A Question of Manliness

Western Weyr - Roof Garden
This roof garden is being planted with medicinal herbs. Even in its current, unfinished state, patients are often brought up here to get some fresh air and sun.

Gardening. It is probably one of the least complementary tasks for a man of Kilarden's stature, but one he's taken without complaint. There has been a lot of apron wearing, and the pallid bandanna adorning his head is probably becoming a common-place sight. His clothes are filthy, dirt is smeared across his cheeks, on his chin, ruining the white of his apron, and soiling the thighs of his pants. Still, he works diligently, packing new fertilizer, watering, packing more, and continuing the cycle in a tedious repetition.

See, Velrich never bothered with things like aprons and bandannas, even when he had garden duty. No, he did the much more /manly/ thing of taking off his shirt, and sweating it out! But today..well. Today he's free of such things. Not that it's all that great. He looks pretty bored even as he heads up the stairs, squinting into the rather bright sunlight. He shakes his head though just a bit though when he spots Kilarden, walking over to flick a corner of that bandana somewhat. "Is this really helping?" Though he does look somewhat..smug, really. He's not dirty!

Kilarden has the decency to look accosted when Velrich arrives on scene to flick his bandana and harass him with snide remarks. He pulls the ragged thing in question from his head, running it across his forehead in order to gather the sweat that had escaped previous absorption and effectively ruin the pristine white with his grimy hands. It's not the only thing getting soiled, however, and Kilarden is quick to gain his feet, reaching out rather childishly to wipe his hands off on Velrich's shirt. He may not have been dirty before, but he's certainly dirty now. "What's that smug look for?" Kilarden inquires, suddenly amused as that mischievous smile sidles into play. He gives the younger candidate his back, hunkering back down into a crouch as his water canteen is grabbed and used in the manner it was intended: watering plants. "I heard you went swimming."

Velrich is, alas..unmoved by becoming dirty. He's used to dirt! But he does stare at Kilarden's hands as they wipe down his tunic, simply reaching out to /flick/ the other man in the forehead. Yes. Take that. "You're wearing an apron. I think that's reason enough for just about..any expression I could come up with." He does move though when Kilarden gets back to work, finding a planter to lean against. It's better than standing there all solid and..unmovable. So lean he does, tilting his head to get a bit more sunlight….perhaps so he can grow more. Photosynthesis, engage! "I told you I could. You actually didn't believe me?"

"Jealous 'cause I can make an apron look more manly than you can?" Kilarden inquires, rogue smile baring just the faintest hint of canines as he packs more fertilizer. Finally he stops, running his forearm across his eyes as he tilts his head back. Grey hues dart about their surroundings quickly enough, assuring himself that no ears are within hearing range before settling on the lounging man in question. "You're a renegade, Vel. I don't trust half the things you say or do." There's that friendly mockery again, just before he motions toward the fruits of his labor. "If you're going to be here making a nuisance of yourself, at least help me. I'd rather you were taking jabs at me while getting your hands dirty over you just standing there."

Velrich snorts faintly at the use of /that/ particular term. "You're no better." Though he does move away from the planter, offering a disdainful look for Kilarden's apron again. "…And not in the slightest." There is no manly in apron-wearing. It just doesn't happen. Though he does roll his eyes just a bit before peeling his tunic off. No, he's not going to work in his shirt and get it all drenched in sweat again. Tossing it aside, he promptly hunkers down next to Kilarden finally. "It's better than doing nothing, anyway.. The people around here give everyone…too much time to do nothing at all."

There's a rattling sound in the distance growing nearer. It's accompanied by a humming. Soon up the steps to the rooftop garden comes Keelyra. She bears a tray with a pitcher and a couple of cups on it, as well as a bowl of meatrolls and a couple of pies. The scent of raw meat surrounds her and it's very likely she came straight from the kitchens. She slows up upon seeing Velrich with Kilarden. "Oh!" A pause and she glances at the tray. "I don't think I brought enough for three." She sounds a bit uncertain.

