the way.

"I want to work for the Harpers." Stefyr shouts over the rain, possibly choosing this particular opening because of her smug tone. He frowns after he says it though, probably because with her over his shoulder, he can't see her face. He flexes so as to pop her up a little bit over his shoulder and then pull her down the length of his body, making sure she has her feet before he steps back. Oh, is that his hand still on her hand? He'll clasp it if she's game, or he'll grasp it if she's not, because just because he put her down doesn't mean he's going to not drop her into the lake. They're still going that way (tug). "At least for a little while," he adds, still loud trying to be heard over the rain, eyes squinting because it's so very wet. "I thought I could work with them, help with the kids and the lessons until I get a better handle on my own reading and writing, and in the meantime I can come learn from Rhodelia a couple days a seven so that I'll be ready to step in as an assistant when I can keep up and not be more burden than help." So it's not actually a no, it's a not yet. He's dripping mud off his chin, but he still gives the goldrider a hopeful grin as he pulls her along with his long strides. "Would that suit you?"

WORK FOR THE HARPERS? Risali actually starts to say that too, her ABSOLUTELY INAPPROPRIATE SMUGNESS shattered so much so that when he hefts her up she's staring at him with grey eyes that are all je'accuse and lips that are gently parted in indignation, or surprise, or indignant surprise. She keeps her chin tucked on her palm though, all down the length of his body until she's on his feet and her brows are knitting, grey eyes cutting sideways as if she's trying to find the right words to say. Except, suddenly he has her hand in his, and Risali's pressing her fingers through the gaps between so that she can curl her hand around his and stumble through her surprise to keep up with him. "Aren't you —" a beat, as flounders for the correct words and, finding none, soldiers on with, "too old for that?" Because she is thinking apprenticeship and anyway… what does it matter. Risali forces her lips closed, presses them together as she focuses instead on keeping up with his stride, walking herself WILLINGLY TOWARDS HER DOOM (because all you're really doing is threatening Risali with a good time). It's why she misses his grin, because her eyes are out towards the approaching turmoil of more mud and vast lake and — "Okay." Maybe he can't hear her. She says it quiet, everything else is too loud, and so she clears her throat. Now grey eyes are jumping up to find his, to hold as a smile that's not quite a smile (but is more lacking because she's confused than upset) is aimed at him. "If that is what works best for you, Stefyr, it's what works best for me." This time she raises her voice to be heard over the din, and then maybe she's pulling him along (or letting go all together), because suddenly she's running for the water, not waiting one way or the other for him to get another chance to speak yet. Unless, of course, he stops her. Which he can. But he'll have to catch her first. Or, you know, just wait until they're in the water. Or never. Never works.

Stefyr isn't a runner, but he does have long legs to cheat with, so when she breaks into a run, he goes along. No need to let go, but once they're hip deep, he's shifting to swing her up into his arm bridal style, in the rain. SO ROMANTIC (not). He's drenched and muddy, and so presumably is she. "I just don't want to be useless or harm what I'm trying to help." He's still speaking loudly, and his tone is persuasive (maybe he didn't hear her 'okay' even if he must have heard the rest). I thought I could be useful to the harper, just as as another set of adult hands. I'm good with kids. It'd let me practice what they're practicing and then some. I'm sure I could learn fast if I put my mind to it," not that he has ever put his mind to that task before. "And if Rhody and you and D'lei are training me up at the same time, I'll really be helpful to you someday." Someday? He squints out at the horizon, then without further ado or any warning at all beyond the flex of his arms, he flings Risali out into the deeper water. It's a good thing he's strong enough to give her a good out-away-from him loft. He'll even follow after just in case she needs rescuing.

