Prejudice

In which Haft finally figures out where he’s heard the name Sehsis before


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 a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle).

Abrielle sits on a barrel alongside the wall. When she sees Haft she waves and gives him a small smile.

Haft turns, face lighting a bit and walks toward her.  “Back again.”

Abrielle raises her arms into an exaggerated shrug. “Seems so. How are you?”

Haft considers.  “Well enough.  Are you in town for long?”

Abrielle sighs and looks around. “I may be here for a couple of days actually. I hate running back and forth.”

Haft says, “Why do you travel so much?  Not that Andale’s not pleased to have you.”

Abrielle says, “The ladies in the kitchens need me to gather supplies here. They volunteered me because I am unnattached.” She rolls her eyes a little at this and continues on. “I try not to complain. What are you up to today?””

Haft asks, “I was just about to head into Zuiden.  Needed to talk to the seamstress there.  As for ‘unattached’, I hope all is well with your young man?”

Abrielle laughs. “Everything is well there…I am just not as married as some other women.” She smiles. “Would you like company to the seamstresses? I helped Sehsis with his shopping experience the other day.” She wiggles her eyebrows.

Haft asks, “That’s not necessary.  I…what did you say?”

Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “What?”

Haft asks, “Who did you help with shopping?”

Abrielle smiles. “Sehsis.”

Haft snaps his fingers.  “I knew I’d heard the name before.  I met the man at the inn the other night.”  He grimaces.

Abrielle folds her arms across her chest, noting the grimace. “Did you not like him?”

Haft frowns.  “I’m not fond of Calormenes, but no, that wasn’t the problem.  People at the inn…the situation got rather tense.  I tried to intervene and a great many words got thrown about.  It was…unpleasant.”

Abrielle looks sympathetic. “Really? I am sorry.”

Haft shrugs, glancing away.  “Another guard came, worked things out.  She’s got a real way with people.”

Abrielle raises and eyebrow. “A woman? Guard?”

Haft chuckles.  “We have a fair few.  She’s very competent.”

Abrielle tilts her head. “I had no idea! That is amazing! I would love that…” She seems to think about this for a moment.

Haft looks at her a bit doubtfully.

Abrielle catches Haft’s look and puts her head hands on her hips. “What? You don’t think I could do it?”

Haft seems to ignore the fact that he’s sailing into dangerous waters.  “You ever used a blade?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Of course not! What reason would I have for using one of those? Unless I was training to do something like the guard…or something….”

Haft asks, “Well, there’s that.  You’d need to be trained.  It’s not the primary consideration though.  What did you say your young man does again?”

Abrielle puts her hands to her side. “He is a handyman of sorts. Why?”

Haft folds his arms over his chest in turn.  “In what town?”

Abrielle says, “Coghill. For the moment.”

Haft asks, “Umhmm. So what happens when you wed?”

Abrielle frowns. “What do you mean? Where will we live?”

Haft says, “Partly.  And also that you might have, uh, children to consider, eventually.”

Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “We haven’t really talked about where we will live….but I assume it will be Coghill because of Lewis.” After a moment she shrugs. “Why does any of this matter? We were talking about women on the guard.

Haft asks, “Yes, and you sounded as though you were considering applying for a position…or have a misunderstood you?”

Abrielle laughs. “No. I am very happy where I am actually. I do intend on having a family and a garden and living the small town life.”

Haft shakes his head.  “You are contrary.”

Abrielle shrug. “I know. There are many things I love and can see myself being interested in…I am always open to what could happen….it makes sense that I am, often, contrary.”

Haft says, “I suppose I am more…focused.  Which reminds me, our conversation has gotten sidetracked.  I wanted to know more about Sehsis.”

Abrielle crosses her arms again. “You did?”

Haft says, “Yes.  You’ve mentioned him more than once I think, but I can’t remember why.”

Abrielle nods. “Yes. He is a friend of mind. A merchant.” She shrugs.

Abrielle asks, “What do you want to know?”

