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"I prefers muh stick, bu' dis'll do. If'n I's gonna do a feller in, it gonna be done like a man. I ain't no beast girl. Ain't ya been payin' attention? I's only half bear."

He gruffed and took position near the wall opposite the others, where he would get full room to swing when cracking heads.

"O'er half's man. Don' be fergittin. We kin talks about it la'er, af'er we kicks sum good-fer-nuthin's butts."

"Naptime's o'er ol' timer. Ya kin sleep when ya dead." He huffed at Reinhold, before gently prodding him in the butt with the point of his new toy.
Cedar scowled, then turned his head and snorted loudly again, this time discharging the remaining foreign matter discretely at the floor, before examiing the room for items he could improvise into a billy club, or just straight up use.

There were decorative rapiers installed on the wall near some colorful curtains on the other side of the table. There was a long but altogether too thin wooden dowel holding them above the window. It would likely break on the first hit.

He turned his head and looked behind. There was another decorative weapon stand, with several long but dusty pole arms poking out of it, and a lonely kukri knife hanging high above on the wall.

He shoved the bench toward the wall, and claimed the latter two items, leaning on the pole arm like a staff, while tucking the kukri into the belt sash of his robes.
The bear's head swam, shapes distorted, and the whispers became a deafening cacophony from everywhere and nowhere at once.

Mere moments later, he awoke with a start face-down in the fancy oatmeal he had been served. Lightly salted with butter and honey, with crunchy streusel and black currant jam on top. It had invaded his mouth and nostrils, and had his entire face coated up to his ears, where he had fallen in face first. 500lbs of bear, fallen in, face first.

The table setting was in shambles where the cereal had slopped over the sides from the sudden ursine addition, and plates and cutlery had gone airborne after being catapulted by his left arm slamming down limp on the table beside it.

A section of wall behind bore the remains of a platter of over-easy eggs, their yellow yolks oozing down the plastered edifice, while the nearby tray of thick cut bacon was completely unharmed.

"GUH! NO NONONONO!" Bellowed the bear amid bubbles and a spray of oatmeal, as he fumbled blindly on the table for something to wash the offensive comestibles from his maw and visage. Blindly, he grabbed a ewer at random, and poured the contents, before roaring louder, and much more bear like, as a bright red fruit punch doused him, staining his face bright pink and leaving a terrible mess.

"Guhaaa! NOOOO I' BURNS!" [Roar]

He quickly stood away from the table in a blind stumble, sending the bench backward with a loud scrape, and the table forward with a jostle andvratyle of plates and glasses.

He repeated the desperate, blind clamor at the table, this time successfully obtaining the serving ewer full of water, then vigorously and grotesquely washing his face and mouth out in the poured stream, before ending with a disgustingly strong exhalation through his nostrils that sent trapped oatmeal out in a viscous spray, followed abruptly by a vigorous headshake that sent saliva chasing it afterward in the air.

The horrible spectacle ended just as abruptly, leaving a snot nosed bear with red eyes and stained facial fur boggling and trying hard to remember what the hell had just happened.

Blinking behind very irritated eyes that had just moments before been subjected to a wash with what smelled and tasted like elderberry wine, he examined the toom. The elf woman was looking at him in stark horror, while the sedate doctor solomon merely wiped strewn spittle from the side of his forehead with an amused smirk. Veronica's eyes were glittering black pits, in a stony marble face, festooned with what was probably once oatmeal.

He looked around the table quickly, noting several others face down on their plates.

'So it werent just me' he mused to himself, while still fighting back the panic of near drowning, and resuming the visceral battle of will to avoid returning face down onto the breakfast table.

"Wadda hells jus' happen!?" he bellowed. "I's been tryin' ta FUGGIN AVOID goin's all face-daown in muh damn dinner, an sum sunsabitch goes an' plunks me innit anuhways!? I'll KEEL im! ... ... I gots it up muh damn nose!"

"We noticed."

Veronica's cold deadpan tone could have shattered every goblet at the table.
Cedar winced inwardly.

This elf woman clearly could not take the hint that he was being turned wrongside out by these temptations at the table, and needed a diversion very very badly. Better still, a reason to end the breakfast, and get away from it entirely.

"Muh apologies" he droned placidly, trying very hard to avoid letting his frustrations enter the tone. "Mebbie I's not used tuh bein indoors. Mebbie it bein autumn, an all. Fughet I said anythung."

'Do you want me to spell it out for you woman? I'm about to break, and it will be a spectacular shitshow. Is that what you want? Is it? No? Then stop playing grabass with the fat bastard, and get this shit away from me before that happens!' He raged inwardly. Letting those thoughts burble under the surface was both dangerous and cathartic at the same time.