Kilarden throws his head back with raucous laughter, seeming to have enjoyed the retaliation in regards to 'status' as much as he would enjoy the punch-line of a very good joke. "Touche," he says after a moment of gathering himself, though one brow does come arching up when he realizes that Velrich is stripping away his shirt. "Is /that/ what it takes to be more manly?" he asks, reaching one arm around his back to tug at the makeshift bow keeping his apron together. The halter is pulled up and over his head, tossed to rest alongside Vel's discarded article of clothing. His own shirt is peeled off, and while there is a definite littering of scars scattered about his abs, along his biceps, and across his chest, none of them are so impressive as the abuse that Velrich has clearly endured. "Now I'm up to par with your definition of 'manly', and you can stop looking so smug." Cue Keelyra. Kilarden turns to face the girl as she approaches, eyes going instantly to the tray and the food on top. He moves to relieve her of the burden she carries, smiling. "You brought enough," he informs, placing the tray down on a bench and motioning for Keel to sit. "Are you done in the kitchen already?"

"I wasn't having a contest." A manly shirtlessness contest though? To be sure. Velrich does start helping with the whole..fertilizer business though, certainly not minding the grime that rather quickly starts to get all over him. He does glance at Kilarden though when he also peels off clothing. Ah yes, sweating in the Western sun. It's nice, manly bonding and…food! He looks over when Keelyra appears, brows lifted just a bit before he shakes his head. "I don't need any. You have plenty there if you want to eat." And while Kil might get up…he remains where he is, although he rises up on his knees slightly.

Shirtless boys? Keelyra flushes a bit as she takes both of them in. Maybe it's just the sun. Suuuure, that's it. The heat is making the native girl turn red around the ears. She lets Kilarden take the tray off of her. "Yeah," she says, moving after the other candidate to the bench. She pours a cup of the cold juice and offers it out to him. "I can get another cup for juice if y'want some," she offers to Velrich. Then back to Kil, an explanation: "I'm used ta cuttin' meat, so it goes pretty quick for me."

Kilarden takes the offered juice with a smile and word of thanks, downing the entire contents in one swig before setting the emptied cup back on the tray. "Perfect timing with that," he informs Keelyra, "but I'm afraid the sandwiches will have to wait." Kil wiggles the fingers of dirtied hands, signifying that a lack of sanitation is the culprit behind the wait. Their grime does not, however, keep him from reaching out to tousle the hair about the top of Keely's head. "Where did you learn to cut up meat, hmm?" He's genuinely curious, but he's giving the younger candidate his back as he moves back to his previous post and settles on his knees, grey eyes going to Velrich. "It's /always/ a contest with you, my friend. Always." Pause. "Maybe when we're done here, the three of us can go and pay Kiltara a little visit. I'm sure she's longing for the company."

"I only just came out here, so I'm fine without." For the moment, at least. Velrich, also with filthy hands, simply remains sitting on his knees for the time being. There's even a small snort for gnats which flit around looking for sweat. "Quite a few people around here seem to spend…a lot of time in the kitchen." Though when Kilarden returns to the ground, there's a definite…stare leveled at the other candidate. Indeed, there may even be an amount of disbelief, but he bypasses the mention of friendship. Instead there's a slight smirk, brows arched just faintly. "I wasn't aware that you needed the comparison. But I'll be happy to beat you each and every time." Because he is obviously the winner. …Yes. "I'll…join you. Yes."

Ruffled hair, now dirty. Still, Keelyra doesn't seem to mind. Likely because of the meat juices likely soaked into skin and clothes. Does wonders for the complexion, it does. "Part of being a kitchen worker," she explains, "I've made sure to learn just about everything I can, short of doing the fancy cooking. I can make basic stuff, like meatrolls… and bubblies, but they don't compared to Idris'. Hers are /amazing/." Basic bubbly versus super-amazing-artisan bubbly. She shrugs a bit as Velrich declines the juice, pouring it for herself instead. "Well, Idris and I have worked in the kitchens for a while… th'others, I think, just like the food."

"I know how to cut it. That doesn't mean I know how to prepare it." Velrich's stare is caught by Kilarden, but he returns it with a smile, extending one finger to press it into the soft meatiness of the younger man's cheek. "You got somethin' just there," he informs, though it's clearly a lie. Trying to get his companion even dirtier? You betcha. "You can beat me in everything else all you want, Vel. I can /still/ make an apron look more manly than you." Just like that, Kil seems to be fed up with packing fertilizer and watering, because suddenly he's falling backwards onto his bottom, kicking both legs out in front of him, and pushing both arms behind himself to support his upper body. It's a rather lazy position, to be sure. "Keelyra here wants to learn how to hunt, Velrich. Reckon we can teach her some day?"

