Winning Hands

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.

Ka'el is not here to eat because he's eaten already. Yes. Sometimes food gets brought to him, if he asks nicely enough. Or if he just asks at all, nicely or not. And thus, his belly has already been satisfied with savory meats and side items and the general yumminess that the Caverns has on their buffet spread of dinner foods. He's not out here for that. He's out here for the company because although today's work hasn't been difficult or even physically strenuous, it's been long and tedious and words have had tendencies of floating off the pages and jumbling in his mind. And so before he signed off on a page that might have been a request for flying porcine to be brought in from the magic mountain of the Northern Continent, he's called it a night. For now. And for now he's in the Caverns sitting at a circular table with three other rough-faced men. One is old. The others, not so much, yet of ages older than Ka'el himself. They're playing cards. Something similar to poker from the looks of it, with ales around and a few onlookers who watch with interest as bets are played, cards dealt, and schemes schemed.

Food may be food for the stomach, but food for the soul is… well, still food, according to the metaphor, but much less likely to be covered in gravy. It's probably something like company, or more florid words to the same effect. Flying porcines… might be food. Where else do you get bacon wings? But those aren't on the menu tonight. Soriana… is not on the menu either, but she is here. Now, anyhow. She didn't used to be, but she's emerging from the depths of the admin hallway with a stack of- no. Having escaped from a stack of paperwork. Race-type gathers are the worst gathers. Not only do they have to arrange for feeding people… and dragons… but they also have to feed runners! And what's more, they can't just feed the runners to the dragons and call it good. So! There's… logistics, and Soriana's been drawn into them. Along with at least half of the back hall, it seems like. She drifts out toward the serving table - not because she's hungry, exactly, but because klah seems like a good idea (doesn't it always?) then pauses as she sees Ka'el, drifting toward him instead to peek over his shoulder and see just how good a hand he has. "…how many weyrlings have you gambled away so far?

Ka'el's hand is poor. Really, he has nothing but a pair of nines! But, oh ho! He's bluffed a few hands thus far, and pressing his luck is a challenge he usually does not back down from. From over his hand of playing cards, he peers at the other players, all looking about as confident as he as they place their bids. He half grins and tosses another half-mark in, causing one bearded man to mutter and fold. Heh! One down. He shifty-eyes another who matches him, stony-faced. So does old man half-toothless over there, but he cackles as he does so. "I'm in! And I'll be doublin' yer wager!" Clink! A mark is tossed, and bearded man number two curses and folds. Ka'el grins, but before another move is made, Soriana is there. "Just the thin, gangly ones," he answers her, glancing back and up. "They won't be missed too badly. More trouble than they were worth, I say." He holds his cards to his chest to keep them out of view from prying eyes as he flashes her a winning, charming, oh so handsome grin. Cheeese! "Come to bring me luck, Lady Luck?"

The gangly ones? Soriana considers it for a moment, then nods. "That's all right, then." Some weyrlings are more important than others! And hopefully none weyrlings are here to hear her say that, because it might sound bad if it weren't for the smirk. Soriana glances from Ka'el to his adversaries around the table, then back to the Weyrleader. "Don't I always?" Now, what kind of luck she brings him… well, that's another question entirely. Which isn't being asked. "So if you win, I get half."

Half? Ka'el quirks a brow. "If I win, I'll give you…a sixteenth mark." Yay! A consolation prize for helping! It's … better than nothing, right? He grins, then returns his eyes to his foes. No, make that foe. There's only one man standing. Well…one man sitting. Sitting across from him with a half bald head and wisps of white hair around the edges. His sagging face is one of a tricky old geezer, and he stares with gray eyes of challenge. "Well?!" he prompts the Weyrleader, who grins soon after, glancing at the pot of scattered marks and half marks and eighth marks and whatever else, then at the old timer. Shall he be defeated, or gracefully admit defeat? He has nothing! But still, he shows his hand, cards facing up, revealing his measly pair of nines. The two bearded men holler their dismay! 'I could've beat that!' and 'You bid so high, with that?' Ka'el smirks. The old man cackles. "You've got guts, Weyrleader! But me? I've got me some balls!" .. huh? What does that even mean? He cackles as he throws down his hand. A pair…of tens! Ka'el slaps his hand to his forehead as more hollers rise up from around him and wrinkled fingers claw at their prize. He laughs, then turns accusatory eyes to Sori. "You! This is your fault!" Somehow. Someway. Definitely.

