In which Tyren loses at chess, Garian makes mysterious notes, and Megren finally asks Haft what’s up with him and Lanisen Off-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
Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren) and Hearth .

Tyren sits on one end of the results of a completed chess game, tapping a taken castle as he studies the board’s final position. Whoever his opponent was is long gone, as he sits alone.

Megren traipses into the mess with hands behind her back. She takes a moment in the doorway to observe who is gathered there.

Haft steps into the mess, nodding at Megren as he passes her. Heads for the fire and stoops to ladle some soup into a bowl.

Tyren shifts, brow furrowed as he folds his arms. He mutters to himself as he traces the last few moves on the chessboard, then shakes his head slightly, as if realizing exactly where Things Went Wrong.

Megren gives Haft a grin before approaching Sir Tyren’s table. “Need a partner, Sir?”

Haft frowns and adjusts the pot so it hangs more directly over the heat, then straightens to wait.

Garian enters the off duty mess quietly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He has a satchel over a shoulder and a list in his hand.

“I’ve had one already,” Tyren replies to Megren, “who left me rather befuddled at the end of it. Think I see my mistake now, though.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Megren gives him a short bow and half sits in the chair across from him, as if asking permission to do so. “Well, I see your problem right here, you’ve got the board flipped so the winner is on the other side.”

Haft smiles faintly, turning to watch Megren.

Tyren chuckles, the permission implicitly asked for just as implicitly given with a small gesture. “Unfortunate indeed, but I don’t believe turning the board around would somehow turn the white pieces into the victors. It’s the same result no matter what angle you look at it.”

Garian spies Tyren as he looks up, giving a bow and makes his way to a table near the fire. He sets the list down and begins to unpack the satchel.

Garian rings the kitchen.  Moments later, a page arrives and bows respectfully, presenting Garian with a list.

Garian indicates what he wants to the page, who accepts the list, bows, and quickly hurries away to the kitchen.

The page returns, carrying with him a tray.  He places the contents of the tray before Garian.

The page places a Goblet of Spiced Wine before Garian.

The page places a Loaf of Bread before Garian.

The page bows and quietly leaves.

Megren lifts a shoulder. “We all have our own ways, I suppose.”

Tyren nods to Garian in return, before nodding again in Megren’s direction. “Quite so. I suppose it’s my own fault for playing against my cousin, who is very much familiar with my own particular ways by this point.”

Haft stirs the pot, then realizes it may take a while to come back to a boil.  He takes a seat, noticing the captain for the first time.  “Sir,” he says, voice a little hoarser than usual.

Megren follows the direction of the knight’s gaze, and her brows lift a little at seeing the captain, the expression followed swiftly by one dominated by a grin.

Garian nods to Haft rather absentmindedly, “Evening, guardsman.” He opens the book he took out and opens an ink pot.

Garian drinks some spiced wine.

Tyren shrugs a shoulder. “Well, suppose I’ll know better for next time.” And with that, he starts to replace the chess pieces to their proper starting positions.

Haft leans back in the comfortable chair, letting his eyes slip closed.

Megren helps him out. “Did you always love chess?”

Garian quietly thanks the servant who delivers some wine and bread before picking up a quill. Dipping one end in the ink, he begins to write in the book.

Tyren shrugs a shoulder. “I’m not sure ‘love’ is the word for it – it’s always been more along the lines of another training exercise to my mind. I enjoy it, to be sure, but more for what the game does for me than the game itself. I did take to it at a rather young age, though. My father played it often.”

Haft listens to the hum of the room around him, but doesn’t open his eyes.

Megren peers over at the captain. “What do you suppose he’s writing?”

Garian takes a piece of the bread and chews thoughtfully, diligently continuing his task. He takes great care not to let any crumbles get on his work.

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

Tyren glances in the Captain’s direction, and shrugs a shoulder again. “Your guess is as good as mine there, I think.”

Haft shifts, opening his eyes and leaning forward to inspect the soup.

Garian asks as he writes, “How’s the cold, guardsman?”

Megren rubs her chin. “Hmm… letter to a brother he only recently learned he had.”

Haft turns.  “Better than it was, sir. Thank you.  I expect I’ll be able to resume my duties tomorrow.”

Tyren blinks as he glances back to Megren, then chuckles. “If Lana ever gets tired of the stories I tell her, I know who I’m coming to to pick up a few new ones.”

Garian gives a small nod, “Very good, guardsman. However, I’d like you to remain on light duty until you are completely recovered. If you push yourself too much you’ll only be sick longer.”

He takes a sip of wine and continues to write in the book.

Haft nods.  “If you prefer, sir.”

Megren asks, “They both look like they could use a game, don’t you think?”

Tyren replies casually, “I do a lot of thinking, actually. Too much, to hear some tell it.”

