Chasing Ghosts And Tunnelsnakes


Bowen.jpg Lorayit.jpg Max.jpg NPCs: Solak, Lauris and Corat

Date: Feb. 26, 2011
Location: Fields outside Eastern Weyr
Synopsis: The meeting with the bounty hunters is held, and Lo shows his hand to buy himself some time with his boss up in Bitra. He didn't bank on Max showing his hand as well, along with the scuffle that breaks out between Bowen and one of Solak's men.
Rating: PG-18 for language
Logger: Lorayit

Once the list was obtained, it didn’t take long before a meeting was set up between erstwhile gardener and the mercenary that haunts him. It was agreed that the meeting would take place far outside the Weyr, a little more than a day’s travel by runner, in a cleared field surrounded by hills. Since this was no civilized matter, for that would require civilized men to be present, no table was erected for talk. Lorayit had no intentions of being out there any longer than he needed to anyway. Arriving first, making sure that the runners they took were tethered close by in case of need for a quick getaway, the gardener takes appraisal of the appointed surroundings while waiting for his companions – his ‘protection’, as they were, in the forms of the tanner Bowen and the beast manager Max – to catch up. He can see Solak and his two lackeys arriving shortly up ahead, meandering their way down towards the small field valley with narrowed eyes. His hand, clutching over the folded list of names to ward the bounty hunter off, gets clenched more as it remains hiding out of sight. He was in a foul mood these days as it was, having gotten some recent bad news from Landing’s way by his man there, so Solak’s demeanor, if hostile, was not about to sit well with him. One would hope that his protection aims true to his cause – even though the blonde man still was smarting at having Max involved in the first place due to their last encounters together.

Due to the isolated nature of the appointed place of meeting, Max carries nothing with him but a large hunting knife strapped to his side, at least not as far as the eye could see anyway for set at the edge of the clearing, hidden from view, are two of his best archers. So it is with this knowledge of quite literally having men covering both his back and those of Bowen and Lorayit's, that southern's crimelord, after having tethered his runner and exchanging a few low words with the tanner, saunters into view at the side of the burly Bowen with seemingly not a care in the world. Lorayit is given a short nod of greeting and then thumbs hook into his belt, dark eyes fixing onto the bounty hunter and his two side-kicks as they approaches. "Good day to die ain't it?" that given with a sardonic grin the gardener's way and while his casually delivered words might seem otherwise, they're offered as reassurance to the blonde that it won't be his day to die. Not if the beast manager can help it.

Bowen isn't dressed or equipped different from any other day—his usual stained work clothes, hat, and big survivalist knife at his hip. But then, he's a bit of a roughneck and this is anticipated to be a rough party. Once the runners are tethered, words exchanged between what amounts to 'this' side of the metaphorical fence, Bowen takes up a position on Lo's other side. It could be a sign that he doesn't trust Lo to flee if things get busy, leaving him and Max to deal with the Bounty Hunter and his thugs, or it could be that he is there to watch Lo's flank. Whatever the intention, the stoic tanner is giving nothing away, crossing his arms over his chest and staring down the approaching three men before Max's words finally sink in, and a few heartbeats after Max says it, Bowen responds, "Uh, no. Can we take a pass on th' dyin' part? I got me some whiskey whut still needs drinkin'." Not to mention a wife. His younger brother and sister might not like it much either.

“Too bright,” Lorayit delivers back to Max without looking at him, his return on it being a good day to die. He even looks up at the sky as if to make sure he was right. Before Bowen reaches them, however, the gardener steals one dark look towards the beast manager and adds, “Not that I’m not an appreciative man where it counts for the additional protection, but don’t think I’ll be dropping any marks into your hand for your intrusion.” He even adds a three-second smile at the end of it, as if it was his way of being courteous before Bowen’s arrival gets his attention. “Don’t fret,” he tries to reassure Bowen on the thought of death, hardly a smile in place as he continues to watch Solak approach. “No one will die if I can help it. Have enough death to contend with,” he mutters the last part, though one can easily miss that since he takes a step forward now that the bounty hunters are within hearing distance. “Solak!” he calls out with a forced smile in place, using all of his reserve in smooth calmness since none seems to surface this day. “I’d embrace you if not for the fact that you’re looking to bring harm to me-“ – “Lucky for you that an embrace would earn you a knife to the gut, then,” is all of Solak’s greeting, his two men flanking him and keeping close with their hands landing all too easily on their knife hilts. The bounty hunter takes in Lo’s companions closely, frowning. “I was under the impression that this was a private meeting,” he notes to the gardener, smelling an ambush coming. Thrusting a finger their way to indicate both Max and Bowen, “Your girl said nothing about them!” Lorayit pauses, making a show of looking to the left of him, then the right of him, then back at Solak with a blink. “Apologies,” he states almost crisply, leaving the edge from his voice. “I was under the impression that we were allowed our men.” Yes, he said his men, though he’s hoping Max and Bowen have the grace to play along. “As I see that you have behind you,” and he nods gracefully towards the men flanking Solak.

