Contractual Requirements

Xanadu Weyr - Steward's Office
The office of the Steward is a place for things to pass through. On the side of the wooden desk nearest the door are a pair of boxes labeled In and Out. The center of the desk provides a place to process those papers, with a set of draftsman's tools - pens, pencils, rulers and compasses - tucked in a small wooden box. The computer, as it receives fewer messages, is set off to the side of the desk.
One thing that stays in the office is the Steward himself - at least, so long as he holds that office - and so there's a comfortable chair behind that desk, as well as a pair of plain wooden ones in front of it for those passing through.
Bookshelves line the walls, crammed with tomes ranging in topic from weather patterns of the southern continent to crop output for the last one hundred turns. They are some the many things of which a Steward must have a passing knowledge - one sufficient to let him delegate the rest. To record the events so delegated, there are a pair of file cabinets full of paperwork not yet so historical as to merit relocation to the archives.

It's midmorning, after early sweeps have been completed, that Marel finds her way through the caverns and to the administration hallway, the sight of the young brownrider in such an area of the Weyr not an unusual sight given who her mother is and the work required of her wing. If her wine-dark leathers have been touched with mud or her hair mussed by her flying gear, she's perfectly presentable now, her step quiet as she makes progress towards the Steward's office. From up one of her sleeves, she produces an envelope still in pretty crisp condition, turns it over once in her hands, then she takes a deep breath and knocks on the door, the sound crisp, yet not forceful enough to be obnoxiously loud.

Jethaniel is at his desk, seated in his chair. It is, for him, a quite usual position. Also at his desk are a variety of documents. In addition to his in and outboxes, which contain heterogeneous materials, there's also his current task. This is spread over several pages, and those pages are currently spread over his desk - but at the knock, he looks up, glancing to his closed door and then taking a moment to rearrange the pages of the stack on top of each other - the topmost is a bland cover sheet with nothing more interesting than a reference to being an infirmary report - and sets it aside on the edge of his desk near a dozing green firelizard before he calls, "You may enter." His voice is loud enough to carry through the door, but no louder; he has had sufficient opportunity to calibrate it during his time in this office. Having done so, he leans back in his chair to await his visitor.

Marel waits until she's invited in before so much as inching further towards the door. Once she opens it, she sticks her head into the room first and peers about much like a child afraid of interrupting might, a habit formed and now embarrassing when realised, says the faint flush that colours her features. Gaze lighting upon Jethaniel, she slips into the room and sticks close to the wall, closing the door quietly behind her. It takes her another moment to compose herself again - it must be that, despite the fact that her calm expression remains thoroughly unchanged - before she approaches the desk and stands very properly before it. "I would… like to make an offer on the empty garden shop, if the Weyr is still entertaining the idea of letting it be purchased," she begins, hands and envelope clasped before her. "I think - I hope - that I have sufficient funds to cover the cost."

Given the speed of Marel's entry, Jethaniel might have had time to consolidate his documents even after her knock. Had he been perusing a different document, he might have done so; in this case, however, he spends those moments in idle regard of first the door, then Marel. He nods to acknowledge her entry, but remains where he is, leaned back in a comfortable position. He makes no comment on her delay - perhaps he's still considering on what he was reading before her arrival? Regardless of his thoughts, his expression is a polite one, revealing nothing more than a mild interest whose attribution is uncertain. His gaze follows her approach to his desk, and then his brows lift with a further interest. "Ah," he says to her intention, then lets her continue, nodding slightly for her expectation of funds. "It is still available, yes." That is the simpler question for him to answer. He'll get to the rest, but first, he has a question of his own. "Would you like a seat?" Jethaniel makes a gesture of one hand to the chairs available for that purpose. Whether Marel takes advantage of it or not, he continues. "The terms of purchase would depend somewhat on your desiderata."

A seat? Maybe, but then: "No, I—" Marel eyes the offered seat, then glances down at the envelope in her grip that is now beginning to become crinkled the longer that she hangs onto it. She's too agitated to sit down, though her expression betrays little of it. "I would wish to purchase and keep its present - former - purpose much the same, supplying more or less the same goods as before, though I have plans to branch out and turn it to a greater variety of specialist purchases, should the sale be acceptable." She proffers the envelope quite like it's burning her fingers and she has to be rid of it. Its contents might be familiar (something similar from her mother and twin might have been viewed), detailing marks - enough to buy a small cothold, stock, seed and so on - owed from Cold Stone Hold and a percentage more to be hers per turn in the future. "I'd like to purchase outright the building and the land on which it lies, then rebrand and reopen. Securing the right to hand the property down to any children I may have would be preferred, though I'm not averse to the Weyr one day needing to buy it back."

