The Fallen Times
[Fic: Drunken Shenanagans]
Da’at was in Hell, she was sure of it. She was wrong all of these years, and there was in fact a god (or gods) and they were pissed at her for not believing. That was the only reason she could be in this much pain. She reconsidered; she had to be alive, because she doubted that Hell could be this agonizing. No, only her own asinine self could hurt herself this badly.
She tentatively opened one eye, and a needle of pain stabbed through her head.
“_Okay_,” she bribed herself,_ “two more hours of sleep, then I can figure out who’s lying next to me.”_
The night before, she was in the party’s room watching Henri go through another set of training exercises on the ceiling. Well, technically he was going through the motions on whatever floorspace was left in the cramped room, but it looked much more impressive from Da’at’s point of view, which was dangling off the edge of the bed. That being said, it wasn’t really all that impressive once he went past the hour mark, which he had long since passed.
She knew he was keyed up- it read in every overly tight muscle running up his body. She thought about warning him that training while that tense could tear something vital to fighting, but he hadn’t taken well to her advice in the past and he was the one with the blade. She could only guess, but the winning odds were that he was simultaneously preparing for any sort of confrontation while getting the Prince back from his slaver, and punishing himself for losing the Prince in the first place. At this rate, he’d burn himself out before the ship even entered the port.
She had placed herself unobtrusively in the room when he didn’t come down for his meal in the off chance that he’d want to talk to someone. A plan that seemed foolish to begin with, and only proved itself to be by the prolonged silence that was suffocating her.
She sat up suddenly, and had to brace against the head rush. She had her own plans for the night, and she wasn’t about to let a morose bodyguard keep her from them. Still, she liked the man, and he’d be humiliated if when he came to it, he was too exhausted to be of any help.
“Dallia and I are going to be hitting the town tonight, in honour of Coralline. Would you like to join us?” Technically, Dallia didn’t know he was coming, yet. She didn’t like to leave him alone- she always got flashes of the one time she decided that the drakeblood hatching Amina asked her to watch over could be trusted in the stables. To be fair, the fire burned itself out quickly.
If he was startled by the noise, he didn’t show it. “No.” he said simply, then lapsed back into stony silence. Behind his back, Da’at rolled her eyes. Not everything was grounds for such solemness.
“Okay,” she said, sliding off the bed, “I’m sure that Dallia will be capable of keeping us safe, when I’m drunk off my ass.”
Henri finished one of his patterns, and stopped to look at Da’at, panting slightly.
Da’at continued blithely on, “I can understand you not wanting to respect the dead in a way that would be meaningful to her. She is only from your homeland.” She was being a right bastard, and this time she knew it. Sometimes the only way to get Henri to respond was to make him angry.
He unsurprisingly scowled at her, “I will come with you. I don’t want to lose two allies in as many weeks. But I’m not drinking, I… am still concerned about my earlier behaviour in the cave.”
“Great,” she said and put on her preforming gear in the likely event that she might like to do some tumbling. She wasn’t entirely convinced that Coraline was dead, having not found her body anywhere in the cave. She assumed that she did that smart thing and horded some sort of transportation scroll to use in an absolute emergency. Dead or alive, though, she was a good woman and deserved to be honoured.
Dallia entered the room, seemingly having finished his meal. Da’at seized his shoulders just as he got through the door. “Come on kid,” she said, ignoring as always that he was only a few years her junior, “we’re going drinking.”
“We are?” He asked, confused. That seemed to be his default state, now that he got over his sullenness.
Henri didn’t look too pleased, but Da’at decided that it was just his default expression rather than any sort of upset over a minor deception. “Yup,” she said, steering him out the door again, “you get to choose the first bar.”
They were in the 5th bar of the night. Or was it the fourth? It was definitely not the third, because they were asked to leave that place pretty quickly. Somewhere after she had sworn off drinking ever again, but before she started again, Da’at had gotten the idea that there was no way that the three of them could ever drink and celebrate enough to really respect Coraline’s spirit, so she just bought rounds for the bars she was in. She was pretty sure that the barkeeps were ripping her off astronomically, but she was in mourning; she couldn’t be expected to keep track of such trivial things.
