What: They meet and employ pasty and rocks
When: Day 23, month 1, turn 443
Partially removed from the kitchen, the nighthearth is a small niche with a long, narrow tunnel leading to the inner Weyr. This is one of the coziest locations in the Weyr, and one of the few that doesn't seem hollow and abandoned. A large stone table, long enough to seat a half-dozen people on either side, sits immobile in the center of the area with wooden benches along it. A large fireplace always boasts a pot of klah, stew, and a basket of yesterday's bread. Three of the most comfortable chairs in the Weyr are here - deep, padded armchairs with horrid patterns to the upholstery but still greatly comfortable. Three wooden footstools accompany them, all arranged near the hearth.
This is the only place to catch a bite to eat at this hour. It's late in the evening in the winter. The warmth of the room is welcome to most people.
J'tei..........6'2" with a lean build. Reddish-brown hair, blue eyes.
Aolani.........20, fair build, 5'7", dark curly hair, grey eyes.
Inner Caverns.................[SW] Kitchen.......................[N]
Forsaking the comfort, and confines, of chairs or benches, Aolani instead finds herself lying on her stomach by the hearth with a host of rock samples scattered around her. They are mark to fist-sized examples and she seems to be jotting down their characteristics in a well-made journal. The blaze before her provides the female with ample warmth and light to spare.
J'tei slips in from the kitchen, laden with klah and a pastry. He stops right inside the room, sloshing his drink with the abruptness of his halt, spilling drops over his fingers. "Um." No further articulation is put forth as he looks down at Aolani and the rocks that surround her, his expression particularly mystified.
Aolani graduates from bumping the toes of her boots on the floor to turning rabbity towards the interloper. "Hi." It's a greeting, it's terse and it's a more expressive step up from sounding neutral. Elbows bend as the young woman gets the torque to sit up and look mildly unsure at what to say or do next. Perhaps she's shy or reserved.
Do shy or reserved people sprawl out on nighthearth rugs? "Hi." J'tei looks at the rocks a few more times, his eyes dragging off them to the chairs. "I'm gonna try to miss these." So he does, taking one long step and then a couple of small ones to try to get around the rocks toward the chairs.
Aolani gets kinetic. "Here, let me get those," she draws the stones towards her in quick successions of grabbing, collecting and dragging. "Not that you could hurt them, they're rock after all." A mildly nervous grin flutters, but no eye contact is yet given. "It's just, no one needs to go tripping over them. Humans aren't as dense as they."
J'tei's last two steps are nice and steady since the rocks are cleared out of the way. "It's not /them/ that I'm worried about hurting, miss." Eye contact is easier given from him, with a friendly-seeming smile. Sitting down, he puts his mug to one side and leans over toward the floor and Aolani who's sitting on it, extending his hand at arm's length. "I'm J'tei. We haven't met?"
Aolani places one of the smaller pebbles in charge of keeping her place in the leather-bound folio. "No we haven't." The Miner lists off with hyper quickness for the sudden focus on her. But soon childhood chary is moderated by adult self-control. "My name is Aolani." She spares a formal stand, but throws her head back smoothly to finally initiate eye contact. A palm with calluses below each finger is offered the young bronzerider. "I've not been at the Weyr long."
J'tei returns callous for callous, clasping Aolani's hand but briefly, before he releases it and leans back into his chair. "Aolani. That's a slippery one-- nice though," he comments to the name along with a chuckle. "That explains why we haven't met at least. There aren't enough people around here for you to have been around long and us not to have bumped into each other, I figure. --What's with the rocks?"
Aolani purses her lips to cloak a grin at the small compliment and returns with one as payment. "J'tei is a more than capable name." Her posture, while still somewhat taut, has pardoned a more relaxed stance. "They're my hobby as well as trade and those which I gathered today." Either she braved the snow to dig them up or some walls of the Weyr have dents taken out of them. "I was only classifying them now." Turning and resting a few fingers lightly on the fibrous pages. Hide, they are not. "What is your dragon's name?" Eyes, a storm petrel grey, blink and inobtrusively explore the features of the rider's face.
"Classifying?" J'tei drinks thoughtfully and looks at what rocks he can still see. "Stone 1, rock 2, pebble 3?" Chuckling, he takes a healthy bite of his unhealthy pastry and chews in polite silence till his mouth's clean again, oblivious to the inobtrusive study. It is inobtrusive, after all. "Chaemith. Dragon's name is Chaemith. Bronze Chaemith," he answers with gradually gaining residual pride. "I'm a weyrling. You're a Miner?"
Aolani is amused by J'tei's broad cataloging scheme. "It's a little more complicated than that," but the nitty-gritty details are spared until he expresses more interest. "I knew a man named Chaymar, of course it had a different ending of course. How do you spell it? I mean with like a Y or AE." Her company seems to pose little threat for the time being so her tongue loosens some. "Aye, approaching nine turns now," giving the duration of her apprenticeship.
J'tei's brows knit confusedly. "Spell it?" Not much of a thinker, this bronzerider. "If I had to write it down, probably would be C-H-A-E-M-I-T-H." His pale eyes glaze right over in a way that weyrfolk would know immediately to indicate he's checking with his dragon. "Yeah, that sounds about right. How do you spell /your/ name? I can't even begin to guess."
