In which Haft nearly has heart failure
You stand in the Council Chamber of Anvard. Here King Lune discusses policy with his advisors, entertains visiting ambassadors, and hosts small dinner parties. The room is cozier than the Great Hall, and circular in shape. Fine tapestries are hung on the walls, interspersed with the coats of arms of various noble households. In the center of the room is a beautiful round table, with ornately carved legs ended in lion’s claws, and a surface of inlaid wood. Clearly, aside from more practical purposes, this is a room fit to entertain people who need impressing.
You can go: Northeast Hallway <E>, Inner Ward <S>
Contents: A son of adam wearing well made clothes and a crown (Lune); A son of
adam with blue eyes (Peridan); A Silver Platter Heaped with Meat; and A
Silver Platter Heaped with Vegetables.
A servant brings a message to Peridan and Haft, wherever the afternoon finds them, to let them know that the king requests their attendance in the council chamber.
Haft pauses before they enter the Council Chamber. “Whatever happens, it has been an honor serving under you Commander.”
Soon after the message is sent, the two men enter the Council Chamber. Peridan looks very stately as he confidently walks into the room, Haft behind him. He bows low, “Good Day, Your majesty.”
Lune is seated at the table, a few papers in front of him. As Peridan and Haft enter, he pushes back his chair and stands to greet them, clapping Peridan affectionately on the shoulder. “Nephew!” He looks beyond to Haft and gives him a nod. “Good afternoon to you, friend.”
Haft follows Peridan into the room, face stoic, though a bit pale. He appears startled by the king’s greeting. Immediately he takes his knee in a gesture of fealty he has not made in long years. “Your Majesty.”
Peridan grins a bit as his Uncle greets him. “You wish to speak to us, Sire?” His gaze glances down at Haft, a look of approval on his face before facing the King again.
Lune raises Haft immediately and easily, as if it is a thing he takes pleasure in doing. He looks into the man’s face for a moment. “It has been a long time.”
Haft looks at the king uncertainly, plainly wrong-footed. “Y-yes my lord.” He lowers his eyes. “I fear I have disobeyed you. Again.”
Peridan takes a step back, clasping his hand behind his back. He watches everything quietly.
Lune gestures them both to seats at the table and returns to his own place, shifting a couple of the papers for a look at the ones beneath. “Lord Dar reported that you had returned to fight in the battle and that you had surrendered your sword after.” He glances at Haft for his confirmation.
Haft looks distinctly uncomfortable to be sitting in his king’s presence, but follows Lune’s lead. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
Peridan also sits, saying, “He fought well in the battle.” He then retains his thoughtful quietness.
Haft gives Peridan a grateful glance.
Lune settles himself in his chair, studying the soldier across from him. “What I should very much like to know,” he says, conscious of the man’s unease and speaking gently, “is in what manner do you feel that you have disobeyed us?”
Haft’s brow furrows. “I returned to Archenland in defiance of your order of exile, Sire.”
Lune nods slowly, not looking away from Haft. “Lord Dar informed us that you spoke of exile.” He pauses. “I do not know what was said to you, or by whom, but I swear to you that it was none of our doing. There was no order of exile, Master Haft.”
Peridan’s eyebrow raises at this. He takes a close look at Haft.
Haft reels back, hand gripping the edge of his chair. His face has lost all color. He stares at the king in mute horror but seems unable to find words. After a time he croaks out, “I don’t understand.”
Lune watches him closely, straightening. He turns aside to the servant attending them and requests quietly, “A glass of wine for Master Haft, please.” As the servant pours the wine for Haft, Peridan, and the king, Lune straightens the papers in front of him. “It has been many years, and it was a trying time. I had the records searched. Here are those documents concerning you: your initial commission and those following, your promotions, your record of service…” He moves each paper from one pile to another as he speaks, leaving nothing in the original pile. “There is no order of exile.”
Haft is visibly trembling. He does not question the king’s words. “My captain…after it happened I was asked to remain in the citadel. He came to the mess one day looking furious–I assumed he had been addressing the situation with you. He told me to get out.” His voice is hoarse.
Peridan continues to listen quietly, taking a few sips of wine.
Haft says, “I thought…” he trails off.”
Lune says, “You took his words to mean exile.”
Haft whispers. “Yes.” He turns his face away. “Merciful Lion…”
Peridan’s eyes soften a bit towards Haft but he still remains his quiet composure.
Lune leans back in his chair, spinning the stem of his wine glass between his fingers. After a pause, he says, looking at the records in front of him, “I crave your forgiveness for allowing you to think yourself disgraced these past days since the battle. In a matter such as this there can be no uncertainty.”
Haft turns his face back to his king. “I have no cause to complain, my lord. I have been given ample freedom within the walls and Lord Peridan has dealt honorably with me.”
Haft asks, “As for my forgiveness, you need not ask it. How could I possibly hold you in debt when my own is so much greater?”
