Of Councils, Love and Elephant Ears

Central Garden

Avery is sitting on a bench close to the fountain. She is in quiet conversation with Haft, pointing to some flowers beside the bench.

Megren walks alongside Linor and a cart that is chockful of treats.

Haft glances at the flowers. “Alacanthas, I believe.”

Linor stops the tray near the benches and goes over to Lady Avery and gives a small bow. “Good afternoon My Lady. Would you like some tea or wine?”

Avery hmms thoughtfully, nodding. When she hears the other voice, she turns slightly and smiles. “Ah, Linor, hello. I would love some wine, thank you.”

Linor goes over to the cart and pours a glass and hands it to Avery. “You’re Welcome, M’lady.”

Megren sits on the adjacent bench. “Alacanthas is the flower?” Continue reading Of Councils, Love and Elephant Ears

On Needlework

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Avery sits at a smaller table near one of the windows. There is a stack of letters beside a hot cup of tea.

Haft steps into the library, having been within call for some time outside. “Is there anything I can send for, Lady Avery?”

Avery looks up at the sound of Haft’s voice, pausing her letter-writing. She gently shakes her head. “No, I am quite content, thank you.” She sets the quill down and smiles. “Have you had a pleasant afternoon?”

Haft returns the smile. “Nothing could be more pleasant than watching over Your Ladyship.”

Avery chuckles. “Well, I’m sure that’s not /always/ true, but I thank you for the compliment.” Continue reading On Needlework

Of Tarkaans, Dukes and Badgers

The Beach near Sted Cair


Megren sits on the end of the harbor dock, legs swinging over the edge.

Haft strolls down the dock toward her. “Don’t fall in. You’ll get your boots wet.”

Megren tilts her head back far enough to see who’s coming. “That would be a disappointment,” she agrees. Continue reading Of Tarkaans, Dukes and Badgers

How to Offend Foreign Nobility


,[/ /],`,[\ \],`,[/ /],`,[\ \],`,[/ /],`,[\ \],`,[/ /],`,[\ \],`,[/ /],`,[\ \],

Chlamash unfolds the paper, flattening it. He seems to take his time re-reading it, mouthing some sort of bendiction over it before he tucks it away.

Haft enters the room. He looks surprised to see both Lanisen and Chlamash present, but offers a bow to the Tarkaan.

Chlamash glances up at the sound of footsteps of approching footsteps, running a hand through his hair. His posture straightens so that his noble bearing is more obvious. When Haft enters, he nods to him politely his face revealing nothing. Continue reading How to Offend Foreign Nobility

Cubes With Dalia and Megren

Off-duty Mess



This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room.



You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

Haft has his feet propped up before the fire.

Megren walks into the room and surveys it for potential victims before her eyes fall on Haft. She corners him. “Hello, guardsman!”

Haft rises warily at her tone and gives a small bow. “Did you need something Dame Megren?”

Megren says, “A cubes partner.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft grimaces. “Gearn?” he suggests.

Megren says, “Mmmmm…..”


Haft says, “No? What’s so fascinating about cubes with me? You already know my darkest secrets.”

Megren says, “Maybe I want to know your lightest secrets.”

Haft rolls his eyes. “You know there’s a normal way to play cubes, yes? With nice, orderly rules.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “Well, I suppose we could play it that way if you really wanted.”

Dalia pauses by the doorway, panting a little from the steps.

Haft catches sight of her. “What’s she doin’ here?”

Megren takes a moment to figure out who he’s talking about, and then lifts her brows a little, surprised. “I don’t know!”

Haft raise his voice. “Eh, Dalia, you need something?

Perth also seems to spot her and makes his way towards her. She offers him a parcel which may or may not look like a mended shirt and lifts the covering over the basket, she’s carrying offering Perth a cookie and sharing a comment which causes Dalia to chuckle. She turns a little shyly at Haft’s question. “New Help at the Kitchen insisted I bring these cookies up. Wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Haft glances at Megren.

Megren gets a big grin.

Haft mumbles “Perth got an admirer?”, to Megren.

Haft mumbles “… got … …”, to Megren.

Megren lifts her shoulders up around her ears.

Dalia says, “I think they might have confused me with one of the kitchen maids, but I thought these would be appreciated. ”

Megren asks, “Are they all for Perth or the mess at large?” she says, lifting the towel to reveal the cookies beneath

Dalia curtsys when Megen speaks to her, “For the mess at Large, I believe Ma’am.”

Megren grins. “Well, then, can we tempt you to stay and eat a few with us and join a game of cubes?”

Haft says, “And by cubes she means a perilous game of humiliation and soul searching.”

Megren grins temptingly. “You know you wanna search Haft’s soul!”

Haft makes a face.

Dalia glance between both trying to gauge the offer, the back and forth humoring her and causing a smile to break out. “I have a little while, Ma’am. Only I hope you’ll go easy on a beginer.”

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Megren drags overs a small table and two chairs. “We’ll do our best.”

Haft takes a seat.

Dalia seats herself as well, setting the basket of cookies nearby, and looks to Megren expectantly.

Megren drops one cube onto the table. “So if the roller rolls red, she asks me a question. Yellow is for Haft, green for Dalia. If she rolls blue, I get to ask anyone a question, and violet Haft does, and white Dalia.”

Dalia says, “So White and Yellow then, got it.”

Haft says, “And they have to answer the question or do something embarrassing.”

Dalia pinks a little at the thought of doing something embaressing. “Oh dear. What sort of things have been done?”

Megren says, “Mostly singing songs, hand stands, that sort of thing.”

Haft says, “Dancing in the ward.”

Megren pushes the piece toward her. “You can roll first.”

Dalia nods, “Alright.”

She takes the dice and rolls them.

The dice lands on white, and Dalia considers this looking from Megren to Haft. “Haft…Which do you like better, Cookies or Muffins?”

Haft looks surprised. “Cookies.”

Megren taps her lip like she finds this VERY intriguing.

Dalia pauses the dice over to Megren, trying not to grin and failing.

Megren rolls and lands on violet. She looks at Haft expectantly.

Haft asks, “What’s yer favorite family recipe, Dalia?”

Dalia pauses, looking thoughtful. ” Mother’s apple cobbler.”

Megren says, “Mm.”

Haft says, “I approve.”

Megren passes the gamepiece to Haft.

Dalia smiles, “I don’t know how she always makes it taste so good and full of love.”

Haft rolls yellow and looks at Megren questioning my.

Megren asks, “Hmm, I think that gives you a free round?”

Megren says, “Or, I know, it means you have to eat a cookie.”


Haft smiles and takes one from the basket, passing the cube.

Dalia takes the cube and rolls again.

Dalia asks, “Hmm. I suppose what was your favorite part of Narnia?”

Megren exclaims, “Oh! Hmm. I liked the centaurs.”

Haft asks, “Why so?”

Dalia says, “Oh really?”

She looks eagerly at Megren, like this a story she wants to hear sometime.”

Megren says, “Because I don’t understand how they work.”

Haft chuckles. “You know they eat most meals twice?”

Megren asks, “But how do they stay upright?”

Haft asks, “How do you?”

Megren says, “I don’t have a back end. They’ve got to have stomach muscles like rocks.”

Dalia listens rapt attention To Haft and Megren discusse centaurs.

Haft says, “Yeah, well the ones I saw at Cair Paravel probably had.”

He rolls the cube which comes up blue.