STEFYR. YOU ROGUISH, BRUTE OF A MAN. Really, though, he hauls her up and Risali's fingers scramble for purchase along his shoulders, twisting into his shirt. But she doesn't try to push him under, or shove his face away, or relapse them back into chaotic (playful) dissent. Instead, she focuses on him while he speaks, watches his face with lips that part softly as if she means to interrupt him but chooses better of it, with eyes that jump between his and brows that knit in the middle as if everything he's saying doesn't make sense. Maybe she just can't hear him that well over the water. Maybe she's hearing him perfectly fine. "Okay." She shouts this time — not with exasperation, not with resignation, but to let him know that it's okay. That he doesn't have to explain. That she really is, whatever decision he makes, okay with it. And she probably knows that it's coming, she can probably tell what that shift of muscle beneath her hands means because she's already closing her eyes and swallowing down a breath of air to hold in her lungs and then she's flying. It's a matter of half a second before she hits the water again, but she was flying. And now, now she is sinking, disappearing beneath that bit of reddish-brown that rises as dirt is pulled from her in the tumult of water. Don't worry. DON'T WORRY, STEFYR. SHE CAN SWIM. And she does surface, pushing her hair from her face, drawing in a sharp breath and then laughing as she makes her way back to Stefyr. BUT LOOK. She could make a grab to push him under water. Instead, she gets close enough to catch his face between her hands, to smooth away some of that mud with her hands before she raises her voice just enough to say, "You should have more faith in yourself, Stefyr." That smile is lopsided, but honest. Gentle, and well-meant, and still there when she tells him to, "Take a deep breath!". Now she's hauling herself up by using his shoulders as leverage to see if she can't dunk him under at least once.

Just as Stefyr once obliged Risali in the Hot Springs, so does he now by taking a deep breath and dunking under the water when the presses on him. He doesn't stay down long, but it looks like he's scrubbed fingers through his hair while he was down there for he is significantly less muddy when he surfaces. He dunks himself one more time after, though. "I have a completely reasonable amount of faith in myself," he half-shouts to her over the rain, "I'd just rather take steps instead of leaps, sometimes." Where's the fun in that, Stefyr? "Would it be earning my keep at the Weyr to be the harper's assistant and in training to assist you and D'lei, if the harper and you and D'lei and Rhodelia will have me?" This seems to be the sticking point in his mind, and maybe why he felt the need to explain, twice. He flicks his gaze out at the water, "Do you want to go again?" The tossing thing, he probably means. "Is it safe out here in the storm?" He asks for a friend, suddenly more aware of his surroundings and circumstances than he was moments before.

Risali dunks back under too, but there's really no hope for her. Her hair is too thick and too coated for it to be a reasonable task for HER HANDS ALONE to rid herself of all that mud. For what it's worth, it doesn't seem to bother her, and anyway, the amounts of muddied she is are not the important thing. The important thing is the way she SQUINTS AT HIM through her curtain of TOO MUCH HAIR and then smiles. "Only sometimes?" she shouts back, because LEAPS ARE DEFINITELY HALF THE FUN, Stefyr. Still, she's moving back to tread the water beside him, bumping her shoulder into his as she tilts her chin up to watch his face while he speaks, to look away before she answers and wait even longer to answer his second, third questions. Maybe she's considering the currents, maybe she's watching Leirith as the gold finally joins them, sending a rush of water back towards them as she submerges herself and comes up, moments later, significantly less muddy. "No," she finally answers — though it's hard to say which of the three she's answering. And for a moment, it seems as if it's her answer for all of them, or maybe she just isn't going to elaborate except that she does. "We should probably go back to shore, it's getting worse." And it is, it is getting worse. "But we will have you!" In whatever capacity he wants. "Come on! I want to show you something!" And now she's headed back for shore. It's PROBABLY ACTUALLY FOR THE BEST. REALLY. TRULY. And Leirith? Well. She's following after them, of course, and even being polite enough to extend one sail out for them to walk under once they're on land. And Risali is squinting down at her feet. Then out towards the meadows where she left her boots, then back towards the water so she can wait for Stefyr.

Stefyr's boots, on the other hand, are still on his feet and definitely ruined. He pauses on shore to take them off and dump them out at least a little before he jams his feet back in to make the walk back. "Do you want a-" he gets out before that dragonbrella appears above and he looks up with, yes, that's wonder. (The man has never had a dragonbrella before, cut him a break.) "-lift?" He finishes, but he's distracted and his eyes are wide, wide as he look sup at the sail. "Handy," he murmurs more to himself than to her and possibly not even audible above the sound of the rain on the sail. He turns a little to gesture at his back, in case she does want that ride (nevermind that she has a dragon right there - it probably doesn't occur to him). "What're you showing me?" His tone is curious, but as abstracted as his expression briefly is.

