Harper Hall - Tavern Outside the Hall
A small and rustic tavern set at the crossroads outside of Harper Hall and just off the main roadways leading to Fort Hold and the Weyr beyond.

Warning: Swearing, hints of violence and other mature subject matters.

Outside, snow. Lots and lots of snow. Ha'ze was lucky to make it to Harper Hall before the snow set in and his chances of getting out now? Dim. He's settled in a comfortable corner of a bar waiting. His firelizard hadNOT been happy to be sent out in search of a particular harper, and so Ha'ze isn't holding his breath on the man showing up any time soon. Drink, people watching, and he'll sit here, eyes on the door, waiting.

Give it time and the paths will be cleared but not likely until the following morning. Unhappy firelizard or not, Rayathess will get the message and head over to the tavern at his earliest convenience. At most, Ha'ze may be waiting close to a candlemark before the Harper shows up, pausing by the door to brush the snow from his jacket. He has a satchel tucked under one arm and as he scans the tavern, he'll return a few polite greetings and then spot his intended target and lingers just long enough to pay for a pitcher of ale. Somehow he figures they'll BOTH need this. "Ha'ze," he greets as he nudges out a chair and settles into it.

At the entrance of that particular harper Ha'ze sits up, straightening from the slouch he'd fallen into. There's a particular look in his eyes, a dangerous don't-talk-to-me. It keeps his corner of the tavern clear of anyone except Rayathess. "Didn't figure I'd see you tonight with the storm." A bi of regret, is Ha'ze starting to wish he hadn't started this?

"It's not that far a walk and they at least keep that roadway cleared storm or not." Rayathess mutters, eyeing Ha'ze as if wondering the same thing. Too late for regrets! The Harper is here and he has his hides and writing tools. Most of which he sets up as discreetly as possible. A server comes by with the pitcher of ale and the Harper dips his head to her, sending her on her way with a little smile. He flicks a hand towards the pitcher and the empty glasses. "Help yourself."

"Joy." Sarcasm twists itself in Ha'ze's voice when Rayathess explains how the hall cares for its own. But that offer of Alcohol? He isn't turning it down. Reaching out he pulls himself a MORE than generous glass. The server gets a glare and he doesn't speak until she's gone. "So… how do you want to do this?"

Rayathess smirks as Ha'ze helps himself generously to that ale and he'll wait until the bronzerider is done pouring his glass before taking one for himself. "However you want. You talk, I write, doesn't matter to me when you begin so long as you get to it before the night grows too late." Though waiting until later may have the tavern emptier than it is now, but the Harper doesn't bring that point up. Truthfully, he knows how awful they both are at small talk and he's not drunk enough yet to shoot the breeze oh-so casually with Ha'ze.

Shooting the breeze casually with Ha'ze when it seems he has the very sincere intent of getting drunk would probably end in a fistfight. This is Ha'ze and Rayathess after all. And Kai is far enough away for his winter lethargy to hold only a small grip on Ha'ze's behavior. Instead Ha'ze drinks several large gulps before he sets the cup down. "Farmers. We were farmers. Well, we worked on the farm. My parents were more drudges. Did what they were told, but never actually owned anything. "

It's true, this pair has proven to be quite volatile in the past and there's a good chance they'll be at each others throats by the end of this but for now the Harper is minding his tongue. Probably because he truly does want Ha'ze's side of the story and so when the bronzerider finally sets to telling it, Rayathess simply begins to write. Short form, of course, but he's writing and keeping an eye on Ha'ze while he does. "I take it this farm was part of a cothold or holding?"

"Yeah. Don't remember where, and I don't really care? The weather, what I remember, was similar to here. There's probably a record somewhere of my birth. You know, I don't actually remember the exact date?" Ha'ze is half smiling at that, self deprecating laughter with a slight hint of bitterness. "It didn't matter for so long. When everything went to shit I don't know if anyone looked, and I just made one up when they asked." Ha'ze lapses into a silence as he reaches for his glass again and lifts it to his lips. One gulp later and he's ready to try again. "I think the not-owning-anything bothered my parents. The always being beholden to someone else. So when Laris came spreading his poison… it sounded like the opportunity to get something of their own. They always kicked me out when he came by so I don't know what exactly he promised… but I remember my father whistling about it."

Scratch, scratch, scratch. Rayathess' hand does not stop, writing almost as fast as Ha'ze recounts his past but writing in his own short-form code. He smirks and dryly adds when it's safe to do so, "Most likely records somewhere but it'd take considerable effort to unearth them." Small consolation? "Don't need the where and when anyways. Some details are best left ambiguous…" But he won't tell Ha'ze what parts.