Megren says, “Oh, blue. Hmmm. Dalia, favorite childhood spring.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Sir Chal enters the mess and beelines for Megren. He acknowledges her companions briefly, and then exchanges a few quiet words with her. She turns to the others with a regretful expression, already rising. “That’s all the games for me, I’m afraid.”

Haft rises. “Everything all right?”

Megren says, “Just got called in to council, that’s all.”

Haft says, “Right. We’ll see you later then.”

He bows to both knights.

Megren calls, walking backward, “Thank you for the game!”

Early Knighthood

Off-duty Mess



This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room.



You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

The mess is fairly quiet. Haft sits with his feet propped up in front of the fire.

Megren walks into the room and hangs back in the doorway to survey it. Seeing Haft, she gets a cup of tea and goes to sit in the chair beside his.

Haft looks up and smiles, rising and offering a small bow. “Dame Megren.”

Megren wrinkles her nose at him. “Hello.”

Haft reseats himself. “How goes your beginning as a knight?”

Megren says, “About how you’d expect. Sleepier.” Continue reading Early Knighthood

The Knighting of Megren

Knights’ and Officers’ Barracks(#12955R/AHKM)



This is the barracks belonging to the officers of the Army and Navy of

Archenland, as well as to the knights of Anvard. While it is smaller than the

other two barracks, the items here are of a higher quality. In addition to

bunks and lockers, there are also several desks covered in maps and journals.



You can go: Naval Barracks <S>, Army Barracks <N>

There are a lot of characters here! Type ‘glance’ to glance at them all.

Lanisen ignores her loftily, but his ears are red again.

Dalia thanks lanisen and takes one of the snowdrops to braid in, reaching not long after for another spring.

Lanisen is sitting sideways in a chair by a window, which is open to let in the cool breeze. There is a hearty supply of fresh flowers in a jar on the table next to Megren and Dalia. Dalia is drawing from a little heap of white blossoms to braid into Megren’s hair.

Myles sets down his polishing rag and puts his second boot on, then stands and reaches for his sword-belt.

Megren fidgets nervously and tries to see if she can see Lanisen.

Lanisen continues choosing and drying flowers, but glances up frequently to check in. He offers her a small encouraging smile.

Haft enters and leans against the door jamb.

Dalia continues braiding, crossing strand over strand and slipping in herb or flower in depending on what she thinks will suit best. Catching Megren’s fidgets in a subtle glance, she holds the braid so that Megren can glance at Lanisen.

Megren makes a silly face at Lanisen to try to hide her nervousness.

Lanisen dimples up, but tips his head to the side knowingly. He glances over his shoulder as Haft comes into sight.

Megren’s eyes skip past Lanisen to Haft and she lifts her brows in greeting. “Almost ready,” she tells him.

Dalia finishes the braid slipping the last few flowers and such in. “There. How does that look?”

Lanisen draws and releases a deep breath approvingly.

Megren picks up the mirror and looks into it. “Oh, it’s, thank you Dalia, it’s, that’s perfect.”

Myles gets his sword-belt fastened in place. He grins.

Lanisen stays quiet, but he gives Dalia a grateful look.

Dalia simply grins, extremely pleased.

Megren gets up and straps on her cuirass, followed by her belt and sword. She takes a breath.

Haft smiles in approval.

Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth, quietly getting to his feet.

Megren asks, “So, I think I go, then?”

Lanisen’s eyes flit to Myles and Haft. “I think it’s about time,” he agrees softly, clasping his elbow. “You ready?”

Myles joins Haft near the door, waiting for the others.

Megren blows out a breath and nods uncertainly.

Lanisen swallows, and smiles, and lets his eyes slip from her face to the door.

Dalia offers Meg a smile, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Myles jokes, “Don’t worry, I made sure everyone knows not to trip you until after.”

Megren gives Myles a horrified look, not apparently having thought of this.

Lanisen grins, looking down.

Myles laughs and waves the group toward the door.

Megren’s expression melts into a nervously confident one, and she strides through the door.


Lanisen trails after them, his expression going a bit distant.


Great Hall



More than any other part of the castle, the Great Hall gives the impression of

age and enduring strength. It is a long, rectangular room, spacious enough to

accommodate several long tables on feast days, with high walls built of massive

blocks of red stone and two rows of matching pillars to support the arching

roof. There is an enormous fireplace in the middle of the southwest wall,

directly across from the intricately carved double doors that lead out into the

inner ward. A wicker screen blocks the door to the kitchen in the southeast

wall from sight. Six tall, narrow windows on the northeast wall let in a fair

amount of sunlight in the morning and early afternoon, but decorative iron

sconces that hang at functional intervals along each wall provide most of the

hall’s illumination.

At the far northwest end of the hall, three steps lead upto the dais, where

the high table sits beneath the banners of the noble houses: Coghill’s eagle,

Carmichael’s stag, Chesterton’s dragon, Lancelyn Green’s horse, Neiklot’s tree,

and the crown and mountains of Anvard’s standard.



You can go: Kitchen <SE>, Inner Ward <NE>, Dais <NW>

There are a lot of characters here! Type ‘glance’ to glance at them all.

The Great Hall is at its finest today: the great drapes on the northeast windows are drawn wide and the room is filled with light. Several benches are set in rows facing the dais, with an aisle up the center clear. Those assembled–many members of the guard, most of the knights in residence, and several of Megren’s friends and family–wait in silence.

Lune is seated on his throne, attended by Darrin on his left and the two princes on his right.

Darrin stands tall, with his hands clasped behind his back. He wears a formal blue tabard emblazoned with his personal crest over his suit of chainmail.

Megren enters the hall and hangs backs close to the doorway for a moment, taking in the decor with wide eyes. She makes a smoothing motion over her armor, glancing at Lanisen nervously, and then drops her hands, resting one of the pommel of her sword, and begins to stride down the long aisle.

Lanisen gives her a small encouraging nod when she looks his way. He hangs back with the others until she has gone some distance alone, then follows and takes a seat on one of the benches.

Myles takes his place among the others gathered in the hall.

Dalia follows taking a seat nearby

There is a low murmur as Megren passes toward the dais, a sound which does not quite edge over into cheering, but is close. The faces that look toward her are encouraging and glad.

Deonyc follows his fellow guards and sits down with the more junior ones, smiling.

Megren colors as the murmuring reaches her ears, but her lips curve.


Lune’s face is stern but somehow lighter around the eyes as he waits for Megren to reach the dais.

Nessa comes walking toward you from the Outer Ward.

Darrin smiles, his eyes roaming the crowd, and may be noticed to bounce very slightly on the balls of his feet.

Dalia looks to her sister beside her grinning, before turning back to watch Megren progress towards the the dais.

Megren reaches the steps and ascends them slowly.

Darrin dips his head to Megren as she reaches the dais.

Lune allows a very small smile to ease the gravity of his expression as she nears.

Megren bows to the king, then the princes, and last Sir Darrin.

Lune waits a moment until she has done this obeisance. The hall is utterly quiet, even the little shiftings and rustlings of small movements through the crowd settling, and his voice, when he speaks, carries easily even to the farthest corners. “The Knights of Anvard have long been established as an office of the highest order, serving at the discretion of the King and in the service of the people. The title of knight is bestowed only upon those who have attained those skills and virtues of character which are required by the Crown. Today, we consider the suit of one Megren, squire to Sir Darrin, who has been recommended as fit to receive the oath of her office.”

Megren bows her head a little.

Lune turns to Darrin. “Sir Darrin, has the squire proven to have mastered all the tasks and skills set before her by your person?”

Darrin bows. “She has, Your Majesty. She has excelled in every area.”

