====October 27, 2013
====Maryam, Rhiex
==== Miscommunication abounds.

Who Maryam, Rhiex
What Miscommunication abounds.
When There are 0 turns, 10 months and 18 days until the 12th pass.
Where Butcher's Alcove, Igen Weyr

maryamveiled01.jpg rhi_icon4.png


Butcher's Alcove
Here the redolent scents of baking mix with the alluring spice of grilled meat: tucked away down a street, around a corner, past the illicit stall of black-market perfume, here lies this.. restaraunt? cafe? deli? Raw cuts of meat are there for the wanting as well as prepared food, but the proprieter of the place is a strange one — for those who step in hungry will eat whatever the shopkeeper deigns to feed them.

-- On Pern --
It is late night
It is 9:30 PM where you are.
There are 0 turns, 10 months and 18 days until the 12th pass.
It is Winter and 44 degrees. It is a clear night.

Kzrenki is a grey-bearded man more often given to scowls than smiles; he hides behind a heavy leather butcher's-apron, bloodied and dusted with flour to make a gruesome paste at times. His wife bustles, taking hardy loaves out of the groundwork ovens, while his eldest son - a skinny lad of perhaps thirteen - tends the onerous task of turning all the grilling meats. Rhiex, offduty, has stepped in just before the sunset, light eyes naturally scanning the denizens therein before turning towards one of the two community-style tables to seat himself at one. And patiently WAIT.

He might be a long time at that- Maryam has already claimed a seat at that same table, and it looks as if she's been here awhile. Without a playe, without bread, without meat. Those who dine here do so at Kzrenki's sufferance and it would seem she hasn't suffered enough. The young woman is making the best of her time though. In lieu of a plate before her, there's a small (priceless) book opened before her, leather bound and with real paper pages. In one hennaed hand she holds a stick of charcoal, which has been used to decorate the leftmost page with a rough sketch of the baker's wife in profile. The right has a few lines of text written upon it but when Rhiex takes a seat, her fingers spread to obscure the letters. Pale eyes study him levelly over the edge of her veil. "Sir."

Rhiex sits so painfully correct, spine straight and shoulders relaxed in a perfectly upright manner. Turns out that Kzrenki's daughter is serving, and it seems that Maryam's prestigous standing as a daughter of Steen is working against her in this case, for the strong-jawed guard receives a plate with fresh bread and a delicate couple of pieces of kabob - the first selections off the grill, rare and bloody inside in contrast to charred exterior. A teasing taste to go with flirting black eyes. Rhiex stares bemused after the girl and then with a philosophical gesture of one shoulder pops one piece of meat into his mouth and pushes his plate out a little closer to Maryam; just-so, if-you-want-something. "Ma'am," he returns, every bit the impeccably polite guardsman. "Striking resemblance," he comments, clefted chin extending almost-imperceptibly to her journal and the likeness of the baker's wife.

Unsurprising, perhaps, and unprotested. Maryam- seemingly intent on another non-conversation with the man- does glance up again to track the daughter's departure but nothing's said about the discrepancy in wait times. More bemusing to her is his willingness to share. She hesitates before folding the book shut and setting the charcoal down to reach for a crust of bread. It's been awhile, she's starving, propriety will have to wait. "Thank you. People are easier to draw in profile," she says before tucking a scrap of bread beneath the veil for the nibbling. What follows is either an eating silence or an awkward silence, depending on who you poll. But she breaks it finally by adding, "You work with the guard, yes?"

Rhiex is terribly gauche in the way that only oldtimers can be unsensitive to: "Do you ever get crumbs — stuck? It must be terribly uncomfortable." His terribly-proper accent matches his terribly-earnest face, one calloused finger gesturing at her veil. "The guard," he agree-slash-confirms, reaching over for the churn of sweetened butter: a hesitation at the lack of utensils, then with another of those mini-shrugs he scoops out a quantity with his fingers and spreads it upon the fluffy-innard'd bread's surface.

