Worth The Risk (Elayne Is Searched!)

Xanadu Weyr - Innovation Hall
The interior of the Innovation Hall facility is more spacious than it appears from the outside. It's also pretty much best described as orderly chaos. The rectangular shape of the building is taken up by a series of three sided stalls that line each of the walls. Eight in all each one is just big enough for several people to work in and are of different configurations; some having shelving and tables and some having a more open design that allows work from the floor up. In any case, the back of each work space is open to the main room to promote the common use of tools and the sharing of ideas. Two offices are on either side of the main entrance at the north and two more exits, seldom used, are located east and west in case a quick getaway is needed. The south end of the building features a very heavy door that is labled DANGER in very clear red lettering. Access is restricted but it's pretty well known that behind there are two more stalls for special and dangerous projects.
It's the middle of this place that makes it work! Shelves full of just about every kind of tool someone could imagine are strategically placed so that nobody has to walk farther than anyone else to get to them. Quite a lot of parts populate those shelves as well from new-fangled electronics to old fashioned gears and gizmos along with the raw materials to make them. Comfortable chairs, arranged in three sets of two each scatter the free space and a sofa is tucked neatly into a corner.
The decor is kept quite simple with floors of glossy, polished marble and walls of what appear to be wood panel. Appear to be. It's actually some synthetic thing the plastic craft has concocted up and shows under close inspection. Fabrics, decorations and the like (along with most things that don't need to be there that could potentially be set on fire) are kept to a minimum. Here and there, clever designs and schematics have been allowed to go up on the walls but those are generally removed fairly quickly.

At some point, rumour has reached Elayne of one of the other Harpers posted to Xanadu experimenting with different materials in the putting together of a piano. At some point, she must have managed to find out exactly where they were doing this work. And, at some point, she must have either persuaded them to let her at it, unsupervised, or managed to arrange a distraction for long enough to give her the opportunity to play it. Which she does, mindless of any other work that goes on around her, striking out pieces from memory to experiment with exactly what is different about this piano. Truth be told, the notes don't sound exactly right. They're recognisable - and at least the piece she plays is recognisable as music - but the tone is off and it's not precisely a pleasant noise it produces.

So why is Risali here? Because it is an escape; because it is somewhere in Xanadu Weyr that Risali can be that people might not pay attention to her in their distractions - and because she's drawn by the sounds of that piano, discordant as the tone might be to harper trained (and a fellow pianist's) ears. So Risali approaches slow (not that she could move fast anyway), listening to what Elayne coaxes from those keys until she's close enough to watch. And there Risali pauses, leaning heavy on one crutch, keeping weight off of one foot that's been wrapped in bandages so that she can take in Elayne, study the way her hands move, to eventually close bruised eyes and bring her bandaged hand up in the air, fingers moving as brows knit in to make a melody out of those sounds - and then she breathes, opening her eyes and dropping her hand. "What's wrong with it?" Risali asks, though it's hard to tell if she means the piano or the sound Elayne is making with it.

Elayne doesn't stop playing immediately, finding an appropriate place to stop after several more bars so that she can lift her fingers away from the keys without it seeming to be an abrupt and more discordant thing than she's already brought into being. "They," she doesn't say who, "replaced several of the components with plastics." Her gaze finally lifts from fingers that curl and uncurl, still itching to run over keys no matter the sound. Giving in, she lets her left hand hit a sequence of notes that would usually be pleasing, yet only produce a haunting, scratchy noise. "The plastics aren't the right density. They shouldn't be plastics at all. Word is that their intention is to make a template for those components and use the plastic craft to mass produce cheaply and quickly." More than faintly derisive, she amends, "I should hope it's not their intention anymore, if it sounds like this." And then, belatedly: "Ma'am."

Risali moves slow but steady, invading Elayne's space without getting close enough to crowd, grey eyes watching Elayne coax more notes into being. Risali leans to press the tips of one of her own fingers down on a random key, as if she means to test the accuracy of allegations herself - and then again, with a thoughtful noise soft and short-lived in her throat. There's a smile that turns quick to a wince as she tilts her head towards Elayne, a soft huff of laughter that escapes her despite the evident discomfort inherent to such physical manifestations. "Just Risali," she corrects softly, not unkindly, and amends with a softer, "Please." Another note hit, and then another - no distinguishable melody, just Risali trying, perhaps, to find one note that rings true before she pulls her hand away and leaves the piano to Elayne once more. "I can tell you they aren't going to sell very many pianos if this is the end result - though I suppose it makes sense to try and replace the components of more traditional means, given how precious the resources are." Now those grey eyes draw away from the piano to settle on Elayne, a momentary study in the unknown before Risali attempts another smile that ends awkwardly on a grimace. "Are you new?" It's not an unreasonable assumption; Risali hasn't seen her before - not that she recalls, anyway.