Lune inclines his head in acceptance and acknowledgement of this. He looks toward where the members of the guard in attendance are seated. “And of her time as a Guard of Anvard, who can speak to her competence?”

Deonyc looks to the older guards who are nodding in agreement.

Nessa watches, as amazed at getting to see all of the royals as in the ceramony itself

Haft Haft rises and bows. “I will, by your leave. I served with Megren for a year in the guard before Sir Darrin took her as his squire. I found her vigilant and earnest in her desire to serve and protect the people and effective in doing so, to a degree not often found in newer guards. She has often demonstrated an ability to resolve conflicts through earnest speech with the parties involved, and also shows an aptitude with weaponry that will serve her well should it be called upon. Moreover she serves with a merry heart and goodwill toward her fellows that is a boon whether one be guard or knight., and she upholds the ideals of honor, justice, and friendship. I can offer no higher praise.”

He steps back.

Lune nods again. “It is well spoken,” he says. “And has she proven, by quest or deed, heroism and leadership of the highest standard?”

Megren wets her lower lip.

Lanisen stands up. He quails slightly from the attention suddenly directed his way, but he bows to the king and keeps his eyes on him. “She saved my life, your majesty,” he says, and if his voice is shaky, it carries nevertheless. “She, she found me, when I was a prisoner, and then she helped me after. She never let me feel that I was alone. I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for her.”

His eyes shift briefly to Megren at this last, then he bows again and slips quickly back into his seat.

Darrin gives a small, warm smile, and bows his head to Lanisen as he sits back down.

Megren gives a miniscule shake of her head and blinks at the ground a few times.

Lanisen glances from side to side as the silence stretches.

Lune waits patiently for a moment, then lowers his head to regard Megren. “Knowst thou, Squire Megren, any just cause why the rank of knight should not be conferred upon thee?”

Lune’s eyes crinkle up faintly at the corners. “Megren, squire to Sir Darrin, thou hast been deemed fit for this high echelon by thy superiors and thy peers, and hast indicated thy willingness to accept this honour from Our hands.”

He stands from his throne, and the movement is echoed by a soft wave of rustling from all around the Hall as those assembled follow suit. “Kneel.”

Darrin nods encouragingly at Megren at her answer and then grins to himself when the King announces Megren’s fitness for knighthhood and rises.

Megren kneels, and only those near her will see the tremble in her hands.

Lanisen gets to his feet, shifting slightly to the side so he can see where Megren kneels. He bites his lower lip hard.

Lune’s voice is quiet and solemn, but still fills the whole Hall. “Swearest thou by the name of Aslan to honour and defend the Crown against all who would wish Us harm?”

Megren says, “I swear it.”

Dalia beam with excitement and some other unreadable emotion as she watches Megren kneel and speak her oaths of fealty.

Lune asks, “And swearest thou to act in accordance with the virtues of thine office, to respect and pity the weak and steadfastly defend them, and to pursue justice on their behalf?”

Megren says, “I swear it.”

Lune asks, “Swearest thou to be charitable to all, and to be generous in thy giving to those who have need?”

Darrin watches Megren’s face from where he stands just behind the King as she swears the vows of knighthood.

Megren says, “I swear it.”

Lune asks, “Swearest thou, in the battles that are to come, both bravery and hope in the face of adversity, and grace and wisdom in defeat? Swearest thou to forbear from the creation of an unequal battle, that those engaged upon the field may be assured a fair chance of victory?”

Lanisen’s eyes are damp as he watches.

Megren says, “I swear myself to it.”

Haft’s expression remains solemn, but fond pride sparks in his eyes.

Lune asks, “Swearest thou, as a knight, to champion all that is right and good and reject that which is evil? Swearest thou humility in thine actions and demeanor, good fellowship with those around thee, and a free willingness to hear offered council, regardless of whence it comes?”

Megren nods slightly, and her voice breaks a little as she confirms, “I swear it.”

Lune asks, “Swearest thou to pursue and uphold the truth, and to be loyal to the oaths you have given here today?”

Megren says, “By my heart and life, I swear it.”

Lune’s smile does not diminish the solemnity of his words. “We accept thy fealty.”

Megren swallows.

Darrin bites the inside of his lower lip, looking more and more proud as the ceremony proceeds.

Lune says, “And for Our part, we pledge to thee that from this day forward until the end of Our Reign, we will honor thine Order and defend thy rights as a peer. We pledge to protect the trust that thou hast placed in us, to learn from thee what thou hast to teach and to teach what thou desirest to learn from us. We pledge always to conduct ourselves with honour and justice, holding Ourself as an example to the vows you have sworn here today.”

Megren nods, her head still bowed.

Lune turns aside, extending a hand to Sir Darrin. “Bring forth the shield.”

Darrin turns to his left and takes a steel shield from the page who has slipped to his side unnoticed in the last few minutes. It has the design Megren has chosen for her own standard as a knight emblazoned upon it, a white rose and a brown wren on a field of azure. He steps forward and presents the shield to Megren, emblem first, so that she and everyone in the hall can see its design.

Darrin hands Megren’s Shield to Megren.

Lanisen covers his mouth, smiling helplessly.

Megren takes a great breath, and lifts her arm to accept the shield.

Darrin fits it onto her shield arm.

Lune says, as this is done, “Let this shield be a symbol of thine office as a Knight of Anvard to all who behold it. Wear it with honor and with pride.”

Darrin takes a step back.

Megren inclines her head.

Lune draws his greatsword silently from its scabbard. It gleams in the slanting sunlight from the window. “By Our authority as King, and in the name of the Lion and of his father the Emperor Beyond the Sea, We do dub thee a Knight of Anvard.”

Using the flat of the blade, he strikes a single light blow on each of Megren’s shoulders. “Now rise, Dame Megren.”

Megren rises slowly, unbowing her head and letting her shoulders fall straight.

Darrin calls out, “Three cheers for Dame Megren!”

Lanisen joins in the ensuing clamor with spirit.

Dalia calls out her own cheers with vigor!

Deonyc Cheers with the guards. Wich are making sure that they are the loudest.

Lune claps Megren on the shoulder, murmuring for only those near to hear, “Well done.”

He smiles at her fully, then sheathes his greatsword and steps back, gesturing out to the cheering people.

Megren nods gratefully to the King, her face and ears taking on a bright shade at the cries echoing through the hall. She turns to meet the people gathered there, and descends the dais.

Lanisen keeps well back as the people begin to mill about, stepping out of the way of the servants stepping in to move the benches and haul in the long tables for the feast. He finds a place near the wall where his presence seems not to be inconveniencing anybody and settles in.

Dalia pulls a candied fig from her pouch and eats it.

Darrin clasps hands with King Lune, a bright smile on his face, as Megren joins her supporters.

Lune thumps Darrin heartily on the shoulder before he moves off, booming jolly orders regarding the availability of wine and ale. His sons trail along behind him, eventually breaking off to mingle as well.

Lune walks out to the Inner Ward.

Megren passes through the crowd as quickly as she can, which is not especially so, and disappears for a very brief time, returning without her armor or shield, though her sword is still belted at her waist.

Dalia looks about for Megren for in the milling crowd, making her way towards her when she sees her again.

Lanisen stays where he is, watching the musicians set up for the dancing with a small, absent smile. He seems a bit out of his element, standing with one arm crossed over his stomach, but not overly so.

Nessa starts to follow Dalia, but breaks off at the last second after seeing Lanisen over in the corner and goes over to him. “Hello! I believe we met a couple of days ago and I was unable to stay and talk for long, I’m sorry for dahing off so quickly”

Darrin looks out over the crowd before he too descends the dais, and after a moment he makes his way over to Lanisen and leans against the wall beside him.