They were sitting in the middle of a rather grungy tavern around a small table that wobbled if they put too much pressure upon it. Da’at had her arm around a very uncomfortable Dallia, and was ruffling his hair like a puppy. She wasn’t entirely sure what language she was speaking, but it had to be either Homlish or Terrian since Henri seemed to understand her.
She had been asking him questions about Caelwich the whole night. She started slowly with innocuous questions, but now that he had a few drinks under his belt the whole conversation was about him.
Da’at loved to watch the change in him when he thought about the boy. His body relaxed, and his answers stopped being monosyllabic. Best of all, his face warmed with a glow that had to be from more than alcohol he had been cautiously sipping. His voice wavered minutely when he revealed that the robber elves got a jump on them because he wouldn’t sleep at night out of fear that Caelwich would be attacked in the dark.
Da’at reached across the table and touched Henri’s forearm. “We’re going to get him back,” she said firmly.
Henri looked at her hand, bemused, but didn’t shake her off.
“I’ll help you hurt those that harm your family,” she said, passion fuelled by alcohol.
“I know,” he said. “I know.” He met her gaze, “You can let go of my arm now.”
Not knowing the words didn’t keep Da’at from singing along with the locals’ drinking songs; not knowing the language didn’t keep Henri back either. Neither of them could hold a note, but they made up for it with enthusiasm. Da’at was trying to explain the double entendre of the lyrics to Dallia, but it didn’t translate well in Homlish. She was pretty sure he thought they were singing about the ocean, but he looked happy enough just to be included. Once he got over his pretensions, he was a good kid, and Da’at earnestly tried to make the time they had to spend together more comfortable than it had been in the start. Even Henri seemed to be softening up on him, which meant that he did more than ignore and glower at him, but progress was progress.
Henri tried unsuccessfully to teach the two some songs from his legion, but soldier humour was too morbid for either of them to enjoy it. Instead, they took turns telling stories of their childhoods that fulfilled certain conditions as detailed by someone in the group – embarrassing stories, happy ones, first memories. Da’at had to start and prompt the game, but the others took up choosing the category surprisingly fast. It was a unspoken agreement to leave some topics unexplored.
At one point (neither of them could tell you when or why), she and Henri broke out into a screaming match on the streets. Being a port town, Ahlan was used to seeing drunks make fools of themselves, so the few people on the street just gave them a wide berth. Dallia watched on worried from the sidelines.
Words were said that might have been true, but weren’t necessarily honest. Da’at was a careless vagabond who didn’t consider how her actions affected people, but that was tempered with a genuinely good heart and ignorance. Henri was a joyless and pompous stick in the mud, but he had little to be joyful about, and had been nothing but an honourable man since she had known him.
Da’at’s voice cracked as she spoke “And yet I would still die for you and your cause.” All of her anger fled as suddenly as it came. This always happened when she drank to excess, although she would never admit it.
Henri nodded gravely in accord, and Da’at threw her arms around him in a hug.
“You guys are terrible,” Dallia said. The two broke their hug and waited expectantly for the turn in the conversation. “No. I mean it.” he said, “I hate you guys.”
Meanwhile, two hours had passed and she risked opening her eyes again. The pain had been demoted to only ‘agonizing’. Good. She could deal with that. She slowly turned her head to the left and made out the blue-grey scales that covered Dallia’s back. More good news, that meant that she didn’t leave him to freeze half to death without her heat. It was harder to look to he right, having to go double the length of a neck turn to get there. Henri was sleeping peacefully beside her, features relaxed for a change. Da’at calmed down and folded her arms across her to go back to sleep. With these two, she could be sure that nothing happened, and she was grateful for it. She didn’t want to try to slip out of someone’s room when she was this miserable. Her hands glided smoothly over the cool silk of her shirt.
“Wait, silk?” she thought, “Since when did I have a silk shirt?” She inwardly sighed and mentally shrugged, the actual movements being too arduous to attempt at this time. At least no one else in the party wore silk either.