"The game's not that much skill," Soriana retorts. Because, if she's the luck, clearly he's the skill. …such as it is. Staring down old men! Getting eyed by bearded ones! It's high-stakes looking at people, it is, and Soriana… well, she's here to look at the lookers. She's a meta-looker. Better yet! She's Ka'el's luck in physical form, which is to say, she seems really good but doesn't go all the way? Er… maybe not. But there's a lift of eyebrows and then a smirk as the outcome of the round is revealed, and then she laughs to Ka'el. "Me?" Oh no. Not her. Innocent Sori is innocent! "I gave you all the luck you needed. If you couldn't make the most of it, well, that's your fault!" And never mind she was just saying skill didn't matter. That was before. This is now.

"Bah, you've tricked me! You didn't give me luck at all. You stole it away!" Like a mighty luck sucker, right? Yes, that's exactly what she does. Sori sucks luck! Hide your runnershoes and four leaf clovers! On the table, the cards are being gathered up to be shuffled again. The old man proves to be greedy (or maybe he just wants to show off his gambling prowess) and sticks around for another hand. Ka'el, on the other hand, relinquishes his seat and stands, vacating the spot for whoever else may want a turn at cards. "You owe me.." he counts on his fingers, "a lot of marks!" So specific, is he not? "A good eight of them. And, bein' the generous man that I am, you'll have an entire day to pay me what I owe, or else!" He narrows his eyes at her and lifts a hand to draw a finger slowly across his neck. Slice! Head chop! Neck slitting! Yeah. All that will happen if he doesn't get his due. There's a gasp from a nearby table. A little brown-eyed girl covers her mouth in shock. She just saw a threat! And heard it, too! "The Weyrleader is only kidding, dear," soothes the mother, sending an amused look towards Soriana and Ka'el.

There's a sucker born every minute! Or so say certain sages of old. Soriana shakes her head. "Nonsense! I'm full of luck." Maybe because she stole it from others? Those runnershoes turn right back into ingots if she touches them, and the four-leaf clovers crumble away into dust. The curse of the Soriana! That whole seat's probably doomed now, but there's still a sucker who's willing to sit down and lose his money to oldster and the beards. All the money! "Do not," Soriana inserts into that pause, not that she knows what Ka'el's going to claim - and not that it stops him from claiming it, either. Or threatening her! "Ha," she begins, then glances to the mother and shocked child. See? She's not eviscerated! She smiles, an expression that turns toward smirk as she returns her gaze to to Ka'el. "Look at you! A menace to polite society. A menace to the impolite sort, too. Really, you're just a menace to… everything. I can't take you anywhere." Maybe that's why she didn't take him here? Just… showed up, after he did.

Yup, there goes Ka'el. Scaring little kids! Er … oops? He's quick to put his arm down and grin an apologetic grin to the mother and her little girl, who is now looking suspiciously at both of their necks. Hmmmm. Heads are still attached … for now. She's got her eye on you, Weyrleader! Don't you worry Sori. She'll tell if he does anything fishy! She sticks her tongue out at him. Nyeeeeeeeah! and then turns back to her food, ignoring the hasty scolding now being given by her mother. "You know, this is all your fault," says the menace to his menacing weyrmate. "If you hadn't showed up with your luck sucking curse, this never would've happened. I'd've won the round and the pot. There would've been a grand cheer and celebration. Probably complete with trumpets and…and pomp. I would've given the little girl a half mark," uh, just because apparently! "and I'd be seen as a hero!" He lifts his chin and strikes a rather heroic pose. See? Hero.

And so Soriana gains another spy! This is how she knows what's going on in the weyr. Young spies! And… somewhat older spies that started young. "What, me?" she says as she returns her attention to Ka'el, and smirks. "Hah. It's not my fault you don't know how to fold 'em." It's half of playing cards! Holding 'em and folding 'em! "I mean really. Nines? Definitely should have folded." In fact… "You -" and she turns to point her accusing finger at Ka'el, "- should fold our laundry for the next seven. Just to gain the skill!" Because it's clearly the exact same one. "So next time you can win that pot. And celebrate. With trumpets and pompenstance and all that."

