Stacking the Cards

The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road splits in two against it. One branch leads to a clearing with a large stone building finished with wooden cladding, while the other turns back toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.

Who knew that it would come to this? Summer days and nights, spent in some makeshift grouping of tents and tarps! It's one of the records and perhaps the brighter spot of a darker situation; the incident that saw the barracks unsuitable to be used growing distant with time. Ru'ien's injuries from it have long since faded, replaced now with hidden bruising on his chest from his first taste of flight with Kihatsuth. It's not that that has him leaving his tent and the slumbering green in her wallow - no, he's merely restless for reasons that see him wanting something other than immediate sleep. So he ventures to the communal fire pit of their makeshift camp, mildly disappointed to find it empty even at this "early" hour of evening's nightfall. Nightlife surrounds them, the constant buzz and hum of insects and other nocturnal fauna sounding off. Occasionally, he'll cast a wary glance to the depths of the forests (hey, he hasn't forgotten the haunted house, okay?) but otherwise settles in comfortably by firelight. Not long after that, he'll produce a pack of cards from some inner pocket and begin shuffling them expertly, while his mind wanders.

A pack of cards but hopefully not THE Pack of Cards that shall live in infamy. Rhodelia also seems to have come down with a case of those wandering not-so-sleepy feet. The weather is warm enough to not strictly call for it, but the woman's wrapped a light blanket around her shoulders to fend off the evening breeze as she drifts over towards the fire. Given the rustic conditions of their camping (they've proven they'll probably burn down nice things after all), it doesn't take long to evaluate the seating options and come up with the only suitable conclusion. "You don't mind sharing that log, do you?" And as confidently as Inasyth has been sprawling into neighboring wallows, Rhody plops herself down on the make-shift seat next to Ru'ien. "Kinda hard to play cards by yourself?" Solitaire? Never heard of it.

Oh come on, this is Ru'ien we're talking about here! There's a VERY good fifty-fifty chance here that the cards he has are the infamous kind, the normal kind or some sadistic blend to keep anyone on their toes! Luckily for Rhodelia though, he brought his normal deck, because… yeah, even he's not tempting getting caught (or letting innocent eyes SEE THINGS they should not yet see). "Haven't carved my name in it yet, so help yourself!" he muses, peering over at her with the cards still shuffled between his hands and lazily now at that. "Mhm, but who said I was playing? Could be practicing my deck shuffling skills! How else to rig the games?" He's joking! Maybe. Chortling to himself, he'll sober as she settles in. "Can't sleep?"

At least Rhodelia is willing to roll with the punches if the deck has been spiced up! For a brief second she suspiciously stares at the former smith. "I thought you mostly worked with metals and not wood? Thinking about branding out into carving?" Given what she's seen of his lifemate, it wouldn't really surprise her if Ru'ien was starting to take up new means of artistic expression. There's a snort for the suggestion of deck rigging. "You better get real good at rigging things or just visit crappy taverns. Why don't you deal some hands out to check your skills?" Her fingers wiggle in grabby hands. As for why she's out, the answer is simple. "Somebody's snoring."

"How hard can it be to carve letters into a log?" Ru'ien's grin is suggesting that he's hoping Rhodelia pushes a little further with it because he WOULD be the type to take up the challenge - right then and there! Kihatsuth has certainly flaunted her artistic tastes and flare on everyone, in mixed ranges of harmless to downright… inappropriate or nightmarish but that's besides the point! "Ugh, the crappy taverns aren't worth it!" Wait, what? Before Rhody can answer to that, he'll indulge in her grabby hands and swiftly deal some cards. What game are they playing? WHO KNOWS. "Smack 'em with a pillow the next time? If it's who I think it is, I've actually physically gone in to nudge 'em. Dunno why it's bugging me now. They probably snored in the barracks too, y'know?"

"I haven't ever tried," While those words might sound innocent, the grin on Rhodelia's face might show just how much of a lie that could be. And a challenge if he happens to have a sharp instrument near by! She snickers as Ru'ien so quickly puts down the crappy taverns. "Sometimes they are, if you pre-plan for it." She means drink enough you can't tell the booze is bad, clearly. As for what they're playing, does it really matter? After a quick look at her cards, Rhodelia eyes the back of his card. "Got any fours?" Looks like she's in a fishing mood! She shrugs for the problem of snoring. "Probably cause you got used to all the sounds in the barracks but now we're all listening and trying to figure out all the new noises and what's normal but then there's just the ZzzzzZZZZZzzzzzzZZZZzzzzZZZ!!!!"

Ru'ien pauses just long enough to level Rhodelia with a look and a slow morphing smile that suggests he's intrigued but failing to hide it. "If I didn't know any better, I'd start thinking you know a trick or two?" Oh, DO TELL, Rhody! The back of his cards tell no story and he merely shakes his head at her request. Nope! Try again. Fishing it is~ "Any sevens?" he prompts, distractedly before chuckling heartily. "One way of putting it, I guess. Think they'd listen to a formal request to put them on the fringes of the camp? Ah, I'm kidding. We'll survive and it's like what… another sevenday or two? Then we get our own little nooks to claim."

Failure! And so Rhodelia grabs an extra card from the deck to add to her stash that she fans out and clutches to her chest in faux-offense gesture. "Who? Me? Definition of innocence!" Just ignore the whole two or three turns she spent as a bartender. Definitely picked up a trick or two then. For his own fishing attempt, she grumbles, but hands over not just one but TWO sevens. She blinks at the last. "Is it really that soon?" Her calendar has always been a joke after all.

Is she starting to think back on 'rigged' hands yet? Ru'ien looks too smug for his success but then again… that is his usual expression! Her cards are delicately plucked from her offered hand and death with, as their game moves naturally along. "Right. Just like I'm the definition of sane and rational! Come on, you won't even tip off a few tavern names? I hate wasting a good evening." he sighs woefully and ends in a scoff that has him grinning again. "Afraid so. Just flew by… okay, that was NOT an intentional pun, I swear!"

Rhodelia may be thinking about those rigged hands, but if this was his attempt at rigging then certainly Ru'ien needs practice on how to cheat without making it so sharding obvious if he values his kneecaps in those taverns, sketchy or otherwise. The request for tips is met with a smug eyebrow waggle. "Why would I do that? You might just need to keep an ear out for whenever I suggest a pern-wide bar crawl and then learn through experience! Although really, I just know some in Benden and Bitra and around here." The pun, intentional or not, earns a snort of laughter. "They always did say it would. Being constantly busy really does help I guess. Don't know what I'm going to do when I don't have to listen to all your snorings!"

This is how teams are unintentionally formed, you know! Just you wait, Rhodelia! Ru'ien's going to figure it out, one way or another - or she's going to have to come get him out of trouble. Unless he's faking at being so terrible, just to mess with her? WHO KNOWS. "That's not fair," he pouts and doesn't chase the issue further because there is shared laughter to be had, however brief. "What? I do NOT snore, thank you!" he pretends to be affronted now, hand flat to chest and haughty tilt to his chin. The ruse is held for a fraction of a second, as it'll be her turn in the game and he needs to have any answer for her. Cards exchanged, tactics pondered. "… we probably won't be able to sleep then because it's too quiet!" he counters, belatedly.

Rhodelia tilts her head as she dares to argue with that mock innocence. "My ears will definitely beg to differ!" But there are more important things than snoring at hand! Like their card game! Fate or card stacking will probably see this round go in Ru'ien's favor. The night's young however and as long as no wild monsters or renegades come ambushing them from the forest, there's probably time for a few games more before the pair eventually wander back to the tent. Plans may or may not have been made in the process!

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