Jethaniel does not make any further suggestion that Marel seat herself. The offer (as with the potential for purchase of the garden shop) remains open. He nods to her statement regarding her intentions for that shop, then accepts the envelope she offers him, carefully opening it and withdrawing the document inside to review. His inspection is brief, for he has, in fact, seen a variant of it before. After his eyes scan down the page, he sets it down on his desk - though closer to the side on which Marel stands than his own - and returns his gaze to the brownrider. "The funds are sufficient, should you choose to proceed." He settles back against his chair again. "The situation is somewhat complex; there are several aspects to the sale, with different requirements for each." For a moment, Jethaniel regards Marel. His expression is a considering one, though her funds have proven sufficient. It's a pause, and then he nods and begins in a brisk tone. "The building itself is not available for purchase per se; you may, however, obtain a lease for indefinite term, pro-rated according to an initial payment. The exact annual costs will vary according to your desired length of commitment." That number will approach zero if she pays enough up front - just enough to cover things like utility costs and repairs. But… just how long-term is Marel thinking? "There is existing inventory available for purchase," Jethaniel adds, "and you could take on both the employees and current orders." The Weyr has not been letting the shop go entirely idle, though it has been running in somewhat of a holding pattern due to a lack of both time and expertise. "Those, you would assume fully," and, as such, they would be quite heritable. "The leased property would be transferrable, but subject to Weyr approval."

Marel's youth shows in the frown that she gives Jethaniel as she utters, "Lease? As in the Weyr could claim the property back at little notice?" Or at any time, so she seems to be suggesting. "And if I wished to gut and renovate the property, does that mean I'm only permitted to proceed with Weyr approval, being that it wouldn't legally be mine?" And then: "What of the land it's on? If stock is grown on that land, would I owe a percentage or is it all Xanadu's property… or mine?" Her gaze drops to the papers she handed over, a certain distaste there. Maybe she doesn't want them back. "I don't want—" she begins to say, only to rethink and stare down at her feet. "I don't want," starting again, "to spend these marks and just be… renting a box and still owing more and more marks. If I manage to build the business up, it seems there's still nothing stopping someone from pulling the rug out from under my feet and taking it all away."

Jethaniel shakes his head to Marel's protests, but he doesn't appear displeased by them. The papers remain where he placed them - on his desk between the two of them. They are one of the matters under discussion. "No." That's to her claim of what the Weyr would be able to do. "There would be a contractual relationship between you and Xanadu Weyr. It would contain protections for both sides." He glances away from her a moment, considering on the details of the contract. His expression is quite serious now. "You would have the right to use the land - and property thereon - according to your own wishes." A faint smile. "Including, were you so inclined, burning it down or otherwise drastically reducing the value. This would not change the contract, while in effect. The Weyr cannot reclaim the property unless you are-" he counts the options on his fingers "-in default on payment, choose to revert it, or are no longer able to assert a claim but have not transferred that claim." Which would most likely mean being dead, but… other situations happen sometimes. Especially when it comes to dragonriders. "In case of reversion to the Weyr, the price will be either the initial cost specified in the contract or the current value as assessed by a neutral third party. The choice of price used will be determined by the party not initiating the reversion."

The brownrider can't quite smile, but she lets her lips tug slightly to one side as she replies, "That's Mur'dah - the burning things down - not me." It must be a joke, in somewhat poor taste, but maybe there's a hint of concern that present company might believe that burning things down might be a family trait. Back on track. "If my renovations were to increase the value, in theory, would that have an impact on the price at which it could be sold back?" Marel queries. Her fingers lace together before her again, not twisting now that that envelope isn't there to unsettle her. "There should be… if I have any idea of property and costings… more than enough there to cover a lease for the foreseeable future. And any of the existing inventory…" Wait. "Would I obligated to purchase all of that too? I would want to keep most of - if not all - of the staff on and I'm happy to maintain and fulfil current contracts, but I'd be looking to broach my own too."

"Ah. Of course," Jethaniel says to Marel's correction regarding her brother. He smiles slightly, a tiny quirk of his lips. "My apologies." Though his tone is such as to imply he, at least, is considering it as a joke. There is, however, further contractual discussion. Her question regarding renovations and improvements receives an equivocating gesture of one hand. "If the Weyr initiates the buyback, yes. If you initiate it, the Weyr is not obligated to accept a higher price than that specified in the contract." He glances down to that envelope again, and nods. "Quite so." His eyes rise to Marel again, and he considers a moment before he adds mildly, "Should you wish to make a large deposit, it could be arranged as a security fund, such that your lease payments would be deducted automatically for a term. This would permit a reduction in rates… and once the contractual value of the building is met, the payments will reduce substantively. The lease is… for your protection, as well as the Weyr's. It establishes a mechanism for reversion, should you change your mind." Jethaniel frowns slightly, then releases the expression as he proceeds to the matter of inventory. "Obligated, no. You are welcome to; it is of little use to the Weyr. Any contracts you do not elect to purchase are likely to be terminated; any you assume, you may proceed with - or not - as you see fit." Subject, of course, to whatever their termination clauses. "I would advise you to maintain certain contracts - particularly, there are some quite useful ones providing rights of first refusal to portions of the greenhouse and garden for inventory developments - but you are not required to do so."

