Fort Weyr - Living Caverns (#10592RJ$)
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.

Though autumn's colors still cling to the leaves of trees, the first inklings of the coming winter have curled around the weyr, sometimes manifesting in a low, clingy fog upon the lake, and other times in a breeze that is just this side of chilly. Siobhan, lacking the vest and cuff that would mark her as participating in a hunt, sorely misses the garment now, turning her shoulder against the wind with a quiet mutter as she darts into the living caverns. Dodging the late morning hub and bub, the beastcrafter snags a cup of klah and a plate of goodies before diving into the seat of a recently vacated table. She looks relieved, but also expectant, gaze constantly flitting towards the door as if waiting for someone to come through. Maybe that's why she's eating like the food before her was the last of it on Pern? Maybe…

The door swings open, but somehow it seems doubtful that the lanky healer that enters is the person the young beastcrafter is looking for. At least the dishevelment of early parenthood seems to have past as Darius is now entering his second month. It's early enough that the caverns aren't packed full, but Pralius is moving slowly, kind of an odd zombie-shuffle, as he retrieves his klah and settles into his usual chair, not realizing the table is already taken.

So preoccupied is she with her diligent watch of the door and her even more diligent devouring of her food, Siobhan barely notices Pralius's approach, already having written him off and filed him away as yet another person that was not her mentor. "Eep!" She is, obviously, surprised then when the healer drops into a chair at her table, nearly scaring the girl out of her skin and definitely causing her to squeak into cup of klah. Pale eyes flick over his person, but apparently his drone-like state isn't a threat enough for her to run away. Instead, she clutches her mug close to her chest and eyes him with all of the wariness of a calf facing a dragon. "Er, I mean… Hi. Can I help you?" Yep, that's what she meant to say all along! Obviously. At least poor Pralius has distracted her from staring at the door.

Pralius jumps when she yelps, spilling some of his klah to floor and table in the process, "Oh, shards, sorry. I didn't see you there… I'm…" He blinks a few more times, takes a sip of his klah, and then a deep breath, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to invade your table…I can… go if you want…"

Siobhan likewise jumps, but for her, it's because the klah's spilled, and laundry might as well be the bane of her existance - if she could escape laundering her clothing /again/ this week, she will! "No, no, don't worry about it," the girl says in a rush, hands waving away his offer to leave. "Not necessary, it's fine. In fact, /you/ stay and I'll go get something to clean this up with." Sio flits away, hopefully before Pralius can argue, but either way the girl has selective hearing and will likely to ignore protests anyways. At least she makes good on her word, returning with an old rag from the kitchens staff and the assurance that a drudge would be along sometime to clean the floor. "Here. Get any on you?" She offers the healer the rag with an upwards tilt of her brows, inspecting him for a moment before she takes her seat, apparently not deterred from eating her meal in the least.

Pralius raises one hand in an attempt to wave her back to her seat, "A- bu-… nevermind." she's already gone. A soft sigh emits from his lips before he stands, carefully moving to a less klah-wet side of the table. When she returns, he shakes his head, "nope. I managed to only hit the wood, I think." He sets the mug down carefully, then extends one hand, "here, let me get the floor, at least. Doesn't seem fair to just sit back and let you clean up my mess." There's a pause, then a moment of seeming epiphany, "oh, sorry. I'm Pralius, by the way."

"Oh, good." Siobhan says, voice reflecting relief. "Klah stains are dreadful to have to get out of clothes." She shudders at the thought, resuming her mopping of the table absently before giving Pralius a sideways, considering glance. The beastcrafter shrugs after a second and then slides him the slightly damp cloth with a, "Fair has little to do with it, but here you go." Turning to her plate instead, Sio takes a more lady-like bite of her pasty, watching the healer's epiphany dawn with an impish twist of her mouth. "Well met, Pralius. I'm Siobhan." A second glance at his knot seems to remind the girl that she's looking for someone, and inevitably, her gaze is drawn towards the door. "Healer, huh? Do you know…" A slight frown appears between her brow as she struggles to remember something. "A girl. About this high, black hair, quiet? I met her the other day in the smithy, but I can't remember what they called her." This is apparently a frequent problem, if Siobhan's vexed frown is anything to judge by.

