Cryptic Writing and Curses

Inner Caverns

The larger first chamber is at the height of roughly that of three grown adults, with the ceiling and walls rather smooth cut stone. The walls are dotted at regular intervals with metal sconces that are filled and refreshed with glows, the light providing a constant soft ambience no matter the time of day for not all that much light filters in from the outside. Two wooden doors along the southeastern part of the wall are labeled "In" and "Out" are used frequently by the kitchen workers to keep this cavern well stocked. The first chamber appears to act much like a dining hall, rows of tables spread out and worn benches offering a perch to the residents and riders as they cycle through the daily mealtimes. Several hearths have been constructed along the north and west walls, providing both practical warmth and a place for the night hearth to be kept with its simmering stew and hours old klah. A raised dais is set along the north wall, where the Weyr's leaders eat and important announcements are made. Further in are two more medium sized chambers with naturally arced ceilings that act in a multi-purpose capacity, and beyond them tunnels lead even deeper into the depths of the stone to the Weyr supply stores.

It's a cool summer morning, the rain blanketing the area turning the bowl into a river of mud, which is then tracked indoors until it seems like nothing is clean and never will be clean again despite the drudges' best efforts. However, the main cavern is warm and bustling, breakfast just now beginning to wind down as people dart off to their various tasks for the day. Among those still standing in line for some hot cereal, toast, juice, klah and a few pastries is Nyalle, the young goldrider in a warm cream sweater and black pants, boots and her knot pinned carefully to her shoulder. She holds her plate in her left hand, with her right hand held carefully across her middle. The brace she has on her wrist is invisible so far, with her long sleeved bulky sweater disguising it nicely and hiding her hand beneath the plate as a kitchen worker puts a few pieces of fruit onto her plate.

Over in one of the multi-purpose alcoves seated at a long table close to one of those hearths is a collection of young children. They've apparently already had their breakfast for the table is free of dishes and food. Each child has a wide-lined sheet of paper in front of him or herself, and there are fat, colored writing sticks scattered within reach for their convenience. Aside from a few wriggles and forthright comments, they're fairly attentive to the dark-haired young woman who drifts between them and the easel she has set up where they can all see the letter A and a picture of a bright redfruit. "Copy the letter," she's telling them with a bounce to her voice and encouraging smile from blue eyes. Though the woman is attentive to her charges, she does glance towards the main room now and then, catching sight of the goldrider, lifts her hand and pinky-waves at her across the room. It's a friendly gesture perhaps an invitation to drift over with her breakfast when she's got it.

Nyalle looks a little surprised by the gesture, but also flattered. Perhaps thinking the woman needs something, once she has her breakfast (turning down a mug of klah or glass of juice for lack of a hand to carry it with), she walks over slowly. "Can I help you?" she asks with a little polite smile.

Joelle is at the corner nearest the main room, bent over one of the boys, one hand to the table bracing her. "Gavin, nice job. Nono, sweet. Bugs are next. Do the A please." The question turns her head to Nyalle and for a moment there's a comical wide-eyed look of feigned panic. Blue eyes remain large, dart back and forth while white teeth worry her lower lip and she stage whispers, "I don't think anyone can, really. I'm pretty much beyond help. Lost case, really." Her finger rises to pink-tinted lips and she attempts a half-wink (the expression takes her entire face to accomplish, she's that sucky at winking). Her whisper, "Shh. Keep it mum or they'll send me back for a refund," is obviously nonsense as her lilting laughter ripples out directly afterwards and a hand is offered to shake. "You're Nyalle, aren't you? I've been hoping to meet you. I'm Joelle." Now that she's facing the young weyrwoman, the journeyman's knot with the blue thread on the shoulder of her sunflower yellow tunic is clearly visible. Harpers. This one may be new to High Reaches Weyr, but she's done her homework.

Nyalle blinks a little bit, her expression a bit confused behind her fixed polite smile. Fleeting, but it's there. "Beyond…" And she trails off before giving a slight little laugh. Just a tad forced, as if that's what she thinks she should be doing, even though she's not quite sure /why/ she's doing it. "Ah. Yes. I'm Nyalle. Joelle? New Harper? Well met." She shifts the plate awkwardly to her right hand, equally awkwardly offering her left hand to shake with another little smile.

