Swamp Diplomacy

Xanadu Weyr - Wingleaders' Ready Room

Attempts have been made to brighten this windowless room by painting the walls white and installing overhead lighting, but the fact remains that it is rather a utilitarian, sparsely furnished and cramped room. The center is taken up by a large wooden table finished in a pale, natural hue around which a dozen chairs are pulled. Pen holders and stacks of paper are placed at intervals down the center of the table, while small locking wall cabinets provide a safe place for wing journals to be kept. On one wall is a large whiteboard with a calendar on one side and a corkboard on the other to which various notices have been pinned. Around the room's perimeter are another dozen chairs of the same make as those around the table - metal-framed and armless, the wooden seats and backrests finished to match the tabletop. They allow for the wings, the leaders who share this room, to take turns holding meetings inside, but leave little room for maneuvering.

The only saving grace to this 'no frills' workroom is it's proximity to Xanadu's Council Room, which is right next door and the access to the library of scrolls, hides and books kept in there. It's quite possible this was once a closet for the overflow of records, for the lingering scent of ink and hides assails one the moment upon stepping through the door.

A meeting of minds has just met and left without too much beating of heads. Keziah is left behind with a plate of rare steak with just a touch of seasoning that had just been brought into her. She's staring up at the corkboard where a map has been pinned and a number of colored markers have been placed. To those familiar with the old sinkholes there are pins showing them as well as potential trouble spots incase more rains come. Other pins identify various other spots as well. On the white board, the topic seems to have been felines and possible renegades as well as areas of potential trouble.

It's not like this room is right in the main thoroughfare of the Weyr, or proximal to some Crafters' central, or even down a hallway busy enough to draw the curious. What that really means is that there is no readily apparent reason for someone who is neither a Wingleader, nor a summoned wing member, or any other Weyrly leader to be poking around. And yet! With nary a knock nor a by-your-leave, on the heels of the mass exodus post-meeting, the door opens. Really, the door is /cracked/, and Matrin side-steps into the room, clearly watching the hallway rather than the room into which he seems to be sneaking. The room could presumably be empty, since everyone else left so recently, and he makes his way in with slow sideways steps and his back to Keziah and the otherwise unoccupied meeting place.

It's barely a breath later that the sound of knuckles on the wood door frame heralds the arrival of another person, someone to break the relative quiet Keziah has found herself in. So whoever it is must have come ‘round corner or out of office just after the harper slid into the room. "The door was open, so I thought now might be a good time to barge in." It's the voice of the Weyrwoman, who contrary to her statement, still stands without waiting for the invite in. One arm holds a sheaf of papers while the other hand balances an unsteady and very tiny firelizard on her shoulder.

Keziah startles a moment as she turns to face the door and there's a blink of confusion at the sight of Matrin. Her mouth hangs open a moment before she shuts it, it's a good thing she'd already swallowed the bite of juicy tender and rare steak. Not quite raw, but close enough. Then there's a Thea and the huh expression goes to one of wariness at the sight of the papers. "Can I help you two?" she asks and then her eyes narrow a little as she eyes Thea closer "You got another one?"

Matrin doesn't actually see Keziah and her confusion because he's edging into the room and reaching out to shut the door. Thea appears and knocks and speaks, and he hastily straightens himself out of what could be considered a suspicious posture, and when the Wingleader greets them both he almost manages to squelch the little startled hitch to his breath. His smile appears smoothly enough, bright and white and paired with a little turn on one heel to welcome the Weyrwoman in as if he has every right to be here. Bright blue eyes dart around the room and he speaks with a tone as light as that grin. "Didn't mean to bother you, either of you. I heard there was another map of the sinkholes in here and thought I'd see if it matches up with the one I was working on." Yes, that. Even better, a tiny firelizard, who gets an even higher wattage version of his smile. "Adorable."

If the Weyrwoman is surprised to see Matrin at the door she doesn't show it. Nary an eyeblink save for a mild, "Do I look bothered?" Though truth be told she does look… irate and less together than she normally does when working in the office. Today there is no careful coil of hair, it's been brushed, but that's it. And she's dressed in wherhide, older, scuffed ones at that. Alas, she almost grumps as she answers Keziah with a long-suffering, "Don't remind me!" and takes the question as permission to enter. "And it's the other way around. She got me." Here the creature gets a look askance and as whenever her mood is black, here comes Ruin to revel in it. He materializes on the top of that cork board with a smug chitter. "Here you go," this is almost cheerful as that stack is plopped down in front of Keziah. "That's the last of B'rdian's nit-picky regulations for his wingriders every moment of their lives. I thought you'd like to go over them and re-write." Translation: paint your face blue, cry FREEDOM and throw them out.

