Fort Weyr - Living Cavern
This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.
Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.

Early in the morning is perhaps not the best time to be out and about, but as the saying goes… the early wherry gets the grub. And in Valene's case, she simply has to be up, made all apparent by the apron she's wearing and the pot of hot porridge she's carrying around to ladle into the bowls of anyone who wants once. "And here's the sweetener," she tells one of the porridge receivers. "There dried fruit on that table," she points, "if you want some."

Early morning is no stranger to one who frequently rises with it by choice. The Weyrleader doesn't have to start his days so early, but he does and it's become routine, even now when it has been quiet around Fort Weyr for some time. Th'ero steps inside the caverns, returning from his patrols and for his troubles? Being soaked through thanks to the wet snow mix that is falling outside and finding nothing out of the normal. Shaking the worst of the slush from his jacket and boots, he'll promptly take a seat by the hearth once he's peeled himself out of his jacket. He'll begin to cast his glance then, seeking for something warm — klah, no doubt — but he'll spy Valene instead already serving. "If that's fresh and any is left, I'd not mind a bowl." he drawls with a vague hint of a smile. At least he seems to be in a good mood?

Valene doesn't mind being up early in the mornings, as evidenced by her rather cheerful demeanor — which is just as well, had she been surly and grumpy, those in the caverns receiving the porridge would likely have had it slopped into the bowls haphazardly rather than carefully ladled. But at the very least, she's happy to serve. The newest arrival garners some attention, not by the fact that he's the Weyrleader, but that he's sodden and soaked through and through — poor man. Hurrying over with a clean bowl, she sets it in front of him as Th'ero addresses her, grinning back. "Freshly made, sir," she answers. "Just came off the fire." Giving a good stir to he pot, she ladles out a piping hot serving of the heated grains to the bronzerider. "Got sweetener here, and dried fruit over there. How's the weather?" There's a surrepitious glance at his jacket. "Looks fair miserable out there."

It will be at least a cheerier atmosphere in the caverns then for Valene's demeanor and no doubt welcomed by any who are making their way up for an early breakfast. The Weyrleader will watch in silence as she goes about serving him, the grin returned with another reserved smile. Apparently his social skills still need to thaw a little as well! Given time, he does relax but for now he keeps primarily to himself. "Smells delicious, that's for certain. My thanks," he begins, reaching for the bowl and then peering closer at Valene in a searching and questioning look both. "Don't believe I've ever seen you among the servers before. Are you new?" Or has he just been that absent of late? Truth be told, Th'ero doesn't often settle in the living caverns for meals. At the mention of the weather, he snorts. "Miserable is right. Mild and wet snow, but I suppose it's better than freezing cold."

"Didn't cook it," Val's willing enough to admit that. "Which is just as well because it probably won't smell as delicious as it does if I had," her soft little chuckle invites the man to share in the joke if he wants to. "But I'll pass the word along to the cook that did. She'll appreciate that." Having served a number of people, Valene lingers, engaged in conversation as she is. "Don't usually end up on server duty," she admits. "Usually it's scrubbing pots or sweeping or something like that." That's Val.. jill of all trades, mistress of none. "But I'm not that new around here, we probably just haven't been in the same location much. I'm Valene." Having established her credentials, the teen spares a chuckle for the topic of weather. "I hate mild and wet snow, it's just… icky. Mild now is fine, but wet. Miserable." She bobs her head, "freezing cold isn't good either, so we ought to be thankful for that."

Th'ero does join in the joke with a light but dry chuckle. "Not a cook then?" he asks, pulling his breakfast closer before he's motioning for her to pass him the dried fruit. Provided she obliges him, the Weyrleader seems to be rather fond of fruit - dried or not - and heaps a generous amount in but skips on the sweetner. "My thanks again." he murmurs, taking a few bites while Valene lingers to answer his prompting questions. "Ahh, I see. That'd explain why. Well met, Valene. So you're not that new? Fort is not your first home, then?" he asks, his tone still curious and laid back. Just a bit of idle chitchat this early morning! Forget that he's a Weyrleader. He'll skip introducing himself, as she ought to know his name by rank alone. He chuckles again at her comment on the weather and shrugs his shoulders. "We need that cold snap though, as much as it makes folks grumble about here. We've plans for a… festival of sorts but if the weather continues like this, we may have to move it closer to the mountains. Which brings up the issue of travel." Tricky thing, that!