Megren stands in the doorway when she returns, her cuirass exchanged for a fitted, comfortable bodice, the rest of the dress the same. She hangs back there, searching with her eyes for her friends.

Lanisen says, “Oh! Oh, er–” He pauses, briefly distracted, and bows as Sir Darrin joins them. “It’s, it’s quite all right,” he says to Nessa, offering a small genuine smile, though he doesn’t meet her eyes for long. “Duties have to be seen to at inconvenient times, sometimes.”

Nessa says, “Indeed” Nessa replied, turning her eyes to the incoming knights and dropping into a curtsy her sister taught her to be proper”

Darrin grins at Lanisen and bows his head politely to the stranger when she curtseys to him as well. “Hello,” he says to both, his tone jovial.

Dalia can possibly be seen making her way in the direction she saw Megren last.

Megren catches sight of Dalia coming toward her and closes the distance between them.

Lanisen rubs his wrists absently and glances at Sir Darrin, lifting his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth.

Nessa looks slightly unsure as to what the ettiquette of the situation demanded and then drops to another very slight curtsy. “It is an honor to meet a knight, sir”

Darrin’s grin turns crooked and he winks at Lanisen, and then turns his attention back to the woman. “The pleasure is mine. I don’t believe I’ve made your acquaintance before. Sir Darrin, at your service.”

Lanisen dimples up and looks away, seeking out Megren in the crowd. He leans back against the wall tiredly.

Dalia smiles and drops a small curtsy, “Dame Megren, may I introduce my sister…”

She turns, around looking for her sister who had been following her.

Nessa says, “Nessa at yours, Sir Darrin. My sister Dalia insisted that I attend the knighting, and it was a lovely ceremony. His Majesty is a joy to behold”

Megren colors, and her lips curve at the first use of her title. She nods. “Yes, of course, I’d love to meet her.”

Darrin agrees, “The King is quite jovial, it’s true. But the occasion calls for it!”

He glows proudly.

Nessa says, “Oh, yes, Dalia said that Dame Megren was your squire. I can’t imagine how proud you must be of her with all of the acts of bravery people were testifying about.”

Dalia colors a bit in response to the empty space, looking for the said sister. She looks a little uncertain at having spoken her friend’s title instead of just her name. She looks about trying to find the said sister. “Um…oh! There she is, looks like. By Lanisen and Sir Darrin.”

Lanisen folds his other arm across his middle.

Megren’s smile broadens. “Oh, perfect. Shall we go?”

Darrin confides, “I could not have asked for a better first squire.”

Nessa says, “I hope that when I am able to take on an apprentice I will be given someone as capible.”

Dalia nods, a small smile creeping back at Megren’s words and smile.

Lanisen stays quiet, though he smiles faintly at Darrin’s praise of Megren.

Megren seeks out her friends in the direction Dalia has indicated and starts that way once she’s found them.

Darrin asks, “Oh, and what do you do, Nessa?”

Nessa fingers the edge of her cloak. “I’m a weaver, Sir. I just recently started supplying some of the wool cloth for the castle.

Darrin smiles. “I shall have to look for signs of your work about the castle in the future, then.”

Dalia allows Megren to lead following along behind, she waves to Nessa to get her her attention as they approach.

Lanisen straightens slightly as Megren approaches, letting his arms fall to his sides. He says nothing, but his face is written all over with quiet pride and affection. When she is near enough, he bends his head and performs a simple, respectful bow.

Nessa says, “You should be seeing them soon, I just finished several bolts for the newest guard’s winter gear”

Haft makes his way toward Megren.

Darrin is nodding to Nessa but gets entirely distracted by Lanisen’s bow. He starts beaming proudly all over again.

Nessa waves back at Dalia and edges toward her. “I’m sorry that I was seperated from you, I saw Lanisen and wanted to appologise for leaving in such a rush when we first met.”

She glances over at the aformentioned son of Adam, noticing his marked change in demeanor. “Though I can see that he has much more important things on his mind tonight”

Dalia smiles, “That’s alright. I wanted to introduce you to Dame Megren.”

There may be something in the way the title is said that might imply the speaker is unused to it.

Megren smiles at the other girl. “Hello.”

Lanisen looks startled by Nessa’s words and he glances between her and Darrin in confusion.

Nessa mumbles “New Titles are tricky. … took … quite … to get used … … … …”, to Dalia.

Nessa looks up at the new Knight. “Hello, it’s a pleasure to me you….sir?”

Haft steps near, lips twisting in amusement at Nessa’s words.

Megren’s grin broadens. “You, too. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name?”

Lanisen tilts his head, looking at Megren’s immaculately braided hair, and then winks at Dalia.

Nessa says, “Nessa at your service, Dame Megran.”

Nessa adds with a slight curtsy. “It was a lovely ceremony today”

Dalia smiles in reply to Nessa’s offered encouragement. She was guardswomen Megren when I first met her..”

Catching Lanisen’s wink, she grins back.

Haft approaches and offers a bow and a smile. “Congratulations, Dame Megren.”

Megren nods. “I was, that’s true.”

Lanisen shifts back against the wall again, content to watch and listen as Megren receives her due congratulations.

Megren smiles at Haft, her nose wrinkling a little, and nods her head. “Thanks.”

Haft asks, “I suppose this spoils any chance of us having you back on the guard?”

Megren says, “More guard shifts, though.”

Lanisen grins.

Haft says, “Well, that’s something then.”

Megren grins, and then looks around. “So is there food at this thing?”

Nessa laughs slightly “I was wondering that myself. Not to take away from the ceremony of course…

Darrin puts in, “Well, there’s certainly alcohol, if I overheard the King correctly.” He laughs.

Megren says, “Right, I want some of that, too.”

Nessa says, “I would not shy away from finding out what wine served in the castle tasted like”

Haft chuckles.

Lanisen looks with interest toward the tables being loaded with food by kitchen workers, Ren directing the placement of a beautifully constructed pastry structure that looks rather like the castle, if the castle were made out of puff-pastry and whipped cream, but his eyes shift to the open door to the ward instead after a moment.

Megren crosses nearer Lanisen and says something quietly to him.

Megren mumbles “… can … … if … want.”, to Lanisen.

Lanisen’s shoulders sag gratefully, but he looks at her with some doubt.

Lanisen mumbles “Will you be all … … … be … …”, to Megren.

Megren nods.

Megren mumbles “I’m … … … we didn’t unwrap the bread …”, to Lanisen.

Nessa looks away from the couple obviously having a private moment. “Would you like to go sample some of that wine, Haft?

Lanisen takes a moment to figure out what she means, but his face lights up with pleasure.

Lanisen mumbles “… … … … … … … it good?”, to Megren.

Darrin steps away to give Megren and Lanisen some privacy, and speaks to Nessa. “I’m all for it.”

Megren mumbles “It … perfect.”, to Lanisen.

Nessa steps over to the table with the food and pours a glass of wine and hands it to Darrin before pouring one for herself “Sir Darrin, how does one become an acomplished knight with a squire that has joined his ranks so young?

Lanisen glows. He glances past her briefly at where Darrin and Nessa are investigating the table.

Lanisen mumbles “Is … … you …”, to Megren., to Megren.

Haft glances at Megren, but follows Nessa amiably.

Megren shakes her head. “Go.”

Darrin follows Nessa, taking a sip of wine and then almost coughing on it. He colors. “Ah, hm, well. I had a leg up there, you know, my parents sent me off to squire under Lord Ast at a rather young age.”

