OOC Time: Sunday September 20th, 2009. 6:39:20 PM.
Season (North Continent): Late winter.
Weather: It is a winter afternoon. Bitter gusts wrack the snowy skies.
Current Location: Main Living Cavern (#551) - Zone: Fort Weyr

Main Living Cavern (#551J)
Grey stone arches a vast vault overhead, details of the ceiling all but disappearing in the shadows cast by warm, human-height glowsconces and the night hearth's flames; tapestries texture the smooth walls, looking down upon the raised dais, the expanse of tables, the flagstones left cleared for impromptu dancing.
A single broad archway, its carved pattern worn soft with time and passersby's touch, leads west into the bowl; two more, narrower but just as tall, give access to the bustle of living caverns in the south. Predominant looms the builders' masterpiece: the imposing staircase that twines up along the northern wall, leading to the weyr's huge kitchens.
Vintner Harry busies himself behind the 'bar'; nearby hangs the day's 'menu'.
L'ryl, S'tao, and Burant are here.

Tia walks in.
Niles enters from the lower caverns.
Eleni enters from the lower caverns.
I'nigo enters from the lower caverns.

The caverns workers have been busy preparing a plethora of things to eat and drink, eager to seize a reason to celebrate. They've laden tables, buffet-style, so visitors and weyrfolk alike to help themselves, and the normal hustle and bustle has increased, along with the noise level. Welcome to Fort.

Urei managed to sneak back into the caverns before the rest and has been able to help retrieve some of the food trays and spread them out with great precision. The portion that Urei has done is set according to color, size and food sweetness and now the Candidate just sets to putting the drink pitchers in their place and beging pouring drinks for those nearby and requesting the young man's service, being a nice obedient candidate.

Saphia enters from the lower caverns.

A gaggle of M'tr's pet geese blow in, their wings flapping and beaks clacking. I'nigo follows after, not so close that he's immediately identifiable as part of the flock, but not so far that it's an impossible association. The expression on his face, what part of it can be seen behind his magnificent moustachios, seems quite amiable. Perhaps even bemused.

Eleni has to make the rounds, so she does, finding a compliment for those who like flattery and never, never letting on that the Weyrleader scorns his guests. If asked, she just says something suitably vague, like "Around here somewhere!" or, more formally and apologetically, "Detained, he sends his greetings." Fortians probably suspect she's lying.

Burant is up roaming about, almost aimlessly, with a mug in his hand, though he drinks from it often he rarely is seen to actually refill it. He pauses to chat with anyone who seems to want to, then he spots I'nigo and the geese. "A little less… challanging today, Wingsecond?" Burant's tone is somewhat amused, and even more bemused.

S'tao doesn't try to make a grand entrance here, just trying to blend in with all the other visiting guests to the Weyr. There are enough other Istans about to make the glaring orange of their knots stand out in contrast to the darker Fort, but in the air of celebration it's a jovial enough contrast. A glass of wine is taken from a laden table, but it's used as much as a prop than anything else, making the rounds to toast amongst the other celebrants.

Niles said he would stay only until seeing Saphia settled, although the trader has found a spot out of the way of most. But it doesn't keep him from nodding in greeting to those who pass by. Nor from procuring a mug of klah, with no shortage of being pensive. And people watching, which may not be merely a healer's trait.

Emerging from the mouth of the deeper tunnels, Saphia has rid herself of her ruined coat and now her outfit looks somewhat at odds with itself, her black dress mismatched with white rabbit-lined boots whose pompoms distractingly bounce to and fro as her feet pad across the grey stone floor. At least her white candidate knot goes with her outfit. She's searching the crowd for a face, looking, turning, and then- "Wow." She's spotted I'nigo, and instantly alters her course in exchange for the rider. "I like your moustache," Saphia drawls, bordering somewhere between fascination and flirtation.

Q'luin enters from the Bowl.

Late for the clutching, but not for the party… Ista's Weyrsecond arrives from the bowl into the main living cavern with as little fuss as possible. She expertly swipes an alcoholic beverage from a table just before positioning herself at S'tao's side as if she'd been there all along. "Look like a good clutch?" Tia wonders, pretending that the chill of between doesn't still cling to her jacket.

L'ryl steps in from the bowl, having missed the actual clutching, he's not about to miss the after clutching activities. Especially when there's food and such involved. The blue rider moves about carefully through the crowds as he makes his way to the refreshments.

The atmosphere is, admittedly, a little more subdued than the occasion calls for. Eleni hopes the guests unfamiliar with the Weyr don't notice. Eventually, she starts looking for a plate - a specific plate. Carried by someone with a candidate's knot. There aren't many about yet, so it's a pretty safe bet that Eleni'll be able to stalk down her quarry sooner or later.

Urei slides away from the food items, done with his serving and instead he passes Saphia stating in his typical monotone voice, "Welcome to Fort Weyr, Candidate. And I highly advise you refrain from such flirtation, it is unbecoming of a Candidate." Not really rude, merely factual and then the Harper-turned-Slave starts just mingling about, bowing here and there and looking relatively neutral overall.

I'nigo tugs genteelly at the end of the left moustache, looking down his nose at Burant as if examining some particularly fascinating bug. "I hope you are not implying that I am less of a challenge today than any other day simply because our queen has decided to deposit the Weyr's future on the Sands. I assure you that my sword arm remains as ready as ever." Especially with duels such a hot topic at this Weyr. When Saphia reaches his other side he subjects her with much the same look. "As do I. That is why I continue to cultivate them."

J'rlen walks in.

Burant shakes his head. "No, I am simply implying you are less /challenged/ not less challenging. Though should you ever happen to have spar time, I would love to spar with you, I fear I've had little enough practice in the lighter weapons." He nods politely to Saphia and simply chuckles, taking a sip out of his own mug, and quirking an eyebrow at Urei.

Figures. It does take a few moments for the Istan trader to find his target of the evening. But when he does, it's a frown intermixed with an upward roll of his eyes as he continues to watch intently. For a few moments to see if Saphia gets the hint. Otherwise, leaning forward against the table with one arm, Niles continues to seek out those of a familiar island contingent. That may be why he's finally making his way over to S'tao, rising from his chair in the process.