Velrich shakes his head faintly. "I can make passable food.. Nothing like what's made here." He's used to cooking what he's got, over a small campfire! At…least he doesn't char it. There's another look given at Velrich when the other man gives up on work, and simply stands up. Hey, it's not even his chore! "I wouldn't /want/ an apron to look manly. You can have that one." He wipes dirty hands on his pants though, trying to clean them off at least a little before the mention of hunting. "..Depends on what she wants to hunt." There's a curious look then leveled on Keelyra, head canting just a bit. "I'm not even…completely sure what's on this island."

"Why y'all so worried 'bout bein' manly?" Keelyra asks, popping a meatroll in her mouth. She chews, swallows, and casts a look between the boys. "Y'both look pretty good t'me." That's right, boys… er, men. You look great to a teenage girl! She chews on her lip at Velrich's statements about hunting before giving a little shrug. "I dunno. I just never done it before an' I'd like t'learn."

"I'm not the one worried about looking manly. Ask Velrich here; he's the one always showing off his scars." The grin that Kilarden is wicked, and then Keely, conspiratorial. As for looking good, Kil runs a hand over his stomach almost in a self-conscious gesture, laughing at the compliment with a shake of his head. "I don't think there's much room for weight in our profession," Kilarden supplies, though he does fall silent long enough to look from Vel, to Keely, and back again.

"He's the one who keeps bringing it up." Oh yes, Velrich /will/ pin the blame on Kilarden. "I just don't see a point in looking ridiculous in an apron." Otherwise looking like a /girl/. He sighs though, finding that same planter to lean on once again, dirty fingers brushing through his hair. "I don't mind about hunting, so long as you don't start running off after bigger things before you're taught." Looking good? Velrich blinks, glancing down before he just..goes to get his tunic, shrugging back into it. "I'm not showing anything /off/, Kilarden."

"What if ya gotta stay clean, but still do somethin' dirty? Aprons can be a good idea. All th'chefs wear 'em." And there are dude chefs in those kitchens. "Sometimes it's more about bein' responsible than bragging rights." Because, as a girl, that's what Keelyra sees it as. Bragging rights. She considers a moment, watching Kilarden, before hopping up from the bench and winding her way towards where he sits with some meatrolls in hand. She holds one out towards him, only holding on with the tips of her fingers. "Here." Yes, apparently not knowing when he will actually eat leds to her being willing to feed him. Shame it's not grapes. And shame Velrich isn't fanning him with a large island-y frond.

Kilarden seems to find nothing else in the ongoing conversations aside from some kind of amusement - especially when compliments have Velrich hiding behind his tunic again. This actually draws laughter from the man, but grey eye are for Keelyra when she explains the womanly point of view on aprons. "Kiltara likes aprons too," he says, adding, "must be a troublemaker thing." But when Keely is invading his personal space, the mirth in his eyes is suddenly gone, as if the girl has somehow disarmed him. He looks warily from the offered food to Velrich, but shoulders are rolling up into a shrug, and almost as quickly as that smile left, it's back again. "Don't mind if I do," Kil says, leaning up to sit more comfortably as he leans forward and takes as big a bite as he can. There's a subdued, "Mmm," and when Kilarden swallows, he's asking, "Are these the ones you made, Keelyra?" He'll be taking the rest of that delicious food now, thank you very much.

There will never be a Velrich in a grass skirt. He would protest far too much. No cabanaVel! Still, there's a bit of a snort given for the talk of aprons. "I'm not a chef, though." What if he had to stay clean? NEVER! Though there's a definite /stare/ leveled as Keelyra goes to feed Kilarden. Indeed, he keeps Kilarden's gaze even when the other man looks at him. Simple, quiet communication…between /MEN/. "Kiltara likes quite a few things that seem…odd." Like..Velrich? Yeah, there's one.

