Over the past few days, D'nier had been busy fulfilling Weyrlady Karene's list of honey-do's for him. Well, they weren't actually honey-do's, but that's what he called it affectionately. He could tease her, anyway.
He'd been waiting on her list of approvals from the Telgar riders' final interviews before he finalized his own draft of the riders that would comprise the relatively small wings that would be sent in advance, with a new Headwoman, to Igen Weyr.
He was grateful that Benden was willing to offer to send at least two or three older, mature Bronzes who could compete for the position of Igen's Weyrlead; one of them would have to be selected for the role temporarily until Zorayda's Gold rose again. Hopefully that wouldn't be until after the move to Igen, officially.
In any case, things seemed to be coming along nicely on his end. He hadn't heard anything about Zorayda's progress, nor bothered Karene for details recently in regards to her own projects. There wasn't any need to. They would be able to reconvene in the near future, and report on everything once they'd completed each task appointed.
For now, Fort's Weyrleader had been spending his days traveling to Keroon. Discussions had been undertaken to see about adjusting tithes so that Igen Weyr could be supplied with more herdbeasts. The demand would only last for a short time, and then the weyr would be able to keep a fair supply of its own; he was also here to see if there was a master Beastcrafter in the area willing to relocate, in order to help the weyr keep its livestock healthy. D'nier wondered though, if it was asking too much of Keroon to send a Master Crafter to Igen Weyr as well. He'd considered going to Igen's Lord Holder Qisbon to find a Master Beastcrafter. The crafters there would probably be more accustomed to raising herdbeasts in the type of climate that Igen Weyr would see.
Well, he would mention the beastcrafter thing to Keroon's Lord Holder, but for the time being, he was just happy to have negotiations over additional herdbeasts going smoothly. Keroon's Lord Holder was young when compared to the long lived overlords of other territories; and from what D'nier had heard, he'd experienced a somewhat traumatic childhood that ended in the death of his father and two of his siblings. The boy had been young to take control of Keroon, though his mother had been constantly there to guide him -along with the Hold's Steward. Though, as soon as the young lordling took his father's place, the previous steward was quickly replaced.
D'nier had heard from the Weyrleaders of Benden (his parents), that circumstances surrounding the deaths of those aforementioned members of the holding family were suspicious, though nothing could be proven to point fingers at anyone.
Keroon's holder, for his age, was known as being rather formidable in the political arena. He'd heard that the man was demanding of his counsel -his steward and others he kept close at hand. He'd also heard that the man was fairly unforgiving of mistakes that effected him personally; he had an angry streak that tended to flare up at times like those, usually ending in the permanent dismissal of someone from his circle of confidants. Rumours had it that he'd even threatened men with death for major blunders; but his mother had been able to smooth those events over.
Yes... he had a temper. At least it wasn't every day. Keroon's Lord Holder still had his wits about him, even if he did have a short fuse.
Thus far, D'nier's visit with the man and Keroon Hold's Steward had been pleasant.
Now on his way toward a district that housed several merchant & trader families, both he and the Steward were on their way to the hub of a major family trade organization, called the Dragon's Venture. The Dragon's Venture were regarded as some of Keroon's most prosperous Beastcrafters, and they were even large enough to provide their own transport of herdbeasts to whatever port along the Big Bay they needed to be sent to. They had permits for trade to enter almost every seaside location West of Keroon -and some permits for more prominent ports East of there.
In any case, it would be a convenience; especially with such a large number of herdbeasts needed, seeing as they were going to be required much sooner than anticipated.
When D'nier and the Keroon Hold's Steward arrived together at the Dragon's Venture Headquarters, the fact that a private guard admitted them, impressed him. Well, it impressed upon him certainly, the size of the operation, that they could afford such a thing. The lot had even been supplied with their own uniforms and standard. Impressive indeed.
The headquarters was walled and had equally high front gates, two store houses inside of its confines, and a long building with many rooms inside. Leading up to its large, double-doored front side, was a covered walk way with candle lit lanterns strung down its length. Once inside, the rooms that were open to view anyway, were quite lavishly furnished, kept clean and tidy; not a thing seeming out of place.
The Weyrleader and Steward were escorted down a narrow hall that parted in a fork at one point; but before they could reach it, were ushered into a meeting room. Taking a seat to one side of the long table situated before them, D'nier and the Steward waited for their host to arrive.
Their host arrived much sooner than anticipated. Barely two or three minutes must have passed before she'd arrived.
The Dragon's Venture head master was a She? Mistress, more like.
The woman's eyes were sharp and D'nier thought for a moment, that she must be as stern and business-like in her manner as Weyrwoman Karene. The Weyrleader couldn't remember ever hearing of the head of any group of crafters being a woman. That surprised him.
And, well, after that, it was no wonder the headquarters looked so nice. Only a woman would care that much about how it was furnished. But he couldn't say it didn't make the Dragon's Venture seem all the more formidable as an opponent in business. They must be quite professional to have reached such heights of success.
It was then, before the woman greeted them, that D'nier wondered privately if the Dragon's Venture was run by her family? A previous husband? Or if perhaps she was from a well-bred background?
