A Horse and His Man

In which there are horses


Outer Ward

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6a00d8341c464853ef01a3fceb004b970b-500wiYou 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>

Megren comes walking into the outer ward past the iron gates.

Darrin comes walking into the outer ward past the iron gates.

Darrin arrives, following Megren.

Haft sits on some burlap sacks, working on whatever he’s carving.

Darrin nearly reaches for Megren’s elbow as she missteps at the bottom of the stairs, but he catches himself, instead settling for a small shake of his head and a smirk. He heads out to the Outer Ward in the direction of the stables with her, passing near to Haft.

Megren recovers quickly and walks at an easy loping pace beside him, lifting her hand to Haft and offering him a grin as they pass.

Haft looks up from his work, catching the movement, and rises to bow.  “Megren, Sir Darrin.”

Darrin dips his head and says pleasantly enough, “Hello, Haft.”

Megren asks, “Carving again?”

Haft says, “Oh, yeah, making a spoon.  Broke mine.”

Megren quips, “Got to stop eating so much at once.”

“Again?” Darrin asks, giving Megren an almost pouty ‘oh, you’re definitely winning at this’ look.

Megren looks inordinately pleased by the pout.

Haft looks between the two.  “Well it took a couple days to get the shape right.  Threw my first attempt away.  Didn’t realize I’d picked up poplar.  Made my hands and eyes sting like crazy/

Megren wrinkles her nose, beginning to walk backward again so that she can continue following Sir Darrin to the stable without missing out on the conversation with Haft. “Stick with pine, that’s my father’s rule for fletching, anyway.”

Darrin wrinkles his nose at Megren’s pleased look at about the same time she wrinkles her nose. Noticing this, he lets out a stifled sound closer to a giggle than a chuckle, and whatever interest he definitely had in this conversation is lost.

Haft says, “Hmm, but you only need to use an arrow once.  Hardwoods last longer.”  He furrows his brow, noting the pair of wrinkled noses.  “Where you headed?””

Megren gives the knight a paired of raised brows in return for his laughter before responding to Haft, “Going to take a look at the horses.”

Darrin only snickers more. He sobers enough to tell Haft, “I need to pick out a mount for use in…knightly business.” He waves a hand vaguely, looking amused with himself.

Haft huhs.  “Mind if I join you?  I haven’t been in there since, oh, just after the battle I guess.  Don’t know as much as I’d like about horses, and I’m always interested to learn a new thing.

Megren squints a skeptical eye at the vague term.

Megren says, “Oh! Um–” She looks at Sir Darrin for his thoughts on the matter.

Darrin says, “Ah. S’pose it couldn’t hurt.”

Haft sheathes the small knife and places both knife and wood in a pouch at his side.  “Good.  Lead on.”

Megren clasps her hands behind her. “Shall we stop in the market and make sure we haven’t missed any one else who might want to hear you lecture on equestrian quality, Sir?”

Haft raises his brows at Megren’s cheek.

Darrin gives Megren a sour look. “It would be a rather boring lecture since there isn’t likely to be a terrible mount in all the stables,” he says.

Megren scampers toward the stables, still backward for maximal conversing. “I’m quite sure you’ll find something to talk about, Sir.”

Darrin grunts and follows.
Megren walks into the Stable.

Darrin leaves, following Megren.

Darrin walks into the Stable.

Haft walks into the Stable.

Stable

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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= You stand in the Anvard Stable. All around you are stalls and equipment. There are horses of all colors, but all are high caliber. The far wall is hung with saddles, bridles, stirrups and other tack. There is fresh straw in every stall and buckets for water are hung on hooks. There are several special stalls for visiting talking horses. The floor is hardpacked dirt. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Outer Ward <N>

Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren) and A son of adam

with laughing blue eyes (Darrin).

Haft glances around at the stalls.

