Uisge Beatha and Books

Title: Uisge Beatha and Books
Time Period: July 31, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Andrew visits Lazar to offer him company and look after the cemetery while he recovers. Which may not be very wise, given the rampant hauntings. Featuring a cameo from Luna Owens!

While some may readily enjoy a leisurely stroll outside this time of year, for some… the days just drag on and on. Lazar sits very firmy in the latter category, even if he does have an arguably quite beautiful cemetery to patrol, he seems to be doing no such thing. He has decided that, at least today, he shall only move when it is absolutely necessary.

All the way in the back of the cemetery, at the end of a winding path and behind bowed trees that hungrily stop much of the light passing through to the ground below, stands a building that is nearly as grey and lifeless as the headstones themselves. Once-seedlings have since grown to envelop the upper floor of the building in leaves and dead branches, leaving rooms dark behind tall white window panes.

Except that one. A lonely window beside to the building's unlocked oak wood front door shows a room lit by candle light. It's a room which not many - if any - of the town's currently living citizens have seen. The moss and rot that may have been outside does not seem to have penetrated into the structure, the walls a dark red and the floors an even darker hardwood badly in need of polishing. A worn down bordeaux-coloured chaise lounge stands solemnly in a corner, surrounded on both sides by locked, wooden cases big and small. A piano that may one have been in use but now seems to mostly serve the purpose of being a table for candle stumps, messy stacks of paper and a half-molten shotgun stands in another. Finally, there is a desk pushed up to that one, lit window. Behind it sits the building's current inhabitant in a comfortable leather chair, boots up onto the desk's surface. He looks displeased. Very displeased. It might have something to do with the fact that his neck and both of his arms are bandaged up, his right hand in a makeshift cast that covers his thumb and index finger. But none of these things prevent him from sitting there in bloodied, unchanged clothes for two days now, glaring out the window. No, this is not a good dayfor leisurely strolls. Not at all.

This is Andrew's first venture into the cemetery. For him, the company of the living is a far greater preference to that of the dead, in that the insistent silence of the buried cadavers seems almost judging, if not downright condemning. The jutting stones dot the lot like misshapen chipped teeth, reminding him of how easy it is forget the past, and how easy it is to remember the inevitability the future holds. The rumour that a werewolf has chosen this particular spot of land as its dining hall is not exactly comforting, either.

Still, these nagging doubts rest in the back of Andrew's mind, hardly detracting him from this quest he has bestowed upon himself. A journey to visit someone who might not yet be a friend, but is nonetheless no less deserving of company, good spirits and a stiff drink. That isn't to say this is a mission of pity; that would have been reserved for the occasion of another tombstone was added here, one with a Hungarian name. No, the gravedigger actually managed to survive, and that demands a celebration first and foremost.

The lightly dressed teacher-priest wanders down the path that leads to the house at a leisurely pace. Unlike the keeper of the cemetery, Andrew indulges in a stroll. Two books are held firmly in one hand; one is thicker than the other. His other hand houses a more carnal form of leisure - a stout bottle, likely containing whiskey by the looks of the bottle's shape. Stepping up to the door of the husky Hungarian's abode, three knocks are given, the book-holding hand rapping against the wooden surface of the door with the back of his index finger's strongest joint. "Oi!" The shout is loud. "Anyone still alive in there?"

You and your strolls. Lazar sees his visitor coming from a little while away, through his window. He mutters something to himself as he sinks further back into his chair, arms uncomfortably in his lap, and for a moment looks as though he will prefer to pretend that no, there isn't anyone alive in here. Regardless of who or what may be coming his way. Well, unless it was a werewolf.

But surely, after fifteen seconds or so, the belated response comes through a firm-voiced yell back. "Come in! And then shut the door!" That last bit is important, from the sounds of it.

A smug lopsided smirk sits comfortably on Andrew's face. Perhaps he was sure that Lazar would eventually accept the guest, perhaps not, but he shows little surprise when Lazar finally extends an invitation. With not a moment wasted, Andrew opens the door and steps inside the building. As was asked of him, he properly closes the door behind him before moving down the hallway and into the room where Lazar resides.

