(121-05-29) Justice By The Book
Justice By The Book
Summary: In which some Mormonts are bad at math and good at vengeance.
Date: 29/04/2014
Related: A Bear Reunion, others

Though Hellan has spent several weeks trapped by some affliction in her bedchamber looking much like death and perhaps even courting it, most recent days have seen her up and about. According to the servants, and quite frankly anyone who isn't a Mormont or — questionably — her husband, this is not necessarily a favourable thing, as her mood has been rather deadly toward those not held in her precise favour. At present, her dark, silver-wisped hair in a one-sided braid out of her way, Hellan is walking back and forth through the main hall, slowly, repetitively and with significant but ignored difficulty, and curse upon any rare who might dare remark upon any perceived strangeness of this behaviour. By her pale-faced glower, it seems she's both determined and annoyed with her self-inflicted routine.

"Aunt Hellan." Maera's voice echoes through the hall. She doesn't mean for it to sound sharp, but her flat tone and the raising of her voice makes it sound harsher than it ought to. After she calls out to her Aunt she settles down at the big table in the main hall, and frowns down at one of the account books.

Maera would be the first to admit that keeping the household accounts has never been her strong point. She was brought up to be a warrior. Not an overseer of an estate. And so it is with these muddled and badly kept books that she waits for her Aunt.

Concern is Hellan's first reaction, and it slows the forcing of her step forward. She reroutes. Her usual long, confident strides are formed out of more visible labour than typical, but pushed through with that determination. Her hands come to wrap overtop the chair around the corner from Maera at the big table. "The accounts?" she queries, though she can see them fine. "Do they fare well?" Or poorly.

"I can't do them." Maera admits with a furrowing of her brow. "I'm just not smart enough when it comes to this." She tosses the quill in her hand down in disgust. "I think we may be making more money than we actually are. Or perhaps it's less?" She lets out an audible groan, and puts her hand on her forehead. "I can't do them." She repeats. "I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't know how to fix them."

Hellan takes a slow, building breath in through her nose. "I'll have a look at them," she decides rather than suggests, pulling out the chair. The action would cause a wince, if she didn't clamp down on it. She sits slowly, puts Maera's quill more neatly aside and pulls part of the books to her. "I'm no master of coin; I've always been stronger with words than numbers, but I can see clear enough what ought to be done." Or seems confident that she will, once she takes a look. Her brow pushes down in focus, which naturally happens to look more annoyed than she is.

This appears to be what Maera desired all along. She stands up from the table as soon as Hellan drags the books over, and wanders over to the side-board to pour herself out a glass of wine. She takes a little sip, and the previous frustration present on her face melts away. "If you'd like." She says from the sideboard, "You could serve such a function for me. Your children are nearly grown, and you're more useful to me than you are the Starks."

"Pity for them," Hellan half-mumbles with a mild surge in bitterness. She glances up to Maera (or the wine, it's unclear) and back down, scanning over the messy documents. "I suppose I could," she replies; if it sounds less than enthusiastic, her next words firm up her agreement: "I would like lend aid, any way I can." She flips a page, muttering breathily, "This ought to be entirely rewritten…" Which she sets out to do, lifting the quill. "I'll need clean pages." Another glance up; this one follows Maera longer.

Maera moves across the room to retrieve said clean pages from her writing desk. The older pages, still in Maera's hand, are much more orderly. There are mistakes, but for the most part they make sense. The new pages, however, are a completely different story. It's as if she'd lost the ability to do any part of them. Or she intentionally fudged them.

She puts the sheets down on the table near Hellan. "Do you think you can fix them?"

"Have they always been like this?" Hellan asks before the sheets are set down, then sets to arranging them side-by-side to salvage what she can and copy figures onto the new paper. "I can work on it. It would help, to see a bigger picture of the finances going back far as possible," she says, adding bluntly and with a narrowing of grey eyes at her niece to match, "How have you managed to run a household before now? These books are a disaster, Maera."

"I don't know." Maera says rather vaguely. They obviously weren't always so bad. And she seems quite unconcerned now that Hellan has taken over. "I think father was worse." The late Lord Mormont, father to Maera and brother to Hellan, was a formidable warrior. However, he was not a towering intellect. It shows in the numbers of the "good" parts of the books. Even when she does things without errors it's done inefficiently. Wrong.

"I'm surprised he could add," Hellan says, though it's not exactly disparaging; simply fact, "But you and he did have more important endeavours to focus on." Her narrowed gaze lingers on Maera and gains a sharp edge, kin to suspicion, but she goes on, "All right. We'll determine where we stand, and with any luck it is not several leagues in debt." Her first matter of business seems to simply be jotting down what sense she can decipher from the newer pages to sort out in time. "What do you think," she then brings up, as though casually, while she studies and jots; yet, in her strong voice, there's always a measure of importance, " — of the manner in which Erena Glover was said to have died?"

