A Chance Meeting

Xanadu Weyr - Main Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.

The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.

Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.

The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

A fine day and a beautiful place to observe the Weyr, it is sought by many with many different purposes in being here. All alone on a patch of grass sits a young woman with long, dark auburn hair that reaches to her waist. Soft music sounds from her vicinity, sweet and sad and haunting all at once…a closer look would reveal the source: a finely-made lap harp with mother-of-pearl inlay on the soundboard.

Beautiful days do have a tendency to bring people out of doors. Averil is not at all immune to that lure, a fact made clear when he makes his way out of the Craft Complex and heads for the clearing. Smoothing a hand over his skirt (Yes, he is wearing a dress) he shifts the satchel on his shoulder, his steps veering that way before he offers the musician a polite nod of his head and dips his chin toward the grass. "Mind if I join you?" Despite the query, he's settling down, pulling his satchel into his lap and tugging out a sketchpad and charcoal. It is only once his own tools of the trade are settled in his lap that he flips open the pad and settles in to doing quick sketches of the people walking to and fro.

Natira looks up, her face no doubt as strange to the man as it is to her. Self-conciously she stills the strings of her instrument and smoothes at an invisible wrinkle in her loose-fitting sarong with a thin hand, for she is wearing a black halter top and a sky-blue sarong decorated with a gold-silver-magenta swirling design. Up close she is quite thin, indeed too thin, the bones rather prominent. "I don't mind sir…" the maiden answers in a low alto. "Of course you may. You're an…artist?" she guesses, running gaunt fingers through her hair. "I'm afraid Grandpa never got around to introducing me to everyone at the Weyr…and it's been more than a turn since I was last here, the way people come and go…"

Averil blinks at the sir, his lips twitching in a faint, wry smile. "Avi." Slanting her a glance, he dips his chin in a polite nod, his feet tucking up beneath his body as he returns to his attention to his drawing. "You can't possibly expect to know everyone here, there are a lot of people in Xanadu." As he speaks, his charcoal flies over the page, pale grey eyes flicking up toward passersbye as he works. "I've only been here a turn or two, myself, so. No offense taken. But," he adds with a glance at her face. "Welcome home?"

Natira dips her skull-like head, again running a thin hand through her hair. "I hope this will be my home. I'm from Goldstone Hold…about four days ride south and a bit east of here. I just got here a day or two ago, haven't had a chance to speak to anyone about staying here. But if they remember Ky'gur kindly then there may be hope. I hope there is…I can't go back to Goldstone." The smokey dark gray eyes look positively haunted, very large in her almost emaciated face.

Averil slants a glance back at the girl, golden hair spilling over his shoulders as he regards her for a long moment before nodding slowly. "I see. Um." Pausing a beat, he glances around the clearing before nodding toward the entrance to the living cavern. "I'm sorry, I assumed you were a Harper. You could speak to the headwoman, though. I'm sure she could find something for you to do. I mean, everyone works, you know. But.." Trailing off, he flusters mildly before lightly clearing his throat. "There's pretty much always food in the living cavern, as well." Cause seriously, she looks like she's starving.

Natira caresses her harp with one hand. "I'm an unoffical harper apprentice I guess you could say…my parents wouldn't let the Hall have me when I was young but the harpers at Goldstone taught me to play and sing. Raglan and Jiffry said they'd inform the Hall about what had happened and try to get me something formal here." Then, shyly and timidly, she offers a hand. "Natira," she says simply. "And thank you…I'll have to look soon. I've…not been very well lately and it's not completely my fault either," A hint of anger but it passes quickly back to that shy timidity.

Averil nods slowly as he listens, his brows furrowing mildly as he takes her hand. "Well met, Natira." Releasing her, he picks his charcoal back up, a toss of his head send golden locks over his shoulder as he makes a few more strokes on the page. "You'll like it," he points out. "Being a Harper. Being sent to Harper Hall was the best thing that ever happened to me." Flashing a warm smile, he pauses in his drawing, his expression faltering mildly at her last. "I'm sorry for that. If it is any consolation, the healers here are very gentle and friendly. Or," he corrects. "At least the ones I have dealt are."