Maryam seems to find nothing horrifying in using his fingers, so perhaps that's an accepted practice. Talking about her veil? Less so! Her eyes flick up and widen while she tries to process this and the sticky issue of how best to answer. "I…no. If you tilt your head forward," she finally says, measuring each word out cautiously- as if her mother might be hiding behind a barrel ready to jump out to her for speaking about this, "space is made for it. Drinking is more difficult. It takes practice to keep from spilling." And a water-spotted veil? To be avoided at all costs. "Did…women not veil themselves, before?"

Rhiex squints across at the woman, thoughtfully. That lass has brought him back a section of vegetables on a kabob, carefully-balanced. He flashes the daughter a bright smile, brilliant with white teeth against his tanned skin, and wastes no time in unsheathing his belt-knife to help him with the prizing off of hot food from the too-hot-to-touch kabob-steel. "Drinking," he repeats, his voice sounding — thoughtful. "I wouldn't have thought about it, but that makes sense. It must be wretched when it is very hot outside." Sympathy shades. Then he's busy eating a quarter of roasted sweet-onion. Between bites: "Oh no." A shade — scandalized, mayhap? Reverse scandalized. "Hats, maybe. Hair-scarves for the very vain. But not… no."

Mm, bread. Maryam lowers her gaze again, focused on a patch of empty table just above the borders of her book, and slips another section of crust beneath the veil to consume. "Hold ladies often practice taking no food or drink in public at all," she mentions. So really, she's fortunate! That taint of sandal draws another quick glance at Rhiex. "How strange. Even the unmarried girls? That seems…so very odd. But it is not an expression of vanity, sir." All of this sweet, soft, submissive posture and yet there's just a touch of steel in that last remark. She will not have her strange customs misconstrued, okay? "Modesty, perhaps. That would be the opposite of vanity?"

"Impractical," disapproves Rhiex with the subtlest of frowns for commentary of such.. practices. "Especially the unmarried girls," he returns, the faintest of smiles crinkling his naturally narrow-set eyes. "Back home…" he starts, then seems to catch himself, unconsciously sitting straighter yet in personal berating. Oh look, here's a sweet pepper piece to busy his mouth with before he gets himself in trouble. "I'm not sure if modesty is necessarily exclusive of vanity," he returns, after a long moment of considering Maryam. His statement isn't pointed. At ALL.

That sweet pepper didn't help at all. Maryam's gaze lingers this time, instead of sliding off to study something less dangerous than a strange man. She's puzzled. Easy enough to tell when her eyebrows draw closer together; her eyes narrow. But is that confusion or a warning sign? "You think me vain?"

Rhiex doesn't color under such regard, as some natives may; he returns the attention with calm eyes - guardsman eyes. Cop eyes, jaded past his turns. "I think that we are all vain, daughter of Steen. In our own," his gaze drops to scan what's visible of her robes and then back up to her eyes, "…unique ways."

What he has to say just brings her eyebrows closer together- definitely more an expression of confusion than ire. Maryam, try as she might, simply does not understand. But that's no reason to lock eyes with an unrelated male and so her gaze is dropped, fleeing to the table. "I am not certain what that means. Vanity is considered inappropriate. Veiling ourselves reminds us that how we look is unimportant, what we do matters more."

Rhiex snorts. Excuse him, he's a little busy choking on his meat (hold the comments until after it's assured that he's going to SURVIVE) to answer that particular comment.

Oh dear. Has she killed him? Maryam is a little alarmed at the prospect- though not so alarmed that she, like, touches him or anything. But she does half-rise out of her seat, a hand on the table and the other outstretched.

There, there: the baker's wife comes 'round with a glass of icewater, precious in such climates, and a concerned hand for the guard's shoulder. Rhiex waves her off with a pained smile and a gulp of that water. Oh. Lifesaving. "Girl," he eventually manages, his eyes watering a bit from all of that hacking — but he doesn't move past that one half-choked word.

