Simple Tastes And Sour Faces

Participants:

Hayli.jpg Mahlie.jpg Hayli, Faust, Niman and Vaputero are NPC'd by Jaya

Date: June 26, 2011
Location: The Bar, EW
Synopsis: Vaputero meets Mahlie while playing a game of cards. She almost takes him to be another crimelord that has ties to her past. She also meets a mysterious passer-by named Niman that helps her out.
Rating: PG-15 for some language and innuendo.
Logger: Jaya


The bar is jumping this night. Every card table is filled along with the stools at the counter, and all that anyone could see of the towering figure of the Telgari barmaid was in quick passing. Hayli, the other barmaid, is behind the counter running this way and that, the blonde more vibrant in the face of business than not. Shijan is at his customary spot by the entrance watching any and all that pass him – but this night, his focus seemed to be less on those that pass him and more on one of the card tables. Despite the laughter and loud humming of the bar, there’s a dark tension simmering underneathe and any in the bar could feel it. At the table that seems to have Shijan’s attention sits the crimelord of Bitra and his second-in-command, Vaputero and Faust. Both are surrounded by traveling southern traders by the tanned looks of them – and all of them seem to be giving the men wary eyes. The mess at the table suggests they’ve been playing at cards for hours now, though there’s an ease at which the crimelord leans back in his chair holding up his big mug of something dark within. Shijan wouldn’t be the only one watching that table, either; perhaps is stirring the tension is the three men claiming a table of their own a few paces away, staring hard at the card table and those seated there like they owed them something.

It's been a long day. Like every day ever. Mahlie is as tired as her mother ever was, and that woman reared seven brats. Mahlie eases her way into the Bar with practiced moves, dextrously moving around those who sit at the tables. She offers a tired smile for those she recognizes, a wink and a flirty grin for a couple special gentlemen, and then finding a rare empty seat, she fairly plops right into it. She gestures to the closest server and awaits the chance to order something to drink. She needs to unwind. Badly.

Shijan vaguely notices Mahlie’s arrival, but the woman could have been no more than a blip in his radar. Others in the bar give her an even longer study – some with interest, some even oogling – before Hayli appears before her at the bar and nods to her in greeting. “What can I get you, shuga?” she asks, borrowing the bar owner’s term of calling as she passes a drink over to the weathered-looking man to Mahlie’s left. “We’ve got a new drink on the table. Called the Istan Wave. Tropical, strong, sweet….” She lists like a rehearsed mantra, leaning forward to collect up a mark that gets dropped on the counter. The dirty blonde, weathered man eyes Mahlie as she sits, idly nursing his drink as he turns around to face the length of the bar and lean some of his body up against the counter.

"Ooh. That sounds like just the thing." Mahlie agrees to try the new drink. She's always game for something new, as long as she's still in control. Those who are gazing at her get winks, grins, and in one case, a flirty wave. She's making her way here, and that includes finding inroads among the riders and other weyrfolk. With no real connections here — other than a tenuous one to D'lan — she uses every skill she's got to stay afloat. The blond man gets a quick smile and a lightning-fast assessment. The girl's learned a trick or two since leaving her father's home.

Hayli gives Mahlie a smile as she goes to get the glass and bottle, stepping away long enough to have the blonde man beside her break his silence with, “Rough day? Sounds like you could use a whole bottle of the new Wave.” He’ll turn his head then to fit her with a charming smile full of white teeth and a flash of intent study in his blue gaze. He raises his drink to her then as if in a sort of introduction. Hayli comes back right then with the drink, the deep blue liquid seem in the glass as she slides it over and nods with a wry, “We seem to sell that one more with the owner gone than when she’s here,” as if she had heard what the man said. Either way, she’s tossing a wink in both of their directions before a dragonrider down the counter and signaling her away.

