Western Weyr - The Perfect Alibi
Though the outside of the building is made of stone, the inside has been covered in wood paneling to give it the feel of an old hunting lodge. The lodge itself is a long rectangular shape, with the door on the far left side of one of the longer edges. Across from the door against the opposite wall the bar extends until about halfway down the building, with the entrance to the latrine at the end of it. The bar itself looks much like the tables that spot the room, made of long slabs of polished stone with wooden legs. Behind it sit the shelves for liquor and the door leading into the kitchens. Two large kegs sit in the corner, one on top of the other. The tables are longer than usual, designed to sit six or eight. Only a handful can fit, leaving patrons to share the space. Booths with high backs adorn the free wall space for customers that needed slightly more privacy. The far right wall houses a large fireplace, and there's a fur rug laid out in front of it. Around the fireplace sit a semi-circle of throne-like chairs with high backs and lots of padding, also covered in fur. There are small tables around to hold drinks.
A dartboard hangs to the left of the fireplace on the wall, out of the way for patrons that would like to play. Decks of dragonpoker cards sit around as well as pairs of dice.

Western hasn't been doing so great lately. As Th'ero has heard more than likely. And Zi'on's mood has been attached to the state of his weyr. Every day that goes by where Iris is still missing makes things worse. Zi'on's been sleeping in his office lately, what little sleep he is getting. And today… well, today has just bubbled over. He's also heard that Th'ero betweened! Or maybe they saw each other at a meeting. But either way, they can both probably use at least a drink or ten. Suldith sends the image of the market to Velokraeth, along with a message for Th'ero to meet him at the lodge with the guard. Right now Zi'on is sitting in one of the high back chairs by the fire, sipping on what looks to be whiskey on the rocks and nothing else.

Th'ero has heard the news and would have been down to Western earlier had he still not been recovering from his wound and the aftermath of Fort's own problems. But he's made time and for his first sevenday back to actual full duty, the Fortian Weyrleader has spent much of his time Betweening to and fro to catch up. With the meeting over, he's received Zi'on's message through Velokraeth and it's not long afterwards that Th'ero arrives at the lodge, though whether or not he did with the guard remains the question. He's dressed in a short sleeved dark wine-red tunic and his usual black riding pants and knee high boots. His jacket is slung over one arm and there seems little changed in Th'ero. Same mess of hair, same neatly trimmed beard and one can't even really tell he's still nursing a slightly lame right arm. He does look tired though and Western's current atompshere has likely reminded him too much of Fort's in the past and dragged him down a bit. Or maybe he's worried? Stopping only to order himself a large pint of a strong, dark hued beer, Th'ero quickly picks out Zi'on and makes his way to his fellow Weyrleader. "New hiding spot? Because if it is, I approve." He muses as he slips into the seat across from Zi'on, tossing his jacket to the empty space at his side and setting his pint glass down in front of him.

Zi'on isn't generally the sort to be depressed. Responsibility… it's a heavy burden! Especially when you'd had basically none your whole life. Zi'on is looking a bit shaggier than usual. The top few buttons of his shirt are open, leaving some of his curly chest hair to stick out. His beard isn't to the bushy stage, but it's longer than Th'ero's probably seen it since he was waiting for Ezio to be born. The younger bronzer does look glad to see the other weyrleader though. He grins a bit. "Not just a hiding spot. I more or less own the joint. A turnday present from a rich lady friend." Zi'on has few lady friends, and only one rich one. So it should be obvious who fronted the cash for the place. "Men only. So if you were hoping to chase skirt, we'll have to go to the Tiki Lounge." He sighs. "I could use some skirt."

