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.

If there was a window in this room it would show a beautiful, if very chilly, sunset outside. One full of colour and pazazz. But alas, the dim interior hides all of that, which is perhaps what the people inside were going for. Ha'ze has taken up a table far from the doorway and the activity of the bar and is quietly nursing a drink. He's not people watching today, just quietly, and slowly by the looks of the glass of water nearby, getting drunk.

Th'ero isn't supposed to go out far yet on his still mending leg. The cast is gone but he's rebuilding the loss muscle mass and the Healers asked that he "take it easy". Well, the Weyrleader tried that and now he's just about sick of it. Too long has he been cooped up in the Weyr and so he went for a walk. He'll get it later (probably from Kimmila) for his little act of "rebellion" but he needs a change of scenery. And what luck that his quarry for today is outside the Weyr but within reach? Chilled through, Th'ero steps inside and will gaze about the tavern until he spots his prey. Pausing only to order and wait upon some mulled spiced wine, he'll grab his glass, pay for it and then zero in on Ha'ze. Poor bronzerider never stood a chance. "Evening." he greets as he sits down across from him.

The sevens have taken their toll on Ha'ze. First the fires, Ustrr's brutal death, and Kainaesyth's injury. The trial. The sevens away from the Weyr itself, and then the time since returning. Each has added a brick on the young man's back and leaves an almost physical imprint on him. The drink in front of him is…. suppose to help, right? Ha'ze raises his almost black eyes to meet Th'ero's before they move back down to the solid wood of the table. "Weyrleader." His voice is subdued and even.

Th'ero is no master at interpreting people's moods and emotions but even he can sense something isn't quite right with the young bronzerider. Of course Ha'ze has never radiated sunshine and rainbows but even this seems out of character for him. Still, he's in no rush to push him and will quietly nurse a few sips of his drink before speaking again. "How is Kainaesyth coming along?" Nothing like the somewhat neutral territory of asking about one's dragon.

Ha'ze's drink makes a few more trips to his lips, with real drinks taken, before Ha'ze is quite ready to answer. "The healers have kicked him out of the infirmary so that he has to move more." Ha'ze evaluates the statement, his eyes staring at the liquid in his cup, before deciding that they were an adequate enough answer for the moment. Politeness demands a return how-is-your-leg question, but that kind of small talk is not quite on Ha'ze's to-do list. So instead he just drains the last of his drink, and reaches for his water.

"So he's improved then," Th'ero murmurs while keeping a curious eye on Ha'ze, taking note of the bronzerider's behaviour and the amount of drink consumed. "Can be Between?" he asks which is still within the realm of neutrality but edging more towards suspicious. This IS the Weyrleader after all and Faranth only knows what's going on in his head. That question could very well be purely innocent or double edged.

"Time does that." A dry observation from Ha'ze as he works his way through the water. It's a good base for the drink, and even though Ha'ze is working his way towards drunk, it'll take some time to get there. "Haven't tried. Hard to get him movin' in the winter regardless. Sir," nope, no sarcasm there, "was there somethin' you was needin?" the implied 'or can I get back to what I was doing' isn't quite voiced.

Th'ero smirks and dips his head slightly to Ha'ze's dry observation. Yes, time does many things! And — right, he forgot about Kainaesyth's peculiar aversion to winter. Not that he brings it up to the bronzerider and instead forges on. "In a matter of speaking, yes. Though I'm not so certain if it's I who is needing it or more for you." He's speaking in riddles again! His reason this time? Somehow starting things off with 'Abigail told me you're unhappy and now I have to fix it' is probably not a good way to broach the subject. So he'll go with something a little more… gentle. "With Ustrr gone, have you put much thought into what you'll do next? Will you be staying with Thunderbird as your Wing?"

It's really not a difficult question that Th'ero puts to Ha'ze, but from the length of time it takes the bronzrider to answer, one might think that it was the answer to life, the universe and everything. (42 btw.) His eyes lift up to Th'ero's. "Is this the polite way of seein' if I'm leavin'?"