Does she want a lift… IS THE SKY BLUE, STEFYR? Okay, not today, but there is definitely a sudden whip-crack of lightning that has the goldrider throwing herself in against Stefyr's side and practically jumping out of her skin as she holds on tight and BURIES HER FACE IN HIS SIDE and listen. It's wholly undignified, but even hellcats are afraid of something. A beat, two, three, thunder rumbles low and constant, and finally Risali peeks one eye open, then the other, then tilts her head to look up at Stefyr before she VERY QUICKLY drops her arms and draws away. "Shut up, Stefyr," she tells him, like he was ABOUT TO SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. And then. Where were they? Yes. Risali is looking down at her feet again, and then back to Stefyr, and then she's hesitating only a moment before she's just WALKING AWAY. But like… behind him though, while he enjoys the wonder of his dragonbrella and she… RUNS, AND LEAPS, AND CLINGS ONTO HIS BACK LIKE SOME KIND OF DERANGED MARSUPIAL. FLEEE IN HORRRRRORRR! Just kidding. She hauls herself up higher with legs strong enough to keep her even if Stefyr breaks the rules of GOLDRIDERS AND MEN, and does not loops his arms around them for leverage. Then her arms are around his shoulders and WE PROMISE SHE IS NOT TRYING TO BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN SOMEBODY ANSWERING A QUESTION when she whispers, "To the craft complex, of course. They have a piano." And she… she clearly intends to drip mud and water all over their pristine floors and not feel bad about it. AT LEAST (for now), Leirith is offering some respite from the downpour. And she will continue to do so, as long as she is needed. Because sometimes she's benevolent like that.

Dragonbrellas are magical enough to Stefyr that he really doesn't register Risali's flinging of herself against his side, his arm absently going around her for a brief reassuring squeeze (all those sisters trained his autopilot well). There's even a "there there" pat before his arm falls away, and the walking and the stumbling. The stumbling where he doesn't fall this time, but he does rock forward and struggles to maintain his balance as Risali climbs higher. He probably expected her to take him up on the offer of a lift, but maybe not quite the way she went about it. Once she's settled he does, automatically, wrap his arms around her legs to help keep her in place. "We're going to drip all over the craft complex. We should get dry first." There's all that good sense Stefyr has a nasty habit of showing. "And we might freeze to death between here and there." He voices it like it's a totally valid concern, in summer.

To be fair, it's wet and windy even though it's summer, so he's probably not THAT FAR OFF OF THE MARK. "Yes," she answers him, because they are going to drip all over the craft complex. But then she's laughing, jerking her chin toward one of those little beach-side cottages. "That one!" And because she knows he can't see where she means, Risali absolutely is pointing from over Stefyr's shoulder so that he can decipher which. ONWARD, STEED! TO PURGATORY, ruiner of rebellious things. But hey, welcome to her stuffy home. Risali holds the door open for Stefyr and sweeps her hand as if to say COME ON IN. It's… small, actually. The living room is front and center and cramped, the kitchen is an almost clautrophobic space, and there's a loft above it all with STAIRS YOU CAN WALK UP, or an honest-to-Faranth slide that you can come back down on. Listen. They're working on an upgrade, okay. But for right now, this is, "My home." A scrunch of her nose, a hint of canines in that smile, and then Risali is already starting to PEEL OFF CLOTHES as she steps past the threshold and points out one of two doors down the way. "One is a study, the other is the children's room. I'll bring you a towel and some clothes in a minute." GO ON. GET UNDRESSED. She's stomping her way upstairs now and far enough back to be… well… harder to see. Listen. IT'S A SMALL SPACE, OKAY. Anyway, the point is that she gathers a towel to at least get her body a little more presentable with, and she pulls on a shirt that's clearly a weyrmate's because it's drowning her, and then she makes her way back down with a new towel and a set of somebody else's clothes because they certainly aren't hers. (YOU CAN THANK K'VIR. HE'S TALL. YOU GOT THIS.) She'll leave the clothes in front of WHICHEVER DOOR, and maybe even knock (if he's in one of them, or push them into his chest if not), and then she'll head back up to FINISH GETTING READY. In clothes that actually fit. And putting up her hair because it's still pretty gross and there's no hope for it.