"I welcome you, Weyrleader D'nier. I can't remember having ever had the opportunity to invite a Dragonrider, let alone a Weyrleader, into the Dragon's Venture -though I've had many a chance to get acquainted with the Steward here." The short, middle aged woman turned a pleasant smile between them then; but it did not last for too long. "I am Lady Sienne, Head of the Dragon's Venture. I hear you are in need of a few herdbeasts, and need them transported soon to Telgar. Is that correct?"
Seeing as Lady Sienne left little time for pleasantries, jumping right into business talks, D'nier figured that she was on a tight schedule. It was completely likely given that they were comprised of such a large number of craftsmen.
"You have heard correct, Lady Sienne. The good Steward here has informed me that the Dragon's Venture has a fleet of its own ships to transport, as well? You run an impressive operation." Smiling amicably, the Weyrleader's small attempt at flattery was not lost on her.
"Only two at the moment. Steward Thalen speaks too highly of us, but I do surmise you've arranged payment for everything through him?" Lady Sienne was looking to the Steward then, expression alight with that expectation.
Keroon's Steward muttered, "Yes, Lady Sienne. This business will fall under the Hold's Tithes. We know that usually you don't handle those types of transactions, but the need is urgent, and you've always served the Lord Holder well."
Eyes twinkling at that, Sienne's brightly rouged lips curled into a smile again -this time more genuinely. "Well, we do our best." In the next breath, she began, "One of our ships is unloading currently. If it is that urgent, once it is made ready, I could arrange for the herdbeasts to be sent to Telgar within the next fortnight. To do so, I'll have to delay other shipments, so speed will come at additional cost. Of course, I will take into account who our esteemed customer is."
D'nier looked to Steward Thalen then, wondering again if he was asking too much, that things be rushed. But in his mind -and he was certain in the mind of Karene- the sooner, the better. He might owe Keroon's Lord Holder a little favour later. Either way, it needed to be done. Though... he did think to ask, "If not within the fortnight, when is the soonest you would have a ship available to transport them?"
Still smiling softly, Lady Sienne assured him, "I keep my men busy on a tight schedule, Weyrleader D'nier. I could have you wait until I find other traders in Telgar to fill my ship's cargo so that I have a full load of goods coming back -it would make the trip more worth my while. Regrettably however, at the moment, I have no such promise for goods coming back from the other side, so the price will remain high; unless you know someone in Telgar hoping to move goods somewhere along the coast?" But she doubted that. "And in either case, I will make sure my merchants are willing to wait a few days on other shipments. Don't worry on that account."
With that, D'nier nodded, accepting that Lady Sienne would handle things as needed -she wouldn't have made an offer she couldn't uphold. "Well, I'm sorry if it comes at an inconvenience."
Steward Thalen was interrupting them with a stutter then, "Don't you worry about it, Weyrleader. Keroon will cover all the costs. The sooner you're able to get the new Weyr up and running, the better. We're trusting in you to safeguard our futures, aren't we?" Managing a low chuckle then, the man continued, "Our Lord Holder has kindly offered to consider all related costs as part of our tithe to the Weyrs. But not to worry -he won't withhold anything from previous agreements. We just hadn't expected your needing the herdbeasts so soon."
Gesturing to Lady Sienne then, the Steward was encouraging of her, "Lady Sienne, if you can manage it, please go ahead and write up an agreement for the transport of livestock and I will take a copy of the order with me, so that I can return to you with payment for services."
D'nier and Sienne were both nodding then, though the Lady more or less simply gave a bow of her head out of gratification.
It would have been rude for the Steward to suggest that Lady Sienne was unable to persuade other merchants in need of her transport to be patient in their need. The Dragon's Venture held a lot of clout through the region amoungst traders and other craftsmen, because they provided necessary services and had enough connections to help sell interest in certain goods. That was good for business on both ends; though they were not known for taking a lot of unnecessary risks in business ventures, they did take the periodic large risk, where it could pay off well. And of course, amoungst the community, they were known for being rather charitable in their own right.
A drudge brought to the table a tray with writing tools and a few skins to be written on. The Lady took up her quill and dipped it in the ink well, starting to write.
When all of the business details had been put to ink, she turned the parchment to the two men at the table. "If you will read over what I've written and make sure I have not left anything out... please add your signatures to the bottom."
D'nier and Thalen both took their time in reading the document, and seeing that things were agreed upon, their signatures were given. While that was being done, Lady Sienne prepared a second document -a copy of the first. It too, was signed, and then handed over to Keroon's Steward.
"Thank you gentlemen. Weyrleader D'nier, it has been a pleasure. Please don't hesitate to grace us with your presence again in the future. If you were not aware, the Dragon's Venture does have a headquarters in Fort, also. At Fort Sea Hold. I do visit there on occasion, so feel free to come to me with any requests, should you have the need. Especially if it is any assistance to the Weyrs." Standing from the table, Lady Sienne led them graciously from the room, seeing them to the door.
Not long after that, D'nier was on his way back home to Fort Weyr. It had been a hectic few days, and he was glad that most of his 'chores' were wrapped up. The day, too, was about to be at an end, and he was going to be glad to crawl into his own bed. Writing all of the days events down into official reports could wait until tomorrow.
In any event, he didn't anticipate having to turn reports over to Karene for another day or two.