Mahlie is wary. However, he seems alright, so she nods. "Oh, it's just been a day. You know how it is." She gazes again at the man, and takes a sip of her drink. "Oooh. That is sweet." Almost too sweet for her, but it suits for tonight. "I don't think I'd take a whole bottle. I do have to walk back to the barracks, now." She gives a furtive little smile. "It wouldn't do to trip and knock the glows over, would it?" She shakes her head, and takes another slow drink, keeping her attention on the pulse of the area around her.

“I suppose I would know,” the blonde man chuckles into his drink, looking away from her to peer over towards one of the card tables with idle gaze. He chuckles again when Mahlie announces on the Istan Wave, but it’s what she says next that draws his interest and gaze. “The barracks?” he echoes that, a brow lifting. “Well what would a-“ and the words falter when a shadow falls over them both. “Refills, wench,” a deep, booming voice is heard, drawing away his attention enough to find himself face-to-face with Faust, Vaputero’s second-in-command. Even Hayli, further down from them, hears his voice enough to give him a hesitant nod, which the weathered man catches. “Pleasant evening to you, good sir,” the blond man gives to Faust, to which he seems to ignore. His eyes find Mahlie instead, and the pale mountain man is giving her a good once-over. It’s to her he gives his arrogant little smile while he waits, not moving from his spot before them and not seeming to care that he has interrupted their conversation, either.

Whereas Blondie gave Mahlie pause and not much else, Faust gives the young kitchen worker the heebie-jeebies. She nods politely to the man, sketching a near curtsey as though she were back serving Lord Lemos himself. However, there's a small hint of fire and determination ever present in her eyes. She keeps quiet, instead nursing her drink and keeping her eyes low.

Strangely enough, Hayli seems to be working double-time to fulfill Faust’s order over anyone else by the look of things, and even the patrons waiting for their drinks are giving the man dirty looks. Quick, dirty looks, rather. The near curtsey he gets from Mahlie seems the please the man more than the short looks he’s getting, and he’s giving her longer study before speaking. “Got a room. My boss and I would love to get to know you better,” is perhaps his way of a pick-up line, to which the weathered man steps in and answers, “Sorry. Got a private meeting tonite already.” – “Ain’t talkin’ to you, buddy,” Faust drops, keeping his gaze pointedly on Mahlie before nodding in her direction before he turns and gestures towards the card table he was at indication of his boss. Vaputero is there, his broad back the only part of him seen from their vantage.

Mahlie smiles, though it doesn't reach her eyes. "Oh, I'm not sure that I could do that, sir. My duties require me back in the caverns soon. I was merely taking a few moments to meet my friend and then I must return before the cleanup finishes. The Baker will have my hide if I don't. I've already missed too much time this seven." She gazes up at the blond man, hoping he'll play along, slowly bringing her drink to her lips, hiding her full expression and preparing should she need to toss the drink into the man's face.

When Mahlie speaks the words and sends that look to the weathered man, Faust shoots a hard look his way as well. Clearing his throat before taking careful sip of his drink, “In a hurry, the lot of us,” he agrees, going along with it. “Like I said, I’ve a meeting to reach and she has to return to the caverns. Perhaps, ahh, your boss can find another lady to get to know tonite?” That gets a long and heavy silence before the second puts forth tersely, “My boss doesn’t like to be turned down,” and turns a look on Mahlie then. The blond man answers before she could. Leaning forward, “Perhaps a few marks in the man’s hand will, ahh, smooth things over?” and to put action to words, he reaches around and pulls out a few full mark pieces for the mountainous man to see. “Don’t mean to inconvenience you, but we really are in a hurry.” Hayli appear right then before them with his round of drinks, passing them over to him with far more anxiety than when she served Mahlie earlier. Faust hesitates a long moment before he reaches to take up the marks first, grunting and dropping them into a pocket. “Reckon they will,” he finally speaks, though it was clear that the man was not pleased. It’s all he gives before he passes a lingering look over at Mahlie, takes up the mugs and heads back over toward his table.

