Which is very soggy
At the bottom of the slope, the beach spreads, a mixture of sand and gravel. Seagulls scream overhead, and small crabs scuttle about between pools and bits of driftwood. There are a few larger rocks as well, slowly being eroded by wind and water. The Eastern Ocean seems to go on forever, the gray green waves stretching out to the horizon.
A path leads up the slope to the west toward the Beach Road.
You can go: The Beach Road <W>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle); A
daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren); and A son of adam with
laughing blue eyes (Darrin).
Darrin and Megren are out a few yards from shore, treading water in the sea while rain falls. He shakes his head vigorously, rather like a wet dog, which probably serves to make Megren (more) wet. His hand slips off her shoulder and he throws himself backwards into an incoming wave (which is a bit larger than it was when they first started swimming.)
Megren shies away from the spray, making a noise of protest. She watches him as if considering doing the same, and then elects to trudge toward shore instead, bending down to unearth shells as she goes.
Abrielle walks towards the water from town and seems utterly surprised to find Megren and the Knight out here together. After a moment she shrugs and comes to Megren. “Shell collecting?”
Megren is utterly soaked, her wet hair slicked back off her face and sticking to her neck. She extends a clean oyster shell to the other woman. “More admiring than collecting. What are you doing out here in the rain?”
Darrin treads water for a moment, the waves sloshing around his shoulders and pushing him closer to shore and then back out a short distance. He watches Megren go, though in the dim light of evening and the rain it’s almost impossible to read his expression from the shore. After a moment he flips over and strikes out away from shore with strong strokes, eventually turning and angling so he’s parallel to the beach.
Haft approaches the group, seeing Abrielle first and raising a hand in greeting before being surprised at the presence of the other two.
Abrielle shrugs. “I like the beach…I am glad to see it when I can. Although, it wasn’t the wisest of choices.” She observes Megren closer. “Did you go swimming?”
Megren looks down at herself, and then back over her shoulder at Sir Darrin. “What gave me away?”
Abrielle looks out to the see to watch the Knight. “It looks like a storm may be in the works…I hope he is okay.”
Darrin sticks his head under the water like he’s just going to get his hair additionally wet, but he doesn’t reappear immediately.
Haft joins Megren and Abrielle on the beach. “What are you lot doing?”
Megren glances out at the knight again at Abrielle’s words. “Oh, I’m sure he’s…” She squints an eye, finding him disappeared. “…fine.” She lifts her brows at Haft. “What’s it look like, grandfather?”
Abrielle eyes flash into panic. “Is he…” She moves closer to the ocean.
Haft stares at the water where Sir Darrin was last seen, then bends and yanks off his boots, but hesitates, scanning the surf.
Megren, seeing their concern, rolls her eyes and dives back in toward where the knight was previously.
Abrielle watches in horror as Megren gets into the water. She looks to Haft.
Haft straightens, hands at the buckle of his sword belt. “She reckons he’s having us on…”
Darrin at last reappears walking out of the waves, like he swam to the bottom and just walked out rather than swimming most of the way. His dark curly hair is sticking up wildly in the back and falling into his eyes, and he shakes his head and pushes it back off his forehead. (He is, notably, shirtless and bootless, of course).
Megren slows up when Sir Darrin pops back out, treading water for a moment and then standing up, wringing out the front of her shirt and trudging back toward land again, tilting her path so that they’ll reach land at about the same place.
Abrielle sighs in relief as they reappear.
Darrin looks a little startled to find Megren back in the water, and he gives her a side-eyed glance, head tipped and eyebrows quirking.
Megren shrugs at him.
Haft says, “You ought to warn your companions before diving so deep, Sir. We were a mite anxious.”
Darrin shrugs back at Megren as he steps onto the beach. The breeze and his thoroughly wet and bedraggled state combine to make his skin pebble almost instantly the moment he steps out of the water, despite the warm mugginess of the air. He rubs his arms briskly and looks over when Haft speaks. “Oh,” he says. “Well. My apologies, then.” His tone is sincere, but his lips twitch, just barely. He nods to the newcomers, “Haft, Abrielle,” and goes to collect his soaked and sandy tunic.
Abrielle dips into a curtsey. “Sir.” She then lowers her eyes to the sand.
Megren rubs the water from her hair again. “What’s got you here, Haft? Surely not swimming.”
Haft raises a brow. “And why not swimming?”
Megren eyes his sword.
Haft asks, “I did just get here. Are you suggesting that I can’t swim?”
Megren tilts her head. “Well.”
Abrielle looks between Haft and Megren. “Nobody should really be swimming…it is stormy.”
Darrin wrinkles his nose at his tunic and then struggles into it, brushing off sand as he goes. He picks up his boots without deigning to put them on just yet and wanders back over to the group. “But that’s the fun of it, see.”
