Praktis Makes Perfekt

Xanadu Weyr - Store Room
The storerooms here are carved into the stone, stretching back deep underground beneath the upper hallways that serve for residences and work areas. There is, after all, little need for natural light here; a series of electric lights are more than sufficient to illuminate smoothly cut walls and the assortment of supplies kept until they are needed once more.

For some of the things here, that time will be long in coming. Broken furniture and torn clothing awaits the opportunity for someone to repair it - or else the kindling and rag piles. Other items are more immediately useful; gently worn clothing and boots are neatly arranged in rows and on racks, especially in the quickly outgrown children's sizes, and an assortment of furniture and small appliances in functional condition await new homes.

A series of side rooms connected to the kitchen are the larder which feeds the Weyr through the winter. Sacks of grain lean against barrels of salted meat and wheels of hard cheeses stacked high. Refrigeration and dragonflight make for a more flexible winter diet, but it still takes a great deal of food to provide for this many people. The food is a tempting target for tunnelsnakes, and the occasional scuttle can be heard in the otherwise quiet depths of these caves.

Toward the southern edge, near the path leading down to the hot springs, there's the laundry rooms, a set of steam-filled chambers where water and soap are scrubbed into fabric of various sorts and the dirt and grime is scrubbed right back out.

Much of the stores are easily accessed, requiring only the appropriate permissions to be borrowed from. These supplies are, after all, here for the good of the Weyr and the people living here. A few rooms - those containing particularly valuable or dangerous items - are kept locked.

Dinnertime sees the influx of people in and out of the stores (and particularly those near the kitchens) slowing down with fewer immediate needs for supplies, either for dinner preparation or the tasks of the workday. There is a section of the stores currently inhabited by one gardener-turned-Harpers'-assistant, though presently no one else. Stefyr sits on a crate, trying on a set of worn but serviceable boots, his own rather mud-encrusted and sadly hardened leather pair sitting beside the crate on the floor. On the crate behind him is a handful of garments of fairly bland colors, with the occasional exception. He's focused on the laces, one knee drawn up on the low box, tongue caught between his teeth as he works to get them through all the right holes and not miss any. It may or may not be more than his first attempt at the task.

From the deeper end of the storerooms, footsteps herald the approach of one mostly-silent greenrider. A veritable bouquet of unsharpened pencils sprouts from his chest pocket, while a sheaf of blank paper is tucked under one arm. He almost walks right by the section where Stefyr is working on his shoes… but then he pauses and backtracks a couple of steps. His expression is characteristically quizzical, but at least he doesn't stand there being a creeper for too long. In an effort to let it be known he's there, he makes a little bird whistle sound, then grins by way of greeting.

Such signals must be familiar from other context to Stefyr because his blond head comes right up at the sound of it and his eyes go searching for the source. It doesn't take long to spot the greenrider and a grin comes readily to his face. "Hey N'on," sees his hands dropping the laces to make the appropriate greeting and an invitation that isn't actually a sign to come over. That isn't apparently part of his vocabulary yet, but, "How are you?" is and he signs it with a little more focus on his own hands than he might with more familiarity later. He looks up at the other man with a lift of his brows after, boots quite forgotten in the face of the chance to converse and practice.

N'on counters the greeting with one of his own, his grin actually growing as he wanders over to accept the invitation. With great care, he finds a place to set down his paper, freeing up his hands to give a proper answer: "I'm well." Followed by a mock-solemn wink and a thumbs up. He gestures back toward Stefyr. "And you?"

Stefyr's smile widens 'til his eyes crinkle just a little at the edges before he clears his throat and matches N'on's tone with his own expression. "I'm well," he signs and says. "New job for me," he indicates. None of his signs, notably, include the rapid-fire spelling of words, only memorized signs that indicate an idea. He then purses his lips, hesitating, possibly wanting to say more but lacking the signs and not wanting to do this by halves if he can help it. He looks a little dissatisfied when he finally adds, "How's your dragon?"

N'on nods and raises his eyebrows in pleasant surprise. "Congratulations," he signs. If necessary, he'll spell out any word that Stefyr doesn't already know, but he's also carefully choosing his vocabulary. It's almost like he's done this before. "She is well." After a thoughtful pause, he uses that opportunity to teach Stefyr his sign for his dragon's name, and repeats himself: "Zhelinath is well." The sign is a kind of mish-mash of 'lady' and the letter Z.

