Tracking A Renegade


Bowen.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 9/15/10
Location: EW: Beast Caverns and surrounding countryside
Synopsis: Bowen and Max go out track down the runaway injured runner, Renegade, the morning after the failed attempt was made by a couple of thugs to steal him. During the journey, the two chat companionably, each sharing a bit more about their lives with each other and beginning to see one another more as a friend.
Rating: PG-13 - Language
Logger: Bowen

Having gotten a change of pants from his press in the Lower Caverns after his visit to the Infirmary, and then having enjoyed another shot or two of whiskey with Max after getting back, Bowen decided not to take to his bed all the way in the Lower Caverns. Fact was, he hurt enough to know that if he went to bed, he’d likely not be able to get up at dawn and roll out of that bed to leave with Max. Besides, there was no telling if those thugs would be back, either to try and make off with another runner (possibly even Strider), or to try and free or kill their buddy who was still tied up in Max’s tackroom, and Bo was loathe to leave the other man, who was quickly becoming a good friend here at Eastern, mostly alone with those circumstances. So, he found himself some sacks of oats and hay, tucked himself mostly out of the way but near enough Strider’s stall to be able to hear trouble coming, and dozed fitfully the rest of the night until the sounds of stableboys and herdsmen wandering in during false dawn to get their orders and start their day finally roused him awake. Stiffly, he eased up into a sitting position, testing some weight on his leg, and then mostly used the nearby wall to haul himself up and into a standing position before stretching and wincing. He looked worse this morning than he did last night, with all the swelling and bruising set in full-blown force now, and two giant shiners to set his bloodshot blue eyes out more significantly. Fortunately, Strider didn’t much care what Bo looked like, and he lip-nibbles his owner as Bo sets to getting him ready for the hopefully brief journey.

Once Bowen had limped off after sharing more of the bottle of whiskey with him, Max had dragged himself down to the baths, completely unaware that the other man had chosen to spend what must have been a rather uncomfortable night in the stables. Had he known, chances are he would have given up his own bedding in favor of the one sporting the worst injuries out of the two of them. As it was, his own sleep wasn't too restful either broken by nightmares that had him waking in a cold sweat once or twice during the night. The next morning, looking like he'd been pulled through a bush backwards (though not nearly to the degree Bowen looks) and then nibbled on by a dragon waiting on the other side, numbweed was slathered on where it ached the most. The note he scribbled out in the night during one of those sudden jolts of wakefulness, was handed over to a young stablehand who was told to ensure it made it into Ahnika's hands and then, hat in hand he made his way slowly out of his stall and down to where Starflight was stabled. Sounds of someone moving about in Strider's stall have him veering that way instead, a frown in place. Coming to a rest, one arm hooking over the half door of the stall, Bowen is set with a somewhat skeptical look and a touch of sarcasm in greeting, "Mornin', gorgeous."

Just as well, really, because the tanner would not have gotten any better sleep knowing he was sleeping in another man’s bed, no matter how comfortable it was. Some things, Bowen’s just not ready for yet. He is, however, appearing to be getting slowly ready – even slower than he is naturally – for the journey. Tugging on first one rough leather riding glove and then the other, he gets the saddle and grunts as he settles the heavy thing onto Strider’s back, just in time to look over and get Max’s greeting. He smiles back, a smile a little less bloody now, though it still hurts some, and there comes a tightening at the corners of his eyes that may be missed, as slight as it is. “Bet y’say that to all th’ tanners,” and he returns to cinching on the saddle with slow, stiff, but accurate movements. “I take it by th’ fact that I didn’t get woken up from a whoop of joy that yer runner didn’t wander back in last night?” Of course, this would have been a better question to ask before he started saddling Strider, but he pretty much assumed he would have heard something if Renegade had come back.

Before he continues on to answer anything else, a glance backward to where one of the 'hands is tacking up Starflight for him, he puts the offer forward to Bowen, "I can have Rayor finish up for you?" a pointed look going over the other man's injuries. Leaving that up to the tanner to decide a crooked grin quirks out, "Only the pretty ones," he gives out with a chuckle before drawing more serious as he shakes his head faintly, "Naw. Renegade's not one to come back without a fight to begin with." Stepping back as Starflight is led up and starting to do a tack check not trusting that maybe something has been overlooked in the saddling of the big runner, "You sure you want to do this? Could probably do with just taking it easy, aye?" Says he moving about carefully as he runs the check over the black stallion but then again, he wasn't on the receiving end of a knifing or quite the beating to his face and body that Bowen was.

“Naw,” Bowen answers to the offer, but with a slight nod of gratitude just the same. “It’s good t’move ‘round some before we get goin’ anyhow, t’loosen me up some.” The ‘pretty ones’ comment merely earns Max a faint smirk and then he is finishing the saddling and moving to unhook Strider’s bridle from the wall and return to ease it onto the gelding’s head and mouth. “M’sure,” he says with another slight nod, and then pauses, one hand resting on Strider’s neck and Bowen’s blue eyes look at Max, “Unless y’want me not t’come an’ help ya? Y’ain’t just sneakin’ off t’be with yer woman, cuz, if’n so, I’ll j’st go back t’bed now and let y’all have yer … yanno … privacy an’ what-not,” because Bowen’s never really the sort to pry and the little he knows about Max’s woman doesn’t add up to her being a weyrling right now.

