Not Stupid

Fort Weyr - Living Caverns

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.


The end of winter in Fort is not a glorious time, by any stretch of the imagination. The snow might be melting a bit, sure, but that brings with it new challenges of mud, slick surfaces and ice when the night time freeze settles over the weyr. This afternoon, a gloomy drizzle falls outside, light in texture but with low hanging fog that blankets the entire weyr in a damp cloud. It is brooding weather, which seems to have gotten to one young weyr resident. Slouching inside, Ezra walks with his shoulders slumped and back bent, the growing boy trying to avoid notice and puberty by trying to make himself smaller than he actually is. Long limbs are starting to get in the way, and he's not used to them yet to judge from the way he swings an arm around and nearly smacks it into a passing rider. "Sorry," the boy mumbles, ducking his head so his sandy hair falls into his face, hiding him behind its curtain. Crisis averted but no doubt another one just around the corner, he starts to slouch his way further into the cavern, heading for the food tables.

A'di is here, somewhere, hidden behind the massive book fort that has been built at one of the tables. the bluerider is slowly thumbing through one book then he'll suddenly thumb through a completly different book. As someone enters, he glances up from one of the books and wrinkles his nose thoughtfully.

It's still unusual to see Inyri out and about much anywhere but the Gemstone, but the barmaid has been forced into taking a few breaks and days off every now and then. She's been seen in the living cavern for meals when not working more and more in the past month, as if forcing herself to acclimate to Weyr life once and for all as quickly as possible. There's a medium-sized, somewhat bulky bag over her shoulder that has a piece of pale blue yarn attempting to escape from it — Inyri's not aware, as she's busy selecting food and putting it on a plate. Thankfully, it's not dangling long enough for anyone to fall on, but the bag does also seem to be moving of its own volition and the dangling yarn is getting a little longer. Ezra's entrance /does/ get her attention for a brief moment (displayed by looking up, continuing to miss the fact that her yarn apparently has a mind of its own) before she finishes selecting her food.

Ezra glances around through his curtain of stringy hair, and when he sees A'di's nose wrinkle, he at first frowns deeply and straightens, as if he's going to make a comeback or be defensive…but then he just drops his head and shuffles on. He misses Inyri's look, but when he steps into line behind her he notices the yarn, and without a second thought he reaches out to give it a tug. "Hey…" he begins to say, even as he's tugging.

A'di pushes himself to his feet and stretches, the rather short rider rubs at the back of his heead as he looks about the room. The rider slowly trudges towards the serving tables, letting out a rather loud yawn as he grabs himself a mug of klah. Slight amusement flickers across his face as he watches the dancicng piece of yarn and the youth chasing after it.

Two things happen at once: Inyri turns over her shoulder to look at who's talking to her, and the yarn tugs back in the other direction. It's not Inyri's head motion that's doing the tugging, though — a bronze paw, not yet fully grown, can now be seen over the edge of the bag, pulling back. This is a game, right? Tug of war with the air? "Er," says Inyri, looking bemusedly at Ezra, and then swats at the firelizard's paw. "No. Liechten. Leave it alone. Thank you," is directed, again, at the human who halfway addressed her and halfway addressed her bag. "I didn't even actually know he was in there."

Its also quite unusual to see Harper Apprentice Bedor without his ever aggravated Master in tottering tow, but the youthful and beautiful Harper is out in the snow alone, painstakingly trodding into the caverns, head low and eyes slightly red. Somebody has been crying, and with good reason. Rumor around the Weyr is that Master Ragan is once again ill, and once again he may not recover from his illness. This is all Auntie rumors of course, but the look on the poor young Harper's face gives the rumors a little more weight. Only half a turn since their arrival here and the old Harper Master has been abed most of the time. Is it any wonder that Bedor then goes over to Ragan's favorite chair by the fire, gives a squeaky little sigh when he sits then, then pulls out his flute to play a little bit. Some happy little tune belaying his real mood. Despite the state of his despaire, he seems to be playing adeptly and with full voice.

When the yarn pulls back, Ezra hastily lets it go and jerks his hand back, holding it close to his chest and eying the bag with suspicion. "Sorry," the boy mumbles, frowning through his hair at Inyri. "Was jus' goin' to say you were losin' your yarn…" A touch defensive, he takes a plate and stands sullenly behind her in line, staring fixedly at the floor. When the music starts his head jerks up and eyes look in the direction of the hearth, a frown pulling at his lips. But what is he going to do, yell at the Harper to stop? So he drops his head again and instead kicks at a stone on the floor, sending it skittering across the floor.

A'di's eyes flicker towards the harper, following his trail as he moves to the chair. A small frown pulls at his lips, "No." This is said as the harper starts to play, but the rider turns his head to glare outside at the bowl. "Don't you dare, if you do, we're going elsewhere." And then there's a loud croon coming from outside and A'di lets out a quiet sigh as he rubs at his face. "Dal, I'm sure he won't appreciate your singing."

"No need to apologize!" Inyri seems surprised that that was Ezra's instinct, and has a hesitant smile on her face as she forces her eyebrows to settle back into a neutral position. "I appreciate it. Sorry he's a little bit of a twerp —" Liechten seems to embody 'not that smart,' or at least extremely eager, as the stone kicking catches his attention and he leaps out of his person's knitting bag and after the rock. Thankfully, Inyri hadn't yet started to try to pour herself a glass of water, and can catch the yarn ball that goes flying. While she's not speaking to what the Harper is or isn't doing, she is speaking to the dragonrider that spoke up — "Your dragon /sings/? I already love him. That's adorable."