Lanisen accepts this with a nod, but still seems reluctant to go. “Congratulations, Dame Megren,” he says quietly, half-grinning.

Darrin adds, “And Megren was a very particular case, in that I took her on as a squire when she was much older than many other squires start. But she was already an experienced guard, well-trained in martial arts, so her training did not take nearly as long as that of a squire with no experience would have.”

Megren wrinkles her nose again and pulls him into a full hug.

Nessa Figures that there’s more to the story, but decides not to press. “Of course, I forgot that some knights start younger than others. Do you plan on taking on another squire now?

Lanisen startles up briefly, but hugs her tightly in return, squeezing his eyes shut.

Megren steps back with her hands on his shoulders and looks into his eyes to command, “Go sleep.”

Darrin shakes his head, taking another drink of wine but this time more carefully. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility eventually, of course, but I chose Megren as a squire because of the potential I saw in her rather than my own desire or need to have a squire.”

He shifts to open his stance and include Haft in their conversation, and continues, “I don’t see myself taking another unless I found another person in whom I’d like to invest.”

Lanisen ducks his head obediently, the little half-grin still in place. “I’ll see you soon,” he promises, and turns to go.

Nessa Nods “I like the sound of that, I would like to be able to see anyone that I trained as a friend as well as a pupil

Megren nods, and shoos him off.

Lanisen walks out to the Inner Ward.

Megren blows out a breath as Lanisen departs and wanders off in the direction the rest of her friends have gone. She seeks out the wine and pours herself a cup.

Darrin nods. “That has been a good method, in my experience.”

He nabs a piece of bread off a platter on the table. “Are you looking for an apprentice currently?”

Nessa shakes head “Someday, but not quite yet. I wouldn’t want to take on a great responsibility until I am well established in town. But the idea of watching someone grow from stinging threads on a loom to drawing up their own patterns is very appealing to me

Darrin says, “Still, sensible of you to wait till you’re in a prosperous enough place to take on that responsibility.”

Megren hesitates in joining her friends to talk to her family. There is a great deal of hugging and shoulder smacking and merry words, and one older man who looks of an age to be Megren’s father looks in danger of not letting her go when it is his turn.”


Haft’s eyes follow Megren and he smiles at this interaction.


Nessa takes a piece of bread off a plate and spreads strawberry jam on it and nibbles on it before yawning. “This has been a lovely celebration, and I am truly happy to have met so many of you, but I really ought to get back home soon.”

Darrin inclines his head. “Well, it was good to meet you, Nessa.”

Megren leads the gaggle of people over toward the food and gets them to admire the pastry castle. After a little more chatter and a lot of practicing to visit within the week, she extracts herself to rejoin Haft and Sir Darrin.

Nessa Finishes off her glass of wine. “I hope that I run into you again, either in the outer ward or in the viliage. Dalia’s descriptions of finding kind friends were not an exageration.” she gave a wink at Haft “Even if Haft and I don’t always see eye to eye”

Haft raises a brow and looks at her slantwise, but makes no answer to this.

Nessa walks out to the Inner Ward.

Darrin raises an eyebrow at Haft. “Now, I can’t help but feel there’s a story there.”

Megren comes up just as Nessa is leaving. “Hi, hello.”

Haft says, “I’m sure it’s not worth telling, Sir.”

Darrin pouts and then brightens immediately when Megren appears. “Hello!”

Megren smiles softly. “Hello.”

Haft says, “A fine evening.”

Megren asks, “Yeah?”

Darrin snerks, shaking his head at this oversimplification.

Haft asks, “And a well-laid table. What’s the occasion?”

Megren shoves him gently in the shoulder.

Haft says, “Well, I behaved for a little while.”

Darrin holds his pointer finger and thumb very close together to indicate how long this lasted.

Megren replies sincerely, “Thank you for speaking.”

Haft says, “I meant every word.”

Megren says, “I know.”

Darrin says, “Well, congratulations, Dame Megren, since I don’t think I’ve said that officially.”

He raises his wineglass.

Megren colors and pulls a face.


Darrin chortles, having expected as much.

Haft snorts.

Megren asks, “Should we join the dancing?”


Darrin says, “Oooh, yes.”

Megren grins.

Haft says, “I can see no reason why not.”

Darrin sets his now empty glass down on the table.

Megren takes each of their hands and pulls them toward where the dancers have gathered.

Haft follows her lead.


Inner Wall Walk



You stand on Anvard’s Inner Wall Walk. From here you have a view of both the Inner and Outer Wards. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals the bustle of people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle. In the Inner Ward you see nobles and staff, mingling happily or going about their own business.



You can go: Toward the Trapdoor Opening , Southern Watchtower

Haft stands on duty on the wall walk.

Megren comes up through the north trapdoor and walks along down the length of the wall.

Haft turns. “Didn’t expect you up here.

Megren says, “I told Perth I’d cover his shift. Figured it would make good practice.”

Haft asks, “What’s Perth doing?”

Megren says, “Probably beating Geard at darts.”

Haft says, “Sounds like a good use of his time.”

Megren asks, “There’s little better. How’s the watch?”

Haft asks, “Pleasantly dull. How’re your last days as a squire?”

Megren says, “Fast.”

Haft asks, “The squires as eager to be quit of you as the guard was?”

Megren makes a face at him. “I loved being a guard.”

Haft says, “We loved having you. Can’t think why you left.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side gratefully and nods her thanks. “Even with the cartwheels?”

Haft puts on a mournful face. “Twas a stain upon our honor, to be sure. We do not speak of it.”

Megren hits him lightly in the arm.

Haft chuckles.

Megren says, “Sir Darrin and I talked about it a little. It’ll be different. I’ll miss it, I think, but I’ll also be glad to be done with it.”

Haft says, “Seems like you’re always moving about and progressing while I fight to just stand still.”

Megren’s brows draw together. “You feel that way?”

Haft says, “It’s not necessarily a complaint. I might have hoped in my youth to be a captain one day, and I’ll be glad of any promotions I achieve, but…I don’t know.”

Megren asks, “Is that what you’d like?”

Megren says, “To move up? I always sort of thought you were just where you wanted to be.”

Haft says, “Well, that’s what I mean, at least, well, in a way.”

He looks slightly flustered. “I’m grateful to be here at all. You know that.”

Megren nods. “I do.”

Haft says, “But I’ve always wanted to be the best at what I do. I study and train hard, and my duties have expanded since I came. I’m glad of it.”

Megren nods again, her lips turning upward a little now.

Megren says, “That’s good.”

Haft says, “Yeah.”

Megren watches the quiet ward. “You’re a good guard,” she assesses.

Haft follows her gaze. “Well, everyone started behaving after the first few fiery acorns sped their way.”

Megren snorts softly.

Haft says, “But thanks.”

Megren says, “You’re welcome.”

Haft drums his fingers on the parapet.

Megren glances at him.

Haft asks, “How’d the cubes game end the other night?”

Megren says, “Oh, we stopped when you left.”

Haft asks, “Why?”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “It’s more fun when it’s more than two.”

Haft says, “Coulda asked Owin.”

Megren says, “That’s true.”

Haft says, “Course that might also have terrified him.”

Megren says, “Almost definitely.”

Haft says, “Poor chap does try though.”

Megren says, “Sir Darrin would have comforted him.”

Haft grins. “So…you still owe me a question, don’t you?

Megren says, “Right, yes.”

