Nestled along the road between Weyr and Hold, this remote inn provides an ideal rest stop for travelers -- or anyone looking for a night off. With walls lacquered a dusky umber, the high open ceiling gives a sense of looming spaciousness, filled to brimming with travel smells, dust and tar and wet leather and fire. Often the innkeep Linfel himself, of pointed beard and long fingers, will greet visitors from behind a low bar facing the door, boasting of his wife's hearty chowders and imported brown ales, beers and ciders. The seating is eclectic, high-backed chairs and low stools set pell-mell around a long table, while a mismatched pair of cushioned seats and an oddly ornate davenport box in a pot bellied stove hunkered balefully in a corner. A creaky wooden stair built flush to the eastern wall leads up to an abbreviated balcony overlooking the room; from up there, doors branch off to a pair of sleeping quarters.
It is a winter noon. The air is cold, and light, as the sun breaks through the clouds to shine off the snow that covers the ground. A light breeze from the west brings chill air.
Gliding above are four firelizards.
You see Dartboard here.
Tuli, Rysta, H'ris, and R'yst are here.
Small Upstairs Room Large Upstairs Room Kitchen Outside
It's after noon, but barely. Certainly a time when all good boys and girls are grabbing quick lunches to go or doing brisk business over a light meal or a quick drink. Such virtuous acts are not for Rysta. She's at the bar with the other problem drinkers, a sizable collection of dead soldiers already -- basically a platoon -- indicating that she's been here for a while. A scowl pulls down her full lips and brings her dark brows together. She's glaring at the cup in her hand, half fill of something pale amber with littered with flecks of pith. "Some good /you/ are," is said to nobody present, though the faraway look in her eyes -- ringed with dark circles of sleeplessness -- makes it easy to guess who she's talking to. "Should't've left Boll at all. Then where'd you be?" There's a pause, then she snorts. "Hah. Helpin' your own plots, botha. Ain't helping me any." Someone is certainly a fussyface today.
R'yst slithers into a seat beside Rysta without any such fuss that would otherwise indicate an approach. He despises a crowd and skirts the diners the long way by hugging the wall, trailing fingertips along its rough surface, and by the time he's taken his seat he's already saying, as though he'd been having a conversation before entering Rysta's proximity, "I see your handling this well." He reaches out to take a shot glass. An empty one. And then another to stack on top of it.
The midday crowd means that the door is in a seemingly constant state of flux in that it opens and shuts with fair regularity. On one rotation, it admits the hulking form of H'ris, who is polite enough not to linger in the door and freeze those closest. Instead, he pushes it shut behind him and makes his way to the bar. On the way, he pauses to speak to a couple of men sporting Minecraft knots, and whatever is said, it causes the greenrider's eyebrows to lift in surprise. There's a bit of quiet conversation following that, which ends with H'ris clapping on man on the shoulder warmly before he's continuing his journey. He lands on the other side of Rysta, and offers a grin and salute to the others before he nods at the man behind the bar. "Some of that dark beer, good Linfel," he says. "And if your wife has some of that stew of hers made, I'll have a truncheon of that, too." Order placed, he turns his full attention on his wingmate and the Weyrlingmaster, and the pile of glasses accumulated. "It couldn't have been -that- bad," he notes.
The last time anyone in High Reaches (with one solitary, terrible exception) saw hair or hide of Tuli, it was 3:30 am. Even taking into account her unexpectedly... occupied... night, this is unusual: the goldrider is ALWAYS up and about by dawn. And yet. No Tuli at breakfast, no Tuli in the caverns. No word, no note. Absolute radio silence. Until now, anyway: though her words are too muffled to be clearly understood, that is /undeniably/ the goldrider's voice, filtering in through the closed door. Brace yourselves.
There is a gusty gout of cold air and pause, pause, pause, paaaaaause before the THUD of door. Bundled to the brim to fight the chill of 'Reaches and not so gracious as to move out of the way before those closest to the door have had reason to FEEL IT again, Siraji joins the fussy-face brigade with thumpy-clumpy steps across the Inn's floor. It isn't until she is bumping up alongside R'yst with only a chin-jerk of acknowledgement that she pushes back the fur-lined hood of her jacket to reveal her lovely, charming (scowling) face. She braces herself against an involuntary shiver, then clears her throat and abuses the Pernese language to order something hot, hot, okay, come on, just hot. Then, and only then, does she leeean forward a smidge to eye the rest of the assembled. At least she does not actually say 'sup.' She just kind of grunt-nods.