Bedor looks up a little at the sound of voices, in particular the dragons crooning. Subtly, almost too subtle to notice at first, he matches the tone of his flute playing to the song of the dragon. Ooooooh. A duet. The rock is eyed as it is kicked, but like the artist that he is, he doesn't stop playing. He can't help but smile a little at the conversations he's overhearing though, and almost laughs a little, causing a tiny whuffing note to sound on the flute.

Ezra glances at A'di, and then towards the exit, his posture stiffening subtly and a frown pulling at his brows. He'd distracted by Inyri though, and the bronze firelizard. Him chasing after the rock actually brings a brief, childish grin to the brooding boy's face. When it turns to talk of dragons, however, he just reaches for a meatroll and bites into it, trying to slip past Inyri in line. Taking cuts while she's distracted? You betcha.

"I'm sorry," A'di's saying with a loud groan, "Yes, yes, he sings. He talks. He dances. He doesn't shut up. I'll get him to stop." And then another glare is sent in the direction of the entrance, his eyes narrowing. It tseems that the rider wings the battle of the wills because the croono eventually tapers off and A'di sighs, "Sorry," he mutters under his breath again."He thought the music was really good, so he wanted to join along."

Inyri actually looks disappointed when Dalasith's croon cuts out — and if she noticed Ezra's attempts to pass her in line, which is likely as she quirked up an eyebrow for about half a second, she's not actually saying anything about it. Otherwise known as: either she's oblivious or letting him get away with it. Liechten, of course, is busy batting a rock around like he's a cat and it's … well, a ball of yarn, which apparently he isn't allowed to play with anymore. "He dances. I have no idea how that would work, but it sounds incredible, really," she says. "And, I mean, he's not a bad singer!"

Ezra scowls a bit around his mouthful of meatroll. "Dragons ain't s'posed to sing," he mutters, but it's unclear if he's talking to anyone, or just muttering to himself. Someone might be able to overhear him though. "Or dance. They're s'posed to help people, not do stupid stuff…" Since singing and dancing is stupid. At least it is to a 12 turn old boy.
A'di twitches as he turns to glare at Ezra, "Dragons will do whatever they like to do. They're like people, they like to enjoy themselves as much as we do." The only one allowed to pick on Dalasith is himself! "If you don't like it, you don't have to live in a weyr." And then the rider is grabbing his books and heds outside tot comfort the poor blue dragon.

Bedor has stopped playing his flute, and has joined the line for food. He smirks a little at Ezra's comment about dancing and singing being stupid. In very Harper like manner, with a tenor voice rich and full and well trained in lyrical 'crooning' he begins to sing a little song about a little tunnelsnake that bites a curious child's hand when he reaches in to trap it. A warning song about children who act or speak before they think and the consequences thereof. When the song stops he turns to A'di. "I enjoyed the duet with your dragon. I hope to do so again."

Ezra jerks his head up, glaring after A'di, and as the rider leaves the boy hollers after him in a brief fit of temper, "Yes I do!" Then he's back to scowling, dropping his head so his hair falls around his face. And he grabs for a piece of cake, because cake makes everything better. He shoots Bedor a glare, too, when he sings that song. "Singing is stupid," he says, in a right fit of juvenile temper.

"Hope I get to meet him sometime," is Inyri's parting call to A'di, delivered as she finishes gathering up her food. No dessert for her, apparently. Many times over a big sister, her instinctive reaction to Ezra's responses is to keep playing that role, even though she doesn't know him, and so she gently pries, in a more sociable than accusatory fashion: "Got anything in mind that /isn't/ stupid? Seems to be your go-to word for most things." Snapping her fingers after she asks isn't directed at Ezra or Bedor either one, but rather at the firelizard, who finally returns to her, sitting down at her feet and pawing at the toe of Inyri's boot.

Bedor chuckles. "I wouldn't say that to my Master Ragan if you saw him," he advises Ezra. "He can't sing a note anymore at his age, but nobody tells a Harper Master not to sing." He fills a plate with some healthy choices when its his turn, gets himself a mug of klah and goes to sit by the fire again and eat.

Ezra glances sharply at Inyri as he sets his plate down and flops into a chair awkwardly, still dealing with those growing limbs. "Yeah," he says, his voice quick to reply. "Your face." But then he blushes, sudden and crimson, and he ducks his head to hide behind his hair again, shoving food into his mouth. /That/ isn't embarrassing. Once he begins to eat, two firelizards swoop down from the rafters, a brown perching on his shoulder and gripping tightly with his talons until Ezra hisses in pain and gives him a bit of meat to eat. And the bronze perches by his elbow, preening and looking rather put-together, and then trilling happily at Inyri's firelizard. Ezra glances up at Bedor, and when the Harper goes to sit down and eat, the boy sticks his tongue out at him. Just a little bit, but it's enough.

Well, if it is, unfortunately Ezra gets to be even more embarrassed when Inyri decides that's essentially an invitation to sit by the boy, and chooses to pick the spot across from him. She's not laughing, though she is smiling the sort of smile that might go with a laugh as she says, "Funny, that's usually one of the two things I hear most often associated with being stupid. My face and my mom. Who isn't lacking in intelligence, for the record." Inyri's young firelizard has followed along on the ground, walking next to her foot, and once she's sat down scales up the chair she's at until he's stretched across the back of it, crooning back at the other bronze.