That forced laugh of Nyalle's is not lost upon Joelle. She's sort of used to that response. She becomes solemn in a flash (don't trust the sober - in fact, never trust the sober). She demurely and gently shakes the Weyrwoman's hand - at first. Then in a series of rapid movements half-sides her palm back attempting to curl the other's fingers around hers, shakes once, releases only to lightly tap her palm against the others, bump knuckles, link thumbs, flutters her fingers while drawing the goldrider's hand up then back down with hers ending it with a POW of fingers flicked wide in an imitation of an explosion. Special handshake. Why be normal is probably Joelle's life motto. As for the awkward plate, she offers a hand out to steady it lest it tip. "Careful (not that she's helping with that)! Need a hand? Would you like to sit down?"

Nyalle blinks in limp wristed surprise as her hand is manipulated and turned and apparently there's an explosion at the end. Whaaaaat just happened? With another little laugh (this one more surprised than forced), Nyalle quickly sets the plate down before settling into a chair herself. "But I know my letters," she protests gently, reaching for a writing stick with her left hand, while her right is placed in her lap. Apparently she /does/ have a sense of humor. A small one.

With a sleepy, content smile Emmaline slinks lazily into the inner caverns for her own breakfast. A quick scan of the room notes just who is where as the greenrider heads towards the typically food laden sideboard. A rare bit of fresh late spring fruit is selected with a glutinous chuckle and the woman saunters over to where the lesson is going on. Nyalle gets a warm smile in greeting while the unfamilar harper's smile is more distantly polite. Greetings accomplished, Emma begins checking over each child but a hopeful face quickly fades to disappointed. "Ah well." she sighs.

While pulling out a chair for Nyalle, Joelle offers without missing a beat, "Are you sure about that? Gavin here could teach you a few brand new ones. He invents a few every day." Gavin's mop of red hair nods enthusiastically (the rest of the class is focused on their colorful attempts to cope that big A on the easel). Not Gavin, he's watched that fancy handshake go down and committed it to memory already. So he's quick on the uptake, reaches for a sheet of paper, sliding it over to Nyalle helpfully. "First you make a squiggle," he tells her authoritatively. Joelle needs to make the rounds and is halfway around the table as Emmaline drifts over. She returns the smile warmly, tilts her head to the side as she considers the greenrider's apparent searching-but-not-finding. "Hello, are you looking for someone?"

Nyalle returns Emmaline's warm smile, the first genuine one from the goldrider this morning. "Good morning, Emma," she offers, before nodding her thanks to Gavin and laughing a little bit at Joelle's comment about inventing letters. "What's your favorite letter?" she asks the boy, much more at ease with the child than she was with his teacher a moment ago. Utensil held in her left hand, she obliges him by making a squiggle.

Emmaline takes a quick bite of her redfruit, chews and swallows. She cocks her head to the side, rather like the spit dog will when presented with a bone and really looks the harper over. "Yep. But he's not here. This ones are all much older." She bites off another chunk and chews for a beat, finally speaking with a partly filled mouth. "I'm Emma, green Nadiath's. My son is Emaurd. He's about three and a half." She nods to indicate the class. "I think he's in the nursery songs and drawing shapes class."

On the receiving end of Emmaline's scrutiny, Joelle remains in wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights 'please don't eat me' sort of anticipation of questions like: 'what have you done with my kid?!' When the answer comes (Oh thank Faranth - Joelle did not lose the greenrider's child in the dim recesses of the Weyr tunnels!), she blows out her cheeks. Whew! Nodding agreement, she says calmly, "Most Likely. Well-met Emma." To Nyalle, "C!" answers Gavin promptly, lifting his writing utensil and demonstrating his ability to write C with a dashed sort of effort. It's leaning and sort of squished, but recognizable. Back to his tutoring the goldrider in cryptic letters: "Now make two bumps at the end of the squiggle…" He's really into it, tip of his tongue poking out and everything. Joelle will allow the tot his few minutes before she gently prompts him, "Nice work Gavin. Now copy the A." The rest of the class is busily writing A A A A A A down the first line of their papers.

Nyalle is writing left handed at the moment, so her penmanship is about on par with the other children. Glancing up, she smiles a little bit. "That class sounds like a lot of fun." But then she's being pulled back to attention by Gavin, adding a bit to the letter. Happily letting him be distracted, rather than nudging him towards doing /actual/ work. Whoops? When he is redirected by the Harper though, Nyalle sets her stylus down and reaches for a bite of breakfast.

With a gleeful snicker, Emmaline slips by the harper, leaving her to our students so that she can come and stand behind Nyalle. With a peak at the goldrider's work, she lets a full chuckle go. "Don't let Sazey see that, Nyalle. She's likely to send you back to class or set you to making copies of the archives." She looks up at Joelle to include the woman in the joke. Another few bites and the fruit is nibbled down to the core, leaving Emmaline standing with a perplexed look at the offending fruit. She spots Nyalle's breakfast tray and asks in a pleading manner, "Can I?" even as she's already depositing the remains on the edge. So much for asking!

