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.

Nathaniel has been at the weyr long enough now to have made himself a fixture. The sort of fellow that no one really notices come and go, who keeps to himself and doesn't make waves, but is friendly enough to avoid drawing attention through anti-social behavior. In short, a generally unremarkable sort of fellow, notable only because of the severe limp in his braced leg that has only become worse with the cold weather.

Today, the living caverns are not particularly crowded, so the hollow thok of Nate's cane and the *thud* of his bad leg are more pronounced than usual. He heads first toward the serving tables, but upon arriving there, doesn't look particularly enthusiastic about the contents. After some mulling over the options, however, he leans most of his weight to his good leg and rests his cane on the edge of the table to free up his hands for picking out a few things to fill a plate with.

Nyalle moves slowly, almost cautiously, down the spiral staircase, the skirts of her black and red gown lifted with one hand until she reaches the floor and can let them go to swish against the floor again. Pushing dark hair over her shoulder she looks around before making her way forward with quick steps. "Can I help?" the newly made Senior offers with a gentle smile on her lips.

Nathaniel glances up toward Nyalle, one eyebrow raised with some amusement at the offer. "Unless you've got some klah or ale up your skirts, probably not," he replies, with a gruffness that is not entirely unleavened by a sort of vague humor. His gaze lights on her knot for a brief moment, but he reaches for his cane now that his plate is full, to allow for walking to a table. "Excuse me if I don't remain standing. Are you a new one, or did I just miss you somehow?" he wonders.

Nyalle looks downright /startled/ at his words, her hands pressing /down/ against the fabric of her skirt as if to prevent even the idea of anything being 'up her skirts'. "Please, feel free," she manages to get out, acting on route politeness alone as she follows to answer his question. "I am Nyalle, the new Senior of Fort," she says, sounding a bit baffled by the question. "Had you not heard?"

Nathaniel lands heavily in a chair, looking up at Nyalle with a tilted head, his lips twisting into a wry sort of grin. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I've usually got too much work to do to pay attention to randy dragons. But congratulatoins, I guess." He takes a bite of his food, considering Nyalle for a moment before finally asking, a touch skeptically, "How old /are/ you anyway, lass? Fifteen?"

Nyalle frowns, straightening and lifting her chin proudly. "I don't believe my age is any of your concern," she says, voice prim and a bit haughty. "Though I can /assure/ you I am older than fifteen." Most girls would take being viewed as younger as a compliment. Nyalle seems to take it as an insult.

Nathaniel gives a startled burst of laughter, brows lifting. "Oho! I see. Well, don't mind me, lass. After all, what's a bigmouth cripple next to a lovely young lady, aye and a senior, too. And you know how we Traders are. Tough enough, for sure, but not always blessed with good sense," he claims, though it's hard to say whether his grin is self-depricating or just plain amused. "Here, share my…whatever this is," he offers, poking a fork at what is probably some sort of dried fruit.

Nyalle coughs softly, a blush rising to her cheeks. She hesitates before drawing out a chair and sitting across from him. "Forgive me, I did not mean to let it get to me. Please, accept my apology. And I'll admit I don't really know how Traders are. I have not spent much time around anything but the cothold and the weyr." She does reach out to take one piece of dried fruit though to nibble on.

"Well, we don't spend more time near Weyrs than necessary. At least, I never did," Nathaniel claims, letting Nyalle have whatever she likes. "Anyway, we're no fit company for a proper young lady such as you clearly are… I'd still be hidden away proper-like, getting on with my work, except your cook stole all my herbs, so now I've got to change all my plans. But I suppose that's the way of things."

Nyalle frowns at that, tilting her head slightly. "Stole?" That's a key word she does not like to hear, especially in reference to her cook.

Nathaniel raises an eyebrow. "Well, I expect she had her reasons. Whatever they're doing in there, they seem to think it's truly important. But when spring comes, is it going to be the cook triapsing about on half a leg, through forest and field, to gather replacements? No, I expect it bloody well won't." He doesn't even seem to be taking his complaints seriously, since his tone remains jovial, but no real hint of genuine irritation. He finally takes one of the dried fruit pieces for himself, chews for a moment, then lifts a shoulder. "Hm. Well, that's not bad at all, is it?"

Nyalle frowns again, turning to look at the kitchens. "But the weyr should not be /stealing/ from traders. What would you value your herbs? And I can assure you I will pay for them and have a talk with the cook." A rookie mistake, letting him name his own price essentially. What's the going rate for herbs these days? Nyalle might not know.

Nathaniel looks at Nyalle with a little smile, considering her for several moments. He eventually pushes the plate away slightly so that he can leans his elbows on the table, leaning toward Nyalle in a slightly confiding pose. "Well, I /could/ let you pay me for them, but it'd be downright evil of me to let you do it, wouldn't it? I've got a standing agreement with your headwoman to trade my soaps for shelter and food, what with my being unable to keep up with my caravan and all, on account of this leg. So if you turn my supplies into…whatever they're turning them into, you're really only stealing from yourself." He grins, crookedly, and offers, "I guess it's true what they say about you weyrfolk, letting your dragons'…ahem… private parts appoint your leaders? I always figured there /had/ to be more to it than that…"

Nyalle considers, before she dips her head slightly. "Production has shifted from soaps to food, that is clear. But please do not hesitate to ask if you need help gathering your supplies come spring. The children, the candidates…there are plenty of hands and bodies able to gather." Then she coughs, a blush rising to her cheeks. "The mating flights, yes. Since Dtirae stepped down, ancient custom decreed that the next gold to rise would take on Senior. And it was Kayeth." So, that's why she's Senior and not the older, favored Inri. "There isn't more to it than that. Though I have heard of weyrs going to the Weyr Council to protest if the mating flight is truly an…unfortunate one." Here she grimaces, glancing away briefly.

