In which there is a disagreeable individual
The Old Inn Road
The quiet here suggests that you have left the town of Coghill behind. The road beneath your feet is worn by the prints of innumerable horses’ hooves. Thick hedgerows border the path, and they have been neatly trimmed. If one were to view the area from above, they might even detect the forms of fanciful creatures, eagles, of course, being the most prominent, trimmed into the hedges. In the warmth of spring or summer, all sorts of trailing roses and other native flowers grow wild, leaving a profusion of riotous color. An old, solid-looking building waits at the end of the road, beckoning travelers from a distance.
You can go: Courtyard of the Bird and Baby <E>, Back to Coghill <W>
Haft approaches the tavern from the town, apparently returning from shopping judging by a couple of small parcels.
Dalia approaches the tavern from the direction of the town and seems rather unhappy and distracted, not exactly looking where she is going.
Sehsis walks out of the tavern, he walks with a purpose as though he has some tasks to complete and wants to get them over with quickly.
Haft sees Sehsis approaching from the opposite direction but doesn’t address him.
Dalia’s is looking down at the ground completely wrapped up in her thoughts and doesn’t see Haft or Sehsis. She has a vague impression of people passing alongside her but not enough to keep her from bumping into Haft.
Sehsis does not seem to notice Haft, or rather, if he has he gives no indication of having done so.
Haft stumbles, fumbling with his parcels but ultimately maintaining his hold. “Beg pardon ma’am…oh, Dalia.
Dalia automatically begins to apologize before realizing “Master Haft! Oh I am so sorry. I guess I was wrapped up in my thoughts. My aunt- that is- I am so sorry. I’m not usually this careless.” she reached down to pick up a letter which has blown out of her hands.
Sehsis does glance over at the momentary commotion, but since it is Haft that Dalia is talking to he continues on his way.
Haft asks, “Family troubles?”
Dalia notices to her shame Sehsis pass by who must have noticed her clumsy moment. “Good Day, Master Sehsis” she calls, before hearing Haft’s question. “ah. well it’s just my aunt. she loves to gossip….among other things.”
Sehsis pauses a moment. “Good day, Dalia.” He does not spare a glance for Haft.
Haft looks unsure what to make of this announcement, but cocks a brow at Sehsis challengingly.
Dalia glances to Haft.”Master Haft, this Sehsis. He is a merchant of Calormen and a friend to those who live here. Though I suppose you may have met already if you have already passed this way once?”
Sehsis notes the challenging look but ignores it, instead he says to Dalia, “We have met…”
Haft says, “Indeed. Some time ago.””
Dalia exclaims, “Oh! I am sorry. Master Sehsis mentioned meeting another guard. But it did not sound much like you, Master Haft.”
Haft shrugs. “There are many guards at Anvard.”
Sehsis glances towards Haft, but addresses Dalia, “No this is the man I was referring to”
Haft tilts his head. “And what did you have to say about me, pray tell.”
Dalia says, “Oh I am sorry…i just assumed… there are many guards at Anvard.” she stumbles over her works her cheeks growing a bit pink.
Sehsis says, “It is not a problem, Dalia.” To Haft he says, “That you are a disagreeable individual.”
Haft moves to cross his arms over his chest but can’t quite manage it with the items he’s carrying. He ends up tilting his head to one side. “Really.”
Sehsis says, “Yes, really.”
Dalia says, “I….I supposed that… that it must be another guard, as it did not match my impression. She glances from between the two men.
Haft steps rudely around Dalia and close to Sehsis, murmuring something in his ear.
Haft mumbles “Least I wasn’t the most disagreeable individual in the Tavern in Andale. Not that you can be bothered with gratitude. I did stick my neck out, if you’ll recall. I don’t need you spreading stories about me to others.”, to Sehsis.
Haft mumbles “Least I … the most … individual … the … in Andale. … … you can be bothered with gratitude. … … … … … neck out, if … recall. … don’t need … spreading stories … me … others.”, to Sehsis.
Sehsis gives Haft a steady but cold look, he however does not bother to mumble but instead says, “You will recall that I tried to be, I was civil with you but was met with a coldness that I returned. I give as I get, and if you happened to come up in passing I will not lie.”
