Common Ground

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.

The lunch hour never fails to be a busy time in the Caverns with people darting in and out or snagging a seat to chow down before they're back to their duties. There's a bright din of chatter covering the sound of forks scraping plates, but no sound coming from the big blond man hunkered down in one of the more comfortable seating arrangements, his plate held in one hand so he can scoop mouthful after mouthful of a plate mountainous with greens and other vegetables and even a few cold slices of roast wherry. Stefyr's focus is great, because food requires one's full attention, but at one point he has to stop, place his plate on the table and reach for the cup there instead. It's at this break that his eyes scan the cavern and even manage to catch that the people that had been sharing the table with him are nodding and abandoning their seats to head back to whatever it is that needs their attention.

Lunch is always busy, and busy is not always good. Evangeline scoots in the door of the caverns, she is wearing a bright green skirt that has a bulky appearance for the current climate, her top is white, and the sleeves go to her forearms. Overall she is overdressed for the current weather. Her hair is back in two braids that are cinched together with a vibrant green bow at the nape of her neck. Taking a deep breath, she steps into the din, eyes glancing at all the occupied seats at the table. Her hands are clasped in front of her, her elbows hugging her sides with discomfort as she passes around people she mutters quietly "Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, sorry, sorry, excuse me." Even when it's not totally necessary to do so. A plate is grabbed, and food is hastily placed on it, turning her eyes full, and lips rolled in, a glance is given to the door before she spots the table Stefyr is sitting at, dodging through traffic she scoots in and gives everyone at the table a polite nod. "Hello, good day." A sigh of relief is given once it seems the pleasantries are over.

"Good enough. Yours?" Oops. Did Evangeline intend to initiate a conversation with the young (if still older) man across from her? Maybe it's because he's blond that Stefyr seems to have mistaken her pleasantries for a question. There's a pair of riders occupying the table, too, and still a pair of seats empty (perhaps not for long), but the riders simply nod to the girl joining them and go back to their conversation, one that doesn't include their tablemates. Still, Stefyr has an open, earnest look and despite his size that can seem hulking when he stands, seated he's merely a man who takes up more than a usual share of elbowroom. He squints at her a little over his cup which finds the tabletop a moment later, "You're dressed…" Only he might not have the words to politely explain or explain at all, so quizzical brows simply climb and he looks at Evangeline as he reclaims his fork.

Evangelineglances around the table, pulling a small piece of paper from her pocket that has been folded into a messy square-adjacent type shape. Unfurling the paper a pencil is found, and she makes a quick note, wide eyes meet Stefyrs, and she glances back down. "Oh.. My day is excellent now." A small smile plays upon her face, mischief filling her cheek and one singular dimple appearing on her left. "I was supposed to do.. chores but I found a ride and came to see my Nana." Tucking her neck back and sticking her chin out, her nose wrinkles up. Gazing down at her outfit, she opens her mouth and tucks her head into her shoulder, "I made this myself, it's warm, but at least I am not half-naked." A knowing nod, as if somehow everyone not entirely covered up is half-naked. Evi stretches her feet out below the table, knocking her foot into one the riders next to her and startling herself in the process. Jumping, her elbow catches her glass of juice and over it topples onto the table. Clutz.

It's fine. Don't worry about it. Stefyr didn't need to breathe. He was chewing on his mountain of salad, listening attentively, and then she made the clothed-vs-half-naked comparison and he choked and coughed until his face is impressively red. At least he didn't die, though, this time. Sure, his eyes are watering, but what's his pride (non-existent) compared to his life? "It's good. It looks… warm." The man manages when he can once again speak, his eyes going anywhere but at the girl across from him. Super awkward. Any other topic will do. And, in fact, Evangeline provides the distraction, too, as he hurriedly pull a napkin from his lap and drops it onto the spill, mopping. "So your Nana lives here?" He looks around as he cleans, as if juice spills are as commonplace as trees in a forest, and as though this chaperone will appear from the sea of people and curb her young relative's tongue. "Where do you live?"