Having satisfied himself that all is in order, Max turns a dry look onto the tanner for talk of loosening himself up before the ride out. From out of one of the pockets of his jacket a flask is withdrawn and held out to Bowen, "Helps to aid things a long sometimes." So no, he's not an alcoholic looking to down a liquid breakfast, merely offering whatever's in that flask over for medicinal benefits of loosening up aching muscles and joints. Whether or not the offer is taken up, the beast manager is caught unawares by the question coming from the other and as such it's a few moments before he makes reply and then does so with a frown that flickers briefly in and out. Not bothering to try and refute where he'd rather be a short exhale precedes his words and he drops his gaze away and sets it onto the stallion at his side instead. "Naw, she's…unavailable," but that doesn't seem quite the right way to put it and lips press together for a moment, "impressed in the last hatching," Max finally gives probably assuming the man to know what that all means.

Taking the flask with another slight nod of gratitude, Bowen uncaps it and tilts his head back gingerly for a standard sip length, and then caps it and hands it back with an exhaled, “Thank ye kindly.” He gives Strider another gentle stroke and then a pat as Max responds and the tanner is slow to give any acknowledgement or response back to that, himself. He studies the Beast Manager for a time, and his own memories of the loss of his wife, though much more permanent than weyrlinghood, of course, help to keep the tanner’s tongue in check as he’d otherwise might make some kind of quip about how lucky Max was to get a break from her nagging. Instead, a heavy breath sounds in the stall, and Bo merely gives another faint nod, offering an attempt of companionable comfort, “Reckon that won’t be forever, though, and she’ll be back t’pawin’ and frettin’ over ya b’fore long.” It’s the least he can do for the man who lost his runner last night and has been so generous with his whiskey, really. But Bo is not terribly comfortable with such expressions, and so he takes the reins and starts to lead Strider toward the stall exit, and past Max, unless Max stops him or gets in the way.

A nod given in return for the gratitude, Max pockets the flask and leads Starflight over to where a crate is situated not so pig-headed as to not make use of whatever mounting help there is available given that it was his left leg that had taken the shoveling. Which puts him out of the way for Bowen to lead Strider through. Gritting teeth as he sets his boot to stirrup, and using his arms and upper body, he hauls up into the saddle and sends a dryly amused look over to Bowen, "You open that leg back up again, I ain't standing between you and the journeywoman," just saying. As to the remark made concerning his woman and their current situation, there comes a short nod and brief smile of appreciation for the words given, "Aye," and then an amused snort to the pawing and fretting bit, "More likely to try kicking my ass for me." Given their ill advised determination to go questing for Renegade but a mere few hours later.

Bowen had a similar idea to get himself seated on Strider, but having more upper body strength and not having had much in the way of injury done to his arms or chest, he used a combination of stall wall and cantle to heave and haul himself up with minimal strain on the leg. It took a lot of effort, and some pain, and it shows. If not in his face, it shows in the way his chest heaves. To Max’s comment about the Healer, Bo simply and quietly states with a deadpan expression on that ugly mug of his right now, “Ain’t ‘fraid of no Healer,” pause, “Terr’fied more like.” Then he smirks and eases Strider up closer to Starflight but not abreast of him. And then regarding Max’s woman Bo simply nods with a look as he’d expect something of the sort, “There’s that, too.” Ass-kicking, presumably. And then Bo turns his attention through the opened doors and into the outside as the sky continues to lighten with each passing moment, as if gauging the weather, though he’s far from an expert even with his survivalist skills.

Watching as Bowen too hauls himself up into the saddle, the pain apparent on his beat up face; the beast manager tilts his hat further down over his face, dark eyes shadowing and expression setting into a grim line for a moment. With a dry chuckle next he offers up easy agreement of sentiment when it comes to healers and their craft, “Not alone there.” Max’s only concern being Thread, he doesn’t seem too perturbed by the few clouds gathered along the lightening skyline as they ride out at a sedate walk, with him holding to silence until they clear the Weyr exit and are out into the beyond. With eyes to the ground where distinct hoof prints show the outward progress of a runner favoring a foreleg, his voice suddenly sounds out against the still morning, “Your wife kick your ass much?” Taking his eyes off the trail for a moment he glances over at the stocky tanner and then realizing the man probably would prefer not to talk of the deceased woman utters quietly as his attention goes to the ground where the trail veers toward grassed plains, “You don’t have to answer that.”

The quiet tanner seems at ease in the silence of the beginning of their trip. Once out in the open, and not crowded in by stall walls, he nudges Strider up to be a little more abreast with the stallion. Bowen, too, is keeping his attention on the ground and following those hoofprints and perhaps the occasional dark blotch of blood depending on the particular terrain they were on at that moment and whether or not it’d show up easily enough. And so when the silence and stillness are shattered by that question, Bo’s shoulders stiffen immediately – perhaps one of the few immediate reactions ever seen of the usually slow and careful man. His body language, even beat up as it is, is at once a brilliant red light against that traffic of conversation, indicating that he might have even thrown a kneejerk punch or two in earlier days over such a question. As such, it is several long and quiet moments of watching the ground in growing silence before the tanner answers grimly, “Ev’ry fuckin’ day,” then pauses, “but I deserved it.” He keeps his eyes on the ground and then offers up, “Them Felines took ‘er body, but I think I was th’ one whut took ‘er life … long ago.” As if Strider needed comforting, not himself, Bo then pats the gelding’s neck before continuing to Max, “If yer th’ sort t’hear advice ‘bout yer woman from ‘nuther man, then I might suggest ya don’t get ‘er wit child … least not ‘til yer sure ‘bout it.”

