The Dining Hall
This central meeting place- where the majority of Weyr dwellers go to dine- is a very neat and extremely orderly place. The Headwoman runs a tight ship in her domain. Numerous tables that may go askew during a meal will be wiped down, cleaned spotlessly and straightened up as soon as possible. The floors are kept swept and the food tables are impeccable.
Upon entering the Dining Hall you first notice the long food tables going down the middle of the hall. These tables are ~not~ always full. The Headwoman knows when they need to be overflowing, and when just a corner with some stew and bread is necessary. One thing the Headwoman is not and that is wasteful. During the morning when breaking fast, in the afternoon during mid-day meal, and later on into the night hours and evening meal you' ll see the food table steaming and people lined up on all sides with trays filling their plates.
No matter the time of day or night there will be ~something~ to eat, depending on the time of determines exactly what may be there. The Beverage Table will always have a pot of hot Klah if nothing else, though you might find juices, teas and other beverages depending upon season.
At the far end of the Dining Hall is the Ranker's Table. More often than not this table sits empty, the Ranker's preferring to simply eat with the masses. Once in a while you'll see an informal dinner meeting taking place up there and of course during the times Arolos Hosts visiting dignitaries the table is well used. Arolos has never been a stickler for ranking, unlike most other Weyrs. It's not that Arolos doesn't have rankers, of course they do. Their rankers tend not to put on airs though.
The tables in the Dining Hall are numerous and varying in sizes. You want a small table that seats four, you've got it. You'd rather just join a group, there's a table for you. Are you in a Weyrling Class or Candidate group? You 'll be given a long table or two and you're all set. Each table is usually provided with a closed pitcher of water, or two depending on the table size. Candles and glows are there, but the majority of lighting comes from torches on the walls.
Off to either side, and towards doors leading to the kitchens are Discard Tables where a person can take their dirty dishes and trays. Not all choose to bring their own dishes to the tables to make life a little easier on the Support Staff, but the majority are kind and do so. These tables are being constantly cleared and all the dirty dishes taken into the wash room off the kitchens where the perpetual presence of Support Staff are on hand to keep them clean.
The backbone of the well organized, well run Dining Hall is the Support Staff and Jayara has them well trained. There is hardly a few moments that will go by when you won't see a Support Staff member milling about cleaning up spills, refilling water pitchers, helping those that are unable to move easily about, and yes, they'll even serve those that ask.
The Dining Hall has a pleasant enough atmosphere. There are elaborate tapestries on the walls, and various hearths that keep the large cavernous place warm during the cooler days. There is a large bulletin board placed on the wall just to the left of the doors. This bulletin board is used by everyone at one time or another whether it is just to look at or place a notice upon. Everything from 'Rider looking for a good time', to 'Needing someone to pose for a painting', 'Help Wanted', or "Looking to purchase said item.' You have a need-- notice can be put up on this board and more often than not there is someone out there to fill that need. It's not unusual to make that bulletin board the first place you go, or the last, but most people take the time to scan it even for a bit of gossip. Much to the relief of most, this bulletin board is cleared off periodically and on those days you'll catch a lot of anxious looks going towards the suddenly denuded board. In a matter of days new notices will go up and the board will once again seemingly take on a life of its own.
Along the walls of the Dining Hall are numerous openings leading to many various tunnels that go from here to there. The Infirmary, the Candidate Barracks, so many places have tunnels that lead to this central place. Several doors lead to the kitchen areas where all the food preparation is being undertaken, the dishes washed, dried and brought back out to the Dining Hall.
One thing that needs to be noted, the ruler of this domain, Headwoman Jayara has kept flits from infiltrating her kitchens and has a loyal wher, Baby, who will at any given time not hesitate to chase a flit out of her realm. She's not too pleased having them in her Dining Hall either and most flits learn that fast. If she's about, the flit isn't. Don't try to get Jayara over this obsessive paranoia, dislike, whatever it is she has towards the flits, she won't budge and many people have spent an unsuccessful Candlemark or two trying to get her to come around.
While some maybe surprised at the orderly place the Dining Hall is, most dragonriders know just a short ways away, in the Dragonrider's Hall, there is a laid back tavern-like atmosphere where they can go to relax and unwind if they if they wish a less stringent setting. Sometimes this is refered to as "the Dining Hall" pretty much by association only.
All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are copyrightę Anne McCaffrey 1967,2005, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.
The Dragonriders of Pern« is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.