Anytime You Want

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 supposed to be spring, isn't it? Then what's with the incessant snowfall? There's such cloud cover over Fort this afternoon now that the snow is coming down in light, if everpresent, droves. There's no wind, so it isn't all that /cold/, but it keeps on snowing. This has resulted in the Gemstone having a crowd earlier in the day than usual, though they all appear to want to eat and sit by the fire rather than drinking anything from the bar. Inyri, therefore, does an occasional round of the place but is mostly just lingering behind the bar, waiting to see if anyone needs anything. The floor is wet in a variety of different places, as a result of tracked snow, and the band hasn't gone on yet for the night.

Ezra slips in from outside, shoulders hunched and slouching. There is a change in the boy, though. His jacket has changed…a bit. It's still the same black, turquoise and copper hued coat that Th'ero had made for him, but now there as been an additional color in place along all the seams. Pink. Bright, bright pink. But at least the jacket fits again…right? Hair across his face, the boy shuffles towards the bar, while Zoi bounds in after him, her floppy paws and growing limbs as awkward and gangly as the boy himself.

"Ezra!" Inyri looks glad to see him, and Durahiko slinks out from where he's been napping behind the bar when he catches the scent of Zoi on the air. One canine veritably tackles the other, while the other human thankfully does not do the same thing — rather, Inyri /stays/ behind the bar, but she's already putting something in a glass (it's orange; the something, not the glass) without even asking Ezra if he wants a drink. "Just the guy I was going to come find soon if you didn't come in. Here, try this." The drink is a little pulpy, and room temperature; another nonalcoholic fruit blend of some sort.

Ezra looks up sharply, blinking in surprise at Inyri's tone. "Um. Hi," he mutters, glancing around to see if anyone else is watching. Zoi gives a happy bark and starts to tussle with her brother, rolling around on the floor. Reaching out, Ezra hesitantly picks up the glass and stares at it. "What is it?" he asks, but since he actually has some measure of trust in Inyri, he takes a small sip without waiting for her answer.

Thankfully, no one else walks in then or gets up from the fire or the table, and so there are no injuries resulting from wrassling canines taking up space. So long as they don't knock over furniture, Inyri will pretend not to notice. "It's a Southern fruit, pulped, with a little bit of local berry added to it. I've gotten three 'this is goods' and one 'ew' and nothing in between. It might be kind of like pale ale, some like it and some don't. Can't be an acquired taste because I just made it up. I actually wanted to see you because I've sort of got some news, though," she adds, dropping her tone — and herself, leaning down a little.

Ezra takes another sip and nods a little bit. "I like fruit," he admits. "We didn't have lots of fresh fruit in Stonehaven. So this is yummy to me." Then he glances up, pale eyes visible through his sandy blonde hair. "News?"

"There's been this guy in a couple-three times," Inyri says, pushing a little bit of her own hair away from her face; a few stray waves from the front. "Trying to talk people up into joining a cothold. Crafters, mostly. Won't give the lowdown on where said cothold is." This is what she told the Weyrleader and his weyrmate as well, of course, though watered down on the details. What she elaborates on for Ezra is what she left out to them: an opinion. "He was so showy about it, though, at times, I feel like maybe he wanted somebody to notice it was weird. So if it's related to Laris, it's either a trap or a guy who's trying to defect and bring everything down. Oh, did you actually want to order something? You probably didn't just come in here to listen to me talk."

Actually, he kind of /did/ just come in here to listen to her talk, but he doesn't say that. He just shrugs. "Oh, uh, yeah." Digging into his jacket pocket, he comes up with a quarter mark and puts it on the bar. "Something to eat." Pause, and then the ever-there, "Please." Then he sits up straighter, his look intense as he leans forward. "Who is he? I want to join."

"Anything at all?" Inyri smiles, quirking her head to the side a moment, attempting to prompt a more detailed order — though she has been known to recommend things to people or just surprise them at times, just like the drink. Answering the second question comes easier, while she lets Ezra think: "I didn't actually get a name, and haven't seen him in —" Beat. She stares at him, looking a tiny bit lost. "What?"