It's been drizzling at Fort all day, the sort of heavy, oppressive late winter rain that makes everything gloomy and damp. It's just after the lunch rush, but folks are still trickling in to get their food. When Inyri sits across from him, Ezra glances at her through his curtain of hair and frowns. "Mothers aren't stupid," he says, his voice suddenly whisper soft and rather sad, before he shoves another piece of meat at the brown, and then eats another huge bite of cake.

It's raining and Edani's been out in it if the damp shaggy strands clinging to his forehead and and the beaded drops on his jacket mean anything. Though he's carefully wiped most of the mud off his boots upon entry into the caverns, some still sticks to the tops of them, spattered as well onto the leather trous he's wearing. His hat, which has kept most of the wet off his dark brown head of hair is in one hand while the other undoes the clasps down the front of his jacket. He's got one thing on his mind: lunch. Well, two really: eat it and get back to work. It's in this rather preoccupied state that he pauses by the table Inyri and Ezra are seated at, places his hat on the corner back of an empty chair to claim it with a brief, "Hope you two don't mind if I sit with you?"

"Generally not; I'm sure someone's mother, somewhere, isn't all that wise, but people using 'your mom' as an insult has always bothered me," says Inyri the Wholesome Family Values Supporter, in an even gentler tone, contemplating her sandwich more than really eating it. "I mean, who has the right to —" She's interrupted this time not by Liechten, or by the urge to make some comment on cake being a wonderful lunch, but by the entrance of another person. She looks him up and down once, thoughtfully, and then says, regaining her typical charm smile, "I don't."

Ezra shifts uncomfortably, keeping his head down the whole time Inyri is speaking. If he's going to reply, it's cut off by Edani's arrival, and the boy glances up at him, gives his head a quick shake, and looks down at his food again. Hiding behind that curtain of hair, he continues to eat and feed his firelizards. Reclusive, much? But he is listening, darting quick glances at Edani and Inyri when he thinks no one's watching.

"Thanks," Edani says, an easy, if tardy smile for the pair of them while he slips out of his wet jacket. That ducking Ezra's doing curls the corner his mouth into a more genuine smile. "Promise I'll only bite my food," he says lightly. Maybe it's the quality of the girl's smile or some snippet of conversation he'd overheard as he paused there that has him giving Inyri a second, slightly longer look. "I'll be right back," he says before striding over to the serving tables, selecting sandwich fixings, loading his plate with a quick efficiency, snagging a mug of hot klah and heading back to hook his foot around the empty chair, pull it out and sit all in one motion. "Who's insulting whos mother now?" Yes, well, it's a start anyway.

Inyri is just one of those people. After a life in customer service, her sweet smile and conversation attracts everyone to wanting to hang out with her! Or something like that, anyway — she's curious about everyone, after all. The Beastcrafter's remark about biting gets a light giggle, washed away with a sip of her water. "People are always insulting my mother, though not in any serious way, or to her face; it's throwing 'your mom' at me, y'know," she offers by way of explanation. "And, er, I was about to ask his name," a nod in the direction of Ezra's demanding brown, "and realized that I hadn't ever given mine. I'm Inyri. This one's Liechten, which at least I made obvious to one of you before."

Ezra glances up at Edani, a frown on the boy's lips. "No one's insulting my mom," he says, quite firm in his 12 turn old drama. Pale eyes dart to Inyri, and he clears his throat. "Stone," he says. "M' Ezra." And he waits to see if his name gets any reaction. Sometimes it does, sometimes not, and he's hoping that it doesn't. Better to be unknown than known for his history, after all.

Dark brows knit, "They do? How… odd. Whyon Pern would they do that?" Edani's genuinely puzzled. "Where I come from a person could challenge them to a duel over an insult like that." He's taking her seriously, it seems. Brown eyes shift towards the boy briefly as she speaks of him and again he's fighting a grin and the impulse to ruffle his hair. His hand actually lifts, but us then diverted to his plate where he focuses with more intensity than really necessary to put together the cold meat, cheese and lettuce on the sliced bread. When he's got his voice under control, he says evenly, "They'd better not!" His dark eyes lift, first towards the girl, then to Ezra, whose name draws nary a flicker of reaction other than a friendly one, "I'm Edani. Haven't been here all that long myself and then out in the field or buried in my studies, so I guess it's well-met, hey?"

In Inyri's case, she certainly recognizes the name — but her quick start is just as quickly covered up by another smooth smile, as if she doesn't want to make any more fuss than may already have been made. "Ezra. Edani. Hi. Day for names that begin and end with vowels, I guess, except for the firelizards. As for why, I — have absolutely no idea, it's just something I've heard people do. It's rude. What are you studying?" Shifting between topics without an actual change in tone is apparently one of Inyri's other specialties in social structures. The revelation as to who he is hasn't changed her demeanor toward Ezra at all, since she was already plenty curious; she's still glancing over at him with a more private grin occasionally.

Ezra shakes his head a bit, so he can see through his hair to look at Edani. He just nods, and then glances to Inyri, frowning. He saw her start, and if he's glad she doesn't comment, he doesn't say anything. Instead, the boy returns to shoveling his food into his mouth, though now some bits are finding their way into his pockets with quick, darting movements of his hands.

"It is rude. What do you do when they do it?" Edani is curious enough to tag that on even after Inyri's subject change. While waiting to hear the answer to that one, he lifts his sandwich and takes a huge bite. Oops! Inyri's next question comes while his mouth is too full to answer it, so he just shrugs; he'll answer that one in a second. He does note the two firelizards with a neutral glance, his interest more focused on his tablemates. He says nothing of the food Ezra is stowing in his pockets, likely assuming it's to feed Stone later or something. Swallowing, then wiping his mouth on his napkin, he at last says, "Beastcrafting. I'm working towards my Journeyman's knot."

