====October 6, 2013
====Ladivos, Maryam
====Ladivos and Maryam regroup after his first opportunity to search the brig.

Who Ladivos, Maryam
What Ladivos and Maryam regroup after his first opportunity to search the brig.
When There is 1 turn 0 months and 18 days until the 12th pass.
Where The Pit, Igen Weyr

ladivos05.jpg maryam05.jpeg


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 midmorning
It is 10:23 AM where you are.
There is 1 turn 0 months and 18 days until the 12th pass.
It is Winter and 44 degrees. It is a bright, sunny day.

Early morning and The Pit is deserted. The drudges had raked the sands the night before, cleaned up after the fighters and left. They'll return after the lunch hour to prepare for this evening's bouts but for now, the arena sits empty and echoing, an unnatural quiet that few ever associate with this place of battle. It's in the morning hours that Maryam most enjoys her place of business, and finds it most congenial for going over the books. Without the roar of crowds or the constant noise of her family around her, the numbers flow through fingers and thoughts like water in a brook. She occupies the office, kneeling behind the desk with the great leather-bound ledger open before her. This is the official book for The Pit, where everything having to do about its legal business is recorded. Her fingertips are already stained with ink as she pores over the pages, making notes here, adding figures to columns there. All is serene- but occasionally she does glance towards the doorway, expectant.

There's something to be said about the feeling of returning somewhere you haven't had to be after having had enoguh time to think over why, exactly, you disliked being there in the first place. Ladivos, however, will not be the one to say it. There is no fanfare, no audible announcement past heavy footsteps and a a sharp intake of air through his nose, before he's already lumbering past a corner and into the office. Like he's been called into the headmaster's against his will, complete with an attempt to stare down the only other person in the room as he approaches her. Or perhaps that's just the way he always looks. But there's no denying that he appears a little restless, a little annoyed — the scrub of one hand against one of his cheeks proves as much.

Surely Maryam knows the man well enough to recognize the signs of restlessness. Maybe she even knows him well enough to decipher what it means, under the surface. But when she glances up again to find him there, her first response is simply to raise her eyebrows and rely on her veils to hide whatever other expression she wears. "Will you sit?" Couched as an invitation, she uses the tip of the quill she holds to indicate the low chair on the opposite side of the desk.

It's not even glanced at. Ladivos knows it's there, but his attention stays on Maryam. Her question receives a dismissive wave of his hand, before it disappears into a pocket and yanks out a slightly abused and cheap bit of hide. The words 'BREAK your-' are block-lettered into it, and it's thrown nonchalantly onto the desk in front of him to uncrumple now that it's been freed. If he deems it important, he doesn't much show it, already occupying himself with finding something else — reaching for the flask he always seems to have stashed on him somewhere, and turning to walk in a circle as he throws his head back and gulp down some of its contents, brow low and expression seemingly fixed on gloomy today.

Maryam's eyebrows creep higher. The hide is spared a glance when it lands beside the ledger and does reach for it, turning it carefully with delicate fingers, but otherwise it is overlooked as unimportant for the moment. More important is this show of agitation and whatever has caused it. Leaving her book, her quill, the hide, she opens a drawer in the desk and pulls out a scraped hide, so old that it seems translucent in places. This is placed before the chair Ladivos has refused, with the ink pot and the quill. "Sit down," she repeats, removing the question aspect, "and tell me what has upset you. Please."

Though he stops his pacing before he looks at her, Ladivos does not appear to do this out of request, but rather surprise. It's several seconds before he moves again, frozen with the flask still in hand, but when he does… it's for a smile. A bared row of upper teeth in amusement, before they disappear behind the flask again. As he takes another slow swig of what's inside, he moves toward the seat. Fine. He'll sit, but with a whoomf that would break lesser seats. The stubborn's yet to dissipate from him entirely, and instead of writing, he grits his teeth, and then… speaks — in a sense. The voice he manages to produce with a pained tightening of a great number of muscles in his neck and face is hardly voice at all, all dry and uncontrolled in its hoarseness in a way that might have still been okay if it didn't sound like someone had then taken a cheesegrater to it and shaved it down for about a week. The volume's about the only thing that comes out as he intended, far too loud for a place so empty. "Clueless!" He clamps a hand onto the side of his neck immediately after, grimacing at Maryam. Misplaced annoyance, have some directly at you.