Nathaniel rolls his eyes a little, with a grin. "Only in a weyr," he comments, with amusement. "You know, in the Traders, you wouldn't even be expected to have your own wagon, much less be leading the whole bloody caravan. It's not at all fair to you, lass. Don't your ancient customs at least give you some sort of… teacher or… adviser or something?" he wonders, reaching to pick up another piece of dried fruit as he awaits the answer with all evidence of curiosity.

Nyalle nods with a low laugh. "They give us dragons. Shiny dragons," she adds with a small smile, her eyes going positively /simpering/ at the mere thought of her fiery queen. "And there are two retired weyrwoman in this weyr, and two juniors. And the Weyrleader has not changed, so I have guidance. If I need it." And seek it. She shrugs. "It is how it is done."

Nathaniel grins a little, "Well… Shiny as they are, from what I understand, your dragons are even younger than you are. Or do you Impress them at birth? When I was a lad, my best friend wagered you were born of the dragons themselves, but he was a stupid lad." He has another bit of fruit, then leans slightly toward Nyalle, raising his brows and tilting his chin down, his voice lowering to a more conspiratorial hush, "Mind if I give you just a wee bit of advice?"

Nyalle laughs, shaking her head. "No, we do not. Impression age starts at around twelve and thirteen. I impressed my Kayeth two turns ago, thereabouts." As for advice, her fine brows lift and she leans forward slightly, watching him. "Please."

Nathaniel grins a little, and when she assents, he says, "First of all, never let them see you squirm. No matter how offensive they are. Second, if they mention your age, don't get angry or make a face. It makes you seem childish. Not that you /are/ childish, o' course, but it doesn't matter what the truth is. It only matters what people think. Get 'em to respect you, and the battle's half won."

Nyalle clears her throat softly, and inclines her head. "They should already respect me," she murmurs, glancing around the caverns and then back to him, her gaze even. "I am the Senior."

Nathaniel smirks a little. "Well, they /should/, but not all of them /will/. But perhaps I'm wrong. What does a Senior weyrwoman need with advice from a crippled old man? I'm sure you're doing fine." He has another bit of dried fruit, and grins. "What's your favorite scent, lass?"

Nyalle laughs softly, shaking her head. "You're hardly old, sir," she assures him, but then she's grimacing ever so slightly. "I'd appreciate it if you'd not call me lass though. That does nothing to make me seem mature enough to handle Senior. And I like anything fruity. I adore fruit." No sense hiding it.

Nathaniel laughs a little, and leans against the table, "Ah, but there is old in body and old in spirit. I could tell you some tales, I could… But I wouldn't wish to offend you any further. What shall I call you then? Senior Weyrwoman seems a bit of a mouthful." He considers her a moment, thoughtfully, then offers, "I'll have some citrus soap that you'll enjoy, I think. I won't have any more until summer, I'm afraid, but as soon as I do, I'll send you some."

Nyalle smiles, the look gentle and kind. Mature. "Weyrwoman suits, or ma'am." And then she smiles, brightening slightly. "You're a soapmaker then? Forgive me, with the talk of herbs I thought you were a baker. And thank you, I look forward to it."

Nathaniel grins a little at that brief flash of maturity, "Well, I had in mind a name, but I suppose that will have to do. I'm just Nathaniel. Trader Nate, if you like, though I suppose it's ex-Trader Nate, these days." The smiles quickly turns to laughter when she reveals her assumption, and he shakes his head. "No, no. Soapmaker, that's me. The herbs are for the scent, and sometimes for healing."

Nyalle offers her hand across the table, fingers curled and palm down - not a hand to shake, but a hand to grasp. Polite and proper for a lady. "Well met, Trader Nathaniel, it is a pleasure. And ah, that would make sense then. Please do ask for help when spring comes and it's time to harvest. It'd be good for the young ones of the weyr to learn to identify such things in the wild and how to care for them."

Nathaniel grins a little and takes Nyalle's hand. His hand is rough, with burns here and there in various stages of healing, but gentle enough in grasping Nyalle's hand before releasing it. "Well met. And I will consider it. I suppose it couldn't very well hurt anything, but the recipes are family secrets, you understand. Traditionally speaking, we gather our own supplies."

Nyalle smiles, inclining her head as she withdraws her hand and pushes to her feet. "I respect tradition highly. Just know that the offer is there, if you have need of it. Now if you'll excuse me?"

Nathaniel nods a little, "I may yet take you up on it. And of course, if there is yet anything a lowly Trader can do for you or the weyr, do feel free to let me know."

Nyalle continues to smile her polite smile, and dips down into a shallow curtsey. "I will remember, Trader Nathaniel. Take care." And with that, she's making her way back towards the spiral staircase, taking her time as she moves up and then vanishes into the tunnels above.