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.
The weather this afternoon in Xanadu, even though it is wintertime, is beautiful. Though cold, there is no wind and the sun is shining and the snow is dazzled into myriad diamond-sparkles, luring folks out for a bit of ice skating or sledding. The harpers have let the children out of their lessons and so Miah is here, back in the Wandering Wherry, which is empty after the lunchtime crowd, save for maybe one or two. The elusive redhead is seated over in a corner booth with a textbook or two, quietly grading a stack of papers.
Catallian is to be found behind the bar as he always is, lately. There is a certain reputation that he is getting for being devoted to duty. In fact, there are some rumors that he sleeps in the back room instead of actually going back to his quarters. That might actually be true. Today, he has polished every table top surface; wiped down every glass and has been contenting himself for the last half an hour by scritching his now-heavily-laden gold firelizard under the chin and murmuring sweet nothings to her. Much to her chagrin, that gets boring too. It takes awhile, but Catallian eventually loses his paitence. He vanishes into the kitchen and comes out with a basket of friend crisps and two mugs of something warm. Miah will suddenly find the chair opposite her scooting out, and Catallian sitting down. With it is said mug for her, and said basket of crisps. "Nothing like inviting yourself, huh?" He asks, cheerfully. "Am I going to be a bother?"
Miah is absorbed in her paperwork. After a glance or two at the gold, the sounds the irate firelizard makes have melded into the background. Her green pen (she refuses to use a red one) marks big, happy Cs beside the correct answers and tiny, almost apologetic little xs beside the wrong ones. Grades are written at the top margin with either an enthusiastic, 'Nice work!' or an encouraging, 'You'll do better next time - study harder!' Both comments get a smiley face. The chair scooting out, and the voice across from her has her raising eyes from paper to bartender, eyeing the mug and basket with a blink, then sweeping the room with a touch of perplexity. Maybe he's gotten her mixed up with another patron? "I… didn't order those," she says cautiously, a half-smile touching upon her lips. "Not a bother though, no. I could use a bit of a break."
"Of course you didn't." Catallian says. "Eat up." The irate firelizard in question is now perched in the rafters directly over Miah's head, watching the two interact. Does she even get noticed by Miah? Probably when Catallian places a crisp on his thumb and launches it six feet straight up to be caught by her hungry maw. He can't leave his best lady out in the lurch now can he? "Thought so." He admits to Miah, leaning back and stretching his long legs out in front of him. "I kind of thought that you were more or less purely the hunting, outdoorsy type?" He asks as he munches on his crisp. "Sort of surprises me to see you doing this. I'd have put you as a tanner, or something a little less … well, sitting at a chair doing things like this."
If anything, Miah's bafflement grows a bit more. She turns to seek Beldar, but the old head tender is nowhere in sight at the moment. There's a slightly suspicious edge to her gratitude as she leans to peer down into the mug. What's in it? Lifting big grey eyes, "Won't you get in trouble giving food away?" It's pretty hard to miss a trick like that, the flipping of the crisp into the air, and perhaps the young woman assumes he's going to catch it in his mouth, so when the firelizard, which she was aware of - she doesn't miss much that goes on in her surroundings - gets it instead, she chuckles. Now Miah isn't dressed in clothing suitable to go trekking through the forest or curing hides, so the comment draws a small spurt of a grin. Her red-gold hair is up in a casual twist and she's wearing a plaid woolen skirt of teal, black and grey, a starched white blouse covered by a grey sweater vest and knee high rawhide boots. There's an amused merriment at the edges of her careful sobriety as she draws the mug to herself, not sipping quite yet. "Oh would you now. That's all you could come up with, was it? But this-" she spreads the fingers of one hand and flicks them gracefully over the table indicating the papers. "-is one of my skills. Thanks for the snacks." And she smiles, the curve slow to change her mouth from serious to mysterious while her eyes laugh quietly.
