Western Weyr - Living Caverns
Here is the center of Weyr life, the living caverns. These two main rooms were man-shaped from smaller caves, and are joined by a carved arch with depictions of dragons in flight and dolphins leaping in swirling waves. One room has many round stone and wooden tables and a stone fire-pit instead of a hearth. Over the round-walled, gas fired pit is a large conical hood made of polished bronze, with reliefs of dragons with their riders flying over ships guided by dolphins. This hood and chimney keeps the room smoke-free. Through the archway is an enormous hall, with long tables and benches, some carved from the rock floor, many crafted of wood. This room is a combination dining and meeting hall, and can seat over 300 comfortably. Above both rooms, angled shafts lined with polished metal bring in sunlight during the day. Electric lights also burn, day and night.

Moyrel is sitting at a corner table with a klah mug in her hand and a closed briefcase on the table; her lap harp stands propped up under the table on her side as she talks with Nyalle. "Mm, yes," she says, "and to get to know every Weyr especially, I would presume. I'm here, well, on business to take a record of the upcoming hatching, but that's just an excuse to spectate the hatching. I'm hoping to run into some family and in-laws while I'm waiting though." Pause. "So, how much have you explored so far?"

Nyalle smoothes her skirts, the young weyrwoman brushing back a strand of dark, shiny hair htat's come lose from her braid. "Well, I'm from High Reaches so I know that area very well. I've been to Benden, to Igen. I've been here twice but haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting the Weyrleader or any of their goldriders. Not that I've asked. I don't want to impose upon them and I'm certain they're busy preparing for the hatching." Turning in her chair, she looks for a drudge or kitchen worker to place an order with.

Rhysanna, making her way in from the lower caverns, is likely here for personal rather than professional reasons, though she's still dressed for the day's work: her dark hair braided, her legs clad in trousers rather than the skirts that might otherwise be her preference. She's halfway to the klah pot when Nyalle's glance catches her attention, and perhaps it's just the Fort Weyrwoman's dress that has her turning so abruptly, sliding immediately into work-mode. She approaches, tucking both hands behind her back. "Did you need something, Ma'am?" she wonders, attentively, greeting both women with a formal nod of her head.

Moyrel leans back in her seat, sinking a little into thought. "Ah, High Reaches, yes. There's a place that I haven't visited in a dragon's age. Did I ever tell you? It was fifty-some turns ago that I took second prize in a snow-hold making contest on a winter visit, back when I was a young apprentice harper." She allows herself a smile. "Yes, I /was/ young once, has hard as that is to believe, back at the beginning of time." To Rhysanna: "I'm okay for now, though I may ask for some more klah later. But she" she gestures toward Nyalle "just arrived, so."

Nyalle notices Rhysanna as well, the weyrwoman sitting up a bit and smiling. Glancing at Moyrel, her smile is strained at the talk of High Reaches. "Not much has changed," she says quietly, and then she looks back to the Candidate. "I wouldn't want to presume, or make an inappropriate request of a Candidate of Western." But she /did/ ask. "Some tea would be lovely, fresh brewed, if it's possible, thank you so very much."

Moyrel smiles and nods at Nyalle's comments. "Yeah. Of course, I've done my share of traveling myself in my life. Certainly seventy turns is plenty of time for it. Ista, Eastern, Xanadu. High Reaches, as I said. Really, though, my heart is here at Western and over at Ista, each for its reasons." Then: "As for the hatching, well, as you know it's always a tense and busy time, for the Canidates more so than anyone else, no doubt. At any rate I don't pass up the opportunity to witness one, all the more so one at Western, where my daughter Kyldar impressed."

"Yes, ma'am, of course. If you do require anything, please do just ask," says Rhysanna, bobbing up and down a little awkwardly as she answers Moyrel. Nyalle's reply has her shaking her head quickly, her expression both earnest and warm; "It would be remiss of me not to offer, ma'am. I wouldn't want Western's hospitality to be seen wanting in any way. Tea, of course. I'll bring it out to you right away." Again, there's that not-quite-curtsey, before she hurries away across the cavern.

Nyalle smiles at Moyrel, tipping her head down. "I hope to be here for the hatching, but we will see if that's..in the cards, as they say." That's a new term she's learned. Here, in fact. Dipping her head and smiling at Rhysanna, Nyalle glances at Moyrel, then after the Candidate. "I struggle with when to be formal and when to relax," she admits, softly, to the Masterharper. "How do you know?"

Moyrel says, "Well, the eggs are ready. They should start rocking and rolling within a few days now." She pauses, takes a sip from her klah mug, and then another. "As for formality, well, I usually just go with my instinct, though my instinct tends to err on the side of caution."

Nyalle inclines her head, brushing hair behind her ear again. "Yes, I would tend to agree with you there. But then it makes conversations…rather difficult, with those who do not hold rank, don't you agree?" It's lonely at the top.

It doesn't take long for Rhysanna to complete her errand: she returns promptly, carrying a tray with a tea pot, still brewing, as well as a cup, milk, and a bowl of sweetener… and a small plate of cookies. She's light on her feet, managing to carry the tray without so much of a wobble, and then set it carefully down upon the table. "Is there anything else I can offer?" she asks, waiting for a break in the conversation. "For either of you?" The 'ma'am' is implied.

Moyrel nods agreement. "It does—and I like to present myself as down to earth and friendly rather than some high elite or such, even though I have arguably the most prestigious position on all Pern. I guess it comes from my humble background. I'm not craftbred or weyrbred. I'm from a long line of /traders/. So I have more the commonfolk's perspective." To Rhysanna, "Y'know, I think I will take that klah refill, thanks. And, um, maybe a piece of that redfruit pie, please."

Nyalle nods at Moyrel, about to reply before Rhysanna is back, and the young senior - probably only a few turns older than the Candidate, if that - gives her a smile. "Thank you very much." And her pleasure is evident on her face as she sees the sweetner /and/ the milk. This is a girl who knows her tea options! "And perhaps, when you've returned, you could join us?"

"I— if you'd like, of course," murmurs Rhysanna, pink beneath the deep tan of her cheeks. Her hands, released of their burden, draw together behind her back again as she gives Moyrel a hasty bob of her head, and turns, once more, to hurry off and fulfil the request.

Moyrel nods. "Indeed, if you have time," she calls after Rhysanna. Then, to Nyalle she says, "To tell the truth I tended more toward formality many turns ago than I do now but even then I didn't like to set myself above people. It just doesn't feel right to me."

Nyalle shakes her head but then considers. "I wouldn't say I put myself above people. No. But Kayeth…she deserves respect. And my rank, Fort, they deserve respect." Needless to say it's a difficult line to walk, and one Nyalle is trying to figure out as she travels and meets many other people in Pern. That balance between formality and approachability. For the moment though, she will enjoy her tea.

Having failed to take Moyrel's existing mug with her, Rhysanna returns carrying a new one, and the promised piece of pie on a plate, with a fork, in the other hand. Both are set down carefully in front of the Masterharper, which leaves the candidate without anything in her hands… which has them sliding back behind her, for a third time. Now, she hovers; it's a little awkward.

Moyrel straightens her posture a little, as if instintively. "Ah, Kayeth. Indeed the dragons do deserve respect, especially the queens. The same goes for your rank, and for mine. I expect respect. I don't expect or desire bowing and scraping for every little thing." To Rhysanna: "Thanks." She pushes out a chair. "If you have the time, do relax for a moment."

