====December 22, 2013
====Cha'el, Maryam, Sikorth
====The Weyrsecond seeks out Maryam to collect some numbers and to deliver a surprise.

Who Cha'el, Maryam, Sikorth
What The Weyrsecond seeks out Maryam to collect some numbers and to deliver a surprise.
When There are 0 turns, 4 months and 25 days until the 12th pass.
Where The Pit, Igen Weyr

Chael1.png maryamveiled01.jpg Sikorth.jpg


thepit-arena.jpg

Private Office
This office is furnished in spartan style: cushions for kneeling or sitting upon, though there is a single intricately carved chair for visitors who prefer to sit; a desk that's low to the ground constructed of the same whitewashed stone as the rest of the building; a sideboard kept stocked with pewter goblets and pitchers of wine and water. There are 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.


The daytime Pit is a different beast entirely from the revelry that claims it at night. Gone are the gamblers and girls and gladiators, the shouting, the wagers, the blood and beer spilled on stone and sand. During the day, it feels larger, an expanse of whitewashed stone and open air, occasionally disturbed by the slap of sandals against woven reed mats as a drudge scurries to deliver a message, or the rumble of male voices on a course for the changing rooms. The office, however, is always a cool, quiet sanctuary and much of that has to do with the fact that it is here that Maryam most often works- when Mama is in, one can trust that it's a more lively place. Not on this day, however. On this day, Maryam kneels behind the desk in dun and soft blue drapery. There is a ledger opened before her, its pages and her fingers alike fresh-stained with ink that comes of the pen held in her left hand. A second smaller book is opened to her right and it's here she glances most often, transferring the figures on those pages to the larger tome. There's serenity in the room, only the soft scratching of the pen's tip against linen paper breaking that rule of silence.

Having visited the Pit a couple of times at night since his arrival, Cha’el is struck by the expectant silence of it now. His steps sounding rather too loud in his ears, he snags one of those drudges scurrying about and is pointed in the direction of Maryam’s office. Shaven features composed about a thoughtful line, he comes to a halt just outside of the bookkeeper’s sanctuary, gaze drifting across the interior then landing on the woman herself kneeling at the desk. Kneeling. At the desk. Frown. Only once he’s gotten his fill of taking it all in, does the tall brownrider announce his presence by clearing his voice and giving a quietly drawled. “One plus one equals two. Two plus two equals four.” Twit.

The room is made for kneeling; rare is the visitor accorded the honor of a chair. But certainly there are cushions far more comfortable than the layered carpets Maryam kneels on, should Cha’el care to indulge. The young woman doesn’t look up when his voice is heard there in the doorway; knowledge of his presence, recognition of his person, shows instead in the way the pen’s passage over linen pauses. Briefly. Industry can only wait for so long, though- that or he’s thrown her off her count and she has to find it again- before the tip is dipped in the inkwell and the scratching begins anew. “Do please come in, sir. I apologize for not getting up but these numbers are due shortly,” she says as her head tilts from left to right, from ledger to book. At that angle, there’s no gauging her expression. The veil dangles straight down, disguising even the cadence of her breathing. “Will you take water? Or something else to drink?”

It’s this made for kneeling thing that has thrown Cha’el a little - The custom thereof, new to him. But when in Igen…Moving further into the room he pauses again, eyeing the cushions and carpets. That’s, a long way down. Certainly a shorter distance than dismounting from a fifteen foot high dragon but a lot more awkward, or so it seems to the tall ‘rider. A glance goes to Maryam and once assured she’s focused on her work, the decision is made. Leather creaks and there’s an odd sort of grunt from the brownrider and then he’s settled on his knees, butt resting against the heels of his boots and hands palmed to thighs. “No, I’m good, thank you.” Liar. He couldn’t feel more like a prat if he tried. And there he remains in silence, gaze following the smooth flow of numbers that build into neat columns.

Such an incongruous sight. it might be out of consideration that Maryam doesn't look up at the man until he's settled, refusing the bait of creaking leather and grunting until all such noises have faded. In the interim, she keeps her chin down and engages herself in dabbing the tip of the pen dry on a small ink-stained cloth used for that purpose, resting it on the desk's blotter and closing the books. The clean and simple lines therein are hidden, leaving her prepared to face the slightly less clean and simple lines of interacting. Her eyes cut from Weyrsecond to sideboard, where a decanter of water sparkles with condensation. No…water? All right, then she'll attempt a smile and fold her hands on the desk's edge instead. "As you like, sir. I did not think we would see you again so soon, how can we help you?"

