Cards, Tricks and Duties

Xanadu Weyr - Wanderin' Wherry Tavern

It is often whispered in the crowds that converge here, that a certain Weyrleader was asked what he wanted in the remodeling of the pub that was not so long ago given a refreshing. He muttered back over the rim of his ever-present mug, "I don't care what you do with the place, just so long as there is plenty of ale." With that in mind, cask after cask of ale lines the walls of the tavern, the remodeler's idea of a jest. As they age, the casks bring a real rustic atmosphere to the pub, along with the deeply wooden flavor that seems to be the theme throughout. The lighting is dim, as it should be in all good pubs, and the tables and chairs are plentiful. A long mahogany bar, intricately carved with runner beasts, stands vigilant duty at the head of the bar, lined with stools for those patrons that seek the bartender's company.

With spring hurriedly drawing to a close, and summer's heat and humidity becoming more pronounced as the days draw longer, the possibilities for entertainment increase exponentially. However, the water is still a bit chilly, the evenings still have a certain bite to them, and many of the horses are still a bit wild from a long winter under exercised, and so many residents have chosen to congregate in the caverns, the tavern, and the other gathering areas around the Weyr. With Kilaueth on the Sands, Niva's options are certainly limited, and this evening she has retreated from the heat of the Hatching Arena to the Tavern, and its there that she's settled, enjoying a warmed drink and a bit of peace as Kilaueth doses around the clutch she protects.

Avani has been sticking closer to the Weyr the last few days as she Runs messages within the immediate area while the Trails decide if they want to be overgrown, flooded, or non-existant during the last of the spring thaw. As a result, the young woman finds herself seating on a stool at the far end of the bar, watching people as they move about and keeping her eyes and ears open for anyone who might need her services. As a result, all that sits before her is a cup of redfruit juice and a small plate of meatrolls and fried spiderclaws.

At one of the tables toward the back, Aludra and Norela are having a bit of card playing. It doesn't appear they're gambling, but more like they're playing to test one another's skill level. There are a pile of nuts in the center of the table, and while it's not actual money they're betting, the winner gets eating rights. Both of them have a drink sitting untouched beside them, and both appear to be in good spirits. "Now," Aludra is saying. "I get two of those back." She pulls two nuts back toward herself. "The bet was only three with your call." It's a friendly game, at least. Aludra looks up at the crowd, spotting a couple of people she knows, and then notices the Senior Weyrwoman. A polite nod is offered in Niva's direction, should she look toward the two young women playing cards.

Friendly game or not, playing cards always brings out Norela's competitive side. "Well, if that's all you can afford to risk… hah! Read 'em and weep." She grins as she lays her cards out on the table, clearly expecting a victory. Still, the smile on her face shows that she isn't taking the game all /that/ seriously. When she sees Aludra nod in Niva's direction, she turns her chair to try to get a look at the unfamiliar woman. Not recognizing her, she turns back to Aludra. "Friend of yours?" She asks, quietly. She spots Avani over at the far end of the bar and squints, perhaps uncertain whether she recognizes the woman or not. Traders deal with runners fairly often, after all.

As the evening continues, as its bound to happen, people continue to trickle into the Tavern, and it is when a group of crafters - some of whom are acting as if they've already enjoyed another drinking establishment somewhere else - take over the table she had laid claim to, she's hurriedly abandoning her territory before she's pulled into a rowdy drinking song. And so, as she retreats to a quiter part of the tavern, she pauses to glance over Aludra's shoulder, a smirk on her face as her eyes dart to Norela. "I'd not be too certain of that." She comments, even as she moves on, pausing at the bar to get her mug refilled as she glances Avani over with a pleasant nod.

Aludra laughs. "No, /you/ read 'em and weep," she says, laying out her winning hand. "That's more like it," she purrs, pulling the nuts toward her. A glance up and back, and she smiling. "Evening, M'am," is offered respectfully. "My duty to your queen. I trust everything is going well on the sands?" Aludra gestures to an empty chair. "Would you care to join us?" she offers, hearing the rowdy crowd elsewhere in the tavern. "I can't promise we'll be as entertaining as they are, but we'll certainly be quieter." There's a sparkle of amusement in her eyes, which are more green tonight than hazel. "This is Norela, in case you haven't met. She's with the caravan camped nearby."

