Tiptoe Through the Tulips

An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

It's warm outside! This means lots of things to lots of different people, but in Ajral's case it just means "time to draw fish." Never mind that strange things frequently interrupt her attempts to draw fish, especially when she is wearing a Candidate's knot in addition to (because she refused to take off the other one, you can fight her but if you're not Citayla or Risali she will just ignore you) her Healer's knot. It seems to be the white thing is the trouble magnet, but maybe it's the combination of it and the fish. It doesn't deter her, at any rate: here she is! Perched on the wall with her sketchpad, drawing the koi! She has gotten very good at her loose-lines stylized koi sketches, which end up looking like interesting watercolor when the day is done. There's a very handsome blue firelizard perched on her head, occasionally trying to swipe her charcoal (and failing, at least so far).

Strange things like Rhodelias? That sounds like it could possibly be a flower, but probably isn't as the human by that name catches sight of a familiar back of the head on her stroll through the gardens. The assistant swerves quickly, detour set in motion. She also slows to a crawling pace as she tries to tip-toe towards her fellow candidate without disturbing her… or the fish… or her hat. The over exaggerated creep with hands held up to her chest like a t-rex probably isn't the most effective stealth tactic, but Rhody works with what she got. She gets at least within a few feet of the bench before her own shadow may betray her…

Rhodelias are fancier rhododendrons with bigger flowers, clearly. Maybe that's how she got her name in reality! Ajral is mostly zoning out on the rest of the world besides the smell of the gardens and the presence of the fish, who at least don't move too terribly often. So she doesn't actually notice the sounds of people (which is too bad, since she didn't look around to see the T-rex arms at first) or anything of that sort until the lighting has shifted enough it's clear it's not some bird moving a treebranch or something. Since silence and smoothness seem the name of the game, Ajral essentially looks over her shoulder in slow motion to see who or what might be behind her. And then, anticlimactic, she smiles — who could possibly not smile — then bows her head a tiny bit in greeting and turns back to the fish. Looks like she is not today's conversation starter, but she's clearly enough glad to see Rhody, or at least not unhappy about it.

As her prey turns, Rhody-rex freezes, so Ajral can definitely get a full look of those teeny-tiny pretend claws and the awkward leg being held still mid-step in the air. Even as she holds the beyond ridiculous pose for a minute, a grin creeps across her face, one of the illuminating kind that goes into the eyes and the very soul. Maybe it's even contagiously bright. It does at least turn into a brief fit of giggles as she drops the pose and slips onto the other side of the bench. "I think the weavers might be concerned if this latest fashion statement takes off. Who will buy their silly hats if they can just train a firelizard to do the job?" And a very good firelizard he is despite charcoal theft attempts, at least in her own opinion. Rhody does reach up a finger to offer the blue a finger for possible eyeridge-scritching purposes.

"Viendris only does this," Ajral names which of her two blues it is — they can at times be hard to tell apart, "Because he is vain and wants people to think he's even more handsome than the average firelizard. And the average hat. Although I do like wearing real hats, or at least fascinators or other beady decorative sorts of things that you can't put on a firelizard as easily." Viendris is paying attention to Rhodelia now rather than the charcoal, and Ajral gets to draw an entire fin while he's leaning into the scritching instead. "So you need firelizards who want pedestals to do the job," continues the healer-candidate, without looking up. She'll hold her head perfectly still for Vie to get petted and manage to draw at the same time.

"I mean… he may be more handsome than the average hat!" Rhodelia's got your back, little buddy, as she continues to spoil the blue with attention while trying to crane her head around to get a peek at the drawing in progress. "You've seen my firelizards. I can barely figure out what they want half the time." Fire, shiny stuff and food pretty much sums it up. And the trio normally has at least two of the three at any given time. "Been busy this clutch?" Those eggs (or at least one of them) may have been especially troubling, after all.

Ajral would shrug if she were CAPABLE, but holding still for Viendris to keep himself comfortable makes it impossible for her to do so. She doesn't hide her drawing, not being one of those hobbyists who has the same of not having professional talent — for someone who isn't Harper trained, it's pretty good. Just very sketchy, because fish. To his credit, Viendris is actually extremely beautiful for a firelizard. "Mine are well-trained in communication, though Zehun is … odd," she admits, not entirely sure how to put words to the green's behavior. "So, yes, but not really as related to this clutch. Candidates rarely see mindhealers unless forced, because they want to look completely and totally stable for any potential dragon choices. This is going to make things worse in the long run, but, well, I can't make anyone talk." She technically could, by manipulating a conversation; she's good at that. She doesn't want to do it.