Th'ero is usually the depressed one or broody, so it's a little surreal to him to find Zi'on in the state he's in. It does little to reassure the Fortian Weyrleader, really. The other bronzerider's shagginess is noted, but he's nice enough not to tease him over it - yet. "Do you now? Must make nice revenue then. And a rather extravagant gift, never figured you had such connections." He murmurs as he leans back into his seat to glance about the lodge. Th'ero has likely figured it out, but he's not here to really banter about that. He snorts at Zi'on's suggestion, "You can chase all the skirt you want." He teases, but makes a dismissive gesture with his hand regarding himself. Zi'on should know why Th'ero doesn't, so it would seem they will be haunting the lodge for now. "Mmm, it'd help for a bit. Not the best way to cope with the stress." He points out with a smirk. "Getting that bad?"

Zi'on is used to being teased. Certainly Th'ero will point out that if Zi'on wants to win a lady, he ought to keep himself groomed. "I do now. Of course we cut corners since I oversaw all the building and everything myself. Before I became weyrleader." He laughs. "I've only got one connection, and her name is Enka." And Enka sleeps on a pile of money at night, probably. "Oh right, you have your lady friend. How's she doing? That back wound seemed pretty bad." He raises a brow at Th'ero. "Says the man who was probably getting laid every night. To be honest, I was sort of letting Enka fill in the gaps. I know it's not real noble of me, but she didn't seem to mind." He blinks then. "In fact, I think she was getting more out of it than I was now that I think on it. But either way, she's been trapped on the sands because Miraneith is paranoid about the eggs going missing. So that's the only place I see her. The only other stress relief I have is when I see my son. I went to the baths the other day… and it was just torturous." He'll leave off the fact he was sharing a pool with Th'ero's little sister.

Th'ero is not exactly one well versed in what women do and do not want, so that may further explain his silence on teasing Zi'on over his shaggy and ungroomed state. "How many corners did you cut?" he asks, though not entirely serious. Lifting his glass, Th'ero takes a long sip of his beer and his brown eyes watch the other Weyrleader from over the rim. He frowns as he sets it back down, "Kimmila is recovering well. She can sit upright now, though she's still restricted on movement. And her back wound was serious. But she'll mend in time." Th'ero smirks then and gives a short and abrupt chuckle, his shoulders rising in a slight shrug. Zi'on has got him there. "Not like I am now. And why the worry over if it was noble or not?" He gives the other Weyrleader a sympathetic look when Zi'on mentions Miraneith's paranoia and Enka's imprisonment on the sands. "And how is your son?" Th'ero asks, both because he really is curious and because it makes for a good conversation change. He shakes his head at the mention of the baths and snorts softly, "Which is why you stick to your private baths." It's probably a good idea to omit that his younger sister was there.

Well he should be. Don't all the girls chase after him? Zi'on laughs. "Well, the place isn't going to collapse, if that's what you mean. But I got deals on the stone for the tables and things. And called in a few favors that cut back on my transport and delivery fees. Plus my da knows people in the woodcraft, so I managed to pay a little less there, too. Not to mention the selection of alcohol isn't like what it is at the Tiki lounge. There's no froo-froo drinks, so I don't have to pay as much for stocking things like juice that go bad." Zi'on nods about Kimmila. "That's good. That she's on the mend I mean, not about the serious wound. I guess it's not like you've been at one-hundred percent either." He grins to Th'ero. "Because I'm also dating your assistant headwoman, remember? Most people don't like to share." There's a frown about his son, that's directed into his glass before he takes a long drink. "Fostered. But seems to be well. Bigger everyday. We'll see if he gets as big as his old man." The younger bronzer snorts. "Well, true. The public ones are always nicer, though. And I fit better in them."