Haft throws his hands up, not bothering to keep his voice low now either. “You called me a barbarian!”
Sehsis says, “I did not, I called the man at the Tavern a barbarian.”
Haft says, “Oh, is /that/ who you were talking about. Was hard to tell with all the muttering under your breath.”
Dalia watches the scene speechlessly, rather a bit taken aback but not able to look away.
Megren skips along down the lane, a piece of parchment held in her clasped hands behind her back. She slows as she sees the gathered group looking not altogether in accord.
Sehsis nods, his voice maintain the cold edge, “Yes, it was. You could perhaps have asked me to speak up, to elaborate instead of making assumptions. You could perhaps have accepted thanks on that day in a polite manner even if you did not like me and then left it at that, you need never have spoken to me again. You could perhaps have told me you wished to be left alone when I spoke to you at the Tavern here. You could have done a lot of things to make yourself less disagreeable without getting along with me or even speaking to me much. So if I am cold, or if I find you unpleasant or impolite it is not on me, as I said. I give as I get.”
Megren stops, tilts her head assessingly, then tucks her parchment away and strides forward with more purpose. “Hello, everyone!” she says brightly.
Haft gapes at Sehsis, then turns at Megren’s greeting.
Sehsis turns at the greeting and gives the newcomer an assessing look; the kind of one trying to figure out where they have seen someone before.
Dalia speaks up suddenly, “Master Sehsis, let me make known to you Megren.” If she speaks to loudly or uncertainly, she doesn’t slow down.”A better or more felicitous friend you could not find.”
“They’ve met,” Haft says shortly.
Sehsis nods with sudden realization, “Briefly, and I did not catch her name.” to Megren he says, “A pleasure to meet you properly.”
Megren smiles easily, wrinkling her nose in good humor at Dalia’s compliment. “Nor I yours. It’s very nice to meet you.”
Sehsis asks, “Sehsis, and Dalia said that you are called Megren?”
Megren says, “That’s right. Though you can call me whatever you like — everyone else seems to. Are you doing business here in Coghill, then?”
Sehsis shakes his head, “Not so much, though occasionally. Most of my business in the North is in Chesterton but I tend to find Coghill a useful place to stop and rest for a couple of days when traveling.”
“You’ve been here quite a lot recently,” Haft observes drily.
Sehsis says with equal dryness, “I have only been here two days.”
Megren squints one eye at Haft. “We’ve just come from Chesterton. I can see how you might like to spend your extra time here. It’s much quieter.”
Haft appears to be oblivious to Megren’s squint.
Sehsis says, “As a matter of fact I much prefer Chesterton and that is where I had come from before these two days that I was here, but I am on my way home now and stop here as I do not like to spend too much time on the road. ”
Dalia glances nervously at Megren, “I….I have found… Master Sehsis to be rather pleasant t-to the people of Coghill…I myself have enjoyed pleasant conversations with him myself.
Haft asks Sehsis “You travel the road between here and Chesterton by yourself?”
Sehsis shakes his head, “I have a couple of employees who accompany me- They are Northern before you go shouting at me about that. I have stopped employing extra protection after the…Events, I believed it would be indiscreet for now”
Haft glowers. “I ain’t shouting. We camped on the road and wondered if it were necessary to keep a watch.”
Sehsis says, “In my experience the roads are quiet, though it is better to be on the safe side.”
Megren steps forward, offering Dalia another smile, and standing almost between the men, though not quite. “That’s good to know. We thought maybe the same, but weren’t sure.”
Megren nudges Haft with her elbow and grins companionably at him.
Haft frowns at Megren’s motion and his look becomes almost surly at her smile.
Megren tilts her head at him, unperturbed, and then says, “I was coming to find you actually.”
Haft presses his lips together and answers in a cool but civil tone. “What did you need?”
Megren says, “I got a letter. I guess it just missed us in Chesterton… the courier said he had a time chasing after us.”
Haft snorts lightly. “At least he bothered chasing. Whoever went to deliver my letter to Chesterton was incompetent.”
Dalia stands back listening, letting Megren handle the matter.
Megren says, “I was hoping you could read it to me? I haven’t found a scribe here yet.”
