Prep a Little, Talk a Little

Characters Lunasidhe, Padjma
Synopsis Candidates share morning kitchen duty; an acquaintance is formed.
Out-of-Character Date October 11, 2021

Kitchens, Igen Weyr
The kitchens are located in an elongated bubble in the sandstone. Carved chimneys keep the air flowing from the cooking hearths and ovens to the outside, leaving the inside filled with only the delicious smells of cooked food. There are long tables for food preparation with shelving beneath them to store most of the frequently used pots. On the wall opposite the hearths and ovens are a layer of stone shelves carved from the rock itself and overlaid with a much harder granite and metal sinks to keep from eroding away. Water is piped into this area and flows easily whenever the taps are let open. Several swinging doors lead into the living cavern, while smaller curtained openings on the opposite end lead into storage caverns and the hydroponic gardens.

It's not quite time for the kitchen staff to begin serving lunch, but preparations are already well underway for the next meal by mid-morning. Padjma, having either drawn the proverbial short straw or traded a different chore away for this one, seems to enjoy spending mornings in here whenever the opportunity arises. Settled as out of the way as one can be at the far end of one of the preparation stations, she comfortably works at peeling her way through a pot of various root vegetables, pace steady and expression — almost serene in the midst of the back-and-forth paces of many of the other workers, head (apparently) bent dutifully over her task.

That must be some short straw, because not only has Padjma drawn a faraway station in the back of the kitchens, but she's also had the ill fortune to be placed with Luna. The lanky dragonhealer-turned-candidate has had her rampant curls stuffed up under a kerchief by someone with very little patience for the idea of hair in food, judging by the way its bright and blotchy pattern clashes horribly with her otherwise tidy black and white attire. It serves its purpose whilst also leaving nothing to distract from dark-bagged eyes a long nose that protrudes much less than one might expect, a fact that's only-too-emphasized by the backwards tilt of her head along with a gritty growl. "Not again." A bowl containing a deflated lump that ought to be risen bread is thumped onto the work surface across from Padjma, hard jolt causing what little rise the dough achieved to slump even further. Harried blue-green eyes lift to fix on her fellow candidate. "How do you do this? How do you vegetable? How do you bread?" The abbreviation of words seems to be out of a wealth of frustration, rather than illiteracy, as bitten-nailed fingers cease gesturing about and press in on the bridge of that flat, flat nose. "What I mean to say is, you seem like you know what you're doing. Do you know how to make bread?" Because she's failing at it. Help a stranger out?

Whatever zen-like space Padjma might have been finding mid-peel likely gets interrupted by the thump of that bowl of ill-proven once-dough; certainly, the motion is enough to get her to still her own in favor of meeting Luna's gaze after sparing the bread-to-have-been a sideways look. "Haven't prepared many meals?" she guesses not unkindly, straightening to better stretch her neck a little from one side to the other. "Bread isn't really my strong suit, but I think you have to get it warm or something to make it nice and puffy. I was always better at stew-making, " with self-deprecating humor, "which is much easier, in my book." There's little to be offered in the way of sage advice from this not-baker, who all but slouches back into her seat before resuming the scrape of peeler-to-root. "There must be someone who could show you what to do. Or if you ask nicely, they may let you take over their task instead." While it's offered as if in afterthought, she sounds reasonably certain that trading tasks in meal-prep isn't an impossibility — knowledge gleaned, perhaps, from prior experience?

"No," might be vexed, but clearly, Lunasidhe's frustrations are not for Padjma and her observations, miserable gaze focused on the gloopy lump in question, "no I have not. I always got stuck with the sewing, growing up." And she's starting to think that was the better deal, really, cheek settling glumly on one fist as she hears out the young woman's advice. Occasionally she nods, seeing the sense in her words but not-quite motivated enough yet to act upon them - instead, she rolls the odd bit of dough-wads between her fingers, piling discarded bits to one side before lifting the recipe card she's supposed to be following. "I tried that," the proving, "and the rest seemed so easy. I can follow directions!" Really, honest. Puffing out a breath, the cardstock is tossed back to the worktable, gaze lifting back to fix Padjma with an amused look and a spare smile. "Might take a leaf out of your book, honestly. I don't want to give up, but I also don't think I could handle the riot that'd start if the weyr runs out of bread." She doesn't look up to handling much more of whatever is stressing her out, shoulders hunching as though preparing for war when she hoists her third bowl of defeat up against her chest and marches off to find someone with authority. It doesn't seem to have eased even though she returns moments later with a wet cloth and a cutting board full of meats in need of fat-stripping, washcloth put to use to clear flour from table ask she asks, "So have you prepared many meals?" It's a lead-in to the classic 'who are you and where are you from', intended if unspoken in the way her attention catches on Padjma and stays there as she cleans. For all that she seems comfortable, "You don't look like kitchen staff." But perhaps that's just a grand assumption.

Padjma makes a sympathetic noise at the mention of sewing, pausing after giving a long, orangish sort of root a careful once-over before moving it to the peeled pile. "Many things seem easy enough." If it's said a trifle darkly, she's at least quick to follow it with a lighter, "Besides, I'm sure someone somewhere would agree that it makes more sense to let you work on — " Gray-green eyes peer over toward the cutting board. " — meat, anyway. If you Impress, I'm given to understand you won't be baking bread for your dragon." There's amusement, even as she shifts a little to cross one ankle behind the other under the table at the other candidate's next query. "I've helped with enough of them." For Luna's assumption, the corners of her mouth turn upward. "I worked in the kitchens at Fort." But not for the past turn.