Catching that stiffening coming off of Bowen from the corner of his eye, Max casts a long look over the beat up tanner and allows silence to spread out once again before chancing a response. Nudging Starflight with his knee he follows the hoof prints off the path and out onto the open grassy plain where it’s likely going to be a little trickier to track Renegade. He doesn’t know the man that well yet, but what he’s seen so far is enough for him to come to the assessment eventually given. “Doubt you deserved it every day, mate,” the beast manager’s voice coming quiet on the morning, another sidelong glance and a heavy frown settles in under his hat, “’less of course you beat her?” Because then the two of them are going to end up having a problem. Of course, it’s the tanners last that has Max simply staring at him and then quickly clearing his throat before giving gruffly, “Aye well, that ain’t likely to be an issue for some time yet.” An odd blend of relief and melancholy in his tone there.

Bowen, as is his usual way, is slow to respond once they are out on the grassy plain, even taking the time to make a pretty horrendous sound in his throat and then leaning over to spit before taking a swig of his canteen of water. On the question of whether or not he deserved it, Bo doesn’t speak, but to the question of whether or not he beat her, Bo just gives Max a look like the other man suddenly grew dragon wings out his back, not offended so much as just the question seemed a crazy one to ask for Bo. But while some Lord Holders or others with an extreme sense of nobility and pomp might get their feathers ruffled at such a question, Bo knows the working class well enough to know there are some men who treat their women roughly, and so his answer, while slow in coming, is easy and even somewhat wry, “I’d j’st as soon beat Strider here b’fore beatin’ a woman,” and anyone can see how well he treats his gelding, “b’sides, my Ma woulda beat th’ shit outta me if I tried t’hurt Darla. They were practic’lly th’ same woman,” which is not unusual, really, for men to end up with women who hold similar qualities to their mothers. To the latter statement, Bo nods, lapsing quiet another long moment before giving Strider another affectionate and soothing (for himself) pat. Whether it is the sense of fellowship he feels with Max while they are on this journey or the fight last night or the overall complaint to his flesh and bones that make him a little more open than usual, he comments, “She lost it, th’ baby. Darla did.” He pauses, contemplative, and then adds, “So, j’st … be sure yer ready … in every sense. Is all I’m sayin’. Things weren’t th’ same fer us after.” There’s a slight catch in his breath at the last and the stocky man composes himself once more with a deep inhale and brief, light coughing fit, gloved hand lifting to his mouth and head tilted to shadow his face beneath his hat.

All Max has in response to that look sent him, is a shift of shoulders and then a rough snort of agreement, completely unphased by the hawking. “Aye. I’d sooner beat the man doin’ the beating than…” words trail off as a deep smirk of satisfaction forms at recollection of having done just that recently. Starflight bounces sideways at an imaginary shadow, jarring the man astride him and causing a hissed expletive to spill from his lips for the pull on strained muscles. Though Bowen might take that as response to the loss he reveals. “Shit, sorry man. That musta been…” brows furrowing together as he tries to imagine the heartache such a thing must cause and what it might do to Ahnika. From under his hat, dark eyes once again slant sideways as the tanner goes into that ‘coughing’ fit and the beast manager falls silent for a while allowing the man the time to compose himself. For some reason he feels the need to share in like manner. Perhaps it’s that the widower has seen fit to do so, or just that he finds something in the man that has him comfortable enough to confide in. Thus his words when they come are quiet spoken, his attention studiously to the terrain before them in the hopes of catching Renegade somewhere off in the distance. “Got a kid. Little girl. Ain’t never seen her,” his words stilted, “mother’s a right piece of work. Passing her off as someone else’s,” the next is growl of sentiment over the woman rarely uttered in the presence of others, “Fucking bitch of a Lady Holder.” And then he lapses into brooding silence, jaw held tight before he’s breaking it and pointing to a patch of grass shorter than the rest, “He stopped here.”

There comes no immediate reaction to Max’s admission of being a father already, but that all seems to be par for the course between these two men today. After Max points out where Renegade stopped that Bo stops and leans over for a closer look, and then circles the area tightly for another closer look as to what happened to the runner next. He’d dismount and look even closer really, experienced tracker that he is, but in his condition he’s afraid he won’t be able to get back on Strider again if he does. So it is only after all this does the man comment, “Looks like th’ trail heads off this’a’way a spell. There a spring or river nearby in that direction?” Because the runner was probably heading wherever there was water, or so Bo reasons. Straightening in his saddle, the tanner looks off in the direction he believes the runner had gone, which is away from looking at Max, and states in that quiet, husky voice, “That ain’t right, her doin’ ya an’ yer lil’ ‘un like that.” There’s a pause and then he adds, “Reckon that’s a hard thing fer a man t’live with.” With that, he looks back at Max, bruised and battered expression blank.

