Fort Weyr - Beven Dance Hall
This immense cavern is lit by a thousand glows, reflecting off the polished wooden dance floor which dominates the chamber. The lights are kept in hanging baskets, held by hooks on ornate wooden stands which have been set at even intervals along the smooth stone walls. The ceiling rises dramatically to form a shadowed dome nearly a dragonlength far above. Warm despite the distance underground, the air in here has a light woodsy scent, overlaid by the faint smell of oils. The ground underfoot has been painstakingly levelled, with wooden planks in alternating hues arranged in a striking cross-cross pattern, with a wide, gradual spiral at the center, the inlaid design whimsical and flowing. The far end of the cavern holds a stage, the back a grand wooden semicircle that presses right up against the wall and curves partway over the performance area.

Deep in the weyr, there is a cavern that is rarely used. At least it hasn't been used since Ezra has been here. The dance hall is sadly forgotten, or at least not often sought out, despite its grand design. The boy is here, having lit a few glow baskets to cast the room mostly in shadow. A circle of green light surrounds him though, as he sits in the middle of the floor and works on a carving. Zoi isn't with him today, nor are his firelizards. The tween is alone, just him and the massive room and his carving.

That is, until Inyri comes upon him — entirely by coincidence, in fact. She hadn't been seeking out Ezra, or anyone for that matter, just dust. Armed with her cart o' cleaning supplies that she's been keeping up ever since a few days into Candidacy, she's delving into parts of the Weyr rarely visited to get that extra dusting and scrubbing done. Apparently, the menial labor part of being searched sits well with her if she can spend it cleaning up or watching children; hunting still hasn't quite grown on her. "Oh, I'm sorry to interr" she starts as she enters, and then registers who's in there. " Hey, Ezra."

Ezra looks up sharply, the look of surprise on his face briefly tipping over into fear. But when he sees who it is, his shoulders relax and his grip on the carving knife eases. "Hi, Inyri," he says, a bit abashed as he glances at her and then away. "What're you doin'?"

"Cleaning," Inyri explains, holding up a dusting rag as proof, letting it wave in the air a little bit. "I'm trying to get this whole /place/ clean. Gets me out of chores I don't handle as well, and there are some amazingly interesting places nobody uses much! It's a grand excuse to explore." Or something; she sounds entirely too pleased to be able to lurk around the Weyr cleaning things up. "Anytime I get optional duties I find some faraway room to clean, and this time I've just been wandering through tunnels until I find a room that's dusty. Like this one. You still seem to be breathing, though. What's up with you?"

Ezra shrugs, "Not much," the tween admits, turning the block of wood over in his hands. "Just workin' on Edani's thing. The bull." It was supposed to be a bull, right? Because that's what it is, not that you could tell. "How's bein' a Candidate?" he asks next, turning to watch her and looking genuinely interested in her reply. "It's not all cleanin', is it?"

As far as Inyri remembers, it was at least supposed to be something relating to bovines, which makes it close enough for her that if Ezra says it's a bull, it's a bull. "It's — different," is all she's willing to cede on what Candidacy is like. Different or a change: the sum total of Inyri's feedback to other people so far. "Constant bombardment of other people, plenty of mindless busy work. It's not /all/ cleaning, but that's the mindless busy work I prefer. I mean, usually it's mindless busy work; I got to go to Harper Hall yesterday morning and that was exciting, I guess."

Ezra perks up a little bit, and then hesitantly motions to her to join him if she wants, sitting on the floor. "Why? What was at Harper Hall? My lessons are boring but I think going there would be fun."

"We had lessons, too." Inyri drags her cleaning things over with her, but does sit down next to him; she justifies her presence by half-heartedly scrubbing at the floor as she talks. "On diplomacy between Weyrs, Halls and Holds and a rider's role in them. It was, um. There was a lot. I think I probably retained about a third of it." She laughs, shaking her head a little at herself. "I think I might've enjoyed it more if we got basic lessons on how to play musical instruments, but that's not really very candidate-y, is it?"

Ezra shrugs, "It could be," the boy says, watching her scrub for a moment before he's back to his carving. He is slow and awkward at it. "Maybe you could play for the baby dragons or somethin'. I never remember what they tell me in lessons," he says with a little frown.

The mental image of playing music for baby dragons is one that has Inyri smiling more quietly, to herself, down at her lap or at her floor dusting or something along those lines. It's got to be a funny mental image, since she's never seen a newly-hatched dragon and is only making estimates on the size. "I don't remember political stuff very well; it's not so much my thing. Political /scandals/ maybe. But diplomacy? Not really. I think I'd be a much more iron-handed leader than they'd want, which is why it's a good thing I won't be one." That, at least, she seems quite certain of. "I'm great at being nice and friendly and all but some of the cagey lying that 'proper' diplomacy requires is absolutely mad."

Ezra tilts his head to look at her in surprise. "Iron handed? What'd you mean? I think you're really…" And he trails off, blushing a bit and unable to find the word he was looking for. Or if he did, he can't say it. "Diplomacy is about lying?" This is news to him, and he blinks at her.

"It can be." A shrug, a floor-scrub, and Inyri is now reaching for the wood polish. Because really, why not, while she's here? She'll just — polish a very small patch, and eventually stand up and do the rest. It might take a few hours. "A lot of politics is sucking up and swallowing how you actually feel and making nice with people. Which I don't like. I tend to be blunter. Maybe not /really/ iron-handed, I'm not all that much of a tough girl, but I don't keep it inside." Whatever it is.

