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.

There really isn't a variety of food. M'lo settles Dani on the floor and uses one hand to hold hers, while the other gathers a plate full of vittles. "Fingerroots," M'lo says. "Tubers." Dani tries to repeat what he says. "Wooods. Doobas." M'lo grins at his daughter, and when she smiles back, it's evident where she got her smile from - her dad. "You're so smart!" he praises. "Do you want redfruit?" "Yeah," Dani says, and nods her little head. "Okay," says M'lo, and piles them on. He adds some wilted greens as well, and a spoonful of porrige. "We'll get you some better food soon, sweet girl, I promise."

Ghosting along behind the very short train of people is a Cyanosis-wearing Galina, who cants a look over the array of food with a slight, barely perceptible wrinkle of her nose. But, she reaches for a bowl all the same and trails along to gather a bowl of some species of oatmeal with a bit of chopped, dried fruit to mix into the normally bland mash. Tea is eventually acquired as well, though she regards it with abstract dubiousness. And Cyanosis? He's just chattering up a storm, enough of one that the girl finally gathers a few scraps of dried meat.

Flavia it would seem is only passing through the caverns, but all the same it appears she's of recently finished mucking some stalls. Likely as soon as she left the galleries, and it shows in the muck clinging to her boots and the rich aroma that seems to herald her coming.

Ely trails along behind M'lo, though seems to be almost pulled by the tiny form of Milana - the little girl is clutching her mother's hand, though is stretching her arm to its limit as she tries to direct traffic. "Alriht, alright," Ely manages on the end of a fond sigh, trying to gather food as best she can with the girl pulling at her other hand - it's a hard thing to do, for sure. "Can you find a seat for us, love? I'm … ah … kind of busy," she manages as she tries to keep Milana close to her but to no avail. Grimacing, she tries to amass a plate of greens and tubers, though it's taking al ot longer for her.

"Sure, love," M'lo calls over his shoulder to Ely. He says, "Dani, let's sit." And Daniela solemnly finds them a table and pats where she wants to sit, though she's just a bit too small to clamber up there on her own. M'lo sets the food down. "Galina, there's enough room here," he offers, so she'll join them. He sits and then puts the toddler on his lap where she can reach the food. "So how's the Healer-thing going?" he asks her. "Removed any more appendixes, lately?" He hands Dani a spoon and she grasps it awkwardly and tries gamely to scoop some diced redfruit onto it. M'lo occasionally intervenes with another spoon so that none of the food spills off of the plate. He can't help but wrinkle his nose at the ripe smell of Flavia walking by.

With her paltry breakfast in hand, Galina simply watches the whole thing with an impassive eye until a table is eventually claimed. There's a shallow tilt of her head in ackowledgement and then she claims a seat, with Cyanosis uncoiling to perch on the table and await his own breakfast, offered up as it is on Galina's palm. "It has been satisfying," Galya intones by way of answering. "I have not removed an appendix, but I have had a few interesting cases requiring a significant amount of suturing. But, between continued lessons, the occasional bit of hands-on work, and my other duties, I have been kept sufficiently busy." Flavia's unique aroma elicits a glance in that direction, a thin crease forming between her brows.

Flavia is not unaware of all the various nose wrinklings as she passes them, but she holds up a hand and notes dryly "Going to bath, dirty work in the morning you know. Not that I'd want to upset your breakfasts. The clutching though, always exciting!" she yammers on a moment more before she passes off into the lower caverns.

Haltingly, Ely joins the group with Milana bravely leading the way with heavy footfalls and much noise as she tries to make her mother hurry more. Stolid and stubborn, Ely goes her own pace and carefully balances the plate of food in her other hand. "Lovely," she muses as she slides into a seat next to M'lo, sliding the food onto the table in frnt of her, "We'll talk about ripping organs out and suturing flesh while eating breakfast, then?" A delicate shudder rolls through her shoulders - healers have never been her favorite subject. With a quick movement, she grips Milana underneath the arms and slides her into her lap, making sure she's comfortable. Immediately, before anything can be done to intervene, Milana sticks her hand in her porridge with a delighted giggle and sets about nomming at the gooey stuff on her fingers. Somehow Ely finally manages to notice the smell drifting from Flavia, and she glances up in time to wrinkle her nose, "Yes. The clutching. Always exciting. Much better than mucking stalls, I'd say." Milana, waving her gooey fingers, concurs with a, "Egg-howe!"

