Salt and Cream

Fort Weyr - Lake Shore
This lake shares many features common to mountain lakes — a brilliant blue jewel nestled amongst the rocks. The waters are crystal clear, and the north shore slopes gently before abruptly falling away into the depths. This lake does have one significant differentiating feature, however. The south shore of the lake is a tumbled mass of rubble, rock and earth of an ancient rockslide smoothed only by the elements in the intervening years. This rubble, as well as the rather sheer east and west faces, makes for the north shore to be the only one easily accessible.

Spring's arrival is noted by the disappearing lake ice. As it melts it breaks up into smaller icy bergs. These bob randomly throughout the choppy waters, slowly disappearing as the temperatures rise. They also frequently provide sport and entertainment for the bathing dragons. The emerging shoreline is inviting, though the water remains chilly for their human counterparts. As spring draws nearer to summer, the waters begin to feel quite invigorating with Rukbat's growing shine.

It's the middle of a summer day, and apparently Fort's largest and dryest of dragons has decided it's time to settle in to enjoy a good soak. Kouzevelth is taking up an unprecedentedly unfair part of the actual lake, overly broad wings stretched out to obscure any other larger dragon's potential enjoyment. At the shoreline, Inri is enjoying the weather just as much if not more than her lifemate, with her hair pinned up and wearing a loose-fitting sundress, having eschewed the requirement of footwear. "You're being rude," she calls out into the water, but the dragon pays her no heed, and so with a judgmental 'tsk' she turns to the hide she has in her lap. It's only mostly break time.

Heading down to the lake shore in a new blue and green striped sundress is Katrina. Her wild red hair is pulled back behind her a bit and tugged upwards in a few braids. The pregnant baker gives a bright smile to the large gold dragon hogging the water, looking amused for a moment before she settles herself down with a bit of a noise in her throat. She has a small basket with her and a blanket that she unravels to sit on. Out comes a few treats such as sandwiches and small baked cakes. Tilting her head upwards to warm her face with the sun, she lets out a happy sigh. Free day is free!

"Apologies if she abstructs the sun at any point, she's a thoughtless self-centered piece of work," Inri informs the new arrival in a totally adoring tone. She does love her offensive lump, and so every insult is delivered in about that cadence. "But it also gives me an excuse to speak up, and so I can say that your dress is amazing." The food reminds her to check something else off on her list, but the dress is more her arena.

Blinking her eyes, Katrina glances down at herself once she realizes the gold rider is speaking to her. ".. this? You think this is amazing? Oh! Thank you so much! My parents got it for me, as a .. um.. a congratulatory gift for getting pregnant." She chortles with a laugh as she lays a hand over her pudgy tummy. "And I don't mind her being in the way. She is quite beautiful, so, I could always stare at worse things Would you care for some pie? I made a spicy cinnamon pumpkin." Her smile turns upwards brightly, warm and inviting.

Pretty dress and food. Jackpot for Inri's time semi-off. (She's paying attention to that list, really. Kind of.) "Your parents have good taste," Inri says in a definitive sort of tone, as if this is now opinion and not fact. "Don't give Zel a complex, though, she might start thinking she's pretty — and I will never refuse pie. You're a baker, I think?" Faces of people she doesn't know well: still not a strong point, but she tries. "Maybe you can help me a little, I'm just going over kitchen purchase orders so I can throw this tome at Zhirayr's head and ask him not to pin it on me again, do we really need a hundred pound bag of salt?"

"Yes ma'am, I'm a baker. Apprentice Katrina from Southern Boll Hold. I just transferred here to work with Cook and finally finish some of my studies. I had to put them off due to my mother becoming sick." Katrina rubs the back of her neck, then holds out the small pie for her. "And thank you, again, about the dress. It's the nicest thing I own now. I just had to get it washed because Kai' made me dig around in the gardens for a few hours to help him plant bushes." Silly dragon. "So, this is the second time I've worn it." She gives a quick smile upwards. "And.. we requested a ten pound bag of salt, to help with the meat to keep it fresh. I think he may have put another zero on it by accident. Do you want me to fix it for you ma'am?"