The man starts to cough, and Evi fretfully reaches one hand out, not all the way to the man but helpfully nonetheless, "Are you ok? I didn't mean to.."Make a man choke on his food? Kill a man during lunch? Sure Evi. Sure. The juice spills over and Evangeline gasps, though Stefyr is quickly on it, she still flutters over the mess, babbling out apologies. "I am sorry, I really am, let me… Oh." Standing up and moving cups and plates to assist Stefyr in his efforts, she slides a napkin from a nearby empty spot and starts wiping. "My nana has lived here for about 55 turns, but I am from half-moon bay…" A long pause occurs, the joy fading from her face slowly and hands drop to her side. "Well, I was from Half moon bay, a cothold not far. Now I live in Monaco, for now." A small dip of her head and her hands go back to wiping, even if the mess is long gone. "Are you from here?" A slight tilt of her head, eyes again on cleaning unnecessarily. There's suddenly less of her like she shrinks a little into herself and her body sinks down.

The absent finesse with which Stefyr sops up the juice before depositing sodden napkins on an abandoned plate, which he'll no doubt clear eventually with his own, working with Evangeline's own assistance as if that, too, is part of this familiar dance more than strongly hints that this is a familiar chore. Once it's as good as it's likely to get without soapy cleaning cloths or other things that take a great deal more effort than using what's at hand, he settles himself back in his seat. "I'd heard something about Half Moon Bay, but not the whole story. I'm only recently from here. Before, a farm out there where I didn't get much of the news." He shrugs a little. "What's Monaco like?" The curiosity is genuine and he dares to take up his fork again, giving one assessing glance to Evangeline before he begins spearing some more food onto it (possibly deciding how likely she is to drop the kind of Weyr talk bound to burn a farm-bred boy's ears to blisters or worse into this casual conversation).

Evangeline watches Stefyr, her lips set in a neutral line and her hands settling as she discards the napkins on the plate the man chose. Pulling her skirt underneath her rump, she sits down and takes a deep cleansing breath. "Half moon bay was destroyed." A crack in her voice, the words filled with sadness and her eyes are hyperfocused on one spot on the table. "I did not live in the Weyr, so I can't help you with what happened there." Silence purveys for a moment, the heaviness settling into the woman, and for a moment, she is a lost child. The moment passes, and she reaches out her hand as if to shake the man's hand, shoulders back eyes up and winning but a false smile on her face. "I am Evangeline, thank you for helping me. Monaco is brilliant, the beach pretty and there's a resort, and a slide, and a cool room where you can see the ocean right through the floor. Lots of people visit, so it's always crowded." Her nose wrinkles in disgust, crowds are the worst. In a lady like fashion, her hands cross on the table in front of her, "Where are you from, if you don't mind asking sir?" Yep, sir, formalities.

What does a man say to words of such profound meaning? "Sorry," is quiet and sincere but it seems to be all Stefyr's got. He doesn't mean to linger over such a difficult topic with the young stranger. He shifts his fork to his other hand to meet hers and then back after the simple clasp-and-shake. "Well met. I'm Stefyr. I'm the youngest in my family, so it was always my place to sit with my lit-" he starts to say and quickly changes the word to, "-younger cousins. The littlest of them is three. Spills and clean up was a nightly entertainment." He offers the information in a tone that dismisses her thanks as unnecessary. The blond's expression turns thoughtful at her description of the foreign Weyr. "Is the ocean very different from our sea? I've never seen anything so big," as their sea, he probably means. "Just a farm," isn't much more explanation than he gave before, but he makes a gesture outside, somewhere, adding, "out there. In Xanadu's region, but a fair distance from the Weyr. Well, fair as the man walks. It's probably not much more than a blink by way of dragon. Nowhere as exciting as Monaco. Just a lot of smelly animals, siblings and cousins. Also smelly." He adds a lop-sided grin for that. "Also plants, but they never had much news to share." He affects a moue of disappointment before taking another bite.

Evangeline kicks her feet in a slow paddling motion under the table, as if too much energy is contained and possibly out of nerves. The flop, flop, flop of her ballet slipper shoes can probably barely be heard over the conversations occurring around them. Shoulders reach up towards her ears, hands still folded in front of her as her braids go gently and down with a shrug "No one could help it." The words are empty, maybe she doesn't really believe them, or they have been said far too often to have any meaning anymore. "What is it like to be the youngest?" Evi asks, eyes perking up from her focal point. "I am the oldest of twelve, I did a lot of the cleaning up and watching too, but only because there were so many of us." Rocking back and forth in her seat, her hands tap on the table for a minute, formulating her response to his question. "I, the sea is the sea, isn't it? I mean.. big, and there are waves?" Not helpful at all, but it's the best she gives on Monaco's ocean. "We did some farming, mostly for ourselves, we had wherries and herdbeasts, draybeasts but they smelled." Comedic disgust reading on her face, the whole of her features wrinkling up. "Why did you come here? If I am not being to forward sir. What you had sounds perfect to me." Gesturing to all the people with a flipped hand, head gives a small shake.