Nyalle clears her throat as Moyrel invites Rhysanna to join them, the Senior offering the girl a tentative smile. Don't worry, she's more afraid of you than you are of her. "We were discussing, ah, the delicate line between proper formality and…being able to relax in someone's company. What do you think?" No pressure.

Having been offered a chair, it's clear Rhysanna thinks it would be rude not to take it, and so she sits, hands primly resting in her lap now as she turns her gaze from one woman to the other. "I…" she begins, falteringly. She's frowning, though it seems to be because she's thinking. "I think it must be a very difficult line. There's a time and place for formality, isn't there? You need people to respect you, because otherwise how can you do your job? But it doesn't mean you're not still people."

Moyrel nods. "Yeah, that's the point. It can be kind of awkward. I for one like to be approachable, and I certainly like to come across as friendly, and at least to show that people of rank don't have to be untouchable. But sometimes there's a protocol to be followed and all that. Bah. Save the formality for formal occasions. Save the ceremony for ceremonial occasions. Really, I'm just as human as anyone else, right?"

Nyalle nods, twisting her tea cup on its saucer. "Yes, we are still people. But it's difficult when you're more known by your rank and position. How do you balance the two? It's not like I could be friends with everyone in Fort. What if I had to discipline one of them? It would be a complete mess, mixing work and pleasure like that."

Rhysanna admits, after a moment's consideration, the corners of her mouth twisting upwards: "I'm very glad not to have to answer that question. I know our leaders, here at Western, tend to be more relaxed, but… I don't know how you'd turn off 'friend' and become 'superior' all that easily. Is it easier, then, to seek friends outside of those you lead?" She turns the question towards both women, her fine brows raising curiously.

Moyrel picks up the fork and eats some pie while the others talk. Then to Nyall she says, "Well, y'know even a good disciplinarian needn't go over the top with formality, though I can see there's the issue of being taken seriously." To Rhysanna: "Um, hm. Well, the same can be said of Ista, where I still have ties to the leadership. As for myself, there are plenty of folks in my Craft whom I consider friends, even close friends, so I can't say it comes really significantly easier outside my domain. Well, maybe a /little/ but not signficantly."

"Perhaps?" Nyalle answers Rhysanna with a thoughtful bob of her head, tucking dark hair behind an ear. "But at the same time, that would isolate you in the weyr, other than your Weyrleader, perhaps your goldriders and maybe the Wingleaders. And a leader needs to be connected to her people. Or you only make friends in other areas, which also seems rather isolating. I don't know," she admits with a small, almost sad smile for Rhysanna. "I'm not sure what the answer is. It's what I'm trying to figure out. You say Western's leaders are more relaxed? How do they handle things like discipline, and walking the line between work and play?" That question is asked of Moyrel as well, as Nyalle is eager to learn how it's handled in other areas. "Well, yes, being taken seriously is a concern, but I'm more concerned with…what's the word. When someone gets favors just because of who they know or are friends with. I want to be fair to everyone." Impossible.

Rhysanna chews on her lip, acknowledging the words of both of the other women with a nod of her own. "Nepotism," answers Nyalle's word quest; after it, she exhales. "Perhaps it helps if you make friends before you become a figure of importance? I don't know. I suppose there are probably a lot of ways of handling it, and… they probably have variable success rates. I don't really know how they handle that line, here," she adds. "Or, really, how they intend to. I try to avoid needing to be disciplined." She's smiling, at least, as she says that.

Moyrel eats some more of the pie, and chases with a gulp of klah. "Favoritism?" she says to Nyalle. "Preferential treatment? Well, it's the possibility of accusations of such that is the main reason I've been procrastinating appointing a Craftsecond all these terms. My nephew Kadan seems best qualified, but if I put him in I might be accused of, yes, nepotism. Hell, I probably should just put him in as either Craftsecond or Apprentice Master and be done with it."

Nyalle flashes Rhysanna a smile. "That's the word, thank you." Then a soft chuckle. "Alas, that wasn't an option for me, as I transferred to Fort after impression, and became Senior not long after that. I hardly had time to find my way around the caverns, nevertheless make friends." Then there's a soft laugh and a warm smile. "Well that would be ideal, of course, if no one required disciplining. Then, "Oh, please forgive my manners. I'm Nyalle, Kayeth's of Fort, and this is Masterharper Moyrel." And you are…? Looking at Moyrel, Nyalle looks rather startled. "Harper Hall has no Craftsecond?" But…she's so OLD! Cough.

Rhysanna flushes, as if she's only just remembered her own manners, and is appalled at herself. "Western's duties to Fort, and to Harper Hall, Weyrwoman, Craftmaster. I'm Rhysanna. One of the Candidates… but you knew that." She is, after all, wearing her knot. Her hands get pressed tightly into her lap as she considers the rest of the conversation, finally adding, "I think it's unfair not to promote someone who ought to be, just because they're related to you. Even if it seems nepotistic. It's about what's best for your Hall, isn't it?"

Moyrel shakes her head at Nyalle. "No, currently not." Then, "Yes, you're Senior. It must be especially awkward for you, with such a high position at such a young age. I was in my thirties when I became a nonriding Weyrsinger of Ista, and didn't reach my current rank until much later. Anyway there's no Craftsecond as of now, no." She gives a sitting bow toward Rhysanna. "Harpercraft's duties, and 'tis good to make your acqaintance. And certainly yes, best qualified /is/ best qualified."

Nyalle smiles, dipping her head slightly at Moyrel. "It is a lot to take on at such a young age, but Fort prospers." In spite of her. Thank Faranth for Th'ero and D'ani. Looking at Rhysanna, she smiles kindly. "Well met, Rhysanna. Lovely name, do you hail originally from Western?" Then she looks impressed, and smiles. "I would agree with Rhysanna on that matter, yes. Talent is talent, regardless of birth." The trio sit at a table near the back, sipping drinks and eating various things, with Moyrel's harp nearby.

"I can't imagine having to lead a whole Weyr like that," admits Rhysanna, whose tone holds no small amount of awe. "Especially as a newcomer." She lifts one of her hands, twisting an escaped strand of hair into the long braid the rest of it is caught in; it doesn't stay, not even briefly after she draws that hand away once more. "Thank you. Yes, I was born and raised here. A caverns worker, until I was searched. Do you," and this question is clearly aimed towards Moyrel, "intend to name your nephew as your successor, one day?"

Moyrel finishes her pie and her klah, and gathers her things, slinging the harp across her back, and picking up the briefcase and her stout cane. "Perhaps," she says to Rhysanna. "Anyway," she says to both, "I think I'm going to go and get some beauty-rest. Good night for now." She stands up, levering herself up with the cane, and dips a curtsey.

Nyalle catches notice of Rhysanna's gesture with her hair, which is so similar to her own that she smiles in sympathy. Long hair, right? Never behaves. "It must be nice to stay in one place. And I have Th'ero and D'ani and the rest of the Fortian staff to give the credit. I am still learning." The Senior pushes to her feet as Moyrel rises, as is polite, dipping in a curtsey as the Masterharper retires. "Good evening, Masterharper Moyrel. Enjoy your rest." Then she sits again, smoothing her skirts and fiddling with her hair. "Do you enjoy telling the story of your Search?" she asks the Candidate with a smile, taking another sip of her tea.

Iris meanders in and beelines for the serving tables. Cold drink procured, the junior weyrwoman takes a moment to glance round the cavern. Moyrel is spotted with the unfamiliar Fortian weyrwoman and the weyrbrat-turned-worker-turned-candidate. Iris wanders over and greets the trio with a smile even as Moyrel is preparing to leave. "Good evening ladies. I'm sorry to have missed chatting, MasterHarper- rest well."

