05.10.3014: Dogs in the Vineyard
Summary: In a foul mood, Nitrim returns to Volkan to question and plot with the aid of Klaudea and Johana. Nitrim attempts to bury the hatchet with Keanen using the wrong language.
Date: 04 January 2014
Related: None
Johana Keanen Klaudea Nitrim 

The Public House — Volkan, The Crescent
Tucked into a corner of the commercial district, this dive bar has low ceilings clouded with smoke, a collection of round tables, square booths, and a bar with stools along one wall. It can do greasy pub food, and has a fine selection of beers, whiskeys, and scotches, but not much more than that. The bar stools are the swiveling type that are bolted to the ground so they cannot be used as clubs in the event of a brawl, and the chairs are flimsy things that make poor clubs in their own right. At the back is a shuffleboard table, two pool tables, and a couple of dartboards, often with a good deal of side betting going on.
May 10, 3014

Night has arrived over Volkan, flooding the streets of the Commercial District with last-second shoppers and locals rushing home after the day of work has ended. Some even descend upon The Public House to tie one on before the day is through. The often smoke-filled bar is crowded tonight with the sounds of conversation, laughter, and the occasional minor spat. No fights have broken out yet, though, and for that the staff is grateful.

A shadow in the corner looms, though, and this shadow's name is Lord Nitrim Khournas. Propped into the corner of a high-backed booth with one knee bent against the bench seating, he wears an expressionless face as he scans over the bodies present. Taking note of every soul that walks through the door, the cigarette in his claw-ringed hands is brought to his lips and his eyes cast downward to the tablet that rests next to his bottle of whiskey. The bottle is mostly full. The glass is half-empty.

Using the finger that dangles from the knee that presses to the inside track of his bench, his hips open to the booth's access point, he quietly single-finger-pecks a message and switches to his tumbler, idly passing the time by as he people-watches.

With her datapad still in her hand, just closing up another text, Johana Ibrahm steps into the public house. It is somewhere she had been quite a number of times and tonight, she doesn't look to be casual about anything. She's dressed in a red tunic, black pants and boots, her blade sheathed at her side as a just in case sort of thing. Her body is more along the lines of pre-baby now, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and devout dedication at the gym by the Young Lady.

Pausing after taking several steps in, Ana squints through the smoke, looking for someone in particular. And there he is. She walks over and without asking, slips into the booth beside him. "Hey," she nudges his shoulder with hers, a quiet greeting.

A group of squires have congregated around one of the dart boards, and there's an occasional rise of laughter or ribbing over a shot made that rises above the din momentarily, and subsiding once more. One of the squires, a girl with a brown ponytail gets shoulder jostled by her opponent as she steps up to the mark. Ducking quickly, she gives him a hip check, low enough to send him stumbling to the side away from her, so that she can concentrate on her shot. A plate of fries and a half empty pint stands on the hight table next to the wall beside them.

The darts are cast, the points tallied, and Klaudea raises her eyebrows, holding out her hand. There's some hooting and then her opponent hands over something. Returning to the table, she takes a fry from her plate, and wraps her fingers loosely around her pint as she watches the next pair set up. "Winner takes on Blackfells," one of them claims, to which she shrugs.

"Sure, why not?"

With a final tap to his screen, Nitrim looks up in time to see Johana approaching. Though he finds a wealth of eye contact, it only comes in the form of a quiet stare as she approaches. The claw-tipped ring presses to the side, concealing the screen that he was working on as she slips into the booth, bumping her shoulder against his. "Hey," Nitrim replies, sharing some kind of subliminal conversation with her; she knows what's on his mind tonight. "Steal my whiskey or grab a second glass?"

Eyes back to the crowd at hand, the simmer-glow of his aura flows into place and his eyes wash over into a solid, alabaster white. Catching something in the crowd, he sends out a simple message before severing contact, allowing his eyes to shift back to normal.

Klaudea. I'm at the corner booth with Johana.

Once seated, Johana doesn't try and get a look at his datapad, leaving him his privacy. She doesn't want to interfere past what he invites her to. A cautious smile is given him though, the look in her eyes holding more than a little concern and deep worry. "I will order myself one and you another. I am sure we will go through several, so perhaps a bottle would be more in line for us."

