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.

It's the dinnertime hour — well, the dinnertime hours, really — at the Gemstone, and there are surprisingly few people sitting up at the bar. Tables are full of diners of various sorts, from riders to traders and everyone in-between; there are a couple of waiters working in addition to Inyri, who is lingering by the bar, not serving anyone. At the moment, she's pulling something that appears to be moving out of her apron pocket; closer assessment would prove that it is, in fact, a /very/ tiny green firelizard. As in, about two inches long. She's feeding a piece of dried /something/ to the green, and humming something under her breath. Hopefully her next customer isn't very stealthy and then very loud, or she might drop the poor creature!

Her next customer, in point of fact, heaves a loud, groan-filled sigh as soon as he slithers onto a barstool — not for him, those far-off tables made for more than one person at a time! Kazulen, also known as He Drinks Something Masculine But Very Sour And Makes At Best A Tolerable Marker For A Skating Race's Finish Line, when he isn't known as That Guard Over There, has been standing up for /far/ too long. His feet hurt. As far as he's concerned, he's going to come up with any and every excuse /not/ to stand up again /any/ time soon. Groan. Groaaaan. Beer?

He gets Inyri's attention well enough, at least; she cautiously sets the squirming little green back in the pocket with a 'shh, now,' and turns to fully face Kazulen, customer-pleasing smile on, eyes bright as she says, "You look absolutely awful. Usual?" If he wants something /else/, he'll have to actually speak. "And — what happened?" is asked, a little more softly, a little more curiously, than Inyri normally is.

"Sure," Kazulen groans, scrubbing at his face, then his hair, once his elbows are on the bar — end result, he's peeking up at her from a very strange angle, sort of halfway upside-down, his wrists locked together on top of his head. "Except with food, which isn't always usual. Food is nice. Did you know that someone ate my lunch instead of coming to relieve me today? It wasn't nice of him." Grump.

"Someone /ate/ your lunch? Instead of — coming to relieve you." Inyri talks as she drink-mixes, as is per usual, trying to keep as much of the good cheer in her voice as she can when she's actually mildly horrified by the behavior of other humans like that. "The same person. Took your food instead of your /shift/ and made you work double? That's — outrageous. Though I suppose," she continues, as a fresh, strong beer is placed before Kazulen's place on the bar, "the way things are," and her good cheer drops, just a little, "you can't really leave the post unmanned, so you're stuck. Sorry to hear. On the house, tonight." Or else, at least /that/ drink is.

"You," Kazulen enunciates clearly, after flat-out staring at Inyri long enough that it's becoming a possibility he hasn't even noticed his beer — his /beer/! — "are a /saint/." Does anyone know what saints are? Surely even in this era, Pern has kept /some/ sort of word for those who have done something that generous, kind, good, etc. etc. all of that. Maybe he called her a mensch, instead. Whatever. "/Thank/ you. You're my favorite, now. Especially if there's food attached?" He sounds a little pathetic, and guilt twinges him in the liver just strong enough that he admits, "It wasn't a /full/ second shift — someone did show up /eventually/. Because he was expecting to find me somewhere else. But still."

Inyri just eyes Kazulen thoughtfully, for a moment, a more personal smile than her generic crowd pleaser forming at the curve of her lip. "There's food," she says, and then pauses, dragging it on, "if you order it, and I really can't comp an entire meal. Especially not during a dinner rush." The band that's playing picks a rowdier song, but thankfully people are still /eating/ and not getting up and causing a ruckus. Inyri's stuck with an hours-old firelizard in her pocket and can't really put her somewhere else in the event of chaos, after all. "But you're welcome, anyway, and if you want the food? Order away, I'm listening."

"Something that isn't stew, or a sandwich?" Kazulen tries eventually, after cudgeling his brain into a semblance of working order. He also straightens, while he does this, with the end result of a very loud crack (or four) in his spine, and the resulting ow-that-feels-good expressions that accompany such. "With onions, if the spring ones are up, yet." That last is said in the wary tones of one who is well aware that the weather is variable enough they might have come up only to have died again. "And with tubers. And I have money." Duh, he doesn't say.

