Choices To Make

Ista Weyr - Records Room
Naturally rounded, this cavern extends deep into the volcano within which the weyr has been built. Bookshelves line the walls, right up to the high domed ceiling, spectacular in size and breadth, although it is nowhere near as large as either the living caverns or the hatching grounds, not to mention the weyrling barracks. Down either side of the room, runners have been put in place so that tall, wooden ladders can be rolled along, providing access to the higher shelves. Occupying the center of this chamber is a huge, wide oak table - large enough to accommodate meetings between perhaps up to twenty people, and equally large enough for day-to-day business and work. Smaller desks have been tucked further along between some of the shelves, for those working by themselves, with ample glowlamps bear each one. Various books and hides are scattered about, some in the process of being recopied. One of two massive doors leads out toward the queens' ledges, whilst a second opens to a corridor which winds downward to the bowels of the weyr. Several much less impressive doors provide access to the meeting chambers and various offices.


The afternoon has bled into early evening and, with it, the Weyr starts to wind down. There is, however, work yet to be done - and B'haal is no different. After overseeing a myriad of drills, self-defense lessons, and dealing with all the related paperwork, the man is far from done with his day. A satchel is slung crosswise over his person, one hand resting on the flap while a stack of paperwork is held against his chest with his other arm. His expression is grim - and comfortably so for the likes of him. His presence is a familiar one in the records room; there is no challenge made to him when he presses into the depths of the room to deal with the requisite round of filing - and pulling of other records.

Miarene has claimed a section of the large table in the middle, her paperwork spread out and a red pencil resting lightly in between her index finger and thumb. It twirls, as a measure of the time passing, while the assistant headwoman reads, making a mark on her paper, and then glancing to correlate it to some number on some hide. An annoyed sound, a frustrated sigh mixed with something that sounds like a vocal manifestation of a pout, exhales audibly from the young woman as she scratches out one entire half page of notes and starts over.

Stephane makes his way into the record room, looking around slowly. "Is there a worker here? I've got the paperwork for us staying for the next couple of sevendays." At least he thinks he does as he holds out the paper. "Oh.. sorry.." He notices B'haal and then Miarene. "Oh hey, Mia." He holds out the paperwork.

Makoto enters the record room by way of the weyrleaders office. Makoto has her ever present big satchel bag too, old and misshapened form years of abuse and excess load. They could be bag buddies. The awkward smith lurks around to a bookcase, butting some borrowed books back where they belong before continuing on her way. She glances the Bronzerider… Zi'on's second? She'd have to try and talk to him some other time but… he always looked so busy. Instead she sees Mia. "E-Everything okay, Carine…?" When Stephane gives a different name she doubletakes.

It's in the midst of that file-pulling and file-putting that B'haal pauses. The approach of another to the room is not ignored - and everything comes together when Stephane speaks. He shifts back half a step, a bundle of paperwork in hand while another stack rests on the shelf in front of him. He listens - of course he does - but there is no interruption of their exchange. Instead, it's the arrival of an unfamiliar entity - the smith, that is - which elicits a slight narrowing of his eyes. That narrowing grows even sharper - and he issues a low grunt just under his breath in a subtle warning. While he continues what he set out to do, one eye remains on the lot at the table. Pay him no mind. Really.

Distracted from her work by the voice, and not by B'haal's entrance, and then another voice, Miarene looks up, pushing an errant lock of blonde hair out of her face and tucked behind her ear as she looks from Stephane to Makoto with tha dazed blurred look of someone who's spent far too much tie staring at numbers. It takes a succession of blinks for her to clear her gaze and muster a half-smile, "I did some paperwork wrong for the Headwoman, so she has me here, correcting it, but no matter what I do the numbers don't work out. We should have enough fruit, at least, to tide us for the season, but the accounts say we won't. I-," to who this is said to is unclear, but she's looking from Makoto to Stephane and then back to the voluptuous woman. "Oh," she skips a beat, her smile deepening with a rueful twist, "I'm really Miarene. Mia. I… it doesn't matter, I was playing a joke on someone."