Natira does return the handclasp though her grasp is not very strong. "I hope something will come of it. Raglan is somewhat notorious or so he says he was in his apprentice days. He's been a journeyman for at least a decade and he specializes in the harp. Jiffry's a little younger so he's been a journeyman maybe seven turns and he taught me to sing." A small smile appears for a moment. "I am glad the healers are gentle. I may need their aid though I had hoped all that would be needed would be to start eating again. And I am free of Gottmor, so I may eat now."

Averil nods as he listens, his brows furrowing slowly before he finally shakes his head. "I am sorry, I am confused. Gottmor? Not eating. Umm.." Pausing, he very carefully closes his sketchpad, his tones gentling as he smooths a hand over his skirt. "I'm sorry, I don't know who Gottmor is, but if someone here has been hurting you, you should report it right away." He's absolutely certain that that would not be tolerate at Xanadu. "I think you should speak to headwoman right away, or the weyrwoman if you can't find the headwoman. I very much doubt either of them would allow any man to deny you food."

Natira seems to realize she's starting in the middle of things. "Gottmor is…was…the man my parents wished me to handfast to, to seal an alliance in bloodlines between our respective Holds. And I…I cannot bear him. All he thinks of is himself and his rank has gone to his head. He's good enough to look at, but that's never mattered to me. I kept telling my parents I would not handfast that man, we were not suited to each other, but they persisted so I chose, foolishly perhaps, to refuse to eat as long as the handfasting was being forced upon me. Raglan and Jiffry found out what was going on about two sevendays ago and helped me escape. I didn't think of running away myself because I was brought up to be a 'proper young lady' and proper young ladies don't run away from their parents' wishes. But I can't stand Gottmor."

Averil brushes his tongue over his lips as he listens to the tale. And while he does his level best not to look utterly horrified, there is no way that that is not clear on his face. "You haven't eaten in two sevendays?" Which is promptly followed with. "He's not here, right? In Xanadu?" Which, while all very good questions are not the most important items on the list. "You need to see the healers right away," he points out in firm tones. "And then you need to get food."

Natira inclines her head solemnly. "No, he's far away, even further to the south. And he won't come here either I know that. He's not in Xanadu, he's in Diamond Dusthold and that's three days ride south of Goldstone." A second inclination of the head. "I will see the healers," she says firmly, a little bit of steel coming into her voice. "And I will eat. I always loved fresh bread," there is a hint of longing in her voice. "And there are all sorts of stews and soups to be found. I have been eating since I came here…eating and resting and doing a little playing every now and then."

Averil exhales a breath as he listens to her, his chin dipping in a firm nod. "Good. Good. But please go see the healers. And if he shows up here, you should definitely let the headwoman know." In the wake of the words, he brushes a hand over his face, lightly clearing his throat as he tucks the sketchpad back into his satchel. "I.. I'm glad you got away from that, though," he notes as he pushes to his feet. "No one should ever have to deal with something like that." Running a hand through his hair, he shakes it back over his shoulders, affording her a polite inclination of his head. "It was very nice meeting you, Natira. I really hope that you find what you are looking for in Xanadu. I.. I should head out, though, I have an early day tomorrow."

Natira nods her head. "I will look for something to eat and then see the healers. Promptly." Her tone has firmed up quite a bit. "It was a pleasure meeting you too. Rest you well and the morning be a clear one. Clear skies, as my grandfather used to say."

"Clear skies, Natira," Averil offers as he steps away. After a few steps, he pauses and points toward the living caverns. "Food is in there. Healers are over there," he adds as he nods toward the infirmary. In the wake of the words, he raises an arm to a person waving at him across the clearing and heads that way at a quick pace.

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