"Yeah, so I never bothered." That smirk perversely pisses Ha'ze off and he looks away from the harper, resisting the urge to punch him in the face. His gaze faces away from the rest of the tavern and he continues talking, this time, to the wall. "I remember leaving pretty clear. He'd come again and in the middle of the night my mother shook me awake and shoved a bag at me. I got dressed and followed her out. Didn't understand then, but I figure they must have stolen a lot of what we took. All one camp at the start, and there weren't many kids. This one kid, just a little younger, he got hurt. They were running then, and didn't stop. Eventually it got infected and he died. First time I'd ever seen a dead body."

Rayathess doesn't seem to care whether or not Ha'ze is making eye contact with him or not while he talks. He'll just continue to write and occasionally reach for his ale and take a slow sip, head tilted slightly as he listens and his features hardly shift. Not until talk of a dying child has the Harper grimacing and there's a hint of darkness in his eyes for once. "Such was the way of the camps," he mutters low under his breath and then goes silent again, leaving Ha'ze to continue.

"Yeah. I don't even remember some of the others. Just that one, since he was the first. It was almost like… a game before that. Something new. After though… it got serious." Ha'ze is a bit far away now as he reaches into his memory. Settling back into his chair Ha'ze reaches up to rub a hand through his hair. "It didn't start like that. There was almost… hope? yeah, hope there at the start. But then it was greed. Once the camps split I never really saw my parents again. Stonehaven…" He drifts off and stops, the word hanging between them as Ha'ze's eyes drop to the rum. "There was a feeling that something BIG was going to happen. But I'd lost my blanket to another one of the kids and I was just happy after that, at first, to have gotten a new one."

Rayathess just nods his head a fraction as Ha'ze continues, biting his tongue against the myriad of questions that are starting to surface. This is his story. Not time for the Harper to grill him! His writing continues, pausing when he pauses and his head will lift minutely at the mention of Stonehaven. He says nothing but when there is mention of the blanket lost and then gained, there is something that flickers in Rayathess' eyes and they narrow slightly, the unspoken 'was it a Stonehaven blanket' likely clear as day if the bronzerider is that perceptive.

It might come out less scattered if Rayathess asked his questions as Ha'ze plucks memory as it comes to him with strength, rather than in the order they happened. Though it's possible Ha'ze doesn't remember the order any more. Just those moments of clarity. "That was common, you know that, for the kids to scrap for stuff. The blanket I'd lost- it was one I carried from the start. Not much more than a rag by then, but it was mine you know? Got in a fight over it and ended up getting ganged up on by a couple of them. I never did quite… fit." It's a trait that Ha'ze still carries. "Never made friends to back me up. They wanted the Stonehaven one. The blanket. But it had blood all over it. " Finally Ha'ze's eyes move and rest upon Rayathess. "So they didn't put up that big of a fight for it. Washed it up in the next stream as best as I could and carried it on my back till it dried off."

So far Ha'ze's scatteredness hasn't bothered Rayathess but there will come a time (and probably very soon) where the Harper will force him to backtrack a bit. His expression darkens into a grimness that only uncomfortable memories can bring on. Of course he knows. "Everyone scrapped for whatever bits and pieces came through those camps. What was yours was guarded zealously if you had half a lick of sense," he mutters, pausing in his writing to stretch his hand and reach for more of that ale. Sipping it slowly as he can't quite get drunk yet. There's another snort, "Did any of the kids really fit, Ha'ze? It's not like we had a choice in the matter to be where we were." As for the bloodied Stonehaven blanket, he says nothing but there's a cooler edge to the way he looks at Ha'ze. "And aside from protecting what little was yours, what do you remember of your Turns in the camps? Do you remember when Laris decided to move out of Fort and go southward to Xanadu?" How he left most of his camps closer to Drake's Lake but went scouting himself with a few handpicked men and women and wove his treachery along those lands too.

"Some did." Raythess' question wasn't really one that was meant to be answered, but Ha'ze answers it none the less. "They grew up and were able to switch camps. I think… given another year or so? Maybe I could have switched. Then again… maybe not. I knew it was wrong. But it was all that there was. I couldn't imagine anything outside of it by then." Ha'ze hears Rayathess' question and he frowns, reaching upwards to scratch his head. "Yeah. It's about then…. there was this one guy. I never did learn his name. Names got you attached to people. He taught me how to use his bow and I joined the hunters. The fights I got in over that thing…." Ha'ze smirks at those memories. Victories. "They started to listen when I put an arrow through the arm of one of them and left me alone after that. He never had full use of his arm again."

