====September 14, 2013
====Ladivos, Maryam
====Maryam instructs her henchman on his future role.

Who Ladivos, Maryam
What Maryam instructs her henchman on his future role.
When There is 1 turn 2 months and 24 days until the 12th pass.
Where Igen River Road

ladivos05.jpg maryam02.png


Igen River Road
The scent of mud fills the air here, rich and organic. The source, of course, is the broad brown river to your east: the mighty Igen, Pern's largest, and the heart of life in its namesake Hold. The buzz of vtols and cries of wherries mingle with the rumble of carts and chatter of people, for this part of the road lies at the foot of Igen Hold. The road stretches north from here, towards the just-visible mountain range that houses Igen Weyr.

-- On Pern --
It is afternoon
It is 1:48 PM where you are.
There is 1 turn 2 months and 24 days until the 12th pass.
It is Autumn and 64 degrees. It is slightly overcast.

It takes some time, even on runnerback, to range this far from the Weyr. But it's a rest day and time is something that Maryam has, for once. With The Pit still operating on half hours while Mama recuperates and the Bazaar in a holding pattern of paranoia following the raid, business is slow. And, as opportunities such as these are few and far between, the young Steen has taken advantage. When she does finally draw up her chestnut mare, her robes billowing around her with the beast's dancing, the river is before them. To the west, the busy road that leads to Igen Hold, to the north the distinctive peaks of the Weyr. And just ahead? A green-brushed riverbank that winds down to thick mud and rippling water. Without speaking, she looks to her companion for approval.

The runner Ladivos arrived on is a borrowed beast as stocky as it is stubborn, and seems displeased to have been assigned to its new temporary rider. But Ladivos didn't seem impressed by its bad behaviour, drawing it up nearby after a few rough yanks at its reins for the times it veered off-route during the trip here. Once it stands still long enough to be secured, and after a heavy pat to its shoulder, he turns to face Maryam with brow raised. Approval doesn't quite come, but he jerks his head into the direction of a green patch near the river and simply starts walking. Reaching, meanwhile, into the pocket of his jacket.

The young woman follows after hobbling her mare, which falls to grazing without complaint. Over her shoulder are the light saddlebags she'd carried behind her. Maryam picks her way carefully through the brave grass coating the ground near the water, avoiding those places where her bootheels are inclined to sink deeply. "I brought your lessons. If you would like to look at them," she says finally. The perfect place to settle? That she leaves for him to choose.

He's not picky. But that doesn't mean he'll sit in the mud. After a bit of wandering around and no visible response to the statement prior, he finds a spot with a big rock sticking monstrously out of the soil, long blades of grass surrounding it. He settles down in front of it elbows on his knees and his back against the stone, leaving enough space beside him for Maryam to do the same. And shrugging off his jacket to lay it down exactly there. Because ladies don't sit on the ground, apparently. Which is why he took a flask out of his jacket beforehand, you see, which he places beside him. Maryam get a dry look, a brief smile that's more politeness than anything else, and a nod. Let's have it, then.

First Maryam eases herself down onto the jacket, legs folded beneath her and the saddlebags deposited before. Flipping up the flap on one bag, a roll of hide is pulled out and set to the side- the lessons. A smaller roll joins it, no doubt her own material while he studies. But rather than hand the first over, or discuss it, she shows some recognition of what that look had meant. Hands emptied, she rests them in her lap and offers up a frank appraisal in return. "All right," she murmurs, as if he'd said something, "what would you have had me do instead? Allow whomever this is to continue their assault? There are four families the Bazaar looks to. Now there are three."

Oh, how he sighs. By far the loudest thing to leave Ladivos' throat these days. but any frustration that manages to make it through and onto his face is not aimed at Maryam. Instead, his glower is sent at the river. There's something else to it, though, something more… lighthearted. And a hand goes up to rub at his brow while his head dips, a lone side of his mouth twisting into a slightly reluctant grin. He's not mad. A little lost, yes, but mad? No. And he doesn't look it either, when next he raises his head to present the woman next to him with a questioning look and a silently mouthed word, and pounds a hand onto his chest. 'Guard'? Tch.

"Yes," Maryam confirms. "You think you cannot play the role?" Lest he think that question was a serious one, she pauses a moment to release the pin that had kept her veil in place. The cloth is lowered, draped over the back of her neck instead. With it out of the way she's revealed to be wearing the thinnest of smiles, the sort of curve of lips that could cut glass with a kiss. "I have here a recommendation letter from the guard captain at Igen River Hold. He is willing to attest to your five Turns of service, with two notes of distinction for exemplary service from your direct supervisor," she says, dipping into the as of yet unopened saddlebag. The scrolls inside are small, sealed with looped leather strings, and offered to him once she explains their purpose. "Dated to before your time with the Steen, of course."

The scrolls are taken without hesitation, much of the exasperation washing clear off Ladivos' face with the news of their existence. He's not surprised, but a quick huff an exhale down into their direction might suggest he is, at least, impressed. After silently letting the thoughts roll around in his head for a little bit, he looks back up at the mention of 'the Steen'. Speaking of which — after he reaches for his flask again and just before twisting it open for a quick swig, he makes sure to thunk the thing to his heart, twice, with a raised eyebrow and lifted chin in curiosity.

"If they are worth their salt, they will know that you will have worked for us in some capacity. There is no way to tell for certain whether someone will recognize you. Because of your past ties to a guard unit," Maryam explains, tilting her head towards the scrolls, "we have expelled you, following the raid on the Bazaar meeting. We are closing ranks and trusting only family, therefore we cannot afford your services any longer. You have been discarded, Ladivos, and left without recourse or resources. If my brothers realize you have gone, I will give these reasons. Mama will be cross with me if she finds out but…" Here, her smile shades wan. "These are the sort of decisions we must make."