The victim of the werewolf attack is given a glance first, although Andrew seizes this opportunity to look around and observe his surroundings. Although he's truly unaware that he is the first guest ever, the way he cherishes his presence here deceptively suggests that he actually is aware. Whatever the case may be, he remembers well that he came here for. He looks to the Hungarian incredulously, as though a mother might disapprove of a child's shennanigans, and cursed be the fact that the age difference between the two men is negligible. Spreading his arms wide in what is a gesture of confusion, Andrew finally addresses the injured fellow. "How in Hell have you managed to be attacked by a werewolf?"

A good question, actually. But not one Lazar seems terrible interested in answering. He gives Andrew a glance upon entering, but it's only a matter of seconds before his attention is back on the window, as if he expects to miss witnessing a unicorn if he were to look away for too long. Though the truth of the matter isn't that far off, either.

"It was in the cemetery. I chased it, it bit me." All par for the course. His eyebrows lower in thought before pointing his left hand toward his neck, "And then I tried to strangle it, and then it tried to strangle me back." He gives a big shrug, seemingly equally as clueless as to how in the world that might have happened in the first place, but the motion sends him further back into the chair, pain reminding of why he was sitting relatively still in the first place. His nose wrinkles, and he shoots Andrew another glance as if that will keep him from noticing the brief show of physical frailty. At the very least it might keep him from mentioning it, he supposes.

Disapproving, Andrew shakes his head. It's not just that he disapproves, it's also that it is a bit hard to believe that someone you know had an encounter with a werewolf. Moreover, had a fight with a werewolf. "You tried to strangle it?" An awkward cackle betrays the fact that Andrew isn't sure how best to respond to that. "You guys do that for sport where you come from?"

The absurdity of the predicament is further commented on. "I didn't want to believe what I heard, at first. You hear all sorts'a things at the Albatross. Child-stealing hags and vampire girls at the Dovetail who chew yer manhood right off." Furrowing his brows, Andrew scoffs; it's more directed at the other party that was involved in the fight, the one that wasn't present - the werewolf itself. The guest briskly steps forward, slamming the whiskey bottle he brought with him onto the desk. "Uisge beatha", he explains, although it's likely Gaelic just sounds like made up words for the Hungarian. "Water of life."

The confused look on Lazar's face implies as much, and the bottle gets a very indignant look. But it doesn't look like water. And he suspects it might do him more good, as well. It is grabbed with his one good hand and inspected closely, held up to the light the window provides.

"It has a name." He mutters under his breath, if not to Andrew then to himself. "And people know it." This much he gathered from Leonard. "No thing has a real name unless it belongs to a place." It's not entirely clear whether he's still speaking to Andrew, but it is clear that he's been in here for a while now, thinking this through. Then, the bottle is opened and - seeing as there don't appear to be any glasses within arm's length - simply lifted to let the drink pour down the gravedigger's throat. He's not in the mood for sips.

While Lazar speaks, Andrew observes the state the poor man is in, namely the injuries he has suffered. As he appraises the foreigner's condition, the feat of surviving a duel with a werewolf is overshadowed by the feat of actually having all limbs intact. Whatever this man is made of, Andrew remarks mentally, he could be used to demolish old houses.

"A name?" Andrew wakes from his observations somewhat belatedly. A werewolf in Dornie is a notion ridiculous enough, a werewolf with a name is almost as hard to believe as the aforementioned child-stealing hags and vampire prostitutes. "What? Was it wearing a collar?" Jest he might, but his curiosity is evidently piqued. Mulling Lazar's words over for a moment longer, he scoffs a second time. "People know the name? But you don't, aye? The way everyone talks about it, you'd think a name would slip eventually. But it didn't. The name means something to someone."

