He's Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Ierne Weyrhold – Marketplace

A wide square full of shops and stores and sidewalk vendors of all types. Mostly Traders who specialise in certain items or Crafters who wanted a place in which to market their wares. Due to the WeyrHold being a major trade center, its an ideal place for something like this, open all turn round rather then just people selling during gathers.

Late afternoon in Ierne finds a bit of sun filling the winter-cold marketplace, warming the stones thereof and lending a bit of comfort to would-be shoppers. It's offset the chill enough that Thea, just leaving M'ori's shop, is in the process of shrugging out of her long fur-lined hide coat whilst attempting to juggle several bags she's hanging onto with both hands. Adding to her awkward maneuvers, her midsection seems to be getting in the way, unbalancing her just a wee bit with what any observant person would recognize as a babe on the way. She's walking but not really paying attention where she's going.

Across the way, an couple of people appear to be discussing something or another in front of an apparently empty shop. Among them is a slightly older bronzerider, who is at a slightly better vantage than those gathered nearby to catch sight of that awkward movement. Excusing himself, he trots off in the direction of the bag-and-coat-juggling woman; M'gaal lifts a hand, calling a mild, but friendly, "Need a hand with that, miss? Looks like you've got an armful and then some."

Sea green eyes lift from packages to rider, blinking absently for a second before warming, a beaming smile of appreciation for the offer. "Sure!" Both hands extend, offering the handles of those bags trustingly and without hesitation and as soon as he's got them, she's out of that coat. Hot! She's hot and cannot seem to get it off fast enough. Once the heavy coat is draped over her arm, her other hand gathers and lifts heavy dark hair into a runner tail and lifts it off her neck, head turning to seek the cooling breeze at precisely the right angle. "Shards I was sweltering in there!" She looks sidelong at the man, merriment dancing in her voice as she extends her hand to reclaim her bags, "Thanks ever so much! I think you saved my life. Otherwise I'd have melted into a puddle of goop right here."

The bags are taken readily enough and with a bit of a laugh from M'gaal for her words. "Ah, I can imagine," he replies, mouth pulled into a deeply amused half smile. "Better now, yeah?" is mostly rhetorical, followed with a slight quirk of his brows. "Now, that would've been a terrible shame, miss. It would have been right difficult tryin' to clean you up off this ground if you had." When she reaches for the bags, he seems to hesitate; like as not, it's just a deeply ingrained sense of duty, for he's quick to ask, "Were you going anywhere else? Looks like an extra set of hands might do you good, considering what you're already carrying."

The flush that had risen to Thea's cheeks while inside the store is beginning to fade, giving credence to her nod, "Much better, yes." She laughs quietly, tilting her head to eye the ground beneath her booted feet briefly, scuffing the toe of one lightly across the stones as she does so. "I expect they have special goo-cleaner for such emergencies as this." Back to him with a twinkle, "Although if not, I guess I could die happy knowing that I had left my mark on Pern?" She notes that hesitation of his to relinquish her bags, "Thea, please. Not Miss, ah?" Questioning as her gaze shifts to his knot, noting that it marks him as a resident of this place, "And no, sadly, I think I'd better stop spending marks so freely. But I do need to find a place to get something to drink. If you could point me in the right direction?"

"Ayuh, that's one way of thinking of it, I suppose," M'gaal laughs. "Wouldn't be the best way to leave your mark, but-" he trails, shoulders rising and falling in a 'whatever works' kind of way. "Pleasure to meet you, Thea. I'm M'gaal, Zaqalekhth's." The rest is all in the knot, what little is left to be said. "Depends on the type of drink," he reckons, though he does incline his head off in the direction where a few eatery-style places have been set up. "But you'll have a fair bit of luck that way — haven't had a bad drink or a bad meal at any of the places there. Be glad to escort you that far, at least, if you're so inclined."

