Dramatic Tension

Xander awakens after a night of drinking to a new 'friend', who has learned a bit too much from his drunken ramblings.

Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

The early hours of morning begin to rouse the Landers of the Carmina Gadelica Marina. Through the walls of the inn, the air carries the sound of fisherman shouting and the shuffling, thumping, and voices of a village beginning its day. Most of the sounds are dulled, but it is enough that it might wake a light sleeper. That, and the sun beginning to creep in through the windows, casting long spears of light along the floor.

At the very least, it seems that Xander had found someplace to sleep, despite possibly not recalling all the events of the night. His armor is neatly set in the corner, most of his clothes hanging over a wash basin. The bed is warm, comfortable, enough that it might just lull someone back into a sense of sleep.

Of course, there is one thing that likely is very different from most mornings that the Salamander awakens. The simple fact that he is not... alone. It might start with noticing long white hair, then the defined outlines of someone's back, lightly marked with tattooed lines. Rylen lays, faced away from him, the traveler's coat, boots, and gear piled near the door.

It's very easy for a groggy mind to start to fill in the blanks, though it may not exactly be accurate what they assume from the situation.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    The question is-- What happened to bring the Salamander here. Given last he recalled him and Wynfei were keeping an eye out for goblins. Then sometime in the middle of the night, it got to damn cold to stay at the camp?


Went to the nearest town, which was-- The port...
        Drank some...

    Maybe drank too much?

Xander closes on eye at the sun as he tries to reach his vision. It hurt to look at and he growled lowly. By trying to ignore the sun, he rolled over only to find his arm nearly flopping over--


    The Salamander froze in spot for a moment. This is when it all started to click in his head. Strange man. Strange bed. His clothes were off. Strange man. "... fffff..." Was the sound that escaped his lips, before he tried to scoot slowly back.

.. Only to find the edge and fall out of the bed, with a strange draconic-lizard sound escaping his voice as he crashes to the wooden floor, yanking the sheet with him.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

Strange man, indeed.

It's hard to tell exactly which thing actually rouses Rylen from his own sleep. It might be the sounds outside, or that arm that flops over his side, or the sudden shift of weight followed by that draconic exclaimation. Whatever the case, the elven looking man murmurs a sleepy sounding, "Leaving so soon?" There is amusement tinged in his voice, as well as lingering sleep.

Slowly, he begins to stretch himself out, the motion showing off toned muscles along his back and arms. Then, he turns, laying with his back on the bed, gray eyes looking over to where the Salamander had fallen off the other side. "You okay down there?" Yep, he is definitely amused. A smile is plastered on his features as he waits to see exactly what will come of this strange houseguest.

That, is when there is a soft tapping on the window, which draws his attention ever so slightly away from the toppled Salamander. Lifting his brows, Rylen gets to his feet. As he walks towards the window, it becomes obvious that he, at least, is wearing pants. The strange man opens the window, letting in a bit of morning breeze, and in hops in a crow, who perches on the windowsill. "Good morning, Kyo." He offers to the bird, then casts those cool gray eyes back to the other side of the bed.

"How's the head?" His voice is deeper than one might expect, with a rich quality to it.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    The 'leaving so soon' got a sputter of sounds. So when those gray eyes met the dark scaled Salamander's own his upper lip twitched, showing those upper fangs. He was slightly frozen in place any words he was /trying/ to form was becoming odd little sounds of failed words.

Growls, rumbles, the whole range of noises that Salamanders could make without words leaving. It had been a long time since Xander did something /this/ stupid, then again, when you had his life for nearly ten years-- it was hard to /do/ anything stupid.

Then his brain asks: 'Is it really that stupid?' and he just sputters again, with a slight, low chuckle. Though the tapping gets his attention and he looks toward the window. Then he watches the Elven man get out of bed.

    Then there was pants. Then Xander checked himself; and he had on pants. This realization caused a face-palm, with his fingers slowly sliding down his face, claws gently going against his own slightly dark skin, before he eyes just-- stared at the wall. "I..."

He at last speaks!

"... How..."

    Then Xander stood up swiftly and pointed his finger at the elf, "YOU!?" Before he grabbed his head with both hands, "Ow... ow ow ow..."A draconic whimper was soon to follow as he flopped back down on the floor, with said sheet. "... ff."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"When they talk about being so striking that you leave someone speechless, somehow I don't think this is what they meant." Rylen chuckles softly ot himself, watching the Salamander struggle to try and find words for the situation he has found himself in.