"Oh!" And now, Inyri seems excited. Any sadness at Ezra's displeased reaction to her, well, reaction, is briefly overturned or at least clouded by Edani's revelation that he's a Beastcrafter. "That's perfect — can you sell me a canine? I've been looking to get a canine and really didn't know /where/ to look, or who to ask. I'm not exactly well-versed in purchasing animals, or anything." Liechten, at least, has been holding mostly still on the back of her chair and is behaving /reasonably/ well for a young firelizard, so she's not completely miserable at animal husbandry full stop.

Ezra's head lifts sharply at the mention of a canine, his expression almost /hungry/ in a different sort of way. On his shoulder, Stone hisses and digs his talons into the boy's shoulder until Ezra actually shoves him off, hard, and the brown flaps his wings to catch himself, hisses, and vanishes between. Ezra ignores him, leaning forward eagerly at this new topic.

Edani nearly chokes on his second bite at the question, holding up his forefinger while he washes it down with a mouthful of klah. Ow - hot! He winces, then lifts eyes that sparkle with a hint of devilment. "A… canine." Really? She's asking him, of all people. He works hard to keep his face straight, seems to come to a decision. "Sure, why not?" He considers Ezra. Hard not to notice the pocket-stuffing has stopped. That and the sibling-like behavior between firelizard and boy ending with the departure of the thing. Casually he tosses his question at the boy, "How about you? Want one too?"

As far as Inyri knows, she has asked exactly the right person! And if the question seems to engage Ezra more? All the better! "That's great," she says, practically chirping; her food is forgotten, the canine discussion far more important. "I grew up with 'em but moved here by dragon kind of suddenly, so I wasn't really able to bring any along and I'm not going all the way to the main Craft and — oh, I don't need to explain it, do I? You've already agreed." Now she, too, is looking at Ezra, head tilted slightly. How about him?

Ezra sits back abruptly when he's addressed, though his answer is breathless and full of childish hope. "Yes." But then a moment later, reality has him frowning and shoving another piece of food into his pocket. "Got no marks, though. Been tryin' to make some but no one wants my carvings." Because they are truly horrible things, and no one will pay money for a bit of wood that a young boy stabbed with a knife, got frustrated, and then abandoned and stuck a price on it.

As far as she knows, she has, it's true. And Edani just nods along with her assumption, including Ezra in it. "Come out to the beastpens with me after you finish eating? I'll show you what's there." He waves away the boy's need for marks though. "We can work something out. A trade maybe. You could help me with some work." There's a pause while he seems to re-think this before asking doubtfully, "Er, are you good with animals?" Because there was that whole firelizard-pushing thing back there, y'see. "Or… you could carve me something. I'd like a carving of that huge red bull up in the breeding pen." Back to Inyri, his question is a touch cautious, "What sort of canine did you have before?" Because when she sees the ones he's going to show her…

… she may or may not be disappointed, really, because the first thing Inyri says is, "He was kind of a breeding project failure, I suspect. Fur in different lengths, kinda skinny, not that graceful. But he did his job real well, and we haven't got anybody in the same position up at the Gemstone, working crowd control. But I'm looking forward to seeing yours!" They can't be as much of a mess as her parents' old hound, right? No? "And I can help you out," she offers to Ezra, as an afterthought. Inyri never buys anything.

Ezra shoves the rest of his food into his mouth, and stands. "M'done," he says, before he chews and swallows. "Yeah, m'great with animals." He's horrible with animals. "Could work. M'good at workin'. Can't carve anythin' big tho, ain't got no big knives, Th'ero wouldn't let me." Because a big carving obviously requires big knives, right? His eyes dart to Inyri at her offer, but instead of thanking her or being grateful, he just looks suspicious. "Why?"

Crowd control? One brow lifts quizzically at that. Shaggy and skinny huh? "I think I have just what you need," he says with a straight face. While they speak, Edani eats. There's a reason for those well-placed questions of his! Thus his sandwich is finished rather faster than it otherwise might be. He's no match for Ezra though. He's still got about four bites of his sandwich to go by the time the boy stands up. Managing to swallow his chuckle with the bite going down his throat, he finishes the rest of it while he watches the exchange between boy and older girl. Between bites, he assures the lad, "A small one like this," his hand motion yay tall yay wide indicate a palm-sized critter. "And don't go IN the pen to study it, either. He's mean." He's totally serious now and pins the boy with a long look to be sure he'll go along with that warning.

"Because a boy needs a pup." Inyri sounds like she's quoting her father. Inyri probably is quoting her father. She probably even has the facial expression her father would have when saying something like that, but since her father's not in the room and neither of them have met him, comparisons can't be made. "I've got funds I don't really /need/ right now, and if you don't end up wanting to work with animals, I mean, you could come help me out too. I can't actually hire people, but I can sort of just … have people conveniently helping a lot, Koren doesn't ever seem to mind when folks pop up. Also, I'm a shameless bleeding heart, everyone says, and if /everyone/'s saying it it has at least a slight chance of being true. And that," she never runs out of breath, does she? but at least now she's facing Edani, "sounds excellent."

Ezra considers Edani's offer, and then the boy asks (quite shrewdly), "If you dun'like it, will you take the canine back?" Pale eyes regard him for a moment, and then he nods solemnly. "Not stupid 'nough to go in with'a bull." Then he extends his grubby little hand. "Shake on it." Looking at Inyri, he frowns. "Not gonna take charity," he says flatly. Then, with a slight rose blush to his cheeks he adds, "But I'll come help if'ya need it." For free!