Ana watches the squires as Nitrim slips into his magic mode, something the Ibrahm does not pretend to understand about anyone, for it's something she's never experienced personally. When he is normal, she queries softly. "What are your first instincts, Nitrim? I mean aside from murder."

Keanen enters the bar, looking around for a moment. He's looking for someone. When his eyes land on Nitrim, he's found him. Instead of heading straight that way, however, he goes to the bar and orders a glass of bourbon. Once he has it, he then walks over to where Nitrim sits. He doesn't speak, he just stands there, waiting, watching to see how Nitrim responds to his uninvited visit.

A fry freezes halfway to her mouth, and Klaudea glances around. Once the correct corner booth is ascertained, she finishes the upward motion of food to mouth. Chewing it slowly, she watches the first round of the next game, and then picks up her plate and pint.

"Hey, Blackfells, you done aready?"

"Yeah, she turns into a pumpkin at nine o'clock, sharp. Didn't you know that?"

Turning around to walk backwards a couple steps, she shakes her head, ponytail flopping over and staying to one shoulder. "Nah, I'm just going to sit somewhere more comfortable. Come get me when one of you losers manages to find the board." She grins, and then finishes walking over to the booth, giving a nod to Keanen as she slips in. "Sir Johana, Lord Nitrim," she greets quietly.

A chirp sounds from Nitrim's tablet, drawing the man's attention to it for a brief moment. With a press of a few buttons and a pull of a screen, he brings up a message. "Keanen, Klaudea, please sit. Klaudea, please meet my longtime friend, Young Lady Sir Johana Ibrahm, I'm sure you know who she is. Keanen?" Nitrim glances to the man with eyes hooded in long shadows, some kind of concealed furnace, though his anger doesn't appear to be for the man. "Please…have a seat."

Eyes slipping down the message on his screen, Nitrim takes a moment to read it. What he reads forces his lip to curl over his teeth, baring down at the message in a snarl. Fingers flexing, he flips the screen off and nudges the tablet away until it bumps harshly against the carry-basket for the greasy pub-food condiments.

"Make it two bottles and outright murder. I really shouldn't look into messages sometimes." Nitrim replies to Johana, bringing the cigarette to his lips for a deep, soul-cleansing drag.

Keanen furrows his brow, and then he sits. He looks at Klaudia, then Johana, giving both a nod, before looking at Nitrim. "You wanted to see me," he says flatly.

Ana wasn't expecting him to have called several together, but as the others arrive, she nods to Klaudea, a warm smile offered. "It's good to see you. How's Thalo?" Of course that would be who she asks after. Keanen is more of a surprise. An appropriate bow of her head is given. "Lord Keanen." That's about as far as she knows him, though she knows of him more than anything. Her eyes hold no warmth for the Arboren, narrowed slightly as they rest on him, lips thinned in unspoken disapproval.

Seeing Nitrim's reaction to the text, the Ibrahm waves a waitstaff over. "Two bottles of bourbon and.." she sighs. "Three bottles and three more glasses." Her gaze rests on Nitrim now.. "What this time?"

There's a brief smile, with an open friendly gaze that turns towards Johana. "Of course I know who Young Lady Sir Johana Ibrahm is," she replies. The question of the knight brings the corners of her mouth back down, and she gives a shrug, her hands closing a little more tightly around her pint glass. "Oh, you know. He's, Sir Thalo," she replies non-commitally. She gives a more proper greeting to the fourth occupant as she makes room for him them when Johana supplies his title. "Lord Keanan," she greets. Her pint is lifted as Nitrim reads, but then carefully lowered when his expression hardens. She pulls her lower lip in with her teeth, and reaches to catch the mustard bottle before it topples over onto the tablet. She doesn't need to repeat Johana's question, so she merely waits, her hand falling a little protectively over the tablet as if the protect the messenger from death.

Brushing the blunted tip of his thumb's claw-ring over the side of his nose, Nitrim sniffs in quietly and reaches out for his glass of whiskey. The sneer hasn't quite left his face, made all the more evident by the line of tension that runs up both sides of his neck; far more visible on the side that isn't lined with scars.

"All parties involved were sober and aware of what they were doing. It was a conscious effort and decision." Nitrim replies with a tight pull of his jaw; words directed towards Klaudea and Johana, made obvious by a glance to them that tells much. Klaudea? Johana knows. Johana? Klaudea knows.