M'lo nods at Galina. "Busy is good," he agrees. "Very good. But sometimes you do have to take a break. You know, rest your body. Rest your mind. Keep going for too long with either one and you're looking at exhaustion." Dani finally manages to scoop a nibble of redfruit onto her spoon and brings it haltingly toward her mouth. Most of it makes it, but one piece falls off and dribbles down her chin. M'lo manages to scoop it up with his own spoon and eats it himself. "If you really wanna be busy, though, you should try having a kid. It never lets up, lemme tell you." He only idly watches Flavia walk by. "Have a nice bath," he calls.

"Fortunately, I have no interest in reproducing." This is flat, matter-of-fact, as Galina continues to offer bits of meat on the palm of her hand for Cyanosis. Her own food is ignored for now, for the sake of making sure the blue is content. But, admitting whether or not she gets enough rest is another matter and, true to form, she simply says nothing at all on the matter and, instead, looks to Ely with a mild, "That is as graphic as I intended to get. The particular details are unsuitable for young ears." Flavia's passing is noted in a peripheral sense, though she seems to have lapsed into a comfortable silence for now.

Ely fumbles for a moment with some napkins and, with a few quicks trokes, wipes Milana's fingers clean of goop. Milana stares at them sorrowfully for several seconds until she finds a spoon hovering in front of her, which she grabs awkwardly. "Go on, Mila love. See? your sister can do it," she encourages quietly, guiding the girl's spoon towards the porridge. "Kids happen even if someone intends not to reproduce or not," Ely remarks absently to Galina, her attention half focused on her daughter's eating. She does glance up though, one eyebrow arched, "Did you enjoy the clutching, anyways? You seemed …. a bit stiff." Something of a smirk seems to play about her lips, though she tries to hide it by dropping her gaze a moment.

M'lo chuckles at Galina. "Yeah, well, Milana and Daniela are the happiest little accidents /I/ ever had," he tells her with a grin. He looks down at the auburn-haired toddler on his knee. "Dani," he says. "Say hi to Aunt Galina." Dani looks up at Galina and blinks for a second. "Hi," she says. Then she goes back to chasing food around the plate with her spoon, which forces M'lo to round up the escaping tidbits with his own cutlery.

"Between is useful for those who have no particular drive toward it," is Galina's deadpan response. "As well as several other herbal combinations that resolve the matter." Her food? Barely interesting, even now that Cyanosis has eaten his fill and settled into a pseudo-food coma on the table. Don't mind him as he slides a lid open to peer at the girls and their feeding antics, though. He's totally innocent. Really. The healer leaves the topic there, however, a shoulder rising and falling with indifference as her spoon is set to work to … stir things. The 'aunt' part gives the poor girl a start, though, and her neutrality breaks just a little into something deeper. Troubled, perhaps. It's fleeting, but there nonetheless. "Hello," is her response, something of an echo. To Ely, there's a bland, "I would not have come if Lyuba did not insist. Clutchings are not something I particularly enjoy; the end result rarely bodes well for those working in the infirmary."

Ely grimaces just a little, curling an arm tighter around Milana at the words, "Accident or no, I'm glad we kept them. I mean … I can't believe anyone would've suggested Betweening to get rid of them. I can't imagine life without them now." Soemthing of a fondness grips her voice and she swallows once, perhaps unnecessarily. Hiding the fact she was suddenly gripped with motherly emotion, of all things, she adds with a sharper tone, "Anyways. You don't throw life away without a good reason." The brief bout of emotion is gone now and Ely is back to relative normalcy as she smirks a little, "Clutchings don't bode well for the Infirmary? Do a lot of eggs land on people, perhaps? I would think hatchings would pose more dangers. I mean … " Trailing off, she blinks once, her eyes unfocusing briefly. Disconcerted, she completely misses Milana's crazy spoon antics as she glares at the door to the bowl. "/No/," she hisses to no one in particular - likely her dragon. Tensed, she tries to focus on the conversation again. Milana waves a porridge covered spoon at Galina and happily echoes, "Hi!"

