==== October 14, 2013
==== Maryam, Mayte, M'yck, O'ell, Sienna, Tuli, W'rin, Zeyta
==== An eclectic crowd filters in and out of the Cantina. Tensions are typical.

Who Maryam, Mayte, M'yck, O'ell, Sienna, Tuli, W'rin, Zeyta
What Social navigation.
When There are 0 turns, 11 months and 27 days until the 12th pass.
Where Dustbowl Cantina, Igen Weyr

Dustbowl Cantina
To enter the Dustbowl Cantina is to descend: the heart of the ancient tavern lies half underground, at the foot of ancient steps, insulated from summer heat and winter cold by the volcanic rock surrounding it. A windowless place well-lit by glows, it is homey, even cozy, with a certain bijou charm - but for the deep gouges worn in wooden table and solid stone, some clearly lingering evidence of boisterous brawling. The wall behind the well-polished bar, though, remains free from scars or graffiti, as does the door into the small kitchen, and the stairwell up into the owner's quarters: the barkeep and his staff reign, and they guard their territory well. After all, only a fool angers the source of the booze.

The sun is setting over Igen, limning dull sand and day-heated rock with gold. The air is already sharp with night's coming chill; those who come through the door step into a space heated with many bodies, and smelling of the same. But in spite of the Cantina's unique aroma, business is good. Jharlodar is slinging drinks behind the bar and his staff circulates through the crowd. Soon it will be standing room only, folks, get those chairs while you still can.

Standing patiently at the bar is Maryam, robed as per usual, veiled as she always is. It isn't the first time she's been in the cantina but it is perhaps the first time she's been here to drink. When Jharlodar reaches her, a wooden chip is exchanged for a glass of white wine- favorite of novice drinkers everywhere. Turning, she shields the glass with her one free hand to avoid jostling while she seeks out a safe harbor in which to imbibe.

O'ell is a simple man with simple tastes; he's been here only a moment but already has a glass of whiskey in hand and slid over the cost of a few to keep his glass full for awhile as he stakes out a spot to sit. Busy place. But there's hardly a better way to get a better feel for the people then to observe them in a relaxed setting. Parties with streakers notwithstanding. He sports the same expression he always does; watchful, stoic, and maybe with a little wry twist of lip if he hears something interesting.

W'rin is here frequently, hiding from the proper people of the weyr, where he can shuff off his knot, which at the moment is tucked into his pocket and be amongst the people. With a whiskey. There are those that can't forget who he is though, and even before he's reached the bar the 'tender is pouring his drink, which may account for Maryam having to wait a moment. Can he guess why she is here to drink? Most likely and as his tumbler is handed over he'll raise it to the veiled woman next to him. "To Ladivos?" As he waits for her response he juts his chin upward at O'ell. The manly version of 'hello good friend, how are you?'

Sienna can drink again, plus she just saw her Weyrmate enter the cantina. So she follows, pushing back the hood of her coat and letting her curls bounce freely in their tangled post-riding mess. Approaching the bar, she waits for a moment before ordering a red wine and finding a spot to settle next to W'rin, giving him a nod and a smile, as well as offering one to Maryam, and to O'ell. "I don't think we've met officially yet," she says to the new rider, extending a hand. "I'm Sienna."

Zeyta prowls not with subtlety, but an earnest intensity to her proud, sure-footed clamor of steel-toed boots swallowed by the jostling din of cantina patrons. She marches, a crisp staccato honoring her own internal rhythm, accompanied by the soft percussion of clattering beads clicking at the ends of her medusa-braided hair. Where she goes: the bar, grim scowl a common fixture of expression and aberrant enough for Jharlodar to remember (seriously, who maintains a natural level of upset in a bar) and serve her an ice-cold glass of water, slid next to Maryam, partaker of wine. A casual flicker of a glance observes the Weyrleader and his entourage, but only the former receives her martial-perfect salute of visored fingers tipping off her furrowed brow. Then it's back to scanning. For someone. Someone always brings her here; it's never of her own volition that she braves the drinking masses.

O'ell tips his chin up and back down again in response to W'rin. Real men require no words. It's the no touching equivalent of the bro-fist. "Well met, Sienna." The reply is polite, and his handshake firm. "You're one of the Assistant Weyrlingmasters; we'll be working together." If she hadn't already heard. But he's assuming she has, really. And that would be the extent of his small-talk. He waits. Because he's a dude. With a drink in his hand and that is SO much more important then making conversation.

