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Dragon's Brew [closed]


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Tani sat on the floor in the front room of what would eventually become her office.  The leftover pieces of furniture from when it had been a storage room had been shoved against the walls, and a small section of floor mostly cleaned of all the dust and grime that had accumulated from disuse.  Papers and ledgers were arranged in a circle around her, and she split her time between them, making careful notations as she did so.  She paused only when five envelopes had been stuffed and sealed, names written across the front in ornate calligraphy.  She stared at them; one had her own name, and it was a strange feeling.  She touched the bandage beneath her loose-fitting shirt, and shook her head.


She collected the items she'd had sent over: a tray, a tea set, and a pitcher filled with good water, as well as a little packet of leaves.  Taking up one of the envelopes, she put it on the tray and pushed out of the room, locking it behind her.  It was a short trip to Isabelle's room, even from the back of the company's house to its front, and she took a deep breath before knocking.


The woman should be in.  Tani wasn't sure what she hoped more for: her knock to go unanswered, or for Isabelle to open the door.

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For a moment, the knock did go unanswered. Likely before Tani could turn and take more than a step or two, the door handle would slowly turn. The door would slowly creak open. The room was dark. Dim, though in contrast to the bright hallway, it was dark. A green helm would peek out as the elezen murmured, "Yeees...?"


From what Tani could see, or may have noticed, is that Isabelle was wrapped up in a very fluffy robe of some sort and still wearing her helmet. The elezen stood, awaiting a reply.

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For a moment, Tani stared.


No, it was longer than a moment, long enough to be considered rude even by lax standards.  "A-ah..." really, she shouldn't be stumbling over her tongue like some country girl witnessing the Quicksand version of friendliness for the first time.  She was better than that.


Clearing her throat, Tani lifted the tray.  Control herself, she was good at that.




"I...the plants.  I think they need water.  And I have your pay slip.  For the --"  she grunted and looked away; glancing past Isabelle into the room.  So unreasonably hard to talk about that.  "Anyways, I'd promised tea."  She looked down at said tea and all its bits and bobs.  "I thought we could use your hearth."

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The elezen brightened up immediately, "Oh! Please come in!" Isabelle would step aside and open the door wide for Tani to come in. The room was dim but once inside and the door closed, candles seemed to light the little home into something far more cozy. Plants and flowers were a majority of the decor and the door to the next room seemed to have been remodeled after Doman ingenuity. 


Isabelle would set down her stuffed moogle and help Tani with the tray. "Thank you! If thine woulds't like.. make thineself comfortable in mine study?" She would gesture towards the doman door, "I was just.. mm.. reading, by the fireplace. I shall heat up some water for us!"


The door slid easily and in the other room was a large, comfortable sofa. The fire was warm with a new log on the fire. A book was set aside and on the other side of the couch was a harp stowed away on the floor. There were some blankets and plush pillows as if Isabelle had been relaxing here. Sounds could be heard from the kitchen as the elezen heated some hot water.

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The room was at once expected and unexpected.  As with Isabelle's unusual garb, Tani found it difficult not to stare.  Even so, she drifted after Isabelle, some sort of cautiousness guarding each step, and echoed in the subtle lines of her face. 


"If you care to try it, I, um, I brought the gongfu set."  She gestured to the various small porcelein cups.  "It's how they brew tea in the far East.  It's not unlike a ceremony, I suppose, but it involves a lot of rinsing of the cups and the tea itself... it takes a little longer before you can drink.  But if you prefer, we may simply brew it Thanalan style."  She shrugged, and pointed to the envelope, knowing she was babbling and unable to stop herself.  "There is the receipt for your share of the pay.  As arranged, your retainer will handle the money.  Oh, also, before you start --" too late, "I brought some water that's ah... it will aid with the flavor of the tea."

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Isabelle listened to each word. She'd nod and set things down beside the fireplace. "Well, which method would thine prefer? Thou art mine guest." The elezen would wait for Tani to make herself comfortable before sitting down. She'd softly speak, "Please, have a seat wherever thou wishes."


