Outside The Box


Indira.jpg Fiala.jpg

Date: 2010.12.18
Location: EW - Headwoman's Office
Synopsis: The Weyr's latest arrival, the scrap of a girl known as Fiala, presents herself to Indira who sets about trying to instill in the girl her right to determine her own future.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Indira

Early morning, just after the breakfast hour finds the Headwoman along with her juniors, the head cook and the head of the storage caverns bringing a meeting between them to a close. A list of duties for the day are handed out to each along with a pointed look going to the man recently appointed to run the storage caverns under her guidance, “Just remember Karne, I will be checking up on you, aye?” The tall and lanky scar faced man offers a quick dip of head in acknowledgement and then he too is filing out behind the others leaving Indira to her now cold mug of klah.

"Hello?" A few moments later there is a tap on the door, and a young teen pops her head into the still-open door. She steps to the threshhold but does not enter, a thin slip of a girl with tangled red hair and a dress that has seen much travel lately and far better days. "Are… are you the Headwoman?" Her voice is soft, hardly audible, and she bites her lip.

Indira’s expression wrinkles into one of distaste for the cold klah. Setting it down sloe eyes lift at the greeting and touch onto the young teen, taking in her appearance and attire in close scrutiny as if trying to place which Weyr resident parents her. Lips fit around the faint idea of a smirk at the question put to her, “No darlin’, I’m the Weyrleader.” Yes, because all Weyrleaders are curvy, tousle haired blonds that pretend to be Headwomen. A hand lifts and gestures the girl inward, the tease put aside, “How can I help you?”

"I… ermm… I was told I ought to see you. You and beast… handler? Herder? Max. I… that is… I'm Fiala. Daughter of Finn. He's a cotholder near Southern. I… well… I'm holdless now, and I'm looking for a place. I'm hoping… I might I might stay here? In the Weyr, not your office."

“Max is the beast manager,” Indira corrects the girl as she looks passed her to the door as if expecting to see Finn standing there, and then back to the girl with a raised brow, “You’re…here on your own?” Leaning forward in her seating, forearms resting on the desk she leaves a swathe of silence for the teen to fill with her reply.

"Beast manager… beast manager…" Fiala murmurs as she comes into the room. She heaves a great sigh, swallows hard, and nods. "I… yes ma'am. I've run away. They were planning to marriage me off to Bial. He's forty-something. I'm fourteen. So I ran. I have three ponies, I'm good with runnerbeasts, cleaning, gathering, organizing, not cooking or mending, and I'll do 'most anything to earn my keep. Please. I don't eat much and I won't make any trouble… nor ask for nothing more than food and shelter."

Rather than look impressed that the girl has the tenacity to take her future into her own hands, Indira’s brows fit together into a frown for having run away. Silence reigns as she fixes Fiala with an intent look and then slowly hands slide back toward herself and she’s reaching for a sheet of paper and her stylus. Tone carefully moderated now, “Two things. First, we’re going to let your Pa know that you’re alive and well and living at the Weyr. Two, you’ll stay in the residential dorms and report in to me every morning before breakfast and every night after dinner.” Yeah, she’s just appointed herself the poor girl’s unofficial guardian at the Weyr. “Three,” stylus flying across the sheet of paper as she lays out the ground rules, “You’ll do as Max says and keep clear of ‘hands, aye?” apparently already having found a potential niche for the teen. Setting the stylus down, long slim fingers work to fold the sheet of paper which is then held out to Fiala. “Now sit,” more directive than invitation, “and tell me how you got all the way from Southern to here, on your own.” Her tone brooking no argument.

Fiala takes the paper, frowning at it, puzzled. She takes a seat, trembling, and tilts her head. "May my ponies stay, too? They're mine clear, and good breeding stock. Good riding, if not the fastest, but surefooted. Harness-broke, too, and willing to pull a cart." She fingers the paper again, opens it, frowning at the marks on it. "What are 'hands I'm s'posed to keep clear of? I don't quite understand, Ma'am. And… I don't have to go back, do I? If we tell him, and he comes for me? He needs me for land for my brothers."