Yes, he'd love some water but that would mean getting up when he's just managed to get himself down there. The other alternative, that of Maryam waiting on him, not an option Cha'el's prepared to entertain though it does draw forth a memory from that fateful day. The one tiny glimmer of light in an otherwise bleak landscape. Soothing cool water applied in gentle drifts, demure eyes…veil less. Focus! "I was wondering if you'd managed to complete a tally of the refugees currently burdening the Bazaar." The books set off to one side garner a short flicker of attention but not for the reasons she might assume. "And to bring you this." Dropping the carrysack from his shoulder, he reaches into it and extracts a rectangular object wrapped in brown paper. It gets set down with a sturdy thunk on his side of the desk and nudged forward with a finger.

Maryam is drawing breath to answer when he stymies the required simplicity of reply with a package. The unexpected is cause for another hesitation. The shape, its dimensions, the sound of it landing on the desk- it's very likely the woman knows exactly what's hiding under the paper but even so, she hesitates, looking from it to the brownrider and back again. Someone doesn't receive presents very often and appears to be trying to find a convincing reason, in their own thoughts, of how this isn't a gift of sorts. She rises up on her knees to lean over and lift the object, carrying it back into her lap for study. Not unwrapping! Not yet. First there's a business question to address. "I have the tally of workers and their relations, yes sir. Not everyone at the Bazaar has cooperated in the census but anyone who has contributed to the Thread shelters has been recorded. I have those figures for you," she says quietly. And then, wouldn't you know it, still without having unwrapped the package, she sets it aside to open a drawer of the desk, searching for a folded packet of linen paper.

Confidence has never been an issue for Cha'el. Not that he brandishes the banner of arrogant, just that he's always been comfortable with who he is. This situation, however, Maryam, her clan, their traditions and idiosyncrasies are so far out of his realm of knowledge that he finds himself on completely uneven footing. Thus it is that when the package is taken into her lap yet remains unopened and then is set aside, he's fairly certain he's crossed some or other line. She is after all, betrothed to another. Very faintly his brow creases and lips tic toward an uncertain line before features smooth into an inscrutable mask and attention falls fully to the business at hand. "What do you need to get them to co-operate," he asks, baritone hardening at the edges lending suggestion that he's willing to go in and drag every one of the refugees out by the ear to be counted.

The packet is placed where the book had been, his for the taking. Then, rather than settling back, Maryam rises in a whisper of robes. She's broken- a cup of water will be poured and set before the brownrider, and perhaps that will balance out the impulse to not return the gift on the basis of impropriety. So she lifts the decanter and fills a pewter mug, the metal adding a tang to the taste but keeping the drink so much cooler. This is carried and offered from the side, cradled in both hands. "Not all are willing to work. They loiter in the Bazaar during the day and come meal time, move to the living caverns where everyone may take a plate. Some end in the brig but the smarter ones…they know how to avoid the notice of the guards. It would take…mm, I am not certain. Perhaps a dedicated raid, sweeping from one end of the Bazaar to the other. But if you were going to do that, better to remove them entirely. They are a poor influence."

The packet is lent inspection and then drawn forward but not yet unwrapped, a frown now allowed to fully show itself at Maryam's observations. A muscle starts to tic in Cha'el's jaw, blue eyes gone hard when he glances up at the sounds of movement. Tracking her movements across the room he suppresses a sigh when her actions are revealed but he's quick to call up a short smile when the mug is pressed into his hands. "Thank you." Quietly spoken and a drink is taken for both the for the sake of slaking his thirst and so as to attempt to follow etiquette. Curling his hand about the pewter creation, the Weyrsecond shifts in his position, knees complaining about the prolonged pressure put on them. "So what you're saying is these lazy bastards are lying about all day and then expecting to be fed and watered?" It's clear to see that this does not sit well with him. "If such a raid were to be organized, would we have the permission of your people to carry it out?" For it hasn't taken him long to figure out just who it is that runs things in the Bazaar and just how necessary the lucrative trading grounds are to the Weyr's survival.

"They do less work than children, yes, and cause a great deal more trouble. They are hard men, shiftless women." That the man goes on to ask what he asks sends Maryam's eyebrows higher but also inspires a glint of approval in those pale eyes. "That is a question for my mother, sir. But I think she would approve, provided proper notice were given after asking for permission. That is very…" She hesitates, visibly. "That is very astute of you." Compliment given, the young woman flees slowly to the other side of the desk and takes her place there again. Her fingers trace the paper-wrapped shape that has still gone unopened. The silence drags out briefly, filled with a sense of Maryam fidgeting, though the visual reality doesn't back up that impression. Finally she draws a breath and glances up to meet ocean-tinted eyes with those of winter blue. "If…I may ask, sir. What is the custom with packages of this sort. In Ista? What is their purpose?"

