==== September 30th, 2013
==== Gritta, Maryam, Xieli
==== Gritta and Maryam leave their bazaar sanctuary to meet in the living caverns and bump into a healer.

Who Gritta, Maryam, Xieli
What Gritta and Maryam leave their bazaar sanctuary to meet in the living caverns and bump into a healer.
When 1 turn 1 months and 05 days until the 12th pass
Where Igen Weyr



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.

Dinnertime requires dinner. And dinner can be found in the Living Caverns! Xieli is here filling a plate, quiet and demure and every image of the responsible woman of the times that is now. Her eyes are lowered, and she is without cosmetics or jewelry obviously coming fresh from the infirmary…. as her hands are stained with red, and her tunic shows spots where she's scrubbed out passing stainables. She's the last one in line, and takes her time to pick over each item to get just the right one. No, that tuber looks deformed. That one looks squishy. That one looks burnt. But this one… this one looks just right.

The last one in line no longer, as the oddity of a bazaar shop owner in the weyr proper sweeps delicately in from the bowl. The older woman, leaning so elegantly on her cane it is hard to tell if she needs it or it is a fashion accessory, pauses to take in the scene. Her face so expressionaless it is clearly she disapproves of everyone who eats in the caverns. Long flowing dress, the quintessintial style, a blend of conservativism and fashion. It swoops downard but leaves everything to the imagination, form fitting without being too young for her wrinkled face. Graceful steps and she's passing by the distorted tubers, nothing but perfection in look and poise and the same will be expected of her food, and so all the food is passed, as Gritta turns her nose up to it all, opting instead for only a mug of klah and a seat where she can observe the crowds.

Shrewd eyes take in the elegance of the cane with a Healer's diagnostician's consideration. Only then do dark eyes rise to the faceof the cane's owner. The same eyes follow her as the older woman retires to a table. Xieli is still in line, and still patiently moving forward with the agonizing slowness that only a buffet line can provide. By this point her demure look has broken as the line's slowness is worse than her choosiness, and she eyes the ox-like back in front of her as if waiting for it to move. Her eyes then sweep back towards Gritta, in the way of a person waiting. Maybe she wants to figure out if that cane really is needed or not.

Does anyone really know? The cane is a mysterious part of Gritta's existence, despite being born and raised in the bazaar, no one can remember when the sculpted piece of wood appeared, or really remember a time before the woman was using it. The Night Flight and its clientele have made her an exceptional reader of human nature, and given her a sharp, catching eye. Though she is perhaps less obvious than the healer about it. Another feature of running an upscale clothing store, one can simply stare at holderwomen, they tend to take offense, things much be watched without being noticed. Wrinkled hands curl softly in her lap, as her legs -crossed at the ankles- pull beneath the chair. Ever poised, she finally allows herself to be seen watching Xieli, a soft smile for the woman healer, and one hand, removed from its home sweeps across an empty chair, an invitation to join. Once she's through that awful line.

A mysterious thing, that cane. Xieli finally makes it past the lard-covered farmer (he's larding it up with more lard, so he can lard while he lards, the lardass) and makes do with a tall glass of water, lightly chilled before moving towards that offered invitation. The woman settles herself with a graceful movement of limb and torso, tucking in under the table and offering Gritta a smile as smooth as her movements prior. "Good evening, ma'am." Her greeting is as soft-voiced as her eyes are dark.

Here is new territory: the Weyr's living caverns at full supper time bustle. Maryam is perhaps not an eager entrant in the throng, though it differs very little from the busier streets of the Bazaar. That similarity is likely what allows her to maintain an untroubled facade as she slides through the crush of bodies, untouched by the roar of conversation and the dance required to move through constantly shifting chairs, shoulders, hips and dashing children. Dressed in a kirtle of soft blue brocade that buttons from its floor-length hem to its high throat and silky cream veils, she is a vision of Igen fashion- no doubt procured by the self-same woman she's come to see. Silently, she takes the chair beside Gritta after touching light fingers to her elder's shoulder. Only after she's settled does she murmur, "Good eve," while direction a nod towards the stranger opposite.

