A Drinking Lunch

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.

It is about that time for lunch. Just past noon. Galaxy riders have been dismissed for mealtime to be back within an hour and a half for more learning and practice and … such. Ka'el has been kept behind by one of the junior officers of the bunch. Not the wingleader. Not even a wingsecond. But something below that. Kind of like a senior apprentice, if one were to find an equivalent rank. He wasn't kept behind long. Just a quick talk. A checking in. Maybe he's his mentor, and his mentor is noting a slip in his mentee. The dusty-haired blonde has chaulked it up to newbie nerves though (he's heard good things about this guy, after all!) and maybe under-the-weatherness. Ka'el did mention he hasn't been feeling well…maybe he should take the rest of the day? And so after a bit, sent Ka'el on his way for lunch… which today consists of brandy. Yum! The meal of…champions. He sits at the bar. Nothing too strange about that. It'd be moreso if he were at a table, off in a shadowed corner. But no, he's at the bar, sucking at his second cup like a man fresh from the desert. His eye is looking progressively better, if one is looking for an upside!

Borodin actually did mention his invitation to Xanadu to his journeyman. Much to his surprise, he… was taken seriously. And not only was there a vintner apprentice shuffling about in the background of that graduation, there's now another visit. This time with drink samples and discussions of trade and all sorts of things, and Borodin, being as he's the one who started this, was invitold to come along. Worse yet, he's been sent off on his own to take a look around and Examine the Market. Which means… the tavern! Where else would he go to see how the people of Xanadu drink? The Fortian opens the door and shuffles inside, looking around at … people. Oh so many people. So very many… he'll just head to the bar and get this over with. But the bartender's over at the other end. So, uhm… hey, wait. He kno- has met that people. The one right there. The one with the lingering bruise. "Uhm. Hi."

Ugh. They're making these glasses shorter and shorter. Ka'el knows it. How else is it that his drink is done already? With a wince, he swallows his mouthful and presses his fingers against the glass, inching it away from him in silent plea. More, please. More now. Unfortunately, the 'tender is busy tending to other folks, and as much as Ka'el'd like to think his presence here should be considered first priority, he's forced to wait. His stomach turns, demanding something other than alcohol. Like, possibly, water and food. He ignores it, instead sweeping his eyes over to someone who has bothered to greet him. Such a bother. "What?" he snorts, not immediately recognizing the face, which..usually a call for rudeness, but eh.. Blue eyes focus on Borodin and narrow as pieces of a memory begin to fall into place. "..I know ya .. right?"
Borodin has had ruder greetings. He slides himself onto a barstool, and nods. "Uhm, well, yeah, sort of." Ish. Kinda. "We, uh, met at Fort. I'm Borodin. Uhm. Vintner apprentice." Introductions, round two! And then Borodin looks away to Ka'el's glass. His empty glass, being nudged oh-so-indicatively in the desire for more. Borodin recognizes that gesture, though he's really more for the back-room part of vintnering. Still. "What're you drinking?" For his report, you see.

Clink. There goes that last memory piece. "Oooh yeah, the wine guy. Or somethin'… spirits?" Something like that. Ka'el nods once to him and then turns back to his drink. Nope, still not filled. He sits with a frown that seems permanently etched across his lips. Impatient. Hurry up. He needs this. Two's hardly enough. He can still rememb-.. Borodin's question turns his eyes again. "I dunno. Jus' asked for somethin' good." Something strong. "Tastes like… I dunno. Stuff. Kinda sweet, kinda not. I like th'kinda not part." He pauses, staring at him. "What're you doin' here?" As if just realizing that this is not Fort.