Maryam gives the baker's wife a look of such gratitude. Such gratitude. Thank you for saving her from a murder charge, even if she does have the guard captain in her pocket. Slowly she sinks back into her chair and observes Rhiex with rampant concern while he recovers- until that single syllable, which has never preceded anything good in her life. "I apologize," she says quietly, reaching for charcoal and book to hide them within her robes, "if I misspoke. Are you all right?"

A murder charge would suck. But being inadvertantly killed by a piece of pepper… that would suck worse. Rhiex works on just breathing for a moment, swiping at his eyes with the back of a hand errantly in the way men do. He watches Maryam for a long moment. "I am," eventually. "You didn't misspeak. I'm…" Here comes a kabob of meat and the ANXIOUS look from the daughter, paired with a viper-sweet smile to Maryam as she FINALLY receives a plate with … sweets? Sweets. Only the best for a daughter of Steen, of course! (Hope you get fat, bitch, being the undertone — not at ALL.)

A shame that near-death experience has left Maryam without an appetite. She only barely glances at the girl- whatever poison being aimed her way in that smile completely unnoticed- before sliding a more furtive, uncertain look towards the guardsman. Does he want a sweet? With her hands free of the items just tucked away, she pushes the plate a little closer to Rhiex. Just the thing after one's choked on peppers. "The food here can sometimes be…spicy."

"So can the conversation," Rhiex returns, amusement in his voice and a smile fitting to the wry tone casting his expression into an easy thing to look at. "Perhaps you are the perfect girl, without any vanity." That's his last drop of foot-into-mouth. Maybe. Okay no. "But my experience;" calloused palms raised placating, "…small as it is, with oldtimer girls, indicates that is not terribly likely."

That first barb strikes deep! It isn't easily apparent but Maryam's face has flushed, taking what he's said to be chiding for speaking at all. These are the wages of sin and they burn. In the face. "I am not the perfect girl," she insists, albeit quietly. Still, there's a spine in there somewhere because she does add (in the very softest of tones), "But I suspect that even four hundred Turns ago, it was considered poor manners to insult a person to their face."

Rhiex tilts his head, keen-eyed enough to notice the faintest hints of heat at where the veil begins. And here comes the apologies. They were always destined to come, weren't they? "Oh no," hastily, "That isn't," he's still so upright but he stands painfully straight, "That isn't — oh no." He can say more than that, even! "My apologies, I did not mean to imply…" His face, it's so EARNEST, how can someone not believe him? "I thought we were having a candid conversation." The faintest hesitation, "My eternal pardon for my assumption."

Such an odd bundle of contradictions, he is. That could be why Maryam regards him from a slight angle, made uncertain again by the combination of earnestness and recent "candid" statements. "No, I apologize. For misunderstanding," she eventually decides to say. "I should not have taken offense, it…is not my place. Please." Her fingers flick out, indicating his chair, the plates, the meal interrupted. And then she is standing, after setting a small mark piece on the table's surface. Even if she didn't eat those sweets, she's expected to pay for them.

Resignation momentarily: that's ALWAYS how it is, isn't it? Be honest with a girl - or even relaxed around them - and they get all stiff-backed. (Irony intended.) So instead of opening his mouth and furthering the problem, Rhiex just inclines his chin to his chest, eyes focusing down on his food.

True fact: in masculine Igenite language (as the Steens translate it), that's a strict dismissal. Chastened, Maryam lowers her gaze again and slips out from behind the table to take her leave. Hopefully he doesn't report her to his captain! Conduct unbecoming, wot wot.

IE: Rhiex knows not what he does, woeful barbarian as he is. He doesn't look up until Maryam's quite gone, uncertainty tinting his gaze for a moment as he watches her robes disappear around the door-edge; then it's cop-face again, stoic and unyielding, and he resigns himself to the flirtatious daughter and overly-charred meat for the rest of this (now quite solidtary) dining experience.

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