To Raze A House Of Cards


Bowen.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 12/17/10
Location: In the woods just outside Eastern Weyr
Synopsis: After considerable finagling, Bowen finally manages to arrange for a discreet meeting between him and Max.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Bowen

While Bowen does try to arrange this important meeting with Max sooner rather than later, having to do so while keeping the meeting entirely secret is rather time-consuming. First, he spends time getting to know Balder, his new assistant, and vetting him for trustworthiness. That’s not something that can be done in a scant hour, naturally. Then he has to schedule it on a day that he will know will work for both his schedule and Max’s. That takes a bit to coordinate. And finally, he has to arrange for Balder to have a reason to go to the Beast Caverns on a day when the weather isn’t drizzly, all to deliver a simple, succinct suggestion: that Max should take advantage of the nice day and go for a ride. Having packed for a day’s bit of hunting and leaving early, Bowen and Strider will be waiting and watching for the Beast Manager in some discreet bend in the road to motion them deeper into the woodland terrain for the serious discussion he is about to have with the new crime lord of the Southern continent.

With Renegade still not being properly saddle broken and it having been a while since he's been able to take a ride out of the Weyr in any form aside from the occasional drop in at Landing to check up on the goings on down there, Max is oddly grateful for the missive sent by Bowen, even if the means of its delivery draws the beast manager into instant wariness. With Starflight saddled up, a bow slung over his back and quiver slung with its strap about the pommel of the saddle, he sets off, soon coming across the tanner waiting in the bend of the path. A short dip of hatted head to acknowledge the gesture given by the other man before giving a light tap of heels against the big stallion's sides setting the runner into an easy canter to catch up with Bowen and Strider as they head deeper into the wooded terrain.

Bowen and Strider set an easy pace considering the terrain now that they were in the woods, the heavy thud of hooves being the only sound for awhile until Bowen believes they are well out of earshot of anyone who is traveling the road. Even though he’s only been out for a few candlemarks this morning, already the tanner has a few carcasses of small game lashed to the back of his saddle and there’s a slightly dirty sheen across Bowen’s facial features. “I really wish I coulda talk’d with ya sooner since gettin’ back, Max,” Bowen drawls in his usual soft, husky voice, “but I hadta be sure. I got Che ta t’ink ‘bout, an’ now m’sist’r’s ‘ere too.”

The marks marring Max's visage are less dirt and more…guard induced, although they're not looking quite as bad as they did a few days back and he can at least open his eye now. His ribs however, that's a different story. Possibly told in the careful way he's holding himself in the saddle, weight settling to his right leg more than to the left. As the pace slows and drops into easy walk, the beast manager ducks an overhanging branch and grunts against the complaint from his chest. Which may make it sound like his reply to Bowen in return considering the silence that spills out before he actually makes verbal reply. On the man's recent nuptials "Kinda sudden." He gives with a sidelong glance to the tanner, tipping his hat back on his head a bit with his thumb now that they're out of the glaring sun. "Been hearing some things," given to the tanner whilst keeping his eyes forward on the trail ahead, "'bout bounty hunters in the Weyr." Now his head swings and he sets the other man with an intent look as if he would somehow have further information on the manner.

