What: The afternoon before the jump forward to the future, some of Connell's residents (new and old) congregate in the bar.
IC time: It is about 5 PM on day 9 of month 6 of Turn 202 in the 4th Interval.
The Cave: Connell's Bar
A bit of a misnomer, The Cave actually takes the form of a short, broad tunnel that widens and narrows like beads on a string. A sequence of glows lights the way, strung up along the ceiling at intervals just close enough to provide visibility while still far enough to make light seem rare, no more than a soft gleam on the surrounding stone. Bunched within the wider segments of the tunnel stand round wooden tables, each with a deep metal bowl set into the hole in its center. Plain linen pillows have been loosely arranged for seating around each table, muffling the cold and hardness of the stone floor though they do little to add to a patron's height. For those who want more privacy at a little extra price, however, there are two places along the path where the tunnel opens up into small alcoves with closed curtains for quiet conversations, or at least discreet consumption.
Two types of spirits are served in The Cave: one a rough Porter ale, the other a more expensive fruit lager. Wine is reserved only for special occasions and distinguished guests.
All Five Dice Game
The season is early winter; it is early evening and the sun shines brightly. The sky is clear, with not a cloud to be seen. Today's weather is cold, the temperature close to the freezing point; breath is visible and the air is nippy. It's breezy, with sudden gusts of wind every so often.
The bar is particularly quiet today. One might say dead. In fact, it appears like there isn't a single soul in here, save for Zakias. After all, if you're going, you don't want to be drunk for *between*, and if you're staying, you might want to save the alcohol for after they jump away. Zakias is sitting amongst a pile of the pillows from all over the bar, swishing a skin around contemplatively as he rests.
It's into this that Alshain peers, glancing in and looking surprised to find things quite so empty as this. It hesitates him for a moment before he regains his bearings and steps further in, headed toward Zakias but at a more roundabout pace than the empty bar merits. He offers, when he finally reaches that table, a very simple, "Hi."
Zakias looks up and says, "Hello." He caps his skin and puts it down amongst the pillows gently, so it doesn't tip over. "Just a few hours now, hm?"
"Something like that," Alshain agrees, moving to sit down. "I had to get out a while--I keep checking the time and everything that's packed until I go crazy. I'm still wondering," he admits, "if I'm going to actually go through with this."
Zakias raises his eyebrow at Alshain and says, "Oh, you have to go. Someone needs to watch out for Parsana and Dagny. And Samarne as well. And someone needs to make sure the scrolls and books don't get jostled and are put into a proper library as soon as possible."
Gyane follows Blue into the cave, blinking as her eyes adjust to the dark. "Last time here," she mutters, and there's a bit of regret in her voice, even though it hasn't been a haunt of hers. She pauses, waiting for Blue to lead her to a place to sit, letting the other woman pass her and then taking up a step or two behind her.
"Last time here in this turn," Blue corrects with the same note of regret, twisting her mouth a little. She surveys the layout of the crowd and, spotting Alshain and Zakias, asks Gyane, "Craft talk or do you want to -- well -- sit alone?"
"Well, when you put it /that/ way," says Alshain, wry. "I know, I know. Just--" he shrugs. Then, lighter, teasing, he notes, "You could always just come yourself and save me all the trouble."
Zakias quirks his lips in a bit of a frown, "I don't think that's going to happen." At the sight of more people entering the bar, which was basically a ghost town a moment before, Zakias turns his head.
"Umm, not alone." Gyane looks a bit self-conscious, but she drifts towards the others. "Might be the last time I get a chance to talk to someone who actually understands my century other than you." She wryly chuckles, then approaches the others, half circling the group, looking for a chair and an invitation.
"Didn't really think so myself," admits Alshain, shaking his head once. He's silent a second, looking past Zakias to the new arrivals. He offers a half-smile, vague but friendly, before looking back to the other harper. "You'll... go North again, then?" he says then.
L'dor edges in, rather obviously uncomfortable to be here, and hovers not too far from the entrance as he looks round for familiar faces.
Blue wrinkles her nose, just barely, but nods and follows along. "Evening, Master, Journeyman," she says a little formally and then, spotting L'dor, grins at him over the heads of the others, to whom she then speaks. "May we join you? I'm finding talk about the future goes down best with ample jars of beer."
"That is the plan," Zakias confirms, looking back to Alshain briefly before making the come hither gesture to those lurking around the edges. Ceremoniously, he pulls his skin and a few of the pillows out from his pile. The skin stays in one hand, the pillows get tossed out with another. "Sit down." He says, looking directly at Alshain.