There was no chance that Maryam wouldn't recognize W'rin, even without seeing his face. So she's well prepared when he turns and addresses her to raise that toast. Keeping her eyes averted, she murmurs, "To a new guard," before raising her veil just enough to allow the wine glass' press against her lip. It would be difficult to tell, given her natural reserve, whether she is subdued or simply crushed by the sudden surround of bodies. Tall she might be, but a slight build isn't made for carving space in a crowd and so she stands quiet, shoulders turn in and glass held before her. "Ma'am," she murmurs for Sienna's sake, with O'ell receiving a polite nod- and Zeyta a glance that could be interpreted as wary, as if a ticking bomb had just arrived and sat itself beside her.

With a bit less grace, M'yck returns to the bar for a refill, slamming down his mug and whistling for everybody's favorite: Jharlodar. Spinning to pit his back against the bar, the bluerider surveys the room, recognizing most of the regular faces and absorbing the new ones. When the particularly familiar begin to group together, he turns to grab his now-filled mug and move towards them. That is, however, until Zeyta entered the arena. He'll decide to stand his ground, for now, and simply watch the others.

Is there something exceptionally attractive about a covered woman who ventures to show the tiniest bit of of skin? W'rin's eyes linger on her lips for just a second before his weyrmate makes her presence known. "Sienna." His knots off, after all, as he slips an arm over her shoulders, this is surely as off duty as the man can get outside of lounging on his own couch in his boxers. The squeeze lasts only a minute before the arm drops and he's making introductions, "O'ell, Sienna, Sienna, O'ell." And then the brownrider appears, her salute is noted with a cool ambievelence, there is only one chance to make a first impression on the man, and her's was made months ago. "Rider." Despite his lack of knot his thin grin is all business for Zeyta. The blue-guard rider is ignore for now, whether his presence is noted or not is un-assertantiable.

Sienna returns O'ell's handshake with a firm one of her own. She's strong, despite her curves. "And you are…?" she asks with a crooked grin when he doesn't supply his own name. "And will we? Excellent." Nope, she hasn't heard. Or maybe she's just playing coy as she takes her hand back and then sips at her wine. But then W'rin is offering introductions and…putting his arm around her? The greenrider looks downright /startled/, but she slips her arm around the massive man's waist until he pulls his arm back and she lets hers drop with a smile. Hi, sweetie. Nice PDA. She appreciates it. "Evening, Maryam. How are things in The Pit?" she asks, smile warm for the woman whose family now fosters her twins. She notices Zeyta and M'yck, but has no reason to reach out. So she doesn't.

O'ell is oblivious of the imminent explosion. Though, he does have an excellent survival instinct that prompts a brow furrow and a quick glance around the bar. "Anyone else feel a chill? No? Just me. Okay then." Down the hatch the first shot of whiskey goes, a nod towards Maryam, Zeyta, and M'yck following just as he lowers his glass back to the table. "Right, sorry. What he said. Rider to Jafyth." is added, in a bland sort of way. "The Pit? That another place like this?" A gesture is made towards the room at large.

Zeyta heaves herself up into a barstool, feet dangling with every amount of dignity mustered to compensate for this diminutive reality, Fingers leaving imprints of cleared condensation where they grip her glass, she ferries it to her lips for a small sip, eyelids lowered to half-mast over his gaze in narrowed study of the cast assembled. Cutting in at the last, "Ah, yes. Congratulations to the new guard. So lovely to see the theme of revolution precedented by former Weyrsecond Teyaschianniarina continued." Her face re-works itself to offer a glib smile, full of artifice yet so proper in its delivery. Oh, is that M'yck, hulking in the corner? Her side-glance catalogues and dismisses him with nary a flicker of an eyelash.

Maryam toys with the stem of her wine glass, turning it slowly between ink-stained fingertips. Her head is down and at first, it seems she might well miss conversation directed towards her- she handled the greeting ritual well enough but it's clear she's withdrawing. At least until Sienna and O'ell combine their forces to bring her back to the present. Her head pulls up, her eyes blink once, slowly, owlish, before she recovers her manners. "Business does well, ma'am, thank you for asking. Mama is planning an exhibition bout in the coming weeks," she says, pitched slightly below the hum of bar conversation. "And I just arranged for the prizes. Custom brass knuckles of original design." A pause. "The Pit is for fighters, sir. Those who wish to test their mettle in combat. It is…" But there she trails off, made uncertain by Zeyta's razor-sharp remarks.