Strangely, he doesn't start in to any explinatins as someone else might. There are no excuses for the state Xander has found himself, nor for how he got there, at least not at first. He seems to just give the Salamander time for his brain to properly 'boot' up.

His sudden exclaimation, pointing at Rylen, followed by an equal exclaimation of pain, has the elven man just shaking his head softly, the motion shifting white hair across his shoulders. "Take it easy. You got a little heavy into the drink last night." He moves over to his own pile of traveling gear, plucks out a waterskin, and then makes his way back across the room, movements calm and relaxed. Then, he offers it out. "Here. Drink some of this, it will help." The liquid within just seems to be water.

"Take it slow." His calming voice adds. "It's probably just a hangover, though... you did headbutt a Gnome, which probably wasn't one of your most shining moments, I'm afraid." Rylen reaches out, then, brushing a few strands of Xander's hair away from the side of his head. It's at that moment that the Salamander may realize he does have a nice lump right there. "Unfortunately, I'm not a healer, but we are in a game, so it is unlikely you did any permanent damage."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander continues to watch the strange man. His eyes locked on him with every movement he takes. It was hard to tell if he was admiring, studying, or contemplating some hostile action. What the Salamander does do though his gently thunk his tail on the floor and the sheet beside him.

"... been drunk before..." He manages to get out with a low murmuring, before he takes the skin and goes to take a few slow sips. "...sadly no aspirin..." Now he starting to sound like a human being again!

When the elf goes to touch his head though. He releases a very low growl of disapproval of the man getting a bit closer than Xander would like right now. Though this is shortly followed by, ".. I did what?!"

    The Salamander sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. "... wake up drunk... next to a random dude... possibly started a brawl... god... Its graduation all over again..." Pause, "... minus the--" Then his eyes narrow. "... No... no there was a dude there too... and gal..."

Xander aughs and just goes to drink some more water. Though his eyes do look back at the elf once more. He inhales deeply before he at last asks, "... I know I've been an ass here... but... what exactly, /honestly/ did happen?"
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

It's quite possible that others might be put off by the growling that is cast in his direction, but the elven man just smirks, hovering his hand there for a moment before slowly drawing it back again. "Easy. I don't mean you any harm. I had every opportunity to take advantage of the situation if I wanted to." He remains crouched there for a moment, "You'll note, you're still alive. Your gear is right over there." He motions with his hand. As for if anything happened between them, well... he doesn't elaborate on that.

At the very least, the Salamander seems to slowly start finding his words, which is something. As he begins to mumble about his experiences during graduation, Rylen raises his eyebrows, "You certainly do have quite a few misadventures, don't you?" It doesn't seem like an accusation. In fact, the way he talks is gentle.

At the question of what /did/ really happen, Rylen pushes up onto his feet, leaving some space between himself and Xander for the time being. Instead, he sits on the edge of the bed, not far away, resting his elbows on his knees. "Well, I can't say where it started for you. You were three sheets to the wind before you got here." So, obviously, he can't fill in everything about the evening. "You came in to the bar downstairs, talking to yourself about a mob you let escape?" He lifts his brows questioningly, not quite sure if he got that part right.

"You spotted this Gnome drinking some kind of green ale, and stormed up to him, slapped the drink out of his hand and started rambling about cactus juice. He got angry, you got angry, the two of you got into a fight which I broke up. You're welcome." He smirks. "I could tell the lights were on, but no one was home upstairs, so I brought you up to my room to sleep it off."

Rylen folds his fingers together, the tips of his ears lightly twitching, "You spilled half the Gnome's drink on yourself, so I got you cleaned up and washed your clothes for you." Which would explain his current state of dress. "And while I count myself a gentleman, the floor isn't exactly a comfortable place to sleep. So you'll have to forgive me if I chose to share the bed rather than sleep rough in my own room."