"Naw," Keelyra admits, though a smarter girl perhaps would have taken credit. "Didn't have th'time t'day. Next time I make some meatrolls, I'll be sure t'let ya know." She is currently immune to Velrich's stares. Perhaps because it's just so dang /fascinating/. She was just trying to help Kilarden eat while his hands were oh-so-grimy. It didn't even cross her mind how /strange/ feeding someone could be until she was actually doing it. She doesn't have all the food, no. Just a handful of the meatrolls. And she'll duitifully help Kil eat… while /staring/ in her own way. So strange!

It's like a festival of strange eye staring! Though all of the eyes clearly have their own reasons for giving looks. Kilarden wraps long fingers around Keelyra's wrist after the first one, successfully making the girl that much more dirty while making it that much easier for him to eat. After the third meatroll, however, he's waving a hand and shaking his head with another smile. "I'm good, Keely. Thank you." He'll release his grip on her then, to turn and eye his work with disdain. "It seems like it never ends," he complains, though it's clear from his tone that he's really not all /that/ bothered by what he's being forced to do. He doesn't exactly come from a lifestyle where sitting still was the ideal thing to do. "It /is/ true that Kiltara likes strange things, Velrich. She's practically adopted you already. And while we're on the topic, I've been thinking about getting her that puppy." He looks at Vel, head canted to one side as if to say, 'What do you think?' before he shifts his attention onto Keely. "Would you help me pick one out if I did?"

What's great about gardens? There's things like..hoses! Which Velrich goes to in order to rinse his hands off, finally. Clean hands, if not clothes. He rubs wet palms together once rinsed off, and while not /perfectly/ clean, they're much better than before. "It's not supposed to end, Kil. We're supposed to be busy, near as I can tell." Wouldn't want candidates sitting about, thinking about what they've gotten themselves into! "You should do that," he offers softly, even as he picks up the hose again. "Girl needs some company, at least." And then? He points the hose at the other two candidates, thumb over the end, and smirks. Shower time!

Keelyra goes very still and her eyes very wide as Kilarden grabs her wrist. It might be TERROR except that when he lets go, she falls back to sit fully on her rear with a faint, airy giggly. She's hiiiiiigh! … on life. Or something. The remaining meatrolls are eaten swiftly by the girl and she nods at the question. "'Course. I like lookin' at puppies. They're cute." And then she's getting sprayed with water and squeals, throwing hands up to try to — futiley — shield herself.

Kilarden lurches forward to catch Keelyra before she takes her tumble, but he's not nearly fast enough. "Are you okay?" he inquires, gaining his own feet so that he can reach down and offer her a hand up. Right up until Velrich is ruining EVERYTHING with his water dousing antics. Kilarden jerks back from where he's standing over Keely, bringing up his own arms in just as futile of an attempt to protect himself as the girl candidate. "He knows how to play!" Kilarden calls out between laughter, though he's ducking around sprouts to try and turn the hose on the culprit - up until a rather haggard looking nanny is showing up on scene. She's wringing hands nervously, looking at all three candidates in turn as she waits to be noticed. It's Kil who sees her first, and all of the laughter is suddenly /gone/. He stares for only a moment before crossing the space separating them. He leans down to hear what she has to say, and then gives a slight push to the woman's lower back as he turns a look over his shoulder. "Kiltara." It can't be /that/ terrible, whatever has happened, though he doesn't bother retrieving his shirt or doing more than sparing both an apologetic look before slipping out and down the stairs to find his little sister.

There may not be ringing laughter anywhere, but Velrich certainly looks like he might just be having fun. There's even a grin that's spread across his face…just a little as he sprays water. Yes! He can indeed play when the mood strikes. And as he moves to keep away from Kilarden…well. He finds that he suddenly doesn't have to. Though he does lower the hose so that he doesn't spray water all over anymore. There's even a bit of concern that shows when it's revealed Kiltara is the cause of Kilarden's sudden..fleeing. He does drop the hose though, putting it down and turning the water off before heading to pick up the discarded shirt of the other candidate.

Keelyra drips. Drip drip drip. Good thing she's not wearing some flimsy, light-colored shirt or there'd be a show for the boys also. She frowns a little as Kilarden runs off, looking over to Velrich. "I, uh… I hope everything's okay," she says finally, moving to gather up the tray. Damp tray now, but at least most of the food was eaten.