Ezra shrugs, pushing the quarter mark closer. "Whatever that'll get," he mumbles. It's not a lot of money and he knows it, and is to embarrassed to ask for a menu only to pick the cheapest thing on there. Then he looks at her, pale green eyes intensifying once more. "I want to join. So I can find Laris. So I can kill him." And it's said so flatly, so…without emotion or inflection, it might sound rather creepy coming from a twelve turn old boy. But he doesn't hesitate.

It's off-putting, that's for sure, and Inyri looks — shaken, to the core, for a moment, before she forces her usual customer-service shields back up around herself. She stands up a little closer, takes a slow breath in and out again, and takes the quarter mark. She looks distracted by it for a moment, running her finger along the edge, before she says, "I will be right back," and heads to the kitchen, where she has a moment to further regain her composure before returning with a heaping bowl of beef vegetable soup. "I hope you like this," she says, as she places it down in front of him. "I do. And Durahiko does, actually." Is she dropping the topic of his killing Laris? No. She's just waiting for the feedback on the soup first.

Ezra settles back into his chair when she leaves, rubbing his forehead with his fingers and glancing down to watch the canines play. When she returns, he looks up again and eyes eagerly look at the stew. He's like a boy again, reaching for it and digging in so fast that he burns his mouth a bit. "ooot," he mumbles, "bu if'ss good," he adds, shoveling it in as is his usual way.

Whether she'd gotten the brief break to collect herself or not, Inyri's look would still be softening right now. It's a much more sisterly, or perhaps maternal, smile that Ezra gets as she crosses her arms, leans sideways against the bar and watches him eat for a bit. "Glad you like it! I mean, I didn't make it, but still — Some people offer to put an ice cube in it to cool it off, but that absolutely waters down the taste and so I don't think it's worth it. I can get you water to /drink/, though, something cooler than the juice." A beat, and then she forces herself to address the former topic again in a softer tone, "It changes you, killing people. It turns you darker. I don't know if you'd feel as good about it as you think you will. Even if I understand — no, I don't /understand/, but I /get/, why you want to."

Ezra pauses when he's part way through the stew, to let it settle in his belly for a moment. He glances up at her, and then away, but then he looks back. "I know it would," he says quietly. "But I'm the only Stonehaven left. That's my home. And I need to avenge it. And that means Laris has to die." But now…he does look a little nervous, fidgeting on the stool. "Just…hope I have the stomach for it," he mumbles, admitting a secret and a fear.

Inyri reaches out to touch his arm for a moment, gentle and — still, if not understanding, showing a willingness to at least listen and try to relate. Hopefully he lets her touch him, as she seems to think it'll actually help. "That's a rough deal," she tells him, still in a softer voice, meant for a certain level of intimacy and perhaps, even trust. "And I'm sure the world will see no loss in having him gone. I'm not sure if the law actually works that way, though I know executions are legal, and it might be seen as justifiable in your case …"

Ezra's arm twitches beneath her touch, but he doesn't draw away. He does stiffen though, watching her closely. Then he shakes his head. "Don't want to be the one to…like…formally kill him. I want to sneak into his tent and slit his throat or somethin'." Vigilante justice. The boy isn't even thinking about a capture and trial of Laris.

Her hand doesn't linger long; only for a moment, before she draws it away, slow and even and not at all off-put by his reaction (at least, not visibly; whether she is or not is another question). Inyri looks even more thoughtful for a moment, brow drawn, before she makes the bold suggestion of: "If he gets caught before you get the chance, though?"

Ezra shrugs, "I don't know, then," he admits, taking up his spoon to eat more soup. The good thing about soup is that none of it goes to his pockets. He learned /that/ lesson the hard way, early on.

"Clearly, you don't have to." Inyri takes advantage of the lack of customers and the plenty of the tap to serve herself and Ezra both glasses of water, which barely even requires moving. She just ends up leaning against the bar again in nearly the exact same position she had been, except that instead of having her arms crossed one's against the bar and one's holding her glass. "Cool off your tongue a little, if you want. Water's free — and water's free for everyone, so don't suspect I'm giving you charity." She probably gave him a bigger bowl of soup than he paid for, though.

Ezra sips the water and nods, and then he's back to the stew. Then he shrugs. "I just want him dead. I want…" But then he trails off, shaking his head and tilting it forward so his hair swings down into that curtain.