Again, Ladivos' attention seems to drift naturally away from Maryam, to come to rest on the river nearby. He doesn't look particularly bothered by having been discarded, lowering his flask again to rub absently at his throat, fingers trailing past jugular and collarbone. Perhaps in memory. Perhaps that's why he doesn't look entirely too disappointed to have been called away from the place he's made himself useful the last few years, and to be able to explore another. There is one thing, though, that brings a smile back to his face - it is something he does not fight in the least, and it travels oh so easily to the rest of his face as he holds his free hand up and rubs index finger and thumb over one another - monnaayy. He's remembered that thing. About the salary. At least there's THAT.

"Yes. Yours to keep." The one concession secured to his benefit. It's fortunate that Mama Steen didn't broker this particular deal; that's one of the leashes she's kept him on. Maryam, however, seems of a different mind and turns her hand, sweeping it sideways to dismiss the bankroll he's likely to earn. A small concession in her mind, clearly. More important are those first materials she'd pulled out of the saddlebag. They're pushed towards him to redirect that attention again. "If you are to report what you find, you will need to be better with a quill," she points out. "You should continue practicing."

Oh, alright. With a breathy chuckle that hardly deserves to be called one, Ladivos leans forward to fold his legs underneath him and focus on what is here in the present time. Right. Although, there is still one thing he'd like to discuss prior, so far as he can. He turned to the side to narrow his eyes at Maryam. A shrug and upturned hands by his sides denote a question, the following the subject — one of his calloused hands held to Maryam's height, just next to her head, then one step higher. Also known as 'how's the ogre?'

That earns another pale smile. Here is a delicate subject, between the two of them. "Grateful, I think, to have been allowed to go home rather than being transferred to the brig." Maryam might say this with complete sincerity but grateful has never been a word used in regards to Mama Steen's emotions. More likely she's speaking of her own feelings. After a hesitation, she adds, "This has unsettled her. She has never been…" Pause. "She has never had to take to her bed before. It has not improved her temper." That's more like it- though likely still an immense understatement.

Indeed, Ladivos seems… vaguely unhappy with the answer he's given, be it because he distrusts Mama Steen's ability to be grateful for anything, or an entirely different reason. It's no secret that he'd rather see her bedridden in a more permanent manner, away from people she might thwack over the head with that cane of hers. But… the subject gets left aside, for now. Time to get to work, as is evident by the way the near-mute takes a deeep breath and steels himself for… WRITING. Muscles in his neck twitch tenser as he swallows, and his brow lowers with determination as he motions in a sweeping gesture toward the appropriate possessions. What they'll start and what he'll be allowed to practise with with is apparently left up to Maryam.

"Unless you object, I think we will use the teaching songs." Maryam bends forward to retrieve the correct roll of hide, smoothing it out over thigh and knee before handing it to the man. That's only the first item, what follows is a trash scrap of hide scraped almost too thin to work with, and a pot of ink taken from the office. The quill is the last to be offered- and she holds on when he reaches for it, so she can catch Ladivos' eyes. "Thank you. Thank you for doing this. I know you have no choice but it matters a great deal to me that you will."

And in return for all that gentle nature and those grateful words? When Ladivos has gathered up all but the quill into his lap, and his attention subsequently falls on Maryam's face, he pauses… then simply smirks and reaches to PAT a hand heavily against her shoulderblade. Nothin' gentle about it. And hopefully enough so that he can reach with his other hand and snatch that quill right away. He'll have no thanks, thanks. What needs doin' needs doin'.

For that pat? Maryam laughs, though it's more an amused release of breath than true voice. Of course, she follows it by saying, "Touch me again and you will have to learn to write with your other hand." A threat worthy of a Steen! But she makes no attempt to regain the quill, instead unrolling yet another hide to begin reciting lyrics for Ladivos to scribe: " Drummer, beat, and piper blow, Harper, strike, and soldier go…"

Ladivos shows few signs of regret in regards to the pat, his mouth showing amusement far less than reddened eyes. This despite his knowledge that a Steen is very likely to come through when bodily harm is promised. But, mental notes made, he continues. Hide pressed against a leather-clad knee, handled clumsily, and quill doubly so. It hovers over the blank surface indecisively before he wets his lips and forces the damn thing down like it's a dagger aimed and plunged directly into his arch enemy's heart. Except— it's just a hide, so he lets out a breath of frustration and attempts to relax his muscles a little, and not press down so terribly hard. 'Drummer'. Right. He knows that one. And he spells it right, too, even if it's in a messy, infantile scrawl. 'Beat'— or is that 'beet'? They're both words! He sounds the word out in his head, lips moving along as it is processed, though no sounds leave his throat. Behold, the largest child in Pern history. No, the first makes more sense. Definitely E and then A. Scrawl, scrawl. 'The piper blow'… then what and what? It's all too fast. This must be payback. Maryam is peered at, eyes half-lidded as he flicks the quill irritably back and forth between his fingers.

It isn't that Maryam is being willfully cruel. But this is much a lesson in memorization as it is in simple writing. No good spy is going to be confounded after two words! So she ignores the way he's flicking that will and looks up to meet the man's peering. There is no give in her calm regard. No mercy at all. "Hear the chant in your head to remember the words. If there is no chant, make one. Now again," she murmurs. "Drummer beat and piper blow, Harper strike and soldier go. Write, Ladivos." Truly she is the meanest of taskmasters.

But then, it's practically the Steen motto that if you aren't going to do it right, don't do it at all.

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