He resumed his desperate search for a means of evading the trap that was still closing around him, when he became aware of Reinhold, seated next to him. He had been entirely too preoccupied with trying to keep his fragile self control in line that he had not really registered the old hunter's stealth in taking the opposite end of the bench. He looked at him with the corner of his eye, andbsaw a man with a smoulderimg expression that spoke volumes-- The man was having just as much 'fun' at this table as he himself was.

An idea flicked into his head, then he discretely nudged the hunter's boot with his foot, momentarily getting his attention. He furtively cast his eyes at his plate then back at the man, making a pleading expression with them.

'Please take some of this off my plate, and be discrete!' was the silently broadcast message.

He reached for one of the bread rolls the server had placed there, then tipped his head down and away from the host, giving a false facade of trying to put it in his mouth without causing a scene, but instead, discretely passed it to thebold hunter, who's scowl became confusion.

He did his best to quickly cast his eyes back toward the mountain of food on the table then back again, with a plaintive expression for the man, trying despetately to communicate his predicament. Reinhold still looked confused, but accepted the roll and subtly pocketted it under the table.

Cedar's gut protested having the bread pass that close to his face, as its freshly baked aroma hit him between the eyes, giving out an audible gastric growl.

Reinhold's confused expression flattened into deadpan understanding.

"Muh apolagies again" he muttered demurely. "I's clearly hungrier an I though'." He deflected. "Vury fine cookin'. Muh compliments."

His paw visibly shook beneath the table.

"We would greatly appreciate it if you could indulge us about this guest." the hunter covered smoothly. "His companions as well, if you be so courteous."

Cedar's ears twitched at the unusual sound, and his eyes went wide for a split second as it cascaded across the taught drum skin of his consciousness.

Far from being alarming, it was actually a welcome diversion from the slowly closing trap that he found himself in: if he failed to take any of the food, it may anger their host. If he took some of the food, his composure and self control could break. (He was an avid practitioner of 'avoidance' based self-control. If you dont put yourself in the situation where something will tempt you, you wont be tempted, and you wont succumb. It's arguably the single best reason he did NOT have any bastard bear cubs on wild mothers back home... If he increased the temptation, the risk that he would break would only increase, possibly beyond his ability to stop, and that frightened him). If he took food and didn't eat it, his host would surely notice.

There was no winning move, and the feeling of being caged was palpable for him.

The mysterious noise was a very welcome diversion from the trap, perhaps, even a way out if he played it right.

Very carefully, he held his empty plate out for one of the servants, and motioned for them to please fill it, muttering under his breath in a low tone for only that one server, that the serving utensils were too small for his hands. At least with some of the food served, he could sidestep an angered host.

He trained his full attention on the sound, and swallowed hard once more, banishing the salivary flood his body was trying to drown him with.

If he could keep that blessed distraction in his ears, then discretely call attention... he might continue to overpower the intense, visceral urge to bury his head in his plate, and escape the trap.

He trained his ears harder, tuning out the Baron... only to be met with suspicious silence.

"Di'd anuh'buddy else jus' hear fertive whisperin', or were it jus' me?" He ventured aloud, taking the risk of sending drool everywhere after a fresh swallow.

He hated having a way out dangled in front of him, then snatched away just as quickly. Now he was forced to try conversation as a distraction, and risk baptizing the table.

There were certain real and unavoidable reasons you did not invite bears to sit at the table, and expect them to obey table manners...
Cedar eyed the baron cautiously, and waited for the man to actually take a bite before even permitting himself the very idea of taking any of the food.

If there were to be a torture special made for a being such as he, this would be among the top contenders.

A powerful instinct to lay claim to the entire table and eat like a beast until he could no longer swallow (then continue trying to eat anyway, should any food still be present) was clawing and howling in the back of his psyche like a rabid dog, while the dignified and human part of him struggled and fought to retain composure and control.

Remaining quiet and dignant in posture and poise amidst this assault on his senses was pure existential agony. He doubted his companions truly realized the degree to which his self-control was being tested by this exchange. Had this truly been a genuinely friendly invitation to dinner, from a truly trusted friend, he would have been at ease, and indulged in a way only a true and real friend would have understood, but that was not what this was. This was a fattened hog placed over a vicious trap, hungry and eager to ensnare... or at least, had every potential to be. The cruel memory of being trapped in the Rascade dungeon was about the only mental defense he could bring to bear against this most heinous crime of civility.