"Of. Course he did." Inri wishes she were surprised by that information far more than she is actually surprised by it; she takes the pie with a satisfied-looking smile and helps herself to a forkful, carefully savoring the flavor before continuing to talk. "Mm. Very good. It's too bad pie makes terrible sands food because it's warm, otherwise the size would be just perfect — um, I can't actually let anyone else write on this but I'll note it, thank you. It may have been someone insisting that bulk was more sensible and went and added in the zero trying to manage costs, but I can't imagine why." She may regret dismissing shopping in bulk later, but it's salt, they can't use that much salt in a short time, can they?

Who knows! She only uses the salt for crusts. Katrina slips out a small plastic bowl of fresh cream that is sealed and hands it over. "Here you go, try a bit of this on top of it. It will give it a nice cool texture to it. Leaning back to pluck a small sandwich out of her bag, she unwraps it carefully and takes a bite. "Bulk I suppose could be sensible. Depends if it will save you more money. I guess if you take ten bags of ten pounds and compare it to a single bag of a hundred pounds of salt, see if there is a cost savings involved. If not, I wouldn't worry about it. At least with the ten pound bags we can get it filled and shipped faster." She rubs her nose a bit. "Father is a Master in the baking craft and he was always very tight with his coin. He'd buy in bulk and preserve it."

"Sounds like certain people I know," Inri mutters, though it's not entirely despairing toward the champions of bulk buying. "I don't doubt the math already got done, I'll talk to him about it. If the requisition wasn't for a hundred pound bag there's got to be some kind of justification." Of course, Nyalle tends to think Zhirayr is competent and listen to what he says and it's only Inri as intermediary who might be causing trouble here. If she hadn't been the one to check it over, who knows if it would've even been noticed. The cream is apparently her new best friend, if one can guess by expression. "That's lovely. A nice blend." And a noise from the lake: "No, you won't like it, be quiet."

Katrina giggles a bit at the back and forth. "You don't think she'd like it? I have a tunnelcat and I like to put the cream on her nose and watch her lick it off. I was thinking of doing the same for Zeruth, if anything to annoy S'ai." Pecking at her sandwich a bit, she hums to herself. "Maybe he heard of a salt shortage coming up and thought he'd strike while the iron is hot to take advantage? This stuff is over my head for the most part." After a moment of thought, she asks, "How long have you been in Fort for? I've been here only a few months. I take it you must have impressed here?"

"Dragons don't tend to like anything but meat, some like fish. I can't really imagine dragons and dairy," Inri admits, though she does not have a very good imagination except when it comes to clothing and mixing drinks. Overall, not very imaginative. "Um, almost ten turns now, actually. We were Zuvaleyuth and Velokraeth's second; I was here about a turn before Impressing, I used to work at the Gemstone." Those are fond memories, still — and gossip will say, and Inri will confirm, that she does sometimes still slip behind the bar.

"Oh, I see. The Gemstone is a nice place. Now that I'm pregnant I suppose the only thing I can get from there is water and juice. So, I get to be boring I suppose until things work out." Katrina puts the half eaten sandwich away, then slips out a bottle of water. "Would you care for a drink? I only have one mug but I don't mind sharing. I don't think pregnancy is catching."
"I don't know if I would mind if it were," comes out of Inri's mouth before she can stop it, which is truly unfortunate because she makes it look as if she wants it to go back into her head where it came from. "Kouzevelth, stop," is what comes next, followed by a nice redirect to, "Anyway, I make the most fun fruit juice blends in existence, so if you can find me feel free to ask, I'm not always working on real work — oh, and yes." She will share that water even if it won't make her pregnant, much to her dragon's chagrin.

"You wouldn't mind if you were pregnant?" Katrina asks with a laugh as she fills the mug and passes it over. "Do you have your eyes on a certain guy around here?" Gossip time! She gives a grin as she sips on the top of her bottle. "Or did your dragon put that thought in there? She wants you to get pregnant?" Her brow quirks upwards. "Sometimes I am so confused about goes on between dragons and their lifemates."

The answer is 'both,' and Inri is at least willing to sort of explain it after taking a sip to clear cream-and-pie from her teeth. A satisfying experience, too. She will never not appreciate good weather, even if she is a natural snow bunny. "Well. Kouzevelth's very strong, mentally. We battled for control for most of weyrlinghood; she adores me but she's very finnicky, and she thinks it's a tragedy how many children she has and I don't have any at all. And I'm seeing someone but we're not — at that point." Actually they haven't talked about it at all because they're both cowards. They're the cowards that took eight turns to get together, just ask a third of the Weyr.

