The Mysterious Healing Chamber of Secrets

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.

The stores are crowded, the stores are huge, and they are probably well-organized because of who works in them and who runs them; Ajral has a lot to appreciate about Rhodelia and the fact that everything may be in its place is one of them. Unfortunately, she doesn't know what all things' places are, and she's also holding a keyring the size of her head, with what looks like a hundred keys on it, and is standing in front of a locked door — one of those doors that is known to contain dangerous items, though it may not be common knowledge what those dangerous items are, this particular Senior Journeyman does know and is wearing her knot to prove she has a right to be on the other side of said door — she is standing in front of the door with the giant keyring and swearing under her breath. She tries a key. The door doesn't budge. She tries another key. Same. A sigh is paired with a stamp of her boot-heel against the floor in frustration; this has probably been going on for longer than just those two keys, considering Ajral rarely externalizes emotions like that.

And then there's Lyubomir, handyman extraordinaire. He's been putzing around the stores himself, looking for a few odds and ends to put together for his own questionable purposes. A small basket of items is now in hand and he's on his way out when he hears that jingling of what can only be a massive keyring of entirely too many keys. Curiosity wins the day and he follows the sound to that door in particular and the Senior Journeyman standing before it. "Oh- hey. You, uh- you doing okay over here?" The concern is genuine, his brows lifting just a little. His basket of goodies is checked against his hip for now, positioned just above the toolbelt that he never leaves home without.

"I," Ajral says, looking at Lyubomir and assessing him carefully; she looks frazzled, to the point where her hair is even sticking up a little in a frizzy displeasure externalizing her mood, "Cannot figure out which of these keys opens this door. The entire ring is unlabeled. I think I have more than fifty keys here and it is impossible to tell which is which. I have tried six." She's got them separated out by a finger, so they aren't repeated. "I could be here all day unless I ask someone to kick down the door, and that would be a risk to what is inside."

"Oh, yeah, they're really bad about that kind of thing," Lyu replies, rubbing absently at the back of his neck. "The people that use the keys just know what they're for, so they don't see much point in labeling." His grin is brief and lopsided, hitched up with a dry humor that doesn't hold long. "Here, let me-" he extends his hand for the ring "-sometimes, you can tell what goes to what based on the metal and shape of the keyhole. Failing that, I have a few tricks." No wink-wink, nudge-nudge here; it's a matter-of-fact utterance.

At first Ajral's tense position holds, even as she hands over the keyring, but after a fleeting moment her shoulders begin to relax and the high-strung frustration starts to bleed out. Help is always going to be a calming influence, even if its reach is tenuous and uncertain — even if it's impossible to tell yet whether this new person can actually get rid of the barricade between Ajral and her highly dangerous plant seeds. "I hope you have better luck," she says, "I profoundly do. We ran out of some things in the infirmary that I use from time to time, and," hand wave toward the door. The root of getting more is in there.

There's a grimace for that and a nod, with Lyu stepping aside briefly to stow his basket - heavy with wires and wood scraps and nails and some plastic bits - on a convenient shelf. He sifts through the keys and squints at the keyhole, callused fingers doing their work with dexterity and diligence. A couple of likely candidates are found and separated with a careful placement of fingertips. "Oh, there's no luck to it. Just the process of elimination. That's all." A couple are tested and found wanting. Another goes in, but doesn't turn. While he goes for round two of figuring out the keyhole's match, he wonders: "What did you run out of?"

"Methysticum." A name for a plant, but not one that most people have heard; it's not commonly used, and not a medication easily referenced like fellis or redwort or even willowbark for headache. It's also one many people struggle to pronounce the first time, but Ajral says it with such careful and studious diction that there's no doubt exactly how it should be said. "No one but me is properly trained on using it, here, so it runs out very rarely. And it's kept behind several locks in the infirmary too, but those are … labeled." Correctly, too. "Thank you for trying, whether or not you find success."