"Don't they just," is half as dark but just as sodden in subtle implications, Luna's eyes tossing in a roll towards the ceiling. "Shame it ain't so, hmm? I don't know about you, but I'd be somewhere entirely different, if that were the case." And likely doing something entirely different, too, judging by that flicker-hint of bitterness, but whatever brought the tone to her voice is not the cause of her long, somewhat-sickened look at the tray of meatstuff in need of trimming. "You know, I really hadn't thought of that," she admits quietly after a moment, shoulders rolling as though trying to shake off momentary doubts as she busies herself with sweeping the last of goop and the brunt of flour into one corner, to be wadded up in her towel for later discarding. "I'm just good with a knife." There's forced cheer behind the words as she brandishes the blade with a few sword-like flicks, huffing laughter at her own silly gestures before setting to work. "Did you really? Well, I don't have to say it, I suppose, but I wouldn't've guessed. Is that what you were doing before…" A gesture. "All this?"

There's a noncommittal sound across the way; Padjma, too, might also be somewhere entirely different in that world of ease, but she otherwise withholds further commentary on that subject, offering up instead a little arch of her eyebrows and a half-smile for the way the other girl swashbuckles at the air with her rapier knife. "A useful skill, " she muses while scraping away at something that promises to give a warm sort of spice, the ginger-y scent released as her peeler digs a little too deeply into the root as the interrogation thread of conversation continues. "And so I was plucked from steady employment again, " she answers wryly. "I look forward to getting back to work there when everything's over with." Almost as if in afterthought, she adds, "What about you?"

If Lunasidhe expected return commentary, it doesn't show, loose curls dropping to frame her eyes as she works. "Mm. You should tell my mentor that," is touched with faint distraction, making conversation despite focus being on removing unwanted bits from larger cuts. "I am… well," a touch of a smile as she glances up, a single nod agreeing with the sentiment of having been taken from other things, "I was a dragonhealer. I think I'm better with surgeries and the like," which perhaps explains her strange grip on the knife as she works at a particularly stubborn bit of gristle, hands accustomed to gripping a different build of blade, "but he has us at Xanadu studying reproduction." For a moment there is blessed silence on Luna's part, but then her chin lifts again, clearly having gotten a whiff of whatever it is Padjma's peeler has dug into. "Oh, what is that?" Alas, another question, though at least this one is about the root.

Dragonhealer. "Oh?" Padjma can't help the little note of interest that creeps into her tone; perhaps there's a newfound respect in the way she lifts a glance to the other candidate's motions, expression waxing thoughtful. "Does that give you a different perspective on the eggs, knowing more about them?" she wonders, gray-green gaze dropping back to the almost-peeled root in her hands at Luna's next. "A very spicy root, " she quips. "I've heard it goes nicely with some of the more fragrant dishes they serve here and makes for a good tea, if you're into that sort of thing." As her bowl is now quite empty, she crosses to a station a few feet away to trade her peeler for a knife, beginning to chop her way steadily through the pile of peeled vegetables.

Luna is quiet a long moment, though whether in thought or deciding just what of her experience she wants to share is unclear. Her only sound is a hum of confirmation for Padjma's intrigued inquiry until: "To be honest, this is the first time I've stood for a clutch, so yes. I've handled eggs before - we've even hatched a small clutch in an artificial sands at the Dragonhealer Annex at Xanadu last spring - but we were double-gloved and suited up the whole time to prevent, uh, incidents." A tiny smile flicks up both catlike corners of her mouth. "One of us accidentally impressed that way, once." Whoops. "Right now they are probably looking like a particularly bug-eyed baby wherry," said as hands sketch an egg-like shape in the air, the fingers sans knife moving inwards to indicate where the embryo lingers. "I doubt they've even rolled their head down into the big end yet. There's so much we don't know about their mental development at this stage, about how our touch might affect them, outside of making them less likely to trample candidates. I'm excited to get to experience it first-hand, to see for myself." For science, judging by the strange passion in her tones, without having weighed anything in terms of repercussions. "Anyways," drops from those feverish heights, perhaps realizing she's gone on far too long about it, "that's interesting. I didn't know it went into other things. It just reminded me of the candies an auntie used to give us. 'Warm treats for cold weather.'" It's clearly a fond memory - her smile lingers even as she allows Padjma's brief departure guide her back to her own task.

"This is my second, " Padjma reveals absently after listening interestedly to the explanation of egg-and-embryo. "It was startling to me, the first time, to touch one and actually feel something responding." Perhaps her smile widens a little at the corners for either the dragonhealer's excitement or her reminiscence about wintery treats; either way, she warms to continuing their friendly back-and-forth to while away the remainder of the time left to their respective duties of the here and now, eventually excusing herself near the end of the morning to turn in her bowl of neatly prepared vegetables in favor of volunteering to help in the herb garden just before lunch.

There's something like wonder in Lunasidhe's face, hand stilling as she listens to Padjma talk about her first experience with egg-touching. "Fascinating," is said in earnest, followed swiftly with, "I'm going to have to pick your brain about that, someday soon." Some day when she can take notes that won't be blood-sticky and tendon-glopped, perhaps. For now she lets the talk of dragons and their eggs fall to the wayside, happily distracted by other topics before waving farewell to her fellow candidate upon Padjma’s departure. Luna, it seems, is intent on seeing kitchen duty until the end, for better or for worse.

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