Megren challenges, “Go back out there, then.”
Haft shakes his head at Megren. “Well, seeing as I’ve already got my boots off.” He proceeds to unfasten his sword belt, laying it next to the boots before turning and jogging toward the water. “Better get a move on, Sir, or you’ll never hear the end of it,” he calls as he dives in.
Megren lifts her brows.
Darrin glances down at his tunic, but seems to decide it’s wet enough already that he may as well have another go. He grins devilishly, but instead of sprinting directly for the waves he grabs Megren’s hand and pulls her with him. “Well then, you’re coming too!”
Darrin drops his boots somewhere along the way.
Abrielle watches as everyone piles into the water.
Megren squeals in protest, the inertia of his grasping making her steps comically large as she splashes into the water.
Haft laughs loudly.
Darrin snickers, dropping her hand once they make it to the water to drop into the waves.
Megren sighs and falls back dramatically, dipping below the waterline before emerging to float on her back.
Abrielle watches everyone and the clouds closely.
Haft turns in the water, swimming out several yards before changing course and treading water at Megren’s side.
Haft asks, “Satisfied?”
Darrin flops backwards and submerges briefly, blowing out air through his mouth to bubble up through the few inches of water over his face. He surfaces but stays floating on his back, kicking lazily to stay more or less in place and not closer to the shoreline.
Megren flips so that she’s upright. “It’ll do.”
Abrielle decides it is okay to sit down.
Haft grins. “Good.”
A snort can be heard from Darrin’s general direction.
Megren says, “I think Sir Darrin wants to race you.”
Haft asks, “Does he? And what would you have as a marker?”
Megren squints at the shore. “Abrielle, of course.”
Abrielle lays her legs out in front of herself, still watching.
Darrin drifts closer and straightens so he’s upright. “Ooooh, yes.” He grins, blue eyes sparkling.
Haft nods. “Sounds fair. On your word then, Megren.”
Darrin bobs up and down in the waves a bit more than can probably be attributed to the water alone.
Megren steps out of their way. “On your mark. Set. Go.”
Haft swims with long powerful strides, kicking hard for the shore.
Darrin bursts strongly for the shore, kicking against the water strongly at first to shoot him ahead in the waves and then settling into a rhythm of strokes and kicks. It’s obvious he’s a strong swimmer.
Abrielle sits up straighter when she sees them racing back to shore.
Haft manages to keep apace with Darrin for most of the distance, falling slightly behind as they get closer to the finish.
Megren strides after them through the waves. “Call it, Abrielle!”
Abrielle stands up quickly. “Call what!?”
Megren says, “Who won?”
Darrin pushes ahead, making more of an effort when he sees Haft lagging. He shoves himself through the last couple of feet of water, only standing when he can’t really swim anymore. Haft is a few strokes behind him by this point.
Abrielle thinks about it for a moment and ahs.
Haft lurches to his feet a few seconds after the knight.
Abrielle runs backwards a few feet, smiling. “Come and get me!”
Megren laughs, trudging up out of the water still.
Haft laughs as well. “It’s tag, now, is it?”
Darrin blinks water out of his eyes in surprise and then his bare feet dig into the sand and he gamely jogs the remaining distance towards Abrielle.
Abrielle nods and turns to run faster down the beach.
Haft runs too, just behind Darrin, keeping the pace but not gaining.
Darrin shoots a glance back at Haft, then further back to Megren, before he shakes his head and lets out a burst of speed in an attempt to pull ahead. He leaves deep prints in the sand and gravel behind him.
Abrielle runs till she is a bit ahead and turns to watch.
Megren makes it up to the beach, crossing her arms against the cold and watching.
Haft runs full out, trying to make up the distance as they close in on Abrielle.
Darrin ignores the fact that his hair is falling over his eyes again as he pelts towards Abrielle, though he does shake his head slightly as if trying to dislodge it. He laughs aloud for the pure rush of it, trying to blink water out of his eyes and maintain his footing on the rocky sand and stay ahead of Haft all at once, though he does seem to be succeeding.
Abrielle smiles, hands on her hips, waiting for the winner to reach her.
Haft grins as he races a few steps behind.
Abrielle exclaims, “Come on men!”
Megren finds a rock to sit on, pressing her arms against her knees to keep warm.
Darrin skids to a halt in front of Abrielle still a few steps ahead, and sways from the sudden stop. When he gets his balance, he taps her on the shoulder and grins.
Abrielle grins back. “Good work.” She peers over his shoulder to Haft. “Better luck next time.”
Haft catches up a few steps later, breathing hard but looking happy.