"The Pit is where men test their mettle." W'rin offers helpfully with a grin, "Use to be a regular there myself. The Steen's run a tight ship." And they are fostering his children which helps his impression of them. Zeyta's comment is responded too first with a smirk, a slow growing look. "Yes…" He soothes, his agreement not quite such, "Teya's revolution." The bitter sarcasm drips through his words. What does he have to hide, it's his weyr. At least for now. M'yck's presence is noted only after it is dismissed by Zeyta. Oh. well then, lets invite him over. The already half emptied drink is lifted into the air at the guard. "Bluerider? Care to join us?" He leaves O'ell and Sienna to themselves for now, their business is weyrling business.

O'ell gives a sort of grunt at the explanation. Fighting Pit. Apparently that makes enough sense that he's not going to question it. "Oh, right." A single eyebrow twitches, perhaps. They didn't have -those- at Benden. But hey, when in Rome. "You been with the weyrling team long?" he prompts then, looking at Sienna and at least making a good faith attempt to converse with the woman. He notably asks's nothing about Teya or her revolution after hearing the bitterness in W'rinvoice. Touchy subjects - he leaves those alone.

Sienna smiles at Maryam, lifting her wine glass in a silent toast of pleasure at the news of The Pit doing favorably. "Sounds like a good prize," she says, though there's a subtle wince as she glances at her Weyrmate briefly. Then she looks back at O'ell, shaking her head. "This one? Not that long. Months. But I was an assistant back in oldtime Ista for many turns. You? With a weyrling team?"

O'ell gives one quick and simple headshake to answer that. "No ma'am." he drawls. "I was a Wingleader back at Benden. But this feels like it'll work out well. With less then a turn left… the more diverse the weyrling staff the better." He doesn't consider that he might need to elaborate on that. Instead, he holds out his glass for the waitress to pour he pre-paid refill in. And then tries to surreptitiously nod towards Zeyta. "Story there?" Y/N/LOL?

Muttering a few words to himself as W'rin's invitation is made plain, M'yck pushes himself from the bar and slowly ambles over to the group. "Ladies. Sirs." Words of acknowledgement and hello are offered, though anyone familiar with the man can likely ascertain the lack of true acknowledgement behind them. "Anyone willing to offer their talents in the Pit are welcome." A false smile is provided to those in attendance before he continues, "I'll keep my secrets and keep you lot guessing."

A woman with an elegant dress and a fancy updo is not, strictly speaking, standard Cantina fare. But here is Tuli anyway — fresh, evidently, from something diplomatic, if fancy bling and an annoyed expression are any indication — and giving absolutely no shits about fitting in with the evening crowds. She's weaving through the crowd in the direction of the bar, though 'weaving' is pretty easy when people keep getting hastily out of your quick-footed path.

Ah, water. A mean sobriety guides her glass down to the countertop, the coy splay of her mouth firm and alluring. Zeyta can appear pretty, when she wants - as now, with her cool, neutral concession to W'rin and his contrast of opinions, writ all over face and leaden in his tone. She retracts, back straightened to align ramrod against some invisible back to her stool, one elbow anchored down on the bar for support. Capturing O'ell in a withering stare of an expression that accords her a glacial, wintry regard, only slightly thawed by M'yck's actual approach. Gaze angling once more for W'rin, "Well let me: here with have Parhelion wingrider M'yck, of blue Oroqaith. He's an impartial arbiter of justice and invaluable asset to the guards. He's dedicated so much of himself to them, after all." Oh, her words are a double-edge sword, cruel and cutting though they strive to defend and honor at much the same time. Introductions made, she'll retreat to demure sipping of water. The man himself? Still not warranted due attention. But Tuli- "Weyrwoman Tuli!" An unflowering forefinger curls back in upon itself, beckoning her forth. She flashes the goldrider one of those grins, hailing her with deadly enthusiasm.

One Vintner walks into a baar. Hah. It's a joke. But Mayte has arrived, nonetheless, looking to survey the crowd. Hm hm. So Mayte goes her own way, to the bar though it's easier when one's following behind Tuli. Procuring a tall drink of golden liquid, Mayte turns around, and eyes the crowd again and eyes some familiar faces: W'rin, M'yck, et caetera.

Oh. Oh dear. There are things unspoken and invisible barbs flying around and over Maryam. Given the circumstances, she does what any self-respecting Igenite would do- takes another stiff sip of her wine, beneath the veil, to fortify herself against the odd currents of conversation. As the wineglass is lowered, a slow and extended breath lifts the cloth covering her face. "Perhaps Mama might open a heat for riders alone. There was interest enough when you returned to the sands, sir," she says, winter blue eyes shifting from M'yck to W'rin. "It would draw a crowd…if the dragons allowed it?"