By the same token, Max isn’t about to dismount either, tipping his hat back on his head a little as he too leans out of the saddle and squints down at the cropped grass and then straightening follows the direction Bowen’s gaze goes. Nodding, “Aye, there’s a stream off at the tree line over there.” Starflight must sense that now is not a good time to try his hi-jinx on his rider for he sets off at a steady plodding rate when nudged to do so, rather than the zigzagging jink he’s better known for. Once they’re back into that slow but companionable riding rhythm, a rough sound of contempt spills out in response to the tanner’s comment, “She can do what she likes, she’s a fucking Lady Holder, mate.” His attention settles onto that battered face for a moment and then the dark edge of a smile twists out, “But she ain’t seen the last of me yet.” Not putting explanation to that right now as his head turns away back toward the tree line they’re approaching. “You got any brothers and sisters?” changing the tone of the conversation.

Falling into step with that ease stride as Starflight does, Strider’s ears barely flick at the sounds of nature or shadows, actual or imaginary, or even the sounds of the rider’s conversation. Such is the easy-going manner of the gelding. On their way now toward the water source, Bo comments slowly, softly, “I reckon she can, but don’t make it right.” He doesn’t look at Max as the other man suggests his business isn’t finished with the Lady Holder, and seems to have no feelings one way or another about the fact that Max put seed to her to yield fruit, as it were. The way Bo sees it, rank and hierarchy are just a means to getting stuff done orderly, but every man, and even women, really, put their britches on one leg at a time, so what’s all the fuss over people of different stations wanting to knock some boots together? More important things to get knickers in a twist over. Instead, he just nods once more, looking at the terrain ahead, and the trees, “Good,” seemingly approving of Max tying up that bit of a family thread there, even if he doesn’t exactly know how Max plans on going about it. “Y’need anyone at yer back, yanno, j’st say th’word, Max,” he adds, husky grunt coming from the shade of his hat, and then the man lapses silent a little longer, not so much for contemplation of answering, but just for momentary distraction before he responds, “Ayup. One brother. One sister. Both younger ‘n back at Southern. You?” His tone is conversational.

As they draw closer to the line of trees, there is flash of pale gold, though from this distance it’s a little hard to tell if it’s a trick of light coming off of the water through the trees, or indeed the runner they’re trying to track down. Max is perhaps grateful that this man he is fast becoming to view as a close friend, doesn’t ask after the stupidity of having put himself in that precarious position with the Lady Holder in the first place. Young, dumb and…well, we know how the rest of that goes. Instead he flickers the bare edge of a rueful smile Bowen’s way and simply nods his agreement with it not being right. Once again a long and silent look goes over the tanner’s way and then with his appreciation for the solidarity given in his voice, he remarks dryly, “You don’t maybe have a dragon stashed somewhere by any chance?” Because wings would make it all a whole lot easier than literally riding for one’s life and trying to stow away aboard a ship bound back toward the Southern continent. “Ah,” the sound eventually comes in recognition of the widower having siblings and then shaking his head, “Naw, just me. Reckon I musta given my Ma enough grief to make sure of that,” a light grin crooking out, “Not sure about my Pa though,” shrugging unconcernedly, “probably got a few on his side of things.” But he's not entirely sure about that.

Perhaps because he hadn’t been hit as hard in the eye as Max to warrant either of his actually closing up completely even for a time, Bowen leans forward in the saddle as he catches that bit of pale gold through the trees. His priorities are straight at least, as he nudges Strider to pick up the pace a bit and head closer to the treeline. “Think I saw somethin’,” comes the man’s explanation before he continues the conversation distractedly by making a show of patting himself down and commenting dryly, “Fresh outta dragons, ‘m afraid.” But if he thinks Max should turn to his significant other now turned weyrling, he doesn’t suggest it aloud, perhaps figuring Max is smart enough to have already come to that thought and must have found something unappealing about it. “S’way of things,” he comments flatly to Max’s last, either a comment on a father spreading his seed or a comment on boys always giving a mother grief, or perhaps both, really. It's just a part of life to be expected, or so Bo thinks.

Using a finger to tip his hat back a little further on his head, Max squints that one open eye toward the tree line for a moment but sees nothing himself just yet. However, prepared to take Bowen’s word for it, Starflight is giving light encouragement to keep pace with Strider, the beast manager’s frame setting slightly taut with unspoken hope. He misses the patting down the tanner gives himself but not his words over having no dragon to spare, a dry chuckle spilling out for them. It may be that he’s just that impatient to get his daughter back, or that he’s hoping to involve the green weyrling as little as possible, in what could become a rather ugly situation. Or it could be something else entirely. Either way, he’s remaining silent on the matter. “Aye,” the beast manager eventually gives voice to something and this in response to Bowen’s last. It’s right at that moment as they’re drawing near enough to be able to hear the stream gurgling ahead, that Renegade limps out from behind a large tree, looking anything but his usual feisty self.

Bowen was already starting to lead Strider off a little to the side and away from Max and Starflight by a scant few paces when Renegade emerges. He’s not a herdsman, but he’s been around beast crafters, tanners, and herdsman alike enough to generally understand the principles involved in rounding an animal up. There’s no whoop of glee or shouts of joy; there’s not even so much as a quiet congratulatory comment to Max for them having found the runner. Bo’s not one to count his wherries before they hatch, apparently, and so the only thing that comes from him is a quietly murmured husky voice putting words of, “Easy now boy,” while he very slowly and carefully takes the coiled rope from the back of his saddle, assuming that Max will be doing the same, unless Max has his own little useful tricks for dealing with this particular runner. Whichever the case, Bo’s movements are anything but sudden or liable to startle most runner’s he’s encountered.

