Death by Dustbunny

CAVERN OF PILLOWS
This enormous cavern stretches on into the darkness, its walls bare and grey, the domed ceiling dissapearing in shadow. Save for the noise made by those who enter, it is utterly silent here, and even then the echoes that bounce off the cold stone are muffled by the floor. For the ground is covered in.. pillows. Dusty and old, pillows of every shape and size have been piled high, along with folded blankets, sheets, curtains, and other textiles. Rolls of fabric, their colors faded from age, have been stacked here and there, and the occasional bag or leather item is visible amongst the other things. There must be thousands of items in here, stored away for the weyr's use and then forgotten.


Zhirayr must have drawn the short straw on something, because there's no reason whatsoever anyone would willingly be in the Cavern of Must, Dust, and Fabric Death — right? Except that here he is, and here he's been for some time; his black hair has turned charcoal-grey from dust, as have his poor distressed once-black clothes, and the smudges all over his face and hands show that he's given up on keeping clean right now as a bad job. On the other hand, there is a small — 8'x10' — area near the entrance that's downright clear, albeit still filthy. Why is he sorting dead pillows? Does he even know?

Jastre took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up going a path he's never been to, and at some point notices footprints, so starts to follow. This of course leads him to Zhirayr in a room that seems to be collecting dust more than other objects. He tries to stifle a sneeze as he looks in, but fails explosively. Whoops.

After living in Fort Weyr for all of her life Polana is convinced that she knows every single inch of Fort Weyr. Unfortunately, that will soon have to be revised to used to think that she knew every inch of the weyr. For Polana, dressed in a light blue cotton dress that goes down just past her knees and she actually owns, has gotten lost. After wandering for a few minutes she encounters a door, a large door, which she proceeds to pull open. Upon seeing the contents she freezes before finally uttering three words. "What. The. Feck."

"Yeah, yeah, come in," Zhirayr says tiredly, reaching up to scrub sweat off his face and leaving behind Yet Another Streak of Ew in its place. "And bless you," he adds belatedlyish to Jastre, for his sneeze. "Are the two of you here to help?"

"Thanks. And help? Uh." Jastre looks a little startled, since he isn't sure what the guy means by 'help', but after a quick glance around the room, it becomes pretty clear. "Well, uh, no, but I can if you need it? What are you doing, exactly? Just uh…. cleaning?"

Surprise and confusion appears on her face at their words. It is soon washed away by a look of annoyance and a snort. "Yeah, I'm here to help with… whatever this is. And after that I'm going to grow wings and fly to Igen where I will impress Pern's first purple queen." She then leans against the wall, the only place that doesn't seem very dirty.

The key word there is, most likely, seem — because dust and grime are perfectly capable of clinging to vertical surfaces, too! Yep. "There's no need to get snippy," Zhirayr points out, tiredness warring, now, with sardonicism. Cynicism. Also probably some sarcasm, let's be real. "It's not like I'm suggesting pillow fights."

"Purple dragon?" Jastre blinks at Polana, a little confused. Oh wait, she's probably joking. Belatedly, he snickers. "And yeah, I think we might both have trouble breathing if we used THESE pillows for that."

Yes, seem is an important word in this situation. The moment her back touches the wall she /feels/ a layer of grime and guck cling onto the back of her dress, making it feel all soiled. Immediately a yelp leaves her, which is followed by her jumping forward and glaring at absolutely everything in the room. Polana then snorts before telling Zhirayr, "Good, because you aren't getting either! Why are you trying to clean this place anyway? It seems to be too lost to save, nothing but a big old waste of time trying to save it."

"Either… what?" Zhirayr is, now, genuinely puzzled. "You've already been snippy, and nobody wants pillow fights. It's hard enough to breathe in here as it is, which is where the problem lies — do you not realize how much of a fire trap this place is?"

Jastre nods towards the entrance. "The door's made of wood, too, so yeah, if a fire started in here, it'd cause a lot of problems. I can see why it needs to be cleaned. A pity it wasn't kept clean, seems like a long time ago people stopped bothering."

Zhirayr manages to get an exasperated sigh from Polana, like she feels like she's talking to someone with no brain at all. Her voice is soft and slightly condescending, like talking to a toddler, as she says, "you won't be getting help or pillowfights." She then drops the voice to ask, "and how, exactly, would a sharding fire start in here?"

Well, that grates. Sure, his knot is covered in dust, but at least Zhirayr is wearing it, you know? Polana, meanwhile, is getting a very flat look that says that the Assistant Headman is having none of your grime-covered shit today. So there. "Usually, people who think that out-of-the-way places like this are of no concern and a waste of time, and therefore nobody should bother cleaning them or spending any time in them at all, say things like that so they can have quiet, private, somewhat secretive places to themselves, for whatever reason. And when they have places like that, well… Sometimes candles are easier to obtain than glows, and then someone has caught an entire corner of the Weyr on fire." The look he's giving her now is downright challenging: Are you going to backpedal and claim that wasn't what you meant, Polana?

Jastre looks from one to the other, suddenly feeling like it might be dangerous to be standing between the two. Therefore, he backs up a few steps. Cough. "Well how about we just clean, then, so something like that doesn't happen? Fire is dangerous, even with stone walls."

What Zhirayr says gets a laugh from her, a downright laugh. Pure amusement tinges her voice as she asks, "are you seriously suggesting that I would spend time in this filthy place? That I want it for myself? Yes, because I'm totally the type to hang out in a hole of grime. Honestly, anyone that would want to lurk around here is welcome to the consequences. Besides, with how many people are in this Weyr it would be no problem to stop it before it can spread." Jastre gets a narrow-eyed glance but she does not say anything, instead starting to take a few steps away, like she's going to leave.

To say that Polana's attitude is rocketing her up Zhirayr's List of People he Doesn't Really Care For is an understatement, if not the understatement of the Time After Thread. As such, he rather pointedly doesn't do or say anything at all to suggest to her that she should stick around and keep arguing; instead he turns to Jastre, outright ignoring her. "There should still be some clean water in one of the skins by the door," he tells Jastre sympathetically. "If you have a handkerchief, you might find that dampening it and tying it over your nose and mouth will help keep the dust out. Just make sure it isn't completely wet — too hard to breathe, that way." And then, continuing to ignore Polana, Zhirayr … gets back to work, sorting the pillows and rugs and bits and bobs into piles according to just how dead they are, or if they could be cleaned, or if they could be cleaned and repurposed into some other use for that fabric.

Jastre shrugs at the both of them, then does as Zhirayr says, dampening his handkerchief and tying it about his face. HE'LL help clean, since he's no stranger to hard work. Eventually during that time he introduces himself.

Polana is actually rather glad that she is being ignored. Without a word she turns around and leaves, relief at having gotten out of doing work clear on her face.


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