And thanks for all the fish? "Not really," Th'ero answers readily enough and lifts his glass to sip at it almost casually if it weren't for the seriousness starting to edge its way into the conversation. Is Ha'ze sober enough for this? "More of what could help make you feel more comfortable in staying and yet not make you feel as though you're caged. While most riders adjust to the Wing structures and everything wrapped into it, there was one rider once who made me realize it's not for everyone." Guess who? A certain bluerider. "So I suppose this is more of an… offer? To talk, at least and try to work something out." If he bent the rules once, who's to say he can't do it again?

Hey, at least he is giving his drinking a base by matching it with water? Said glass of water makes its way to his lips. "Caged." He tests the word- it sounds like on that Kainaesyth would use. Tasting it, the bronzerider nods. "Caged. Lost. You know, all of Kainaesyth's stories have one thing in common— there is purpose in what people are doin' in 'em." Okay, maybe Ha'ze is a little drunk already?

'Caged' is a word he learned from his own weyrmate and Th'ero understands how some can react to that feeling, all thanks to her. "And you're feeling like you're lacking that purpose?" he asks as he tips that glass to his lips again and regards Ha'ze with a neutral but curious look.

Lashing out, running into burning fires, disappearing for weeks…. yup. Ha'ze opens his lips to speak when one of the lasses comes to their table to refill both of his glasses. Only once she walks away again does Ha'ze try again. "Kainaesyth 'n I don't fit within' the normal wing structure- even Thunderbird's. WAs different when it was just me. I could be makin' it work anywhere. But now I got to be thinkin' of him."

Th'ero isn't really expecting to drink so much but he won't stop or wave the lass off from refilling his glass. He may need a little drink in him to weather the tongue lashing he expects when they find out his "walk" has extended beyond the Weyr. Speaking of cages? Poor Weyrleader is getting stir crazy but he also had a reason to venture out to the tavern. Which is why he's siting with Ha'ze in the far corner while it gets darker and colder outside. "What if I could find you and Kainaesyth a purpose that would benefit the Weyr but not bind you to a Wing, per say? You'd still wear the badge but it's more for…" He pauses, finger tapping idly on the side of his glass. He's winging (ha ha) this, isn't he? "… appearances."

Fresh from her sweeps to the cotholds, Kimmila steps into the tavern and pauses by the entrance, though she's quick to close the door behind her. Scanning the area, she nods when she confirms that Th'ero is here, and begins the process of removing her riding jacket and walking to the bar to order herself a drink. She'll join them in a moment.

Ha'ze switches his work back to the more amber coloured liquid and lifts the glass to his lips. "I'd be willin' to at least listen." It's got to be better than feeling uncomfortable in his own skin? The flicker of movement near the door catches Ha'ze's gaze and holds it long enough for the bronzerider to identify Kimmila before looking back at Th'ero.

Th'ero's attention is more on Ha'ze than the door (which is at his back) and he does not notice Kimmila's arrival. His brows knit and he is silent as he mulls over his thoughts, added at times by a slow sip of his drink. "I guess to start is I have to know — is there anything of Thunderbird as a Wing you find appealing? Be it the Search and Rescue training or are you more inclined to the work of the policing side of things? Patrol sweeps, guard work, peace keeping, etc…?"

Kimmila gets her drink, pays for it, and wanders over to the table where the bronzeriders sit. "Mind another one?" she asks, putting a hand gently on Th'ero's shoulder and offering Ha'ze a slightly tired but still genuine smile.

Ha'ze taps his fingers against his drink at Th'ero's question. When Kimmila arrives he gains a reprieve from answering, and so , he freely doesn't. Instead he shrugs at Kimmila's question and applies himself to his drink.

Th'ero frowns at Ha'ze but his response is delayed as he looks up at Kimmila and lifts his free hand to cover hers as it rests on his shoulder. "Of course you can join us, Wingmate." he murmurs and hopes she doesn't take it personally if he doesn't get up and pull out a chair for her. He'll knock back a bit more of his wine and then he's eyeing Ha'ze again. "You'll have to give me something, Ha'ze. I don't know you well enough to assume that what I think is suitable for you as an alternative will be the right choice."

Kimmila pulls out her own chair and sits beside Th'ero, nodding over to Ha'ze. Ah, they're having /this/ discussion. "There are options for you, Ha'ze. Not every rider fits into the…mold." She certainly doesn't.