Darrin goes to find the stablemaster, Amon, and comes back with the man, explaining, “Yes, he got cut down in the battle, as you know, so I thought I’d look into a temporary mount till I can get home and choose one from Coghill’s stables as a replacement.” The other man ahs and nods, saying something about how he expected Sir Darrin to be around eventually.

Megren slows her steps instinctively when they enter the stable, her movements more liquid, clear and cautious to avoid spooking the animals, though still bright and interested. She clasps her hands behind her back while she waits for Sir Darrin to speak with the stablemaster.

Haft frowns slightly, but doesn’t interrupt.

“If you’ll follow me, Sir,” Amon says, “We’ve got the horses without a regular rider over this way.” He leads them over a few aisles from the entrance. Darrin glances over his shoulder to make sure Megren, and Haft, are following.

Megren follows lightfooted after, pausing to offer her hand to an inquisitive horse who sticks its head over the stall.

Haft glances from one horse to the next, admiring.  He nearly bumps into Megren but stops in time.

The coursers in these stalls are well-groomed, powerful looking creatures, and most all of them poke their heads out at the unexpected extra attention. “Fleetfoot here,” Amon says, taking the halter of the nearest dappled grey, “would be a good choice for you, Sir. He’s experienced, steady, and takes to most riders.”

Megren pulls away from the friendly horse a little reluctantly in order to join Sir Darrin and be attentive to the conversation.

Darrin Darrin moves to Amon’s side just as the stablemaster pats the stallion on the neck and moves away, gesturing. “There’s also Ravenhoof,” Amon gestures to a  stallion which, on close inspection, has a black sock on a hind leg. “Or Slapdash, Wingfoot, or Clover.” These are all brown stallions. “And that one there, Gambol,” Amon points out a striking blood bay courser, “Spirited one, he is, if that’s what you’re looking for, Sir.”

Haft looks at Megren and mouths, “Slapdash?”

Megren grins at Haft, a “See??” sort of expression on her face. She moves to Gambol, looking to Amon for permission to attempt an interaction.

Haft mutters something to Megren.

Haft mumbles “It’s still more civilized than Sir Snuffles Lord High Chancellor of Houndvard or whatever it was.”, to Megren.

Haft mumbles “It’s … more … … … … … High … … Houndvard … whatever … …”, to Megren.

Darrin lingers near Fleetfoot, as Amon notices Megren’s unasked question. “You can pat him, miss,” Amon says, “Mind your fingers, though.” The stallion in question tosses his head as Megren gets close.

Megren cracks up.

Megren schools herself and lifts her hand to the horse, letting him sniff her fingers and decide if he likes her first.

Haft inquires, “Is it better to have a spirited mount or not, for a rider who can handle one?”

Amon looks to Sir Darrin, who motions for the stablemaster to take the question. He says, “Well, that depends on the temperament of the rider, I’d say. Not everyone who can /handle/ a spirited mount wants the work of one, see. Though once a horse gets used to ya, and you get a rapport going, things can get easier.” He turns back to Darrin, “Your last mount, sir, he was a bit of a handful, was he not?”

Megren looks delighted as Gambol huffs in her hand. She lifts it to stroke his nose tentatively.

Haft nods at Amon’s explanation, then glances at Megren’s interaction with Gambol.

Darrin nods, showing his grief over his lost mount for the first time clearly on his face. “Relentless was, though…not so much with me. I’d had him a long time, after all.” He looks at the fairly docile-seeming Fleetfoot with a bit more disinterest and moves down to inspect the three browns.

Megren glances up at Sir Darrin, hearing the sadness in his voice. She watches him as she rests her hand along the side of Gambol’s nose. Gambol nudges at her, trying to get close enough to nibble at her hair.

Haft says, “I didn’t realize you’d been unseated in the battle, Sir.”

Megren’s eyes flicker to Haft, her mouth forming a small frown.

“Raised him from a colt, you did, if I recall right,” Amon says. Darrin nods to the stablemaster without turning around, his hand on Clover’s nose.