Through all of that, his hesitation, his finally seating himself, the effort to speak and the ringing silence that follows that harsh bark that barely resembles a voice, Maryam waits patiently. So very still, so very calm. So confident that he's going to get to the point eventually. And when Ladivos finally does, she puffs out a breath strong enough to lift her veil and shakes her head. "We knew they would be, before you went to join their ranks. Stop fidgeting, Ladivos, and think. Would so hopeless a group be able to organize these raids?" That's right, Ladivos. Back on target, man! Enough with this boytantrum! She reaches forward, breaking her self-imposed stillness, to tap the hide he's brought her. "Does this have to do with the raids?"

Like he's not quite done going back to silent mode again, Ladivos gives a rattling 'mnNNnnnh' of a breath outward as he gives his head two quick shakes. Pain's like water, you shake, you lose it. Fact. Dipping his head momentarily to watch Maryam like she's the enemy, he attempts to calm himself down with a breath deep enough to creak leather. Then, he leans forward and reaches for the quill. One dip into the ink pot later (and a blotch of ink that splats onto the hide unintentionally) he writes. 'I am just as clueles as they are', it reads messily, when he flips the hide around for Maryam to read, then drops the quill with little regard for where ink may spill from it and and sits back to throw her an expectant stare.

It's not unlike throwing a gauntlet down. Maryam carefully picks up the edge of the hide and scans the words. After, it's set just as carefully down before her hand strays towards her face. Through the thin fabric of her veil, she pinches the bridge of her nose, and closes her eyes as if pained. Maybe he's shook his own pain off and thrown it right at her? "That is not helpful, Ladivos," she murmurs. Then, brief moment of weakness set aside, she opens her eyes and drops her hand to the desk again, as composed as ever. "There has to be something out of the ordinary to find there. These are incompetent men suddenly engaged in competent business. Something has to stand out. That is your job. To notice the extraordinary. Yes?"

Ladivos slowly and visibly seems to calm, even if it is just for lack of fidgeting. Clearly he's counting down from ten very slowly in his head while Maryam shows her rare signs of annoyance. Or there's something good in that flask. Maybe both. When he leans forward again to swipe the quill and hide he wrote on before, he seems more focused, writing slowly but more neatly, 'guards are louts'. Below that, with an arrow turned mostly accidental inkblot separating the two, 'SEGAM' and 'what do we know?'

This inquiry is slowly and prompts, at first, a slow shake of her head. Maryam rises from the chair to wander away, aimed for the sideboard where a decanter of water rests with pewter mugs. Alas, she has nothing stronger than that unless she avails herself of Ladivos' flask- and what proper Igen woman would do something like that? Not her. As she pours herself out a dose of water, she says, "He has never been interested in doing his job as is traditionally expected. He has his finger in most of the illegal dealings in the Bazaar, which is no doubt a help to the Weyrwoman in locating those people to next raid. He encouraged much of that business, so long as he received his cut."
Ladivos stays decidedly seated, leaning forward to prop his elbows onto his knees and let his head dip while he falls not silent, as such, but at least into thought. And he stays like this for a while, eyes on his labour-weary hands and his neck only occasionally turning just slightly to one side, like he's got a cramp there that he means to quell through willpower alone. But once he's done some brooding, he reaches for the ride again. First, he writes, 'he is not always there'. Then, with the last word underlined twice, 'if he was not there at all'. Lastly, next to a questionmark big enough to count for both these words stacked atop one another at once, like a drop-down list Maryam gets to choose from, 'help', or 'hinder'…? He doesn't even look at her when he slides it slowly in her direction, quill kept between his fingers.

Maryam returns her goblet of water to the desk and kneels once more. She takes a small sip before attending to this new note, holding it between both hands and reading slowly- twice. This time, after she digests his meaning, her eyebrows draw together- thoughtfully though, rather than in disapproval. "That would depend," she says quietly, measuring each word out with care, "on the manner of his not being there at all and the qualities of the person who was there afterward. Whether they would be brought into this. Do you suppose you might be in a position to take on that knot? Guard captain?" The blue eyes that study him are full of speculation but it's likely clear she's leaning towards 'help'.

