====November 15, 2013
====Maryam, Taryn
====Taryn is introduced to her new job at the Pit.

Who Maryam, Taryn
What Taryn is introduced to her new job at the Pit.
When There are 0 turns, 8 months and 18 days until the 12th pass.
Where The Pit, Igen Weyr

maryamveiled01.jpg i19_orange.jpg


thepit-arena.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 north leads one into the business' office. 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.


Early afternoon marks the busiest time in the Pit, aside from the actual fights. Now is when the drudges are out in force, sweeping, raking, refilling glowbaskets, scrubbing the galleries…there's no end to the work needed to keep the arena running smoothly. Other employees are about as well- waitresses brought in from Rosie's Daughters conferring in a huddle (discussing all of the latest gossip instead of drink prices and section claims), bookies (many of them Steen sons) referring to sheets of numbers for the upcoming matches and finally the gladiators themselves, kicked back in the galleries enjoying some ale while others have to work around them. It is a lively atmosphere, full of enterprise and laughter rather than the grunts and screams that will fill the building later this evening.

Word was sent to Taryn that today would be her first day working in the Pit, the towheaded youngster sent to fetch her not shy with both his grins and a hand outstretched seeking a tip. Whether he earns one or not- and she can be sure he's already been well paid for this duty- he'll lead her back to the business, up the stairs and into the whitewashed entryway. It's there that Maryam waits, swathed in blue and sand, engaged in soft conversation with a taller, lantern-jawed brother. "We can adjust it before the fight. He wanted six to one? Four might be more reasonable unless the fee was right."

Her messenger's tip is granted in the form of a bright-skinned piece of fruit plucked from a basket filled at market that morning. Taryn takes her time to be sure her hair is twisted back into a tight braid before wrapping it over with a dark cream hadscarf, the material still shades lighter than the practical deep brown drape of her modest dress. She's bright of eye and easy of smile as she's led into the backscene bustle of the bazaar's arena, her curiosity worn perhaps a touch overly flagrant for the nowtimes. There's something comfortably knowning in the way she takes in Rosie's girls, perhaps a touch of rue twisted for the sight of the bookies and their numbers, and the gladiators — the men with their ale earn a more abstract critique from the Healer's kohl-rimmed eyes. All of this, it keeps her head turned and perhaps leaves her hostess's conversation more private as she drawn near. That lantered-jawed brother becomes her focus a long moment, expression pulled more demurely quiet as Taryn neatens at all those folds of her attire and falls into clasp-handed waiting. It is, however, Maryam she waits on — the line of her shoulders once she's stopped her feet is squared attentively towards the other woman.

Demure is the right tact to take. When the youngster darts over to brother and sister to tweak the latter's sleeve, the male looks up and immediately scans Taryn from crown to toes. What he sees must pass muster because he looks away almost immediately after- reluctant, possibly, to impinge on the personal space of an unrelated female, even with vision alone. "Make it five to one, fifteen before the match," he rumbles at Maryam, "the man paid well." That business concluded, he turns to leave- his course carrying him towards the fighters- and leaves his sister to shift focus. She's smiling behind her veil as she closes the distance between them, sizing up Taryn's appearance much as her brother had, though in more lingering fashion. "You have an instinct for blending," she says in lieu of more traditional greeting. "Is that a Healer's trait, or innate?"

It's a corner's watch of storm dark eyes that note the Steen man's departure. Taryn's smile strengthens a fraction as she's left with the familiar blue cloaked figure, her chin lifting at a slim tilt as slightly narrowed lashes make consideration of these options. "I've learned it," she supposes. "A survivor's instinct," she'd rather say than Healer's. "Harsh places make for fast learning." The shape of her smile has pulled a little uneven. Her gaze breaks away from that peeked from Maryam's veil in order to roll another muted survey of the Pit itself, the stone and dust and different-toned murmurs of conversation. "Is this typical?" That open curiosity settles back upon the other woman. "Do they all work for you?"