Ezra looks a little confused, as his brain tries to work out this change to his thoughts on How Life Works. In the end, he just shrugs. "Then politics is stupid." There's his old standby phrase again. "I don't hide how I feel 'bout stuff. And I like it when people don't hide around me, either. Otherwise I feel like they're sneaky and I get confused and don't like them."

"People /shouldn't/ hide how they feel about things." Inyri clearly agrees with this, though how much she practices what she preaches is anyone's guess. She spends her life in customer service, after all. "Sometimes they do — sometimes it's for good reasons, sometimes it's because they want something. Real diplomacy shouldn't be about sucking up to people. But I guess it is. I wouldn't have any of that, if I ran a Hold or anything. But I'd end up screwing something up and losing tithes because I felt like having a personal opinion, or something."

Ezra shifts a little bit. "My brother was gonna get Stonehaven," he says. "Guess it's mine now, but…" And he shrugs, clearly conflicted, and then tries to change the subject before things get too gloomy or awkward. "You get to go to other places though too, right?"

But — Inyri reaches out and touches his arm for a moment, before she's readjusting to sitting on her knees and polishing the floor. "Don't mind if I work while we hang out, right?" she asks, evidently not counting on a 'no,' since she's already started and isn't stopping. Technically she's been working the entire time. "Yeah, we're going to all sorts of places. Nearby places, plus having lessons here from posted crafters and things. Maybe I'll actually get the whole hunting and trapping thing right someday, if Kimmila," hey, she remembered another name; then again, Kimmila isn't a dragon, "doesn't lose patience with me."

But the hold has been closed for turns, since the attack. And Ezra has no idea if it'll ever open again. "No," he says, watching her for a moment, and then ducking his head to carve again. "I know Kimmila," he adds. "Hunting can be fun. And yummy." There's a little grin there, the growing boy constantly hungry these days. And oh what a joy it is to always have food available!

"I've only tried a couple times, and pretty much made a gigantic mess of skinning the one time I got a chance to actually do it." Whether or not Kimmila was there to shake her head at Inyri, Inyri still got made a literal bloody mess, and — well, that was the second time she went hunting. "The other time was even /more/ awkward, but I probably shouldn't talk about it." Famous last words, those; she says it far too often, and is so easily persuaded to keep going! "You a good hunter, then? Maybe you can teach me."

Ezra peers keenly at her through his bangs. "Yes you should." Duh? "I'm not good, no," he says with a little shrug. Poor kid isn't good at anything except brooding and being moody. "But I used to go sometimes."

"Want to tell me about it?" Maybe pressing for a story from /him/ will prevent Inyri from talking herself into a corner and embarrassing the Weyrleaders. She is actually legitimately interested, though, and her body language agrees with her: she's still rubbing the floor with the cloth, but is oriented toward Ezra, eyebrows quirked slightly. "Bet you could get better with practice. Got a feeling you have more of a knack for it than me."

Ezra shrugs, "Just used to go hunting with my father and my brother. And others, too. For wherry and tunnelsnake, depending. Wherries were outside. Tunnelsnakes were in the caves n'stuff."

"My Liechten," Inyri tells Ezra with a laugh in her voice and an ever-so-brief eyeroll, "likes to bring me dead tunnelsnakes. Now that I've moved into the barracks, I find them on my cot sometimes. It's kind of horrific, but I think that's a firelizard's way of showing love." Kind of like a cat, only this is a petulant bronze who really likes to kill things. "He's started leaving them for other people, too. The ones who scritch him a lot. So if you want a dead tunnelsnake, you could just suck up to my firelizard."

Nice one, Inyri. "No, they're little. I'm not sure I've ever /seen/ a fully grown one. And /he's/ little, so I'm not sure who would win in a fight — and I'd think he's not so stupid as to find out. Hopefully when he gets bigger he'll also realize he's not supposed to leave corpses lying around." She doesn't expect that instead he'll start leaving useful corpses lying around instead of gross ones, but then again — what sort of corpse is useful? At least the floor is looking shinier. "Least he does his job most of the time."

Ezra glances around the room, and then back to her, watching her scrub. "What's his job? Mine are…not good at anything." Kind of like himself. They're just a collection of useless beings, eating Fort out of house and home.

"He's my letter carrier. I had a plan with him, from when he hatched — so I got help getting him trained up and all, and learning to teach him where Breakwater was and all that. So now he takes notes to my family for me. Sometimes even remembers to wait for or go back for replies!" Sometimes. And sometimes those letter conversations just get left hanging for days or weeks on end while Inyri and Liechten both forget. "I mean, he's also very good at eating and taking naps and killing things, but his proper work is to take notes around for me. A few times he's put in fruit orders for the tavern, when I was feeling particularly adventurous and seeing if he could actually make it. Smart little guy, because I spent approximately forever on the training."

Ezra ohs, nodding his head a little bit. Then the boy is pushing himself to his feet. "That's neat," he says with a small smile for the older girl. "I've gotta go to lessons," or something, "so I'm gonna go, okay?"

"Come see the room again sometime when I'm done with it!" says Inyri as her parting call, actually pulling herself to her feet as well — to stretch, because she's got a /lot/ more polishing to do. "Or, you know. Just come by and see /me/, you know how to get my attention, yeah? Enjoy those lessons, even if you can't remember anything."

Ezra glances back at her over his shoulder, and smiles a little bit. "I will," the boy promises, before he's gone.

'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.