"Methysticum." The name is repeated slowly - cautiously, even - though without any sense of recognition. It feels strange on Lyubomir's tongue and he makes a bit of a face before his expression settles to stoic neutrality again. "What is it usually used for? Never heard of it before." It's not precisely idle conversation; the woman seems to be calming from her frazzledness - and he still needs to figure out the mystery of the key. A few more options are sifted through and checked. No further progress as yet, but he seems to be getting closer; all of those keys went in and at least one could be wiggled. "Almost there. I think it's going to be one of these four. And, ah- once we figure out which it is, I can mark the key with some lacquer or something so you can find it again if you need to."

"Please," comes out earnest and enthusiastic from Ajral's lips; identifying this key properly before this happens again is her current dream of all dreams. "I am not sure if I want to know how you narrowed it down, but — no, I take that back. I do. I assume something about the cut pattern is, well, following a pattern that you're able to identify? They're just little bumps to me, but if you've got a good eye for keys …" She trails off, or rather, back to the previous topic, one hand wandering into her pocket and rubbing thumb against hem in an idle habit. "Oh, yes — methysticum is a very strong anxiolytic; using it incorrectly can cause a lot of unpleasant to serious side effects, so it's not left where it can be easily obtained. Thankfully it also isn't all that commonly needed."

"It's- well, a lot of things. Material, size, shape of the teeth-" Lyu could likely go on at length about it, but he finally finds the key and it turns with a satisfying clunk. "And there we go! Hold on, let me get the lacquer-" the keys are left where they are, the handyman gesturing for Ajral to take them while they're there. "I've made keys before from time to time, so that helps," is tacked on, while he processes her explanation of this mysterious medicine. Not that the explanation helps much, but he's a handyman, not a Healer. "Oh. Uh. Well, it's a good thing that we have good Healers to handle it, eh? I guess it's good that I've never had to have the stuff."

Ajral steps right into the spot where she should be, hands on keys-in-door, door pushed open to reveal the Dangerous Healing Items storeroom … it's a lot of sharp surgical stuff that no one ever needs to use because this is why Weyrs have dragons to take people to Healer Hall if they need that kind of intervention … and seeds and frozen cuttings and bottles of things that don't expire. Dusty bottles of things that don't expire. Dusty equipment, too; Ajral coughs. "Well, you can tell how long it's been since anyone's needed to get any of these —" Once she can hand the keys over and move away from the doorknob, she'll be considering what else she should pull out while she's in there. A mindhealer doesn't need a fancy scalpel that hasn't been used in a decade, but it probably needs polishing …

It's good that she's right there with it; it makes his life a little easier. When she hands the keys over, Lyu pinches the successful key securely and pulls out a pot of viscous, red-gold lacquer that's intended for use on metal. It's a durable material, indeed, and one that he applies to the head of the key. It'll take some moments to dry and, while that happens, he ventures to the door of the Mysterious Healing Chamber and peers in just enough to see those devices and other odds and ends within. "I'm surprised they don't have someone cleaning in there more often. Seems like it could be a hazard of some sort." There's a pause, then: "Do you need a basket or something?" He knows nothing of this mystery plant's seeds; for all he knows, they're the size of dragon eggs. (probably not, but still) To his credit, though, he stays outside of the room, not risking the Healer's wrath for stepping over the threshhold.

But it would be really, really cool if they were that big. Considering she may want to collect some other items, Ajral just says, "Sure, that would help. You can come in, if you like. You're witnessed." The correct term is probably more like observed, but it's along the same lines. She's still — not beaming at him, but certainly smiling more genuinely than her normal cool-collected (coolected) expression, as the permanent identification of the key is just as much a help as getting the door open, and he's saved her at least an hour of frustration and boredom. "I think no one ranked high enough to be in here wants to clean anything." Ajral stands on her toes to look over a (dusty) shelf of (dusty) bottles. "I should probably drag in an apprentice, now that I can open the door more easily."

