HarperCraft Hall - Entrance Foyer
While it appears small, the foyer is actually quite large lengthwise and serves as a welcoming 'gateway' for guests and as a connecting 'hub' for the Crafters and workers posted here. Overhead, hanging from the high beams carved into the equally as high ceiling are a pair of chandeliers that still use glows and the light cast from them is cool against the stone walls and the stone tiles of the floor. On the walls, several tapestries are hung, some with the Harper Hall insignia and others depicting scenes of Pern's history or the Hall's history.

To the left, a large doorway leads to the Dining Hall while cut into the floor and hugging the wall is a stairwell that leads down to the Kitchens and Lower Levels, while to the right, another large doorway leads to the Great Hall. Directly ahead, a staircase winds upwards to the second level hallways and a direct access to the living quarters and Masterharper of Pern's Office. Beyond it, another door leads further into the Hall and into a corridor leading to the Archives and an access tunnel bridging this Hall with Healer Hall.

This particular summer night finds a lull in the bustle of traffic about the Hall. Of course, it could also be normal, while the hour ticks on to where most would be retiring for the day. Two move along towards the entrance foyer, sparse conversation spoken low enough to be unintelligible from a distance. Th'ero likely desired to make a quick disappearance exit out and back to the Weyr. Instead, he unfortunately attracted an annoying burr one of the stewards while escaping. One who doesn’t get the hint that the Weyrleader isn’t in the mood for their behavior (whether genuine or imagined) and is summarily curtly dismissed in the shape of a blunt farewell. Why is the Weyrleader here, at this hour (and past dinner, so there goes that excuse)? Plenty of logical (and perfectly boring) reasons. New contracts, perhaps, where business overlaps between Weyr and Hall. Negotiations? There are other gossip-bound reasons too, that skirt less “legal” venues. No matter the details, as the steward retreats, there’s a small window of chance while Th’ero lingers. Counting inwardly to ten, perhaps? Temper, temper.

Some mindhealers theorize that one method to dispel an onset of temper is to have one's mind sufficiently derailed as to make a man forget just why tempers were flared to begin with. It is almost certainly not design that has Tejra, Journeywoman Harper, coward, and coerced candidate of Fort offering up an even that may be wholly unique to Th'ero's more than three decades in Weyrleadership. To whit, along with her melodic not quite trill of, "Oh, sir!" a pale pink dance slipper is waved in the air far above her head to draw his attention to her lest the window of opportunity pass her by, since, hopping gracefully in a short series of skips as the other hand struggles to tug on an ankle-high boot while she maintains her forward momentum toward the Fortian Weyrleader. Fairly, being hailed by a shoe is far better than having one thrown at you, even when the knot on the man might make a handily large target.

While the entrance foyer is not deserted at this hour, it is also not much populated, and that's all to the good because even Tej might not be able to manage the feat of navigating a crowd while changing shoes while walk-hopping. It's really not only the pink shoe that gets shoved away in bag slung across her chest once the boot is on, if still loose, that is the only thing that could draw the eye about this young woman. There's her flame-red hair, plaited but with many a wavy strand escaping. There's the flare-sleeved maroon romper that lacks shoulders and cuts angles across her thighs, or the vented black leggings worn beneath that, slashes of a mesh material interrupting the expanse of form-fitting fabric that terminates just below the knee. Probably, Th'ero is not interested in the outfit of a woman young enough to be his sorrynotsorry granddaughter (or nearly so), but the point is that she would stand out even here where so many artists have found a way forward in the world for themselves.

She is notably not out of breath despite the exertions when she reaches the man, though the incline of her head is deep enough to confer respect for his rank. "Begging your pardon, Weyrleader," is a promising beginning maybe, or would be if the Steward hadn't just played their part in rousing the man's temper, but she finishes, "But may I appeal to your sense of efficiency and gallantry to prevail upon you for the small favor of rescue and removal to where I more rightly belong if you are heading in the direction of home?" She has a hopeful smile for him, of course, not something girlish and improper, but rather just one knowing they are seeking a favor they have no real right to ask beyond just those things she said - efficiency and goodwill.