"Since everything is melting into shit, Keanen," Nitrim runs his tongue over his teeth, bringing the cigarette back to his lips as his dark, moss-green eyes center on the Arboren. "I'm clearing my accounts. I have been an asshole. I deserve to face responsibility for Soleil and you had a right to not want her to be involved in my misery, nor put her," No names, apparently? "To risk with my whirlwind bullshit. What you did was cowardly, but creative in a way that I admire, and so I'm going to say this…" Nitrim pauses for effect, letting the last of the smoke drift away from his lips as he points across the table to the man. "…I know what I am. Message received. The next time that sort of shit happens without you speaking to me; it's personal. Deal? My game has changed, but I'm no one's victim ever again. Alright?"

Another smile brushes over her lips as Klaudea relays the brief words on Thalo, though since there's more pressing matters, she allows the topic to drop. Keanen garners another look of abject disapproval, anger by proxy possibly, but it's there and palpable all the same. The bottles and glasses arrive, and without standing on ceremony, she opens one and begins filling them about three fingers deep, sliding them around the table. Nitrim gets an entire opened bottle placed in front of him.

As the contents of the message are relayed, her hands tighten into fists and the anger towards the Arboren evaporates to be redirected mentally towards two, also deserving, targets. "A conscious effort and decision," Ana echoes, stiffening. Almost missing the words he gives Keanen, she downs the contents of her glass in one rush of movement, holding her tongue before she says something she can't take back. Her shoulder deliberately leans gently on Nitrims. A silent assurance that she is there.

Keanen tilts his head a bit at Nitrim, "I'm not a monster, and I'm certainly not a coward." He lifts his bourbon to his lips, drinks, sits it down. "I did what I did in that way because you were my friend. I did what I needed, and at the same time, I did it in a way that now, you'll likely never consider touching that shit that fucked you up again." He watches Nitrim a moment. "I wasn't a coward. I was giving you one final act of friendship." He huffs, "Whatevs." And he slides out of the booth to leave.

Sitting across from Nitrim as the news is delivered, Klaudea doesn't even have a chance to be mad. She doesn't know what happened between the two lords, so that's not even registering in her current state. The girl looks stunned, like a child who's been told they can't go to the tourney after they saved up all their allowance all year to go. Kicked in the stomach, stunned disbelief, and the dying light of denial in her eyes combine to present a thoroughly sad and miserable young woman. "I thought… I thought… I mean, if you /know/ someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend… aren't they supposed to be off limits?"

Watching Keanen closely, Nitrim's eyes sharpen and his head tilts to the side. The way his lips pull to the side, showing a meager flash of teeth isn't meant to look venomous, but the man's mood has been strained. "You talked me into dropping rubbing alcohol into my eyes so that you could blindside me and beat me in an alley, Keanen. You fucked with a six-month clean addict. The next time you want to be a friend, use a different set of skills." Nitrim's eyes follow the man as he reaches the edge of the booth. "If things get bad, I'll get your back, but never again."

Thoroughly in the mood to be done with asking nicely, a rush of other things going on in the man's life, Nitrim reaches for the bottle and uses the blunted end of his thumb-ring to slice at the label. Cutting it in a circle, he spins the cap off and grabs the bottle by the neck. Whiskey in one hand, cigarette in the other; it's a time of moods.

"That would be the general idea, Klaudea." Nitrim's eyes darken, leaning in against Johana's shoulder, his eyes on the empty space recently vacated by the Arboren. "It would be the general fucking idea…which is what's kept me so occupied tonight."

Opening her mouth to protest Keanen's tough love proclamation, Ana closes it again as soon as Nitrim intercedes. It's not enough, Ana looks at the Arboren. "Some friend. He was sober, Lord Keanen, and you attempted to humiliate him into junkie status by forcing him into thinking he was taking drugs with his friend. And when he did, you'd fooled him and sucker punched him. Don't lie to yourself and say you did it as a friend when you didn't give a fuck about him. Go on, run home and hide in your trees. From what I hear you never face your responsibilities anyway."

Harsh, sure, but it's been building awhile. Klaudea's take on it is met with a look of chagrin. "Indeed, they are supposed to be off limits. Not everyone is honorable enough to respect the boundaries."