Stefyr is a fairly cooperative steed as these things go, but when they get to the door of her home, he balks. Despite Risali's welcome, he hesitates at the door. It might be the idea of passing into her domain as much as the manners involved with dripping on her floor. After a moment, he leans on the door frame to at least take off his boots before he steps within, trying to wipe his feet on the way. His blue gaze does go about the space with a shy sort of interest - this is how a Weyrwoman lives, and a farmer doesn't get a look at this kind of thing every day. His expression is closed beyond the interest, so whatever he thinks about the space she shares with her weyrmates and children is for him alone. He opts for the study door, closing it carefully behind him. His hand will slip out to gather the items left for him. Maybe he has questions, but if he does, he doesn't give them voice and appears some minutes later as dry as he can manage to become and in the borrowed clothes. Then he'll stand awkwardly, holding the hem of the shirt between his fingers, toes wriggling to release his nervous energy and wait for Risali.

HE WILL NOT BE WAITING LONG. Risali isn't the kind of woman to bother with making herself look nice, merely presentable (ie: is she in clothes? then that's good enough). SO DOWN THE SLIDE SHE COMES, looking not even a little shamed when she LANDS AT THE BOTTOM and gains her feet, and then hooks her arm through Stefyr's to drag him towards the door. "We can do it another day, if you wanted. I can go by myself." AND HE CAN KEEP K'VIR'S CLOTHES. FOREVER. SHE WILL ENJOY THE EXASPERATION FROM HER WEYRMATE A THOUSAND FOLD. "I just…" a beat, and then for just a moment, some of her usual confidence-in-demeanor-alone wavers. "Well, I thought of a song when we were talking. And I want to play." And sing, is what she doesn't say, but she mimics playing the piano for a second before she opens the door back to the deluge (she's still barefoot, come at her), maybe jumps when another crack of lightning times itself PERFECTLY to greet her, and then steps out from under the awning where Leirith waits with her wing extended again. « IT WOULD BE MORE BADASS TO DRIP ON THE FLOORS. THEN IT WOULD BE LIKE A DANGEROUS GAME OF WHO-CAN-STAY-UPRIGHT, AND IF THEY DIED IT WOULD AT LEAST BE A GOOD DEATH. » Ignore her, like Risali clearly is as she turns on bare feet to wait for Stefyr. WHAT? He had boots, okay. She's not going to just assume he's as open to barefoot heresy as she is.

"I have today off," the words are out of Stefyr's mouth before he even has a chance to think whether or not this admission will endanger any and all plans he had made for himself for the rest of the day. He probably hadn't anticipated speaking to Risali about his job position to be an all-day sort of affair. "Let's go play," is his confirmation of actual agreement to her plan. He cracks a nervous smile after Leirith's words and does pause to jam his feet into boots. He might not object to barefoot heresy most days, but given that he's also crouching a little in expectation that Risali will want another ride to where they're going, it is perhaps understandable that he wants some foot protection for bearing a load to the craft complex, even if she's smaller and lighter than, say, the weyrmate in whose clothes he's now dressed. (And will return after laundering, because that's what well-mannered young farmer does when being loaned something that is, to his mind, of value.)


Xanadu Weyr - Craft Complex
This large area has been painted a soft cream with dark orange trim used as an accent. It's separated into a variety of smaller sitting areas, couches and chairs organized into rings and squares, tables set where they can be used easily. Recessed electric lights in the ceiling provide a warm glow, and a row of angled skylights on the eastern wall above the entrance give some natural light when bleary crafters first emerge. There's often a cart with klah parked off to one side to help with waking up or finishing that important project - or simply to be enjoyed with comfortable seating and good company.

Along the southern edge, an open archway leads to a library of books and records. There's something for every craft, it seems, from tomes of caprine diseases, to Pernese history and law, to gemstone identification, to sheet music, to sea charts and herbal manuals. There's even a few works of fiction, though none of it seems very well organized. Whatever is sought, it's probably here… somewhere. A few desks for studying are tucked in amongst the shelves, each with a lamp to illuminate the reading material. Near that archway, a long table holds a row of computers. They're connected to databases all over Pern, and are available for general use except when the computercraft requires them.

