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RhyDin Welcome Center Tales: The Gift Horse

 
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Koyliak
The Legislator
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:41 pm    Post subject: RhyDin Welcome Center Tales: The Gift Horse Reply with quote

Friday, August 2, 2013

If you asked Koy if she had any special powers she would flatly answer about her uncanny ability to create spaces that beckoned the elderly to loiter in day in and day out. At her shop she hosted the three old biddies, a trio of stately gossips who dictated New Haven societal policy and traded in juicy secrets. Their presence had become such a staple at the Heavenly Boutique that Koy had long stopped thinking anything of it. It wasn't until the recent installation of two new flat screens at the Welcome Center, a donation from XAVIER Sporting Goods Store to provide live streaming of the Hydra Cup (and drum up business for said sporting store with the various commercials that aired in between reports from Hydra Sports Network News), that Koy recognized the senior citizen phenomenon.

After the first week of the tournament Koy realized that she was starting to recognize several of the faces gathering daily around the screens. The majority of people that visited the Center often did so only long enough to get help finding a job, securing interim housing until they could afford something more spacious, and occasionally for discovering new activities within the city to enjoy. These familiar faces that chose to stick around the Center were mostly male and often falling on the hair spectrum between grey and bald. There were still new faces mixing in with the returning crowd, some timidly watching the proceedings as they tried to wrap their heads around this new world they entered and others inserting themselves immediately as if they had lived in RhyDin for years. "The Gripe Men," as Koy had affectionately dubbed them to their faces, loved nothing more than to educate these new immigrants about everything that went wrong in both the city and the duels.

As long as they cleaned up after themselves and didn't physically threaten each other beyond a little friendly roughhousing, Koy let the Gripe Men enjoy their daily rituals at the Welcome Center. Despite her own gripes about how easily she attracted opinionated seniors wherever she worked she loved having them around. It gave the Center a lively buzz, a stable social environment filled with local color that embraced anyone who entered its doors and wanted to shoot the breeze. It also created its own small contribution to the city's economy as the daily crowd drew in several food vendors who put the Center on their usual routes throughout the day. Their carts boasted a range from hot dogs, falafels and burgers to the spiced rice bowls common to Mount Yasuo, the lobster rolls that came in through Dockside and the even more exotic but cheap off-world dishes, all ready to feed the Gripe Men and their changing company.

Franklin, the tallest of the Gripe Men due to the mix of giant in his bloodline, returned into the cooler air inside the Center, his thick arms filled with the paper cups of ale and lemonade it was his turn to by from one of the carts outside. The care with which he carried the cups, appearing particularly small given Franklin's size, led to a fresh round of heckling from the other men gathered around the screen and greedily snatching at the drinks. Franklin made a big production of shaking off the ale that had spilled onto his hands and grumbled. He glanced up at the flat screens and grinned when he saw a new target to unleash his friends on to divert their jibes.

"Hey, Simon! Ain't that your husband?" Franklin pointed a stubby finger at the screen where the Hydra Sports Network played a packaged piece featuring Matt Simon, the words "Captain Futility" splashed in the chyron below his image. A chorus of rowdy laughter and a few wheezes erupted from the group.

Koy, accustomed now to only being addressed by her last name when around the Gripe Men, looked up from the dense and particularly boring book of zoning regulations she was reviewing to check the screen. She smirked. So many years spent in the brash rings of the Outback made for thick skin used to teasing. "Aye, tha's 'em all right. Jest call me Mrs. Futility. Or mebbe I should hyphenate it, Mrs. VanDuran-Futility. Wha do ye think?"

Franklin snickered. "I think Mrs. Futility is fitting. You're not much use in a Hydra Cup outside the Outback."

Koy click-clacked her way closer to the group, Franklin in particular. "I couldn't 'gree with ye more. Tha's why I've relegated myself ta head cheerleader fer Team Hydra. Fer 'xample, I've taken ta only wearin' white and red undergarments in different designs fer the course of the tournament. Why ye should see this one set of panties I've got with these lil bows and lacy---" Franklin tried to hide the embarrassed flush to his face. This was one of the few subjects he neither wanted to gripe about nor discuss with the woman running the Welcome Center.

Having achieved her desired effect, Koy grinned and leaned over Franklin, a sultriness to her tone she put on to further his discomfort. "We all find ways ta be useful. Now ye know mine." She plucked a remaining paper cup of beer out of his arms and resumed speaking normally, "and I know yers involves waitin' on all us good people here." This earned several howls of laughter from the crowd and returned the rest of the Gripe Men to their initial joking at Franklin's expense as Koy carried her beer back to the front office.
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Alain DeMuer
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alain and Sophie DeMuer had yet to produce an heir to Saint Aldwin's throne, a topic of ongoing debate in their country's legislature: this was usually the excuse for the tight security he was made to endure, guarded by knights of his own choosing if he was lucky or a Council-appointed security detail if he was not.

