In which reassurance is given
The lane here widens to form a square of sorts and has several carts sitting at nearby buildings. People hurry back and forth between the two busy shops. Handel’s Mercantile dominates the north half of the square, and the smaller shop, Verloren’s Found and Lost, sits to the south. There are several benches here for those waiting on shoppers and horses hitched to posts. toward the Herberg Road.
You can go: Handel’s Mercantile <N>, Verloren’s Lost and Found <S>, Andale <W>, Herberg Road <E>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle).
Haft walks through the town, passing playing children and other villagers before turning to make his way toward Verloren’s.
Abrielle comes along the road from the direction of the Hall. She spots Haft and jogs to his side. “Hello Haft! Going to Verloren’s?”
Haft looks a little startled. “Uh…yes.”
Abrielle smiles at his startled look. “I am too…Care if I tag along?”
Haft pauses half a beat. “No, of course not,” he says before going inside.
Haft walks under a bright awning and into the Found and Lost.
Verloren’s Found and Lost
You see a brightly painted room with shelves and counters and cubbyholes full of all manner of oddities. There is armor hung on one wall, and weapons on another. There are packs and satchels and money bags. Clothing hangs from hooks, and well, frankly, almost anything can be found here from time to time. It’s simply amazing what people can lose, or will sell.
Knowing this, Verloren, an eager looking Son of Adam in a bright red tunic, welcomes you in with a smile and encourages you to look around, hoping that you will be the one to buy what he has for sale today.
You can go: East Andale <N>
Contents: Verloren, the Junk Dealer.
Abrielle comes walking into the Found and Lost.
Abrielle follows after Haft into the store.
Abrielle goes straight to Verloren to ask him about the inventory.
Haft says, “Looks like he doesn’t have anything that will suit. Was thinking of something for Calla or the boys.”
Abrielle looks over at Haft. “Oh? The wooden swords won’t do?”
Haft smiles. “Already took a pair, even before I knew how many children she’d had.” He looks deeply pleased. “Two boys. One for each.”
Abrielle nods. “Ahh…what were you hoping for this time?”
Haft says, “I was thinking of some pretty things for Calla…not sure what for the boys. Ash like to draw, so I thought a blank book…not sure about Ven. Though he’d probably enjoy the practice axe.”
Abrielle nods and runs her finger down the inventory. “There is an axe for sale…it is broken but with a bit of fixing it could work.”
Haft reaches over to another. “This one ain’t broken, but I fear Ven would just used it to take the stuffing out of his brother. Ash is…” His brows furrow.
Abrielle looks over to Haft. “Is?”
Haft turns to her, speaking quietly in the presence of the shopkeeper. “He’s quieter. Unsure of himself in his brother’s shadow.”
Abrielle eyebrows knit together. “Is that a bad thing? Isn’t it common in sibling relationships to feel overshadowed by the other? I never had siblings…but I thought that is how it worked.”
“No,” Haft says slowly, “it may not be a bad thing that he is quiet. I think he is steadier than his older brother. Ven seems restless.”
Abrielle smiles. “Boys often are…is there a reason that it may make you feel uncomfortable?”
Haft shrugs. “He’s thirteen. Seems a bit old for it is all. I was steadier by then, more like Ash, but more sure of myself too.”
Abrielle nods, looking a little more concerned. “I wonder if that will change soon…”
Haft purses his lips. “Might be just my perception. I don’t hardly know them, do I? Just a week in Chesterton.”
Abrielle looks at Haft. “For now it is enough…sometimes newcomers are able to see things more clearly than anyone else.” She moves to the wall to look at some items for sale.
Haft asks, “What is enough?”
Abrielle says, “How much time you got to form some relationship…for now.”
Haft says, “Ah. Well, it’s a start. And I hope to have a letter from them soon.”
Abrielle smiles. “That will be good.”
Haft says, “Yes.” He frowns a little.
Abrielle tilts her head at Haft. “What is it?”
Haft hesitates, looking down. “I was wondering how often your own letters get through.”
Abrielle pauses for a moment before answering quietly. “Let me say this…I have never gotten a response back…”
Haft looks appalled, but at the same time mindful of the shop owner and the private nature of the conversation. He offers his arm. “Let’s walk toward the beach.”