"It is admirable. I am not entirely certain I would be able to do the same, in your place." Even her compliments are measured out with a formality that makes speech seem faintly stilted. Soft, quiet, calm- but also not someone inclined to often speaking her mind. Maryam therefore welcomes the questions, adjusting her stance to look out over the well-oiled turnings of the Pit's mechanisms. Her head tilts, sign of attempting to see it through a stranger's eyes. Someone new to it all. "Typical? Yes. Every night that the Pit is open, it happens like this. They work for my mother, or my brothers. I am just the bookkeeper and sometimes, ah…the mouthpiece. Yes? As I was in finding you. Healers have an area in the back rooms, where the fighters prepare. Would you like to see it?"

"Just?" Taryn wonders with an inquisitive shifting of sculpted brows, lips twitching in a soft subtle amusement that would challenge the word. But she dips a more obvious nod, lightly dropping a shoulder to catch up the fabric of her skirt in the wind of her fingers — the hem floated just an inch more up from the desert stone in anticipation of stairs. "I would love to," her eagerness is a simple brightness. "Are there many others, Healers?" is the sort of wondering question made for the travel of feet. "Working for your mother and brothers…" this has the cadence of her just-now going back over the words and finding where they are obviously wanting, blue eyes flickering back to Maryam's: "Not your sisters?"

Challenge is met with the simplest of evasions: silence. Maryam sets off to lead the other woman through the arena, winding around the sand-filled pit on the paved side of the wall. The weight of many, many sets of eyes on them becomes marked the instant they step beyond the boundary of the entryway into the arena too- fighters at ease are quick to notice movement, and when that movement comes equipped with blonde hair and curves, they're not shy in their scrutiny. They are oddly silent, however. No whistles, no catcalls, nothing but the pressure of observation follows the pair of females. Maryam keeps her chin down. "Mama is not fond of those who take up the profession, we have gone through several. Our last left not long before I approached you," she murmurs. "Another is now the guard captain. Sometimes we can find apprentices wanting trauma experience. If you need an assistant, we can find one." She pauses for a beat before adding, "My sisters are married."

She may have an instinct for blending in, but Taryn also seems no stranger to standing out. The blonde effortlessly wears the weight of attention with the line of her shoulders a steady set beneath the softer shifting folds of her garb. Kohl rimmed eyes may take another sweep of the populated stands as the view becomes part of their path, but her focus is soley upon the other woman she walks with. The news of the Steen matriarch's outlook regarding Healers is a thing that sits less smoothly, rolling darker clouds of quiet thought across the young woman's gaze. A breath opens her mouth, a furrow touched light to her brow, at the mention of the guard captain. However, it's the offer that comes after which she ends up speaking to: "That might be nice. I'll have to see…" Marriage. It draws in her breath, throwing her smile askew and stretching another long nod that fixes her eyes briefly toe-ward. "Husbands can take a lot of looking after," her voice is richer for the low volume.

Behind the dais where Mama Steen so often holds court and opens the matches, there is a small doorway hung with a beaded curtain. When they reach this point, partially obscured by the curve of the arena, Maryam stops and turns with arm outstretched to draw the beads out of the way. They click and clack as each string sways. But rather than wave Taryn through, she lifts her eyes and allows herself a moment of study, focused especially on the tilt of that smile when she speaks of husbands. "If it is known that you are open to matches, there will be offers. I have brothers unmarried still, and some of my nephews are of a suitable age. Should anyone be inappropriate, however, you should speak with Arjun. He handles the training here. But if you wish it…" What can be seen of her brow takes on a faint rumple. "I have met no Oldtime women inclined to marriage. I had wondered if it was not a custom you followed."

