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 a man who has grown up in the tropics, winter has crawled by far too slowly. Though the days lengthen, indicating spring is not far off, the icy grip remains in the mountains of Fort. The day has been a cloudless one, with skies of vivid blue, the glare of Rukbat off of ice and snow almost eye-blinding in its brilliance. Night has fallen, the day's duties finished and now the diamond glitter of starlight, sharply-focused in the clarity frigid temperatures bring reflects on the alabaster snows below. It's with the crunch-squeak of snow that D'ani, bundled in his warmest coat, gloved hands shoved in deep pockets, chin tucked in the scarf he's wound several times around his neck, walks to clear his mind. That his steps have brought him outside of the bowl indicated his wish for solitude but the chill has sunken relentless fingers through despite his attempt to prevent it. Thus, though he's hardly in the mood for a rowdy tavern crowd, it is into the Gemstone he steps. He needs to get warm!

Rowdy is the Gemstone too, given that the winter months mean more souls are seeking that very warmth that the Weyrsecond does. It's a good crowd though, mostly foresters, hunters, woodsmen, an assorted motley of Crafters who's work keep them near or outside the Weyr walls and a few riders. Among those riders is the very Weyrleader himself, but it's not unusual to find the man hunkered here. The tavern is one of his favoured haunts and mostly for the quieter back corner that is tucked just away enough to offer some privacy. Th'ero has been there for sometime, his jacket hung nearby and an empty pint glass already set beside him and his dark eyes focused ahead of him with the far away look of a man lost to his thoughts. Something snaps him from it though just enough to coherently register D'ani's arrival and without a second of hesitation he lifts a hand and signals to the Weyrsecond. "D'ani! Over here." If he wishes?

Though D'ani stifles a grimace at the packed place, he does sigh. It's partly from relief not to have the sharp nip of frost assailing his ears and nose, so it's not all bad. He shucks his gloves, stuffs them in his jacket pocket, his knitted cap treated likewise, is unwinding his scarf when he catches Th'ero's hail. A chinlift acknowledges the Weyrleader and he heads that way, his path threading between the tables while unbuttoning his coat. That's shrugged out of and dropped onto the back of the chair opposite Th'ero. "Hey," he greets before a server is at his elbow. "Ale, please," he tells the woman while settling into his seat. The color in his cheeks are cold-heightened, his eyes overbright and his hair is in disarray thanks to his cap. One hand rakes through that in a half-hearted attempt to restore it to, if not order, at least not feeling like a feline with his fur rubbed the wrong way. Things have been busy; they've seen each other in passing but not long enough to unwind and catch up since the tumultous events that shuffled Fort's leadership. So he stretches his legs, settles back into his chair with a grunt, mouth pulling into a lopsided smile and asks, "How've you been Th'ero?"

Th'ero leans back in his chair, rolling his shoulders a bit as he gains a more comfortable posture while D'ani approaches and takes a seat. When the server approaches, after she's taken the Weyrsecond's order, he adds his own. "Same as before, thank you." he murmurs, passing her his empty pint glass. Once the woman is gone, he will give the younger man a lingering look and perhaps a slightly amused ghost of a smile for the state that D'ani is in. "Were you out for a walk?" he drawls in a low but casual tone. No judgement! Since he's often known to do a bit of wandering himself. How has he been? Th'ero snorts and rubs his hand along the bottom of his jaw before it comes to rest with the other on the tabletop. "Where to start? It's been… up and down. A lot has happened in so short of time. But if I am to just focus on today, I can tell you that I am well. Overall? Much more ah… complicated." he admits with a smirk. "Yourself? It seems as though I've not had a chance to talk with you like this since…" He falters, but his eyes say it all: since Dtirae left.