Rhysanna, too, rises to her feet as Moyrel excuses herself. It's difficult to curtsey in trousers, but she manages a respectable enough bob, giving the Harper a genuine smile to go with it. "Sleep well, Craftmaster. It was a pleasure to meet you." She's just partway through dropping back into her seat when Iris approaches, which leaves her looking terribly awkward: "Good evening, ma'am." She hovers for a few seconds, and then sits the rest of the way. To Nyalle: "I enjoyed being searched. I don't know if it makes for a good story." Though she's turned pink, and ducked her gaze down towards the ground.

Nyalle is quick to rise to her feet again as Iris approaches, a hand catching at her skirts and lifting them so she can sink into a graceful and elegant curtsey. Head bowed a moment, she then straightens again and smiles. "Good evening, Weyrwoman." A quick age check against mental records and she guesses, "Iris, yes? I am Nyalle, of Fort. Kayeth's. I don't mean to impose, Kayeth and I were just seeking a change of scenery. She was supposed to notify the bronzes and queens-" and she cuts herself off before she rambles /too/ much. Ahem. Jade green eyes flick back to Rhysanna, curiosity brimming in them though she doesn't press for the story. Not now, anyway. "Please, join us if you wish, Weyrwoman?"

Iris shrugs off the awkward moment of arrival with a grin. "Good evening to you as well- your robes all set by now?" is her inquiry, acknowledging the nearness of the imminent hatching. "Good evening and Western's duties to you as well, Weyrwoman Nyalle. Shadhavarth did mention it in passing, yes. We've been occupied on the sands of course," the Western junior chuckles a moment as she raises her iced klah up a moment- iced to make up for the heat of the sands. Taking a seat, she adds, "And how do you like our lovely scenery?"

Not too far behind little Iris is Ila'den, and the bronzerider… well… he's not exactly /sober/, but he isn't stumbling around drunk either. His tunic is a bit of a mess, as is his hair (which is nothing new, because his hair is always messy). /Ila'den/ sure loves the scenery, and he swoops in on the ladies without an ounce of formality to sink into a seat beside Iris and offer a smile to every party around the table. And a salute. "Ladies," he says softly, settling his arm on the back of his weyrmate's chair and leaning towards her, almost as if to cage her. /Actually/ he's just trying to get a better look at Rhysa. Hello there! SMILE. He missed all the introduction stuff, so you'll have to forgive his improperness (well, and he's clearly been indulging in some drink).

Rhysanna's flush recedes, though slowly; it helps that she has Iris' question to answer, which keeps her from looking at Nyalle… though it's a little obvious, surely. "All ready," she confirms. "It's beginning to be unbearable in there: everyone's so worked up. It will be soon, won't it? Any day?" She doesn't have a glass, mug or cup to busy her hands with, and so those hands go idle once more, resting awkwardly upon her lap. She's just turning her head to look back at Nyalle, but Ila'den's arrival is a definite interruption, and turns her attention abruptly. Her smile is a little more tentative than it might otherwise be. He's… drunk, after all. "Good evening," she says.

Nyalle rises to her feet yet again when Ila'den…sways in, as soon as she notices his knot. "Weyrsecond," she says, dropping into another curtsey. No wonder they seem so natural, if she does them this often. Her eyes swiftly take him in, from rumpled hair to rumpled tunic, to the way he sprawls into a seat. And she settles down once more, smoothing her skirts and cupping her hands around her tea. "Fort's duties of course," she returns to Iris with a smile. "And how is the clutch?" The iced drink is noticed, a knowing smile playing about her lips. "I have enjoyed this visit and my last very much. Western is a welcome warmth when compared to Fort, especially this winter." Then she looks at Ila'den, smile a bit strained before her gaze flees to the safety of Rhysanna. "Best of luck to you out there."

"Any day," Iris confirms for Rhysanna, and her answer regarding the clutch is for both the other women. "Shadhavarth has started a few false alarms- fortunately they haven't gone further than my own head but well," Iris laughs again, indulgent- she does love her broody lifemate dearly. "It will be quite the relief when this group hatches- just in time for Mir to lay a clutch, naturally," Iris notes Ila'den's arrival, though she finishes her line of words before she leans back against his arm. "Quite the timing we have here- will you be expecting a clutch soon yourselves?" Iris has not kept up on Fort's golds and their clutches, obviously. For Ila, though, there's a narrowing of the gaze. "Love?" There is a lot contained in that inquiry as she peers at his messy appearance.

Easy, ladies! He isn't /that/ drunk. He's not stumbling, he's not slurring, he's simply got a bit of drink in him. When Nyalle addresses him with his title, he seems surprised and blinks down to his clothes. /Faranth/. "I forgot to change," he says, but there's a rather engaging smile for the Fortian Weyrwoman. "Well met." Eyes drop to the woman's knot, but it's a bit too late to go bowing now that he's already settled into a seat. "I trust things are going well in Fort? How is Th'ero? I haven't seen him in a very long while." And he even /misses/ him. Maybe. He's not /immune/ or blind to the looks he keeps getting, and after a moment there's very baffled laughter and an innocent, "/What/?" for all three women. It's Iris the he leans forward to kiss on the cheek, moments before he says, "Babe." There's not nearly enough answers contained in his response. His eyes are back on Rhysa again, and he looks amused. "Are you /scared/ of me?" he finally asks, and there's laughter in the question. "Don't be. I was told that I need to get to know why you're worth hanging on to." What does that even mean?

Rhysanna smiles, though cautiously, in answer to Iris' confirmation, though the caution seems largely motivated by anticipation and dread (and also, probably, not looking at the staring, drunk Ila'den). "Oh," she says, glancing back at Nyalle. "Thank you. I hope— well. It will be good to have it done, one way or another." Of course, then Ila'den's speaking, and this time she does need to glance back at him… and flush. "No, I'm not scared of you, though you're not terribly… there's no need to stare." Minor exaggeration. She doesn't even touch that last thing he says. Nope.

Nyalle smiles brightly at Iris, bobbing her head and tucking hair behind an ear. "We will, actually, yes! A junior clutch with one of our best browns. I'm looking forward to Search, especially since I won't be on the sands." There's a soft laugh for that, and then another sip of tea. Her cup gets set back down onto its saucer as Ila'den addresses her, and she smiles. "Well met as well, Weyrsecond Ila'den." She did her research, memorized names before she came. "Fort is prospering, thank you, and we are digging out from the blizzard. And Th'ero is doing very well. Shall I pass along your regards?" Her eyes flick from Ila'den to Rhysanna and back again, as she is /clearly/ missing something here. Still, she does not ask, as it wouldn't be proper. So she smiles, and looks at Rhysanna. She's known her the longest, after all. "One way or another, yes. I remember that feeling very well." It wasn't /that/ long ago.

When Ila'den mentions Th'ero, another smile flickers with a touch of melancholy, and Iris echoes his sentiment. "Do pass on greetings, please. He was our clutchbrother. Hard to believe it was that long ago now." The moment of nostalgia passes, though, laughed off in a side comment for Rhysa as the junior weyrwoman decides to ignore Ila'den's draping and comments, though she does squeeze his arm with her free hand. But to Rhysa, "If you impress, treasure every moment with every clutchsibling- never know where they might wind up in five, ten turns time." Or longer. But there are more pleasant things to talk of. Weather, for example. Talk of the blizzard catches Iris's attention. "Digging out? No wonder you'd rather be here right now!"