Sienna nods with a smile for O'ell, watching him for a moment as she sips her wine. "Excellent. Happy to have you with us then." Giving the wine glass one more swirl, the greenrider finishes it and sets it down along with payment. "Back to work," she says by way of farewell, though she does briefly touch W'rin's arm and whisper something to him before she goes.

You overhear Sienna mutter, "I'm … the … ones … … drink … …" to W'rin.

O'ell sits back in his chair and just -watches- now. In comes a weyrwoan. And, out goes barbed words from a brownrider. Now this, this is interesting stuff. He shows no intent to participate mind you. Just some quick glances back and forth and a questioning gaze landing on W'rin, now that Sienna's making her exit. "Nice to meet you." Polite, as always.

W'rin doesn't much give a shit about M'yck's particular attitude, he really only invited the man over since it seemed it might be an opportunity to annoy Zeyta. But then the icy woman speaks, and the weyyrleader's assessing gaze is settled once more on the bluerider. "If he wanted to work for the guard he shouldn't have impressed, fighting dragons have better things to do than stalk after petty criminals." This is more a retort for the female brownrider than M'yck, and he says as much but settling small steely eyes back on her for just a moment, the thought should be accentuated by the draw of his whiskey, but then his weyrmate is whispering in his ear, and he all but chokes on the liquor. Taking a moment to recover, he glances at Maryam. "Valiuth need not be involved. Dragon's mind is rather…preoccupied." Not that weyrleader's is really on anything else. "If however, you find someone who'd like to fight me, I'd be willing to remove my knot again."

One can see the wince, even across a crowded bar. Tuli has been diplomating ALL DAY, she has used up her Strategic Poker Face Reserves, and by gum she just wants to sit at the bar in her fancy duds and DRINK. And yet. Thus summoned, she goes, a pint clutched behind hands (manicured, yet underlyingly rough, like a pitchfork someone put gilt on) with life preserver intensity. One temporarily detaches to salute the group at large, a trifle sloppy in its angle. "Evening," the woman says, the moment she's in earshot. She's slightly hoarse. "Did you need something, Zeyta?" Implication: please don't need something, she's tired :(

Glaring at Zeyta as she rattles off his name and position, M'yck's firm stare eventually comes to rest on the newly introduced. Never one to be very involved in politics, "Don't tempt me, Sir." His words follow quickly after the Weyrleader's last, and betray his earlier stance on the Pit. "It's a good thing I've no need for rest." Raising the mug to his mouth, the bluerider holds his stare as he drinks.

"Petty is an interesting word, sir," Zeyta remarks in bland disinterest, absorbing the intended shock without a break in facade to reveal how it reverberates within her. Instead, she perches to pass judgment on the sole Steen representative. Again: nothing sly to the steel-sharp study of the veiled Maryam, difficult to discern behind the drapes of fabric that conceal her. Onto the next victim: Tuli. "Of course not. Need you anything?" She's here to play dutiful secretary, knocking the counter for Jharlodar's attention, even as she vacates her seat for the goldrider to claim, all in the interest of seeming deferential.

Oh what the heck. Mayte sidles up to the table and wonders, "What about that huge Smith, sir? Aaron? He looks about your size." And like a cheeky kid who'll get shooed away, Mayte just sips her drink, looking for all the world like she was there all along. Sienna's empty seat gets a blink: there was someone in it a moment ago, but Mayte doesn't bother moving to it. There's a five-minute rule on chairs in Mayte's world, though she is eyeing it.

This might be the first time Maryam has ever been drinking in a bar. This might also be the first time she's had a front row seat to two men squaring off. Somehow the energy of it all is a little different when one is six inches away from the participants. She seems less nervous than curious, however- knowing W'rin, it probably won't come down to a wrestling match on the floor of the Cantina. So she watches, she lifts her veil, she sips her wine- and when the tension has drawn out for a long, agonizing moment, she suggests, "Perhaps an arm wrestling match, sirs. Friendly competition." As opposed to the opposite sort. Then, hook baited, left to rest for the riders, she shifts slightly on her feet and lets her gaze swing in the direction of prickling senses, to survey Zeyta there on her throne before it's given over to a goldrider.