Pralius grabs the damp rag and folds it over to a drier spot before kneeling down to start wiping the floor, "Galina? yeah, I know her." He doesn't even have to wonder who the 'quiet' dark-haired healer is. His eyes pop up over the table just long enough to meet her eyes and murmur, "Well met, Siobhan." Before he pops back down, sopping up the last of the klah. He groans slightly as he climbs to his feet, then moves to the nearest rag bin to deposit the klah-soaked monstrosity before returning to the table, "Though I can't for the life of me imagine what she was doing in the smithy."

"Galina!" Siobhan repeats the name with a triumphant air, even though it was Pralius that provided it. Curling her legs up onto her seat, the girl resists the urge to peek under the table to watch him clean, instead snickering quietly when just his eyes appear over the table. "I'm not sure why she was there either. She had a stack of papers that she gave to the crafter, and I left before I got to see what she got in return. I should've asked her, but we were talking about having a Gryphhawk event and about training firelizards. I was distracted," she admits with a chagrined look, lips twitched off to one side.

One of Pralius' brows raises, "Gryphhawk event?" He looks thoroughly confused and clearly is not very knowledgeable about Pernese wildlife since his next question is, "What's a Gryphhawk? I know about firelizards, but they're rarely reliable enough for competitions…" he reaches out, taking another sip of his klah. Maybe that'll wake him up?

Siobhan is only too ready to educate him, leaning forwards on her elbows to sketch out approximations on the table with the tip of her forefinger. "Gryphhawks are a four-legged predatory avian with a hooked beak and sharp claws. They can vary in size depending on the region you catch them in, but my mentor's are about… so," she says, approximating the height of such a bird as if it were sitting on her wrist. "It's not so much a competition, though, as a… display of their skills? They're trained hunters of small prey, good for holders to catch small creatures. Combine 'em with my canines and you're pretty much guaranteed a catch." There's a good bit of boastful pride there, but what can one expect from a teen?

Pralius hmms softly, blinking a few times slowly before he takes another drink of his klah, draining the glass. "That sounds… interesting… is there going to be one of these displays here so I could see?" He goes to take another drink, then frowns at the empty glass, "I'll be right back…" He stands slowly and gets more klah before settling back into his chair, "How do you balance and train them?"

Siobhan makes a face and looks towards the door again, shoulders rising and falling. "I hope so. Been trying to wheedle a 'yes' out of my mentor for the past sevenday, but he's trying to be stubborn and teach me a lesson about agreeing to do things before he has been asked. I /told/ him I didn't actually agree, but he's got it in his head that I did." Guilt mingles with her sour expression, though, hinting at the fact that she's had a history of accepting invitations without checking first. Nodding to Pralius when the man goes to get another cup of klah, Siobhan polishes off the last of her pastry and starts picking at her dried fruits. "Training just takes a lot of intense acclimation. The kind my master works with are called eyass Gryphhawks, because he raises them just out of the egg. That way, instead of impressing upon their wild mother and depending on them, they immediately learn to depend on their human trainer instead. After that, it's a lot of…" She searches for a word, but gives up after a moment, "Well, it's sort of like brainwashing. They learn that you being with them means they get food, and that the whistles you use determines what they're supposed to do. If you raise them to work with the canines, they know they will flush out the prey, and then the Gryphhawk catches it."

Pralius takes another long sip of his klah. Solid food has yet to arrive on his plate since, well, he hasn't gotten any. "Why wouldn't they let you? Seems to me that if it's part of your specialty hosting one would be a reasonable journeyman step." He chuckles softly, nodding as she explains the process, "Not that different than firelizards except, perhaps more loyal. The behavior of a lizard is partially influenced by its owner, after all."

Siobhan takes a page out of the healer's book and goes for her klah as well, fruits abandoned for something, ah, stronger. "The birds aren't my specialty, they're his. I just know how to handle 'em. Bluerider B'ky said he thinks it'd help raise the morality around here, what with… well, you know," she says, waving a hand as though that gesture alone was enough to sum up the trade issues the weyr was having. "With that in mind, I'm sure he'll cave eventually, it's just a matter of finding the right buttons to push." Hiding another mischievous smile behind a second gulp of klah, the girl tips one eyebrow up, curious. "Which is more loyal, the firelizard or the Gryphhawk? 'Hawks aren't loyal, they're just basing their relationship with us upon convenience, and how and how /well/ you raise them determines the results. Are 'lizards the same way?" Curiosity's etched into her features now, coupled with an intense desire to learn more than the basic firelizard rundown she'd been taught. Silly beastcrafter.