There is no gaggle of girls chasing Th'ero. But Velokraeth's appetites make it difficult for the bronzerider in other ways. That is not something he'll bring up quite yet either with Zi'on. "Well that's reassuring then. Should elaborate on the cutting corners bit or you may worry some folk." He laughs then over the other Weyrleader's description of the Tiki Lounge's drink selection, though it's a soft laugh and short lived. "Good point. Much prefer a more… robust selection over sweet." In other words, he prefers drinks that will knock you to the floor within a glass or two. Which might be why Th'ero sips again at his beer. He nods then and as he leans back into his seat, he purposely rolls his right shoulder a little, ending with him flexing his hand. "I wasn't, but I'm pretty much mended now. Otherwise I'd still be stuck on straight-flight restrictions. And if I could have, I would have come earlier to Western." It would seem he does feel guilty over that. Weyrleader's should stick together in tough times! Or friends, at least. Th'ero grimaces and gives Zi'on a knowing look, understanding now. "Ahh, right. I had forgotten you were seeing Xanshalla." There's a long look given to the other Weyrleader and Th'ero seems surprised. "So soon?" But then, time has passed so fast and he's likely thinking that Zi'on's son is still so young. "Well, good to hear the boy is healthy and growing." He nods his head then to the mention of the baths, but makes no further comment, focusing back on his beer now and withdrawing to his thoughts.

Zi'on waves to one of the only two women in the place. Twin waitresses. He could find any waiters around he didn't think were gay, actually. Then he holds up two fingers, and she comes round with two shots for them. "Hey, I like my fruity drinks, but not all the time. Also I get tired of the cute names they have for things." There's a nod about Th'ero being on the mend. "You look better. Not as stiff. Though I guess it doesn't do you too much good if your lady is still on the mend." Suldith thankfully has been too preoccupied with the sands and the eggs to be off hunting greens. "Yeah. I don't want to turn into my father, but it can be hard to resist I guess." The younger bronzer sighs about his son. "Yeah, so soon. With the change in job Enka and I can't alternate shifts anymore. And I didn't want to leave him with the nannies all the time because that's not a stable environment really. He's better off with a family where he'll be one of their own." He lifts his shot then. "To better days. Surely there's got to be some on the horizon."

"I don't know how you can stomach so much sugar. Let alone so much sugar and alcohol," Th'ero counters back, wrinkling his nose a little at the thought. He'll stick stubbornly to his ales and beers, it seems. There's a curious look given to the shot set in front of him by one of the twin waitresses, but he leaves it untouched for the time being. "I was lucky, I suppose, that it healed as well as it did. Any deeper or longer and permanent damage could have been done." And that seems to unsettle Th'ero a little, as the Fortian Weyrleader shifts a little in his seat. He gives an abrupt chuckle, short and sharp. "Ah yes, it has been hard with Kimmila's recovery taking more time." Velokraeth is likely sniffing out Western's greens right now, though not after having kept Suldith company for a bit and perhaps lending some support to his clutchsiblings. Th'ero listens in respectful silence when Zi'on speaks more on his son and nods his head in understanding, though there is a bit of a sympathetic look given to the other Weyrleader. "Logical choice but not easy. At least though you can still see him or at least keep tabs." Taking a firm grip on his shot, Th'ero raises it to mirror Zi'on's toast before knocking it back. "To better days!" Chasing the shot with another pull of his beer, he clears his throat slightly before fixing Zi'on with a long look. "So this Straws fellow you've caught still hasn't been broken or spilled anything useful?"

Zi'on laughs. "I have a high tolerance for sugar. I eat a lot of it." That's most of Zi'on's diet! Do they have diabetes on Pern? Or will Zi'on be the first? "I can imagine it was pretty painful. You'll have full mobility back, right?" Suldith probably only made an appearance to welcome Velokraeth home, but after that he's back being grumpy on the sands most likely. Or maybe hunting for Mir. The gold needs a steady supply of wherry daily. Zi'on laughs. "I bet 'it' has been hard." Get it? "Yeah. Though it's not the same really. I wasn't too pleased that we had to give him up so early. I hope he doesn't get bitter about it when he's older." Zi'on wants his boy to like him at least a little. The sort of begrudging respect he had for his own father. Though their relationship has gotten better over time. Zi'on also downs his shot and chases with watered whiskey. "We've caught holes in his logic. He's already given up where he's keeping the stuff and that there are others involved. But we want to break him so he'll give up Iris as part of a deal or something. It's too risky to storm the place without knowing for sure where she is or her condition." He frowns then. "Iris is pregnant you know. Her due date isn't too far off. Maybe another day or so. That's about all I'll be able to take."