Rysta knocks back her drink and turns to look at R'yst. The impact of her previous drinks shows up in the glassiness of her eyes and the way she grips the table in a way she surely thinks is inconspicuous, swaying just a little with uncertain balance. Hopefully she'll stay on her stool. She sets it back down and, with something like chagrin, opts to sample some nuts out of a bowl rather than go straight in for another drink. "Oh, surely. This is me handlin' it well. I could kill Fin, ya know. He has /plans/. /Machinations/, even. Didn't think he'd stoop this low, though." H'ris, on her other side, gets a sharp, "Hah!" And then? Well, Rysta was already braced, but she whirls to give the door a glower. Her hair, bound up into a single braid made up of many smaller braids, smacks her in the shoulder with the force of her movement. "See? /She/ gets it," is accompanied with a chin-jerk to the incoming newcomer.
R'yst twitches an eyebrow in Siraji's direction - it's not really a quirking of brow so much as a genuine old school twitch. As in eye-twitch, but a little north in the brow region. "I can't help but to feel there are deeper lows than a mating flight," he muses, stacking up another shot glass. He's making a little pyramid. "Or else Ligryth plumbs new depths every season change - could you hand me...," he looks over his shoulder at the sound of voices, H'ris and Tuli's both, but he's still addressing Rysta(ish), "...those?" Those are the other glasses out of his reach. If Rysta doesn't notice the subtle positioning of his knee and arm to avoid her toppling to crack her head open, he's in no enthusiastic mood to enlighten her.
"Ambition's not a bad thing," H'ris grins. "At least he's got something to strive for, even if it doesn't match what you might want." The greenrider isn't without symapthy, though, and might even offer an awkward pat on the shoulder, glancing at the door with a bit a twitch in his brow. But, it appears that Siraji is the only entrant to possibly worry about, and she merely gets a grin and a chin-jerk similar to Rysta's. Anything else he might have to say is forgotten as Linfel returns with his stew and beer and sets them down in front of him. He makes payment quickly, and rubs his palms together. "I guess I haven't yet had a bad flight," he notes with a roll of his shoulders. "Of course, there's only been the two, so I haven't exactly got the longest record to review."
In the soundtrack of this scene, the music has begun to build: da da da da da Da Da Da Da Da DA DA DA DA DA - /DA/. Tuli has ENTERED THE BUILDING. The goldrider is in her flight leathers, though this seems to be purely for the benefit of warmth: there's certainly no giant golden bulk out in the courtyard. She is also wearing a woolen hat, with a fetching bobble. Without a word or a glance, she stalks towards the bar, coming to a rest some seats down from Siraji: without further prelude, the young woman rasps out "Vodka. Straight." It is only after this that she reaches up to tug the hat off, and takes a look around. Siraji, H'ris, R'yst - Rysta. "No." This does not seem to be a comment to /them/; it is a comment to the universe. "You're not here." She COMMANDS it.
Siraji holds up a finger. It is not a commanding finger so much as it is a habitual one, and it stays there until she has hot drink in hand and hot drink /ingested/, a few unwary sips before it has cooled enough that this does not make her grimace. Then the finger goes down, and Istan-accented, lazy-dictioned, "Sounds like commiseration's in order," comes out before she takes another run at her drink. "Nnh," she informs the gathered, before fishing a little ledger out from a pocket and jostling -- well, R'yst is closest, so it's his elbow hers taps, but there is a glance to seats-down Tuli, then back to greenrider, brownrider, greenrider on her other side. "Who should I be sendin' th' caravan's condolences to?"
"You'd think that, wouldn't you?" Rysta mutters darkly, but the faraway look in her eyes implies she's talking more to her traitorous lifepartner than R'yst. Her glance to H'ris includes his statement in with the reply. It is equally apt. "It's not so much the flight as the /company/ kept. Woman's got sharp knees. Plus, I think our hair was tryin' to get in on the breeding action, too. Took an age to get it all detangled." Apparently this brownrider is not above kissing and telling. Or 'and telling', at any rate. She spreads her fingers out and sweeps the errant shot glasses toward R'yst so he can continue his creation. It's given the vacant look of someone who needs a good place to fix their eyes. "You know, if you wanted me by your side, sug, you could have just asked." She gives Tuli a look as she says it, all flutter-lashed sweetness hiding a razor's edge of sleep deprivation. "Them two," is said to Siraji, Rysta jerking her head at R'yst, then H'ris, "Their two greens teamed up and got Elicheritath in the family way. Amazin' stuff, that."