Never fear, Zi'on is here! Also possibly with Naeda, who was nice enough to drag his drunk behind back from the Alibi. Post-fight with Ila'den. Or "fight" as the case may be. It involved a lot of shoving and then laughing afterward. Zi'on is looking… a little more worse for the wear than Ila'den is, that is to say, a little bit more wobbly. He does manage to make his way to the serving tables though, and pour himself a nice mug of klah. That's really why he's here. To sober up a little. He was not expecting to find a group of people already here that he knows. Nor is he shy enough to know when to stay out of a conversation. Nyalle is addressed first. "Hello! Weyrwoman from Fort. Welcome to Western!" Zi'on gives Ila'den a pat to the shoulder before moving to sit next to Rhysanna. Even if there are people on both sides, he will squeeze his way in. Or at least behind her. "I heard about your storm. Perhaps you should lead the dragons up with firestone and do some melting." He laughs. It was a joke, though not a good one." Rhysa is greeted then, with a kiss hello to the cheek.

"Weyrwoman Nyalle, correct?" Ila'den is a bit shaky on his names, and doesn't fully trust his instincts when he's not entirely sober to begin with. There's a nod of his head, and another smile for the woman across the table. "Aye, if you wouldn't mind letting him know. We miss him." His brogue is a bit thicker on the last word, and then he's leaning back in his seat at Rhysa's observation. Low, husky laughter, and Ila'den's hands come up as if defeated. "Oi, alright, alright. Calm yourself, my eyes will behave." OR WILL THEY? His weyrmate is right beside him, despite the fact that she ignores him. His fingers simply find the back of her neck, and work at the muscles there. "A blizzard? I'd be happy to come and help if you could convince Zi'on to let me out from under paperwork for a day. Some physical labor would be welcome." But he isn't holding his breath. Cue Zi'on. The clap to his shoulder earns a clap to the young man's forearm, and when he settles, he leans back with a deviant /grin/. "She /is/ pretty." But notice he doesn't look at Rhysa again.

Naeda is indeed here, making sure Zi'on gets safely into the cavern. "Are you sure you're sober enough to…" When she sees who is already present, she frowns. "Oh, good. Foreign dignitaries. Yes, you're in just the right frame of mind for that." She grumbles mostly to herself, voice rich with sarcasm. Upon spotting her fellow candidate she follows Zi'on over and gives Rhysanna a little worried smile. "Hey there, Rhysa. You holding up okay?"

"I suspect it's one shared by all candidates, ever," agrees Rhysanna, answering Nyalle with a smile. "Still: soon. It's a relief to know that much, even if it makes the waiting that much more difficult. I will," she promises Iris, nodding. All of these comments? So much less likely to make her blush - or give dubious glances - than anything to do with Ila'den, whom she… sort of ignores. To begin with, anyway, before there's a Zi'on to side-eye in his drunken state, though she doesn't turn her cheek away from that kiss. Because now she is blushing again, thanks Ila'den. To Naeda, warily: "I'm doing fine. Are… no, I don't think I want to know. Come and sit?"

Nyalle brightens a bit, and then looks instantly curious. "Oh! I did not know that." There's a hesitation. Should she? Shouldn't she? "What was he like?" she asks Isis and Ila'den, her voice low, as if asking for top secret information. And perhaps it is, since…well. They know how he is. "I will certainly pass on your regards, of course," she reassures with a smile. "Well," she says, gazing into her cup and then smiling at Rhysanna, "treasure the moments with the clutchsiblings you like. And don't feel the need to be forever attached to those you don't, just because your dragons happen to be related." Sounds like she's speaking from personal experience. "Goodness, yes. It was nearly a record breaking storm, especially for this late in the season. It's taken quite a while to dig out, send supplies where they're needed, provide transport for traders who were stranded…and I'm rambling about business, my apologies," she says with a slight flush to her cheeks, sipping her tea again. "I am enjoying the warmth." Then Zi'on is arriving and Nyalle is out of her seat once more, to dip into her lowest curtsey yet for Zi'on. "Weyrleader Zi'on, it is a pleasure to finally meet you." And he's drunk. Something flickers in her eyes and is quickly tucked away behind a smile. "Yes, Nyalle. Kayeth's," she supplies for Ila'den. "Thank you, sir," back to Zi'on, "and Fort's duties to Western, her queens, and her clutch. And…I do not think firestone is a good idea. The mud, the melting, it would cause more harm than-" oh, that was a joke. She stops, blushes, and sips her tea with a small fidget. Then she's not sure if she should take Ila'den's offer of work seriously or not. "I…if Zi'on is agreeable…there is plenty to be done…" Seeing Naeda, another Candidate, Nyalle dips her head with a smile. "Hello. Join us?" Zi'on's kiss to Rhysanna's cheek has her staring, but just for a moment before her tea is oh so fascinating again.

Iris's gaze falls out of focus for a moment and she sighs, lips pursing. "Speaking of false alarms," Iris grumbles, though her tone is more tired than annoyed and she manages a grin for the candidates present. "I doubt they're actually hatching, don't go rushing off to change just yet. I'm sure one of the eggs just fell over. Gravity and all." Logical. Like every other time Shadhavarth has started trumpeting at Iris that IT IS TIME. She downs a quarter of her iced tea quickly, sets the glass down, unwraps from Ila'den's arm and rises, though she pauses to nod at Nyalle. "Would love to share all the dirty secrets another time," Iris grins again. "And if there is anything we *could* do to help, do let us know, please." It is a sincere offer, though of course Enka and a sober Zi'on will have to talk it over. And then she's off to see what's gotten Shadhavarth in a twist This Time.

Zi'on blinks a bit. "You want to take some of the riders over to help them dig out? Sure. Ask for volunteers. Offer them a free rest day or something to sweeten the pot. Maybe I'll come along. To show off all my muscles." It's true, Zi'on probably should not be playing host to other weyrwomen in his state, but alas. The bronzer narrows his eyes at Ila'den. "You don't have to tell me." He slides his chair closer to Rhysanna's, and lays his arm over the back of it. "Well met, Weyrwoman Nyalle. Th'ero is a close friend of mine, though I haven't seen him in quite a while. I was weyrmated to his sister for a spell, as well. So he's almost like family to me…" There's a blink as Iris gets up to go check on the eggs. Thankfully he's not sounding the alarms or anything. "So what brings you to Western? Just getting in out of the cold?"

Ila'den puts his arms on the table, locking his fingers, and leans in close. There's a very somber face for Nyalle, and Ila'den takes a moment to conjure up, "He was very serious." That's it? That's all he's got? There's a hint of laughter tugging at one side of the Weyrsecond's lips, and then he laughs as he leans back. "Th'ero is a good man, but a private one. That one over there probably knows more about him." Ila'den hooks a thumb towards Zi, though it could be Rhysa… or Iris, given the seating arrangements. He isn't very clear. He drums his fingers on the table, and leans forward this time, to see around Rhysa. "Muscles? What are you going to do, push the snow all day?" Har har har har. Welcome to the madhouse we call Western. Ila strokes at his scruff, thoughtful, and then clears his throat as his weyrmate gets up and makes to set off. Hey! You can't just leave him here like this! COLD! Ila'den gives Zi'on a look (Did you just see that?!), and then he's pushing back his chair, giving all parties a bow, and chasing after his goldrider. He isn't romantic. He catches up with her right at the door, and hauls the much tinier woman up and over one shoulder with a playful roar (IRIS SAID I COULD). Gone! Vamoosh! Just like that.