Edani, meanwhile is washing the last bite down with his now tepid klah and rising to shrug back into his jacket. He pauses with one arm only in the sleeve to reach out an offer Ezra a solemn but firm handshake. "Promise I won't take it back if I don't like it," he tells the boy seriously. "I'll keep it an when you're a grown man famous for your carvings I can point to it and say I have your first one." Because all the ones he's stabbed got thrown out, right? He pulls his hand back, slips that though the other sleeve and shrugs the jacket back on. To Inyri now, "You coming? I'll warn you: It's wet out there. And muddy."

Inyri's food is gone, and so the only thing that might be stopping her is: "I might want a piece of cake." Though she seems to be dismissing that as quickly as she's saying it, instead following up with, "I can always use help with the washing up, come by the tavern anytime! While it's early enough nobody's going to complain, anyway. You get people being weird about not being quote-unquote adult enough when it gets late enough, and I don't really know what the cutoff for that /is/ — seems arbitrary and depending on rank as much as it does on age! A young apprentice has more rank than a weyrbrat, and so they can stay out later, or — whatever." A slow shrug turns into a roll of Inyri's shoulders, and then she stands up, gathering her untouched knitting bag. "Hey, I'm a fisherman's girl, I can take the mud."

Ezra never took his ill-fitting jacket off, so he has nothing to pull on. It's well made, but dirty and has seen some rough use, and it's way too small for him. Still, despite it being above his hips and the sleeves only falling to the middle of his forearm, and the pulling on the shoulder seams, he stubbornly wears it and waits for the others to be ready to go. Though he does eye Edani for his statement, disbelieving it.

There's naught but an upward twitch of brows, but it's Inyri's knitting bag that's getting the skeptical look rather than the girl herself. Well, he did warn her! He's noticed Erza's jacket but says nothing about how it's fitting. Instead he makes a wordless 'cross my heart' gesture and lifts both palms in a gesture of sincerity, nodding to underscore that he will keep the promise. And then he leads them out into the drizzle, through the mud, up the slippery trail past the feeding pens -and the breeding pens to where there's a rough-looking building where he opens the door and ushers them in. There's straw on the stone floor, to one side is a waist-high counter of steel with some shelves above that with gadgets and tools, bottles and boxes. Some of it fairly scary-looking like saws and clippers and needles. Mingled with the scent of animals is a medicinal smell that can't be all too reassuring. "Wait here," says Edani and then opens an inside door just to their right. Gone but a second or two, he backs out of the stall-like enclosure with something in his arms, turns around to place it on the floor before them. It has huge, dark eyes and a wet nose… and then opens it's mouth, "BaaaaaaaaawW!" It's… a baby calf.

The knitting is protected, in fact, by Liechten; Inyri keeps the firelizard comfortably perched on the yarn and he's spread his wings out to protect it. Maybe that's how he got in the bag earlier, as she did have to have walked to the living cavern from /somewhere/ before. The rain itself doesn't appear to be getting to either one of them, and Inyri's glancing around with the occasional wide-eye and eyebrow-raise at some bizarre animal husbandry implement or another. "What is —" she starts to ask at Ezra, while Edani's gone, but is cut off by his return. She blinks. And says, "Aw, that's cute," and then, "And bovine."

Ezra follows along with lanky, awkward steps, and when the calf is set down he frowns. "You tryin' to pull somethin'?" the youth demands, bristling, "or can y'not hear th' difference 'tween canine an' bovine?" He even demonstrates! "KKKK-anine. BBBB-uooovine."

With a slow grin, Edani asks them, "Are you sure it's not a canine?" Look at it though! So cuuuuute! And tiny. The creature only has eyes for Inyri, staggering over and nearly falling into her before it butts it's head against her thigh. He reaches to scritch the thing behind one ear, while biting back his grin to listen to Ezra, then shaking his head "Not really, no. I just thought you'd like to see her. And give her a name." He settles back on his heels, still crouched on the floor and says, "We do have some pups here. But they're not really mine to sell. My specialty is bovines, not canines. We can ask the herder though. They'll all be needing homes. You want to see them?" Or do they want to pet the wee baby cow? Look at those eyes! How can they resist?

While Inyri can't actually keep a bovine, or house a bovine, or really have much of any idea what to /do/ with a bovine, that doesn't mean that the charm of the calf is lost on her. No, she's very very happy to pet the calf. "Hi there, lady," she says in an affectionate talking-to-animals sort of tone, mimicking how Edani scritched one ear on the other one. "I don't think Lady's a very good name for a bovine, though, is it — she /is/ adorable, even though I certainly can't keep her! So yes, I would like to see the puppies, but. Still. She is cute." Inyri is not actually mad. Inyri is being charmed by baby calf nose rubbing against her hand.

Ezra crosses his arms and glowers at the bovine as if it's personally insulted him. "Meat," he suggests for a name, in a dry, 12 turn old's fashion of humor and sarcasm. "Yes, I want to see the puppies," he says. "We had a deal!" And he's very much into fair-is-fair right now. He does glance over to Inyri though, momentarily captivated by the look on her face, that she's giving to the bovine. Then he shakes his head firmly and looks away. Humph.