As they've been talking, the crow that had come in earlier has now hopped over to the wash basin and is now using it as a bath, tossing water over black feathers and then shaking itself dry.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander listens and his jaw slides to one side slightly, before he goes to rise up to his feet. Slowly this time and takes another drink from the skin. "Did you happen to see a monkey Cait sith?" Xander asks his tail sways side to side slowly. "Eh-- doesn't matter." He looks over at the crow, watching the bird bath gently in the sinks water.

"... Interesting pet choice." The Salamander comments. His words are distant sounding. Closed off and defensive. Now his eyes start to slowly scan the room. Searching perhaps or taking note of everything around him.

He then makes his way over to his stuff, slowly checking over his gear with some care. Though somewhere he sighs and says softly. "... Thank you."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"I'm afraid not. You came in alone." Something obviously happened between his last memories and arriving at the bar, but it seems that the elf can't really offer much to fill in the blanks.

Finishing cleaning, the crow hops to the edge of the wash basin, shaking out feathers and then preening. The comment from Xander has Rylen smiling in a fond way, raising one arm towards the bird. There is a flapping of wings and rush of feathers before it lands on his wrist, settling onto a leather band he wears there, engrave with a matching outline of a bird in flight. "Long story." That is all the explanation that Rylen offers as he lightly scratches the bird along the neck with one finger. "Go on, little one. I'll find you later." The bird clacks its beak, and then as he raises his arm again, it flies off, back through the same window it came in.

Then, his gray eyes sweep back over to Xander, unsurprised to see him making sure all of his things are still there. They are. Though his clothes are dangling from a drying cord. They are fresh and clean, perhaps hand-washed rather than using the menu by the look of them. "You're welcome." Once more, he doesn't seem bothered by the gruff demeanor.

Pushing himself up from the bed, Rylen walks over to the wash basin, drawing his hands into the water and then splashing some onto his face. He grabs a towel, dries off, then looks over at the Salamander again, "Nothing happened, if that's what you're concerned about." Then, after a pause, he adds, "Not that you weren't interested. I just... prefer my bed partners to actually be conscious of their actions." Which is a reasonable enough viewpoint for someone who had claimed to be a 'gentleman'.

"Besides, I think you'd be a much better kisser if you weren't drunk off your ass." He had asked for honesty, afterall.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander listens and raises a brow when he says 'long story'. Then he stands up and goes to get his clothing, which he starts to dress himself fully.

When the elf admits that he /did/ try, the Salamander gives a sigh, though the kissing part, he gives Rylen a look for, before he pulls on the his newly gifted gloves. "Well," Xander starts out before looking to the elf. "Thank you again, sir. Though I guess I should at /least/ get your name."

The scaled hand then extends out toward the elf, "My name is-- Xander and again... Thank you. Even if it was-- awkward to say the least."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

When that look is cast towards Rylen, the Pooka just raises his own eyebrows in response, lifting his shoulders in a shrug. Between that, and his earlier comment, it's obvious enough that he isn't averse to such attentions. At the very least, he was 'gentlemanly' enough not to take advantage of it.

He seems to retain that calm demeanor even as Xander gets dressed, though his gray eyes do watch him with some sense of curiousity to them. It isn't until he inquires about his name, then offers his own in return that Rylen reacts. "Ahh."

He extends an arm, then draws it across his chest before bowing, "Rylen Corvus, traveling performer and Beastmaster for hire." It sounds as if this is a rehearsed greeting, though when he rises from that bow, there is a glint of amusement in his eyes. That name... the surname means 'crow', just like his strange little pet, just like the tattoo of wings on his back which Xander would have plenty of time to have seen by now. Apparently it is a theme for this strange man.

Then, he reaches out and takes Xander's offered hand with both of his, warm fingers wrapping around them. "It is a pleasure to meet you. Even if under unusual circumstances." When he releases Xander's hands, Rylen steps back, making sure he has space incase he wants to leave. "But please, don't feel awkward. Helping people out of bad situations is kind of what I do. And... you seemed like you needed it."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander gets the full name and he chuckles a little. "You greet people that way often? The fancy little bow," He mimics what the Pooka does, with a tail flick added. "Or do you just save that for-- special-- occasions."

The Salamander then sighs, before handing back the man his skin. "And-- Yeah. I am going to feel awkward. I am probably going to /remain/ feeling awkward, cause for once I /didn't/ have my normal nightmare and that /bugs/ me." He goes to double check his remaining stuff before placing it in his inventory.