"… Probably not." Is Naeda's answer to Rhysanna, with a wary look in Zi'on's direction. She's quite happy to disentangle herself from the Weyrleader, laying claim to the seat nearest her fellow candidate. Noting the look from the visitor, she smooths out her clothes and gives a little smile and quick salute to Nyalle. "Weyrwoman. Welcome to Western." She can be polite, when it suits her.

There is a quiet, but obviously physical, jolt in Rhysanna as Iris excuses herself: her eyes have gone wide. Despite the goldrider's reassurances, her shoulders have tensed, and it rather distracts her - at least temporarily - from the conversations at hand. Her, "I'll keep that in mind, too," to Nyalle, is belated and hasty as a result of it, but seems genuine. If she's noticed that goldrider's stare, well, she's ignoring that, too. And Ila'den. It's just safer, this way. So is not asking further questions of Naeda, though the dark-haired candidate gives the fairer candidate a wide-eyed glance.

Just as two depart, one arrives and perhaps there are brief exchanged greetings on the fly if paths cross even for a small enough instant. Stepping into the familiar space of the living cavern, Th'ero pauses long enough by the door to scan the various tables and he recognizes some among the assembled. Could be that half the reason he's here is because Nyalle is, another could be to visit or… Faranth only knows what the Fortian Weyrleader is up too. Regardless, as he approaches, his expression is warm and welcoming (for him). "Evening." he says in a drawled, low voice, his dark eyes drifting from face to face. "Fort Weyr's duties to Western and her queens. Hope I'm not interrupting anything?" That brings a small, if faint smile to his lips.

Nyalle dips her head politely as Iris leaves, before she smiles warmly, nodding her head. "We would appreciate the help, very much, and thank you so much. We'll take care of your riders. And you are always welcome, Weyrleader Zi'on." Then there's a slightly startled blink, and a look at Rhysanna before she looks back at Zi'on. "Oh. Ah, you were?" That's rather personal. Then a question she can answer without being awkward, and she smiles swiftly. "Yes, that is part of it. The other part is to get out and meet other people, to visit the other areas of Pern. To learn." She offers a polite smile and nod to Ila'den as he departs, only to audibly /gasp/ when he slings Iris over his shoulder, a hand flying to her lips and her breath catching, holding for a moment. Looking at the others, she only begins to relax when no one springs to their feet or sounds the alarm. So…that's normal? She looks into her empty tea cup. Darn, no more distractions there. So she finds distraction in Naeda. "Thank you, Candidate…?" Name? She returns the salute as well, her smile widening. Then, "Th'ero!" Goodness, is she /ever/ glad to see him. Getting to her feet, she dips a curtsey to her Weyrleader and gestures. "Please, join us!" Pleeeease. Then there's another curious glance at Rhysanna.

Zi'on is quick to make a name for himself with the other weyr leadership. There's a glance between the two candidates. Then he looks to Rhysa. "Hey." Awkward. Zi'on doesn't look terribly surprised when Ila'den gets up to leave. There is a narrow-eyed look for him though, though he's not sure what to make of Ila'den poking fun at him. If that was even what he was attempting to do. He's not sure, and his booze-addled brain isn't about to try and figure it out. There's a surprised look when Th'ero arrives and he blinks. "Th'ero? Are you here to collect your weyrwoman?" He laughs. "Ila'den and Iris just left, so there's no more danger from them." There's a shrugs from Zi'on about interrupting. If anything, he was the one doing that. "Sorry, this is Naeda and Rhysanna. Both candidates. Ladies, meet Th'ero. Weyrleader at Fort." Zi'on nods in the affirmative to Nyalle. Personal, yes, but the bronzer regards certain things as necessary information when it came to his relationship with the Irondells. "We're a rowdy bunch." Is all he can offer by way of explanation for Ila'den's behavior.

Naeda gives Rhysanna a sort of sympathetic glance. She'll be available to answer questions later. And probably ask a few of her own. But then the visitor is questioning her, and she blinks, sitting straight upright. "Naeda, Weyrwoman. A pleasure to make your acquaintance." And then there's another Weyrleader. So many worrying people, all at once. He gets another salute, of course.

Questions. Oh good. For now, Rhysanna turns her attention back towards Zi'on. "Hi," she says, in answer to that 'hey'; she gives Zi'on a smile, albeit a narrow one. "It looks like you've had quite a night." No judgement, though, at least in her tone. Nyalle's glances, too, catch her attention, and despite pink cheeks, she manages to keep her expression relatively neutral. Perhaps she's not wholly sure why she's being glanced at; perhaps she's got an idea, rightly or wrongly, and is simply trying very hard not to be awkward about it. "Western's duties to Fort," she's quick to offer Th'ero, half rising in her chair for a moment: a respectful kind of gesture.

Th'ero quirks a brow when Nyalle is so quick to get to her feet and only that. He is not surprised at all by the formal manner of her greeting and even goes as far as to answer with a half-bow to her curtsey before stepping forwards to briefly touch her arm. "I'd be glad to join you for a little while." He gestures for her to retake her seat and he will take his beside her respectfully. "Collect her?" This he says to Zi'on, his smile crooked now as he spots the familiar Western Weyrleader. He snorts, laughing softly. "I doubt there was any danger from Ila'den and Iris." he drawls with a pointed look at the other bronzerider. Smirk. Now it's on to greetings and Th'ero's attention drifts to Naeda and the salute is returned with a polite dip of his head, while to Rhysanna he will mimic the same. "Well met, both of you. Very belated congratulations for your Search as Candidates. Shouldn't be long now before the eggs Hatch, I would think?" he asks and with the ritualistic greetings set aside he will finally lean back in his chair. Not quite relaxed, but not so tense as to be stiff and standoffish.

Nyalle laughs, and though it's soft it's got a hint of forced to it. "Apparently," she says in reply to Zi'on's quip, before her cheeks color slightly. "Well met, Naeda." Rhysanna she's already met. "It is a pleasure, thank you! How are you holding up? Are you from Western?" She tries to give the girl an encouraging smile. Jade eyes move to Rhysanna, and at her remark to Zi'on, Nyalle can't help but nod her agreement. "Indeed, what is the occasion?" There's a /little/ bit of judgement from her. She can't help it. This is so /very/ different from how she was raised. While Th'ero is more relaxed, she only tenses all the more, sitting up straighter, hands in her lap. /Proper/. In the face of uncertainty, it's best to revert to what you know.

Zi'on looks a bit taken aback by that narrow smile that Rhysanna is giving him. Also by her statement. He scratches his head a bit. "Got a little heated between Ila'den and I. Not so sure why, or how really…" There's some mumbling then, and something about how he needs to drink less. Zi'on laughs to Th'ero. "Maybe." He says about Ila'den and Iris. Given his night thus far he can't say there isn't any danger there. "We were talking about you earlier, actually. I was thinking about getting a few people together for some sparring matches. Something not too dangerous, but still good to hone some skills." There's a nod about the eggs. "Could be any moment now." Zi'on chuckles a bit to Nyalle. "Ah… long day at work." He offers as explanation to the rowdy Western behavior. Not a very good explanation, mind you. "I own a gentleman's lounge in the marketplace here. It makes for an excellent place to brood, if one is so inclined."

Naeda is doing her best to look relaxed and sociable. It's really almost convincing! She smiles at Nyalle. "I was born in Western, yes. I've lived here my whole life, aside from a brief period early in my apprenticeship. It's a lovely place. I hope you will enjoy your visit." Her smile turns upon Th'ero. "Yes, they say it could be any time now. It… well. I think we're all looking forward to it." She says with a glance at Rhysanna. The mention of Zi'on's 'gentleman's club' makes her tense a little, but prompts no comment.