Th'ero only shakes his head in mild bewilderment to Zi'on's eating habits, but says nothing more on the matter. They'll agree to disagree! "Eventually. So far I've most of it back. So long as I don't have to swing a sword or fight, or do anything too strenuous I'll be fine." No more fighting would-be renegades then. Th'ero closes his eyes for a moment and tries not to groan when he realizes he walked right into that one. "Funny." Not really, because it's probably true. "He shouldn't be bitter. So long as you keep some contact with him and he's got stability with his foster parents, what is there to be bitter about?" Obviously Th'ero doesn't truly grasp the whole ups and downs when it comes to fostering. Then the subject turns serious again and he frowns in thought as he listens quietly to Zi'on's details. "How're you interrogating him?" he asks, leaving to the other Weyrleader to decide whether or not that is information that should be shared. Th'ero's shocked look tells all. "Shards, no, I didn't." Then his features visibly darken and his mouth presses into a thin line as he stares into his half finished beer. "Ila'den must be beside himself in worry. You all must be. Why Iris though? Straws has nothing on to why she's the target?"

Zi'on and Th'ero are polar opposites in so many ways. Maybe that's why they get along so well? "Mm. Sounds good. So I should try to punch you then, hm?" He laughs a bit, mostly at his own 'joke'. "I dunno. Some kids are funny. They don't understand and they take it personal. But I should have plenty of time to spend with him once all this… stuff blows over." Parenting in general was hard. What was going to happen when his baby became a person and had feelings and wants on top of needs? "Starving him out basically. If he gives us something we find useful, he gets a little food. It's not very nice, but it's better than beating him. Though my patience is running out. And if I let Ila'den in there he might just bloody well kill him." Zi'on shrugs. "Convenience maybe? She's pregnant, slow, probably scared for the baby so unlikely to take any risks. Goldrider, so she's high profile. Probably for ransom. Seems everything he did was motivated by making a quick mark to booze and wench. He hasn't said it outright, but it sounds like he was planning to get out of the weyr soon. Make off with his haul and with Iris probably. Likely they didn't plan for how pregnant she was. So they were grabbing medical supplies before heading off."

Sometimes opposites do work best! Despite what some would say otherwise? "I'd like to see you try. I can still punch back with my left hand, you know." Th'ero muses with a wry half smile. It's hard to tell who would win in a scuffle between the two. Hand to hand combat isn't his forte. Nodding his head again, the Weyrleader can only shrug his shoulders again. Not being a parent himself, he's clueless over some of the other minor details. Th'ero seems a little surprised by Zi'on's method of choice, but approves in some sort of grim and odd way. "Nice? You're not supposed to be kind to criminals, Zi'on. Especially not if… things turn out badly. Then you have a murderer and starving him is a light sentence." Th'ero points out in a low tone, his features set in a neutral mask. Clearly, he's a little on the harsher side. "You can only tiptoe around the matter for so long. I'm not saying beat the man or let Ila'den throttle him to death… but you may have to start threatening him. Find something to use against him." He explains, pausing only to sip more of his beer and listen as Zi'on continues on. Th'ero only shakes his head, lifting a hand up to scrub along the bottom of his jaw and frowning heavily. "Convenience? And risk having a raging gold rendering you to pieces? Seems too much. There are plenty of other high target folk for ransom purposes. Non-riders too." Like Zi'on's son? Th'ero isn't cruel enough to actually say that though. "Either they didn't plan for her pregnancy or… plan to nab her at all. Has there been any ransom note?"