With the cluster of people taking over a table, Avani shifts her position slightly and spots the WeyrWoman, if the shoulder knot is any indication. She returns the nod of greeting before reaching towards the bar and her snacks, cracking open another spiderclaw as she watches the activity. She gives a quick glance towards her feet to ensure that her message bag is still there, but then returns to watching the crowd and eating.

"Bah!" Norela shakes her fist at Aludra, though the smile on her face is enough to show she isn't actually taking the loss all that seriously. "I insist we play again. Perhaps the loser can buy a round of drinks, I think we could use one by this point in the evening. Of course, we could use some new players…" She turns to grin at Niva. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I…" Then she spots the knot. She sits up a little straighter, her tone more formal. "Erhm, that's right. I'm Norela, with the trader caravan. Nice to meet you, weyrwoman. Uhm, would you care to join our game?" Her eyes drift to Avani again. "Perhaps we should invite the girl with the messenger bag as well. I'd be bored, alone at a bar."

"Good evening…" Niva offers in turn to Aludra, even as she turns back to look down at their table from where she leans against the bar, a sidelong look at Avani before the Weyrwoman motions for the Runner to join the other young women there. "Consider yourself off-duty for the evening, Runner. Everyone needs a bit to relax." The arched eyebrow indicates that perhaps its more than a suggestion, but rather than enforce it, she turns back to Norela and Aludra, chuckling softly at the Trader's reaction. "Welcome to Xanadu, trader Norela… Do make sure to speak up, if there's anything we can do.." She flicks her fingers at the pair as she sips at her drink. "Enjoy yourselves.. I think I prefer to watch."

"Of course, M'am," Aludra says, nodding. She glances at the runner, thinking maybe it might be Tecoah, but it's a new person. "Hello, yes, please feel free to join us, if you wish." The offer is genuinely made, and left to the runner. Aludra turns back to Norela, grinning. She leans forward, saying softly, "Relax. She may be the Senior Weyrwoman, but I've never seen her actually bite anyone." Hopefully that statement went unheard in the rowdy tavern; Aludra doesn't actually know the Weyrwoman personally. "All right, your deal—-and I'll be watching, so no trader tricks. We run an /honest/ game around here." There's a wink for Norela, too, just to make sure no offense was taken. Then, "How are things at the caravan. I've been wanting to get out there and see those scented oils you mentioned the other day."

Norela does still seem a little nervous about having the weyrwoman nearby, but does her best to relax. "Thank you, ma'am. The people of Xanadu have been incredibly hospitable, it's always a pleasure to stop by here, even for a little while." She looks back to Aludra as she picks up the deck, starting to shuffle. "Trader tricks?" She repeats, with a mock-insulted tone. "I'll have you know that when it comes to card games, our ethics are beyond reproach." She deals out the cards as she answers. "Business is going well. We've been selling a great deal, though I do think we still have plenty of those oils. I can probably get you some samples."

Avani blinks as she gets a sudden invitation from the card table. When she's voluntold to join the group by none other than the WeyrWoman, she finishes the spiderclaws in her hand, leans down to pick up her message bag, puts the strap over her shoulder and grabs her mug in one hand and her plate of snacks in the other before dutifully making her way towards the group. When the pair appear to continue their card game, she sets her food at the end of their table and offers a curtsy to the WeyrWoman. "Can I help you, Ma'am?" she offers, her hand snaking over with a mind if its own to get two meatrolls which she starts to break into pieces which eventually make their way to her mouth (though some are made so small that they land on the floor instead). The pouch is dropped onto the floor and pushed under her chair in a fair imitation of a casual air. She manages to not even glance at the thing as she keeps her gaze on the rider of Xanadu's senior queen.

Given the little smirk on Niva's face, perhaps she caught a little of the Holder-girl's reassurance to her Trader friend, though she herself remains silent on the matter - after all, perhaps she does bite. As the Trader deals, she listens quietly to their conversation, sipping at her cider as she does so, pausing behind Norela to try and sneak a peek at her cards. "We do enjoy the Traders.." As Avani appears, she waves at the Messenger, nodding to the seat with a wink. "Enjoy yourself. I'd rather your superiors not think we never gave you time off. I'm sure they can deal you in.." Right?