Being that Bowen’s mind is entirely on the information he’s intending to give Max, he doesn’t quite get the ‘kinda sudden’ comment as a reference to his wedding and instead just nods, “I reckon it might look so, but it’s been cookin’ on m’campfire fer a long’r spell, j’st took some w’rkin’ ta get it on.” He turns his attention back to Max a moment, and then back to the terrain ahead of them, “But I reckon yer better at it den I am,” added with a little smirk, “Bet ya woulda dun had it all said and dun by now yerself, with ribbons and bells tied on, kickin’ back with yer boots up an’ a whiskey bottle in yer hand. Everyone sat’sfied an’ taken care of. But,” he looks at Max again, sobering slightly, “I ain’t you. I ain’t nev’r dun nuthin’ like dis sorta t’ing b’fore, Max.” There’s a heavy pause with his gaze moving back to the terrain ahead of them, “And I reckon if’n they’re th’ bounty hunters Ermina told me about, Solak an’ his crew, den they must be ‘ere fer Lo.” He shakes his head sadly, appearing not to like the odds. If Bo notices Max’s marks, he judiciously chooses not to bring them up. “He’s down ‘ere ta try an’ repay a debt fer his bruth’r Max, an’ free ‘im. But I’m guessin’ he ain’t movin’ fast ‘nough on whutever it was he was tryin’ ta use – mebbe Jaya, dunno yet – and he’s now havin’ ta dodge these fellers himself. He’s hopin’ ta find a list o names o crim’nals from some feller down in Landin’. Asked me ta go with him as his heavy ta beat it outta th’ feller, thinkin’ if he had that list, he might be able ta work a deal with Solak an’ his crew.”

Starflight jinks sideways, spooking at an imaginary tunnelsnake which proves to simply be the twisted root of a tree and so it takes a few moments for Max to realize that Bowen had completely misunderstood his previous comment meant to be coupled with the topic of the man's recent nuptials. Frowning he waits until the man has finished speaking and then notes quietly, "Weren't meaning your abilities to get information, Bo. You done gone and gotten more outta that eejit than I could've." A brow lifts as the tanner confirms what Jaya had said with regards to the bounty hunters lurking in the Weyr but he remains quiet, steering his runner around the stump of a fallen tree. Eventually, after having allowed a fair amount of silence to hang between them, several puzzle pieces falling into place for him by what Bo says, he exhales slowly. "Could do with getting my hands on such a list myself," a look twisting sideways onto his riding companion. "Any chance of getting the man to trust us enough to lend him some help in getting it and helping out with his brother?" Of course, the ulterior motive is then making a copy of said list and hopefully coaxing Lorayit over onto his side of the fence and taking some of the heat off of Jaya. And if that's not possible, at the very least, finding out what he might know of his Bitran counterpart that could help with taking the man down.

Bowen glances over at Max and Starflight as the stallion spooks, but his attention turns to Max as the Beast Manager gets the mount under control. That look is a considering one as if he’s trying to piece something together but is too shy to ask outright. So he continues the pace a few more yards in that quiet, never being one to find silence all that awkward himself, and only a few heartbeats after Max’s last does Bo finally draw Strider up to a slow and easy stop. Taking off his hat he swipes his forehead with his sleeve and then replants his hat on his head and exhales a bit, “I dunno. Lo really hates ya Max. I t’ink th’ trip ta Southern an’ back with his pack’ge safe an’ sound went a long ways ta git him ta trust me, but yer gonna be anuth’r story. It’ll be hard ta get ‘im ta trust ya.” He goes quiet a moment, eyeing Strider’s mane and then looks at Max, “I dunno, but if I wuz in Lo’s boots, an’ I had Solak on m’arse, some kinda gesture from yerself ta get Solak an’ ‘is goons off m’back. But it’d hafta look like ya wuzn’t put up ta it an’ it’d hafta seem like ya wuzn’t lookin’ fer nuthin’ in r’turn. J’st doin’ it outta th’ goodness of yer heart. Mebbe Lo will take it like I would, mebbe not. I ain’t sure. I will say dis much,” he leans a little more forward in his saddle, “I t’ink he’s startin’ ta feel th’ pinch ‘round him. I t’ink he’s gettin’ desp’rate, Max. An’ I dunno much ‘bout renegade ‘ffairs, simple tanner dat I am, but I reckon a desp’rate man is a desp’rate man no matter where he comes from, an’ des’prate men do some pretty terrible stuff when they t’ink they ain’t got no options.” He purses his lips a moment and adds, “He needs options. I wager it’s time ta put dis whole costume party ta rest, Max. Lo gave me dis,” and Bowen reaches into his shirt pocket to retrieve a small piece of hide with the name ‘Enker’ written on it, not that Bowen could tell it was more than just a bunch of letters put together, but he’s not gotten this far in life illiterate without being able to put some puzzle pieces together based on context of a conversation, “And he said ‘small and scrawny’. I figured ya might have some folks down at Landin’ who could look him up an’ get that list an’ mebbe help Lo an’ ‘is bruth’r out b’fore dis house o’cards comes tumblin’ all ‘round us.”

