Day 072: So Above, So Below
Summary: Britt and Rinnan compare notes about a friend in bad emotional repair.
Date: 9 August 2016
Related: The Mountain Falls (Level 7) and Not Over and Allowances and Obsession
Britt Rinnan 

The Pub, Tondc

This public house is a mixed construction of old Earth brick walls and new Trikru metal. The entrance is from a preexisting structure — perhaps an old church based on the double-wide doors and steepled roof. It leads into a sprawling area that is far longer than it is wide. A long metal countertop runs the length of the room against a brick wall, and old stained glass windows are neatly spaced behind it, letting in color streams of light when the sun is high. Behind the countertop are shelves kept low of old bottled distilled alcohol and wooden casks of wheat beer and honey wine. The stools and seating at the bar are random and mismatched, and not all of them comfortable.

Opposite of the bar and at the back are the two newer walls made of metal and stone framing. The windows on this wall are cut roughly and inlaid with salvaged glass. The rest of the room is filled with random tables and chairs, creating arrangements of various sizes. There is a door in the back wall that leads to the boarding rooms, and the shared common area for those using the public house for longterm stay.

9 August 2149

It's easier days for warriors, post Mountain. The populace is more inclined to fill warrior cups higher and slide over that extra portion of venison in good will and thanks for the genocide of an enemy. Warriors without a home on (or maybe even with) are finding it easier to garner the attention of the grateful populace. This might have been what it was like to have been a rock star in the before.

Rinnan's sitting at a table, picking the small bones out of a roasted quail and eating a leisurely pace. All this down time suddenly earned, its probably not what some imagined it would be. Or maybe not what Rinnan thought it would be by the abjectly bored thread in her expression. One knee jogs in a nervous tick as she sits there eating her supper, her eyes watching the quietly gathered denizens as she absently consumes the bird.

Britt heads into the pub, her hair still damp from a quick trip to the bath house just before, pulled back into a simple ponytail instead of its usual series of braids. It was a long ride back from Polis, and she's tired and sore. Her eyes scan the pub briefly. Spying Rinnan, she heads in that direction. "Hey," she greets, before taking a chair at the table, uninvited.

"Hey…," Rinnan offers back, offering Britt a muted and brief smile before she slides her mostly untouched cup of what smells like barley wine her way. "Polis where we left it?," she asks of Britt, before catching the eye of a Pub employee and signaling briefly for another cup. Her attention slides back Britt's way as she lifts the lip of the plate slightly, offering the mostly yet undemolished bird to her as well. "These things have more bones than a fish," she mutters in a half-advisory.

"Yep, still there," Britt confirms, as if there was any doubt. "I have your stuff over at the barracks. Thanks - didn't get supper yet either." But it's the wine she takes a sip of first, before picking off a piece of quail to chew on. "You didn't go with the Mountain looting party?" she wonders idly.

"Going tomorrow," Rinnan states with a slight shrug that seems to admit a slight curiosity about the timing, "Heda asked me to delay and go with the party going in the morning." She sits back in her chair, slightly as she gestures around the pub. "Might be why it's quieter tonight," she adds in brief theory. "You?"

Britt ahs softly, then shakes her head. Her mouth presses into a thin line. "No. I never want to go back to that place." She picks out a bone, adding it to the pile on the plate. "I'll be going to Coesbur, probably in the morning. Indra's making me war leader there." A normal person might be a little more enthused about the promotion, but Britt is very matter-of-fact in the telling, her somber mood not budging.

Rinnan nods, it's opaque and sluggish. The kind of nod you give someone when they've been treated to a promotion that feels like a failure upward. "The chance to work even more closely with the Skaikru," Rinnan observes, in cautious tones as if its a prelude to a cancer diagnosis, as she watches Britt for a moment. The requested secondary cup arrives and she pauses to take a sip and pick at the quail. "I'm… hearing something," she states cautiously, looking at Britt with a skittish air. "About Arlin."