"Of course we can," Aludra says, regarding dealing Avani into the game. "The more the merrier, after all. There're more nuts in the bowls on the bar, so feel free to grab some. The ante's two nuts at the moment, though that's actually dealer's choice." She cocks her head toward Norela, grinning. "You gotta watch her, though. She's tricky." It's an entirely friendly atmosphere, at least on this end of the tavern. Aludra's eyes are sparkling with good humor, and she glances up at the Weyrwoman now and then. "How are you, M'am?" she asks of Niva, then turns her attention to the cards. "Hope you dealt me another winning hand, Norela. I'm very fond of these nuts."

At the weyrwoman's suggestion, Norela makes certain to deal in an extra hand for Avani at the end of the table where the runner set her food. "I'm Norela, with the trade caravan. Would you care to join us for a game of cards?" Nevermind that the invitation was basically already made. Norela lifts the edge of her cards to get a look at them once she's done dealing, making sure to allow the weyrwoman to have a peek as well. "Two nuts is fine. Though I say we play for drinks as well… or at least order some. Nuts make me thirsty."

Norela looks up from her cards, blinking at Avani. Is there nowhere she can go without leadership types? Still, she tries to keep her smile casual. "Pleased to meet you, Avani. Will you be joining our game?" She lifts up her cards for another look. "Of course, of course. It would hardly be fair to make the loser buy for people who aren't in the game! Right? Anyways… I'll bet." She takes a handful of nuts, tossing them into the middle of the table.

Avani glances at the WeyrWoman and freezes for a moment before apparently making a decision and shaking her head. "Not at all, Ma'am," she offers, "I simply would not want to take up too much of their time to learn the rules." She nods to Aludra, "Well met." Another glance towards the door. She can't seem to help it, but then her attention turns to her snacks. See? Not at all watching the entrance. Another quick glance, then the spiderclaws are tackled.

"Perhaps you'll learn, and next time you can join in." Niva offers with a smile and a nod to Avani, giving one more look almost suspiciously to the entrance way, following the runner's line of site before her attention turns back to the cards, pausing to take a peek at the hand that Avani was dealt, eyes flicking to the two actively playing. "You should be glad she's not sure how to play.." Of course, perhaps its merely a bluff as she continues to sip at her cider.

K'ael strolls into the tavern. He's just coming back from filling out the evening report, and he's still dressed in his rider garb. He's even got his knot on today! What a treat! He whistles a bit as he heads to the bar, spotting at least the weyrwoman on his way and giving her a wave. There's also a wave for Aludra, the other two ladies with them he doesn't recognize. Once he's acquired his beer and put an order in for something to eat he heads over to lean on Aludra's chair. "Evening ladies."

Aludra appears to be concentrating on her cards, not noticing K'ael until he leans on her chair. "Oh, hello!" she says, smiling warmly at the bronzerider. The cards are, for the moment, ignored. "Nice to see you, K'ael," she adds, turning to look up at him with that same smile. Then, being the polite girl she is, there are introductions to be made. Well, maybe not for the Weyrwoman, but for the other two at her table. "This is K'ael, rider of bronze Azaeth. K'ael, this is Norela of the trader caravan camped near here, and Avani, a messenger whom I've just met." She grins. "I'm sure you already know the Sr. Weyrwoman." A glance all around, then back up to the rider. "As you can see, we're playing cards. So far, I'm winning," she adds with a wide grin for her large pile of nuts. "Join us, won't you?"

"Oh, it wouldn't be any trouble." Norela assures Avani, smiling. "We'd be happy to teach you the rules… well, after this hand, maybe. This could be a good one." She's distracted momentarially by the arrival of the rider, nodding politely at him. "Nice to meet you, K'ael. Are you a friend of Aludra's?" She takes another peek at her cards, then grins at her opponent. "Winning so far. That could change. Now, are you calling or not?"

"Runner," Avani corrects instantly, "A _Runner_ that you've just met." It's about that point that point that her eyes stop checking the man's hands and belt for signs of a message and she relaxes slightly. "Please, take my hand, Sir." The offer is done with her usual thin-lipped smile before she takes a drink from her mug and rises (to let K'ael sit near his newly acquired hand, of course) and set herself and her meal in another seat at the table which allows a proper view of the entrance. As an afterthought, she bends down to reach under the table to pull her bag from the place she had stowed it beneath her previous seat to once more be out of sight unless anyone was looking for it.