Things could hardly become any more convoluted, but Andrew from experience knows that such thoughts are always quickly disproven. "You already wrassled with it. I suggest you don't chase after it a second time. A second time you may be less lucky, aye?" The two books are separated, and the thinner one is tossed to the desk. "You told me you can write. So, here's a journal. Fill it with your adventures of wrestling werewolves and bedding forest nymphs." The second book is held in his hands still.

Lazar will chase after whatever he pleases. The notion that he might not brings him visual discomfort, but he stores the words away for later. He's aware this whole fighting-a-werewolf-thing started partially because of his own somewhat unwise actions, despite what people may say.

The journal, then, is stared at. The bottle is clanked next to it after another quick swig, and he takes a few calm breaths while the pages are eyed with utmost suspicion.

"… I write better with my right hand." Oh no, the one that's a little broken right now. A dismissive comment, no mistake there, and the book is slid toward the edge of the desk with the help of the bottle's bottom end. What a convenient predicament.

"Then you can write once you get better. Something to look forward to, aye?" The remark is distinctly teasing. Andrew seems determined to dispel the excuse of a burnt, broken hand, however conveniently valid it may be. "Y'kno' what a broken hand doesn't stop you from doin', though? Reading." The next book, the thick one, is also sent flying to the desk. It predictably lands more loudly than its sibling. It is thick, the cover is black and not really descriptive of what the thing entails.

"It's a book I wrote with a few other scholars I met during my years of travel. It's about animals that roam in the wild… and darker breeds of creatures, more dangerous for the common traveller than a fox or a deer. Children like to leaf through it because to them, it's an adult fairy tale book. It dates mentions of various sightin's, has a few poorly drawn illustrations." After a bit of a pause, he adds with a grin. "Not mine."

That's decidedly more interesting. Lazar perks up, boots dragging across the surface of the desk before he lets them fall back onto the floor so as to sit up with a wince or two. The bottle is swung unceremoniously in Andrew's direction in silent offering, while the gravedigger's right pinky finger makes quick work of opening the book to one of the first pages.

And just like that, he's silent. Perhaps similar to some of the children who may have had their hands on the book. He flips a few pages, and his face gives way to a few twitches as his eyes dart across images and words alike, though the illustrations seem to catch his interest much more easily than the alternative. "Hmh." He finally exclaims in a huff, eyes resting on an illustration of what appears to be a rather weepy woman's ghost resting by a lake before he flips the page over once more. "Not bad. Do you write a lot?"

It is a convenient coincidence, the offering of whisky and Lazar's latest question. The bottle is gripped tentatively, at first, but as the question is raised, Andrew promptly lifts the bottle before him. "Slainte", he cheers before taking an unhealthy swig. A self-proclaimed priest he may be, but he definitely holds no prejudice against alcohol or spirits. The bottle is set back down on the desk afterward, and a quick grimace washes over his face as the drink wahses down his gullet.

"More than I should, I think. Sometimes, I want to think, and writing helps sort yer though's righ' out. And sometimes, I can't sleep, so either I work or write. I'm long past the age where I just weep or brood whenever dreams don't favour me. Getting the pages together is the problem. I'm no good with a press, I hate book-binding with a burnin' passion and writing by hand takes a long time."

Looking up and through the window, Andrew sighs softly. "Who's going to look after the cemetery while you're 'ere, hurting even when you sit yer arse down?" The dead may be an unpleasant company for Andrew, but he readily recognises they deserve as much respect as anyone living.

"Bird." Lazar answers in as simple a fashion as possible, throwing his legs back up onto the desk as he slides the book onto his lap and flips through it with his right hand, reclaiming the bottle with his left. Better hope he's still got a steady hand, the way the bottle neck is hovering over over that ink.

"I fixed the broken grave this morning, family was unhappy to have it open. They did not offer to help." And it would be easy to assume that, at this point, he suspects no one else would, either. But then a slightly lopsided but definitely entertained grin crosses his face as he's looking down into the book, and he notes off-handedly, "Maybe you should spend less time writing fairy tales and more time doing real work."

