A Day Off

by GriffinWolf

A blast of cold air blasted into the room, pervading all the persons inside, whether sitting, standing, or bent over one particular table. Hands, paws, or neither have cast aside their tools of trade wielding various implements of gaiety, such as steins, chicken legs, a long tapered stick, or just simply gesturing to increase the point of an orator's words.

The one who opened the door worked his muzzle, a little more than waist high to those of a more adult, bipedal stature, through the door, and wedged his shoulders door frame as the cold seemed to both push and pull at him.

Finally, the door slammed shut, and he stood on all fours, his head bowed and his tail drooping beneath him in a great weariness.

The audience within the tavern watched the wolf for a moment longer, then turned away and relapsed into conversation, leaving the new arrival to drag his body over to an empty table in the corner, and hopped onto the only chair to drop to his haunches, curling his hips under him, a leather pack around his back.

Only one person, who happened to be around the pool table, glimpsed this soul, and decided to join him.

"Excuse me boys," Charles Matthias said happily, "but I need to take care of something."

"Must be important," Copernicus answered, "You've got the next game. Are you finally getting tired of trying to beat me?"

"Maybe your blood will freeze over tonight, and I'll win by default," Charles jibed playfully, as the other boys laughed.

He carefully avoided a waiter coming over with drinks and pies for one table, grabbing a chair to the grooming wolf.

"Mind if I sit here?" Matthias asked.

The wolf looked up from the paw he was gnawing at, firmly clunking his head on the bottom edge of the table, lowering his head and grasping it w/ both paws.

"... yyyeeEEOUCH!"

Charles winced, "Ow, sorry about that, maybe I'll just let you relax."

"No thanks, it's okay, I've had a splitting headache all week anyway," the wolf said.

"Name is Charles, yours?"

"Drake," the wolf said, rubbing at the bump on his noggin' a bit awkwardly with a paw. Then raising his head to look at the rat with white framed, yellow eyes. With a lopsided grin, he said, "You'll forgive me if I don't offer a paw to shake."

Matt chuckled, "No problem, can I get you a drink?"

"You can get me a drink," Drake said, "I'll get the food. What do you do to get some service around here?"

The brown rat laughed, "Good luck there. Your guess is as good as mine!"

Drake shrugged, "Okay."

He looked around, spotting a waiter returning w/ an empty tray in front of him. With a flick of his tail, he sent a spray of water drops flying onto the tray, the waiter's apron, and a few drops on his face, causing him to jump in surprise. The waiter reached down to fetch a towel from his apron, searching for the cause.

"Pardon me, monsieur. But my friend here has been waiting quite a bit for some service, sorry about, here's a little something," Drake ducked his head into the pack he brought in, and pulled out his purse, setting it down on the table, and flipping a coin toward the waiter with his nose.

The waiter stared at the coin, which landed on the tray as he held it out.

"Now, How much stew is on the stove today?"

"I believe it's about half full, sir," the waiter said, pocketing the coin, trying not to look at the denomination as he tucks the tray under an arm.

"Well, better tell the Cook to start another," Drake said, as he tossed another coin to the waiter, now talking in a lilting brogue, "I haven't had a decent meal in 4 days and the cows I saw heading back were looking like they couldn't feed me for tea. I'll take about 6 bowls of your chicken stew, a Meat Pie, and a couple mugs, one of Ale and one of Water, please. And my friend will have..."

Charles looked surprised at the wolf's drawl, and said, "I'll just have a mug of ale."

"Thank you, sirs, I'll have your drinks and stew back to you soonest."

With a curt nod the waiter walked back to the kitchen.

Matthias looked at the door the waiter left through curiously, and back to Drake.

"I must say, that was the quickest service I have ever seen," he commented.

Drake smiled, "Just a trick I learned down south. Of course, back then it was a brunette with jugs the size of... um..." Drake coughed, looking a bit embarrassed, "excuse me, anyway, she was smarter than she looked, anyway, tried to cut my purse, almost got away with it too, except for one thing."

"What's that?" Charles asked.

Drake grinned, "It's a little hard to cut someone's purse off when it's attached by an iron chain. Looks like her mentor forgot to tell her to look at the purse before you go after it."

Charles stared incredulously at Drake, then a small chuckle came out with a smile, "So what do you do, mister Drake?"