Pralius blinks a few times, brows drawing together in a singularly indescribably expression, "The… morality?" He pauses a moment, then continues, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the /morality/ in this Weyr." A frown blankets his expression before he covers it up with more klah, "Loyalty… firelizards have that… even the most poorly trained will protect their bonded owners… behavior… well, that's nature and nurture… Galina's got one, Redwort, that's a right horrid thing, but her blue Cyanosis is sweet as can be."

Siobhan has likely set a new personal record for how fast she can go from pale to a bright, embarrassed red, shoulders going stiff as she stutters to try and fix her mistake. "T-that's n-not what I meant to say, I meant morale! Morale! Nothing's wrong with the morality here, no." She busies her hands with tearing some of that dried fruit in half before popping a bite in her mouth, head ducked while she mutters a quiet, "Sharditall. Sorry." Still, nothing can quite keep her from peeking up when the healer speaks of firelizards. "Good to know, that is. My Jex is like that, faithful and protective, but I've seen canines that could care less about their owners, too. Suppose that's a perk to having a firelizard, even if they are mean sometimes." She seems amused by the comparison between Galina's apparently polar opposite flits, vaguely remembering the healer girl saying something very similar about the brown. "What about you? Do you have firelizards?"

Pralius nods, chuckling softly now that the confusion has been cleared up, "Morale is always a good thing to improve. I didn't think B'ky'd suggest altering the morality… but at the same time, well, I'm sure you've heard what some people say about Weyr morality." He waves one hand at her, "Don't worry about it. Honest mistake." He smirks, "Rowdy's happy so long as we keep him fed, really. But I don't see him fighting a wher to protect us." He pauses long enough to get some more klah in his system, then nods, "A few… I rarely see the two browns anymore, but they fight constantly, so that's probably just as well. My newest little green is a right terror, luckily she hasn't been about much since Darius was born… really the only one that's around all the time any more is Ivy, and even she won't get within a hundred feet of Darius. He thinks they're stuffed animals."

"Yeah, no, I don't think B'ky would comment on the weyr's morality, either." Siobhan's flush is clearing up at last after what was apparently a faux pas, but it still lingers when she points a smirk over at Pralius, eyes alight with mirth. "I've heard much, and care for little of it. Grew up in Eastern Weyr myself, so I know it's a boatload of nonsense." More than willing to put the error behind her, Sio adopts a knowing look, assuming Rowdy was the man's dog. "Depends on the kind of canine, and the training they've received. Some are inherently protective, like Jex, who's a guard breed even if I trained him different. It's in his blood to protect. When their lines get muddied, though, or especially when they breed them just to be pets, they can lose that need to guard or hunt or run in favor of being docile." Taking a break from her foodstuff for the moment, the beastcrafter props her chin up on one hand, listening to Pralius with a slightly lifted brow. "Why do they fight, your browns? And what is Darius? Or who?" After all, this Darius /did/ try to use them for stuffed animals! Maybe it was human.

A Darius appears, just like that. Well, not so much just like that but he arrives at any rate, nestled in a long swathe of cloth draped around his mother's torso. Wyn is the bearer of the little darling with is dark ebon hair and equally dark eyes, wide and looking around at this time of morning, even if a bit unfocused at times and on the waves of his bobbly head, he doesn't quite have perfect control just yet. She sees her mate and walks that direction then pauses to adjust the bundle and take a seat, the wrap becoming lax and falling mostly away from him as she resettles him in her arms. "Morning," she says with a smile toward Pral's tablemate then she looks to the healer and says the same.

Pralius nods, letting the faux pas pass into oblivion, "I've no clue what Rowdy is bred for. He was a gift from my brother-in-law." He nods mutely as Sio begins explaining the variations in canine breeding, all of which goes straight, whoosh, over Pralius' head. But he's nodding, see! Once questions he can answer start appearing, he does his best to address them in order, "Don't really now. Hark was always a sour tail-fork. I think he's just jealous of Vlad /existing/. And once Shai shelled, he's my bronze, they both made themselves scarce most of the time." He pauses long enough for another sip of klah, "Darius is my- Oh, hi love." He grins at Wyn, motioning for her to sit, "Are you hungry? Thirsty?" He blinks, then grins sheepishly at Siobhan, "This," he indicates the baby, "Is our son, Darius. The lovely lady carrying him about is my weyrmate, N'drei."