Megren shifts her weight uncertainly. Gambol keeps on fighting the good fight for better attention.

Darrin clears his throat and turns. “Yes,” he says simply to Haft. He crosses over to Megren and Gambol, clearly the most lively of the group of horses. Holding up his fingers to the horse in a similiar manner as Megren a moment ago, he waits until Gambol whuffs at him before he adds, “The tarkaan I ended up slaying, he…well, it wasn’t very pretty.” This appears to be an understatement.

Haft’s face is grave.  “Battle usually isn’t.  I’m sorry about your mount.”

Megren pulls her hand away so that he can have a more intimate interaction with the horse. She rests her hand on the stall door instead, watching Sir Darrin’s face and offering a very small sympathetic smile.

Darrin grunts. “True enough,” he says. He moves to unlatch the stall door, and taking note of Megren’s smile, offers her one in return, albeit a much smaller one than the sort he usually wears. He slips inside and closes the door behind him. Amon draws closer to observe.

Megren’s lips pout thoughtfully once Sir Darrin’s back is turned to her. She leans her forearms on the door and rests her chin on her hands once he’s closed it again.

Haft leans back against a stall door.  After a moment the stall’s occupant bumps the back of Haft’s head with its nose.

Gambol shies away from Darrin as he gets close, and the knight makes quiet shushing noises and approaches slowly, his hands out. He waits a long moment until the stallion still before he runs his hands down Gambol’s neck and withers, talking under his breath to the horse.

Darrin mumbles “… you … lad, that’s it, … now, … … Aren’t … … beauty, hm? Bet … … … … … … … … … … without … … take … out. … … … run, don’t you, boy?”, to Darrin.

Megren smiles less carefully now, content to watch and pick up what she can.

Haft turns with a mock-irritated look at the horse behind him, but ends up giving the neck a couple of gentle slaps.

Darrin takes hold of Gambol’s halter after a few moments and strokes the blaze between his eyes, his hands sure. The stallion tosses his head and makes like he’s going to nip at Darrin’s shoulder, but Darrin steps back before he can and tries again a moment later.

Darrin reaches scritches behind the horse’s ears and down his mane, and looks out at Megren when Gambol is quiet enough that he’s not likely to be nipped. “What do you think, Little Fritter?”

Megren lifts her brows. “Oh, um?” She looks from him to the horse and back. “You seem to have a good handle of him, Sir. He’s real pretty.”

Haft looks slant-eyed at Megren’s use of the word ‘pretty’.

Megren squints an eye, knowing this isn’t a very impressive analysis.

Darrin chuckles, not seeming put off by the word at all. “He is, isn’t he?” He looks over Megren’s shoulder at the stablemaster. “Mind if I take him out, Amon? We seem like we might be a good fit.” Amon says, “Oh, certainly, Sir, certainly. Let me just…” He goes off in the direction of the tack room, and Darrin reaches for a rope hanging outside Gambol’s stall and threads it through the stallion’s halter before opening the stall door.

Haft steps back to make room.

Megren steps back out of the way, watching the procedure with attentive eyes.

Darrin clucks his tongue quietly and leads the horse out into the main part of the aisle. When Amon returns with a saddle and bridle, Darrin holds Gambol still (more or less) while the stablemaster saddles him. Gambol puts up some resistance, but it’s obvious Amon is familiar with the horse and the horse with him, so the task is accomplished without too much difficulty. When he’s finished, Amon goes to take the horse’s head from Darrin and says, “There you are, sir.”

Haft tilts his head, openly admiring the beast.

Haft says, “He’s a handsome creature.  No mistake.”

Megren’s lips press slightly together with concentration as she watches, trying to pick up what each movement is and why it has been performed.

Darrin pats Gambol on the neck and agrees, “Downright striking,” he says. He puts his foot in the stirrup and swings easily into the saddle after he checks the girth once more out of habit. Amon lets go of the bridle once Darrin has the reins in hand, and he walks the stallion down the aisle and out the stables into the adjoining paddock.

