The Legend of Chicken-Chaser

In which there is discussion of Aaron, Eston, humor and the Archenland postal system

Outer Ward

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luttrell_psalter_14th_c_england_bestYou stand in the busy outer ward of Castle Anvard, full of people seeing to the needs of king and kingdom. There are market stalls along the outer wall, bustling with merchants and shoppers. Grooms work in the stables, tending to the horses there, and you hear the occasional bark of a dog from the kennels. The sounds of hammer hitting iron rings out from the blacksmith shop. There are stairs leading to the gate towers on the northern and southern corners of the outer curtain. To the east is the outer gatehouse, and the road leading into the realm of Archenland, and to the west another gate, leading to the inner gatehouse, the inner ward, and the main keep of Anvard. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Kennels <N>, Northern Market <NE>, Outer Gatehouse <E>, Southern Market <SE>, Stables <S>, Blacksmith <SW>, Inner Gatehouse <W>, South Stair <US>, North Stair <UN>

Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).

Haft leans against a wall near the south stair, not on duty.  He doesn’t seem to be paying particular attention to anything.

Megren comes walking out of the kennels into the ward.

Haft doesn’t appear to see Megren.  He stands up from the wall though, cracks his neck, and moves to sit on a barrel not far from his original spot.

Megren makes her way toward the north stair.

Haft glances up at he takes a seat, catching a glimpse of Megren’s red hair, but he doesn’t call out to her.

Megren catches sight of Haft looking at her and offers him a friendly wave.

Haft tilts his head to the side, seems to consider for a moment, then lifts himself off the barrel and heads over to her.  “Speaking to me, then?” he says mildly.

Megren tilts her head, brows a little raised. “Hm?”

Haft says, “Well, I was a bit of a bear yesterday.”  He pauses, then decides to abandon the subject in favor of something else.  “So, I met Prince Roshan.”

Megren says, “Ah.”

Haft’s lips twitch wryly.  “Yes…I checked the library before going in yesterday.  Apparently he didn’t do the same.”

Megren glances to the left, her lips forming a thoughtful pout. She looks back to him. “Well?”

Haft says, “Well the whole thing was pretty appalling, really.  I didn’t notice him come in, and then I sneezed.”

Megren blinks. “…What?”

Haft says, “I sneezed.  So I turned to apologize to the librarian and there’s the prince, muttering something under his breath.  I didn’t catch most of it.  The word that stood out best was “rabble”.”

Haft looks mildly amused.

Megren tilts her head, mming attentively.

Haft says, “So he asked me if I belonged there–I don’t suppose Calormene nobility allows commoners to touch their precious books–and I had to be ever-so-polite and said that yes, I was allowed, and would he rather I left, if he found my presence distracting.”  He wrinkles his nose.  “That was the appalling part.  Having to be polite to…well.”

Megren asks, “…Oh. You’re not in trouble are you?”

Haft says, “Not as far as I know, unless he complains to someone.  But I honestly can’t think of a way I could have been more proper without being utterly obsequious.  He did want me to leave, by the by.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry.”

Haft tsks.  “Doesn’t matter.  I didn’t shame the guard or give him any excuse to be cross beyond just existing.”  He purses his lips.  “This member of the rabble, however, does have a question…I’m not sure if you’d know the answer or not, come to think of it.”

Megren leans her shoulder against the tower wall. “What’s that?”

Haft says, “Well, it’s been a while since I was here and some things have changed.  I know you wouldn’t be sending letters, but parcels maybe…what’s the best way to get things delivered?  I’m gonna go ahead and write my sister.  The captain said he’d give me leave to visit her if I needed it.  And I’ve got deliveries to go to Andale and Coghill, too.”

Megren’s face softens, a small grin appearing there. “Really? Oh, that’s good. I never have anything to send, since Pa’s in town, but there’s a scribe in the market and I guess he’d know.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I tried to ask him, but he wasn’t in his stall today.  Sick, maybe.”

Megren nods, “I think he’s got a babe at home, too.”

Haft sighs.  “Like Eston, poor man.  That reminds me, I need to talk to the Captain, too.  Have you seen him?”

Megren says, “On the wall last I saw, but that was this morning.”

Haft says, “Yeah, doubt he’s there now.  Seems I can’t find anyone I’m looking for today.”

Megren says, “If only we could give little bells to everyone we hoped to see.”

Haft asks, “Didn’t you say that before?  About Aaron?”