Joelle is once again making the rounds, peeking over the heads of her charges to note their progress. "Very nice, Betta. Remember to make the line across too." The dark haired girl has some fair-looking upside-down Vs at this point. Blue eyes flick up to the women at the end of the table, her gaze dropping speculatively to Nyalle's wrist, over to her left hand while her prior awkwardness is recalled. Understanding flickers in her gaze and rather than joining in to laugh at the young weyrwoman, she says lightly, "Not to worry. She's already in class, eh?" And then she heads to her easel, flips the A page over the back reveling a picture of a bug and the letter B. "Copy the B," she says cheerfully to her students, then drifts back to the two women. Bending as if checking on Gavin's progress, she asks lowly, "Are you alright Nyalle?"

Nyalle glances up at Emmaline and laughs, short but light. "I'm right handed." And her right hand is hidden in her lap for some reason, while she uses her left. "Oh-" she begins to protest, but when the greenrider goes ahead and puts the core on the edge of her plate, the goldrider smiles a slightly pained smile. "Of course," she says graciously. Always polite, even when she's grossed out. Then, belatedly, "If I wrote like this, I'm the last person Sazey would want in the archives." Glancing up at Joelle when she asks, there's a flicker of guilt in her eyes as she looks to the older greenrider. "I'm fine," she is swift to say. But she's a terribly liar and rather than prolong the awkward, she lifts her right arm, letting the sleeve of her sweater slide up a bit, revealing a wrapped wrist brace. "I sprained my wrist a little. Supposed to keep it still as best I can."

Emmaline raises a single eyebrow at the wrapped wrist. "That's going to make your life a bit more difficult." She steps back to the table closest and sits in one of the seats. "But you've come to the right place for help." Her eyes twinkle. "I'm sure you could find plenty of helpers to assist you with Kayeth here, as well as a a gofor or two with an older group." She glances up at Joelle. "I imagine you could suggest a few? And maybe use the idea of helping with our weyrwoman as a prize for the younger group." Now she turns back to the goldling and gives a comforting smile. "Don't worry about it. Accidents happen, especially to riders."

Joelle's eyes follow the core that Emma is depositing on Nyalle's tray, her blue eyes do a slow blink but that is the extent of reaction from her. The weyrwoman's revelation of her wrist, however, earns a small tsk of dismay. "I'm so sorry to hear that," she says sympathetically. "Do you need-" The greensider's managing the situation, if not delicately, smartly and decisively. She's left to nod in the wake of it. "I can," she agrees of finding Nyalle a few errand-runners before offering herself. "And if you need documents written, I am free in the afternoons." But what was that now? Accidents happen especially to riders? This draws a gaping expression, the back-forth of blue eyes from rider to rider. "How's that work?" Blinkblink.

Nyalle shifts a bit in her seat, still looking rather tense. "It was just an accident," she says, a bit firmly as if she's trying to convince someone. Maybe herself. "Oh. Have…have kids help…" She blinks, frowns, and glances around at the youngsters, a pained expression flitting across her face before it's replaced by her switched on smile. She does latch on to Joelle's offer though, looking relieved. "I would love that," she almost gushes, "thank you." Clearly she does need the help, then. "How's what work?"

This time both eyebrows lift in honest surprise as the greenrider is taken completely aback. Her eyes narrow and brow furrows as she takes a moment to examine Nyalle and her somewhat odd behavior. "Of course it was an accident." she whispers somewhat indignantly but rather than joining the other women in the next part of the conversation, she leans back and lurks. Her face is still faintly disgruntled as she makes no attempt to hide what she's feeling, nor seems to notice the others doing so.

In response to Nyalle's blank question, Joelle's hand lifts in a limp sort of gesture towards their shoulder knots, includes the women, then makes fluttery dragon wing motions. "Accidents. Happening especially to riders?" She's not sure she caught Emma's last comment correctly. Maybe she didn't? But Nyalle's fixed smile computes and she returns to the former topic of helping her. Hopefully maintaining the poor goldrider's sanity while doing so. Brightly, she elaborates, "Oh! Not… these kids. Some of the older ones. Ten turns or older." That clarifies things, yes? says the twin lift of dark brows afterwards. Her eyes flit over to Emma, growing puzzled once more at the disgruntlement seen, but no remark is made. Huh, the moods around here. So confusing! Back to Nyalle, she waits for the answer, genuinely wanting to know.