Haft nods sharply. “Yeah, sure. You wanna go somewhere?”
Megren glances at the others apologetically, as if their departure must be unwelcome. “Maybe somewhere I can look over your shoulder and see if I can follow.”
Haft says, “Sure. Lead on.” He nods to Dalia. “Dalia. Sehsis.”
Dalia curtseys without thinking “Lion Guard you.”
Sehsis gives a polite but brisk nod, “Haft.” To Megren he says, “It was a pleasure meeting you”
Megren reaches out to touch Dalia’s arm. “Good to see you.” She looks as if she is going to do the same toward Sehsis, but thinks better of it. “You too. If you are ever in Andale again, perhaps we will make better acquaintance.” She steps back and lifts her brows at Haft. “Indoors or out-of-doors?”
Haft looks down at his parcels, then shrugs. “Out I guess.”
Dalia gives Megren a kinda timid half-smile as Megren touches her arm and nods.
Megren nods agreement and skips off toward the inn’s rose garden, turning to walk backward for a few steps so she can offer the other two a wave of farewell.
A vast tunnel of roses which seem to have grown wild over the centuries create a wall, protecting the formal knot garden within. Wooden frames encase the growing plants, which appear to mainly consist of culinary herbs: marjoram, saffron, cubeb, and mace proliferate. A path, lined with small, white, stones, creates the outline of the design, only visible from above, which must take daily tending to maintain. The feeling of solitude in the garden is almost absolute; the only audible disruptions to the stillness are provided by the song of birds perched high above in the treetops. They are heard, but not seen.
You can go: Inn Courtyard <S>
Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren) and A Cherry Tree
Haft arrives, following Megren.
Megren saunters into the courtyard of the inn, sniffing out a bench. Finding all the reliable two-person seating arrangements in the open part of the courtyard taken, she investigates the knot garden and selects a bench placed along the rose wall.
Haft follows Megren, setting his parcels down carefully beside her. He folds his arms and looks down at her. “We gotta talk,” he says quietly.
Megren folds her legs up under her, holding the letter loosely in her lap. She lifts her brows at him. “Sure.”
Haft says, “I’m not all right with you steppin’ between me and other folk like I’m a man who talks with his fists Megren. I ain’t. You did it that night in the tavern, and maybe Bron needed it. And maybe you thought Jorgen did when you stepped to my side in Chesterton. But out there, just now, like you were trying to defend him from me? I don’t appreciate that.”
Megren wrinkles her nose at him. “Um…”
Haft asks, “Hmm?”
Megren rubs her hair line. “Well, I didn’t step between you, or to anybody’s side? Or, if anything I was closer to you than hi–” she shakes her head, finding these semantics unuseful. “Anyway, I’m sorry that’s what it felt like, but I didn’t mean to imply I thought there’d be any kind of fistfight.”
Haft watches her for a moment, then dismisses the matter with a nod. “All right. And–just so you know–I appreciated you standing by me with Jorgen, though I reckon you know well enough now that he’s not the kind to take a swing either.” He moves the parcels and joins her on the bench.
Megren watches him as if she might say something more, but seems to think better of it, letting the matter lie. She hands over the letter. “The fellow who handed it to me was the second messenger, but he said it was from Anvard.”
Haft looks down at the parchment. “That seems plain. This is the mark of the knights.”
Megren lifts her knee and weaves her fingers together over her shin, peering at the wax. “I thought so. Hopefully we haven’t missed a call to come home early.”
Haft says, “Perish the thought.” He moves to break the seal and opens the letter, glancing first to the bottom. “It’s from Sir Darrin.”
Megren’s brows lift in the delighted expression of one who has suspected a good thing and been afraid to voice the suspicion lest it be a false one. She shifts to get a better look, and then squints warily at Haft and pokes him in the arm. “You’re teasing. That would require him to sit for more than half a minute. Who’s it really from?”
Haft laughs, previous tension forgotten. “You’re right, I’m a deceitful scoundrel. In point of fact it’s from the Captain. He says he’s replaced us with younger, more serious-minded recruits.”
Megren sticks her tongue out at him. “You haven’t looked at it close enough to tell that yet.”
Haft sighs heavily. “Fine. It reads, ‘Megren,’ He stops. “Well, that was predictable.”
