Xanadu Weyr - Observation Level
Dark blue seats form a semi-circle around the sands below, the lowest row separated from the multicolored red and white sands by merely a railing. The seats climb upwards, each row a bit higher than the previous, and they are broken up into sections by three sets of staircases. Between the first and second section, a glass wall descends to separate the observers from the heat of the sands. Air is kept in motion through a set of fans, and so these seats are quieter and cooler than the rest… though the noise and heat of the sands is still present./

Lights are evenly spaced along the outer wall, lighting the seats and the sands easily, though they tend to be dimmed unless a major event is taking place. A large balcony overhead connects to the glass wall. Vents for cooling run along the bottom of it, and the ledge provides a place for observers of the draconic kind to watch without obstructing the view for others.

The sand below is variegated in hue, individual grains of red and white that have a pinkish hue when seen from across the circle of the hatching grounds but - up close over that railing - are clearly two varieties mingled.

Those long, hot days of summer continue in Xanadu, although now that night is beginning to fall, some areas of the Weyr might be approaching tolerable temperatures. The Hatching Sands are certainly not one of those cool places as the sands are as warm as ever, continually cooking the latest clutch so eventually there will be some fully cooked baby dragons. Rhodelia takes a very cautious step on to the observation level, glancing over her shoulder as if there's anybody looking for her, but nope. The few souls already there are sparse and spread out, all engaged in their own contemplation of eggs, for themselves or for the bets. The assistant and her basket slide over towards the nearest unclaimed seat and her eyes stay on the sands even as her hand starts rummaging in the basket to come out with a finger-root stick. Some days it might be disappointing, but today she'll just give the orange veggie a crunch.

Tejra is just one person. The fact that she occupies the space of three (count them, 1, 2, 3) seats does not, in fact, make her willowy but solid frame any larger than it is, but the peach-pink flowy fabric of her skirt draped across two of those seats as her legs curl over the top of one armrest and her neck sprawls back across the one on the other side, which also hold a small bag of a lovely lavender material that has seen better days might just make her presence here somehow bigger. She cracks an eye, arches her back and leans over that armrest her shoulders had occupied until she's pushed her body so much off that middle seat as to be lightly balanced across the two armrests and looking at Rhodelia, upside down, the waterfall of her copper red hair a bright contrast to the blue of the seat under it. Her pale blue gaze sweeps from torso to top of the head, and then fixes briefly on her shoulder. "Oh, you're one of those," it comes with the faintest touch of what an eyeroll would sound like, but not overly rude. "Do you have a favorite yet?" Tej inquires, her own knotless shoulder sliding back down to her original position in the middle seat, one arm giving a gesture that should be haphazard toward the eggs on the sands but doesn't quite come off that way because it's too graceful, like a Lady trying to do a country dance for the first time. It just doesn't look quite right.

Come hatching day, someone would surely object to the woman's occupation of multiple seats. Today is definitely not that day and honestly, Rhodelia barely noticed as she was too busy getting her gawk on with some slightly disappointing noms on the veggie stick. She tilts her head when the nearly-liquid stranger addresses her. "One of what?" Rhody wiggles her snack. "Not a veggie. This is just me trying to be good. Her eyes follow the hand like a feline focusing on a moving light. "The eggs?" She gives a head shake. "I've done this enough times I've learned not to make favorites." Counting eggs before the hatch and all that.

"One of those…" Tej's melodic purr of a voice trails off and then picks up with a little throaty sound of indecision and a wave of her hands at the sands, but the word she settles on is, "…people that is willing to be waylaid on your path, or totally derailed from your path, or otherwise willing to upend everything you might've loved about your path for the chance of whatever's out there. Chronically willing." It's not exactly disdain in her tone, but it is some kind of unsubtle challenge. The younger woman stretches her arms up over her head, and then slowly kicks one leg then the other down to the ground and swings… not upright, but to a different sprawl, basking in the warmth of the caverns like a sunbather on a beach. "Other than the veggie," which is eyed, "what don't you like about your life enough to play a game of roulette with it?"

