A Too-Full Mind

Xanadu Weyr – Caverns

A massive cavern in it's own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as are the walls where numerous tapestries hang to provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt, leveled carefully but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.

The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area, however, is the one near the Kitchens where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. Its plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr and equally plain that on such occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are appropriated from all the other areas.

A big fireplace is set into the wall near the Kitchens as well, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, a big archway the largest and that leading outside. Shallow stairs to the west lead to the offices and administration area while tunnels to the east lead to the infirmary, kitchen and resident's quarters. Southwards, a sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs and southwest is a wide tunnel, carefully roped off to avoid accidents.

Evening in Xanadu sees dinner finished and the caverns finally beginning to empty of folks, noisy chatter giving way to quiet conversations here and there at tables sparsely occupied. Over on one of the couches, in front of a cheery fire in one of the chairs there sits Thea, shoes kicked off and legs curled up underneath her. She's still dressed for the office, hair neatly coiled and skirts trailing over the edge of that chair. Her blouse is loose, but one might see a tell-tale bulge beginning to show on her stomach as she holds needles and soft fine yarn before her. Intent on something she's creating, serenity on her face, she's a picture of domestic tranquility in this public place rather than in her own home, for once.

One of the kitchen stewards is the first to notice the small procession of robed junior apprentices that slowly begins trickling out of the storage room, and with a startled cry, he leaps away from his duties at the serving table in the rear and starts over to the door, waving a spoon like a needle-point dirk. "Excuse me," he says curtly to them. "Ex-…excuse me, you can't just start hauling boxes out of the storage room without some kind of approval!" For a moment, the two apprentices, each carrying a crafted wooden crate in their arms, look to one another, and then the steward before a third, calm voice murmurs, "DO you have any idea how stupid that sounds when you say it? Of course we can just start hauling boxes out of the storage room. That's the whole reason why the Weyrstaff has people like you to watch over it. Anyone could just up and do exactly what we're doing right now…" The door to the store room closes with a quiet, but resonant boom before another man in darkly colored Journeyman's robes and a clearly displayed knot steps into view. "So it's not a question of can…or cannot." The steward simply blinks at the healer for a moment while the robed man turns slightly. "Take those outside, please, and make sure they're properly marked for the transport rider. Then you're free for the evening, as long as you keep your heads down, and make sure none of the staff see you." The two juniors giggle to one another before offering Tenebrous respectful nods and then scurrying away.

Way over that the other side of the room. That's where all the booming of doors and waving of wooden spoons are. Thea hears it nevertheless, lifting her eyes from her crocheting in that direction. The sight of the Steward has her sinking down into her seat just a bit. As with the rest of the murmured conversations in the near vicinity, she allows the one near the store room just roll over her head, although her eyes follow the robed figures filing out with boxes. "Keep going," she mutters to herself. Then it's back to the task at hand and her eyes drop to her work.

The robed Journeyman smiles slightly to the Steward's expression, and leans in a little. "First…close your mouth. You'll catch flies, and while they're an excellent source of protein, there are better sources available. Without wings. Second…" He straightens a little, offering a written piece of paper to the man. "Not that anyone in the Weyr would ever mistake the contents of those boxes for anything other than a botanist's handiwork, but…here. A manifest of each box, along with dates and deposits. Just to keep it official. You can occupy the shelving space as well. I don't think I'll need it again." The Steward accepts the paper with a trembling hand, his spoon drooping every bit as much as his enthusiasm, and Tenebrous turns. In his hands, he holds a bit of burned hide, the remains of the hood that the flaming tree blasted from the side of his face. "They really do have clean water here," he murmurs to himself. Then he starts through the tables, absently folding the hide in his hands.

Thea's back to focused on her crocheting, humming quietly to herself. A sound likely not heard more than a few feet away. Every now and then dark lashes lift as her glass green gaze sweeps the caverns. All is peaceful; a gentle mile tugs at her lips as she lowers them again. Eyes raise in time to see Tenebrous walking closer and his words are barely caught. She winces, concern flickering briefly on her face, but there's a cool smile all the same as she calls, "Ah, good evening." The greeting comes minus any name at all.

Tenebrous, standing over by the door to the store rooms, and dressed in the deep robes that identify one as a healer of the Hall, turns slightly at the sound of Thea's voice. He starts over, absently adjusting the Journeyman's Knot on his shoulder with his right hand, a limb much improved given its state two months ago. He comes to a stop just outside of Thea's personal space, and simply looks down at her for a moment before calmly announcing, "You…like to be called Thea." he smiles a little. "I remembered."

Thea watches Tenebrous approach, tilting her head as he stands over her, "And you like to be called Fetch, as I recall." She pauses, then asks lightly, "Is that still the case?" Her fingers absently roll the strand of soft yarn as she once again sweeps the cavern with a look. Eyes linger on the door that leads to the offices and it is with reluctance that she pulls her gaze away from it, returning to the young man standing before her, "Why," eyes flicker to that burned remnant of a hood, "are you still carrying that around with you?" Simple curiosity is in her voice as she asks, raising them once again to his face.