Valene laughs. "No. I can boil water without burning it, but my skills at combining ingredients together and making them come out even halfway decent just fail." The teen manages a wry self-depreciating smile. "I'm better at eating it. And passing it out." Hence her server role this morning." The dried fruit having since been passed along, Val keeps up the idle chitchat, having found someone who'll listen at least — captive audience perhaps. "High Reaches," she answers in reply to Th'ero's question, "where they have at least seventy-seven different names for snow. And I've probably seen all of them." She nods. "What kind of festival? Something too big to move inside or something? If it's all wet and mushy, I can't see many who'd want to go."

"Have you ever considered being trained? Or has your discovering of your lack of skills come of that?" Th'ero muses and his reserved behavior seems to drift away the more he eats and warms by the hearths. He snorts softly then, mouth quirking into a crooked smile. "Eating does require little skill, doesn't it? Unless, of course, you're caught in some high formal event. Then it becomes more of a chore than a pleasure." he drawls with a faint grimace. The Weyrleader has had his fair share of those types of dinner events and apparently it's not his cup of tea. A brow quirks up and Valene is given another long, lingering glance. Amused, he shakes his head. "I don't doubt that High Reaches has so many names for snow. Not often I visit that far north but when I have…" No, he definitely has no doubts! Finishing the last of his porridge, he leans back and glances towards the entrance leading to the bowl, brows knitted in light thought. "Truth be told, we're trying for a Winter Festival if the weather holds. We need just a bit more snow and then the cold to drop down low enough to keep it all stable. It's a concept we're borrowing from Telgar Hold but… we'll see. We've a location up in the mountains that will offer shelter if needed. You know of it?"

"Got it in one," Valene responds to Th'ero's question with another one of those wry little laughs. "An old auntie back at High Reaches tried teaching me. Only all I heard from her was Blah blah simmer blah. And I tried.. I really did. Better off that I don't keep trying. I've got other talents." At his words, Val tries to smother a giggle, trying.. and failing. "Some of those high formal functions, I don't envy you that. Never ate at one myself, but set a table for one once. Never saw why one needed three forks and two spoons to eat with. Count me out." She pauses, getting her breath back, and nods. "I wasn't sorry to see the back of the 'Reaches. At least here, it isn't cold and snowy all the time." She shakes her head. "No, don't know of it."

Th'ero chuckles, "Could be that old auntie was just the wrong sort of teacher. Though honestly, I think we all tune out like that at times. I had a few Sergeants who'd I treat to the same attitude." he admits with another crooked half-smile. Both brows lift up in a mildly surprised look for the last of her remark and he peers at her, sidelong. Was that a joke? He can't be too sure. "Other talents? Aside from sweeping and serving?" At the giggle, the Weyrleader's smile broadens a fraction. "Consider yourself lucky! Some folk live for that sort of thing but honestly I'd much prefer a casual and relaxed dinner. And you don't need that much cutlery! A fork is a fork and a spoon and spoon. It's pointless!" he murmurs, settling comfortably in his seat. "True, we do have that going for us. And no? Pity. It's a large cottage-like structure up there. Part waystation and part gathering spot, truthfully but it serves well for a mid-way point for travellers or for larger scaled events we wish to hold beyond the Weyr walls." Leave it to the Weyrleadership to find a way to make it multipurpose! Glancing towards the bowl again, he frowns, distracted. Disappointed, perhaps? "Shame the weather is so miserable or I'd offer to take you to see for yourself. We're supposed to be gathering volunteers anyhow, to see if this is even possible. We've never considered such an event."

Valene nibbles at her lower lip thoughtfully. "Could be, she sort of had a very droning voice that I tuned out. Maybe if I had a cooking teacher who made it fun, it might be worth trying again." She tilts her head. "Sergeants? Were you a guard before you impressed? It must have been very exciting, waving swords around. Did you catch any bad people?" What is this, twenty questions? The teen grins at the Weyrleader's own questions about her talents. "And running errands and washing dishes. I'm a talented gal, you know." She nods fervently. "I hope I never ever ever never ever have to go to a formal dinner like that, casual and relaxed is so much better. And you don't have to worry about spilling expensive food on expensive clothes that way." the girl pauses a moment, catches her breath and chatters on. "I've never been there," she remarks in reply to the description of the waystation/gathering spot. Not even sure if I ever heard of it either." Hence why she mentioned not knowing. "Yeah," she makes a face. "Too bad about the weather. But what kind of volunteers did you need?" At least she's asking, and not running the other way.

