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If A Tree Falls

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It’s not long into the night before the half-orc they recently rescued, Fjord, makes a remark that puzzles Caduceus.

They’re halfway into yet another round of drinks. This is the sixth, or the seventh -- Caduceus tried to count, but there had been a lull between the bathhouse and the fight that the spritely monk, Beau, had picked in a bar. Actually, maybe they were on their sixth-and-a-half round, as they had made a quick departure from that bar before their drinks could be finished.

Caduceus is finding that he is not very good at counting when he has had alcohol. He wishes that just one bar they visited had carried tea.

Fjord drops into the seat next to Caduceus. He grips another ale in his hand, and he raises it in what Caduceus has come to recognize as a toast.

“How are you holding up?” Fjord grins at him. He seems like a very friendly fellow. He had been quiet earlier, but that was at the grave of his friend, so Caduceus could understand.

Caduceus considers the question and its corresponding answer. While he’s doing that, Beau drops into another seat, leans forward, and belches in Fjord’s face.

He groans and bats her away with both hands. “Stop it, you asshole,” he tells her.

Beau sits back with a smug grin on her face. Caduceus watches her -- she is fascinating to his untrained eye. Even in her inebriation, there is a smooth liquid quality to her movements. Caduceus thinks she moves the way that dandelion tea tastes.

“It’s what Molly would have wanted,” she says to Fjord.

Fjord shakes his head in what looks like despair, but is also somewhat of a smugness that mirrors Beau’s. It’s a curious expression. “You can’t use that excuse for everything,” he says.

“But that’s what Molly would have wanted!” Beau crows, and laughs loudly.

Fjord shakes his head again and returns his attention to Caduceus. “Really, though. How are you doing? I know the, uh, the tea must take the edge off, but the battle, the city... it’s all a lot to take in for your first time out of your front yard.”

Caduceus blinks. “I’m holding up well,” he says. “I don’t have any tea, but I have come to see what the wizard meant when he said that you ‘do not drink it for the taste’. The alcohol, that is.” He is taking care to pronounce words correctly; they have an interesting habit of sliding into one another the more he drinks. He ducks his head, considers his hands, and decides to confess: “I have to say, I’m not sure what you meant when you said ‘take the edge off’.”

Fjord shifts in his seat. He looks a little uncomfortable. “Oh, you know,” he says. “Calm down, uh. When you… y’know.” He mimes holding a very small thing, perhaps a beetle, and lifting it to his lips.  

Beau claps a hand on Fjord’s shoulder and leans in toward Caduceus. “What he’s trying to say is, can we bum some weed?”

This sounds like a lot of slang. Caduceus frowns. “I’m not sure, as I don’t know what that means.”

“Like, can we have some of whatever makes you all,” Beau waves her arms and lolls her head slightly on her neck.

“You seem like a chill dude, is all,” says Fjord. He still seems uncomfortable, but Beau doesn’t. Caduceus has yet to gauge whether this is a conversation that requires discomfort. “I -- we didn’t mean to assume.”

“Oh, I assumed,” says Beau. “Believe me,” she says to Fjord, “I saw his house. You don’t live among patches of dead people without wanting to get high.”

“Oh, I know what that is,” says Caduceus happily. One of his temporary visitors used that term when Caduceus had offered him some Angelica root. The two of them had a very nice afternoon conversing with the trees and remembering a fallen warrior.

Beau squints at him. “And you do that, right? You get high?”

Caduceus shrugs. “Sometimes. Most often, I ‘get high’ when others need it. It can be nice to be taken out of your body. Grief takes many forms,” he adds, when Beau and Fjord look confused.  “I don’t like the hallucinations so much, but every once in a while it’s… interesting.”

Fjord holds his hands up, palms out. “Whoa, I’m not looking to see dead people or whatever,” he says. “I just thought you had, like, a simple mood relaxer.” He’s looking more embarrassed as the conversation goes on. Caduceus doesn’t see any reason to be. After all, Fjord assumed correctly.

“Oh, sure,” Caduceus says easily. “I have those. You want some?” He reaches into the pouch at his hip and withdraws a few sprigs of honeybalm.

“Wait, that’s weed?” says Beau. She says it a little loudly, and Fjord grabs her arm and shushes her. “I thought that was mint or something.”

Caduceus understands the misconception. A lot of green herbs look alike. He smiles and nods at Beau. “It has a minty taste to it, but it’s mostly used as a pain reliever.”

Fjord says, “But you’ve been chewing that all day.”

Caduceus blinks. “Yeah.” He concentrates, for a moment, on the buzzing feeling in his nerves, and smiles. “It’s nice.”

Beau laughs. “You know, most people don’t get high on, literally , their own supply.”

“Oh, really? Huh.” That was interesting. Caduceus had a lot to learn about the world outside his graveyard.

Beau is grinning. “Oh, we are going to have so much fun with you.”