Bowen's considering look is met with a lightly curious one from Max, but he's not about to press the man on what it might be he'd look to say and so leaves the silence to linger deciding the tanner will say whatever it is when he's of a mind to. A frown greets Bo's words on Lorayit's antipathy toward him, "He say what the fuck I'm supposed to have done to piss him off that much?" Because aside from that one meeting in the stables, he's had nothing to do with the gardener since. He leaves that there however, focussing on what gets said next and nodding his agreement to the success of the delivery run having gone a ways to the tanner further gaining Lo's trust. A sidelong glance of sceptical proportions flicks over to the other man when he states that it may possibly be time for Southern's crime lord to take the bull by the horns and take the initiative in reaching out to the gardener. Silently he takes the hide Bowen produces a light frown twisting his marred features but not opening it just yet. Attention setting down to the item now held in his fight grazed, Max nods slowly, "Aye, reckon I could get Yaron to track this Enker person down." Lips purse lightly as he mutters more to himself than his riding companion, "Time to start laying down some ground rules." On what he as crime lord will and won't accept going on in his 'domain'. Lifting his head now a wry expression is put over to the tanner, "Gonna need your help too with this, Bo. You up for it?"

Having said everything critical he needed to get out to Max, Bowen’s shoulders seem to relax just a little. Not that he was really all that much more tense than the ever-alert tanner is normally when he’s in the woods, but he does seem at least a little bit relieved to have that part done with and off his plate. Like spare marks burning holes in a man’s pocket, that information was more than a little bit simmering in Bo’s mind since he had that conversation with Lo to begin with. To Max’s question about why Lo hates him so much, Bowen just shrugs, and just when it looks like he might not offer an explanation he says, “He didna like ya b’fore I put on like yerself an’ I were on th’ outs. I reckon when he realizes ya didna dun me wrong like I been playin’, some of dat hate might go ‘way.” And another shrug. After another pause while Max reads the little scrap of hide, Bowen responds, “I thought ya might. I told Lo I thought I might know some people whut could track ‘im down an’ mebbe we could just steal th’ list instead of beatin’ it outta him.” Of course Bo won’t be above playing the heavy if he has to, but he genuinely isn’t that kind of guy. He mentally files the name ‘Enker’ away, though, silently thanking Max for saying the name out loud for him and thus enabling him to continue to keep his illiteracy secret another day. Then he nods to the idea of laying some ground rules, and then again to the question of being up for this, “Eastern’s m’home now, Max. When yer home’s fences get broke, they gotta get fixed or all sorts o’ bad things are gonna get in, an’ a lotta good things might get let out. So, ayup, let’s go mend some fences.” There’s a little pause and he asks, “I reckon Solak an’ his crew are gonna be first ta hear th’ ground rules?” Because, that’s the big feline in the pasture he’d take care of first, in his mind. “I reckon if Lo saw ya makin’ these ground rules ta Solak an’ his crew, it’d help ‘im trust ya. Though I ain’t got th’ slightest idea how ta make it happen.”

Max turns a hint of dry amusement onto his friend, "So I got you to thank for that one, eh?" conveniently leaving off the bit where Lorayit was pissed with him to begin with. For a change, either due to the peace and quiet of the canopied woods or perhaps due to Strider's influence, Starflight has settled into a steady plodding pace allowing his rider to relax his abused body a little more in the saddle. A smile of high approval for what the tanner says of Eastern being his new home and wanting to protect it is sent his way. Nodding his agreement to what Bowen says of striking at the bounty hunters first, "We need to get to Enker and the list before Lorayit does. Any idea when he plans on getting down to Landing to find it?" Already starting to plan the best method of approach and the timing thereof and clearly including the big tanner in that too.