Tenebrous purses his lips a little. "Fetch…is what I did. It's what I still do, to a certain extent…" He taps the burned piece of fabric against his free hand. "Who I was…who I used to be never really mattered. Only what I did. I never used to tell anyone what my name really was, and I can remember over the last sixteen turns, there being times when people had asked for it, and I said 'Fetch' because it honestly took me a second to remember. Now, I have … an ex apprentice that knows my name, and not just knows it, but says it as if she knows ME. The Craftmaster of the Hall has said my name to me more times int he last two months than the last five turns combined, and there are apprentices on post at Rubicon River who have repeatedly asked the hall if I could come back and teach again, something I have no memory of. At some point over the last turn, I found out who I was. Or…started to, I think." He holds the bit of hood up. "This serves as a reminder that I should probably finish."

Thea considers this with head tilted, listens quietly to him speak. When he's finished, she explains easily, "Well, I wasn't really referring to your past. I was recalling a conversation we had about two months ago. You called yourself ‘just a Fetch’. Are you going by your name now, is what I meant." She lifts a hand, rubs the back of her neck, then gestures to one of the chairs, "Would you like to sit?" She's had her head tilted to look up at him long enough to tire the muscles. The fire snaps in the silence and Thea returns her attention to her handwork, winds the yarn around the hook and begins looping it repeatedly. Without looking to see if he's sitting or not, she murmurs, "Phylicia, of course she knows you." Eyes slide up to that hood, then back down, "I see." Lips twitch skeptically, "Don't you mean who you started to become? Your life's journey is far from over, after all." Then more softly to herself, "Seeking focus and seeking answers. There's a lot of folks seeking things around here lately."

Tenebrous nods quietly to the offer of a seat, sinking down onto a part of the couch that leaves Thea with plenty of spare room. "I don't really know what to tell you about my name, Thea," he says quietly. "Over the last two months, it's become rapidly apparent to me that I'm…not what I was a turn ago. I'm sitting here, talking to you, despite the fact that, somewhere, in the back of my mind, I don't think I should be. But I choose to ignore that. I don't love a green-rider at Ista despite the fact that I want to touch her face whenever I see her, which is far less often than I think she'd prefer. And that doesn't bother me." He glances down at his hood for a moment. "I'm clearly not…whatever the Fetch was a year ago. Not anymore. But then, people call me Tenebrous to my face now, people I don't remember ever giving my name to…and it feels like they're talking to someone I'm not either. More and more, I seem to be defined by what I do, rather than who I am. Perhaps one will beget the other, but…"

As Tenebrous talks, Thea quietly continues inserting that hook into the loops that were made before it, winding the yarn over then pulling it through. The repetitive movements take little thought; her fingers are skillful, practiced. She makes no comment as to whether he should or shouldn't be talking to her, but on the heels of that statement of his, her eyes lift to the administration hallway door with a flash of faint disquiet before lowering once more. She winces at the mention of the greenrider, "Poor girl." The murmur escapes her lips before she can censor them and an apologetic glance is sent the healer's way as he finishes. "You know…" she begins slowly, brow wrinkled in thought, "I can't say I know what you're going through, nor the loss you feel, nor the frustration it must cause to have a big blank in your head where your past was…" She gazes sightlessly at the partially finished blanket of cream-colored yarn in her hands, continuing slowly, "but I for one, think that the definitions and opinions of others matter far less than what you think about yourself. What you think… what you feel… what you know about yourself-" A keen glance up at him, then back down, "-or learn anew each day can define you far more than just what you do."

Tenebrous smiles slightly. "Yes. Poor girl. There are a few 'Poor Girls', it turns out. I've made several women cry over the last few sevendays. I'm starting to get good at it." But his smile isn't bitter, just accepting. "And my statement about being defined by what I do is liquid. I agree with you. I learn new things every day. On…good days, I learn new things again." He pauses for a moment before murmuring, "Thea," again. Then he's simply still, hands resting in his lap on top of that bit of hide, watching her calmly.

Thea's eyes lift swiftly at this, brows following suit, "Several?" She doesn't try to hide the surprise over this, "Doesn't sound like the Tenebrous I knew-" Too late to bite the words back, she clears her throat, "Please don't tell me you made Phy cry. She's my best friend and I hate to see her sad." Green eyes watch that expression he wears, approval at the absence of bitterness and she nods agreement, "We all have good and bad days, but not all learn when they can. Some just spend their days in complacent oblivion." She sighs then, dropping her eyes to her handwork, fingers fluidly moving, weaving the thing until he speaks her name. Once again she lifts her eyes, silent before his gaze. One brow lifts inquiringly.