"I know," Inyri offers reassurance in her tone; /what/ exactly she's reassuring him of is anyone's guess. Maybe it's just that she cares. It seems like he needs to hear that, at least. "You can talk to me about anything, you know?" she adds, head tilting a little bit again. "I'm a good listener. And good with secrets, like I said." Nobody told her /not/ to tell Ezra about the recruiter! "I don't think it's a good idea for you to try to /join/ Laris' band, though; he might recognize you. And —" She's grasping at straws for something that will work, here. "You should probably finish growing, before you go killing someone."

Ezra moves his head a bit to peer at her through his hair. "I want to join," he says firmly. "He never saw me. No one knew I was there. That's how I survived." It's taken him a long time to admit that without some sort of nervous twitch or stutter. He continues to look at her, and then blurts out, "Are you and Edani dating?"

Inyri can't protest Ezra's determination to join Laris' band anymore, because she's too busy staring at him and letting out a single bark of a laugh. "What?" Shaking her head a little, she sets her glass of water down on the bar and looks back at him, the laugh playing down into a smile that looks, if anything, a bit confused. "I hadn't heard that one about me before," she admits. "No. I'm not dating anyone! I think he's my friend, though."

Ezra looks visibly relieved, though he tries to hide it as he takes another bite of his stew. "Oh." The 'good' goes without saying.

"Did someone say I was?" Inyri presses, because she's meant to be the collector of any and all gossip around here, and if something's going around about her, she should really have already heard it! "You don't have to tell me who, or anything. Just. No. I'm not dating anyone." Maybe she's caught on to the fact that it was going to upset him if she were, because she chooses not to add that she doesn't, really, date.

Ezra shakes his head. "No, I just saw…and I thought…but then he was with that mean lady…" He shrugs.

"Who, Zee? Yeah." Rolling her shoulders into a shrug, Inyri takes another sip of her drink. "I mean, no — they're not /together/, he just bought her a drink. I mean, if they are together, I don't know about it yet and that's not likely to be something that happens; people getting together, especially people I know, is something I'm likely to have heard about by now. I don't think he's seeing anyone either. But I'm definitely not. He might've been flirting with me a little, sometime when you were around; I /honestly/ don't remember."

Ezra shrugs again a bit, sipping his water. Then he clears his throat a little bit. "Um. Could…I…buy you a drink…sometime…?" He mumbles this while hiding behind his curtain of hair, staring down at his stew. And the 'sometime' is very important, since he spent his only quarter mark on this bowl of stew.

Inyri melts into a puddle, then. Oh, wait, no, that's in her head. Despite the fact she doesn't date, she sees this as somehow a million levels of different, and so she grins widely at him (unable to help herself, because she thinks he's just the most adorable thing on Pern right now) and says, "Anytime you want."

Ezra looks up, his hair falling to either side of his face so he can see her, and his expression is both incredulous and filled with a childish joy. "Really?" he whispers, awed as if he can't believe it.

"Well. Yes," Inyri replies, going back to the leaning-with-arms-crossed position she had perfected earlier. "I see no reason why not. Why would I say no?" Maybe she shouldn't have asked that, but it fell out of her mouth before she got a chance to really consider what she was saying.

Ezra shrugs, "I dunno," he mutters. He has plenty of reasons in his head though! He's just a kid, he is weird, he has strange habits and he just admitted to wanting to kill a man - and that's just for starters. "I will, though," he says, looking up at her again. "Buy you a drink." Now he just has to earn more marks. And find out how much drinks cost. He won't ask her that, though. He needs to talk to Edani. Now that the older man isn't a threat.

It's the kind of wanting to kill a man that doesn't actively scare Inyri off him, though. Make her a little concerned, maybe! And in her head, that's all the more reason to say yes to him — she's not even considering what people will say about her when they find out she let a twelve turn old take her on a date. /She/ doesn't see a problem. She does, maybe, complicate things a little when she volunteers: "It's my turnday tomorrow, I should probably tell you so you don't find out later and feel guilty for not wishing me a happy one, as people often do, and then get cross at me for not mentioning it. Not that I would expect that drink so soon! But — there's really no way that /isn't/ awkward to mention to someone you've known less than a turn that oh, by the way, my turnday's real soon. So there it is out of the way."