Stefyr dutifully repeats the new sign back to N'on, his brows furrowed. "I'm still not sure how to pronounce her name," he confesses, probably so that if he uses the sign and doesn't speak the name in conjunction N'on will understand why. There's a hint of color in his cheeks at the admission, but it doesn't stop him from slowly spelling, "Harper's assistant. And Weyrwoman," which gets a sign, but the next is spelled, "Sort of." Then a grin, "Lots of practice." He doesn't go on to explain with what, but probably these sentences are challenge enough for him at the moment.

N'on looks genuinely excited at that news. He catches himself just in time to avoid launching into a longer signed setence, and instead just gives a grin and thumbs up. "Harpers are good," he offers, a simplified version of whatever he was going to say. With a quizzical expression, he taps the sheaf of paper, then mimes writing on it. Then, he signs: "Learning?"

Stefyr affects a long-suffering look before nodding, and even making the sign for yes automatically, which bodes well for his long-term study. He purses his lips a little, evidently one of his thinking faces. Then he signs, "Learning everything." He pauses again, that expression with the pursed lips there again. "Faster already," he manages and then mimics the writing, then shapes his hands into a book to indicate the other half of that equation. "Wish?" He inquires verbally, looking for the sign, indicating, "Everything learning faster." It's not quite a good sentence, really, but it communicates an idea which is better than not.

N'on echoes the sign for 'wish' without even thinking about it, but nods a little more solemnly. "You're learning fast," he signs. Then, he signs it twice. "Fast-fast." Whether Stefyr knows that's his way of showing emphasis is anyone's guess, but he smiles again, and looks toward the ceiling for a moment, turning over how to simplify what he wants to say. "You're learning faster than me," he offers.

Practice is all well and good, of course, but it's obvious that practice hasn't yet made perfect in Stefyr's case when he carefully spells, "Diferent people, diferent chalenges." People is a sign, but different and challenges miss one of the double letters each time. He's working on it. It was close. He gets part credit. "Are you from here? Did you learn here?" The signs aren't quite matching up to his words this time, but they're close. Ish.

N'on echoes Stefyr's intentions with the correct signs, though he still has that delighted smile to show he's only too happy that Stefyr is learning. To the questions, he gives a quick, "No," then "Yes." Again, he's thinking it over to find a way to simplify, and then he explains, "When I came? No writing. No signing. No speaking." He smiles and shrugs, then adds, "Harpers are good teachers." At any point where Stefyr starts to look lost, he backs up and finger spells.

As there inevitably must be, there are moments where N'on loses him. He signs wait once and again twice when being spelled to, but there is no sign that Stefyr is discouraged. "Sounds hard," he replies, expression thoughtful for another reason than simply remembering his signs. His brows knit and he adds a tentative sign. "Lonely," he says with his mouth, 'sad' say his hands. Really, he might mean both, but he doesn't obviously intend to say both. He blushes a little when he inquires, "You hear well?" But those signs are correct and crisp; maybe he planned to ask and learned especially.

N'on shrugs a little, and waves a hand as though to banish any sadness. "Long ago," he signs. The question is met with a little grin and a nod. He taps his neck, then explains with several words, hoping Stefyr would know at least one of them. "Accident. Injury. Damage."

Stefyr's brow furrows, but he seems to get two out of three, repeating, "Accident," and "injury," aloud to show he understands, signing them back. The third one gets a sign back and a questioning look. He glances down at the boots he was lacing and makes a little bit of a face. "I have more questions," he signs to the greenrider, his expression turns wistful and just a little regretful, "I need to finish," and he gestures at the boots. "More work tonight. Learning. Harper." It's disjointed but hopefully it gets the point across. "Food together," he invites, spelling slowly, "Somtime?" He'll get there. There's reading, there's writing, and there's spelling aloud, and then the signing on top of it. He'll get there. He needs more practice plainly, but time will give him that.

N'on nods a little, and gives an amiable thumbs up in acceptance of the offer for food together. He starts to gather up his paper and rises, but then pauses a moment. There's another of those thoughtfully looks, but instead of simplifying something complicated, he offers a very simple, "Thank you." Then, "Good day." And he heads off to finish his own interrupted errand.

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