A broad grin breaks out onto Max’s face once Renegade makes himself known and he’s quick to steer Starflight further away from where Strider moves off, so that the two men can effectively close in on the injured palomino from two sides. Renegade’s ears flick forward at Bowen’s voice, and he paws at the ground uncertainly, a soft snort uttered in half-hearted challenge. He’s tired and he’s injured, so there’s really very little fight left in the animal. Coming up behind the runner, the beast manager nods at Bowen to take his shot at lassoing the creature if he can. Stiffly dismounting, rope of his own in hand and he approaches on foot, crooning soft unintelligible sounds the runner’s way in a bid to split the stallion’s attention in two directions and thus make it easier for the tanner to sneak up on him and drop the rope over his neck.

Lassoing a taller animal such as Renegade is a lot easier for Bo on runnerback and with a runner that has spent all or most of his energy for fighting already. So, he moves in from the other side from Max and while probably needing to be a little closer than what a more experienced herdsman who pretty much lassos every day of the seven needs to be, he drops the loop of rope down over the neck and head of the runner while he is distracted with Max. He doesn’t tighten it right away, but he does wrap the end around the horn of his cantle so that if he puts up a fight, he’s fighting with the saddle and not Bo’s own arms.

With the rope dropping about his neck and joining the other still dangling there, Renegade’s nostrils flare and he jerks his head upward rearing up on his hindquarters just as Max reaches for the old rope end. Shoved flat on his back, he’s able to roll away; avoiding hooves he’s already had personal meeting with when they pound back to the ground once again. And that’s about all the animal had left in him, jerking his head just once or twice more, testing the rope about his neck before dropping it down toward his owner, muscles twitching beneath his coat. Max interpreting this to be a nice sharp nip on the way, given the palomino’s usually otherwise nature, scrambles backward, “You ornery son of a packmule!” But he’s up on his feet quicker than one might imagine him to have been able to do given the bruised thigh muscle. Dusting himself off and studiously –not- looking at Bowen, pretty sure he’s likely to find high mirth there, he closes the gap, and finally closes a hand around the rope. Dark eyes study the cut across the runner’s one foreleg, fingers touching lightly to the outer edges of it as a frown furrows. Cursing lightly, he glances back up to the tanner, “Hot to the touch,” he states grimly, meaning infection is likely starting to set in and then his frown deepens, “Didn’t sharding think to bring redwort with me. You got him there?” Because judging by Starflight’s flat-eared reaction to being faced once again with his ‘nemesis’, it’s probably going to have to be Strider and Bowen that lead the big palomino back to the Weyr.

Bo lets the stallion tighten the lasso on himself with the rearing, not doing any extra restraining than what physics naturally gives and what the stallion’s own temper does for himself. Strider - good, stable, ball-less and unstirred Strider - remains where he is as the other runner rears, looking entirely bored by the whole display. Leave him standing there long enough and the runner might actually just fall asleep. His ears twitch back and forth as some noise either from Renegade or from Max or even from Bo captures his attention. Bowen can certainly be a caustic or sadistic fellow when he wants to be, but being in pain as much as he is right now, and being sympathetic to Max’s own soreness, he actually tenses a little when Max looks like he’s about to get trampled. So there is more a sense of relief in the stocky tanner than any mirth as Max rights himself, and a lot faster than Bo estimated he would, at that. At the indication from Max that there’s probably an infection, Bo frowns mildly, if someone could potentially pick that up out of all that mass of swelling and bruising. Then with a gentle tug on the taut rope around the horn, he nods, “Ayup.” Or he thinks so anyway. If Renegade tries to run, as bigger and more powerful than Strider as he is, chances are he may just end up leading Strider and not the other way around. Let’s hope he is too tired and not up for the fuss.

Lost for a lack of anything else to rinse the wound with and chase off flies that continuously annoy around it, Max reaches into his jacket pocket for the flask. Shoving hands back into gloves he firms his grip on the rope and unscrews the cap with his teeth. Throwing a quick glance up to Bowen, “He’s gonna throw a fit,” he warns and then pours a healthy measure of whiskey along the injury. This of course sends Renegade into a brief snorting, eye rolling frenzy as he jinks about trying to get away from the sting. Holding on firmly to his piece of rope, the beast manager talks the animal down until eventually the palomino gives in and lapses into a submissive pose. Satisfied that they’re not likely to have too many further problems with him, Max finally makes his way back over to Starflight, and then is faced with the fun of trying to force his injured leg upward enough to get his boot into the stirrup, threatening all kinds of dire misfortune upon the thief locked up in his tack room. Eventually he gives up and leads the black stallion in under a low hanging branch which he’s able to grab a hold of and haul himself up and back into the saddle once again with a stifled groan. Lifting a hand in signal to move out, “Let’s go.” Even at a slow walk, they should be able to make it back to the Weyr by mid-afternoon given that Renegade hadn’t gotten too far out.