Rayathess's eyes flicker or perhaps it's a trick of the light? Yet for a moment there, a brief moment, he almost seemed to agree with Ha'ze or at least understand. Half the reason why Rayathess made the choice to go to Gold Hill Hold and risk turning himself over to the Weyr after the Hold fell was not out of insanity (though he often felt insane considering the risks!) but because he felt that if he and Anrila spent any longer in those camps he would become one of those lost kids. Enough was enough and Laris had to be stopped and someone had to turn cloak and point the way… "Names of are little consequence." he mutters, picking up his stylus again to begin his scribblings. "So you never were part of the main camps then? Stayed with the secondaries…?" Hunters, foragers, women, children and men unfit to either fight or not trustworthy enough to put in strategic places or left behind to be sure those camps stayed in line.

Ha'ze has made his way steadily through that glass of rum and he stops to reach out and pour again. Except, his hands are shaking and he glares at them to stop. It's times like this it's easier to notice that Rayathess is six years older than Ha'ze. And those six years… they make all the difference. The camps were Ha'ze's childhood. "There was this one woman… she was different from the others. Thinking back, I don't think she was all there you know? But she had this whole group of really little kids that followed her around and she always found a way to make sure they had what they needed. She lasted a while till one of the men…" Ha'ze drifts off as his hand clenches in front of him. "Well. We knew what happened. Sex was never a mystery. But afterwards she just sat there and didn't move. The kids would have stayed with her, but they had to go along. He, the man, went back afterwards and I followed him. He caught me and just laughed. I figured he'd kick me back but instead he let me go along. I think she was dead when we found her. At least, that's what I told myself. She wasn't moving and I didn't see any breathing. We stood about a few yards off and he challenged me to see which of us could hit her. If I missed he'd kill me. I didn't miss." Deadpan, matter of fact. But Ha'ze is shaking beyond his hands now. Memories he's pushed back into a locked part of his mind break themselves free. "I hated you. I hated that you did it. That you could. I just wanted to stay alive and keep what was mine."

Rayathess will notice Ha'ze's hands and the bronzerider will be able to see his eyes lowering and the slight frown from the Harper but at least he doesn't say anything or even worse: smirk. No, for once his face is blank though not for very long. He has to focus on writing and the more Ha'ze dredges up, the more Rayathess struggles with his own memories and the wounds that surface with them. He grimaces, "I think I know of her. Wondered what came of her." Now he knows and… he finds it disturbing how unaffected he is by it. Saddened? Yes. Horrified? Not so much. He snorts at the mention of sex… that is a given in those camps. Almost as much as the scrapping and in-fighting and killing. No rules among the homeless. What catches Rayathess' off guard is Ha'ze's sudden revelation of his hatred. The stylus is lowered and he reaches for his glass to polish off the rest of the ale before he meets the bronzeriders eyes (if possible). "You aren't the only one who hated me for what I did, you know. I knew full well what I'd be facing but just like you were trying to stay alive and keep what was yours, so was I. My sister… You know what happened to young girls, Ha'ze. Young women. I had to get her out of there. I was going to do it for Laurali too but she vanished when Laris decided to use her as his personal puppet…" He shrugs and makes a dismissive gesture of his hand. This is Ha'ze's story. Not his.

Ha'ze isn't meeting anyone's eyes. Rayathess' reasons don't absolve him, nor do they damn him. Ha'ze accepts that. For the first time since those trials he actually flips through the pages. His fist is clenched and his eyes closed. This was more than he expected but he doesnt have to face it alone. Even without his physical presence Kainaesyth had waited, right on the edge of his mind, sleepy and winter-pale, for Ha'ze to need him or not. And Ha'ze needs him. Outwardly he stills as Kainaesyth's peace fills him, blunting the edges of memories. « They are just stories now Ha'ze. They cannot hurt you any more. » He'll sit there, almost not even hearing Rayathess words until he has gathered himself again. But he does hear them, and when his eyes flicker open again, holding hints of the peace that Kainaesyth projects, it is with an answer on his lips. "I know why you did it. And I know I have to forgive you for it some day."

Rayathess is unaware of Ha'ze's moment with Kainaesyth (and if he was, he may be slightly jealous of having such a reliable source for comfort and stability) but he does take note of the clenched fist and closed eyes. While the bronzerider is silent, Rayathess will pour more ale and empty the pitcher which he sets to the side of the table and signals one of the servers for a refill. "I'm not asking you for forgiveness." he says softly and smirks. There was once he tried to get Ha'ze to see that he hadn't meant for his life to be turned upside down but that often led to the two of them fighting because Harper or not, Rayathess sucks at explaining himself.