Catallian smiles right back at her, matching her grin for grin. His elbows rest calmly on the edge of the table as his chin is lazily cupped in one hand. The second flicks a second crisp into the air, this time caught by a bronze firelizard that Miah may or may not have been aware of. "I'm not giving it away." Catallian explains. "I'm donating it, there's a difference." Apparently he isn't the least bit interested in elaborating beyond that and his face shows it. Just a brief little drop of the ever-friendly that the woman who doesn't miss very much is likely to see. "Oh, come now. I can come up with a lot more than that. I'm the 'tender here, lady. This place is an extension of me, there isn't anything that goes on that I don't hear or see." He looks over the specific paper that she is marking and indicates an answer with his index finger. "That one's wrong." A long pause while he looks over a bored-looking harper that is beginning to strum on a stringed insturment, then he's studying her face. His blue eyes are inscruitable even if the face is exceptionatly friendly. "You can take the person out of the outdoors, but not the outdoors from the person. Might be a talent, sure, I'll grant you that — that one is wrong too, by the way — but I'm betting you'd much rather be somewhere else without the modern convinenences. No artificial lightning, or artificial heat, none of that. Just older style ways of living, if not outdoors altogeather."
This time, Miah's eyes don't follow the trajectory of that chip ceiling-wards. She keeps them on the young man seated across from her. Donating? She's lithe, not emaciated. Does she look like she needs a meal that badly? All this flits across her face even while she reads his expression, so she drops it, not pushing him to explain. If he's not going to worry, then she won't either. "Beldar told you," she hazards, lashes narrowing slightly. She keeps a low profile. A VERY below-the-radar sort of lifestyle. The old man might have heard a remote comment but Miah isn't the sort people whisper about. Her eyes drop to the sheet when he points out the two and she nods but doesn't mark them wrong yet. So he's educated, this doesn't seem to surprise her; she's correcting what is obviously children's work. She laces her fingers around the mug and lifts it. Wary at being assessed so, she adds, "Or Gorrin repeated what I said." Because with that crowd and the Kale-table tableau, when did he have the time to listen? But then she shrugs, "I like my comfort. Camping palls, even in the Summer."
Catallian seems pleased by her acceptance that the subject is not up for discussion. He is content to reverse-parrot over her work, well the children's work, reading it from upside-down. "Beldar?" He asks. "Nope. I don't really talk to him. He lets me do my own thing most of the time. Gorrin? No idea." If she's studying his face it is absolutely honest. Either he is the best liar known to mankind or he really does not understand who either of those two are. Afterall, Gorrin never did give his name and judging by the face if he did, Catallian has forgotten it. "Then it's true, then." Catallian smiles — again genuinely. As to the education though, what would someone who is educated be doing bartending if they aern't a member of a craft? Usually the craftness are the degenerates of society, but this one seems to have managed to find a niche for himself. "Comfort doesn't need to be modern." He says. "I don't know. I sat here because I found you interesting last night, and more so now." He pauses. "Not in any lascivious way, I assure you. But I meet some unusual people in my career and you are up there."
Miah is even more wary, if that is possible, her gaze as alert to her surroundings as always is, perhaps even moreso, even while it is fixed on Catallian as if she's found something she's deciding whether has fangs under a benign face of fur. "Gorrin's the other ‘bush-pounder’ who was sitting beside me at the bar last night," she prompts using his phrase, one foreign to her by the awkward way it falls off her tongue. Whether she thinks that he's honest or is lying is not evident in the flat look she awards him over the mug when he insists it is true. "I'm used to being in the wilds, yeah," she says briefly then sips. She doesn't admit to the modern conveniences comment just yet. She doesn't take her eyes off of him though and when she lowers her mug. "True, they don't." She hasn't admitted to anything yet, but then, he hasn't asked her a direct question either. As for his work, she is craftless herself, by the lack of knot on her shoulder, so perhaps she doesn't judge him by the same standards others might. "Your accent isn't from Xanadu," she says finally. "And I haven't seen you around before. So you are new come to the Weyr?"
"Was that so hard to admit?" Catallian offers Miah at the statement of being used to being in the wilds. "And, ah. I thought I saw him around here the other day as well. Nice to have a face to the name I suppose." There is a period of silence where he works on his crisps and seems content to not say anything. For all that he talks, quiet is perfectly agreeable to him and it shows quite well. "Mm." He says. "It certainly isn't an Xanadu accent. I'm mostly recently from Fort." See, other people can play the game too of answering questions without really answering them. "You don't have an local accent either." He grins into an increasingly broad smile. "Being mysterious is fun, isn't it?"