Mahlie nearly sobs in relief. Not audibly, but her shoulders sag, her expression softens, and she closes her eyes for just a moment. "I'm sorry to impose on you like that, sir. If you need me to replace some or all of those marks…" She chews on her lip. "Who was that, anyway?" She whispers this last, barely mouthing it. She takes a small sip of her drink to cover her worry, and runs a hand through her hair. "I'm Mahlie by the way, and I work in the kitchen. I'll make bubblies for you any time for that." Or whatever sweets he might have his heart set on. "If we have the ingredients, that is." The man, if he's been around the Weyr much at all, would know that supplies are often tight. "Or, if you'd prefer another … " She isn't sure how to phrase this at the moment without offending him, but the offer is there, should he be wise enough to pick up on it. Or if he's blissfully ignorant of what she means, that's okay too.

A free hand lifts as Faust takes his leave and the weathered man is already dismissing Mahlie’s words of gratitude before the sentence is over. “It’s Niman,” he gives, his eyes staying on the card table that Faust re-joins. “I don’t think I was ever called a sir in all my days. Don’t worry about the marks,” he adds, now turning his blue gaze to her fully, some amusement coloring his tone. “I can get more of their like if I’ve a need to. Mahlie, is it?” He seems to taste the name like he tastes his wine, and finds it pleasing. “Mahlie. I like it. No need to make bubblies for a man that’s really just passing through, Mahlie. I’m bound for the lands uncharted and unspoiled by civilized feet.” He takes another sip and studies her idly, seeming to regard her all the more for her other, vague offer since he hasn’t yet answered her on who the men were. Blue flick up and down her slowly before a brow lifts, “’Prefer’s quite a suggestive word, Mahlie,” he states, lowering his voice, “and one that those men there would have surely demanded. I am, indeed, a man of simple tastes, and I only indulge if the delicacy is offered willingly.” His eyes hold his meaning for a moment before he straightens up and now tosses a chin towards the card table to address her previous question. “Now. Who was that, you ask? Only one of the baddest renegade leaders from up north. A crimelord, they call them. I’ve seen his like before, when I used to frequent the circles of more, ah, shabbier folks. Their sort’s not the one to be tangled with, that is. Why they would be here, down south, is anyone's guess.”

Mahlie's whole demeanor changes. First, her eyes flare with fire, and then her face whitens quickly. Not for long, though, as it reddens deeply. She hisses at his words, and drains her drink completely, losing all the cool she had just a moment ago. "That bastard." This is spoken softly, but the intensity is thick. She knows the man isn't down here for her, it's not like she said anything herself, but the thought does cross her mind. "I don't offer unless I mean it, Nam — Niman." Long practice of listening for and being … encouraged to remember names becomes the only reason the young woman can call him by his proper name now. "I am so sorely tempted…." However, her lesson's been learned, rather harshly. She runs her finger around the edge of her glass, a considered look in her eye.

Niman watches Mahlie’s expression go through its changes, his interest flaring as her demeanor completely changes. “Who know him?” he asks, his gaze darting towards that card table once more with a slightly dubious look to him. “What do you know of Vaputero?” Her answer on things offered gets amusement from him along with a wry “Perhaps it does not hurt to give into temptation,” he offers low, perhaps taking her words at face value. “Perhaps you can become my, ah, private meeting? After your business in the caverns, that is?” There’s a shout of disappointment from the card table in question then, and he turns to see one of the traders shoot up from his seat and throws his hand of cards down in obvious defeat. “Those men as fools to play cards with a man from Bitra,” he gives, shaking his head. “Cheats, the lot of them. Sore losers, too.”

