Leave

In which Haft makes a request

Officers’ Barracks(#12955R/AHKM)

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This is the barracks belonging to the officers of the Army and Navy of Archenland. While it is smaller the the other barracks, the items here are of a higher quality. As well as bunks and lockers, there are also several desks, covered in maps and journals.

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You can go: Naval Barracks <S>, Army Barracks <N>

Contents: A son of adam with a scar running over his left eye and cheek

(Garian) and Garian’s Trunk.

 

Haft raps on the door to the Officer’s Barracks.

Garian continues his paper work and calls, “Enter.”

Haft steps into the room and approaches Garian’s desk.  “Captain.”

Garian looks up and nods, giving a small smile. “Guardsman.”

Haft asks, “Sir, I have a request to make.  Concerning my leave to visit my sister?”

Garian says, “Go on.”

Haft says, “Well, it’s been two months since I wrote to her in Chesterton, and there’s been no response.  The courier told me he passed the letter on in Coghill, so I can’t say whether or not she ever received it.”

Garian hrms softly and says, “I see.”

Garian asks, “Is your sister wed? Or have housemates?”

Haft says, “She would be married fifteen years now, yes.”

Garian strokes his chin thoughtfully, “Odd that her husband would not write in that case.”

Haft says, “I can only assume that either my letter did not reach them or…” He shifts uncomfortably. “…they didn’t think it worth a response.”

Garian says with some concern, “Or something has prevented them from responding thus far–are you sure your sister and brother-in-law still reside at the same address?”

Haft says, “No, I am not.  He is a carpenter in Chesterton, but it is a large town, and the message may have gone astray in that way.  That is my hope.”

Garian gives a small nod. “I see.”

Haft says, “I can post another letter if it is more convenient to you, but I thought perhaps it would be best if I went to Chesterton myself and saw how things stood.”

Garian ruminates for some moments before asking, “When did you last see your sister?”

Haft says, “Almost 15 years ago.”

Garian says, “Then I believe this is best settled in person.” He gives a faint smile.

Haft says, “Thank you, sir.  There, uh, was another, related matter.  Well, two.”

Garian says, “Go on.”

Haft says, “Well, I wanted to let you know that Megren has been able to follow up on Eston.  You knew he had gone to care for his sick sister in Carmichael just after you sent him that goat? Megren and I were very worried about him and Lecie.”

Garian gives a small nod.

Garian says, “I remember.”

Haft says, “Anyway, Megren was able to get word from Lanisen, and it seems all’s well on that front.  Thought you should know.”

Garian says, “Excellent.”

Haft says, “The other thing is that Meg, er, Megren rather, offered to come with me, if she could be spared.  So I’m asking on her behalf, but only if it’s no trouble.”

Garian hms softly, “That’s two of my best guards out and about….”

Haft blinks at the phrasing, but makes no comment.

Garian smiles faintly and finally says, with a feigned exasperation, “Well, I suppose we can manage.” He smiles. “So, where all will you and Meg be going?”

Haft’s mouth twitches slightly.  “Though we’d pass south through Coghill, then turn west.”

Garian’s expression becomes more serious. “Excellent. I give you both leave, so long as you return within a reasonable time frame. While you are in Coghill, I’d appreciate it if you both investigated the supposed flight of Aaron–as I believe he mentioned Coghill. I do’t suspect you’ll find anything but it never hurts to look.”

Haft nods.  “More than happy to.  Mighta been all lies, but then again if there was a grain of truth anywhere he mighta gone to ground there after things settled.

Garian says, “Even if it was a lie it’s something else we know.”

Haft cocks his head. “Knowing where’s he’s not?  Or knowing he’s a liar?”

Garian smiles a bit, “Both–though I believe we are most assured he’s a liar. This may seal it.”

Haft asks, “If we do find him, you want us to bring him back to Anvard, or have him held at Coghill?”

Garian hms softly. “Hold him and contact me immediately. I will then defer to the wisdom of my superiors to deal with him.”

Haft asks, “Yes, sir.  Anything else we can do on the way, or in Chesterton?”

Garian says, “Keep in touch. If anything else arises, I shall let you know.”

Haft nods.  “We will.  And thank you for the leave, sir.  I’m grateful.”

Garian smiles and nods, “Enjoy your journey. May you find it an enlightening and refreshing one.”

Garian adds, “I expect many stories when you return.”

Haft smiles.  “Good trips don’t often make for good stories.  It’s the travels where everything goes wrong that end up being interesting later.”

