Inquiry

In which Haft and Megren make an inquiry and encounter a friend

Shortly after Haft’s exchange with Sehsis…

Courtyard of the Bird and Baby

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============================================================================== Lush greenery surrounds you, visible as far as the eye can see. To your west, a sprawling building awaits. The sign hanging from the eaves depicts a massive eagle (what else), holding the ends of a piece of cloth in its talons. A young baby rests safely within. This must mean that you have arrived at the Bird and Baby Inn. A small pond lies directly before the inn, and it must be skirted to reach the door itself. Travelers from all over Archenland mill about in small, tightly knit groups, discussing the perils of the road or, better yet, their next meal. Something is being cooked inside, and the delicious aroma wafts outside to tickle your nostrils. Just nearby, an ostler stands ready to tend to the weary horses of traveling patrons. ==============================================================================

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You can go: Knot Garden <N>, To the Inn’s Stables <S>, Enter the Tavern <NW>, To the Old Inn Road <W>

Contents: Pond.

Megren exits the tavern to approach you.

You see a narrow pond, surrounded by a copse of trees. A bridge crosses it at the narrowest part, allowing for dry passage to the inn. Several of the inn’s guests are busy observing the occasional trout that makes an appearance.

Haft leans up against a wall near the stables, looking out more or less in the direction of the pond, with his arms crossed over his chest.  His expression is dour.

Megren emerges from the stables, looking as if she is headed toward the pond. She stops when she sees Haft, however. “Hair in your eggs?” she inquires.

Haft’s look is surly as he turns, but he forces it into something marginally more tolerant and shrugs at her.  “Wouldn’t know.  Had the bacon.  It’s good.”

Megren tilts her head, leaning up against the wall next to him with her hands crossed behind her and taking on some of her weight. “Don’t want to talk about it?”

Haft says, “Not particularly, no.”  He shakes his head.  “Sleep well?”

Megren considers him a moment, then says, “Well enough.”

“Good,” he says brusquely.  “I guess we’d better wander the town a bit after you’ve eaten.  See if we can find anything out.”

Megren says, “Ate already. The stable master and I had a good talk. Sounds like there hasn’t been much disturbance lately.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I spoke to one of the merchants.  Hadn’t seen anything odd on his recent travels, though he didn’t go into detail.”

Megren asks, “Have you been here before? Where else is there to go?”

Haft nods.  “Yeah, on the way to Chesterton and back, fifteen years ago.  That’s it.  Wasn’t here long.  Just stayed the night here and went on in the morning.”

Megren nods thoughtfully.

Haft asks, “You want to go out and see what else there is?”

Megren says, “Sure.”

Coghill Square

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============================================================================== Coghill Square is a quaint and charming village thoroughfare. The tree-lined lanes are well kept, and show signs of moderate traffic. Two large stone buildings with carved wood doors sit at the southern corners of the square, angled toward the center. Another tall structure lies at the end of a narrow lane to the east.

The road turns here, one leg headed north out of town and the other running westward, along the foothills of the mountains toward the local manor. ==============================================================================

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You can go: Out of Town <N>, The Old Inn Road <E>, Seamstress <SE>, General Goods and Exchange <SW>, Coghill Manor Road <W>

Megren walks alongside the older guard, hands clasped behind her back. She looks about the square as she walks with alert interest.

Haft takes a breath and releases it, as though trying to let go of whatever’s irritated him and move on.  “General goods?  Folks talk a lot in places like that.”

Megren’s eyes flicker over him. “Makes sense,” she accedes.

Haft walks southwest, into the General Goods Store.

Coghill General Goods

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============================================================================== This shop has a bright, cheerful look about it. It is made up of just one room. The stone walls and floor are well kept, but show enough signs of wear to indicate that they’ve been here for generations. There is a wide door in one wall and a shuttered window in each of the others, large enough to let in plenty of light and air on pleasant days. All four walls are lined with shelves, and every surface, it seems, is piled with the sorts of goods one might need to go about life in Coghill. The air carries any number of nice smells–peppermint and leather and lumber and spices. Neighborly chatter can be heard from the townspeople as they go about their business.

Opposite the door, a sturdy wooden counter runs the entire width of the room. A pricelist is nailed to the front, and a portly, jolly looking Son of Adam presides behind it. Nearby rests the foot of a stone staircase leading up to the floor above. ==============================================================================

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You can go: Upstairs <U>, Outside <O>

Contents: Forst, the Shopkeeper and Pricelist.

Megren comes in from the village square.

