====October 7, 2013
====Maryam, We'bey
====Maryam makes a confession to her heartfriend and together, they plot.

Who Maryam, We'bey
What Maryam makes a confession to her heartfriend and together, they plot.
When There is 1 turn 0 months and 15 days until the 12th pass.
Where The Pit, Igen Weyr

maryam08.jpg Webley1.jpg


The Pit
One does not enter The Pit so much as descend into it. Why else the name? The Steen ancestors paid for their square footage with sweat, excavating the area and building curved walls up around it. Wide, smooth steps descend into a large entry area that overlooks the pit and galleries. Floors, ceilings and walls have been whitewashed with limestone paste, increasing the amount of light reflected back from the numerous glow baskets hung on the walls. A rounded doorway to the right leads one into the business' office, which is furnished in spartan style: cushions for kneeling or sitting upon, a desk that's low to the ground constructed of the same whitewashed stone as the rest of the building, and niches carved out of the walls themselves for decorative pieces. Here is a small sculpture of men wrestling, there is a wooden carving of a champion with a foot upon his vanquished foe.
Continuing on through the lobby brings one to another set of six stairs that descend into the galleries surrounding the sand-filled pits. A low wall separates audience from combatants, but even at its highest point, those in the galleries are never more than twenty feet away from the action. The sand is raked daily, with fresh sand added whenever the blood to soil ratio becomes too great.

-- On Pern --
It is sunset
It is 5:18 PM where you are.
There is 1 turn 0 months and 15 days until the 12th pass.
It is Winter and 44 degrees. It is raining.

Sunset, and as the lights go out on Igen, they come up within the Pit. Already the galleries surrounding the arena are abuzz with the evening's first early gamblers. They discuss the coming matches among themselves, they speak with the bookies- many of them Steen boys, themselves- they boast and brag and drink, attended to by the business' servants. The place, as they say, is bustling.

Paradoxically, this makes the office one of the quietest and safest places to be. Perhaps Maryam is expecting someone because there is a flagon of wine and some glasses on the desk, though it's widely known she doesn't indulge in the stuff herself. Opened before her is a ledger slightly smaller than the book she uses to record the Pit's official business. This is the book in which she records what she discovers of other people's business, though often it's also used to record books for those who've hired her for her ability with numbers. Her veil is left to dangle beside her face, unpinned, and there are smudges of ink along the bridge of her nose where she's pinched it between her fingers to ward off a headache. It looks like it will be a long night.

We'bey does not belong in the hustle and bustle with the other boys, though he glides through the crowd with no lack of practiced ease, a flutter of fingers here and a wink there, but it is too the peaceful still of the office which the lithe greenrider wafts. Perhaps the only male whom her brothers do not so much as glance at as he slips into the room, hands clasped to either side of the door frame, he leans in, one leg up behind him as if finishing a dance. "Maryam, Gritta said she'd heard Lavidos has returned." Because of course, the old woman knows all, even if her details on this particular servant are scarce, it's clear she's sent her grandson for some information. It isn't like the Steen's to not share. And Webley knows he's been placed in the middle of something, and he offers an apologetic smile to the young woman. "They'll forever use us as pawns won't they?"

Maryam is far too careful to startle when We'bey arrives but she does make the movement of her hand over the figures on the page before her seem like a casual, even accidental placement. Not at all trying to hide what's there until she recognizes her friend, nope. And once he is recognized she relaxes enough to give him a small but genuinely warm smile and gestures him to one of the numerous places to sit in the office. "And I thought we had been so careful. Do you want a drink, love?" There's the wine, right there, she's already reaching for it to serve him in case the answer is yes. "She…mm, We'bey, Ladivos is not something even Mama knows about," she confesses. "He is not her pawn and it would be better if Gritta did not know." The admission is a sheepish one, and rare color enters her cheeks as she blushes. Oops.