"Wingleader.." Niva's greeting to K'ael is rather cool as the bronzerider appears and joins the group and their cards. As Avani is vacating her own seat for K'ael, Niva is finally settling into one of her own - one on the opposite side of the table - sliding her mug onto the surface and folding her arms across her chest. However, K'ael is for the most part ignored, her attention drifting back to Avani with a questioning look, gaze lingering on the Runner.

K'ael smiles to Aludra. "Hey. Nice to see you as well. And nice to meet you Norela and Avani." He chuckles a bit. "Yes, Niva and I know each other." There's a blink as Avani offers him her seat. And her cards. "Not a big card fan? I used to run a weekly game while I was at Ista. I don't play much anymore." He picks up Avani's cards to study them for a moment. "Yes, Aludra and I are friends." And K'ael, being the jerk he is, blows a kiss to the hardened goldrider. "I heard Nicca is eighteen now. Has she stood yet?"

"Oh, um, pardon me," Aludra says when corrected by Avani. Her cheeks flush brightly, and she turns her eyes to her cards. "Yes, I'm calling, just … give me a moment," she tells Norela, toying with two or three nuts from her pile. "I call, and raise two nuts." Apparently, she must have a pretty good hand herself. Avani's quick abandonment of her former seat draws faint attentino, but then Aludra's glancing back up at K'ael as he sits and picks up the cards Avani was dealt. "Yes, friends," she answers Norela, her cheeks still pink. "He's made up for nearly landing his dragon me." There's a teasing hint in her voice, and she gives K'ael a wink. She slides two more nuts into the pot, and grins at Norela. "You're not gonna bluff me into folding, so don't even try."

Avani suddenly realises that she's ended up beside the WeyrWoman and busies herself with the shredding of another meatroll, this time into her plate. When she glances up to see the questioning look still lingering, she sighs and finally offers in a monotone. "My Father may be visiting today." And she leaves it at that for the moment.

Niva practically glares at K'ael as he blows her that kiss, nose scrunching up as she does so. "Why am I not surprised that K'ael would find any excuse he could to talk to a girl?" The Weyrwoman says with a bit of a snort, shaking her head. "Nicca's old enough to make her own decisions, even should she not wish to stand again." She shrugs it off, before reaching to steal a nut from the bowl they're betting from, and then to glance at Avani. "The Weyr protects its own - rider or crafter." She tries to reassure her.

K'ael grins. "I call as well. I suppose. Are these my nuts here?" He's thankfully not near drunk enough to make a comment about their choice of chip. Then he chuckles. "I'm not sure how I've made it up. I still haven't taken you riding." Then he grins to Norela. "Unfortunately there's not much to tell. No broken bones or anything of the like." Then he laughs at Niva. "Not hoping for another greenrider then?"

Aludra isn't ignoring anyone at the table, including Avani. When she hears the Runner explain why she's glancing so often at the tavern door, she nods slightly to herself. She doesn't comment, though, allowing that she eavesdropped. Instead, she turns her attention to her hand, chewing her lower lip as she waits for K'ael to get settled with his cards. "He," she says, nodding toward the rider, "could spoil your victory, yanno? So, don't count your drinks until they're … poured." She scrambles a little to think of a substitute for the usual "egg" analogy. "About those samples," she comments. "I'd appreciate it. I'm running out of my scent, and I'd like to have some more, if you carry it. It's a combination of rose, lavender and water lily." As K'ael recounts the story, she smiles. "No, you haven't, but you've still made up for it." Cryptic, that.

"Then I call as well." Norela says very quickly after K'ael, throwing another couple of nuts into the growing pot in the middle of the table. She deals the next three cards as the round of betting comes to an end. She gives Aludra a bright smile as she waits for the other girl's action. "Still feeling good about your hand?" When the topic turns back to business she looks just a little more serious. "Rose, lavender, and water lily. Well, I'll find the closest things I can and bring you some samples. Then you can put in an order for whichever you prefer. Sound fair?"

Avani gives a start, "My Father would never seek that _harm_ me!" She catches her tone, who she's speaking to and the fact that louder words mean more ears can hear it, and lowers her voice a few decibels, "It's just… My eldest sister is to be married. Only a sevenday ago they were still in negotiations with two prospective mates for her…" She lets the words hang in the air, working on a few more spiderclaws.