S'tao turns to grin over his shoulder at the Istan weyrsecond. "Aye, looked fine enough. We'll have our own soon to worry about." Not that they don't have a whole slew of problems to go with it." He eyes the other corners and spies Niles, then takes Tia's arm. "Over there, have you met our new weyrtrader yet?" He tugs her along, glasses in hand towards where the young man has been lurking, waiting on his own kin.

Eleni catches up to Urei eventually, turning her quest for a plate into another mission altogether since the candidate's abandoned serving duties. Seizing her opportunity, Eleni slips through the crowd and taps him on the shoulder, saying, "Excuse me, a word?" She looks beyond and includes the few other people gathered there in a quick smile. "Hello! Eat up! There's plenty!" I'nigo she knows by name, so she adds further pleasantries for him. "Wingsecond, I hope we measure up to Telgar?"

"Weyrtrader. Hmm, no. Can't say that I have. It must be because you keep me locked up in my office day and night slaving over boring scrolls and drill schedules and…" Tia lets her voice trail off playfully as she finds herself tugged along to meet Niles about halfway across the room. "Orange knot on an unfamiliar person. That him?" Trust her to ignore basic social graces and sort of gesture towards Niles with the rim of her glass.

With mug in hand, L'ryl turns to slip through the crowds a little, keeping off to the side as he watches all the visitors from other places, especially those from Ista. "Don't know which is worse, ours or theirs…" he murmurs aloud to himself.

Q'luin is slow to arrive to the cavern due to running into so many people that he knows for bouts of conversation. Finally he arrives with a fellow dragonhealer sporting a knot from High Reaches. Once they make it to the thick of the throng there's a parting exchange of shoulder slaps and each leaves in their own direction. L'ryl is spotted and for whatever reason considered a friendly face so the bronzerider puts on a smile to wander over and say, "Greetings."

Saphia flings a disinterested look towards Urei only long enough to subject him to one of her casual once-overs. "And I highly advise you to keep your opinions to yourself, little man- ah-/ha/!" Abruptly, her attention flicks to someone beyond Urei and she easily slips around him to pad on her pompom'd boots towards Niles. "Something tells me that little man is going to get on my nerves very quickly," she quietly mutters and tries to theif her cousin's mug of klah. "Is there sweetner in it?" The klah, that is.

I'nigo raises his gaze to sweep over the caverns, teeming with noise and activity, and allows to Burant, "I suppose you are right. It would be a shame to spill blood on such an auspicious occasion. Do you not consider the broomhandle a lighter weapon, then?" It's an offhanded question, because he's just looking around again and signaling the nearest server. "Wine! And some for—" But Saphia's disappeared, so he shrugs and tacks on, "Something fine for our Weyrwoman." A nod towards Eleni, perfectly pleasant.

J'rlen is a bit of a late commer to the cavern as well and is passing Tia just in time to hear the slaving comment which he snickers at before stoping to take a look around the cavern

Wyn enters from the Bowl.

If Urei was capable of glaring, it would be offered to Saphia, but instead she just gets a creepy stare and he shakes his head, "Respect for the Weyr is not merely my opinion." But suddenly to the shoulder tap turns swiftly, a lot faster than one would expect out of the typically slow moving Harper. Eyes widen once he recognizes the Weyrwoman and he bows, "How may I be of assistance Weyrwoman?"

With Niles in the process of heading towards S'tao and the Weyrsecond in his company, the mug is kept for drinking as much as inhaling. As such, it may be a surprise to meet the pair before he's gotten much farther than his seat with a smile that's a touch strained along the edges. "Weyrleader. Weyr.." A quick look at Tia's knot proves the rest of his reply as true, "Second? How did you know I was just on my way to se—" It's about then that his mug is nearly procured if not for the other hand that lifts to intercept Saphia with a wry note, "I should tell you to get your own. It's because of you I got breathed on."

Burant shrugs, "Might want to learn the rules of the candidate before you dismiss what he says entirely, ma'am. Things are a bit touchy right now." His tone is friendly and he grins at I'nigo. "It is certainly a lighter weapon than my quarterstaff, but you use what comes to hand. And today I am off duty, sir."

L'ryl's eyes narrow slightly as Q'luin is spotted coming nearer before he can put on a small grin. "Come to see if you can force a ban on the booze here, Q'luin?" he queries before taking a sip from his own mug. "Or have you finally decided to transfer from the tropics?"
Apparently Wyn got delayed in her travels from the galleries for Fort's caverns. The look on her face probably says it all too: Irritated beyond belief. "Of all the stupid things…" So she won't waste a single moment getting herself something to drink, but food for the moment is passed on. It's a packed place, so she will miss on familiar faces first off, just… a crowd.

"Why, thank you." Eleni glances between I'nigo and his companion with an arched eyebrow. "I'd appreciate if you could keep bloodshed to a minimum in front of the guests. I think we've all had enough of duelling." The statement is lightly pronounced, though context gives it another ring entirely. "Urei, isn't it?" she says, swerving back to the candidate. "Used to be a Harper? I was wondering if you might do me a favor."

If S'tao noticed the special smell lingering about the trader and candidate, he manages not to wrinkle his nose too much at least. "Someone's got to do the paperwork, Tia. If it's not you, then it would be me and the last time I tried, it was a mess." Mostly because Rh'iad kept walking all over the hides. Yes, walking. "Delegate, make some of our wingriders help out or something." He gestures towards J'rlen in passing even. "Maybe even him. Was a smith, surely he's got a mind for figuring some of those tasks out." Pity they didn't search more harpers last clutch. He directs his attention back to Niles and Saphia. "A small congrats as well should be extended I see?" Those piercing blue eyes of his straying to the white knot. "Tia, may I introduce Niles? Weyrtrader, just had a turnday in fact."

"And where in your gradient of weapons does the duelling knife fall?" I'nigo's question is a tincture of pure academic curiosity, so there's no irony when his eyebrows go sky-high at Eleni's sweet reminder. "Weyrwoman, I assure you as I have already assured our worthy guard here: I have no intentions of starting any trouble here." There may be the lightest emphasis on 'starting.' Some attentive toady produces a hefty goblet of wine and a more delicate glass of a finer vintage, which the Wingsecond offers mutely to the lady of the hour.