We'bs is rather unconcerned with the deceptive use of hands, it is subtle enough all but the most aware would have noticed, and he slides into the closest seat he can find. "Your mother doesn't know?" The comment is barely above a whisper, the words take a while to make sense in that particular order. "You mean. Your -" A smile twinkles across his face, "Oh, love. I didn't know you had it in you." But now she has admitted and she has to know, with the way he leans his elbow oh so casually against the table, his neck arching elegantly to try to peek sideways at the book, that he won't be kept from it any longer. "Let me help love, what have you had the mute up to?"

In this moment of uncharacteristic uncertainty, Maryam searches the greenrider's face for signs of disapproval- and when she finds the exact opposite, her relief is writ plain in her expression. Leap of faith answered! Her shoulders sag and she breathes out, setting the wineglass beside him. "Her heart," she explains. "It has to be done but I fear for her health so I thought…I thought what harm if I just did this one thing? But now it has become complicated and I…" Wait, Maryam. Visibly, she can be seen to counsel herself to start at the beginning. "It was the Weyrleader. He wanted someone to place with the guards to find out what is happening there, why this is happening. So I put Ladivos to it in return for information and a salary," she admits, "but the guards are so hopeless that he…mm. I had another idea." The book is tapped. "If he could go to Corelle with information implicating Segam, then he can become guard captain and find out directly from her, yes? But who do I throw to the felines?"

"The weyrleader?" We'bs thin eyebrows arch upward, it is twice on one sitting she has surprised him. "My, my, Maryam, this is no small thing you have done." She's all twisted up with the weyrleadership now. One long leg draws up to lap lightly over the other has his free arm rests against the table to tap a rythmic beat against the wood. A long silence draws as the boy considers the stores at their disposal. Really, no two children should have grown up knowing they wielded so much power over lives. "If we chose one of the new stores, one of the ones that was," A firmly set jaw and his hand flops over at the wrist to indicate his displeasure with certain merchants in the bazaar, "wasn't respecting the natural order of things. We'd be sending two messages at once. The actual evidence is inconsequential…" Long fingers press against the book the young Steen is trying to read, "If you have reason enough to believe he'd be afraid enough to not fight it…" Brows lift again, searching for just what she's found out.

"I know." The confession has a touch of the miserable about it. Even with a formidable mother as an example, Maryam never considered this role for herself- but it's clear she's hardly about to back down from it now that she's seized the chance. So there's guilt. But also, seen when she steals a peek at her lifelong friend, perhaps a glimmer of pleasure too. Look what she's done. Look at all of this potential for good. And maybe incredible bad. "I thought of that," she says as she turns the book towards We'bey, "but they were both new enough his involvement there has been minimal. Unless we fabricate something. Ladivos found this as well." From one of the many drawers, she retrieves the scrap of hide returned to her and places it beside the book. "Some sort of threat."

A new found admiration for his companion and the boy reaches over to run a finger over the scrap of hide. "A threat, and a sudden change in life ambition." His head shakes sharply, even as his eyes roll up in thought. "Have any of those whose stores were raided mentioned anything about why? What tipped them off -" His back arches as he pulls back upright, arms folding over his lap. "I can't think anyone would be after him for not guarding the bazaar - maybe it came after." Of course most of those with the force for threatening people are represented in this particular office, even if they are unaware of things being done on their behalf. "Anyway, if we can't find anything legitimate…" Without throwing his grandmother under the proverbial trader caravan, "We can always make something."

"The harper's store, there was something to do with their books." Thus, the one that Maryam has opened on the desk now. But as We'bey continues on, she sits back on her heels and looks off towards the empty doorway. Entirely too thoughtful to be up to any good, eventually she speaks again- and it's with another idea. "It would need to be an accusation that he would be unable to contest. Something recent. Something that would prove to her she could not trust him. Something like…his taking bribes from shops that remain open, to keep them from being raided. Playing both sides, yes?" She brightens at this but looks to We'bey to poke holes in the idea. "No one could blame the shops for wanting to avoid it, they might be fined for bribery but Segam…she would need someone new."

"The books? The only black market business the harper was ever in was well before she had a store front." This We'bey is certain of, having arranged the deal himself. "Something is off about this, love. Perhaps we should speak to the harper. See what happened?" The foot of his crossed leg shaking briskly, like an agitated feline's tail. "Yes, if we could find a store who was willing to pay the fine. Though - perhaps if we pooled the money together as a group. Then no one could rat the other out anyway." There is something to be said for everyone having something on the other. "How do you know she'd pick Ladivos anyway. I'm glad he's there, but he can't be any better than the real guards."

