Time - Mid Afternoon
Locations - Walled Hold
"There was an entire chest of them," her sister warned her. "There were letters too." From her jacket pocket, the bluerider produced a folded piece of parchment with a distinct wax seal. Though broken, Miral could make out the emblem pressed upon it. Once she opened the letter, her brow furrowed.
After some consideration and the reception of your recent and most generous offer, I am pleased to inform you that we will fulfil your request. Our men shall arrive at your hold in a fortnight to assist you with your discrepancy.
Furthermore, we will take into consideration your offer to increase trade between our two factions. Once you have resolved the matter of your discordance, we will discuss at length the alliance between Walled and Benden Hold.
The Mother of Walled
It would have proven more wise for the Holder had he burned those letters, but Cador always suffered from a hoarder's mentality due to his avarice nature. Now, Miral had her proof, evidence beyond a doubt that not only had Cador employed those men, but they were given to him by the Mother of Walled herself. And while the offer given by Cador remained a mystery, Miral had several ideas of what he could have given the south.
"You couldn't have just killed him, could you," Miral answered flatly.
"Hardly. He has guards around him, always. Though the thought did cross my mind."
Miral continued to regard the letter, pondering on the weight of its significance. "Perhaps it is best that you didn't." Too easily would it have tied back to Benden Weyr. But what if... "Thank you Yonolla. Now if you do not mind, I have work to do, and must be left to it."
"Of course. Call me if you need anything else."
Yonolla gone, the Weyrleader set to work, planning her next course of action. Ultimately, she needed to intervene in the relations between Benden Hold and Walled, and in order to do so, Miral needed to give a counter offer, lest the Lord Holder make a second request far more fatal than the first.
With her own daughter's life on the line, Miral made sure to respond with diligence. She wrote her own letter to the Mother, requesting a private audience with the woman. After all, whatever arrangements the Weyrleader of Benden could possibly give needed to be kept from any and all prying eyes and ears, especially those attached to the Lord Holder of Benden himself. She doubted her counter offer would be taken lightly, especially by the mother who stood only to gain from Benden Hold.
Miral also needed to act fast. The senior queen would rise within the month, and Miral needed to secure her negotiations with Walled now while she still had a hand to barter with. With her own condition slowly becoming apparent, and several larger, and stronger bronzes making their intentions clear to chase, Miral was uncertain whether she would be able to maintain her leadership. If she were to act, it needed to now while she still could. Without her rank, Miral would have nothing to offer and everything to beg for when she confronted the Mother. Miral was not the sort to ever supine herself to anyone, least of all to an authority as imposing and dangerous as the Mother of Walled. Such prostrations were danger to herself and her family, even if Miral did sense the flutter of desperation every morning she awoke. She needed to operate from a position of strength if she were to succeed in her negotiations. The letter sent, Miral was forced to endure two days of silence before a letter arrived from Walled. With a calm breath and smooth fingers, she broke the familiar seal and read the Mother's response.
She would meet with Miral in three days at 16.00.
Very well then. Miral wrote a letter, answering in the affirmative. Mother and Weyrleader were not committed to their meeting.
Promptly did the zultaniterider arrive, and without her expected retinue. However, lest one think she slipped to the meeting unprepared, the dagger at her hip would say otherwise. She never attended a meeting without it. The men who met her aired their disapproval, but she waved off their concerns. "I come to her the same way I go to any other leader, northerner or southerner, man or woman," Miral answered in dismissal. "To do otherwise, I would believe is a great insult to Mother." Besides, Miral was quite certain the Mother could do away with her long before the Weyrleader could repay the favour.
With reluctance, they allowed her entry, though at a distance from the older woman. For the first time, the Weyrleader of Benden stood face to face with the Mother of Walled.
"Hmmm... Miral, I must say I was intrigued by your letter. Please, have a seat."
The table offered remained half a dragon's length away from the Mother herself. Under different circumstances, the arrangement would have been a wise one. At present, however, Miral had no intentions of killing the woman. Their meeting was truly as she requested. "Thank you, your grace."
"Please, have some."
Miral regarded the pot and cup offered. With a nod, she accepted the gesture, and even poured herself a cup as requested, but she dare not drink its content.
"So tell me. What is it that you would like to discuss. The relations between Benden Weyr and Walled?" Even from a distance, Miral nodded the amusement on the woman's countenance.
The expression unsettled Miral, for she sensed the mockery in the woman's eyes. However, the Weyrleader knew better than to reveal her discomfort on her own countenance. "Yes, I would, especially since it has come to my attention you have made special arrangements with Lord Cador."
A chuckle escaped the Mother. "And why would you say that?"
Miral offered a sly smile. "The man has always been the sort to skirt on his tithes, but even more so than usual. It raised my suspicions. Therefore, I opened an investigation." Only a partial truth, but a partial truth nonetheless. The rest did not need to be spoken of.
"And how did you arrive at your conclusion?"
"With ease. Cador is a careless man, who is frequently a victim of hubris." The zultaniterider retrieved the cup of tea, and brought the rim of the cup to her lips. But where the Mother might see a sip taken, Miral provided the illusion of such an action, and set the cup back down.
"So I have begun to gather." The woman watched Miral for a moment before she proceeded. "He would be very upset if he knew I was meeting with you. He is no friend to the Weyr."
"Another unwise choice on his part." The man considered himself impervious to assault, even by the Weyr. Had he shown himself to be a kind man, Miral would have reconsidered her plot against him.
"Agreed. Though, his offer is a lucrative one, thus by accepting your proposal, I would be forced to turn down his."
"Is it truly lucrative if his greed makes him inconsistent with his promises? For now, he will pay you in abundabce, but once he has taken what he wants, he will skirt on your agreement, the same as he has done to the Weyr. It is the same for all northern Holds, always forgetting what they own to dragonmen. However, Benden Weyr has always proven itself true to its word, even after four hundred years of neglect and theft committed by the Holds."
Silence ensued, giving the Mother a moment to consider the Weyrleader's warning. "It is unfortunate that greed always factors into the decisions of men."
"Fortunately, women are far more practical."
The mother chuckled. "All too true. So then what is it that you want from Walled? After all, I know nothing is free, not even an alliance as strong as the one you suggest between Benden Weyr and Walled."
There was no need for Miral to ponder on her words, for she had thought on them long enough back in Benden. "I suggest a course of action that will be most beneficial to both you and me, and the factions we represent."
"And what course of action might that be?" the Mother asked, her curiosity piqued.
Without hesitation, Miral answered the Mother. "The assassination of Lord Cador."