The Great Prank War: Act Two

In which there is a practical joke and an excess of the color green

Now that Megren has demonstrated a willingness to associate with him despite knowing about his past, Haft decides to respond to the prank battle she began a couple of weeks ago.  Megren awakes to find frozen coins in the bottom of her boots when she goes to put them on.

Off-duty Mess

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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. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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

Haft sits in his customary spot by the fire with his boots propped up.

Megren prances into the mess in stockinged feet.

Dar is seated at a table near the back, reviewing some dispatches over a cup of tea. He is rather focused on his work.

Haft lifts his head when Megren enters the room, raising a quizzical brow.

Megren squints an eye when she sees Lord Dar in her room, looking for a moment like she is pondering the appropriateness of her bootless feet. But she quickly overcomes the qualms and flounces on the ground near Haft’s chair.

Dar scribbles a few notes on the parchment, his brow furrowing in thought.

Haft glances down at Megren.  “Nice stockings…oughta get that toe darned.”

Megren peers down at it. “It’s wearing a bit thin,” she admits.

Dar runs a hand through his hair. After a moment more of staring blankly at the paper in front of him, he slides it to the other end of the table, straightens to ease his tired muscles, and addresses himself to his teacup.

Haft asks, “Any particular reason you decided to show it off then?”

Megren tilts her head. “Well… decided….” she wrinkles her nose. “Got some snow in my shoe or something and it got the glue peeling and now they’re in for repair.”

Dar blinks as some of this conversation reaches him, recalling his thoughts to the here and now.

Haft frowns.  “Got the glue peeling?”

Megren nods. “Sole came right out.”

Dar glances in their direction.

Haft narrows his eyes suspiciously.  “You’re having me on.”

Megren blinks at him. “You think I’d choose to go gallivanting about the castle in stockings in front of the knights and ladies and princes and what all?”

Dar hehs. “It would not be the strangest fashion this court has witnessed. There was Lady Pamina–”

Haft glances up, then rises, bowing.

Megren startles and jumps up at the lord’s interruption, bowing. She stands with one foot over the other and slightly behind Haft’s chair so it’s difficult to see her attire.

Dar’s eyebrow raises at this. “There is hardly an offense in having shoes which need mending–” He stacks his papers neatly, setting the work aside.

Megren goes rather pink.

Haft looks rather awkward too, glancing behind him at Megren and then back to Dar.  “Perhaps, ah, you could tell us about Lady Pamina, my lord?”

Dar states, his expression such as one might expect if he was listing off exports or tariffs or some subject of equal interest, “Ah. Yes. She refused to wear, touch, or look at any item which was not a particular shade of green. It made mealtimes rather–interesting while she was with us. This was when I first came to court.”

Megren asks, “Why green, Sir?”

Haft waits for an answer.

Dar hehs. “Well, I cannot be certain the version I heard was correct, but here you are. She had a portrait done wearing a dress in that shade, and she received so many compliments that she refused to have any other color near her. She even attempted to dye her hair that shade, to rather comical effect, it must be said.”

Megren squints an eye, wrinkling her nose as she tries to picture this.

Haft asks, “And did she only eat green things as well, or did she make an exception there?”

Dar rests his elbows on the table and touches the tips of his fingers together. “Assuredly. No food which was not green could even be in the same room as her plate while she dined.”

Megren glances at Haft. “And you thought I was having you on.”

Haft looks solemn.  “Seems a dratted inconvenience for the kitchen staff, and that’s a fact.”

Dar raises his eyebrow sharply. “There is a detailed record of her visit in the archives. Possibly because the chronicler did not believe that anyone would credit it otherwise. At least two cooks and a score of kitchen maids resigned during that fortnight.”

Megren is clearly having none of this.

Haft asks, “Just how many years ago would you says this was, my lord?”

Dar considers. “Less than a year after my first visit to court–but you see, not wearing proper footwear is hardly the most shocking sartorial offense you might commit.”

Megren wrinkles her nose. “Well, thanks, Sir, but the thing is that I was having him on.”

Haft looks amused.  He clucks his tongue.  “Were you now?”