That suggestion has been invisibly hovering mid-air between the two men. While Lazar may have expected that few if any would come to the cemetery for anything other than paying their due respects, Andrew had already prepared the suggestion in his mind, waiting for the right moment to voice it. And that moment has finally arrived, in a rather amusing form, as well.

The would-be priest leans forward to push the book away from the path of the bottle, so as to preserve it for future use. "I'll want the book returned, so try not to warm your hearth with it", he warns half-sternly, half-jokingly. Straightening out, Andrew gestures to himself. "Do I look like a starving writer?" A redundant question; truth of the matter is, Andrew doesn't exactly look like a writer or a teacher, for that matter. He especially doesn't look like a spiritual adviser.

"I worked forges, stables… I helped aging farmsmen fix up their homes. I help the Albatross barkeep clean the inn at the end of the day when I can." Nodding his head a few times, he mirrors Lazar's grin with a smug smirk of his own. "I can help you around the cemetery. But tha's jus' pretext. Have to make sure you don't pull yer stitches an' bleed to death, or run off to wrestle a werebear or some bollocks." It's hard to tell whether he's joking or not.

"I could win a werebear fight," the gravedigger is quick to mumble, giving it very little thought indeed past how splendid one would look after a taxidermist had its way with the creature. The book is already possessively pulled closer again, though the bottle gets its place back on the desk after he's taken one more gulp of the liquid inside, teeth gritting.

The next sentence takes him a few seconds to formulate. He doesn't seem exactly sure of his words or the answer to the upcoming question when he finally does look up at Andrew again, eyes half lidded when he asks, "What's in it for you?"

"Nothing."

Well, that was anticlimactic.

Andrew allows the word to sink in before he repeats it, just to ensure that it isn't just delusion on Lazar's part due to a loss of blood. "Nothing." His amusement only grows. Far be it from Andrew to not elaborate, however, and so he does. "Maybe one day I will need help from you, but even then I won't expect you to come to me aid just because I helped you today." Inhaling deeply, Andrew continues a moment later. "Maybe I'll bring you a dictionary jus' so ye' can look up altruism. But the gist of i' is, I help people when they need help, because they need help. It's what God teaches us to do." Whoever this God fellow is, he's awfully benevolent.

"And this allows me to offer my respect to the dead, something I haven't done in a while. Probably because cemetaries are less common than just burying the dead in a distant ditch somewhere."

Lazar seems suspicious. He squirms in his seat to look at the bottle first, then the book, then the journal, then back to Andrew. Bribe material and overly fancy words just to confuse him, or an act of kindness for… the sake of kindness? Unlike Andrew's lifted spirit, Lazar's grin has gone, and he doesn't seem sure whether he should look defiant or impressed. "Does God teach to work at night?"

"God praises honest work of all sorts. Whether it happens during the day or night is up for the man to decide."

Of course, that's not quite the answer Lazar was looking for, and Andrew realises it. "I can't afford an entire night; not every night, at least. Three days of the week are out of the question - I teach at the schoolhouse two of them, one I reserve for personal work." With a sympathetic grin, he adds, "The cemetery might not shine as it did with your care, but it will not overgrow and the tombstones will still be legible by the time you recover."

After a quick glance towards the desk, so as to ensure that all gifts he intended to bring to Lazar are indeed there, Andrew looks to the Hungarian once more. "In fact, if you want me to, I can go get started now. I hope you have a mildly comfortable place to crash in, if you expect me to stay here during werewolf-prowlin' time."

"You can use…" Lazar lifts his head, then finally places the book on his desk, and gets up with a short grunt in discomfort. He walks toward a half opened door to an adjacent room nearby and promptly rams it with his shoulder, whereupon it collides with an object behind it. A few seconds later, there is a loud, cracking sound of furniture hitting the floor behind the door, and it opens somewhat more easily to reveal the place is full of furniture, half of it covered in dusty sheets. Cupboards, cabinets filled with what once were doors but now are just broken glass, upturned tables and stacks of out-of-order curtains. And of course the salon table that was previously blocking the door and lies sadly in the middle of it.

