Fort Weyr - Gemstone Tavern

The dim lighting by the flicker of candles lining the walls is enough to offer a view of a room decorated in such a way as to be tastefully appealing. Each piece of furniture and decoration is chosen to accent another piece, and so on and so forth, matching and tying the whole room together in a theme that's separate, and yet at the same time unified. Tables line one wall, dimly lit by candles hanging in sconces all along. The bar along the far right wall is made of richly toned mahogany, tooled by a master and polished to shine with the soft glow of wood at its finest.
Candles strategically placed add to the atmosphere, accenting, punctuating. Towards the back is an open fireplace, constantly burning with a bright light, warming the tavern on cold nights and serving as a gathering place for patrons' story-tellings. Across the room, lush pillows and soft-covered floors promote relaxation at ease. Just before the pillows is a long stage, so full of its own vigor and memory - nicks here, marks there, scuffs from footware and other things - that it's possible to imagine the shows put on for the patrons without necessarily seeing the performances.

For the usual mayhem that is the Gemstone evenings, this is a pretty quiet night. Back on shift after having bathed the dog from their lake encounters earlier in the day, Inyri is actually /sitting/ up on the bar, legs dangling down the back. She's bored. Every now and then someone asks her for a glass of water or a beer, but for the most part people are sitting at tables eating and not fussing much. There's a band playing in the corner that has some of the diners' attention. Nothing rowdy is going on. Every now and then Inyri walks a circle around, checking to make sure everyone's situated well, but for the most part she's spending her time perched atop the bar, waiting.

There is another sort of mayhem going on and one that Th'ero is all too happy to escape from the first second he finds. Does he escape to quiet though? Of course not. He goes to find (or make) more mayhem, unintentionally of course, but the Weyrleader is a man sworn to duty and honor and he has not forgotten a certain barmaid despite that evening ending on a rather high and heated note. As he steps inside, he pauses by the doorway again simply to survey the tavern, ignoring any looks sent his way from the few patrons. As Inyri is perched rather obviously atop the bar, Th'ero does not hesitate in approaching her and likely just from his straight forwards behavior it's obvious that he comes not so much for casual pleasure and idle talk but business. His mood is hard to read, his expression carefully schooled to one of neutrality, somewhat aloof but not completely cold and closed off to be worrisome — not yet anyways. "Evening," he drawls in his usual low voice, tone accented as he comes to a stop just aside from one of the stools lining the barside. "Slow night?"

The entrance of the Weyrleader is definitely the kind of serious business that could get Inyri in trouble for doing things like, say, sitting on the bar, so she's quick to jump off and land gracefully behind the bar, shooting Th'ero a quick beam of a smile; the type that says 'that never happened' only slightly, and 'effusive greeting' quite a bit more, showing bright eyes and white teeth. "Evening, Weyrleader," she says, brushing off the front of her apron just slightly. "It is, actually, yes. Strangely enough. Must be the clear spot in the weather — get you something?"

"Right away," Inyri says, moving swiftly to mix the drink — it's a distraction, enough that she doesn't need to fuss too much about how it's quiet. Her canine's fallen asleep behind the bar, it's so quiet; she gives him a tiny little smile as she notices him while getting Th'ero's drink together. When she's finished with it, she extends it out to him and answers more properly, "Of course, sir. You can step back into the staff lounge with me for a minute if you like; it's nothing much, just a little room off the kitchen, but nobody'll listen to anything that's said, that I can promise." Evidently she trusts her co-workers. Two of whom are definitely staring; Inyri waves a 'shoo' hand at them and they go back to washing dishes.

Th'ero waits patiently and quietly, a slight frown creasing his brow as he watches Inyri move away to fetch his requested drink. There's no smile or witty, friendly banter from the man, only his usual brisk manner that borders on awkward. He's still young as most Weyrleader's go, even if he's had the knot three consecutive times now over the last five or so Turns. When she returns and extends the glass, he reaches to politely take it within his grasp and then shift his gaze from barmaid to the direction of the offered staff lounge. "That will work just fine," he agrees, ignoring the other two for their obvious staring. Even so, once Inyri leads the way and Th'ero follows (wine in hand of course), he'll have his brown firelizard perch outside the door and given the brown looks much like a tunnel-snake with wings, well… he makes an excellent deterrent when hovering menacingly.