"Certainly not with bronzeriders like -you- around to potentially catch her. At least Vivian has some sense, sometimes I wonder if Nicca's even got a head on her shoulders." A huff, and Niva shakes her head, frustration at K'ael slipping in a bit to her words. "I didn't say harm - but should you not wish to go, we'll be sure no one attempts to make you." But even then she's pushing the chair out noisily, getting to her feet with an empty mug in her hand. "I should check on Kilaueth." And with a bob of her head to the girls, she's offering a pleasant good evening, while K'ael gets only a glare and she's working against the flow of people making their way into the tavern to retreat to the Sands.

K'ael chuckles. "Nah. I won't spoil anyone's victory. I'm usually not very good at cards. Shall we lay down, then?" The cards were all out, now, right? "The loser buys the drinks? I hope I have the marks on me…" K'ael tunes out words like 'lavender' and 'lilac', nibbling on one of his own nuts. There's a blink at Avani. "Bleh. Arranged marriages." Then he chuckles at Niva. "Sounds like Nicca is the fun one." There's a sickeningly sweet wave to the weyrwoman as she exits.

Aludra can't help but over hear this converstaion. Her attention immediately goes to the Weyrwoman and Avani, and her expression rather freezes. Her eyes go from one to the other of the bronzerider, Weyrwoman and Runner, a haunted look about her face. Then she stoically turns back to her cards, shoulders hunching as she leans forward to look at the next card she's dealt. "I think I'm done," she says, voice rather soft. Looking up with a smile (albeit forced at this point), she watches the Weyrwoman leave. "Good night, M'am," is offered halfheartedly, and then she's looking back at Avani. "She means it. They allowed me to stay after I didn't Impress, and my family wanted me home so I could make an advantageous marriage. Don't feel alone. I know what you're going through." The whole thing between Niva and K'ael goes straight over her head.

Avani watches the WeyrWoman go, but the slight shake of her head doesn't escape until the woman's back it to their table. The glare she sends the bronzerider's way nearly echoes that of the WeyrWoman until the Runner catcher herself. WindLeader. Better not to get on his bad side. She pushes to her feet as the other girl's comments are added. She narrows her eyes at her, "If my Father calls for me, I will go and serve my Hold." With that, she takes her mostly empty mug and plate of snacks back to the bar. She's even able to get her stool back, with a view of the whole tavern and the activities going on around it.

Norela can't help but listen in on Avani's complaints. It may be a little rude, but holder gossip is just too good to pass up. "Do you expect a match will soon be made for yourself as well?" She asks, curious. She blinks at Aludra, a little confused. "Are you related to holders as well?" She's surrounded! She's looking triumphant, but some of the fun seems to have gone out of the card game with Aludra's shift in mood. "Well, uhm… I suppose that means our bronzerider friend here will likely be picking up the drinks." She flips over her cards and places them on the table. It's quite a good hand.

K'ael isn't always good at being sensitive to other people's feelings. He often tends to miss the point. "The weyr hasn't turned anyone out who wasn't a trouble maker. Even then." He shrugs a bit. "I'm holdbred, too." He grins to Norela. "Of course I left over ten turns ago." K'ael laughs as he's declared the loser. "Fair enough." He waves over a waitress to get them drinks. His cards he… tosses into the pile.

There's a flash of anger in Aludra's eyes as Avani makes her rather high-handed statement. "And some of us don't allow others to do our thinking for us," she snaps at the Runner's back. Giving her head a toss, she turns back to the table. "I'm sorry. All the talk of arranged marriages gets to me. I'm Holdbred, and my family - no, make that my grandmother - already had a husband picked out for me. I was never so glad in my life than when I saw those Search riders land in the courtyard. If I hadn't been Searched, I'd have begged them to take me away." That said, she takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry. Please don't let my bad mood stop the fun. I'll be all right in a moment." She looks to K'ael. "It's my fault you lost, so I'll get the drinks." She turns over what would have been a seriously losing hand.

Avani finishes her snack at the bar before apparently deciding that she's been in one place for long enough, with a toothy smile at the man behind he bar and a glower in Aludra's direction, the Holder turned Runner makes her way out of the tavern. A moment later, she's back in. Stalking towards the table, she reaches under the second seat she had at the table, slings the messenger bag to her shoulder, hisses "And _some_ of use, don't take our Duty so lightly," in the direction of the ex-Holder girl, then stalks back out.

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