Max tilts his hat back from his face a little and he too makes a show of checking out the sky above, before Lorayit's next words catch him and he presses a faint smirk the gardener's way, "Maybe I'm wanting to be paid in flowers." Yeah right. Bowen's words draw a snort of amusement from the beast manager, "Fiiine," he gives with an exaggerated sigh, "Reckon we could hold a Gather and do a bit of dancing instead. Our gardener friend here can arrange pretty posies for us." Because they're out there just for the fun of it, right? Riiight. All jest falls away as Lorayit calls out to the bounty hunter, dark eyes narrowing onto Solak for his return on knives to the gut and then touching on the placement of his lackeys' hands. Slow the smile that forms when Solak points accusing finger at himself and Bowen, though it holds only cold edges to it and no humour whatsoever, save for the barest flicker of amusement in hard eyes as Lorayit paints them as his men. But in the manner of a well behaved side-kick, Max says nothing, merely putting a polite dip of head toward the arrivals in acknowledgement of their presence.

Bowen remains standing with his arms crossed, watching the others approach, even as Lo speaks on there not being any death today if he can help it. He's either not genuinely worried, or he's there to have Lo's back regardless. All that comes from him then is a small grunt of acknowledgment for something said, or maybe several somethings said, considering Max's quip about a Gather. And then as Solak and Lo begin their banter, his attention shifts away without his head moving, blue eyes scanning the two thugs to assess their physical prowess and weaknesses, determine if one seems to be favoring one leg or arm over another, and then the environment for any others potentially hidden, or partially hidden, from view. Perhaps Bowen is not as dumb as he looks and acts. If Bowen takes exception to being considered one of Lo's lackeys, he shows nothing for it. Perhaps it doesn't bother him. Perhaps he's just that undemonstrative.

Flowers? Lo snorts on that one and shakes his head. “This will all work out fine,” he sends both men’s way now on the remark Max gives Bowen, sniffing. “Besides, “aren’t any women here to be holding Gathers for.” Solak’s men – both tall with one of them having a growing black beard across his face – eye Max and Bowen in turn with cold glares. Neither of them make threatening moves, however. Not without a signal, anyway. Solak was caught in a ‘touche’ moment, however, the man not bothering to look right or left of himself to make sure his men are with him. Passing cold glances Max and then Bowen’s way anyway, “Then let’s be done with this, Lorayit,” he grunts out, corded arms now folding tightly over his broad chest. “I’ve been here long enough, and got people that need’s collectin’. There’s the matter of the Dicori bitch that’s still here despite your words to your boss,” he gets right down to business, brows furrowing heavily. “You know how restless he gets-“ – “Patience,” Lo cuts him off, immediately drawing forth the folded list and lifting it up in one hand. “Patience is a valuable asset. Besides, I’m not here to discuss such business with you.” No, not with Max present, but the bounty hunter had probably let the feline out of the bag already. Bringing his attention to the list, “I have something even better than what’s being paid you,” he goes on to say, his tone enticing despite his being a mere gardener.

A short grin is all that is given in response to Lorayit's first and then Max turns his attention back to Solak and his two thugs, a brow lifting in a faintly sardonic line as he and Bowen come under their scrutiny, amused at the thought of being taken as the gardener's lackey. That is until Jaya's family name falls from the bounty hunters lips offering confirmation of what the beast manager had suspected all along with regards to the dark haired barkeep and Lorayit's presence in the Weyr. His expression remains carved from stone however, giving nothing away to either Solak or the gardener. So while the man they're there to protect offers forward the sweetening for a deal with the man sent after him, southern's crimelord puts thought to potential purpose on the other matter.

As 'business' gets started between Solak and Lo, Bowen's attention remains divided between the two thugs - watching them carefully - and the environment around them, with as little movement in his head as possible. In fact, the man stands there, feet shoulder-width apart, arms crossed, pretty much entirely statuesque. If he is interested in any of the criminal underworld affairs being discussed, he doesn't show it.

“Patience,” Solak echoes that word coldly, “is not a word in your boss’s set of hides! I came here for this business,” and his finger stabs towards the ground. “Not some shit-stained sheet-of-a-deal you’re tryin’ to force out on me!” Lorayit was expecting this reaction, so the blonde man was remaining calm and collected. Fingers curling a bit about the list that’s still lifted, “And here I thought I was dealing with a man of profit,” he returns in slight, his smirk turning a touch cold. “The names I have here are worth far more than some answers to a certain person’s whereabouts. Think of your pockets!” he chides openly, blue eyes flicking towards Bowen, then Max briefly in the case that his words go too far and a fight indeed breaks. “Instead of harassing me, causing me grief from concluding my business, how about I help you to concluding your own? You don’t want to be here,” and he takes a slow step forward, initiating the exchange, keeping his voice slippery-smooth, “no more than I want you here. My boss should not have called you to spy on me, and to reimburse you for the time lost, consider this my gift.” Beat. “Unless you are his man now.” Solak clearly hesitates. He jerks his gaze towards his flanking men, in which neither of them give him their opinion. They were just muscle, after all. Turning back to Lo, his beady eyes falling on the list he holds, “I belong to no one,” Solak breaks his silence at another slight put to him, stepping forward with unfurled arms to snatch the list from Lorayit’s fingers. Then the bounty hunter unfolds the list and examines the name within, in which in that moment Lo takes the time to look at Bowen and Max and mutter smoothly, “See? Easy as pie. Such men feast on profit more than they would a hot meal.”