Megren says, “As if anyone but you could measure it.”

Tyren replies – though the pause just prior to it suggests it was not his initial response – “In any case, I daresay you think everyone looks like they could use a game.”

Garian takes another sip of wine. He crumples up the parchment with the list and throws it into the fire, gently blowing on the page.

Haft decides the soup is finally ready and moves the pot a little away from the heat.  He is startled by the flying parchment.  “Aiming for me, sir?”

Garian hehs, “Hardly, guardsman.”

Megren asks, “In this case, am I wrong?”

Tyren considers for a moment before he replies, “Perhaps not, I admit. Although if one is to happen, I’m afraid I must refrain from participating myself. I daresay there’s a little girl hoping for one of those aforementioned stories waiting for me, and it’s rather difficult to keep myself from acquiescing to such a request when it comes from her.”

Megren nods, rising to bow. “I’ll carry on the mission and then report back to you, then, Sir.”

Garian pauses a moment in his task to rise and bow before retaking his seat. He returns to scribbling in the book.

Tyren nods to Megren. “Very good, then. Good eve.” He nods toward Garian and Haft as well as he makes his way out.

Haft, noticing Garian’s motion, straightens and bows in his turn before stooping again to ladle soup into his bowl and retaking his seat.

Megren dodges between tables to join the captain and her fellow guardsman.

Garian continues the task of writing, occasionally taking a moment to enjoy a sip of wine or slice of bread.

Haft looks up from his bowl. “‘lo, Megren.”

Garian’s pace is methodical and relaxed. He nods to her as he works without looking up, “Guardswoman.”
Megren takes a seat a little closer to Haft than Captain Garian. “What are we working on, Captain?”

Haft glances toward the paper. Then he resumes eating.

Garian says, “Just some book keeping.”

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

Garian mms softly, the corners of his mouth twitching faintly. “Very much so.”

Haft says, “Musn’t criticize, Megren.  That could be our pay he’s calculating.  He threw the first sheet away when he realized he’d allotted you too much.”

Megren pulls a mock horrified face.

Garian snorts and pauses a moment to give Haft a look, “Come now Haft, whose to say that wasn’t /your/ pay?” He then returns to the book.

Haft says, “Well, that’s what I get for lying in my bunk all day.”

Megren says, “You are quite a laze-about.”

Garian chuckles softly.

Haft shrugs. “You try standing upright when you can’t breathe through your nose.” He takes another mouthful of soup.

Megren whispers loudly to the captain, “I suspect he’s faking.”

Garian replies dryly, “Apparently the medicine from the Infirmary hasn’t been disgusting enough to dissuade him then.–Perhaps they should try harder?”

Garian says, “Fish oil with garlic and onion maybe…”

Megren looks thoughtful.

Haft says, “Kairyn’s got me on some kind of tea three times a day.”

Garian says, “The tea doesn’t seem to be cutting it….”

Garian blows on the page, examining it thoughtfully.

Haft says, “At least my nose stopped running.”

Megren says, “I’ll have to talk to her.”

Garian nods, “Indeed” although exactly to whom he replies is unclear. He gives the page a few more moments to dry, finishing his wine and bread.

Haft asks, “Why?”

Megren says, “Prescribing you medicine that tastes good’s never going to reveal your ploy.”

Garian checks over his work one final time. He closes the book and the ink pot, slowly packing it away in the satchel.

Haft mutters something that sounds a bit like “pestilence”.

Megren grins, undeterred. She produces a small bottle of brandy. “Would some of this help?”

Haft makes a face. “I think it’s rather more than my throat wants just now.  Thanks though.

Garian tucks the book into the satchel. He spies the brandy and raises an eyebrow, “Where’d you get something like that?–Although that would fit the situation. I’ve heard a strong alcohol with honey and lemon can sweat an illness out.”

Megren says, “A friend brought it back for me.” She squints an eye. “It’s a bit strong for my taste.”

Haft says, “Can it?  I’m not familiar with that remedy.”

Garian nods, “Aye.” He looks at the bottle, “Well. That’s for those who like their bottle strong or for those using it as medicine.”

Garian nods, “At any rate, I need to begin my night watch. Good eve Haft. Megren.”

Megren says, “Oh, good night, captain.”

Haft says, “Goodnight, sir.”

Garian heads out.

Haft finishes his soup and sets the bowl aside.  “I’m willing to try the remedy if you know where to find honey and lemon.”

Megren taps her lips. “Maybe. Here.” She sets the bottle on the table. “I’ll be right back.”

Haft says, “all right.”

Megren disappears for a measurable time, returning with a mug, which she places on the table. Inside is a little honey and lemon. “Adrian says he has his doubts it’s any more effective than tea with the same, but he doesn’t figure it’s likely to hurt.”