Once again beady eyes rest on M'yck. Cool, and thoughtfull until the giant of a man's face falls into a grin, "Was that a challenge, bluerider?" Rather than upset, W'rin looks quite pleased. "You'd actually challenge your weyrleader in a fight?" Oh yes, there is a masculine approval of this idea, even if his arm props up against the bar to show off its massive size just a bit. "Maryam. If the bluerider pleases, I'd be happy to grace your mother's sands again." Mayte's arrival however is noted with with a grunted chuckle. "Aaron, he's good people. I'd happily fight him on the floor." Because that's what one does with those one respects, beat them to a bloddy pulp.

"No," says Tuli, accepting the vacated seat with glum resignation. "I'm fine. Thank you, Zeyta." She sets her pint down for a moment and fidgets irritably with her hair, pulling a tight braid loose with an air of relief. And then she picks her drink up, quaffs like an expert, and visibly relaxes. Maybe she's turning into an alcoholic, maybe that's why she's so touchy. After a moment of close-eyed silence, she eyes the group she's found herself summoned into. O'ell she doesn't know, W'rin she saluted at so whatever, Zeyta has been dealt with, M'yck gets a nod, and Maryam and Mayte both get two-second smiles. There. Now she's going to start drinking again.

"As long as the knot hits the ground first." A moments pause, "Then you will." A wink will follow from the bluerider as his mug travels to his mouth once again. "Place is already settled, so… time?" As a grin overtakes his public expression, Tuli's nod pulls at his attention, forcing the man to snap a salute.

W'rin sighs heavily as the group grows by one more, and that one happens to be a goldrider who at the best of times is cold toward him. So much for escaping the politics of weyr life for an hour or so. His knot is fished from his pocket as he takes another glance around, most of the those gathered he's rather ambievelent towards, and those he isn't don't go much in their favor, besides perhaps Mayte and Maryam, though for the moment they'll have to take one for the team. Tuli gets a salute, "Mayte, Maryam." A brief nod as is proper for those who live in the bazaar. "Rider." Is given as a farewell to M'yck, "The daughter of Steen, will assure you the knot always comes off first. Whenever you call the fight." Zeyta, well she's ignored. A brownrider who refuses to fly on a fighting wing just isn't worth his time. Or his weyr's resources - but that's a fight for another time, with Corelle. "If you will all excuse me, I have a woman waiting for me, and she promised to be in a slinky red dress when I got home." And what better way is there to escape life, than that?

Zeyta orders the frazzled goldrider a basket of pubchips regardless, because who can resist the lure of salted goodness? Barking at the server to hasten with his delivery, she stands. This, however, proves a brief affair; too obvious is her height (or lack thereof), and so she installs herself in the seat beside Tuli, raising a wary brow at the men with their shows of machismo - until he makes for his departure. "Well, there you have it, bluerider."

Mayte is totally full of good ideas and if only people would listen to her, but with her good idea expressed, Mayte takes a moment to look around at everyone else. O hai. Tuli gets a very respectful nod back, but Mayte's not about to interfere with a woman and her drinking, so back to W'rin: "I know he's at Southern, but sometimes he comes up and comes through my store for wine." See, Mayte can Help! But W'rin is up and out the door so oh well, "Um, 'night, Weyrleader," she tells him. And then M'yck gets a very-nearly-impressed look, Mayte totally missing any intimation about Sienna in red.

"As the Weyrleader has said, sir," Maryam murmurs to M'yck, though there's a distinct possibility of her voice being lost in the crowdnoise. "W'rin has stood on our sands and lost before, with no consequence to the victor." Though that should probably go without saying, she feels compelled to make a note of it anyway- as is proper. Then, with the largest human shield now departed, she clasps her wineglass between both hands and surveys those left behind. Tuli's smile earns a dip of the head in answer, Mayte a small smile around the eyes.

Maybe if Tuli wasn't frazzled she'd have caught the underlying vibes of W'rin's sudden departure: maybe she'd even have made the effort to be a more friendly presence. (Hahahahaha when whers fly outside a Todd book.) In her defense, she's too busy in her cups to notice his departure until the slinky red dress remark (she looks sour about that, for some reason). She does return the salute. A little belatedly. Finally her mug meets the table, its contents lessened considerably, and she blinks owlishly at her tablemates. "Oh," she says, tentatively, "are you arranging a brawl?" The chips arrive, and Zeyta's prediction proves correct, for Tuli is quick to reach for one.

Offering a nod to Maryam for her assurances, "Good. I'll be in touch." Turning to Zeyta, "I do have it." Aggression and intent are poorly hidden behind his eyes as they stare at the small brownrider. Blood is in the water, and he is smelling it. When Tuli chimes in, his stare breaks to flick to the chips before settling on the goldrider. "No Ma'am. Just a one on one. It'll be quick." Apparently feeling bold tonight, M'yck is not shy about professing his prowess.