A whoosh of cold air greets the room as someone enters from the bowl - is that a flash of pear green hide visible through the opening? It couldn't be. Whatever it is, it's covered up as soon as the door swings shut again.

M'lo just shakes his head. "Well, sure. I mean, if someone feels like that's what she's gotta do… then it's not my business. But I'm glad Ely decided to have the babies." He bounces Dani up and down on his knee and she breaks into a wildly gleeful peal of giggles, her auburn pigtails bouncing everywhere. "Daddy!" she shrieks, and waves the spoon much like her sister. Luckily, only one withered leaf of something green is stuck to it, and it manages not to flutter off. M'lo gives Ely a strange look. "What's up?" he asks.

"Typically, clutchings result in candidates and candidates result in unskilled hands in the infirmary. Or injured candidates doing tasks they are not familiar with, such as kitchen duty. The list is extensive." That being for Ely, of course. M'lo gets a single, slight nod, but naught else as Galina picks a bit of apple out of the mush in her bowl, regards it, and then reluctantly pops it into her mouth for a long bout of mechanical chewing. A sidelong look is shot to the door when it opens and shuts, a slight narrowing of her eyes coming with it, as if attempting to discern the source. But, ultimately, she dismisses it, with a glance tilted to the spoon-waving Milana. "Hello," is given for that wee one as well, while she straightens and sets her spoon in her bowl. "If you keep doing that, Cyanosis might try to take your spoon," she warns, though there is a faint, joking edge to her typically flat tone. The blue in question lifts his head with a warble, one eye opening fully to /peer/ at the porridge-spoon. Scoot. Scoooot.

Ely massages at her temples with the tips of her fingers, casting a sidelong glance at M'lo, "Mags is being … /Mags/." There's fondness in her voice, though also the sound of exasperation lingering there too. Breathing out a short sigh, she hunches her shoulders a little and tries to ignore whatever is being assaulted at her, trying her best to focus on the conversation at hand. "Yeah. Well. Some candidates and knivess houldn't go together. For sure," she agrees with a absent flick of her hand, "Though it's not like many of them actually chop their fingers off, do they?" The roll of her eyes might suggest she thinks not. Bouncing in her mother's lap, Milana continues to wiggle her porridge spoon about, sending a few flicks of the gooey stuff flying in no particular direction. The little girl doesn't seem to notice the sneaky blue - she's too busy making a mess. And it's am ess that Ely is ignoring, as her eyes have unfocused again. There's a few seconds of silence before a pained expression crosses her face, "/Fine/. Just /stop/ saying /please/, will you?" Heaving a sigh, she squeezes the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, "Galina. Do me a favor, will you? Can you go open the door to the Bowl and let Mags have a look at you? For some reason she's finding your tone of voice amusing and wants to see you for herself." Her eyes unfocus again and she grimaces, "She's mimicking your voice, too."

Indeed, the door ot the bowl swings open again briefly as someone walks in - it shows the briefest hint of a whirling eye surrounded by pear green hide. Then the door closes again.

"One did. But that was at Ista, when I was first posted there," Galina replies on the topic of digit removal via kitchen knife. But, she refrains from offering any further details, perhaps only because Ely's making her query — or, is it a plea? What might have been a sense of dismissiveness is replaced with full-blown wariness, coupled with a sudden tension that threads through her shoulders and down her back. It pulls at her jaw as well, though a few deep breaths are enough to calm her to some degree. "Of course," is flatly offered and she pushes to her feet. Her stride is measured and slow until she reaches the door, pulling it open fully and simply standing there, mute and unblinking … and leaving Cyanosis behind to sniff at her abandoned bowl of porridge and then to sneak closer to the mess-making Milana. That's more exciting, anyway!