The Beach Road
The road-side plants are low, and thin, in the sandy soil beneath your feet. From here, you can see the beach and the ocean to the east, and you can hear the screams of seagulls in the distance.
The eastern leg of the path leads down a slope to the Beach below, and the west continues back toward town.
You can go: Andale Beach <E>, Beach Road <W>
“Tell me about them,” Haft says gently.
Abrielle wraps her arms around herself. “What do you want to know?”
Haft says, “Only whatever you want to tell me. And nothing if you’d rather not.”
Abrielle nods and looks out into the distance. “Well…they,” she corrects herself, “we lived on a boat.”
Haft says, “A boat? Sounds uncomfortable.”
Abrielle shrugs at Haft. “A little…but I was too young to care.”
Abrielle looks down at her feet. “I don’t know what they did…they hid it from me pretty well…but we had to leave.”
Haft asks, “Leave the boat? To go where?”
Abrielle sighs and squints out at the ocean. “To Lewis. It was very sudden. I remember one day I was playing with my father and the next day we docked, got a couple of horses, and went to Lewis.”
Haft asks, “How many others were on the boat?”
Abrielle shrugs. “A few…I only remember a couple well. They were friendly to me. I was kind of a pet.” She chuckles humorlessly. “I fear that I was a little spoiled when I came to Lewis.”
Haft asks, “And then they left you there? You said they were exiled? How did that come about?”
Abrielle rubs her arms slowly, looking really uncomfortable now. “I…I only know what Lewis has told me.”
Haft asks, “Did they ever write you?”
Abrielle bites her bottom lip. “Only twice.”
Haft asks, “From Narnia?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “Only once from there.”
Haft says, “Because they tried to stay here for awhile.”
Abrielle says, “I saw them a year or so ago.”
Abrielle nods. “Yes.”
Haft looks surprised. “What?”
Abrielle frowns. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
It is now Haft’s turn to look uncomfortable. “You…visited Narnia?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “No…they came to Carmichael…”
Haft pales. “Oh Abrielle…”
Abrielle eyes grow wide. “I am sorry…It…I” She stops and her eyes begin filling with tears.
Abrielle turns away and begins walking down the beach.
Haft strides to catch up with her. “Wait.”
Abrielle turns around. “I shouldn’t have told you…” She wraps her arms around herself again.
Haft takes her shoulders gently. “Tell me what Lewis said, exactly what he said about their exile.”
Abrielle looks like she may break but after a pause she answers. “That…that they were thieves and murderers…that they -” She stops to breath. “I don’t want to believe him.”
“Murderers,” Haft whispers, shaking his head. “Of course you don’t. But what did he say about the exile? Did the king order it?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “I…I don’t know.”
Abrielle sighs. “I was small…and I didn’t- I don’t want to know.”
Haft says, “I know you don’t, but we need to. It matters, Abrielle. If it was self-imposed or if it was by royal decree. The…consequences would be different.”
Abrielle rubs her eyes with her sleeve and nods. “I suppose you are right…but self-imposed would mean that they chose to leave me.”
Haft releases her, mouth tightening, but he masters whatever has angered him. “Tell me about the meeting. Why were you in Carmichael?”
Abrielle looks down. “They wrote me…the second time ever and asked me to meet them in Carmichael…I was going to go alone. I should have. Adrian came with to be sure I would be safe.” She looks out at the ocean. “They didn’t really want to do anything other that tell me they were leaving me again.”
Haft begins, “Did they say–” He frowns, hesitating. “Abrielle,” he says softly, “you understand that everything you tell me now must be reported to my captain. You know that.”
Abrielle shakes her head. “You can’t, Haft.” Her head falls. “I shouldn’t have said anything. I-I” She looks up to him, eyes pleading. “Please tell me you didn’t ask me to tell you just so you could hear it all and relax your own nerves.”
“No!” Haft cries. “I asked because you seemed to be hurting, when you said they’d never written back. I thought if you talked about it, it might help. I just…I was trying to help.”
Abrielle moves away from Haft, eyes glued to the ground. “I didn’t want to put you in a bad situation…I always hurt everyone.”