Even before Max uncaps the flask and gives Bowen the heads up, Bo is already moving Strider another step forward for a little slack in the line, only to tighten it up once more with another wrap around the horn until it is a little more secure and ready. As Renegade does his little jinking frenzy, the rope around the horn goes taut but holds, and Strider, being the easy-going guy he is, steps a little to accommodate Renegade’s tugging, but only briefly, until Bo reins him in a little more. It is after Max soothes Renegade down a bit and then goes to try and get on Starflight that the mirth Bo didn’t show before actually shows here. The man isn’t loud about much to begin with, and so the mirth he reveals at Max trying to get back in the saddle is merely a sympathetic smirk and squint of eyes shadowed heavily by the brim of his hat. He clears it with a clearing of the throat, however, and nods as Max gives the signal to move out, clicking his tongue and nudging Strider to an easy walk for the injured runner to follow as Bo falls slightly behind and to the right of the beast manager. After a long pause, he offers, “M’sure once we get ‘im back in his stall and some redwort on ‘im, some rest, he’ll be alright,” feeling some need to reassure the other man, for whatever reason. Then offers, “Maybe when that Healer comes ta see that twit y’got locked up, she can bring ya some more.” Wishful thinking perhaps? Bo’s expression remains neutral, however, eyes on the terrain around them as they head back to the weyr, and hopefully by mid-afternoon, indeed. There's a pause and he adds grimly, "She shouldn't be in there 'lone with him. No tellin' whut he'll try." Either Bo thinks she'll let the man go, or he thinks she is vulnerable to being taken hostage, but he doesn't clarify.

Max had caught that smirk coming from Bowen in his attempt to try and get back into the saddle, and so with a dry snort simply sent him a middle fingered salute somewhere in between hopping about on one leg, and hoisting himself up with the use of the branch. With Starflight settling into a long striding, haunch swaying plod back along the route they’d come, the beast manger’s reply floats backward, “Got what I need back at the caverns, just wasn’t thinkin’ straight to bring it with me.” Not about to explain the nightmares that had tattered his attempts to sleep the night before. Twisting round in his saddle, he sets the tanner with a browlifted look, “Ain’t no way in Pern, I’m letting her in there alone with that git,” a deep smirk spills out, “I’d hate to have to explain to the Weyrwoman how he wound up dead.” Implying that the healer is maybe not one to be taken lightly. That smirk lingers a little longer, “But since you’re offering to keep watch while she’s in there…” deliberately letting that linger as he turns back around, eyes front and his expression one of high humor.

There comes a little nod for the comment about the redwort from the tanner, though it likely goes unseen considering Max is a little ahead of Bowen on the trail. It is when the Beast Manager turns in his saddle and talks of the impending interrogation that Bowen snorts loudly, which sort of sets his head and face to throbbing a little, being as he hasn’t applied any new numbweed since being in the Infirmary. “Ain’t offerin’. M’sure ya got others who’re more qualified t’play nanny fer those two,” he says, casting a glance behind him and to the side to eye Renegade and his progress before looking up ahead once more.

Renegade has little to no fight left in him right now and with head drooping; simply plod plods along behind the gelding giving favor to his injured foreleg. “Aye,” Max gives over with some amusement still lingering on having others that can stand guard, “Waine seems to have taken a liking to him.” If you can call kicking the tack room door every time he passes by, taking a liking to someone. After a few dragonlengths of silence and with a slight turn of his head back towards Bowen, “How’s that leg of yours doing?” Probably still carrying vestiges of guilt for the condition of the stocky tanner to begin with.

Bowen is comfortable with the silence as usual, but not to the extent that he prefers being alone with his own thoughts a hundred percent of the time. As the silence stretches and they get closer and closer to the weyr proper, Bowen seems content not to break it with words, though he will occasionally make a clicking sound with his tongue or to urge or motivate the runners as necessary. With Max’s question, he is a little faster in coming with the response, perhaps because he was already thinking about it or something along those lines anyway. “S’fine,” he comments with a little grunt. The fact was there were a couple dots of blood surfacing over the area on his fresh pants, but they were small and only noticeable because Bowen was looking at it critically on the ride back. “That crate’o whiskey will make it right as rain again.” Probably because he’ll be dead from alcohol poisoning after drinking a crate of it, but his tone is one of amusement and not serious. Then he comments with a glance up at the weyr starting to loom ahead of them, “We should donate a’coupl’a bottles t’the ‘nfirmary since they ain’t got none.”

Max’s head turns in a fractional movement, but not enough to actually put an assessing look over the tanner’s injured leg, likely affording the man his dignity or right to decide for himself how he’s fairing. There is however a dubious snort to him being fine. Starflight automatically starts to pick up the pace as home starts to come into view, while Renegade doesn’t so much follow suit as lift his head and prick his ears forward. With a rough chuckle of amusement for the promised crate of whiskey, “Reckon Indira has something stashed away that I can bribe outta her.” Shameless. Here he turns in saddle once again and turns a grin back to Bowen, “Go right ahead. Your whiskey, your donation,” and what he wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when the tanner presents those bottles to the healer!

Bowen gives another glance to Renegade behind him as the weyr comes in closer view and the tanner is slow to answer, “Indira? Th’ Headwoman? Well, I reckon so. But no need t’go t’such a fuss. Besides, whut’s a man gonna do with a whole crateful when he ain’t got no proper cothold t’put it in? Or people t’share it with?” Then he lapses quiet again, looking on and ahead, no further talk of his injury or the runner or the Healer or the would-be thief as the tunnel entrance comes in sight up ahead. He, perhaps wisely, says nothing on the thought of donating a bottle or two to the Infirmary.