    "So, while I /do/ hope our paths again, lets just, you know," He steps toward Rylen and makes a slight hand gesture between the two of them. "Keep this between us, yeah? It's just as good for you, as it is for--" Then Xander pauses realizing his words.

Then he waves his hand. "You knoww what. Just-- keep it between us and.. nothing more on it. Okay? Okay."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"Force of habit." Rylen replies, a laugh in his voice. There is something warm about the way he portrays himself, with that easy smile and the gentle way that he he speaks. "As I said, I'm a performer. So you learn to give a little more flare to a lot of things, especially introductions." His smile turns wry, tilting upward at one side. "It makes sure that people remember you."

Still, that sigh has the smile falling ever so slightly. "I see. Well..." Rylen walks over to his own pile of clothing, pulling on a simple gray robe that hangs loosely off of his shoulders. It is well worn, as if it had been part of his traveling gear for a long time. "I don't feel awkward about it." He lifts his eyes towards Xander again, "Though, it seems to me that maybe you simply felt safe for once." He raises a single brow, head tilting questioningly. "Scary thought, isn't it?"

It is easy to pick up on the way that Xander is rationalizing the situation to himself. The way he begins that sentance and then doesn't finish it. "Ahh, so now you're protecting me?" He watches the Salamander then, lightly folding his arms across his chest. "How terrible it would be to get to know someone. To let them in juuust a little." There is no taunt to the words, simply him stating what he sees in the man before him.

"Is that truly what you want?" He asks. It might lead one to wonder just what sort of ramblings he had last night. What sort of things had he said in his drunken state to this stranger.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander checks his sword in the sheath as he listens to Rylen, he slams the sword back into the sheath and growls gently at Rylen's words about 'scary thought'. Then as the man goes on, those fiery, gold eyes roll before he looks Rylen dead on.

"Just keep talking and I may regret my words of kindness." He snarls out before slipping his shield strap around his shoulder onto his back. "You sound like a damn therapist. Niggling around," His hand gestures slight, like wiggling fingers, "Trying to pry into my deep, dark thoughts."

    Maybe it was the fact he was still slightly recovering from his hard night. Maybe the demons he was trying to keep locked up picked up on the air of weakness, but whatever it was, he pointed his claw directly against Rylen's chest. "Let me tell you this, /Rylen/. People who get /close/ to me /DIE/ or they suffer /cause/ of me."

"My life is a god-damn joke. My luck, is everyone elses misery. So for your own damn protection, /stay out/ of /my/ HEAD!" Xander barks out the last one with teeth snarling. A low, threatening rumble in his chest.

    He stands there for a bit, looking dead on into those gray eyes, before he moves his hand away slowly, his head tilting a little, to the side. Controlling his anger. His rage. Xander then turns away from Rylen and goes to pick up a satchel he had for his belt.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

Oh, it's certain that Rylen knows he is pushing the Salamander's buttons, though sometimes a person needs to face their own thoughts in order to be able to work through them. It's all too likely that he had gotten a glimpse into those darker things while the man was drunk and rambling. Enough to sense that beneath the calm exterior, there is a whole lot of fire roiling beneath the surface.

Where that smile one was, it is now replaced with a serious expression. "Not a therapist. I wish." There is a humorless laugh that follows. "It might give me some idea of how to sort out the mess in my own head if I was."

When Xander presses his claw against Rylen's chest, the Pooka doesn't show any signs of fear. In fact, despite being slightly shorter than the looming Salamander, he simply stands firm, his expression unflinching. "Then let me tell you this /Xander/." He emphasizes the man's name back, in turn, leaning forward against the press of the claw against his chest.  

"I'm not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of whatever curse you think you're living under. It's my choice if I risk myself, isn't it?" Since the Flash of Death, Rylen's life had been one tradgedy after another, and yet he was still here. He could easily understand someone feeling that way, but he also knew just how much bullshit it was. "No one's life is a joke, and even if you don't want to believe it, your life matters. I told you the same thing last night." Except... Xander wouldn't remember that.

"So go ahead. Growl at me. Snap at me. Hit me." He challenges, even as Xander draws his hand back. "I get it. I get the rage. I know the powerlessness. So come at me, if that's what you need." Rylen opens his arms, as if inviting just that.