Megren rolls her eyes and elbows him to keep going.
Haft continues. “I shall be most grievously put out by your hasty departure, of course. Just when I am beginning to emerge from the depths of Dull Responsibilities, too. International relations and trade agreements and other important matters of state are no longer at stake, you’ll be pleased to know. I know I am.” He looks up. “Do you think that means Roshan has left?”
Megren rests her chin on her knee as she listens, lifting it slightly to look at him when he asks about Roshan. “Yeah, could be. Or at least, that they’ve got the papers all sorted out.”
Haft says, “That’d be a treat. Free to sit in the library again.” He looks back to the letter. “I suppose I shall have to content myself with chess with the Guard Captain, in the evenings, since he shall be as bored as I now that two of his best Guardsmen have departed (now, Haft, no need to get a big head over it).” Haft rolls his eyes. “Thinks he’s funny.”
Megren’s grin is particularly unchecked. “Just being practical,” she counters.
Haft shakes his head good-naturedly. “‘As for Coghill, I cant think of anything I might need, though if you have a moment you might pop in and take a look at our stable, to see if there’s a mount there you think might make a decent replacement for Gambol, eventually.'” Haft looks up from the letter. “Do you actually know anything about horses?”
Megren shakes her head. “I know you can tell how old they are by their teeth? I’m sure the stablemaster will have some thoughts.”
Haft nods and resumes. “We’re just getting to know each other, he and I, so the need isn’t pressing. Perhaps ask the stablemaster to show you the two year olds it might behoove me to train up a younger mount again while Gambol is available to me. He’ll be more than happy to assist you if you tell him I sent you. Or, I dont know, I suppose the orchards must be in bloom now. They are beautiful this time of year. You could press me some cherry blossoms.” Haft’s brow furrows curiously at this last.
Megren’s brows lift, and her lips press together as if she is trying to school her expression — which is nonetheless very obviously half charmed and half tickled. She puts her hand in front of her mouth and clears her throat, looking away — a method which might have worked if the cherry tree weren’t /right there/ for her eyes to fall on. She hides her mouth in her knee and takes another moment, then lifts her head with a perfectly innocent face and nods at him as if his pause were completely unnecessary and inexplicable. “Go on.”
Haft looks amused, both at Megren’s reaction and at the stylistic change in the more hurried handwriting of the next paragraph. “In any case, safe travels to you both (good luck on your quest, Haft) and know I shall be undoubtedly uselessly pining away for lack of decent drinking buddies.” He points to the close. “And his signature, there.”
Megren shakes her head. “No decent drinking buddies. Poor man.”
Haft smirks. “Captain Garian will do for both of us. You told Sir Darrin about my sister?”
Megren pushes her mouth to one side. “I just said we had gone to seek her. Was that all right?”
Haft says, “I guess I hadn’t thought about other folks knowing. If I hadn’t found her it woulda been…but all’s well. Yeah. Yeah, it’s fine.”
Megren says, “People’ll want some reason for us being gone, I guess.”
Haft says, “Yeah.” He glances at the tree. “Well, up you get, Megpie.”
Megren’s brows lift. “Up I get?”
Haft asks, “You gonna climb it to grab some blossoms, or just get the low-hangers?”
Megren exclaims, “Oh!” She looks at the tree. “Oh.” She wrinkles her nose. “Um, I don’t know. What do you guess the likelihood is he’s asked for it just so I’d have a tale of being chastised to tell when I got home?”
Haft glances at the handwriting again. “I’ll bet he didn’t. Though it may be he wants one from his own orchards…I don’t suppose that matters, though, so long as it’s from Coghill. But if you’d like to make for a good story I can holler for the innkeep’s daughter and let her know there’s a bird up the tree.”
Megren wrinkles her nose at him. “As if the manor wouldn’t cause even more trouble.” She squints an eye thoughtfully. “Perhaps Abrielle could help there…”
Haft asks, “What, you gonna make her climb a tree for you?”
Megren frowns punishingly. “Of course not. I’ll have her help me get into the gardens.”