Time to put mindhealer theory to the test! And it works so far, with Th’ero’s attention pulled away from his inner countdown. Tension briefly heightens at the sight of a raised slipper until realization that a slipper is not a threat (foolish man that he is, to think so). He’ll watch with a detached interest to her hopping and skipped approach, expression schooled unreadable as some of that earlier tension bleeds from his posture.

Plenty of eyes would be drawn if the foyer were busier. Unsurprisingly, his eyes glance over her completely uninterested in hair or outfit, merely searching — no doubt trying to place her face among a sea of them and an equally long list of names. When nothing is forthcoming, he is intrigued long enough in that half second for Tejra to petition him.

Compared to her, he is nothing impressive in his taste of outfit. Utilitarian, sombre and dark in mostly black dyed riding leathers despite the heat and having just finished securing the last buckle of his jacket upon her arrival. She’ll succeed a little further with her polite formality, even if there’s a flicker of a grimace for ‘gallantry’ — or was it ‘small favour’?

“Home is Fort Weyr, then?” he queries, cooly but not as wholly dismissive as he’d been to the steward. She can choose to ignore the manner in which his brows furrow, unspoken questions clearly written in his narrowed stare. 'Who are you?' It’s not quite a ‘and is it worth my time?’ but treads dangerously close. In the next breath, he is prepared to give her some “regrettable” excuse or another, but someone of —imp— bronze persuasion is overhearing thoughts and throwing considerable mental weight — and a slew of suggestive commentary peppered within. His sigh under his breath is not for her and neither the press of fingers to his one brow and temple. “Are you ready to leave this instant?” Th’ero amends in a ‘no patience for this’ tone (also not directed at Tej), so any further dallying is likely just to make for an all the more prickly Weyrleader.

"Yes, sir, for tonight at least, and some many nights yet, I'm told." Tej's manners hold despite the flickers of warning in his manner that this is not a wholly well received request. Dropping to one knee would be a bit much if that were manners, but no, the fact that she's gracefully changed levels with all the ease of one floating rather than flexing is simply for the swift purpose of lacing that boot sufficiently that she won't lose it in the hoped-for flight.

"In truth, sir, you find me doing my utmost to serve two masters tonight. I came down with a group of candidates for a tour of the Hall, but seeing as how I spent many turns here earning my other knot, they surrendered me to the tender," this word is said saccharine and with a ghost of a smirk indicating it's very much tongue-in-cheek, "mercies of my master who oversees my journeywork. The rider escort, knowing where I was exactly," down to the room, "said to summon him back when I finished since the tour ended substantially before Master Farzi was finished with me and there were no other candidacy duties for the day, but seeing as you are going that way, I thought I might make a nuisance of myself to pay forward the kindness of V'drez's willingness to be on standby by not needing to summon them back."

All this is related in the weave of a storyteller's rhythm, just enough detail to make things colorful enough to be engaging without, hopefully, overdoing it for even so utilitarian a man as the Weyrleader, and all in the matter of the few moments it takes her to nimbly tie both boots and glide back onto her feet. "I am ready this moment, sir." Her smile hitches slightly wider, not in warmth, but rather in tentative hope that she hasn't already exhausted his patience.

No, it’s not wholly well received as far as requests go, but Tejra isn’t out of line either. Her plight explanation brings about a slight thaw, not to be mistaken for warming up to her. It’s merely kept her in decent enough terms that he’s willing to listen. Everything said, he finds no fault in. His focus on her sharpens for a brief second at the mention of ‘candidates’. That there alone may have been sufficient, along with the rider’s name!

She weaves her story well, as it’s accepted without challenge. “V’drez and Zevusanth are a reliable pair.” he remarks dryly, approving in his detached manner of the older bluerider. “Come along, then.” This, delivered a touch stiffly, comes right on the heels of his abrupt turn to see them both out into the courtyard. Tej can keep up, right? Th’ero doesn’t appear inclined to reduce his stride until they’re approaching the opposite end leading further out to adequate landing spaces. “Try not to humor him too much.” he warns, just as they come upon a rather bored looking Velokraeth.