Aolani's fingers seek a piece of andesite that she uses to cool her heated palms. The hearth fire is definitely living up to its high standards. "A-O-L-A-N-I. It's a marriage between Aotev and Eilan, my father and mother." Like many Pernese, the lass exhibits the practice of combining parental names for offspring. "But you can call me Lani if it's any improvement, many people do." And she gives the permission freely.
"My folks didn't do that. Jathein was my grand-daddy's name," J'tei explains readily. "Better than-- shells, I'd've been going through life called Ratheriming or something." Only just now realizing he's got food and drink and no manners, he rips the rest of his pastry in half and holds part of it toward Aolani, the part he hasn't been chewing on, offering it without words. "How'd you get to be a Miner, Aolani? Not much of a /girl's/ market, seems like."
Aolani passes the andesite back and forth between palms, a perfectly representation of the choice she needs to make. "Thank you, J'tei," Lani looks up at the seated figure and lastly his pastry which she takes in the end. "That's kind of nice. How do you feel about living up to the name?" At this juncture, she sinks her teeth into the crust of the dessert. "I wanted to do what my father did." She is not quite finished chewing, but tactful enough to hide the small bite out of sight between her teeth and cheek. "Plus I really love it all, rock formations, volcanos, being outside and the possibility of finding something valuable." Other than gold, a promotion might be just as precious.
J'tei hehs a laugh. "My grand-daddy would've had words about his kin living in a Weyr. We're Bollians about as far back as-- shells, as there's been a Boll, far as I know." How much more 'awww shucks' can he actually get in that voice? "Sounds like you got into the right line o' work then, if you like to play with rocks. Might've come to a weird place to do it though. A Weyr?"
Aolani pokes a little section of the pastry where a resevoir of jam surely lurks by the bulge of its side. After nibbling, the pocket of jam gushes out and Lani struggles not to wear it. "Mmm." She stalls a reply until she's got the leak under control. "Maybe he'd consider it 'branching out.'" Or sacrilege. "It was kind of spur of the moment," she peers up from under her eyebrows.
"Ah no. Nice thought-- nice way to think about it, but you never met my grand-daddy." J'tei lingers his voice in the land of high amusement even while he wiggles in the chair to get his hand into his pocket. The point of the wriggling is to pull a napking out of his pocket and hold it out to Aolani, same way he held out his hand and the pastry before it. "You plan on staying long? --And you can tell me to can it if I ask too many questions. It's too cold to go to bed yet, and too late to do anything but chat, I figure."
Aolani drags a thumb along her bottom lip to chase down the remnants of sticky preserves. Taking the napkin with what might be considered a beam or hearth 'glow,' "at least one of us comes prepared..." The cloth is put to good use with a few tender dabs. "I can't really say. I'm not sure if the Weyr will have use for a Miner apprentice for an extended period of time. My presence here might not make the best image either." The pastry becomes fully consumed after a final pop into her mouth. Lani shifts the hub from her as normally as possible. "No, you're not asking too many questions. No one forces answers."
J'tei says, "The cooks in the kitchens see a guy my age and naturally figure we dunno how to take care of ourselves. They shove a mug of klah in one hand and a pastry in the other, then shove a napkin in my collar." He finishes the klah then, even as he mocks the good-hearted woman who forced it on him in the first place. "And my napkin's your napkin," he concludes with a playful wink. "Anyway, you seem like a bright young woman and you've got a useful trade, so it'd be the Weyr's loss if you left, I'm sure."
"Who knows, maybe it's to save time spent coaxing stains out of the laundry. Maybe the bakers and laundresses have some sort of bargain." Being more silly than logical, Aolani prooves that somewhere behind that tanned skin lurks a sense of humor. "Too bad you didn't make the decisions around here then. But I'll try hard to prove my value." Confining a curl of hair behind her ear, the apprentice smothers a yawn behind her hand.
Clearly, the yawn alerts the bronzerider to the fact that actual time has been passing since they started chatting. J'tei says quickly, "It's got to be pushing midnight by now. Shouldn't your rocks be getting to sleep?" As for making decisions-- he leaves that one alone. Clearly, he's /not/ making them.
Aolani takes stock of her little collection as it's mentioned, already searching for the drawstring bag they were packed in. "That they should /and/ their caretaker I might add. We have similar schedules, early breakfast, time for reading, that sort of thing." Coy is a half-grin in coming with the late night and J'tei's good nature bringing comedic wit to the surface. After empty glances, Lani gets halfway up to realize she'd been sitting on the satchel. It takes but a few moments to carefully tuck in the minerals and full standing height is assumed. "I enjoyed this." Perhaps too conveniently the angle of her head and hair hide her eyes.
J'tei watches the handling of the rocks with late-night interest, comfortable enough to find the stowing of stones absorbing. "So did I. Pleasure meeting you. And--" He doesn't press the issue of where Aolani's looking, favoring a very pleasant smile that she apparently can't see. "If you find yourself up at this hour and in need of a gooey pastry, maybe we'll run into each other again. Night."
Aolani threads the drawstring tight with a neat little 'zip.' "As long as I get to bring my rocks," Squaring a direct look and adjusting the forked hem of her outer bodice, "and you the napkins." Her figure sinks into shadow as she withdraws from the brazier and out the chamber.