Smirking, but not verbally responding to Max’s first question, Bowen remains in his saddle, calm and quiet as they plod along, observing the rest of the terrain with casual interest until Max speaks again. Even then, Bowen turns his regard to the Beast Manager but doesn’t immediately speak and thinks about the conversation he’d had with Lo long and hard. Finally, he shakes his head and sighs regretfully, “I offered ta have one of th’ hunters whut sometimes trade pelts with me between here and Landin’ track th’ feller down an’ keep an eye on ‘im, though I was only gonna do that if’n ya didna ‘lready have sumbody down there ta do it. I think he wuz gonna sort out a plan ta get th’ list without beatin’ th’ feller, but I ain’t sure if he wuz gonna wait fer th’ tracker I promised him ta be in place or not. An’ mind ya, dis was all said b’fore Solak got ‘ere. I warned Lo that Solak wuz lookin’ fer ‘im ov’r in Southern. Lo wuz feelin’ desp’rate then. He mighta gone an’ dun went down ta Landin’ already, Max, if he’s heard ‘bout Solak ‘ere in th’ Weyr. I ain’t seen ‘im. Lo, that is.”

Quiet as they emerge from the woods and pass through a small clearing, Max utters simply a low curse for it seeming like Lo may well have done the disappearing act down to Landing already, he then drops into silence, expression drawn thoughtful. With an audible intake of breath he adjust his hat and passes a look over to Bowen, 'Then I reckon the sooner I get Yaron onto Enker and the sooner we can get down to Landing, the better.' Never mind that he's a little too broken at the moment to be doing much fighting himself. As to the matter of the bounty hunters, a dark smirk curls into place, 'I'll be rounding up a few boys and explaining that they're to come through me if they've got bounty they be tracking down. 'Tis only polite, aye?' For Solak and his crew to check in with Southern's crime lord.

As they break the treeline and get out in the open, even if it is a small clearing, Bowen’s attention immediately goes to the surroundings, allowing Max that moment of thoughtful silence while the tanner keeps an eye on their perimeter. It’s a few moments after Max finishes speaking again that Bo finally looks back at him, small smirk forming along with a dip of the head, “I reckon so,” comes his only response. He could be meaning getting word to Yaron or he could be meaning talking to the bounty hunters. He doesn’t specify, so more than likely it’s both and Bo is just getting back into his typical economical-speaking self now that he’s spilled everything he needs to.

Attention seemingly to the ground ahead of them, it might seem that Max hasn't taken stock of their surroundings as a whole when in fact quite the opposite is true, relying on his peripheral vision to provide him with whatever warning might be needed of impending danger. At Bo's short return, the beast manager straightens a little in his saddle and nods before dipping sideways with a short grunt against complaining ribs to pull his trusty hip flask out of the small leather bag hanging at his knee. Unscrewing it with his teeth and leaving the cap to fall to the end of the chain attached to it, takes a short nip and holds it out to the other man. Only then does he re-address the topic of Bowen's nuptials, 'So you and Che…pretty sudden that.' Being a little more specific now than he had been before. And while there's no judgment held in his tone, there's definitely curiosity for why the two would suddenly jump into something as weighty as marriage, so quickly. Of course, the obvious question of their having done so due to their being a child on the way is on the tip of his tongue but he wisely refrains from putting voice to it.

Taking the offered flask, Bowen sips briefly before handing it back to Max, “Thank ya kindly,” is all he says at first. His attention wandering back to their surroundings, not only keeping an eye out for predators but also looking for tracks of small game, since, well, obviously that was the public reason he gave for coming out here. “I reckon it might seem so ta some,” Bo drawls slowly, nonchalance in his tone, “Course, compared ta Darla, m’b’trothal ta Che looks like a full fuckin’ Int’rval.” If he’s noticed any stiffness from Max due to wounds or injuries, Bo is careful not to bring them up, but he does add a few moments later, “Ya know I got yer back, Max, wheth’r fer these bounty hunters or fer Landin’, j’st come an’ find me.”