Gyane takes that as an invitation, even if it's directed to Alshain. Good enough. She pulls over a pillow, settling down, her skirt smoothed down around her, embroidered slippers tucked under the table. A bit formal for the setting, but... "That's right. I think, if there's one night in my entire life that calls for ample jars of beer, this is it." She glances over towards Blue, half smiling, half nervous, and then raises her hand to a passing barmaid, waving her over, and ordering two large beers before turning to the others. "What are you drinking?"
"Afternoon," Alshain offers in greeting. "And I'm sure it does," he says of the drinking. "But I'm not... oh, hell. Seems like we ought to send the place off properly--I'll have the same, if you don't mind," he nods toward the beers Gyane flags down.
L'dor, being an edge-lurker, takes Zakias' gesture as being directed at him and joins the group around the harpers. "Evening!" He turns to the barmaid and requests ale, specifying something light, then settles on a pillow, murmuring something semi-audible that ends, "...really don't want a thick head in the morning."
Zakias smiles at the barmaid as she does her duty, and waves at her with one hand. "I've some wine from the back. The dark ale is best." And with that reminder, he gives Alshain a questionable look. "I'd hate to arrive in the future with a hangover." Then, he considers, "But on the other hand, there may not be beer in the future." And he tips his wine to Gyane before he takes a gulp.
"Plenty of time for sobriety in the future," Blue quips, settling down just so next to Gyane. She adjusts her pencil behind her ear just in case it got jostled, plumps up another pillow before leaning her arm on it, and looks impatiently after the barmaid. "Oh, good grief, don't be so pessimistic," she moans towards Zakias, only half-teasing. A future without beer....
Alshain does not look at Zakias, very studiously. "Suppose it's a good thing you're not going, then," is all he remarks, lightly. To L'dor, as the rider joins them: "And you have to /between/ yourself there, so. Myself, I like to imagine two hundred years from now they'll have discovered new forms and ways to make it, but then, I like to be optimistic."
"Hadn't thought of that," Gyane says mournfully, with a quirk of her mouth. "Or, you know... maybe they've had two hundred turns to perfect it. We might be drinking the best beer of our lives tomorrow night." She leans back, probably more relaxed than Blue has seen her in a long time. She smiles and nods to Alshain, adding, "That's the way I like to think. The only reason I'm going is because Blue has promised me that everything will be new and improved!"
To that, Zakias can only snort. "It'll be more of the same. With Thread." He quaffs another bit of wine, and then says, "I only mention it because Connell began without, and I'm feeling sentimental."
"Faranth help me if I'm wrong," mumbles Blue, and queries Zakias, "Do you think there really will be Thread? I mean, I assume Iopeian wouldn't lie to herself - but Thread - it seems awfully far-fetched, I mean, it hasn't shown up this time. Then, I'm a crafter anyway, so it shouldn't affect me much."
L'dor grins at Alshain. "Well, that's a thought. They might have invented some I actually like." The barmaid seems to have interpreted his cryptic instructions as signifying lager; at least, that's what she puts in front of him. His supposed dislike of the stuff doesn't stop him from taking a good long pull at his mug before he reflects thoughtfully, "And that's something else that's going so seem odd. We might have thought Thread was coming, but we never had a choice about whether it did or not. It just... did. Or didn't. Guess those of us who are going will all have chosen to be in a time when there's Thread. Don't suppose anyone ever had that choice before." He frowns for a bit, then adds ruefully, "Not sure I'm up to that much thinking tonight."
Gyane turns to shoot Blue a little wary glance, but there's a faint smile at the end of it. "Thread." She shrugs a shoulder, reaching for her drink. "Doesn't affect me, either. But I would wonder why you'd make that choice to fly it," she adds, turning to L'dor. "Is it honor and all that stuff? I don't suppose you can just between right back if it proves all too horrible."
"Sentimental," repeats Alshain, bemused, as he sneaks a look sideways at Zakias. "I see." Pause. On the subject of Thread: "It seems like--to me, anyway--that it's just... skipped this cycle. Maybe that's something it does periodically, but we just don't live long enough to see it, or our records don't last long enough to show it to us." He shrugs, though, and agrees with L'dor: "I don't really want to think about it myself, at all. Better to just hurry up and get it over with."
"It's a one-way trip," Zakias judges, and shakes his head. He ignores Alshain until he mentions his theory and nods his head in agreement. "I'm sure that there will be Thread. It is a natural occurance, we know that, so I saw and see no reason that it would stop forever. Except you'll all be inside, it's L'dor I'm curious about."
Blue turns a curious glance on L'dor as well, draining a good swallow of her beer and tipping in, "I guess we'll find out. It's bizarre. You know, I'm not one hundred percent certain that we won't come out of Between and still be here - in this time. Bizarre."
