Fort Weyr - Lower Caverns

This volcanic bubble is smaller than the Living Cavern, but no less well crafted. The walls are smooth, with electric lights placed into niches that used to hold glowbaskets. Another hearth burns here, with a pot on always keeping water hot for making tea or cider. Worn but comfortable couches and chairs are arranged by the hearth around a few tables where game boards and a few packages of dragon poker cards are laying.

From this cavern you can get to many other places - the tunnels of Fort Weyr having been dug far back into the caldera where the Dragons make their home.


Depending on who one asks, the foul weather is either an 'early spring' rain or a 'late winter' one. Regardless of seasonal opinion, the general consensus is that it's pretty miserable for being outdoors in. The indication of rising temperatures has however gotten the gardeners' attention, and suddenly those candidates with gardening on their chores roster are finding themselves actually doing plant-related activities instead of being scattered around on other assignments. Tucked into an out-of-the-way alcove within the lower caverns, the small group is seated on low stools or the floor, depending on preference, with several low-sided wooden crates arranged between them. Small ceramic pots fill the crates in neat rows, with candidates trowling imported rich black earth into them from buckets also placed around their work area. Xanshalla sits amongst them, cross-legged on the floor as is her wont, and she seems to be attempting to galvanize her bored-looking fellows into song. Untrained and a bit wobbly, but her voice is pleasant enough as it's lifted in a jaunty travelling tune.

While Deitra is not one of those stuck with gardening chores, she is one of those who has a chore outside. And the rain isn't exactly the best for hunting game in the forest and the fact that there's wind and generally miserable, one is more likely to get a cold sitting out there attempting to catch the fish. So, rather than being given a free day — one could hope! — they are tasked with coming down to help out with the gardening chores as talk of warmer weather to come has been spreading throughout the Weyr by the gardeners. So while she, and her shadow, Padron, are not with the group as they start their chores, they're making their way in now. Grey eyes settle on Xanshalla as she appears to be attempting to get them all into a song. Brows lift and she's moving over towards Shalla's side, "what're you tryin' ta get 'em ta sing? Also, supposed ta be helpin' out."

Padron remains shuffled carefully behind Deitra, giving Xanshalla a smile of greeting. "Sorry that we're rather late." Not that she's entirely the right person to apologize to, the apology is still there. "What are we supposed to be doing?"

A couple of voices half-heartedly pick up the chorus of Xanshalla's song though her voice remains the strongest, bouncing through the lines about a pretty little maid with eye lashes all a'flutter. Yeah, it's one of THOSE travelling songs. Which is likely to be rather weird considering who's instigated the singing of it, as utterly innocent as she seems about matters both romantic and lustful. "Oh, just some trader songs," she breaks off literally mid-word to answer Deitra's question, waving her trowel in cheery greeting towards the huntress and Padron, and scattering bits of dirt heedlessly all over her skirt. "Always glad for extra hands; hope you guys aren't as grumpy as these mudsnakes." She beams at them both, though a little longer for Padron's apology whether she's the one supposed to be receiving it or not. "We're planting so the seedlings'll be ready once the ground thaws out. Grab a trowel and cop a squat! There's loads of these pallets and the seeds are over there," she points at a little grouping of differently coloured bags, drawstring ties also sporting neatly written labels to indicate what type of seed is inside, "once you've filled all your pots with dirt. What were you supposed to be doing today?" She never reads the entire chore board, being none too coherent first thing in the mornings.

There's a bit of laughter from the former hunter for the lyrics of the song, more so considering that Shalla is the one leading the song. When she stops mid-song just to answer, Deitra laughs just a touch more. "Ah. That'd make sense, considerin' the words. You should teach 'em ta me, 'm curious ta hear 'em." A brief glance towards the other candidates before she's grinning a touch wider. "Nah. We ain't grumpy. We're more'n happy ta help." When the explanation comes about their task, the huntreess nods along to indicate she understands while grey eyes are considering the gathering of things before resettling on the other woman. "Fishin' and huntin'. The rain and wind was so bad, they said we best be doin' somethin' inside so we ain't catchin' a cold." With a shrug, the woman fetches a towel to begin filling the pots with dirt.