"No one thought he could add. Grandfather always said he saw numbers backwards. He taught mother how to do the books when they were wed, and she always handled the accounts. After she died father insisted on doing them on his own, but he didn't really know what he was doing." Maera lean against the edge of the table to watch Hellan work.

"I'm disappointed. I wanted to bring her to justice, and it was robbed from me. But, it sounds like either they got her, or she was so afraid that they'd get her that she drove herself mad." She doesn't indicate who they are

"Justice," Hellan puts it forth like a question, yet her tone is a statement. Her work has paused, her chin lifted stiffly. "I have heard things." Particularly forcefully roaming about the manse as she has been, gaining back what strength she has. "Whispers of warlocks, candles of obsidian glass the Citadel holds. They sound mad." The woman sits up straighter, regarding her niece with an exacting calm. "Are they?"

"Mad and true." Maera says this very softly. Her eyes flicker upwards to the servant girl who is often in the hall, and she jerks her chin towards the kitchen. The poor girl retreats with a befuddled expression. Maera rarely dismisses the servants so curtly. "You must keep this to yourself."

Hellan looks in the direction of the kitchen until she, too, is sure the servant has scurried away upon the dismissal — the curtness of which is more common to Hellan than Maera. The elder of the pair looks sternly upon her niece, the icy grey of her eyes sharp and clear and free of the fog that's plagued her recently. "You have my trust, Maera, and I yours."

"Erena had Humfrey killed by an amateur." Maera pushes off the table, and begins to pace about the room. "But Randyll? With Randyll she got too clever. She hired the Faceless Men to do the deed. It's why it looked like a tragic death in a raid. She meant to pay with an obsidian candle. The obsidian candle is what attracted the warlocks." Maera smiles grimly, "We kept the candle from the Warlocks, and from the Faceless Men. That is why Cressen died. They killed him."

It is hard to say how this information strikes Hellan. After pressing her back straight against the chair, she is so still as Maera speaks, and afterward, that perhaps nothing comes as a surprise. Yet the creases around her eyes cut deep. The subtle press of her lips is straight and grim and the clench of her jaw hard. Voice dipped low and tightened, she states, "I am all the more glad she is dead."

"I am disappointed." Maera says this again, softly. "I am disappointed that Longclaw did not drink of her blood. I wanted justice. I wanted everyone to know what she had done." She drinks deeply from her cup, "She is dead, but my brother's have not been avenged."

"A fair cause for disappointment. That is true," Hellan concurs with the utmost, somber agreement. The line that forms between her dark brows is one of anger; vengeance. She sets the quill down lest she snap it with her gaining strength. "Did that foul beast Erena act alone? It matters not. The Glovers ought to be held accountable in her place."

"I agree. Even if Lord Glover did not know about his wife's actions it proves that he is an incompetent ruler." Maera paces about the room. "It's the true reason for the marriage between Maege and Lord Bolton. He will help us take them. I plan to take land from them in retribution."

"Good," Hellan assesses quickly, as tactical as it is vengeful. She fixes Maera with her powerful stare, tracking her pacing. "I have been watching you, Maera, without prying into the layers you've built up as Lady Mormont; you are clever, and your choices are wise. When Landur returned after delivering the message of Erena's death and reported that you looked wan, I knew this tangle ran deeper. I believe you can succeed in this." Her head lowers in a solid, considering nod that directs her gaze back on the accounts, prompting, " — perhaps then, these books will see better numbers." A scarce, cynical humour pierces her words and is dismissed as her head raise high again. "What of the Starks? Will you seek their backing, when the time comes?" Their. In this room, Hellan is not foremost a wolf but a bear.

"The Glovers outnumber us, but they are not warriors. Combined with Bolton's forces? They don't stand a chance against us. We will crush them. We will embarrass them. We shall take from them, and then we shall force them to call us merciful for sparing their pathetic lives and bloodline." Maera's eyes burn with suppressed rage as she said this. "No one kills my beautiful little brothers, and does not suffer worse than we have for it." She sucks in a deep breath, "I do not know if Lord Stark will back us totally, but I know he will not interfere."

Of a like mind, her aunt once again nods, a somehow martial movement in its conciseness. "Crush them so fiercefully the ghost of Erena Glover returns to writhe in the wolfswood." Her voice rises, but is capped so as not to draw attention to the main hall and thus her sentiment is all the more compacted and intense for it. "That shall be your vengeance. We will see justice, Maera. No Mormont deserved to be taken from this world in such a way as your brothers— but from a neighbour of the North!" It's unconscionable. "At least raiders, we expect. We are trained for that." Nearly her fate, and that of her bastard son— a thought which tenses her features all the more and grows her anger, but it is easily redirected now at the Glovers. "Anyone should think twice to put themselves in the way of a bear's claws."

Maera finishes off the wine in her cup, and sits it down on the table with such force that there is a wooden clink as it collides with the table. "Aye." Is all she says in regards to all Hellan says. She allows herself a moment more of rage, takes in another shuttering breath, and exhales deeply. She then says in a dull, flat voice, "I'll come back in a bit to see how the books are."

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