D'ani's hand winds up at the back of his neck; some of his hair has been left standing on end, but it feels better and since he has no mirror… eh. He rubs his neck absently while admitting ruefully, "Aye, in the blasted freezing weather, too. Instead of hopping upon Dremkoth and heading for a warm beach. I must be nuts, but it'd make the return to winter all the more difficult." He nods solemnly for that 'up and down'; it has certainly been that and he's had his part in increased hold visitation to help counter the spreading word that Fort's Leadership takes too lightly the negligent and careless Roc Wing. Their previous Weyrwoman hangs in the air like a ghost, doesn't she? D'ani reads the unspoken in Th'ero's eyes and regret darkens the brown of his own. "I think we're all taking it personally, but as time passes I guess Dtirae left for her own sense of survival." His brows lower; he hasn't seen her, hasn't been to see her, not yet. The ale arrives and oh, is it ever timely. He lifts his glass, draws a mouthful and swallows, his answer to the Weyrleader's question finally answered, "Been busy. Sorting through. Heard anything from Drake's Lake?"

It's the Gemstone Tavern! Judging by the rough looks of some of the patrons, a bit of mussed up hair may be the least noticeable thing. Th'ero chuckles dryly, "The cold isn't so bad and it keeps you moving at least. You're wise about not going somewhere warm, trust me. I've done it before… it really is hard to come back." So he isn't nuts, then! The previous Weyrwoman does hang like a ghost, still drifting in and out of conversations, perhaps never to truly leave. Th'ero carefully observes the change in D'ani and exhales heavily, mouth drawing back into a grim line. "Perhaps," he slowly agrees, only to level D'ani with a flat look that clearly shows that Th'ero has not quite forgiven Dtirae. "And I suppose we do need to… let it go. She did what she felt she had to do. We will survive." Likewise he has had no contact with the goldrider and when the ales arrive he takes his time in savouring the first sip (or three). "The rebuild is still underway but I hear nothing but positive reports. Come spring… in this region anyways, we'll be readied I think for the herds. That will be another thing entirely to undertake. Something I'll assume you'll wish to oversee?" he asks curiously, only to smirk again. "I'm sure you've heard and read the reports too of the resume in trade between us and Breakwater Hold? Nyalle and Inri are a formidable pair, apparently."

Were D'ani to note his spiked hair, he'd likely laugh, mash it down with the palm of his hand and forget all about it. As it is, he's unaware and there's likely quite a few others drifting in with hat-hair. The Weyrsecond is understanding of the Weyrleader's lingering ire over Dtirae's desertion. Somewhere, carefully locked away deep inside is his own opinion of her move; for now lingering guilt sends his thoughts shying away from judgment. They all probably blame themselves in part: could have done something more, something different to ease whatever it was that rode so heavily upon her. D'ani? Will likely always feel that he's the one that triggered her decision but he couldn't be anything other than honest with her. He nods once, a jerk of his chin to the letting go of it. Hard to do! He sips his ale while listening to the report on Drake's Lake, brown eyes lighting up at the question of overseeing the transfer of the herds. "Aye, I'd like that!" He's assuming it'll be a drive across the interior with the herds, the safest way to move them. He nods, a quizzical smile over the negotiating skills of the goldriders. He'll get back to that. "Inri's kept me abreast of the…negotiations and I've read the reports. When I delivered the runner," his eyes flick to Th'ero to gauge his reaction, the tidbit he shares in a dry voice wasn't in the factual report, "They were skeptical. Took a journeyman herder to examine the runner inch by inch and go over his pedigree before they'd relent to agree he was as fine-blooded as they'd promised." He lifts his glass and sips before asking, "How's Nyalle doing, really, Th'ero? She's young for all this, but seems to be taking it very seriously." perhaps too seriously.