Bitra. Wait. Bitra? "Oh, I don't really have business in the caverns," she mentions, leaning in to keep it quiet. "It's a standing agreement I have with the other workers. There's always work to be done. If someone needs a — a reason to be otherwise occupied, well, we can use it." She doesn't mention the caveat that if you got your ass into trouble, then you really shouldn't use the excuse, but for those women who work all day and just try to keep things going, it's a nice thing to have in place. "I'd love to be your 'private meeting.'" As she said, if she didn't mean it, she wouldn't offer. "Would Bitra have sway over Lemos?" She looks furtively over toward the men, wondering even if they're the same bunch, or if they're someone entirely different. "And if so, is this the same guy that…" She keeps that part of her dragon-poker deck close. Even if this guy is as trustworthy as her own da, she doesn't fully share. She's not even shared with D'lan, yet.

“Bitra has sway over whomever they want,” Niman is quick to answer his opinion, looking all the more relaxed and pleased with himself for his sudden change of plans for the evening. Leaning back more casually as he looks over towards the card table, “That Vaputero, there? He would have business in Lemos, eh? Don’t see why not. Lemos probably belongs to him.” A hand brushes the bottom of his chin idly now as he thinks his words over before adding, “In fact, the man had a lot of ties. What’s Lemos to you, anyway?” and now he turns to regard Mahlie again, while at the same time a few of the men at the card table send a furtive glance in their direction. The trader that had thrown his cards have already stalked off towards the entrance. Leaning towards her, “That man owes you something?” he asks with a pointed look. “Marks? Trinkets? Your maidenhood?” He can tell she was hesitating about something, so he offers, “I wouldn’t exactly tangle with them,” he muses idly, “but perhaps getting someone else to…..to figure out if he’s the same guy, ah?”

"It isn't that simple." Mahlie frowns, scooting forward, settling one hand on his knee, gauging his reaction to the movement. "Lemos is — well, was — home. Because of him, or might've been someone like him, I was shunned, and run out of my home." She hasn't ever spoken about this to anyone, and wonders why she does so now. However, the feline's loose, so she continues. "My father's best friend is a bluerider named H'rralt. He has dealings with a crimelord. Well, more like he opens his mouth and derides the man, then stubbornly defends his honor when the guy's lackeys come calling. He's been in a dozen or more knife fights with lowlifes, and it really shows." She smiles a soft, reminiscent smile, brightening her face. "I love the old nut, I really do, but he's got a mouth that would make my ma pull out the soapsand. Honestly." She shakes her head, and pulls her hand back to fiddle with the rim of her empty glass once more. "If that is the guy, he'll know of H'rralt, and it'll be pretty clear. If it's not… I don't know. He might still know of him, because he's pretty infamous around there for that." She leans in, letting her tunic fall just so. Whether it's just for appearances or whether he really will take her up on his offer, it's a good move. Her words thus far have been softly spoken, and her expression could be taken several ways. Now, she raises her voice just a bit. "Really?" It's just a quick non-sequitur, thrown out for the sake of their audience.

Niman falls silent and contemplative to that hand on his knee, his brow furrowing as he listens to Mahlie’s tale. Interest pools at hearing of her plight, and her uncle, and so he drains half his glass before answering with, “H’rralt, ah? And this bluerider would be known in such areas? Or rather,” and he leans forward to lower is voice, “Is this the man that kicked you out of your home and into this very bar tonite?” he asks with a raised brow before leaning away and taking up the remnants of his drink. Casually, after a pause, “There’s no harm in asking, is there?” he asks, eyes falling on the cuts of her tunic just so. He knows what she is getting at, but he’s a man to play along anyway. He looks back towards he card table for a moment, then drains his glass and gets to his feet. Turning back to offer her his hand, “You ought to join me, dear Mahlie,” he says nodding towards the card table. “I imagine we may have to make a quick getaway if we’re not careful. Just as well we are both done with our drinks,” and he turns to drop a full mark on the counter for Hayli, it being enough to cover both of their drinks and more.

