Strange Encounter in the Gardens

Xanadu Weyr - Garden


An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place. On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also eluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.

Morning sunlight slants down through the trees bordering the garden, highlighting the colors of the blooms and bringing out the lush green of the mosses and grasses. Stepping from flagstone to flagstone is the Weyr's mostly recently posted Harper, arms held out from sides for balance as she seems to be engaged in a game of not stepping on the grass. Fiara hums as she goes, the branch of the path chosen winds its way towards the pool where fish swim but the harper hasn't reached it yet.

R'sul backs his way into the garden, carefully scanning the paths behind him as if expecting someone or something to jump out and bite him. His hands are held tight to his chest, clutching something, but it's not till he unhunches a little and turns that it would come into view. In his hands is a very old book, a waterproof cover slipped over it to offer a little protection from any future spring drizzle that's so common at this time of year. It takes him a moment to spot Fiara, mostly due to his relief at making it to his little bolt-hole safely, and when he does he pauses, but not until a little squeak of surprise has escaped.

Bobbling a little as that squeak disrupts her concentration, Fiara turns her head, bobbles some more and then turns about on one foot, looking curiously back the way she just came. "Good morning!" she calls out, manner friendly and outgoing. "Are you all right?" The harper's arms drop and she walks more normally back towards the Weyrleader, catches sight of his knot and laughs. "Should I say, sir, or Weyrleader or just R'sul?" Fia extends a hand as she draws near. "Haven't had the pleasure yet, I'm Fiara, Harper Journeyman. I've been here about … oh I guess three weeks?"

R'sul blinks slightly, mind taking a moment to catch up with the rest of him. Almost instinctively one hand unclenches from his prized book and takes hers, "R…R'sul is fine." His hand is slightly clammy, the handshake quick and a tad limp. "Good… um… morning. You're well?" Wait, she just asked him that. He pauses, then adds, "I'm fine, I hope you are too. Early is the best time to be out, don't you think?"

"R'sul then," Fiara says agreeably with a warm smile. Her own handshake is on the firm side but not a Smith's grip, faint traces of calluses in her fingertips. "And I'm very well, it's a nice day," Fia states, hands retreating to fold behind her back. There's a look about the morning-lit garden and she nods. "In a place as nice as this? Definitely. Seems a good spot to just, admire the surroundings and think." She nods towards the clutched book. "If I'm not being too nosy, what are you reading, that you've got it covered up, so?"

"Quiet too." R'sul adds to the list of garden merits, then as she asks about the book a deep red blush begins to creep up the back of his neck and his head drops a little. "Oh nothing important. I mean you probably wouldn't like it, it's dull really. Nothing good at all." A brief pause, "History. I'm… you see…." He looks up, "I'm sort of writing a book. Have been for Turns. Which is probably not the sort of thing I should be telling a harper." He smiles slightly. Nervously.

"Mm, so long as talkative harpers aren't wandering about," Fiara says with a grin and wicked humor in her eyes. "Well. A book doesn't have to be /important/ to be interesting right?" She regards the Weyrleader curiously, taking in that nervous movement of his hand, the blush and the likewise nervous quality of his smile. "General history, or a specific Pass?" she inquires further, still with bright interest in her expression. "Do harpers have a monopoly on writing every story on Pern?" Fia asks rhetorically and offers a another warm smile. "If you're looking for test readers, let me know though. I may not be the best archivist in the world, but I do like an interesting read."

R'sul runs a hand quickly through his already messy hair, clearly not used to someone actually taking an interest in his hobby - most people yawn or change the subject. "Mostly it's supposed to be about the changes since Thread was destroyed, the slow decline of the weyrs importance to how they are today, the change in ideas and and opinions I suppose you could say." For some reason he seems less nervous when talking about this sort of thing, using it as a shield. "I sort of got distracted by some of the stories that the traders tell, things about missing people, and dead people coming back and so on and so forth. Like the myths and things they found on AIVAS. So I sort of started a second book, but it didn't really get very far because I couldn't find the bridge you see and… that's a whole other story. Sorry. I'm rambling."

"Now see, /that/ is definitely interesting," Fiara replies easily and one hand sweeps out gesturing towards the path. "Were you heading to a particular spot in the garden? I've only poked my nose in this far to date, I'd be happy to have a guide," the harper says with another smile. "And /trader/ tales too, lovely. I'll bet having a Weyrleader's perspective would be all the more valuable. It's different of course, coming from the Craft side. I mean we mostly see how things have changed in the holds." There's a little pause and Fia lets out a little sigh. "It's almost sad how the Weyrs have declined really. When you read about heroes of old, it's like a completely different world. Not that I'd wish Thread back or anything, but —" she shrugs lightly, one corner of her mouth moving wryly.