Attention set forward, Bowen likely won’t see the smirk that forms, his tone quite casual in reply, “No fuss. She’s easily convinced with dinner and company,” making that sound anything but how it really is. Now Max’s head turns slowly and he sets a skeptical look onto the tanner, “What’s a man to do with a crate of whiskey? Use it, that’s what.” Note he didn’t say drink it, so chances are he’s referencing how handy it can be to have bottles of whiskey lying about when in need of sweetening deals or even, shock and horror, bribing someone. It’s not long before the tunnel entrance to the Weyr swallows them up, just the clop-clop of hooves sounding at their return.

Now, Bowen doesn’t much like the sound of that ‘dinner and company’ and it shows with a frown set against his battered features, despite the fact that Max is looking ahead and not back at him at that moment. The tanner says nothing at first, and his frown eases a bit in thoughtfulness as Max turns to make his follow-up comment about the crate, and what one might do with it, and the silence lingers even beyond that as they enter the weyr proper. He's no stranger to understanding the helpfulness a bottle of whiskey is for greasing palms and making life a little easier; he did, after all, bring that first bottle of whiskey to Max when he arrived for that very reason. But Bo's not a man to let another man put himself in a pickle for such a luxury. It isn’t until they are halfway through the tunnel to the beast caverns that Bo finally mutters, “Ain’t gotta put yerself in a way fer yer weyrling t’be pissed with ya on my ‘ccount.” And then because Bo realizes that he’d been a little longer than usual with his response, he adds, “That dinner with th’ Headwoman bit,” for clarification.

It’s that long until Bowen finally makes a comment that Max has initially lost the thread of the conversation and thus begins to make answer, “Why would I be in trouble with…” And then his mouth snaps shut when the tanner qualifies his statement and its laughter instead that is tumbling out as they finally breech the entrance to the beast caverns proper. Several stable hands honing in on them, some offering forward their congratulations for returning successfully with the runaway stallion, stall anything else Max had to say. Greetings are made, a few words exchanged with one or two men and then he’s dismounting stiffly and turning a grin up to the beat-up Bowen as he hands Starflight's reins over to one of the 'hands. “Naw, she’s always on at me to spend more time with the woman so it serves a dual purpose of making her happy and getting the whiskey. ‘Sides, half the whiskey she’s got squirreled away’s mine to begin with.” It either not yet crossing his mind to explain the relationship between himself and the Headwoman to the man, or he’s simply finding entertainment in stringing him along for a bit longer.

There comes a little curious and even slightly baffled look from Bo as Max laughs, but it is smoothed away as they arrive within the beast caverns proper and stable hands move in to them. It’s only after they’ve taken Starflight away to be unsaddled and rubbed down and such, leaving Max standing there looking up at him, that Bo finally unwraps the tether from around the horn and tosses it to him. He offers in that husky, quiet voice, “Reckon I shouldn’t be surprised. Pa always said y’all had strange ways in weyrs. Though, y’ain’t gonna catch me saddled up with another woman th’rest of my days, let alone two.” With that, he nods to Max, and adds, “To each ‘is own I s’pose,” lips quirking in a slightly amused smile for the beast crafter with, apparently, enough testosterone for two women the way Bo is understanding it anyway. “Wish ya luck with that. Yer gonna need it.” Because in Bo’s mind, one woman is hard enough to live with; two is just asking for a slow and agonizing death.

Catching the rope as Bowen tosses it down to him, the beast manager’s expression loses some of its earlier humor, his one eyed gaze finding the other’s beat up face to settle on as he gives quietly and sincerely, “Much appreciated, Bowen.” For the lengths the man had gone to both in jumping to his aid and then in riding out with him, when he should have been resting up, to find the runner once again. A glance over to the palomino, who now in familiar surroundings has started himself on a course with the stall he’d broken free from in the scuffle and the tantalizing scent of oats, “First runner to my name.” Which may seem surprising given most of his life has been spent around the creatures in one form or another and would go a ways to explaining the value Renegade has for him. Taking a few moments to settle the runner back into its stall and do a more thorough check over him for any other injuries he might have missed, Max reappears leaving the animal to its own devices for a while before he’ll start in on treating the cut. Thus its a goodly amount of time with him snickering quietly to himself over what the tanner had said of his having two women in his life to deal with. Reaching a hand up in offer of helping the beat up and probably injury stiffened man down from his mount, a cocky grin peels out, “There ain’t rightly too much I can do about the two of them, way I see it. Least they seem to get on with each.” Finally he relents, “One’s my girl, the other’s my Ma.” Which shouldn’t take Bowen too long to figure out which is which, considering the ceiling age of a person in weyrlinghood.