"Oh. Who is it?" Katrina asks as the bottle is replaced and out comes the sandwich again. "Things just kind of happened between S'ai and I. This was an accidental blessing. We talked about it briefly about what will happen once I give birth. But, he seems to want to be invovled and I don't want to be a crummy mother, so I'm having my parents take care of him or her while I finish up my studies." Her lips tug upwards a bit playfully. "I bet having a lifemate is pretty fun at least? It's like having a best friend in your head all the time, right?"

"D'ani. We've always been really close and he was seeing someone else for a while," who is also a good friend of Inri's, so there's some discomfort there but also a general lack of actual hard feelings between the humans involved, "but that ended and we sort of also just — happened, but in a long slow build kind of way that I'm sure the dragons had something to do with. He was her first catcher, actually, though it was a while after that that we got the message. Anyway. Yes. Fostering's great, I think. We had foster siblings when I was growing up, and it works really well, you can visit with your children but can also do your jobs. And, well …" Inri casts another long glance at Kouzevelth. "For some people, always. For others, they aren't really friends per se, more a partnership that loves each other regardless of opinion, more like siblings. She and I definitely go back and forth. She's generally more like a big sister, despite being a lot younger."

"It all sounds rather fascinating. I hope things work out with you and D'ani. He's very good looking." Katrina says with a laugh as she rubs the back of her neck. "I also hope the pregnancy goes well. It will be my first. I wasn't expecting to be with child, especially still as an apprentice. Lucky for me the baking craft is a bit looser with the rules than others. All I do is cook food. Not like being pregnant gets in the way of that. The heaviest thing I ever carry is a mixing bowl." With another look to the dragon, she sighs out wistfully. "We don't have many riders in my family tree. I think maybe one or two, cousins or something."

Inri looks thoughtful for a couple of seconds, like she's mentally counting, and it comes with a confirmatory nod when she speaks again: "Mmm, yep, I was actually the first. Rider. In the family. My brother Impressed here a couple turns after I did, Se'ras." Little Se'ras who is now really not little, but he was twelve at the time! "Our best of luck to you and yours, though. This is a good place to have a family, though I can imagine it must be frustrating to work in a kitchen pregnant — especially since most of the kitchen staff probably doesn't actually let you. Work, that is. I actually hadn't thought any crafts allowed it, but times change and everywhere's not Breakwater."

"Yeah, this was not really planned. I may have had too much Bendan wine and S'ai is really good at talking to girls. I didn't have a chance." Katrina laughs again a bit. "But, I can work, it's just baking. It's really not too difficult. It's not like I'm crippled. Putting ingredients in a bowl and stirring them is hardly stressful. It's the best part of my day. I think I may have broke a rule but Cook is overlooking it for now, at least until it gets farther along." Wringing a strand of red hair about her finger, she lets it bounce once she tugs it free. "Is your brother still here by chance?"

"Yep! His name's Se'ras, with Zemnenith, he rides in Haast." Inri is very clearly proud; having her babiest sibling on a competent brown and actually being good at his job, that's something to be proud of. He had to work harder than she did, she'll say if anyone asked. "I'm sure if you broke any real rule you'll hear about it? But if no Masters have thrown fits, it shouldn't be a craft issue. I know that unless N — unless the Weyrwoman hasn't told me, we haven't gotten any angry letters, though I'm sure everyone would prefer if you weren't working after about halfway through the second trimester, safety and so forth. S'ai is a darling, though I have to admit I hear more about Zeruth. Golds. He's popular with them."

Katrina gives a nod of her head with a giggle. "Yes, he is quite a handsome womanizer. Just like his rider. According to him I've made him an honest man, but we'll see in time how honest he will really be." Giggling, she brushes her hair away from her face. "He is a nice guy though. One of the nicest guys ever to come in my life and I'm hoping it's not a silly dream that I have to wake up from." She motions to the pie. "I hope you like it. If you want more, let me know and I can do something special for you. I am very good at baking cookies as well. Some of my favorite treats."

Inri wants to say something about Dtirae. Wants. Wants. Doesn't. "Maybe that's a thing with bronzeriders. I'm not sure how I got mine either," she admits with a little self-indulgent sort of grin. "Yes, though! I do. Like it. A lot. If you can make cold things, next time we're on the sands — though I hope that's not too soon — I will send you a note."

Paused for RL, posted here by request! The rest will be added in when complete.

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