Tenebrous's answering smile is somewhat wry. "I absolutely made Phylicia cry. But not for the reasons I think you're implying." He absently lifts a hand to rub at the right side of his face. "Though I find it interesting that your mind went to Phylicia next, and in that manner." His face is that of a man absorbing everything, putting it into context. "As for the Tenebrous that you knew…" Then his words trail off, and he once again find himself studying Thea's face. "It's interesting," he says at last, his voice quiet. "You're pregnant. And you have a Weyrmate, who I must logically assume is responsible. And you're a Weyrwoman…"

Thea snorts, mouth unhappy at the news her friend has apparently been crying. She points out, "I rarely imply; I'll say it straight out: I hate to see Phy cry for any reason if they are unhappy tears." The declaration ends on an upnote - a half question as she shrugs one shoulder irritably. "I'm not implying anything, nor did my mind go to Phy in any sort of manner. You mentioned her saying your name like she knows the you that is now, so I assume she's seen enough of you to be one of the several you just mentioned." With a slight frown she returns her attention to the blanket she's working on. Mildly and with her eyes still on the project her fingers are weaving, "Yes, I know. The Tenebrous I knew is gone. And that is both bad and good. I'm just sad to think of the gentle person I knew has become good at making girls cry." For a time silence stretches, the sound of flames crackling and wood snapping fills the silence and it seems she is not going to reply to his last. Finally she quirks a bewildered look up at him, "I am, I do and he is. What about my babe, my weyrmate and being a weyrwoman is it that you find interesting? It's not all that unusual, you know."

One side of tenebrous' mouth turns up. "Hasha wept because the perosn she cared for might as well be dead. Phylicia wept because she feels she's responsible." He shrugs a little. "The cost of her rescue was one he paid gladly. As I would. It's the cost anyone pays when they choose to live the life he did. It's the cost of Live Ammo. It's a very…hard thing to understand, when a loved one is injured because of it." Then his smile fades. "It's not something I relish…making good women weep. Making anyone weep. I can't argue the wonderful growth that took place in me … in him? over the last year, but there are days when I truly think that he might have been better served by staying in his cave."

Thea is silent on the heels of this, her expressive face reveals that she's considering several replies. Finally, "I'm sorry for both Hasha and Phy, but I'm glad you didn't callously cause their tears, glad to hear you don't relish it. And for both of them, the grief they're expressing is understandable. You aren't the only one to have lost something, but then, you know that." Thoughtful now, she bows her head and her fingers fly over that blanket. Golden light cast by the firelight shimmers on dark lashes. Quietly and with a hint of resignation, she murmurs, "I've thought about that for the past two months. I had thought the same thing until the fire and you had your head smacked by the tree. Now? Not so much." Ice green eyes lift to his, "Had you stayed in that cave you'd still be a little boy trapped in a man's body. And while you seem to think that would be better, I know differently."

Tenebrous shakes his head. "I said that I wonder sometimes, certainly not always. As with everything in life, there are consequences. Always consequences." Then he does smile. "She was right…" His smile turns a little rueful. "And thta's…supremely irritating, because I think I'd like to see her wrong just once. Maybe on something trivial, but…" The scrap of hide is folded over in his hands and tucked into a pocket of his robe. "You asked what was interesting about your pregnancy. The time-table, mostly. I'm very concerned with…time. Or atleast, a period of time, ofr obvious reasons." He waves a hand suddenly. "Ramblings, from a mind too full. I apologize." He gathers himself to stand then. "Good luck with your pregnancy. If you have trouble locating a midwife that you trust, send word. They say I got good at delivering them at some point."

"Consequences. Yes, you and Fraille are quite hung up on that word as I recall." Thea's lips twitch, with what could be either humor or irritation. "It has negative connotations, Tenebrous. Life has its twists, its wonders, its rewards. It isn’t always so…dire." She slants a sly glance up as he gathers himself, "Oh, Fraille's been wrong before." His comment about time receives naught but a confused head-shake. "The… time table?" Not understanding what the healer is getting at, she automatically murmurs, "I'm in the sixth month." Something dawns on her face, a flush rises on her cheeks. "With your memory loss, if you're wondering if you had anything to do with-" She stops and shakes her head, before answering decisively, "I assure you, there's not a chance. We were never… intimate." Again her glance is flickered towards that hall door, this time faint alarm as it begins to open, then pauses, held partially open by an unknown hand. Voices can be heard discussing something in the corridor. She rises in one smooth movement, her needle and half-finished blanket in hand, "If you'll excuse me." With swift steps she makes her way over to that door, leaning into the opening, "Donn, it's late…" And she steps through, leaving the main caverns – and her shoes - behind.

Tenebrous stands even as Thea does, confusion and then amusement dawning on his face as Thea runs off. "That's the answer to the question then," Tenebrous murmurs to himself. Then his smile fades a little. For a moment, he steps after her, but then his footsteps slow again. "I have no idea what I did to you," he murmurs, maybe too softly for her to hear. "But I'm sorry…" There's no hurt on his face, no old wounds. Just a bit of sadness.

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