To the north, a pair of double doors open onto a grand hall, the vaulted ceiling designed with acoustics in mind. This space is used for lectures and concerts, rows of benches set up to face the front. Along one wall, instruments hang free or on shelves for anyone with the appropriate skills to use. There are often harpers here, practicing their craft.

A pair of hallways lead back from the western wall, one going to the apprentice dorms and the the private quarters for the ranking crafters posted at the weyr. The other provides access to the various workshops.

And she does. She does want a ride; it's there for Stefyr to see in Risali's expression the moment the man comes down off of the awning and under the protection of Leirith's still-aloft wing. Maybe she knows that kind-of crouch is an invitation for her to resume previous antics, maybe she just doesn't care and assumes that if she's not welcome, he will make it known. But she's on him, jumping onto his back, pumping one fist in the air as if this is some sort of victory, and then parting with breathy laughter as she points forward. "Onward, Stefyr! Creativity waits for no one!" Sorry if she's shouting in your ear, Fyr, but even Leirith's wing can't dampen the sound of rain hammering against everything. It doesn't bode well. It might be one of those everything is going to flood and be careful of landslides and Search and Rescue is going to need a lot of hands and Risali, you should really be in your office because somebody somewhere is probably looking for you frantically but THEY HAVEN'T FOUND HER YET. And anyway, that's what D'lei is probably for. You know. When he… listen. He's a busy man. And anyway, it doesn't matter. They make their way presumably to the craft complex without serious incident, and Risali is wiggling free of Stefyr's back so that she can grab his hand in hers and drag him through those grand halls back, back, back past those grand doors where a PIANO WAITS and, is blessedly unoccupied. For now. "We can see if we can find the person you want to talk to after this."

Stefyr mutters something too low to be heard over the storm when Risali finishes shouting in his ear, and it's not something he's inclined to repeat so ONWARD he goes, at rather a good pace, really. It has his passenger bouncing a little, but his arms are tucked around her legs to keep her in place and he never outpaces Leirith's wing (who would want to when she's being so thoughtful?). There might be a few slips along the way, and one of his boots is definitely re-mudded more than the other, but they get there. And when they do, Stefyr steps out of his boots, to abandon them just about where other people have stopped tracking in rain and yuck (so he doesn't have to walk in it, but isn't contributing more to it). That's the only point on which he'll jerk at Risali's hand to have her hold up - even if it means he has to do a little one-booted dance for a minute there and the boots end up more than 2 feet apart. It gets done one way or the other and then he's following the goldrider like they're just two farmers dodging chores and the matron's spoon. He's grinning by the time they arrive at the piano, catching his breath a little as he nods to Risali. "I'm— not sure I've ever heard a piano played before." It's a quiet confession that echoes more than he probably means it to in the room made for sound to carry.

If Risali is aware that Stefyr spoke, she doesn't let on. No, she endures that ride in silence, except for those occasions when bad-footing elicits startled squeaks and then laughter. But yes, yes, they get there, Stefyr has to tell her to calm the hell down with a gesture, and Risali waits, hopping from foot to foot because she's never done still very well, and then they're off. It's that… admittance that has Risali blinking to the once-farmer, her lips parting in surprise as much as an intention to speak that gets interrupted by that surprise. "You haven't?" comes a little breathless. "My… my father taught me, actually. He played when I was young, and sometimes he would sit up with me when I was having a… a bad day." A flicker of what might have been a smile, despite a memory that's clearly painful. "And he would teach me." So that's why, when she sits, she leaves enough space for Stefyr to be able to sit too, pushing open the flipboard to reveal ebony and ivory keys before tilting her chin towards. "Do you want to try first?" Hitting the keys, she means. If he's never heard one before, she doesn't want to take this moment from him.

