[AW+] Liquid courage to douse phantom flames
Following the recent fire, Ierian visits the Brass Potato in an attempt to calm his nerves
Forward dated to a day or two AFTER the fire mentioned here
Join Ierian for a drink or to talk. Keeping it AW+ since I figure a new visitor to the tavern can join at any time![+315]
Contrary to the manner in which he held himself on the day of the fire, Ierian was by no means at peace. It pained him, in a way, how his seeming stoicism and determination may have helped Bellad appear all the weaker. Brought down to the ground, trembling, screaming much like he had when on occasion a nightmare would force him awake. The last time he caught such a thing was when they still lived and slept under the same roof. He did not wish it upon his sibling again, and yet something conspired to haunt Bellad again. No, haunt them both. Ierian’s hand gripped the staff much too hard and struck the earth with far too much force for a man unscathed by the spectacle.

As though suddenly catching himself, he stopped, pinching between his eyes with his free hand. Ierian growled slightly. This would not do. Was the Realm’s safety compromised? Was his-… Several faces came to mind at the same time and he did not bother to rank them in order of concern for them. None in the pack were to get hurt if he could help it. But could he?

The anguished, terrified wail of his brother echoed through his mind again. A scared and helpless youth facing a towering pillar of flame. He did not blame him. But still the wood of the staff creaked as his grip involuntarily tightened.

Ierian Songthorn took a deep breath and adjusted himself, then, only slightly less mindful than ever, he pushed open the doors of the Brass Potato and let himself in. He’d just find someone to speak to him here. Set his mind on a different trail, or find out something of use. Perhaps, with whatever the tavern had to offer him, he could strive to at least calm his nerves.

He did not challenge himself to confess which would take priority.
Well goddamn, that had been something. 

Fire was a constant in life. Cooking, keeping warm, clearing agricultural waste, any industry more complicated than what simple tools could produce, all of it revolved around flame and heat. Making fire was one of the most important skills one could have if they planned on spending any time out in the wilderness alone. Hell, Tora must have started hundreds of them over the years. The ability to introduce spark to tinder had kept him alive as surely as his ability to swing a sword or identify poisonous plants.

But it had been a long time since he had witnessed a full-on blaze, even longer since he saw one uncontrolled. They had put the Hotel to the torch when the Court fell to ruin but that had been a purposeful act of symbolism. His original pack had been simply swallowed by fire, consumed utterly before the ashes were all scattered to the wind. The same war that had made him the last Tanaka (at the time of course) had seen his childhood home reduced to so much kindling. Nightmares were resurfacing, bad memories he had never been able to put behind him swimming out of the waters of recollection and beaching themselves like dying whales. 

He needed a drink now even more than usual.

The only reason Tora bothered going to the Brass Potato was because some sticky-fingered offspring of his had snatched his private stash, forcing Caledonia's resident functional(?) alcoholic into braving civic duty. It was, after all, technically his job as a High Lord to be seen making the rounds. So he had washed his face and carefully tied his hair into its usual topknot, dressed in a neat kimono and put his swords at his side. All that effort put into looking presentable only to be made irrelevant by the obvious exhaustion he carried.

Tora had known going in that his eyes were hollow, his jaw clenched tight even as he smoked his fourth cigarette of the day. What was he supposed to do about it? Same thing he always did: drink. He was only halfway through the first mug when the giant entered. "Hello Ierian."

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She was no stranger to fire. Fire brought life and light, but it also brought destruction and chaos. At the end of the Court's days, they had put the Chien Hotel to the torch and symbolically lit up the old building to burn away the past. That had been a good, cleansing fire like a bush fire in the summer.

Before the fall, though, La Marea had lit up their fledgling community center and destroyed so much knowledge in the library set to replace the Hotel's. That had been a fire to decimate and bring fear. It had worked and they had been afraid. Fire had also destroyed so much of Krokar's homes that the wreckage was still visible in her mind's eye. Somehow, fire had been more dangerous in the North -- where it was so greatly needed at times -- than it had ever been at sea.

Whatever had caused the fire seemed to have disappeared and left only the sooty smoke damage behind. Her hands and legs had a faint coating of the stuff after she gave up her solitary searching when nothing of interest came up. Fire was not her specialty. Tell her to build a boat and she would figure it out, but snuffing out clues in a burned husk? Not likely to be a good use of her time.

Instead of heading home, she figured she could do something at the official seat of her rank in Haven. Maybe there were logs she could consult, guildmates to converse with.

In all honesty, she wanted a distraction from the soul-shaking thought that New Caledonia had a danger lurking unseen. The Brass Potato was decidedly not the destination she had in mind, but when she saw Ierian disappear into the tavern, she thought that it was a good a place as any to try soothing the nerves rising from the depths of the past.

Walking in, she saw her husband already drinking. Normally, she would have had a bone or two to pick with him about his habits. After the fire, she was far more generous and the usual tight line that would have been her mouth was soft.

"Well, aren't we a depressing-looking bunch?" she commented with a hint of humor as she strode to Tora's side and touched her nose to his head as she snaked her fingers around his drink. Wordlessly, she took it and drank herself a healthy amount of it before setting it back down.
ooc [+474]
“Torabera. Greetings.” He regaled the High Lord with his full name as he made his way in, looking over the interior and exchanging nods or salutes with whoever he could see inside. A few minutes would pass with the giant procuring his own drink, then circling back towards the table where the Tanaka patriarch sat. “May I?” He asked. A simple nod towards the empty seat was sufficient response.

Admittedly, joining Tora in particular held little defined purpose. Their encounters had been sporadic and mostly strange. Providing his services after a few scrapes that went worse than the man had anticipated, attending his wedding, assisting in restraining Wither Rose. The term “friend” didn’t quite stick. But “worthy pack-mate”, while more of a mouthful, would do. Speaking of mouthfuls, it was time for Ierian’s first swig. When he returned the bottle to the table, having its bottom against the surface helped ground his hand and prevent it from shaking.

The man before him seemed well groomed in the fashion of foreign lands. The Songthorn caught himself thinking that he had never asked of the origin of this style of clothing. Distant as he was from fashion, he could at least tell when things looked different. Yet despite the curiosity and his typical ability to hold a decent conversation, this time Ierian found himself somewhat dour.

Little was planned about this. Not entering, not joining a table, not soon having the table approached by Councilor Savoy. “Hail, Kalypso.” He clearly wasn’t helping her comment. A fact that he comprehended with a touch of grim humor. The wolf took another gulp of the drink. He didn’t even much care what it was. Just that it burned his mouth and sent a warmth through his limbs.

“Perhaps it’s the fog.” He suggested, knowing full well that the veil cast over the lands of New Caledonia was not to blame for their disposition. He took a deep breath, as though to brace himself. Would the Elders have allowed themselves to look this way after a moment of crisis?

Any number of things could be discussed at this table now. The fire, of course, could have easily blazed its way into conversation. Considering the recent attack on Iomair, Ierian was not beyond considering this fire to have been started with malicious intent. Would someone attempt a gruesome murder in the middle of the City Square?

“At least here… We should be able to catch our breath.” Yes, there was much to discuss. Yes, he’d have wanted Tora to answer nagging questions, cover the “who”s and the “why”s. But if he understood the purpose of the Brass Potato well enough, and gauged the expression on Tora’s face, then this was not exactly the time and place. He’d at least provide the courtesy of not forcing the fire into their conversation immediately.

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