Britt gives a bleak nod to the diagnosis. "Yeah. And minding a bunch of warriors who I just cut a few weeks ago for disloyalty." Yeah, that'll be interesting. She sighs, rubbing her face. "Some I respect, at least. Wren, Kai, Pontus, Khesu…" It is by no means an exclusive list, but she's not going to go down the entire village roster. Instead she picks more at the quail. "Erson's not coming," is reported with a bleak frown. But then Rinnan mentions Arlin and she freezes in mid-bite for a second. A ripple of pain crosses her face while she finishes chewing, and then she washes it down with a long gulp of wine. "What did you hear?" she asks, in a strangely dull tone.

"Not coming now? Or just… not coming?," Rinnan asks, following a sharp blink of surprise at Britt. There are things that Rinnan seems to expect but Erson not also coming with Britt didn't quite make the list. Her greasy fingernail presses down thoughtfully on a quail bone for a moment before she draws in a slow breath. Trading one quietly unhappy subject for another. "Just that… he's maybe gone around a bend," Rinnan states with a grim press of her lips together before she looks at Britt.

"Not coming," Britt mumbles. "He'd rather stay and mope around here." She might be more charitable. The man just lost his arm, for goodness sake. But right now, selfish hurt feelings and rejection are winning out over empathy. And Britt has never been very good at hiding her emotions, the pained look lingering after Rinnan's summation of Arlin. "Yeah, I think that about sums it up," she confirms, her frown deepening.

Rinnan nods mutely, the corners of her mouth pulling into a tightly wound frown at the news about Erson. The there-I-go-but-for-the-grace-of-the-Flame randomness of sudden 'retirement' for surviving warriors tightness that tugs on every warrior's insides perhaps guiding the tension in that frown. "I'll check on him before I leave for New Coesbur," she offers, her eyebrows quirking upwards in a question mark at Britt for the offered attempt.

Arlin… well, that's another subject entirely. Her hand pushes on the lip of the plate in front of her, her want for food suddenly cancelled. "It's getting around," she states with a light grimness, a deliberateness of words around the issue. "…at least so far just Heda's band. But. I don't know how long it'll stay just within us…"

Britt gives a slight nod of approval to Rinnan's offer to check on Erson. She's not angry with him, it would seem, just dejected. "I'm sure he'd like to see you." Arlin, on the other hand? Britt's eyebrows knit, still frowning, and she shrugs. "I don't give a shit if the entire clan knows." She and Arlin have had their disagreements before, but she's certainly never spoken with such ire about her buddy before.

Rinnan looks momentarily poised to comment on Erson, by the lift in her expression. But whatever impulse about Arlin's state of mind takes over, scuttling her comment to a secondary position. "…if we can contain it and make it look dealt with, then there's less of a chance he'll be sent away to Floukru," Rinnan offers, after a carefully considered minute. "But I'm guessing you're not that moved to help him by your tone?"

Britt empties the cup of wine, and then catches the eye of the server. She holds up the empty cup in silent request for another, and gets a nod in return. Only then does she look back to Rinnan. "I tried to help him," she says tautly. "He spat that help back in my face in a way no friend would ever do."

Rinnan lets out a deeper, sharper sigh. Her shoulders heaving downward in a frustrated note as she slumps a little more in her chair. The rag meant to cleaning her hands taken up as she scrubs absently at the grease on her hands. "What happened exactly?," she asks, her cadence focusing down to something more exacting.

Britt doesn't want to talk about it. That much is evident by her posture and her frown. But she owes Rinnan the truth, knowing her relationship with Arlin. "I went with him to dump the body," she says flatly. "Gustus and the others left, but he would not. He insisted that he needed to stay to watch the insects feast. To see the Maunheda turned to shit." Disturbed revulsion peeks through the quiet anger there for a moment, but then she continues the tale. "I tried my damndest to persuade him to go. To make him see that it was madness. But he was beyond reason. He threatened to beat me badly, and he meant it. Then he fought with words. About Erson." It's not clear which of those two was a harsher blow, but the combined one-two punch was enough to have Britt taking another stiff drink when her new cup is delivered. "So I left him to his madness."

