Learning Time

Western Weyr - Kitchen
Perhaps you followed your nose here.. the cooking aromas are tempting. This is the main kitchen of the Weyr. At any time of the day or night you find cooks and drudges busy making meals and preparing foodstuffs for storage for later use. The cavern has been shaped into a huge room with a domed ceiling. The huge ovens and cooking stoves line the outer wall, their perpetual fires fueled by natural gas from a nearby well. Vent holes pierce the cavern walls, keeping the room amazingly clear of smoke. The inner wall has long counters of smooth stone, carved from the walls. You see a large, heavy looking metal-clad door. This is the large cold storage room, much like a man-made ice cave. The walls are made of volcanic rock, known for it's insulating properties. The heat exchanger is also powered by natural gas.


It is mid-afternoon on this summer day, and the kitchens have entered that brief period of calm after lunch but before the dinner preparations are into full swing. Now is the perfect time to intrude, if one feels the need. Kayse is one of those intruders, entering the cavern quietly - this time without a firelizard in tow. It takes only a few moments for the apprentice to find someone who isn't visibly occupied. "Excuse me, is the head cook available? I have a few questions about herbs," she asks the first kitchen worker she comes across, voice loud enough to carry in the relative quiet.

Maybe she knows that her clipboard has been thieved, maybe it's just last night's encounter. Either way, the wind is out of Keelyra's sails as she goes about her duties in the kitchen. The head cook is not visible at the moment, like as not down in the caverns tending to one thing or another. The request does draw the attention of the teen though, pale eyes lifting from her current work — washing various vegetables — to regard Kayse. "I might be able to help."

Kayse doesn't wait for the other kitchen hand to reply, turning when Keelyra speaks up. It takes only a moment for Kayse to remember who the other girl is and she gives her a nod of recognition. Saying, "Thank you," to the first target of her query, she moves away and joins Keely by her washing station. "It's Kelly, right?" Well, at least she got close. "I'm Kayse. Anyway, I'm starting a boxed garden, and I just wanted to check and see if there was anything in the way of herbs that the cook would like me to try growing in it. I was going to just do flowers, but then I realized that there aren't that many flowers that I like enough to try growing."

"Keely," the weyrbrat responds, but it doesn't seem to be with malice. Perhaps with all the travel she's done as of late, she's used to mispronunciations of her name. Especially from those weird Eastern Holdfolks. Vegetables continue to receive scrubbing and rinsing as Keelyra considers. She glances to Kayse, "Have you seen the herb garden yet? I think there may be a few things not growing there currently that you could try your hand at…" She glances ceiling-ward, chewing at her lip briefly as she mulls. "Yes, there's a few things we order in. It'd save the weyr a few marks, at least, if someone managed to grow them local." Blue eyes return to Kayse as lips twist into the slightest of frowns. "The issue is though, a lot of them don't like the climate here. Maybe if you had some kind of greenhouse…?"

"Ah, right, sorry," Kayse apologizes, blushing, for the misremembered name. "I did take a look at the herb garden, but I'm not an expert on plants, so I didn't recognize half of the stuff. That's why I thought I'd just come ask someone. I can do research once I know what plants are needed to see if I can make it grow, I just couldn't find a good starting point for picking the herbs," she explains. The mention of a greenhouse has the apprentice blanching and hurrying to clarify, "This is entirely out of pocket. I can't begin to afford the structure for even a small greenhouse. I can get wood and soil for the box easily, and I have enough basic carpentry knowledge to put the box together, but anything more complicated than that is well outside my means."

"Well, I'm sure I can get a list of which herbs we most need that the garden doesn't have," Keelyra says, chewing at her lip briefly. She gives the vegetables a final rinse before transferring them to a colander. This, in turn, is hauled to a nearby counter top with a cutting board and knife already laid out. "I'm terrible with plants, so I'm not sure what would work well in a box, but I can ask around for you."

Kayse trails along after Keelyra at a safe distance, making sure she stays out of the way while still able to converse. "If you would, I would appreciate it. It is the wrong time of year to start anything that is an annual crop, but I should be able to get something with a shorter growing cycle to produce before the end of the growing season," she replies. Kayse watches Keely work for a moment before asking, "Do you usually work in the kitchens? I don't remember seeing you around before last night, so I'm sorry if I've missed noticing you."