"Nah, no Mister here," Drake said, waving a paw dismissively, "Actually, I'm an architect. Just came back from a little project. The weather started getting bad, so I decided to throw up something to protect the site, and the workers and I came back here for the holidays. Err... speaking of which, what's the Date today?"

"Oh, it's the 18th. What sort of camp?"

"Oh, right now we're just excavating, down in the southwest by Loriod territory, need to dig in, and build the foundation next. It's more or less like Mining right now, I hate that part, it's as if the whole hillside is going to collapse on you, or under you, depending where you are, all sorts of things can go wrong."

"I heard something about that mining settlement down there."

"Yeah," Drake nodded, looking over Charles's shoulder as the waiter came back, setting a stand down from the crook of one arm to put the tray down. He set both places and asked the wolf, "How many more do you expect in your party, sir?"

"Just myself and my friend here, friend waiter."

The waiter blinked, and looked over to the plates of stew sitting on the tray.

"Don't worry about where to set them, sir waiter, " Drake said. They'll be fine anywhere on the table."

"Yes, sir," the waiter acknowledged, setting their drinks in front of them, then arranging the plates in a somewhat decent manner.

When the waiter was finished, he asked, "Is there anything more you need, sirs?"

Drake look to Charles, who shook his head, "No, I think that will be all for now, thank you."

"You're welcome sir."

Drake looked down at the plate in front of him, and at the knife and fork, too. Then he hung his head down.

"What is it?"

Drake smirked, "Utensils, you don't mind if I just dig in, do you? Sorry to be rude."

"No problem, you're not the first."

"Thanks," the wolf side as he removed a piece of cloth from his bag, placing it in a heap by his paws, and leaned forward, lapping the stew up from the sides, and gulping down bits of meat.

"So," Charles started, looking on as if the wolf's behavior was commonplace, which, around there, happened to be more often than not, "How long have you been around here at the keep, the way you walked in made me think you were suffering from that depression people get when they first change."

"Three months now," Drake answered as he finished up another bowl, ducking his head and pinning the cloth to his face as he wiped his muzzle. "Give or take a week. As for my little entrance, you try moving traveling for a day or three in rotten weather without a hot meal. I really needed something warm in my belly," he ducked his head into another plate of stew.

In between mouthfuls, he said, "And how about you, Charles, what do you do for a living."

"Actually, I'm a Long Scout."

Drake stopped cold and looked up at the rat, who was grinning ironically

"My apologies," Drake said with a grin, "you're more crazy than I gave you credit for. So, what brings a non-descript rat like yourself into THAT service."

Matt shrugged, "It would be to long to tell, and, truth to say, I'm not entirely sure myself, it was just something I needed to do."

Drake smiled, "So I take it all is quiet on the northern front?"

Matt gave Drake a half serious look, "It's never quiet up here, always something going on. If nothing happened, then we'd never here about it, so how could we possibly know?"

Drake woofed out a laugh, "What is the sound of nothing happening?"

Charles grinned, "I don't know, something is too noisy to let me listen."

Drake belched, "Sorry, that was me, guess you'll have to wait another decade for the next time nothing happens. Personally, I'd rather nothing happened more often than not. Sometimes you just want a day off."

"Nah, if you had too many of those, you'd get too complacent, wanting to do something, anything."

Drake perked his ears, "Speaking from experience?"

"Perhaps, sometimes you find you grew up a certain way, and you longed for something. When you finally get it, you find out that it isn't really your life, and you have to change your priorities."

Drake eyed Charles, "Someone is in love."

Charles gave a semi-annoyed grin, "And that's none of your business, thank you." He took drink from his now emptying mug, turning around and spotting the waiter winding around with a pie, "Well, I guess I'll leave you for now."

"Don't want a bite?"

"Nah, I already ate. I'll have to catch up with you sometime later, we'll talk shop."

"Thanks for the talk, Charles, if you wanna have another, and you have the time, stop by the child daycare, if I'm around, I'll probably be there until this weather clears up."

"Day care," Charles said thoughtfully, "Never would have pictured you as the type."

Drake grinned, "Call it even, and don't worry, drinks are on me tonight, it's too hard to sort the bill."

The water delicately set the steaming meat pie in front of Drake, "Why don't you get my friend an I another round of drinks, dear sir."

"Of course, another thing else?"

"Nope, I think I'm fine for now, I think I'll take a day or two off, so it's better if I not wolf all I can and run."