Ezra looks up at her and blinks. "T…tomorrow. I'll…I'll buy you a drink on your turnday, then," he says, and as he speaks his voice gets more firm as he stubbornly puts that date in his mind. Actual date. Tomorrow. Shards, how's he going to get the marks by tomorrow?

At least Inyri has a quick fix, though it may not be a truthful one: "Aw, you don't need to. I drink for free here on my turnday; Koren's a doll." She compliments her boss often enough it's possible that it really is true, though. "But you're welcome to come in and keep me company. I figured I'd just make everyone here celebrate with me. Bribe a baker for a cake, or something."

Ezra shifts a little bit on his stool, shoulders relaxing slightly. "Okay…so…I'll just come by then…and we'll do the drink later…" Fumbling, awkward…poor boy.

"Yes, I'd love it if you did." Inyri grins. How much of it has to do with her personally and how much of it has to do with the fact she just wants to see him having fun? Who knows. She likely even doesn't, but that's not holding her back from saying it anyway. "Hopefully the cake thing works out, but there'll be free drinks for anyone I say gets 'em. Maybe no alcohol for you, though."

Ezra blushes behind his curtain of hair when she says she'd love it if he came. This is dangerous territory, Inyri. Tread lightly on the poor boy's heart. Then he looks up with a frown. "Why not?"

Inyri is not always the most cautious with people, but she does appear to at least be trying. Or, at this point, to be naturally not-trying and merely having an enjoyable conversation. "I /think/ the lower age limit's fourteen," she guesses, with a much smaller shrug. "This has come up, like, fifteen-sixteen times since I started working here and I never actually got a proper clarification! I'll have to bother Koren /again/ about it — you don't seem to be much of a drinker, though, I've never seen you even try to order any."

Ezra shrugs, "'cuz I knew I couldn't get any, and it's expensive," he mutters. "But I wanna try it. Mom never let us." An odd expression crosses his face, and then he's scraping the bottom of the bowl with the spoon, going for the last dregs.

"Oh, well, in /that/ case," Inyri's face forms a slightly more devious expression, the tiny little echo of a grin, tied with a glint in her eyes. "I'll just give you a single shotglass, if you want. See how you handle it." A shotglass filled with a light ale, maybe, but it's still a shot!

Ezra grins impishly at her, and there's gratefulness plain in his gaze. "Thank you."

It's a quick fix of a drink, because the ale's on tap — Inyri picks the lightest, lowest alcohol content drink she has, though it still has the tangy taste of some of the other ales from its originating area. Filling a shotglass with ale takes a little bit of effort, as the tap's a bit /faster/ than she would hope, and so a little makes it onto the floor, but in a moment's notice she's got Ezra a shot fixed up. "Crom ale," she tells him, proudly, presenting it with a tad of a flourish. Enough of a flourish to be emphatic, but not to spill.

Ezra didn't think it'd be /now/, so he really perks up when the shot is filled and offered. Reaching out, he gently takes it between his fingers, lifting it to study it in the light. "Nice color," he says, which is something he's just heard other people say, and is repeating. Good thing she didn't give him wine, or else he'd be trying to swirl it and making a mess. Lifting the rim to his lips, he takes a little sip and grimaces, coughs, sets the shot down and then beams at her. "Good!" Liar.

Inyri looks impressed; whether she believes Ezra's assessment of ale is born of skill, or if she's impressed with his ability to mimic what other people do is anyone's guess. "Glad you like it," she plays along, smile more casual now. "Just don't /tell/ anyone, in case I really wasn't supposed to do that." She's not supposed to give out free drinks, either, though testers that she's made are fair game; the juice was okay, the ale — well, how does one even charge for a shot glass full of ale? "Our secret."

Ezra beams at her as he takes another little sip. "Our secret," he says, pale green eyes gleaming with mischief and mirth, and genuine happiness.

"Thank you for saving my job in advance," Inyri replies, swirling her glass of water as if someone might, in fact, swirl a glass of wine. "Because I don't honestly know what /else/ I'd do."

