====February 17, 2014
==== Mayte, N'zi, Zalara, and Ravene
==== Two apprentices sit down for some dinner and then get the news from High Reaches Weyr.

Who Mayte, N'zi, Zalara, and Ravene
What Two apprentices sit down for some dinner and then get the news from High Reaches Weyr.
When 28th day of the first month of the 12th Pass
Where Living Caverns

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Living Caverns
Dim light from hanging glow-globes cannot fully camouflage the ravages of time and neglect on Igen's busy living caverns, though hints of its former glory peek through in the decorative cuts to the cave's natural limestone and the high quality of dusty, tatty-ended tapestries. Here and there, skybroom tables — stained dark by wood finish and a decade of grime — sit in loose groups, flanked by wicker chairs with pointy, broken rattan that pokes out to invariably find unprotected skin. The seemingly randomly placed furniture, however, at closer inspection, forms a sort of cross-shape of negative space. At the northernmost walls and nooks of the caverns, a long buffet table with tarnished lazy susans hosts an array of finger-foods and pitchers for the interested, refilled occasionally by drudges that shuffle in from the curtained entrance to the south, beyond which lies the kitchens. To the east is a large arch leading outside and, across from that, to the west, a set of rattling doors that open to reveal the tunnels and stairs of the inner caverns themselves.

Zalara has just finished feeding her three firelizards and they are all passed out in the table next to her. She's finally getting to hear meal, even though it's half cold. She digs right into it as her hand gently caresses over each of the three firelizards even as they snooze. She's sitting by herself at one the apprentices tables towards the back and she has tonight's special which is a piece of roasted herdbeast and some greens along with a mug of klah.

Ahhh, dinnertime. It's roast beast tonight, and Mayte has arrived just in time to have to push her way past some people to get to the good stuff. Or at least in line. A plate is rapidly filled, more greens than meat, a glass of water procured, and then Mayte is eyeing the empty chairs… Oh goody; she makes her way to where Zalara is spread out; the plate is plunked down before Mayte gets around to asking, "Hey, Zalara. Mind if I sit?" At least the girl is still standing while she waits for the younger girl's response.

Zalara pops a piece of roasted herdbeast in her mouth as Mayte comes over. She shakes her head a little bit as she holds up a finger for a moment as she chews. She chews and chews and chews as the piece of meat she got is a little tough tonight. She finally swallows, "Sure please have a seat. The herdbeast is rather chewy tonight." She says as she moves on to spear some of the greens with her fork.

Permission granted! Mayte slides into her seat and takes long slug of her water. "Chewy?" she echoes with growing disappointment and pokes her own slice. "Well, at least it should be /tasty/, right?" Hopeful little Vintner. Mayte stabs at the meat a bit and sighs, "You weren't kidding." So she starts with some greens instead, dipping it in the jus from the herdbeast and nibbles at it. "How's the smithy going? Flamethrowers up to snuff?" she asks Zalara, swallowing down more of the water. One more dash and ahhh, Mayte's looking very self-satisfied as she pulls out her wineskin and fills the formerly-water glass with a white wine. "S'not the best wine with herdbeast, but it'll do," she confides happily, taking her first sip.

Zalara hmms, "Well it's all right, just chewy, maybe I got a bad piece, but I can't go wasting food." She continues to eat the greens and moves the piece of meat around with her fork. "Oh that's stuff is going great. I'm working hard in the smithy and learning how to make and repair those flamethrowers. Well I'm going to stick with my klah, it's the only thing taking away the taste of chewy herdbeast."

"No," Mayte agrees, "Wasting food would be a shame." Finally, Mayte attempts to saw through her meat, and manages glowingly, even scraping her knife against the plate. Wince. A slightly awkward grin and Mayte comments, "S'alright. My Journeywoman'd get angry if I put her in a tough spot, giving an Other-craft, younger apprentice alcohol." Tucking her wineskin away inside the collar of her jacket, Mayte asks, "So what else do you learn to make, other than flamethrowers?" before popping a square of meat into her mouth. Chew chew.

Zalara hmms as she watches Mayte and she pushes her hair back behind her ear, "I think I should have tried to cook up the scraps I gave my firelizards. Probably would have tasted the same." She says as she starts to cut up her own meat, "But you know what they say if you don't eat your meat you can't have any pie." She smiles, "It's okay I've seen what people do when they drink too much I'd rather not be throwing up all over the place in the morning." She eats another piece of meat and she chews and thinks. She swallows and replies, "Well we are learning about how to combine different metals, like turning copper to bronze."