"I came to drink someone else's booze for a change." Q'luin grins and offers a salute to the bluerider. "Zhoreth's duties to Irajath and Fort. My duties to your bartender there." A wink is shed, and then the bronzerider is glancing around. "Shards, this is a crowd. Everyone come to see if all the rumors are true?" There's been some nasty ones.

Urei lowers his head again in a short bow and his eyes gaze at Eleni, as if piercing into her own eyes as he speaks, clear and soft, "I am Urei, former Harper, that is correct Weyrwoman. A favor is a mere small request for the honor of being a Candidate for your fine clutch." Even the smelly ones. Eyes do detach from Eleni's figure just to give a wary shift left and right, checking for the presence of M'tr or his cohorts, but finding none in the vicinity return to the woman.

"Not a bad idea." Tia agrees, already making mental lists of the people who have pissed her off lately so that she can conscript them for the onerus duty. Extending her hand towards Niles, the greenrider nods once and smiles politely. "Well, happy Turnday then. Hope you're enjoying Ista. And, ah, congratulations." she adds, turning towards Saphia as well. "Since I didn't catch how many eggs are on the sands, someone fill me in? I placed wagers over a sevenday ago of course…"

"Well then, drink up. Though, I prefer the simple juice myself." L'ryl remarks to the bronzer as he tilts his mug back and forth a little bit. "Much easier to observe the rumours in action without having to fight to stand up." His eyes go out towards the crowds in the main caverns. "You know, this would be the perfect time to place bets on what happens next. care for a wager?"

"Thank you," Eleni says graciously. Ostensibly, her appreciation is for the wine, but her smile lingers in order to accent a second meaning. "Oh, good," she says, turning back to Urei. "You have something I want." The appreciable pause is filled by Eleni trying her wine. "Oh, excellent," she pronounces, lifting her glass towards I'nigo before continuing with an explanation for her rather loaded statement. "I certainly wouldn't want to aggravate your Hall by countermanding their decrees, but I would really appreciate it if you wouldn't mind playing a little something for our guests tonight? It'd be a shame to have the evening pass without entertainment." Her gaze is particularly questioning.

Q'luin does look towards the bar, but he doesn't yet move in that direction. Instead he'll bite. "What do you think'll happen next?" Really he's not here for the rumors; he's here because he should be. It's a duty thing, and by the way he squirms in this crowd, it won't last long.

Burant shrugs. "Light, useful at reach, but if you get too close you're better off with out it and to go with straight hand to hand." He gives a rueful grin. "I have little practice actually dueling, sir. What I have learned has been of a more… less cultured nature. I would be interested in seeing and hearing your own views on the subject. it would be good practice." There was a light emphasis on the last word as much for the weyrwoman's benifit. as anyone else's.

Saphia stares at Niles incredulously, her expression leaning towards threatening - that would be if her femininity didn't soften everything she does with warmth and sweetness. It's difficult to seem menacing when her face simply was never designed to permit such an emotion to be on display. "It's because of your poor choice in seats that we got breathed on and my white coat was ruined," she corrects and swats at his hand. "/I/ should tell you to replace it." S'tao, then, is turned to and Saphia's eyes go to his knot first. "Thank you, sir. Could I get you something?" And then Tia's noticed. "Twenty eggs-" Matter of factly. "- I lost a quarter-Mark. You want something too?"

Wyn pulls in further and further into the crowd, trying her best to hide the scowl she knows is there. This sort of thing ranks very low on her list of 'favourite' duties, but since it was her idea to join, she makes the best of it. Wine in hand, the first target she lays her sights on is Fort's Weyrwoman. "Eleni. Ista offers its congratulations to you and yours for such a fine display." She's all formality and grace, adding in a slight nod with that raised glass to the woman.

Urei's stare does not relent to the suggestion that the candidate possesses what the Weyrwoman wants, of course he also is unaware that she knows what he has, so playing it dumb will have to do. Yeah right, he isn't really playing. "I am quite unaware of what you are referring to, Weyrwoman. I am a Candidate and therefore there is little in my possession." To the suggestion of music he turns down a moment, eyes flickering away and his head sways slowly, "I apologize ma'am, but my abilities do not lie in musical performance, although if you require information on Pernese law, I am more than willing to offer such lessons." A pause, nice long pause, "Although I could fetch the Weyrharper's gitar and provide a mild ambiance."

He'll get a bath. Later. For now, Niles maintains a demeanor suitable for a trader, Istan and cousin. Perhaps, not in that order as the young man looks to the Weyrleader with a faint quirk of his lips on mentioning his turnday. And a notable glance not to the young woman beside him. Instead, with an extended hand to Tia, the handclasp is firm. Just like his nod. "Well met, Tia. I am, thank you. As for how many eggs… I'm afraid I didn't count. I was too busy being assaulted," he replies under a straight face except for that hint of amusement turned frown. Something, he's been doing a lot of today as his gaze slides sideways. He doesn't look swayed. "You sat next to me, but you said something about a jacket. I can always write my sisters to bring it next time they're near."

L'ryl takes a drink from his mug, nearly emptying it. "Well, let's see. We've got the weyrleader, we've got the candidates, we've got guards and we've got riders from two weyrs. Add in the booze and you never know what exactly might happen, but surely something exciting will." He pauses a moment. "Dancing. That's what we need, just the thing to get things rolling and then see if the sparks fly when we see who partners with who."

"Ah, see, there I would disagree. When duelling with knives, the entire point is to be in close." I'nigo twists his mouth into a thoughtful expression as he seeks to explain: "Duelling with a knife and duelling with a sword are two completely different styles of fighting. When you have reach, reach is best. But when you do not - when you have only a dagger - it is best to- you are quite welcome, Weyrwoman." He sketches a little bow to Eleni, and then nods to Urei, "and may I second her request?"

Q'luin grows a sly grin and points through the crowd at Saphia. "See that one, L'ryl? I bet she'd dance with you. I don't know her name, but I've met her twice and she seems the friendly dancing type." His dark gaze keeps swaying around the room as if in search of someone or something.