It's always twenty questions with Th'ero! At least for the first few conversations. "Always helps to have a teacher who can at least take it a bit beyond the monotone lecturing." he muses and finishing with the last of his breakfast, sets the empty bowl aside. "Mhm, I was. I wouldn't say it was too exciting? It was a rare day if I ever drew my weapon. Most of the time it was just patrols and this was on the Emerald Isles and later to Western Weyr. We'd often catch just the usual riff raff. Thieves and the like…" he murmurs, only to pause for a moment as his features turn grim. "We caught Laris and his men while I was Weyrleader here, but I suppose that would not exactly count, hmm? No longer a Guard, then." But he's in charge of them! Sort of. He chuckles, "I'll take you word for it. Exactly! Where is the enjoyment in a dinner if you're on edge all the time? Wondering if you've done wrong on this or that." Th'ero shakes his head, not seeming to mind that Valene is chatty. Not in the slightest! It'll make up for the lack of conversation on his end, though he's honestly trying. "It's a relatively new thing. We built it for the Weyrlings from Zuvaleyuth and Velokraeth's… second clutch, I believe? As for the volunteers, well… We'll need all sorts. Servers, helpers… anyone really." he remarks while giving her another one of those long, unreadable, looks.

"Suppose I ought to try another go at it then," Valene muses out loud, "find a teacher who could maybe start me slow on easy recipes or something." she shrugs. "Maybe." Not that the teen sounds particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of cooking, and instead latches onto the conversation about being a guard. "But were patrols exciting? Or were they just a bunch of boring marching back and forth?" That pause,and grim look from the Weyrleader gets some interest from Valene, but she doesn't push the issue much beyond that. "Dinner's no fun," she agrees, "if you have to be on your best behavior all the time. Not saying that it'd be ok to burp a lot or chew with your mouth open,those are just polite manners, but having to sit there all stuffy, no thank you." she nods fervently. "I'd rather eat by myself than attend a formal meal." She tips a thumb back at herself. "I make a pretty good server," she admits, no shame there, after all, she had served porridge for breakfast. "Wouldn't mind helping out if you really need it."

Th'ero quirks another half-smile as Valene muses out loud, dipping his head in agreement though he murmurs, "The choice is up to you, in the end." When she latches onto the conversation about the Guards, the Weyrleader only chuckles dryly. "Patrols are mostly just marching back and forth, but sometimes Guards are sent out with caravans or on longer distance patrols between locations. Those tend to be a bit more interesting, even if it's just going from point A to B. Even to this day I still patrol but in a different sense. Why I am up at this hour." And was soaked through. Th'ero's smile broadens a bit for her comments on polite manners versus stuffiness and he simply chuckles. "You'd not be alone in that opinion, I think!" He'll go on to admit and when she shamelessly volunteers herself, the Weyrleader only looks pleased. "Great! At least that settles that. However, there is another matter you could help with too." Another proposition? Is it Valene's lucky day? Th'ero shifts in his seat, reaching for his still damp riding jacket as he deftly finds that inner pocket… and when he draws it out again, there is a braided loop of white clutched in his fingers. Setting it on the tabletop, he'll gently nudge it forwards to rest between them but clearly there for Valene to take at any time. "Seems Velokraeth is thinking along the same lines as I, that it couldn't hurt to see you use the skills you have and perhaps expand them as a Candidate. That is, if you should so choose to stand for Kouzevelth and Dremkoth's clutch?" He'll watch her carefully then, gauging her reaction and as with so many before he'll patiently wait for her reply.

Valene's mouth twists into a wry sort of smirk. "I'd hope the choice would be up to me, sir," she answers. "I'd hate to see a cook just decide she or he was gonna teach me just like that without a by-your-leave." She shakes her head a bit. "I'll think about it anyway, maybe sound out any cooks who might be up to the challenge." Because Val is a challenge, she just is! Listening to Th'ero explain about patrols and the like, she absorbs the information with eager ears. "Guess the life of a guard wouldn't be for me," she admits. "I make a terrible marcher. I'd probably go left when they said right." Another proposition, indeed. It must be Valene's lucky day. "Sure just tell me what you need done, although if it's stealing cookies from…" she never really finishes the sentence, her gaze riveted by that white cord atop the table. "Oh," she says simply, managing to not look too much like a stunned goldfish, to her credit. "Oh wow," the girl's hand darts forwards. claiming the cord with a finality. "Will you relay to Velokraeth that I would be happy to stand for the clutch on the sands."