"Previous owner left behind many things. There is a bed there, somewhere. I don't use it." He wanders back the first room, motioning stiffly to the chaise lounge sofa by way of explanation. Comfortable.

"Bugger'd."

Whereas anyone else in Andrew's place might have been disappointed by the room he has been offered, Andrew himself is actually more amused than anything else. Gauging the destruction time has bestowed upon the room, he carefully surveys his surroundings. He even dares to walk forward and uplift some of the items laying about, although their classification is closer to debris than anything else. Following Lazar out of the room and back to the main one, Andrew asks a suspicious question. "Do you have tools lyin' up an' about? A wheelcart?"

Digging his hands into his pockets, Andrew sighs softly, catching sight of the window and the cemetery that lies on the other side of it. "Oh, and d'you mind going outside and showin' me where exactly the werewolf came from?"

Lazar takes a deep breath, exhales it in a sigh, and nods. He's got more wheelbarrows than he has hands. Especially now that one of them is wrapped up. Scratching idly at the bandage on his neck, he starts walking toward the hallway and the front door. "Tools are in the shed, behind the house." But Andrew can go there on his own if he likes. The other question involves far more interesting things. "I will show you the grave of the new one-armed man." He grins, but it's obviously forced, and fades quickly.

Having noted where the tools rest (and probably have rested for longer than the dead denizens near, given the state the building is in), Andrew follows Lazar into the hallway leading outside, into the cemetery. "So long as you don't sho' me the one-armed man 'imself." If Laz isn't quick about it, then Andrew will open the door in his stead.

Afternoon is drawing to a close, by now. The eve is still some distance away, and the summer sun has just barely retreated its heat. What remains of the fierce summer day is just humid warmth, the occasional brusque breeze passing by. Walking down the steps, Andrew distances himself from the front door, making room for Lazar, whom he observes just on the off chance his legs took a beating during the fantastical brawl, as well.

"Did the werewolf jus' want to feed, then? And you chased it off for a cadaver's arm? Bollocks to it, have you never owned a dog?"

"No."

Again, an overly simple answer from Lazar, who has perfectly normal functioning legs. Give or take a painful spot, but he manages to wander outside just fine, slamming the door closed behind him. "I have killed five, though," he mentions absentmindedly, then frowns, "Or was that six. I do not remember. They were probably dangerous." Again, he shrugs, peering down at the bandages on his arm as he traverses the path to the cemetery and toward the previously desecrated grave. "Have you? Owned a dog."

Amongst the newer tombstones, newer being only a few generations old, a woman crouches down, ignorant of the voices coming out of the groundskeeper's manse. Her hands are busy splitting a rather large bouquet of wildflowers between two graves, the prettier of the halves going to one Oighrig Black the other to her son Roderick. It's a rare enough occurence that Luna's in the cemetery, but moreso because she's actually clad in a somber dress.

Rumors in town are split in many ways: She lost all of her other dresses gambling. Duncan was tired of his woman dressing like a harlot and forced the more subdued clothes on her. She's embarrassed of her new scars and refuses to wear anything that doesn't cover her completely. Any one of them can be true.

The voices drawing nearer cause a swift turn of her head and a hand to clasp over her heart. While it's not dark, it is nearing the time shades and other creepers come to calling. Luna plans to be safely inside long before then. "Hello Mister Vodenicharov, Mister Cullen!"

Andrew merely shakes his head in disapproval; something that is becoming a bit of a habit in Lazar's presence. The sympathetic smirk that comes with it disarms the firmness of the gesture, however. "More'n one, aye. I know that trying to take away their dinner ends badly for yer fin'ers."

The topic is abandoned when Andrew hears a woman call out to him. As often as that happens, it's the first time it happens in a cemetery. Mild surprise softens his facial features as he turns his gaze away from Lazar to the source of the voice. Although he notices Luna, he does not recognise her, leaving him at a disadvantage. A quick inquisitive glance is fired in Lazar's direction, hoping that he knows the mysterious lass.