Gritta inclines her head to the healer, the best she can do at a proper greeting while seated. "Good evening to you as well, healer?" A quiet appraising glance at face, and outfit and posture, before her attention is gathered by the veiled woman who takes a seat next to her. "Daughter of Steen. A pleasure to see you. I do hope you are well." A chance meeting, in the weyr proper. Of course. Fingers, though gnarled by age, wrap graceful around her mug of klah as she takes the first sip. "How is your mother?" There is an order to proper greetings of course, a protocol which much be followed for the whole of society to continue to stand.
"I had not thought to see you here, ma'am. A surprise but a pleasant one," Maryam says, the fib coming all too easily and naturally to her tongue. She has her own mug, though hers holds a double-steeped tea, and once she was comfortable, she curled both hands around it. "Mama fares well. She has banned the healers from fluttering at her," this said with the most apologetic of glances at Xieli, her veil making her eyes seem that much more expressive by obscuring everything, "but she seems to have her strength back. I saw your Webley some days ago. He introduced me to his lady."

"I had not thought to see you here, ma'am. A surprise but a pleasant one," Maryam says, the fib coming all too easily and naturally to her tongue. She has her own mug, though hers holds a double-steeped tea, and once she was comfortable, she curled both hands around it. "Mama fares well. She has banned the healers from fluttering at her," this said with the most apologetic of glances at Xieli, her veil making her eyes seem that much more expressive by obscuring everything, "but she seems to have her strength back. I saw your Webley some days ago. He introduced me to his lady."

Dark eyes observe the new arrival, Xieli's head cocking just slightly to the side to take in Maryam. Gritta steals her attention, however. "It is," her soft voice replies to the elder. "Despite the meager offerings of quality among the quantity of the food to be found in this…" She purses her lips and considers her surroundings. "Does one call this a hall?" She isn't weyrbred, Xieli, and perhaps it shows. Not surprising, as Igen Weyr is about as backwater as Healer Hall gets, and her being a woman in this time and all. Her lips curve at the mention of fluttering healers, but she leaves Maryam's comments otherwise unremarked, merely listening with the serenity of calm facade… a healer's war waged on perceptions.

"No, m'dear." Gritta considers the non-weyrbred healer before her, hands once again folding politely in her lap. "This is the living caverns of a weyr." One hand momentarily freed to sweep in front of her, indicating the room at large. "And I have never been inclined to call the meals here 'food'. We bazaar merchants and traders usually make our own meals, with our family." The 'as it should be' indicated only by her tone, and a brief smile at the veiled woman beside her. "How long have you been here, healer?" Clearly not all that long, to be so unfamiliar with the place, though something about that seems to relax the look in the old woman's eyes. "His lady?" A hopeful lift of a greying brow, but alas this is not what the girl mean. "Oh. The dragon." Clearly, no love for her grandson's lifemate. "I always hoped he'd married. I mean -" A hand circles in the air, "We all know…" He wasn't really the sort with an eye for the girls, "But I did hope he could find a friend, grandchildren, Maryam. I have a store to think about." So little consideration on his party really, even if it was her gamble that landed him on the sands.

"She reminded me of you, madame. He is well matched and children still yet a possibility," Maryam says softly, her tea-warmed hand touching briefly over Gritta's age-swollen knuckles. Not that she, the most proper woman in the Weyr, will speak of how they might be possible. Even sitting surrounded by riders and their get, she won't speak of flights. Some things should never be mentioned at the dinner table- and the healer provides ample distraction from having even brushed up against the subject. For Xieli, she'll smile again. It gathers at the corners of her eyes, turning pale winter eyes a warmer shade of blue. "Better to find a family to sup with, rather than subject yourself to this fare. Though word has it they have improved somewhat, of late."

"Cavern." Xieli repeats the word, mouthing it as if to familiarize herself with such turn of phrase. There couldn't possibly be the faintest hint of humor lingering on her face… none very obvious, at least. None discernible for one unfamiliar to the intricacies of Xieli. "Oh, not long. A few months, perhaps." The touch of oldtimer to her voice perhaps gives it away, now that she's spoken more than a handful of phrases. She falls politely quiet as Maryam converses with the elder, and smile albeit wryly at the conversation about food. "Woe be those without family," she quotes an… well, a ''very'' old trader curse.