Zi'on laughs. "If I were gonna punch you and mean it I'd punch you in your bum shoulder. Or in the gnads. I don't fight fair." Zi'on wouldn't do the honorable thing. Though he'd have a hard time fighting Th'ero, since he'd be afraid to really hurt him. Zi'on hangs his head as Th'ero suggests he's been too soft on the Straws guy. "I know… I don't want to be seen as cruel though either. And I don't want him clamming up in case we need him to help us rescue her. But I guess maybe I ought to try something a little more desperate." Zi'on shrugs. "I have no idea. I'm not the one out kidnapping people. For all I know it could have been a spur of the moment thing. Or maybe they didn't even know who she was. Maybe that's how they recruit people to their cause. They capture pregnant ladies and then steal their babies when they're born." It's a good thing Th'ero doesn't suggest that. Because then they might be in a fight. Or Zi'on might just break down and cry in a men-only establishment. "No. I imagine we put a kink in their plans capturing one of their own. But I don't want this to drag out any longer." Though the lack of ransom note has made Zi'on more nervous. For all he knows, they may have decided Iris was more than she was worth. And since she may have been able to identify them…

"Good to know." Th'ero muses with a bit of a grin. "And I never said I'd fight fair either." But it's likely he'd face the same problem and so Zi'on is pretty safe from ever having to duke it out with the Fortian Weyrleader. Th'ero does look a little guilty when Zi'on hangs his head, not having meant to come on so hard on the newer (and younger) Weyrleader. "No, you don't want to be cruel either. It's not easy, handling tasks like these." And Th'ero is speaking from experience. While he's shared little details concerning Fort's continuing issues, it's likely he's still receiving reports concerning prisoners and interrogations and trials. "You could barter. He gives the location, maybe helps you even and you give him his "freedom". Dirty way of going about it, but some go for the bait, since it's tempting for one trying to save his own skin." Another sip of his beer and he turns silent again, lost in his thoughts for a moment. Still glancing down into his glass, Th'ero only shakes his head again and more in frustration this time. "That's taking it a bit extreme, Zi'on." He drawls, lips drawing up into another smirk. "And you probably did. If he's a supply runner, they're likely going to become desperate and slip up somehow." At least he's trying to be somewhat reassuring to the other bronzerider. He's aim is not to make Zi'on cry or want to beat him senseless. Th'ero doesn't seem to like the lack of a ransom note any more then Zi'on does. "You can only do so much. But at least you've got one of 'em."

Zi'on normally isn't this thin skinned, but he's starting to think that he's made the wrong decisions at every turn. The weyr was looking to him for guidance, and he felt like he was wandering through the dark. "I tried. He just laughed and said he held all the cards because we needed him alive. I was thinking maybe I'll have Iris's sister geld him or something… she's a beastcrafter, that part of what they do, right?" Zi'on sighs. "We may just have to use muscle. Storm in where he says he's got the stuff and take them by surprise. I really don't want to do that. So I'll try to get a little more creative with the questioning. Maybe I can bribe him with something else." He rubs his chin a bit. "I wonder if I could tempt him with booze. Or a girl. Enka's sometimes good at that." Zi'on finishes up his drink and waves over a waitress for a refill for him and Th'ero. "That might make me crack, if I were stuck in a cage all day. I doubt this guy has any family to speak of. No loving mother names their kid 'Straws'."

Zi'on may have someone who understands completely or at least half of what he's feeling right now. Th'ero just had to go through similar doubts. Looks like the two of them share something in common, even if it's a grim and depressing sort of connection. "Damn. So he's not to broken quite that way." He winces a little at Zi'on's suggestion and then snorts. "They do, but like you said… don't want to be too cruel." But neither does he sound against the idea. "Storming in doesn't always work and should be a last resort. Trust me. Look where it ended for me. Granted, we didn't storm in but we cornered them." Probably not the answer Zi'on was looking for, but Th'ero figures it's a valid warning. The Fortian Weyrleader doesn't want his fellow friend and Weyrleader with the same ending he ended up with. "There is always something. Every man has his weakness. Once you find it, exploit it. Booze or women or both, it can't hurt to try. Or you can just toss his worthless ass into solitary or some dank pit. Let him stew in that for awhile." Didn't Th'ero just say not to be too cruel? "And it's unlikely you'll ever pry his true name from him. If he has one."

