Courting Disaster

In which Haft meets Lanisen’s little sister

Outer Ward

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You stand in the busy outer ward of Castle Anvard, full of people seeing to the needs of king and kingdom. There are market stalls along the outer wall, bustling with merchants and shoppers. Grooms work in the stables, tending to the horses there, and you hear the occasional bark of a dog from the kennels. The sounds of hammer hitting iron rings out from the blacksmith shop. There are stairs leading to the gate towers on the northern and southern corners of the outer curtain. To the east is the outer gatehouse, and the road leading into the realm of Archenland, and to the west another gate, leading to the inner gatehouse, the inner ward, and the main keep of Anvard. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Kennels , Northern Market , Outer Gatehouse , Southern Market , Stables , Blacksmith , Inner Gatehouse , South Stair , North Stair

Contents: A daughter of eve of rather short stature (Vinri) and A daughter of

eve wearing a braid.

Lunchtime has seen a rush of people to gather, eat, and visit. Vinri is snacking on a handpie at her stall, reading a letter as no one is nearby.

Haft steps out from the north tower, heading toward the blacksmith’s shop.

A daughter of eve wearing a braid comes walking into the ward, frowning at the busyness. She tries to peer over the crowd but that doesn’t work. Finally, she climbs on a barrel, looking over the heads of the people.

Vinri folds up the letter, a little smile on her lips. She tucks it away, looking around the crowds, and takes another bite of her pie.

Haft looks up, amused at the girl’s actions, then frowns slightly.  He walks over to Cassandra, looking up at her.  “Excuse me, Miss, but that might not be the safest place to stand.”

Cassandra looks down at the man, smirking, “Well, if you have a better way of me getting a look over the crowds of people, you can let me know.”

Vinri catches sight of the girl standing above the crowd and grins, waving her way.

Haft says, “Oh, it’s not that.  It’s just that the barrel you’re standing on is damaged.  We noticed it last night.  I guess it needs to be mended before someone gets hurt.”

Cassandra catches Vinri’s wave and waves back before looking down at the barrel. “Oh, well thanks.” She hops down.

Haft asks, “No trouble.  You looking for someone in particular?”

A daughter of eve wearing a braid nods, “My brother actually. He works here in the castle.”

Haft asks, “Oh?  Where’s he work?”

Cassandra crosses her arms, “He is a squire.”

Haft says, “Oh.  Might find him in the stables, I guess, if he’s tending his master’s horse…but more likely he’ll be past the inner gatehouse.”

A daughter of eve wearing a braid frowns, “Oh well, He’ll be bound to come out sometime. Thanks.”

Haft says, “You’re welcome.  Oh, don’t believe I caught your name.  I’m Haft.”

Cassandra sticks out her hand, “Cassandra.”

Haft takes her hand.  “Pleased to meet you.  I’m a member of the guard here.  You live in Andale?”

Cassandra d smiles, “Oh, I know Megren. I met her when me and my brother came back. And not quite, I am living in the inn for now until I get settled with a job.”

Haft returns the smile.  “Megren’s a friend of mine.  We often have duty together.  What’s your profession?”

Cassandra says, “Don’t have one yet.” She points to Vinri, “Vinri over there told me that I would be a good merchant.”

Vinri, seeing someone pointing her way, waves cheerfully again.

Haft looks up, then motions Cassandra to follow him as he approaches Vinri.  “Good day.”

Cassandra follows him and smiles, “Hey Vinri. How is business?”

Vinri exclaims, “Good day, Sir Guard, Cass! And very good this morning, a few ribbons and a couple necklaces.” She sets aside the pie. “I hope your mornings have been just as good?”

Haft says, “Well enough.  Cold’s just about cleared up.  Think the captain will let me back on full duty tomorrow.”

Cassandra replies, “I’m good.” She leans against the post again, casually eyeing the jewelry.

Vinri grins. “Good! And your order is all sent off,” she informs Haft.