R'sul's smile this time is a little easier though he shakes his head when it comes to a particular place, "I tend to flop under a tree." Is admitted quietly, before he adds, "Being Weyrleader… to be honest it rather puts a cramp on research. You get access to other people's records, but then they ask you to do work." As jokes go it's pretty flat, but it's about as good as his get. "But it is rather fascinating how even terminology has changed. I would be that most of the children these days only know of a flight as being when a female dragon rises, not as the overall name for the fighting wings. Of course most of them aren't really interested in knowing about the past, or if they do… well… some take it too far. You wouldn't be the first to suggest it coming back. I mean…." he pauses, hearing footsteps behind him and then spotting one of the mystery children wandering in to the area.

"Well, flopping under a tree sounds good, actually. I was a little curious about that wall there, but there's so many nooks and crannies in this garden to check out, I'm sure I'll be poking around again when I'm not giving the children lessons or doing other work." Fiara casts the Weyrleader a sympathetic look. "The work never ends, eh?" she says lightly, ambling along down the path as she listens about the change in language. "What are some other things that have changed that you've found?" Fia asks curiously, then pauses as well, looking in the same direction. "Hello there!" she's as outgoing as she was just a moment ago with the Weyrleader, though clearly she doesn't recognize the child as one of her students.

"What?" R'sul stops staring at the child and brings his attention back to Fiara. "Sorry. I… yes. Work, work, work." He gives a vague chuckle, nothing more than a snort really, then tries his best to give her his full attention. "Um… well.. obviously the riders aren't as essential as we used to be, no big threat that only we can fight. So we have other jobs now, and of course the firestone mines have all been closed. Traders move more freely, there's all the radios and things that we have now." Against his best attempts his attention does keep drifting back to the child, and his voice sort of fades in and out when he's distracted.

"You know that's something I've always wondered about actually. The firestone. I mean, wouldn't it be helpful for dragons to do things like, flame fallow fields or … deal with tangly bits of underbrush? That sort of thing? More uses to a flaming dragon than just searing Thread at any rate," Fiara points out pragmatically. "Moving about freely, now that I don't think anyone could complain about. I'm a journeying harper after all, so I've done my fair share," she notes with a little chuckle. R'sul's continued distraction quiets Fia after a moment and her gaze slides along towards the little girl too, a pleasant smile stlil on her face.

"We could all do with a bit more freedom." R'sul replies, then finally calls over to the child, "Hey, you okay?" As an aside to Fiara he adds, "One of our other new arrivals. They're… well… you've probably heard. Not entirely sure how we're supposed to deal with them to be honest, they always seem so odd."

"Are you going to save us?" The little girl asks in a soft voice.

"I can't imagine fearing the sky," Fiara confesses thoughtfully and tilts her head to catch the Weyrleader's words, nodding seriously. "I — well a little. They've not been placed in any of my classes so I —" she breaks off as the child speaks, brows creasing in concern and she takes a step or two closer, hunkers down to child-eye-level. "Save you from what, dear? It's a lovely day, and the garden is very nice and perfectly safe."

R'sul's eyes widen, the question not what he expected. "Um…." He looks from child to Fiara, Fiara to child, and the relief when the harper moves forwards is very obvious. He adds a semi-comforting, "Nobody will hurt you here." but it probably doesn't do much to put her at ease.

"Why won't mommy wake up?" The little girl looks up at R'sul with big eyes. "Why won't she wake up?"

Fiara stays down at child-height level, adopting a non-threatening posture, but does turn over one palm atop her bent knee, on offer for the child to take if she chooses. She casts a brief look over her shoulder at the Weyrleader, looking a little lost, but then she rallies and looks back towards the little girl. "I'm not sure, dear, can you tell me who your mummy is?" Fia skirts carefully around the issue a little, testing the waters, aware of the news, but perhaps not all of the particulars.

Little Girl runs off suddenly, frightened by some imagined noise.

R'sul is happy to let Fiara deal with things, that question from the girl causing his mouth to drop open. And then she runs away and he blinks, thankfully remembering to close his mouth. For a moment there's silence, then he laughs nervously, "Welcome to Xanadu." Another weak joke, but an attempt at normality.

Fiara remains hunkered down for a moment, watching the little girl run away, face a mask of compassion. "Oh the poor dear. Her mother must've been one of the ones who died," the harper murmurs softly then rises to re-join the Weyrleader. Another wry grin crosses her face. "Thank you, I can see it's going to be something of an adventure. And to think I merely wished to get away from Tillek's ragingly cold winters," she says with a chuckle, joking in turn.