Stephane nods his head towards B'haal. "Sir, you haven't visited the troupe since the first day. You should come by!" He tells him before his eyes flick over to Makoto as she exits the Weyrleader's office. "Yeah, on /me/" He tells Makoto as he motions to Miarene, snickering some. He takes it in stride. "I don't want to burden you with it," He says to Mia before he looks to Makoto. "Can you file them? Or give them to someone?" He shrugs. "Have no idea what to do with these things."

Makoto catches B'haal's glance. As his eyes narrows, her eyes grow, like little baubles of fear and anxiety! What did she do?! Her attention is pulled back the other way by Mia. "O-Oh…! T-The numbers are wrong though…?" She heads over curiously before being given paper with a look of surprise. She takes them and… looks over to B'haal. "H-Hey uhm… What… should we do with these?"

"Papers, please." When and how he got to the table might be a source of debate. B'haal is creepy-quiet when he wants to be - and this is certainly one of those times. One of his hands is steepled on the table, the other securely resting on his satchel. The stack of papers he was dealing with before must surely be inside the bag; there's no other explanation for their disappearance. "Yours," is stated with a lift of his chin to Stephane to indicate whatever he'd brought. "And yours." That to Makoto - though he might just as easily mean the bit that was just handed off. Only Mephixath really knows. He does extend his previously steepled hand for the things, however, and he adds, "I will take care of it." As for Miarene, he intones, "How far back did she ask you to go to make the corrections?" There's a fleeting glance to Stephane at his insistence, but the answer is a flat, "There is work yet to do."

"I think," Miarene interjects, "Stephane meant me." A hand reaches out to Makoto, waiting for the paperwork to be handed to her. "I can pass the on to the Headwoman once I finish with this mess." Or not, as B'haal intervenes. The Headwoman's assistant falls silent, perhaps hesitantly, as she looks to the Weyrsecond. "Or not," she finally vocalizes, as a not too hushed aside to Stephane. "And sir, she's asked me to go back over the last two months. I can't get the numbers to match up no matter how I try."

"Ah well, that's good. And what kind of work? Don't ask me about any of this, I can't read." Stephane admits, flushing a bright crimson. "So I.. can't help with any of this work. And, I.." He scratches the back of his head. "I'm not a member of the Weyr." He moves over to the side and looks between the trio. "Ah, sorry Mia." He tells her.

Makoto lets go of the papers as if she was doing something wrong just by touching them! Getting into things she doesn't understand and can't really help with! She frowns a bit at Stephane! He was more unqualified than she was! "… H-Hey, you'll learn eventually." Sadly she really wouldn't be able to teach him before the troupe had to leave, but maybe she could give him a base.

"Go back two more." B'haal fixes Miarene with an inscrutable look. "The numbers aren't stupid enough to lie on their own." The paperwork is taken and meticulously folded, then tucked into a smaller pocket of the satchel. His hand pauses there, then shifts slightly upward to work at the clasp and flap. His attention cuts keenly to Stephane first. "The work I do is precisely what you see. Paperwork. More paperwork. Overseeing." He grunts once and adds, "Perhaps you ought to stay on a while to learn to read and write." It might not help that his tone is low - ominously so, in fact. As for Makoto, there's a flicked look askance to her and a belated, but genuine enough, "Thank you. Now. Please get that book and pen from the shelf back there." Motions are made as necessary, but they're curt. Intense. And pay no heed to the fact that his eyes have glossed over a bit. That's normal.

Stephane's admission is about to get a kind response, a look of 'helpful' writ all over Miarene's face when B'haal interjects. She could look flustered at the reprimand and insult all rolled up into one. Could. Her high cheekbones, instead, color brightly. "There was nothing wrong with the numbers two months prior to this. They match. They're fine, unless you-…" Miarene thinks better of it, the abrupt halt to her words finding unspoken release in a long, audible exhale. And then another. Shortly, she obeys with a flip of pages and a flat palm against her work, "As you wish, Weyrsecond.