Darrin chuckles, finally pushing his hair out of his eyes. He holds out his hand to Haft. “Nicely done, Guardsman.”
Megren calls, “What should the prize be?”
Haft shakes Darrin’s hand. “Well done, Sir.”
Darrin straightens his damp tunic and looks back at Megren. One eyebrow lifts and his lips quirk just so, and then his cheeks seem to darken, though it’s hard to tell in this light. He ducks his head and looks to Abrielle like he’s expecting an answer from her.
Abrielle puts a finger to her nose in a thinking pose. “Pride and a drink?”
Megren agrees, “Everybody buy Sir Darrin a drink.”
Haft says, “Fine by me.”
Darrin clears his throat and goes back to grinning, after a pause. “I’ll take it.”
Abrielle claps her hands. “Good.”
Megren gets up, wringing some of the water from her shirt and grabbing her boots as well as Sir Darrin’s and Haft’s, making off with them.
Abrielle starts walking back up the beach.
Haft calls after her. “You scuff those, you polish them.” He falls into step beside Abrielle.
Megren jogs backwards, “Try and make me.”
Darrin lifts a brow again as Megren trots off with his boots. “Hey!” He objects. He purses his lips and gets an ornery look on his face, and then takes off again, this time running after Megren.
Abrielle shakes her head at them. “Do you want to run after them?”
Megren turns to sprint when she sees Sir Darrin come after her.
Haft smiles. “Not really. It was you I came looking for.”
Abrielle looks to Haft. “Ah…well.” She keeps pace with him.
Darrin pelts after Megren.
Megren makes a good effort, though her pace is significantly hampered by three pairs of shoes in her arms.
Darrin gets almost close enough to touch Megren, though she’s still just barely out of reach.
Haft speaks in lowered tones.
Haft mumbles “A woman at the inn thought you’d come out to the beach. Just wanted to see how you were doing.”, to Abrielle.
Haft mumbles “… … at … … … … come out to the … … Just … to see how you were doing.” to Abrielle.
Abrielle shrugs and answers Haft in a equally low tone.
Abrielle mumbles “I don’t know how much it matters at this point…but I talked to Lewis.”, to Haft.
Abrielle mumbles “I … know … … … matters at … … … … … Lewis.” to Haft.
Abrielle she looks even more distressed at this.
Megren stops very suddenly so that anyone chasing her is liable to run right into her.
Haft frowns slightly. He lays a hand on her shoulder, then calls ahead. “Megren! We’ll catch you up!”
Darrin stretches out his hands like he’s about to grab Megren, or tackle her, or both, but Megren’s abrupt halt means that he rather bowls into her instead, knocking them both to the ground.
Megren makes a noise of surprise, curling up around her prize and then quickly recoiling at the smell of wet foot leather.
Haft chortles. “I’m glad you two aren’t the only ones we’re depending on to defend country and castle!”
Abrielle looks up as they fall and a small giggle escapes her lips.
Darrin oofs as he comes down hard atop Megren’s back, not having the foresight or ability to duck and roll rather than landing hard.
Megren pushes him off good-naturedly. “I’m telling the other knights to target your coordination next spar.”
Darrin lands hard on his rear and mock-scowls at her. “Low blow, Fritter, low blow.” He attempts to snatch his boots from her.
Megren holds them out with the tips of her fingers, wrinkling her nose.
Darrin takes them and grabs them to his chest like treasured children. “Don’t give me that look! I can’t control the effects of inclement weather on my boot smell!” He sniffs delicately, feigning wounded pride, and then promptly makes a face at the smell, moving to hold the boots farther away from his body.
Megren hunches over with laughter.
Haft shakes his head in amusement, mumbling something to Abrielle.
Haft mumbles “They’re like four-year-olds.”, to Abrielle.
Haft mumbles “They’re … …”, to Abrielle.
Abrielle smiles at Haft.
Darrin mutters under his breath as he struggles to tug his boots on.
Darrin mumbles “Yeah … … laugh … up. … thief. Sheesh. My coordination, … Pfft. … I never.” to Darrin.
Megren elects to remain barefoot, though she stands up to bring Haft his boots, nudging Sir Darrin in the shoulder with her knee in return for his undoubted insults.
Darrin attempts to make a face at her, but fails miserably because he can’t keep the cheeky grin off his face. He halfway laces up his boots and stands, brushing off sand and gravel.
Haft accepts the boots. “Thanks.” He fishes in his pouch for a moment, pulling out a couple of coins and dropping them in her hand. “I’m going to have to head back to Anvard to change before my shift. You can use this to buy my share.”
Megren pulls a regretful face. “Aw, no.”
Abrielle pauses beside Haft as he and Megren exchange.
Haft says, “Sorry. Another time.”