Padron lingers in silence as Deitra talks for him yet again, moving to assist as well after grabbing a towel. "Do you know what we're planting? It'd be nice if there were some flowers, too." The trader settles in between Deitra and Shalla, beaming towards the seamstress-candidate. "I'm kind of glad that we're not hunting out in the rain. I'm looking forward to spring coming. I've heard Fort is nice in the spring."

"There's loads," Xanshalla declares as she uses her fingers to sprinkle a bit more dirt into one of 'her' pots, then pats it down gently. Her nails are already ringed in black, indicating that she's been having fun mucking about with the dirt. "This one's 'The Butter Maid.' I think it's a silly title, it only ever mentions her churning butter in the chorus. I'd be happy to teach you-" a dark grumble from one of the others causes her to stick her tongue out "-some other time," she finishes. "Sourpusses!" she accuses, receiving only grunts and rolled eyes in reply. "Just because someone swapped out the sweetener with salt at their table this morning, yeesh," she confides to Deitra and Padron. "Oh ew, I so wouldn't want to be out in this weather, either. But you're right Ron," she apparently doesn't like the 'Paddy' his sister uses, "Fort is /gorgeous/ in spring, when all the trees start budding and the first flowers bloom. The sunlight comes through and it's like being inside a crystal prism! Um." She squints over at the bags. "I think there might be? I know there's some veggies over there, and they usually flower pretty, so that's almost as good!" Pause. "Ooh, Dei, have you decided where you're going on your trip yet?"

Deitra takes a pot for herself before settling one in front of Padron as well, then beginning to fill it, peering over at Shalla's work to make sure she gets a proper amount in. The title of the song earns a rather loud laugh from the huntress, and it isn't stifled as her hands are beginning to get dirty. "Shells. Really?" A shake of her head before she's peering at the others who grumble at the talk of learning the songs. "Some other time. When they ain't got somethin' chewin' on their arses." More laughter comes from the huntress as Shalla gives the reasoning for why the others are in a bad mood, "man. Wish I was there ta see that. One of my favorite pranks." The first pot is filled and another is snagged and the young woman lets out a soft grunt, "ain't horrible, rather fond of the wind. But, ain't fond of gettin' sick." She lingers in silence for the talk of plants before shaking her head. "Was thinkin' Ista, heard it ain't awful right now. But, maybe Ierne. Heard they got a big market."

The young man nods once, "it wasn't too pleasant walking out for that brief while, either." The new addition of a nickname simply brings a smile to Padron's lips, likely giving away the fact that he's not too fond of 'Paddy', either. "I'm looking forward to it. If there's some flowers, I think I'll plant some. If not…" The man shrugs a touch and begins to move the dirt over to the pot, but, being more mindful of not getting his hands too terribly dirt covered.

Xanshalla nods, her eyes widening in comic earnestness, "Really. My favourite is 'The Sailor's Wife' though. My brothers'd all turn purple and die if they knew." She grins, rather mischievously and justifiably so, given the saucily salacious nature of said song. "Ooh, it wasn't you that did it, was it?" she asks, voice lowering to the thread of a whisper as she leans over Padron's lap to peer at Deitra. "I thought it might've been— um." Realising just whom she's talking in front of, her teeth click together before she mumbles, with a pinkening of cheeks, "Never mind. Do you use a bow and arrows?" she asks in a blatant topic alteration. "I tried to learn once, but I can't shoot straight to save my life. I don't really like the idea of killing things much, anyway. I'm okay once they're already dead, but actually… no. I don't think I could." Babble. "Oh, they're all labelled, so we can find out. Hold on!" She finishes filling her last pot — in that particular pallet, at least, and promptly crawls over to sort through the little coloured bags, making a pouch of her skirt to place some in, while returning others back to the pile.