Though he presents a relaxed pose by the manner in which he stands with thumbs hooked in his belt, Max is aware of every nuance of tone and body language. Thus his attention presses hard onto Solak as he appears to start getting uppity and then it pins onto each of his side-kicks in turn before meeting that glance from Lorayit, the bare edge of a cold smile in place to suggest he'd very much like to pound on the man's head for having had the audacity to walk into his territory without so much as a 'Howdy-doody' put his way. But then again, perhaps that was part of why he was there in the first place, taking the opportunity to possibly direct the bounty hunter at meeting's close of offence having been given to himself as Southern's new crimelord. Either way, he remains silent, taking in and monitoring the exchange between Lorayit and Solak tensing only slightly when the gardener breaks rank and steps forward with the list. A cold smirk is given for the words muttered in aside to himself and Bowen, "Such lust for profit tends to blind a man to the obvious." The return given so low even the gardener might miss it. And then its eyes front and centre once again.

The only way a fight will break out from Bowen's corner, so to speak, is if someone says something too far or too much about his wife, or if someone else starts one. He'll finish it. So, at the point when Lo looks briefly at him and then Max to see if his words had gone too far, Bowen will appear every much the statue as he has appeared so far. It seems nothing about what Lo has said has worked Bo up just yet. When Lo steps forward, Bo remains where he is, watching the other two thugs, and only moving if they move up with Solak. Seeing as how they don't, Bowen stays put. But Lo's mutter on pies, feasts, and hot meals ends up making Bowen swallow some saliva, feeling hungry all of a sudden. The tanner's stomach growls noisily while Solak reads the names on the list and Bowen grunts a little for it, but his attention doesn't shift from the other two men Solak brought with him. "Could go fer some pie, m'self," he mutters softly. And how.

Regarding Max for his low comment, having caught it, “Not all men,” Lorayit states with that cold smirk still in place, looking back at him directly. Even Bowen gets a slightly amused look for his stomach growling, seeming to sympathize with him for his words. “Perhaps the kitchen afterwards will have some cooling in the ovens-“ he starts to offer until Solak cuts him off with “Runnershit! Half of these names are bogus!” Lo turns abruptly back to the bounty hunter, blinking as he purposely appears taken aback by the sudden outburst. “Outlandish? No,” he disagrees smoothly in dismissal of it, shaking his head and nodding sharply towards the list in Solak’s hand. “I had them personally checked by a hunter myself down in Landing. Those names were gotten from one who deals in them for turns, and he doesn’t have the faculties to lie.” – “Runnershit,” Solak boldly repeats in counter, frowning heavily. Waving the list dangerously now, “You have Carobe listed here and he’s been long dead! And what of Urute? He’s been believed to be dead for fucking turns, you slithery prick! I am not wasting anymore time playing your games! Corat, Lauris! Take him!” Lo’s smile vanishes when he sees the two men suddenly spring to life, approaching him with menacing steps.

A brow goes up for the response and direct look sent him by Lorayit but the beast manager says nothing, merely giving a faint smirk in response. When Bowen's stomach 'speaks up', he turns a more genuine, though crooked grin the tanner's way, "Or heating in his quarters." Brat. The sudden outburst from Solak jerks his attention back that way before setting an annoyed look onto the gardener for having provided what seems to be a list of little worth. However, he's there to protect the man, even if to his own ends and so when the order is given by the bounty hunter to take the gardener, he steps forward smoothly to intercept the two thugs and tips his hat before waving his finger back and forth in remonstration. "Uh, uh, uh," almost sing-song in presentation, "You really don't want to be doing that, lads." The tip of hat had been a gesture to the two men hidden in the long grass at the edge of the field for no sooner are the words out of his mouth than two arrows come singing through the air and thud into the ground between Solak's men and Lorayit, warning delivered. Max gives them a feigned look of surprise, "My, my, seems the wherries about these parts have learned to arm themselves, aye?" Lorayit he'll deal with later.