Zeyta waves M'yck and his gruff mannerisms away, banishing him from her sight. Back to being tangential in their interactions, her half-empty water glass the brunt recipient of her attention. Speaking mostly to its contents, she murmurs, "If Kyri and Dirna were here, this Pit would have prime business." Casual askance seeks out Maryam. "Tell me. Does the Pit accept women fighters?"

Blah blah, fight-posturing, and so on. Mayte isn't truly paying attention to what M'yck is saying, but Zeyta's question filters through to the Apprentice's brain and she stares at the brownrider in a mix of surprise and fascination, before looking curiously at Maryam. A quaff from Mayte's glass to wet Mayte's suddenly dry mouth.

Maryam senses a trap. But with half a glass of wine in her system- yes she's a lightweight- she doesn't have the reflexes present to avoid it. Winter blue eyes meet and hold honey gold. "In the occasional novelty match, yes ma'am. There have been no serious women fighters on the sands since my mother's time, some thirty Turns ago." But lest Zeyta consider that an invitation, she adds softly, "It is considered inappropriate for a woman. Unfeminine." Perhaps not the wisest statement to make, when surrounded by Oldtimers and ranking women; that she's aware of that shows in the way Maryam lifts her chin, bracing herself with a proud stance for the backlash.

"Well. Try not to kill anyone, then." Tuli takes it as a given that M'yck will win, apparently. The statement is said in passing, and without much interest: she's in Mayte's camp, and far more interested in the matter of Zeyta vs. Maryam, Round One, Ladyfight. Maybe it's because she's been in her cups, or because she's been in Corelle's company all day, that she makes no effort to hide the scowl blossoming on her face. But still, she says nothing: just watches Old and New, her brow deeply furrowed.

"Wasn't it always a battle of wits with you, Zeyta? Not fists." M'yck provides his insight on the mention of women Pit fighters, though it was not asked. "I don't think that good Maryam here allows pencils to be used as weapons on her sands." Raising his mug to the ceiling, the bluerider polishes off what is left, bringing it back down on the table with a loud bang. "Haven't killed anyone yet. Don't plan on starting now." That may be a lie. Or it may be true.

"Much as I disagree with the stale sentiments of 'inappropriate'," yes, Zeyta withdraws hands to employ vicious, vicious air-quotes, "conduct in women, I'm of agreement here. It'd be uncouth of me to enter that Pit, much less entertain bawdy fools for doing so." Polarizing as ever, she strikes back against Maryam, cloying gaze bittersweet in its brightness. "How often do people die from the Pit. I wonder how lucrative a death match is." Since they're on the already morbid topic of killing - she takes it there, all framed by such an innocent (evil) smirk curling up the corners of her mouth.

Mayte's shoulders droop slightly at Maryam's last statement, but then she remembers something and asks Maryam, "But it has happened, right?" M'yck's questioning of a battle of wits draws a quiet snort from Mayte and she's practically mouthing her retort, into her glass of course. And Zeyta's apparently going to have fun with no matter where the conversation goes, so Mayte turns to go order something a titch stronger from the bar. Maybe there'll be popcorn too.

"It has happened, generations ago. And now for…entertainment." The veiled lady hesitates. "They are not my sands." Maryam should have simply accepted M'yck's defense or diversion or whatever he intended that to be- maybe he was just poking fun at Zeyta. Even so, it should have stood without argument. But no, her back is to the wall and she feels compelled to speak. To murmur, really. The sharper the edge of Zeyta's tongue, the quieter Steen's bookkeeping daughter becomes. But even soft ice is still cold. "Where men spill blood, men will die. However, what you describe is also inappropriate. You would do well not to wonder such things here. The guard has changed, after all."

"Zeyta could," says Tuli, dryly, "make a fortune if verbal flaying was a spectator sport." She weighs something in silence for a moment, obviously contemplating, before leaning over to the brownrider and muttering something, expression a too-careful blank that rather carefully doesn't rest on Maryam. After this, she rights herself, shoulders straight, and takes a drink, then comments, voice calm and easy: "It's a wonder they aren't, honestly. A good verbal row is more fun than a fistfight, if you ask me. There's only so much sweaty stomach punching I can see before I get bored, but there's no end to the entertainment of a good argument."

You overhear Tuli mutter, "If … could avoid … … … family … … I'd appreciate it, … … … … … on the girl …" to Zeyta.