"Uhm, well, beer mostly." But… Borodin is remembered! Kinda. Sorta. Ish. Enough so that he smiles a little! Only a little, though. The person at the other end of the bar seems to be asking a lot of questions. Details of some kind of froofy girly drink that can be made twenty-seven different ways, and is the ice crushed or shaved, because it makes a difference, and… well, short version, Ka'el's glass is still empty. Borodin nods to his explanation. "If you like not sweet, and, uh, strong," because nothing that comes in a glass like that is weak, "you should try whiskey. It, uhm, it depends on the kind, but it sort of tastes like smoke or salt or peat." Manly tastes. Not sweet ones. Borodin does pay attention when he's assigned bartending-shadow duties, mostly because if he didn't he'd have to do them more often. "I, uh, well, Ianco… my journeyman is here doing some trade talks. And, uh, I… he brought me along. So. Uhm. Here I am."

"Whiskey….I had that b'fore." Recently, even. Like, just the other night! Did he ask for it, or was it just given to him? He blissfully can't remember, but it doesn't matter. It did its job and whatever it is he drank now has only gotten him partially to where he wants to be. "Th' stuff is good. I like smoke. S'life, fire and residue." An irritated look is given to the bartender and the one hes talking to, and aggravatedly does he place his hand around the rim of his glass, picks it up an inch or so, and clanks it down. Maybe he didn't hear him? But, ah. Tavern noise is tavern noise and the sound of one impatient patron is barely enough to cause the barkeep to hurry. "Service here sucks.." he says to the vinter in training. But what was that he said? Trading? "Brought stuff from Fort? Kinda stuff y'got?"

"Yeah, it sort of depends on the qualities of the water what sort of flavor you get from a whiskey. The, uhm, the more mountainous places tend to have a more-" Oh but Ka'el's not really listening to the finer points of whiskey flavor, is he? So Borodin trails off, glancing again to the glass as Ka'el clinks it, then back up to the bronzerider. "It, uh" …seems perfectly reasonable to him, given the number of patrons and number of people? But he doesn't argue, just… nods. Then, nods again. "Uhm, yeah. We've got… samples mostly. Some ales that did well in Fort's summer, some herbal cordials, some whiskey from the five and ten year casks… it's not really, uh, full trading, more like… my journeyman is talking to someone here. Another journeyman, I think? Maybe?" If Borodin was told, he doesn't remember.

Ka'el's listening … to the word "samples". He perks. "Free?" he asks, completely dismissing the interesting world of whiskey in favor of … well, hey! Maybe free drinks? Beats the heck out of throwing his money away on paid ones here. Ales. Whiskey! "Will.. y'know..givin' out?" .. Full and complete sentences please, Ka'el. "I bet Fort drinks are a lot dif'nt than the type we got. We need change! S'the same ol' same ol' every time, y'know?" He brings his hand down on the counter for emphasis. "There was…different types at graduation, but since then? Same stuff as always from the same weyrs as always." He leans back, looking around for that journeyman as if he'll be wearing a neon sign that says FORT JOURNEYMAN GIVING FREE SAMPLES, RIGHT HERE! Unfortunately, he must not be. "Where do I go? Where's he at?"

"Uhm, well, er… not exactly." Borodin looks away. "It, uh, it's not so much… uh… samples for everyone… as… for the… the people he's talking to." The important people who can actually make import/export decisions! Not half-drunken wingriders who want to become entirely drunken. (They might consider the wingrider part optional?) Borodin looks to the counter, cleaning (smudging) a spilled something-or-other with his sleeve. "So, uhm, you can't really… uh, well, you can't get one of the samples." And Borodin is studiously looking anywhere but Ka'el as he says it. Booze-denier.

Whaaat? Ka'el looks crestfallen. How is Borodin going to set up him like that, just to disappoint him and DENY him free samples!? "C'mon, please? I know y'can…you can … y'can probably ask, right? I got … I gota Wingleader. Yeah, he drinks! If I sample some I can tell'm like…to tell Fort to supply'm or something. Your Journeyman'll love you for…getting…a personal buyer." Or something. Whatever, just get him the drinks Borodin ol' buddy ol' pal! Fortunately for Ka'el, it's about now that the bartender is making his way back towards them, and ta da! Like that, his glass is taken away, his drink re-mixed, and brought back. Beam! He pulls it in, takes a hard swallow. There. That's the stuff.