Mayte huffs some laughter, but will say with a quick look at the three lumps, "But that's why they get the best part." Whatever that means. Mayte's not going to expand on it, apparently, turning to something she knows much more about: "Pfft. That means they're not drinking to enjoy the flavour, they're enjoying the way it makes them feel." A recently spiked bit of green is waved at Zalara, "Mark me, most people stop lonnnnng before that point. The key is knowing your stopping point." Anyway, that green goes into Mayte's mouth, and she chews and swallows before oohing, "'N then you can make other things from that… Jewelery? Buckles?" The next bit of meat is getting sliced to get masticated.

Zalara continues to eat as she listens, "I don't know about that, but the weyr does let them have all the scraps they can eat." She nods a little bit, "You are probably right, although I would say that most of the apprentices don't know what their stopping point is." She takes a drink of her klah and shakes her head, "I could, but that's not what I want to do. I'm sure the craft would be more then happy if I did want to do that, making jewelry and buckles would probably be viewed as acceptable for a woman who just wanted to learn smithing to make trinkets."

The special du jour is roast herdbeast. It means the Caverns are slowly getting filled by Weyr-goers hungry for a nice winter meal. Off to one side, Mayte and Zalara sit, a few sleeping flits draped over the table nearby. Maybe why no one's joining them. For her part, Mayte snorts quietly in response to what Zalara has mentioned: "Well, s'better to be passionate about what you want to do." A toss of her head and then a wry grin, "Though it'd be really nice if Igen would stop trying to throw sand at what I want to do." She eyes Zalara and purses her lips: "Just… don't close a door of opportunity, right? From one apprentice to another." That's what she'll end on before nomming on the greens from her plate. Alternating.

Zalara looks at the last fork of herdbeast and she pops it into her mouth to start to chew it. She nods, "I won't I just don't like the idea of being shunted off into an aspect of the craft that's safe and approved for girls. I should be able to do anything that the boys do even if I'm really good at making jewelry. I can swing a hammer better than most of the apprentices my age." She nods, "I won't I promise, but I'm going to keep working with the flamethrowers."

Oh man, roast herdbeast: undoubtedly there is a grapevine, or maybe a LIST somewhere, but whatever the means of conveyance the information has been conveyed, and so riders (and weyrfolk) converge. Amidst this convergence: one athletic-tall bronzerider with dark hair and eyes and expressi— okay, well. His expression's really more of a neutral thing, for the moment. N'zi gathers a plate, skirts a table or two, ends up - oh. Well, he ends up at Mayte and Zalara's table thanks to the ebb and flow of traffic, but maybe he thinks their sleeping firelizard attendants will make for a lack of being disturbed for himself, as well. So he sits, at the table but directly next to neither (not to be rude), and offers a low-voiced, clipped-accented, "Apprentices," of acknowledgement before tucking into his herdbeast slices.

Ravene pauses in the entrance to the living caverns, "And you're sure you didn't forget the delivery to the infirmary?" is asked of the girl who trails behind her, "Oh never mind. Go on, we'll figure this out later," for now she's here to drop a basket of her specialty stuffed breads. As she weaves through the tables, Ravene drops a basket of bread on each of the assigned wing tables, two at the leadership table, and a final one at the table that N'zi and the two girls sit at. Why? Because her breads are really good, and stuffed with melty cheesey goodness.

Leaning in, Mayte nods, "And I can lift a full carboy better than any of the Vintner apprentices." Pride? N… yes. That's pride in Mayte's tone, "But if the wineskins for sale aren't painted nicely, they go for less, and the shop loses money." Ergo. Vis a vis. Mayte waves her fork around, "Just saying, you gotta be good at the big stuff, but the little stuff is worth some marks too." Pulling up from her hissed little conversation, Mayte looks up and over at N'zi, offering a surprised, "Good evening, wingrider. How's your roast?" She can be nice, too! And then Ravene brings some wonderful smelling baskets and Mayte's eyes focus on that. Tall, dark, and handsome? How about warm, gooey and cheesy? "Miss Ravene, I had no idea you would be bringing this by tonight!" She's not gonna say no to that, though; Mayte's are quick to reach forward to grab a roll.