"Nine is a lucky number," retorts Ka'el. "To have a pair've them is a lucky hand!" Though apparently that wasn't proven at all tonight. And as for nine being lucky? Well, if he had held fives in his hand, he'd probably claim that they were lucky too! Or eights or anything else. "And I don't fold my hands. I-…" Blink! He pauses, for now he has a finger pointed at him, and finger pointing is definitely reason for pause! He blinks owlishly again, staring at her as she speaks his fate. Gasp! His eyes widen. He'll have to do…what? "Laundry?" Can't he get people to do that for them? "Bah!" He tosses up a hand dismissively. "The only laundry I'm foldin' is…..nobody's! It'll pile and pile until the mountain of your knickers drowns you and you're lost forever!" … 'Teehee! Mama, he's talkin' about underwears!' Ka'el's making all sorts of impressions tonight on the children of Xanadu! Why can't any of them be good, noble, and respectable ones?

"…not nearly lucky enough!" is Soriana's retort, and hers is borne out by fact. Like the fact that he lost! Which… might have more to do with the fact that he doesn't fold, because even lucky streaks are bound to run out eventually. The way to win at cards is to be boring and reliable. But… it's boring! So Soriana doesn't actually expect Ka'el to do it anytime soon. As for the laundry? "You will too!" No he won't. She knows this. "You'll fold the shirts, and trousers, and all the delicate frilly -" uhwait. There are small children listening. "…uh. Everything." Must. Regain. Stride. "And you'll have to fold every single one, until you learn!" …the… color of her panties? How many pairs of socks she has? Other mysteries beyond the reach of most men?

Ka'el wasn't talking about anyone's underwear. Honest! He was just saying that…uh…well. There's not real way to dig himself out of that one, is there? Unless he wants to claim he wasn't talking about her knickers at all and he actually said the word knockers … and, somehow…that doesn't seem like the best course of action. So how about, in general, no more mentioning of undergarments? Sounds like a plan! "You can keep dreaming Weyrwoman, because it's only in your wildest've dreams that you'll find me folding any of your delicate anythings. You aren't the boss of me." He'd probably stick her tongue out at her at this moment if he hadn't already made a fool of himself twice already. So instead, he haughtily juts his chin upward instead. "So. That takes care of that!" He juts his chin up even more, attempting to look pompous, succeeding at looking silly. Or at least as if he's entered a contest to see who can stick their chin highest in the air!

Because Soriana's not just anyone? She's a very particular someone. With very particular underwear, that Ka'el is… definitely not talking about. Nope! "Hah. If only. In my dreams…" She puts a beatific expression on her face. The one where the cat has not only had the cream, but five or six fish, and is curled up on the heated pillow in the sunbeam. Oh, her dreams. They are a wonderful place. Also. "…is that really what you consider wild?" The beam's turned to a smirk. "Folding clothes. You think that's a walk on the wild side? Ka'el, my dear boy…" She pats at his shoulder. "You have led a sheltered life." The smirk widens, but at least she's not contesting him in the chin-raising championships!

Ka'el glances at that patting hand (down out of the corner of his eye see because his chin is still elevated) and shrugs it off. "I've lived a rather privileged life, yes," he corrects, fighting a smirk as he finally lowers his head to a normal angle. "Every breakfast brought to be in bed on silver platters crafted by the master smiths of Telgar. The finest foods. Most expensive cuts of meat. My clothing? Tailored since birth." He had custom booties, don't you know! "I've to do nothin' more but lift a finger and a score of servants will come to my beck and call." He lifts a hand up and his index finger gives the barest of twitches. "But.. I won't abuse that now," he says, shaking his head as if he's changed his mind. "I needn't flood the Caverns… uh… without reason." So many people are at his beck and call, don't you know?