He steps away for a few moments and returns with a basket that (hopefully!) is a good size for what she needs. Along the way, a dark blue firelizard finds its way into his basket and curls up there for the time being. Patch gets a quick knuckling over his nose for his troubles, then the handyman pokes his head into the Chamber of Unspeakable Secrets. "Are you sure? I might be tempted to take some of these contraptions apart to see how they work." It's supposed to be joking, but he's so naturally deadpan that it might be hard to parse as such. It's okay. He'll understand. Her words are weighed with a thoughtful noise and he turns his head to sneeze into the crook of an elbow when a wafting of dust hits his nose just so. "Maybe six apprentices," is professional assessment.

After a moment of consideration, Ajral concludes that while Lyubomir was probably joking, "I don't think that lamp over there even works anymore, so if you want to figure out the secret to the goose-neck lighting … but you probably already know it, we do have those in the infirmary still." Just not broken ones that have been squirreled away to eventually-someday-maybe get repaired. She takes the basket with a murmured thanks, and one of her own fair of blues — this one the attention-seeking bright and relatively small Viendris — comes out of ::between:: to pay a visit to Patch. O hai fren? "I'm not sure I have six apprentices. I wonder if I can borrow some from the Hall, or another nearby Weyr, for that reason. Wanted for expedient cleaning." A vial of seeds, a bottle or two of something suspension, a hydroponic lamp that isn't very big at all: going into the basket.

"The real trick is getting the correct wiring for those," Lyu notes, lifting his chin toward the indicated lamp. "But I think I have something that'll work." That lamp is acquired and tucked under an arm for now; whether it can be saved or not will be a puzzle for another time. Patch yawns a mighty yawn that's all full of teeth and curled tongue before he turns his attention to Viendris. The shadowy blue scoots over in his basket, a wing motioning to the space that's left. Hop in, new fren! "I suppose you could get some candidates to do it, if they're trustworthy. They should be arriving soon enough." That might be the trick, though; trustworthiness. He continues to roam the space, though he's mindful to stay within sight of Ajral. Another lamp is acquired, as well as a few other gadgets that might just need some restorative oiling and tightening.

Fix all the things, Lyubomir: Ajral will not complain. She does note as he takes things that look broken, but doesn't say anything one way or the other; truly she's encouraging it, but in a taciturn fashion. Viendris, delighted, lets out a soft croon and nestles up against Patch. Anyone mind if he just nap here too? No? Good. He's certainly not going to help clean up the storage space. "Ah, yes, of course. Candidate labor. I forget that's an option for me, sometimes."

(You didn't need that basket for things, did you, Lyubomir? Because now you have firelizards.)

"It might be a few days before they have a decent group. And you have to be careful picking them." Lyu's had plenty of experience with it! Meanwhile: Firelizards work in mysterious ways! Today, for instance, Patch is perfectly fine with both cuddling up with a strange new fren firelizard and draping a wing over him. Thusly settled, the blue settles in for a nap, all cozily tucked in and everything. Look. Lyubomir knows better than to leave baskets poorly attended by firelizards. It's not long before his arms are full of things that need to be repaired, though, and he pokes his head back out of the room to see what's become of his basket so he might fill it - but it's already full. "… is this one of yours? Firelizards, I mean."

"I wonder if I would even be privy to knowing if any of them couldn't be trusted with poisons," Ajral says lightly, as if poisons are something that are just all over the Weyr. (Though they probably are - tunnelsnake poisons, anyway. The Mysterious Healing Chamber of Secrets does contain other kinds, though, and she's taken a few to move to the infirmary cabinets.) "Hopefully there are none of the sort of candidates who might use sedatives for … interesting candidate purposes. I like to hope these days they're Searching people who are too mature for senseless pranks," just the logical kind that are actually amusing and not getting anyone fired or killed. Glitter, for instance: safe, so long as it's not being given to the Weyrleader. She's briefly distracted by her inventory, and then, "Wait, what? Oh. Yes. Sorry. I can move him." If she needs to, is left unspoken: if he can stay there, he's clearly just going to.