"This is all news to me," R'yst says, rather sincerely, adding the newest glass to his Structure, "Ligryth does have a mind of her own." His expression is too sanded down and even to actually be frowning; it's also too lazy to tell whether he has any signs of evident sleeplessness, either. Mr. Drab lives on. "Do the Wherz make a habit of sending condolences to Weyrs fostering new clutches? It's strange. I've normally heard it's something to congratulate." But who's he, just the WLM. He's too old to talk about flights. After over a decade of flights, his stories would just scare the kids. He forms a tight, papercut smile as Rysta and Tuli snip at one another murmuring to himself, "I can already tell. This will be fun." It's monotone. That means guessing whether its sarcasm or not is sort of like Russian roulette, and Siraji's elbow will only tap him once before he's quietly clear to void a second time.
"Her elbows are bony, too. You don't want to take one of those in the ribs, believe me." Greenriders are so helpful. But, H'ris' attention is primarily on his meal, so he chokes a bit when Rysta offers her explanation to Siraji, clearing his mouth with a swig of beer before he's wiping at his watering eyes. "Now that would be a trick," he murmurs, his gaze going thoughtful for a moment. A thought which makes his ears go a bit red when he returns to reality and decides to hide his face in his stew. "Who can say why traders do anything the way they do?" he asks with a wry twist to his mouth as he leans forward to look at his cousin with a mischevious glint. "I've learned it's easier to just roll with it and tell them 'thank you' or whatever is appropriate."
"Yeah, you got the full feel of my sharp knee, alright - when I put it to your /ass/." Tuli's hand, resting atop her wooly hat on the countertop, bunches up, knuckles going white. Her vodka has arrived, promptly - without a word, she releases the hat, picks up the glass, shoots half of it in a trio of gulps, and places it back on the countertop with a sharp CLICK. "You left your socks in my weyr. They somehow fell into my hearth, though, /sorry about that/." Abandoning the glass without a second thought, she marches over, seating herself in a dour fashion next to Siraji. "We're not going to talk about it any further, y'hear? We're talking about the weather." She pauses, and gives it a shot: "It's very cold."
"Amazin' stuff," Siraji answers Rysta's jest with a sharp hook of a grin, and though she rolls with it -- her pencil does not, notably, scrawl down either green's name. "Mm," she answers R'yst, with a slightly exasperated look down at H'ris for his commentary, "only when I," not we! "feel they're appropriate." There is an up-eyebrow'd look shot at Rysta to illustrate her point before the redheaded trader tuu-uurns on her seat and addresses the determined Tuli with, "It is /fuckin'/ cold. Shardin' freeze your /nuts/ off cold." Agreement: vociferous, absolute. Saji downs another sip, then extends the mug in offer to Tuli. "Got th' right idea."
Rysta turns to look between R'yst, Saji, and H'ris, the arched brow on her face grumpily observing the subcurrent between the three of them. Though she's doing everything grumpily right now, so it's hardly fair to read too much into that. "Yeah, them traders are crazy folk, huh? Wouldn't want any truck with that sort of nonsense." This is said dryly as Rysta collects another handful of nuts, then starts dropping them in the glasses R'yst is stacking. She continues to do so as Tuli lobs back her retort; without looking at her, Rysta replies with, "That's alright, sug. Stu left some presents in your weyr. Can't imagine how he got all the way down there." There's a lingering sharp-eyed look for the goldrider before Rysta turns a dazzling grin on Siraji. "It was, in fact, my bad boy of a brown Finmaraisth who did the deed. He's quite pleased with himself, you can be sure." That Rysta isn't so pleased can be extrapolated by how she gives the 'tender a pointed look. Fill 'er up. "And one for the proud mama, too. It's a joyous day!" Oh, was she not supposed to be talking about this? Oops.