There's a brief nod from Bowen in response to Lorayit at the proposal to get some pie from the kitchens, and then a smirk for Max's response, "Dat too." Then Solak goes ballistic over the names and Bowen sighs, letting his arms drop to his sides while saying, "I reckon it's real hard t'git good help nowadays, ain't it?" He steps forward as the other two men move forward, intending to intercept the one on his side, leaving the other to Max, and Solak to Lo, or some variation thereof. He nods once to the man whose path he steps into, "So, Corat? Or Lauris? I hope yer teeth got yer name on 'em, cuz yer gonna be pickin' em outta th' dirt if ya don't back off now, bub." And then an arrow thuds into the ground less than a foot or so in front of Bowen's boot and the tanner frowns at it thoughtfully, before cracking his knuckles and looking at the thug before him once more. "Where were we? Oh yeah, I was gonna intr'duce ya ta eatin' porridge th' rest of yer life."

Fuck. Lo was thinking double-time as he watches the men approach, stoutly avoiding any looks coming his way from his companions. His sole attention was placed on Solak. “I’m surprised,” he says briskly with a smooth smile planted in place straightening to his full height. “You honestly are one of those that believe both Carobe and Urute to be dead? You weary me, Solak!” Hands thrown into the air, dramatic flair to the last. “I have it on good authority that they are both quite well alive … and living where one least expects them, too.” – “You expect me to believe that they, men of our ilk, would choose to mingle themselves with fucking dragonriders?” Hands moving to indicate himself, “A man of our worth does what a man of our worth does in order to survive,” Lo states easily, the smile cold. “Can you blame them? You will find their exact locations on the list, to the day,” he adds now, nodding towards that list in question. While this exchange is going on, the men manage to only get within striking distance of the gardener before both Bowen and Max – not to mention the arrows that come out of nowhere – halts their steps. Corat, the one with the beard, frowns heavily before Bowen for his words while those arrows do indeed alarm him. “Got arrows flying out of your ass?” he drops to the tanner, hand tightening on his hilt. As to Lauris on the other side, he bears his yellowing teeth towards Max and looks about to side step those arrows to continue on when Solak halts him. “What the fuck’s going on here?” he demands now, eyes widening at the arrows sticking up in the ground. Glaring at Bowen, then Max, “The two of you better back off from this business, or you’ll end on this list next!” he threatens openly, now nodding towards Lauris to continue onto his path of collecting the gardener.

Lifting a finger in signal of pause to action, Max stoops and yanks one of the arrows out of the ground, putting an overly long study on it as he turns it over in his hand, "Nope, no note attached." Tossing it back down again and dusting hands together he puts a long suffering look along with a sigh to the bounty hunter and his thugs, "Did you break the rules and bring friends to the party?" Because he's not about to cop to the men being his just yet, besides, leading Solak to believe there may be other eyes and ears from another party on the meeting might go a ways to unsettling the man. Bowen's remarks on introducing the thugs to porridge eating earn the tanner a wolfish grin, "They can keep the old auntys company too and talk about the days when teeth were good and young 'uns still remembered their place." Does he take anything seriously? Once Lorayit starts explaining that the men thought to be dead are indeed alive and well and in hiding, or so he says, the young crimelord puts a bored expression into place and takes a step back, "Sorry, boss." That to the gardener before turning his attention back to the indignant Solak. Broad shoulders lift and fall in what looks to be a helpless shrug, "Looks like we got company." He even manages a nervous look about the area, as if he too were now spooked, "Maybe best we wrap this up quick. My girl ain't gonna be happy if I get an arrow in the butt." So while signal is given for Laurius to continue forward on his path to grab the gardener, Max plays the role of hapless side-kick who'd acted and spoken out of turn in a bid to lessen the tension mounted.

"Ya blind as well as daft?" Bowen gestures to the arrow in the ground between him and Corat, seemingly ignoring Solak for now, "How's a man ta put an arrow in th' ground in front of 'im if it come outta 'is arse? Naw, dat bugg'r come from m'dick." Uh-huh. "Wanna see?" With his left hand, the short, stocky tanner starts to unbuckle his belt, taking a step forward to Corat, and if he can get the thug to glance down at his crotch, Bowen will take advantage of it with a right-hand sucker punch toward Corat's mouth and nose. And he's not holding back any of the strength in his thick arm, either, not thinking twice about breaking the man's nose and knocking a few teeth out if he can. Whether he connects or not, he grunts out in response to Solak's warning, "I ain't much one fer lists, m'self." Probably because the tanner can't read. "Seems like somethin' sissies do."