Nyalle glances back at Emmaline, staring at the greenrider for a moment before she speaks up. "I'm…when people see it they start to whisper about the curse," she mutters, voice soft. Surrounded by chattering children is a good buffer. Looking at Joelle, the goldrider seems to relax a little bit. "Oh. Yes…of course. That would be very helpful. She needs help with being scrubbed and oiled, and I can show them how…" And watch very meticulously how they behave around her queen. "Well behaved children, please," says the teen. "And, well. Riders do a lot of hard physical labor. Accidents happen. In this case," she twists her wrist slightly before returning it to her lap, "I slipped while dismounting."

Emmaline's head shakes in disgust at the gossip and rumors. She leans forward so her head is as close as possible to the other table from her seat. Quietly so as not to be heard by anyone else, she mutters softly to Nyalle. "There is no curse, Nyalle. You had an accident. You have done nothing that every other rider in the weyr hasn't done at least once and some of us more. For your own sake and for the weyr, you need to hold your head high and not be worried." Now, to distract the children, the rider adds, "And I'm certain that not one child in this weyr would be less then well behaved around dragons, isn't that correct children? Maybe the smaller children would like to spend a few moments with Nadiath when Kayeth is being helped by bigger kids."

While Joelle nods briskly about finding Nyalle some well-behaved helpers, she squints, clearly baffled while trying to make sense of the idea of a curse. "But… woodsmen work with sharp…things, tanners work with chemicals, beastcrafters with large, unpredictable animals, seamen risk stormy, violent seas… don't they?" And harpers could get bitten by their young pupils or something, right? She nods agreement with Emma, "I'm sure riders risk much more flying through the skies and with Thread returning , it's a hazardous task to be sure, but every occupation has its risks." Her voice is quietly reasonable, eyes flicking over the class to see that they are still copying their letters and not really listening in. Emma's louder question to them causes several heads to lift and hands start popping up all around the table along with squeals of 'Me!' 'Pick me!' 'Nuh uh, me!' and the like.

Nyalle looks at Emmaline, her expression rather conflicted. But in the end the young goldrider takes a deep breath and nods, and rests her braced wrist on the table. No longer hiding it, that's the point. "Oh," she is quick to say, "it's certainly not the /only/ dangerous job. Not in the least. But riders have accidents rather frequently. Flying, heights, dismounting, straps, firestone…sprains and pulled muscles and even broken bones are the norm, it seems." Then she is quiet when the kids all speak up, a sad smile touching her lips as she looks around at them.

With an unusually (for Emma) respectful head bob and muttered "Weyrwoman.", Emmaline confirms her approval of the young goldrider's action. After allowing a few short moments of childish enthusiasm, she turns to confront the chaos she's arranged as a cover for Nyalle. "Now, I will choose after your teacher is kind enough to let me know who has behaved themselves and worked hard at their lessons today." She adds a respectful nod towards Joelle just to enforce the idea with the rugrats. "Than, if your nannies and parents agree, those who behaved well all day and worked their very hardest may join Nadiath and I for a candlemark each day that Kayeth needs extra assistance. Agreed?" She adds with an eagle eye meeting each eager face.

Joelle nods, understanding the weyrwoman. "A high risk occupation, but hardly a curse, which implies injury is inevitable. Training and caution will help alleviate some of that." She too approves, but more for the signs of less haunted tension coming from the younger woman than the attitude. Blue eyes linger on the goldrider's sad expression, and though she's vaguely troubled in seeing it, she makes no comment. The clamor takes awhile to die down, the eager young faces nodding agreement at Emma to seal the deal. One of them pipes up asking for the letter C, whereupon Gavin begins writing on his next line without waiting for the current easel page to be flipped. "If you'll excuse me," Joelle says with a coy dip of her chin to both riders. "I'll see you both later." And she moves to the easel obliging the children, by flipping the chart to the next letter. They'll be at it until F and then it'll be lunchtime and classes end for the day.

Nyalle shakes her head, about to enlighten Joelle to the High Reaches goldrider curse, but decides in the end to keep quiet about it. As the lesson moves on, Nyalle takes her plate in hand and rises, briefly patting Gavin on the shoulder as she goes. "So, Emmaline," she says quietly, "I still haven't been, uh, approached by those gentlemen…" Get crackin', matchmaker!

Emmaline's eyes brighten at the more intimate turn of events and she stands to accompany the rider wherever she chooses to amble. "Ah…well, Nadiath and I have a little issue to take care of for ourselves first but I'll be sure to check who might be best available for you. Is there something in particular you like?" She bats her eyes playfully. "Between Chandi and I, we've..ahem..tried a nice variety and I'm sure I can locate any special requests."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License