Well, the rest of the staff aren't going to be taking breaks for the foreseeable future, that's for sure. Inyri makes a 'follow me' gesture with her arm extended, then slips off into the staff lounge, Weyrleader in tow. And isn't that a fine thing for her to be doing, leading the Weyrleader around? She might be holding her head ever-so-slightly higher. Once they're in private, though, she sets to talking without waiting for pleasantries. "I'm betting you're here about what I said the other day," she says, "and so I'll just get to it — I was told the Weyrleaders wanted to hear if anybody heard about someone trying to get people to, uh, join some new cothold somewhere, without much specific as to /where/?" She's standing a bit rigid, shoulders pinned, teeth grazing her bottom lip just once after she's done talking.

It will be a one time chance, that's for certain as Th'ero usually is not one to be led. Granted, he only follows because logically it makes sense for Inyri to lead the way and well… it's the polite thing to do. As she gets right to the issue that brought him here and tucked away alone into the staff lounge with her, the Weyrleader listens with attentive and respectful silence. Inwardly, he likely has some respect for the girl for her forwardness and lack of beating around the bush when it comes to important news. He's likely had his fill of subtle games and cryptic discussions lately, so her straightforwards lay out of the details is refreshing to say the least, despite the grim and dire implications. "You were told correctly," Th'ero says after a considerable pause once she's finished, gaze lingering on her with a studious and long look. His brows knit together again and his mouth sets itself into a thin line as he mulls over the shared information. He doesn't seem to notice her biting her lower lip or her rigid stance and asks simply in a firm tone, "How long ago? Was it one lone recruiter or were they a group?"

If there's one thing Inyri can be counted on to do, it's get to the point — beating around the bush has never been her thing. Readjusting to leaning against the wall, arms crossed, she continues on. "Just the one. Tall man, shaggy brown hair, extremely charming sort of manner. Touched women on the arm and such when he was trying to get them interested. Only seemed interested in people who were wearing craft ranks or looked particularly capable." She takes a breath, eyes squinting slightly, looking toward the ceiling. Remembering. "The first time was on the nineteenth of last month; I'm sorry it took us so long to get in touch with each other! I kept getting bogged down with work. He did end up asking /me/, back then, and keeps coming in to try to rope more people and ask me if I want in. I said I'd think about it," she adds, voice taking on a cadence of nerves, "in case I might be able to — be of some help. Sir."

And he doesn't even have to press her for descriptions! Th'ero gives her another long look as she continues from where he stands in the one corner with his back to the wall but a convenient clear view of both the door and Inyri. He's ever cautious and despite the barmaid's help and innocent enough appearance, he's suspicious of all folk, even if behind Fortian walls and he's not about to have his back turned to anything really. He makes a low, thoughtful sound, grimacing as her news seems to match all the right signs and his concern grows. Not that he shows it, save for the way he frowns down at the wine glass in his hand, hardly touched. "I take it the man wore no knot then? Or gave a name?" Never mind that name may be fake and Th'ero knows it, but he asks all the same. He waves off her apology with his free hand, glancing up to give her the faintest of smiles that edges on looking strained. "You did what you could. At least it's reaching my ears now rather then never." As she goes on to mention the strange man trying to recruit her, Th'ero gives her a heavy frown and sharper glance. "It'd probably be best that you do not mix yourself with them." he warns and then adds in a quieter voice, as if to take the edge of his previous brisk remark. "It is better if you were to remain where you are now and avoid… accepting anything from this man or any other, women too. In fact, you have done well in keeping your memory sharp on the details." He pauses for a moment, finally lifting his wine glass up to take a slow sip before he's grilling her again. It's a test and obvious enough from the string of questions he throws at her, abrupt and without warning. How often do they come by? What Crafts did they seem particularily interest it or skills? Were they well spoken? How did most folk react? And so on. All detailed orientated, from major to minor.