The elezen did her best to be an accommodating and polite host but even then, it wouldn't be hard to tell that she wasn't quite used to guests. Isabelle fumbled a little to clean up the couch and fluff the pillows while also quickly scooting the harp out of sight with a movement of her foot. "Should I.. change..? I am still in mine pajamas.." and indeed she was. Comfy tonberry decorated pajamas and in a robe... of course, with the metal green helm too.

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There were many, many different situations where Tani composed herself with a businesslike acuity, and an unassailable confidence.  There was something about the elezen woman that utterly drained her of even the semblance of some basic competence.  She felt heat prickling up between her shoulderblades as she eyed the various pieces necessary for the gongfu style.  She eyed Isabelle as the other woman -- gods above, that robe, that helm -- fussed about the room.  The heat reached her neck.


Tani gave a strangled little laugh.  "For today, perhaps... perhaps the Thanalan style is appropriate.  I um... I'll show you, er, well, another time for the ceremony.  But ah, the tea.  Dragon's needles; it's a green tea.  Dragon's brew, some call it.  Ah... water steaming, but not boiling.  Forty-five seconds for the first steep." 


The heat reached her face as she realized Isabelle had asked a question.  "I'm sorry, what did you say?"


She stood there, in the doorway to the room with the fireplace, as awkward as any lackwit.

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Isabelle likely looked like a lost little child.. that wasn't quite so short as she stood there in her pajamas and robe. The helm made her apparel even more mis-matched as she looked down at her hands while they twiddled a bit. She spoke softly again, though a tad louder than before, "Um.. should I.. change..?" For the moment, the elezen was outright glad her helm was on. She was blushing furiously for not having thought of changing earlier. 


She made a hesitant little gesture towards the door to her room. Of course, the stuffed moogle under her arm probably didn't help the picture either. Isabelle was a completely stark contrast to her usual confident and infallible self.

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Tani stared at Isabelle, then at the door to the room.  Back.  Forth.  She bit her lower lip, a crease appearing between her eyebrows.  "Uh...sure?"


Tea was not supposed to be this difficult.  "I'll um...the tea," she said, gesturing vaguely back into the main room.  She fled before either could commit any more acts of awkwardness.


Out of Isabelle's sight, her shoulders relaxed some, and she blew out a breath.  Somehow, the out-of-place Isabelle was even more intimidating than the usual Isabelle, as if a predator garbed in sheep's wool.  Funny in any other circumstance, yet in the present moment all it served to do was make Tani very, very aware of how dangerous the other woman was. Especially given...


No.  Best not think of that.


Isabelle had started the kettle, and so Tani set about shaking the leaves into the small teapot. It was the wrong sort of teapot for Thanalan style brewing, but she'd make do.  Anything but make the situation any more clumsy than it already was.

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Isabelle scooted over and quickly changed into something less... pajama-ish. It was normal attire. Attire that the elezen used while gardening, mostly, but they were clean clothes and she didn't have much else to wear. Isabelle, afterall, generally just wore her full suit of armor. She had gambesons galore, but clothes..? Hardly a thing. 


Isabelle came in, this time, she wore a half-mask. It covered the top of her head and was woven nicely with the ul'dahn style turban to keep her messy, short hair back. Isabelle had helmet hair.. she was embarrassed of that too. She returned to the room and smiled, "There, forgive me for such.. I was not expecting company." Isabelle quickly corrected herself, "Though I am grateful! None really visit me at mine home."

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Preparing the tea for the water had taken no time at all, really, and so Tani had just sort of set herself by the hearth, watching and listening for the indications that the water was hot, but not too hot for the delicate leaves.  She looked up, taking in Isabelle's, clothes, and found her hand traveling up to her earlobe -- empty of earring.  She pulled it back down, twining her fingers together to keep her hands busy.


Tani was not by any means a loner.  Except as it came to work, and necessary solitude that came with tasks requiring concentration and those requiring secrecy or privacy, Tani spent her time with other people.  Except, something about the way Isabelle spoke...the way she insinuated enjoyment of killing and using the resultant body parts for her plants, was too much for Tani to really take in stride.  For one, it was nigh impossible to tell whether or not the elezen was joking around.


But she had been kind.


She had protected Tani.