Haft pauses a moment, takes a breath, then asks. “So why did Suir Darrin stiffen up like a fireplace poker when I asked about your dance partner?”

Megren tilts her head and is quiet for a moment. “Did he?”

She finally asks.

Haft says, “Yes.”

Megren says, “Well.”

She pauses again, and then says, “I guess maybe I haven’t been hiding it as well as I might have liked.”

Haft looks at her sharply. “Hiding what?”

Megren’s lips purse together and she lifts a shoulder.

Megren looks at him with a disbelieving expression.

Haft shrugs.

Megren says, as if she thinks it should be obvious, “It’s Sir Darrin.”

Haft just stares at her.

Megren frowns and looks back at the ward. “It’s, not appropriate or sensible, obviously, so you needn’t be sore with me about all that; I already know. I’d hoped I was addressing it a little better, though.”

Haft blinks at her, as though he’s still catching up. “Addressing it? You haven’t addressed anything at all.”

Megren asks, “Um, hide it and not let it get in the way, then?”

Haft says, “You’re…you /love/ Sir Darrin?”

He blinks again as the rest of the pieces begin to coalesce. “And he /knows/.”

Megren screws up her mouth. “That’s pretty strong words,” she argues.

Haft says, “What, ‘love’? So you just stumble while dancing with him then.”

Megren says, “On occasion.”

Haft asks, “And what does he think about all this? Does he…stumble back?”

Megren says, “I don’t think that’s a thing.”

Haft looks frustrated. “You know what I mean.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side, lips pressed together, and says after a moment, “You would have to ask him.”

Haft’s voice sparks. “I can’t very well do that, Meg. He’s one of my commanding officers.

Megren says with a touch of reprimand in her voice, “Mine too.”

Haft throws up his hands and stomps away to the other end of the wall.

Megren’s shoulders drop and she calls after him, “Haft–”

Haft ignores her and leans on the stone, perusing the ward.

Megren sighs and tries to close the distance between them. “I have just told you one of my hardest secrets, you know.”

Haft glowers at the ward. “Did you?”

He takes a breath. “Because what you’ve told me is a tangle and I can’t make heads or tails of it.”

Megren’s brows draw together.

Haft says, “Well, from what you’ve said, you’ve taken a shine to Sir Darrin, despite his station. And to judge by his reaction at cubes, he knows about it. But you don’t want to tell me what he thinks of it, so I don’t know how much trouble you may be in or not.”

Megren says, “I don’t know why you think I’ve told him about it.”

Haft asks, “Have you?”

Megren’s lips press together.

Haft makes a face. “You have. If you hadn’t you could tell me. But you don’t want to speak for him I guess.”

Megren’s mouth pushes to the side and she clasps her elbows. “He’s my superior, Haft.”

Haft snaps. “Yes, I haven’t missed that, but what aspect of it you’re trying to drive home escapes me.”

Megren says, “It’s not appropriate for me to hold an interest, and it’s not fair for you to ask.”

Haft makes a noise of frustration and grips the stones, silent for a moment. “Agreed,” he says at length. “But you say you’ve told me a hard secret and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.

Megren says, “You /asked/.”

Haft runs a hand over his face.

Megren asks, in a quieter voice, “Would you have rather I lied?”

Haft sighs and looks back at her. “I would rather you had more sense than the Lion gave a Mouse, Meg. I don’t want you hurt.

Megren says, “I’ll — I know.”

Haft takes her by the shoulders. He sounds older, his voice more fatherly than usual in speaking to her. “What I mean is, the Mice–I don’t know if you met any–they are an honorable small folk. Their thoughts and goals are high and lofty, but too often beyond their measure to achieve. Do you…am I permitted to ask if this is more than a passing folly on your part?

Megren’s eyes skitter away. “It’s — you needn’t worry over it. And I haven’t let it get in the way of my training.”

Haft searches her face. “Lord Darrin is a good man, but few nobles can make the choice of Sir Colin, even if they would. You know this.”

Megren says, “I know.”

Haft nods solemnly. “Guard your heart then.”

He gives her shoulders a light squeeze and releases them.

Megren says, “I, thanks. I will.”

Haft still looks concerned, but says no more for the moment. “How are preparations coming for the vigil?”

Megren says, “We got the dress picked, and I’ve got everything polished, and Sir Darrin and I went over the schedule.”

Haft attempts a half smile. “What sort of dress did you settle on then?”

Megren says, “Tess came up with one I could wear armor with for the ceremony and then dress down for the dancing after.”

Haft says, “Impressive.”

Megren says, “It’s nice.”

Haft asks, “Color?”

Megren says, “Blue/mulberry.”

OOC> Megren says, “ooc That RP is ongoing and we haven’t chosen mulberry or blue yet*.”

Haft asks, “Not Archen purple?”

Megren makes a soft sound of laughter. “I wish.”

OOC> Haft says, “Archen *”

Haft says, “Some of us can’t pull it off.”

Megren gives him an offended look, only half serious.

Haft shrugs at his weak attempt at humor.

Megren says loftily, “Archenland’s colors would look good on anyone.”

Haft purses his lips. “I could name a fair few upon whom they would not look so well, but then Darius and Rabadash are not applying for the honor.”

Megren screws up her mouth but admits, “Fair.”

Haft nods in acknowledgment of her agreement.

Megren blows out a breath.

Haft asks, “Nervous?”

Megren admits, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “So would I be.”

Megren asks, “Yeah?”

Haft says, “Sure. I’d probably be like Agnalin the Unknighted.”

Megren snorts. “You would not.”

Haft considers. “Alright, I admit I’m not likely to knock over a candlestick and burn half the chamber down, but no doubt /something/ would go wrong.”

Megren says, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to get used to people bowing and calling me dame.”

Haft says, “I’ll call you Fritter if you’d rather.”

Megren says, “I’ll accept that.”

Haft says, “Just don’t step on anyone’s toes during the dancing. The rest will fall into place.”

Megren nods. “All right.”

Haft says, “As for the bowing and all, there’s nothing for it.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “Just look down your nose as loftily as possible.”

Megren tries this now.

Haft says, “Effective.”

Megren breaks into a grin.

Haft smirks. “And now you’ve gone and spoilt it.”

Megren says, “Well, I prefer this.”

Haft says, “Aye.”

Megren wrinkles her nose happily at him.

“You needn’t look so pleased with yourself,” he grumbles.

Megren pulls a frowning face.

Haft wrinkles his nose in a good approximation of hers.

Megren laughs, covering her mouth.

Haft says, “You’ll do just fine Meg.”

Megren smiles at him, and looks back out over the ward. “Thanks. I hope so.”

Something You Can Twirl In

Seamstress’ Shop



You stand in the Seamstress’ Shop, where the finest clothes in Archenland are sold. Bolts of fabric lie in neat piles, some rough, and others soft or shimmering. Threads of various hues, even a few which appear to be gold or silver, sit wound on neatly-ordered spools. While the common traveler can find a serviceable tunic for a reasonable price here, there are also fine embroidered gowns and doublets for court functions. The sheer variety of merchandise in such a small space is a bit overwhelming, and gives you the impression of having fallen into the center of a rainbow.



You can go: Market Entrance <O>



Megren stands between the doorway of the shop and Tess and Lanisen, who are discussing a lovely roll of blue and darker blue patterned fabric.

Haft steps inside, pausing to let his eyes adjust.

Lanisen stands at the counter, frowning down at the fabric while Tess explains to him about skirt lengths and how she can fix it so the fabric brushes the floor but doesn’t often get stepped on.