"No piano at the farm," Stefyr's explanation is voiced even softer than his initial murmur, but it carries in the beautifully wrought space. "I'm the youngest, except cousins, so it's never been my turn to go to the gather." That probably also explains why he doesn't know how to dance, at least not well or properly. "Mum and Aunt Tildy sing, and the rest of us not nearly as well. Some drum a little, and Cousin Tac has a gitar, though he wasn't Harper taught. Just songs for the fire after dinner." It might be trade for trade for the information about her home, her life. It's only after he finishes speaking that he moves, suddenly after a hesitation, to sit beside her, shifting awkwardly, as if he doesn't know how to be comfortable here, with something so grand in front of him. His hands rub on the thighs of the borrowed pants, perhaps to remove dirt out of habit, or maybe his hands are sweating. He almost touches and then his hands come back to his lap, fingers knitting together and he turns a puppy dog look on the goldrider. "Will you play for me, Risa?" Instead of him touching. It's a painfully earnest request. Maybe he'll get brave after.

"You'll have to teach me more of your songs," Risali offers, hushed, reverent, because Stefyr is sharing pieces of himself into that silence that he doesn't have to share at all. Not even now, when she, inexplicably, is giving him a glimpse into what drove her to the Harper Hall in one sense. But they are focusing on the now. Now Risali is holding her breath, feeling every single moment of anticipation somewhere deep in her bones, waiting as if she expects this moment to be as altering an experience for him as it is, every single time, for her. She waits, and she grips his forearm when it gets to be too much, and she — exhales with breathy laughter, meets his eyes with her own, answers with a scrunch of her nose in amusement before she looks back down to those keys. "Okay." And she reaches out, spreads her fingers broad against keys and simply feels the instrument without producing any sounds, without applying any pressure. One, two, three, four… and finally she starts. It's a simple melody, a slow melody, something melancholy that builds, that she puts her entire body into every movement of even when she starts to sing — hushed, soft, quiet at first. But this is a song about strength, isn't it? About overcoming, about defiance in the face of people who dare to doubt you. And it builds, her voice climbing with it, picked up by the acoustics meant to amplify every sound. And sorry Stefyr, but for just a moment, it's almost like she's forgotten that he's there. She's leaning into every press, closing her eyes, tipping her chin, singing. AND THEN LOOK. LOOK. Those grey eyes come open and maybe she's intending it for Stefyr, because the lyrics change from 'my' to 'your' when that melody gets just a bit more complicated. "Don't doubt it, don't doubt it. Victory is in your veins, you know it, you know it." And she just keeps watching him around a smile until she's finished that refrain, until she's back to the chorus and laying into the keys once more, putting as much power into her voice as she puts into every movement meant to coax more and more of that sound. She is harper trained, and she puts that passion for what she used to be to good use. But it comes to an end. ALL THINGS MUST. And when she's done, she's exhaling, and then bumping her shoulder into Stefyr. "Your turn."

It's okay, really, because Stefyr's preemptively forgotten Risali exists. That first sound the piano produces (and not an untamed, untried sound that he surely would have created) has his eyes sliding shut. They remain so, even when a voice - her voice - twines with the instrument. Maybe, just maybe, the farmer would've loved life as a Harper, but that's not how his story went. It doesn't change that he does seem to possess a profound appreciation for the music. At some point, one of his hands touches her knee, just lightly, just connection while there's this other thing moving in him and through him. It plays across his face, even though she's busy living her truth. They can be alone, together. They've been together weirder ways. Like not together but together in the dark woods in the middle of the night. She can see it though, when she opens her eyes, she can see the smile that's soft and but distant when the lyrics become more pointed, but he's not willing to break this first by opening his eyes, so he doesn't. At the end of the song, his hand slips away, back to his lap, and a breath later he does open his eyes. "That was beautiful," isn't so much a compliment as statement of fact. It's in that hushed tone he was using before, but now he will, at her urging, lift his broad hands and place their rough surfaces to the smooth keys, mimicking the way she touched the instrument before beginning. After that, he wasn't watching, but the idea of pressing down seems to have been absorbed, so he does that. It's not a beautiful sound, but nor is it especially discordant. He lets his fingers roam over the keys, expression thoughtful as he blends the notes.