Ely breathes out a sigh of relief as Galina accepts the request, "Thanks. She was /really/ being a sharding pest about it. I can't think why … I mean … " Soemthing catches her attention again and she's cut off mid-sentence, those mismatched eyes of hers unfocusing again. Morning sunlight is blocked at the bowl door as Maglinoth's pear green head lowers to peer just inside. Despite her tiny size, it's hard to see anything but a giant whirling eye and a flash of pear green. A brief second and she shifts, nostrils snuffling at the door, as well as Galina, with great gusts of air. Satisfied, perhaps, she lets a soft trilling croon escape from her throat - an almost musical sound. Almost at the same time Ely lets out another breath, eyes blinking fitfully as she pulls her focus back to the room, "Well." Silence reigns for a second as she tries to pull words out of thin air, "I'd have to hope you'd have more sense as a candidate /not/ to chop your fingers off. Mags here is insisting that you'd do well on the Sands. She … she likes your voice and thinks the little dragons would like it, too." She makes a face at that, apparently having been forced to relay the information, but adds hastily, "You'll accept, won't you?"

Milana, oblivious to the goings-on, waves her spoon like a magic wand and swings it at the blue firelizard with a delighted giggle. Swish!

M'lo inhales in shock at what Ely says, and a mouthful of tubers nearly goes down the wrong pipe. He chokes and splutters and turns red. He starts coughing, and tubers fly everywhere as tears stream down his face. Dani watches the entire performance with enormous moss-green eyes. "Daddy?" she asks, her little voice tremulous. M'lo grabs a napkin and starts mopping his face, still coughing weakly. "What?" he manages to eke out to Ely, his voice thready and thin.

"I see." And Galina is silent for a long while after, leaving the door open even after the dragon seems to voice her satisfaction. Such silence reaches levels of awkwardness that might be better felt by others, though a lingering sense of tension renews itself in the set of her jaw and the way her one hand, the one hanging at her side and not occupied with holding the door, starts to seize up. "I am obligated to accept, Ely," comes some moments later in a voice that's drained of anything resembling amusement or happiness (not that she's one terribly inclined toward either), while the young woman half-turns to tilt empty gray eyes in the greenrider's direction. M'lo's state is caught in that look, but her attention is settled squarely on Ely. "But the Hall is not obligated to release me." There's a slow blink, then: "It will be discussed with the Craft Master." Meanwhile, Cyanosis, oblivious to everything going on around him, is happily splattered with porridge and starts to roll around, trying to lick it off himself. Hey, it's on him! He might as well take advantage! Homnomnom.

Ely startles a little, reaching out quickly to thump the flat of one hand on M'lo's back and rub at it in quick circles, "Shells, love, don't choke." There's a flicker of concern there for a moment until she's sure he's not really inhaled a tuber. Then she jerks a thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the bowl, rolling her eyes at the ceiling, "It was Mags." Putting on a higher pitched voice she mimicks her dragon, "Please, Ely, oh please? Please, can I? Please please please?" Dropping back to her normal voice, she lets out a sigh and grimaces, "It's impossible to deny her anything when she's like that." Then her attention drifts to the stiff form of Galina, silence reigning for several seconds until she manages, "So, you do accept, right? Mags would be /really/ upset if you didn't." She flicks a glance at the door to the bowl - or more aptly the whiring eye still fixed there - and adds, "I'm sure the Craftmaster will let you. I mean … she can't deny your wishes, can she?" Or Maglinoth's wishes, for that matter, considering there's a rumble from the green outside. Ely eyes M'lo sidelong, one hand still wrapped around Milana securely, "You … do you have any of those candidate knots with you?" Obviously she's unprepared to have stumbled over a candidate so soon after the eggs arriving.

Milana giggles brightly and wiggles her spoon more, sending further globs of porridge at the blue. It seems she's found a new game, atleast.

M'lo ends up shaking his head and drinking something, and after a couple more weak coughs and a reassuring hug to Daniela, he's okay to talk. "You're not obligated to accept," he tells Galina. "It's entirely your choice, whether or not you wanna Stand. All we can do is offer you the opportunity. It's not easy, to be bound by chains of love to a creature who will rely on you for the rest of your life, and share your mind. But it's worth it." He clears his throat and has some more water. He shakes his head at Ely. "No, actually, I don't. Shards, the eggs were laid less than an hour ago. But," he turns to look at Galina. "If you want to accept Candidacy, you know where to come. I'll have a knot and a cot waiting for you."