It could be perceived to be another sign of age and inexperience when Marel blurts out, "Can't you just… take the value of the building right away? If that," she gestures abruptly to her paperwork, "will cover it? And work out the lease rates from there? This isn't a passing fancy and I have thought about it a great deal. I used to work there; I already know about many of the contracts and what can and can't be taken for inventory. I just don't want-" Though her features maintain their mask of calm, agitation begins to slip into her voice as she makes another abortive gesture towards the envelope. "I don't want that staring at me. I want as much of it gone as possible. I would have come in here and asked you about a payment plan anyway if my— if Cold Stone's Holder hadn't died and left me this." Like that could make her sound more objective, for all that it surely can't. Drawing herself up, she states, "I'm sorry." For that momentary lapse. "But this isn't something that I'm seeking to do on impulse, I assure you. I wanted to help - save- have - the shop when it was first for sale, it's just now I… could."

It could be. Jethaniel's eyebrows lift slightly, but they lower as Marel continues. He nods minutely at her assurance that she's given this thought, but he makes no effort to interrupt. His eyes lower to the envelope, regarding it for a moment before rising again to Mael at her choice of appellation for the source of these funds. It certainly displays something, though Jethaniel might not call it objectivity. Her apology receives a slight flick of his hand, a dismissal of its necessity. Perhaps he's making allowances for her age and inexperience? After her conclusion, he's quiet for a moment, his gaze resting on Marel considering… and then he nods. "I can." He reaches out again, taking the envelope and paper in his hand and drawing them toward his side of the table. If he were to look at them, it would provide an excuse for his action, but he does not. "I would advise you to arrange for a harper to look over contracts before you sign them; I am employed by the Weyr, and as such, my decisions may be biased in that regard." Jethaniel pauses for a moment, regarding Marel evenly, then continues. "However. I can provide you with such a contract, including the assessed value and pre-payment of your lease for several turns. If you wish, the contract may also permit you to deposit some quantity of funds designated for future inventory improvements, lease payments, and similar investments, for which you will receive a reduced rate while using those funds." Which, in the meantime, the Weyr would presumably invest in other things to generate further profit.

"I'm not selfish," Marel hastens to say, for whatever reasons she has. "My parents raised me and their families helped a lot, but the Weyr raised me too. I work for the Weyr. I won't be taken for a ride, but I don't expect anything heavily slanted in my favour either; I just want it to be fair. And safe." She gives a single, decisive nod and lets her hands swing back to her sides. "I'd appreciate that. I'd rather have the… funds going towards something practical than just…" Staring at her. "I'll contact the Hall and… I can leave that," the paperwork, "with you, for now?" Assuming that it's required for calculations and percentages. She's definitely in no hurry to claim it back.

Marel's declaration initially perplexes Jethaniel, if the brief furrow of his brow is anything to judge by, but it eases as she continues, and by the end, he nods. "Indeed. I intend the contract to be fair to both sides." His lips quirk, though there's something more somber to the expression around his eyes. Perhaps he's merely reminding her of the necessity for a harper because he is aware of her youth and inexperience? He does not intend to cheat her - and the contract will be constructed accordingly; whatever harper she gets will probably be impressed (but not unduly so) with her negotiation - but others… may. "I will prepare the documents for your review," he says, and nods concerning the paperwork he now holds. He does not, strictly speaking, need it. He could take down the necessary numbers in a matter of moments. He is, however, willing to accept it into his custody. A glance to it, and then he pauses, looking back up to Marel. "It will be your business." Once contracts are made and signed. "However, it is advantageous to the prosperity of the Weyr that it is successful. Should you wish advice, I may be willing to give it. There is, however, no obligation." Either to ask, or to follow it.

"Thank you," Marel responds with an earnestness that betrays her calm, her gaze following his to the paperwork when he glances at it. Perhaps her thanks are as much for keeping possession of it than for anything else. As for the prosperity of the business: "I know," she murmurs. "I know that I can't assume control and just expect it to work like it did before. They say you shouldn't fix what isn't broken, but some things… they were broken and they weren't working. It needs new products and new incentives to buy and—" She clamps her mouth shut before she can ramble on any more, cheeks colouring again. "Thank you." Again. That's safer. "For the offer and… everything else, sir. Steward. Jethaniel." When in doubt, use all modes of address. "I should go see if my mother is in her office." And with that, she turns, seeking to flee before she can embarrass herself any further.

Regardless of the precise motivations behind Marel's gratitude, Jethaniel inclines his head to it. "You are welcome," he says simply. He nods to her statement about the business, but it is her speculations about it that bring a slight smile to his face - though it fades as her cheeks color. Whatever the cause of his smile, it is not a mocking one - though it may be related to her youth. He once more nods to her thanks, but this time he replies to it with, "You will have opportunity for experimentation." He does not clarify concerning the appropriate choice of title. Perhaps that's also a form of experimentation, as she discovers which one she finds appropriate given her current quantities of experience. Regardless, he has no further questions for her at this time, and he simply nods to her departure before taking pen and paper to make a few prelimary notes - though it will take him some time to create a full contract, as it is not his highest priority at the moment. He will, however, find time for it among his other projects.

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