"Not at all," says Miah with some crispness to her answer. She reaches for a chip, nips it neatly and leans back in her chair eyes still on him. She nods simply to his answer of being from Fort. "Welcome to Xanadu, then," it seems all she wanted to do is be proper and say that if he's new. "I'm not being mysterious; you haven't asked me anything yet. All you've done is make assumptions - rather annoying ones at that. Just ask what you want to know," says the young woman with some asperity. "I'm Miah. I'm just Miah, no one unusual." Ruffled much?
Catallian raises both eyebrows. "Easy, easy." He says, voice a little bit lowered. "Let me explain a few things that might explain things somewhat. From my perspective, at least. One, I enjoy being mysterious. I base my entire career on listening to people. I fail somewhat when it comes to talking, so generally I try and be quiet and listen. I was also blessed or cursed with an overactive imagination, so I enjoy the guessing game of figuring out what people are up to, that's all. Some folks are more interesting than others. So I apologize if I was coming across as assuming, the intention was asking closed ended questions I suppose." He eats a crisp and pushes the third that remains in hte basket towards her. "So, yes. You are Miah, just Miah. But I find the mystery and the figuring out interesting. People watching has become a specialty to me over the years. You might be Miah, the runaway bride to some Lord Holder somewhere, or Miah, the unknown daughter of the Master Harper, it's a fun game." He shrugs, and crosses his arms and leans back in his chair. "So, apologies if it got to you? You can be Miah, no one unusual but nonetheless highly interesting for unknown reasons?" The corner of his mouth twitches. He's really trying for humor here.
Miah is not amused - even after Catallian's explanation. "Those statements you made were questions?" Still a touch suspicious is she, although she's relaxing somewhat, eyes back to her normal wide instead of squinting as she regards him. "You come across smug," she points out helpfully. This is her way - and the peoples from which she came; she's not being snide but frank. She's calm, always was, but even if somewhat defensive still, at least her Spidy-senses aren't tingling so loudly and she's quick to forgive. She's also puzzled, "No worries, but why don't you simply ask outright what you want to know instead of guessing like you're some kind of superior-knowing… harper?" And since she's told him her name, but hasn't heard his, she repeats, one hand to her chest, "I'm Miah-' her hand gestures to him, "-and you are?" It's said with the same patience Jane used with Tarzan.
Catallian strangely doesn't seem bothered that Miah is not amused. Probably part of his good nature is that he's managed to get himself relatively immune to people being offput by it. Well, or maybe he doesn't notice. As yet, Catallian has not been proven to be especially intelligent — only well educated. "I suppose that is a failing." He does admit. "Smug isn't my intention. My intention runs closer to entertained, I suppose? But I can see how that would come across as smug also. So . . " He trails off; thought process interrupted. "Well." He says. "I suppose . . I don't rightly know. The assumption that most don't volunteer things based on questions you ask because most — you are an exception to this — percieve questions as being intruding, but if you make a guess and you are wrong, most people will correct you and you end up with the information anyway? Does that at least make sense to you?" He's going to answer her, but he has to take a moment to raise the back of his hand to his face like he was going to wipe his mouth to hide a grin and almost a laugh. "Catallian." He admits. "Nobody's Catallian, from nowhere." He actually smiles. "And I do mean that. I'm a drifter and a vagrant, see."
Perhaps the word is discerning. Or astute. Or even perceptive. Because it's pretty difficult to be well-educated without being somewhat intelligent. But that isn't the audible debate, so that is immaterial. Miah listens while reaching for the chips he's passed her way, taking one and nibbling it. As the bartender from Fort explains, staring at him is done in such a way that is both wary forest creature and oddly childlike in the attempt to 'get it' - wide-eyed wonder with shrewd assessment and forthright honesty. "It does and it doesn't," says she. "Why not just start with the upfront asking and let them be avoidant; then do the guessing if they're going to play games with you?" He says his name and she dips her head. "Catallian. That's a mouthful." And then realizes this might be rude (damn Mire bluntness!). "It's a nice name," she adds hastily, "but if I call you Cat, would that be okay? Because back home they wouldn't call you Cat-tal-li-an. Or even Tall. Or Lian. They'd just say, 'Cat. Heave a stick at that tunnelsnake!’ Because by the time they said your whole name? It would be too late." And then she grins, impish. Drifter? Vagrant? She nods acceptingly to that. This is not your typical holder or even weyrbred response to that admission.