Rhodelia swings her feet as she gives an "Ummmm-huh…" At the mention of candidates not wanting to talk to mindhealers. She might as well fit that description of other candidates to a tee. That is unless sitting in the garden watching a friend who happens to be a mindhealer draw some fish while wearing a firelizard as a hat counts as seeing a mindhealer. Rhody can totally do that. "It's always hard to open up. Folks tend to go with whatever the easier option might be, even if it's not good for them. Kinda like firelizards like that too, I guess." And maybe baby dragons?

Aiding the descriptive process, or maybe just because he hopes for a treat, handsome Viendris opens his mouth. See, he is fantastic at opening up, look at him go! Ajral can't help but laugh as he does so, since she can feel it even if she's not able to get a good look. She's still looking at the fish mostly, and not at Rhodelia, but since Rhody is looking at her, she is seeing a mindhealer! They're even having a conversation! "Most choose not to. Open up, that is. They think that bottling is healthy and that things will go away. Important piece of advice," and this is being said in a totally friendly fashion! Ajral is not judging! "It isn't. They don't. Always let stuff out. Some people don't need to talk it out, just to write it down, but — always. These lines look okay to you?"

Sadly, all Rhodelia can offer Viendris is scritches. She did not come prepared with lizard snacks or any snacks. With the fingertip, she'll gently boop his little snoot before putting hands back in her lap. Her cheeks may begin to turn ever so slightly red as Ajral brings up all that bottling stuff up. "Writing it down? But what if someone finds it?" There certainly was some great fun had recently at someone who had found a stray slip of someone else's diary in the barracks. At least that particular embarassing find was just bad poetry. She gives a head nod towards the lines, quick enough she didn't really have much time to look at them. "Look like fishies to me."

Is Ajral doing that on purpose? Maybe only a little, because she probably suspects Rhodelia has bottling going on, but she's very friend-before-mindhealer to her short list of actual friends. It's a really short list. She has to work hard to maintain it, which means only making her comments vaguely helpful unless actually asked … like right now, where she has an answer! "Oh, that's eas…er, it is not hard for me to find an answer, actually, that's what I want to say. It's not easy for everyone to think of. It's usually easy to get used to once you start, but you need to write in some kind of code so only you know what you mean, and that way even if someone finds it it makes no sense. I would recommend just devising a lettering system, not trying to use euphemisms because people get confused that way. And when I say 'you' I mean in general. Although if it's just writing down venting, I've had patients who wrote down their angry thoughts and then set them on fire, it was very cathartic." Evidently she was there. It was probably her idea. It's a great idea, okay. Viendris is just content to be absorbing those scritches as long as he's going to get them, and 'looks like fishies' is enough feedback for Ajral to keep going instead of scrapping and starting over.

"Code, huh?" Rhodelia may be more tight-lipped then usual, but that definitely set some wheels in motion. And considering Rhody's remarkably indecipherable and ever changing filing system, if anybody could come up with a coded journal… this woman could. "Could even come up with some customer 'lettering' as well as the letter code." DOUBLE CODE! TRIPLE CODE! SECURE ALL THE FEELINGS! As for the setting fire, she does let out a laugh. "Turn over is always a great time for that!" Bonfire is already conveniently built and everything for the holiday. With one more scritch for Veindris, she sighs as she gets up. "Guess I better get back to the office. Hopefully I didn't turn my back long enough for either R'hyn or Risali to need someone to call a healer…" But it's always a possibility. With a small wave, she'll go back up the way she came. Back to work and the land of problems.

"If you need mediation," Ajral says helpfully, even though she should sound less cheerful, because why would she actually want to get between R'hyn and Risali? Then they'll just both hate her, and as it stands now at least Risali actually likes her. One is more than zero, and it's also possible that R'hyn might not hate her. She's just not sure, since … has she even actually met him? Maybe? Briefly? "Well, you know where I am, and I would say that the garden would be a good place for it except that when people are yelling I'd rather keep it indoors." The Infirmary is a MUCH more appropriate place for yelling. "But — yes, I'll stand by my recommendation about code, if people who need to write down secrets are able to come up with it. Bonus points if they both encode it and then burn it." Start anew every turn, burn your feelings!

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