A smile manages to push its way back onto Ladivos' face before he's thought to look up at Maryam again, one that reaches his eyes easily enough. Though… it already appears to recede again once he does lift his gaze to study Maryam right back. One of his eyebrows quirks upward, and — if expressions were books, the one on his face right now would be titled, 'Oh Wait: She's Serious'. Upon realising this, a few seconds later, his smile only widens, leaving little of the gloom that had been on his face earlier. Like he's looking at a child who's just asked him if he can turn into a dragon. Sure. Why not. And he's got JUST the thing; With a stifled and noiseless chuckle expressed solely through a short-lived shake of the shoulders, Ladivos lifts a a hand to plunge an invisible dagger, presumably, into an invisible Segam, also presumably. Stab stab stab. With that done, the invisible knot gets snatched up and smacked onto his own shoulder before he turns his smile to Maryam again, head angled slightly to the side. As if to say, like that? He does not seem convinced. Nor terribly into this hypothetical path of action.

These theatrics draw another sigh from Maryam. She parcels them out as if they were pearls, and they always, always mark a moment when she's unhappy with the person she's dealing with. In this case, Ladivos and his play acting. She reaches forward, taps one ink-stained finger against the hide he'd so recently wrote upon. "I said nothing of killing the man. You brought it up. If he were not there, it would help, not least because it means Corelle would have to put her plans on hold while he was replaced. And if you were the one chosen as his replacement…" Why, she'd have a guard captain in her pocket, wouldn't she? Or so she'd like to think. "The only way to remove him short of bloodshed," and here he is given a most dry look, "is to show that he is unfit. Which everyone already knows."

The sigh does not seem to bother Ladivos - he wasn't terribly fond of the idea of murder anyway. But the idea of him as a guard captain? It does nothing but make him bury his face in his hands. Perhaps for lack of being able to explain why this is his reaction, exactly, he moves on. Once he's snatched the hide up again, he writes, 'have to prove him more unfit than that'. But his quill does not quite leave its surface, lingering with an unintentional squiggle onto the hide. A swallow has the man grimacing again, before he pulls the hide slightly closer and adds under the previous, slightly more rushed and untidily, 'sorry I have' — the last two words are scrawled through, amended with 'there is nothing else yet'. He lays the quill down onto the desk and leaves the hide where it is, moving to stand, yet not to leave. Not quite yet. First, he watches Maryam's face for something.

No matter, his expressed dismay at the thought of new rank. Maryam ignores the gesture of face in hands as if it never happened, stubbornly fixed on this grand idea- a future possibility she'll no doubt return to when she judges the time is right. For now, she leans forward while waiting for the new note, studying Ladivos rather than his quill until he's finished writing. "Then set your mind to it," she instructs on the first note, of Segam's fitness, "and keep your eyes open to opportunity. Worst case, perhaps you can present evidence to Corelle that she would be better served with you in that office. If he were hiding things from her and you uncovered it…I can look through the books, see if anything presents itself." As for the rest, she glances down and smears those scrawled words without thinking about it, obscuring the apology. "It is early yet, Ladivos. You have already done well, by finding a place there. Just continue as you are."

It may be a sign of trust that Ladivos does not seem to think twice about these words, finding steady ground in them when it has lacked elsewhere. He's never been fond of uncertainties, and even less of having to accept them. Alas. The amusement found earlier has now left him, and he's just turning to walk for the office's exit just as curiosity drives him to stop and turn around. He walks slowly backwards still as he lazily lifts a hand to point to Maryam directly, and raises his eyebrows questioningly. He's been the subject long enough, it's her turn now. Clearly he does not expect a long answer, seeing as he's still on the move, but he doesn't plan on leaving without it either.

She mirrors that lift of brows, bemused rather than surprised by the inquiry. "I will be better when the Weyr is no longer under the oversight of an outsider." Such a businesslike response, Maryam. So prim, so proper. That facade softens to something more human a second later when she admits, with a girl's reluctant sorrow, "and I have more time for my verses. Be safe, Ladivos. Be careful. Mama will be cross with me if I contribute to you coming to any harm." Because, as they all know, Ladivos and harm are the matriarch's province.

It isn't until the subject of verses hits Ladivos' eats that he seems content he's gotten a good enough answer, and he turns once more to walk the right way forward. Oh, if he could bark a laugh, he would. In lieu of being able to mimic a celebration of epic propotions, and in a wave's stead, he lifts a hand to wave a tiny and imaginary flag over his shoulder while the corners of his mouth curl into a wry smile. And so he leaves the Pit to its quiet, once more. Back to business.

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