Megren arrives, following Haft.

Haft enters ahead of Megren, glancing around and taking in the proprietor and other customers.  He gives an experimental sniff. “Peppermint?”

Megren says, “Smells good.”

Haft steps up to the counter, waiting for Forst to be free.  “Looks like they do a good business.  Got a bit of everything.”

Megren takes a stroll about the room, considering the wares.

Forst finishes with a customer and approaches Megren first.  “Good day, Miss.  Anything I can help you with?”

Megren says, “Oh, just looking for the moment.” She indicates a wardrobe by glancing it over. “There’s lovely carving here. Cedar?””

Forst nods.  “That’s right.  Got a carpenter in town who likes to do an extra something special on each piece.  All a little different.  And yeah, cedar for the moths.  Very good quality.  You’re looking for something like this?”

Megren shakes her head. “It’s beautiful, but I don’t have the transport to take it home. Do you often get out-of-towners looking for things this size?”

Forst shakes his head.  “Not too often, but there’s always a first time.  Might be you’re a lady in disguise and your carriage and wagon are just outside, now mightn’t it?  But maybe something smaller?  He does boxes too.  Store your hair ribbons or beads.”

Megren tilts her head, then nods. “Sure, I’d like to see those. Do you have any meant for herbs?”

Forst says, “Yeah, sure.”  He leads Megren over to a table with a variety of items on it.  One of the boxes is carved with rosemary on the lid.  “Here’s one.  Think I might have another in the back with some other plant on the top.”

Megren opens the box up, running her fingers along the lining with an admiring, if attentive eye. “What do you usually sell to men passing through? I have someone back at home I’m thinking of.” She pauses, and then looks up at him brightly, “Oh, you know, he had such a fine dagger and it broke not too long ago. Maybe you have something to replace it? A hilt at least, that I could bring to the blacksmith.”

Haft leans against the counter, listening as Meg makes her inquiry, and scanning the room as though he’s not actually interested in the exchange.

Forst frowns.  “Got some daggers.  Don’t sell just hilts.  Might be able to talk the smith into working on just the part you need.  But these of ours are nice workmanship.  Nothing fancy, but it’s good steel, I’m told.”  He glances at the scabbard at Megren’s hip.  “Maybe you’d like to examine a couple yourself and give an opinion?”

Megren glances down at the sword, “Oh.” She nods. “Sure, I’d like to see one, though maybe you’re right about talking to the smith.”

Forst goes and fetches a dagger, presenting it to Megren for her inspection.

Megren doesn’t hide her knowledge, testing the balance, grip, and edge. “Do you sell many of these?”

Forst frowns a bit.  “I wouldn’t say many.  Enough to keep them in stock.  People wanting protection on the road buy em, that sort of thing.”

Megren nods thoughtfully, examining the joiners between hilt and blade. “It’s a nice enough piece… maybe not elaborate enough for his taste.” She wrinkles her nose and says conspiratorially, “Likes things a bit gaudy if you ask me. How much was the box?”

Forst names a price, looking hopeful.

Megren looks unsure. “If I paid for it now, could you hold it for me, and I’ll stop in and pick it up on our journey home? I’m afraid to cart it around.”

Forst nods.  “Happy to, Miss.  Can you say how long you’ll be?”

Megren glances over at Haft. “Not sure. Maybe a fortnight or a little more?”

Haft nods.  “Yeah, I reckon so.”

Megren looks at Forst to see if this is acceptable.

Forst nods.  “Right, that’s just fine.  And will your father be wanting anything?” he inquires, glancing at Haft.

Haft raises a brow.

Megren grins at Haft.

“That,” Haft says pointedly, “Is not my daughter.  We don’t look a thing alike.”

Megren opens her mouth in mock offense. “You sound like that would be a bad thing!”

Forst coughs.  “Sorry.  Just-”

Haft says, “Assumed.  Yeah.”

Megren extends her hand to Forst. “I apologize for my grandfather. He’s a bit surly.”

Haft makes a noise of protest.

Forst looks between the two, then backs away with the box.  “I’ll just go put this in the back room, shall I?” he says before hurrying away.

Megren grins, thanking him and pulling out her purse to pay with.

Haft makes a face, narrowing his eyes.  “Grandfather?”

Megren says, “He didn’t believe me. You don’t look a day over 53.”

Haft says, “Yeah, well, you earn extra lines living around fauns and Talking Beasts and whatnot.”

Megren grins at him. “You’ve got to learn teasing.”

Haft rolls his eyes.  “I know he didn’t believe I’m yer grandfather Meg.”