Haft says, “What does he deal in?  When I saw him–after the incident in the inn–he was delivering something for Asher in the kitchens.”

Abrielle asks, “Are you spying on him?”

Haft’s brows crease.  “I spy on everyone Abrielle.  I’m a guard.  It’s my job to know who’s coming and going from the castle.”

Abrielle shrugs. “I guess that is true. But I hope your prejudice against Calormenes doesn’t cloud your judgement of Sehsis.” She eyes him for a moment before answering. “I don’t know what it was specifically that Sehsis sold to Asher but he sells mostly luxury goods.”

Haft shrugs.  “That’s fine.  Does he come to Anvard often?  I don’t think I’d seen him before.”

Abrielle shrugs. “I think he passes through occassionally. I don’t know everything he does everyday. I see him only a couple of times every couple weeks.”

Haft nods.  “Calormene or no, I felt bad for him.  Was minding his own business in the inn and folks started whispering about spies.  Plainly he sensed the mood of the room cause he got up to leave, and then a man blocked him.”

Abrielle’s eyebrow lifts. “Really? They actually stopped him from leaving?”

Haft sighs.  “Aye.  The man had lost someone in the battle.  Think he wanted his pound of flesh.”

Abrielle frowns and crosses her arms. “I think I heard about this man…did this happen after the siege?”

Haft says, “Yeah, couple weeks ago.  “Like I said, the man had lost someone in the battle.””

Abrielle shrugs. “So? Does that give him reason to go around harassing my friends…or anyone?”

Haft says, “I didn’t say so.”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Sorry. I just get a little protective…of friends.” She exhales loudly.

Haft grunts.  “How’d you become friends with a Calormene anyway?”

Abrielle leans on the barrel. “We met in Coghill. He had just come to start his buisness. We were friendly from the beginning.”

Haft says, “You seem to know an awful lot of Calormenes.  Didn’t you say one was with you during the siege?”

Abrielle smiles. “Same one. I only know two Calormenes. My grandmother and Sehsis.”

Haft’s eyebrows shoot up to his hairline.  He glances over Abrielle quickly as though looking for evidence of her heritage, but doesn’t comment on it.  After a moment he says, “No wonder he was uncomfortable in the inn.”

Abrielle nods, taking note of his glance. “I am sure he was hesitant even to return here.”

Haft shakes his head.  “I’m sure.  But I saw him that day.  He was the one with the king, wasn’t he?  Or did you see that?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “No. But he told me that the King was very generous to him.”

Haft asks, “Generous?”

Abrielle nods. “Well he didn’t kick him out of Archenland did he?”

Haft’s face darkens.  “Is that meant to be funny?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “No. It was just a statement.”

Haft scowls.  “From what I saw, he had the king’s welcome at the feast.  That’s all I care about.”

Abrielle nods. “Good. That is all that matters.”

Haft says, “Quite,” though he still looks irritable.

Abrielle frowns. “Why do you look so irritable? I always seem to make you angry with me.”

Haft growls, “Throwing a man out of the country isn’t something to be flippant about, not for folks like you and me, don’t you think?”

Abrielle nods earnestly. “Yes. Of course. That was not a joke by any means.”

Haft says, “The grocer’s got some food, if you need summat…most of it isn’t very appetizing.”

Abrielle nods as her stomach growls. “I think that is needed.”

(They see to some food.)

Haft asks, “You know, I meant to ask you.  I found a dress in the seamstress’ shop here the other day.  The seamstress didn’t seems to remember who’d bought it, but you were around the same day, I think.  Might it be yours?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Nope. The last think I bought was a dress with Sehsis and that was back in Coghill.”

Haft says, “Ah.  Well, at least I remembered to ask.”

Abrielle nods. “Thank you for asking.”

Haft nods and shrugs.  “No problem.”  He looks at the sky.  “I should get going if I’m going to talk to Adeliha before dusk.”

Abrielle nods. “Of course. Have a good day, Haft.”

Haft says, “You too.”  He proceeds to head out of the castle.

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