Grim-jawed, Galina nods, once, with all the pleasure of a machine and intones, "Yes." A lengthy pause fills the void before she confirms more eloquently with: "I accept." Pale eyes slant back to the single whirling one that fills the doorway and she explains, "I am going to shut the door now, Maglinoth." The warning is a courtesy, for the door is released to be shut a mere heartbeat after the warning is given. She turns to return to the table in question — that porridge-y, oatmeal-y, whatever-it-is that she had? Not being eaten — with the sole intention of reaching out to- oh. Cyanosis is covered in mucky stuff. That just flattens her mouth further. He doesn't care; he's in 'lizardly heaven, trailing porridge and mess all over where he can't clean it off himself. "Yes, I know," is for M'lo, though her gaze levels on Ely, "She can deny, or not, at her whim. I have seen her do it before; I will not put it past her to do it another time."

Ely suddenly seems to notice what Milana is doing and, with gentle fingers, guides the spoon towards the girl's mouth rather than the firelizard. "Trust Mags to insist on being the first one to snag a candidate," she grumps, trying to make sure her daughter actually gets something to eat rather than throwing everything around. "But M'lo's right. It's a huge responsibility but it's worth it. It's very much worth it. It's a long haul, for sure, but it's the best thing in the world." She breathes out a sigh, glancing up just in time to see the door shut on Maglinoth's whirling eye, her gaze focusing instead on Galina now, "If you accept then you are a candidate. A candidate unless your Craftmaster orders you to deny it." She lifts her shoulders in a faint shrug, "But a candidate I'll consider you. Milo and I can show you to the barracks after breakfast and … you can speak with your Craftmaster afterwards." She does give the girl a smirk, "But be prepared to report for chores tomorrow morning, regardless." She seems fainlt cheered, atleast - perhaps it's mainly due to the fact Maglinoth has stopped nagging her now that her chosen one has agreed more or less. Milana, on the other hand, is fussily eating porridge - it's a lot less fun to eat than it is to fling around.

M'lo feeds Dani a few spoonfuls while Ely and Galina talk. "Like I said, you know where to find me," he repeats to Galina. "Let me know if your superior will let you go. Until /then/, I'll just make preparations, in case you are freely allowed your chance to Stand." He grins up at her. "Better safe than sorry. If one of those eggs is meant for you…" he trails off and lets her imagination fill in the rest.

"Of course," Galina responds to Ely, though her attention settles on M'lo. "If one does, then so be it." But she is not one to be pulled terribly far by her imagination, it would seem; if anything, the thought just pulls her features all the more taut. Strained. "I will need to inform Lyuba first, so she is aware that she will have to retrieve me later." It's only fair, after all; the poor greenrider was probably figuring on a quick jaunt, much like her grudging passenger. "I also need to clean Cyanosis off," is added with a pointed look to the blue who finally stops when he earns that Look and Milana's distracted with actually eating. "I will send word when I have spoken to the Craft Master." But there is no lingering, no 'thank you', not even a smile for the offer of a lifetime; there's just a blandly issued, "Be well," and then she turns, heading not through the main doors out, but seeking the lower caverns, likely to loop around through the infirmary in a rather long circuit to make her escape — and all with a squirmy firelizard in her hands. Wonderful.
Ely gently guides Milana's spoon towards her mouth, managing to get a little bit more porridge inside there despite the fact the girl isn't liking it all that much. "You too," she manages in response to Galina's farewell, glancing up only briefly to catch the girl's silent departure. She does watch her leave, a faint frown of thought pulling at the corners of her lips. "Hopefully her Craftmaster lets her. It might do her good. Maybe she'd actually smile now and again," she remarks idly to M'lo, sinking back into feeding the girls for now. It's only when they're finally alone completely does she look back up and over at her weyrmate, one eyebrow arching as she smirks, "Did you still have anything in mind for this morning? I think we still have some time to kill. Alone." There might be something suggestive in that fairly harmless statement or a hint of wickedness in the faint grin that spreads over her lips. Not that she lets anyone but M'lo see it.

Dani is done. M'lo is glad. "You know," he says, and pretends to be out of breath. "I think those tubers going down the wrong tube did something. I might need some tender care at home." He grins right back at her, then stands, and hurries with Ely to get back home, without the twins in tow, as fast as possible.

'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.