Bowen’s response to Max’s first is simply a nod. Quiet and manly. Not gushing with ‘anything for a buddy’ kind of talk. With the second comment, the tanner pats his gelding and nods to Max, understanding the value without saying so specifically, “Good choice, then,” on Renegade, “He’s a fine runner. Strider, here, is m’first, too, though he an’ I’ve been t’gether for a handful of turns now.” As Max leads Renegade off, Bo uses the opportunity to give his leg another long look, being that astride a runner allows for an easier vantage point. So he is still there when Max gets back, not being fast at anything, and with a little grunt says dryly, “Y’j’st stand there t’break m’fall if’n I don’t make this on m’own now.” Appreciating the offer of the hand, and definitely wanting Max to help if Bo doesn’t quite make it, but preferring to give it a go on his own just the same. With Max’s statement about the nature of his relationships with the weyrling and the headwoman, however, Bo stalls a bit longer and gives him a curious look before he says, “Well, then I reckon I oughtta wish ya even more luck.” And with that, he dismounts slowly and carefully and painfully down, wobbling a little on unsteady footing when his boots meet the ground and it’s likely here that he needs Max’s help more than otherwise. His hands steady himself a little on the saddle itself, however, as Strider stands in that same position with the only movement the twitching of his ears and the twitching of muscles in his legs.

Max meets the compliment to Renegade with a corner of his mouth quirking upward, “If I can ever break him properly. Sod seems more inclined to stud,” a full grin peeling out as his eyes go the way of where Spring Breeze bears the evidence thereof. He doesn’t seem too concerned about it though, the relish of the challenge clear to see in the determined look that swings the palomino’s way next. And then his gaze is back to the solid and dependable Strider, “Good choice,” he echoes in return, “Likely should have gone gelding myself.” Well obviously not himself personally, Ahnika might have had something to say about that. Stepping back to give Bowen the room he needs though close enough to offer help when and if the man needs it, he jests through a crooked grin, “You fall on me and break more ribs, I’m sending Ahni your way so’s you can please explain.” The curious look coming off of the tanner once the beast manager reveals the relationship between himself and the Headwoman is met with a slightly bemused one of his own, though he sets it aside easily enough to add with a self-effacing chuckle, “Aye, I see me many nights of counsel held with yourself and a whiskey bottle.” And then adding with a strange margin of loyalty, “Indira aint’ so bad. Least she don’t suffocate like some of the mother hens out there. Good woman to have on your side.” Spoken as if he were talking of an acquaintance rather than his mother. He could be teasing there. Then again, maybe not. As soon as Bowen is boots to the ground, Max steps in closer a hand going to the man’s shoulder when he wobbles a bit, good eye dropping to the flecks of blood showing on the his trousers, “Got some redwort and numbweed back in my office. Less of course you done gone and popped them stitches.”

For the runner who seems inclined more to stud (and therefore mares), Bo responds with that same dry, slightly sardonic wit, “Well, nobody’s perfect,” perhaps drawing some analogy to stallion studs and human studs, as it were. If he saw Max’s look toward Spring Breeze’s stall, Bo either doesn’t think much about it or doesn’t draw the connection, but he does give another nod in appreciation for the compliment to Strider. “If Ahni’s yer weyrling woman,” Bo says after a long moment of chewing on it, “I s’pose that means she can’t hear no explanations with a bottle of whiskey.” And then a slow nod with the follow up statement and the counsel suggestion, “M’Pa did fer me, so I reckon I can live by ‘is ‘xample fer ya, too.” It’s well a few moments after Bo regains some of his balance on the ground that he responds to the rest of it, “Good t’know,” on Indira, though as casual as he is about saying it, it could simply be Bo is being polite for not really knowing her well enough beyond that first visit to agree or disagree and, more importantly, knowing better than to insult a man’s mother to his face by disagreeing anyway. Nodding once more to Max for his stabilizing help, and the offer for redwort and numbweed, he gathers up Strider’s reins in one gloved hand and says, “No ‘ffense, but I ain’t droppin’ m’trousers in yer stables t’check.” His blue eyes scan the active mid-afternoon beast caverns a moment before looking back at Max, “I reckon I that Healer’s gonna come hunt m’down and make m’drop ‘em in front o’th’ whole weyr if’n I don’t get back t’th’ ‘firmary an’ her first, anyhow.” He takes a step toward leading Strider into his stall and then stops and looks back at Max, “Want me t’send her on down t’ya here fer that thief?” He is assuming that she hasn’t already come here anyway because her going in there alone with the thief is just a whole lot of trouble by Bo’s estimation.

A dark brow lifts up in amusement at that opening statement and draws a grin that gets hidden behind a rub of thumb along his lower lip. Nope, Max isn’t about to make comment to that and lay himself wide open to anything. Shaking his head somewhat ruefully over whiskey and Ahnika, “Naw, not for a while yet. Dragon’s still too young to wrap its head around her being in her cups.” With Bowen’s words of his father and alluding to what he’d done for him at some point, the beast manager sets a long look over the man and then nods slowly, “Aye, good to have your Pa about still.” As to the matter of the Headwoman, he leaves that be, probably feeling everything to be said that needs to be. The solemn moment passes with the tanner’s comment about dropping his trousers and a short chuckles peels out, “Drop your trousers here and now and you might find a few more friends than you’re really wanting.” Suggesting that some about the stables find their own gender preferable to that of the opposite sex. Which doesn’t seem to bother him much, each to their own and all that. Staying where he is, his good eye tracking his new friend’s progress, Max nods in amused agreement, “You either go up there, or she’s gonna come down here looking for you.” Turning now to head toward his office and pick up the supplies he needs to start treating Renegade, “Aye, if you would.” This to sending Cheusia down to treat the thief locked up.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Tracy Lawrence - "You Find Out Who Your Friends Are"

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