With a nod toward the folded sheet just handed over to Fiala, "Give that to Max when you report to him." Pushing her chair out slightly, Indira stands to her feet and moves over to one of the boxes set on the shelving, pulling out a knot entwined with Eastern's colours a small smile appears, "No darlin', you don't go back unless you want to. You're under our," and hers, "protection now." And you can bet she'll fight tooth and nail for the teen's right to decide her own future for she sees all within the Weyr as her family and worthy of such protection. As to her ponies, a shoulder lifts and falls a slight shrug as she crosses the distance and holds the shoulder knot out to Fiala, "Even our animals must earn their keep. I'm sure you'll be able to work something out with Max." And then she goes back to the question the girl had so adroitly not answered. In near casual tone she states, "Quite a trip for a girl your age with Thread falling and any number of nefarious types out on the paths these days."

"Oh. All right. I… ermm… what does it say?" Fiala folds the paper and slips it into a patch-pocket, and then takes the knot and puts it on her shoulder. "And… thank you. I…. They were planning a wedding for when I Turned sixteen, and a promise feast for … well… in a couple of weeks now. I couldn't bear it. So…" She bites at her lip and sits on her hands to keep their shaking from being seen. "So I knew I had to leave soon. I was out in the fields with the ponies. Father tends the racing runnerbeasts; I tended the ponies. I had a pack with food because, well… sometimes if there's Thread or something, I'd have to get the ponies in the meadow shelter, and if things were squally, I might be there a few days. So I had that. Took some extra. Thought maybe I'd hike to the shore, see about sailing to Keroon. But then a band of traders came passing through. For exchange of using my ponies for pack and cart for the trip, they said they'd take me with them. So I got Father's ponies home, then left with my own and joined up with the traders."

Dark blond brows arch upward at Fiala’s revelation, “You…can’t read?” Nodding to herself, Indira draws forward yet another sheet of paper and sets stylus to it as she listens to the teen recount her reasons for leaving and her trip up to the Weyr. Signing her name to the new missive, the Headwoman leans back and puts a vaguely impressed look onto the girl; however it comes with warning, “You can count yourself lucky that you got here at all. There’s people on the paths out there that wouldn’t think twice about taking a pretty young thing like you for their own uses.” While most would have called her a stupid girl for taking such a risk, the older blonde isn’t of a mind to do so. What was done, was done. But you can be sure she’d be keeping a hawk eye on the young redhead from thereon in. The latest writings get the harper symbol drawn onto one folded half so as to allow Fiala to identify for herself which letter is for whom and that too is handed over. “Take that to the Weyrharper and see that you attend whatever lessons he lays out for you to be able to catch up.” And just in case she’s thinking of skipping said lessons, Indira adds, “I’ll be asking him for a report on your progress.”

"Yes ma'am." Fiala tucks the second letter safely away. "They tried to sell me, actually, when they got here. And my ponies too. Said I'd signed a contract. Which…. I didn't. Bowen… he took care of that, yelled at me about being stupid. And later… the head trader… Orric… Well, he's gone now, I think…. anyway, he was pawing at me. Vanielle? I think I got the name right? Anyway, Vanielle said if I'd been more assertive he'd have stopped. I guess it's my fault, but it doesn't feel like it should be." She lets out a slow breath. "And Father didn't see much use in having the harper come for one girl. So I was older before lessons were taught. And I had to watch my younger brothers, or tend the horses. So I missed a lot of lessons. Enough so not much made sense. I think I tuned a lot out, because I couldn't follow it."

It’s clear to see in the snap and spark of dark eyes the anger that Fiala’s next revelation with regards to the traders she’d travelled with brings to Indira. Mouth working as if against a bitter taste, her tone is somewhat tight as she responds, “Orric you say?” One can be sure she’s committing the name to memory and will likely be seeking Bowen out and then potentially sending a handful of her and Max’s men out after the trader for the next young girl they happen upon, may not be so lucky. Some of that tension eases from her face at mention of Vanielle’s name, “You’ve met our young infirmary aide then? Good. You two would probably get along well.” Being of a similar age. As to harper lessons missed and the reasons why, a soft snort erupts from the very progressively minded Headwoman as she moves back to her own seating, “Typical!” With a nod toward the harper note, “You see the Weyrharper and show your Pa he was wrong to have done so by being able to not only write a letter home to him, but also read whatever response he sends, aye?” A smug little smile appearing at the end there, liking the idea of putting such a clearly narrow minded man in his place.