Eleni quirks a quick smile for Burant, catching his emphasis, before her attention is claimed by the approaching Istan. "Wyn! Thank you. I'm glad you could make it. Have you tried the wine? I'nigo here got me a particularly good vintage." She pulls out a mild diversion to last her long enough to finish conversing with Urei. "I mean your abilities, of course. I've heard quite a lot. Ambiance is plenty; a fully-fledged show would draw attention, make it seem like Fort was flaunting itself in Harper's face. At your leisure, of course. Thank you." Apparently done with Urei now that her request has been made, Eleni reorients herself towards Wyn..

S'tao nods thoughtfully at the candidate. "Twenty? That's not a bad sized clutch." Naomith did that the last time she rose, maybe she'll manage it again. "Not like Lilyth's clutch, but it's not like Fort needs the numbers as badly." Ista was a little short for a few turns. "We'll have to see what happens this time Tia, see if we'll need to bolster our weyrling barracks again." To the trader he gives a somewhat sympathetic grin, because he's known a pointed elbow or sharp poking or two from his own cousins now and again.

L'ryl peers towards the one that Q'luin points at. "Really think so?" he queries before grinning at the bronzer. "I don't know if she could keep up. Besides, with the Harpers gone from here, not likely to be much music. Unless you count my pipes and I don't think that some people would be inclined to hear the songs that come to my mind."

Burant inclines his head in response to the smile, then shrugs at I'nigo and lets the conversation go for the moment with a simple, "Perhaps a later demonstration on both sides would be best." At which point he falls to listening, nodding to the musicians, or the requested musicians whichever was more accurate.

Wyn holds up the wine as evidence for Eleni, "If it's this vintage, I believe so." She too turns to get a better view of the woman and the landscape beyond her which would include her kin S'tao and Tia and Ista's trader Niles, with some other woman. Only mild scrutiny there, those cold icicles shift beck to regard Eleni with a steady gaze. "It's a delightful spread you have here Eleni, Fort and you have outdone yourselves with this." And not forgotten in this is I'nigo who also gets a cursory glance but otherwise is dismissed to the crowd that just is.

Urei bows toward Eleni and I'nigo, "Per your request I shall perform, although the quality I cannot guarantee." And with that the Harper starts pacing to the caverns, passing by L'ryl with a noted observation, "I will be performing with the gitar and your talents with the pipe may be useful." With that he paces swiftly into the lower caverns, reappearing with gitar in hand and pacing swiftly toward a stage, tuning the instrument for a few moments since it has been a while since a Harper has played at Fort Weyr.

I'nigo inclines his head solemnly at Burant. "I concur. I look forward to it." And hefting his mighty glass of wine, which is magically half-empty already, he salutes the guard and then turns to do some absent mingling himself. Mingling towards the Weyrwoman. Or perhaps after Urei. Hard to tell.

Q'luin slips a smirk at L'ryl and lowers his tone, "I'd like to hear em. You don't need to let loose of the lyrics. Just pipe a dance or two - no one needs to know." The bluerider is visually frisked, "You got em with you? A party without music is like Pern without dragons!" Ah, over there by the Weyrwoman his inky gaze fixes for an extended stay.

Tia arches an eyebrow at Niles mention of being assaulted, but seems to relax into an easygoing smile once the trader seems amused rather then affronted. She is obviously rather clueless at the moment. Which can maybe be forgiven considering all of the noise and bustle of the clutching party. "20? Ah well. I placed marks on 23." she mourns, shoulders finally lifting in a shrug. "We could still use a few more good sized clutches. Tell Sephiroth I hope he performed as well this time as last time." she jokes, and winks at her cousin.

"Good, they served you the good stuff." Eleni looks genuinely pleased that the servers didn't stint her guests. "It's the least we can do for the occasion. Fort's due for a celebration." She pauses to sip her wine again, attention briefly straying as she watches Urei depart. "And it's Ellie, please."

L'ryl reaches down to pat a large pocket on his pants leg. "Never leave my weyr without them." he states before giving a wide smile towards the harper turned candidate. "Of course." As the candidate goes to get ready, the bluerider pulls out the pipes from the pocket by the strap carefully attached to them. "So, Q'luin. Mark says a fight by the second song?"

"Done." Q'luin would happily lose the marks to witness the brawl, but this time he plans to remain on the fringe of it. "Be bawdy, my friend." A salute corrupts his smile into a wicked grin. "You seen Teej?" That's what's missing.

Saphia rolls her eyes at Niles's supposed assault during the clutching and crosses her arms across her chest while one hip seeks to finish her rebellious pose by rolling out, entirely oblivious to Q'luin's pointing. "Yes, violently assaulted. It's a miracle you survived," she says, voice dripping with sarcasm. She glances from S'tao to Tia and then detaches herself from the Istans to weave a path towards the refreshments. This is when Q'luin is spotted with L'ryl in his company, and she moves towards the two riders. A smile touches the edges of her lips. "Why am I not surprised, dragonhealer," she muses. "You're becoming a very familiar stranger."

Wyn offers a bit of an apologetic smiles, "Sorry, Ellie it is then." She partakes of her wine then, just to confirm that claim and will actually savour its warmth and sense of easing tension that the young rider gets in crowded rooms. Like Eleni she casts her gaze off again, though for several beats she's caught by that dark stare in return. Giving out nothing other than a lazy blink that dismisses him with the rest of the crowd, she's people watching and there are far more interesting folk to watch in an unfamiliar weyr.

While Niles lifts both shoulders into a resigned shrug, it doesn't take long for his gaze to drift towards the weyrwomen in or previously in conversation. Eleni and Wyn. Not, that his attention stays for long before being brought back into present conversation. In time to see Tia's mixed reaction, that he supplies both with an answer once Saphia wanders away. "That, is my cousin. Who, I might add, was a healer until this evening."

Urei has at this point finished tuning and he clears his throat, half attempt to gather attention and half because he never sings (except for brown dragons that lick him) and so he glances at L'ryl momentarily, waiting for a note of being ready and then he starts to play. The music matches the typical ballad tune, the song familiar, "By the Golden Egg of Faranth / By the Weyrwoman, wise and true, / Breed a flight of bronze and brown wings, / Breed a flight of green and blue." His voice the soft tenor, barely able to pierce over the din of the chatting and his own gitar, but at least he is trying to sing.

"How is Corana?" Eleni's solicitous question is pitched low and comes out a little tentative. "I don't want to mar the festivities, of course, but I can't help asking - all I've heard is the general talk." And now, she'll see if she can hear something further.