Lune acknowledges Haft’s words with a nod, glancing at Peridan briefly as he is referenced. “You have been in Narnia these past years, then?” he asks Haft.
Haft nods. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
Lune asks, “Serving in their army?”
Peridan says, “Haft answered the call for Volunteers when we received word of the invasion. He came here to defend his homeland without being ordered too.”
Haft nods at Peridan’s response. “I keep a small home in Barfield and earned my living as a hunter. Every so often I travel to Sted Cair–that is how I was there when the call to arms came.” He hesitates, but continues. “As I told Lord Dar, I wished for word of Corin’s welfare.”
Lune glances from Haft to Peridan and back. “Without orders,” he repeats, “And without any expectation of welcome.”
Haft shrugs. “You needed swords, and I had mine to hand,” he says evenly.
Peridan nods once in agreement. “He was brave to come and fight in a battle that did not directly affect him.”
Lune shakes his head, awed. “You humble me,” he tells Haft quietly. “And we are grateful, for your sword and for your loyalty.”
Haft looks like he wants to contradict Peridan, but does not. He stares at the table, responding to Lune. “They have both ever been at your disposal Sire.”
Peridan speaks up, “Your Majesty, in the short time I have gotten to know Haft, I can tell you that he is a good man. Archenland and Narnia are lucky to have him at their side.”
Haft glances at Peridan dubiously, as though he really wants to disagree with this.
Lune turns toward Peridan at this, leaning back in his chair. He gestures for his nephew to continue.
Peridan says, “Haft takes his duty very seriously. He has followed all of my orders and Lord Dar’s orders, never questioned them or been hesitant in obeying them. He fought well in battle, surrendered himself to Lord Dar even though he had a chance to slip back to Narnia before any of us knew that he was here. He is watchful, concerned for the safety of the royal family and I do believe that he will serve well in whatever capacity required of him. ”
Haft’s eyes widen slightly at Peridan’s last comment.
Lune nods, giving Haft an assessing look. “There is always room for such a man here.”
Haft looks like the breath has gone out of him. “I…have no right to ask that.”
Peridan chuckles, “Indeed, your majesty. If I may say it, if you do not take him into your employ, I will.” He looks at Haft as he says, “Narnia also has room for such a man.”
Lune doesn’t quite smile, but his eyes twinkle. “I believe I may offer it, Master Haft, though it is only that: an offer, and not a compulsion.”
Haft looks as though he desperately wants to accept, but a flash of agony crosses his face. “But I failed you.”
Peridan stands up, his gaze flickering between the two. “By your leave, Sire, I can leave so you finish this talk privately.”
Lune nods toward Peridan. “Thank you, nephew.”
Peridan bows to the King. “Thank you, Sire.” He gives Haft a reassuring glance before taking his leave of the room.
Lune waits for the door to close, and turns back toward Haft. “The failure was mine, and mine alone, friend. I cannot fault you your trust in Lord Bar, for it was I who elevated him.”
Haft shakes his head. “I disobeyed. Willfulness, not just ignorance, Your Majesty.”
Lune’s head cants to one side as he listens. He waits for Haft to continue.
Haft explains. “None were to pass but you and the queen and the nurse. But I trusted Bar. I thought I knew better. Even the rawest soldier knows that orders given are to be followed to the letter, not adjusted to the soldier’s whim. My shame is not in my trust, but in my disobedience.”
Haft says, “That I did not know what would happen after is no excuse.”
Lune observes mildly, “As far as you knew, the Chancellor spoke with my voice, as he did in all other matters.”
Haft shakes his head. “Even so, I should have checked. I should have made sure.”
Lune flattens his hands on the table, staring at his signet ring. “A man,” he says at last, “could go mad, thinking of all the should-haves and might-haves and why-did-I-nots.” He takes a deep breath and releases it again. “This was not your doing, Master Haft. It was the work of wicked men who meant to cause Archenland’s ruin, and by the grace of the Lion their malice has been turned back on their own heads. Remember that, I charge you.”
Haft nods. He closes his eyes in the wash of the absolution. For a moment he struggles visibly not to unman himself before his king. Then he rises and moves around the table to Lune’s side, taking his knee again. “If Your Majesty will have me, to serve as the least man in your household I should count higher honor than to be the greatest emperor in earth.”
Lune raises him again, clapping his hands onto Haft’s shoulders. “Be welcome, old friend. The guard will be the stronger for your sword.”
Haft’s eyes shine brightly as he looks into the face of his king scarce daring to believe this grace. “The Lord Dar has it in his keeping. Might it be sent for my lord?”
Lune inclines his head. “I will send word to Lord Dar and the captain of the guard. You may report to Garian tonight, if you wish, or on the morrow. He will give you your orders.”
Haft says, “Thank you, Your Majesty.” His voice is full of emotion. He bows deeply and takes his leave.”