In which Haft and Abrielle pick up where they left off
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.
Abrielle wanders into the ward, looking a little dirty and worn out, holding a squirrel.
Haft sits on a crate, examining a sheaf of papers in his lap. He glances up for a moment, looking around the Ward as though waiting for something, then sees Abrielle. He frowns, lowering his gaze back to his papers.
Abrielle sees Haft glance up and she waves but only after he has already looked down. She frowns and comes over. “Hello, Haft.”
Haft stares at the parchment a moment more before lifting his gaze. “Abrielle,” he says coolly. “Are we speaking? I wasn’t sure.”
Abrielle eyebrow lifts. “Umm…what did I do this time?
Haft looks irritated. “As I recall you were glaring at me last time we conversed, presumably because you disagreed with my analysis of your Calormene friend’s behavior. I haven’t seen you since Sir Tyren interrupted us, so I assumed you had gone back to Coghill without bothering to say goodbye.”
Abrielle sighs. “Well I am still here.” She pushes back some hair, looking slightly uncomfortable. “I had mostly forgotten all about that.”
Haft stares at her. “I see,” he says flatly. “I guess I’ve always been cursed with a long memory.”
Abrielle shakes her head. “Well…I can see you need more time.” She curtsies. “I will be going then.” Turning on her heel, she begins heading towards the market.
Haft’s mouth falls open as he looks after her. He snaps it shut, and does not move from his spot, glaring at her back.
Abrielle keeps walking, head held high into the market. Not once looking back.
After a few hours, Abrielle comes out of the market.
Haft, having left the Ward some time ago, emerges from the south gate tower, carrying a wooden sword and with the same papers held in his hand. He appears rather disheveled and sweaty, but heads toward the south market. He stops as he sees Abrielle again, offering a helpless shrug.
Abrielle looks at him with no expression and asks, “What do you want me to do?”
Haft tries to fold his arms in front of him, but can’t manage it with the sword and paper. He looks away and shrugs again. “Tell me what I did wrong I guess.”
Abrielle laughs humorlessly. “You did nothing wrong. We had a difference of opinion and from what I can see, neither of us is going to apologize about it. So can you forget that it happened? I can.”
Haft looks back at her. “And you’re fine with that? With no one apologizing.”
Abrielle shrugs. “I wish that I wasn’t so proud or….whatever….and I would. But I won’t.” She frowns and glances at the ground. “Sometimes you have to be okay with your truth not being everyone else’s truth.”
Haft says, “Not sure I agree that ‘truth’ is subjective. If it were it wouldn’t be truth. These are just opinions, and mine’s as like to be wrong as yours, but it’s not that we disagree that galls me Abrielle.”
Abrielle asks, “Then what is it that galls you?”
Haft says, “That the disagreement seemed to be all you cared about. Even if I thought he was foolish to be there, I stood with him. I tried to help, but you don’t seem to weigh that against the rest of what I said.”
Abrielle frowns. “I don’t remember you ever telling me that you helped him.”
Haft looks at her in disbelief. “I told you I tried to help when they wouldn’t let him leave the room. I told you there was almost a brawl. You have no idea the things they said or what they called me.” He appears to be barely keeping the level of his voice under control. “I haven’t been able to go to the inn in weeks. I’ve barely had the nerve to enter the village, and all you could see was that I didn’t like him putting himself in that position. Well he put me there too!”
Abrielle crosses her arms. “You didn’t tell me that they said anything about you.”
Haft spits, “Well they did.”
Abrielle flinches at the venom in his voice.
Haft’s brow furrows at the flinch and he steps back. “I’m sorry,” he says hoarsely.
Abrielle takes a moment for some breaths. “I am sorry that I was deaf to your own story.”
Haft transfers the sword so it’s tucked beneath his other arm, freeing him to run a hand through his hair. His throat works. “Yeah, well, you were worried about your friend.”
Abrielle watches him as he runs his hand through his hair with a small frown. “Can we be friendly again?” She looks up at him with wide, childlike, eyes.