Keanen furrows his brow, "If I didn't talk you into it, the next guy would have. Only, it would have really been Red Eye." He shakes his head, "That will never happen now." He looks at Johanna, "I said we WERE friends. That was my last favor to him. Don't paint him like some saint, lady. He killed my best friend and then disgraced my girlfriend. He deserved it." He rolls his eyes, "You don't even know me, woman."

This night is just getting worse. First the revelation of someone she respects knowingly hurting her friend, and now finding out the truth behind the tabloids of Nitrim's attack. She shifts a little on the bench, her hand reaching across the table to rest on the Khourni's arm briefly, but not enough to hamper his drinking. Just enough to let him know she's there. Words have now failed the little squire utterly.

Until Keanan speaks again. She can't quite stand in the booth, but she places a knee on the seat and turns to face him. "Lord Nitrim has killed no one. He may have caused deep wounds, and whatever he did may have been unexcusable, but he didn't choose to end anyone's life. Don't even parade that copout of 'he may as well have been the one to do it' around. He didn't, period. She did." For the second time in as many days, she feels the unfamiliar surge of anger, but this time, her voice actually raises enough to be heard, perhaps not the words themselves, but the tone, and a few at the dart board turn to look. A couple of the squires detach themselves towards the table.

"Blackfells, this guy bothering you?"

As the squires approach, Nitrim's knuckles tuck the cigarette between them, and he bars his arms across Johana's chest towards them; palm extended in a sign for everyone to stop. It's a snapped, forced movement; a sudden elbow accidentally digging against Johana's inner arm. Nitrim wants control. Now. His head snaps to Keanen, teeth gnashing.

"That will be the last time you say that, Keanen. Soleil killed herself. Had you stopped to ask what happened you would have learned that picture was being taken while I was giving her positive advice on YOU. I know about the scar on your hand, Keanen; she told me." Nitrim's head cants to one side, tightening the scar tissue that lines his neck, a relic of the current war. "I offered a truce. Do not fuck with me tonight, Keanen; it's a long walk back to that Waygate."

"Talk him into it? You reduced him to nothing! Took away all his hard work when he had refused it so many times before. You were his friend, you should have supported him. At least been up front about your intentions. I'll show you how it's done. Hey, Lord Keanen. I'm going to punch you, or try to, got it?" Ana moves to rise, though she finds her arm pinned by Nitrim's elbow and she can't exactly get to her feet.

Keanen tilts his head again, looking at Nitrim. "I did stop to ask. I asked HER." He looks at Ana, smirking a little when Nitrim holds her back, and then returns his gaze to Nitrim. "You OFFERED…" He smiles, shaking his head. "Wow." He chuckles, "WOW." Rolling his eyes at that amazing revelation, he just turns and walks towards the door.

With a glance to Nitrim, Klaudea transfers her gaze to her fellow squires. "No, no he's not," she replies, although, by this time, they can tell where the tension truly lies. Pushing herself from the seat, she gives the two men a nudge with her shoulder. "Come on, haven't you guys finished your match, yet?" Whatever else Keanan has to say is completely ignored, now. Taking her cue from her end who wants it to end, she doesn't even give the departing Lord the courtesy of her attention, as she does her part to diffuse the tension. She does give Nitrim one swift but intense look as she departs, letting him take care of Sir Johana.

"You asked the wrong person. Take care, Keanen." Nitrim murmurs towards Keanen's back as he walks away. Catching Klaudea's rather directed look, Nitrim tilts his eyes to her and offers her a nod; his lips settling back into a rested position. Near-brawl over and no blood, no foul, Nitrim reaches his cigarette to the ashtray to tap the refuse away.

"So…as you can imagine, Ana," Nitrim starts, reaching for his tablet and checking it quickly for messages; there are none. "And I do apoligize if I hit your…" Stopping short of saying boob, he motions to her chest as he pours a fresh drink. "I have to decide whether I'm going to do something or nothing. I won't hold you in too much suspense as to what my initial preference is. I doubt it was premeditated, but what I don't doubt anymore is that they were both keenly aware that I wasn't within fifty leagues of where they were."

As Keanen walks off, it is all Ana can do to not chase after him and follow through with him whether she won or not. Only the though of her son ceases her fight. She looks at Nitrim, a frown given. "I need to go.. check my son and yes, I agree. Do not act rash, please. We will speak about it tonight, please?"

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