"I'm not ready to forgive you yet." So it's a good thing that Rayathess isn't asking. "I'm glad Anrila got out before it was too late." That member, at least, of Rayathess' family Ha'ze doesn't hold a single grudge against. "You finished the ale." That sucks. But the look on Ha'ze's face should warn away any server if Rayathess could get their attention. "There's more. A thousand moments. It wasn't always just scraping for a living, fighting, death. There was a stretch there where we stayed in one place for a while. I went into the forest hunting and came upon a whole bush of berries. I remember them being the sweetest thing I'd ever eaten, and even though I threw it all up later, I was still totally happy."

"As am I," Rayathess admits concerning his sister. Even after Turns of them rebuilding their lives, he's still protective of her. They've gone through too much for him to forget. And that ale? He snorts, sounding almost amused as he picks up his writing tool. "There's more ale." If Ha'ze will stop scaring off the servers. He may wait until the bronzerider is finished talking or motion for him to pause while the woman can hustle over and make the switch. One empty pitcher for a full one. Tada! "You thew up all the berries…?" For some reason, Rayathess chooses that to question Ha'ze about while he refills his glass and then offers to do the same for him.

Ha'ze nudges his glass closer. Which one of them can get more drunk tonight? "I hadn't eaten a lot in a while, and those berries were… two? three days?" Ha'ze frowns slightly as he tries to remember, "worth of food. Couldn't take them back so I just ate and ate. But when you eat too much after starving… the body rejects it."

Rayathess pours Ha'ze another generous glass before setting the pitcher aside. At this rate, they'll both be drunk by midnight and Faranth only knows what'll happen then. Another grimace as he lifts his glass to his lips, "Point taken." he mutters around the rim and after taking another long sip, he'll tap his stylus against the hide. Cue for Ha'ze to continue on. "What else do you remember? What of the change in Laris? When things started to become… even more unhinged when he settled everyone in Drake's Lake?" Around that time, Rayathess was already gone and on his way to Gold Hill Hold in the north. It took the Weyr almost another Turn or slightly longer to finally sort out where the madman had actually holed up.

"Drake's Lake… yeah. By that time… everything was different. We'd started out with this HOPE that someday… we'd have it all. But by then… we all knew it was a lie. It was almost like… we could feel the end coming. A few people actually tried to leave." Ha'ze pauses and takes some time to drain his glass again. "A few got made examples of. Most didn't die though- just… you know, fingers, toes, bruises. A few just disappeared. They might have made it out. I actually talked to my parents for the first time in… years." His lips twist with bitterness. "My father had caught me stealing from his bag and had me lashed for it. He didn't even recognize me. I'm never going to forget Galeon's face. Ever." Even if he's not the most stable father… Ha'ze can at least promise that much to his kids. "More than once we were told we were moving on, got all packed in and then… we didn't. Later that day Laris would appear swearing and yelling that we were trying to leave him. Most of the kids got really good at staying out of his way when it happened."

More pieces to the puzzle! Rayathess has spoken to many but Ha'ze's additions help flesh out what the Harper may already know despite having not been there in person. While he writes, his expression turns grim. "I always knew Laris to be a madman and was always amazed on how he tricked people into thinking he wasn't, that his promises were perfectly sane and possible…" he murmurs, careful to keep his voice low even though they've been left alone in their corner of the tavern. As the night wears on, fewer linger. As for his promise to his children, Rayathess only smirks and it's clear he writes that down too. Let it be recorded? "And what happened to your parents?"

"He was mad but… He didn't promise us anything we didn't… want. Freedom, independance, fuck, dignity. It all made sense." Ha'ze taps a finger on the glass in front of him, eyes far away again as he remembers. "Sometimes, at the Lake, he'd gather a big group and just talk. No one would move and afterwards… things just didn't seem as bad. It was almost like the start again until we all went back to the scraps we did have and realized they were nothing. My parents? My mother was killed. My father was exiled."

Rayathess shrugs his shoulders and doesn't argue with Ha'ze about whether or not what Laris was spouting made sense. For some, maybe. For him? It was utter lunacy. He will also jot down a note to check the exile records and hopefully the bronzerider cannot understand his coded note taking. More questions may surface as the ale kicks in and at some point the Harper's attention will wane and likely in time with Ha'ze passing out right at the table. With a sigh, Rayathess will fumble his work back into his satchel and wave over the server again. "See to it that he's made comfortable. I wouldn't move him though, unless he wakes up…" Just a suggestion and the woman seems to take it seriously. Only then does Rayathess take his leave but not before leaving a note for Ha'ze to stay in touch. Greedy Harper is greedy and wants to know if there's more.