"Ah, well that's what that's for sir." Stephane says as he motions to the paper. "It's for us to stay a couple more sevendays." He looks up towards Mia and smiles at her, having seen the look. He rubs the back of his head slowly as he nods at the man. "Paperwork sounds horrible."

Makoto gazes on B'haal's eyes for a moment… Familar. Her stare almost becomes creepy before she snaps out of it to skitter to grab the the requested book and pen. As Zi'on said, he was a strange sort and… as her memory recalled, someone told him something else. She holds the book toward the weyrsecond. "T-This…?" She asks, looking up nervously.

One eyebrow skews skyward. "Were you the only one handling these records at the time the numbers stopped adding up?" B'haal's tone is deadpan. Inflectionless. The question could very well be rhetorical. A few sheets of paper are withdrawn from his satchel and laid out on the table. Once the pen and book are retrieved and he's able to take them, the latter is opened to a blank page and the former is applied to the papers from his bag. He writes quickly, neatly; whatever it is, it's not his for the moment. There's a muttered, "Yes, thank you," for Makoto, but she's dismissed immediately afterward, much like Stephane is; the poor lad doesn't even get a response from the rapidly writing rider. It can be assumed, however, that paperwork isn't nearly so horrible for him.

Miarene doesn't deign to answer that question. She just works, completely silent now, even if her whitened knuckles speak another story.

Stephane looks over towards Miarene. "I know you'll be able to figure it out, Mia." He tells her before he looks from Makoto before he shrugs and looks back to the rider scribbling fiercely at the paperwork. "Huh.." He murmurs.

Makoto doesn't pay much mind to the dismissal. She just keeps curiously glancing at B'haal, studying his features. When she notices Stephane's surprise over B'haal's writing skills, she shoots a reassuring smile toward the trouper.

A few things are jotted into the book but, for the most part, B'haal is focused on those two pieces of paper that, for the time being, look eerily identical. Then comes another two pieces of paper. He straightens and blinks a few times as if to clear something out. "You," is directed to Makoto. "Copy these. Copy them exactly. If I find a single period or comma misplaced-" he leaves the thought there and turns his attention to Miarene and Stephane. He'll just trust the poor, poor crafter will do as he requests. Call it confidence, even. She'll be the first to realize that they're contracts - very, very carefully worded contracts, at that. "If it works out," he says to Stephane, "you'll be staying longer than just a few sevendays. As for you-" this is then tilted to Miarene, "-Mephixath wants to see you. Both of you." Beating around the bush: not his forte.

"You don't have jurisdiction over crafters," blurts out Miarene, as if she's been dying, just dying to have the last word with B'haal, and then- what? There's narrowed eyes that shadow her dark blue eyes and that errant lock of hair falls into her face again. "Both of us?"

"Why would a dragon want to see me?" Stephane is perhaps a liiiittle slow on the uptake, but none the less, he looks from Makoto to Mia and then back to B'haal. He does this a couple of times. Like four… "Uhh.." He begins, so eloquently "Okay?"

Makoto blinks with surprise as she's given the task! She quickly sits down and skims the contracts quickly out of curiousity. A faster reader than a writer she was! Still, she knew how to work a pen and quickly began copying the contracts. No where near the what B'haal was managing mind you, just… quick by … reasonable people standards. "I-It's fine, Mia…" She was glad to be helping! She stops for a moment and blinks as well. "Wait are you…?" She silences herself and smiles.

"I did not stutter." B'haal straightens - which might seem impossible, given how stiff his posture naturally is. His lack of jurisdiction is not addressed and that last word of hers is supplanted by a flat, "And he has little patience." Still, he doesn't move from his spot - not yet. The contracts, see; those need to be finished first. His fingers hook into the satchel again, this time to withdraw a small pouch of some sort - marks, from the sound it makes. This is set near Makoto while she works, with a sidelong look angled to her that serves as plenty warning to not continue that thought. It might also be wordless thanks. Or both. To the other two: "Go. He's in the bowl. I will be there shortly."