Rhodelia peers at the other woman as if trying to mark just where that purring voice might have originated from. "You sound like some of those that swept in with wherever it was Leirith found all those boxes." There certainly is at least one maybe fortune teller deep within Leirith-topia. "I had a path once, but turns out it wasn't for me." Turns has faded any resentment towards that at least enough that she can just shrug it off. "Since I wasn't that great at picking my own path, maybe I'll have better luck shaking the dice down there?" She tilts her head. "Although since this will be the sixth, maybe not. Guess I shouldn't pack up and take my luck to Bitra any time soon?"

"Do I?" Tej inquires with a single arch of brow and a very slight shift of her skirts with the pinch of elegant fingers to layers of gauzy material. "If I was, I would probably be gawking more at these," again, that carelessly flung gesture toward the eggs. "I come, I go, but I live here." Nevermind that she hasn't been in or out of the Administrative Hallways and if she had a meeting with the Weyrwoman or Weyrleader, only her name might have passed onto any of those lists. "So, what? You jumped the path and think now you're on an uncharted course? That makes it any less of a path now? Or is it just a road with a dead end?" eyes flare and brows bounce at that, provocative. She gazes at Rhodelia from under her lashes, expression so serene when it's still as to be impassive. "Going to Bitra would, I suspect, land you on an entirely other path, though if your luck turns there, it might be a better life than you're living now. At least if you went to Bitra, the path would still be one you had some measure of control over. By all accounts, those," the eggs that she's so casually dismissive of, "are as life-altering or more than a baby. At least with a baby you can hand them off to nannies and then to Harpers, when they're old enough." Something about warm, fuzzy sentiment said so sardonically, makes her lips twitch. "Which one are you? I saw a list." Are there people who don't know Risali's assistant within Xanadu? Apparently there's one.

"You do," Rhodelia will confirm. "Although you seem cleaner." Seem being the key word. At least she dresses in finer materials than most of the impromptu-cardboard-carnival-traders wherever they came from. "If it's been charted, I haven't done so." The blonde has firmly avoided serious thinking about what her future might hold or more importantly, what she might want it to hold. Her eyes narrow as she stares back at the questioning woman. "What does it matter to you if my life is a dead end? Some folks would have considered being a bartender a dead end, but that turned into something more." Her arms cross a bit defiantly even if she doesn't know fully why. Finding yourself unexpectedly judged can do that. "Bitra could also turn my luck into something much worse. My life here isn't so bad." When her bosses aren't trying to kill each other or she's being dragged from her bed by pirate weyrlingmasters. "I'm Rhodelia." And then a hint of panic. "What list?"

"Why would it matter to me?" Tejra's question in answer to a question comes with another of those brow arches. It's challenge, but the very slight shift in the set of her lips betrays just the smallest touch of amusement. "Don't you know that words are free? You can waste as many of them as you like. Breaths aren't valued much more for all that those are as finite as anything you might otherwise count to measure the remaining minutes in someone's life." And look at Tej, wasting her breaths here. "I would have considered bartending a fascinating job. What do you do now? Other than whatever they tell you to do?" Problem with authority? Yes, indeed, and a glaring one at that. "Think of all the secrets. How many words do you think are wasted in a bar in a single night, do you think? How many end up mattering to any life?" She'll waste more words here, on things that… do they matter? The redhead is still pursuing them, so it's quite possible that they make some sort of difference to her. Or maybe she's just really bored. Slowly, she drawls, "Oh, I don't know," as if she is assessing, tasting the words, as she speaks them. There's something sensuous about the quality of her voice, something strangely intimate about the edge of huskiness that whispers across her voice in the lower parts of her register. "I don't see how Bitra is any less of a crap shoot," her lips twitch at the joke, "than standing out there when those eggs hatch. In this day and age when dragons can go anywhere, do anything to earn a living. Except those pesky shiny things," her eyes go briefly to Ilyscaeth, but the way her lips twist in a slight smile is actually some kind of warm amusement paired with sympathy, "so you could get an enormous mouth to feed along with your own and still be no better off." She gives the older woman an assessing look. "Rhodelia," she sounds out the name slowly, feeling each part and then nodding. "The Weyrwoman's assistant." A list that must have included that much. "It was one of the lists for candidate lessons." Rhodelia may have been on the 'not' list. "I'm Tej," Tej whose 'j' sounds like the '-ge' in beige, whose 'j' sounds like the purr in her voice. "Journeyman Harper." Not cardboard carnie, after all.