Dar’s mouth twitches very faintly. Whether this is because he was joking or because of her admission that she was joking is not quite clear. “Well, he certainly knows now.”

Megren’s brows rise in friendly offense. “I was going to tell.” She holds out her hand to Haft, fingers curled and palm down. “I think these are yours.”

Haft doesn’t bother to hold his hand out.  “Oh no.  I imagine they were meant to pay for the repairs to your poor, snow-ruined boots.  The cobbler must get his fee,” he says wryly.

Dar coughs to conceal what might just possibly be a chuckle.

Megren screws up her mouth. “Very well, I’ll play you for them.”

Haft asks, “Play me?”

Dar’s eyebrow raises in interest.

Megren tucks the coins back up into her palm and joins her hands behind her back. “Yes. You may choose the game.”

Haft glances around the room.  “Well, there’s chess, and darts…I don’t see Gearn, so cubes is out.  What do you think my lord?”

Dar observes, “This might prove dangerous.” He leans back in his chair. “I venture no opinion. My brother is the one who enjoys such diversions–”

Megren says, “Chess then, is my vote.”

Haft rises.  “Chess it is then.” He fetches the set and brings it toward the fire, setting the board down on a table.

Megren sits and tucks her legs under her with even more ease than usual, with no shoes to get in her way. She sets the coins on the table.

Haft turns the board so the white pieces are on Megren’s side.  “After you.”

Megren moves a pawn, opening up her bishop for mobility.

Haft gapes for a moment, realizing he’s moved his queen into danger, but Megren castles instead of taking the piece.

Haft somehow manages to lose his queen anyway.

Dar looks on with some interest. “I see you have been practicing–“, he remarks to Megren.

Haft mutters,  “I can see she has too.”

Megren seems unable to hide a revelatory grin to the affirmative.

Haft scowls as Megren’s queen advances.

Dar refrains from commenting, but his interest is, perhaps, slightly more focused as Megren makes her next move.

Megren attempts to zero in on Haft’s king, but he manages to distract her away to defending her other pieces.

Haft chases her queen around the board for a couple of moves.

Megren frowns at Haft’s terribly open and yet inaccessible king.

Dar leans in to better see the game.

Haft lets out an exasperated sigh.

Megren moves her queen and lifts her brows. “Fork?”

Haft says, “Ahh…it’s check,” then he winces as he counter-moves and she takes another piece.  “Aye, and a fork.”

Haft barely maneuvers his rooks into place in time.  “Checkmate.”

Megren releases an audible huff of exasperation.

Dar’s eyebrow jerks upward when Megren recognizes the tactic that she learned at their last meeting.

Dar says, “Well fought, both of you.”

Haft asks, “Thank you my lord.  Very well-played Megren.  You sure you weren’t holding back last time?”

Megren makes a face at him, pushing the coins across the table. “As if I would.”

Haft scoops up his coins and deposits them in his pouch.

Dar hehs. “It takes time to master the game–even without other duties to attend to.”

Haft asks, “All’s being sorted out well, since the disruption of the battle, I hope?”

Megren glances between the men at this question.

Dar inclines his head. “A slow but steady process. Rather like learning chess, when it comes to it.”

Haft nods.  “I suppose it would be.  Not the sort of thing we’ve dealt with before.”

Dar takes a sip of his tea. “Moves and counter-moves. Yes, the parallel is rather exact.”

Megren rubs her hairline as she listens, tilting her head with polite interest.

Haft tilts his head.  “I was referring more to the reordering of life at the castle, but yes, I suppose you’ve had the embassy to deal with too.”

Dar rises and takes up his parchments. “Indeed. In fact, I ought to get Lord Cole’s signature on these before they are sent to Prince Roshan to review.”

Megren ohs, and stands as well, bowing. “Good evening, Sir.”

Haft rises and bows.  “Have a pleasant evening my lord.”  He turns from Dar to look at Megren, glancing rather pointedly at her stockings.  “I have the next watch.  I’ll see you later,” he says with a small twitch of his lips.

Dar walks into the eastern stairwell.

Megren says, “All right. Safe watch, then.”

Haft walks into the eastern stairwell.

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