Megren wrinkles her nose. “Oh that. No, I think that was the Captain.”

Haft says, “Oh that’s right.  We decided to delegate the task to you.  Belling him.”

Megren grins, “Belling him. Yeah, something like that.”

Haft growls slightly. “Wish we’d belled him before the fire…eh, wish we’d trussed him up.”  He sighs.  “And I really wish we knew where he was right now.”

Megren says, “I guess I’ll just hope on not seeing him again.”

Haft shakes his head.  “I’d rather have the snake by the head than slithering through the meadow waiting to strike…but there’s no help for it.  Long as he’s out of Anvard, it’s in the hands of the knights.”

Megren says, “Seems so.”

Haft asks, “So, how’s your day been, then?”

Megren says, “Little old lady lost her chicken. Spent a good half my shift chasing the thing down.”

Haft says, “Well, at least it wasn’t dull…and you didn’t feel the need to dribble water on unsuspecting peasants.”

Megren gasps in mock offense. “I would never–!”

Haft asks, “No, of course not.  How could I have thought it?”

Megren says, “I’m sure I don’t know.”

Haft says, “You are the very soul of innocence.”

Megren says, “That’s what they say.”

Haft says, “‘They’ being your father, whose little girl can do no wrong, and Sir Darrin, who is just as bad as you are, no doubt.”

Megren says, “You’ve never met my father. He might be quite the hardest man to please in all Archenland.”

Haft raises a brow, unconvinced.

Megren grins, making the sort of face one makes when one wants to be unreadable. “Besides, there’s other people, too.”

Haft asks, “Oh?  People who can attest to your sterling character?  What did that cost?”

Megren opens her mouth in a manner which might look aghast were her eyes not merry. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

Haft releases a long-suffering sigh.  “Alas, it appears I am the only one not taken in by the facade.  Oh well.  Just remember, if anything drips on my head from the battlement, I’ll know who to come searching for.  And you might be too big to turn over my knee, but old soldiers know a trick or two for getting even.”

Megren crosses her arms. “I find that a challenge.”

Haft frowns as if realizing this has turned in a direction he wasn’t anticipating.  “I wasn’t trying to encourage you!”

Megren grins wide. “I think you must have been, in your heart of hearts.”

Haft rolls his eyes heavenward.  “My heart of hearts is made of old boot leather.  Don’t overestimate it.”

Megren taps her lips. “Old boot leather, hmmm?”

Haft looks wary.  “Aye…”

Megren says, “I’ll ponder how one ought to estimate that.”

Haft says, “You…do that?”

Megren raises her brows at him, lips pouting into a round humored sort of shape. “Ponder things? When it humors me.”

Haft says, “Not sure I much like being the object of your humor.”

Megren aws, “Find it a compliment.”

Haft grunts.  “So that’s all you did today?  Chased chickens?”

Megren says, “The glamorous life of a castle guard.”

Haft says, “I sorta mean what’d ya do in yer off hours…sorry, ain’t none of my business”

Megren says, “Oh, I see what you mean. Lanisen’s set to go off with Sir Colin out to Carmichael, so I said I’d help with the pups if they needed an extra hand. Only, I don’t know much about dogs, so–”

Haft looks surprised.  “Carmichael?  Do they have a lead on Aaron there?”

Megren says, “Ah, no. I suppose we’d hear about it from the Captain if that were so.”

Haft says, “Yeah.”  He glances at the kennel door.  “How is Lanisen?  He seemed…shaken…when Aaron was here.”

Megren’s face turns a little impassive. “Seems fine now.”

Haft notes the shift in expression, then glances away.  “Right.”

Megren says, “Anyway, it’s that Sir Colin’s betrothed is in Carmichael. It isn’t business reasons.”

Haft says, “Oh.  Well…hopefully that’ll be good.  For both of them.  Been tense here lately.”

Megren says, “It seems there’s always trouble to be had if one looks for it. But I find the same for humor.”

Haft says, “Maybe.  I ain’t had much practice looking for that lately.  Suppose I’ll have to leave the hunting up to you.”

Megren says, “I promise to share.”

Haft squints.  “Why do I think that might not be such a good thing?”

Megren says, “I’m sure I could not guess.”

Haft shakes his head.  “Well, I think I’m heading up to the barracks.  I’ll see you later Megren.”

Megren says, “Sure. Have a good night, then.”

Haft nods and heads up the stair.

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