Discerning might be a good one. If Catallian were to engage in a discussion about that one, he'd argue that sure someone can be dumb and well educated at the same time. It just means that a lot of effort was put into the work. A moment or two of quiet overcomes him while she looks at him quite like that. His expression back remains friendly, even encouraging, but inward he's trying to decide if he finds hte look compelling or not. It's a strange look, really one that he hasn't quite been faced with before. "I just find for the most part, yourself excluded, it works better that way. People tend to shut down and be annoyed once you've asked a question that they don't want to answer." Then she goes and has to critique his name and he actually goes so far as to laugh openly, shaking his head. It is a moment before he restores order and it is brought via a very long drink from whatever he has chosen to serve himself. "Oh, I know it was a mouthful. My parents had a thing for distinguished sounding names." He stops, finally seeming to relax totally. "Can't call me Tall. Lian would work but. Everyone calls me Cat anyway, it's inevitable. So I can't really say no to you, can I? I did go by Lian for awhile, to be honest, when I was learning the art of drifting vagrancy, but Cat does suit me so much better." Inwardly, he's quite pleased she accepted his description of his lifestyle.
It could mean that one could be full of facts, but clueless about human nature and lack intuition, maybe. But Miah's been working with harpers long enough to realize that dumb folks really don't learn a whole heck of a lot. Because learning even at a slower pace does not mean one is dumb. It means they learn by different routes that the teachers do not accommodate. Miah though, isn't thinking about that. She's totally occupied in sorting though Catallian's reasonings. And she gets it, she does. However, "I am not 'most people'. I don't mind questions. If I don't want to tell you something, I'll let you know." Her smile is genuinely-shared humor: "With words like: 'I would rather not say.' And if you keep guessing, I might have Gabit stalk you with his staff. He's pretty good with it." Her grey eyes are brimming with merriment now. Is she serious? "So Cat-of-Xanadu-for-now, what would you like to know?" Whether he'll get answers remains to be seen.
"Mm." Catallian has to think about that one. He looks at the near empty basket of crisps. "More food or drink?" He asks first — it's just his nature as a bartender — rising and refilling his own mug before wandering on back towards the table and plunking back down. He seems genuinely interested in what she has to say now, just as occupied as she is with is own reasonings and thoughts. "All right." He says, cupping his chin in his hand with his fingers absently brushing over the five 'o clock shadow he finds there. "Mm, let's see. Age, where are you from, relationship status, favorite food, who's Gabit, measurements, favorite color, do you turn your pillow over to get to the cold side at night and how long have you been at Xanadu?" The sheer random humor he puts into these along with a face that is not anywhere near straight is obvious, he is just playing on her 'open questions' and really he expects none of them to be answered.
Miah headshakes; she really didn't come here to eat but find a quiet and warm place to grade papers where she'd be out of the way of students practicing their music in the harper rooms. "I'm twenty-seven turns. I'm from Mire hold," she says easily, but notably omits her relationship status. The pause there might be noticeable, but as she continues with a sharply-indrawn breath that might be from pain or simply because she needs air is anyone's guess as her face gives nothing away. Her favorite food, now that's easy! "Anything freshly caught, harvested, picked or plucked and prepared within hours." Hmmm. The answer is not so simple, but she's actually being forthright in her answer about what she likes to eat. "Gabit's my cousin. He's… around." Vague and yet… there is a reason for it. "I don't," she says of her pillow with a brow-wrinkled perplexity over why he's asked that question. "I've been in the Weyr for a little over 3 turns," she tells him with an uneasy glance out the window beside her booth in a general southerly direction towards the coastline. Random humor? She somehow doesn't follow and so he gets the questions answered earnestly. Most of them anyway. "So why are you drifting?" she asks casually curious. Turn about is fair play.