"'m goin' ta have ta learn that one. Ain't ever heard of it, but, guessin' by yer brother's reactions… It ain't somethin' they''d expect ya ta like or ta be singin'." Deitra grins a little wider though it quickly fades at the question from the other woman. Her head shakes once, "I wish. I ain't done anythin' since I got in trouble for prankin'. Wish it was." A shrug, lingering with a touch of disappointment before she returns to filling her pots with dirt. "Mhm. Bows and arrows're one of my favorite weapons ta use for huntin'. One of my plans after I get a runner is ta go huntin' with my bow on my runner. If I don't Impress, I mean." Is added when Padron gives her a little look. "Well, yer dragon's goin' ta have ta kill stuff ta eat. Ain't nothin' wrong with not likin' it, really, but still… 'S'how we eat and survive and stuff." A wide grin is given in Shalla's direction as she hops up and then she's gathering another pot for herself. At this rate, Padron isn't going to have much of a chance to actually do something.

Padron's brows lift at Xanshalla, "it's okay if you want to say it. I'm not going to tell her." But, he doesn't press as the subject is changed, nodding along to Deitra's sentiments about hunting and dragons. "Thank you, Xanshalla." He calls as she hops up to dig through the pouches of seeds.

"I know a whole bunch like it, if you like those kinds. I like to hang around at the docks when we pass through the holds, and sailors are always singing," Xanshalla says cheerfully over her shoulder. Having picked out a selection of bags, she crawls back over to her place, knees showing occasionally as she holds them all in her folded skirt. Settling again, she continues to chatter away while setting out her picks; some herbs and vegetables, and a decent selection of flowers, though only a few of those are purely decorative, others all having little notations for some practical uses. "Well, the water on the cots might've been a /bit/ much," the girl notes, though without any real feeling behind the words. "Oh I know all that! I just don't think /I/ could do it. I mean, I had a hard enough time bashing fish on their heads, and they're all icky and slimy and spiny and wriggly." Belated though it might be, she pulls a face at Padron, some guilt and some other emotion that's a lot harder to name. "I'm sorry. It just seems so petty to think it. She's never been anything but nice to me, but…." But. She shrugs a little, shamefaced. "I'm sure she's happy today, anyway. I hear she convinced m'coz Gevrin to cover her on stables duty even though he ain't even a candidate." She spoke a little bit too loudly there, though, and there's a trio of dark looks from her grumpy chore-mates across the way. "I only /heard/," she protests. "Dunno if it's true." Huff.

"I find 'em amusin', really. I know some bar songs, but, I ain't ever learned the names of 'em. Well, 'cause most of the time we're so drunk we can't learn the name or remember the proper words." With a laugh, Deitra shakes her head in amusement before taking Padron's pot from him and simply doing it herself to fill the pallet. "Hn. Maybe, but, was hopin' ta get 'em sick." Really, she speaks as if Padron isn't there most of the time, the poor boy. "What's done is done, anyhow. Ain't goin' ta do nothin' anymore, ain't wantin' ta get caught and I /like/ Pad. Qeska's still odd." She turns to Padron, "yer puttin' the seeds in." Another pot is filled and settled in properly before another follows. "I like hittin' fish. But yeah, some people ain't cut out ta do it. Ain't nothin' wrong with that."

There aren't many vocal reactions to Deitra's statements, likely having heard it all before, and when she snags that pot away he simply cleans his hands on the towel and waits patiently for her to finish them off. "Did you get enough seeds for our trio?" Padron asks Shalla with a rather cheerful smile. "Don't worry about it. I know how she is… She's my twin. She's always has been that way…" But, he doesn't say much more than that as he's looking around for said twin before relaxing. "She does that… Talks people into things."