Keziah slides her steak out of the way of the incoming papers and she just looks at them. Course, she gets a little gleam in her eyes "You know, these just might prove interesting." she notes thoughtfully and then takes another bite. As she chews she looks over Thea a bit and seems a little surprised at her lack of flair to her getup, but she won't press. Matrin, however, gets a thumb over to the map "It's the green pins for the current ones, and the blue ones for potential trouble spots that have been identified." she notes though she doesn't identify the other marks on there. Back to Thea "She got you huh?" she smiles and shakes her head a little as her eyes flick up towards Ruin "Just you note that just because you're the Weyrwomans bronze doesn't mean I won't take action if you cause trouble in here." She snorts a bit.

Does Thea look bothered? Matrin's gaze slips lightly over her and his lips part, but he wisely thinks better of any comment other than a crooked open mouthed grin and a quick shake of his head. Nope, not bothered at all. The women seem to have a bit of business to do, so he turns a studious look up at the map, complete with fingertips to his chin and a furrowed brow. "Ah, thanks, Keziah," he turns to reply over his shoulder, then goes back to searching the corkboard, though the whole thing would be a lot more effective if he had something to make notes with. The talk of firelizards is much more interesting though, so he abandons his intent interest quickly enough and turns back with arms folded and an upward tip of his chin. "Most folks seems to like the little things. You have one that's a handful?" It's not a stretch considering Kez's words to the bronze, and Matrin doesn't specifically lump himself in with 'most people'.

"The miners charts might also help you both. They've been keeping subterranean weaknesses marked." As Thea straightens, there's the sound of claws scrabbling on leather and the flapping of wings despite her hand kept there to steady the hatchling. She ignores Ruin save for an expressionless, "Careful, he bites" to the both of them. Notice she's keeping her distance, sliding into a chair on the other side of Keziah. A… handful? "That one," she corrects Matrin's phrasing with a brief glare at the bronze, ” is the equivalent of an old-earth demon. Shep is alright - he's sane. This one? No idea yet." She shudders slightly. The brown, upon hearing his name, pokes a head out from underneath Thea’s hair where he's reclined on her shoulders. "But oh, I'm glad I found you both together. There's something I wanted to discuss with you. First things first though." And she slides an object over to Keziah. It's a leatherbound box, stained to a glossy rich chesnut finish, wrapped with a double band of ribbon - one gold the other bronze, the top of which bears the official seal of Xanadu.

Keziah gives a nod to Thea "The miners have been helping out with the location of potential spots for us. They keep us updated as they find new ones." she notes. She does eye Matrin oddly. As for biting, she smiles at Thea "Well, there's a number who say I bite too." she notes with sweet smile that doesn't completely reach her eyes and then as Thea notes something to be discussed, there's a concerned look and she sits up. "Has something happened?" She hardly notices the box at first. "Has felines been sighted even closer? Is it renegades?" Timmy stuck in the well? Then there's a look towards the box and she frowns a bit. "First things first?"

There is another dart of Matrin's eyes, up to where Ruin perches just above him, and he takes another shuffling step forward, toward the table which takes up so much of the room and away from the apparently demonic bronze. "Thanks," is for both the warning and the info on the miners' charts, and his gratitude shines through in the smile that gets pulled back to stability after faltering at the idea of a biting firelizard. Thea's mention of wanting to discuss something with him and Keziah makes his dark brows quirk a bit, but he holds his questions for whatever first things are symbolized by the lovely box that sits in front of Keziah. Of course then the Wingleader has to start rattling off a list of possible problems and the grin falters all over again. "Well that makes me more concerned about the second things, all of a sudden," he quips dryly.

With a glimmer of laughter she asks, "Do you?" That's what Thea would like to know as her forefinger is nudging that box further towards Keziah. She'd like to keep that digit, thankyouverymuch. "You work that rumor, girl. Keep them in line. But no, nothing new with the felines." Renegades are simply left out of the equation, though the former still sounds ominous enough. Ah Xanadu! Never a dull moment, apparently. "Yes, first things first," she asserts firmly. "Open it? The order was delayed but finally came in last night." And then she tilts Matrin a look, "I don't think the wingleader would mind if you'd like to sit down?"

Keziah doesn't answer about the biting. Course, other rumors speak of her hitting, kicking and even kneeing in tender areas. So what's one more about biting? Course she does look at Matrin, maybe she does mind and she's waiting to strike. She then smiles "Please. Sit." Box is eyed again and then she carefully opens it, taking her time with it. "So what has the Weyrwoman brought?" she murmurs using titles since it seems Thea is too. She's peculiar that way. Or is it contrary? To Matrin "I'd be more concerened about them too. Especially the renegades. At least if a feline made it into the Weyr, you'ld no it. The others? No until it's too late."