Does Catallian see it? That is the important question of the now. Does he notice in the midst of her speech that little omit, the pause, or the sharp intake of breath? There is a flicker in his eyes that suggests he does and he looks at the table a moment, studying his own reflection in it. "Sorry." He says, the statement quite genuine. Though if he's apologizing for whatever is bothering her or for asking is anyone's best guess. He doesn't linger on it even for a moment; moving on as should be done with all good apologies. Meanwhile though, he's making a mental note never to ask about that again and that the woman's sense of humor needs some work if she doesn't get the randomness. Now though, Catallian is silent; seemingly unsure what to say due to the awkwardness presented by a couple of her answers. Because of the sudden need to say something, she gets a honest answer. "Because I don't want to be at home. Had a choice to put up with some things or make my own way of it, and I ended up making my own way of it. I'd, um, yeah. That one I'm not so ready to talk about beyond that if that is all right?" Catallian adds. "But, go ahead. Ask three other questions, and I'll do my best to answer? This game is sort of fun too."
Miah shrugs, brushing off the apology. "No don't be. Things… happen." She's either not ready to talk about it, whatever it is or doesn't know how to define her relationship status. She doesn't seem to mind that he asked, obviously preferring this approach to the assumptions he'd made the other night. Miah can laugh and understand jokes and humor. It's the randomness she misses because she'd just asked him to be upfront with her - and so she thinks he was doing just that. There's an innocence about her for all her reticence and mystery. So if he's awkward, she on the other hand is not, simply sipping that warm mug he'd given her and regarding him with clear grey eyes over the rim. "That makes perfect sense to me," she says, understanding without him elaborating of his taking to the road. "Families have expectations that sometimes are… difficult to fulfill." Her eyes look through him, seeing something…else. The haunted look is slow to clear and she drops them to sip again from her mug, lashes dark on pale cheeks until whatever it is passes. She gets three more questions? Alas - she'd rather have three wishes! But Catallian is not a genie, how sad (Miah spends too much time reading from Aivas' story files). Impish, her mood, like quicksilver, changes. A dimple forms beside her mouth as she quirks a sly smile and asks, "What's your favorite kind of story? Why do you like hunting so much?" And now let's see… for the third, "Why are scars noteworthy things to discuss?" See? She has humor. It's just a wry sort of subtle keep-you-on-your-toes sort of thing.
Catallian has his head tilted; eyes watching her face intently. He's just kind of brought a bit of awkward turtle to the conversation and now he's studying her every move so that he doesn't do it again. A mental note is made to go easy on the humor, as Catallian files Miah in to the 'very literal' pocket of people he knows. At least she isn't in the no sense of humor pocket. "Things … happen." He echoes, seeing the haunted look on her face as plain as day. " … I think I prefer being out on my own, though. I've managed to fulfill most of my expectations at least." He sips his drink, silent; waiting for her to come back to him. "They say talking is good for you. Not right now, mind, but someday, if we ever get the chance, I'll tell you my story. I'm starting to think you've got a bit of your own. The Saga of Miah as it may be." Then the moment has passed and he is brightening as well. It's hard not to when someone is smiling like that. "Favorite kind of story? Mm, that's hard to say. I'm a little partial to funny romance, I hunt because it gives me time to think away from people . . I love being around people and I love my job, but I enjoy my alone time or time with someone else that's …" He trails off, looking up at her; finding her face again. "A good hunting partner is about as close to a mate as you can get. Someone who you are content to just ~be~ with because you can't talk. Long hours of silence, in which you are confident enough to not talk and just have that person's presence there. Not a lot of people can do it, you know. And Scars? Easy, each one is a story."