That B'haal doesn't even address her protest of his treatment of Makoto flushes Miarene's cheeks further. But when there's eggs on the sand and a dragon wanting to see you, you don't really say no. "Come on, Stephane," says the young woman, drawing herself up, and placing that red pencil down on her work. There are some choice words, unintelligible, that the assistant headwoman mutters on her way out into the bowl.

Stephane seems rather puzzled by all of this and he rolls his shoulders towards B'haal as he commands them both out before he turns his attention to Miarene and nods at her. "In one, out the other." He tells her as they walk to the bowl

Makoto finishes copying the contracts and follows along with an excited smile. She hands them to B'haal and follows along. She hops up behind Stephane and grins. "It sounds like you're going to get to learn to read…"

In the bowl, Mephixath is settled on his haunches in a catlike posture - right down to having his char-dark tail coiled around ink-dark feet. Talons work the soil subtly, sending hints of ambient light sliding along his hide. His eyes are intense in their mask of bright bronze and the beast is just waiting for something or another to arrive. When they finally do, he does not move - only the hue of his eyes shifts from a seemingly placid blue-green to an intense chartreuse. B'haal catches up at some point with all four contracts in hand, along with his book, a pen, and his satchel (of course). "Line up," is the direction he gives, pen pointing in the direction of Miarene and Stephane. It wavers for a moment, then points at Makoto as well. "And turn slowly in place. If any of you are disabled, pregnant, or married, speak now or suffer later." He grunts once and adds, "Names and ages, please. All three of you."

Miarene, weyrbred and all, can't stop the rolling of her eyes at this rigamole, but a slanted glance at first Mephixath and then B'haal has her complying. "Miarene, twenty-three," is uttered in a you know this already, don't you? sort of voice.

"Stephane." The young trouper says before he looks towards Miarene and tilts his head to the side at her before he rolls his shoulders at the dragon and his rider. "I've no idea… I…16 turns, I think?" He shrugs again.

Makoto blinks as she's called up, but sighs. This wouldn't be the first time. She eyes the intimidating bronze and moves into position. "Does… being weyrmated count?" It'd be nice if that'd disqualify her right away. "M… Makoto, age twenty-three…" Miarene seemed so much older than her! Granted everyone her age somehow did. She lets out another sigh and looks at the ground. This always seemed a bit awkward.

"None of this," he intones blandly to Miarene, "is for my sake." There's a pointed look to the bronze, who utters an absolutely acidic hiss to B'haal. The beast uncoils from his posture and slinks forward, his near skeletal frame positively serpentine in its motion. While the dragon takes his time in properly studying the trio set before him, B'haal's busy writing - mostly in the book, of course, but some corrections are quickly made to the contracts. "No, it does not," is offered up to Makoto at her protest. "However." He sucks his teeth and looks up. "He feels you are most useful as you are. But, this was necessary to satisfy him." And satisfaction is what it's all about - at least for Mephixath. "As for you two," again, the pen is employed to indicate Miarene and Stephane. "You have a choice. You can choose the life that you have now - or you can choose to take a chance and Stand for Eulweth and Suldith's clutch."

Some day, Miarene might laugh at this moment, the absurdity of it all that's written on her expression as she listens to and takes in B'haal and Mephixath in all their over-serious glory. But right now, the expression of wtfery at B'hall is all she can manage. A finger lifts to rub at her temple. "I agree to Stand." There might be something else she //wants/ so desperately to say, but it gets clipped behind thinly pressed lips.

"What's he talking about?" Stepahne asks. He's never been around a Weyr when there was a hatching going on, much less been asked to stand for that. "What do you mean? Stay here and wait for the eggs to hatch?" He wonders, tilting his head to the side before he frowns. "Uh.." He scratches at his chin. "I guess, sure." He nods. "I'll stand." He states.