Zalara looks up as the man comes to sit at their table, "Hello Rider." She gives a polite nod as she looks to see what knot the man has on. She smiles, "Thank you." She says as the bread is put on the table. She reaches for one. "Mmm it's a good thing these were put out. She nods, "I understand that and I want to be good at everything about being a smith and great at one or two things, I just don't want to be locked in because I'm a girl." She bites into the roll and mmms, "Delightful."

Ravene chuckles, and nods, "Every evening. Last night was sweet savory," tonight's breads are gooey, cheesy. Tomorrow's breads? Who knows? Maybe the ones that earned her journeyman's knot? The rolls, because that's what these are, are stuffed with cheese, very thin slices of ham, and more cheese. Really it's a meal all on its own, "Zisiene lost one of the delivery baskets, if you see it could you drop it back by the bakery?" these baskets? They find their way back home by way of the many drudges employed in the lower caverns. She's not worried about them, "Rider, better hurry before the apprrentices eat them all," a light tease, a grin, and then Ravene's retracing her steps.

N'zi makes a noise, and for all that he is nearly six feet tall and has a well-groomed scruff and has had a lifemate probably as long as at least one of the apprentices has been alive, it is clearly a hungry-little-boy noise; he manages not to snatch a roll (he does have some veneer of civility), but the reach and grab is otherwise efficient. "Mmnh," is in Ravene's departing direction, with a salute - roll in hand. "It is," right, there are people he's sitting with: that apparently means engaging small-talk subroutines. "Good." Perhaps prodded by his more conversant half, he adds, "How are … things," with a vague wave of his roll. You know. Things.

Mayte is just on her way to biting into delightful hammy ooeycheesy goodness when Ravene makes her way out, so she has to actually pull the roll out from between her teeth to say a proper, "Good night!" to the Journeywoman's back. Evidently Mayte thinks her point is made (or mayde) because she gives Zalara a little grin and wink before turning to N'zi. Speaking of small-talk subroutines, Mayte starts with a good'un: "Soooo, Wingrider," whose name she's probably aware of: "Mayte, vintner apprentice. Did you hear about the High Reaches queen?" GOSSIP, it keeps the Apprentices in some type of currency

Zalara waves to Ravene as she has to head out, "See you later, we wouldn't eat them all on him, we'd save him at least one." She takes another bite out of the roll and she smiles at the rider, "I'm Apprentice Zalara, smith craft." She hasn't heard about High Reaches Queen and she leans forward to listen

"N'zi," the bronzerider offers in return, around a swallow of cheesy roll. "Wingrider." And, prodded, "Bronze Zateriyath," because someone in this relationship has to have some social graces. "Well met, both of you." Roll in one hand, roast herdbeast in the other, he appears to be as content as he ever appears - save for the downward tick of one corner of his mouth in response to Mayte's question. "It is a loss," is reserved, "and a grievous one, the death of a queen."

Oh good, we have all the details we only sorta need. "Well met, rider N'zi of Zateriyath." Mayte's fork is dropped, her little waterglass of wine taken up: "Absolutely a tragedy," she replies like an echo who has a thesaurus handy, and Mayte will even squirm in her seat quietly a moment before asking, quietly, "Those of us at our crafts were unable to get a solid answer, however, Wingrider. It was during the Threadfall, right? She was injured?" Inquiring minds want to know!

Zalara smiles, "It's nice to meet you N'zi." She lowers her eyes and nods a little bit as she tears up the rest of the roll and eats a piece, "Yes it is terrible when that happens, especially a gold dragon." She says as she gets up to go get some more klah, "Anyone else want anything else while I'm up?"

"Yes." N'zi: sparkling conversationalist. "It was as a direct result of Alasooth's injuries during Threadfall." Oh, that's a little better. "Vienn did not-" he pauses briefly, eyes glazing slightly mid-chew and mid-sentence, then continues. "There was mercy." He looks to Zalara as she gets up, then shakes his head. Good here!

Mayte's breath hisses a little between her teeth as she listens. There's no mirth in dark eyes now, Mayte shaking her head to deny or express how awful: "That's terrible." Zalara's offer gets a shake of her head as Mayte holds up her glass and bun mutely until, "But thanks." And back to N'zi. Mayte pauses a few times before pondering aloud, "It's so strange, to think of such a la…" and then Mayte's expression closes off, eyes distant for a moment. She returns to the present with a quiet, "Uh." Way to bring the tone down!