Gritta 'hmm's softly at the idea that she could be encompassed in dragon form, lips pursing not at all approvingly, though there may be amusement playing in the crow-lines that stretch out from her eyes. "Maryam." The woman's tone is almost scolding, at least as corrective as she would be in public. "Flights are no way to have grandchildren." Annoyance plays as her jaw sets and she all too quiet for a moment, "If you'll recall, the whore left us We'bey after one of those." Of course she can't recall, they are practically the same age, the daughter of Steen and her own grandson. "I suppose I should have known he'd take after his greenriding mother." It is her own fault really, for putting them out there, this is as close as she'll get to acknowledging the fact. "There are none without family in our bazaar, healer." If they follow the rules. A small sip of klah is tasted, and her mug set back on the table without a sound.

As is right and proper, Maryam bows her head at being chastened. All due contrition for having prompted such sour memories, mea culpa. But when Gritta's annoyance has run its course, she lifts her tea mug- carefully shifting the veil up to allow a sip- and enjoys its taste before attending to the conversation again. "It is the roots of the Weyr, the blooded foundation," she says to agree with her elder. "Have you visited yet? It can be frightening to those unaccustomed but if one imagines it as an everyday Gather, it becomes easier."

Xieli fights - and eventually hides - a smile at Gritta's small tangent on greenriders and grandchildren. She digs into her food, or food-like substances, and darts a momentary look upwards at Maryam's inquiry. "The bazaar?" She at least knows the proper term for that. "No, not… yet. I haven't spent much time out of the infirmary." She doesn't sound apologetic about it, somehow. "Is it very loud?" she questions, following that up with a reason. "Some of those I have treated seem to be suffering from tinnitus, and I've wondered…" she trails off, then, as if suddenly realizing she isn't in the company of fellow healers.

"The blooded foundation." The old woman repeats for the healers benefit. "I'm a Gritta, m'dear. Owner of The Night Flight. And this is Maryam, Daughter of Steen. Her family runs The Pit." They are well known places both at the weyr and at large. Though for an old timer, perhaps the association is less understood. "Yes, the bazaar, dear." Is the healer talking about herself as one of those people who is having hearing problems. "Though, in a rather subtle way. Not like the weyr's bowls, all those people shouting and hollering and dragons come in and out." The woman tsks softly at the undiserableness of it all. "No, it is simply the humming of business. M'dear. The bazaar is like a song."

"Perhaps it seems loud but it is life in a desert. And a desert breeds fierce people." Where fierce means noisy, possibly? Maryam dips her head again, this time in recognition of the introduction and gratitude to Gritta for providing it. "The Pit can be very loud indeed when a fight is on. The walls keep the voices in and men are…" It's as if someone had severed her voice with a knife, so suddenly does she stop speaking. Poor dear, she'd forgotten they aren't sipping tea in a private shop, or enjoying a moment of solitude away from the menfolk in a maiden's bower. She debates for a moment before choosing a soft and diplomatic substitute for what she'd been about to say: "They enjoy the fights a great deal. It is a good outlet for them."

Xieli is as solemn as one would want, with such introductions. She inclines her chin, just-so. "Gritta, Maryam, well-met. They call me…" tater salad! "…Xieli." She pronounces it zee-lee, with tongued stop between the syllables like a half-hitch. The healer, wisely, remains silent on the discussion of named places and the bazaar at large, instead going the route of nodding and making appropriate and perhaps sympathetic noises. "I…" she is interrupted from her response by an apprentice, out of breath and wide-eyed. "Excuse me, ladies," she quietly murmurs before getting to her feet. "It appears I am needed in the infirmary."

The aburpt departure of the healer draws another clucking sound from Gritta. The people of the weyr have no respect for the rules of civility, it simply cannot be condoned. Concern draws on her face as she listens to Maryam stumble again. "Maryam, dear. Are you feeling alright?" It isn't like the girl to be so uncouth, in public at least, and the old woman's brows draw together. "Something has you worried, shall we go to The Flight and speak privately?" And without waiting for an answer the woman pushes out her chair and rises to make her way, offering her cane free arm to escort the girl back home.

Uncouth! Only that accusation could make Maryam's face flame as red as any scolded child. She has nothing to say for the healer's quick exit. Her mug of tea is left as she stands, abandoning it to the vagaries of cavern service in order to follow obediently after Gritta. The elder's arm is taken to support and she keeps her eyes demurely down as she guides the woman out of the harsh inadequacies of the Weyr to their preferred territories.

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