Fort Weyr - Fort Forests - High River Tavern
This dark, musty place was once the common room of a large tavern, called the High River Tavern, but now all that remains is a single dusty bar, its wood worn and cracked, with a wall of shelves sitting empty behind it. A few ancient bottles might remain, tipped over or pushed far into the corners, but their contents have long-since evaporated or turned sour. The scuffed floor still bears the stains and scrapes from past use, and of the now-missing furnishings, only the occasional broken chair or rotting scrap of wood remains. High above, thick mats of cobwebs hang from the ceiling, which forms a wide dome overhead. Along the walls, the old glowbasket hooks are still visible, but the glows themselves are conspicuously absent. A narrow staircase takes up one corner at the back, leading up into darkness.

The festival has come to an end! A Weyr cannot party forever. There's work to be done (not that it was ever totally put aside), duties to resume at full and the Traders must continue with their routes and Crafters find broader crowds for their wares. While most of the after effect is a good and positive thing, there are always a few snags after housing so many guests and having so many travels in and out of the area. So the Guards and Thunderbird have had their hands full of complaints and various minor charges (most for disorderly conduct or brawling or being disruptive… silly things like that!). On this particular morning, however, a certain Wingsecond will likely get a summons down to the Guard Area by the Guard Captain's firelizard. The note gives no details, aside from requesting the bronzerider's presence and that it's of a time sensitive nature. Breshir is calmly waiting outside of the barracks and with him is a wiry looking man, who even from a distance looks agitated from his stance.

S'ai has been taking the time since his promotion to meet with members of the policing side of things, for his main duties had been with Search and Rescue. So it is during one such meeting that he receives the alert from the firelizard and sends the quick note back in response that he will be there as soon as he can. With the meeting quickly brought to a close, the bronzerider makes his way down to the barracks sporting his new knot. "Captain Breshir, good morning." He gives in respectful greeting even as his eyes glance towards the company the captain keeps.

Breshir looks up as S'ai approaches and salutes crisply but respectfully. "Good morning, Wingsecond S'ai. Seems we've a situation—-" he begins, only to be rudely interrupted by that wiry man. He's in his mid-40's and his bushy brows are drawn in a scowl. "Situation! Is that what you call it?" the man splutters, colour rising to his cheeks and ignoring the levelled look from Breshir. The man turns on S'ai, hands gesturing to emphasize his agitation. "An honest man can't even bunk here and not have trouble! 'Go to the Weyr' they said. 'You'll be fine', they said. Well, I came back to my rented quarters and I find them ransacked and my goods stolen! All of it!" He finishes with a wild gesture of his hands and a sweeping motion before he seems to lose his steam and just scowl between rider and Guard. Well? Breshir hasn't even blinked an eye and merely smirks, looking to S'ai. "As I was saying, we've a situation involving theft. Drand here," He nods to the irate man. "Claims he may know who's behind it and where they may even be going. Think you could look into it?"

There's a brief and slow blink from S'ai as Drand makes his distress know. For a split second, the wingsecond looks rather dubious about tackling this (cold feet?) but with a slow inward breath he schools himself and begins channeling all those lessons his mother swore he wasn't paying attention to. "Of course I'll look into it. Anyone within the territory of Fort should feel safe, both in body and possessions, and we take any concerns from those under our care seriously no matter the scale. Time in these matters is obviously of the essence. Drand, you say you have an idea who may have robbed you?"

Breshir is confident by S'ai's answer that he'll salute the Wingsecond and then turn and take his leave. He's his own business to attend to and likely a full plate for the day. Drand on the other hand, doesn't look entirely convinced and is still upset about the turn of events. Who could blame him though? "Yeah. Small group, three men. Pretended to be good folk, hunter-woodsmen type. Told 'em I'd help mend some of their stuff as that's what I do and they up and robbed me!" he says, growing more agitated by the second. "I can tell you what they look like for what good it'll do but I've an idea of where they might've gone, Wingsecond! One of 'em kept mentioning 'high river'. No river is high, not even with the extra snow melt this Turn!" Drand pauses a moment to smirk crookedly and tap the side of his head. "But I'm smarter than that! Used to be way back a tavern up near the mountains named 'High River'. Good place now for the lot of 'em. Probably nothing but rotted wood and mossy stone…" Doesn't this just sound SO PLEASANT?