"I'll send word once I know," Keelyra says, starting to chop some of the vegetables. She's a fairly deft hand at it. Eyes raise to regard Kayse for a moment at the question before returning to her work. "Yeah, I've been out doing research… There's a lot of things we need that we can't get here on the islands, so I was researching where we could get a better deal. I just got back a few days ago, been gone… I guess nearly a Turn."

Kayse says, "That explains it. I've only been posted here for about five months, so you were already gone when I arrived. Well, welcome back then. I hope your research was fruitful." She pauses for a moment, thinking about what Keely said. "So that's why you weren't sure about the weyrleader, right? Because the last time you saw him would have been well before he became weyrleader, and it isn't what you would have expected to happen after all of his pranking? Not that it's any of my business," she hurries to add. "You just seemed very… disbelieving last night when you were talking to him about it."

"More or less," Keelyra says, rolling shoulders in a brief shrug. "Zi'on is… well, we pretty much grew up around each other. We're both born here at Western and raised here. Weyrbrats around here are… ah, not the most responsible lot. Even after he Impressed, Zi'on still tended to get into trouble. So seeing him as Weyrleader is… just a bit of a surprise, I suppose."

Kayse nods slowly as she listens, leaning against an unoccupied bit of the counter to stay out of the walkway. "I can understand that. I would have a hard time reconciling my little brother in any position of authority, since he doesn't seem to have the right attitude for it, but I guess with dragonriders it is a bit more unpredictable as to what role you might end up in. At least for the bronzeriders." She shifts uneasily, glancing at the vegetables, then asks, "Can I help while we're talking? I feel bad to be bothering you and just standing here, but I'm awfully curious. I haven't had a lot of time to talk to anyone about growing up at the weyr and what it is like."

"Well, he's… I guess maybe like an older brother. Or something." That particular line of thought seems to make Keelyra a bit uncomfortable. She considers the offer and grabs another cutting board and knife. "Ah, they need to be coarsely chopped," she explains in a voice that's gone somewhat soft. "there's going to be a stew tonight."

Kayse accepts the cutting implements and, once arranged to her comfort, snags a couple of the vegetables to start chopping. After the first few strokes she asks, "Like this?", guesturing to the size of the pieces. "Oh, I wasn't meaning he's necessarily like family to you or anything, that's just the nearest comparison I could think of." She is quiet for a moment before venturing, "So, what /is/ it like growing up at a weyr? I mean, you've travelled around a bit; what have you noticed as different for you than what you have seen at holds?"

"Yeah, that's fine," Keelyra says after a cursory glance at the chopped vegetables. She gets back to working on her own in measured, deft motions. "What's it like," she muses aloud, falling quiet for a moment thereafter. "Well… you grow up comfortable with things like who sleeps with who. A lot of holdfolk are weirded out by two men or two women being together, but that's just how it happens sometimes here since both men and women ride green, blue, and brown." She dumps most of the vegetables she's chopped already into a waiting bowl. "We're also used to people being… I guess sexual in public. When flights happen, especially gold flights, it can affect everyone… especially the riders of the losing males." She shrugs a bit, "We're all… equal, in a sense. Our leader is always a woman. Sometimes a Craftmaster is a woman, but not often. And almost never in a Hold. I noticed the roles of men and women in holds are much more… defined. It's not like that here, really."

Kayse listens curiously as she continues chopping, matching the size she has already started with. When Keelyra mentions flights she pinks, shaking her head slightly. "Is it always like that when the golds rise? If it is, no wonder those stories get told. I mean, they exaggerate, but that is still some pretty strong stuff going on," the girl says softly. "I don't know about the roles. My mother is a master, and she made it before my father did even though she's younger. She said it's because she has more time to think than he does, since she works on the land instead of the sea," Kayse offers.

"Generally, it is," Keelyra says, one shoulder rising in a half-hearted shrug. "When you grow up here, you're used to it before you even know what it means… That's why those of us who aren't riders, but grew up here aren't affected by it." She slows in her chopping a bit, "Well, yeah, but like, say, the Herdmaster of Pern? Usually a male. Same with the other roles. I know there are women who run entire crafts, it's just not always. I've heard halls also separate dorms for boys and girls, but here…" she gestures, with the knife, at Kayse. "Well, you know. It's everyone in one dorm. Same with the baths, everyone shares. Used to be, back when Thread still fell, that there just wasn't the time and space in a Weyr to worry about separating things."