Of course, in knee-jerk reaction, Corat drops his guard for a split second and looks down towards Bowen’s crotch. He gets awarded with that punch, the barrel of a man reeling back with a cry and launching himself onto Bowen the moment he regains footing. “They ain’t one of mine’s!” Solak protests to Max’s question of a new party being brought, his gaze boring into Lorayit’s. Solak doesn’t seem to be noticing any of the scuffles breaking out about them. “This smells strongly of an ambush! You dirty canine!” Since Corat and Bowen started their engagement, Lauris turns toward Max and considers briefly which target to go after. Lorayit was much closer, but he wasn’t liking the words falling from the beast manager’s mouth, either. “Urute is in Ista, brute!” Lo tosses the words toward Solak, taking step back to widen the gap between him and the hunters. “He is the most sought-after – I should know! Prove me wrong! Go to Ista and see for yourself before you start trading in blows!” Eyes take in the scuffle starting to the side of him wildly, feeling himself starting to lose control of the situation. As to Lauris? A finger lifts toward him, facing upwards as he immediately warns, “Another step forward, and your boss there forfeits the payment that was sure to follow.” That gets Solak’s attention. “Speak,” he commands then, not yet calling his men off. Instead of speaking, the gardener merely pulls free a sizable bag from his coat pocket that clearly contained marks within. “To sweeten the unfamiliar taste,” he gives in smooth tongue, chin lifting defiantly. “A token of my honesty. If you should check out Ista like I suggest, and find me correct, then you would become the most sought-after bounty hunter in Pern.”

As Bowen's fist connects with Corat's face, Max lifts his arms then lets them fall to his sides in exasperated gesture as a heavily dramatic sigh spills out, "Did ya have to go and do that? Now I'm gonna miss dinner!" Aw, poor baby. Attention leaves the two brawling on the side, pretty sure that the tanner is quite capable of holding his own and splits between Solak and Lauris as he gives a jerk of thumb Bowen's way, "I ain't got a fancy dick like his." In other words, the arrows couldn't possibly be of his doing. Inserting himself into the gap Lorayit provides by stepping back, thumbs hook back into his belts loops and the young crimelord adopts that same bored expression of earlier, leaving the gardener to do the talking while he keeps a weather eye on Lauris' movements. There is however the faintest trace of interest when that bulging bag is pulled out as further enticement for Solak to take the deal. No more arrows fall from the clear blue sky. At least not for the time being.

Some might not find "short and stocky" an attractive physical attribute, but in situations like this, Bowen has the advantage of a lower center of gravity compared to most of his opponents and a brick-wall-like build to suck up most bodily attacks, and this is no exception. As Corat launches himself into Bowen, the tanner grunts with the force of it, and is made to brace himself with one foot, but otherwise remains standing, arms seeking to wrap around Corat in a wrestler-like grapple. Not seeming terribly upset, Bowen actually gives a soft chuckle, a rare sound from the tanner to be sure, and grunts out, "I knew ya was sly. I got me a Weaver broth'r I could intr'duce ya to, if'n ya like." He'd probably lick his lips at seeing that bag of marks, himself, but Bo's a bit occupied at the moment, and inwardly grateful that there are no more arrows flying for the time being. He does, however, toss back at Max real quick, "Naw, j'st zap 'em with th' lightnin' from yer arse an' dis'll be o'er quick."

Corat switches his momentum and aims fist towards the side of Bowen’s face when he speaks, another fist sure to follow in quick succession should he succeed in the first one. He doesn’t see the bag of marks either, or hear the talk that continues about them. No, he has his own engagement. “Who’s the sly one if ya lookin’ to gather me up in ya arms?” Corat tosses back the tanner’s way as he launches his fists, the words getting Lauris to briefly look his companion’s way before he takes in the exchange between Solak and the gardener. Turning towards Max then, “You oughta stop your man,” he suggests coolly, at the same time that his bounty hunter boss asks Lorayit, “And should you prove wrong?” – “If so,” Lo returns on that, deliberately holding the heavy bag of marks out as if for the other to take up, “then the payment would still sweeten the pot. Far more than what my esteemed boss is paying you for harassing me and keeping me from my work.” His voice turns cold towards the end, implanting authority there that would sound odd from the gardener. “Do your business and seek out all the names on that list? And even Borrento himself will seek your service. You know Borrento, don’t you?” Anyone worthy of the lands would. There’s a long pause here, the bounty hunter frowning in his suspicion towards Lo before he looks over the list once more. Eyes take the held bag of marks, then the list, then the arrows that indeed came from nowhere.

Dark eyes roll at Bowen's comment and he utters a snort of amusement before tossing an idle look to the pair apparently trying to hug each other to death while the other tries on some rearrangement of face, Max sends Lauris a smirk, "Why? He messing with your girlfriend?" And while he appears as calm and relaxed as can be his senses are on high alert should the other thug take offence to his quip. "'Sides he ain't pretty enough to be my man," shrugging as he delivers good natured insult on the tanner's person. And then he drops into the conversation between Solak and Lorayit, giving a grave nod of head over the gardener being kept from his work, "You don't want to be doing that, mate. Southern's crimelord shits bricks if he don't get his daily delivery of flowers." Hard pressed to hide his amusement. "You wouldn't want him on your back now would you?" Pure innocence presented in the guileless smile that appears.