Ka'el's argument is perhaps not the most coherent, but it's clear enough on one thing: Apparently, Xanadu drinks! Like… in large amounts. This bronzerider. His wingleader. Xanadu is a Weyr of drunkards, and so Borodin's market report to his journeyman can be a good one. But first… he must deal with Ka'el's pleading! "I, well, uh, I dunno if I can, it's not really… I mean… they've got to make the arrangements before it can be sold, and…" Borodin trails off as the 'tender arrives, giving him a headbobble of a nod as he serves Ka'el. "…but, uhm. I… maybe I can ask. If, uh… I kind of…" He leans in a little. "I have some, some trials of my own. And if, uh, you could compare them, and tell me if they're any good…"

There it goes, right down the throat. Take a detour to the brain, will you? Engulf it. Numb it. Rot at the synapses and corrode his already broken memory and guide him to that wonderfully numb place where nothing matters and everything is forgotten and all is wonderfully, stomach-wrenchingly good. Will this drink get him there faster? Will Borodin's concoctions? Ka'el perks a little, just a bit, at the mentioning of secrete booze. Trials? Yeah sure whatever if there's liquor in it he'll drink it. He pulls the glass from his lips. "You have a secret stash … an' you let me buy anut…another've these?" he says, giving the ice in his glass a wiggle. Clink clink clink. He smirks loosely. "Yes" he whispers. "I'll try your.. your "trails" an' be.. honest. I'll let y'know f'it's shit. No sugar coatin'," he vows. "Today? Right now?" Please, oh please? There are too many hours left in the day for him to get rid of.

"Uhm, well, sorry…" Borodin says, and fiddles more with that dirty spot that was on the counter and is now shared between counter and sleeve. "I, uh, well, it's not… uhm… it's just apprentice-work." Not quite unauthorized, given that he is supposed to be learning the job, and the secondary stills do get inspected through the process, but still not exactly something meant for the refined palates of anyone except the lessons of what not to do. It's probably not poisonous. Unless there's some methanol, in which case it'll make you go blind. Or… well. You drink apprentice moonshine, you take your chances! "But, uhm, well, I don't have it with me, but, uh, well, actually I guess I have… I was checking the evaporation on some flasks, and the seals, so, uh, there's… that?" Not just apprentice moonshine. Sun-warmed, stale, metallic-tasting apprentice moonshine. Still up for it?

Ka'el does not need refined. Or tasty. Or rich. Or flavorful. All he needs is something that'll get him drunk and inevitably pass him out into a world of unconscious darkness where dreams and thoughts and guilt do not penetrate. That's what he needs. If Borodin's concoctions can get him there, then bring'm on! Ka'el looks thoroughly unconcerned by his warnings. Just apparentice work? Yeah yeah, there's alcohol in it, right? He waves a hand, hurrying him on. Does he have some or not. Come on, man! Oh, he does have some! Kinda. Flasks. Checking evaporation. Yadda yadda. "Yeah yeah so where's it?" he asks, brows lifting. "I'll drink. If I vomit, y'know it's no good." Or very good, depending on the purpose of the stuff! His newly refilled glass is downed, eyes squinting again as he takes two large swallows, leaving behind just the cubes of ice. Coins are produced from a pocket and left on the counter. Ah. .. he hasn't much of that left. He frowns, fingering the money in his pocket, calculating…meh. Whatever, he'll figure it out.

"Uhm, well, okay…" Borodin says, and leads the way out of the tavern to where he's left his overnight bag. Not that he expects to stay the night, exactly, but Ianco was… unclear on that subject. So Borodin came prepared! And he digs out a pair of flasks. Judging from how Ka'el's been chugging stuff, it's not like he'll be all that demanding of the merchandise. Easy customer? So Borodin makes his way back to Ka'el, holding the flasks but not actually handing them over. Yet. "So, uhm." He hesitates, looking up at boozy Ka'el. Should… he really be encouraging this? Because, well… He frowns. "If, uh." A pause, and then the frown deepens. Flask is held down as he asks, "What're you drinking for?" When it's happy times, it's a toast. Drinking to. This does not seem to be happy times.

