Swans

In which there is something fowl…

Outer Ward

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You 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 honey-colored ringlets (Avery) and A daughter

of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).

Avery considers this. “Our courier has been specifically hired and he is paid well, so he rides swiftly. A week, maybe longer. It really depends on how bad the cold is, for his and the horse’s sake.”

Megren nods. “I suppose the pass is quite icy just now.”

Haft enters the ward from the tower and proceeds to seat himself on some burlap sacks, then takes out a knife and a piece of wood and proceeds to carve.

Megren catches sight of Haft as he enters the ward. “Ah, we are in luck, my lady!”

Avery hmms. “I’ve not heard anything about it being dangerous, though.” When Megren speaks again, Avery glances around.

Haft continues to work on his project, not noticing he’s been seen.

Megren lifts a hand to excuse herself and scampers over toward where Haft is seated. “Haft!”

Haft looks up, carefully stilling the blade.  “Oh, hullo,” he says with a light smile.

Megren says, “Lady Avery was just asking after you.”

Avery turns to face the two guards, smiling when she sees Haft. She closes the distance between them so they can more easily converse.

Haft rises from his seat, bowing politely.  “Lady Avery.”

Avery bows her head, motioning for him to resume his seat. “Haft.”

Megren steps out of their way, looking pleased to have made the connection.

Haft asks, “Was there something I could help you with, my lady?”

Avery clears her throat. “I have received my letter and written a reply. I was hoping to send it out tomorrow, but I can wait for yours if you like?”

Haft says, “Oh.  I sent it with a page earlier, my lady.  It should have been delivered to your chambers.”

Avery looks surprised. “Oh. Forgive me, I’ve been with my Mother most or the day and am now here…” She furrows her brow. “How odd. Greta usually tells me if I’ve received anything, even when I am out…”

Haft says, “Perhaps she was distracted.”

Avery nods slowly. “Perhaps. Anyway, I will have it sent first thing in the morning.”

Haft says, “Thank you my lady.  That’s very kind.”

Avery smiles. “It’s no trouble. He’s going there anyway.”

Haft says, “And I’m glad to hear you received your letter.”

Avery colors slightly. “Ah. Yes.”

Megren glances between them, her intrigue extremely visible on her face.

Haft says, “To be honest, it’s been years since I received a letter of my own.  Just sent one out to my sister, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Avery asks, “Your sister? Does she live far from here?”

Haft says, “Out in Chesterton.  Husband’s a carpenter.”

Megren exclaims, “Oh! Maybe Lady Avery will be able to say if she’s still in the same place, Haft.”

Avery grins at the mention of her home. “Ah, she is a very lucky lady. Chesterton is beautiful this time of year, or so I hear it is.”

Haft looks perplexed.  “So you hear…?”

Avery laughs. “Oh, I was only jesting. My apologies. It is /truly/ beautiful. I’ve seen, and heard, that it is.”

Megren grins. “May I ask, what is it like? Not so forested as here, I’ve heard.”

Haft says, “I wasn’t there very long myself.  Busy place, but so’s Anvard.”

Avery nods. “I’m afraid I don’t go into town proper very often, but it is very busy. The manor grounds are very well-kept. We have a beautiful lake, with swans. Although, they are not nice. At all.”

Megren giggles. “Oh, I’d like to see that. I’d get one of the swans to be my best friend, and it would follow me all about.”

Haft tilts his head to the side.  “Sounds about right.”

Megren looks inordinately pleased by this assertion.

Avery shakes her head, something akin to terror flashing in her eyes. “They cannot be convinced to be civil. I’ve tried. And failed.”

Haft says, “Oh you don’t know Megren.  She’d have the silly things eating out of her hand.”

OOC> Haft says, “Stop comparing yourself to a swan, Haft…it’s creepy.”

Megren says, “Well. I’ll continue to dream that someday I might get the chance to try. But in the meantime, I suppose we shall have to trust Lady Avery’s good word.”

Avery crosses her arms, smirking lightly. “Dream all you like, but when you’re running for your life across the lawn, you’ll wish you hadn’t…”

Haft says, “Now that I’d like to see.”

Megren giggles. “I’ve run from my share of geese.”

Avery laughs. “Well, you’ve been warned, just as I was.”

“Clever geese,” Haft says mildly.

Megren opens her mouth in mock offense and nudges Haft with her elbow.

Avery glances between them and fights against a smile. “My Mother considered selling them a few years ago, but I begged her not to.”

Haft ignores the nudges.  “Why’s that?”

Megren says, “I don’t suppose it’s their fault they don’t like to be bothered.”

Avery grins. “I like to watch them chase any unsuspecting nobles we might have visiting. Sometimes the gardener gets too close too…and he really runs.”

Megren lifts her hand to her mouth to hide her giggling.

Haft says, “Good exercise, I guess.  Keep the residents of the manor fit.  We should import a couple to help in the training of the guard.”

Megren gasps as this brings a thought to her mind, and she laughs all the harder, trying to hide it behind her hand and utterly failing.

Avery pretends to be interested in her nails. “I’ve actually led a few suitors to the lake, just to see how they handle dangerous situations…”

Megren starts coughing.

Haft slaps Megren lightly on the back.

This makes the giggling worse, and she bats him away.

Avery starts to laugh. “Are you alright, Megren?”

Haft says, “Doubtful.”

Megren blinks away the levity as best she can, saying from behind both hands, “I’m imagining Sir Tyren– I’m sorry, I know it’s wrong–”

Avery asks, “Running from the swans?”

Haft snorts mildly.

Megren presses the back of her fingers to her lips, seeming to have gotten a lid on things for the moment. She nods.

Avery grins. “Oh, you may absolutely laugh at the thought. I’ve seen him run. And Tyre, too. I think my Mother has been the only one who’s smart enough to stay away.”

Haft says, “Always important not to underestimate the enemy.”

Megren gives Haft an impertinent grin. “Now I want to try all the more.”

Avery nods. “It would certainly be entertaining.”

Haft says, “Perhaps schedule for sometime after we’ve had our strategic exercise with the knights…perhaps next spring.”

Avery asks, “Strategic exercise with the knights?”

Megren says, “That’s what Haft calls anything that sounds fun.”

Haft says, “I believe that was the term used by the lords Dar and Tyren.  Not my own term.”

Megren says, “Fine. It’s what all the serious folk use, then.”

Haft looks appropriately solemn.

Avery nods. “Ah, I see. Don’t let them fool you. They’re not serious /all/ the time.”

Megren whispers loudly, “Don’t let them hear you say that.”

Haft rolls his eyes.
Avery giggles. “Oh, absolutely not.”

Megren says, “I knew you were wise, my lady.”

Haft returns his attention to his carving.

Avery lowers in a slight curtsy. “Why, thank you.” She smiles. “But I really must be off now. My Mother will worry if I’m out for too long.”

Haft rises and bows.

Megren nods, bowing as well. “Speed and safety to your courier.”

Avery nods. “Yes, thank you. I wish you both a good eve.”

Avery walks west toward the inner gatehouse.

Haft looks to Megren.  “You headed up to the mess?”

Megren asks, “Not just yet. But I’ll see you there later?”

Haft says, “Aye, sounds like a plan.”

Haft sits back down.

Megren grins. “Then that’s what we’ll call it. See you then.”

Megren walks up the south stair.

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