"Orric, aye." Fiala licks her lips, and rubs at her shoulder, shuddering. She straightens a little, really looking at the woman, and flinching a little at the anger in her eyes. "Is Vanielle right, then? I'm to blame for him pawing me? I don't really know much about these things. He told me he was 'pologizing for having tried to sell me." Her shoulders hunch. "My father thinks I can read. He'll justbe upset I can't be traded off for more land. As if there ain't plenty 'round Southern."

“What? Faranth, no!” Indira’s quick to give to Fiala on any of it being her fault and then adding, “Well, hooking up with complete strangers and no means to defend yourself if the need has arisen, was a little…short sighted.” She’s not going to call the teen stupid. A firm toss of head, “Orric is to blame, darlin’. Not you. We’ll be ensuring he never tries ‘apologizing’,” the air quotes visible in her darkening tone, “like that to a young woman again.” Yeeeah, best Fiala don’t try to imagine what Indira might have planned for the trader if she’s able ever to track him down and get her hands on him. That anger hovers for a moment longer, dark regard settling onto the hunched girl, “Fiala. Look at me,” the directive given in gentle but firm tone. Whether the girl does as bidden or not, the Headwoman continues on regardless, “You have taken the first step to owning your own future. It takes balls to do that,” ‘scuse the language there but then, this is Indira. “You’re worth far more than any sharding strip of land, aye? Now. Square your shoulders, lift your chin and look the world directly in the eye. You are Fiala, independent young woman that makes decisions for herself and not at the whims of someone else. Never forget that.” Stated in the determined manner of a woman that had done just that herself all those many turns ago.

"It was… an act of… desperation, and I know it. But it was my only chance, far as I could see." Fiala remains hunched like she is a few moments before finally looking up. Her shoulder trembles under the Headwoman's touch, and the girl is bone-thin, besides. "I… I am Fiala." She lifts her head and looks at Indira, biting at her lip. "I will try… to remember who I am." She looks down again, quickly, running her hands over her worn skirts. "I didn't have a chance to bring any decent clothes, and this didn't travel well, even before Orric ripped it. Is there a spare dress I might borrow until I can work for one? If it doesn't fit, it's all right."

Indira gives a short nod and a quick smile in acceptance of the teen having felt she had no other choice at the time, giving quietly, “What’s done, is done. Now you move forward from here, aye?” The frown that almost frowns at how thin the girl is, is immediately forced away in favour of a bland expression, “You also have free access to the kitchens. I’ll be sure to let the cooks know you’ll be dropping by.” And then so as not to embarrass the girl she adds a small fib, “Schedules down in the beast caverns don’t always fit around regular meal times, so you can just go and grab whatever you need to when you’re hungry and have a break.” Dark eyes take in the Fiala’s attire once again and a compassionate expression forms, “When you’re done here,” with her, “Then go and find Karne and he’ll have one of his female assistants set you up with whatever you need from our stores.”

"Thank you." Fiala finally offers up a small smile. "You remind me of… of my mother when I was younger. When…" She lets her voice trail off. "It doesn't matter, I suppose. I'm grateful. I feel so ashamed asking for aught. Or eating more than I absolutely need. I'm not a boy. Worth the work I can do and not a mark more. That's what Father said. I don't want to be indecent and ask for too much. But the work will come easier that I've chosen to come here. And I'll work very hard. I already have been… where I could find someone that needed help; I hope you don't mind." She looks up again, half-hopeful, half-apologetic, and with a hint of pallor of having worked beyond her strength since she left Southern. "Karne. Right. I'll remember. I remember good, even if I can't learn a darn thing."