L'dor shrugs and tries to answer the crafters. "Why do Weavers weave? It's what you do, and it needs doing. I'm a dragonrider: fighting Thread is what we're for. All right, there are other things we can do - like the surveying that Banyth and I were doing - but knowing that we could be fighting Thread, that the future time needs us to do that - well, anything else just seems like makework. It'd be like... oh, I don't know. Healers refusing to treat the sick. I can't imagine not going." He doesn't exactly look overjoyed about it, however.
"It's all too much to take in, really. So bizarre that I just have to go with it and take what comes." Which is pretty much the way Gyane's life has been going the past month or so. "But I guess it'll be okay, you know?" She turns then, with a light smile Blue's way. "There's nothing really here for me anyway. Easy enough to leave." And with those words of bravado, she tips down a hearty mouthful of beer. The weaver is bold for this evening. And at L'dor's comment, she knits her brow (weavers knit, too, apparently...) "But you've never fought thread before! And if you weren't going forward, you'd never do it your entire life? How do you know it's what you do?" There's a pause, and she adds, "And I'm much more than just a weaver." That said with a bit more strength in her voice than anything else has been said so far this night.
Blue flicks a surprised look at Gyane and then looks away into her beer, a smug expression half-visible before she drowns it. "Weavers don't usually die weaving," she notes to L'dor in a quiet counterpoint. "But I think it's amazing that you're willing to go."
Zakias, ever ready to lend a dark cloud to someone, informs Blue: "Well, if they don't make the timing jump correctly, people generally don't come back out. That's how *between* works."
"Well, sometimes weavers die weaving. My great grandmother was a weaver and she just keeled over, right at her loom. But weavers don't die bloody, painful, horrifying early deaths weaving." Gyane corrects Blue, then turns to L'dor with a raised brow. "I think it's amazing as well." And the way she says amazing sounds much more like 'crazy.' "For my part, I'm hoping there will be more refined tastes in clothing in the future. More work, you know? It's been pretty dry around here for the fine work I am best at."
"Well, after a couple hundred more turns," comments Alshain, "they might have enough had enough good times to afford something--refined. It seems like a lot of places are doing better even now than they used to. And, with Thread looming, they might be willing to be a little less thrifty with their marks, too."
L'dor nods to Gyane. "But we've trained for it ever since we Impressed - or those of us whose dragons hatched here have, anyway. Banyth and I have. And a lot of those who were already riders came here because they believed Thread was coming back and wanted to prepare. I guess we're needed then more than now."
Blue glares at Zakias then shrugs, trying to brush the remark off. But the frown line between her eyes stays, and she leans back with her beer and becomes quiet, murmuring something up towards Gyane.
Blue says to Gyane, ".... conversation .. ...... me . ......... ... ... look radiant."
Zakias shrugs right back and has some more of his wine. "It /is/ what dragonriders do," he says with a nod to L'dor.
Gyane looks over towards Blue, then presses her mouth together. "You're right. I forgot that. Maybe we should go and take care of that." She reaches for the mug, downing the rest of her beer, muffling a slight burp. She turns and whispers something back to Blue, and then pointedly turns to Zakias. "Well, at least, I hear, death would be quick that way. And... I think staying here, perhaps death would come very slowly. Years and years... of a pretty bland, uneventful life."
Her eyes widen a bit in surprise, but Blue nods to Gyane, "I think we should. Go take care of that. Even if we are slightly tipsy." Blue, who is nothing of the sort after only half her beer, eyes the rest of it askew and sets about chugging it down. Then she stands and stretches. "See you all later."
Zakias says, "Well, I've fifty turns and I've had enough excitement in my life at this point." None the less, he does raise his wineskin to them as they seem to be leaving. "Best of luck to you both in the future."
Gyane is already standing, smoothing down her skirt. "Weaver things." She pauses and adds, "Things I should do before I die, anyway, since it's a looming possibility." She turns to Blue. "Shall we?" And with a wave and a little "Good luck" to the rest of them, she turns to head out of the cave.
Blue looks like she just got hit with a hammer, but a /happy/ sort of hammer. With a thrilled little grin and her eyes on Gyane's hind end, she waves distractedly to the table and follows the other woman out.
A'yon strolls into the Cave, passing Blue and Gyane on their way out, nodding pleasantly to them both. Pausing a moment, he blinks a time or two to get his bearings, before heading in the direction of Zakias's table. "Mind if I join you?"
The harper has a drink and then says, "Why not?" and gestures A'yon down to where he and L'dor are sitting.
A'yon grins, nodding to the bluerider as he slides into a seat. "Looks like almost everything is ready, still can't believe the day has come. Heard last night that Zelinci was going to take you back North later, if there is something I can do, just let me know okay?"
Zak runs his hand through his beard, and says, "Well, I don't have too many items to take with me, and Valath's a very big dragon. I think we'll be fine. But thank you for the offer."