Wincing at the sound, Inyri saves face just as Kazulen actually /looks/ at her again, and assesses what he's requested with a slight tilt to her head before nodding. "I can't promise the onions," she tells him, sounding mildly apologetic and looking it, too. "Since as far as I know, they're not. So you want — meat? On a plate? With tubers?" He didn't actually specify meat, she's just guessing; it's a commonality between stew and sandwiches, after all. Maybe he /meant/ to specify meat!

"Ye-es," he manages around a yawn. "Meat. Made from meat. And tubers, /not/ made from meat. Bread. But not sandwiches!" That's obviously very important to him — almost as much as the gravy he's forgetting to ask about. What he really wants is meat loaf. Is that what he's going to get? Hopeful face? "I'll even share it with your new undersized bracelet, if you want."

"My —" Inyri pauses, halfway toward turning to the kitchen to call in an order; as a result, she's twisting to look back over her shoulder at Kazulen again. "Oh!" Impulses connect synapses of ideas, and she gets there, eventually. "The firelizard. I didn't know you'd noticed —" She sounds a bit concerned, though it's not likely Koren's going to mind. "I did just feed her, but she's a newborn, so she'll appreciate further scraps, I'm sure. Let me just get your order through." She turns back, then, and /properly/ places an order for — meat, on a plate, with tubers on the side, and bread.

"Don't forget to ask about the onions!" Kaz hollers, leeeeaning sideways on his barstool enough that he's invading the space of the guy two stools over. This results, predictably, in a minor scuffle, up until Kazulen Gently Reminds the other man that he /is/ wearing a knot of the Guard, and besides, if they go back to their beer peacefully, nobody will be invading /anyone's/ space anymore.

Hopefully, that's just what happens; the Inyri who returns doesn't look much different, but if one were to look closely, he'd see signs that she was considerably more harried than she had been /before/ she went into the kitchen. "No onions," she tells him, voice tinged with the vaguest of guilt. "Sorry. Koren says he can't make them grow, you know, so — we'll let you know when there /are/ some? And your food'll be twenty minutes. Will there be anything else?" She's tired. She's trying for the chipper anyway.

"Water with a raspberry-shrub chaser, a hot bath, a back massage, eighteen marks and a week off work, but if you can't handle all of those I'd settle for enough company to keep me from falling asleep before the food gets here." There's no way Kazulen actually stopped to /think/ about that — nowhere near enough time elapses between her question and his answer for that — but he seems sincere enough about it, anyway.

It was impressive enough that Inyri's jaw falls open, just ever-so-slightly. Just by a half-centimeter or so. "I — you — okay, I can do the first one," she rallies, rolling her eyes at him a little and fixing him a second and third drink. It's much faster, this time; water's really easy and the expensive imported fruit's kept handy! "And the last one, because I don't have any customers right now besides you." Beat. If he wants company — "Up for talking shop a little?" she asks, smile softening, eyebrows raising a hint; curiosity, not incredulosity.

Half of his water is gone before Kazulen's brain catches up to his ears, with the end result being his eyebrows going up as the glass comes down. He reaches for his shrub, which contrary to its name is a drink and not in fact a small bramble-y plant, and toys with its glass while he blinks a few times to clear his thoughts. "I'm not much of a bartender," he — hedges.

Is he trying to break a record getting eyerolls out of Inyri? Because that's the second in not /that/ much time. She leans against the bar, getting /almost/ but not quite into Kazulen's personal space, and says in a lower voice, "Not /my/ shop. Yours. Although I could use you as a tester," she confesses, smiling a little more intimately. Maybe if she's very friendly, and a little bit sweeter than usual, he'll tell her things. No? "I was just wondering, with all the increased security — has there been any /use/ of it? Because I hear all sorts of outlandish rumors," tiny shrug, "but I do hate to assume any of it's /true/."

"I don't mind testing things," Kazulen agrees, leaning forward juuuuuuuust enough to make it questionable as to whether he's being a manipulative little jerk or just a flirtatious punk. (A punk, of course, because he's too tired to carry through on it.) He grins, cocky and smug enough to override the tired for at least a /moment/. "There's always a use for security," he answers — in a low, sultry growl, to keep with the maybe-manipulative,-maybe-not,-definitely-flirtatious vibe he has going on. It's won out over 'lighthearted and carefree' for the moment.