Anyone else might have been thrown a filthy look for her reminding them of their mother. However, Fiala and many of the other younger women (goldriders included) are thought of as daughter’s by Indira, so she simply sends the girl a wisp of a smile and turns to the topic of the girl’s following words. Now that frown is put on open display, “You don’t ever apologize for having needs, Fiala. We all need to eat our fill,” that word chosen with deliberate intent, “have clothes on our backs and somewhere safe to sleep.” A short chuckle, rich and throaty spills out for the girls further apologies on having found work where she could, “You showed initiative in doing so. Good. The Weyr can always do with people not afraid to not only earn their keep but to be able to think outside of the box too.” That chuckle deepens around a grin given through an openly amused shake of head, “Don’t sell yourself short, darlin’. Just because you’ve been told you can’t learn a damn thing, don’t make it so, aye?” slightly pointed her expression at the end there.

"Yes ma'am. I…." Fiala pauses, thinking for a moment about Indira's words. She catches up the tip of her tongue in her teeth. "Box. Because I saw something that needed doing and did it without thinking… I'm not this or that or apprenticed to this or that. And I was… I was in a box at the cothold. Do this, do that. SO I suppose being taught I'm not worth much… that's another box? And I have to think out of that? And then…" She lifts her head. "Boxes are like little cells for our minds, aren't they? And if we can get ourselves thinking out of them, we'll have freedom. And… and that's how people can leave Holds and become crafters, leave holds and crafts and become Dragonriders. Thinking outside of the box let Werywoman Lessa bring the Weyrs? Though I guess sometimes it can lead to disasters too… I'm sorry. I've done more talking this past sevenday I ever have, and I'm babbling."

A lightly pointed smirk curls into place, “Do you think Headwomen have a Craft Hall to which they apprentice? I come from hunter stock, darlin’. It don’t matter how or where you start off in life. All that matters are the choices you make along the way.” Indira’s head dips in nod, a smile warming into place, “Aye, that’s a box you need to think and work yourself out of, Fiala. No one else can do it but you.” That smile widens into open approval as the teen starts to understand the concept of how to free herself from the past and move toward her future, embracing all that comes her way. On the example of Weyrwoman Lessa used, “Just like that, darlin’. And while she might have been a goldrider….she was also…a woman, aye?” A chuckle once again spills forth for Fiala’s last, “Good. That means you’re breaking down the walls of boxes already.” Sincerely given, “Any time you want to talk, my door is always open. Unless it’s not. Then knock.” Because the Headwoman plays about as hard as she works. Heh.

"Yes ma'am." Fiala's smile warms, and some of the wariness leaves her eyes, the tension ebbs from her body. "She was a woman. You are a woman. And I'm a girl who will grow into a woman… I hope." Her stomach growls, and she flushes, hunching again, ducking her head. "I will come talk. I mean… yes. I… Thank you. I feel less frightened now. I think I can hope now."

Again low laughter fills the air of her office. Not mocking of what Fiala summarises but rather in fact pleased with how quickly the girl catches the concept, “Aye, you’ll do just fine here, darlin’.” Indira misses the growl of stomach, or maybe she doesn’t but simply wishes not to embarrass the girl by making note thereof. Instead as she rises, she notes to her, “Take the rest of the day to find yourself a cot in the dorms, get yourself sorted out with clothing from the stores and just settle in before going to see Max, aye?” An acknowledging dip of head is given to the thanks sent, giving with quiet but firm resolve, “You can hope now.”

Fiala rises too, nodding her head. "I will, ma'am. Do all the settling in, I mean. And then see Max. Thank you. Thank you so much." She leans forwards, almost like an aborted hug, but the uncertainty on her face is clear. "I should… I mean… shalll I go now, ma'am? Or… May I?" She flushes again, but this time she lifts her head a little, not cowering or looking very much away.

Soft the smile as the scrap of a girl leans forward and Indira takes the initiative in a little given display and wraps the girl in a warm hug before letting her go. A warm expression forming to accompany the nod, “You may go now, Fiala.” With that she’ll step back so as to afford the teen the opportunity to leave her office and get properly started on her new life.

A sharp gasp of surprise cannot be held back, but Fiala makes no move to squirm our of the hug. Instead she presses into it. She does not move at first as she is let go, and a longing expression flickers over her face. Then she nods and swallows hard. "Th-thank you!" she breathes, before whirling about and dashing out of the office as fast as her feet will carry her.

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