Th'ero laughs softly at the thought of any teacher or mentor simply snagging folks at random and forcing them to learn. "Don't think it'd quite work out that way!" he muses and sobers just as swiftly. He shrugs his shoulders, "It's true, the life of a Guard is not for all. It can be hard with the patrols but harder yet just with the training." Among many, many things. Then the time for idle conversation comes to a swift halt once that white knot is laid out and Valene is faced with a choice to make. Again, the Weyrleader looks pleased when she accepts it with only minimal hesitation but stunned all the same. "I have and he sends his regards. He also apologizes for the change in formalities. Usually I would bring you to him, but he said he'd rather not drag you out in such miserable weather." Th'ero pauses then, frowning as his eyes dart over his shoulder and towards the entrance of the bowls. Is that the sound of movement out there or is it just the rain and shift of wind? Surely that was a shadow that passed. Blinking, he looks back to Valene and clears his throat, a touch awkward as he continues. "He also offers his help in seeing you to the barracks, at least, when ready. Not much he can give but a wing for cover." One large umbrella! She'd be all set!

Hey, it could happen, couldn't it? Somewhere on Pern there could be a teacher errant going around making students learn. Probably? Maybe? "Probably not," Valene agrees with Th'ero. "It'd have to be a pretty forceful cook to just tell someone they'd be a student." She bites at her lower lip at the discussion of guard training. "I'd just as soon pass that up then. Like I said, I have other talents. Nothing wrong with sweeping things clean, and I'm not just talking about floors." Certainly to her credit, minimal hesitation is the norm for the teen. After all, white cords and opportunity doesn't drop into someone's lap just any day. Tell him thank you for that," she answers, "I'd hate to have to stand out there shivering in the wet and misery long enough for him to decide if I was up to the task or something." Or something being Valene's favorite phrase, apparently. She does glance in the same direction. "Oh, yes… umm… help would be gratefully appreciated, a wing for cover is better than say, a bit of a tablecloth or something. It's bigger, for one thing." She sidles away from the table. "I'll just go get my things then. Won't be gone longer than two shakes of a baby ovine's tail." Of course, she does take longer than that, but not too much longer, returning with a little knapsack of belongings thrown over one shoulder. "Ready to go."

Or something! It's a favorite of many to use! Th'ero only chuckles again when Valene passes on the idea of guard training, letting that discussion slide alway with the others in favor of one that is important. "I have and he again sends his regards. Not to fear, we're both on agreement here. You won't be going out there to catch a chill. Not that he usually fusses much over those he picks." No, he just pulls jokes (often cruel) on some. At least Valene's was subtle and cryptically masked in between offers and she remains warm, comfortable, safe and dry! Th'ero stands then, finally smiling in a manner that is genuine and less reserved. "It'd be his pleasure and mine as well, I suppose in a way." Even if it was mostly Velokraeth's idea and offer! The Weyrleader is just the messenger. Another low chuckle and a nod of agreement about the wing and he adds before she can vanish to collect her things. "No rush. Take your time. And congratulations, Valene!" Apparently he is not sorely needed this morning and while she is gone, he will slip his jacket back on in preparation to venture outdoors again. Th'ero takes a brief look at the knapsack she carries and nods, gesturing for her to follow. "Follow me," he murmurs and turns to stride towards the exit. True to his word, Velokraeth is lingering there, as close as he can press himself and once Valene steps out, he will extend his wing to shield her, rumbling in a sweet and honeyed tone. Oh, he has no regrets! Onwards will they go, the pale bronze setting a good pace despite his odd, waddling gait due to his stunted limbs and boxy frame and they will see her safe to the barracks.

Valene hasn't got much, but she has enough. Worldly possessions tucked into that knapsack dangling from her shoulder and that white cord clutched tightly in her little fist — it'd take wild whers to drag it out of her grasp now — she chuckles softly. "Dare say I couldn't do guard training anyhow even if I were inclined." she comments to Th'ero. "Not with this," the white cord is indicated, clutched all the tighter for possession as she follows the Weyreader out into the elements, mercifully spared the worst of the weather by the extended wing of the bronze dragon. "My thanks," she grins up at him, lips stretched into cheery smile. And she'll follow where they lead her, going to a place and location she's never been before — the candidate barracks.

"Never say never," Th'ero will murmur as they walk, the Weyrleader keeping stride at a respectful distance to Valene. "We've decided to make a few changes with Candidacy here in Fort Weyr. You'll… discover that soon enough." he murmurs cryptically. "But that will be for the next day, as today you are simply expected to focus on settling in. So, enjoy it! Even if the weather is… miserable." Maybe it won't last and she'll actually be able to venture outdoors sans dragon-wing as protective cover! The Weyrleader will dip his head in polite farewell to the newly-knotted Candidate while Velokraeth croons, looking about as pleased and smug as a bronze can be. "Congratulations again, Valene. Best of luck to you!" And they will linger until she is safely inside, the bronze keeping his wing extended now just to shield his rider. With a firm thump to his lifemate's forearm, Th'ero will turn to trudge his way back to the administration complex and to the quiet (and warmth!) of his weyr.