Privileged? Soriana's eyebrow lifts. Because, you see, she is dubious. So very dubious of Ka'el, the high-falutin' high-livin' Weyrleader of Luxury! "…wrong finger," she notes at the twitch. Because hey, he's done so well tonight at teaching those watching children things they really shouldn't learn. Why stop now? Even if Ka'el won't summon his minions. This time. "Are you sure? Don't you need your clothes straightened or a pillow fluffed for your high-grade butt?" Giggle! goes the small child who just heard the Weyrwoman say butt. At least Soriana stayed (sorta) polite, so it's only the six-turn-old who's amused. "I mean look at you! Standing on your own two feet instead of being carried around on a palanquin. You're really slumming it."

There's a smirk at that finger comment. Oh, don't tempt him! There are children. Children who are hearing words like 'butt!' The Weyrleader and junior Weyrwoman are being shining examples of…um…role model behavior, right? Well if the parents were truly concerned, they'd usher their kids away. Or go file a complaint or something. But butts and underwear (and slitting necks?) probably isn't the worst these weyrbrats have seen or will see! Ka'el quirks a brow and glances over his shoulder, presumably at that aforementioned butt of his. "Huh. Now that you mention it, I sat on that chair for a while. Uncushioned and all. I think my .. posterior could use some attention. It's rather sore," he says with a slightly pouted frown. His poor buttchecks! "I'm afraid bein' carried around in here would be too much've a problem. The tables and chairs would get in the way. I need the space, you know. So every once in a while I'm forced to do as the commoners do and trudge around on my own. S'a barbaric way to travel, I say. .. But…about that..butt.." Wiggle.

What better role models could there be than these two? They're important people! Doing important things! Because… hanging about in the caverns and talking is of the utmost importance, you know. It's downright crucial. If it weren't for them doing this, the Weyr would fall apart! …truefacts. By which we mean lies. But Ka'el's butt? That's true! Ohwait. His posterior. Soriana smirks. "The posterior of privilege." Like the regal rump! "Your poor dear rear." She's still smirking. "And your feet. Forced to carry you around like some sort of savage. You should at least get rollerskates. Or skis!" Because those would be so practical inside the confined spaces of a cavern. He could skim from table to table, as light as… uh… a sack of firestone. Soriana's eyes drift down to that butt. "Oh, I don't know. I mean, am I really qualified to lay my hands on someone as refined as you?"

"Rollerskates.." Ka'el snaps his fingers and nods. "Yes. Wonderful idea, Soriana! I shall demand rollerskates tomorrow. In fact, rollerskates might make things a bit more efficient around here. People walk too slow. Things could be delivered in a timelier fashion. Rollerskates for everyone in the administration wing!" Just envision it! The … chaos. The crashes. The stacks of papers flying everywhere. The accidents. The twisted ankles. The…um, efficiency? "I wouldn't say you're qualified to touch the posterior of privilege, no," he answers with a headshake. "But. For having the idea of rollerskates, I'll grant you this one time. Mind you, it's one time only. This grand assss-" *oops!* "…ssstounding rear end just can't be grabbed willy nilly." Snerk. Willy nilly? Someone must've spiked the ale. With…more ale. Or something. And for Sori? The klah. Likely, it was the klah that was spiked!

Rollerskates. Soriana nods. That was the plan! The fine and… horrible… plan. "Everyone?" she asks. Just to clarify! Because there's those old riders here for paperwork duty because they're too creaky for anything else. And those young reckless ones who might be even more dangerous, zipping in underfoot and causing those crashes so clearly envisioned. All in the name of efficiency! Meanwhile, in the name of butt-touching… the name of Soriana shall not be known through the ages as expert. No indeed. She smirks, then gives her head a shake. Willy… nilly? "That's more forward." Oh those poor children. With their ears. That will never be the same again… assuming they even understand what's being said. But there's probably a few that'll be repeating things whether or not they know what they mean. It'll be a sensation through the nursery! The asssssssstounding willy nilly! (Pity the child called William. Or Nilliam.) "But oh, I'd probably turn your butt into a … bet." Totally possible! "And then you'd gamble it away. Just like our weyrlings."