That said, Andrew does not forget his courtesies. He does not deny a woman a greeting when she offered one. His attention returns to her soon enough, and he calls back out to her. "Afternoon, Miss! Come to grieve? Be wary of any werewolves, aye?"

While Andrew may have women call out to him every other day or so, Lazar guesses, the gravedigger is not as used to it. After all, he spends most of his time here and when people do need his assistance, they're usually pretty quiet about it. That said, he recognizes the voice but has some trouble remembering a name. Politeness drives him to stop, straighten up and face Luna, somewhat belatedly realizing his shirt is still covered in dried blood.

"Miss… Owens." He tries, fairly sure of his case, before his eyes come to rest on the graves instead, as if they will confirm the name for him.

Luna's eyes drift to the blood on Lazar's shirt, drawn to it before either of their faces. An expression of pity washes over her face before she smiles at the cemetery's keeper. "Aye, Luna," not a simple woman by any means, there are times when she tires of being called lady or miss. The former title seemingly insisted on in the castle, the other around town. No longer is she merely Luna.

Her wide smile is then graced to Andrew, where she dips her head slightly in greeting. "I'll not be long, I was just leaving, actually. Paying respects more than grieving, my granda' and great gran." She explains, pointing to the two well cared for plots. It's entirely possible that the two Owens women take as great care in the markers as the pride in legend surrounding the names. Not many about town don't know about Isibeal being descended from Selkies and in turn, Luna.

An easy guide to how to spot the gravedigger - he will identify the persons visiting the cemetery by simply looking at the graves they grieve at. It's something that escapes Andrew, and something he realises he could have made use of only after he catches the direction of Lazar's gaze. Combined with the announced last name, gears click into place. Can't be the owner of the Albatross; too young. Is it..? Indeed, it is, as the woman herself confirms.

Luna Owens.

His faint grin disperses completely, and his reaction is substituted with a mix of surprise and what can only be described as the silent manifestation of the words 'oh boy'. While the upper half of his visage maintains this, his lips curve into a polite smile. It's by no means deceptive. Rather, he simply doesn't want vividly imaginative rumours to control his first impressions… as difficult as that may be.

The polite smile gradually shapes into a genuinely wide grin. "Excuse me brashness, but— elephant in the room. Is your mother an offspring of a selkie, or is that a marketing trick for the Albatross?"

Lazar stands, having missed the look of pity in favour of looking around for signs of— anything, really. But he's polite enough to stand there and pretend he's listening. Not polite enough, however, not to interrupt the conversation. "I have somewhere to go." He announces, stalwartly. "Do you want walk to the one-armed man grave, or do you want to talk about children of mythical creatures."

Immediately Luna's smile fades, replaced by a look of insult and then the curl forward of shoulders as she feels somewhat dismissed by the grave-digger. Anger wins out. "Selkie's ain't no more'a myth than that werewolf you claim took to you," her shrill voice echoes through the trees, possibly carrying right into the town itself.

She's more polite to the school teacher. "That's my great gran' there, she was a selkie, the most beautiful lady in all of Dornie." She pauses, gathering her long skirts in hand to prepare for her walk. The sun is getting lower anyway, Duncan will be looking for her soon enough. "If ever you wish to talk again, I'd be glad of it. I like to visit with nearly anyone." So much like her mother.

Whereas Andrew might have acted as the parent earlier, now it appears Lazar has taken up the mantle, urging his companion to go to the agreed upon grave, where the groundskeeper saw the werewolf. Werewolf or selkies? It's a difficult decision. Fortunately, before Andrew tries to defend his interest in seal-skinned beauties, Luna comes up with a far better riposte to the gravedigger's emotional rigor mortis. The response elicits a chuckle.

With a polite nod, he accepts the girl's words, rather than disputing them. "I'd love to speak with you on another occasion, when it doesn't inconvenience a friend of mine." Turning to look to Lazar, he sighs softly. "Come on, let's go." And he did as he said - the teacher strode forth down the path, although he obviously slowed down right after he gained speed, prompting the gravedigger to lead the way to where the encounter took place.