He had no illusions about this changing once they did produce an heir, so he quickly learned how to compromise with the people who minded his safety, especially when he was meeting someone in his old stomping grounds, RhyDin.

Two knights shared the same block as him on his final approach to the Welcome Center, one ahead and one behind, each dressed in plain clothes: the man ahead detoured into a coffee shop nearby, the woman behind found a bench to wait for a carriage that would not arrive for at least an hour, and Alain entered through the sea of (very tempting) food carts alone, more than a little relieved to be "unescorted" somewhere other than the comfort of his own home. He'd dressed simply for the meeting in jeans and a comfortable button-down shirt, forgoing his signet ring for just his wedding band and no other adornments -- though the curious could always identify him by the tattoo on the back of his right hand.

He made his way carefully past the lines of new immigrants, glancing curiously at the Nexus transplants and "voluntary" refugees alike and making a mental note of what he observed, before he sighted Koyliak somewhere between a gaggle of alternately gray and shiny heads and the two flat screens skewering her poor husband. "Koy - good afternoon!" he called out to get her attention, lifting his right hand for a wave. With his left arm he held a notebook to his side, likely full of property records.
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Koyliak
The Legislator
Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm


Joined: 05 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few of the Gripe Men turned at the sound of someone yelling for Koy and not at the flat screen but were quickly distracted when Bruge, an elderly man bordering the line between burly and portly, proposed a side bet on which Hydra team would rack up the most points later in the evening. The men pounced on this, expounding with the detail of an academic and the boastfulness of a drunk why their proposed bets made the most sense. Koy shook her head with a laugh and waved Alain over.

"Heya, Alain! Can I get ye somethin' ta drink? Ale in a cheap cup perhaps?" She grinned and held her own drink up to show him. She shifted the long, boring but useful report she had been reading earlier to keep it lodged under her arm and against her side.

"Can't say no to an ale," he confessed with a grin, happily accepting a drink of his own. "Merci," he added and took a slow sip as he followed her. Cheap cup or not, ale was still ale.

"So this is the Welcome Center, somewha vastly different from wha I initially planned way back when the Post was in here interviewin', and a lil bit interrogatin' me, 'bout it, and yet greatly improved from my original ideas too. I think it's like the Fern growin' over in the Outback: it's taken on a larger life of its own." Koy said this though with pride when she grinned at him, gesturing for him to follow her. Across from the Gripe Men was the more organized heartbeat of the Center, two roped off processing lines leading towards five open stations manned by trained Center employees. Four of the stations were dedicated to the longer line labeled "Immigration" while an overtly perky anthropomorphic duck named Sweeanza stood behind the fifth station marked "Tourist Information." Two rows of comfortable attached seating outlined the area where even the small chiming of the sign that showed which station was currently open was made to sound pleasant. Koy found these details important as though she believed they could make the transition to RhyDin a little more beautiful.

Oh, and the brochures! The Welcome Center had brochures and pamphlets for nearly everything that could be done in the city and everything that absolutely SHOULD NOT be done in the city. "Taggar's Guide to New Haven's Fine Dining," "Pirates on Parade," "Don't Drink the Water and Other Helpful Tips!" and other decorative titles were on display and left for taking. Koy led Alain past this main area and into a hallway. The Welcome Center did employ subtle uses of magic, mainly to prevent vandalism and protect items like the newly created RhyDin Quilt draped along one wall, but nothing terribly flashy.

Alain scanned the brochures as they walked by, nearly losing sight of his guide when he slowed his steps to take in the titles. The little lines running across his brow showed that gears were turning in his head, but for the moment he kept his ideas to himself, giving them time to gain coherence. He tore his gaze away and rejoined Koy to continue the tour.

"I don't 'ctually have a private office fer us ta meet in. We have a bullpen space fer the staff ta work out of and a cramped conference room but I thought there were better ways ta make the most out of wha we have here. 'Sides, I think our courtyard is quite lovely now tha it's nice out." Koy smiled and continued to lead Alain towards the back of the Center. There weren't any locked doors inside the Center itself except for the bathrooms and the one they passed, a thicker, dark door that simply said "Staff Only" on it. In fact, it had several heavy duty locks. The first reason being that it housed the safe where the Center kept its various currencies it exchanged every day for travelers and newcomers. The second reason being the one Koy thought even more crucial, that the room housed all the records, both paper and electronic, the staff collected each day about the immigrants arriving in RhyDin. While the Welcome Center kept the files to aid in their work assisting the city's newest citizens settle in over their first few weeks in RhyDin, Koy often worried that a more devious mind would find some harmful use for that kind of cataloged knowledge.