Haft asks, “Who told you that?”
Abrielle sighs. “I just know it…Haft, please don’t tell your Captain.”
Haft murmurs, “I have no choice, Abrielle. Truly I don’t. When I approached Lord Peridan about you, then I was going beyond my duty. But this…if they have broken their exile, or if they were never exiled at all but are murderers still at large within Archenland…I have to report that. I’m an officer of the crown.”
Abrielle eyes fill again but there is a spark in her glance now. “They are not in Archenland….what if they throw Lewis and I in jail, Haft? Lewis would die.”
Haft says, “Throw you in jail? For keeping silent, you mean.”
Abrielle nods. “And for seeing them…knowing them. I cannot let Lewis get thrown in prison.”
Haft shakes his head sadly, catching her hands between his two large ones. “You think so little of your king? Oh child.” He looks sorrowful. “When we first spoke you told me you could never fight for a country that had forsaken you. I didn’t understand it then. I think I understand better now.”
Abrielle looks at Haft shamefully and then glues her eyes back to the ground.
“You were forsaken,” he continues gently. “By your parents. You could hardly show loyalty when you weren’t shown any yourself.”
Abrielle shakes her head. “I–” She shudders to a stop.
Haft’s voice is low but fierce. “You were hurt. You say that you hurt everyone, but you’re wrong. Your words shone a light for me that day in the stables. You have no idea how much that meant. Do you even remember what you said?”
Abrielle shrugs. “A little…” She doesn’t looks like she believes him at all.
Haft says, “You said ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you.” And knowing that someone cared…suddenly I saw everything I’d regained saw that I was living like a man again, not still trapped as I was.”
Abrielle looks up to Haft. “Well I am glad that I was able to help you…but I am still very wrong for having put you in a situation of knowing. Please promise me that Lewis will be okay. I can go to jail but Lewis cannot.”
Haft is silent for a very long moment, looking into her face. After a while he starts, “Listen to me carefully, Abrielle. I cannot make you official guarantees. In the end the decisions of the king and his representatives are their own, not mine. But I have known King Lune for nigh on thirty years. Listen and understand the kind of man your king is.”
Abrielle sighs. “He was good to you because you are valuable to him…Haft, I just want to be safe. I want to protect Lewis. Please do not tell your Captain.”
“Valuable,” he repeats with a hint of bitterness. “No, Abrielle. I am not valuable. My own value had nothing and less than nothing to do with my reinstatement to the guard.”
Abrielle looks down. “I just…” She sighs. “I am hungry.”
Haft says, “I have some tack in my pouch. Will that do for now? This conversation should not take place in the inn hall.”
Abrielle nods. “Yes. Thank you.”
Haft retrieves the hardtack and hands it to her.
Abrielle takes it and eats it quietly.
Haft watches Abrielle solemnly. “King Lune is a merciful man,” he says. “I know that he has given even thieves and killers a second chance before.” He pauses. “Do you know what he did to the guard who allowed Lord Bar to steal his son?”
Abrielle looks up and shakes her head. “No…I have not.”
Haft’s voice is perfectly steady, though there is a fierce and firm edge to it. “He forgave him–no, more than that. He absolved him of the deed, as though no wrong had been done. He returned him–me–he returned me to his service.”
Abrielle looks to Haft, her eyes wide, “Oh Haft…you…” She seems shocked out of words for a moment. “No wonder you have such high regard for the King…I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to talk him down.”
Haft says, “I am not offended. I want you to know the kind of man he is…he could have done anything–I thought he had, thought he had sent me away, for years…but I’ll tell you the full story another time. He would have been justified. I disobeyed orders, even if I meant no harm. But he forgave me Abrielle. And the fire! Do you remember the night of the fire?”
Abrielle nods. “Yes…”
Haft says, “The king was right there with us Abrielle. Passing buckets down the line, ordering our efforts. He saved a man who got too close to a falling, fiery wall. I think my heart stopped when he leapt into danger.”
Abrielle jaw drops. “That…that is incredible…” She sighs. “Perhaps you are right…but I will be concerned until the judgement has passed.”