Megren screws up her mouth and crosses her arms, eyes flicking over the stacks of color lining the room.

Haft looks surprised to find anyone there. “Oh, good day.”

Megren turns, surprised, and her face colors a little. “Oh, Haft.”

Lanisen glances over his shoulder, distracted briefly by the newcomer.

Haft tilts his head to look at the cloth. “Pretty.”

Megren says, “We’re just looking.”

Tess, no fool, casts an appraising eye at Megren and turns away from the counter, reaching down bolts of fabric in tones that will compliment her hair and coloring.

Lanisen lifts his shoulders at Haft and turns back to the counter as Tess sets the first bolts down. He pauses, catching his lower lip between his teeth, and looks back at Megren.

Haft gives her a curious look. “Me too. Thought I might find something nice for Calla.”

Megren says, “Oh, that’s nice.”

Tess lays out a good selection, ranging from rich jewel tones to paler pastels. They seem to be mostly on the cooler end of the spectrum, blues and greens with a couple of violets.

Megren hesitates, and then steps toward the cloths. She reaches out to finger an airy bolt of teal.

Lanisen steps to the side, smiling silent thanks at Tess.

Haft steps over to Tess. “Got something a little girl might fancy?”

Megren fingers the fabric for a long moment and then releases a breath, dropping her shoulders, and moves on to something a little less nice.

Tess moves down the counter, leaving Megren to consider in more privacy, and asks, “Does this little girl like climbing trees or dancing, or both?”

Lanisen watches Megren’s process keenly, but doesn’t interfere.

Haft says, “Both, to be sure.”

Megren looks up to watch Haft’s conversation, lips turning upward at his reply.

Tess grins at this reply. “I have two of those,” she answers ruefully, and turns to face the wall of cloth. She pulls out several bolts halfway, sturdy fabric in colors that won’t show stains easily: midtoned blues and greens and soft fawn-colored browns. She steps back to survey these, tapping her lower lip with her thumb, and reaches up above the fabric to the shelf of trimmings and pulls down a spool of simple lace. “A short dress over leggings?” she suggests. “Less liable to get in the way and tear; still good for twirling.”

Haft nods his approval. “Something like that. In blue I think.”

Lanisen reaches out to investigate a soft pastel green with near-invisible patterns in slightly lighter green and a liquid drape.

Megren points to linen bolt with an indigo stain among Haft’s selection. “That one’s nice.”

Haft examines the indicated bolt.

Tess lifts it down to the counter and unwinds a bit so Haft can have a closer look. She tilts her head to consider it and unspools some of the lace to lay across it, where it contrasts very prettily with the dark blue.

Lanisen touches Megren’s elbow. “What do you think of these?” he asks quietly, gesturing at the fabrics she hasn’t really looked at yet.

Megren moves to look. “I don’t know,” she says a little hopelessly.

Haft glances at Megren. “What’s the occasion?”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “It’s for the ceremony.”

Lanisen considers, then begins to sort the fabric into three piles by how they feel and hang.

Megren’s eyes shift to Lanisen with impressed alarm.

Tess lifts down a bolt of the fawn to set with the indigo and lace.

Haft says, “Ah. Well, get something you can twirl in so I can tell Calla all about it.”

Megren says, “There’s the kind of concrete advice I was looking for.”

Haft grins unapologetically.

Perhaps you should wait for the question before agreeing with it.

Lanisen prods gently, gesturing to the piles, “You want to pick which kind you like best?”

One pile holds the liquid, silky sort; another is richer and warmer and almost velvety; a third holds a light, airy fabric that will certainly be good for twirling.

Megren says, “They all look like something I would ruin.”

Haft says, “Did Sir Darrin offer any guidelines?”

Megren says, “We’re supposed to look together but I didn’t want to drag him around without any ideas.”

Haft grunts. “Isn’t exactly a lot of precedent. Can’t you just wear armor?”

Megren says, “I’m supposed to have a dress for the dancing.”

She glances at Lanisen and nods hesitantly.

Lanisen asks, “Light or dark, do you think?”

Haft eyes the choices. “I prefer the heavier one, in truth, but I’m afraid I’m pressed for time.”

He turns back to Tess and makes inquiry about the price of the bolts and the lace, frowning slightly at her answer. “I’ll think on it.”

Megren asks, “Um?”

Haft says, “Be spring before the day, won’t it? I don’t imagine it need be dark.”

Megren points to the minty green Lanisen was looking at earlier, and an aubergine. “I like this one, but I like that, too.”

Lanisen says thoughtfully, “There’s already snowdrops and crocuses, I bet there’ll be somethin’ good bloomin’ for you to wear by the time they’re done makin’ arrangements.”

Megren colors and looks a little overwhelmed by this prospect.

Tess says, moving back along the counter to join the conversation again, “Apple blossoms would be lovely against that dark purply blue.”

Megren asks, “Aren’t they just going to fall out?”

Haft glances at the fabric, then Megren’s hair, doubtfully.

Tess says dismissively, “Oh, I shouldn’t think so. They’re quite clever with flowers for wearing.”

Megren squints an eye doubtfully.

Tess lifts a shoulder apologetically. “I don’t know much about it, it’s not my trade. But I do know some of the ladies-in-waiting up in the castle who do some really lovely things for the spring and summer dances.”

Megren says, “Well, you’d know better than me.”

Haft snorts. “They can braid them in. It’d be fine.”

Megren says, “Oh.”

Tess lifts a corner of the pale green and holds it up to consider again. “This would be nice in the spring as well…”

Haft says, “Anyway, I gotta get. I’ll see you later.”

Megren’s eyes stray to the teal again.

Lanisen follows her glance. He reaches out and tugs the teal out of its pile to add to the short list, to an approving murmur from Tess.

Haft heads out the door.

Megren says, “I’ll ruin any of those.”

Lanisen says, “Shhh, don’t worry about that right now.”

Megren says, “No, it’s important.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, but it’s, later, we’ll worry about it after we find a color and Tess can help figure out ways for you to work with it, yeah?”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear.

Lanisen asks, “What colors do you like to wear when it’s just, just for goin’ about?”

Megren looks down at herself and her squire’s clothes.

Lanisen says, “You got dresses, I seen ’em. What’s your favorite?”

Megren says, “Um, the blue one, I guess.”

Lanisen says encouragingly, “That’s a good color, do you want a color that’s like that?”

You exit the shop.


Tower Garden



The garden at the top of the nobles’ tower is a wilder and less formal garden than the queen’s garden below. Mountain-hardy wildflowers such as columbine and aster are grouped in attractive clusters, growing in large planters of varying heights, and a large bank of lavender thrives on the west side of the tower, out of the shade of the solarium to the southeast. There is a small raised pool in the center of the garden, full of enormous orange-mottled carp grown fat and slow and tame with daily feeding.

A circular stairway winds around the exterior of the pool, leading down into the tower, and a break in the crenellated wall on the northwest side leads to the queen’s garden. Standing at the east wall, one can see down into the inner ward, and the curve of the wall on the west side from south to north overlooks the castle grounds below. The mountains of Archenland rise over thecastle to the immediate north, the range stretching away into the west.



You can go: Queen’s Garden <NE>, Queen’s Solarium <SE>, Nobles’ Quarters <D>

Lanisen wonders, “Is it cold enough to be freezin’ over?”

He’s sitting with Megren by the side of the fish pond, which is not frozen over.

Megren says, “If it were fall, I wouldn’t say so, but since it’s /been/ cold, maybe.”

Haft walks up the staircase that circles the pond.

Lanisen says, “We don’t have time to go look, I suppose.”

