==== November 16th, 2013
==== N'cal, Bendegan (NPC - K'vvan, handler)
==== An old friend gives N'cal some rather unexpected information regarding Igen's Weyrleader.

Who N'cal, Bendegan (NPC - K'vvan, handler)
What An old friend gives N'cal some rather unexpected information regarding Igen's Weyrleader.
When Mid-morning. There are 8 months and 15 days until the 12th Pass.
Where Southern Telgar Steppe



Southern Telgar Steppe
The savannah home of desert runners and hardy herder-folk, Telgar’s steppe-lands along the northern bend of the Western Road are dry and wind-swept. No trees grow here, save around the scant rivers and lakes that dot and thread the terrain. Summers here are quite hot, and the winters are deep, with many a morning finding the low shrubs and grasses gilded in thick, silvery frost. The flatness here might drive a mountain-dweller insane, were it not for the rolling hills that break the monotony of the view every now and again. Navigation must be done relying on sun, stars, sense, and scant landmark alone, for there are no mountains or valleys to take a bearing by for leagues.

A lone wagon sits nestled among the quiet brush of Telgar. Not even the most hardy of herders watch their flocks in this far corner. A pair of shaggy runners drink from a makeshift trough, water obviously ported in as no other water shows itself to ne evident. A middling height man with a close cropped length of hair looks skyward, one hand covering his face to protect it from the bright sunlight.

A single blue dragon suddenly winks into the stark light of midmorning above the flat, dusty steppes, nearly blending into the sky itself before briefly clipping across the sun as he circles once in descent. Iolarth settles easily atop a small rise not far from the solitary wagon - far enough to hopefully prevent the runners from spooking, but close enough to not have N'cal hiking. The bluerider tugs his scarf from his face and unfastens the high collar of his jacket as long strides carry him toward the trader, a smile growing as he nears. "Bendegan," he greets, extending his hand to this friend from a former life. "Quite a remove from the rest of the caravan you've put yourself at, out here. Your little bronze seemed to remember me well enough, thankfully. What comes, my friend?"

Bendegan strides forward, meeting the rider halfway, sparing a moment to pat his runners only briefly in reassurance that the large dragon is to STAY AWAY. "I was hopin’ my Gizrt would find you well, Neacal. Ain't by choice I'm lingering on these blasted steppes with an empty wagon." His brown eyes flicker upwards to the dragon on the hill. "He'll keep his distance, aye? Didn't even bring that boy of mine to chase them runners if they get spooked."

"Oh, he will," N'cal assures the man with a quiet chuckle. "He won't even look their way. In fact, he'll just take a nap, it seems." He gestures at a newly curled-up Iolarth, whose head is now resting in the brush, eyes shut against the brightening day while his rider tends to more boring things than flying. Those things being business, apparently, as N'cal gives a slight tilt of his head in question, folding his arms. "Not by choice, hm? Given that you could have picked somewhere less isolated, I can only assume something has happened…and I came to mind? What is it?"

A faint bit of worry that had etched itself between the brows of the trader eases as the dragon's eyes lid. "Aye, getting paid at least, or it wouldn't be worth it. It's the Lady Keroon. You remember that wandering eye she got? Rumor says her Lord Husband has finally wised up to it. Sent a drudge to search around and came up with some letters." N'cal raises an eyebrow to underscore the type of letters uncovered. "Seems the lady has been seeking "company" with a rider from Telgar recently. Lord was none too happy, and was gonna do more searching to see what other he could find. Apparently, the Lady ain't too happy, either, and managed to get me some of the letters her Lord ain't found yet. Told me to deliver 'em to your Weyrleader for some reason."

Eyebrows travel dramatically upward as Bendegan finishes his tale, and N'cal gives a dry laugh, dropping his arms to clasp his hands behind his back. "Lord Tirvin would act the hypocrite, wouldn't he?" The Keroon Lord's own wandering eye was rather well-known during N'cal's trader days, and hasn't changed much by all accounts. His Lady's own tendencies had only just surfaced while the Vandor caravan was at Keroon…and of course, were kept much more low-key, as was "fitting." N'cal takes a small line of pacing in front of his old friend, thoughtful. "So his Lady smuggled out all she could before Tirvin found more, got them into the capable hands of Bendegan, the loyal and trustworthy business hand of the Vandor caravan, with instructions to get them into the care of Igen's Weyrleader…why? A safe place for them, to be sure, but I'm doubtful that our good Weyrleader would have much time to take care of incriminating letters sent into his care. Why W'rin? What consequence? Why not simply entrust them to a friend of hers?" He stops, regarding the man carefully. "I assume you intend to ask me to get those letters the rest of the way to the Weyr. I'm willing…but there must be more to this, Ben."