Seemingly speaking from experience, "Trust me, Tuli. It can get old." M'yck's eyes will strategically return to Zeyta as he speaks, before moving to Maryam. "And, I must ask." Fingers are curled into a fist and brought to his mouth, as the bluerider clears his throat. "Was the guard not always opposing the spectacle of one killing another for fun?"

Mayte comes back to the gathering, a glass of red liquid in hand now - not the burgundy red of wine, but a clear red that, had one the care, can be seen through to the other side of the room. Mayte seems to sip it happily enough, but she waits a moment to get the thread of the conversation again. M'yck's comment earns a little smirk but she does listen curiously for the answer. Eyes flick briefly to Tuli, a curious look that ends again as Mayte focuses back on Maryam.

"Instead I make no fortune keeping books for goldriders. Woe is my luckless lot," says Zeyta, mocking in her self-deprecation as her histrionic streak flares. A tilted ear receives what words Tuli spills into them, severe mask of features careful to preserve its unintelligible stoicism. What ferocity burns in that amber stare dies, however, as she sits, complacent in her seat, snapping at the barkeep for a straw and a parasol to adorn her (refilled) glass of water. "My apologies. What I am saying is," here her monotone freezes, discourse cool and professional rather than frigidly confrontational, "your healer must be accustomed to unusual sights and dealings. A mark is a mark and a fight is a fight. Who cares whether the men offering them are crooked or straight." Reaching for a pubchip, she passes with earshot of Tuli alone, and who knows what words might pass guised as the crunch of salted tubers.

You overhear Zeyta mutter, "I've … … … promote … for … … … … impossible. … … need a healer though. … … … … told … Sadaiya's … plot to … … … … … overlook their physicals." to Tuli.

Or several pubchips! Sidebar conversations: rude, but necessary sometimes.

Maryam inclines her head to M'yck and offers up with soft dignity, "The guards here have always served themselves." Implying that they serve others now? Possible. Even probable, given that her gaze slides once more to Zeyta- and once there, her eyes narrow with the faint suggestion of a smile. Or maybe she just appreciates Tuli calling off the dogs. "What you are saying," she says, in spite of the apology, "is inappropriate." There's that word again. This time, however, care is taken to indicate their surroundings with a tip of her veiled head- and the crowd beyond, several of whom have ears bent to the conversation. "If you will excuse me. Ma'am, sir." The wineglass she'd been toying with, and failing to drink from, is set on the bar before she turns to depart.

At M'yck's mention of 'killing another for fun', there's a completely unsubtle stink eye from Tuli: way to miss her social cues, guy! She relaxes ever-so-slightly at whatever it is that Zeyta mutters, during that pubchip acquisition venture; there is also, however, a faint but unmistakable eye roll. The goldrider looks like she might be about to say something, but Maryam's words — and departure — forestall it. Instead she has this to offer, smiling ever so briefly: "Of course. By the by, I'd like to introduce myself to your mother, if I could. Would you please have her send me a message, letting me know what's a good time for her?" She doesn't follow it up with another mutter: she just holds up a hand to Zeyta. A 'hold your runners' sign: she must be waiting until Maryam is safely out of earshot.

As much as Mayte is waiting breathlessly for Maryam's response, a couple of whispered words pass close enough to Mayte's ear to make her expression freeze for a moment but the Vintner digs into her drink for a moment to hide such an facial betrayal, and then Maryam is rising to depart. "Good night, Maryam," she says meekly, the innocentest of Vintner Apprentices this side of Pern.

Tightening up at Maryam's comments concerning the Guard, it's clear that she has made it onto M'yck's List. Monitoring her through narrowed eyes as she departs, he continues to miss any and all social cues from Tuli- they're optional anyway, right? Tearing his focus away from the new face is Mayte's reaction to the whispered words. Now the narrow eyes have a new victim: everyone else.

Zeyta's face twitches, a brief flash of contempt lighting across it as she glares at M'yck. It could be a diverted reaction, it could not be; generally, the non-social brownrider has enough vitriol to share without any provocation. Leaning over the table, she pilots the straw into her mouth and…drinks, defaulting into silence. For a moment. As the Steen girl departs, she begrudges Tuli a frown, speaking to a certain level of comfort brokered by this show of emotion. Still, it's not endearing, either. "Come by my weyr. Select some vintage bottle. An antique, whatever." It's a familiar routine: Zeyta commits a social error, and tries to exonerate her blundering by buying back her forgiveness with rare goods. It pains her to part with her Oldtime wealth.