Thea grins, "Too true, it wouldn't be, although," a faint frown forms fleetingly before it is deliberately smoothed away, "my preferred way hasn't worked very well." To his introduction, she inclines her head, "Clear skies- ah, well-met, M'gaal. I am Seryth's." Her knot is attached to her the shoulder of her coat, and might be glimpsed; she's not flashing it about nor is she trying to hide it. She only adds, "Xanandu's greetings to Ierne." She turns her head in the direction he indicates, peering down the way, "Oh, juice or even water, you know-" a hand waves at her belly, "-can't have the hard stuff for awhile yet." She nods gratefully at his offer, pale eyes flickering towards that group he'd been with, "If you wouldn't mind? Or I can flip a quarter mark to one of the younguns running about to carry my stuff."

There's a mock-chastising clucking of his tongue for her frown, though he says nothing further. Instead, M'gaal just shifts the hang of the bags in his hands and offers an elbow in what must be a habitual gesture. "And Ierne's greetings to Xanadu," is quasi-echoed with a slight nod. "Ah-ha, there's a quirky old greenrider down thattaway with a juice bar of all things," he recalls, offering it up for her approval or denial. His gaze briefly tracks where hers goes and his usual smile pulls a bit into lopsidedness. "Don't mind at all, Thea. Would be much happier carrying bags than haggling over rent prices for that restaurant-in-the-making, that's for sure. My sister can hold her own."

Thea shoots him a mildly startled glance for that noise he makes but merely shrugs, disinclined to explain for the moment. It's without thinking that her hand finds it's way to the crook of his elbow, her placement just so out of long-ago formed habit. "Is there?" This in response to the greenrider's juice bar, "Perfect! Lead on, if you will." She waits for him to step out first, allowing him to guide her. Her stride beside him has an easy grace, the extra weight she's carrying causing her to sway rather than waddle as some might. Another quick glance across the way and then back to him, "Sister, eh? So many of the folks living here run businesses. That why you are here? Or is it your sister's place?" Frankly curious is she rather than merely polite.

With everything as it ought to be, M'gaal is more than happy to lead the way at a comfortable, conversational sort of pace. "Ayuh. Fine fellow, too; he knows his way around fruit." How he says this with a straight face is a miracle in and of itself. There's a slight tilting of his head to the young woman, then a shallow nod along with it. "Well, it's more my brother-in-law's doing. He's the cook, but she's the one with the haggler's tongue. He's looking to get a restaurant started, she wants a nice singing venue, and they wanted me to sling drinks." A shoulder rises, falls, and he grins, his next words coming with distinct amusement, "Can't really turn an offer like that down, especially when she threatens to hold my boy hostage."

Thea doesn't manage to keep a straight face, regardless of the ability of the man who says it. Her shout of laughter echoes off stone before she can stop herself. Her immediate impulse is to stifle it, but she's snicker-snorting there for a few breaths. When she can speak she merely says mildly, "I see. Well he should be able to knock a few coconuts together then." She's peering down the way now with amusement, lips curved in a half-smile. Must behave, however and she's turning things back to normal chatter, "No, I guess you couldn't at that, unless he's a hellion and you hate your folks and wish to be both rid of him and repay them at the same time?" Of course she doesn't mean it, that's clear by the way she says it. She gives the older man a surreptitious study from beneath dark lashes, "So are the three of you moving an old venture from the north or just starting out?"

"Oh, jays, no. Coconuts really aren't his thing, but for a couple extra marks …" Ah, but that will just have to remain a mystery, hidden behind the wicked curve of his smile. M'gaal guides them casually past a knot of nattering nannies and their gaggle of wards, forcing his smile to fade to something 'discussion-appropriate'. "No, no. Malaakh's a good kid. Wouldn't give him up for all the marks in Pern," is said with all the pride that a father could have and maybe a bit more. His chin lifts a little, green eyes flicking from the woman to one of the shops ahead. "Just starting out, though it's something Dumuzi's wanted to do for a long while. They're still trying to get things together … Ninatta refuses to name the place until they have everything squared away. Bad luck, that sort of thing. She's always been the superstitious one."