"You're the one that asked!" Befuddled Rhodelia snaps a little, both verbally and physically as she breaks of another bit of the carrot. She'll scooch her basket of hopefully some more tasty things than just raw vegetables further away in case the woman gets any ideas to interrogate her basket as well as life's ambitions. "Crapshoot it might be, but for some reason you are still here. Watching the eggs. There can't really be much reason unless your hobby is just making candidates squirm?" If so, she probably knows a few weyrlingmasters who would be happy to make use of such skills. Rhody nods as the harper correctly remembers her occupation. "Right… so I traded one batch of secrets for another. I'd say well met, Tej…" But she sounds dubious that it might have been well at all and not just some big test.

Tejra sniffs, just a little. Maybe she has a cold. Maybe she's allergic to finger roots. Maybe she's chiding Rhodelia for not grasping the obvious. "You never ask questions you don't care about the answers to? 'How are you?' 'How was the meal with your parents?' 'Would you like my help?'" She tries some common examples. Well, okay, the last one might be just Tej. FEAR NOT, FAIR RHODELIA, Tej doesn't appear to have any designs on your basket. She does, however, shift her frame in one extremely lithe movement, drawing her torso to perfect posture, like the snootiest Lady Holder the world has seen, her mock affront dripping from tone and expression. "Watching the eggs? What would make you think that?" Truly, she's barely glanced at them more than a few times since the candidate arrived. "I'm here, for the food. And the company." She flashes a Cheshire smile toward the candidate, a touch wild, a touch dangerous, "And the heat." That last is an especially rich purr. Only some portion of those things are true, since she's not touching the basket, but when she sits back, she's even more upright, this time her body drawn like a puppet on a string, head over spine, every part of her upper body aligned so neatly that she doesn't even lean back on the seat when she's sitting back. It would ruin the perfection. "I have many hobbies." She does a slow blink at Rhodelia. "I like drinking, for example." Maybe she's decided Rhodelia can be useful. She does seem… well, a bit eccentric could be putting it lightly. But who isn't at least a little crazy at Xanadu? "It seems like the cost of the secrets you can cash in now is higher. Bar secrets are harmless. Mostly." A touch of smile around her lips hints at knowledge of perhaps a more unsavory, but still fun sort. "You can waste any words you like, especially if you don't mean a one." There's that Cheshire smile again.

Rhodelia raises her eyebrows at Tejra's list of examples. "Maybe I only ask those questions to people I care about?" There's only so much snapping one carrot stick can do until it's no more. Alas, poor Carrot, we knew you well. Now that it's finished, Rhody rummages through the basket again, this time bringing out a packet of thinly sliced, fried tubers. "There's easier places to find heat. And didn't look like you had much food or company earlier." Despite the long track record of misplacing many a thing, Rhodelia isn't completely oblivious. She continues to stare at the harper like she might be an alien creature, never knowing what she might do next. "If you make drinking a hobby, it might be a problem, but you're free to lurk around the bar for secrets if you want. Maybe your questions won't be as infuriating there…" Rhodelia crunch, crunch, crunches on her newest snacks even as she uncharacteristically bristles.