"I think we all just want it finished," confirms Rhysanna, breaking into the conversation to offer that piece of information (again), as her gaze slides briefly over Naeda, and then on towards Th'ero; very polite. "But thank you, sir." The little pieces of information she's collecting - brooding, gentleman's club, heatedness - are probably not clearing anything up, but she murmurs only, "So I see." There are so many things she could say, but this is polite company. Well. Diplomatic company, anyway. Instead, she presses her hands flat upon her knees again, something to keep them semi-occupied, and gives Zi'on another smile: this one is probably more encouraging. Probably.

Th'ero glances sidelong to Nyalle when her laughter hints at being forced and briefly do his eyes flicker with a concerned look that he's quick to mask again. Later, he will no doubt ask her if she is alright. Not now, not with conversations still drifting about and his attention drawn to them. "You were talking about me?" he drawls again to Zi'on, another crooked smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. Now he too sits a little straighter when the Western Weyrleader mentions sparring. There's a low chuckle to the suggested idea and he shakes his head. "Sparring is always a little dangerous," he points out. "Even if just for mock practice. Always a risk of minor injuries… Have you considered talking to the Guards you have posted here?" Curious questions, as Th'ero does seem rather interested for his own reasons. As for mention of the gentleman's club, well… he says nothing on it, only to see if more information comes forth about it. Does he know of it? "Always seems to be the case with Candidacies," Th'ero muses to Naeda and Rhysanna both, his smile broadening by a small fraction. "The end always seems so far and yet the Hatching seems to come and go in a blink of an eye." Th'ero makes a swift gesture with his hand. Poof! Done. Just like that.

Nyalle looks a touch startled. "Heated? I…ah. That's a shame. It's never good for the weyr when the leadership is at odds." She learned that one the hard way. "A…gentleman's lounge? That sounds…interesting. No women allowed then?" As for the sparing, she will leave that discussion to Th'ero, and instead look back at the Candidates. "Another home grown girl," she says with a smile that's a touch wistful. "Yes, so far, I am enjoying my visit. On my last one, I learned a bit about playing poker from another Candidate, though I'm afraid I've forgotten her name…it began with a T. She was a bit…" How to say this diplomatically, "rough around the edges. Huntress. Top notch at playing cards though, I wouldn't want to go into a game against her." Not that she knows how to play. Looking at Rhysanna, the weyrwoman's look is now…sympathetic? It's impossible to carry on a silent, intuitive conversation with someone you've just met. "I need some more tea," she says then, rising to her feet. "Sirs? Would you like anything?" she offers with a courteous smile. Movement! Maybe that'll help the awkward. "Ladies?" she adds with a smile to the Candidates. Though if she's offering to get them something, or suggesting they help her get things…that's toootally unclear. "Yes," she says to Th'ero as she stands, "Iris and Ila'den said they were clutchmates of yours. I asked them what you were like back then." There's a little blush to her cheeks for that. Sorry?

Zi'on chuckles at Naeda and Rhysa's reactions to the hatching being so close. "They're in a hurry to get it over with. Not that I can blame them. The waiting can seem torturously long, even to those not standing." There's a blink at Naeda's tenseness, but at least Rhysanna is smiling at him now. He smiles back, though he's not sure what he's done to earn it. Zi'on chuckles a bit to Th'ero. "Yes. It wasn't anything bad, don't worry. Just mostly that I hadn't seen you in a while. Of course I could talk to the guards here, but I thought it might be fun. Just a handful of riders from each weyr maybe. Also I hadn't expected to see you at Western so soon, and it'd been a while." Zi'on waves a hand a bit. "Ah, we're not at odds. Heh, no. Nothing like that. It was more of a discussion that sort of bubbled over." He's still not exactly sure why. There's a nod to the weyrwoman. "Mm. Mostly, yes. We have a ladies night once a week when we let women in as well. You are more than welcome to come and see what the buzz is about, Weyrwoman."

"… They'll let you in if you make enough of a fuss." Naeda answers Nyalle. "… Or so I've heard." That's a very convincing cover, there. "But Western has plenty of lovely places that allow both men and women. The Tiki Lounge, for example. Lovely music any night of the sevenday. Hopefully you'll have the opportunity to visit during your trip to Western." The 'offer' from Nyalle is met with a confused smile. "Er… can I help?" She asks, evidently taking it as a request for help rather than an offer.

"I'll take the blink of an eye part now, please," murmurs Rhysanna, loud enough to be audible but low enough that it's hard to tell whether she really intended it to be. If her expression is dubious as she glances in Naeda's direction, she hastily clears it; she's already rising to her feet to say, "Let me help you, ma'am. I - or either of us, really - know where to find things, after all. Or shall I bring something to you?"

"Ahh, I see." Th'ero muses to Nyalle and likely further amused when the Weyrwoman blushes. Sorry for what? He doesn't seem to mind that his past here in Western was discussed. "But I will have you know that in ten Turns, a man can change considerably!" He adds and there is a bit of laughter to his voice. Case in point… he's not acting like he did, back then. He's laughing for one! "Didn't think you were one to play cards either, Nyalle." Surprise, surprise! Th'ero certainly is, but he'll leave off teasing the poor goldrider and turn his attention back to Zi'on. "You make it seem as though you're organizing a sort of tournament… or a small competition, at least." he points out with a smirk. As for the gentleman's club "ladies night", Th'ero just coughs and clears his throat but says nothing. His next comment is in reflection to Naeda's praise to the Tiki Lounge. "I'll second that about the lounge. Comfortable." Rhysanna earns another chuckle. "Careful what you wish for?" he murmurs, only to look up as Nyalle stands and his expression is a touch bemused. "I'd not mind an ale. But shouldn't it be I who is serving you, Weyrwoman?"

Nyalle ahhs at Zi'on, inclining her head slightly. "Thank you for the invitation, sir, but I will decline. I don't think a gentleman's lounge is the place for me." Glancing at Naeda, her eyes flash with curiosity, but she doesn't ask. Not yet anyway. "The Tiki Lounge sounds more like what I would enjoy. I will have to visit it sometime. And thank you, Naeda, I would appreciate the help. Please, come with us, Rhysanna. I'd like to see the selection of teas. And no, sir," she says to Th'ero with a smile, "I just watched. I am no good at hiding my emotions." Uh. Everyone knows /that/. "You just got here, s - Th'ero. Please. Let me. An ale." And she looks at the Candidates. Lead on?

Dropping Zi'on's name at the door while he was inside was a good way to get into the lounge. If he's not… expect to be turned away with a laugh. Zi'on gives Rhysa's leg a comforting pat. "It will be over before you know it, Rhysa." There's a bit of a laugh from Zi'on. "You've changed?" He teases the other bronzer. "You should tell her about the underwear prank." Totally Zi'on's fault. "Or the fireworks." Mostly Zi'on's fault. He shakes his head. "Nonono. Just something friendly. Nothing that formal or organized." There's a nod about the Tiki Lounge. "Also a good place. I recommend their burgers." Zi'on gets to his feet then. "I hate to cut this short, but I really should be heading back. Still lots to plan before the hatching. Th'ero, we'll be in touch. Nyalle, nice to meet you. Ila'den and I will rearrange schedules so that we can afford Fort some extra help with the snow. Naeda, thanks for babysitting me." Zi'on leans down to kiss the top of Rhysa's head. "Rhysa, we'll catch up later." Wink wink. And then he makes his escape. Though at least he's not carrying Rhysa out like a caveman. Like some other bronzers we know.