Clueful of that wicked smile, Thea doesn't ask; sometimes it's just better not to know. "How nice that your son is a comfort to you. How old is he?" Pleasant, polite just enough interest to be proper with no underlying motives for asking. She slides him a sidelong look, "So… you've left the weyrlife for bartending." Not trying to hide the fact that this strikes her as not quite odd, but at least… different. She sidesteps a darting child skipping just a fingerlength beyond the grasp of her nanny. She continues her thought when the child is beyond and in no danger of being trod upon. "Ierne has many such places. Do you think you'll be able to outshine the competition then?"

"A little over a turn, now. I think he likes it better here, but it's hard to tell when he grabs for everything he sees anyway." There's a low chuckle for the admission and M'gaal slows as they finally approach the rather, er, brightly colored front door of the juice bar — aptly named "It's Raining Fruit". To her comment about bartending, M'gaal makes a vaguely thoughtful noise before replying, "Something like that. Though, for now, I do a little work on the side — transporting, finding … a little of this, a little of that. Whatever it takes." He reaches to open the door with his bag-holding hand, the bags shifted further down his arm for the purpose, and adds: "I hope so. Been a few turns since I've done it, so we'll see how rusty these old hands are."

Who doesn't love turn-old tots? Thea awwws with a gentle smile that can only come from one expecting a child of her own. Another glance flickered over the dark features of the rider, lightly, "And does he take after you or his mother?" They're at the threshold of that juice bar and she cannot help but smirk at the sign on the door, so missing any vagueness in his answer. She inclines her head once more, murmuring her thanks as he opens the door for her, pausing once inside to take stock of the place. Brightly then, "I shall have to bring some friends, when you get started to see if your brother-in-law can really cook-" A laughing look at him, "-and see you can mix drinks." Her attention then lifts to the handpainted sign above the bar as she peruses the list bewildering array of fruit juice combinations. Who knew there could be so many? She's looking a little overwhelmed.

Her question brings with it a faltering of his easy smile and a moment's silence, green eyes flicking away and up to the sign. "He's more his mother's son," M'gaal finally says, reaching up with his free-ish hand to rub the side of his nose, one eye scrunching shut. "Has her moods, her eyes, her nose." Such somberness is out of place in a place so gaudily decorated as this, so he's quick to shed it and move on with a renewal of his smile, "As I suspected you might! Trust me, it'll be well worth your while. What the man can do with wherry is- ah, just beyond words." No comment on his drinkmixing, but perhaps he's confident enough to feel such a thing would be superfluous. Instead, he finally withdraws his arm from hers, stepping aside to one of the empty tables. "Just take your time. There's a lot up there, but if you just want something simple, he can do that to." Granted, there's no sign of the proprietor … well, except for some awful singing in the back of the shop, the source as yet unseen.

It's because she is looking at him when his smile falters that Thea notes the change in demeanor as well as the deliberate swiftness with which he pushes it away. She is sensitive enough to know how many different ways relationships can go, so she doesn't press. Instead it is with a wince of apology she murmurs, "I'm sorry," as she follows suit, allowing bright cheer to replace the concern in her eyes. "I shall bring the ones who love good food and will drink anything to be merry, how's that?" She allows her fingers to slip from the crook of his elbow as he moves, following to the table, hands gripping the edge as she lowers herself into one of the chairs with a grateful sigh. Except for an odd smile quirked towards that noise (is it really singing?) back there, she doesn't comment, rather it is once more back to that list. "Can they really mix… so many things together and have them taste… like anything remotely recognizable?" She points to a long list of fruits labeled, "Special-special Mega Fruit."