Haft smiles. “Oh that.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Haft says, “Also, um, I could be wrong about this, but I’m fairly certain that a letter bearing the seal of the knights and the signature of Sir Darrin will be enough to get us on the manor grounds. He wants you to look into horses anyhow.”
Megren says, “Well, you can get to the stables from town. I’ve already–” she pauses, as if she’s just remembered that she wasn’t meaning to say this, but it’s too late now, “–been there.”
Haft looks confused. “Oh?”
Megren looks a little pink. “I… had an afternoon to myself.”
Haft shrugs. “So did I. So you went to see the horses?”
Megren tilts her head, and then nods. “Mhm.”
Haft asks, “See anything Sir Darrin could use?”
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “Well, that isn’t really what I was looking for.”
Haft asks, “No? What were you looking for?”
Megren pushes her mouth a little to the side.
Haft looks at her for a moment, then shrugs mildly. “All right. None of my business. Did you want to try Abrielle’s house?”
Megren tilts her head, takes a breath, and then nods. “Sure, all right. It’s rather a more fuss than any of the other presents I’m taking back. I’ll have to give him a hard time for that.”
Haft rises, then opens his satchel and places his parcels inside, moving some things around. He then reshoulders it. “Mind if I come along?”
Megren says, “Of course not.”
Haft offers to lead Megren.
Haft says, “Good. Now I just have to see if I can remember the way.”
They visit Abrielle’s home and are directed to the tavern by her uncle.
The Bird and Baby’s Tavern
This room echoes with a nearly constant din as voices rise and fall in conversation. An atmosphere of warmth and cheer predominates, and the walls have been painted a dark red. There are several tables for diners; many line the wall to provide for more private discussions. A board hangs in a highly visible location; it pays tribute to the history of the dining room and includes sketches of some of its more well known denizens. A menu, written out by hand, indicates what selections are being served. If the aromas emanating from the kitchen beyond are any evidence, the food is certain to please. In the back is a smaller room where isolated gatherings can be held. ==============================================================================
You can go: Foyer <NE>, Kitchens <S>, Out to the Courtyard <SE>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle); A
son of adam with dirty blond hair and blue-grey eyes (Deonyc); Clift, the
Tavernkeeper’s Assistant; Pricelist; and Wolves and Foxes Game Set.
Deonyc and Abrielle sit at a table in the back with mugs beside them. There is a musician playing some happy music off to the side.
Haft enters the room, stepping aside for Megren.
Megren walks alongside him, casting her eyes over the room as if looking for someone.
Noticing Haft, Deonyc stands up and walks over to him, greeting him.
Haft nods in response.
Abrielle smiles at Megren and Haft as they walk in. “Hello you two! Come sit with us!”
Deonyc points to the table “Do you two want to join Abrielle and I?”
Megren approaches the table at the invitation. “Abrielle, we were hoping to find you.” She turns to the man. “Hello, I’m Megren.”
Deonyc says, “Deonyc ‘s the name.”
Haft follows Megren.
Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “Me? Why?” She already looks very curious.
Abrielle says, “I guess I needed you two as well.”
Megren lifts her brows enticingly. “I have a /mission/, and I need your help.” Her face transforms into curiosity. “Oh?”
Haft cocks his head.
Deonyc walks back over to the table and sits down.
Abrielle nods but ignores her own thoughts for a moment. “Oh? And what is this mission?”
Megren says, “No no. Tell us what you need us for first.”
Abrielle smiles at Megren. “Well, I got a letter from Lady Avery. She would like me to come back with you two. Would that be okay?”
Deonyc pours himself a last cup of tea, and takes a sip
Megren registers surprise. “Oh.” She looks at Haft. “I’m sure that would be fine.”
Haft says, “It’s fine where I’m concerned. Not that far, but company on the road is always a good idea.” He pauses, then adds, “and welcome, too.””
Abrielle nods. “Thank you. I could go alone but I thought it would be just as well to go with you two.” She smiles at Haft and looks to Megren. “What is it that you would like me to do?”
Megren glances at Deonyc and then replies to Abrielle, “I’ve been asked to bring something back from the manor gardens.”
Abrielle raises and eyebrow. “Then you have come to the right place. Can I ask for whom?”
Haft speaks up. “Sef, the gardener at Anvard. Wants us to bring a couple full-sized trees back. Glad you’re coming; you can help carry ’em.”