Dark brows dart up at Thea's suggestion, and Matrin quietly clears his throat. "Right, of course." He waits until Keziah agrees before snagging a chair and settling himself down in it on the far side of the Weyrwoman. He looks around at the chairs, usually occupied by dragonriders, and he shifts his weight in the chair as close to awkward as he ever gets. "Thank you," he says again, an echo of himself. Renegades and felines make him scrub a hand through the hair at the back of his head, and with his brow tipped down he sneaks an upward look at the pair of women. "I heard about the felines, but are the others something we think we need to be worried about?" But like the Weyrwoman said, first things first, so he nods to the box lest the others try to answer him before Keziah can crack it open.

Inside the box, which is velvet-lined in emerald green lies a double-looped wingleader's knot, the entwined gold and blue satin cords gleaming in the light. Brand spanking new with nary a fiber snag or missing thread from that bright silver tassel. Not that it is likely to remain that way. With some humor returning, "Congratulations Wingleader. I gave Ers'lan his last night, not that he's likely to remember it." She smirks ever-so-slightly, "Then I got waylaid before I could search for you." The hatchling is given a gentle one-fingered chin scritch and a gruff murmured something. Ahem! Back to the pair, she tells Matrin, "The renegades have been fairly quiet since Kefai disappeared. We'd tracked them to a mountain hold, but there's been no sign of them since." And the look given to the greenrider-cum-wingleader says 'you would report anything post-haste, right?' After a beat she offers, "Would you like me to pin that on for you Keziah?"

Keziah stares at the knot and blinks. It's so new. And shiny. "Shards, I'm almost afraid of wearing it. Somethin' that pretty doesn't need to be mussed up or swamp soaked or anything." she murmurs as she reaches out a finger to touch and then pulls back again before she does. She's been eating near raw meat after all. She gives a little nod "Please." in response to the pinning on of the knot. As for the renegades "I report things, as needed." She has learned discretion, somewhat, about her suspicians and paranoia and likely it's a good thing Kezi doesn't report every last possible worry and idea or Thea would stuff her in a box and drop her down a whole to get her out of her face.

Harpers are witnesses more often than anything else, and even those with specialities other than composition observe and bear witness to special occasions with some regularity. It means that the role sits easy on Matrin's shoulders, and he watches with a small, easy smile and an approving nod at the end. "It's really lovely. I've never seen a Wingleader knot so new." The thought of swamp soaking anything makes that smile twitch into something more lopsidedly amused, but he just folds his hands in front of him and waits for Thea to do the honors.

See, there was a method to Thea's madness in sitting right beside the wingleader. She lifts the knot from the box, removes the back of the stud-clasp and separates the loops, holding them up so the woman can slip her arm through it. When she does, the thing is secured and twitched in place with deft movements that speak of practice. She's probably used Xe'ter's arm a time or two to get it right! With a glance at Matrin that's a touch baffled and a lot proud, she admits, "I'd assumed all knots are ordered new for promotions." Well, if Niva didn't do it that way, Xanadu has a new tradition. "This is yours to keep as a memento, Keziah. Even when you decide you no longer want the position." Green eyes dance as she adds, "And I won't require you to wear it in the swamps, how that? Speaking of the swamps." Here she stops and gestures to the pair of them. "There's a little task for you in there."

"Well, I suppose it all depends on whats in the coffers and what kind of mood someone is in, and I've seen knots passed down for sentimental reasons." Keziah murmurs as she shifts her head a little and peers at the knot. At the look of the lopsided amused look on Matrin's face Keziah eyes him "What?" hmmph. "Well, I'll do my best to keep it nice looking." Maybe for dress occasions or wait a minute… "Huh? What do you mean speaking of the swamps?" she asks after a moment "Wait, you don't want me to take him in there?" She eyes Matrin and sizes him up and down a bit "Do we wanna risk a Harper?"

Matrin rolls a brief shrug and shakes his head. "To be fair, I don't know all that many Wingleaders, and haven't been present for any Weyr promotions." So his knowledge of Xanadu traditions (or those of any dragon-filled place) are understandably a bit lacking. Keziah's hmph just makes him smirk, and widen his eyes in poorly feigned innocence, but the shift of topics catches him off guard enough to wipe the expression clean away. "Speaking of… the swamps?" Dark brows up, spine abruptly straight, he lets Keziah do all the sizing up she wants. "Is it really that much of a risk? And if so… I mean, I am good with people but I'm not outdoorsman." Like maybe he sort of agrees with the greendrider. "Not that I'm not willing of course." He lightly clears his throat and lifts his chin a little to cover that flicker of what could be called a lack of manliness.