Edani is rather taken with the expression on Inryi's face too. "Why not? She is a girl bovine." He's s easy around the skittish creature, hands gentle on the animal as he steadies it so it doesn't flail off anywhere. "Meat isn't what this one is destined for, though a lot of them are," he says to Ezra with a laugh. "This one is going to the breeding pens to help augment the stock." And she's the spitting image of her bull-daddy out there, shaggy reddish-gold hair curling softly over her body. "You might could use her for a model instead of the bull?" Still chuckling, he tenderly gathers the newborn into his arms and stands. "Come on Lady. This way," he tells the two as he steps towards the door he just came out of. Tapping it with his toe, "Can you open that for me, Ezra?"

"That's good. If you'd had me making friends with food, my heart would've broken and I would never have let myself speak to you again," Inyri tells Edani in a tone that is somehow both firm and joking; like she's being so overdramatic she can't possibly be serious, but there is some measure of truth to it. As it is, she doesn't keep the put-out expression on for long; there's too much adorable small animal in the general vicinity, and also people looking at her as if they think she's worth looking at. That's never something to look displeased by.

Ezra notices the way Edani looks at Inyri, and the boy frowns, a bit of jealously flashing through his eyes before it's quickly gone. He's not /quite/ old enough for that yet. Stepping forward, he seems happy enough to help as he cautiously opens the door for Edani.

Edani flashes a level look at Inyri for that half-pretended pique of hers. "Can't get too attached to them, though. In the end most of them go to the feeding pens when they're too old to throw calves. It's the way of things," he says with a matter-of-fact shrug. Still, he's giving the animals in his care affectionate attention, if the way he's soothingly scritching the calf as he carries it along. He slips in through the door, beckoning the others in with a jerk of his head, keeping his expression nonchalant in the face of the so-amusing reaction of Ezra to his admiration of the young woman. This room is a little bigger with several open-ended stalls in them. Most are empty but in one is mama cow, her halter rope tied firmly but her head is turned wide-eyed to see just what they've done to her calf. The beastcrafter returns Lady to her stall gives the nervous cow a few reassuring pats, "There you go momma. Here's baby." Backing out, he continues to the back corner of the room and into the last stall. "These," he says while opening the door of a wire kennel placed in a stall, "are herd dogs. They're going to grow /big/." And he takes the pups out one by one - seven in all and places them on the straw so the two can choose which to look at. They're a pale tan with sharply pointed black-tipped ears and muzzles.

Waving brief greetings to the bovines as they pass through, Inyri plays it cool enough that it's clear she really isn't aware of any masculine animosity regarding her. She's distracted. She's also delighted. There is absolutely no doubt now that Inyri is one of those girls who gets emotional about cute fuzzy things — she's absolutely beaming as she regards the puppies. "Wow. Hello, already growing creatures who are likely to be as big as a table when you get older —" She crouches, extending a hand closed in a fist for them to sniff. "You're a fine looking litter. Much better than the puppies we got back home. Herd dogs, huh? Sounds good for crowd control indeed." Good at herding /and/ huge. Good for /drunk/ crowd control.

By contrast, this is /not/ the canine for Ezra. Big, strong, energetic…big… But the boy looks simply delighted, flopping down onto the ground cross legged and wrapping his arms around the first puppy to wander near. That earns him a nip to his sleeve and a squirming puppy falling over itself to escape, but he doesn't care. And he /laughs/. For the first time since this gathering began. He actually laughs and loses a bit of his scowl, and he looks more like the young boy that he is.

They're an merely an armful right now, soft cute fluffiness but their paws a HUGE so yeah, that's a pretty good indication that they're going to grow and grow and grow. Edani's watching them both now, just soaking up their delight in the pups until his expression falters and a spasm of grief crosses his face, quickly smoothed out with a frown as he turns towards the empty kennel. "They're being weaned," he says roughly a moment later. "They're ready for homes now." When he turns around with the empty food bowl in hand, his expression is back to his easy smile, although a muscle twitches in his cheek as he watches the pups gambol around the pair, each vying for attention. "These are bred to protect the most vulnerable thing in the area. They'll look for something to guard - it's their nature. But…if you want another kind, I can put out the word for something else?" He's not actually sure they want this type of canine, after all.

"I think," Inyri concludes, bright and excited, "that they're just about perfect. Not, of course, that I can take /all/ of them, but I'm sure that at least one will be just about perfect." She's getting climbed on and chewed at and sniffed by a whole group, and it seems hard indeed for her to decide which one she likes best. It's the pups that settle it for her, though, as a mid-range male, maybe slightly on the skinny side for the litter, sits right down on her lap and woofs softly. Just one single sound, the canine equivalent of throat-clearing, but that does it: "Like him," she concludes.

Ezra doesn't notice the grief on Edani's face, since he's too busy being licked and giggling. Yes, giggling. How undignified. He really should not have one of these, but he's not about to say no and he doesn't know any better. "This one!" he announces, holding on to the biggest female in the bunch, who is busy tongue-bathing his face.

Edani can't help but chuckle - but at least it's along with and not at Ezra. He knows nothing about the inappropriateness of the type of dog for the boy, though he does think to ask (belatedly though it is), "You sure your mother won't mind you bringing that home?" The change in the lad is remarkable but he doesn't voice it. Instead he says to the both of them, "Nice choices." And while they're still holding them, he strides over to the wall where woven collars and clipped leashes - in a rainbow of colors - are hanging on a nail. "Pick a color and make sure you can easily work a finger between the throat and the collar to be sure it's not too tight." There's a lock box over on the wall and it's there he points next. "The selling price is 2 marks," he tells Inyri, reaching surreptitiously to slip one mark into her hand towards the price of Ezra's pup.