Megren glances at Haft and grins.
Abrielle raises and eyebrow. “Oh! That is a big order. Did he talk to Lord Shar or anyone in the house?”
Deonyc looks on quite surprised,
Haft’s face twists a bit at being taken seriously. “I’m sure I couldn’t say.”
Megren covers her mouth to hide her laughter.
Abrielle raises and eyebrow and catches on. “Very funny.”
Haft laughs through his nose and spreads his hands.
Megren says, “Do you have time now? I’ll explain as we go.”
Abrielle shrugs, smiling at Haft’s little laugh. “Sure thing.”
Megren asks, “Haft? We’ll meet you back here in a little while?”
Abrielle looks really interested now. “Haft doesn’t get to go on the mission? Strange.”
Megren says, “Haft likes to make trouble.”
Haft twists his lips at Megren. “Apparently I am not to share in the adventure.” He snorts at her words. “I do no such thing.” He waves a hand. “Go on then. I’ll enjoy one of those excellent pork pasties.”
Abrielle smiles with Megren. “You are a known trouble maker.” She rolls her eyes and points to the door. “Out there?”
Megren nods, and leads the way.
Haft looks down at the table where Deonyc is sitting, realizing there’s no way to avoid the man’s company at this point. He sits and waves Clift over to take his order.
Deonyc points over to the game board “You want to play some?”
Haft glances at the game of Wolves and Foxes. “Never cubes, is it? Yeah, I’ll try a round then.”
Haft asks, “Were looking for a post at Anvard, weren’t you? That fall through?”
Deonyc says, “Well I haven’t gotten an answer yet so I’m not quite sure.”
Deonyc says, “I told Lord Dar I would be here, but I think ill go back to anvard sometime soon.”
Haft grunts. “What’d you apply for again?”
Deonyc says, “An apprenticeship with the master of mews, falconry ‘n stuff like that.”
Haft says, “Noble profession, if you’re up to it.”
Deonyc says, “It will take quite some time to learn though. I thought of it because of the birds and not much else but ill doubt ill get by without learning something about the lords and ladies and their standing. ”
Haft snorts. “No. No one survives at Anvard without knowing those things. That’s court life, and life for those serving the court. You know who is lord of where and who’s wealthier and how low to bow and the proper forms of address and when to rise and when to speak and to be silent.” His eyes narrow at Deonyc. “Reckon that’s where you made your mistake with the Calormene.”
Deonyc says, “Yes I thats true, a good reason to learn I guess, I won’t be interacting much at all anyways. Well unless they want to hunt but even then im just an aid to the Lord Falconer.”
Haft says, “I meant addressing the king directly. You don’t do that. When you speak to him, it’s because he spoke first. Same thing with many nobles. There’s a line of authority a guard follows if he wants to get a message to someone above him. Isn’t so different for you.”
Deonyc says, “And I will have to learn that if I want to stay there a while.”
Haft nods, focusing on the game.
Haft moves his final fox into position. “Well-played,” he admits.
Deonyc says, “I must admit, that was quite a game.”
Haft sets the board aside and gives his attention to the food.
Deonyc sips at his tea.
Haft asks, “So when are you heading back to Anvard?”
Deonyc says, “I’m not quite sure I haven’t decided yet.”
Deonyc says, “probably in the next week.”
Haft asks, “Yeah. Any odd happenings around here in the past week or so?”
Deonyc says, “I actually just came back from Carmichael. ”
Deonyc says, “I was out hunting there taking a break from Coghill and Anvard.”
Haft raises his brows. “You do get around. It’s this fellow Aaron I’m asking after. The one who set fire to his house in Andale.”
Deonyc says, “No I haven’t heard or seen him, I’ll keep my eyes open though.”
Haft says, “He might choose to go by another name.” He offers a brief description of the man and his manner. “If you should encounter anyone like that, we’d be glad for news of it at Anvard.”
Deonyc says, “I will be sure to tell a guard if I’m at Anvard or elsewhere. ”
Haft says, “Good.” He finishes his meal and rises. “Well, I’ll see you there, I suppose.”
Deonyc says, “I think so.”
Haft nods and departs.