Three of those drinks is enough for Ka'el to feel careless. That's good. Caring hurts too much. It's an uncomfortable feeling. And so he doesn't care that when he starts to follow Borodin out, his head is feeling pounds lighter. He couldn't care less that his stomach is complaining about the ill treatment its been receiving for the past … how long has it been? Days? A seven? He doesn't even care that he doesn't know the length of time. All he cares about it not caring. Not feeling. Not… oh, wait when did he stop walking? Ka'el nearly runs into Borodin and takes a quick step back, grinning for no reason. He eyes that flask, the look in his eyes nearly hungry. Hand it over. Give it to him. .. But he doesn't, and Ka'el frowns at the question. "I'm drinkin'…" He trails, as if he's lost the thought. As if he's lost all thoughts and the look on his face is momentarily.. lost. He blinks once, brows faintly furrowing. "I'm drinking…" It sounds more like a statement than an unfinished answer now. He's drinking because no one loves a drunk, and a drunk deserves to be loathed. Despised. Tossed out. Forgotten. Just ask Mur'dah. Thea. Marel. Eyes refocus on Borodin, and after another beat, his grin returns, "because I'm a rider." He juts out his hand, "Drink with me."

Borodin holds the booze, and waits. Waiting is sort of like hesitating. It's when you don't do something, even if you sort of thing that you should, because you aren't sure. Because making decisions is hard, and because getting things wrong is hard, and maybe it all doesn't really matter at all anyhow, so why not just hold back and uhm and er and wait to see if it really is important enough to care about? So he waits for Ka'el's answer. He's drinking. Okay, yes… but Borodin keeps waiting, though he nods. That's not a good enough answer to get a drink. So what's the answer? Being a rider. Borodin's brow furrows. He doesn't understand that answer. "Uhm." He glances down at the flasks in his hands, and then lifts one to extend it to Ka'el. "I'm not." Just a vintner apprentice. Oh, he's had a dragon peek in his head, but he's always second place. Not worth enough to be the one. Borodin frowns, and undoes the second flask, lifting it up to take a sip. The alcohol in these is harsh. It'd be smoke and icewater, except mostly… it's flavored of burning. Distilled, yes. Refined… no.

"So?" Who cares if he's not. He's better off not being. Riding is overrated, Borodin! Save yourself the trauma. The drama. The…everything. Allow yourself to be the only thing that can control your mind and your actions. He's so blissfully ignorant, this vinter, of how good he has it! But Ka'el's not going to fill him in on that. Oh no. His mind is focused on one thing, and that one thing is still in Borodin's grasp. C'mon, c'mon, COME ON. … Finally. There's a notable easing around the edges of his eyes as the flask is given to him, and he nods his thanks, grin remaining as Borodin too readies himself to drink. A toast! A toast to nothing whatsoever, but he raises the flask anyway. "To you!" Oh, so maybe there is a toast. "An' to me. Toastin' to today an' tomorrow!" The flask is brought to his lips and his throat opens to take the fire. Fire and ice. Needles to the throat. An instant heat rises up his neck, to his face. Awful. It's acid going down, clawing and biting the esophagus, but he does not shy away. Even when his stomach burns. Even when intoxication takes a death grip on him. He'll drink enough to be playful and loud with Borodin til he has to leave or til he leaves him. He'll drink enough to stumble his way home and drink some more of his own by himself. He'll drink enough to make himself sick and nearly make it to his bed, but not quite. And when he makes that final stumble to the floor, alarming his dragon as he slips further and further into the unconsciousness he so sought for, he won't care, for he knows he deserves far worse than just this.

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