Velrich just..folds that tunic. Yes, he's a bit..neat. Even if he doesn't mind getting dirty. Perhaps it's habit. He eyes the wet tray though for a moment, shaking his head. "Sorry." Maybe he was having a moment of..insanity. Though there's another look toward the stairs again. "..Probably is.." Hopeful?

Keelyra manages to flash a brief grin to the hunter-turned-candidate. She gives a little shrug. "It's fine. Nice t'see ya relax some, is all." She looks to the stairs again also. "I… I really hope he can stay here. If only for her sake."

When Kilarden returns, it's with a rather red-eyed child on his back. She's resting her chin on his shoulder, clinging tightly to her brother, but both eyes go immediately closed in feigned sleep as she sees first Keelyra, and then Velrich. If the fact that her brother is soaking wet and dirty seem to bother her, she certainly doesn't show it, and it's probably evident from the smearing of dirt on her cheeks that Kilarden has already tended to those tears. Is it any wonder why he didn't retrieve his shirt? He knew that he wouldn't be gone for very long! There's no need to worry. Kil is all smiles for the other two, and he's only stooping to kneel when he reaches the bench with the tray of food on it. "Keelyra brought those down, baby. Have some." But it's apparent that the girl would rather pretend to be unconscious, and after a second or two of waiting for a response, Kil gives into the silent demands for not having to let go. Pause. "Did you both miss me?" he asks instead, rising back to his feet and hefting the girl just a bit higher up and onto his back.

Velrich looks sideways at Keelyra a moment, just…watching the girl before a faint smirk curves…just a little at his lips. "Right." He finishes folding the tunic though, and just drops it onto the bench as Kilarden heads back up the stairs. With a monkey on his back! …Or a little sister. He does tilt his head though, even the faint smile gone as he takes in the supposedly unconscious girl. "Yes. We were completely despairing over your absence. What would we do without you?" He even manages to say it all rather…flatly, and with a completely straight face. Though he does wander over near Kilarden's shoulder, dropping his hand onto Kiltara's hair lightly. Touch!

What? Whaaaat? It's for the sake of the girl! Sure, it'd be a bonus for Keelyra if he stayed, but she's not one to be selfish. All the time. She watches Kilarden return, eyes going for Kiltara. Her brow furrows a bit and she's about to speak, but Velrich beats her to it. There's a faint snicker of amusement at the boy's deadpan humor, but once it fades she does inquire: "is everything alright?"

"I knew you would be lost without me," Kilarden says, apparently immune to sarcasm. "That's why I returned with the gift of cuteness, only this gift doesn't seem to want to be very lively." The oldest of the four on scene bounces then, jolting his sister /gently/ even as Velrich brings his hand down on the top of Kiltara's head. Kil dips his head to Keelyra then, a brisk yes in body language. "She's okay. I told you that she wasn't terribly good at climbing, and when she fell she didn't feel like being a big girl." He bounces until… Giggle! Yes, the child on his back pushes away at Velrich's hand with sudden gleed, her own grey eyes coming open before she buries her face in the side of her brother's neck. "Ah! She lives!" There's a spin then, more laughter from Kiltara, and then Kilarden is crouching to allow her off. "Go grab some of those meatrolls, Kiltara. They're good." Does she obey? Yes, but those tiny hands are grabbing two, and she's shuffling shy feet over to Velrich as she holds out the first for him.

There is bouncing! Velrich removes his hand with all of that jostling going on, and then moves to sit down on the bench. Certainly much better that Kiltara starts laughing, at any rate. The candidate relaxes then, resting his arms on his thighs and just leans forward that way a bit, nodding. "Pretty hard to feel big when you've gone crashing down low." That's right, he'll take the kid's side! There's a blink at being offered a meatroll though, taking it with a small nod to Kiltara. "Thank you." He even bites it!

Keelyra is back on her feet and moving a little stiffly. Likely the clothes now plastered to her skin. /She/ wasn't shirtless once soaked (probably for the best) and now her clothes show off every single… well, yeah. Keely doesn't really have curves. Sure, the beginnings of them are there and enough to make it clear that she's not a boy, but this isn't the big, busty type of girl that gets all the goggling. Probably best in this situation. She smiles as the girl tucks in to the meatrolls. "Eat as many as you'd like," she advises.

