==== January 10, 2014
==== Cha'el, Maryam
==== A chance encounter in the baths sees Cha'el having to please explain to Maryam

Who Cha'el, Maryam
What A chance encounter in the baths sees Cha'el having to please explain to Maryam
When There are 0 turns, 3 months and 0 days until the 12th pass.
Where Igen Weyr, Public Baths

Chael.png maryam07.jpg


Public Baths
Stout walls have been erected around several naturally formed pools, serving to provide a semblance of privacy and protection from the harsh wind and sand. Above the pools, well cleaned walkways criss-cross beneath tiled arches and descend with a stairway or two leading down to each pool to provide one means of slip-free access through the area. Surrounding the pools there are benches, receptacles to put used clothing and towels in, and areas to get sweetsand and towels from - if you didn't bring your own.
To the southeast, you see a brown dragon.
Maryam is here.
Obvious exits:
Central Bazaar

This is the desert and as a result, there is no escape from sand- there is only temporary respite between one sandstorm and the next. This summer and autumn have been horrible for the skin-flaying winds coming up on short notice. So, while the winds are not raging, it makes sense that someone might seize the opportunity to try to rinse away the grit and enjoy a few hours of comfort. In this case, that someone is Maryam, and she is so desperate for an escape from the sand that she's broken ranks with the Steen women and eschewed their standard bathing time to venture to the public baths alone, off-schedule! She has made her way sequentially through the proper stages: the cubbies where dry clothes are stored, the shelves where sweetsand and towels can be fetched, and now to the edge of the pool where she slips her feet out of woven reed sandals. Even here she follows certain standards of modesty, wearing a sleeveless cotton shift that goes to the knees, with her hair secured in a single thick braid, but there is no veil to be seen, just a curiously intent expression on her face as she dips a toe into the water to test its temperature. Deeming it acceptable- and with a careful level of attention paid to not looking at anyone else in the area- she steps carefully down into her chosen pool, immersing herself gradually to the shoulders.

Crack-of-bird-fart aka dawn sweeps wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the sudden twister that had scooped up sand and flung it at Weyrsecond and dragon when it had snuck in from their right. Sand in the ears, sand in the nose, sand down the front of his jacket, sand in his boots. There had even been sand in his undershorts. Don’t even ask because Cha’el couldn’t explain that one if he tried. With drills scheduled only for the late afternoon to get in a bit of practice when dusk plays tricks on the eyes, the brownrider, already scrubbed and de-sanded happens to be lounging in the very pool that Maryam decides on. People have come and gone in the half hour he’s been there and so when another enters at the opposite end to where he’s situated, he doesn’t even bother to turn his head in that direction, let alone crack an eyelid.

Once she's safely covered to a modest level, Maryam drifts to the pool's edge where she'd left her things- the neatly piled towels, the sandals, but most importantly the pre-measured bag of sweetsand. It's taken in hand and scrubbed briskly between her hands after a good dunking, the rasping sound carrying over the water…and then gradually slowing, slower, stopping entirely as a chance glance reveals Igen's own Weyrsecond lounging just across the way. For a moment the young woman is frozen with none of her usual masks in place to hide surprise and perhaps a touch of consternation. But, after a quick glance around, she marshals her composure, gently clears her throat and sets out to be polite and not at all flustered, really. "Weyrsecond," she says quietly, as if they were in a formal dining room rather than the baths.

Even as the subtle sounds of someone preparing to bathe drift across steamy waters, Cha’el just doesn’t move. Perhaps he’s asleep. That illusion is shattered the moment his title is spoken and that in a familiar voice. Lids lift to reveal brilliant blue eyes that dart immediately to the speaker. “Maryam,” recognition given in a low drawl that’s polite and perhaps faintly amused to any within hearing distance, “You are well?”

"I am sandy." From others that might be a jest. Maryam means it in earnest, and demonstrates the truth behind it by lowering her head to focus on her task. That is, to begin scrubbing the foaming net bag over her shoulders, her neck, and then regions lower down beneath the safe obfuscation of the water's surface. A line etches itself in her brow, marking her eyebrows knitting together. "You have been well, I hope? I saw Sikorth taking the sun outside. He seemed content."

Whether she meant it in earnest or not, Cha’el’s lips twitch about amusement, his gaze half-lidding so that it makes it hard to tell whether he’s watching the respected daughter Steen bathe or has politely pulled his attention away. “So long as he can plot and plan and ‘riders follow formation, Sikorth is happy.” As for himself, there’s a short pause in which the soft lap of water marks a shift in position as the Weyrsecond straightens from his seated slump on an underwater ledge. “Well enough,” he replies with an odd note to his tone.

The slap of ripples summoned by that movement draw Maryam's glance. She looks, and then just as quickly she looks away. Perhaps she's come to regret leaving the safety of having so many other women around her, on an occasion such as this. Perhaps the sand is just being really stubborn and needs a good scrubbing to get it out of various nooks and crannies. "Are you certain? You sound…not unsure, but…" A bolder question than is perhaps warranted in this environment. She pulls a short breath, expels it just as shortly and then shakes her head. "I should not ask, it is not my place. My apologies, sir. I should not bother you while…while you are at your leisure." And having said so, she submerses herself to wet her hair. Bloop.

With water streaming from shoulders recently submerged, polite or not, Cha’el swings the full brunt of his attention to Maryam, gaze piercing and laden with things unsaid before it slips away again and fastens to where an elderly man is helping his sweetly wrinkled wife into a shallower bathing pool across the way. A quick smile appears though whether in response to the display of love and devotion on full display or for Maryam’s quick apology, is at first left undefined. “I was thinking about tea,” the Weyrsecond eventually replies, lifting his hand and then studying the droplets of water that drip from his fingertips. Another glance is stolen when the Steen daughter submerges and then flicks away the moment she comes up again.