Garian says, “I have never been outside Andale Guardsman Haft. I think even a mundane tale about the ‘outside world’ to be of interest.”

Haft raises his brows.  “Never?  You should ask me for more tales about Narnia sometime.  I didn’t spend the entire time hiding in my cottage ignoring other people.”  He tilts his head to one side.  “Most of it, but not all.”

Garian chuckles softly, “I shall ask more when you return then.”

Haft says, “I look forward to it.  I’ll leave you to your work now.  Thank you, Captain.”

Garian nods, “Good day Guardsman.”

Haft salutes and walks from the room.

Shortly after…

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>

Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren) and Hearth <LIT>.

Megren sits up against the hearthstone, book on her lap again. She leans over it with one hand in her hair, though the rest of her hair hides her face.

Haft enters the room and walks over to sit in the chair near her, leaning with his elbow on the chair arm and his chin on his palm.

Megren doesn’t realize anyone’s come near her right away. When she does, she looks up with peaked brows. Seeing that it’s Haft, her eyes flicker across the room to take in who else has arrived since she sat down, then offers him a smile. “Hello.”

The page returns, carrying with him a tray.  He places the contents of the tray before Haft.

The page places an A Bowl of Pottage before Haft.

The page places an A Bowl of Pottage before Haft.

The page bows and quietly leaves.

Haft asks, “Hello.  Still marching forward?”

Megren nods. “Forwardish.”

Haft says, “That’s a shame.”

Megren’s brows raise again. “Is it?”

Haft nods.  “Yep. ‘Cause you’re gonna have to return that book pretty soon now.”

Megren says, “Oh. I suppose so.”

Haft’s lips twitch.  “‘Cause you ain’t gonna want to lug it all the way to Chesterton.”

Megren tilts her head, and there is a long delay before she says, “Oh. Oh! Your sister?”

Haft shakes his head.  “I ain’t gotten word, but I talked to the captain and he’s willing to spare the both of us, so long as we don’t tarry too long and check in Coghill on the way for any sign of Aaron.”

Megren nods multiple times. “We can do that. It’s perfect timing, with my father going out of town anyway.”

Haft says, “Good. Let’s…plan to leave in a couple of days then.”

Megren says, “What do we need…” She closes the book in her lap and starts ticking things off on her fingers. “Camping gear for the trail… I can get Kairyn to help arrange for food… we’ll want Perth to keep an eye on Gearn and our bunks, I imagine…and presents, obviously. I suppose you already have something for that in mind?”

Haft blinks.  “Sorry, I’m still back on Gearn and our bunks…only you would think of that.  ‘Presents’?

Megren says, “You aren’t going to show up empty-handed. Didn’t you say she was married? She’s probably got kids, too.” She taps her lip. “Is she fond of pretty things, or is she more practical? There’s that lovely old ribbon lady in the outer ward, or I know the upstairs gardeners are always having extra seeds and cuttings to spare, especially just now, when the winter’s almost gone, but not enough to start planting out of doors yet. Or if she didn’t want that, I could get something from Kairyn. Some tea, or a nice simple salve. The kids are easy, just sweets, I’m sure. Wish we knew how many or how old… one of them might like a practice sword.” She tilts her head. “I don’t know for the husband. I suppose he might like the tea as much as her. Or the flowers. Did you know Lord Tyre is fond of flowers? Sir Darrin says he goes on about them.”

Haft’s jaw has gone a little slack at all this.  “You’re gonna have to take it slower Meg.  I’m still processing the part where you wanted me to tell you what sorts of things my sister likes and estimate how many children she might have.”

Megren closes her lips. “Sorry.”

Haft says, “S’all right.  Let me think.  First, no I don’t think she’d like the salve, unless she’s been blessed with a boy who takes after her big brother, at any rate.  She always liked pretty things, so ribbons maybe, but a cutting might be nice…something pretty that could bloom in the garden year after year.”

Megren nods. “Both. That way, if she has a daughter, you can spare the ribbon for her.”

Haft nods.  “Makes sense.  I guess a ribbon would work at almost any age for a little girl…her oldest could be…oh, as much as thirteen or fourteen I guess.  I like the idea of a sword, but wouldn’t be much use if it were a girl.” He stops with his mouth open, about ready to start his next thought and glances at Megren.  “Ahh…that didn’t come out right.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “It’s not as easy to know if a girl would like it,” she offers.

