When you play the Game of Beads...

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.


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The dinner-rush has just passed, so the cavern's not completely packed, though there are still a fair few people lingering at tables here and there, some still eating, some chatting, some drinking, some doing all three at once. At a side-table, there's a Mancala game being played, a slender piece of pale wood with colored glass beads used as markers - though, on second glance, it looks like the game's just drawing to a close. Tivaly, one of the players, wrinkles her nose at her defeat, and her partner - an older woman, plump and pleasant-seeming - says a kind word or two while she gets busily to her feet, departing with an amiable, "Just keep practicing, dearie," leaving the girl to get the game all set-up anew.

Tifla has been keeping a curious eye on the Mancala game all evening. But alas, she's been in no position to sit down and be social. The apprentice baker has been working, though thankfully that is nearing an end. Once Tivaly's opponent departs, Tifla approaches the table side with a chipper, mildly weary sort of smile. "Hello there. I'm about the go off shift, do you need me to bring you anything else this evening?" She asks.

Tivaly, now looking at the relaid game with a thoughtful frown, looks up distractedly at the young woman, surprised by the offer. It takes a moment for her to put all the pieces together, lost as she is in her thoughts of glass beads and wooden hollows, and she smiles away the offer easily. "Thank you, but I'm fine. Far be it from me to delay a fellow crafter from getting their well-deserved end-of-shift rest." And maybe she noticed the girl hovering around the game, or maybe she's just hankering to keep playing, as she adds with a wave of her fingers to the setup, "Do you play at all?"

"Oh, it's no trouble." Tifla claims, though she can't disguise a grateful look in her eyes at the lack of delay. At the question posed, her eyes go back to the board. "A journeyman I studied under taught me to play… not very well, though. Dragonpoker was always more popular with the other apprentices." She admits with a little sheepish grin. "If you're just looking for someone to play a casual game with, though…"

The dinner rush is over, yay!, so the cavern isn't tremendously busy at this time of the evening. There are still a few people eating or chatting or whatever, and Tivaly's one of those, sitting at a side-table with a Mancala board in front of her, all set to go. Thankfully, she seems to have caught the attention of Tifla, who's standing near the table. Stretching her leg under the table until it touches the chair on the other side, she pushes it out with a thrust of her toes, nodding toward it, eyes upon it, to indicate that it's there for the Baker's use. "I'm by no means ready for hard-core bead-games, don't worry."

Nyalle drifts in from the caverns, her skirts swishing gently against her ankles as she makes her way forward. A small nod to a drudge at his quiet offer of tea, and Nyalle scans the room. The sight of the Mancala board catches her attention, and the Senior drifts over slowly. "Sorry," she says by way of greeting, with a small smile, "but what is that, if I can ask?" She nods to the board.

Tifla smiles gratefully at Tivaly, nodding and settling into the chair she pushes out for her. "Thank you. I just hope I don't do embarassingly badly. I'm…" She's about to introduce herself when the senior arrives. Upon spotting the knot she goes wide-eyed and salutes quickly. "M… ma'am."

Tivaly's pale eyes lift naturally toward movement, finding Nyalle about the time that Nyalle finds them, and she lowers her head in a nod rather than tipping a salute. Which, really, she just couldn't pull off. "A game, Weyrwoman. I'm sure it's got a more official name, but I learned it as the Bead Game." And she quick-smiles at Tifla once more, suggesting, "Don't worry about embarrassing yourself. I'm not very good at it yet, and the Weyrwoman doesn't know the game at all, so there's no one to be the wiser. Go first?"

Nyalle smiles gently, returning Tifla's salute. "Hello. Welcome to Fort," she says as she pulls out a chair and settles into it, looking at the board curiously once more. "The bead game? Please, don't mind me, I'll just watch." Another little smile.

Tifla's smile stays on the shy side, if somewhat reassured by Nyalle's response. "Thank you…" She glances back to Tivaly. "That's what the other crafters called it, too…" She studies the board for a moment, then makes her first move, placing her last bead in her store. She follows that up by moving to play from her first pit, capturing the beads across from it. At least she seems to have played before.

"Admittedly, it's not the most fascinating game for spectators," Tivaly comments with quiet amusement, intentionally dropping her voice so it's almost masked by a hearty burst of laughter from a table halfway across the room, where a 'poker game is well under way. Her attention lingers on the more raucous game for a few extra seconds, then down to the board. Her own first play also ends with a bead in the store, then from her last pit. "Does it make sense at all?" for Nyalle.

