In which Haft and Megren dine with Abrielle and her uncle
Abrielle’s Quarters [Streamwood Settlement]
The yellow house is dimly lit with candles and a warm fire. There are blankets placed all around the room with slippers resting by the comfortable looking chairs. There are piles of books besides these chairs, ready for the reading. The pillows (usually embroidered with birds) have been switched out with pillows embroidered with robins and evergreen trees. The curtains are still open to reveal the cold outdoor landscape even though the windows are closed. Winter foliage artfully decorates the inside of the windows and doors and around the fireplace. The room smells of honey and cinnamon and if you are lucky you may be able to find some pie or honey cakes in the kitchen. There are also bowls of pinecones sprinkled with cinnamon (helping with the homey smell). Drawings and maps line the walls and the bookshelf is placed between the two doors leading to the back.
You can go: Out <O>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle); An
Archenland Cookbook; Larder Basket; Larder Basket; Large Storage Trunk;
Rabbit Stew; Sourdough Bread; and Sourdough Bread.
Haft and Megren approach Abrielle’s home and Haft raps his knuckles on the door.
Abrielle puts down her cookbook at the sound and takes one more looks around at the room. “Lewis! Our guests are here!” She moves to the door and swings it open. “Hello you two! Come on in!” Lewis comes in from the back room to greet them cheerfully.
Megren walks just behind Haft, her hands politely gathered behind her back. She offers Lewis a grin of greeting as her eyes curiously scan the home.
Haft nods. “Sir. Abrielle.”
Lewis rocks on his heels and shakes Haft’s hand. “Pleasure to meet two Guards. A noble profession.” He smiles to Abrielle and moves to start a fire. Abrielle smiles at Lewis for a moment before looking back to Megren and Haft. “So dinner is ready but if you guys would like to sit and rest for a moment…”
Megren unclasps her hands, then rubs them on the sides of her thighs and reclasps them. She glances at Haft. “I could eat.”
Haft says, “Yes, dinner would be fine.”
Abrielle nods and goes to the table. “Have a seat! Hopefully it is not too awful. I am working on my cobbler recipe.” She waves Lewis over who waddles over quickly to pull Megren’s chair out for her before seating himself.
Haft takes a seat in his turn. “It smells good.”
Megren asks, “Can I help you finish setting?”
Abrielle waves a dismissive hand. “Oh no! I got this.” She smiles over her shoulder while grabbing the plates. She brings them over and sets them out for everyone. She seats herself. “Eat up!”
Haft cuts himselfs a thick slab of bread and begins to chew.
Megren waits for one of the plates to be passed to her before serving herself. “It’s very kind of you to host us.”
Abrielle smiles and grabs some peach cobbler before anything else and Lewis does the same.
Haft raises a brow. “Dessert first?”
Abrielle looks to Megren. “Of course! Traveling is hard.”
Abrielle smiles and nods to Haft. “Yep.” She makes no more comment.
Megren gives the choice of dessert an approving grin.
Haft sets down his bread. “Well, I’ll be the first to admit there’s little worse than a cold cobbler.”
Lewis looks to Haft. “Did you two enjoy the weather on the way over? It is so cold but I think it adds an air of mystery to the scene. Wouldn’t you agree?” His eyes grow progressively larger behind his glasses when he speaks.
Abrielle nods to Haft. “Exactly.” She chuckles quietly to herself as Lewis speaks.
Megren inclines her head. “It was a nice walk, I thought.” She looks to Haft for confirmation of this, but ruminates before he can add to it, “The cold would have given my father pains.”
Haft says, “Glad it wasn’t as foggy as it has been of late. Pretty sure I’d have lost Megren in the woods. She kept running off to chase squirrels and birds and foxes.”
Abrielle smiles at Megren fondly as Lewis talks excitedly. “Oh yes! The squirrels are the most playful of friends! And the foxes are so beautiful!”
Megren squints a disapproving eye at Haft. “It was one jay.”
Haft shrugs. “If you say so.” He takes another bite of cobbler.
Megren rolls her eyes, but looks as if she takes as much compliment from this as offense.
Abrielle smiles at Haft and keeps eating.
Haft asks, “So how’s life different here, than, say, Andale? I don’t know if you’ve traveled much, sir?”
Abrielle looks to Lewis as he swallows a big bite and starts off. “I have only ever been to Andale for a short time. I spent some time with the doctor there….” He looks to Abrielle and asks, “What was his name?” She smiles and replies, “Adrian.” Lewis laughs and smacks his head. “Right! Adrian…how could I have forgotten…I would say life here is slower and less grand. I don’t mind for hustle and bustle. When I was raising Abrielle I wanted her to be safe and the country life suits us.”
Megren agrees, “There’s certainly a kind of peace here that’s not as easy to see in Andale.”
Haft purses his lips. “Just have ta know where ta look.”
Megren looks pleased by this assessment, and nods to it.
Abrielle shrugs. “Sometimes it is a bit boring….but we make the best of it.” She touches Lewis’ wrist and gives him a small smile before pulling the bread towards herself.
Haft asks, “So how’d you end up working at the manor?”
Abrielle points the knife at herself. “Me? I just came there one day….slipped in the back door.” She smiles and then cuts Lewis a piece of bread.
Megren laughs. “If that’s how it started, there’s certainly more to the story.”
Haft says, “Yes. Do tell.”
Abrielle shrugs. “That is basically how it went…I jsut started helping Cook when I could and slowly I was allowed to do more and more. Then, they realized I has an interest in the gardens so I just started doing it…Lord Dar was a little surprised when I showed up I think.” She smiles. “It all worked out…not much of a story.”