Kayse looks thoughtful as she considers what Keely has said, though she keeps her eyes firmly on the vegetables and her knife. "I have a hard time imagining you can get used to something like that. I mean… wow. But if you say so," she comments with a shake of her head. "I don't know anyone who has had trouble being promoted just because they are a woman. I mean, it's not like we need to be broodmares for families anymore. Pern is pretty well tamed, and there is no Threadfall to worry about." She shrugs, shaking her head again. "The dorms at the Halls are separated to keep apprentices from fooling around, since getting pregnant makes it a lot harder to study. That's all. I shared a room with both my siblings at the Hold."

"But the enrollment of women versus men in Crafts, isn't it skewed?" Keelyra inquires, glancing up at Kayse. "I know a lot of the smaller holds I visited, the girls were encouraged not to leave home, so they could work around the hold and marry." She smirks a bit, at the dorm explanation, "Doubt it ever stopped anyone, plus… couldn't you just get the healers to give you that stuff to drink so you don't get pregnant? At least at a Weyr, if you're worried you might be, you can just ask a rider to take you between."

Kayse wrinkles her nose at Keely's question, shrugging. "I don't think it is, at least not much. Not these days. If you think about it, women can be craft members and still contribute a lot to their homes. And some crafts tend toward more women than men, like Weaver and Baker." She then asks, "Have you ever drunk that stuff? Blech. And we have to take it every day in order to not get pregnant. How many teens do /you/ know who are willing to do that? Finding a willing rider is easier, but its pretty obvious and isn't exactly well thought of in the Halls and Holds. It shows the girl was irresponsible in the first place, and that can really set you back on chances of promotion."

"Guess I'm glad I never decided to find a craft then," Keelyra says with a slight curl of her lip. Probably considering all the things that aren't even rules you have to keep in mind. Like appearances. "At least at a Weyr, it's not looked down on to be my age without being in a craft or considering men to start a family with." She finishes with the vegetables she was chopping, putting the rest into the waiting bowl. "Had a few Holds where they were trying to match me up with boys."

Kayse shrugs at Keelyra's disdain, commenting, "I was interested in the wood that goes into the ships my mother makes. When I found out more, it was natural to join the craft and make it my life. I didn't have to, but it made sense for me, and nobody in my family would have objected if I wanted to do something else, like garden or work in the kitchens or something not part of a craft." Her lips quirk into a small smile as she asks, "And what did you tell the holders?"

"Hmm?" Keelyra seems to have drifted off for a moment. She blinks a few times before refocusing on Kayse. "Oh, well, usually the truth. I was too busy with my duties for the weyr to consider such things."

"And how did they take that?" Kayse asks, amusement in her voice. "Were they crushed that your duties were more important than their oh-so-wonderful sons?" It is possible that Kayse has also been subjected to these types of people, if her tone is anything to go by. "Speaking of duties, is that what your clipboard is full of? The information from your trip?"

"Most took it well," Keelyra says, rolling shoulders in a shrug. "I guess they figured tying down someone from a Weyr was a slim chance anyway. Did have one guy try to convince his son, who was terrified of dragons, go with me." She chuckles at the memory. "My… clipboard…" The teen looks a bit downcast. "Yes, it is. I think I misplaced it last night. Haven't been able to find it today."

Kayse giggles as she imagines the situation. "Poor boy." She shakes her head, then frowns when Keelyra indicates she doesn't know where the clipboard is. "Misplaced it? I hope it's just lost, and not stolen. At least if you lost it someone will probably find it and get it back to you. If the thief took it you may never see it again, the way things are going. I hope you find it soon."

"I had gone to the Tiki Lounge for a drink and… I guess I probably left it on a table. No one there this morning recalled seeing it, so I'm not sure." Keelyra shrugs a bit, brow furrowing. "I'll look for it more once I'm done here for the day."

Kayse finishes the vegetable she is cutting and scoops all the bits into the waiting container. "Good luck finding it. Anyway, I should really get going. Nala is probably about to wake up hungry, and the last thing I need is for her to start screeching in the dorms again. Thank you for answering my questions and looking in to the herbs for me. Have a good day." She deposits her cutting implements in the sink and heads out, tossing of a jaunty wave as she goes.

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