"But don't push away the people that give a shit." It is a far cry from his calm demeanor earlier, this man who stands there, defiant. "You needed someone last night, and you found me. And guess what? I'm still here." Then, his expression softens, it's slight, as if he were still braced for more of the Salamander's anger. "You might not remember, but I don't want to forget just because it's easier on you."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander growls and gets ready to take action alright. It's in his eyes, in his body language, but then those words something causes the Salamander a pause at the Pooka's words. It's enough to cause whatever anger to simmer down for a moment.

"What /did/ I tell you.." Xander says lowly, raising an eye brow and looking at him almost with a side glance. "... how much did I /even/ honestly express to you?" At least, Rylen has the fires simmered down-- for now.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

Slowly, Rylen lowers his arms again to his side, though his expression doesn't return to the easy-going attitude he had early on. They say that eyes are a window to the soul, and at the moment, his show like stormclouds. "Enough." He starts, voice returning to that softer tone. "Let's just say you weren't exactly coherent last night." Which is understandable when dealing with someone who is black out drunk.

He sighs then, walking the short distance over towards the window, where he leans forward, bracing himself lightly on his arms as he looks out onto the morning landscape. Ships going off to sea. "From what you said, you're military of some sort, or were anyways." Rylen starts, "I would wager some kind of foreign branch, rather than SDF." Something in the way he says 'SDF' suggests he is familiar with them on more than a casual basis.

"You lost comrades. Members of your squad. You didn't say how, I didn't ask." Rylen explains, then turns back to face Xander. He leans back slightly, resting himself in a sitting position on the window sill. "You think you should have died with them." The Pooka shakes his head, a few strands of white hair falling forward in front of his ears. "You're wrong." He states, though the words are soft. "It took me a long time to realize that, myself. But you are wrong. Your life still matters."

Again, there is something in his expression that speaks volumes. Maybe the circumstances are not the same, but he, too, had lost people. He had lived with that blame and guilt. He knew the difficulty of living in the aftermath. "You seemed to need to hear that last night."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander listens to what Rylen has to say. How much the Salamander let slip out in his drunken state. There was a chuckle, a slight grin, but it was hard to say what he was really feeling as his own bangs hide his eyes. "... I probably thought you were a woman with the damn, ass long hair of yours and your lithe body."

The Salamander sighs gently, he shakes his head a bit. "How-- how about we get something to eat and..." His voice chokes a little. He was struggling to say it, but he gets it out, "...a-and I'll.. I'll explain... at least... some of it."

He then reaches for the door. "... But only if you follow." Then opens it to head down to the main tavern.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"Really?" Rylen asks, raising his eyebrows. The comment also causes the edge of his mouth to quirk upward, a hint of that earlier smile. "I would think the lack of boobs would have given that away pretty quickly." As he seems averse to the concept of a shirt, it seems likely that wouldn't have gone unnoticed. "Besides, how many girls do you know with abs like these?" He smirks.

"Though, can't say I get what being awoman would have to do with it." He raises one white eyebrow. If Xander was trying to imply he was straight, well... the lie detector says: that is a lie.

"Fine. Food is good. Besides, I need to turn in my key anyways." He pulls the room key out of his pocket, lightly twirling the keyring on one finger. "Don't have enough coin to pay for another night at the moment." Which might seem surprising.

With Xander barely seeming to be able to get out his words, Rylen leaves it at that, grabbing for his own things. He seems to have less in the way of gear than the Salamander. Just a simple carry-all style bag with traveling gear attached to it. He doesn't even have armor, or a weapon visible, though it's possible some of it might be stowed in his inventory.

He follows a few paces behind, quiet until they reach the tavern proper. There, he flags over the barkeep and hands over his key, offering the man a smile and a moment of thanks for the room. That damn charming smile of his seems extended to nearly everyone.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander only scuff's at Rylen's remark about not noticing particular set of hood ornaments and the abs. "I've known some women with abs." Is all he can get out to justify anything followed by a simple, "And I was drunk. I've flirted with a damn lamp with a dress on it once." He adds as he goes down the stairs.

Once he gets down to the Taven floor, he moves about the crowd, looking for a nice spot that gave him good view of everyone and wasn't to crowded. With the place found by a window, he goes to make his way over.