Inyri holds still and listens, eyes slightly wide, expression set in an unemotional vague line as Th'ero talks. Every now and then she nods, as if the gesture itself is an aid to her processing information, and she's sizing up his body language. As she's questioned, she answers, "No name, and no knot. Of course." As if she has so much experience with underhanded dealings as all that. "Well, they've come by a few times," she begins, and then she's got an answer for just about every question thrown at her — just about, anyway. One or two her regularly-snappy memory might falter. Eventually, once Th'ero has either run out of questions or is at least taking a breather, Inyri adds, "Want me to just write all this down, next time one of 'em comes in? Or I could send a firelizard for you."

Th'ero relents, once Inyri's memory falters and his silence could be assumed as a good thing, though the Weyrleader keeps his true opinions well hidden still and his responses come only in the form of a brisk, stiff nod or thoughtful frown. But he is satisfied with her skill, if it could be called that and the hint comes in how his shoulder's minutely drop, some of the tension easing back and how he takes another sip of his wine, now that he is done scrutinizing her. "If you could write it down and report by that means, that would be greatly appreciated. Not to mention helpful," he murmurs without realizing what that simple sentence implies until it's too late. By then though, he can only silently curse himself while giving Inyri another glance and then he takes on a look of a man suddenly dawning on an idea. Without excusing himself, his gaze drops and takes on that familiar look all riders get when conversing with their dragons. It takes only a matter of seconds and then he's glancing up again as though nothing was amiss. "I've asked another to join us. You can trust her, but I want you to tell her all that you told me. Do you understand?" Th'ero tells her in a level and firm tone. It's not quite a command, but it's not like she can easily back out of it either. Should she agree, there will hopefully only be a short pause of silence, awkward and tense as the Weyrleader makes no effort in any idle talk, simply mulling his thoughts over his wine and occasionally glancing to Inyri, as if to monitor her mood or movements and with his back still to the corner of the room just by the door.

"Yes," is Inyri's near-instantaneous response, accompanied by a single, curt but serious nod. One hand goes to her apron pocket, where she's making sure she still has pen and paper, just in case. Then she falls into silence, watching Th'ero and the door. Her facial expressions are doing their best to remain constant, though to Th'ero's close eye it may be very clear that an undercurrent of nerves and stress run beneath that otherwise emotion-free, silent glance.

Doot doot doot. It's a good ten minutes or so before Kimmila steps in, pulling off her helmet and letting messy, tangled hair fall around her shoulders. Thumping her helmet somewhere convenient, her gloves follow and she grins, exhaling. "Thank you for getting me out of drills. Most boring thing ever," she bemoans, flopping into a chair or onto a desk - whatever is around and that she can find. "What's up, Wingmate?" she asks, glancing at Th'ero and then to Inyri, giving the woman a little nod.

Th'ero does notice eventually, which is probably why he tries again to give a wan little smile towards Inyri though it comes off awfully forced. He's no less relaxed than she is and thankfully the wait will soon be over as Kimmila makes a rather punctual arrival. It's hard for the Weyrleader not to look relieved but he manages and as the Western bluerider makes herself comfortable, he snorts a little at her remark. "Glad to be of help," he replies dryly and with notable sarcasm. Standing a little straighter then, he is all formality it seems this night even though they're simply in the staff lounge of the tavern. "And thank you for coming so swiftly, Wingmate. I called because…" He drifts, aware too late that he never asked Inyri for her name and now has put himself into a very awkward (and slightly embarrassing) position. So he fumbles and then hastily picks up a new line to make up for his blunder. "It seems as though we've had some suspicious visitors lately. Recruiters." It's said almost as if a codeword towards Kimmila, for the bluerider would know enough for a simple work like that to mean so much more. Now he looks pointedly towards Inyri and with his free hand, gestures for her to step in and retell her report.

Inyri is notoriously bad at introductions, except when she's serving people at a table, and then it comes along with a chirpy announcement that she'll be their server for that day. It doesn't dawn on her at first, and so before she gets to actually rectifying that matter, she talks. She explains the whole thing, from that a man came in asking after crafters and skilled workers, to that he was talking about a new cothold with vague geographic detail, to his appearance, the fact he was flirting with people, had no knot and — basically just about everything she'd told Th'ero, unless she managed to forget something. "Oh," she adds, at the end, "and I think I didn't say — I'm Inyri."