Snerk! He couldn't hold back the snickering on that one. Poor William or Nilliam! Their names will never be heard the same! At least, not by Ka'el, who is highly amused by Soriana right now. Forward indeed. Oh now there definitely may be some complaints! But no one will ever know just where these kids heard these words, right? No one but those present now would think that such words could come from the mouths of their lead-… wait. This is Ka'el and Soriana. Of course they'd believe it was them who did this! "If my butt were a bet, then it'd be bad win or lose," remarks Ka'el. "If I lost, I'd be without my magnificent rear. And if I won…which is the likelier option anyway, what then? I'd win, what..another one? And then, I'd have a double butt. Could you imagine me gallivantin' around with two of these? I mean…sure, I understand the one that I have is amazing already. But two? That'd be too much amazement, even for me."

Pfft. If these kids don't learn it here, from their fearless leaders, where will they learn it? On the street? In the playground? The horror of it! That's why kids should learn about these things from someone mature and responsible! …soooo when's Thea get off again? Maybe Sorrin? There's gotta be someone back there (in the admin hallway. Not Ka'el's rear end.) who qualifies! "A bad butt bet?" Soriana says it with a straight face. She even keeps it that way for a good two, three seconds afterward before it turns into a smirk. "You could stack it on top. Extra-thick butt! Or… maybe put it off to the side a bit? Like a triple butt. Thrice-wide!" She eyes it. Just for assessment (hah!) purposes, you understand.

Ka'el imagines all of those situations. Extra thick butt Ka'el. Side butt Ka'el. … Nah. None of those look very appealing to the mind's eye. "I've got it. When I win, I'll give the extra one to you. I've always appreciated a good rear on a woman. You havin' two? That'll make you twice as irresistible!" And save him the trouble of having a double ass. There! Problem solved. He grins and gives his cheeks a wiggle as she assesses them, then can't help but to laugh. Oh, the Weyr is going to think they've gone mad! Which …well, may not be too far from the truth, right? Being in your right mind all the time is no fun at all! "C'mon. With my win inevitable, we…an' by "we" I mean "I", should probably investigate the best spot to attach your new ..asset, right?"

Double-assed Soriana! It's… better than being half-assed? But not so much better that Soriana doesn't give him a dubious look. "Well. It's your ass on the line?" Literally, if he's going to be betting it. And - oops - now the kids have picked up another bit of language to get scolded by their parents for using. Though, really, it's not like there wasn't plenty of warning for them to be ushered away or covered in earmuffs or… whatever it is one's supposed to do in order to keep kids sweet and innocent and not learning naughty words. Soriana wouldn't know. There's plenty she doesn't know, and for a start… "What, you have options?" Here she was, thinking that rear ends can only go on the rear! "Besides, I'll have you know I have a perfectly fine one there already." As he can… discover. Investigatively, for she drapes an arm around him (above the assets!) so they can go off and prepare for victory.

"I always have options," answers Ka'el. "Yes, there are options. Would it look best on the upper or lower ass? And just where exactly would the best attaching point be? We've to map this all out, you see. Just like with everything else, planning is key to getting this right." Hands on planning! And Ka'el is ready to get handsy and map out the best place for her new butt to settle. He grins as he walks with her, his own arm looping low around her hips (juuuust slightly grazing that Bye kids! Their mothers may be glad they're leaving. Or they're too busy shaking their heads and laughing to care about how badly their children might have been corrupted. Corruption! Ka'el leans to press a kiss to her temple as he disappears with her down the administrative hallway, shifting his hand enough to *gropegrab!* at one of those aforementioned fine cheeks once they're out of sight. Sigh. Men!

Oh does he? Soriana lifts her eyebrows for those options of Ka'el's. And just what sort of buttsy options does he have? (Busty options are… something different.) "Do they have different fasteners?" she asks of those positions. "Like screws," snerk, "or nuts," ha, "and bolts?" …so mature. So responsible. So corrupting the youth of Xanadu! And Soriana's not even properly penitent, instead smiling at that kiss from Ka'el, bumping her hip lightly to his as they stroll off back into the depths of the admin hallway where they can be official leaders… or make out. That's something they can do back there as well, out of sight of innocent children and their mothers. Well. Out of sight of all mothers, really. Because who needs 'em? Soriana's got a Ka'el to smirk at when he gropes her and to grope back. And maybe grind against a bit. To investigate various assets.

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