Made to Order

Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge
How has this gem stood empty so long? Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, it's stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.
The space within the cottage - sitting room, kitchenette, sleeping and bathing room - is simple: stone floors are covered in vast rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the sitting room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchenette. The sitting room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a painting of meadow, in which both the cottage and Marel herself feature, the picture signed with a capital M. To the rear of the cottage, the bedroom has French doors that open onto a private retreat formed by a three-walled, flag-stoned courtyard of the same material that makes up the cottage walls. In the centre lies a flower garden, neat rows of tulips and rose bushes planted in fresh soil, a non-functional stone fountain serving as decoration alone, for now.

Not yet on any active duty that can involve flying anywhere, of late most of Marel's work can be completed in the archives and finished just as morning becomes afternoon, if she works straight through from an early breakfast without stopping, which of course she does more out of habit than a desire to return home or to spend the afternoon in the shop. On this particular afternoon, she can be found at home, a firelizard perched on each shoulder as she walks through to open the French doors at the back of the cottage and let some air in, suggesting that she's not been back for long at all.

Perhaps Jethaniel glanced into the archives on his way here today; if so, Marel was already departed. The shop being similarly lacking in her presence, this cottage is the most plausible remaining alternative if she is to be found. As such - since it is his intent to do so - he walks down the path toward it. He has, in one hand, a small package wrapped in a plain piece of dark cloth, and he knocks on the door with the other.

Of her shoulder ornaments, the blue is the first to notice the sound from the way of the door, and though he promptly vanishes in response, the brown sticks around long enough to be coaxed into clinging to a sturdy branch of a potted tree in the courtyard. Marel's steps continue to be slightly uneven, her weight leaned against her pale cane rather than apply too much pressure to her bad leg, though her progress towards the door is not all that slow and she (hopefully) doesn't keep Jethaniel waiting on the doorstep for too long. Of all who might visit her, her surprise at his presence is conveyed only by a brief twitch of brows. Rather than go through the formalities, that it is him and that she knows what she does of him, she jumps straight to, "Do you want to come in?" assuming that he has a purpose behind his journey.

Jethaniel's own limp - after his slip on the ice this past winter - has mostly faded. There's still the occasional oddity to his gait, particularly when stairs are taken too hastily or the day has involved an unusual amount of walking, but he no longer employs a cane. He has not, however, forgotten. Despite the fact that he is, by all accounts, a busy man - one with many projects to oversee - he does not display any sign of impatience as he waits. Presumably, if the door did not openm he would at some point depart. However, it does so. The lift of Marel's brows is answered by a slight nod. Her words are answered by, "Yes, thank you." Her assumption is correct, and her implicit invitation is, as such, accepted.

Marel backs away from the door, turning away to head back into the main living area of the cottage, trusting Jethaniel to close the door behind him. "I assume that you're not here to tell me that you're not going to marry Darsce after all?" she utters dryly, steps drawing to a halt just as she might pass the entrance to the kitchenette. "Would you like anything to drink? I don't… have anything… you know. Strong." For reasons the steward may well understand. "But I don't make bad tea and I have about a hundred samples of these too sweet and flowery mixes from someone who wants their blends sold in the shop." She sells the stuff so well.

Jethaniel follows Marel inside, pausing to close the door behind him. This delay also serves to provide Marel with any head start she may require due to the condition of her leg, though Jethaniel is quite deliberately not making any observation of the precise nature of her limp. He is not a healer. "Were there such news," he says of himself and Darsce, "I do not expect I would be the one delivering it." He smiles, relatively small but quite genuine. "There is, however, no such news. The wedding is proceeding; the invitations will be forthcoming." There were logistical difficulties in the supply chain. He has not resolved them himself, because he's leaving the decision on the appropriate weight and color of paper to Darsce. Marel's actual reasons for not having strong drink may not be the ones that come to Jethaniel's mind, but his thoughts are sufficient that his mouth curves briefly in a frown that resolves into a nod. The nod is followed by a wry smile for the beverage she proposes. "The process of making tea does have an influence on the final product." As such, even with the ignomious starting point of those blends… "If you are so inclined, tea will be fine." Or at least not-bad. Jethaniel himself will continue to the sitting area, to set the still-wrapped bundle on the table and himself on one of the couches.