Something catches Burant's eye and he inclines his head to I'nigo and anyone currently in range. "I need to go speak with someone." Is the only excuse he offers as he bows out of the conversation and heads towards the main entrance and presumably back to the Barracks for whatever reason. He's too distracted to really even notice the music.

L'ryl glances towards Saphia as the candidate comes to join him and Q'luin only to catch the notes from Ureis playing. "Love to stay and chat, but I've a song to play." he states, giving a slight bow to Bronzer and candidate before stepping off towards near where Urei plays. He makes himself comfortable upon a chair that he moves close before softly joining in the sounds of his pipes to mix with Urei's gitar and voice.

Q'luin spots Saphia coming his way and blinks. Did his pointing somehow summon her? "I think you're following me." It's starting to feel that way. "I'm the one with the wings. You must have a lot of favors owed you." When the music starts the dragonhealer lends an ear to catch the jist, smirk slipping crooked when he does. A quick point at L'ryl and he explains, "When the piper isn't piping he'd like a dance with you, healer." Wyn is pegged with the typical intensity of the tall man's moody black eyes.

"Unresponsive," comes Wyn's terse response to Eleni's question. Tension flares in the clenching of her jaws as she's drawn back into focus on business with Fort's Weyrwoman. "If she doesn't wake up soon, or even if she does we're looking at an extended recovery for her. And possibly," a grimace finishes off her thought. Words don't need to be expressed on all things - Silence can speak volumes if Eleni picks up on those weighty clues.

S'tao files that tidbit of knowledge away. "A healer previously? Ahh, that might explain her interest over there? That's one of our dragonhealers over there. Not that one has to be a healer before taking up that skill. One of our other dragonhealers had no such training before impression." His expression grows wry. "A cousin as well? Amazing how many families start to infiltrate the Weyr, it's almost less commonplace to be the only one in a Weyr these days." That makes him wink at Tia for a moment before answer her own comment. "Sephiroth flew well, otherwise I'd not be here, but hopefully our weyrwoman's illness won't impact her dragon's health too much before she clutches."

I'nigo drifts aimlessly through the crowd, lifting his cup in genial salute to a wide variety of characters, some on the Good Guys side, some on the Bad. This liminal state fails to phase the brownrider in the least, but finding himself in a clot of outsiders may in fact prove to be more interesting. He wanders towards an Istan contingent, skirting the rim to see what group casts out the best bait.

"Good luck to her on the sands then." Tia replies, watching the girl walk in another direction. "And a connection to trading too, S'tao. Amazing how far a trader family can proliferate isn't it?" Her expression winds up obscured behind her glass as she tips it back and drinks the rest of it quickly. "Too true. It's a shame that the healers haven't been able to find anything that explains her situation." she muses, brow furrowed slightly.

"Sorry to hear," Eleni murmurs back to Wyn. "Forgive me for bringing it up." A solemn, preoccupied silence follows, conveniently filled by Urei and L'ryl's playing. The Weyrwoman keeps her eyes on the proceedings, scanning the crowd for possible discontent, or undue interest in Urei. Yes, Urei. Eleni set you up.

Urei continues to play with the same ballad tune, nodding to L'ryl approvingly as he enjoys the cooperation of the pipe's tones, then with his voice, a little more loud and only slightly straining to the use of his voice, "Breed riders, strong and daring, / Dragon-loving, born as hatched. / Flight of hundreds soaring skyward, / Man and dragon fully matched." And there is just a slow rhythm that follows, wordless as he indicates the ending of the song.

Saphia lets her idle gaze follow L'ryl as he leaves Q'luin in exchange for Urei and his gitar, azure eyes sliding to steadily settle back on the bronzerider, further enduring the distracting scars and tattoo on his face. "That'd be why I suspect it's you following me," she notes. "I'm a little more restricted about where and when I travel than you." Another glance is given to L'ryl before her smile plays coyly on her lips. "Poor fellow, has no idea the peril he puts himself in." For wanting to dance with her, that is. Saphia's attention spreads from L'ryl to Urei and then the room as a whole, particular focus on her cousin and his company.

Niles briefly nods in confirmation, cut short by a curious 'hm' as he follows S'tao's remark regarding his cousin's current location. It's only then that he pauses with a blink and the beginnings of a wry smirk. Quickly smoothed away, he looks back to Weryleader and Wingsecond to reply, "I almost feel bad for him. Almost. She's quite.. a handful, from what I remember. Hopefully, she'll do well here." The mention of healers draws his attention, a question half-formed but not spoken on his lips immediately until asking, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

L'ryl lets the notes of the pipe end with the last of Urei's playing. A wide grin coming to his lips as he glances towards the harper turned candidate. "How about it, Urei? Shall we give them something to dance to or just more of the same old quiet ambiance?"

Wyn supplies Eleni with a nod, "Thank-you and it's alright. Those are questions we will have to face in the coming days to sevendays." If Q'luin's stare registers with her at all she doesn't show it, in fact she'll look anywhere but at that moody bronzerider and drink her wine.

S'tao continues to look more amused than anything else. "A handful eh? That doesn't sound familiar at all." he says with just a bit of sarcasm himself, squeezing Tia's arm for just a second. "But she's Fort's problem now." Ista will have their own candidates running about soon too. "Ahh, the healers, they're not hopeful at all from what they've told me. Thanks for the offer Niles, but unless you know what…" At that he pauses a little thoughtfully, eyeing the trader for a moment. "Unless you know something of odd herbs or at least the trafficking of such items, maybe something that might have caused such a deep sleep…"

Q'luin slow dry nod bobs to Saphia's statement. "Yes, but you came to /my/ home, remember? I didn't know you when I went to healers." The dark gaze drifts back to the pair of weyrwoman and finally the man offers, "I need to figure out where my friend is, and give my regards to Fort. We can pick this up next time you follow me?" While his features have softened into ambiguity, there's the faintest of hint of a grin still lurking to contour his scarred lips. A twinkle might leak out as well.

There's no fully appropriate response, so Eleni makes a hummed note of concurrence and smiles sympathetically at Wyn. She's keen on watching what develops, though, and particularly interested in what L'ryl and Urei choose to play next. The Weyrwoman remains still, wine largely untouched beyond one or two sips; she wants her wits about her. "You should visit Fort more frequently," she suddenly invites Wyn. "Always nice to see a friendly face."