"Rumor has it it was her partner who turned her in as well. Gave notice to the guards but was swept up with her. Speaking with her might be good but, We'bey…" Maryam hesitates. For someone so inclined to sitting still and quiet, she's suddenly intent on picking at the corner of a page in the book, roughing the hide with her fingernails. "If we did that, pooled the money or even polled them, people would find out. Mama would find out. I mean for Ladivos to present her with the information, and present himself as an alternative. He could be better if given the chance, I think. And then we would have a captain on our side." In their pockets, she means. "But if everyone knew, even if Mama chose not to kill me for doing this…"

"Webley." The boy finds a moment to correct with a distant smile, even in her hesitation. "No, of course, you are right. Then I think we need to find out what we can from Sara first. Perhaps she has some reason to know why he'd be threatened." It's a long shot, but it is all they have at the moment. "Don't underestimate her, Maryam. He's on our side now, but I have a feeling she's a force, and I've only seen her from a distance." Women like his grandmother frighten him, especially if they aren't on his side.

Maryam reaches for his hand to give it a gentle press when she's corrected. It's apology and acceptance in one. As she sinks back again, she looks down at the book, the scrap of hide. "Ladivos would not go over to her, nor go against me," she says quietly, with absolute conviction. "She is a force. Had she been raised here, she would hold the council, with Mama and Gritta. I have no doubt. But Ladivos is mine." A pause. "Ours. He has no love for women like them." And she doesn't explain why. Instead, she nudges the wineglass and finds a small smile for him. "You realize if either of us is caught, we will both be seen as traitors. Me to the Bazaar, you to the Weyr."

"Oh, love." Webley laughs softly, "This is not the first time our families have engaged in such behavior." With one hand still clutched around his waist the other waves off the idea in the air. "We care for the bazaar when it cannot care for itself, and, love, whether we like it or not, it will soon be our turn to…" Drawing off softly he sighs, "Well your turn anyway, to rule. We are simply doing what we have to to make sure it survives." A fluttered, if not solemn wink, with a sly grin as he returns to the book. "If you say so, about your man, love. Sara, first then? Then we'll decide our move. No need to tell her what we are about, just fish a little for information."

"Or my brothers' turn. I am still to be married." This time it's her turn to apply a gentle correction, though Maryam's smile remains. This is, after all, her opportunity to apply a little of that before a family life begins- and she's discovering she likes it. There's nothing else in what he says that seems objectionable, so she nods agreement and reaches for the hide, tucking it within the pages of the book to hide it away again. "That seems the most sensible route. Look first, then we can leap. Fortunately one of us has wings at their disposal."

"Your mother seemed to handle both." Oh, no, We'bs will not so easily allow his friend to give up on her dreams. "Yes, wings." A coy little smile draws across his lips as he shrugs, thanks for reminding him, and here he was having such a pleasant evening. "You may borrow my wings whenever you like, love." Another flourished wink as he draws himself back to his feet. "Tomorrow then, we'll go see a harper about a book." What an innocent little outing We'bey will be taking his friend on, so easily under her brothers' eyes. Hopefully.

This time, Maryam stands too, to see him out as a proper hostess ought. "My mother is a woman unique and I have no great hammer to wield on the sands to inform the male populace I am to be reckoned with," she says lightly back, curling her arm through his. "I will settle instead on this for now, and babies for our venerable elders to bounce on their knees after. As Gritta was kind enough to remind me of, now that you have escaped that fate." She lets her head graze his shoulder as she guides him towards the door. "Tomorrow, then. Two visits in as many days, you spoil me."

"Oh, Gritta is only bitter because she cannot marry me off now." The wingrider waves off his grandmother's comments with a wave of his hand, "Oh, yes you do, love. And this is it. If any woman could balance a family and a business it is you, love. You're a Steen." And with that the boy has slipped back off into the crowd of males who are gathering to fight or watch the blood bath below.

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