Britt's tale at first blush garners a tiny nod out of Rinnan after a considered silence, it spent watching Britt wrestle with her discomfort about the sordid quality of the entire situation. "Maybe he should be sent to Floukru," she observes pragmatically, finally, in neutral tones that seems neither engaged or disconnected with the idea. It's an option, one of only a workable few. Her hands seek out the cup, holding it between them as she regards the mostly full contents as if the rest of her thoughts are at the bottom. "We haven't seen much of each other, lately. It was even less frequent after Old Coesbur was overrun. I guess if I had been around him more, maybe I would have seen this unraveling sooner," she observes with a uncertain air. "Or maybe not. He's… difficult to pry from a bad idea when he's right in the head," she concludes, before looking up at Britt again. "Heda knows."

"What would the Floukru do with him?" Britt asks glumly. "More importantly, what would he do among the Floukru? He is no pacifist." She shakes her head to the rest of the summary. "I've been worried about him, knowing what a hard-on he had for the Mountain. But I didn't think he'd go this far. All those years I've known him, all the times we'd saved each other … it all meant shit to him." Another drink, then bitterly, "He's not the only one who's lost something to the Mountain." She continues to pick at the quail a little, shrugging at the last. "I'm not surprised. Gustus was there." Much as she tries to convince herself that she doesn't give a shit either, though, a hint of worry creeps into her expression.

"…I don't see him settling for life as a village healer, lancing boils and listening to farmers complain about movement of their bowels?," Rinnan replies with a light shrug that perhaps acknowledges both options are in fact terrible. "At least, if he was with Floukru, he'd have some sort of… structure," she offers a secondary, smaller and a little more useless shrug. "Otherwise… he becomes one of those warriors that just disappears in the forest and…," Rinnan picks up her cup, letting the grim focus of what disappearing into the woods usually gets you. She sips lightly at her cup, watching Britt fight back the momentary thread of worry in her expression. "I don't know her mind on it. It wasn't my place to ask. It's probably not a good thing, had I to guess, that he's demanding a portion of her focus when she doesn't really have it to give. But… he can't really pretend he's fine now. So I guess, it becomes… he decides to do something about it or he lets Heda decide for him."

"No, I can't see him doing that. But if he can get his head out of his ass, he can always stay with the warband. There will be trouble again eventually. There always is." After a life of war, Britt cannot imagine a life of peace. Even if some part of her hopes for it. "It surprises me that the heda is taking a personal interest. She has an entire coalition to run - why should she care about his troubles, or mine, or yours?" She shrugs. "It is between them. He is beyond my help. And right at this moment? I'm not terribly inclined to give it." She drinks again, then asks, "How are you? Your wounds better?"

"She sees talent," Rinnan states with a helpless shrug at Britt that slumps downward into an unhappy and growing more unhappy frown. "He's good at what he does and healers are hard enough to come by. He had access to her… in a way you and I didn't but hard to say what she'll do now. He's unwell and I don't think she wants anyone who is in his state around her because it looks like weakness to…," Rinnan's words drift off, her head tilting towards two Azgeda enjoying drinks at the other end of the room. One of her fingers swirls at the contents inside with the pad of her finger, a momentarily forlorn look seeping into her expression. "I'm okay," she says dully, the physical state of her an afterthought with the dejected clang of obvious disappointment dipped in a light coating of hurt on her face. "So, yeah," she concludes, sucking briefly on her teeth.

Britt follows Rinnan's gaze over to the Azgeda, and nods once. Then seeing the look on her friend's face, she sighs. "I'm sorry, Rinn. I've been insensitive. He's your friend, and it can't be easy." Britt knows all too well the pain of watching a friend's suffering and being helpless to do something about it. "Let's get another round." Britt is not normally one to drown her sorrows - Rinnan has probably never seen her drink to excess. But it's been a hell of a week, and there are always exceptions.

Rinnan's face draws upwards, looking at Britt for a long moment. There's a brief twinge in that long look, the wobble of in her expression that reduces Rinnan out of the 'floating animal' front she plays up well to instead, the barely out of baby fat and teenage emotions kid that she is. Her expression threatens to buckle and crumble like a child who has been rejected by a friend. And then in the next moment, she sucks in a stringy breath and locks up that which threatens to tumble. "I may have underestimated the mutual quality of our loyalty," she administers with a dull remove and signals with Britt for another round. So above, so below.

"I know," Britt responds, a quiet sympathy in her eyes on hearing the words she could have spoken herself a couple days ago. But then she falls quiet. Time for a drink.

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