"If there were such news, I imagine that I wouldn't be inclined to speak with you again," Marel replies in that same try tone, for all that there might be an element of truth lurking somewhere beneath those words. For the moment, she can't and doesn't them, softening her remark with a slight twitch of her lips that might be a smile. She leaves him with that thought and heads on through to the kitchenette, to return not so many minutes later with a mug of tea that's not of the sweet, flowery sort, but something more sturdy. Offering it to Jethaniel as she approaches the couch, she says, "But since we are speaking, what can I do for you?"

"Fortunately," Jethaniel notes to Marel's departure with a dryness of his own, "the situation is a hypothetical one." For all that, were it real instead of hypothetical, certain elements currently imagined might also be real. He waits - for someone as busy as the steward's calendar would indicate, he certainly doesn't seem to be making efficient use of his time - then reaches to accept the tea Marel brings. "Thank you." He takes a sip of the liquid; perhaps it will balance the dryness. Certainly, when he lifts his gaze to Marel once more, his expression is a serious one. "We are." Speaking, that is. "We had previously spoken about a certain device, for your use during flights. I wish to ascertain your current opinions thereof."

Stepping around the table to take a seat on the couch opposite, Marel is still a little too slow and deliberate in gesture and movement to be quite comfortable in her own skin yet, and whether it's due to this lurking in her subconscious, or the fact that she's trying to be proper, she sits with her shoulders square and back almost painfully straight. Or maybe it's that topic that does it. "…I want to be clear that I don't mean to be setting anything off every time… if he ever shows any interest in a female again," she murmurs, gaze dropping to her knees. "I need control when Seryth rises; it's not my intention to stop him by forceful means on other occasions." In the course of drawing her attention back to Jethaniel, she finally notes the bundle on the table. "…Is that…?"

The topic is not precisely a comfortable one. It is, however, a conversation Jethaniel considers important to have. He inclines his head as Marel speaks, a nod of acknowledgment and a slightly lowered position of his head, though his eyes remain on her. They flick away only when she mentions the object, looking there. "Yes." He does not reach for it. "I have…" His lips twitch to the side, wry. "…found… that it may be difficult to remain rational during flights. Patterns of behavior, once established, are likely to remain in effect." His eyes rise to Marel once again. "You had not, previously, deemed it necessary to halt a flight by such means." A pattern of behavior. "The control is and must be yours. All I can provide is a tool less dangerous than a knife."

"I had not, previously, ever had to experience my lifemate chasing my mother's queen," Marel replies in so steady a voice that she can't mean to mock him by mimicking his phrasing, formality adopted as a place of sanctuary where there might otherwise be none. "I couldn't stop him. If my sway is weaker in that situation than that of a queen's presence, then control has to be sought through other means. I think we can agree that it would be disastrous, were he to catch her and for me to be anywhere near my mother." Disastrous is one word to describe it. She glances down at her knees again. "You still all speak as though I did it deliberately. I had to stop him and I saw no other choice but the knife… How rational I was is debatable, but I do wish you would all stop implying that I'll do it again - of sound mind - should he consider chasing anyone again." Perhaps it's not so much Jethaniel that those words are for, her voice quiet, like she could think them into the minds of others. "…I appreciate that you're on my side so far as control goes. I don't know if Darsce has pitched a fit over it. I'm sorry if that's the case."

Jethaniel inclines his head in an acknowledgment to that statement, so formally phrased. That Marel could not stop Isyriath, he nods. Her need for other control goes unremarked; the nature of that capture brings a frown, a sideways cant of his head that expresses an equivocation. If these situations were weighed and deliberated… ah, but therein lies the problem. The frown increases for Marel's description of what people think, lingering there - though he gives a slight nod to her appreciation, and his eyes flick down at the mention of Darsce, then rise once again to Marel. "Let me be clear." He sets the tea down, and brings his hands together in his lap, sitting straight-backed with his eyes on her. "I do not believe you were rational. I am not judging your actions as such. What I do believe is that you - in that situation - used the means at your disposal to attain a control you found necessary. As you were not rational, there is no point to rational argument; your statements made now are meaningless, because if that situation -" No. More specific. "When Seryth rises again, you may not be rational." His gaze on her is steady. "I intend to provide you a means that will suffice for your control while minimizing the long-term effects… when you deem it necessary. Rationally, or otherwise." His eyes lower. "Darsce and I have spoken about it. She is concerned for you and Isyriath; her ultimate aim is your mutual wellbeing. She… does not agree with this, but accepts it."