Maybe they ought to start a Weyrleader support group or something. With crying and hugging. And drinking and wenching afterwards. "No. Unfortunately he's not as dumb as he seems. And he's been so buddy-buddy with the headwoman since he got here she wanted me to let him out. She said he probably needed those medical supplies for his family or something ridiculous like that. I wasn't there to hear her, because I might have strangled her to death." There's a nod to Th'ero about storming in. "If it was just the missing items we would have and I would have deserted Straws out on some far off island by himself to rot." Zi'on ponders. "Maybe I'll leave him in a pit. And tell Suldith not to between next time he has to make a doody." Okay, that's fairly cruel, and Zi'on is obviously kidding and clearly more than a little tipsy since he starts to giggle afterwards. "I dunno. I miss Iris though. Even with her big pregnant belly, waddling around the complex."

Th'ero scowls a little when Zi'on informs him of the headwoman and disapproval is plain to see in his expression and his tone. "That easily swayed, is she? I'm beginning to doubt if she's a capable Headwoman." Ouch. Finishing off his beer, he sets the glass aside and then folds his hands loosely in his lap as he keeps his gaze focused on the other bronzerider. "If only it were that simple." Th'ero grumbles, "Sadly that doesn't seem the case for either of us." Wrinkling his nose, he can't help but chuckle dryly at least at Zi'on's obvious joking remark. "That'd be a first, I think, for Pernese history." He drawls, likely a little fuzzy in the head from shots and beer combined. Th'ero probably had some wine earlier too, though he doesn't look too far into his cups. "I'm sure you do and many others. And I hope you get her back, safe and whole and her unborn child unharmed." There's a pause then, as Th'ero lapses awkwardly into silence before he speaks up again to add. "Looks like both of us got the short end of the stick when we became Weyrleaders." He says with a low laugh that's a little flat. Then with a sigh, he's scrubbing at his face again and glancing towards the lodge's entrance door. "Just know that it'll all resolve in the end and usually for the best." Th'ero side glances back to Zi'on then and smiles faintly and almost apologetically. "Velokraeth tells me we're being called back to Fort. I'll try to visit again soon, with in the next few days. Perhaps then we'll both have good news." He's slowly getting to his feet now and gathering his jacket, though he lingers long enough for Zi'on to say his farewells.

"Apparently he's been doing chores for her for months now. It's not really her fault. She didn't know he was stealing." Zi'on shrugs a bit. He can't really blame her. She's old, too. "I'm still thinking I might give him his freedom on a deserted island." Zi'on nods and sighs about Iris. "Well, things'll get easier I hope. We'll have a big party when Iris is back and has her baby. Hopefully Kimmila will be healed up by then." There's a nod as Th'ero is being called away. Zi'on can identify with that sort of thing. "Hopefully. If not.. I'll be here. Trying to drink myself to death and likely failing at that, too." He stands to give Th'ero a manly handshake-hug-pat before sinking back down into his seat to brood.

Th'ero nods his head in agreement to most of Zi'on's statements, a ghost of a smile coming forth at the mention of the party. That vanishes though when the younger bronzerider takes on a rather morbid mood. So when he goes to clasp Zi'on's arm in farewell, it's likely his grip is tighter then usual. "That won't solve anything," he says sternly, "And neither will hiding. Trust me, I tried. Best to face it head on or find something practical," — and not self-destructive — "To distract yourself with. Keep your friends close." Hoping that advice will help somewhat, Th'ero gives a parting farewell nod before stepping away. "Keep us informed and luck to you all." With that, the Fortian Weyrleader slips out of the lodge and strides quickly enough to meet with Velokraeth.

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.