"Nggggh." That was Tuli. With a poison-tipped stare at a certain brownrider, the weyrwoman reaches out and takes the nearest glass - she doesn't care who it belongs to - and hunches over it. Her eyes close. "Isolated glen in a Southern forest," comes the mutter, barely audible in the lunchtime din of the Outside. "Isolated glen, isolated glen, isolated glen." Excuse her, ladies and gentlemen (and Rysta), while she goes to her happy place.
H'ris seems oblivious to exasperated looks, frustrated goldriders, or dry remarks from wingmates or weyrlingmasters. Maybe he's too busy shoveling stew into his mouth. Finally, he sits back and wipes the corner of his mouth with a finger. "Traders aren't crazy," he says. "They are who they are. It's just hard to say why they -do- anything the way they do, since the rules seem to change dependent on which caravan you're visting. That's all I meant." He sniffs, and lifts his beer in salute to the (un)happy clutchmother-to-be, perhaps unaware that Rysta's order was not, in fact, a toast. "And everyone complains about the cold, here, and it's nothing compared to Crom. I bet there's been ice three inches thick on the water there since mid-autumn. This," he waves a hand over his shoulder as he bends to resume eating. "Is shirt-sleeve weather."
"Completely wherry-shit insane," Saji says, abandoning her original drink to glen-envisioning Tuli and instead intercepting the new Rysta-summoned one to sip at that instead. It probably isn't hot, but it might get her that way. (Too bad it's all in the mind). Her words are paired with a bright, sharp hook of a bladed grin, broadsword-broad, and when she lifts her glass in salute it's to Rysta rather than poor, beleaguered Tuli.
"H'ris," Tuli says, abruptly, surfacing sourly from her Imaginary Glen, "that's great and all, but we're talking about the weather, not traders." She takes a bracing chug from her stolen Siraji-drink. "And yeah there are colder places, but it's still fucking cold. And yet," she adds, sourly, "Eli's managed to time this just right so I'll still be Sands-sitting when summer comes. I hope she at least comes out of the funk /a certain someone's dragon/ has clearly traumatized her into." Another chug. "Ngggh."
Rysta will raise her own drink, the bright smile on her face in contrast to the methodically stacked cups attended to by R'yst. "Amen!" is her Bollese toast, said with a tilts of her glass before she knocks back a good portion of it. "Everythin' changes. Don't let nobody tell you otherwise, hawt. I certainly..." Whatever Rysta was going to say trails off as a look of, well, urgency crosses her face. "'scuse me gents," nods to R'yst and H'ris, "lady," to Saji, "and my very own weyrwoman." Tuli. "Got things to attend to." What things? She's not saying. Suffice to say, she hightails it out of the bar rather quickly, if unsteadily.
"Hey, I can talk about whatever you like," H'ris says, offering Tuli a bright grin. There might be stew-gravy on his lips as he does this. "Weather, traders, dancing girls in Bitra...I'm a man of many topics worth discussing." Then he's tearing off a bit of bread from the side of his truncheon and dipping it into his stew. Rysta's departure gets a waggle of fingers, and the greenrider turns his attention back to his clutchmate. "You okay?" he asks, then, ignoring the others at the bar, and his expression turning more somber. "You want to go back to my weyr and beat up my punching bag?" He smiles a bit. "I've got paint for painting any face you fancy on it."
"Well," Saji drawls out over another sip of her drink, watching Rysta's exit with a measure of respect for the newly-met brownrider's ability to maintain her balance. "Can't say things'll be /dull/," may be amusement, may be commiseration. She gives H'ris a look, says, "You got some shit," and mimes a backward swipe of her hand over her mouth, then returns, oh! returns her attention to Tuli. "Can't say I envy you. 'Least th' Sands'll be th' more appealin' place to be for /part/ of th' wait." She lifts her glass. It's not much of a salute.
"No, I'm not okay," Tuli tells H'ris, tersely. "Rysta is going to /ruin/ my dragon's first clutch, just like that asshole of a brown ruined her first flight. And," she shakes her head, scowling, "when we have eggs on the Sands, you know, I'm going to keep it professional, I'm going to /handle/ this - but right now I feel like having a good fucking snit, and none of y'all are gonna /stop/ me." Huff. Saji's lifted glass earns an intense stare. "Linfel," she says, "another round for all of us. Please." Trader and greenrider are given looks in turn. "I'm gonna get myself stone drunk today," she says, calmly. "And you two are making sure I get back to the Weyr in one piece. Deal? /Deal." Cue drinking. Lots and LOTS of drinking.