The discussion where Kimm gets on Th'ero's case for wandering when hurt would be interesting though. But, since Th'ero manages to keep it right on target. "I like wanderin'. Bein' able to be gone for a while wihout questions asked. Kainaesyth likes meetin' new people."

The lecture between Th'ero and his weyrmate about his "wandering" on his still mending leg will likely be saved for behind doors. He probably shouldn't be drinking either but… here he is! Nodding his head in agreement to what Kimmila shares with Ha'ze, he'll listen closely to the young bronzerider. "And yet Phoenix's diplomacy would be even more stifling to you. So to me, it seems, we need to, ah… creatively blend the duties of two Wings to form your duties." And yet place him in one as a 'ghost'. How complicated is that? Very. But it's these sort of puzzles that the Weyrleader enjoys (when he's not stressed out about arsonists and other matters).

This is the /fun/ stuff the Weyrleader gets to do. And he gets to do it because he's the Weyrleader, and Nyalle might be all :( over it but she can't do a thing because riders is the Weyrleader's job. So…nyah.

Stressing out over arsonists isn't fun? Huh, interesting. Th'ero gets a dry, DRY almost laugh from Ha'ze at the thought of trying to be diplomatic. "You got somethin' in mind?"

Even Th'ero knows better than to put Ha'ze in a purely diplomatic role. If he really wanted a laugh, he'd put Kimmila AND Ha'ze in that roll and watch the fireworks. "I might but it depends on you," Giving him straight answers. No more games or else he'll just go with what he figures will work and Ha'ze will have to suck it up and live with it. "With Kimmila already working with the cotholds in her pseudo-Wing position," Since Weyrthird is not a real thing! Neither is what Th'ero is about to propose. "But what if I happened to put you in a position, let's say, cloaked as 'Thunderbird Wingrider, policing sub-wing'…" He waves a hand divisively. Smoke cover! The real bit is… "But you're more in charge of seeing that men like Ustrr and Laris and his lot never get their hold in Fort's territory. Here in the north," Pause. "And south in Drake's lake." Nutshell: Ha'ze would be a ranger. Scout, guard (guardian?), spy… whichever term feels right at the time. Th'ero goes silent but he tilts his head in an almost patiently curious manner. Well?

Kimmila nods quietly as she listens and sips at her spiked hot cider. Ha'ze. Rogue. Guardian, /totally/. "Freedom," she adds quietly. "Wandering, camping, exploring, mapping…"

Ha'ze looks downward into his glass, as if, somehow, the answer would appear there. "Would Kainaesyth still be able to be helpin' with the harvests?" They've established that their bond is not the kind that requires them to be "close" to one another. The glass is lowered to the table as another question comes, "Would I be needin' to identify as a rider? Or could I be leavin' the knot off?"

Th'ero nods his head again to show his agreement with Kimmila's addition and he'll reach under the table to gently rest his hand against her thigh. Thanks. "If that is what Kainaesyth wants, then he's welcome to help. On the condition you don't spend too much time separated from him…" he stresses, eyeing the young bronzerider. "So no him being here in Fort and you half way across the planet. Not all the time. Don't need folks inquiring about it…" And leaving him to answer awkward questions. "It would depend on the task, Ha'ze and trust me, there will be times you will need it and other times you won't." How's that an answer?

It's an answer that supports the nature of freedom and independence. Reaching below the table, Kimmila briefly covers Th'ero's hand with hers. "We can always use help with the harvests," she murmurs. "And maybe there's wild land out there that could be cultivated loosely. More edibles grown, or things that wildlife likes. He could help you with that…"

Ha'ze is starting to realize that people don't like dragons being separated from their people. Just one more indication that Ha'ze doesn't quite fit? "I don't want to be hlpin' with the harvest," less they decide that Ha'ze has some interest in plants beyond being able to eat them when they're put in front of him, "but Kai does. Be easier to be trusted if people wasn't knowin' I was a rider." The last is more of a mutter to himself. "Who would I be reportin' to? Abbey?"