Tani found one of her hands had relocated to her bandage, and she shoved it back down into her lap.  She'd been silent too long.  Again.  "My apologies for the sudden visit," she said, unsure of her footing.  "Shall I ... arrange for a time, next time?"  Tani closed her eyes in a long blink, and added, "assuming you would, ah, like that.  Ah --"  saved at last.  "The water is ready."

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Isabelle shook her head, "No, no! I am glad thou hast come." She smiled, "I was a little worried for thine welfare." If Tani had not sat down yet, the elezen would offer assistance in the matter.


Once the tea was ready, Isabelle would sit on her side of the tray and hold a hand out, "Shall I pour..? I am only used to thanalan leaves with cinnamon." She pondered, "I have cookies as well if thou desires something sweet?" Isabelle felt a bit awkward herself. She was elated to have had a visitor and felt like an excited little puppy. Especially elated as Tani was one of the few that she would dare to secretly call a friend.


Isabelle noted Tani's tense bearing, "Um.. is there something I can do to make thou more comfortable..?"

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Tani stiffened, but let it pass without comment.  Tea was a safe subject.  That bit she could easily respond to.


"Ah, this is traditionally served without anything extra.  Well, not anything strong-flavored.  It's much less strong than black teas with spices or cream added -- it overrides the flavor."  Her expression shifted, an oddness to it as if she had just realized something.  "I'm not sure if you'll like it, if you prefer ..."


Belatedly, she took her seat.  Gods above, but she was making a fool of herself.  "No, no, I'm fine.  Perfectly fine."


As if she was anything of the sort.

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Isabelle shook her head in response to stronger teas. She would peer at Tani curiously. Clearly, the poor girl seemed uncomfortable but Isabelle couldn't tell if it was from the pain of her injuries or if she, herself, was making the poor accountant uncomfortable. 


"If it makes you feel any better, I have gotten rid of my pumpkin head as the holidays have passed." She smiled, attempting small talk and... failing. Isabelle sighed a little, feeling defeated, ".. I am terrible at.. normal things."

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Something in the way Isabelle tasted the tea popped the little bubble of tension that always seemed to grow within Tani every time she was around the other woman.  She stifled a giggle, and relented a little.  "Do you really like it, or are you just trying to change the subject?"


Not even a bloodthirsty madwoman would be able to fake such acute social distress so well.



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Isabelle smiled. She kept it close, enjoying the warmth of the tea as well as the warmth of the steam. She would close her eyes and inhale the faint scent and nod a little, "Yes. I like it very much. It warms the soul." 


The elezen kept her attention on the teacup and seemed to relax, a bit, herself. "T-to answer, yes.. as well.. I was trying to change thine subject.." A madwoman she may be, but there was honesty in her words. At least, as much as Isabelle was capable of. She even surprised herself how often she merely spoke the truth in Tani's presence.

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Tani allowed herself to relax back into the couch.  She had her answer, not that she knew what to do with it.


Her eyes were drawn to the fire, and she watched it, unmoving.  Finally: "I was unable to find sources for seeds or cuttings in the far East, though I've been told that there are Coerthan and Shroud varieties that are the same tea plant."  She wrinkled her nose. "But not the same cultivar.  And the different elevation and climate will affect the leaves; it won't taste exactly the same..."  she made a face.  "But you could cultivate your own kind of tea.  I could find information on how to process the leaves."  She glanced back at Isabelle.  "I'd like to taste the sort of tea you'd make."


She sipped her own tea, and savored its floral, grassy overtones.

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Isabelle smiled and seemed to relax as the subject changed to something a little more relatable. "I would like that." She began to ponder as wheels within her mind began to turn. "I wonder... I wonder if I could replicate such elevations..?" The elezen would tap her chin in thought, "T'would be something to try once I learned what such plants require." 


Isabelle was a little giddy with the thought, "I shall surely share the best of mine bounty with thou." She would scoot and shift so that she could lean back against the couch to watch the fire.

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"Uh."  Tani tipped her head to the side, trying to make sense of Isabelle's statement.  She covered her confusion by sipping more tea.  She did not succeed at making sense of Isabelle's statement.  She suspected she'd wind herself into knots trying.  "Pardon?"

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