Megren lets Amon follow first before walking behind, getting distracted again by the one or two horses who have poked their heads out to investigate the intruders.

Haft follows Megren, narrowly avoiding a horse that tries to nip his shoulder.

When they get to the paddock, Darrin squeezes his heels against Gambol’s sides and the horse breaks out into a trot. Darrin guides him around the outside edge in a circle, gradually letting out more of the rein so Gambol has his head.

Megren makes it outside without /too/ much delay from the other horses. She stands beside the stablemaster, resting her hands on the fence and asking him a few questions as she watches.

Haft leans on the fence as well, listening to Megren’s questions and the responses, but he keeps his eyes on Sir Darrin and his mount.

Darrin and Gambol pick up the pace to an even canter for a while, and then Darrin pulls back on the reins and starts to ease them back to a slower pace. Gambol tosses his head, getting the bit between his teeth and attempting to fight him. He dances sideways a bit and continues at a canter. On his back, Darrin just laughs. “You really don’t get out enough, do you?” he asks the horse, though over the hoofbeats this question might not make it to the ears of the observers. Darrin keeps at it, his hands on the reins gentle but firm, and eventually Gambol gives up and starts to slow.

Megren’s brows rise a little at the horse’s resistance, and she glances at Amon to see if this is to be expected.

The stablemaster really doesn’t seem very surprised by any of this. “Gambol can be a bit stubborn at first,” he tells Megren.

Haft doesn’t look too terribly surprised either, just watching the proceedings quietly.

Megren still looks comforted to see Sir Darrin regain full control of the mount.

Darrin, once he’s got the stallion more in hand, stops moving in circles and guides Gambol through some forms that look designed for the practice of a knight’s war mount. Eventually the pair start moving together smoothly, Gambol not quite anticipating Darrin’s directions but still follow his lead without much resistance. They move back and forth across the paddock, backing, charging a short distance, weaving. This goes on for a while and then Darrin finally brings Gambol to a halt and pats his neck approvingly. He walks the stallion back over to the watchers.

Haft raises his eyebrows at the knight in an inquiring way.

Megren leans against the fence, tapping the toe of her boot unconsciously against the cold earth as she watches. “What do you think, Sir?”

Darrin dismounts and takes Gambol’s head. He grins. “He’ll do, I think. He’s not Relentless, but…” he shrugs. “He’s clearly aching for more action than he’s seeing right now, a sentiment I rather approve of, so.” He smirks at Megren and adds, “I think we’ll make a decent team.” At his side, Gambol nickers and nudges his shoulder. Darrin startles slightly, as if expecting teeth instead of nose, and then relaxes and shoots the stallion a wry grin.

Megren gives a small grin at the quip about the horse’s restlessness, and a larger one at the nudge. “You don’t seem to have any trouble making friends, Sir.”

Haft says, “Aye, seems you’ve got the measure of each other.”

Darrin says, “Lots of practice helps.” He puts a hand on Gambol’s neck, and Amon asks, “Excellent. I do believe it will be good for him, Sir. I’ll let the boys know.” The stablemaster hesitates, and then adds, “Shall I have him moved to Relentless’s old stall, Sir?” Darrin goes still, and then he lets out a breath and pats Gambol a few times. He nods. “Yes, do, if you would, Amon.”

Megren licks her lips at the question, eyes flicking to Sir Darrin’s face again, and head tilting a little, face uncharacteristically somber. She gathers her hands quietly behind her back.

Haft straightens away from the fence.  “Well, I have duty in a quarter of an hour.  I should go.  Thank you for letting me observe, sir.”

Megren says, “Oh– see you later, Haft.”

Darrin nods. “Of course, Haft.”

Haft says, “Later.”  He bows to the knight, then heads out the door.

Haft walks into the outer ward.

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