Nyalle is brought some tea by that drudge, the little set organized on a simple wooden platter. Preparing her tea, she settles in to just watch for the moment. "That's fine, don't mind me." Her question has the Senior shaking her head. "Not yet, but I'm sure I'll catch on."

Tifla also has her attention stolen by the dragonpoker game for a moment before looking back to the game in front of her. "It took me a while to learn all the rules." She assures Nyalle. "It's kinda tricky…" Which seems true, since she has to ponder her next move for a moment before making one which doesn't seem to win her too much.

With a theatric sigh, Tivaly comments, "I think I lost 36 to 12 last time." She's not set up to do so badly this time, but it also looks like they may be evenly matched: neither of them looking toward a landslide. She gets a bead in her store, but it doesn't do her much good, since now she's dropping them in along Tifla's side afterward. "But it's a quicker game to learn than, say, Bitra Hold 'Em, which I'm told is the current match over yonder."

Tifla is certainly no pro at this game. She's concentrating and putting in her best efforts, but it's still clear that she's struggling to decide on the best moves. She manages to put her last in her store again this time, but afterwards she is forced to trail a few onto Tivaly's side. "I like Hold 'Em. I mean, I'm not good at it, but… it's fun. Like this game."

The fact that Tivaly wears her surprise on her sleeve probably accounts for why she has to say things like, "Really? I'm absolutely awful at poker." Though she gives the table, with its jolly laughter and big crowd, a wistful look once more before focusing on the game at hand. Click-click-click go the beads against the wood, and it's only once she's waiting for her fellow player to move that she thinks to add, "As we seem to have skipped over an important piece of conversation… I'm Tivaly, the Harper." She offers a handshake across the board.

"I'm not any good either. it's just… I dunno. Kinda fun to play." Tifla says with a little shrug of her shoulders, eyes studying the board for another long moment before she settles on a somewhat mediocre move. She glances up to Tivaly and smiles shyly as she reaches for that handshake. "I'm Tifla, a Baker. Nice to meet you, Tivaly."

Nyalle laughs softly. "Nyalle, Kayeth's." Only right to introduce herself too, right? "Well met." Her eyes flick to the poker game, and then back. "I was never any good at poker either. I can never remember what I'm supposed to be trying to make."

Set up well enough to start the 'end-game,' such as it were, Tivaly clatters the pieces along after the handshake, down to only two beads left on her side - but they're a good stretch away from the store. There's a brief smile when Nyalle introduces herself, though most of it is hidden while she looks studiously down at the board, and she muses, "I think the ultimate goal is to make money, but it's the little hurdles that keep knocking me down along the way. Alas." She sighs, once more theatrically.

"That does seem to be the most popular way to play." Tifla agrees. "Though the other apprentices always seemed keen on trying to get me to bet my clothes, instead." She rolls her eyes before eyeing the board again. It's going to be a close one, and she doesn't have many good moves left. She makes one that'll at least capture a couple beads for her side.

Nyalle looks a bit shocked at what Tifla says. "Surely…surely not." Right? Please say you're joking.

It's evening, after dinner so it's not too crowded, but there are a few people still eating or socializing. One table has a pretty loud, fun-sounding game of dragonpoker. And one, a few tables over, has a very subdued game of Mancala (a.k.a, The Bead Game) going on between Tivaly and Tifla, with Nyalle there to make sure these two girls don't get all craaaaaazy or anything. "Ahhhh, strip poker. How many apprentices have tried to get over with that so-clever ploy," says the Harper, making a face. Like she's so far removed from such adolescent nonsense.

It's been a long and tiring day for the Weyrleader and he's only just managed to escape to the living caverns in the hopes of grabbing a late dinner. Relieved to find the caverns not overly crowded, his attention is drawn briefly to the loud, fun-sounding game of dragon poker but Th'ero keeps on towards the serving tables. He seems to scan the offerings and, oddly, decide not to take anything more than a small heel of bread which he's eaten by the time he's snagged a glass of wine. Drifting, he's about to pick a spot in which to sit but he pauses as he catches a snippet of conversation. Strip poker? Th'ero's head turns and while he does not recognize Tivaly or Tifla, he is surprised to see Nyalle there. Hmm! "Evening," he greets as he quietly steps over to the group. "Mind if I join you three?" Not awkward, right?