The call from Tuli brings Maryam to a brief halt. She turns- looking over her shoulder would be insufferably rude- and sketches a bow to the weyrwoman, though there's a stiffness to it that leeches any grace the gesture might have had. "As you like, ma'am. I will pass the message on." Upon rising, her regard swings over the faces of the others assembled here- Mayte in full innocent display, M'yck and his disapproval, Zeyta with her bribes. Just that, a moment's study, before she turns on her heel and goes in truth.

"Excuse me, Zeyta?" A hand taps your shoulder before you find yourself spun about and promptly dipsmoooooooched to within an inch of your life. When finally released from the dizzying kiss, Maryam winks at you and walks away, casting a 'come hither' look over one shoulder. Mrrow! :)

From the immediate reaction of stiffness, Mayte is slowly unfreezing as conversation continues, relatively as before. The only one glaring in her direction is M'yck and that's not terribly unusual, so Mayte just pretends to be a wallflower, unfolding slightly at the sunny mention of vintage wines; purely a professional interest, of course. But Mayte knows when she's not involved in those wines and watches Maryam make her way out the door and then her eyes swing back to the potentially least offensive member of this conversation: the table, with occasional glances at the others. Especially M'yck, who requires special watching in case he decided to abscond with her drink again.

"That," Tuli says, voice low enough to not carry far, but openly irritated in a colleague-squabble sort of way, "was embarrassing. I am embarrassed." At Zeyta, at M'yck, at the whole situation. (Mayte's cool, though. Mayte didn't do anything.) "I will handle the matter of the Steen healer, alright. I was going to visit the Steens anyway. I'll multitask." She snorts, runnerlike. "And yeah, I think you're parting with that Benden red I was eyeing last time." Alas, poor Zeyta. Much belatedly, she remembers Mayte's presence. Only peripherally involved in the mystery that makes the girl so aggressively innocent, and thus uncertain of allegiances, she merely shoots her a look, lifting a finger to her mouth. Sssh. You saw nothing.

Hardening his composure, M'yck straightens and stands tall, absorbing the words from an angered Tuli. No excuses or defenses are provided- he knows he has a history of biting first, thinking later. It is why his teeth are kept sharp and white: friction. "Yes, Ma'am," are his only words, though it is not very clear as to what he's agreeing to. Zeyta provides gifts, M'yck simply agrees. Mug already empty, he apparently sees no reason to hang around. "Goodnight, ladies." In the blink of an eye, he's gone.

"Well, you know my talents," Zeyta offers by way of casual lift of her shoulders in reply, unfazed. More demonstratively, "I'll schedule a vacation within the next sevenday, if you like. And I'll buy M'yck a leash." Nevermind it's she who needs collaring. Still, responsibility tethers her, and she plays the dutiful secretary, pandering to appease the frustrated goldrider. "M'yck—" He leaves, resulting in a flustered Zeyta. "Well lest others be offended by my scandalous presence, I'll remove myself. I've a bottle of Benden red to gift wrap." So sad, so sad. Removing herself from the bar stool, she too, makes to disappear, saluting Tuli and ignoring poor, innocent Mayte. Swept up into so much weighted talk.

Tuli counter-salutes, but it's undeniably grudging. If she had kitty ears, they'd be flat with her skull at the moment. (And thus, with her hair, presumably rendered invisible.) With a sigh, she returns the bulk of her attention to her mug, relaxing as frienemies depart, leaving her in the comfortable embrace of bar-room strangers. And also Mayte, but it's not like she knows Mayte especially, so she doesn't count. The woman shoots the apprentice a look - it's very 'grown-ups, amirite, forgot you saw anything' - before relaxing into a beer-fueled silence. Her only contribution to the pellmell of the cantina is the soft munch of chips.

Mayte is just standing here idly, sipping something that could so easily be mistaken for alcoholic, or not, depending on one's bent. Since M'yck's not making any untoward movements towards her beverage, Mayte looks briefly over at Tuli's silent order and her face goes utterly blank for a moment, before regaining awareness, and giving the goldrider a terribly brief nod, though there a moment of strain as she tries not to burst out laughing at the idea of M'yck in a collar. Speaking of the man, where did he go? Zeyta's departing figure gets a slightly awed expression, and Mayte goes for another sip before realizing that it's all gone. Fiddlesticks. Well, that's over and done with, so Mayte ahems, "If you'll pardon my quick departure, madame, I should go for the evening." Before more people start talking around her and she has to listen even less.

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