He did his best to not shake, and discretely swallowed the drool that was threatening to baptize his face if not attended to.

'For fuck's sake, don't drag this out!' He cursed inwardly at his companions.

They were likely completely oblivious to the thin vaneer of composure that was holding back the flood...

Cedar nodded appreciatively at the baron, but said nothing until after the servants had displaced several of the chairs, and replaced them with a low but sturdy bench.

He had something similar in his cabin, but with a much less elaborate (and much taller) table. He would have to lean over to use this one. The cutlery was fashioned for much smaller, and more delicate hands.

So much for manners.

He moved to the edge of the bench, such that most of his weight would be over one set of its legs, then sat down; a loud creaking being the only voice if opposition to his presence at the table. He had to admit, that was more hospitable than he was used to, and for some reason that made him wary and uneasy.

This 'baron' von 'whatshisface' was being TOO hospitable.

He discretely sniffed at the air, taking in the room, the food, lingering scents from prior occupants and activities, while glancing about.

...

Why did they try to distract him with food? That had to be the most uncivil thing about this: teasing a poor bear like this, and especially in the fall!

He HAD to keep his head about this. HAD to.

Cedar interjected at the opening for questions, pausing his work on doing a simple patch-up on the guard captain's more serious injuries, where he had been focused on preventing the deleterious effects of a concussion, and staunching the slow internal bleeding. She wouldn't be at 100%, but shouldnt be worse off than aches, pains, and slight dizziness. She HAD said to conserve energy, and he felt he had better to as he was asked.

"If we's goin' inside... shud I put muh clothes back on? Folks tends ta get da wrong idears 'bout meh if'n I aint wearin' muh drawers, dontcha know."

He huffed, then resumed his work while talking.

'Alsos... if'n deys gone an' dun us an in'jry.. wont dey be 'spectin' us innere? They WUZ playin' hoopty-doo wit' da scryin, ta lure us off... i'it were a 'remote detonation', at means summat as gone an set it off, an' at summat knowed we's been ta Pesti... "

He made a dour expression at Matilda, who had not stopped frowning.

"An dey'd knows dey give us a bloody nose. Walkin' up ere with snoots full a prickles be a dead give'way, no? Dey gunna throw us inna hole fer sure."

The bear nodded, then set to work. Despite her bravado, she was hurt worse than she looked. The armor had protected most of her body from some kind if searing heat flash, and had taken the brunt of numerous tiny impacts. Tiny bits of earthenware shard prickled from the breastplate's surface, and tiny bits lingered below the skin on her face, neck and ears. Those were easy enough to fix.. the bigger worry was deeper, as if some impressive hand had slapped her very hard all over her body at once. There were blunt force injuries inside her skull, inside her chest, all through her arms and legs. Whatever had struck her, he was glad it only hit her once.

"Ya piss sum wizz'rd off er summat?" He gruffed, guiding bits of debris out of her face with a healer's touch. "Don' smell li' magic dou... "

He paused a minute to marvel at her.

"Wha' hit ya? Ain't ne'er smelled da likes. Mebbe summat I should look ou' fer?"
Cedar's eyes went instantly to the tall, stern woman in the cart, swaddled in bandages.

Matilda. She stunk of a kind of fire and burning he was unfamiliar with, and the stench of blood and sweat, which he was. A second snuff of the air revealed the blood was hers. If his face would have allowed it, he'd have frowned.

"E'scuse me." He gruffed, then padded around the group, then climbed into the back of the wagon, causing it to rock and lurch.

She did not look to be in a very talkative mood. Some stange truce between despair and burning, murderous fury burned on her countenance, and it made his fur bristle with unconscious warning. He locked eyes with her for a few seconds, trying and testing to see if he could continue his approach. The wait felt dreadfully long, despite being only about 2 seconds in reality. The prickle of deadly warning did not abate. Very few 'humans' (using the term loosely) could illicit such a reaction in him, his brother Oak, and their father, being the only others he had felt it from, though wild creatures of sufficient strength or desperation could do it on occasion...

'Yer hurt." He gruffed, keeping the needed respectful distance.

Her countenence twisted into a put-out scowl, wordlessly expressing a sarcastic 'no shit.' If he was reading her body's mocements and her scent right, she was 'fed up' with people making that observation about her, and wanted to be left alone. There were undertones of worry, doubt, fear, .. mingled with blood rage, fury, and a will to do brutal murder. It smelled... volatile.

"I kin fix i' bett'r. Don' gotta be wrapp'd up li'e a big bag a meat. Lemme up 'ere, would ya?"
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