There's just a slight shake of his head for her 'sorry' that seems to both accept it and dismiss whatever other thoughts seem to rise. Thus, it's a still-smiling M'gaal that carefully arranges the bags on the floor and claims the chair opposite the woman, though it requires him to turn almost all the way around to look at the sign. "Ah, well. Not /that/ many — and, trust me, that one has enough sweetener in it to make any runnerbeast a champion runner until it wears off." He points at a few of the others — "Bumbleberries and Cream", "Redfruit Riot", and "Citri-twang" — with a grinned, "Those seem a little more … normal," the word's a stretch and he knows it, "And that one, the 'Bitran Blend' is pretty good." The singing continues for a horrible heartbeat or two longer before a lean, dark-haired fellow pokes his head out. Oooooh, customers! — that is precisely what the fluttering of his hands say, though he refrains from actually saying as much. Instead, there's a delighted, "Welcome, welcome! How may I assist you two lovely people?"

Thea lowers her hand slowly, eyes widen juuuust a twinge as her lips silently form 'champion runner'. She coughs, fingers lift to rub a grin from her lips, "Might have to get some of that stuff to go. Wonder how long it keeps?" She sends a grimace towards the back of the place as the unseen proprietor hits a particularly grating note. Oops and there's a face poking out; she responds with a hastily beaming smile of innocence back at him and a cheerful. "Hello. We've-" An uncertain glance over at M'gaal before she amends, "-I've? come to try one of your concoctions." She raises her brows, offering, "You want something? My mark. Least I could do since you carried my bags." In that pause before he answers she points to the sign telling the owner, "Think I'll try the Citri-twang, please." It sounds… healthy at any rate.

There's a chuckle, a nod, and he figures, "Probably a little while, longer if you keep it on ice." Helpful, no? M'gaal rolls a shoulder, pushing up to his feet when the juice-man makes his appearance. "No, no. Just doing my duty," he replies with a cocked thumb for the bags. "No repayment needed." The greenrider glances from woman to man and back again, following the conversation with a slight upward lift of an eyebrow and a smile that's both genuine and seemingly permanently plastered to his face. "Oh, that's a lovely choice," the man finally says with a delighted clap of his hands. "Pineapple, orange, a bit of this and a bit of that-" he continues chattering away while he works his way through the cooler cabinets, pulling out this or that and this other thing, combining them in a rather tall glass. Some skewers and fruit are whipped out at some point. Recalling something she said earlier, M'gaal leans slightly over and says, "You could ask and see how long that stuff lasts."

"Oh, I have a cooler in my place." Thea responds quickly and unthinkingly while watching with a sort of dazed bemusement as the happy man makes his fruits into a thing of, well beauty if nothing else. She does manage to tear her eyes away as M'gaal speaks, seemingly surprised to see he's standing as she looks up, "Hmm? Oh that!" Her cheeks pinken just a smidge. "I was being facetious. Thought D'had might like-" No, she doesn't go there, nope. Instead she clears her throat, "You don't want anything? You're sure?" But then… skewers and fruit bits… not exactly manly sort of drinks are they? She reaches into her pouch, eyes flick up to that sign once more and she's selecting the correct amount of coins for the well, let's call it art in a glass by now.

It's clear the man /does/ know his way around fruit — when all's said and done, the clear glass is filled with an artful layering of juices, gently swirled with a bit of coconut milk and a skewer stabbed with bits of pineapple, orange, and a few other 'zing'-filled fruits. A coupled curl of orange and lemon rind rests atop it, twisting around the skewer in a delightfully artful fashion. M'gaal tilts his head, glancing sidelong at Thea. "I'm sure, I'm sure," is dismissive, a widening of his grin meant to confirm that, yes, he's fine without a crazy fruit drink. "Besides, if I go back smelling like fruit juice, Nin'll be begging me to bring her back here to get her one." He remains standing, fingers steepled on the tabletop while he watches the greenrider finish up. "One Citri-twang for the lovely laaaady~" is sing-song-spoken as he slips around the counter to deliver it.