Unmoved by the barbs, both from Corat and from Max, Bowen gives up on trying to grapple the other man, seeing as how he is now swinging punches at Bowen's face, and works more on bracing his footing and ducking his head as much as he can. "Ya looked like-" Bowen grunts as one fist impacts his cheek bone with a bad sound, sending slobber toward the other man's already battered face, "ya was gonna start cryin'. Thought ya might be needin' a hug." As another swing comes in, Bowen's left arm comes up to block it, and he attempts a right hook in toward Corat's jawline. He inwardly laments that he is not brawling in a bar right now, since a bottle broken over this guy's head would be just the thing, and more in line with Bowen's fighting element—professional, he is not. Experienced, dirty-fighting bar-brawler, yes.

“Call him off,” Lorayit orders, nodding sharply in the direction of Corat and Bowen while Solak is deliberating. “We can conclude this like men, not beasts.” – “I have been fully paid already,” Solak returns, tightening his jaw. “Your boss is not the sort I would want to betray, unless I suddenly do not want to live in this life –“ – “The wheels are already in motion,” Lo cuts him off with a sly smile in place. “As we speak, I have someone traveling north to convey that the message he wished to send, by sending you, has been sent. However, you were called away suddenly on important business – a tip,” and that smile increases, “from a reliable source, on a fugitive in Ista. My boss is a patron of the hunters, so he will not pursue you, and as for me…” and the man lifts hands in gesture of a shrug, “… well-“ and then, both men stop at Max’s words. Eyes turn towards him on talk of southern’s new crimelord, the gardener narrowing his eyes while the hunter slightly widens it. After heavy pause, “Corat! Get the fuck off him!” Solak finally gives the order, which has Lauris stepping back into place by his side. Then spitting on the ground, “I have heard this talk of a new man,” the hunter states, eyes falling on Max for being the one to speak. “And yet, months I have been here and no one can point the finger as to his whereabouts. Sounds to me as if southern’s new crimelord seems as false as this list.” As for Corat? Either the man didn’t hear the order from that hit to the jaw he receives from the tanner, or he’s deliberately ignoring it. “Looks like ya’ll be needin’ a hug soon, summat,” he tosses back at the man, now aiming a fist towards Bowen’s stomach as tries to duck for any other oncoming assaults. “Perhaps ya man over there can oblige!” He’s not picking out which one. Both the gardener and the beast manager were not tough in his eyes if they were going to just stand there gabbing like women.

It's amazing just how much a bored expression can hide - interest, amusement, even approval. The latter being for how Lorayit cuts Solak off at the pass with his rather ingenious plan of having already sent word north about the matters now being discussed, thus effectively tying the bounty hunter's hands. As both men turn their attention to him, he presents little more than the barest trace of a smirk, it deepening ever so slightly when Corat is ordered off of Bowen. And then his attention fits four-square onto Solak the bored expression altered by the quizzical lift of brow as the man reveals just how long he'd been skulking about in his territory, "Months, huh?" A smile appears an empty cold thing as he then lifts a hand and brushes fingers idly over his stubbled chin, "Hard to do the right thing and introduce yourself when you step onto another man's territory when…you can't find him. Although," and here he puts forward a contemplative look that turns up to the sky for a moment, "The polite thing to do of course, is send word to your host before you drop by. Give him a chance to meet his guests. Make sure they're comfortable and all, aye?" Of course, he's just the gardener's side-kick, so what would he know, right? Mmhm. With Corat seemingly ignoring the bounty hunters orders, the beast manager stoops, picks up a small pebble and tosses it hard at the two brawling men, apparently not too worried about which of them it hits in the process, though he had aimed for the back of the thug's head. "Quit it!" The two words barked out and again, intended more for the other man than Bowen for he's not one to summarily start ordering friends around in such a manner.

Bowen's strength and stamina comes at the cost of quickness, but he's learned this over the years of brawling in bars, and so while he may duck a head or limb out of the way of a blow if he thinks he can manage it, when the target is his gut or chest, he doesn't even bother trying to dodge it, and instead just sucks it up, like now. Corat's size does him credit, though, for the punch to Bowen's stomach has the tanner doubled over for a moment, grunting out, "Aww. I t'ink ya care." Wheezing, "Ain'tchoo sweet." With that, hunched over as he is, Bowen reaches forward to try and hook his big hands around the back of Corat's knees and pull forward, an attempt to destabilize and put Corat on the ground on his back. Bowen doesn't linger at it, however, giving that initial hard hooking pull if he can, and then straightening to put his face out of kicking distance, with a snort in Max's direction for his last, "Ya ne'er let me have any fun anymore." The conversation about the business at hand between Solak and Lo? Long gone from Bowen's most immediate thoughts.