Inyri's lips press together for a moment, her complexion going ever-so-slightly whiter as Edani mentions Ezra's mother — but she doesn't really know the boy, doesn't /really/ know the details, and it's certainly not her place to say a word. So she doesn't, just smooths it over by talking: "Thank you, sir," she says, more confidently, and giving Edani a quieter smile of acknowledgement before rifling through her bag to come up with the rest of the funds: actually three marks, looks like four. "They've got names, or not? Am I required to keep him intact, or can I get him neutered?" Not that the pup's old enough for it, nor is he old enough to care. Mostly right now he just cares about preventing Inyri from actually standing up.

Ezra freezes, which causes the canine to whine and lick him harder. With a slow movement, the boy reaches up to cup the puppy's cheeks, holding her head steady so he can stare at her. She fidgets and wiggles, but he doesn't let her go as he answers Edani - all while staring at the pup, as if talking to only her. "My family's all dead." As far as he knows, anyway. There's a moment of awkward silence before he's standing, holding the canine lightly by her scruff as he walks, bent over to keep a hand on her, to the leashes. Without hesitation, he picks a black one. "This's one of Stonehaven's colors," he tells the canine solemnly as he puts the collar on her, careful to not make it too tight. "The other'sre turquoies and copper. We might go back there someday, but I doubt it. No one's there now." He's talking only to the canine, already opening up to her in a way he never has to anyone at Fort.

Maybe it's Inyri who should feel awkward; the girl who took off from home because she didn't like one tiny thing that happened, didn't feel like being under the rule of a tiny village, left amongst *scandal* and left her loving family behind. Hanging out with two people whose entire homes and families were wiped off the map by tragedy. But she's not the sort to let that get to her, at least not externally. Externally, she's cheery, choosing a leash and smiling at Ezra and his new friend. "No charge sounds like the best charge," she says, "though I might insist on offering a tip or something. I don't know if you can tip beasthealers, or if that's weird — anyway! Thanks. And food!"

Ezra turns his head sharply to look at Edani, his pale eyes piercing and intense for a boy so young. "Your family's dead two?" Bonding moment! Or not. "How? When? Why?" he asks, voice more demanding than anything, hungry for information as he reaches out to take the bag of food. Inyri is, sadly, ignored. He's got a one track mind.

With as few words as possible, "In a flood. A few turns ago in the Western Isles." It's said as bluntly as Ezra told the puppy only Edani has no shield to use. There's only that rattle of puppy chow as it is poured into the second sack to fill the silence after those words. Then he amends, "Well, I know my parents are gone. Cos they'd have come back if they'd made it." Firmly, "But my sisters are out there somewhere." He flicks a glance at Ezra, "One of 'em is about your age and the other, probably about yours, Inyri." Are…is, he says. Like he's sure. Rising, he steps towards them with a sack of chow in each hand, chuckles to get the sense of normalcy back, "I guess you could tip if you want. Especially if it's me on duty. Apprentices don't make many marks, Senior or not."

"Promise you a tip, then," Inyri tells Edani, putting new collar on new puppy and attempting to make sure it's sized properly for him. "What're they're names, if I may ask? I'll keep my ears even more open. Everything that comes into the area tends to go through me first, beauty of the job," and she looks a little bit proud, even if she's still trying for somber. Not that it takes much to /try/; the conversation is sombering, and her voice is softer than it had been. "So if anyone hears anything, I might know. Even if I do get all the crazy, too, like that fugitives have purple hair and are missing ears or whatever, so I can't always promise /good/ clues."

Ezra nods to Edani, but looks back down to the canine once more. "Mine were murdered. My dad, mom, brother and sister. By Laris." And he frowns, and there is a look of genuine hatred in his youthful eyes for a brief moment. Then the canine licks his face, and he laughs again. Looking up at Edani, he nods. "Hope they are," he says. "And that they're not dead too." Ever blunt, this one. He looks at Inyri, gaze piercing. "If you hear about Laris, tell me." Right. Tell the kid. Not Th'ero or Dtirae or anyone else. Tell /him/. Because he has all sorts of resources at his command.

Oh what Edani could quip back about getting tips from pretty girls! But at the moment he's not in the mood and it would fall far, far flat. He turns, gathers the big sack of chow and pours it into a huge, shallow bowl. The puppies are familiar with this routine and there's a mad scramble for the dish from the ones not being held. "Let them eat, if they want. Save your chow for later." He's busy helping keep order in the dinner-chaos while Ezra speaks of his family and Laris, but he is listening. Laris is someone he doesn't know about but the word 'murder' lowers his brows. When the boy is finished, he reaches over with a fist and gently clouts the lad on the shoulder. "Thanks. You ever want a big brother, I'm up for it," he offers sincerely, but with a touch of diffidence, not wanting to force himself too close too fast. It's okay to say no. "They don't have names yet. You get to do that. The breed is called, Mountain Shepard, though."

The name of the breed is promising, at least. It's a start in the right direction to naming the canines, and also — "Mountain shepherd. Will handle very /large/ drunk people. Noted," Inyri concludes with a laugh, as her puppy discovers that there is, in fact, food available and Inyri is not, in fact, holding onto his collar with a death grip and he can go actually eat it. "And as for Laris? I hear all sorts of ridiculous absurdity on a daily basis, but if I hear anything /credible/, I'll send you a note. Promise."