At least D'ani bathes? That can be considered doubtful at best for some of the other men and probably another reason why Th'ero tucks himself away into this dim and tiny corner. As for his feelings concerning Dtirae, the Weyrleader harbours much of the same guilt. What could he have done? Should he have tried to reach out more? He saw the signs. He had the concerns nagging at him and yet he chose to do nothing on the understanding and trust that she'd come to them. There is no judgement or blame from him to D'ani's role in this. He's a man who values honesty and who knows what mess they'd be in now if the Weyrsecond had lied to keep the Weyrwoman happy. Lies have a way of circling around and coming back with teeth to bite and bite hard. "I figured you would. So when the reports come in, I'll let you know and leave it to you to organize as you see fit." Th'ero murmurs in regards to Drake's Lake future as a beasthold for Fort Weyr. His eyes narrow a bit and then he snorts, barely able to keep his expression neutral enough less he show how he really feels about Breakwater Hold. Even now, with negotiations under way, the Weyrleader harbours his own doubts to their loyalty. Fancy gift or not! "Figured they'd pull such scrutiny. That colt's pedigree is as fine as one can get. His dam and sire cost a fair share of marks too and I had hoped to keep their first foal. His coat too was an unusual colour from what I was told." he drawls, only to lower his voice to a near whisper as he adds privately to D'ani. "So they best notice the value of what was given to them. I had had the idea that if relations continue to improve that we perhaps breed back to that colt. Expand bloodlines to our own herds. What few we have…" The Weyr has so little of much lately. Th'ero nurses his drink for some time after D'ani's next question and that is indication enough that he is struggling over what to say. "She has taken her role as Weyrwoman very seriously, as you stated but she's proven capable. Yet she knows her limits and… I believe has had a, ah… awakening to her strict training fed to her in High Reaches." He leaves it at that, but Th'ero is not careful in schooling his tone this time. There is something (a lot) that he has left unsaid there and it hangs thickly in the air.

Does that back corner have a window cracked for a breath of fresh air too? With the heat of this place and the rising number of unwashed bodies, it would probably be nice. His nod regarding the installation of herdbeast at Drake's Lake is enthusiastic. Wide open spaces, sleeping under the stars, the dust, the bawling of cattle, the challenge of riding an agile runner to chase and drive errant beast back to the herd… His mind begins to preplan of it's own accord and it's with a forcible effort he brings it back to the topic at hand. He nods grimly regarding Breakwater Hold. "It'll take them awhile to regain trust of us," he says simply, draining the last of his ale and eyeing Th'ero over the empty, but still-raised glass. He lowers it to the table slowly, comprehension mingled with question; he knows something of the expectations High Reaches Weyr drilled into her, but awakening? "How'd that come about?" That thing hanging thickly? Shoot, he knows none of that, so the question is asked as a natural matter of course. Also, belatedly, "Congratulations for your win. She's a cute kid, but I'm glad Dremkoth missed that one." Cough. No insult to Nyalle but he's not ready tobe Weyrleader! Though, heh, who ever is?

Some wise individual or the owner of the tavern himself likely cracked a window (or two) to keep the stench of unbathed men and fresh from work body odor to a minimum. Their table is in no danger of any stench drifting their way and if Th'ero continues to drink the way he's drinking, he won't have much int he way of any senses soon enough. "I know. We're lucky that they accepted it at all and it didn't all backfire in our faces… So we just continue to tread lightly." he mutters as he drains more of his ale. Surely their luck will turn for the better, right? Now the conversation shifts to the Weyrwoman and Th'ero seems to slump heavily in his chair for a moment, all intent at keeping his silence on the whole thing. Yet with a sigh, he leans forwards and keeps his head lowered but tilted enough that D'ani can hear his lowered whispering. Which starts after he wrinkles his nose a bit. Cute kid? Ugh. Nyalle is certainly attractive in her own way, but not to Th'ero's tastes. Awkward? "While I'm pleased to remain Weyrleader it… was close. Velokraeth nearly lost out to that High Reachian bronze, Zhirazoth. Nyalle favoured Mr'az, obviously but…" Flights are flights. Nothing more and all know how a gold can be swayed by the Weyr itself. That is not what troubles Th'ero and it takes a few more lingering seconds before he spills the rest. "She expected ah… more from me. A lot more." he stresses, trying to drive home a hint that he hopes D'ani is clever enough to grasp without going into further detail. It was embarrassing enough for Nyalle, but the Weyrleader isn't about to just toss all the scandalous details. Just the key point is enough. "And when it became clear that I would not do it, as I am faithful to Kimmila as my mate… she became aware of her mistake. I… It upset her. She was mortified." To say the least.