Zalara gets herself a mug of klah and she also grabs a bubblie pie. She mmms as she comes back over and she sits down. She smiles, "I think it's redfruit tonight." She says as she picks up her fork and she starts in on it. She concentrates on eating the bubblie for a moment, "We all have to do our best to get through this."

"If it were Zateriyath," oh, N'zi, this is why no one actually engages you in conversation for a long period of time; he talks bluntly but absently, distracted by the mechanics of eating rather than maintaining appropriate conversational topics. "Who were to die, I would wish the same for myself. Better a swift and painless death than an excruciating half-life." Zalara's return piques his interest again, and he swallows a mouthful of now-cooling cheesy roll to inquire, still polite, "Redfruit?"

Mayte listens intently, breath held, to N'zi's answer. Hand clenching around her glass, the apprentice watches the man's face, distracted only momentarily by something getting introduced to his mouth - 'food', apparently, but Mayte is rapt. "It'd be better to…" she repeats to herself… oh hey, Zalara. Mayte looks over as the younger girl returns; some bit of food that, once it reaches Mayte's lips, tastes like sawdust according to her unenthused expression. "Redfruit." Maybe it's the bubblie: "Oh - yeah, not my favourite. Thanks for the offer though." what offer? Maybe even Mayte doesn't know, because she's staring, slightly horrified, at N'zi.

Zalara nods, "Yep redfruit bubblies." She shrugs, "More for me then." Although she's never take more then one." She continues to eat and she shrugs, 'It's a tough decision to make. I hope that I never have to make it."

N'zi is still eating, oblivious; still responding on auto-pilot to the actual words happening around (and toward) him. "Prefer berry," is his agreement with Mayte, because pies hold EXACTLY the same weight as draconic-death induced assisted suicide, right? Right. "We made the decision together," he expounds, "because it is the only fair one. If I die, he betweens, yes? So. If he dies, I go."

Between the less appetizing bubbly options and the sudden serious tone of the conversation, Mayte's… not looking green, but perhaps a shade less brave than five minutes ago. "It… sounds like you have it figured out," she replies with all 'the customer is right'ness she can muster. Don't antagonize the weird bronzerider when he's passive… Still, the bun she's plucked from Ravene's basket falls to her plate.

Zalara nods, "Sounds like it. So did either of you two make it to the cavern party that got shut down the other night? I made it there and got to see some knife throwing before it got shut down. It's a shame really I hope that the Weyr and the Zingari Caravan can come to some understanding."

N'zi eats like he was the runt of someone's litter, despite being the oldest of his biological siblings; likely the baby of his weyrling class, some turns ago. That is to say: he doesn't notice Mayte's conversational falter, but he does notice the abandoned roll. His face is expressive, if subtly: eager eyebrows lift a fraction, and he focuses his attention in its entirety on the vintner apprentice as he asks, "Are you going to eat that?" Then, because there are more words happening, answers Zalara with a, "No, I did not," that is back to short-form answers.

Cavern party, cavern party… "No." Mayte replies to Zalara, "I was working. Heard all sorts of excitement started there though. Weyrwomen yelling and stuff." Even though it's a new topic, the vintner isn't looking much more reassured. When N'zi asks, it takes her a moment to realize exactly what he's looking for, but Mayte pushes the roll, along with whatever's left from her meal of herd roast and greens (so, the fat and a few peas) in the bronzerider's direction. "Uh, I should get back to my store." Rising to her feet, the dark-haired girl looks to them both, "Thanks for the, uh, conversation. Have a good night, huh?" And what's the fun in staying around after that? Mayte is already making quick tracks to the cavern doors, to disappear yonder.

Zalara nods, "Yah there was a lot of that." She finishes up her bubblie. "I should get going too. It was nice to meet you N'zi, I hope you and your dragon fly well." She gives a smile as she picks up her three still snoozing firelizards and she starts to head out as well.

"Thank you." Bit of a pragmatic downer, N'zi, but at least he's (mostly) polite. When Mayte abandons her plate to him, he snags up the discarded roll, pokes the fat with an index finger, and leaves the peas. "Ah," Zalara is leaving too: he's aware of this, and salutes both of their departures with a lift of his newly-claimed roll. "Okay." Then, back to eating.

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