How a bronze so small, so stunted and just … well, not a prime specimen by any means, has secured Th’ero his position for oh-so many decades is a wonder. Yet he gathers himself with a blasé air, rumbling audibly as he heaves what sounds like a draconic scoff. « About bloody time! Thought I’d go mad if I had to lay about any longer. Not a green for miles, even, for company! » It’s purposely cast out so Tejra can overhear, on threads of incense and the distinct bouquet of a lovely wine to pair with the summer night. « Evening, my dear! » Direct now, silver-tongued and honeyed words with the implication of impish grin. « Don’t mind him! He’s got a perpetual stick up his ass, I’m afraid. We — or I, if we’re being honest here, are pleased to see you home. » Which is progressing along, with Th’ero checking the straps while Velokraeth flirts converses with her.

If the Weyrleader were expecting the wayward candidate to express anything akin to disappointment that her winsome smile and (presently) polished manners fail to draw warmth from the stone older man, there is no sign in her face that that is the case. In fact, the redhead appears gratified that he's acquiescing to her practical request at all. "Yes, sir," is all she offers as she slips into a fluid gait, following more or less at his heels, though never upon them.

As such, Th'ero most likely misses the brief look of silent laughter at the warning, the young woman's face schooled appropriately from one blink to the next. Velokraeth, however, probably misses very little. The smile that has replaced the soundless mirth is a press of lips together, broad smile, eyes alight. That look only increases in warmth, lips parting to reveal teeth, smile threatening to turn into a grin to answer the implication of one that comes her way.

Th'ero may not believe this is Tej not humoring Velokraeth too much, but the dip of a curtsey she gives the bronze, so smooth as to be a dance unto itself is Dragon-Person Tej restraining herself. This is the Weyrleader's lifemate, after all, a little decorum is deserved. … but only a little. "I am much obliged to you for your willingness to convey me home and in such style." Did she just imply that the stunted subpar unusual bronze is handsome? Why, yes. Yes, she did. She's not even asking Th'ero for permission since Velokraeth is addressing her directly before she offers her hands out.

Spoiler alert: Tej has a distinct appreciation for the unique among dragons. … and also the completely standard. Sorrynotsorry, she's just one of those people. Probably, her murmur is too low for Th'ero to make out HOPEFULLY, HE DOESN'T SINCE SHE PROBABLY DOES NOT WANT TO HAVE TO TURN IN HER KNOT but probably not for Velokraeth, especially if he deigns to make his headknobs available for her ready and practiced caresses, "Surely not. He would move more stiffly, I would think."

Velokraeth does, in fact, know things (and he’d drink while at it, if he could). Power of observance is something he takes pride in and he very likely picked up on what Th’ero missed — but all in Tejra’s favour! He won’t tattle on her —for a price—. It’s difficult to say what Th’ero believes, with his attention now fully on inspecting straps (because Safety First! — see above comment about sticks and current housing) and not witnessing curtsey or wholly focused on any conversation. If there’s suspicion? It’s firmly directed at the bronze. Velokraeth rumbles and inclines his own —misshapen— head. He can appreciate decorum —delivered solely to him—! Is he preening a little? Of course he is!

« You would think! » Velokraeth’s mind ripples into a cascade of shimmering crystal gold wines and champagne bubbles and robust laughter. « And there's a clever tongue on you, to go with the flattery. » Approved. Is that an implied wink now, for the cheekiness of more subtext unsaid about tongues? Or is it a little test to see how far Tejra runs with it and how much she dares say in front of the Weyrleader? Bad dragon. BAD! Finished with his inspection and in tandem to the end of the exchange, Th’ero will give a nudge to pale bronze hide with curled knuckles. It’s hardly a blow to be felt, really and the sound he makes is suspiciously close to a grumbled ‘enough’. DOES HE KNOW? Perhaps! Or… perhaps not. Unaware of the context, but aware of Velokraeth’s change in mannerisms; they’ve been paired too long for Th’ero not to notice that much.

“Have you flown often before…?” Th’ero’s question and prompt both are directed properly to Tejra and if she feels obliged, an opening to give her name. It suits him just as well if she desires to answer just the question and, regardless, climb half way up while she replies. At some point, he will offer her assistance or merely see that she is settled correctly in position behind him — unless, of course, there is objection. « Faranth forbid he have a woman sit too close to his lap.. » Velokraeth’s muttered commentary comes disembodied and while they work on getting strapped in, spoken right by Tej’s ‘ear’ with voice only and none of the filigree.