It's not often that Mahlie is pleasantly surprised. But this is the second pleasant surprise she's had since arriving at Eastern. First, she ran into the rider who did take her maidenhood (albeit very willingly given), and then she discovered this man, willing to be a champion, much like H'rralt had been to her. She smiles brightly, and stands, moving to loop her arm through his, if he'll allow. "Lead on, sir. One cannot be too careful these days." She smiles brightly to the corner of the room where Hayli is working, giving the woman a subtle wink. It's meant to let the girl know that things are okay. She knows how some of them can worry. More softly, she says, "Right. Is this the guy who H'rralt's been speaking out about, or is it someone else entirely?" That's the pertinent question. "I suppose just mentioning the old bastard's name would do it." She refers to said bluerider.

Hayli watches some of the exchange enough from where she was working to catch that wink being sent her way, and she’s shaking her head with a touch of amusement in its place. Once Mahlie is up and looping her arm around his, Niman nods his thanks to the barmaid and is winding them carefully through the tables towards the card table of note. To her softly spoken words as they approach, “Not a worry, my dove,” he states with far too much confidence, moving to pat her hand easily. “I will ask after this uncle of yours and perhaps he would know of him, ah? Ah, here we are!” Faust was speaking fervently to the men about the table before breaking off once he spies them approaching. As one of the trademen shuffle the deck, “You lost?” the second asks coldly, clearly having remembered them well enough to add in for those around the table, “And if you’re here to get your marks back, buddy, then you better keeping walking.” – “Not here for you, actually,” Niman counters almost pleasantly, moving himself and Mahlie at an angle so that they both could see Vaputero’s face. “It’s your boss we want. Just an innocent question, really.” Blue eyes fall on Vaputero’s face, and the Bitran crimelord is now looking from him to Mahlie closely. “Who do we have here, Faust?” he’s asking with slow interest, his grey eyes boring into Mahlie then.

"Excuse me, sir." Mahlie is all sweetness and light, though her grip on her escort's arm tightens just the slightest bit. "I was wondering if you'd be the one I need to speak to. I've — I've been sitting there wondering if you might know my uncle. His name's H'rralt, and I've been ever so worried about him…" Her eyes search the boss' face, and she waits (seemingly) demurely for his response. The other men are forgotten, now that her goal is in sight. Besides, she trusts Niman to keep her at least relatively safe.

Niman falls silent when Mahlie speaks up, his eyes lingering on Faust more than his boss. When she tightens her hold on his arm, he moves his hand over hers while Vaputero leans back in his seat to regard her. “Aren’t you a pretty piece,” he grunts through her words, looking as if to dismiss them outright for his own endeavors. “Such kissable lips….you are like that story of the fair maiden….you remember the story, eh?” he turns to his second on that one, to which Faust merely snorts sourly and answers, “Wouldn’t know a maiden, boss.” – “Hmm…..well,” and the crimelord turns back to Mahlie and now addresses her words with a blithe shrug. “H’rralt, was it? What about him? Who is he to you?” He’s not giving much away for now, studying her from his vantage as one of the traders pass him some cards.

"As I say, sir." Mahlie tries to gloss right over the part about maidens and brat-stories. "He's my uncle. I've not heard from him in a while, and I wondered whether you knew how he was faring." It's as simple as that, and she shifts a little, keeping her nervous energy well-contained until it's needed.

The cards are dealt and the men wordlessly start to add to the pot at the center of the table. Niman stays quiet for now, watching the exchange, and Faust seems more into the card game than the conversation. Sniffing, “Uncle, huh? Where is this H’rralt from? A Weyr? What Weyr? I may know of a H’rralt,” he adds, tossing a half-mark into the pot, “but it might not be your H’rralt. The one I know is a little shit.” Faust snorts his amusement without looking at either of them from his cards, and Niman states too calmly, “Well that little shit might happen to be her uncle, as it were, sir.” – “If you knew who I was,” Vaput puts forth as his gaze returns to his cards, “then you wouldn’t be calling me ‘sir’, man.”

Mahlie cannot help herself: she chuckles at the description of her friend as a 'little shit.' "That does sound like my uncle." She leaves off the sir, not wanting to push too hard. "From your language, he's at least still kicking." She grants Niman a smile for his input, and waits for another lull in the game or conversation, merely listening to what the men say.