He’s been had. Solak’s been had, one would think. His hands were, effectively tied, with Lorayit pulling such a move by already dispatching someone off to Bitra. “You are as they say, truly the tunnelsnake of the south,” he states heavily, looking all the more put out for being cleverly duped by the gardener. “Clever like a canine hiding its pups, for you play on the flaws and businesses of others.” The list gets slid over to Lauris, who in turns slides it out of sight into one of his pockets. Straightening to full height, “To leave here would be to let you off the hook. To not leave may become to foolish move.” – “You have no loyalty to him,” the gardener notes, holding out the bag of marks more. “Nor he to you. And, as you said, you are already paid. Let me deal with my boss, and you …” hands lift and fall easily, “… I think it’s high-time that Urute gets taken in for his long list of crimes, don’t you think?” Solak considers such honeyed words, knowing the gardener for who he is. Is he lying? What move should he make? “Ain’t no host I should be sending early words to, when the man hasn’t made himself known,” the hunter grunts toward Max on the crimelord’s whereabouts, dismissing such a notion. Throwing a thumb at himself, “He should be coming to me! Solak! Known bounty hunter from the cold Reachian mountains, to the card tables of Bitra! I do not shirk from ghosts claiming the south!” – “You will find yourself in similar company then,” Lo puts in for the hunter’s benefit, “for I, too, have heard the rumors.” Rumors that suddenly have the blonde man sending a sly look in Max’s direction, but the look may not translate. But then, Corat’s nearly doubling over right now as the punch connects to Bowen’s stomach, the ready to launch to come up and launch and uppercut to his jaw when the stone hits him squarely in the back of his head. The punch never gaining power, it may well glance off of Bowen as the man reels his head back to glare in Max’s direction. When he looks his boss’s way, that’s what gets him to straighten up and cease the brawl.

Grinning openly now as it dawns on Solak that Lorayit has indeed got him wrapped up tighter than a virgin in a Hold, Max maintains his silence. Even through the bounty hunter's cocky statement of he being the one that should have been sought out. But then conversation is put to him personally and catching that sly look coming from the gardener, he sends a cunning one in return as he steps forward toward Solak. Both tone and expression turn hard and unforgiving as he gives out his true identity with his next. "I've tolerated your presence this time for I realize that perhaps you were simply ill informed. Try it again, and I won't be so understanding. Oh…and that Dicori 'bitch'?" the air quotes evident in tone, "Works for me now. You touch her, you touch me and I don't like people touching my things." Jaya of course would likely clock him were she ever to hear him referencing her as his possession. "So here's how it's going to go. You're going to take Lorayit's deal and suffer a sudden loss of memory when it comes to both him and the Dicori woman. Of course, you can always slink back to your client and tell of this meeting, but then I'd have to explain to him how it was your lack of manners," for not having come to him as Southern's crimelord in the first place, "that cost him his targets." This of course being entirely untrue for Max wouldn't have handed over either the gardener or the barkeep to the bounty hunter. But the man is hopefully unaware of that. That having been said Bowen gets an amused look, "Tell you what, when we get back I'll get Waine to let you hug him, aye? Might even let you lay a kiss on him."

Bowen was already straightening, as indicated, from his attempt to put Corat on his ass, though it was to hopefully avoid getting kicked in the face more than getting punched. As such, Corat's uppercut has Bowen twisting his already rising chin out of the way of the thug's lackluster punch, getting more chin-music than chin-impact. Dancing back a pace with fists up in preparation for the continued fight, it takes Bowen an extra heartbeat or two to realize that Corat has backed down, and Bowen stands down, too. While the man doesn't start checking himself over for injuries right there in front of the enemy, the observant might notice his tongue rolling around his cheek a bit, checking for loose teeth as discreetly as possible before grinning with a sidelong look at Max, "Aww. Gee. Shucks. Thank ya kindly." He'd have more to say, really, but he's still trying to get his breath back from the scuffle. Instead, he just glances from Lo to Solak, and then gives Corat a watchful smirk.

Solak’s answer is a spit on the ground. “Runnshit! I don’t believe you,” he states to Max, looking the man overly closely for being the new crimelord. He looks to Lorayit for confirmation, or his reaction – the gardener, for his part, is staring the beast manager down with slight narrowing eyes. For now, he says nothing, while Max speaks, dropping Jaya’s name and laying down his deal in such authority. If Max was the new crimelord, it was about to put Lo in a very awkward position, and he knew it. Turning abruptly towards Solak now that the scuffle as calmed and Corat moves back in place by Solak’s side, “You heard the man,” the gardener takes up Max’s side for the moment, not choosing to contest the usurp of authority in front of the hunters. “Take the deal. We all win here, Solak. No need to complicate things,” especially when things were about to get complicated on their own. Solak looks long a hard at Lo, then at Max and Bowen in turn and back again.

Dark eyes drop to that gob of spittle on the ground and then slowly lift to Solak and pin a flat gaze onto the man, and then the young crimelord gives a shrug, "I could be wrong. It could be Bo over there," a nod going in the tanner's direction, "Believe what you will. Either way, Lorayit here's offering fairer deal than a whore on the docks paying her clients for their favours." Insult and analogy delivered in one neat bundle to the bounty hunter. As to the looks he's receiving from Lorayit, either Max doesn't see them, or he's deliberately ignoring them, this being neither the time nor the place for them to put thought to ironing out their personal differences. And by the way he steps back, giving the floor back to the gardener in seemingly deferential manner, the bounty hunter could well be forgiven for now being seriously confused as to which of the three, is southern's new crimelord - gardener, tanner or beast manager? Bowen's apparently heartfelt thanks to being awarded a hug by Waine for his efforts, earns him a crooked grin and sly wink in return.