"So why does it bother you so much? Should I care? Do you care about everything you ask a person you only just met?" The words must have been out of Tejra's mouth before she rendered permission because her own words draw her up short and she twists at the waist to give Rhodelia a slightly wide-eyed look of appalled disbelief. "You're not one of those people? The ones who care about every person who passes however briefly through their lives? The one silently dying of a broken heart? One of those tragic heroines?" Her eyes cast briefly to the eggs and back, "It would explain why you keep standing, I suppose." Her brows knit in some kind of new assessment of the woman. The comments about food, company and even heat are ignored in favor of these new examinations. "I've never had a problem," with drinking, thought that could be a problem in of itself. Who's to say? "My questions might be more infuriating there," she proposes, lips hooking briefly into a wicked grin that is let to fade back to serenity as she sits back, assessment complete, though what she concluded… anyone's guess. Maybe she's actually waiting to find out if Rhodelia has a response her more of her provocative words.

"If I wanted to answer questions about why I care, I'd have gone to the mindhealers. Are you sure you're actually a harper?" Rhodelia has a guess at a possible second profession for the other woman. She gives a snort at the mention of those people. "Or I could be one of the ones that just give a casual nod of acknowledgement in passing instead of initiating a conversation nobody cares about?" Hardly tragic, although she could point a few of those people out if the harper really cared. As iritated as she might have been, Rhody can't help the hint of a smirk crawling into the corner of her mouth. "Maybe, but at least iritated drunks are usually easily distracted." Just buy them a new beer!

Tej's laughter is like the peeling of a bright bell. It's warm, and full and at odd with much of the rest of her apparent persona. "No, you wouldn't, even then. Harpers might be bad, but mindhealers are another sort entirely." Is it really any surprise that Tejra sounds like she knows what she's talking about here? These remarks are ones that are decidedly less laced with disdain and some actual brighter amusement. It may not be relevant to Rhodelia, but the Harper will even sway closer to the candidate to deliver in a breathy under voice, "Only those who don't really need the help see the mindhealer's willingly. All your resistance tells me is that you probably do." And now the smile that flashes at Rhodelia is impish, maybe a little mocking, but somehow not as disdainful or sardonic as some of her earlier looks and comments. "I think you might nod more often than you talk and like it that way," she sounds sure, even if she's off the mark. "Why let people close? More chances to be disappointed. Like not choosing favorites. Like not letting yourself get attached to the choices even as you choose them." Each of the Harper's last three words comes with deliberate and even force of delivery. "You can close your eyes and jump, Rhodelia, so you don't see the risks and consequences of your choices before you hit the water, but you will hit eventually. And when you do, you'll open your eyes. You've done it before," she'll surmise, and then her pale gaze snaps to the older woman's face. "I bet that moment sucks." And, "Do you close your eyes again right away? Or try to learn to breathe again before you start running for the next unknown leap?"

Rhodelia lets out a snicker ast Tejra goes on about mindhealers. "There is at least one mindhealer I'll see willingly." It doesn't matter if that seeing is just as friends and not in a professional settings, half truths may still count! She tilts her head off to the side as she listens to the continued diagnosis of her own psyche. "Or maybe, I don't want to disappoint them. Jumping has been working out so far." She may have stumbled a little here and there, but the woman has seemed to at least land on her feet eventually. "And what about you? Do you have a path laid out or do you just look for whatever little corner you can find and just squeeze on in?"