It is a brief submersion, but long enough to help explain the color in her face when she reappears. Breathing out, pushing her hands over her face to scrape droplets of water away, Maryam is tinted a healthy shade of flushed pink. Give her a moment; she needs it. Once her breath is caught though, she's able to find a small but fleeting smile for him and dare glance across the water separating them again. "The business goes well, and your table is there whenever you have opportunity to get away, sir," she murmurs as she takes the netted bag in hand again. There is sand all along her scalp but removing that is going to take loosening her hair. The braid is pulled forward, its securing twine removed and the locks spread out behind her to drift atop the pool. It's chance that seems to drift her a few steps closer, so she can lower her voice still more to say, "I have seen the bluerider from Ista again."

One has to appreciate the effects of heated waters, especially when they supply a pretty blush such as the one Maryam is wearing. Amusement deepens, Cha’el’s gaze returning more intent than before when she speaks of her tea room. “I was thinking of dropping by tomorrow. I believe you have a new blend in stock.” Says the Weyrsecond with all the gravity of tea connoisseur. “Perhaps I’ll see if We’bey would like to join me.” However, the moment that braid comes undone to release a sea of water-darkened blonde to drift across the surface of the pool, the brownrider’s expression tightens and he pulls his attention away again. Seconds later it darts back again with a light frown in tow. “Erissa?” No disguising the stiffening of broad shoulders, his tone turned resigned. “What did she do this time?”

"We do," Maryam confirms, "and I should like to see We'bey." A trio of chattering lower caverns workers stroll by on their way to an adjacent pool and she breaks off to glance at them. Before their past, she's picked up the thread of conversation again, this time somehow managed a level study of the man before her. "Will this be your first outing together, you and he?" she asks, in the role of friend of the greenrider making curious inquiry. The prospect of seeing brown- and greenrider together is a pleasant one; the topic of Erissa less so. She returns to it eventually, but only after working hooked fingers through her hair over her scalp to loosen the sand. "She asked me to take her shopping in the cloth quarter. To commission some clothing. She…I promise not to tell We'bey," she says haltingly, "but she had a ring. A precious heirloom, she said, and given to her. To wear."

Holding that study of Maryam’s for a moment or two, the Weyrsecond looks away with a faint smile that may appear retiring tracing his mouth. “Aye, that it will be. He may not be able to. Our schedules don’t always match up.” A shrug of broad shoulders follows that and then Cha’el goes as still as a tree a somewhat incredulous look etched across his features. “Erissa said what!?”

Maryam is quiet a time. The force of the question demands a speedy answer and yet she defies that, studying the man closely. Again her brow rumples as eyebrows draw together. "She wore a ring. Etched silver with a black stone? She said you gave her this ring though it was special to you." The pause that follows is pregnant, filled with the back and forth of her gaze taking in every nuance. Perhaps she will be reporting back to We'bey after all. "Should I assume then that this was incorrect?"

As Maryam describes the ring in question, the Weyrsecond’s expression mirrors her own of furrowed brows. Lifting a hand Cha’el palms a wet hand over his face and exhaling a sigh gazes off into the distance for a while, lines of frustration sketching across bearded features. Slowly his attention returns to the daughter of Steen. “While the ring is indeed a family heirloom, it is not of my family but rather, Erissa’s. It belonged to her mother.” A pause and then his voice lowers and eyes of ocean-blue lock with icier hues, “I appreciate your coming to me with this before taking it to We’bey.”

It's the lowered voice that eases Maryam into making actual non-fleeting eye contact. She tilts her head to look up at him, solemn and dignified in spite of the suds decorating her hair. "I admit when she first said what it was, I was shocked. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood your intentions towards my friend," she says, each word measured slowly. "It is not unheard of, among riders, I know. She was adamant that you had gifted it to her. Over a lunch, she said. But if it was her mother's then perhaps…perhaps she should speak with a healer. That seems a dangerous delusion."

Solemn and dignified might be what she's going for but anyone wearing a crown of bubbles and lather is going to find themselves settled with a fleetingly amused expression. "Maryam," Cha'el slips off the ledge and finding the bottom of the pool with his feet, straightens and fits her with another of those weighty looks. "My intentions toward your friend are as they have ever been. Of that I can assure you. I never gifted the ring to Erissa. She left it in my weyr one day and I returned it to her over lunch the next when I found it. Please, you must believe me." In his tone lies a quiet note of pleading. "I would never do anything to knowingly hurt him."

Of course, there's more she hasn't said about Erissa's confidences. More than plays directly to the "left in his weyr" aspect of the explanation, a phrase which draws a wince from Maryam and the breaking of eye contact. "I believe you, sir. I know. It is…a complication of her own making. If you will excuse me, please? I must finish here and return before another storm blows up." The matter, it would seem, is to be dropped. She turns and lets the water carry her towards the far wall, where she can finish scrubbing her hair and rinse before making good on that promise of departure. All done now without looking or fraternizing.

That wince doesn’t go unnoticed and has the effect of deepening Cha’el’s frown for a moment, clearly unhappy by the manner in which she moves off but he knows there’s no point in pressing the matter. At least not now. Gaze tracking the long flow of blonde that sweeps behind Maryam, the Weyrsecond makes his way out of the pool, seemingly oblivious of his nudity and the presence of a demure daughter of Steen. By the determined manner in which he towels off and dresses, one can only imagine that he’s intent on getting to We’bey before she does.

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