Naeda glances back at Zi'on, looking oddly relieved when he departs. She tries not to show it too much, but she's not completely successful. She smiles a little bit as she follows Nyalle. "Of course, Weyrwoman. Anything I can do to help." She shoots Rhysanna a quick, worried look when she thinks no one else is looking.

Rhysanna does seem, just quietly, a little embarrassed by Zi'on's parting affections; the pink has returned to her cheeks. Also, Naeda's giving her worried looks, and that is not helping anything. Hers, in answer, is all raised eyebrows: what? What? But, Nyalle is looking at them for guidance, and then there's Th'ero, too. "Do you want to come with us?" she invites. "Since otherwise you'll be left on your own, sir? Or… one of us can stay."

Th'ero chuckles to Nyalle and makes no comment about the Weyrwoman being unable to hide her emotions. Instead, he only nods his head when she insists on fetching him a drink. His eyes dart then to Zi'on and now the Weyrleader seems to tense and he will stare at the younger bronzerider with a narrowed look. "I'm sure I don't need to bore her or your Candidates with either tale." he states in a slightly clipped tone. Which means no stories (of that nature!) from him! Such a buzzkill. Apparently he hasn't changed in that way. Tilting his head, he looks momentarily confused. "But… it can still be a competition even if friendly? You said a few riders…" That's a competition, isn't it? With Zi'on now rising to leave, Th'ero will also stand to reach out and clasp the other Weyrleader's hand in farewell. "We'll stay in touch." he echoes back with a small smile. "Clear skies, Zi'on!" He'll call out, only to pause in taking his seat again when Rhysanna offers for him to follow… or for one Candidate to stay. "Well…" Th'ero begins in a slightly sheepish tone. "… it would make no sense for me to follow all of you like a shadow for refreshments. If you or Naeda wishes to stay, I would not be against the company." His gaze flickers to the other Candidate and Nyalle now. "That is… if you don't mind?"

Nyalle's brows certainly lift at the kiss, but she quickly looks away and schools her expression back to polite neutrality. "Whatever everyone wishes to do," she says with a sweet smile.

So much awkward. Naeda really is not her usually ridiculously extroverted self today. Probably a combination of all the really unfamiliar authority figures and whatever mysterious thing is weighing on her mind. That and the hatching looming, her various romantic problems, and so forth. She's stressed, in other words. Unsure what to do, she smiles awkwardly and is silent for a moment before making up her mind. "I'd be happy to keep you company, Weyrleader." She says with a deep nod, moving back towards Th'ero. "… Have you visited Western many times before?"

Rhysanna's gaze lingers on Naeda for long seconds, studying the other candidate as she, apparently, makes up her mind. She looks utterly uncertain, even wary, though it's obvious she's doing her best to push that down and focus, instead, on these dignitaries they've been left to host. Whatever her reaction to that eventual decision, she manages to keep her own expression placidly neutral, turning towards Nyalle with a smile: "Then, Weyrwoman, follow me. I'll show you where we keep the tea."

For once Th'ero isn't the source of awkward! And… is somehow oblivious to it. Yet he arrived rather late and likely missed those crucial moments or… he is just not phased by Zi'on's affection towards Rhysanna (or he is, but does not comment). Glancing between both her and Naeda, when the decision is made as to who will stay or follow Nyalle, he will smile and gesture for Naeda to take a seat. "Have I visited?" he drawls and now he chuckles again, low and quiet in his throat. "You could say that. In truth, I lived in Western for some time… oh… several Turns ago? Was actually Searched by Suldith and Zi'on and Impressed Velokraeth here. As Nyalle mentioned earlier, I was clutchmates with Iris and Ila'den. And yourself? From Western?"

Nyalle moves off after Rhysanna, and when they're somewhere a bit more quiet, Nyalle whispers, "Have I made things awkward?" Nyalle asks, and for a moment she looks not like the Senior Weyrwoman of Pern's oldest weyr, but a young woman barely out of her teens and trying to make friends and do what's right. "Because if I have, I apologize. I…sense there is a lot going on here that I just don't know about, so if I've caused offense, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. Things are just…different here." Understatement.

Naeda gives Th'ero a sheepish smile as she retakes her seat. "Oh, that's right. I'm sorry, I just forgot that for a moment… well. I suppose you don't need me to tell you about all the spots worth seeing, then?" She laughs, a touch nervously. "Yes, I'm from Western. Born here. I was away for a little while when I first apprenticed, but I'd been here for most of my life."

Rhysanna's eyes widen abruptly, and she turns her head to look at Nyalle, shaking it hurriedly. "Oh, no, no. It's not you, not at all. Please: don't think that. There is a lot going on, and I honestly don't know what half of it is…" she pauses, glancing over her shoulder back in the direction of the other two, and presumably Naeda in particular. "I hope you weren't offended by our Weyrleader. Or our Weyrsecond. They're… I know they must be very different from what you're used to." Her own expression is apologetic.

Th'ero waves his hand in a gentle dismissal to Naeda's apology. "It's alright. It's not that important to know." he murmurs reassuringly to the Candidate. See? No harm done. He chuckles again. "I'm afraid not, as I've likely discovered most of them. Known and hidden. But the gesture is appreciated all the same! Unless… well, ten Turns is a long time to be away. Perhaps something new has come along?" Is it to be a guessing game, then? "Ahh, weyrbred then. Strange… that'd mean we have crossed paths at some point." Never mind that Naeda would have been a child then. "An Apprentice? To which Craft, if you don't mind me asking?"

Nyalle shakes her head a bit as she continues to follow, her voice quiet. "I wouldn't say I was offended. Startled, yes. Thrown off and a bit uncomfortable if I'm honest. Are…" But she stops herself, lifting a hand. "No, no, it's none of my business." She is a guest, after all. "The hatching will clarify a lot," she says quietly. "Everything is put on hold for the Weyrlings. It's a good time to think, and to grow, and at the end of it…things will be different."

Naeda ponders her answer to Th'ero for a moment. "Well. All the best spots are natural ones. Like the lagoon and the waterfall. Those don't tend to change much over ten turns… and the Tiki Lounge has been around at least that long, right?" She's not completely certain. The last question earns a bit of a grin. "Dolphincraft, sir. I still go visit the pod when I can."

Rhysanna comes to a halt, finally, in front of a shelf full of different teas: plenty of choice for Nyalle. She refills the kettle to ready it for boiling, hesitating over her answer. "I understand why you would be uncomfortable," she says, very carefully, once she's finally ready to speak. "I… there are a lot of things I'm not necessarily sure of, myself. And I am sorry: I would rather there was no discomfort for our visitors." She has a certain amount of poise, though her cheeks are flaming. "I would probably be more… discreet as regards my, uh, relationship with the Weyrleader, in front of visitors, for example." She's not looking at Nyalle. "But, of course. As you say. Everything is put on hold for Weyrlings. It's a long time."

Th'ero's smile actually draws into a grin for a short time. "I would hope the natural ones don't change. Especially the waterfall. That is a nice spot," he murmurs. One of his favourites, perhaps? He can only shake his head for mention of the Tiki Lounge. "Your guess is as good as mine concerning the lounge. It was here when I was posted as a Guard, so I'd imagine it has been here for some time prior to that." Logical assumption! "Dolphincraft, hmm? And you need not call me 'sir'. Not entirely a formal affair, this. Th'ero is fine." At least for this meeting. "That's good that you can visit the pod. Are you considering continuing in your Craft, should you Impress?"