Thea quips with a lopsided smirk in M'gaal's direction, "You could get her one to go. Perhaps that sickly-sweet one to help her bargain until the burdenbeasts come home?" She's following the progress of the drink as it is carried towards her, muttering out of the corner of her mouth, "You're sure these things are safe to drink? Or ought one simply gaze upon them in fascination?" She flashes a sweet smile as the man stops before the table with a flourish. "That's really beautiful!" She means that sincerely because, well. It is! She extends her hand, payment including a generous tip for him, trading the coins for the glass and holding it up to eye level in order to properly admire all the layers and swirls. "Absolutely too pretty to drink," she tells him. But she is thirsty and hot and so lifts the glass to take a sip, eyes widen in appreciation and she nods her approval wordlessly.

"Ugh, no. She's utterly insufferable when she gets one; worse than a feline getting into cream." M'gaal chuckles a little, all the same, and offers a sidelong murmured, "They're safe. Haven't killed me yet, at any rate." Scant reassurance, that, even if it is offered up with a joking grin. "Excellent work as usual, A'shar," is added for the proprietor's benefit, a nod given to the rather elegantly executed beverage. A'shar, for his part, seems pleased that the woman's pleased — and even more improbably pleased when he sees the tip that's left. "Ah! Do enjoy. It was a pleasure to make it!" There's another delighted clap and he slips away, off to clean up in the wake of his juice-blending madness.

Thea's got a mouthful of that pureed fruit, but manages to swallow it without spitting it out or snorting it up her nose when she laughs. "So you admit to having imbibed one of these frou frou drinks?" And since he's still alive to attest to the benign nature of something concocted by a singing, fruit-slinging, hand-clapping stranger, she finishes the rest of it, managing to filter out the happy sounds of cleaning and setting to rights the owner is doing back there behind the counter while making small talk with M'gaal about nothing more than the weather and life on the Southern Continent. When finished, she's set down the empty glass, wiped her mouth on the paper napkin provided and shifting to rise, gather her coat from the back of her chair. "M'gaan, pleasure to meet you, but I need to head back." She eyes her bags, "I could get some kids to get those…"

"Admit it? I'll imply it, but never, ever admit it," M'gaal replies with a wink and a wry tilting of his smile. He watches A'shar from the corner of his eye until the man disappears in the back again to go back to throttling felines — er … singing, right, singing — before his gaze returns to settle fully on Thea. Conversation is had, pleasant social pulp to go with the fruit pulp until the eventual end is nigh. "The pleasure was all mine, Thea." The reassurance is paired with a solid nod, then he's already bending to gather the bags up, even as she mentions getting kids to do the task. His brows lift quizzically and he pauses, hesitantly venturing, "Ah. Well, if that's what you'd prefer, I'm sure there are a gaggle of 'em running around."

Thea pauses midway through shrugging back into her coat upon noting M'gaal's hesitance. Somewhat flustered, "Oh, no! No. I just… you know. You were negotiating for your place. Thought you'd have things to do- I, um." She rubs at one eye with her forefinger before allowing a rueful uncertainty to show, "I'm just not used to folks waiting on me, to be honest. Holder Thadan had some servants, but… " she shrugs diffidently, dismissing the subject and giving the man a sunny smile, "If you don't mind and want to assist me out to Seryth, she's just outside the square."

"Well, if it's any reassurance," M'gaal replies as he reaches to heft the bags easily and offer that arm of his again if she's willing to take it, "I don't think of it as waiting on you. It's more- ah, making up for my secret, implied shame of frou frou drinks." There's a grin, a slight pause, and then, "Just how I was raised, that's all. And I do admit to having a bit of a soft spot for caring for pregnant women. So, I don't mind at all." In either case, he does nod to her latter words, his smile reflecting her own, and it's out that way that he leads.