So they won't choke to death on the fumes in here - nice! D'ani isn't drinking Black Damnation tonight, just a simple ale, rich enough in flavor and not super high in alcohol content. It's enough to relax him and when the server reappears, his singular nod indicates he'll have another. This one is savored rather than gulped - he has no need to get it into his bloodstream as fast as possible, not tonight. He's cognizant of the delicacy with which they'll deal with Breakwater, nodding solemnly to Th'ero's conclusion. He'll certainly keep a hopeful outlook; that's in his nature, after all. Knowing nothing about how things have been between the Weyrleader and the new Weyrwoman, he eyes the slumped posture of the other, quietly concerned. D'ani knows Th'ero is devoted to Kimmila, but his compliment was a vaguely-general one for the new Weyrwoman. So he blinks a little at the face Th'ero makes, perhaps surprised the other man does not see it. Yeah, cute kid. "Have you seen her smile?" he blurts before hushing to pay him keen attention when he lowers his voice. He doesn't know Mr'a,z but already has a distrust for the High Reaches Weyr, so frowns heavily at the news, lifts his glass to take a mouthful, nearly spews it on the table at Th'ero's next words. Nyalle hardly seems the type to him! He swallows instead of spit-takes, but it goes down his throat like it's got corners on it. He gulps some air, coughs and pounds his chest a couple of times with his fist, regarding Th'ero with swimming eyes while one hand raises to ward off further confidences. He gets it, say no more! Though the last bit there, clears up a lot. Mortified, was she? His distaste of discussing the young lady in question shows. At least with something that surely hurt and embarrassed her. He won't ask for any further details. "I'll…bet," he rasps while blinking the discomfort of the mis-wallow from his eyes inhales and finally manages, "Do you want me to talk to her?" Though how to smooth that awkward over, shoot. That'll be a tall order!

"Yes," Th'ero says without pause though he gives D'ani a look for that blurted comment. "I have." He'll pick up his third ale then, having ordered another one when the server came by and replenished the Weyrsecond too of the drink. No, there's no Black Damnation today and though he's consumed a lot he is still very much within his senses. He'll blink and then grimace when D'ani chokes, giving him a look of concern and he almost pushes to his feet but stays in his seat when the young bronzerider manages to speak. It still doesn't stop Th'ero from giving him a very clear look that reads 'you alright'? "I'm not sure if it'll do much good now. It wasn't her fault, D'ani and I am not angry at her in the slightest bit. I pitied her at the time but I know it's not her wrongdoing. We both know where the true blame lies," he says, still cautious to keep his voice lowered and there is no mask to his voice in his cryptic mention of High Reaches. Oh no, he allows his contempt and furious anger for Pandara and R'lor to show bright as day. "We've made amends, Nyalle and I." And just how did he do this? "I got her a small gift. A… ah, peace offering? Tasteful, neutral. Velokraeth puzzled it out from Kayeth. I do not dislike Nyalle and did not want her to think I do. Not like with Dtirae… I'm tired of my Weyrwomen fearing me." he mutters, scrubbing wearily at his face as he leans back in his chair. "So that is how things have been. Up and down."

D'ani nods understanding. He's quite sure the blame for the young Weyrwoman's misconceptions lie with the High Reaches Weyrleaders. He knows the bare bones of why she wanted to transfer, after all. There's a look of relief regarding the news they've made amends and that Th'ero doesn't dislike his Weyrwoman. But fear? His face screws into a thoughtful grimace. Why the shells would anyone fear Th'ero? D'ani trusts him! Ah but the nuances of leading a Weyr with another - that's the part of the puzzle he's missing, most likely. He regards Th'ero while the man rubs at his face. "I see," he says at length. "It's never easy is it?" A rhetorical question. He certainly doesn't envy the Weyrleader! He'll make a mental note to get him off hunting or surfing - not fishing though - ha!! He'll also remain for a longer duration than he'd originally intended, pay for another round or three of ale, offer comradely company and light conversation, hopefully to ease the heavy awkward that must lie upon the Weyrleader's shoulders. They might close the place, who knows? They'll risk the icy walk back to the Weyr a wee bit tipsy if they do but, perhaps they'll sleep the better for it, who knows?