Kimmila sits up a bit straighter when Th'ero begins to speak, nodding a little bit. But when he says the word 'recruiters', her eyes narrow sharply and her posture stiffens slightly. Sitting now on the edge of her chair, she gives Inyri her full and undivided attention. Which might be a little unnerving. "Kimmila," she says at the end. "He's Th'ero." The last is either habit or a lame attempt at humor. "So," she says, turning her green eyes back to look up at the Fortian Weyrleader. Though she doesn't finish her sentence - she just arches a brow.

Th'ero only nurses his wine while Inyri fills Kimmila in on the details, short as they are but important enough for him to drag the bluerider in from drills. He notes the change in her demeanor too, watching carefully but otherwise making no comment. At her attempt at humor, it only brings a crooked smirk from the Weyrleader, who looks too grim and serious to even chuckle at it. "Well met, Inyri. And well done." he says softly, draining the last of the wine and setting the glass down safely on some ledge or surface to be ignored and likely forgotten. "I'm afraid with those descriptions, these… recruiters could be anyone. They are notorious for blending in well, though I'm surprised that this one seems so… brazen." Anyone smell a trap? Th'ero certainly has that inkling. "It'd be… wise, I think, if we were somehow able to gather more, don't you agree Kimmila?" he drawls as he does begin to play the cryptic game, giving the bluerider a knowing look while glancing sidelong to Inyri. Maybe she'll get the hint too? It could be what he is waiting on, to see if the barmaid steps in or if he will formally make the offer in clear and certain terms.

The question isn't really if Inyri gets the hint — because her wavering, slightly cautious expression definitely indicates that she does — but whether or not she will actually step forward and claim any connection to the hint. She appears momentarily torn, eyes actually glancing down to her hand where she's resisting the urge to nervous-habit pick at her otherwise clean clear manicure."He was a terrible flirt," she does pipe up to say, "which seemed more like he was /trying/ to get people's attention —" Yes, Inyri, that is probably what the Weyrleader was getting at. Good job. "But I can keep an ear to the ground, if y'like." And there's the rest of it.

Kimmila gives Th'ero a long look, arching a brow slowly. Then she frowns, brows knitting, and glances over to Inyri. Her look this time is different, though. Sizing the woman up, from head to toe with a long, slow study. "Perhaps," she murmurs.

Ahh yes, there is the rest of it and Kimmila's judgment coming to pass soon afterwards. Poor Inyri is going to get the same studious look from Th'ero too, sizing the young girl and weighing the opitions. Eventually, the Weyrleader decides and now his expression mirrors the seriousness in his voice as he steps closer to the bluerider's side, still turned to face the barmaid as he drops the cryptic game. "Then, Inyri, do you agree to taking on the task? You do not need to engage them, if they return, beyond your normal duties. We ask only that you listen and observe and note down /everything/ you can. Even if it seems unimportant. You will then send it to me and I will see to it that the information is passed about where needed." he murmurs and then falls into a respectable silent pause to await Inyri's decision and likewise bracing for it, in case of her rejection to their offer.

At least Inyri does not look even /more/ stressed or nervous than she had been previously, even if under the scrutiny her head-up-high confidence act does falter a little. She nods, meanwhile nervously twining her fingers together and apart again, lacing in and out, playing a little with the tie on her apron. "Of course," is what she finally says, and her tone, at least, is confident enough — even if it does seem as if she is well aware how dangerous the job she is taking on might be. "I am happy to do that, Weyrleader, wingrider; I'm quite good at that kind of thing, really. Consider it as good as done."

Kimmila's green eyes flick between the bronzerider and the barmaid, and in the end she nods her head slightly. "Just be careful," she says quietly. "No matter how great the temptation, do /not/ go off alone with them. Even if he offers to show you the location of the camp," and her eyes flick briefly to Th'ero, and then back to Inyri, "do not go. Understand?" Even though she might not be the ranking rider here, she's talking as if she expects her orders to be followed.