Thea laughs again, easy, relaxed as she slips her hand back into M'gaal's arm. "I promise your secret shame is safe with me then." She holds up a forefinger as they step out the door, "Unless, of course your restaurant-in-the-making becomes a huge success and you become fabulously wealthy. Then I shall blackmail you for a cut of the profits." There's a questioning flicker for that comment about pregnant women, but she remains silent for now. Negotiating the crowded square of late shoppers and early dinner seekers is made all the easier thanks to the bronzerider carrying her bags and guiding her in his wake. As they exit the square, it is with a serene croon that they are greeted by Seryth, the now very late afternoon sun gleaming off her golden hide. With a gesture to the huge gold, Thea introduces him, "Seryth, M'gaal, bronze Zaqalekhth's. M'gaal, this is Seryth."

"For shame. And here, I thought I shared that in confidence!" M'gaal manages to sound mock-appalled, despite the easy laughter that comes. Out they go, into the crowds and muted chaos; people are, at least, willing to make way for the pair, even if it occasionally takes a bit of throat-clearing on the bronzerider's part to make it so. Once out into the relative emptiness of the clearing, he slows and finally stops a short distance from the gold, a glance given to Thea as she makes the introduction. He offers a shallow bow to the gold, a respectful gesture made slightly comical by his efforts to ensure the bags don't escape his grasp. "Well met, Seryth; well met. Of course, my apologies that-" oh, and there that old bronze goes, proving him wrong again; a smoke-dark shape descends, landing lightly in an open space nearby "-well. That is Zaqalekhth. Zaq, meet Thea and her Seryth." There's a rust-rattle of a rumble from the bronze by way of greeting and then he settles to the ground without another sound.

Seryth is peacefully cognizant of the bronze's arrival, greeting him with a muted warble reminiscent of wind carried from distant rainstorms. And though she is a friendly dragon, she has things on her mind at the moment as a great green eye regards her rider with a tilt of her head, neck swinging 'round to whuff at Thea. "She says we're late to Fort Hold. I've a stop to make on the way home," she tells M'gaal. So it's not reeeeeeally on the way, but she doesn't mention that. Since her coat is on and her hands are free, she's sliding her hands into her gloves, wriggling her fingers to get them on properly before reaching to accept the bags. When he's given them to her, there are straps hanging that she secures them with before turning to him and offering a gloved hand and a genuine smile, "Thanks again, M'gaal. Bring your weyrmate and son to visit us at Xanadu sometime."

For Zaqalekhth's part, his interest extends only far enough to give Seryth an appraising look and then to turn his attention rather accusingly to M'gaal. The rider lifts his brows in a wordless 'Don't start', chin lifting in kind before his gaze shifts back to Thea. "Oh, jays. I'm sorry if I held you unnecessarily." One can only hope the juice was worth it. The bags are, finally, offered back to her once she's ready to handle them, and he watches the process of securing with a wary eye. But, ultimately, he looks away from that to her, his initial smile barely held in place after her words. There's a momentary, inarticulate working of his throat and, then: "It was a pleasure. I'm sure my boy will enjoy it there." That said, he steps back a pace, moving well out of the way so the queen can take flight at her leisure.

Thea misses the back and forth between Zaqalekhth and his rider while she's securing her bags, but Seryth rumbles amusement as the exchange. Thea turns in time to note his swallowing, the smile fades upon her lips, and there's yet another wince as he mentions his son, but not his weyrmate. Hastily, "Nono. Not to worry, you didn't slow me down. I'm not even expected." She grasps the straps and even though Seryth rolls helpfully to one side to ease her clamber up, the weyrwoman is awkward mounting her. Clips ring metallically as she buckles herself in, then Seryth is righting herself and crouching for her spring even though her rider makes no move to don a helmet. The launch is executed with a downsweep of wing that lifts the pair into the sky, dark hair whips in the wing-stirred wind, one hand lifting to wave at the pair still on the ground before gaining the altitude to wink Between.

There's a salute given as gold and rider finally ascend. Only once they're safely out of sight and Between does M'gaal finally slant a look to Zaqalekhth. The beast gapes his fire-bright maw in a rough approximation of a wicked smile and takes to the air again to soar to parts unknown, leaving the rider alone to trot back to where he'd left his sister last … and hope she hasn't raised all hell yet.

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