Makoto lets a relieved sigh and steps away. Less awkward than having decline. "Y-Yes sir…" She scoots over to the side and smiles as the two accept. She'd want to celebrate more, but B'haals demeanor made her too nervous to act.

"Excellent." Two papers are handed to Miarene along with the pen. B'haal takes that moment to explain matter-of-factly to Stephane: "Yes. You will remain here until the eggs hatch. If you Impress a dragon, you will remain here for your education. If you do not, you will be free to go and do as you wish." A moment. Two. Then: "Sign at the bottom - both copies, if you would. Both of them state, in full, that you, the undersigned, do solemnly swear to obey all the rules of Candidacy at Ista Weyr while you are Candidates at the aforementioned Weyr for the clutch of Eulweth and Suldith. The rules of Candidacy are as follows: you are not permitted to leave the Weyr without an escort, you are not permitted to have alcoholic beverages, you are not permitted to have sex and you are not permitted to engage in a physical altercation unless under extenuating circumstances." He waits for the words to either sink in or produce a glossy-eyed stare before continuing: "Signing it will indicate your understanding that violating the rules will result in your termination as a Candidate. In addition," he nods to Stephane, "you will be agreeing to additional Harpering courses in order to ensure you have a basic education to the standards of the Weyr. As for you," it's off to Miarene then, "you are permitted to continue in your duties as an assistant to the Headwoman, although you will not have the title. If you prefer to do Candidate chores, you are welcome to do so." Which is a whole lot of words to say: Makoto's the lucky one here.

"Oh. Shit." The rules of candidacy are spoken and Miarene blanches. "Can I sit on this and sign it closer to the hatching?" She sounds absolutely serious, as if this is open to negotiations.

"How do I know that's what that says?" Stephane points to the paper. "I'm not a paper binding sort of guy. I'm a take me at my word and shake my hand kind of guy." Stephane says, looking between Mia and then B'haal. He pauses and looks at her. "What's wrong?" He asks. "How long does it last?"

Makoto scoots over to to Stephane to help. "… I copied it my self. It… says what he says it says… I can help you sign if you need to." She smiles. "Or walk you through reading it, but… No one here is looking to take advantage of you."

"If you wish to," B'haal intones, "you will have to do it while Mephixath is watching. Otherwise, it won't be valid in his eyes," and if there's a hint of verbal eye-rolling, so be it. It's the first glimpse that he realizes the sheer oddness of the whole thing, but he's as much a victim of the system - self-imposd as it is - as they are. Mephixath, for his part, issues a caustic-sounding rumble and leans in closer, head dropping to put one terrible eye at Miarene's level. "However. You did agree to Stand. If you have changed your mind or wish to wait, this contract will not be valid and another will have to be written at the time you decide to accept. Or you can wait until another dragon Searches you, assuming they're all looking for the same thing. As I said, you have a choice." He motions vaguely and glances back at Makoto when she confirms his words. This might, in fact, be precisely why he asked the Crafter to copy the contracts - and she gets the benefit of a grateful nod. His voice drops to a nigh-conspiratorial whisper as he adds, "The rules are standard. The contract is not - but it keeps him from howling to the moons about breached protocols and failed bureaucratic processes."

"Well." There's an expletive just waiting to come out there, there is, but Miarene throws her hands up in the air, so self-involved in her decision that she's ignoring Stephane's plight for now. "Fine." She reaches for the two sheets of paper and the pen and scribbles her signature at the bottom. "But if I stop being able to function due to lack of liquor and I fall down dead, I know what weyr you live in to haunt."

Stephane takes a step forward. "If I'm gonna do this we're gonna do it my way too, if I've got to sign your silly paper." He holds his hand out to the dragon. "Alright, lift that claw up, 'n we will shake on it, right?" He says. "A troupers word is his bond." He says. "And I'll sign your contract thing."