"Does it count as flattery if it is in earnest?" Tej's not quite rhetorical is offered to the air. "I will concede that clever tongues are encouraged in my profession." It's so innocent as she regards the bronze with pale eyes that appear entirely guileless even as she allows her lips to crimp in suppressed laughter that would seem to indicate she has followed the subtle dance of subtext with no trouble and navigated it in a way that can hardly be objectionable to Weyrleader because it's true no matter how one chooses to take it.

"Yes, sir," the redhead returns to the older man as soon as she's asked. "Candidate Tejra," is given into the gap, and then with a glance toward Velokraeth, she adds, "Tej," the preferred moniker. Her pleasant expression, less soft for man than dragon (too bad, so sad; everyone's probably completely fine with this), returns to the bronzerider to offer up to both, "When I haven't traded my knot for a white one, I'm a dancer and journeyman."

She won't waste time once bidden to climb, doing so competently before continuing the brief offer of the basics about Tej. "While I'm posted to Xanadu, commissions as well as craftwork give me a wealth of opportunities for travel a-dragonback." By the time she's done with this story, she's buckled herself into the straps. Although there's a secret smile for Velokraeth's interjection, she lacks a way to make a return beyond brushing a booted toe across hide in a gesture that may be ambiguous but is certainly not disapproval. Would that she could note the other problems of sticks such positioning might give rise to~ It's probably for the best that she can't.

Velokraeth’s rumble is humoured approval, the tilt of his head and slight drop of his jaw almost akin to a grin or just plain terrifying. Tejra has already become a favorite for the time being (she can forgive his failings of draconic memory, yes?)! Best not to ask what the criteria is that he looks for, either.

“Well met, Tej.” Th’ero returns with the smallest of nods to acknowledge the exchange. His expression remains stoic, but there’s a return of that need to hurry along. Is there something pressing, back at the Weyr? Or is he merely already chafing under having to ferry her back? He doesn’t catch that her pleasant expression is less soft for him, preoccupied as he is. Her next story is met with a flicker of suspicion interest, but before he can frame a question, he bites it back. “Then I’ll skip the usual formalities and instructions, given your experience.” MUCH to his relief, not to have to go over the checklist of ‘what to expect’ or calm a nervous passenger.

It could be taken as rudeness, the way that Th’ero doesn’t engage further despite the opportunities to do so. Yet is it any surprise, that once he’s buckled in and secure, he’s giving Velokraeth the go ahead? The pale bronze won’t be hurried along and makes a point of gathering himself, flaring his wings and rumbling in an untroubled way to the Weyrleader’s deepening scowl — and he is positively amused when she brushes a booted toe across his hide. Ambiguous, sure, but he’ll take it!

Tej might have had smoother take offs on other dragons. Velokraeth does his best, but his build (and age) allows for some grace — or his own ‘brand’ of it. It’s not that they’re jostled around needlessly, but there’s a moment where there’s more of a lurch when he needs to adjust for his physical restrictions. Once in the air? He has mastered that much, bringing them smoothly to altitude before vanishing Between. The rest of the trip is uneventful, starting with their reappearance high above Fort Weyr and ending with their gradual descent to the northern portion of the bowls. Velokraeth lands with experienced precision, a touch heavily but again he makes it natural to him.

Th’ero will dismount after seeing that Tejra makes it down first. Adjusting some of his flight leathers, the Weyrleader is immediate with dispensing with the formality of farewells. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve something I must see to. I trust you’ll let those who need to know of your return?” Meaning he’s washing his hands of any responsibility. Velokraeth makes a cough like sound of protest before Th’ero can escape, the bronzerider’s gaze narrowing under another scowl. « Time to use that clever tongue of yours again! » He ‘whispers’ in conspiring tones privately to Tejra, with a hint of an impish smirk. What is he about to rope her into? Broadly, to both: « Oh, stop grousing! It’s a perfectly reasonable request and even you can’t argue it. Candidates often help with tasks related to us dragons! I request her, unless she objects, of course. What say you, Tej? Think you can suffer my company when required and allow the Weyrleader some respite to his busy schedule? »

To all appearances, Tej seems disinclined to take any of this as anything but a kindness. In the end, whether Th'ero makes nice or (AS IT UNFOLDS) is brusque and taciturn on their trip, she is arriving at her destination without the added effort of summoning her original ride and so on. Maybe she's just used to dealing with people who are less than pleasant cut from all kinds of cloth.