It was a nice view out to the sea and it had a window sitting area as well. Though Xander was content to just take the bench and when the waitress walked over, he gave her a warm smile. "If you got some fruit available, I'd be happy with some for my friend and I here." Then tosses her the coin for it.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"Sure." He smirks, raising one eyebrow skeptically, that easy smile seeming to return to his features. "I personally think I'm a fair bit more attractive than a lamp wearing a dress. But I guess I'll never be able to live up to your discerning standards." He chuckles to himself.

His eyes follow Xander back towards the where he's found a seat, taking a moment to linger near the bar and make small-talk. The man seems to be casually sociable like that, trying to make sure everyone feels like they have some attention, however briefly. Of course, it doesn't take long before he follows, unslinging his backpack and tossing it over the back of the chair before sitting down.

"Buying me breakfast?" Rylen asks, then shrugs once, leaning back into his chair slightly. "I'm certainly not going to decline. My coffers are running a little dry after the trip from the Ninetails Dominion. With most of the boats dedicated to helping Ezzo, there aren't as many running for travel."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    "I do patrol work for Scale Emblem Alliance." Xander says as he waits for the fruit. "So, I tend to kill a great deal of monsters. Also sometimes help the Landers with some problems while I am at it or escort some merchants to keep PKers off them."

The Salamander rests his chin in the palm of his hand as he waits. "Which I need to investigate some things once I get back to Alne." He closes his eyes. "... Anyways... I guess I should get to explaining right?"

    He opens his eyes once more, "Simply...," His voice goes down a few notches in volume. "I am... an army vet. I operated in the cyber warfare division. You know, protect computer security and such..." His voices grows a little distance as he forces his eyes to close once more.

There was a long pause, long bit of silence. "... that was... nine? Ten? Years ago. I... am sure you can piece the rest together... and thus my demons."
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

"Sounds like fair work and certainly better coin than what I bring in." Rylen shifts ever so slightly, drawing one hand up to pull a few strands of long white hair behind his pointed ear. "I never really got into guild play before the Apocalypse. Didn't have any friends who played, so I mostly ran solo." That said, he looks out the window briefly, out at the world that has become their home, and then back at Xander, "Afterwards, I signed up to help out Crescent Moon. They work with newbies, getting them familiar with the game so they can survive and thrive here."

He tilts his head, watching the Salamander curiously, but then offers, "I mostly travel around, meeting up with guild members who need help, or searching for lost newbies who could use a hand. It doesn't pay well, but... what can I say, I like helping people." Which may just be why he stepped in to help Xander.

The Pooka doesn't push for that explination, but he does sit there, quietly while it is given. He's able to put the pieces together, not just because of the date, but because of his own personal impact from that particular day.

"Flash of Death." Rylen whispers, and then tilts his head forward, as if he were quietly acknowledging all of the death and destruction that day had caused. "Your team got hit, then?" He asks, slowing lifting his gaze back to the Salamander. "Shit."

After a pause, he offers, "I won't say I know exactly what you're going through, but..." Rylen's hand reaches out, fidgeting with the leather bracelet he wears. It's the same one the crow had perched on earlier. "That virus tore my family apart, and I lost the two most important people in my life because of it." Oh, there is anger in those storm-gray eyes of his, anger that likely everyone who had lost someone due to the virus feels all too intimately.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander kept his eyes closed, even when Rylen said the words, his body tensed. His hand slide from his chin, to his scaled forehead and his fingers in his hair.

He was hiding his face. For if Rylen even got a hint of a look, there was a very pained expression there. There was even a long silence, his claws digging into his hair a little.

"... at night... when I close my eyes..." Xander manages to get out. "... I can always hear their screams..." His eyes close tighter, before he shakes his head. "And no matter how hard I try to forget..." He chuckles lightly. "It /never/ goes away."

    He looks at Rylen at last. Past his own arm, past his bangs. The golden, fiery eye seeming to glow in the darkness cast by his own body's shadow. "It hit us all. Everyone. Including me. I-- I managed to... but not in time..." His hand grips tighter, his shoulder's continue to tense up like a loaded gun that someone was pulling the trigger on.

Xander at last slams his fist hard on the table. The wood cracks a little, but doesn't give. It does probably cause the room to go quiet. As for the Salamander, he just stares at the table.