Makoto was definitely glad not to be directly invovled in this. This was one of the most weird and intense searches she's seen. She gets her pen out and when Stephane is ready, she'd guide his hand in signing. Though she wonders if he manages to get a shake. Maybe that was a … bad idea?

"… and he wonders why he's only caught one gold in his twenty three turns of life." B'haal grunts and endures the bronze's baleful stare until the latter's attention slides away to focus on the two that have caught his interest so keenly. The Weyrsecond rolls a shoulder, dismissing the thought, and turns to watch the whole process of signatures being made. He's started to write again, though only Mephixath knows what he's putting to paper at such a frenzied speed. This pauses only briefly at Miarene's protests and he snorts. "If you fall down dead as a result, rest assured that Mephixath will hand-deliver you to our weyr to make that easier for you. I'll even be sure to keep a bottle of spirits available." A wry twitch at the corner of his mouth is quickly quelled. Stephane's insistence on a handshake is obliged - at first with a tilt of B'haal's head and then with Mephixath's low rumble of rusty amusement. He curls a paw into a fist, only to pop the forefinger out into a curve. This forefinger is offered to Stephane to 'shake' on, the bronze's attention being especially keen on the youth for the duration of that contact. B'haal, of course, will be there to collect contracts as they're signed - and to give out the requisite white-threaded Candidate knots. "You are dismissed. Miarene, make sure to report to the Candidate barracks when you are finished with your duties. Makoto-" is dragged into this with a mild, "would you please escort Stephane to the Candidate barracks? I have paperwork to complete and file."

Is she really saying pompous ass beneath her breath? Surely not, not when there's a twitchy smile on her lips as she catches sight of that quelling. It all disappears in favor of confusion as she catches sight of the talon lifting and Stephane's hand out. "Ok, I realize I was distracted over here with Mr. Stick Up Well, you know. But what?" It's a rhetorical question, and she remains standing there (and not running off to her duties) to see what happens next. Duh duh duh.

Stephane moves back from the huge bronze dragon to Makoto's side. "Help me sign my name please." He takes the pen and lets Makoto guide him "Thanks."

Makoto nods to B'haal. "Y-Yeah, I can…!" She heads over to Stephane and smiles. Wait… where was the barracks? She'd figure that out as she had some idea. "You ready, Stephane…?"

And if she is saying that? It's pretty well-deserved. B'haal shifts the weight of his satchel on his shoulder and takes a step back, fully prepared to take his leave - but only when those last contracts are signed and delivered. As for Mephixath, the lean beast swings his attention to Miarene and - with this new move in his repetoire of Things To Be Done For Agreements - extends his paw as he did for Stephane. "He'd like you to shake on it, as well. You can thank Stephane for that," B'haal translates. "And if you're going to go about using invectives, Miarene - you would do best to say them out loud. I would hate to hear that you killed yourself during Candidacy after biting your own tongue in two." And, with that - after collecting the entertainer's contracts - he turns to leave, headed off toward the Weyrleader's offices. Mephixath will remain to make sure all else is complied with and will depart only when the rest of them have.

There's a startled look for the talon her way, especially when paired with B'haal's words. The blonde woman looks from the dragon to the rider, the threatened laugh bubbling out, complete with squinted eyes and a flush to her cheeks. "I'll keep that in mind. That our tight pantsed Weyrsecond doesn't mind swearing in front of him." A lean, browned hand stretches forth and curls around that talon, shakes it, and releases.

"I have no idea where it's at." Stephane says, looking around slowly. "Not even a clue. What did I just sign up for?" Stephane asks, laughing gently. "What are the Troupe going to do.. how long does this last?" He wonders. "I guess well I guess they'll have to move on and I can catch up."

"I'm sure if you don't impress, someone will give you a ride to catch up." She smiles and starts heading toward the living caverns. "… Length can… vary… A week or so.. a month… But if you impress, well.. You'll be stuck here for quite awhile…" The smith smiles.


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