Thea is amused and it shows as she drawls, "And just how many harpers have you lost in there so far, Keziah?" She pauses to acknowledge Matrin's comment with a grave inclination of her head, although her eyes twinkle a wee bit as she says, "I hear Harpers are skilled in finding things out, so when you do hear, please tell me." To the both of them now, she's brisk, all business, leaning forward just a bit. "Yes, I want to send him in there and you-" this to Keziah, "-will be his guide and, for lack of a better term, ambassador for the Weyr. See, I need to find something out from your swamp folks, Keziah and I'm pretty sure they won't give me any information."

Keziah shuffles her feet under the table a bit "Only a few Harpers. And it's not so much that I lost them, but well. They just couldn't stand the smell, or the people and they weren't very diplomatic and made mutters about how all the wetness would hurt their instruments and Merin and Pancha just wouldn't have them." She coughs a little. Then she's looking curiously at Thea "What kind of information, no guarantee they'll tell me either." she looks back over at Matrin and studies him "He's not as annoying as the others were." she notes "He is curious, are you good with people that are more paranoid than I am?" She asks him point blank. "They're not much ones for outsiders. But they're not likely to shoot or anything. Just clam up."

Incredulity flickers over Matrin's features - eyes narrowing and a wrinkle marring his brow at all this talk of 'sending him' into the swamps of all places. But really, it shows some confidence in his skills on the part of the Weyrwoman, so a flicker is really all it is - there and then gone before it ever really settles, and brushes aside just as quickly in favor of thoughtfulness. "I am-" he pauses because Keziah almost complimented him, however backhanded it might have been, and it brings the former curve right back to his lips. "If /she/ finds me less than annoying I bet I could charm the socks off of just about anyone else." Absently, he smooths a hand down the front of his fine blue shirt, then lightly clears his throat. "Seriously though, if I can get information out of backwoods Bitra I bet I can at least manage not to offend Merin and Pancha. Even if I don't succeed I shouldn't do any harm." He picks up the holders' names easily enough and maybe the fact that he doesn't refer to them as 'those hicks' or anything else derogatory is a good start?

At not as annoying, Thea has to work at serious, biting her lower lip to keep from grinning outright. "He's got you half-tamed already, Kezi. That takes some skill." She sobers, telling them both, "I know it won't be a comfortable assignment and they're a reticent, self-reliant folk. I don't expect you to question them, Keziah. In fact I'd prefer that left to Matrin. Your task will be to put them at ease about allowing Matrin in." She shifts in her seat, glancing towards the door as if debating something, shrugs and turns back. "I'll need to find out if they recall any of their old songs or legends that speak of a long-ago hold in these parts. A hold that disappeared."

Keziah snorts a bit at Thea. "It's only cause he ain't been worth my time." Tame? Kezi? Hah, as if she was wild. She clears her throat a bit "Well, I'll see what I can do. Maybe he can even get them to use the new teaching building that was set up. A few of the kids were interested, but those were the younger ones and they look to the older who I swear are even more suspicious than the adults." She glances towards the door when Thea does and then looks curious, but at the shrug she leaves it be. She looks at Matrin "Are you open to well, different kinds of food?" she asks and then ohs a little at Thea "The ruins?"

Thea might try to stay serious, but when her teeth snag her lip Matrin's grin breaks free. "I wouldn't say that," he interjects about Keziah being tamed, and he shoots her a twinkling eyed look that only dulls a bit at her statement that he isn't worth her time. "I wouldn't say /that/ either though," is mumbled but without much umbrage. He nods along to the things both women would like him to try to accomplish on this outing, and at Keziah's question he waves a dismissive hand. "If it's for a good reason, I can eat just about anything with a smile on my face. Ends and means you know." But this little pow wow wasn't on the agenda when he wandered down the hall, and though there aren't any windows to show the passing of the afternoon he shifts toward standing. "You just let me know a good time, Wingleader, and maybe first you can give me a rundown on what to expect so I don't muck it up?" For Thea, "Thank you for the opportunity, ma'am."

Amazingly Thea doesn't snort in return, nor does she elaborate how wild the wary greenrider really is. She quells her wince at Keziah’s protest that Matrin isn't worth her time and gives the woman a serene smile instead and a simple, but heartfelt, "Thanks Keziah and yes, the ruins. I -still- haven't found a map match over at Landing for them, nor any mention in the records of a settlement that was abandoned." As the harper rises, it's a reminder that her day is heavily scheduled and thus she pushes up as well. But slowly so as not to rock the gold sleeping on her shoulder. "Of course, Matrin. I appreciate your willingness." On her way out the door she looks back, "I think you'll both do fine. I'll get you the printout maps I've collected so far, Matrin. And Keziah, if you're looking for Ers'lan, you'll probably find him in his weyr nursing a headache." Headache she calls it!

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