"Hm. That is a good question," and never mind that poison isn't usually a topic of daily conversation. And, yet: "Some of the cleaning agents we have to use are pretty deadly, too. Can't mix some of them or you get some really noxious gases. Mostly- well, it'd come down to talking with them and getting a feel for them." Or so Lyu reckons, cutting a look to Ajral, then back to the basket o' 'lizards. "Seems there's all kinds, doesn't it? But I'm sure they'll pick up some Healers." Which he assumes will be trustworthy! "And none of the pranksters. The messes they make…" He won't get into it. Nope. And of Viendris? "No, no, he's fine. I can always come back for that later. I find it's sometimes best to leave sleeping firelizards lie." Particularly Patch.

Maybe poison should be a topic of daily conversation; maybe more would get done that way! It's possible that Ajral talks enough about potentially-toxic substances that veering into guaranteed toxins doesn't register as a change. "Cleaners … yes, I can see how enough candidates could mess that up, too. I suppose I was lucky when I was standing, that I never got ammonia to the face or anything like that. Aside from the weird allergic reactions one picks up in the barracks." Nobody ever found out what caused that, but it stopped, and it was only twice as opposed to every time, so it's possible Ajral was allergic to a person with a nearby cot (or more likely something they wore). "I appreciate your willingness to let him lie there. He's painfully social, and my others don't always have the patience for it."

Maybe! And it's not like they're talking about poisoning people, or anything! Lyu sucks his teeth in thought while he adjusts his new burden of lighting and other things. "That's good-" is definitely for the ammonia bit, but the handyman quickly amends, "Not the allergies, though. I never picked up anything like that when I was in the barracks, but I've heard of others that did." His mouth draws to a side. "Maybe it was just stress for them, though." He has no idea. He glances to the 'lizards again, but his expression has shifted to something a little more neutral than before; harder, somehow. A furrow forms in his brow. "Kludge and Patch - that's Patch, there - are pretty friendly. I'm kind of surprised Kludge hasn't showed up to wedge herself between them, honestly. If he ever wants company, they'll be grateful for it."

T e c h n i c a l l y Ajral poisons people. But it is for their own good and it is very small doses that are helpful! This is why these things need to only be used with great supervision, though! "I think it was a blanket," Ajral confesses, as to the allergens. "That I was allergic to. It might have been stress on top of the blanket, though. Ah, a couple of mine are more rude, and one of them bites, but not that one. That's Viendris and he's nice, painfully social, always up for companionship. Zehun is also nice, very … maternal." And then there's Devanay, who is most intelligent and well-trained of her firelizards, which is why he is watching her desk. Nice depends on the day. Another consideration of a bottle, and Ajral puts it back on the shelf after wiping away some of the dust. "Almost done here … for now …"

Shush with your technicalities! Shhhh! There's a sympathetic look for the mention of the blankets, though, and Lyubomir nods once with a slight pull to his mouth. "I wonder why that is," but it's a thought that he'll shelve as one of life's mysteries for now; neither of them are white knots and he's certainly not responsible for laundry. Still. It's a puzzle he'll likely ponder over in his downtime because that's just what he does. "Ah, sounds like you have quite the handful, then," he offers with a dry sound that might be a laugh. "I just have the two and they're pretty well-trained. Smart enough to identify the various types of wrenches - and to stay out of the way." Still, he looks to the napping blues and makes some kind of mental note. "I'll just come back for that later, I think. I should get this to the workshop. Just let me know when you're ready and I can walk you to wherever you need to go, if you want?" Does she have the keys? Does he? Somehow, someway, the keys will get back to her!

The keys are drying, right? Or are they dry now? They should be dry now — eventually, the now-labeled keyring gets itself returned to Ajral's hands so she can lock up the door behind her. "One of my blues is a genius," she conveys, as regards her firelizards. "The others are — mostly well trained. Viendris just shoves his way into anything he wants, though. You're certainly welcome to help me get all this back to the infirmary," she agrees, and that is when she gathers up her basket and a couple of odds and ends, offering one of the hydroponic lamps to Lyubomir to carry, and gets the door locked behind them. Goodbye for now, Mysterious Healing Chamber of Secrets. Don't eat anyone.

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