One blink, then another, as Elayne is corrected, her breath held and shoulders squared in a fashion that betrays discomfort, yet there is, in the end, a nod, even if she doesn't immediately try out addressing Risali by her name and not her rank. "It makes sense to try and replace materials in a manner that shows respect for the instrument," is her opinion, more freely given than anything else, the depths of her disappointment and irritation colouring her words in equal measure. When Risali smiles again, she darts a quick look away and at the keys the instant that grimace surfaces, though she folds her hands together in her lap to try and prevent them from trying to draw some form of acceptable sound from what is surely not actually a piano. Her shoulders hunch for a moment, flung back again when she tells her, "My mothe— My Senior Journeyman had me sent here not long ago, to study with someone else." Even if she does her very best not to sound bitter about it… it's still not a good effort.

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys, Elayne! At least, that's what Risali's (attempted) smile says, even if her mouth says, "Fair point, but they have to start somewhere, right?" Because maybe the answer is not so simple as mass production by the plastic craft, but what if it was? The evasion of notes is not missed, however. In fact, it draws another breath of laughter from Risali, hushed and short-lived, lingering only at the corners of her lips and fading quick. "You can keep playing. If I make a face, it's because I keep forgetting how much it hurts to smile." Not how grating discordant tones can be on those ears trained to pitch. Still, she listens to abruptly-but-not-fast-enough corrections of Journeymen (and their actual relations), to explanations that… have Risali grimacing for another reason, but not prying. It's never been in her nature to pry. So while Risali acknowledges the words with a soft, "Well, welcome to Xanadu. I hope that you… find whatever it is that you need here," she also semi-changes the topic with, "What's your name?"

Elayne colours slightly, yet she still reaches for the keys again, not to play anything recognisable as a particular piece, but to press each one more gently, as if that might somehow stop everything that's evidently going wrong in the piano's innards. "Thank you," she replies, given more than a moment to swallow down her embarrassment and lingering bitterness to allow her to find what is the most socially acceptable response. "If this will help me attain my Journeyman status faster, then I hope what I need is to be here." Even if she doesn't appear to be particularly convinced of that at present. She's gone almost from one end of the keys to the other without any success in coaxing anything more pleasing from the piano, a sigh escaping her before she supplies, "I'm Elayne."

"You're welcome." But Risali is back to listening, making a soft noise of concession in her throat for talk of advancing, saying nothing until the harper's name is provided for Risali to repeat back to her around another wince-smile. "Elayne." A beat. "Very pretty." Then Risali is gesturing with one hand towards the piano bench, asking permission to sit without vocalizing the request because maybe it's just a little awkward for her. Where Risali might usually just plop herself on the floor, she has a foot that would make a position like that incredibly difficult to recover from, but that is irrelevant. Relevant is Risali continuing to speak anyway, offering up, "It's a good place to be. Tell me about yourself, Elayne." A beat, a flicker of grey eyes sideways, to Elayne, as the flicker of another smile starts and she aborts it before that twinge of discomfort can resurface. "You don't have to tell me the parts you don't want me to know, but what makes you you?" It's an odd question, but Risali doesn't back down from it. She just goes silent, watching the progression of Elayne's hand over those notes while she listens.

Promptly, Elayne vacates the piano bench and moves to stand at the defective piano's side instead, curling her fingers at the edge of a frame that is now either a waste of wood or must soon be repurposed into a functioning instrument. "…I…" She looks down at her feet, or where her feet would be in view were she not now leaning against the piano. Dark eyes lift back to Risali, narrowed slightly in silent enquiry, but she doesn't dare stare at her for too long, the question asked of her deemed an order from the way she takes a deep breath and steels herself for something she is quite plainly not thrilled about doing. "…There was always music in my home. And there were my sisters and then my brother, who nearly took my mother from us. They think I don't know. They think I don't know a lot of things, but I know my mother is brilliant and I wish she believed it. Laurieth and Wroyth have always protected us. They hate everyone, but they love us." And she's still hardly said anything about herself. "My home was always full of light and I know it's because my parents want that for us - and I know it isn't always easy and they must have been through some terrible things to be so determined to see us happy. I owe them everything. I love music and I love my family and I'm going to be brilliant. For them."

Risali looks just a touch startled when Elayne vacates the seat, lips parting in a protest that doesn't come because Elayne is talking and Risali is listening. And while the goldrider presses her lips together in a line that's faintly disapproving (at the circumstances, not Elayne), the goldrider does move to sit, on the very littlest bit of edge that she can manage without falling outright. Risali's attention is rapt then, focused on words and expression, grey eyes jumping between Elayne's as she listens and maybe understands something about that because she's looking away at the end of introductions, reaching out to press keys and give life to discordant notes. "You didn't have to leave," comes finally, haltingly hesitant. "There is enough room for both of us." Then Risali gives the harper a half-smile, another wince that has her pressing gingerly at her lip before clearing her throat. "You will be. Brilliant, I mean." A beat, mischief in those grey eyes as that nose scrunches up just a little. "Maybe I'm wrong, but you have the right fire, the right spirit - that much I can see." Because it takes a fighter to foster so much conviction. Then, softer: "I think Leirith saw it too." One, two, three moments of studying Elayne, and Risali is asking another question: "Have you seen the eggs?"