Megren says, “You don’t look old, either.”

Haft says, “No.  Just older than I am.”  He lowers his voice.  “Where were you going with the dagger inquiry?”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “Aaron lost his dagger with that letter. I figure he’d want a new one when he could get it.”

Haft opens his mouth, then nods.  “Good thinking.”

Forst returns, approaching Megren and avoiding Haft’s eyes.  “All stowed away Miss.”

Megren pushes the coins toward him. “Thanks for your trouble.”

Forst collects the money and bobs his head.  “Pleased to be of assistance.  There anything else you’d be needing?”

Megren shakes her head. “I don’t think so — not just now anyway. Thank you.”

Forst smiles and turns away to arrange some spices.

Haft steps closer to Megren.  “That hasn’t advanced us much further.  What’d you need with an herb box?”

Megren says, “Oh… it’s for Kairyn.”

Haft says, “Oh, didn’t realize you were friends.”

Megren nods. “She’s quiet, a lot of people forget her.”

Haft furrows his brow.  “I’m quiet.  Why don’t they forget me?”

Megren laughs. “Are you, though?”

Haft makes a face.  “Yes.  I am.”

Megren makes a skeptical noise.

Abrielle wanders into the exhange looking a little harried. She barely opens the door before she is on Forst. “Sir, this sourdough starter is moldy.” She holds the bread out to Forst for him to examine and he takes it with a small eyeroll. She sighs, too busy in her own worries to notice the others gathered here.

Haft crosses his arms over his chest.  “I keep to myself.  I mind my own business.”

Megren looks up at the new patron. “Isn’t that–?”

Haft turns, dropping his arms.  His face transforms into a smile unbidden.  “Abrielle!”

Abrielle, mid-sigh, turns around at her name and her face breaks into a smile. “Haft! Megren! Wha–,” She comes over, “What are you doing here?”

Megren looks a little surprised by Haft’s reaction, then pleased. “Got leave for a couple weeks. How are you?”

Abrielle puts her hands on her hips and nods, smiling. “I am good. Trying,” she looks to Forst dramatically as he glares back, “to get some decent bread.” She shakes her head and continues on, “I never thought I would see you two here.”

Megren glances at Haft, and then lifts her shoulders. “Life’s funny.”

Haft says, “Well, don’t get too much chance for travel, but, uh…yeah.””

Abrielle nods, taking the time to pause on Megren’s answer. “Buisness or pleasure?”

Megren looks at Haft again.

Haft tilts his head. “Business and personal, both, really.”

Abrielle smiles. “Well…in that case, you two should come over for dinner with Lewis and I while you are here.”

Megren asks, “Lewis?”

Abrielle says, “My uncle.”

Haft asks, “You live with him? Or up at the manor?”

Megren looks between them.

Abrielle lifts and arm to point in the direction of the settlement. “I live with him. Just over there.”

Megren looks intrigued. “Do you work in the manor?”

Haft folds his arms again, leaning against the counter.

Abrielle nods. “Yes. In the gardens mostly but also in the kitchens when need be. Nothing too special.”

Megren narrows her eyes thoughtfully, absorbing this.

Haft asks, “Seen more of your Adrian, now that you’re back?”

Abrielle gives Haft and weak smile and shakes her head. “No, but I am sure he will return soon.”

Haft frowns at this.

Megren asks, “Where has he gone?”

Abrielle shrugs, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable. “I don’t know exactly.”

Haft frowns more deeply.

Megren also looks a little uncomfortable now. “Oh… he doesn’t have family here?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “No. In Carmichael but they are not close.” She frowns at Haft and Megren. “It is nothing to worry about at all! He is fine.”

Megren glances at Haft.

Haft presses his lips together, then says, “So you know where he went off to, then?  Just a normal trip.”

Abrielle laughs dryly. “It is a normal trip. I am just not sure where exactly.” She sighs. “So what about dinner then before you leave?”

Megren nods. “We have some business about town this afternoon, but we could meet you for dinner tonight.”

Haft says, “That might work.  We should be in town for a couple of days.”

Abrielle smiles and drops her hands to her sides. “Good! I will be ready!” At that moment Forst comes back and hands Abrielle a fresh starter. “Thank you, Forst.” She sighs and looks to Haft and then to Megren. “I will be expecting you guys then…I have to get back to Lewis now.”

Megren says, “Thanks for the invitation. We’ll see you tonight.”

Haft nods.  “See you then.”

Abrielle nods and heads out the door, singing.

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