Nyalle peruses over the tea selection before choosing an herbal one with light citrus notes. "Lovely," she murmurs after smelling the loose leaves, and pulling out a spoonful to drop into an infuser. "Sometimes there is no other option," she remarks with a small smile, sympathetic for the girl who is trying so hard. "Ah." Well. That answers /that/ question. "I see. Have you been together long?" As for being discrete? Yes. Nyalle agrees with that whole-heartedly. But in her eyes, Rhysanna did nothing wrong, it was Zi'on initiating all the contact. And Nyalle is not about to call /him/ out on it. His weyr, his rules. "It is a long time," she agrees. "What are you unsure of?" she asks, twirling the infuser between her fingers.

"As you wish." Naeda replies to Th'ero, dropping the 'sir'. "I would quite like to continue with my craft, yes. The dolphins are… well, they're my friends, for lack of a better word. I'd like to be able to stay close to them. Obviously I couldn't stay as close to them as I was, but… still."

"Since…" Rhysanna hesitates; blushes again. "The day I was searched. I suppose that's not terribly long, really. It's obviously… that is, these things are limited, by necessity, of course." She hastily moves away, though only as far as she needs to to fetch that ale for Th'ero. "I'm not sure what was going on tonight, for one," she admits. "Or why Naeda has been looking at me… I suppose I"ll find out, later. I don't really know the forms, for…" This time, she does turn back to look at the goldrider. "Every Weyr works differently. Every person. They are good leaders, however they come across. I'll be proud to ride for Western, if that's what is to come."

Th'ero smiles and settles comfortably into his chair when Naeda agrees to drop the more formal 'sir'. "I hear that a dolphin crafter can become quite close to their pods. Bonded in a way, though not in the same sense as a firelizard or dragon. At least… as far as I know and forgive me if I've assumed incorrectly." he murmurs. "And it may take some adjustment, but some riders truly excel at being Craftriders. It's possible and requires balancing needs of your lifemate, to the Weyr and to your Craft."

Nyalle opens her mouth in startled surprise, and then closes it. "Since…oh. Dear. I." How far can she push, here? How much can she say before she utterly crosses the line? Maybe she already has. "Be…careful. I am surprised…" No, she can't say that. "Be careful." Whatever that means. "Be your own person. Don't let /anyone/ tell you what to do or who you are." There's a flash of something in her eyes, swift and hard, before it's gone behind a gentle smile. "Some people are very good at telling us what we want to hear. Thank you for getting Th'ero's ale."

"No no, that's quite accurate." Naeda agrees with a quick smile to Th'ero. "I have a firelizard of my own. And it's not /quite/ the same, but there's an undeniable connection. It would be something I would miss a great deal if I couldn't spend time with them anymore. I know that if I impress, my lifemate will be my highest priority, but… I'd like to find a way to balance it all, if I can."

Rhysanna's cheeks flame. "I've had a lifetime of being told what to do and who I am - who I'm meant to be - by my mother," she tells Nyalle, with a wry note to her voice. "I won't let anyone else do that to me. I know how it looks. I know…" She falters, shaking her head abruptly. One of her hands has lifted towards a silver chain around her neck, touching it, though she doesn't seem to be aware that she's doing so. A deep breath. Then: "Of course. Is that water boiling, yet? I wouldn't want to keep your Weyrleader from his drink for too long."

"And a firelizard is not quite like the bond of dragon to rider," Th'ero goes on to add, his smile still in place and amusement with it. He'll listen politely, only to frown for a moment in thought as he mulls over his next reply. "I don't want to cause you any more stress than you're likely experiencing but it may take some time to gain that balance. Weyrlinghood is a chaotic time. For the first while, you're so engrossed in your dragon it's hard to even remember what a normal life and routine was. But… I think if you keep it in your heart as a goal, well… there's no stopping you then. No one should tell you otherwise, not to pursue your Craft. Dragonrider or no." He makes it sound oh-so easy, doesn't he?

Nyalle peeks at the kettle, shaking her head. "Not yet." What do they say about watched pots? She notices the gesture of the hand to the necklace, and then looks away. "Good," she says quietly. "Because they twist. They manipulate. They train and convince, when you're most vulnerable, compliment and connive. And then…" There's a sad smile. "Then it's over. Your reputation…" She shakes her head, cheeks coloring lightly as she stares at the infuser twisting in her grip. "There are many things not easily mended, once they've been broken. Sometimes it's better to be alone."

"I know it won't be easy." Naeda says with a little bit of a sigh. "But… things really worth pursuing are almost never easy, are they?" She frowns for a moment, looking as if something just occured to her. "… Excuse me, Weyrleader. There is something I really must take care of before curfew. It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I hope the rest of your visit is pleasant." She stands, salutes, and makes a quick exit.

This time, it's Rhysanna's eyes going wide, rather than her cheeks going pink. She watches Nyalle with a wary glance, hesitating over a reply. "I take your point," is what she finally murmurs. "I suppose it must be… so many times more difficult, if you Impress gold." She sounds somehow relieved: this is not a problem she has to face! "I'm conscious of my reputation. And… a lot of things. I don't want to lose that, I promise. I will be careful."

Th'ero chuckles heartily and shakes his head. "No, of course not. Which is why it's all the more worth it." he murmurs again and will rise when Naeda excuses herself. "Of course. Don't let me keep you. Been a pleasure as well to meet you and thank you. Best of luck to you come Hatching day!" Returning the salute, he'll watch as Naeda makes her quick exit and taking his seat again, will likely cast a curious look over to the other side of the caverns. Where are Nyalle and Rhysanna?

Nyalle nods, "It is," she says, soft, firm, flat. Taking the now hissing kettle, she pours her tea. Opens her mouth, considers, closes it with a sigh. "I'm sorry." Then she's walking out, back towards Th'ero and assuming the Candidate follows. "Sorry that took so long."

"I—" begins Rhysanna, but Nyalle is already walking back towards Th'ero, and what can she do but follow? She's frowning, though, and showing definite signs of an internal discomfort that doesn't seem to be directed at (or directly inspired by) the goldrider. She presents Th'ero with his ale, but doesn't take her seat again: she's back to hovering, both hands clasped behind her back.

"No need to apologize," Th'ero murmurs to Nyalle when the Weyrwoman approaches and rejoins him. "I was just talking to Naeda concerning her Craft and what being a Craftrider entails. Or at least to keep her goal firm, no matter what." he explains, unaware of the discussion shared between Nyalle and Rhysanna. He will only receive an inkling of something amiss when the Candidate presents his ale (which is graciously accepted with a murmured thanks) and yet she does not take her seat again. "Will you be joining us?" he asks gently.

Nyalle sits down as well, taking a seat at Th'ero's side and smiling faintly at the Weyrleader. "Admirable," she murmurs, blowing across the surface of her tea. Then she looks up at Rhysanna, and now she looks guilty and apologetic. Exhaling softly, she offers the girl an encouraging smile.

"I should go," is Rhysanna's answer to Th'ero - a hasty one. "If there's anything else you need, during your visit, please don't hesitate to ask someone." Her expression is earnest, aimed first at the Weyrleader and then at his Weyrwoman; there's something in it that suggests she's trying to say something, or at least express something, but… that may be more difficult to discern. "It was a pleasure to meet you both," concludes her words, before, without waiting for an answer, she more or less flees for the lower caverns. Blame the impending hatching.

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