There's just a little nod for the matters of Half Moon Bay, dismissing the more distressing topic. His blue eyes narrow a little at Evageline, not at her question, but at the information she volunteers next. "I'm the youngest of twelve," he returns, perhaps thinking of his very own oldest of twelve sibling. "I was never the youngest around because there were the fifteen of my cousins, some older and some younger, living and working on the same farm. Well, fifteen once they all were born. Over time. There might be sixteen or more by next turn." He shrugs a little. "Being youngest just meant my mother had to go through eleven other names before she thought of mine when I was in trouble. A little extra time to run from her spoon." This is said dryly, but with just a hint of a smirk. "The farm is a pretty busy place. Family means something different there, I think. More about the work and the place, less about the unit. I'm starting to see that here." He shrugs again as though it doesn't much bother him. "Sounds like we have a lot in common, Evangeline." There's a pause with a slight wrinkling of his nose. "You must have gotten a long name because you were first and they still had patience for a mouthful. What's your nickname?" She must have one, he must reason. "Stop sir-ing me though. I'm just Stefyr." He eyes his salad, "I had to go somewhere. Couldn't stay there." The explanation is offered with a shrug, but his expression closes slightly and he stuffs his mouth with a monstrously large bite so he couldn't possibly answer her even if he meant to give more.

"All twelve of us were rarely together, my Ma and Pa weren't together even before I was born." Evangeline's lips twitch to the side, head shakes back and forth as if there's no helping that now. "Ma had me, and then Pa went and married a lady from Ista with a bunch of runners and a big farm." Hands waving this way and that way while explaining her odd family structure, "So then Ma married Arali, and he already had my three brothers, but then they had two more. Pa married Kima, and they have six, so that's twelve if we are counting me. We all get along, mostly. Ma likes to fight with Kima about modesty, and she's never allowed to dress me." Because wearing anything not covering your knees is a crime, obviously. "But FIFTEEN cousins? Where did everyone ever SLEEP." Eyes large and face full of astonishment. Allowing herself to be quiet for a moment, food put in her mouth. "Ma named me after her father and mother, she didn't want Pa's name involved, so I got the long name." Chewing and swallowing quickly so she can get to her next sentence, "Ok, Stefyr it is. Sorry, s-Stefyr." Almost flubbing up again, but catching herself. "Most people use my whole name, but my siblings call me Evi if you want to you can too." An affirmative, pleased nod, "We do have a lot in common, um… I was wondering if you might lend me a hand with a project. See, I have needed someone about your height. But you can say no, it's fine if you do." The request seems simple, her teeth going to her bottom lip for a few moments before she spits out, "I am a weaver, and I have been making this thing for AGE's, but the angles are ALL wrong." Displeasure oozes through her words, and her eyes roll several times. "So, if, maybe, you aren't so busy. Maybe just, help me fit the garment?" Seems sweet enough, her eyes are big and much that of a sweet child asking for something from their parent.

"My mum had all of us." Beat. That. It's not really a tone of challenge, but Stefyr does deliver the news of his very traditional family structure completely deadpan. Maybe he just doesn't want to get into any conversation about the temper of a woman who's borne twelve children. "It's a big farm and there are a couple of bunk rooms. They keep adding additions as they have to, but most of them are single so don't need much space of their own." For a wife. Or whatever happens that replicates more cousins over time. "Evi's easier." It has, in Stefyr's view, obviously very little to do with intimacy of relationship (such as family) and everything to do with ease of his tongue. At least he doesn't say something like the little name suits her better. His brows dip down a little as he considers her problem project. He puts down his fork to trade it for his cup again, the mountain of salad diminishing quickly under his onslaught. "Depends on when you need it done by. I just got a new job, as it happens. And it's sort of two jobs. So when I'm not doing my new job, I'm training for my other or practicing for both. I don't mind helping, but my time is not really my own these days. Busier than being on the farm, if you can believe." The blond doesn't sound unwilling to help, merely conscientious of his obligations.