S'ai shoots a look aside to Breshir as the captain moves to take his leave, even if it's with a faint drop in his stomach. Alone. Nothing like a trial by fire. "Three men aimed towards the High River Tavern." The bronzerider repeats to confirm he's listening and understands. "I know your time is important and we'll need to move to catch up with them. If you can spare just a bit longer, I'd like to grab the aid of the Weyrharper," More likely an unfortunate apprentice thereof, "To get your description so we can identify them as well a description of your missing goods."

Trial by fire is often the best way to learn… so long as one escapes from it unscathed. Drand just waves his hands again in some impatient gesture or another and mutters, "Yes, yes, yes! I'll do it. Bring the Weyrharper," Or some poor unfortunate soul! "Here or bring me to them and I'll see to it! I want these men caught and my goods back. Can't believe I was fooled!" If he's displeased with the security the Weyr had to offer, he'll wisely keep his tongue in check.

At least there's progress and no riots. S'ai will take it. "Just have a seat, I'll bring them along and see you're tended to. Thank you for your patience, Drand." And after seeing one of the drudges summoned to bring the upset man a refreshing drink and snacks to try and soothe his belly, if not his anger, S'ai sets off to see the Weyrharper. In short order, in at least the amount of speed S'ai can muster, the wingsecond returns with artist in hand to get the needed information.

Who would pass on drink and snacks? Not Drand. He'll fall upon those offerings without hesitation, his patience easily bought. At least S'ai lucks out in that regard? When he returns with the artist needed, Drand immediately goes into detail about these three men between mouthfuls of food and more agitated hand gestures. It's a wonder if this man ever stands still. "Tallest of 'em, I'd peg him a good six foot three, solid build… black hair, dark eyed and heavy jaw. Zaer is his name, spoke mostly with him. The other two are both brown haired, one I'd say just shy of six foot, the last being shortest of 'em all. Look alike, could be brothers or cousins… some semblance. Don't know the taller one's name, but the short squat fellow is Kelb. All three wore woodsmen clothing and had packs. Tools. Didn't see no weapons." Drand peers at S'ai. "S'all you need?" Is he going to get going now?

"All I'll need is a description of your stolen goods, so if we come across them we can make sure to define which as yours." S'ai states and, once gathered, thanks the harper for their time. "I'll head to the mountains to track down this tavern. I'll send word back to Captain Breshir when I have news. Thank you for your time and information, Drand. I'll be back in touch as soon as I can." And no doubt, the bronzerider is twitching inwardly, but on the outside he's doing a commendable job of calm and confidence.

Drand makes some muttered comment about time but he'll comply with what's asked of him. "Stone carving tools, my tool kit," Which he then goes on to describe the kit itself and the various items within it. "My travel gear too!" All of which is described, including key little details. "My thanks, Wingsecond! And if any happen to take an unfortunate fall off a cliff, well… Pity, isn't it?" The man grumbles but it's probably just an idle implication. "Just follow the Dragon Tail," he informs S'ai, speaking of course of the river by that name. "It ought to lead you near to this place they're looking to hole up in." Drand on the other hand? Is going to wait right here.

"Rest easy, Drand. We're on it." Or, S'ai inwardly corrects - he's on it - as the notes are collected. The bronzerider leaves the barracks and makes his way to the wing's store room, gathering his personal pack with rations and canteen, basic survival tools and medical supplies, and other knick knacks needed should things go south. Word is given from Zeruth to green Aravith, summoning C'or to com with them - because it's a fool's notion to go on their own for a handful of culprits. One never knows. The bronze is waiting in the bowl when his rider comes out, sand still stuck to feet and legs. «We are due to stretch our wings.» "Way overdue. You keep sands sitting at this rate and you'll forget how." «How can I forget? I must fly to catch the queens.» S'ai gives the bronze a huff as he drags on straps while waiting for their backup. "Yeah yeah, you have no problem with that it seems."

It'll be a good day for flying and a decent one for tracking down would be thieves and criminals. Their robbery of Drand must have been in the predawn hours for them to have covered this much ground and it'll become almost immediately obvious that they must have runners (and THAT will have to be looked into, to be certain those animals weren't stolen too). And either they're very new to a life of crime or just plain dumb, because they do a shoddy job of covering their trail. Maybe by ground it'd have fooled some inexperienced trackers but by air? They may as well have painted their trail in glow light with a giant target around a clearing not far from the river. What might've been a nice tavern once is now nothing but ruins. Enough of it stands though to offer shelter… for those in dire need of it. Again, this trio do not seem too smart.

