Sitting on a Hedgehog

In which Haft and Meg discuss Prince Roshan againOff-duty Mess



This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

Contents: Hearth <LIT>.

Megren comes walking into the Off-duty Mess.

Haft sits close to the fire with a cup of tea in both hands and a bowl of soup on a table next to him.  He’s a little hunched over and not looking altogether at his best.

Megren steps into the mess looking especially chipper and carrying her book of animals under her arm. Seeing Haft looking especially miserable, she sobers a bit and diverts her path. “What’s happening, grandpa?”

Haft glances up, bleary-eyed and red-nosed.  “Very little.  Just trying to breath, but my nose isn’t having it.”

Megren pushes her mouth to one side regretfully. “Cold?”

Haft says, “Yeah.  Lady Avery told me to try tea and hot soup.  If you see her, you can tell her I’m being a good patient.”

Megren pulls up a chair across the table from him and tucks her legs up in it. “You got it. What kind of tea?”‘

Haft sniffs it.  “Whatever it is in the pot over the fire.  Can’t tell.  My smeller’s not exactly working.”

Megren says, “I’ll ask Kairyn to make you up something particular.”

Haft says, “Thanks,” before dabbing at his nose with a handkerchief.  “Still enjoying the bestiary?”

Megren says, “I’m trying to work through it where I can read without sounding out.” She bobs her head from side to side to indicate the effectiveness of this technique. “Most of the time when I can it’s just memorization, though.”

Haft shrugs.  “Maybe that’s what most reading is anyway.  You memorize the basic words that you see over and over, and then…figure out the hard ones when they come up?  I guess you could test it with a different book.”

Megren nods. “I guess so.”

Haft asks, “So have you learned about any critters you hadn’t heard of before?”

Megren says, “Not never heard of. Some I hadn’t encountered, like the otter page.”

Haft asks, “What kind of book do you think you’ll try next?”

Megren says, “Lady Avery found me a glossary of plants and an illustrated history. They’re both quite a bit harder, though.”

Haft asks, “Yes, I’d expect so…You say Lady Avery found them?  Is she still aiding and abetting us in avoiding His Royal Highness?”

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Megren says, “Oh, I saw him again, actually.”

Haft raises a brow.  “Do tell.”

Megren leans forward, placing her elbows on the table. “Do you know we had nearly the exact same conversation as the first time we talked? And it wasn’t exactly a repeatable conversation. Not like, ‘oh the weather’s hot today isn’t it’ or anything.”

Haft asks, “What, like ‘what’s a woman doing in uniform and how could one be one the guard’?”

Megren says, “Got it in one.”

Haft rolls his eyes.  “Nice to know the peace negotiations are in such capable hands on the Calormene side.”

Megren grins, sitting back. “Well, anyway, Sir Darrin seems satisfied about it all, and if the lords think we’re in a good place, I guess we probably are.”

Haft asks, “Well I’m glad to hear it.  Did Sir Darrin explain why the prince is still hovering around our library?”

Megren lifts a shoulder.

Haft sighs.  “At least he’s forbidden on the walls.  We’d never have a moment’s peace else.”

Megren says, “Aw, the poor man just loves it here so much he can’t bring himself to leave, and here’s you avoiding him at every cost.”

Haft wipes his nose again, blinking at Megren.  “You’d rather I didn’t avoid him?  I was the very soul of deference at our first encounter, but you’re asking a lot of my self-discipline to keep it up.”

Megren says, “Who, you, Haft? I’ve never met a less prickly soul.”

Haft says, “Funny.  But even if I weren’t, being around Roshan’s like sitting on a hedgehog.  The sitter doesn’t have to be prickly to want to give a yelp.”

Megren smiles amicably, “I won’t deny it. Though… he interests me. I’d like to be able to know what makes him who he is.”

Haft says, “I’d hazard a guess at wealth and power without boundaries or discipline.”

Megren wrinkles her nose at him.

Haft says, “No?  Cause that’s his older brother all over, and I ain’t overall impressed by the younger one, even if he isn’t waving a sword at us.”

Megren sits back. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, it’s just kind of a reductive way to talk is all.”

Haft asks, “‘Reductive’?”

Megren lifts a shoulder.

Haft asks, “You gonna give me a definition of your fancy word, or do I have to guess?”

Haft sneezes.

Megren sighs, unfolding her legs. “I just mean, there’s more to a person than a few–” she waves a hand as she tries to come up with the right phrasing. “Um, summary phrases, I guess.”

Haft says, “Oh. I guess that’s fair, but just now I ain’t got the energy for longer ones.”

Megren says, “Anyway, you wouldn’t know the longer ones without being him, or at least without hearing them from him is all I’m saying.”

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Haft says, “No, don’t suppose we would.  But given his appreciation of our company, I ain’t too sure we’re gonna get that chance.”

Megren says, “Yeah. I’m not saying we would. I’d just like to.”

Haft says, “You’re more curious than I am where he’s concerned, I guess.  I could name a dozen people I’d rather know better…probably more.”

Haft tries to cover a yawn.

Megren rolls her eyes and gets up, taking his tea away. “We can have a brawl over it some other time. Meanwhile, you better get off to rest.”

Haft asks, “A brawl?”

Megren says, “Or whatever it is you’d rather.”

Haft gets slowly to his feet.  “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about at this point.”

Megren grins. “When do you?”

Haft stares at her as though trying to come up with a witty retort, but apparently finds it too difficult for his foggy brain and shakes his head amiably.  “I’m turning in.”

Megren says, “I’ll get some tea to your bunk, how about?”

Haft says, “If I’m awake, I’ll drink it.  Thanks.”

Megren nods. “Feel better.”

Haft says “Hope to,” and heads for the barracks.


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