Xanshalla gapes at Deitra, the other girl's confession shocking to her. "Dei, that's just /mean/," she exclaims. "Bein' sick is no fun, and it coulda spread to the whole barracks if it'd worked, and then we'd all have miserable." Big brown eyes practically beg the huntress to take it back, say she was joking and didn't really mean her intent. After a couple of blinks, she does shake herself out of it, turning instead to Padron to pass on the gardeners' instructions. "They told us three seeds per pot. Make a hole with your finger, down to the middle like this," she demonstrates, "and then drop the seed in and cover it. They said they'd do the watering; I think they're afraid we might drown them or something." She carefully opens one of the bags, a bright pink thing, and peeks inside before laughing and holding it out for both trader and huntress to see. "Yeah, I think there's enough for all of us," she notes, as there might well be at least a hundred tiny seeds in the one bag, if not more. Padron's reassurances make her smile, though she does still seem troubled by her feeling's toward his sister, and so she let's that topic drop.

Deitra blinks not so innocently at Shalla, "I wasn't tryin' ta make friends, so generally yer tryin' ta be mean when yer not tryin' ta make 'em." The huntress doesn't seem remorse at all for her actions. "Everyone can get sick cause they were all wet and cold? Thought it had ta be somethin' else in order for everyone else ta get it. I ain't a healer. I just thought it'd be only who was targeted." Still no remorse, however, but there's something as her brows are furrowing to consider the whole scenario. She's drawn from these thoughts by something the former seamstress says. "Wait. You can drown seeds? They /breathe/?"

Padron nods once, watching the demonstration carefully before taking one of the pots and mimicking Shalla, just to make sure he does it right. "Okay. Sounds good." When she holds out the bag for them to see, he peeks in and grins. "And I was worried. There's more than enough. We may have a lot of left over…"

"If you don't like someone, why not just ignore them?" Xanshalla asks, even though she should know that just ignoring someone doesn't always work. Wishful thinking, perhaps. Her confusion only grows, a flummoxed expression being turned toward Deitra. "I think so? I mean, my sister — the one who's a midwife, not the one in Igen — is always going on about infections and how if anyone's sick they need to stay away from the pregnant women and babies." She scratches her nose, leaving a big dark smear of dirt down the right side, before shrugging. "Can always ask a healer next time you've got the infirmary on your roster." She's a lot more confident about the seeds query, nodding, but then shaking her head, hair bouncing her face. "Yeah you can drown 'em, but no they don't breathe. I learned from some of the farmers we trade with, who've gotten their fields flooded, that too much water can kill the seed. Said it was like… like leaving a towel all wet without ever letting it dry out. It starts getting all mouldy and gross. Same thing happens to seeds." A bit of a giggle for Padron's observation as she starts poking holes in the dirt of her pots, getting them all ready. "Yeah. I don't think they expect us to actually get all these planted. Just however many we've got pots for, and then they'll put the seeds back wherever they store 'em."

"'m sure I could do that." Deitra offers idly, though her tone hints that she may not resort to that in the future or she's simply distracted by filling pots. "Huh. Wasn't sure that it worked that way, figured if yer standin' out in the rain and gettin' sick yer not goin' ta get others sick just cause yer colder'n them and that's what happened. Suppose I'll ask a healer ta see how it really works… Should know for the future." She clicks her tongue idly in thought before the final pot is finished and she begins to poke holes into the dirt after checking how the other two did it. "Ah. Was goin' ta say it'd be weird if they could breathe. That makes more sense." With a laugh, the hunter continues her work, growing silent as she focuses on making the holes.

"I don't think Deitra would enjoy ignoring people." Padron offers out idly, though saying nothing more in the conversation of pranks and illness, taking some seeds to carefully put one into each hole before moving to the next pot that Deitra has prepared. "It'd be near impossible to use them all, and they'd need some for the next Turn."

Xanshalla laughs quietly, "Let me know what you find out? I'd like to know if I'm actually right or if I'm just spouting a lot of nonsense." Which is what she often does, but about something like this at least she actually cares if her information is accurate. A nod for Padron, a little hum escaping as she picks through seed bags to pick out something to plant. Then, "Oh, you lot can just go to the wherries!" she suddenly decides of the Grumpy Ones. "Dei, I'll teach ya those songs now. You should know some of 'em, Ron, join in with us." And so she launches into 'The Sailor's Wife' to begin with, and whether their choremates finally give in and cheer up or not, for them at least the time should pass cheerfully — and raunchily — enough.


'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.