Tia's gaze vuts sharply towards her Weyrleader and then to Niles. "You don't think…" Such things probably aren't good to talk about here, and on such an occasion, but the thought that something like this may have been purposeful just seems like such anathema that she has to grab another glass of wine from someone carrying a passing tray. "Well. Any help you can give, Niles, would surely be appreciated."

"I can see what information I can find out." More of a statement than query, Niles gives the knot on his shoulder a brief tap. More to denote his interests and where he's quite clearly anchored to as he answers S'tao. "I have some contacts that I still deal with on a frequent basis. Anything may help. Or not. If you'll let me mull over the situation a little while, I might come up with something more to ask?"

"You know, I think I might have to try and do that, if my extra workload permits Ellie. Escaping from home is always a nice thing to do now and again. Perhaps next time you can supply me with some advice." On to easier topics Wyn can fall to, offering Ellie a more genuine smile than she has to anyone else all evening. More scanning results in her gaze wandering back to her kin and whatever it is that Tig and Tia are discussing with Niles. If she caught his stare from moments before, like others, she gives no notable indication but now and again she will simply stare.

Saphia catches Niles's wry smile and narrows her eyes with suspicion, but regardless of any wordless threats she might inwardly wish to send Niles, she still casts the occasional look towards him to ensure his presense close by. "I could argue that you've now come to my home in return," she points out, lifting her chin to give Q'luin a challenging smile. "Fort's my home, and more specifically, Fort Weyr is now my home." Her curls are jostled to life when she nods, already beginning to turn towards the refreshments. "See you soon then, dragonhealer." After fixing herself a mug of klah, she returns to Niles' side, glances all around but not probing with questions. For once, she's a pleasant and silent being at her cousin's side.

Urei looks toward L'ryl and rolls his shoulders in a light shrug, "There is only one song I am proficient in that would provide the proper music for dancing." And then there is a wink, yes, Urei just winked at the bluerider as he starts to strum more heavily, a jaunty tune that can start the movement of dance. His voice roughens slightly, "There once was a bronzerider who's 'mate smelled bad / He was always jealous of what others had / So one day he sent his stinky bronze to meet / A golden queen, yet was forced to cheat." And maybe there is a red tinge to his face, but he will just continue to play.

L'ryl raises a brow at the wink from the harper turned candidate before a large grin comes to his lips. "Well, it's about time." he states before placing pipes to lips. He even sits up straight for this one, eyes glistening with the mischief he hopes to be afoot. When the candidate starts the singing, the bluerider joins in quickly with his playing, trilling through the notes with small flourishes, someone's been practicing this one.

S'tao nods slowly at the trader. "Just keep it low key eh? It's not something we want bantered about too much." he says grimly, eyes already looking about the large cavern to see who might be too near or paying inordinate attention to what they're discussing. He meets Wyn's looks across the way, nodding towards his other cousin before he looks back at Tia. "I have no idea how Corana came to this state, it chills the blood to think that this might have been something deliberate."

The burnished dragonhealer watches after Saphia for a moment without a response beyond a departing nod, and then with quick feet he makes for the weyrwomen through the dense crowd. Q'luin is dressed formally, though it's hard to tell considering it's just another all black ensemble. In this vein of the formality, the bronzerider procures a bow and spends it on Eleni. "Weyrwoman - Ista and Igen's duties. It's a - uh - lovely clutch what little I saw of it." His tone is almost apologetic, "I had a dragon oozing puss and he wouldn't wait until I got back. Something about the taste - " Now he'll find a genuine grin and offer it up, slipping it to Wyn as well.

Perusing the faces of strangers, I'nigo catches sight of a most unsual display of plumage, and when Q'luin abandons Saphia, the brownrider tracks the latter to her demure position by Niles and the rest of the Istan contingent. Placing himself at a polite tangent, he address her in a gentlemanly manner. "Pardon me, but I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to what manner of … things… decked the face of the man you were speaking to?"

"I thought you were enjoying yourself over there making the dragonhealer's acquaintance." Quipped as Saphia makes her way back to his side, Niles tilts his head towards the sound of the tune playing and a diversionary tactic for the cousin beside him. Although, his gaze goes back to Q'luin as he makes his path towards the weyrwomen. All in making a suitable pause, brown eyes shifting to S'tao in wordless confirmation and a nod. He'll do what's asked, discreetly.

"Of course. Anytime. It'd be my pleasure." Ellie's smile matches Wyn's, suggesting a shared moment of collusion. It can't last, though, because at that moment Urei and L'ryl strike up their next tune, and this Eleni definitely wants to listen to. She's almost annoyed that Q'luin interrupts her concentration, though the only sign of it is a faint line marring her brow. Otherwise, Eleni's demeanor is as polished as the dress she'd taken the time to change into. "Thank you. Ours to Ista - and Igen, is it?" She refrains from commenting on the puss.

Urei is tapping his foot lively to the beat, a move highly uncharacteristic to the young man, but it seems he is just trying to portray the song correctly. It is meant to be a jaunty sailor tune and will be sun as such, his voice adopting a slight twang reminiscent of his Telgar roots, fingers rapping at the gitar roughly, "The rider hides behind his friends / And he smells like big porcine pens / He's afraid of those who are smarter / So he had to punch a wimpy harper." At that last line, there is a twitch in his face, maybe he actually is realizing the impact his words might have on his future.

Wyn makes note of that 'anytime' offered up by Ellie and will be sure to capitalize on it as often as she can in the sevendays if not months ahead. To Q'luin's arrival, Wyn only purses her lips and deems to set a glare upon him that would likely freeze most where they stood. Evidently he's not at all welcome around her and if that isn't a big enough hint, the placement of her glass upon a table and a quick shift says the rest. "If you will excuse me Eleni, I have other folks here to greet before we had back home."

L'ryl continues to play along with the tune set by Urei. The flourishes growing a little more with each passing line, though the words about the punching nearly make him falter. It's never good when the musician nearly doubles over in laughter while trying to play. To try to help, the bluerider stands up to start trying to move about as he plays.