Oh, it happens from time to time when a rider and dragon have distance between them but usually it's an uncommon thing. Th'ero's often guilty of it and has even been known to take rides on other rider's dragons if Velokraeth is sand sitting with Kayeth. It's only when folk begin to notice that Ha'ze has been absent and Kainaesyth alone that the Weyrleader starts to get uncomfortable. "Then don't but keep your duties to Fort's territories. Or I can assign you to regions around here…" he explains with a smirk. He'll gently squeeze Kimmila's hand as he darts a knowing look to her. "Oh, we both know that it can help build trust if you're not walking in as a rider. Again, it'll depend on what you're doing." So case by case! Flexible. Freedom. "Yes and no." Again! "If the matter strictly concerns Thunderbird, then you report to Abigail. For the most part though? You report to me. As Kimmila does…"

Kimmila snickers over her ale. "Well, not /exactly/ as I do…" Did she just make a dirty joke? She kind of did. "What do you think, Ha'ze?"
Ha'ze flicks his gaze at Kimmila for a second. First, ew, second… just… ew. Back at Th'ero. Not as gross focusing there right now. "I'll be doin' it. If I need to be leavin' for a while for some reason, we'll be findin a place for Kainaesyth to be settlin' what won't raise a fuss." Gone dragon, gone rider.

Th'ero's eyes lower to look sidelong to Kimmila for a long moment. Really? She went there? "No, not quite the same." he drawls and smirks. He'll just leave Ha'ze with those possible mental images. Right now the Weyrleader is focusing more on gaining a "specialized" wing rider. One who he can have on the inside in some of the shadier circles. It's perfect, as he cannot keep an eye on everything and Ha'ze will get the satisfaction of having a purpose in aiding the Weyr (and the Weyr won't even know it, HA!). "Good. Then you'll continue on when needed by Abigail for Thunderbird and I may already have your first assignment."

Kimmila snickers quietly, and sips at her ale again. THough sh gives Th'ero a curious look for his first assignment.

Ha'ze will have nightmares tonight. Thanks Kimm. Ha'ze eyes the glass in front of him, and carefully moves it away. If he's to start soon, then maybe it's time to call night on his quest to get quietly drunk and pass out in the tavern. (Hey, you gotta have small goals.) "I'm listenin'."

Th'ero will make sure, at some point, to warn Ha'ze that if he's ever reporting in person to him and he's not in his office but in his private weyr? Don't do what others have and knock first. Always knock. Never walk in… or the nightmares will be more than just ONE night. "With winter on us, our searching for clues about this arsonist's cothold will drag as things are buried under snow and looking through records can only go so fast… So I may need you to go do your own sleuthing." Word has travelled by now. "Need you to maybe go poking along the cotholds and minor holds a little south and south-east of here where the snow doesn't fall so heavily. Maybe folks there have a longer memory and may know of something." And while Ha'ze keeps an ear and eye open there, they can focus on work here. "Unless you've something better to suggest?" His eyes will look between both Ha'ze and Kimmila.

Kimmila is daydreaming. Don't mind her.

Please don't warn him too soon. "So go and be talkin'." Ha'ze can do that. It's just another role to play, right? He'll never be the party leader but he does know how to act like he belongs somewhere. "Somethin' in particular I should be lookin' for?"

If he wants to be traumatized, then that's his choice! "In a way, yes. Or no talking at all and more just… observing. Listening." Harper work but Th'ero doesn't say that out loud. The Weyrleader trusts the Harpers but he's more inclined to trust one of his own riders and his own man. "Anything that might lead us to more clues about this arsonist and his cothold. Something isn't adding up with the whole affair. Too many empty holes. We're missing something but we've not the man power to sort it out. Not enough eyes and ears. So…" Ha'ze will be the eyes and ears for the Weyr. "If you think you can manage, then you're free to go. Tomorrow." When he's slept off all that drink! "Or when you can." Sounds like Ha'ze is his OWN leader of sorts! "I've best be getting back. Kimmila? Shall we?" He needs her as a cane… err… loving support?

Kimmila promises not to trip him on the way back to their weyr. Since she needs him whole so she can chastize him for going so far. And did he miss his Healer checkup this afternoon? Meh. Men.

Well. If he doesn't have to leave tonight… he'll finish that drink. And maybe another one. Kai's asleep either way, so he's stranded.