Rhodelia's first words prompt another long squint from Tejra. And then… DISMISSED. It's obvious from the way the Harper doesn't quite roll her eyes and looks away sporting a patent look of disbelief, that half-truth is not going to fly. Not that she could know it's a half truth, but whatever the assessments she's been making about Rhodelia's character, this doesn't fit and so it is summarily disregarded. "Has it? You're telling me that you get down there, those eggs hatch, however many of your fellows go blissfully," read: idiotically, "off to their new lives, the happiest of happy," and this requires a dramatic clutch of her hands together before her heart, "and your heart isn't broken? Or at least fractured. I bet it was worst the first time. After that, you'd have guarded. Like you do now. 'Don't get attached,' 'don't act like the life I'm in now is something I chose,' 'act like the only path I've known is one I let go of a long time ago so it doesn't matter if a dragon blows up what I have." That last ends up low and monotone and then she looks to the candidate again, expressionless. She stares a long moment and then shrugs her shoulders in an exaggerated and possibly annoyingly graceful way, as if it's part of this dance of words and motion between the two women. "There are only so many paths inside of a craft. Here's mine, here I am at my first posting," she does look young to be a journeyman, really, with her lithe frame, even with her greater than average height which doesn't much matter now as she sits. "But now that you mention it," and now she sways closer to Rhodelia, maybe too close even, to flash her a devouring smile, the sort a monster from under the bed might give a child before consuming them whole. "Squeezing into little corners does happen to be a specialty of mine. Do you know any good ones around here?" And she lingers. Too close.

Squint away. Rhodelia won't reveal any more about the veracity of her claims unless actually challenged. For now, she'll just waggle her eyebrows at the harper as if daring that question she thinks might be on a tip of the tongue. As for the hatching, she gives a dismissive wave of the hand. "Nobody is happy about being left all alone. That's why there's a party after so the leftovers can drink themselves silly." Clearly nothing to do with celebrating new life or whatever official claim might be. It's now Rhodelia's turn to contort herself as she draws her legs up to her chest, propping her knees on chin as she stares out at the eggs below. "You're wrong though. It wasn't worst the first time." Multiple disappointments don't diminish, they multiple. Heart calluses are harder to form than she might claim. The exhale of air that comes at mention of paths and crafts is more automatic response than actual laughter. "You think nobody has ever just blindly jumped away from a craft? Usually not the sanest thing to do but…" There have been souls that have dared. Or were forced to. As the harper leans closer, Rhody rolls slightly, seeking the few extra inches of distance she can without actually forfeiting her own seat. "The stores for one. All sorts of nooks and crannies you can lurk in until someone unsuspecting comes by to surprise with more questions. Could even start writing questions down and slipping them into random boxes or jars."

Oh, Rhody. Just when Tej was probably starting to lose interest at poking the candidate, you go and give her that. "Now, that," the redhead sits back with a smile of a cat that ate nothing less than a whole wherry, "is interesting, Rhodelia. I never said anything about jumping away from a craft, or not." Actually, she was boring about the craft, bland about the paths. That Rhodelia would make that leap on her own. Tejra just looks at her with an annoyingly knowing smirk. "So which craft was it?" That leap isn't far. She contemplates Rhodelia silently, waiting to see if the information will be volunteered. The matter of Tej and her dark corners is left by the wayside along with mindhealers in favor of this new prey to pursue. Did she look like a predator when Rhodelia sat down? Well, she does now.

Instant regret is clear as Rhodelia's eyes widen and her mouth flaps briefly before she figures CLOSED is the appropriate positioning and she squirms in her seat a wherry not quite bright or quick enough to get out of the way of the feline she KNOWS is stalking. "Pretty sure you could probably guess…" Rhody hasn't really been great at hiding her origins and just somehow lucked into most people not asking. To a harper trained ear, her accent would clearly scream BENDEN and then the whole previous life of a bartender… she might as well have been dumping out breadcrumbs like paving stones.

"Could I?" And back comes the Cheshire smile that plays lingeringly across the young woman's lips before she's up in one sinuous move, sweeping her hand down to claim up her bag. Then she turns to Rhodelia, head cocked, smile ambiguous, hip slung slightly out in a jaunty sort of manner. "Maybe another day, Rhodelia," Tej lets the name roll on her tongue, then quick as a flash her hand sweeps out snatches the end of the ribbon tying the candidate's messy bun, untying it with one efficient yank and pulling it along as she goes. Before she hits the steps, she's using the ribbon to tie up her own long waves, and flashes a cheeky smile back at the older woman before vanishing out of the Observation Level and probably off to some new dark corner.

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