Kiltara smiles when Velrich takes her meatroll, leaning into him with her stomach as she rests her elbows on the older man's thighs and takes a bite of the second one she picked up. She's like a whirlwind, really, and inhales the thing practically whole before pushing away to grab another. Cue Keelyra's comment, and cue Kiltara turning a smile up and onto her. Pause. Blink, blink. The meatroll is promptly set right back down as she closes any bit of distance there may have been left between herself and the youngest candidate here, hands immediately going for her soaking shirt which she pushes /backwards/ onto the girl's body. "Wow!" Kiltara says, looking suddenly amazed. "Kilarden, am I gonna have a body like that some day?" Curves and ample bust? Who needs those? Kilarden seems rather preoccupied with choking down laughter behind one closed fist, reaching out with the other to catch his kid sister by the back of her shirt and jerk her /backwards/. "I thought you were going to show Velrich your scar, little girl, not harass Keelyra with your nonsense." For what it's worth? He can't look Keely in the eyes now. Kiltara claps her hands together then, delighted as she throws herself back at Velrich and climbs up into his lap without asking permission. She holds out her arm then, showing a small cut that's clearly been treated for blood, but is not nearly serious enough to have needed patching. "Kil says that it makes me manly." BEAM. All that laughter? From Kilarden.

Velrich /was/ chewing. He was. Of course, Kiltara's /commentary/ on Keelyra's figure has him choking on more than laughter. There was /meatroll/ in there! But at least it's not serious, and he clears his throat a few times to take care of the problem. Though one hand remains over his mouth for…just a bit longer. He's not grinning…no. No he isn't. "Can't..imagine why you wouldn't." He answers! Finally. Though it's a bit muffled by his hand. Still, when Kiltara climbs into his lap, one arm goes around the girl to keep her steady…and he just looks at the mark on her arm. …The manly mark. "…Yes. I'd have to agree with that.." Though Kilarden gets /eyed/.

Oh dear. Uhm. Keelyra just stares at Kiltara, rocking back on her heels a bit. And as Kilarden and Velrich start up their laughter, the teen just begins to turn /red/. From her nose to her cheeks to her ears. It even spreads down her neck and shoulders. Her jaw works, but she doesn't know what to say. Embarassment, thy name is Keely. She's not even able to join the mirth of a manly scar on a little girl!

Kilarden is kind enough to reach out a hand and pat Velrich on his back when the younger man starts choking, but he's not so cruel as to keep Keelyra turning red. As soon as he notices that embarrassment, he's moving to catch the younger candidate at the back of her head and pulling her into his chest. He's still laughing, yes, but at least he's hiding the girl's face for her. "I'm sorry, Keelyra. I'm not laughing at you, I promise." But he's still /laughing/, until finally he turns and releases Keely, catching Kiltara beneath her arms and swinging her up into the air. He plants a kiss firmly on her cheek, earning the kicking of feet as she gives a little squeal and then catches at his shoulders when he finally settles her against a hip. "That's enough troublemaking out of you, Kiltara." She smiles, embarrassed herself, and hides her face away in the protection of her older brother's neck again. "I think it's time to get cleaned up," Kilarden says, smiling first to Velrich, then to Keelyra. "Thank you for the food, and for the company." His tunic, apron, and bandana? Retrieved. It's in sync with Kiltara that he's waving after both of them on his way out. "See you around!" he calls over his shoulder, before disappearing down stairs yet again.

Really! It's not Keelyra that they're laughing at! Little girls are hilarious! Velrich shakes his head though….and leans warily away as Kilarden lifts Kiltara from him. He's been hit more than once by flailing feet! He's not taking chances. He does get up afterward though, nodding just faintly at the other candidate as he makes off with his sister. "Yeah.." And Keelyra? There's a light clap on the shoulder for her. "He's right..not you." He does wipe his hands off again on the still dirty pants though, and heads off..into the maze! There's places to lurk in there!

Umph! Keelyra is able to feel out her embarassment buried against Kilarden's damp — and likely sweaty, dirty — chest. She does relax a bit, shoulders slumping, once she's let go. "I know, it's just, ah…" Kids. The way kids are. Yep. She draws in a long breath and glances towards Velrich as he pats her on the shoulder and heads off. "Well." She grabs the tray, letting the others dissolve in their own way. "Time for a bath, I think."

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