Haft asks, “And I just…” he gestures to the bottle, “fill the rest of the mug with brandy?”

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

Megren shakes her head quickly. “No, no, no. It’s too strong. Just a little, and then pour tea over it if you prefer.”

Haft glances at the fire.  “I think they’ve let the kettle go as lukewarm as the soup, so I’ll take it straight.”. He pours a little brandy into the mixture and downs it in a couple of swallows.

Megren wrinkles her nose as she watches.

Haft makes a face as the remedy burns it’s way down.  “So,” he pauses to catch his breath, “what’s been happening while I’ve been abed?  Anything interesting?”

Megren leans her cheek in her hand as if considering what to report. After a moment, she decides, “You know Lanisen’s back?”

Haft stills, then nods.  “We passed each other in the infirmary a few days ago.”

Megren says, “I guess asking what’s between you isn’t going to lead to any answers.”

Haft turns to look at her, frowning. “An altercation, of sorts.  It was entirely my fault and I’m not currently in a position to mend it. I’d be obliged if you didn’t ask him about it, Meg.”

Megren’s brows peak a little. “Um, I can’t promise that, but I can promise not to pry.”

Haft scowls. “And what’s the difference between the two?”

Megren says, “If it seems it will be a comfort to him to speak, I will not deny him that comfort.”

Megren says, “And I don’t think you really mean you’d want me to.”

Haft pauses. “No, but I don’t see how the topic is likely to come up on its own.  He won’t bring it up, unless I miss my guess.”

Megren says, “You may be right.”

Haft says, “Well, we’ll leave it at that then.  I ain’t proud of how I acted, if you ever hear it all.”

Megren says, “I’m sure it’s a wound that can be made less sore with time.”

Haft heaves a sigh.  “I hope so.  I don’t like seein’ him tense up when he sees me.”

Megren grins sympathetically, “Try being friends with you both.”

Haft asks, “Challenging, is it?”

Megren says, “It has its rewards.”

Haft asks, “Puppies?”

Megren grins. “That’s one.”

Haft asks, “And the others?”

Megren says, “Well, plenty of drama, for a start.”

Haft glowers. “Nice.”

Megren giggles. “No,” she says more seriously. “Both of you are fierce on the side of your own.”

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

Haft stares into the fire.  “I guess.  I don’t know.  I don’t really know him.”

Megren confirms, “It’s so.”

Haft nods. “What are you fierce about?”

Megren gets a mysterious kind of smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

Haft looks confused. “I guess.”

Megren takes a thoughtful breath and says honestly, “I don’t know. Something having to do with respect, I suppose. Or acceptance. Those words are all vague.”

Haft asks, “A bit vague, yeah.  Respect for whom…or what?  And from whom?”

Megren waves a hand.

Haft says, “Well that’s useful.  You ever figure it out, you let me know.”

Megren sighs. “I guess… if we mean what makes us angry or what is it we want to defend or cultivate, for me it’s… I want people to understand and be content with themselves and each other. When they aren’t and I can’t figure why–” she lifts her shoulder. “–I don’t like it? It’s not the same kind of fierce, though, I don’t think.”

“‘Protective’?” Haft offers.

Megren shrugs.

Haft says, “That is what we do.  Protect.  Your desire just goes beyond the physical to…I don’t know, getting to the source, I guess.”

Megren tilts her head and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”

Haft says, “Well.” He stares into the fire.  “Well, those are good things to be passionate about.””

Megren watches him uncertainly.

Haft looks at her. “What?”

Megren says, “I dunno. You seem especially brooding at the moment.”

Haft blinks. “Am I?  No.  I’m just tired from being sick and trying hold up my end of the conversation.  I don’t mean to get you down.  I’m just…thinking.  And my throat’s still a little raw.

Megren nods. “Well, you don’t have to talk to me, if you’d rather. I can figure something to entertain myself easily enough.”

Haft says, “Going to play yourself a game of chess?  And if you lose, you can always turn the board around.”

Megren says, “See, /you/ know how to have a good time.”

Haft smirks. “I try.”

Megren says, “I’m afraid Sir Tyren is doomed to — what did he call it — an exercise, something like that.”

Haft says, “‘An exercise’? Oh, you mean using chess to sharpen his mind instead of enjoying it as a game?””

Megren says, “That’s right.”The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft replies, “It does seem an uncommon waste of a game that is clearly good for both.” He rises from his chair. “I should be getting back to my bunk.  Tell you what: one of you play yourself for the joy of the game and the other in order to sharpen your mind.  In the morning you can tell me who wins.”

Megren says, “You got it.”

Haft says, “Goodnight, Megren.””

Megren says, “Night Haft.”

Haft turns and leaves the mess.


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