Tifla giggles a bit at Tivaly's reply. "Yeah. Well, I dunno. They're being… optimistic, I guess." She shrugs her shoulders and returns her attention fully to the game. "Hrm…" Her position is precarious, but she's out of options. In fact, her next two moves entirely deplete her side of beads. It'll be up to Tivaly now. When the weyrleader approaches she blinks and repeats the quick salute she gave Nyalle earlier. "… Sir."

Anique tugs off her helmet as she strides into the living caverns, freeing her single long braid of black hair. Next the gloves are pulled off and both items shoved into a pocket of her riding leathers. Her first stop is to one of the tables nearest the kitchen to obtain a mug of klah and perhaps some sort of sketchy dinner since she's been gone from the weyr all day. Her attention also is grabbed however briefly by the loud table playing poker but there's no flicker of interest in her gaze either to go join or watch. Instead her attention shifts a few tables away where she watches curiously as she pours the klah.

Nyalle turns as Th'ero approaches, the Senior smiling gently. "Weyrleader," she greets. "I would not mind if you joined us. Are you familiar with this game? I'm learning." Kind of. "I'd say they're optimistic. Apprentices aren't allowed such things."

"And no apprentice would ever break the rules," Tivaly says with such gravity that she could probably turn the cavern into a black hole if she just kept at it long enough, looking at Nyalle with way-too-wide, way-too-innocent eyes. Dropping the (totally not believable) act, she adds, "I'm not sure that I'd call it 'optimistic' as 'desperate.' And hello, sir," to Th'ero, at whom she offers a quick, polite smile - just in case it came across that, y'know, she meant that desperate to refer to him and not these fictional apprentices.

"Which game are you referring to?" Th'ero asks Nyalle as he looks down at the Weyrwoman with something close to a teasing smile, only to return Tifla's salute and Tivaly's nod with a respectful dip of his head in return. Seems he hasn't assumed that the 'desperate' comment was directed to anyone but those fictional apprentices. Taking a seat next to Nyalle, he catches a little more of the conversation and… may be wondering just what, exactly, he walked into. Sipping his wine (which he may need more of), he eyes the game in progress between the two young women. "Dare I ask what Apprentices have to do with this…?"

Having obtained a small plate of food and her klah, Anique meanders closer to the table currently hosting conversation aout stripping and poker. With both hands full she can only give a quick nod of greeting to the Weyrleader and Weyrwoman. "Evening all." she greets to the table at large, two of the faces unknown to herself. "Room for another to join?"

Nyalle believes it. "Of course apprentices don't break the rules." Looking up to Th'ero, she blinks, and then frowns. Did he just /imply/ something? "This game. The bead game. Ah, good evening, Anique. I think there is. Are you familiar with the bead game? They've been playing."

Tivaly very wisely says nothing more about what apprentices may or may not do when no one with a big knot is looking. Considering the number of cords-and-tassels at this table… She and Tifla are finishing off their game now, with Tivaly winning (but not by much), shrugging as if apologetically at the other girl and moving immediately to reset the beads into their little cubbies, four to each. "By all means," she answers to Anique, using her index finger to slide the board toward the middle of the table: please play, says its placement.

Th'ero totally was implying something without making it so obvious as to embarrass Nyalle. If he ever does tease the Weyrwoman, it's probably just behind closed doors. Not that that means anything, either! Just that the Weyrleader knows better than to piss off his "boss"… or work partner. "Have Apprentices been breaking rules?" he asks quietly with another sip of wine as his gaze drifts back to Tivaly and Tifla again. Well? As for the game, the Weyrleader just shakes his head. "Not sure if I'm overly familiar with this game either." No surprise there. Does Th'ero even know the meaning of 'fun'? "Evening Anique!" He nods his head to her, offering a slight smile. "How're you and Typriaeth of late?"

"The bead game?" from Anique's questioning look it's a good guess that she does not. She confirms that with a shake of her head. "Nope, never heard of it. Then again I was never an apprentice anywhere…" she trails off uncertainly as she eyes the board now slid to the middle of the table. With both of her items being set down she sketches a salute now to both Th'ero and Nyalle. "We're both quite well thank you, Th'er…Weyrleader. Finally home after being gone all day. I hope you and Velokraeth are well?"

Nyalle returns Anique's salute and sips at her tea again, sitting comfortably in her chair and quiet for the time being.

The board may not belong to Tivaly. Or she may just have no emotional attachment to it. Whatever the case, she leaves it there when she excuses herself, saying, "And now, before this particular apprentice gets caught playing games and not working… pardon me." She hands out nods all around while she pushes in her chair, never minding that no one left knows the rules to the game she's leaving behind.


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