“I very well know who you are,” Niman is bold to counter, the smile smooth. “Bitran men are drawn to cards – and their women. I’m from Nerat, myself.” Why he feels a need to give that information out is anyone’s guess, but it does seem to draw Vaputero’s gaze. While that gaze lingers, “So your H’rralt’s my H’rralt, which makes him a little shit,” he states, perhaps being poetic in the moment. Eyes flicking to hers then, “What about him, eh? Came over here to ask after a damn dragonrider? What’s the reason?” The traders at the table sink deeper into their cards at the tone and Faust is drinking down his drink with idle relish. “He’s kicking, yeah,” the second takes up and gives wryly. “For now.” He seems to find his own words amusing, for he’s chuckling to himself. Niman shakes his head, “I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t want someone making such jokes over your own mother,” he states with a look. The second snorts at that one and turns to spit on the ground by Niman’s feet. “There’s my mother,” is his return, to which Vaputero’s giving a little smirk while waiting to hear Mahlie’s answer.

Mahlie is getting more convinced by the moment that this isn't her guy. She's heard tales of shouting rows between the two men, or between H'rralt and those who work for this guy. Unless he's playing things even closer than she is, which she doubts, he's not her guy. Her eyes flash for just a split second, then she schools her face back into the quiet, demure maiden she's been emulating. Maybe one of her little sisters. She shrugs slightly, and replies to Vaputero. "Well, I just worry. If you've no news…" Her voice trails off again, and she gives Niman a speaking look, quickly. "I do have to return to my duties this evening. Thank you for your time, gentlemen." While they're here, she'll have to feed them, so it's not worth it to rile them more than necessary.

“I care less for the well being of dragonriders, woman,” Vaputero drops crisply as he rearranges his hand of cards. “Whether he’s well or not is of little concern to me. Would rather talk about what’s between your legs than about some little shit-of-a-rider.” – “In other words,” Faust puts in as he drains his glass, “Unless you’re fuckin’, we’ve got nothing for you. Move along.” The dismissal was sharp and the men all return to the card game at hand as if the pair had already left. Blinking and nodding to that look being sent his way, “Very well then, gentleman,” he adds on formally, smiling. “You have yourselves a good night. Perhaps sometime I may join you in a friendly game or two.” When no one answers him, he turns and steers Mahlie away quickly, shooting a glance over his shoulder until sending to her out of earshot, “I suppose he is not the man you’re looking for, then?” with some relief. He definitely didn’t want to rile those men this night.

Mahlie is silent until they're well out of earshot. Then, she sighs. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's not the guy. I'd still like to see H'rralt skewer the hell out of him, though." She grins. "After all, he's a sonovabitch." But her tone is light, and she makes no apologies for sounding like a miner after spending a seven in the mine. "Thank you again." She moves her hand from his arm to his back, increasing the intimacy of the gesture. "Now, then. You mentioned a private meeting? Did you have a place in mind?" Living in the resident dorms / barracks / whatever they're called, there isn't a whole lot of privacy. There are ground weyrs, though, and if they're not in use for flights, they're free for others. "If not, we could … " She gives him a full smile, happy to be out of there.

“I imagine he wouldn’t be the only one in that regard, “Niman mumbles to Mahlie on account of skewering, his amusement laid bare for her as he guides her towards the entrance. He’s pleasantly amused to hear her curse, even, the weathered man looking her over anew before laughter erupts. “Sonovabitch? Like the sound of that from your lips, my dove,” he adds, his hand lightly patting her own. As to private meetings, well, his mind was already there. His tone dropping suggestive to that touch, “How about you lead and I follow? I’m sure you know more about this Weyr and its, ah, hidden nooks better than I will.” Brows lift at her and they’re heading out, already steering the conversation to far more pleasant waters than the darker ones of a Bitran crimelord.



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