Ezra lets his girl go so she can eat, beaming when she shoulders some of her siblings aside, using her size to her advantage. Then he looks over, shying away when Edani touches him. Gentle it might be, but the boy is super skittish. "Um…," he mutters, awkward at best. So…that's a no? He's not the trusting sort. Though he does eye Edani for an uncomfortably long moment. Then he looks at Inyri with that penetrating stare. "Thank you," he intones gravely.

Absurd rambling. With a laugh, "Drunk people will do that, yes. I should come listen to them sometime." As for the handling of drunks, "Tripping them until they grow up maybe. But actually, they probably will, since well… drunks can be sorta weak and vulnerable. If there are no infants nearby, they might…" Otherwise she might not get them to leave the child's side. He lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck as he trails off. He knows how they act with vulnerable animals. As for Laris, he frowns. "He sounds dangerous." Giving the young Ezra a significant glance that hopefully speaks volumes about his concern and the unspoken hope that she will let someone in authority know also. As for Ezra himself, he simply accepts that his offer is declined. They just met, after all and he's not pressing. "So. Any thoughts on what to call them?"

"Either weak and vulnerable or insanely dangerous," Inyri agrees. "There's not much of an in-between. And alcoholics are actually extremely vulnerable — even if they're /also/ dangerous." But nobody wants to hear Inyri go on about alcoholics, not even Inyri. She'd rather watch dogs eat. "Welcome to come by and listen to anything anytime, anyway. Tavern's open to the public and I'm always there unless I'm getting forced not to be because I work too much. I promised somebody I'd pick my next pet's name by picking letters out of a hat and rearranging them until they made sense as a name, so I'll let you know when that's done. I promise I'll make the nonsense into something that sounds nice; my canine is not going to be named Wrxsmf." She shifts a moment to push stray hair from her eyes — the trend is expanding! — before smiling at Ezra. "And you're welcome. Of course. Told you a boy needs a pup."

Ezra shifts a little bit, darting a glance at Edani. The boy so clearly wants a friend, but he's so obviously skeptical and broken that he just can't admit it. Can't open up, can't trust. He starts to say something and then stops himself, turning instead to stare at the canines. He can't help but grin, though, at Inyri's Wrxsmf name. "That's funny," he says. "I don't know what I'll call mine. Something strong." He glances at Inyri and just nods - he was thanking her for her assurance she'd pass on any information about Laris. But thanking her for the pup too is important, and he knows his mother would approve of that, so he doesn't clarify.

"True," Edani agrees about drunks, not that HE lets himself lose control like that, but hey. He's seen them, the idjits. "I might just," he says about coming to the tavern, not that he's been there much at all yet, but now he's got a puppy to check up on, right? Ezra is so easily read, but the beastcrafter has a gentle approach rather than a pushy one. "You'll want to avoid too much fatty table scraps. Canines are omnivores, so plain, steamed vegetables are great. Meat, if any is best for them raw. Avoid spices. And the bulk of their diet should be the canine chow. Which, you can buy from us." He frowns. "Or trade for in chores."

"Never be rid of me now, will you?" asks Inyri, and she's got a teasingly predatory smirk — but it's all good-natured, because, of course, she has to buy canine chow now. Which means she'll be there all the time. "Between me in your workplace and you in mine. I hope you come by too, Ezra, whether or not you want to help me with the washing up. Let the puppies spend time together, too." And trip drunks as a /team/.

Ezra listens to Edani and nods, a serious look on his young face. "Okay," he says, giving a soft 'oof' when the canines discover he's got food in his pockets, and start sniffing him all over again. "Gak. No. That's mine…back…" and he starts to step away from the puppies, pushing at them as he tries to get back to the door. "That's my food…" And he almost looks panicked about it, too, as if they're going to rob him of his foot instead of some squishy bits of leftover lunch.

Edani smirks right back at Inyri, "Somehow I think I'll manage to survive." It's usually him, the old herder and the bovines, so. He chuckles at Ezra's panic and hauls two of the pups off of him. Yeah, he was wondering how long it would take for them 'to smell those pockets of the boy's. "Okay you lot. Time to go back into the kennel. It's less crowded now anyway." Especially since they aren't sharing it with their gigantic mother! It only takes him another trip to nab the other three - all floundering towards those wonderful-smelling pockets - and stuff them in with the others. Locking it, pocketing the key, he offers, "Walk you guys back?"

Inyri, of course, had forgotten all about the lunch-swiping. Baby animals happened between then and now. And revelations about dead families. All of which is key to making her normally pretty ironclad memory slip up and lose a detail that she'd only processed for a moment. "Oh dear — you all right?" she queries, making it seem like a total not-a-big-deal. People generally carry food around in their pockets, right? "And — yes, thanks, Edani, that'd be good." Just how leash-trained is her new canine? Inyri is about to find out.

Ezra gives Edani a grateful look when he corrals the canines, and he grabs up his girl's leash and clips it on, giving her face a push when she tries to sniff his pockets too. "No. You just ate." Which…means nothing. "Thanks," he says to the older boy, glancing at Inyri and puffing up his chest a bit. "I'm fine."

That's right! There was that awesome-cuteness of that bovine calf. He says nothing about Ezra's need-to-fill-pockets, though if he sees it often, he'll probably wind up saying something eventually. "It's going to take some time to train them," he warns. "They'll want to follow all the interesting smells." In that case, Ezra should have no problems. "After you," he says politely and when they're out, he fastens the doors firmly. It's still drizzling and there's plenty of mud out there. They're sure going to be busy tonight. Or. One of them might have very dirty bedsheets.


'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.

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