She seems to have a sturdy enough stomach and enough bodily control to roll with the unexpected motions of Velokraeth's particular twists on the traditional movements because of his body limitations and peculiarities. Perhaps she even catches that this is a natural thing and appreciates it for what it is. It seems likely since her smile doesn't appear to have wavered when she arrives on the ground. "Of course. Thank you again, Weyrleader." That's really all Th'ero needs from her (if he needs anything at all) to feel fine about being on his way.

The dancer doesn't seem to be in any sort of hurry though. "I would be delighted to have so prompt an opportunity to repay you," both, "for your indulgence." Clever tongue indeed~ Truly, though, the redhead doesn't seem to mind accepting the request in the least. "If I might impose," this is to Velokraeth directly, "the smallest favor of asking you apprise—" the dragon paired with the rider who was supposed to retrieve her, "—that I'm safely returned so they need not await a call that will not come, I am immediately at your service." She does flash another benignly pleasant smile at the Weyrleader (or his back, depending) to further underscore her lack of objections.

It really was all he needed and Th’ero was ready to leave upon that first comment! Except Velokraeth foils that plan and he casts a dark look and scowl towards the bronze (but let’s face it, there’s a shred of grudging affection under it all). Not privy to the full extent of their shared conversation but having a continued sense of awareness that something is being schemed said but not said, Th’ero relents with a sigh. Tej’s cleverness only hurries to seal the deal, as the Weyrleader’s patience wears thin not to temper, but to headache.

“Fine. As long as it won’t disrupt what other tasks you may be assigned.” Which means he’s going to see that word is passed along to the appropriate people. See? Headache. He’ll smirk vaguely, expression flickering briefly in arrogance based on assumptions that she will not last long with whatever Velokraeth has in store. how many times has this recruitment happened to warrant that!?

The pale bronze watches the departure of the Weyrleader, unconcerned and really not giving a rat’s ass how bent out of shape his rider is. He barely spares it further thought once they’re alone and besides, Tejra addressed him with an important matter! « Already done! » Velokraeth informs her, vastly pleased with himself. « Now that we’re alone, I think we can drop some of that stuffy formality, hmm? » Or not, which he leaves slyly unspoken. Velokraeth settles himself now, out of the way of the worst of traffic. Not without some stiffness and there’s clearly an issue with his front forelimbs, though he keeps them neatly crossed. « Your company has been enjoyable and refreshing, but I’d hate to delay you longer now that night approaches. Come back in the morning, hmm? Just after dawn. I’ll be needing someone to mentally spar with! » There’s a catch, but why spoil the fun now? As for what it is, it could be benign — like helping massage his poor aching stunted limbs! surely an upgrade from the usual ‘help bath a dragon’ chore

The way Tej looks askance to the bronze is perhaps an indication that she feels Th'ero's qualification for her willingness to be slanted in a certain clever someone's direction than her own… after all, it's not she dictating terms here, simply rising to meet what's asked of her. This is what good candidates do, no? And she looks so innocuous, so her part of this is surely totally fine and nothing anyone need worry about. She's careful not to overplay that though, letting pale eyes drift back to the ground and then to the Weyrleader as he goes.

The toe of one boot sketches a gently curved line before her as her head comes up to flip an anything-but-innocuous Cheshire smile at Velokraeth. "My thanks," is, at least, entirely sincere, but the smile promises so much for he of wit and wisdom will~ Especially since, "As it pleases you," holds a touch of spice and sass to the tone, though the posture shift is an elegant easing from at a sort of relaxed attention, to something only lazier by comparison - a pose of readiness that holds all the grace of a feline predator assessing some new attraction. Now, everyone knows Velokraeth cannot possibly be her prey, but… playmate? Perhaps in as much as one redhead and one stunted bronze may find entertainments of the mind to share.

The three words that the posture shift implies is an answer to the formality seem to simultaneously be an acquiescence to his sense of timeline for continuance of their acquaintance. "I shall find you." If Tej's parting smile implies that her arrival and service in whatever ways the bronze seems to require of her will hold some surprises for him as well… well, why spoil the fun, indeed.

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