Hard men and shiftless women. "The sorts to fu…mess with an honest man's living," Cha'el observes catching himself just in time, his expression grim, then smoothing out when Maryam goes scuttling back to her place, setting the desk back between them. The one side of his mouth curls upward though whether for the compliment paid his attempts at diplomacy or something else entirely, is left undetermined. In the silence that falls he begins to draw back the linen paper surrounding the package she'd slid over to him and then jerks his attention over to the uncertain young woman. She's kidding right? Pulling his tail to see what answer he might provide. But no, one look at the hesitancy in those cool wintry eyes and he's astonished to realize that she honestly has no idea what to do with the gift he'd given her. "Their purpose?" Baffled. "Uh…" There's a light frown and then a smile warms his features. "You open it. If you like it the giver is rewarded with a kiss, if you don't, you get to throw it at him." It's a tease, echoed in the roguish glint of deep blue eyes.

The very same sort, and Maryam would nod along in agreement if it weren't for teasing. What can she do with teasing? Very, very little, but be grateful for the veil. And even with that wisp of fabric in the way, her eyes are still visible. Quite against her will, they dart to the curl of the brownrider's lips before sliding quickly away, as if sight could scald. "In Igen, men who give gifts to women hope to be seen in a certain light." A light which no doubt jives with his remark, even teasing, about the nature of gift rewards. And it's for this reason that she reluctantly pinches the corners of the package…and slides it across the desk again. Back and forth, this time it will stay on his side of the desk, while Maryam sits back on her heels and studies the hands she folds in her lap. "I am sorry, sir," she murmurs, "but I cannot accept this. If it were in return for placing your name in my mother's ear, or…or an exchange for the refugee tally. But it was not and…and she would know. And then Elisau would know. I would rather not harm the beginning of your tenure as Weyrsecond in this way, you will have challenges enough as an outsider."

If she doesn't know what to do with teasing then Cha'el's on a similar teeter-totter and unsure what to do with her refusal of the gift. For the first time in over two decades, he feels like the awkward teenager he once had been. His intent hadn't been to step on another's territory, neither had it been put her in a difficult position. He'd simply wanted to give her something that was hers and hers alone unrelated to work or the expectations of her clan. Soft slither of paper against wood as she pushes it back toward him sounds out as loud as sandpaper grating over a tin roof. Silence stretches and draws back in again. He could relent. Could bow to the pressures of her traditions. But on this he won't back down. Finally: "Its not a bribe, neither is it payment. Its my way of saying 'Thank You'." For what he doesn't say. Finishing the water in the mug, Cha'el reaches forward to set it on the desk and then rocking back on his heels, unfolds back onto his feet, trying his utmost not to loom over Maryam. Slowly he bends again, takes up the package she'd slid his way - unopened - and tucks it into his carrysack. "I'm sorry if I've offended you." Quietly spoken. Expression carefully bland. And he turns to leave.

« Get back into the fray, soldier!! » Booms Sikorth in his head.

"Stay out of it!" Cha'el growls back mentally.

« Pussy!»

"Fuck off!"

Leaving her with the hot potato, as it were. Maryam blinks once when the brownrider moves to stand and the wrapped book is left where she'd placed it. How to explain its sudden presence in her life, to family, following a visit that Mama has no doubt already been appraised of courtesy of the drudges? Too large to hide or ignore, she stares at it- and then manners kick in, seeing her to her feet in order to properly see the man out. She could say, "You have put me in a most awkward position," but she doesn't. Too much like scolding. Instead she bows her head against the inevitable and walks their newly minted Weyrsecond to the door. "You are very kind, thank you, sir. I am not offended," she finds herself saying along the way. "I will tell my mother that you are looking into the problem of those who will not work. She will be glad of it."

Caught in the mental shoving match with his dragon, Cha'el misses Maryam's rise to her feet, his head jerking around when suddenly she appears at his side. A short smile breaks free when she accepts his apology and then goes on to negate having been offended but he'd seen that look in her eyes. He'd overstepped a line somewhere and damn him to Between and back but he can't quite figure out where.

« Pansy! »

"Arsehole!"

"I have yet to speak with W'rin. I wanted facts and figures to hand him when I do. So thank you for taking the time to do so." A hand pats at the canvas bag slung over a shoulder. "Fair trading, Daughter Steen." Polite smile. So formal.

« Oh give me a break! You're a disgrace, you know that? »

"Go play ribbons with Nadeeth!"

Radio.Silence.

There's a quick salute ticked off and then the Weyrsecond turns and leaves without looking back though it takes every thread of self-restraint that he has not to do so.

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