==== February 15, 2014
==== Majel, Rhiex
==== Stop us if you've heard this one before: A guard and a merchant walk up to a bar.

Who Majel, Rhiex
What Stop us if you've heard this one before: A guard and a merchant walk up to a bar.
When It is early evening of the twenty-second day of the first month of the first turn of the 12th pass.
Where Dustbowl Cantina, Igen Weyr

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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.

Off-duty guards can party the hardest — even the knot of Igen guards who are actually concerned about their duties and reputations. Rhiex is up by the bar, waiting for a round of drinks for his buddies who carrouse loudly at a table not too far away. The guardsman ducks his head in a laughing smile for something he overhears, but is otherwise preoccupied with the game of waiting.

Tucked into a close set of seats, Majel and her two male companions are apparently talking business. Neb, portly stall owner that he is, has been in charge of the conversation for the past half-hour, occasionally gesturing hither and thither to punctuate a most definite statement or six. There's a pinched set to the young woman's expression, but it's deliberately turned into a polite, if uneasy smile for the other party at their table, who seems to be busy trying to seek his new contact's eyes somewhere in her chest. Eventually, the men shake hands and wave her off toward the bar. So it is that Majel finds herself ending up next to Rhiex after placing her order for her table, waiting just like him, if less cheerfully.

Rhiex is eternally polite in the way of a well-reared young man: he sways to give her more space at the bar, having zero compulsions about elbowing the person on the other side of him over to do so. "Evening," he greets Majel, his voice touched with Oldtimer persuasion. "Been a long day already, has it?" He's a demeanor about him that makes it far from the typical skeezy pick-up lines that most girls would find at a bar-counter; there's tracings of actual sympathy to the words.

Perhaps it's that detectable hint of sympathy that gives Majel pause, bringing hazel eyes up to meet blue. "Very, " she says agreeably after a few moments, still unsmiling. The furrow pressed into her brow eases a tad, however, if only just. "You too, I take it?" A measuring glance at the space left by his swaying over later, she cautiously fills it, folding both arms over the counter. If the uneasy flicker of a look she casts back at her table is anything to go by, she'd be quite pleased if their order took an exceptionally long time. She's in no hurry.

The bartenders are slacking — no Jharl tonight, and that slows everything down. Too much fun-having and chatter, not enough liquor poured. They may be here for a minute. Rhiex doesn't much mind, or doesn't seem to, at least. "It's quieter up here than back there," he hooks a thumb over his shoulder at the table of offduty guardsmen. "Less of a chance to catch a migraine." His eyes follow hers back to the table, and his eyebrows furrow significantly: "Is anyone bothering you, miss?" Off-duty apparently doesn't mean much.

Majel pinches the bridge of her nose lightly at the mention of avoiding migraines. "I'm sure there is. Even quieter environments create headaches, though." Case in point, she flaps a hand in the direction of her table, oblivious to how it makes Neb's new supplier sit up straighter and smugly puff out his chest; clearly, he believes she was waving at them. Or at him. "I'm not being - directly bothered, " she says at last, truthful. "My boss just struck a deal with another unsavory sort. All in a day's work, really." Her tone dries neatly by the time she's finished matter-of-factly, but warms a little as she adds, "It's kind of you to ask."

"Point," Rhiex concedes to her comment regarding the genesis of migraines. The focus of his eyes follow her hand-flap to consider the new supplier: his gaze, by the time it ends upon that point, has gone completely guard-neutral, copface cold. "It is unfortunate," he replies to Majel. "Being forced to deal with unsavory sorts." His professional demeanor relaxes enough for him to offer her a smile, curling up moreso on the left than the right. "My apologies for my lack of manners. I'm Rhiex," and he extends his hand in that infernal tradition of hand-shaking the Oldtimers brought with them.

"I've seen and heard worse, " not that the exposure makes it any less difficult. "He'll get bored soon enough." They all do, says her dismissive shrug. She finally answers his smile with a small one of her own. "No lack of manners observed, Rhiex, " she assures him. "Majel." She grasps his offered hand in a surprisingly brisk shake. "Well met."

"Majel," Rhiex returns. The bartender is finally working on getting together his tray of drinks — a full round of ales for the crew back at th table — but Rhiex's momentary squint over at that direction proves it will be yet another minute. "I wish my own charges became bored with their constant skirmashes and misdemeanors," the man comments, reflectively. "At least in your line of work you can have some measure of hope, hmm?"

Majel's lips purse lightly. "When it isn't annoying to witness someone squabbling, it can be … fascinating, " much in the same way that one might find forming ripples or swirling sand interesting. An eyebrow lifts as she deadpans, "Literally. Some days, it's more difficult to determine its length than on others. This morning, it was somewhere around, oh, about as long as both of my feet, according to my tape."

And there, the last beers are set up on that tray and hefted over to Rhiex. The man takes it, of course, reflexively, and casts a wry smile over the top of it to Majel. "Well, perhaps tomorrow it will be at least the length of your arm," he gravely states. "Or even longer." The guardsman delivers a quick wink before he turns to return to his table. Back to the noise and bad jokes!

"Perhaps, " Majel replies absently as her smaller tray comes up behind his; a water for her and two ales for the men who are still preoccupied with posturing back and forth across their table. There's a grin for the departing guard, and then it's back to the tail end of her business meeting, albeit with a more serene set to her shoulders. Although the owner and supplier keep chatting and quaffing drinks for the next hour, she makes her excuses within the next half, no doubt with relief.

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