Ezra tilts his head as he looks at her. "Really? You don't have anything else? Like a craft or something? All the kids in my lessons know what they want to do. Herivna's already been accepted to Harper Hall." He says it with a frown, as if judging her for that.

Inyri holds up her hands a bit in her own defense and says, "Me? No. No, I grew up in a tavern — mixing drinks is pretty much my craft. I invent 'em. But I'm no vintner, because I don't know how to make the bases of anything, just mixes and blends. And juices, I guess, but. That's it. I come from a fishing hold; I know how to boat and how to be a waitress and a barkeep. I can't even fish, honestly. Terrible at it." She laughs a little, self-deprecating but only barely. "Lost interest in buying me that drink, now?"

Ezra blinks at her, baffled. "Why would I? I said I'd buy you a drink and I will! I'll get the marks somewhere." That comes out before he can stop it, stubborn pride and all. He even sits up straighter, sticking out his chest a bit.

"Well, I'm not all that impressive. No craft, no skills other than service." Not that Inyri thinks service is a bad thing! She almost seems proud of the fact she has no other skills. "I am good for essentially just what I'm doing. Plus I can get a boat across a lake, and I'm a good dancer and a good ice skater. The latter two are — not really workable skills."

Ezra is glad she doesn't talk to him about marks, and lets that little slip of his slide. But he's about to let another one drop in typical pre-teen can't think before he speaks fashion. "You're pretty," he says quickly when she says she isn't impressive. "I can't do anything," he adds with a sulk. And he sips his tiny beer, to add to the melancholy of the statement.

Inyri pretty much never thinks before she speaks /either/, so he's at least in good company. She only thinks about it when dealing with people considered important enough to make her life miserable if she says the wrong thing. "I'm sure you can do things. And I'm sure there are things you're great at that you haven't found yet, either. And thank you," she remembers to add, after a split second's hesitation.

Ezra shrugs, ducking his head to stare into his shot glass, hair covering his face again. "I was gonna live in Stonehaven. Mine, and learn to carve, and do mason work…but I suck at carving and the Smiths won't teach me unless I apprentice and I don't want to apprentice with anyone." He squirms on his seat.

"Why not?" Inyri, ever nosy, asks as she pours /herself/ a glass of that juice from a pitcher she's been keeping under the bar, filled with ice. "Not that it's a bad thing not to want to apprentice — it certainly never crossed my mind. My youngest siblings might do some kind of craft thing, but the older ones and I were always just tavern brats."

Ezra shakes his head. "I don't wanna be told what to do. Don't wanna sleep with other people, or go to classes all the time, or…any of that stuff. I've got my own room here. With a door. That /locks/." That's important.

Inyri, technically, doesn't have her own room. But she'll confess to him: "I've got a spot in the caverns at the Weyr proper, but I usually sleep here. In the spare bedroom upstairs. Because nobody ever tells me not to. It's not really my room, though; I've just got access to the key. The dorms continue to weird me out. I didn't have my /own/ room at home for very long, but I only had to share with Aifric."

Ezra shakes his head. "I shared a room with my brother," he admits, his voice tightening for a moment. "I didn't mind at all. I liked it. But now I don't want anyone sleeping near me." Then he looks up. "Who's Aifric?"

"My sister," Inyri tells him, careful to make sure she doesn't say 'little,' for Aifric is — if barely — still older than Ezra. "I miss her, some. But I write a lot, and hey. /She's/ got her own room now, because I left, and she has been unsubtle enough to confess to me that she loves it by herself."

Ezra smiles a little bit, shaking his head. "I wish my brother would come share my room with me." He finishes his 'beer' and sets the glass down. Booze makes him chatty, apparently - even in tiny amounts.

"Maybe he will, someday." Inyri always holds out hope. That's her style, though she's gentle about pushing it. "You never know, after all." They only get to talk for a few more minutes, though, before the rush begins anew — it's nearly /proper/ dinner time, after all, and the snow's not stopping! — and Inyri's got to go tend to about a thousand different customers.

When other folks begin to file in and Inyri has to move off and do her job, Ezra slips down off the stool, calls Zoi to his side, and slouches his way out the door without looking back. Okay, maybe one *little* look back. But then he's gone.


'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.

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