Megren asks, “How long ago was that?”
Haft finishes his cobbler and attends to his soup with avid interest.
Abrielle looks to Lewis who shrugs. She thinks for a moment. “I think it was about seven months ago…soon after getting here.”
Megren says, “Getting here?” She glances at Lewis, perhaps thinking of his earlier comment about raising Abrielle. “So you didn’t grow up here, then?””
Abrielle shakes her head. “Nope. We lived in a tiny village just North of here before.”
Megren ahs, nodding again. “I see.”
Haft chews thoughtfully. After a moment he swallows. “Do you know most of the Coghill villagers now?”
Abrielle nods. “Some…Lewis knows more.” Lewis just beams.
Haft looks to Lewis. “You happen to know a couple named Dorn and Letha? In their sixties.”
Lewis gets really animated by the mention of Dorn and Letha. “I am familiar with them….pity about their son.”
“Yes,” Haft says quietly. “How are they?”
Megren blinks, and glances between them.
Abrielle eyebrows knit together as Lewis continues, “They are doing well.”
Haft asks, “Good. That’s good. He retired now or…?”
Abrielle ahs, finally understanding. Lewis answers. “Yes. Quite recently actually.”
Haft asks, “Woodcutter, right?”
Megren asks, “Who’re Dorn and Letha?”
Abrielle nods. “Yes. He was a woodcutter…a fine one too. How do you know him?”
Haft frowns at his soup. “Son used to be in my regiment. Don’t really know them. Just curious.” He shrugs and takes another spoonful.
Abrielle nods, going quiet.
Megren glances between them again, responding with a slow nod.
Haft asks, “Good soup. Where’d you learn to cook?”
Abrielle smiles. “Thank you. I taught myself…still working on it.”
Megren says, “It’s good.”
Haft takes another spoonful, not adding to the conversation.
Abrielle smiles at Megren. “I am glad.”
Megren finishes eating. “Do you expect to continue working in the manor for the rest of your life, or do you think you will move on again?”
Haft says, “Have to adjust things to work out with your young man.”
Abrielle shrugs and looks to Lewis and nods at Haft. “I think that Adrian and I are planning on deciding where to live together and when we decide that I will decide what to do…”
Megren tilts her head. “Oh, I see.”
Abrielle smiles. “Yes.”
Haft looks a little skeptical but simply attends to his meal.
Abrielle catches Haft’s skeptical look. “What is that look for?”
“Nothing,” Haft says quickly.
Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “Not true.”
Haft’s lips twist. “Not saying.”
Abrielle frowns and Lewis tuts.
Megren makes a face at Haft.
Abrielle shakes her head. “What is it?”
“Really,” Haft says, smiling brightly, “excellent soup.”
Abrielle puts down her spoon and looks to Megren. “Do you know what it was about?”
Megren says, “I can’t pretend to know the mind of such a one as Haft, I’m afraid.”
Haft looks slightly smug.
Abrielle nods and gets up. “Well…let me clean up.” Lewis kisses her cheek and bows to the others gathered. “Nice to meet you all. I need to go feed the birds now.” He waddles out the door.
Megren glances at Abrielle. “Birds?”
Haft looks after Lewis.
Abrielle giggles lightly and rolls her eyes. “Birds…yeah.”
Lewis runs back into the cottage to get the rest of the peach cobbler and he runs right back out.
Haft’s eyes widen. “At least he’s got his priorities straight.”
Abrielle laughs. “Yes. He has always been able to do that.”
Megren’s brows rise. “Ducks in a pond sort of thing, or do you own some?”
Haft says, “If so, I bet they’re glad it’s warmed up a bit. Nothing funnier than seein’ ducks walking around on top of a frozen pond.”
Abrielle nods. “No…that is funny….but he really is just throwing the cobbler outside, hoping some bird will pick it up.”
Haft says, “That, Abrielle, is criminal.”
Abrielle shrugs. “It gives me a reason to make more.”
Megren nods slowly. “Suppose so.”
Haft says, “You and Megren should exchange recipes. She makes a quite good stuffed quail.”
Abrielle claps her hands excitedly. “We should!”
Megren wrinkles her nose with displeasure at the compliment. “Sure, sometime. It’s just normal things, I know, really, though.”
Megren says, “Some of these guards, you’d think they’d never had to feed themselves.”
Abrielle smiles. “I would love to hear it Megren. Maybe when you guys are passing through again.”
“I can feed myself!” Haft spouts in protest.
Megren looks as if she does not entirely believe this protest, though she does not deny it.
Abrielle puts her hands on her hips. “Well, Haft, I am glad you took your time to let me feed you.”
Haft asks, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Megren rises, pushing in her chair.
Abrielle goes to grab Megren’s plate and put it on the counter. “You two leaving now?”
Haft follows Megren’s lead. “Yeah, I guess we should.”
Megren says, “We’ll help you clean, of course.”
Haft busies himself with the remaining dishes.
Abrielle shakes her head. “No need! It gives me something to do! You two have more important things to do.”
Megren looks very skeptical at the suggestion that she has important things to do, but she concedes the point. “Thank you for dinner.”
Abrielle smiles. “Thank you for coming over!”
Haft puts the dishes by Abrielle and nods. “It was good.” He then turns toward the door.
Abrielle walks to the door and opens it up for them. “See you two on your way back through?”
Megren follows Haft. “Of course.”
Haft says, “See you then.”
Abrielle smiles at both of them as they leave.