Another nip of the brandy once the flask is handed back and then Max is screwing the cap closed and returning it once again to the small leather bag. While the beast manager might have come equipped with bow and a quiver full of arrows one can bet he's got a story all lined up about how Bowen snagged all the game before he got there rather than add insult to injuries. Slipping another sidelong glance to the tanner's response, he gives a short nod, 'Wish you both the best there, mate.' Keeping his own thoughts about the whole affair to himself for the time being. With his friend's last statement of fealty a crooked smile finally peels out, 'Much appreciated, Bo. Same goes for you.' Although that likely goes without saying.

“Thank ya kindly,” Bowen says automatically to the well-wishing, though it’s not said with any lack of genuine feeling. He’s just been responding to the well-wishing frequently enough that the responses are done more by rote than anything else. Then he nods a bit to Max’s last, drawing Strider to a slow and easy stop along the terrain, “I’ll keep up th’ ruse ‘bout hatin’ ya until I get word from ya ta do otherwise an’ if I see Lo, I’ll be sure an’ let ya know. In th’ meantime, quick pickin’ on Waine an’ gettin’ yer arse handed ta ya in a meatparcel, will ya?” That smirk appears again, and Bowen is giving a nod in farewell and starting to veer Strider off in a different direction into the woods.

Max sets the tanner with an odd look for the automatic response he gives, lips pursing slightly before adding quietly, 'Seriously, Bo. I hope it works out for you this time, aye? Che's a good woman.' As if the man didn't already know that. Almost overshooting the mark as Bowen draws Strider to a stop, his next words are sincerely given, open yearning in them, 'Give anything to be in your place.' And then in case the man takes him the wrong way he lifts a stalling hand and adds, 'With Ahni.' A light frown emerging as he recalls her weyrlingmaster's words conveyed back to him and then tucking it firmly behind a determined expression and grateful to turn to his friend's parting words. Which he does with a chuckle, 'Soon as we Lo straightened out,' more like if they do. As to the comment on who had been beating on him, a smirk falls into place, 'Waine just don't appreciate the finer qualities of a good kiss, see?' With the other man turning his mount and heading off to a different section of the woods, Max remains where he is for a while longer with his thoughts and then with a long sigh puts knee to runner and slowly starts to make his way back to the environs of the Weyr, sans small game attached to his saddle.

“Already has, Max,” Bo drawls to the Beast Manager’s first with a smile that is nothing short of one very contentedly married man, and lifting his hat to him in a quasi-waved salute, “Already has.” But when Max adds the next, Bo’s smile fades a bit and he nods, adjusting his hat back on his head. It’s a few beats after he explains that he meant Ahni that Bowen slows and stops Strider again, and adds with a nod, “I reckon so. Ya ev’r think mebbe of tryin’ ta Stand on dem sands yerself?” With the connection being that Max could then have an easier time having-and-holding-til-death-do-they-part his dragonrider woman. Without waiting on Max’s response, though, he just drawls, “Sumpthin’ ta think on …” and with a chuckle and a kissing sound to Max’s explanation of things, Strider resumes moving and Bo throws over his shoulder, “See ya later, Max,” while whistling up some light-hearted easy tune as he wanders off and very probably scaring off any more small game he might have had any possible chance at getting. The tanner doesn’t seem to care, his thoughts on his married life once more, the weight of his burden of information lifted off the simple tanner’s shoulders.

Oddly enough rather than Bo's suggestion being taken as useful food for thought, Max looks more annoyed by it than anything else. As if the tanner were implying in similar agreement to W'red, that he as a non-rider simply wasn't good enough for Ahnika. As such all he gives is a grunt to the idea not quite as 'whistley' and carefree as the tanner when they part ways.

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