Siobhan bobs her head, accepting the news that his canine was a gift with a wry twist of her mouth. "Sometimes you can tell by build and features what they were meant to do. The more mixed they are, though, the harder it gets." Spying Pralius's silent nod, Siobhan takes her cue and lets it go at that, hiding a snicker in a sip of her klah. "That's interesting, to be honest. I wonder if it has anything to do with territorial behaviors, or if it's just a firelizard's personal preference and personality that makes them act like that. Or both. I might have to do actual research." And gasp, wouldn't that be something! The beastcrafter is distracted from her mental planning by the arrival of N'drei, however, a polite smile replacing her Work Face. "Good morning to you, too." Listening to the healer's introductions, Siobhan's expression ratchets up into a grin, flickering from Pral to N'drei to Darius and back. "Well isn't that convenient. The firelizard-hugger himself! Nice to meet the both of you," she says, peering closely at wee Darius as though resisting the urge to 'aww' obscenely.

N'drei smiles over at Pralius as he introduces her to his friend then she extends a hand toward Siobhan, "Nice to meet you.." she says then grins down at her little snugglelumpkin, not Pralius, the baby. She holds him up a little so Sio can see him good then offers him to Pral, what's more sexy than a man holding an infant? Nothing.

Pralius grins the daddy grin, broad and loving, as Wyn passes him Darius. Cradling his infant son in his arms he murmurs, "Guess this means I'm not getting you breakfast, huh?" He shifts Darius just a little, then shrugs, "hard to say, really. Ivy doesn't seem to mind Milo's Lucy around at all, but when Hark and Vlad get going," he shudders slightly, "It's better for everyone involved if they're elsewhere. And the same range seems visible in dragons. Shisuth and Mags don't seem to mind eachother, but Mags and Toith are like oil and water."

Siobhan definitely coos this time, taking in Darius's dark hair and dark eyes with an expression that could give a hale man diabetes should he look upon her. "He's beautiful." The baby, of course, for the beastcrafter follows him with pale eyes before scrunching her nose with a grin, shaking the rider's offered hand. "I'm Siobhan, by the way." Softie moment passing, the girl picks at her plate, popping a few more bits of dried fruit in her mouth while she considers Pralius's assessment of the firelizards. "Curiouser and curiouser. Not that inexplicable behaviors like that don't appear in other animals, but usually it's over something in particular. Food. Territory. Their human being. Maybe it's because dragons and firelizards have their own… individual personalities?" A shrug. "I'll have to ask around," she says with a resolute nod, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.

CLANG. "Faranth!" Crash, ding — BOOM. Smoke issues forth from the kitchens with a fury, and a woman covered in what looks like chili comes careening out of the kitchens chasing a smaller figure. He squeaks helplessly as a wooden spoon clouts everyplace the kitchen worker can reach, weaving and bounding among the tables until finally he slides to a stop and DIVES under Siobhan's chair. For a moment it looks like Kitchen Lady might persist, but then there's another loud BANG from the kitchen and she turns tail and dashes back in shouting curses at nobody in particular. Silence probably reigns for a few minutes, before the boy straightens himself, clearing his throat vaguely. Absently dusting off his (chili-free) shirt, he smiles vibrantly at those gathered. "Oh. Hello." The boy greets them brightly, as if he hadn't just been chased by a spoon-weilding woman on a warpath for vengeance. "Lovely day, isn't it? I think the chili's going to be great…" He nods absently, glancing towards the kitchens and eeeedddging behind Sio's seat once more.

N'drei blinks then shakes her head, "Oh.. no.. I'm fine.." she says of breakfast, or the lack thereof on her part. Gotta get off the baby weight, though in reality, there's hardly any there to shed. The loud sound and running commotion sparks the protective mother in her and she reaches to put a hand over or on Darius, no matter that his father is holding him, the mother bear is always the mother bear. She blinks at the boy and relents with her hand, then nods to Sio, "They're an odd bunch," she says of her mate's flits.

Pralius leans over to cover Darius just as Wyn's hand moves to do the same. Oops. He grins sheepishly as he straightens, "Ummm… kitchen problem, uh…" He /knows/ he's met Alzanbri before, but considering the Orice-filled circumstances it's not surprising he doesn't remember the lad's name. He blinks twice, then shakes his head as if shaking something loose, "Firelizards seem to have unique personalities and dragons certainly do, so that could definitely be part of it." He glances back at Alzan, "I dunno. A little smoky for my tastes."