Upon opening the back door to the Center, Koy led Alain into the walled courtyard, a mix of stony designs and live greenery holding a certain symmetry to create a calming, meditative environment. Sunlight filtered its way down through the tops of the few willow and meswen trees brought in to provide shade. She finally sat down on a bench and invited Alain to join her.

"I should have one of these," Alain laughed as he stepped into the courtyard after her. "Perhaps we could have one of the next Council meetings outdoors, weather permitting..."

He turned his eyes away from the sunlight through the willow branches to smile at Koy, offering over three small reports: property records, floorplans and design proposals for the two townhouses and the cottage he planned to donate. "I've heard a lot about what you do here -- many of Saint Aldwin's citizens come through RhyDin first, and turn to the Center for survival. Seeing it firsthand only makes me more confident about our donation."

Koy took the reports and held them neatly in her lap. She grinned. "I'm jest fortunate ta have attracted good people who put more stock in doin' somethin' helpful than necessarily bein' able ta make their pockets terribly fat off their deeds. It takes an open mind ta accept all those who come in needin' help. I was particularly pleased ta hear 'bout the Saint Aldwin Embassy openin' up in town. Hopefully we can figure out more ways ta share our cultures in the future. Now, ta the business at hand."

Alain pointed out two of the reports. "The townhouses are both in WestEnd, near a Watch house on High Street and one of the district's safer blocks..."

He frowned, still considering his decision after he had already made it. "Still, WestEnd can be a dangerous place -- but I've noticed many new immigrants work at the docks or on the fishing boats, and they end up in the neighborhood regardless. And some come to RhyDin because they are hiding from something. I know they enjoy how easy it is to hide there."

Then there was the third report, the New Haven cottage: "New Haven can be an expensive neighborhood, but there are cheaper markets nearby in Dragon's Gate... and many people find work in local retail, or fishing on the lakes. Now, we can split each of these houses into family-sized apartments, studio apartments for single tenants, couples or maybe two roommates who get along very well," he added with a rather skeptical grin and lift of his eyebrows. "Or communal living spaces, with three or four small dormitories on a floor sharing a large bathroom, a kitchen and a small common area. Personally I'd recommend dividing the New Haven cottage into four family apartments, dividing the smaller WestEnd townhouse into four studios, and make three floors of communal spaces in the larger WestEnd townhouse, four on the first floor and three on the top two, for ten bedrooms total. What do you think?"

Koy pursed her lips as she both listened and glanced briefly through the reports in her lap while Alain spoke. "I think ye've got the right idea. The location in WestEnd may not be ideal but ye're right, there's 'nough work nearby tha it makes sense. Steve actually proposed openin' up a vocational school of sorts fer immigrants in Dockside tha he'd be willin' ta run." She made direct eye contact with him then. "I hope ye know how 'ppreciative we all are of this offer. I'm sorry ta bring this up but may as well get it out of the way. The advisors I'm workin' with at Kitsune, ye have ta understand it's their job ta be more skeptical. They want ta make sure there's not some kind of separate agenda at play."

She tried to break the uncomfortable subject in with a sheepish smile. "It's an odd testament ta how generous yer offer is: they think it's probably ta good ta be true. I'm not goin' ta do ye this dishonor of dodgin' the topic. I'd prefer ta get it out of the way so we can move on ta better plannin'. But please, give me somethin' I can take back ta 'em tha will make 'em feel confident there aren't any impossibly hefty strings attached. Why are ye givin' up these properties? Will there be any special conditions ye want met once the housin' units are ready fer use?"

"I can appreciate the foundation's concerns, but I will be signing a contract to finalize this gift and hopefully answer their questions," Alain replied carefully. "The only stipulations I have are that the properties not be used for personal gain, and that I or my ambassador -- Fio -- be consulted for approval if the Center decides to sell or rent the properties at any point less than two years after receipt of the gifts. I only stipulate this because I believe it would be beneficial for those who turn to the Center for shelter to have the support of other people with similar experiences nearby. And as a more practical aside, if the Center were to merely generate income from these properties and contribute that to a housing allowance for new immigrants, rent prices are often inflated, especially in an area with high growth like RhyDin. But, once two years have passed, I leave those choices wholly to the Center's discretion, without any need to consult either myself or anybody else."

Then he paused, frowning into the middle distance of the courtyard. "As far as my motives are concerned... I am a refugee," he said, resuming eye contact. "When I came to RhyDin, I had no food, money or shelter and a sister to look after. It's why Saint Aldwin takes in so many refugees and escaped slaves, and offers them freedom, and citizenship too if they want it. I am still overcome by the generosity of RhyDin and the G.A.C. when ten thousand Newbreton refugees fled to Saint Aldwin a year ago... and the people who flee here or are lost here deserve the same treatment."

His smile returned, slowly. "My agenda is to inspire copycats. If it works like I hope it will, then three houses and a team of construction workers are just the beginning."




((Written in collaboration with and much praise to Alain's player!))
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