"Aye, well, it's been said that Lord Tirvin has got a particular sore spot for his Lady beddin' down with riders." Eyebrow waggle as a grins spreads across Bendegan's face. His arms fold across his chest and he taps his toe. "Crux of it, seems like some of the letters in my satchel are from your W'rin to the Lady. Some pretty, ah, personal things. From the looks of 'em, they're old, but still after the Lady tied the knot. Lord Keroon's been sayin' loudly that if he catches wind of his wife with another rider, well, mayhap the tithes just won't be flowin' as frequently, seein' as the weyr has found another way to get their payment. Mayhap more serious than that. Now, here's what I figure. It'd take me quite a few more days to cross these damned desert slopes, and then mayhap even more to get a private conference with your weyrleader. Mayhap even cause a few questions. Lord Tirvin ain't stupid; word gets round I've been talking to a Weyrleader without my caravan gathered round, he might be jumpin' to some conclusions what are perfectly valid. You take 'em, 'n, well… no one is gonna question a rider speaking to his own leader, neh?"

Now that has N'cal stopping frozen, staring in careful disbelief at the trader. Letters…from the ever-dutiful, ever serious W'rin…to Keroon's own Lady? Written Turns ago or not, the implications there are quite weighted. Savvy of her, to send away what she could. Though not so savvy as to avoid discovery altogether. If those letters were tracked to Bendegan and then to the Weyr, then without N'cal running up the middle, the results for Igen could be… "Yes, of course. I'll take them," the bluerider answers emphatically. "I thank you for your trust in this, Bendegan. You were right to send for me." Yet even as he says this, the wheels in N'cal's head are clearly spinning, the thought of the Weyr being endangered by something so relatively trifling drawing his thin lips into a frown as he thinks of the best way to handle this…and yet something in his more devious nature is stirring, moving him to take a closer look. Yes. Being back home, out of the sun, with Iolarth awake to help him mull things through - this would be best, from here.

"I'll be getting 'em, then." Turning, Bendegan walks back to his wagon and disappears inside. Moments later he is out again, carrying a pile about the size of a brick in his head. "Too many of 'em to send via firelizard. Couldn't think of no one else up there in Igen who wouldn't spill the beans if given 'em to spill. Lady Keroon should've burned 'em, but you know her. Too damned sentimental to do what's best. Who am I to judge? Easy coin in my pocket and a berth for my wagon come winter-time again."

"Er…indeed." N'cal eyes the stack dubiously before taking it under his arm. Surely not all of these are the letters in question…but the bluerider intends to find that out for himself, once he's returned. There's no way he's going to keep his nose out of what he now has in his possession; if he's going to give them over to W'rin, he's going to be damned sure of what he has. And even so, the temptation to peruse all of it is just too great. A stack of dirty laundry on one of Pern's most powerful Ladies? What man not above occasional underhandedness wouldn't want to see it? There could be some business leverage there, and with N'cal's plans… The bluerider delves into the pouch at his hip and produces a Vintnercraft quarter-mark, extending it to the trader with a nod. "Visit my sister's stall the next time you're at a Fort gather, and she'll see you well cared for," he informs Bendegan with regard to the little wooden disk. "I'll see these to the Weyr, then. Do you need anything? Are you provisioned enough for the trip back?"

Bendegan takes the mark, slipping it into a pouch at his hip. "If I can make good time, I'll be back with my caravan soon enough. Sure I'll be payin' your sister a visit." A crude smile spreads across the trader's face as he winks up at N'cal. "Fly safe, friend. Oh," he pauses just a moment, "Might want to get word back to Lady Keroon once you hand over that pile. Make my time gettin' payment outta her a mite more easy."

N'cal levels a bit of a glare at the trader for that crude smile - warning, though he's aware his old friend jests. "Don't make me regret that, you ass." Then he nods at the last, while Iolarth quietly stirs on his hillock across the way. Time to wake up! "I will, Bendegan; not to worry," he assures the man, giving him a clap on the arm in farewell. "You know how to find me, should you need anything else. Give my regards to the caravan." And with that, he's off to his dragon, slipping the stack of letters into a pouch on Iolarth's straps before vaulting to the sky-washed blue's neck and winging away east, vanishing in the mild glare of Rukbat's still-waxing rays.

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