Dropping the dangerous topic, S'tao goes on as if they hadn't be talking about such curious matters at all. "Ah welcome back." he quips to Saphia while eyeing the moustached brownrider approaching her. "Niles, when you get back on your next round or so, we'll have to find time to talk trade. It's been a long time since I've been able to reminisce with someone besides Tia here, she turned Runner instead of trade a long time ago though." Before they both became riders that is.

What hint of decorum Q'luin had is banished by the song. His dark features light up as a jovial chuckle spills forth in a quick glance at the harper candidate and bluerider. "Oh shards, they did it," is whispered low. To cover he conjures a nod to Eleni and then with a shifting of brows comments, "That's a fantastic dress." Yea, everyone look at the dress! Don't pay too close attention to the song if you're not a hater. A quick adjustment of his position puts him in Wyn's path, "Junior weyrwoman, if you'd give me a second I needed to talk to you about important dragonhealer matters, but I'm in need of a moment with the Weyrwoman first." His hand will even go as far as gently wrap around the Istan's wrist.

"And miss out on quality time with my sweet, wonderful little cousin?" Saphia sweetly and quite playfully poses, reaching out try jabbing Niles as she articulates each coming word: "Not a chance." A voice that is only familiar due to their brief encounter not too long passed lures Saphia into turning away from Niles and the Istan riders, vision zeroing in on I'nigo's moustache and instantly drawn a step closer to him. She's a curious little moth lured to the man with groomed facial hair, or more correctly lured to his moustache. "Your standard eyes, nose, mouth, scars," she states dryly. "Oh, and the inked design. Almost as charming as your moustache."

"Yes, yes, the inked design. I have not seen the like of it before, save for a seacrafter I met once in a tavern at Tillek." I'nigo strokes two fingers smoothly along the outer edges of the 'stache, part pride and part habit. "He had the most curious picture of a woman's b-" And then he recalls that his conversant is a lady, and she is also in other company. "But I beg your pardon. I have not properly introduced myself. I am I'nigo Montoya, rider of brown Ezzith and wingsecond of Sentinel. At your service." The low bow sweeps to include the Istans.

"Of course. See you soon, I hope." Eleni didn't fail to catch the frostiness emanating off the Istan goldrider, and she lets Wyn go without argument. It's a measure of Eleni's self-control that she evinces no reaction whatsoever to the unconventional sight of Q'luin's tattoos, only responding to what's said. "Thank you." The goldrider cuts an elegant figure in her satin sheath, even if she's no beauty.

"Agreed. I've been meaning to talk with you but things… happened." It's a good word as any in reply to S'tao. And not one Niles can adjust before he's trying to step away from the almost endless pokes, courtesy of his cousin. "I think you will have time to speak with me later," he tries to get out between stepping to one side before placing the mug on the nearest table. A swift glance to both Weyrleader and Second is in apology before he looks back to I'nigo and Saphia. "Besides, you have more riders to meet this evening. As in this case, well met I'nigo. If you'll excuse me," he begins with a quick step backwards, he may be abandoning his cousin. Or making a getaway attempt.

Even if she wanted to go, Wyn is caught in double by the request of duty and by the grasp of her wrist. Rather than glance at him, she stares at the hand that holds as if trying to impale it with a degree of frostbite never seen. Apparently it doesn't work so her shoulders roll back and she nods over to Q'luin. Once.

Loud stomping, the music picks up to a final verse, the Harper's voice loud and still just as high pitched, "The bronze, he crawls like a tunnelsnake / His presence makes all shiver and quake / But while he may smell like a dirty sock / The bronze can't tell 'tween a drag'n or rock." And with that comes the swift finale strumming, showing off his well-trained fingers for a final few beats and then with a whack to the board he stops, face bright red either from exhaustion of singing the song or from complete and utter fear of what might happen in the next day or so.

To Eleni: Q'luin questions, forehead knitting with an interesting pattern, "I was looking for my friend T'jano. A greenrider? He's a dragonhealer - it's not like him to miss this sort of action. He away?" The nod is received, but he's not going to let go of that wrist though, just in case Wyn has plans of skittering out of reach.

L'ryl watches Urei carefully for the cues as he continues to accompany, only to trail the notes of the pipes off when the Harper comes closer to the end of the song so that when it finishes it's only Urei's notes and voice that reach across the cavern. The bluerider for his part tries to step back into the crowd, to try to fade out of sight perhaps after that song.

A small cadre of those against 'M'tyranny' in a far corner burst out into lusty applause that manages to make itself heard enough above the cavern din to earn them a severe glare from one of the guards known to be the Weyrleader's supporter. They remain unquailed.

Eleni manages not to look amused, making a token effort at demonstrating dismay. "I wonder if that was not, perhaps, an ill-advised choice for the occasion," she murmurs to no one in particular. Incongruently, she looks faintly pleased as she spies a couple of rough-looking riders whispering furiously who are otherwise unremarkable. Q'luin's questions about T'jano snap her back to an attentiveness directed at the bronzerider. "I'm afraid he's not currently available," she says carefully. "He had the misfortune of crossing the Weyrleader."

"Well met." S'tao replies to the Fortian rider, taking the smallest of swigs from his glass of wine, still clutched in one hand. "An inked design you say? Curious, curious. I know of a rider who does that sort of work myself." His mouth twitches in amusement for a moment. "Though his designs are not known to be risque." The Weyrleader starts to move away as well, looking about the cavern. "If you'll excuse me, I've a couple more greetings to give before I need to return to Ista. There are a few folks who aren't expecting me to stay away for long tonight."

Wyn had plenty of plans that involved all sorts of skittering, slipping and sliding in and out of Q'luin's grasp. Apparently though, she needs to rework her plans. Later. A sigh is what he gets with a return glance at Eleni and an awkward smile at the predicament. Apparently she's not going after all.

Saphia watches I'nigo's fingers with growing intrigue as they comb over his moustache, her focus half what it ought to be as L'ryl and Urei's music (presummably the stomping in particular). "Do you have an interest in getting yourself inked, dragonrider I'nigo?" she wonders, voice somewhat breezy as ears try to absorb the lyrics of Urei's song and eyes are transfixed by the moustache and its wearer. Her focus is further thinned when S'tao's voice comes across her shoulder and she half-turns at the mention of his acquaintance with artistic interest in tattooing. She nods as he takes his leave; all the more time for her to investigate I'nigo. "Is there any particular reason you grow your moustache, I'nigo?" It's all about the moustache.