Megren shakes her head. “Sir Darrin said dancing lessons after his meeting’s out.”

She looks up at the sound of someone new coming up the stairs and, seeing Haft, ducks her head a bit, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Haft grins at this. “More dancing?”

Lanisen blinks and wrinkles his nose up. He follows her glance and offers Haft a quick smile of greeting.

Megren says, “Hello. Just, just lessons.”

Haft gives her a swift, keen look, but let’s this pass. “Hello Lanisen.”

Lanisen answers, “Afternoon, Haft.”

Megren rubs her palms on her thighs. “We were just wondering about whether the tide pools might be frozen.”

Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly. He watches Megren from the corner of his eye, and gives Haft a narrow look.

Haft glances at the fish pond. “This ain’t.”

Megren looks at the pond. “Hmm.”

Lanisen says, “They warm it, I think. And break the ice off the top when it forms.”

Haft looks down at the still pool. “The fish seem to think it’s too frigid to come up, anyhow.”

Megren trails her hand in.

Lanisen glances at Megren again. “They keep gettin’ their noses bopped when they do.”

Haft says, “That would deter anyone.”

Lanisen mms.

Megren looks throughful and reaches out to try bopping Lanisen’s nose.

Lanisen catches her hand before it gets to his nose and removes it from the vicinity of his face.

Megren makes a disappointed face.

Haft exclaims, “Well caught!”

Megren concedes, “I suppose you’re right, then.”

Lanisen looks satisfied.

Haft says, “I think I’ve lost the thread of the conversation. Who’s right about what?”

Haft says, “Oh. Well I’m always right.”

Megren says, “Ha.”

Lanisen gets to his feet, a little stiffly. “I’m gettin’ cold, I’m gonna head in,” he says, gesturing with his book toward the solarium.

Megren’s eyes flick to his shoulder. “Oh, sure.”

Lanisen asks, “See you later?”

Haft says, “Enjoy your book.”

Megren says, “Yeah. After… um, around supper, I think.”

Lanisen nods to this. He glances back to Haft and dips his head, grinning again briefly. “Thanks, I will.”

Haft nods.

Megren says, “See you.”

Lanisen nods again and heads toward warmer climes, waving as he goes.

Lanisen walks down the stair, circling the raised fish pond wall and the central pillar.

Haft looks after him with a pleased expression.

Megren glances back at Haft as Lanisen departs, and the corner of her mouth turns upward.

Haft turns back. “What brought you two up here?”

Megren says, “I was already here, and then he came up to read.”

Haft asks, “Oh. What brought you up then?”

Megren says, “Just, had an hour. Wanted to see the fish.”

Haft says, “Stop boppin’ ’em.”

Megren says, “No, they usually like it. They nip.”

Haft sits next to her. “It’s the cold then. Doubt you’ll see em before late spring.”

Megren says, “Yeah, might be.”

Haft asks, “So you thought you’d check the tidal pools instead?”

Megren says, “Well, not now. Next time I get an afternoon off.”

Haft says, “Yeah. I don’t expect they’d be iced over just now, but I ain’t been down to look.”

Megren nods. “We got to see them iced once last winter, but not this one yet.”

Haft asks, “What’s yer favorite critters?”

Megren says, “Oh, um. I don’t know if I could say. I’ve always liked lynx, maybe because they’re hard to catch a glimpse of. And birds.”

Haft’s mouth twists. “Can’t say I’ve seen many lynxes in the pools.”

Megren says, “Oh, just in pools you meant.”

Haft says, “Yeah.”

Megren says, “Um, hmm. I don’t know all their names.”

Haft says, “I used to know those pools like the back of my hand.”

Megren asks, “What’s your favorite then?”

Haft says, “I like the anemones.”

Megren says, “Those are the ones that –” she holds out her hand with fingers extended and then closes them up, looking at him and lifting her brows for confirmation.

Haft grins. “I liked to poke their centers and see them curl in, aye.”

Megren agrees, “Those are pretty good.”

Haft says, “Glad you approve.”

Megren says, “Sometimes there are bright red weeds, I like those.”

Haft says, “Oh, yeah, I know the ones you mean.”

Megren says, “And the crabs.”

Haft clicks his fingers together at her.

Megren snorts softly.

Haft stands and extends a hand to her.

Megren’s brows lift and then draw together as she takes it.

Haft says, “Practice before you go to lessons.”

Megren wrinkles her nose, coloring lightly. “Mmm,” she says with a bit of skepticism.

Haft says, “Oh come now. You’ll never tell me I’m handsome enough to muddle your steps.”

Megren wrinkles her nose further.

Haft asks, “So show me how it goes?”

Megren shows him the proper posture and positioning, and then walks him through the first couple of basic steps.

Haft says, “This is…slower than I expected. I don’t recall seeing the nobles dragging their heels so.”

Megren says, “You have to go slow to learn it.”

Haft exclaims, “Ah! Well, that would be better than treading on you, yes.”

Haft follows through the motions.

Megren’s a little stiff, but technically accurate.

Haft asks, “What’s this one called?”

Megren says, “Waltz.”

Haft says, “Is it? I’ve heard of that one. Always thought it was a funny word though.

Megren grins. “It is, I guess.”

Haft says, “It’s not too terribly complicated, anyway.”

Megren says, “No. There are spins and things you can do to make it more complicated, but the main step is just remembering when to go up and down and long and short.”

Haft says, “Ah, well I’ll botch it then, certain.”

Megren laughs. “Sir Darrin’s been teaching me to lead if you’d rather.”

Haft says, “I thought the man usually led.”

Megren says, “He said if I wanted I could learn both.”

Haft asks, “How terribly permissive. And I suppose you lead him all over the place?”

Megren makes a face.

Haft asks, “Do you?”

Megren says, “I don’t know what that means, ‘lead him all over the place’.”

Haft says, “I have no idea. I’m making this up as I go along.”

Haft muddles a couple of steps.

Megren steps back. “Well, it’s a good start, anyway.”

Haft says, “I suppose. You’ll have to show me more sometime. Then when I’m ready I can borrow some of Lord Tyren’s things and join in. No one will be the wiser.”

Megren snorts again. “I’m sure he’d be very obliged.”

Megren says, “Be a bit floppy at the ends.”

Haft says, “Could roll it up. Be the new fashion.”

Megren says, “Hmmmm.”

Haft asks, “Whose clothes would you borrow, if you could wear anything?”

Megren asks, “Uh — probably… a guard uniform?”

Haft says, “I’ll have to secure my trunk.”

Megren grins. “I still have mine.”

Haft asks, “You don’t look terrible in dresses. Don’t you have to wear one for most of your dance lessons?”

Megren says, “Oh, sometimes I do. ”

Haft says, “Well, for what it’s worth, I prefer the guardsman uniform too. Most of Lord Tyren’s collars look a touch tight.”

Megren says, “Yes, I don’t think I’d like to wear a lord’s clothing.”

Haft says, “Probably a lady’s would look better.”

Megren tilts her head, hestitating momentarily, and then says, “We’ll aim for a knight’s.”

Haft says, “That’ll do.”

Megren takes a breath and says, “I probably better be off to meet him now, though.”

Haft says, “Right, sure. If you stumble, just tell him I tuckered you out.”

Megren colors and says, “I’m sure I won’t.”

Haft looks perplexed. “You need to splash some cold water on your face. Yer lookin’ overheated.

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear and turns toward the stairs. “Will do, grandpa.”

Haft chuckles as she leaves.

Megren hurries down the steps.