Haft looks a little confused. “Uh, yeah I guess. I didn’t mean to frighten you, just now…”
Abrielle gives him a small laugh. “I didn’t think you scared me that much.”
Haft snorts, breath shaky. “Maybe I scared me. I scared some children yesterday. They were playing snowballs with Lady Avery, and one of ’em hit me in the back of the head. I didn’t do more than turn around and so help me one or two looked like I was going to eat them.”
Abrielle produces a small smile. “You are probably big enough to do that if you wanted to.”
Haft shifts his weight a little. “Well,” he says gruffly, “yes, but I’d hardly do it in front of Lady Avery.”
Abrielle nods. “She would be disappointed to lose her friends.”
Haft says, “I suppose. She…seems a pleasant lady.”
Abrielle shrugs. “Yes. She does have an aura of pleasantness.”
Abrielle says, “I met Megren last night.”
Haft seems glad to have another topic to converse about. “You, ah, know each other well? She was teaching you to draw…” He pauses as she interjects. “Oh?”
Abrielle mouth twitches up at the corners. “I don’t know if I can say that I know her well….” She sighs. “I thought your friend was interesting…I couldn’t stop saying silly things though. She must think I am crazy.”
Haft looks inquisitive. “Knowing Megren, I doubt that. What did you say?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “I was just talking like a crazy person. Super friendly. Super happy…..overly maybe.”
Haft says, “I’m sure you did fine. I don’t imagine Megren’s ever met anyone she didn’t get on with.”
Abrielle nods, looking slightly consoled. “She seemed very nice.”
Haft looks at her curiously. “What did you mean by ‘interesting’?”
Abrielle shrugs. “Well…she was quieter than I expected.”
Haft says, “Oh? Why, did I say something to make you think otherwise?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “No…I guess not. I must have just built her up in my mind.”
Haft says, “Oh, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Don’t let her fool you. Saw her talk a dagger outta that man Aaron’s hands. Still don’t know how she did it.” He hesitates. “Calmed things right down in the inn, too, with nary a harsh word. She’s very good at what she does.”
Abrielle looks highly impressed. “I will be sure to watch myself around her.”
Haft cocks his head. “Why?” he asks lightly. “Are you planning something nefarious?”
Abrielle smiles playfully. “Well you know me! Always makin’ trouble!”
Haft just shakes his head.
Abrielle mimics Haft.
Haft heaves a great sigh. “It would seem I am beset by troublemakers.”
Abrielle nods. “Most likely.”
Haft says, “So, what brought you to the market today?”
Abrielle begins pulling her hair into a ponytail. “I went hunting earlier and wanted to sell the pelts.”
Haft says, “The chill doesn’t put you off this time of year?”
Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “I have always lived here…of course not. Does it bother you?”
Haft says, “Tramping through the snow? It does, as a matter of fact. I’d rather be inside where it’s warm, not that snow always prevents me.”
Abrielle shrugs and looks around. “Are you bothered now?”
Haft gestures to the thin coverlet of snow in the ward, where it isn’t quite trampled. “Right now I’m not knee deep in it. Or waist deep, as can happen when you misjudge a spot in the woods.”
Abrielle laughs. “Yes. That has happened to me before.” She grimaces. “Not a fun thing.”
Haft says, “Well there you are.”
Abrielle shrugs and adjusts her knapsack. “Well…I had better be off for today. Stop holding you from your duties.”
Haft says, “Oh, you weren’t. Was just practicing sword forms upstairs, then thought I’d visit the grocer. Ain’t got duty again for another four hours.”
Abrielle tilts her head. “Well….that is nice!”
Haft blinks. “Yes…I suppose.”
Abrielle smiles. “I will see you around?”
Haft nods. “Yes. You’ll be in town a few more days?”
Abrielle nods back. “Yes, I will let you know when it is time for me to leave.” She gives him a small wave and walks out of the ward.