Urei easily dismounts stage with his gitar in hand, finding a dragonrider that he knows has the ability to carry a tune and he hands off the instrument, leaving the rider to play more soft music. A glance to L'ryl and he nods, "I appreciate your talent Rider." A bow and then he steps slowly to Eleni as his eyes widen to her, "Weyrwoman, I have a message to present to you." And the way he speaks, soft and yet still neutral matches his calm demeanor that is forced across his face, "It is a matter of importance, ma'am."

"What?" Q'luin's all sober fire, flames barely licking at the coals of his eyes as he leans into Eleni, apparently taking Wyn with him. "What does that mean? Crossed the Weyrleader? Did he get transferred? Where?" He'll swing an apologetic look back at Ista's junior, but no, he won't let go. If anything she'll feel the tension in his hand as muscles tighten at the mention of his friend in possible trouble.

L'ryl frowns as the he effectively loses the bet he made with the bronzer from Ista earlier and after a nod towards Urei's words, he moves towards Q'luin. One hand slipping a amrk from his pocket to toss at the bronzer while still a fair ways away. Hopefully it doesn't hit the weyrwoman. People might get the wrong idea then. Without waiting to see what does happen though, he turns about to head back towards where the drinks are laid out. Time for a refill.

"Truly, the thought had never crossed my mind." I'nigo's mild reply does little to convey what he thinks about the subject now. He absorbs the various departures of the group with pleasant little nods of acknowledgement, though in the midst of that he does cast a sharp glance to the now Urei-less stage. A hm. "I keep my moustache because it pleases me. Is any more reason required?" There is a pattern here.

Eleni comes to Wyn's aid in a moment of solidarity, laying a hand on Q'luin's arm. "I find myself without an escort tonight. Is your business with Wyn so pressing that you can't oblige me for a candlemark or so?" The request sounds a bit ludicrous placed next to what she says next, and Eleni even looks like she recognizes it. "Crossed blades, in fact." In a manner of speaking. "I'm afraid he's being held at the moment, here in Fort, along with bronzerider Th'deus." Her notice must split, as Urei approaches. "Certainly. Thank you for playing, though I do wonder at some of your lyrical choices."

Having at some point wandered off to find something to eat that would prevent her from drinking on an empty stomach and thus doing something stupid like table-dancing… Tia suddenly finds herself bereft of talking partners. It doesn't stop her from deftly sneaking up close to any interesting conversations though. Maybe she's small enough not to draw too much notice!

Yes, Wyn's going to go right along with Q'luin it seems, drawn in for that conspiratory huddle whether she wants to or not. Eleni's touch to Q'luin is watched, but it is his unrelenting grasp on her wrist that has the junior questioning Fort's Weyrwoman and her request. Whoever this T'jano is, it catches in her line of interest and she'll head-tilt back to gaze at the pair amongst their discussion, otherwise remaining silent for now.

Urei bows his head, "I will be delivering a package tomorrow via firelizard, I suggest you be careful with it." It seems that the redhead did understand the Weyrwoman's request, but seemed to want to separate the conversation. "And I am quite aware of the impact my performance may have on my health." And with that the redhead starts to weave through the crowd, throwing his hood up over his head and his steps directing him toward the lower caverns.

Success! It's not until he's a few steps away that Niles exhales with a glance over one shoulder to ensure that he's not being followed by his cousin. Turning to regard the direction of Q'luin, Wyn and Eleni, there's always a lot to be gleaned by expressions. Although, rather than making a straight line for the bowl, the trader moves to approach the trio. As a side stop. With a polite bow, he may be acutely aware of the tension. "Ah. Might I interrupt for a moment, Weyrwoman," he offers to Eleni as senior ranked. Though his mannerisms remain respectful. "I need to speak with Ista's junior weyrwoman briefly. However I can ensure that she returns in all due haste," he offers with a look to Q'lun.

Saphia cants her head to one side, the most delicate of smiles coming to life on her lips while she stares up at the handsomely groomed face of I'nigo. "I'd be interested in what sort of thoughts /do/ cross you mind, dragonrider," she admits before taking a sip of her long-ignored klah. Then all too abruptly, she notices Niles's absence and goes in search of him, only to get sidetracked by obviously familiar faces with Healer knots.

L'ryl gets himself a new mug filled with the juice he likes so much before turning about to face the crowds once more. No fights, no loud lewd singing of the particular songs. Just over all merriment for the occasion. "Well gee, definitely shall have to have an encore next time." he states before keeping to the side as he starts for the way out.

Q'luin catches sight of the mark winging its way to him and reaches out with his free hand to catch it, but he misses and it bounces off his skull and dramatically lands in his palm. Well, that'll do. "Thanks!" But then his other arm is touched by the well dressed Weyrwoman and the bronzerider is in a pickle. It's not a good pickle either. Both situations being as grave as they are. So why not handle both at the same time? "Well, actually, Weyrwoman, I'd appreciate if you would escort me to T'jano's cell if you would? Then we can accompany one another, because it probably wouldn't be proper for me to be alone with Fort's Weyrwoman, and so Wyn can come with us and we can all - visit." It's got to look really interesting, him holding onto Wyn's arm while Eleni holds onto the one that holds. Something like that. Then of course Niles interferes and Q'luin's small blaze flares as if someone tossed gasoline on it. "Sorry, had her first." And he ain't letting go.

"I suggest tonight," Eleni tells Urei before he slips away, dropping into a level of seriousness rarely seen. Tomorrow might be too late if M'tr's gang gets their hands on the Candidate first. "I believe all my guests have been sufficiently served." Her light touch on Q'luin's arm vanishes. She replaces it with a polite smile. "I'm sorry, I don't think that will be possible. If you'll come with me," her gaze and accompanying invitation encompasses Wyn, "I'll explain at length. These gatherings can be rather exhausting, don't you think? I'd much prefer to unwind over another glass of this nice wine." And presumably the first, since she hasn't drunk it.

I'nigo blinks rapidly, his mouth half-open to reply when Saphia deserts him without so much as a by-your-leave. "Well, that is certainly no manner in which to learn them," he muses aloud to the crowd. But look, glass is empty. Time for a refill or four.

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