Haft says, “I know…I told you I was terrified for my own hearing and I meant it, though at the time I did think he had exiled me…sometimes we can’t help nerves. But I am not afraid for you. In truth, if I know Captain Garian, I think it unlikely the matter will even reach the king. The Captain may want to ask you some questions himself, but on the other hand he may find my account sufficient. I think for your part that will be the end of the matter.”
Abrielle nods and seems to think for a bit before looking at Haft. “Thank you”
Haft asks, “For what?”
Abrielle bites on her lip. “For trying to calm me…and for telling me about your past.”
Haft nods. “It’s…not something I’m pleased to remember, and I spent fourteen years brooding on it…but I hope it does calm you, to know the type of man he is. I have no fear that Lewis or you will end your days in the dungeon.
Abrielle nods, looking to the ground.
Haft says, “If I might offer a word of advice, don’t return to Coghill until the matter has been addressed. If-if you were to vanish, you’d be running all your life, most likely with no one chasing you.”
Abrielle looks up, her eyes sharing a certain thought before shaking her head. “I..I wouldn’t do that…”
Haft nods, accepting her word. “Also, if you wish to tell me the rest of what your parents said to you in Carmichael, about where they planned to go, I can report that to the captain and possibly save you further questioning.” He sighs. “I should probably visit Lewis too…although…no, I’m not sure. I hate to distress him. If the exile was official, there will be a record of it, and the captain can obtain that and decide if it is necessary for someone to speak to Lewis then.”
Abrielle nods. “Not Lewis, not yet…they just told me they were going to Narnia.”
Haft says, “Why had they even come back then? Just to tell you they were leaving? That makes no sense.”
Abrielle nods. “They were distracted by Adrian I think…it wouldn’t be unlike them to just come just to tell me they were leaving.”
Haft sighs and shakes his head. “I am glad you took him with you. That was wise.”
Abrielle laugh quietly. “Don’t thank me…thank Sehsis.”
Haft’s eyes widen in surprise. “It was his suggestion?”
Abrielle nods. “Yes. A kind of scheme to get Adrian and I together for some time.”
Haft says, “Ah, before your courtship. I see.”
Abrielle nods. “Yes.”
Haft asks, “How did Adrian handle it? Did he know about their past?”
Abrielle nods. “Of course….he handled it well…mostly concerned about me…which was nice.”
“Good man,” Haft says approvingly.
Abrielle smiles faintly. “Yes.”
Something Abrielle has said finally seems to register, because Haft looks a bit bewildered. “Did you say Sehsis know about your parents history too?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “No…just that I was looking for them.”
Haft says, “Oh, I see. Well, at least there’s not a whole bevy of folk down in Coghill trying to conceal fugitives…I was getting worried.” He offers a weak smile.
Abrielle’s face falls.
Haft drops the smile, lifting her chin. “Hey, I wouldn’t try to joke if I were worried for you. Not worried in that way, at least.” He hesitates, as if asking something he’s asked of no one in many years. “Trust me?”
Abrielle looks back and, slowly, nods. “Okay, Haft. I trust you.”
Haft takes her hand, sighing. “You’re worried for them too, aren’t you? Your folks?”
Abrielle nods. “Yes.”
Haft says, “‘Course you are. I wish I could reassure you more on that account, but I don’t know what will happen there…maybe nothin’, if they’re in Narnia. Depending on what they’ve actually done, I guess a message might be sent to the authorities there…but…I’m not sure.”
Abrielle sighs and looks off the the sea.
Haft follows her gaze, squeezing her hand gently. “Is there anything I can do?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “No…not really.”
Haft keeps his eyes on the sea. “What are their names?”
Abrielle looks back to Haft. “Cherine is my mother…Acostas is my father.”
Haft meets her eyes. “Thank you.”
Abrielle closes her eyes and head sinks down. “Take care of us.”
Haft hesitates only a moment before pulling her into a protective embrace.
Abrielle lets herself enjoy the comfort of the embrace for a moment.
Haft releases her. “Don’t be afraid for yourself or Lewis. Do you want me to walk you back to town?”
Abrielle pulls back. “Yes please.”
Haft offers his arm again before silently leading her back up the path from the beach.