Haft shrugs apologetically.  “It’s more thinking that Brigid’s daughter wouldn’t.  She tried to whack me with a wooden sword a few times when she was a tiny thing, but by then I was too big to play with properly, any more than a kitten could have a real chance against a wolfhound if he weren’t in the mood to tolerate her.  And I mostly was, but even so, she always liked animals and daisy chains and sewing and such far more.”

Megren makes a small noise to indicate she understands his reasoning.

Haft says, “So what to bring in case she has boys?  One wooden sword is one thing, but suppose she has two or three lads?  Rather a lot to carry.  Maybe tops…but I’ve no doubt their father’s made them those already.”

Megren says, “They could share the sword.” She pauses thoughtfully. “Are the southern mountains made of the same kind of rock? Maybe they’d be interested a few Andale stones. Or, I still think treats. Almost anyone’s fond of those.””

Haft’s mouth quirks.  “Sharing one rather defeats the purpose of a sword, doesn’t it?  And I don’t really remember looking at the rocks.  I was sick a lot of the time I was there.  Didn’t have much time for sightseeing.  But yeah, sweets are safe.  And can be divided no matter the number of children.  Like ribbons.”

Megren nods. “Ribbons, and sweets, and rocks, then. We could take a wineskin or a bottle of cider, too.”

Haft says, “Yeah, something for Jorgen.”

Haft says, “Wonder if there’s anything he’d like better.”

Megren peaks her brows, letting him think on this one, since she has even less context to apply.

Haft shakes his head.  “I’ll check the stalls.  Maybe something will occur to me.  It’s a good idea though.  Presents.”

Megren grins. “Everyone loves presents.”

Haft narrows one eye.  “I suppose this doesn’t qualify as bribery?”

Megren asks, “Bribery for what?”

Haft says, “Speaking to her recently undeceased brother.”

Megren shakes her head. “No. It’s polite. I’d do it if I had family I out of town I wanted to visit. Lanisen’s bringing me a present back from Carmichael.” She taps her lip. “…I suppose that means I ought to bring him one from Chesterton…”

Haft says, “Seems fair.  Bring him a biting swan.”

Megren giggles. “I’ll bring the sweetest swan there ever was.”

Haft looks doubtful.  “You sure those exist?  ‘Cause it really didn’t sound like it the way the nobles were talking.”

Megren says, “If not, there’ll be one. I still intend to make friends, should I meet any.”

Haft says, “Don’t they only live on the manor grounds?  That’s what it sounded like.”

Megren nods. “It did sound that way. So I suppose it’s not worth much planning for in any case.”

Haft asks, “Have to find something else.  Not sure if my Jorgen makes anything smaller than a cabinet, but he might have something to sell.  And it’s a big town.  Lots to see and buy.  You ever been?”

Megren shakes her head. “This is my first trip farther than the Andale forest.”

Haft says, “Huh.  Between you and the captain I’m beginning to feel downright well-travelled.”

Megren says, “Well, sure. Not many make it far outside their hometowns, let alone all the way to Narnia. It’s only because we’re around the knights so much that travel seems normal.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I guess.  Funny though.  I feel freer serving here in just Anvard and Andale than I did confined to the whole length and breadth of Narnia.”

Megren tilts her head, pausing before lifting a shoulder. “Doesn’t seem that funny to me.”

Haft asks, “I told the captain I’d tell him some stories about Narnia when I get back.  Think I should tell him I called Sir Tyren a Mouse?”

Megren giggles, “I guess he’d get a kick from that, yeah.”

Haft says, “I almost mentioned it on my way out his door earlier, thinking to make him wait for the explanation…but stopped myself just in time.  Seeing as he’d been so gracious in granting us leave and all.”

Megren nods. “I have to admit I’m a little surprised he agreed to both.”

Haft says, “Me too.  Didn’t even ask why you wanted to come along…thought I was in for an awkward explanation.”

Megren blinks at him. “What’s awkward about wanting to help out a friend?”

Haft spreads his hands.  “Trying to explain why I need your help to make a simple inquiry.  Shouldn’t take two people to check a house and knock on a door, should it?  And it’s not like I can’t handle myself on the road.”

Megren squints an eye at him. “I think the captain’s got a better brain than to mistake it for simple.”

Haft asks, “Well…then I reckon that’s why he agreed.  Don’t you?”

Megren says, “Guess probably so.”

Haft smiles faintly.  “Said he was letting two of his best guards go though.”

Megren’s brows lift and she grins, “And that fooled you into believing it?”