And what does Risali do with compliments? … The same thing she always does, because she's not exactly used to getting them. So that smile she has fixed on him gutters out when he tells her that the song was beautiful and Risali's entire face flushes. She looks away immediately, as if she's seeing this room for the very first time instead of the eighty-thousandth, tries to find words and — "Thank you," whispers them, because it's THE BEST SHE'S GOT. And then she's watching him play, absorbing the movement of his hands, taking those precious moments to gather herself back up before she reaches out to still his hands with hers. "Play with me," she tells him. "Like this." And she places his hands on the lower register, two keys. Just two. And she shows him two more keys next. Then two more. Then repeat. It's… fairly simply. And if he's game for it? WELL. She will keep putting him through the motions until he's more comfortable. "And when I need you to move your hands, I will do this." A gentle brush against the back of his hands, and she presses her shoulder in more tightly against his, smiling up at him. "Yeah?" YOU WANNA DO IT, STEFYR? "Do you want to try?"

The number of times Stefyr says yes when he might in his heart of hearts want to say no grows steadily. He follows along with her instruction, his focus on the keys so intense that it probably wouldn't be a surprise to find out that he completely missed Risali's embarrassment. He nods with a lop-sided grin to acknowledge the 'shift' signal. He takes a deep breath and then nods again. "Okay, let's try." Because YES. He will always say YES, until he figures out maybe he shouldn't (but this is probably not one of those moments anyway). He won't be perfect, of course, but he'll do his best to follow her lead and if nothing else, he can prove himself teachable.

"Good. That's good." Risali doesn't expect perfection; the fact that Stefyr is even willing to try is good enough. She runs him through it a couple of more times, and then she starts higher up on the piano — hers a more complicated melody to complement the chords she has him playing after that first simple introduction into the song. It doesn't matter if he messes up; she'll slow down to help him find where his fingers should be again and then keep going. And then, eventually, towards the end of the song when it gets a little more complicated, when the bottom chords change tempo, she gives his hands a gentle brush and takes over. BOOM. PIANO'D. And then she's BUMPING HER SHOULDER INTO HIS, and pressing a kiss to his temple, and grabbing one of his arms with both of her hands to SHAKESHAKESHAKESHAKE him. "You are a natural." She breathes. IS HE? It doesn't matter; he gets the compliment anyway. "Thank you." That's a little more heartfelt, a little more earnest, as if she's trying to communicate more than what she's saying. If she means to elaborate, she's interrupted by the appearance of one firelizard who is suddenly in her hair like a HOOLIGAN. Yeah, she's getting scratches trying to fend it off — it even BITES HER when she makes a grab for that letter tied to it before she can dig in a pocket to shove some food at it. "Sharding Faranth. OW." AGITATION. One of the emotions she's so familiar with. One that seems to transition to exasperation and then fury when she actually reads the contents of that note and then crushes it in one hand. "Stefyr," comes softly. "I have to go. I'm sorry. Thank you, though. Leirith will walk you home." So that he can stay dry, she means. But she's up, BAREFOOT AND ALL, pressing another kiss to the top of his head before she's picking her way carefully across the wet floor of the crafting hall and out to go BE A WEYRWOMAN. Where she will show up soaked through and barefoot, but Risali gave up on appearing dignified a long, long time ago.

"At trying," Stefyr can qualify the compliment before giving her a sidelong smile, small but real. It's hard to say whether he's simply unbothered by casual affection or that he takes close personal contact in stride with Risa at this point (how many times has she pushed, mooshed or otherwise squished his face? Probably more times than he has fingers to play piano with), but he doesn't particularly react to the gesture one way or another. "Thank you," he'll repeat back to her, also heartfelt. If they can apologize to each other, they can certainly thank each other, too. All this before the hooligan which has him jumping up from the bench and ducking away. SHE'S ON HER OWN. He does linger nearish, though, and look at the goldrider and the firelizard more than a little helplessly, like he feels like he should try to help, but has just no clue where to even start with that hot mess. Plus, it's a firelizard, so. He doesn't do those. "I can get back through the caverns," he calls after her. He doesn't need to trouble Leirith, OR BE ALONE WITH HER, mostly the latter. Her kiss can make his shoulder, if she likes, because he's not clueful enough or short enough for her to get his forehead as intended, but either way, he calls, "Bye!" at the goldrider's retreating form. With so many things happening since he found her earlier in the day, saying nothing would make it seem incomplete. Then he's looking down at himself and his borrowed clothes, and he'll pick his way back to his abandoned boots before making his way through the tunnels to where he can get a real bath to deal with any remaining mud or chill.

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