Megren nods, her grin returning. “I’ll hold you to it.”
Darrin says, “Thanks for the race, Haft.”
Abrielle curtsies to Sir Darrin and smiles to Megren. “That was fun.”
Haft says, “You too, Sir.”
Megren looks at Abrielle, “You’re not leaving too?”
Darrin elbows Megren. “Our middle name, right Fritter?”
Haft says, “I just need to borrow her a moment.”
Abrielle nods to Haft. “Yes. I might join you later?”
Megren nods, “Oh, all right.” She glances at Sir Darrin and grins, “Mine’s ‘the wise’ but I don’t know about you.”
Haft bends to pull his boots on.
Darrin chortles. “Oh, well, your pardon.” He scratches at the back of his neck. “Then again, maybe ‘party’ would be the more accurate choice for me.”
Megren grins. “I’ll drink to that. Come on, let’s leave these two to their secrets.”
Abrielle smiles and shakes her head at the pair of them.
Darrin laughs, offering Abrielle and Haft a last bow before falling in step with Megren.
Megren walks up the slope to the Beach Road.
Darrin leaves, following Megren.
Darrin walks up the slope to the Beach Road.
Haft watches the two depart, then turns to Abrielle. “So, you spoke to Lewis?”
Abrielle turns to Haft. “Yes…but I don’t know if it makes a difference at this point…” She exhales. “I am not sure how to say this.”
Haft waves a hand, indicating she should continue.
Abrielle looks straight at Haft. “Well…he apparently lied…he has lied to me all of my life.” She looks out at the ocean. “Which means, my parents chose to abandon me. Lewis…he tried to soften the blow by making them sound like horrible people.” She sighs and shakes her head. “This sounds like a lie….”
Haft’s eyes widen. He’s speechless for a moment. “I…don’t know whether to be horrified or relieved.” He runs a hand through his hair, staring at the wet ground. “You’re right that it sounds suspect.”
Abrielle nods. “He felt so bad….he says he is willing to testify to it…and I want him to.” She wraps her arms around herself. “I…I am still not sure how to feel about it.” She head drops. “I feel…unsteady.”
“He should feel bad,” Haft says sharply. “If he’s telling the truth. His lies have made you feel bad your whole life. What an utterly wicked, selfish thing to do!”
Abrielle puts a hand on Haft. “Haft…I understand why he did it…it just got us into a horrible spot. I–”
Abrielle says, “I have to apologize to you. I am so so sorry.”
Haft clenches his jaw. “I won’t argue the point with you. You don’t need that. I’d gladly argue it out with him sometime. But right now we have to deal with the present situation. I’ll—what?”
Abrielle shakes her head. “I caused you anger and concern for nothing….”
Haft shakes his head, features still taut. “That can’t be helped. And I’m still angry and concerned. You’re going to have a time of it, convincing them that your uncle is telling the truth now. They may still want to ask you questions, check the records. It’ll take a lot of man hours to confirm that your parents have no criminal past. It’s much easier to prove what is than what is not.”
Abrielle nods, looking a little less nervous than she has been previously. “It doesn’t change anything really though…I still met them, thinking they were criminals without turning them in. All that has really changed is that I know the truth…and it is worse than it was before.” Her mouth tightens. “I am willing to do anything but I will still have to go to jail…to lost my job…but I have already lost Lewis.”
Haft says, “They can’t send you to prison for protecting fugitives who /ain’t/ fugitives. The morality behind your decision remains unchanged, but in that case the law would have no foothold. Your job…if the captain has brought this to Lord Dar, you may not be long employed at Coghill Manor. He’s entitled to act based on his opinion of your behavior.”
Abrielle nods. “Of course…”
Haft asks, “What do you mean you have lost Lewis?”
Abrielle sighs and then looks to Haft. “He just isn’t the man I thought he was…I know why he did it…it just–” She shrugs.
Haft’s voice is quiet. “Will you leave him?”
Abrielle eyes fill with tears but she quickly wipes them away. “I am tempted to…but he is the only family I have.”
Haft nods. “I know. That matters.” He looks down the road. “I have to go. I will meet with the captain as soon as may be. Be warned Abrielle. If Lewis is lying about this, to save himself or you, those who decide his fate will not look kindly on it.”
Abrielle nods. “I know. But this time he is telling the truth…” She looks down the road briefly. “Thank you.”
Haft looks her over. “For what little I have done, you are welcome. Make an end of your tears out here. The rain will cover them. Then go on to the inn and let Megren and Sir Darrin distract you with their absurdities.”
Abrielle laughs quietly at this. “They are a good time…have a good night, Haft. Do not be too concerned with me.”
Haft ignores the admonition. “Goodnight Abrielle.” He turns and walks up the beach toward Andale.