Elayne's brow furrows for a moment as she insists, "Your need is greater than mine," in a manner that somehow sounds like a question too, her head tilting slightly in enquiry, as if she'd seek to find out what she's done wrong there. "You're hurting. It's not kind to let that happen if you can do something about it and I wouldn't want to hurt you by accident." That that whole explanation is likely not required only hits her after she's spoken, a flicker of disquiet shifting her features before she manages to smooth them back out again. She tries to stand tall under Risali's study, yet she shifts her shoulders uneasily and looks away, embarrassment beginning to twist her posture until that question is posed and she can focus on giving an answer. "…No," is honest, if little else, low-voiced and unsure. "I'm sure they're perfectly nice eggs. I just… I don't sketch or paint well. I don't really know how to turn the sight of them into a song. Me sitting there watching them… Well, it wouldn't benefit anyone."

'Your need is greater than mine.' There's a wry pull of Risali's lips, a moment when the Weyrwoman's gaze redirects to her feet, to her bandaged foot and that crutch she's so dependent on to get around. "You're very kind," Risali decides, and it comes soft, with another flicker of her lips up in what's meant to be a kind smile but ends just short (but only because the pull on wounded lips is painful). "And I… am much more of a giver than a taker, too. But I'm very small." A huff of self-deprecating laughter escapes her, as if that took a lot for her to admit. "There's room for both of us, Elayne. You don't have to be uncomfortable simply because I'm hurt. We can both be comfortable, and I promise you that despite the fact that I look like a walking contradiction to my next statement, I'm very, very tough." Still, Risali doesn't push the matter, leaving Elayne to choose whether she wants to occupy what remains of that bench space with Risali, or stay on her feet. There's a dip of her head to acknowledge the eggs haven't been seen (MUCH TO LEIRITH'S DISMAY), and then an exhale that's almost the beginning of laughter. "So what if you touched them? What if you got to see what they thought, and felt? Would that help you turn them into a song?" And Risali waits, her gaze fixed once more on Elayne, steady as she waits for an answer to that question.

"And I'm tall enough that I fall over my own legs and I'm not even done growing yet, apparently," Elayne declares with a huff of a noise that may or may not be a single syllable of laughter. Still, she watches those legs as she inches her way back towards the piano stool and sits herself down, too careful to not touch Risali as she tucks her feet right out of the way. "As long as I don't trip you up too," she supposes, once more folding her hands in her lap. Keys are studied as she considers the propositions set before her, her gaze losing focus just the tiniest bit as she murmurs, "There's a danger in immortalising that which you might not get to keep." That sound is definitely a sigh this time. "At least for the lyricist. I don't suppose whether everyone really lived happily ever after is a big concern for anyone who enjoys the song." And so, she concedes, "I imagine it would be helpful," blinking her focus back to slide a long look at Risali.

"I won't mind if you do," Risali answers with her own smile (even if there's a wince for the effort). "Promise." And Risali makes herself as small as possible, more resting against the stool than sitting on it. A beat, two, three, four, and Risali inclines her head in agreement with immortal words and the unfortunate few who have to relive their losses every time, but - "There's a danger in all creation, really," Risali whispers. "But there's something beautiful about those honest, dangerous things — something about hope, and pain, and love, and loss that's universal. I think that's why so many lyricists are willing to write, despite the risks." But then Risali is shifting, digging into a pocket and pulling out a white knot, extending it for the harper to take or decline in her own time. "It's up to you, but Leirith would be honored if you found some inspiration in her progeny. And so would I. And probably Garouth." Another hint of a smile and a shift so that Risali can gently bump her shoulder into Elayne's. "And the best part is that Xanadu doesn't handle candidacy as traditionally as most of the other weyrs do. We ask that you be discreet in your romantic endeavors and avoid pregnancy, not cut it out. If you have vices, we ask you to reign yourself in just enough to keep yourself from being incapacitated and unable to do your duties." A beat. "And you get to continue pursuing your work in your craft - though you will be made to do chores if people who outrank you think you're being idle. So what do you think, Elayne?" A wiggle of that knot in her hands, and softer, "Is it worth the risk?"

Dark eyes blink at the sight of the white knot Risali draws from her pocket, Elayne's reaction contained to no more than that split-second of understanding before she shifts her attention to the piano keys and runs the knuckles of her left hand along their very edge, ensuring there's no chance of her striking a single note. "What if I wanted to get wildly incapacitated this evening?" must be rhetorical, not only owing to her dry tone, but simply because, thus far, she cannot seem the sort for it. She doesn't manage to bring herself to bump Risali's shoulder back, a contemplative glance given her, as the decision is made to stay in her own bubble and not risk causing her any pain. "I might never get another knot from my craft if…" Any further thoughts - at least out loud - on that subject are stalled by the arrival of a Harper Journeyman, Elayne's instant reaction to flip the hood of her jacket up and hunker down. "I…" Prioritising flight, she takes the knot from Risali and jumps to her feet. "Thank you. I was never here." Before that Journeyman can reach the piano, she bolts, dashing past them with her features mostly concealed by her hood. Maybe, one day, she'll apologise for leaving Risali at that particular piano… but today is not that day.

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