R'sul nods, "And that's more than we've got out of most of them. There's one keeps talking about signs in the sky, walks about like someone's going to hit him." For all his nervousness when it comes to being around people, he seems to care more than he lets on, "Having regrets about coming here? It's not usually this odd, I promise."

"Is it? Hmm." Fiara looks thoughtful for a moment, considering the encounter then she nods as R'sul explains further. "It must have been terribly traumatic for all of them, though signs in the sky - that's definitely odd." A little look over her shoulder in the direction the girl went follows. "Hopefully we'll be able to help them eventually." There's a brief pause and Fia's smile returns, hand moving briefly towards the Weyrleader's elbow, just a light touch intended. "No. It would take more than a few frightened children to send me running back to the Hall. Besides, I'm actually somewhat local. I was born and raised in Paradise River," she explains further, "so I've something of an interest in making sure all is /well/ here." There's a little pause before she asks a question. "I'm afraid I've not met all of the Crafters here yet - does … the Weyr have a mindhealer posted?"

R'sul takes on a rather startled look at the touch, though doesn't flinch away or panic - at least not outwardly. It does fluster him somewhat, and his neck once more glows red with an impending blush. "Not… um… not a specialist, though it has been suggested. They thought if we could get them to talk then it might all flow out or something. We know…." There's a pause as he tries to figure out how much is safe to tell. "We have what we think is their father's name, we found the cave, but other than that they're keeping quiet. It's so… crazy. There's no other word for it. I mean… Thread coming back?" He shakes his head, falling silent again.

Fiara laces her fingers together loosely, this time in front of her, taking in that sudden blush, but she makes no show of being taken aback herself in turn. "Right. Well, hopefully they will open up eventually," the harper agrees, voice light. "I can't imagine losing my parents so young." Teeth catch at her lip and she walks on along the path, lost in thought again, equally silent. "Is it possible? I mean every lesson says that the Red Star no longer comes, and so Thread cannot come. How could there be?"

R'sul shakes his head, "It's not possible. And if it was, there would have been some record surely. Some sign even. And not the sign they're talking about. According to the ones who were… well who went there… it's all about a conjunction of planets or some such. But the starcraft don't know of it so why would some strange people living in a cave? It makes no sense."

"A conjunction of planets?" Fiara's brows take a long hike up towards her hairline. "Certainly if there was any such thing going on it would be seen, from the station, yes? And how could that be seen at all from a /cave/." The harper's head shakes back and forth, a little tsking sound in the back of her throat. "Ignorance breeds strange things, I suppose. All the more for the Hall to combat," she says next, firmly and grants the Weyrleader another little smile and squints up at the angle of the sun. "I suppose I've taken up much of your time this morning though, and I ought to go get ready for class. Thank you for speaking about your research though, perhaps you might let me have a look sometime?"

R'sul spreads his hands and shrugs, expression almost making there no need for him to actually say 'I have no idea'. Instead he offers, "Ignorance seems to have bred a lot of people who believed it. The last count we know of was twenty or thirty people in that cave system, a lot of them were children." His hand makes another journey through his hair, as much a sign of stress as it is nerves, "I don't mind sharing time with people when they're not asking me to do things." He smiles broadly, though it's brief, "I.. um… well I've never shown anyone, but if you want to help me find things to go in then… well… I wouldn't say no to some help. Taken me over twenty turns to get it as far as it is."

"Mm. Another downside to people spreading far and wide," Fiara murmurs quietly. "Less contact with other people and knowledge and …" she trails off, sighs softly, smiles in return for his. "You haven't? Really? Well, I'd be happy to do what I can to help. Faranth knows if I want to get my Master's knot some day and I'll need to get better at archiving if I want that. Might as well work on a project that at least sounds /interesting/, right?" Her smile widens, lighting up her face. "Just point me at what you need - I'll bet I have more free time than you do and well, I /am/ a Harper" Fia says laughingly. "I'm usually in lessons until lunch most mornings but my restday. Best time to catch me is early like this, before class, or just after classes, or at lunch itself. I often take my first klah out in the clearing far earlier than I'd like to reflect on. So. Again, thank you for your time and it's been lovely meeting you, R'sul." Fia bobs her head once, turns to head back out of the garden to find her students for a rousing round of Teaching Ballads.

R'sul's look is best classified as 'happy child with toy' at her reaction to his offer, "Wonderful! I'll… um… well I'll give you a yell some time and we can maybe head to Fort or something. There's some records I'd like to find, and so far there's been no luck anywhere else. If you're sure you want to, that is. And you're not busy. I'll speak to you later." He trails off his excited chattering as she heads off, adding only, "Nice meeting you Fiara."

Fiara looks over her shoulder as she goes, grinning. "I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't sure." And she gives a little wave before she vanishes around the corner.

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