That is definitely one definition of 'playing dirty,' though if it gets to Inyri (it does) she's doing a pretty good job of hiding it. "Really," she says, playing her lips up into what is more of a hint at a smirk than a hit at a smile, at this point, eyes picking up a particularly intrigued shine. "And what, exactly, is the /current/ use for security that's going on? I thought Laris was assumed far away, hmm?"

Kazulen's poker-face is related to his Guard On Duty face, and they both have gotten enough work over his turns in the Guard that he pointedly /doesn't/ flinch at the name, or let himself react at all. She might as well have said that Peter was assumed far away for all the weight he gives her words. But neither does he turn stone-faced; that would be just as much of a giveaway, really! He keeps smirking just the same, and leans in a hair's-breadth closer, moistening his lips just the faintest bit before murmuring quietly, "You have to know that there are a lot of people who like ensuring that they have — privacy — for certain — /conversations/. Whether or not handcuffs are involved."

"And just /where/," Inyri half-purrs, not backing off but not leaning closer, either — Kazulen probably has a good enough view of her chest already, really, though she never wears low-cut shirts, "are you going with —" Ding! That would be his food finished. This time Inyri's eyeroll is one of sincere frustration as she backs off, standing up straight and dropping her arms at her sides. "Be right back with your dinner!" she says in a much more customer-service, much more audible tone, turns on a heel and heads to the kitchen again.

Rattle. Clatter. Clink. There's a pair of handcuffs on the bar top, procured from who-knows-where, left right next to where Kazulen's lowball glass /had/ been sitting. Said glass is currently raised, as he sips and savors, and one of his eyebrows is raised, and he's talented enough to sip /and/ smirk /at the same time/! No comment.

When Inyri comes back with the plate, she's managed to completely calm down from the internal fluster that Kazulen had caused; she worked so hard not to externalize it, to keep her composure to the point of being irritating just to irritate him right back. The only emotions Inyri shows are the ones Inyri allows out, and normally, that's all of them, but when people are trying to get under her skin, she's doing her best to keep them outside it. The handcuffs, though, cause her to freeze, standing in front of him with the plate, eyes wide. "You are /unbelievable/," she sighs as she places his food down in front of him. "And you're not going to tell me a thing, are you?"

"I can honestly tell you that I was standing on a cliff for fourteen hours," Kazulen tells her dryly, ignoring the fact that his cuffs are on display (and we're not talking about the ones on his shirtsleeves). Those are just … strange napkin-holders, right? "It wasn't as cold as yesterday, but it was cloudier, which is nice, because I hate having sunburns."

Eyeroll record: set. "I stand corrected. You're going to tell me things that aren't related to what I asked. And that's all." Inyri is, at this point, standing in front of him, arms crossed in front of her chest, looking mildly impatient with him — like one might look at an errant child.

"On the contrary," Kazulen objects mildly, reaching for his tubers. "I'm answering the questions you're actually asking, which is more than I can say for a great many of my fellow guards. I'm not even particularly irked about it, although I will be if you don't get me a fork."

Oh, was that mention of a cliff a hint at actual information? Inyri — doesn't seem to be able to piece together what standing on a cliff for fourteen hours has to do with whether or not there have been any Laris-group sightings besides her own (though it's not like she told Kazulen about /those/, so fair's fair). "Their only use for you is to have you stand on a cliff for a /ridiculously/ long time, hmm? That's tragic," is her opinion, as she deftly (and primly, with a show made of the delicacy of every gesture) places a fork — on top of the handcuffs.

Kazulen nabs the fork with every evidence of appreciation, leaves the cuffs where they are, and digs into the Plate of Meat(tm). With relish, although not the kind made from pickles. The actual answer that Inyri isn't going to be able to get out of what he's said is: he was standing a watch, it /was/ ridiculously long, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with Laris. "Theoretically speaking, it means I'll get a replacement pair of boots out of the bargain soon enough," Kazulen answers, salutes her with the fork, and busily applies himself to his meal — just in time for the next wave of dinner-rush people to come crowding in, hollering orders for food and drinks and generalized chaos.

'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.