Zeruth leads the flight with Aravith just aside. The bronze keeps a steady pace, but the green has long gotten used to extended flights and keeps up respectably. Thankfully, the trail itself is easy and there seems no risk of losing it. Especially so as the derelict building is seen not far from the river tail that gave it the name. The two dragons land at the edge of the clearing to allow their riders to dismount. There's a quick field check - knives in place. The images of the men and missing good are shared between dragons and riders as four pairs of eyes are better than two. Satisfied, S'ai gives his fellow rider a nod and they move to approach the building.

No sounds come from within. Did they not post a watch? Or have they spotted the dragons and have retreated further in the derelict building in hopes of hiding out and waiting for the riders to pass by? Who knows. At least as S'ai and C'or approach, there's no confrontation (and nothing explodes either). In fact, the lack of any activity might make things all the more tense and uneasy. The only sounds are the light wind and the sound of insects and some avians off in the distance. There are more tracks here and signs that the three men did enter the building but there doesn't seem to be any tracks leading out of it. Do they go inside?

Concerns of the riders that this might have been a wasted trip are set aside with clear signs of tracks going into the building. Enough tracks too for three men. With a gesture, one rider goes left and the other the right upon entering the building with slow are careful steps so as not to disrupt the uneasy, expectant quiet. Perhaps they're napping? Or dead? …waiting in ambush, perhaps? In any event, S'ai's hand rests on the hilt of his knife.

Quiet it is and a page right out of any Earth horror film. The tavern is slowly being reclaimed by the forests and ambush isn't the only thing the riders will have to fear. Scuttling sounds can be heard, likely insects scurrying away and the dry rustling sound of tunnel snakes. Ugh. There's also the sound of… a creaking floor board? Did that come from above them? Would their would be thieves be dumb enough to hide on the second floor? Yes. Yes, they would. Because there's a sudden groaning noise, some startled yells and… three men come falling through the ceiling above to the sound of snapping wood and much chaos. Not dead and… definitely not an ambush but certainly not the end they were looking for. Hopefully S'ai or C'or weren't right under them!

The creaking brings the riders to pause and simultaneously look up. A shared glance to plan a method of attack is abruptly disrupted as their perceived targets come right through the floor itself. There's swearing and oaths at S'ai lurches back and C'or dives for cover. They've been doing this long enough to recover. They're riders! They're better than to be spooked by men raining from the ceiling. "Good afternoon, gentlemen." S'ai remarks with his hand still on his knife hilt. "If you could just stay down there a moment to catch your breath, we have a few questions for you."

No need for knives! These three are in no shape to be running off or putting up much of a fight. Given one is knocked senseless (he'll be fine in a bit, if not slightly concussed), one is flat on his back and quite stunned but aware they've got two riders hovering over them and the third, the "leader" as Drand implied, is groaning as he tries to get to his feet and then decides against it when S'ai speaks up. He'll sit there, dusty with grime and dust and debris as he peers up at both riders. "Why bother with 'em?" Zaer growls. "If you're here, then it's obvious what for." No professional thief is he, but he's not that dumb as to challenge two riders with no weapons (or at all for that matter).

"Sooooo, that'd be a /yes/ to having ransacked and stole from one Drand, guest of Fort Weyr?" S'ai proposes to Zaer as he speaks. "C'or, rider of green Aravith and myself S'ai, Wingsecond of bronze Zeruth, are here peaceably investigating a concern. If you did take the goods, we're just looking to get them back and we'll bring you back to Fort. Nice and easy and it'd look good on you to cooperate. If you didn't, we'd appreciate you and your companions coming back with us all the same so we can get your statements and clear your names."

Zaer's kept his glowering look focused on S'ai for the most part but when one of his comrades starts to stir and groan, he'll jump, distracted before muttering several oaths and almost spitting in disgust. "Aye, we'll be cooperating." That's all he says, since their hand in this is obvious and further proven by the fact that Drand's toolkit and most of his belongings make a belated entrance by crashing down from where they'd been dangling above. Zaer stares at the items and then sighs. Maybe in his thick skull he had contemplated making up some story but no chance of that now!

S'ai pulls some rope he'd looped to his belt and gestures to the men, that are aware enough, to rise. "Kneel, if you could please. Just going to bind your hands. Then we'll be taking a flight back. C'or, if you could get together Drand's things, please?" And so the greenrider goes about collecting the stolen goods so they can be loaded adragonback. The men coherent enough to be bound are and S'ai assists hauling up the one who isn't so collected. And barring any other troubles, they're brought out where the dragons wait. They're grudgingly loaded with captives and goods, with Zeruth giving them a baleful red-eyed glare for good measure and to encourage good behavior. Then they're off to Fort.