Erik closed up the forge after Durn left and set to his usual routine. Dinner, some practice and bedtime. When he got there, Jasper and Layla were already seated and enjoying their meals. He looked at them uncertainly for a second before deciding he would sit with them, regardless of what this newcomer said about them. Jasper, though cold and unwelcoming, would surely never hurt his fellow rebels, and Layla had the scars to prove she was on their side. This was absolutely none of Erik's business anyway - if something came out of it that warranted his attention, then he would worry about whose allegiances lay with whom. For now, they were his friends.
They were talking about something, but got quiet as he neared before growing silent when he sat. He looked from one to the other for a second, then took his usual seat at their table.
"Hello, Erik," Layla said.
"Layla," he responded. "How are you doing? How goes your training?"
"Pretty well, I suppose." She looked at Jasper for just a moment before continuing, "So, how are things at the forge?"
"Business as usual," Erik replied, sipping his drink. His thoughts turned to the armor project he was working on with - two partners now, it seemed - but quickly decided he would keep that subject out of this conversation. It was not his to reveal.
The group was quiet for several moments before Erik exhaled and said, "Well, I've eh, I've been thinking about my father recently."
Jasper looked at Erik with curiosity - he'd never spoken about his past with any save his closest friends. Erik paused and took several mouthfuls before saying, "I...lost my father when I was young. He encouraged me to be all that I am."
Jasper looked at Erik for a moment with the closest approximation of empathy that Erik could envision him showing, and Layla nodded sadly, as if she had heard the story before but knew the toll it took.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"No," Erik answered. "I'm sorry. Not good table-talk, I shouldn't have mentioned it." Erik ignored the swell of emotions he felt and ate more of his food. "So Jasper, how have you been doing of late?"
"Oh." Jasper seemed surprised by Erik suddenly addressing him. "Uh, okay I suppose." As usual, he didn't say much.
Erik finished his meal quickly, got up, and left the awkward conversation and dining hall behind. He decided he would try going without the hour of sword practice tonight and go straight to bed.
That did not end well. He found himself painfully focused on his father, and the events of that night. They should be fighting the Empire now, yet here they were, hiding in caves. Soon, boiling over with anger and frustration, Erik leapt out of bed, grabbed a sheet of metal and some tools, and went into the workshop. He shoved the metal down into the fires of the forge after kindling the flames, slapped it onto the anvil and hammered away relentlessly. He almost had the blade for a new sword finished and had just reheated it to touch it up, when a rat scrambled past him and broke his concentration. The blade once again shattered, an echo of the other day with Zane's interruption, and Erik shouted. He kicked the broken pieces of metal after the rodent, threw his tools into a corner, barged into the armory and grabbed two swords, and began relentlessly beating on one of his practice dummies. By this time, it was quite late and others would be sleeping - almost all of them, in fact - but Erik did not notice. In his fury, he let out a series of roaring cries as he bashed and beat the statue. Despite Erik not using a shield to block the automatic retaliatory blow, the wooden sword never touched him once. He simply batted aside any strikes the automaton flung at him, shouting furiously like an animal all the while.
Erik soon lost all control and thrust both swords into the thing, ruining the internal bits that made it spin. The dummie jolted violently before locking into place and Erik found one of his swords held firmly in place inside the machine. He would not be getting that back. He collapsed in a heap on the floor, bashing the stone tiling with his leather-gloved hands, before being still. He had almost fallen into unconsciousness from exhaustion and frustration when he heard the door leading into his forge and private chambers gently creak open.