For Bowen's part, once Corat has moved back in toward Solak, the tanner just recrosses his arms over his chest. He's itching to feel at a rib or two, and his jaw, but he'll be damned if he does it in front of them. Back to short and stocky statue, he is. If he is surprised or alarmed at Max's claim, he shows none of it. If he is interested in Solak's decision, he doesn't show it either. He gives no opinion on the deal being offered, either, which is probably a good thing really. A silver tongue, Bowen has not. His purpose here was strictly muscle, not wit nor speech. To Max's implication that Bowen could be Southern's new crimelord, Bowen shoots the Beast Manager a dirty look, then a shrug at Solak. Take that as you will.

Solak’s eyes narrow at Max’s barb, but he doesn’t take up the bait. Lorayit gets the brunt of his ire for putting him in this situation in the first place. He wasn’t a harper, nor did he have the mind of one when it came to negotiations. He knew the gardener to be slippery, and to come at him with brute force in hopes of cowing him in that direction rather than in words … “Tell you what,” and this time, the bounty takes a heavy step forward to put himself close to the gardener. A beefy hand reaching out to snatch the bag of marks still being held out, “I will go to Ista, as you say, but …” and his fist closes tightly over the bag, leaning close to Lo to make sure his meaning is heard as he lowers his voice. “If I find any falsity in that list, especially in regards to Urute, then I will be back – and this time, it will be personal.” Lo meets that cold look head-on in the silence that follows, his jaw tightening before he forces a tight smile in response. “If I fail in all my endeavors,” he answers low, cool in tone, “then you may find that someone has already beat you to me.” Deliberately taking a step back, “You won’t be disappointed,” he states in a more normal tone for all to hear, inclining his head briefly. “I feel ease in Urute finally falling. Happy travels to you and yours, hm?”

The warning and subsequent assurances exchanged between gardener and bounty hunter have Max's eyes narrowing slightly but he says nothing. However one can be sure that he fully intends pinning Lorayit down in the very near future for a bit of a 'chat'. In a gesture that might seem as polite farewell he then steps back as Lorayit does and tips his hat to the bounty hunter upon which two more arrows come singing out of the air and thud into the ground at the feet of the bounty hunting trio, warning to stay their responses as the southern trio look to be taking their leave. Loosing a hand from where it had once again hooked its thumb into his belt, the beast manager places two fingers to his mouth and lets out an ear splitting whistle upon which Waine and Nastor stand from where they'd taken up position in the long grass at the edge of the field. With a smirk at play, "Allow me to introduce Dick…" a nod goes in Waine's direction, "and Arse," Nastor giving a messy salute as his boss gestures in his direction. Of course neither man is aware of what is being said of them and so both simply stand there like bulky bovine grinning away as if they'd just won a prize. One thing is for sure, they were hired for their muscle, not their brains. Wearing a cocky grin the young crimelord turns back to Solak, Lauris and Corat and tips two fingers to his forehead before turning his back on them and heading in the direction of where his runner is tethered. Safe in the knowledge that 'Dick' and 'Arse' have not only his back, but those of Bowen and Lorayit's too.

While things seem to be settling into place, Bowen doesn't change his position, or his alert attention, until Solak and his three thugs are completely gone. So, for the time being he remains the unmoving statue, giving a glance in the direction of Waine and Nastor when they reveal themselves, and a snort for the nicknames Max gives. Otherwise, he stands and waits to make sure the three 'guests' find their way out.

Two more arrows, and the men at Solak’s side immediately reach for their knives before Solak barks to them both “Halt your hands. Seems the wherries do arm themselves in these parts,” he notes to the men at Lorayit’s side, dry in its deliverance. “Funny how they choose to do so on this day.” He tosses the bag of marks to Corat for him to hold on to, then all three men turn once Max whistles for ‘Dick’ and ‘Arse’ to appear. Yeah, the joke was not lost on the bounty hunter, and he doesn’t look all that in the mood for a laugh, either. With Corat tossing and catching the bag of marks in the air by him, “Pleasure doing business,” Solak sends Lorayit’s way crisply with no pleasure shown anywhere in his demeanor as he turns to leave. “Look forward to seeing you again, snake.” – “As I you,” Lo returns with the barest flicker of anger, the smile staying in place as the two men with Solak are slow to turn a make their departure. It’s only once the three men are picking their way up the opposite hill that Lorayit finally eases the tension in his shoulders a bit, lifting his chin to state to Max and Bowen both, “Let’s get out of here.”

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