There's so much Marel could - likely should - say on the subjects of rationality and reason, or about control and effects, but, of everything, her focus falls on his last statement and all is else is ignored, as if connections have shorted out somewhere and blinded her. "And if you do this and she… accepts it, she isn't going to… hate you?" she asks slowly, leading on from some thought she doesn't voice, until: "I don't want that for her. Or for you." It's still not clear, but it's evident enough that there's a reason behind that line of questioning.

Jethaniel lifts his eyes to Marel again as she speaks, and he nods to her question. Her reasons remain opaque to him, but he nevertheless answers her. "Darsce is aware of what I have done and why I am here today. She does not hate me. She still wishes to marry me." As they established, at the beginning of this conversation; it remains true. Jethaniel could say more about rationality as well; about control, the loss thereof, about justifications and actions and many other things, but he doesn't. Perhaps he's waiting to see if Marel will show him the reason for her questions.

"You can love someone and hate them at the same time." It's not a positive, nor is it a nice picture of love, but it's one that Marel appears to be acquainted with. "I don't want this to become something that she holds against you, turns later. If she accepts it because you're going to do it anyway…" one corner of her mouth twitches in a wry, sad smile, "…I know of at least one time that hasn't turned out so well for those involved." By the straightening of shoulders that have begun to slump, she isn't going to say anything further on that subject, leaving it behind to ask, "So, do I get my control? Have I passed as mentally sound?"

"She does not hate me." Jethaniel appears certain of this, his posture steady. Perhaps it's the same certainty that's made it so that his actions are accepted? He has, however, more to say on the subject. "She accepts it because we have discussed the alternatives. She does not agree with it; she agrees that we have failed to find a more acceptable choice. Thus, she accepts this one." Turns later, perhaps they'll find one more acceptable to Darsce, but right now… "She is not upset with me." Jethaniel exhales for Marel's change of topic, and leans back against the couch. "Your mental soundness was not in question." His voice softens slightly. "When a gold is rising, I have done things I would not otherwise. I am not a rider; the influence is significantly less strong. I nevertheless do not consider myself rational, under those circumstances."

Marel knots her fingers in her lap as she confesses, "It feels like it's been in question, by others, if not by you," in a low voice. "Intentionally or not." She won't name and potentially shame, but the bitter part of her appears to need to make that complaint before she can move on, in more ways than one. Sneaking a look up at him, she hesitates and seems to lose her nerve, then gathers herself again and puts, "…You're doing this because you… sympathise?" to him. "Because you would want the control I can't have by other means?"

Jethaniel lowers his gaze as he nods to Marel's admission. That, he does not argue with. Her perceptions, and the actions - intentional or otherwise - of others, he acknowledges. While his eyes are down, he reaches for his tea - perhaps he's just noticed it again. His fingers touch the handle of the mug before pausing as he looks up to her once more. He's quiet for a moment, considering her question soberly. "I am, at least, aware of what it is like to lose control." His gaze returns to the tea, and he uncurls his fingers from it to return them to his lap but does not look up. "It is terrifying."

"I suppose people would say that I should never have let myself become a Candidate if I wanted to keep everything in perfect order all the time," Marel murmurs, hooking one of her fingers more securely around the opposing thumb. "If he had been a girl, there would be no choice, but then this situation wouldn't exist." Now, she lets her shoulders slump, figure hunching over a little. "…I don't think I should be surprised that you understand and others don't," she admits in a soft voice. "I think I'm only surprised because you don't have a dragon and they - most of them - do. No offense, but you hardly seem the sort to invite chaos."

"They may," Jethaniel acknowledges quietly. "That is, however, a retrospective analysis. The choice was made; you cannot change it, merely adjust to the circumstances. Should you share that conclusion, you may provide it as an example to others faced with a similar choice." To become a candidate - with all that may entail - or… not. "Chaos does not necessarily need to be invited in order to present itself." A small, wry smile plays over his lips. "Nor is it the sole provenance of dragons." He hesitates for a moment, then adds, "There will always be chaos; I consider perfect order neither possible nor desirable, but in some situations, order is essential. Control is how order is imposed." Which is why he reaches for the package he brought and unwraps it with careful motions. Inside is a very orderly device, designed to fit around an ankle and deliver an electrical shock according to parameters arranged by the controls. He'll explain how it can be used, how to charge it, the safety precautions to be observed when wearing it, and so forth. It's not very complicated, from an end-user's perspective. Order is efficient and neat.

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