Anything Siobhan might have been about to say in comment about Darius, the firelizards, or even the weather in High Reaches is lost when that boom echoes out of the kitchen. Jaw going slack in what must be a highly attractive expression, the girl turns and watches the jostling of the crowd until "Hey, watch ou-oof!" Scootched forwards in her chair by Alzanbri's dive, Sio lifts her feet again and bends awkwardly in an attempt to peek under her chair, likely missing half of what N'drei and Pralius have said. Instead she hisses a low, "Who are you and what are you doing under my seat?" at the lad beneath her chair, a nervous glance flickering up towards the kitchen staffer when the woman darts back towards the source of all of that noise and smoke. Belatedly remembering her tablemates, Siobhan rights herself with a nod and a worried glance for Darius, even though the babe is obviously alright. "Uhm, right, they do sound rather odd. I have a cousin here that has several. Maybe she'll let me watch hers." The words are distracted though, visibly uncomfortable at the thought of having a small boy under her chair… and even more uncomfortable when he springs to life as if nothing had happened. Squint. "What did you do?" Nothing quite like cutting to the accusations? Eh heh.

N'drei settles back down and then sits back in her chair, smiling, "Chili.." she says, hrm. She grins some at Siobahn and her skittery chair partner then looks to the boy expectantly for an answer. What /did/ he do, indeed? Not that it takes much for the spoon wielding wench in the kitchen, thankfully she doesn't say that out loud.

Pralius hides his smirk at Siobhan's acrobatic display in a nuzzling of his son's nose with his own. Once the worst of it seems over, he straightens again and grins, "Can't you tell? He's making dinner." He winks, then leans over towards Wyn, "I'll cook upstairs tonight, I think." Is murmured in something right around a stage whisper before he nods to the group at large, "Yes, indeed, nothing like observation to learn about things… you might ask the dragon healers, too." He nudges Wyn, "look, here's one now."

Dubious eyes flicker over to Pralius, but Siobhan seems to back down on poor Alzanbri a bit, accusatory posture relaxing into polite indifference… Or, well, as close to polite indifference as she can get. "Making dinner, right." Her gaze twitches over to the smoke that might still be lingering around the kitchens. "I hope the weyr likes it flamingly well-done." Anxious eyes do flicker back to look at the boy, unaccustomed to having someone at her back, but the healer's stage whisper at least brings a little levity back, even if it is in the form of a most unlady-like snort. "Lucky." As for the observing of firelizards… "Good point, didn't think about asking a dragonhealer. It's especially convenient that you happen to be one," she aims at N'drei with a grin, head tipping slightly to one side. "Don't suppose you'd be available to talk about it sometime?"

N'drei giggles some and then nods to Pral, "Yes you are.. and it's not chili.." she replies with a wink. She looks to Sio and nods her head, "I'd love to, anytime you wish.. I'm not back on duty at the infirmary yet.. so.." and she smiles then reaches over to sweep her fingertips across Darius' forehead and down his temple a little. Sweet baby.

Pralius flushes slightly at Wyn's follow-up comment. He really had only meant roast bovine. He smiles, then, still blushing slightly, and readjusts Darius so Wyn can stroke him better, "You never know what insights people might provide, too."

Siobhan tries to hide her chuckle of amusement behind a noise of praise for the last of her fruits that she's eaten, but chances are good that she fails. Whoops. "Fantastic! It'd be great to talk to someone that works with them first-hand. I'll be in touch." That last bit is breathed out in a rush, the beastcrafter's wandering gaze finally catching on what she has been paranoidly scoping out for this entire time: the appearance of her mentor in the doorway, looking rumpled and disgrunted, and most importantly, looking for her. With a quiet 'eep!', the girl gathers up her plate and down the last dregs of klah before awkwardly wresting herself out of her chair, wary of squishing Alzanbri behind her. "Sorry, gotta run. Thank you, though, both of you. It's been a pleasure. And… erm, bye." That last bit is aimed at the boy before Siobhan gives them all an awkward bow of farewell and dashes for the door, breezing by her mentor as if by ignoring the words he's saying, she won't get in trouble for skiving off her work. Hah!

'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.