"Your Ma sounds dedicated." Evangeline smiles, genuinely impressed by the woman's fortitude. "I think after twelve kids, I might be tired." Stretching her arms over her head, she brings them down to hug herself below her chest, arms crossed in a self-soothing type position. "We all shared one big room, sometimes Ma would keep a babe with her. When Avonce moved in, I had to share a bed with Arandi, he snored and kicked until I finally slept on the floor." The words come out sound vexed and smarmy, but a shrug and a small hmm smooths out her tone. There's no real reaction to the shortening of her name, small nods and little taps of her toes on the floor. "What do you do now? " Politely inquiring while rocking back and forth, the buzz of hyperactive happiness that is only experienced by children most of the time. "Well, ok, it should only take a few moments, like, less time than any of this meal took. I am only here when I can catch a ride, and Nana lets me do my personal work in her weyr." Happiness paints her face, and glee seems to be her only current emotion, "She supports everything I do, she's the best." There's no room for argument at all. "I could do it another time, too, if you need. Where would I find you?" A piece of paper is taken from her pocket, her hand poised over it as if preparing to take notes. The paper is covered in drawing of clothes, but they are all obviously made for canines or felines.

Evangeline's words about his mother surprises a laugh out of Stefyr and he gives her a rueful grin and nod. Tired is probably a very apt description of his dear mum. He listens not impassively to her explanation of the sleeping arrangements in her big family, though not with much empathy either. Who knows who he had to bunk with over time. "Now, I'm an assistant to the Harpers who teach the kids in the caverns. And I'm to be learning from Rhodelia how to assist the Weyrleaders, as she does." There's a little hesitation like there might be something more complicated to it all, but he leaves whatever troubles him unsaid. "Another time would likely be better. I'm with the Harper today, but he's still lingering over his meal," a nod in the direction of a well-dressed crafter half way across the seating area indicates who the younger man is watching for a 'lunch is over' cue. "You'd probably find me around the crafter's complex, or maybe the archives and administrative hallway. My room's in the resident's hallway if I'm not at work or outside somewhere." The man does have a pronounced tan which would indicate a lot of time spent in the sun. His eyes briefly fall on her paper, but he makes no comment about whatever he sees there.

Poised over her paper, she writes everything Stefyr says down and repeats it back "Ok, assistant harper, pleased to make your acquaintance. " Humming a private little tune to herself, she searches the cavern and finds the Weyr harper. "I am sorry to have kept you." The last of the food is placed in her mouth before her hands are wiped and her shirt is straightened. One hand goes back to her braid, fingers deftly checking to make sure her bow is still in place and her eyes narrow and flit to the side in concentration. "I can really only be here every four sevendays, but Nana knows people, and she finds me ride at least twice that much." A conspiratory smile and a small 'mmmm' to indicate the pleasure of visiting someone the girl obviously loves. Grandmother's y'all, they're a big deal. "The outfit I have in mind is a longterm work of mine, your help will mean the world to me si- Stefyr." The sir habit is a hard one to break, and it will obviously take time. An old woman, still in good shape as far as her body, but her skin hangs looser on her bones, and it's evident from her dark spots and darkened tan she's been around. The woman wears the knot of a brownrider at Xanadu and moves with a hitch in her step. Before she gets to the table, Evi jumps up, closing the distance between the two and preventing the elderly woman from walking further. "Evangeline, yur gonna miss yur flight home and your Pa is gunna have FITS if he learns yur here so much. Best get yur things tugether, Ah do enjoy yur coming though 'Vi" Senkyou's voice is rough and heavily accented, every bit the daughter of the sea she was when she came to this place. Evi turns back to Stefyr, "I am so sorry, that's my Nana, and my ride is here. I will come back." The two move out the door, the young girl skipping along while holding her Nana's arm, careful not to jostle her but also brimming with joy.

"Assistant to the Harper, not assistant Harper," Stefyr is quick to correct with a touch of a blush. "Not part of the craft," he adds by way of explanation. He might be about to say more, but the arrival of the girl's grandmother stops him and he, instead, gathers his now empty plate and cup. "Ma'am," he nods respectfully to Senkyou, "Have a safe trip, Evi. I've got to be on my way, too." Blond head nods in the direction of the Harper just rising with his things and Stefyr offers a smile toward the women before taking his things, along with sodden napkins from the spill, off to the receptacles for those items and then back to the grind of the day. More kids and probably more spills to clean up.

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