We are sorry, Xander isn't here at the moment. Please stand by for reboot.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

Just the Salamander's reactions to the name of the virus is enough to confirm Rylen's suspicions. It's obvious just how much pain Xander carries with him, some of it echoing an all too familiar feeling in his own chest. He can see the way the emotions are building up inside, so it isn't a surprise to him when the fist slams down onto the table.

The quiet that follows has Rylen turning, offering a quiet, consiliatory look to those who are gathered, shooing them back to their meals or business. He would worry about dealing with the cost of repairs later, when Xander isn't quite so close to the edge.

He waits for a moment, perhaps a long moment before reaching his own hand slowly across the table. He fully expects another of those growls, but Rylen does it anyways, knowing that sometimes touch can speak louder than words. He moves to lay his hand over Xander's clenched fist, though if the Salamander draws back, he'll respect that.

"I remember the sound of the ringtone. The shout that I needed to take a call." His voice is gentle, but there is his own pain there. "The silence in the car. I remember every second of that day. I remember my mother's lifeless body. The beep of machines keeping my sister alive." He takes a deep breath, slow as if he were trying to steady himself. "It's not something you ever forget."

Maybe these words aren't what would help, but Rylen tries, gently, "You're not alone, Xan." There is a soft tone to his words, and something akin to affection and understanding in that simple use of his name, shortened.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    The quietness is-- welcoming. It gives Xander just a moment to try to come around. When the hand slides over, he says with a brief moment of calmness, "... don't." It was the only warning he would give.

He wasn't that calm yet. He was swaying between two choices and both were at war in his head.

Always in his head.

    Though when Rylen spoke about his own ordeals, the Salamander just closed his eyes. Paticular words were like flashes of sparks. Particular words caused a lip curl, but it wasn't setting him off. He was able to keep some control. He was forcing himself to breath-- calmly. To focus.

Just. Focus.

    The only full sentence he registered in the end was simply 'You're not alone, Xan.' and the Salamander wrinkled his nose a little. He didn't say anything, beyond just moving his forehead to rest on his arms, that laid on the table. His tail was hanging low.

Even when the waitress came over with the bowl of fruit for them both, he didn't even budge. He didn't fight. He didn't flee. He was staying right there. He knew, at least some part of him knew right at this moment, that Rylen wasn't trying to hurt him.

    And he really--
        Didn't want to hurt Rylen either.

    So, Just focus.
            Stay Calm.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

The warning is enough. Rylen's hand stills in place, then slowly retreats back to his side. "Okay." Though he is quiet, there is a deep part of him screaming at him to do something. In some ways, the fact that he understands makes it that much harder not to try to help, but at this moment, it's clear just what sort of knife's edge Xander is walking.

So, he remains quiet, giving him time and space. It seems as if it lasts a long time, though in reality, it is likely only a few moments before his voice comes again, quiet. "Hey Xan." That shortening of his name again... "Why don't we go for a walk. Get some fresh air or something."

The fact is, Rylen wasn't worried about Xander exploding at him. He was strong enough to take whatever the Salamander threw at him, if his rage peeked. However, there were both Landers and lower level Adventurers in the tavern, and after the near-brawl the previous night, another fight would probably lead to the Salamander being banned, permamently.

"Come on." He encourages, making sure that he makes eye-contact with those around. People who had been watching Xander since the earlier outburst. He motions silently with one hand for them to make way, and most of them seen concerned enough that they do just that, giving Xander a clear path towards the door.

As he stands, Rylen grabs the bowl of fruit, and then motions to one of the waitresses. It's a silent interaction as he slips a small pouch of coin to her and whispers, likely paying for the damage done to the table. If he was telling the truth, before, it may just be the last of his coin.
Carmina Gadelica Marina - Tavern

    Xander doesn't respond, he at first doesn't even move, but with another deep inhales and a slow exhale. He at last rises from the table. "... air sounds good." He at last manages to get out, showing some of the composure. Showing that, he is recovering; Gaining back some sense of self from the internal war.

However, he doesn't wait for Rylen, he just walks out, pushing open the door and ignoring anyone in his way. Maybe wanting someone to start a fight, but that won't come and he'll later. Perhaps in a few more moments while walking the dirt road toward Alne, he'll be back to his normal self.