Th'ero nods his head once Inyri accepts the offer and offering her a wan smile as the only outward sign that he is pleased by her response. One might question the Weyrleader's choice in using the barmaid as a undercover spy of sorts when he has plenty of Guards at hand or even trained riders and weyrfolk. Maybe their numbers are spread too thin? Or perhaps the bronzerider is one to take risks or non-conventional routes when he feels it's needed when no other options present themselves. Could be desperation too or outright foolishness on his part. Who knows. But what's certain is that Inyri has bound herself now, at least in Th'ero's eyes, to the task they've set. As Kimmila speaks up, he listens and to show his support for her, rank or not, he adds as he casts a quick but approving look towards the bluerider and then looks to Inyri once more. "What she says is very important and true. If they start to hone in on you or will not back down, shake them off if you can. Then report directly to us and if we're not available, then straight to the Weyrwoman or one of the goldriders. Even the Guards, if things turn bad too fast."

It doesn't take much in the way of rank to get Inyri to listen; just /act/ like you're authority, and odds are, she'll go with it. Which is why Kimmila's speech alone had her nodding again, expression grave and serious. "Yes'm," she reaffirms, with a tiny hint of a smile just around the edges. "And sir. I'll be very careful. Both with my notes /and/ what I say and who I speak to." Of course, now she can't resist asking, because she can /never/ resist asking: "What did happen, with that Zee girl, by the way? If I may ask. I only caught some of the fuss, I had to go off and deal with a messy table crowded full of messy /people/."

Kimmila nods her head, agreeing with Th'ero's words as well. At the mention of Zee, her lip curls a bit and she glances at Th'ero, looking to see if he'll speak up about it. She doesn't seem inclined to.

Th'ero doesn't seem inclined either to say much on the matter regarding Zapallie and the moment Inyri broaches the subject, the Weyrleader's mood turns and his expression closed off and guarded more than before. "She was spoken to, to determine if her claims were true or not." he says stiffly, skirting around the truth (which should be obvious, as most folk in the tavern at the time witnessed him all but hauling the girl off with his hand clamped on her shoulder). He cannot keep the gossip from happening, but he's going to do his best to keep from adding to it further. "There is little else to say on the matter." he adds with a finality to his tone. Seems it's not a topic for discussion and there's another awkward pause as Th'ero fails, at first, in bringing up anything else to offer and can only glance between Inyri and Kimmila with an almost expectant look.

"And that's all I'm gonna get," Inyri correctly surmises, with a bit more of a smile coming onto her previously timid facial expression. She unfolds her arms again, one making it into a pocket thoughtlessly, as if she moves simply to think, and her motion is only to keep her mind going. "And that is, of course, not just fine with me but reasonable, and I'm sure it doesn't really /matter/ to either of you if it's /actually/ fine with me, but I won't press." Instead she aims for the cheerier angle of the evening. "Another round? Something for you, ma'am?"

Kimmila glances from Th'ero to Inyri, and then back again. "I'm good, thanks," she says, slowly pushing to her feet. It's the start of a 'nice to see you, but we've got to go' gesture, but if the conversation suddenly takes a lurch forward, she'll pretend she was just standing to fix her hair. Smooth.

There is no apology given from Th'ero, as he feels he was only speaking the truth and at least being honest with Inyri, even if it came off as a bit harsh and, well… a complete conversation killer. "Thank you," he says when she does not press him or Kimmila further. The offer of a second round is tempting, the Weyrleader likely thirsting for some of that strong and wicked stout he favors in times like these but he simply shakes his head. "I'm afraid I will have to pass on that offer, as tempting as it is. Our thanks again, Inyri, for your willingness to help." And there is the cue, that things have indeed been concluded… for now at least. Th'ero begins to move for the door then, opening it and holding it to allow both Inyri and Kimmila to step through first, though he gives the barmaid one final nod of farewell before he too steps out and back into the main part of the tavern. True to his word, he does not linger to mingle and continues out back towards the Weyr at a brisk pace.

'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.