Haft says, “Pretty sure he was joking, but thought I’d pass on the compliment.”

Megren laughs, “Never seen the captain make that kind of joke, but it was you there, not me.”

Haft says, “I’m not sure, to be honest.  I thought at first he was serious, but later he was definitely teasing.  Can’t think what I’ve done to deserve the term though.  And we all know you’re one cartwheel away from flying off the battlement and landing in a hay cart in the outer ward.”

Megren says, “Please. Our walls are built much more securely than that.”

Haft says, “Oh, I don’t know.  I think your flips are getting higher.”

Megren says, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Haft says, “Take it as you like.  You made any progress on that campaign to frame me for your death?  Cause I don’t think anyone here would believe it yet.”

Megren says, “That’s part of the plan.”

Haft says, “Oh of course.  Keeping me in the dark about everyone’s true views on me.” He frowns. “You know, I’m fairly sure that won’t work.  I always assume they’re thinking the worst anyway.”

Megren sighs. “That is a flaw. I’ll have to work on that part, too.”

Haft asks, “By making me more trusting?”

Megren nods. “That’s part one of the plan.”

Haft laces his fingers.  “A noble goal, probably,” he says amiably.  “I don’t hold out much hope for it.  What’s part two?”

Megren says, “Well, dying, I suppose.”

Haft makes a face.  “That is a somewhat inconvenient step.  You’ll never know if all your well-laid plans came out.”

Megren says, “Oh, well, part three is obviously return as a ghost.”

Haft shudders.  “That’s not as funny as you think it is.”

Megren raises her brows.

Haft says, “They got spectres, up in Narnia.  Spirits summoned up from the dead.  Saw one–just once–felt this awful chill.  Ain’t a joke up there.”

Megren rolls her shoulders with empathetic imagination. “What was it there for?”

Haft says, “Not sure.  Not sure if it even really saw me.  Used to be there were a lot more evil things like that up north: hags, werewolves.  After the Witch died it took the rulers and the knights and the Northern Watch a while to stamp most of them out.  Was ugly.  You’d hear about Narnians who’d gone missing, locked up in Ubel, their underground city, maybe.  But the Narnians attacked and broke Ubel, and that was the end of the worst of it.  Stamped out most of the rest.  Haven’t heard of anything like that in years.  Still having some giant problems up along the northern border now and then.  The high king’s up there sorting it.”

Megren nods. “I’ve heard stories… just a few. I knew about the giant war from one of the Narnians last summer. Were you ever a part of it?”

Haft looks into the fire for a moment.  “No.  Maybe I should have been.”

Megren gives him a moment to contemplate this before saying, “Not that should haves are worth much anyway.”

Haft says, “No.  They aren’t.  It wasn’t my country and it wasn’t my fight and I didn’t care.  It’s as simple as that.”

Megren says, “And you’re here now and it’s a simple as that, too.”

Haft straightens in his chair.  “Yes.”

Megren offers him a smile.

Haft returns it halfheartedly.  “Sorry.  I don’t mean to brood.”

Megren says, “You’ve got a right to brood, I figure.”

Megren says, “If you want.”

Haft says, “Maybe.  Still, doesn’t make for very good company.” He glances at the candle that marks the hour.  “Watch coming up.  Tell me something funny before I head off.  Anything interesting happen on duty today?””

Megren makes a thoughtful noise. “The fellow that brings in the butter’s started making eyes at the girl that helps the blacksmith.”

Haft asks, “Is there a joke about grease and an iron skillet in there somewhere?”

Megren narrows her eyes to try and sort through this. “Um?”

Haft asks, “Butter. Grease.  Blacksmith.  Iron…?”

Megren says, “You’ve got to work on your jokes.”

Haft says, “Their children will make wonderful fried eggs.”

Megren shakes her head. “Stretching.”

Haft purses his lips.  “Perhaps.  So, have I ruined your story, or was there more to be had?”

Megren shakes her head. “Only, I know for a fact she’s got an interest in the seamstress’s son, and I’m pretty sure he’s got his heart set on Missie, you know, the maid that does the paving stones? And she’s hard set on a life of independence. It’s all a sort of mixed up line dance.”

Haft blinks.  “And I thought I paid too much attention.”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “Shifts get boring.”

Haft chuckles and shakes his head, rising from his chair.  “Better start packing Meg.  Guess I’ll be going shopping after my shift.  I’ll see you later.”

Megren says, “Fetch me if you want help.”

Haft says, “I will.”  Then he turns and heads out of the mess.

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