L'dor waves his glass in a vague salute to the departing women, then shifts round to fill the space they left and prop himself a bit more comfortably. "Do you think many people are going to leave - the ones who aren't going forward, I mean?"
A quick request directed toward the bar and within moments another mug is sitting before A'yon. After taking a sip, he glances thoughtfully towawrd L'dor, "Aye, that's my fear anyway. The dream that started this place is shifting, two hundred plus turns into the future, what's left for people to stick around here for? I'm staying, Linsora and I that is, we have our children to raise, and if that is the way things end up, I will still have my family."
"Well..." Zakias says, waiting until A'yon is done, "It seems like Connell has no purpose, now that we know Thread /will/ return but not in our own lifetime."
"Does any place have a purpose?" L'dor muses. "We've got a whole continent here: why /not/ live here, settle and explore this part of Pern, become an established place like the big Holds in the North?" He sips more of his beer, seeming to retreat into himself a bit, but then says to A'yon, "Your children, yes. You'll keep an eye on Shana, won't you?"
"I wouldn't say that at all Zakias, not at all." A'yon grins, "what we know is that Thread /does/ return, and those of us that remain behind are going to be key to making sure that weyrs still train, and prepare for the day when it will return. We who remain behind, with Margia and Io's note from the future, /know/ the truth of it, and it is up to us to keep /that/ tradition alive. Don't know who has the harder task, us or them.
Personally, I think fighting Thread would be the easier part, then what lies ahead for us here and now." He pauses listening to L'dor, and nodding at several of his points. "Exactly, my friend." Sipping again from his mug, he nods, "Aye, I'll keep an eye on her and the babe. I vow it to you, regardless what the future turns hold, I'll keep a look out for her, and take care of her if she needs anything."
Zakias keeps his peace for the moment, and has his wine. "Well, obviously you are correct, A'yon. We know Connell continues in the future. I just think the fight's gone out of me."
L'dor nods to A'yon. "Thanks: I appreciate it. I'm hoping Emali will be able to get to know her grandparents now - should be easier for Shana to mend fences with our parents once I'm out of the way." He looks curiously from the bronzerider to the harper. "You think there'll be trouble?"
"Well, someone's bound to notice that Iopeian has disappeared without a trace and we've got a twenty two turn old brand new Weyrwoman." Zakias comments, and then has another bit of wine. "There's always trouble. It's not the trouble I worry about -- it's the long hard slog." After this, he nods to A'yon.
A'yon lifts his mug in salute to the Harper. "You sir have done more for us, for this place than any other that I know. All the legal battles at the Harper Hall, time for a well earned rest I think." At L'dor's question, the bronzerider simply shrugs, "I don't know, T'lan is gone, and there is more exchange with the North now than there was before." Nodding silently toward Zakias, blue eyes focus on the drink in his mug, pondering the last few comments. "Aye, there is bound to be questions, but considering everything that Io went through during the last flight of Ayerpheth's, there might be some possibility we can use that as an excuse, she stepped down and left, we are not sure where. Explaining the missing riders is going to be harder. We are remote enough, we could say some sort of sickness took them, but the healer hall would get involved then. Best say that they went scouting for a new outpost and something happened, they got confused and lost coming home."
Zakias rubs his eyebrow as he considers the praise, and then says softly, "Thank you, A'yon." He goes silent into his drink for a while.
"Or that they actually moved to a new outpost," L'dor suggests. "Then after a bit you could say that something had happened to it. There are going to be a lot of missing people to explain, and not just riders to be going out scouting." He takes another pull at his beer, almost finishing it.
Zakias speaks up and says, "Why not tell the truth? Is it really so important, this secret?"
A'yon offers the harper a geuine grin, "You are quite welcome." Clasping his mug in both hands, he drops his head, nodding in silent agreement. "That's not a bad idea L'dor, it could explain all the packing that is taking place, a new outpost being formed, deeper in the South. Could work, could indeed. My greatest fear is knowing how unsettled our leadership is, someone from the north coming down and getting Ulana and Zel to head North. We lose them, then Connell is lost." A 'brow raises at Zak's suggestion, "Well, we already /were/ the laughing stock of Pern, what more damage could the truth do?"
L'dor sends a sharp look in Zakias' direction. "I could go for that. All this idea that we can't let people know about timing because - well, why, exactly? Because riders like me are thought too irresponsible to know about it?" He shrugs. "Well, two hundred turns from now, it's going to be kind of difficult to hide it, when we all show up from nowhere. Anyway." He drains his mug and starts to get to his feet. "I need to go and see Shana. Clear skies, both of you." There's a brief transaction with the barmaid, and then he's out and away.
This is where we cut for the next scene.