"I meant apprentice…" The plural gets drifted off as Taryn follows closer to Maryam's words, her dark a quick scan of lighter blue eyes. There's no recoil in the light surprise that touches her features, rather the unfocused, uncertain reach for her bearings. It's the nowtimer's observation that settles her back to some common foundation and casts amusement-tipped knowing across her expression. "Like that… the assistant weyrlingmaster," she recalls. A longer breath eases her to the relaxation of an absent gesture, the edge of her scarf brushed back from her face like she might do with a lock of hair. "I don't know much of Weyrfolk, but we certainly married. "I…" Again her gaze drops, brows shifting high and teeth catching the edge of her lip. "My husband… I married. He — it is hard, to think, it was so long ago." There's a warp to her smile as she rolls her eyes high, head shaking a little as she pulls her mouth into a more firmly bunched curve. The gentle sway of the clacking beads provides additional detour before she sets the flutter of her gaze back upon Maryam, lips pinned and a little lift bouncing her shoulders. "Uhm." Her brows tug together. "Arjun. Handles training," is a seemingly pertinent fact to latch onto.

"Oh." Just that, at first. The rumple of forehead deepens a touch. "I apologize, ma'am. For misunderstanding." And perhaps also for the loss of her husband, though Maryam doesn't speak to that. Her chin has fled downwards again and remains so. "Arjun, yes. Another brother. He holds the contracts for prospects, those who wish to make a name for themselves here. If any of the men treat you poorly, he will want to know. We have few women under this roof but they are safe while they are here." At least, the implication goes, from any of the men attached to the Pit itself. Those who come to drink and gamble might be another thing entirely. She doesn't speak of those, adding more to the pile of what has gone unsaid in this conversation. Beyond the curtain is a short hall. It ends in a wide room. To one right, benches and niches where fighters can store items and clothing. To the rear, a wall covered with racks to hold weapons. And to the left, where Taryn will be practicing. She will be mistress to a pair of canvas cots, a tall wooden table of wood so old it has a waxy sheen to it that's been stained dark by blood through the ages, and a lone cabinet filled with medicinal supplies. It's here that the silent young woman brings the healer, and here that she finally breaks that silence to say, "As bookkeeper, I also handle ordering supplies. If there is anything you feel you need…"

The slim nod may start as acceptance of apology, but it strengthens to reception of her brother's keeping of order amongst the men. Taryn is again a thing of wide, inquisitive eyes as they drift down the short walk to the fighter's room. The weapons seem to demand her attention at first, the things stared at without seeming to put much ripple to her aspect. The dressing area is expected enough to not get much notice, and then the tables… She walks past the stained table with a drift of fingers upon wood, gaze tilted thoughtful and distant. At its end, it's left readily enough for the cabinet. A brief flick of her glance seems a request for permission, though she's already washing up against the cabinet to swing the door open under a precise tilt of her hand. The other is quick to reach in, twisting this and nudging out that as she runs brief survey of the shelves. "And what is the extent of care expected?" Her scarf sighs with the turn of her head back to the Steen daughter. "Blood staunched, bones set… Stitches," is an assumption as her attention drifts back to the weapons. "Not long term care," is guessed with attention settled back upon wood and canvas in the shared subterranean space. "Do you transfer to the Weyr's infirmary?"

"Occasionally burns, when Mama brings in novelty matches. But for the most part, yes, for after care. And less severe injuries…sprains, strains…the fighters enjoy massage as well, though we can bring girls in from Rosie's Daughters to accommodate them if you prefer. We hold a contract, they pay for it from their winnings." Maryam takes a place to the side, nearest the wall, where she can watch Taryn familiarize herself with the workspace. Attention divides between the healer and lifting the lid of a glow basket to provide more light. "Most prefer not to make use of the infirmary. I have heard they do not approve of what we do here," she says for the question. Her smile might be hidden but the thin edge of it can be heard in her tone. "Once a seven, we require physicals on all fighters under contract. Those who do not hold a contract with us may opt out. Otherwise your days will be your own. The shows begin at sunset, with the first fight coming shortly after. You are required to be here an hour before the opening of the doors, to perform last checks on the men, and then to remain through the final fight to provide care as needed."

Taryn turns back to the cabinet as Maryam starts her answer, expression lost to her perusal of the shelves. Perhaps her fingers pick out the sort of ointment most commonly applied to seared flesh. "I've specific training in massage," she offers — perhaps it is no accident that this is mentioned after payment is disclosed. She turns again at word of the job's hours, a full twist of her body that sways the cabinet closed behind her back and sets her into a lean as she lets blue eyes wander the space. Considering. Imagining. "I can check and make requests of the inventory today. You have what should be a current record?" It's almost made as a statement, given the other woman's orderliness. "Are the physicals scheduled into that first hour, or should I plan additional time?"