Very literal, indeed. There's a reason for the odd-mix of untamed and bookish about Miah. Though it's a very good thing she is unaware of being pocketed. She might flail a little. "They do," she says of things happening, dropping her eyes to the tabletop where her hands rest atop her papers. Absently turning a simple silver band with inlaid topaz stones that form a sinuous bronze dragon, she smiles secretively and a touch sadly. "Don't we all," she agrees about having stories, afterwards flashing him a twinkling look for his titling of hers. "I'd listen to yours whenever you feel like sharing it," she says simply. She nods, listening to his answers with an ease that speaks of her ability to hear others, the line of her shoulders relaxes and she looses a little of her prey-about-to-flee look. Quietly and seriously she says, "Sounds like you know what you like. I hope you find her." A hint of subtle merriment glimmers in her eyes as she adds, "I could hook you up with Gabit? He's a skilled hunter, doesn't talk much." Call it Mire Hold humor.
"They do." Catallian agrees. Isn't that the third time that he's said that? Or it might even be the fourth. A long moment of silence follows after this during which he eyes that band for a moment, obviously so, but doesn't ask. He actually rises then, taking his empty mug and her own however full it is, returning with a refill for both of them. "Who says I was looking for a her?" Catallian asks, coyly. "Nah, I'm being silly. I'm . . " He trails off. "I'd be more interested in a hunting partner than a mate right now, perfectly frank. So it doesn't really matter what gender, does it? I travel around too much for that. Was at Fort for awhile, now I'm here. Might be Western later. What's the sense of starting anything more than friends when you'll just end up parting ways anyway?"
They dos have been ping-ponged back and forth enough that it's fairly plain neither of them are willing to spill anything personal first. While he's re-filling those mugs, while she could go back to grading those papers, she doesn't. Instead she props a hand under her chin and watches the room with eyes that see the far-off places instead of her surroundings. The quiet thunk of crockery on wood recalls her. She merely smirks at his question about a her. "See? Gabit would be perfect," she says with a pretense at selling him on the idea. She shrugs slim shoulders about keeping folks at a distance; for whatever reasons, she's doing the same thing. A bit of the disquiet returns, shadowing her grey eyes and she takes a sip from her mug. Cradling it in slim fingers, she notes, "Never know, you might find one free to go with you. Gabit wouldn't leave the area though."
Catallian muses, seemingly comfortable at least in the front of a newcomer to not say a whole lot. Indeed, neither seem willing to go first. "I'm not sure about that." Catallian offers. "Gabit is a little too hairy for me, I bet." Then for a good long minute or two, he's quiet. "So." He offers to her. "I need to get back to work." Then, he looks at her, and asks, quite bluntly: "Want to go hunting tomorrow night? Gabit can come if you're worried about me shivving you out in the dark."
Miah laughs, outright laughs. It's not a derisive sort of laugh, nor is it tinkly and high-pitched. Soft, low-pitched, it's just genuinely-shared light-hearted glee. There's a bit of devilment dancing in her eyes as she replaces the mug on the table, making no attempt to stop the smile his comment has evoked. Dryly she assures him, "Gabit wouldn't need an invite to join; he's… around. Watching… things. But I'm not worried about you shivving anyone. I can handle myself." And then she gives some consideration to the actual question, nodding acceptance. "If the weather permits. Signs point to storm coming. There aren't many critters walking the forest during the winter, but it would be a chance to get out." He's got to go back to work, he's said, so she hands him her empty mug telling him, "Thanks for the snack." And then it's back to grading papers - at least until the noisy evening crowd comes in and then she'll slip away to her own cottage to finish them in peace and quiet.
Catallian doesn't look bothered at all when Miah laughs. In fact, he smiles himself; waiting. Apparently, he has a feeling she's going to agree to it and for that, he doesn't mind if she chuckles at him a little bit. "Then if you can handle yourself, you've not a thing to worry about, do you?" He then blinks at her, looking a little thoughtful. "Well." He offers. "You'd be surprised. You just have to know where to look. Everything is beyond the eye." He seems to smile a little broader than usual. "I'll show you." And then indeed, he takes the mug, and he's back to work. "I'll see you tomorrow. Thanks for a pleasant distraction."
"I'm from here; I already know where to look," retorts Miah with a touch of irritation in the wake of Catallian's retreating form. It's true. The depths of winter have most animals hibernating or hunkering down in lairs. Hardly sporting to kill them there, now is it? But she shrugs and goes back to her own work without further comment.