How quickly Taryn learns! No sooner has she mentioned the record, Maryam is producing a small and well-scraped hide from one of the no doubt countless pockets hidden in her robes. She unfolds it, offers it and attempts a warmer cast to her eyes. "Three months of supply tallies, so you will have a better idea of what goes quickly and how much is typically needed. We purchase through the Weyr, as part of our tithe, and submit orders monthly. Additional supplies would have to come through the Hall, at a delay." Though it may take Taryn some time to work through the record; Maryam's script is precise but small, and not the easiest to read by glow light. "The physicals run all day on the first day of the seven. The hour before the match is to accommodate any last minute wrapping or stretching you might need to assist with."

It brightens her own smile, eyes meeting, as Taryn steps from the cabinet to cross and accept the hide. The float of her fingertips start to meter out her skimming, finding the place where precise notes cluster periodically. "Monthly orders, slower through the Hall," she seems to seed into memory with a little nod. In the poor light, she soon gives up reading in order to look back up at Maryam. "Alright." Her tongue presses faintly to her lips as again she scans the place. "Is there an office? Somewhere less…" She's looking towards the benches and all those nooks. Public. "And with better light?" The scraped hide gets a little lift.
Public. And soon to be filled with a great many large, sweaty, loud men. "The front office, to your right when you first come in," Maryam says promptly. "It has a skylight and more glowbaskets. I spend most of my time there. It is nicer than…than this." She pauses for a beat before adding, "Water, as well? Are you thirsty?" Whether the answer is yes or not, it would appear that she's ready to be quit of this room. Slippered feet whisper against stone as she moves back towards the hall. Her pace is kept slow though, to allow Taryn ample opportunity to follow along, and curiosity compels another question: "Was there anything like this, in the old times? The Bazaar? The Pit?"

It tips a light of simple pleasure onto Taryn's features, the directions to the shared office. "Water would be lovely," and the promise of it has her quick within Maryam's wake, departing the fighter's lair before the pack of them descends — though she must expect to confront them before long. "There was nothing like it, in my experience," she answers true as they exit the close hall for the raked arena. The turn of her head will consider it again. "Gathers. Fighting rings," there's perhaps a shadow of hesitation before she claims knowledge of these. "But nothing so permanent. It's quite impressive." And, perhaps, Mama Steen's dais is what draws her gaze and this last thought.

"I wonder sometimes if Papa Steen knew that it would here for so long, when he decided to build. Perhaps he did. He as a man of vision, I am told." Though there's room for acknowledgement of bias in both voice and the smiling glance tossed towards Taryn, before Maryam fixes her gaze on the floor flowing beneath their feet. It's possible she overlooked that hesitation. The gladiators maintain their perch in the stands, though their conversation is louder now, more rambunctious- testament to the effect of the ale now missing from the steins cluttered around them. The sands are pristine though, and the entryway empty of drudges, Rosie's girls and Steens as she leads the healer through to the office. There are no chairs in evidence, but kneeling stools and cushions are available, and a sideboard which she crosses to to uncap a decanter. "And now you are a part of it all."

There's a glancing cast of Taryn's eyes towards the fighters at some cresting wave of conversation echoing into the Pit's stoney acoustics. "And action," she presumes to attribute to Papa Steen as well. "Something like this needs both," she imagines as her smile swings back to Maryam, starting to turn in franker amusement. "Or a whole lot of luck." Perhaps some of these things are on her mind as leading her steps as she is brought into the Igen office. She takes a long breath while picking out the features of this room, too — soft and ordered and lacking in bloodstain. While the Steen daughter tends the decanter, the Healer draws in a long breath. It may carry the slightest shiver of anxiety. "And now I'm a part of it all." Agreed with a broad sparkle of smile.

Add a New Comment