Haft asks, “Wonderful.  I’m sure my nephew will enjoy it.  Thank you for taking the trouble.  When will I pay the remainder?”

Vinri asks, “When it’s been delivered, she’ll send me a letter with your brother-in-law’s mark to prove. I’ll send a note up to the castle when that comes.” Her attention turns to Cassandra. “Seen anything new since yesterday?”

Cassandra shakes her head, “Nothing worth noting. You haven’t seen Lanisen around, have you?”

Vinri taps her lips with a finger, then shakes her head regretfully. “Couple of times in and out of the kennels, but nothing recent. Sorry, Cass.”

Haft’s eyes widen slightly, but he turns and begins inspecting a piece of jewelry.

Cassandra sighs before grinning, “He is a hard man to track down sometimes. If you see him, can you tell him, I’m looking for him. He and I were going to talk to Lord Dar about that job.”

Haft says, “You’re planning to work here in Anvard then.”

Vinri takes a half-second glance towards Haft, but by her expression notices nothing amiss. “That one’s best for suitors, Sir Guard, just so you know,” she tells him with a light grin, then looks to Cassandra and smiles. “I’ll do that! Come back right after and tell me how that goes?”

Haft whips his hand away as though the pin has scorched him.  Then he makes a wry face at Vinri.  “And I suppose it’s inconceivable that I should be a suitor?”

Cassandra nods, “I will, Vinri.” She turns to Haft, “Yup, I am hoping to work in the stables.” She then giggles at his reaction.

Vinri gives Haft a charming grin. “Well, if I didn’t know before, I do now!”

Haft looks heavenward, shaking his head.  He then addresses Cassandra.  “You know much about horses?  I know very little myself, though I can ride at need.”

Cassandra shakes her head, “Nope, but I’m a fast learner. It sounds like it would be fun.”

Vinri shakes her head. “I’d never be able to work with animals that big. They’d step on me and never even notice.”

Haft smiles at Vinri’s comment.  “It seems like good, honest work.  Hard, but rewarding.  They’re beautiful creatures, and you won’t find better in Archenland I suppose.”

Vinri asks, “I thought Coghill was the place for horses?”

Cassandra grins, “I look forward to the challenge.”

“True, I’ve heard that,” Haft allows, “but I’m assuming the best of Coghill’s offerings belong to the king and his lords and knights, many of whom are in residence here.

Vinri waves a hand towards Cassandra. “I’m sure Cass will become the expert and let us know.”

Cassandra rubs her arms, “Perhaps.”

Haft asks, “Cold?”

Vinri allows, “If you decide you like it, at least.”

Cassandra shakes her head at Haft, “No, thank you.” She grins at Vinri, “Push comes to shove, I’ll just live with Lanisen.” She chuckles, “Though we haven’t lived together in years.”

Haft says, “Siblings can mostly put up with each other, I guess.  Look on the bright side.  You still won’t be sharing a bunkroom with two dozen men on alternating shifts.”  He doesn’t sound like his living arrangements bother him in the least.”

Cassandra shudders, “That sounds awful.”

Vinri considers Cass’s words. “Does he have a house? Or is he in the castle?” Eyeing Haft, she points at the other girl. “I agree. And very loud.”

Haft grins, thoroughly enjoying himself.  “About a quarter of ’em snore and some nights they come back from the inn hall and forget to be quiet.  Sweeter’n a lullaby.”

Cassandra shakes her head, “No thanks, I would rather have my own room.” She turns to Vinri, “I think he lives in the castle so maybe I can’t live with him.” She shrugs.

Vinri asks, “I can’t imagine they’d not let you.” She looks towards the resident castle-authority expectantly, then adds, “Though with that ruckus going on nearby, do you want to?”

Haft chuckles.  “Servants’ quarters aren’t all that close to the barracks.  The king’s got a better chance of hearing us than you would.”

Cassandra grins, “Good to know.” She sighs, “Well, I’m going to go check the kennels for Lanisen. It was nice meeting you, Haft. And nice to see you again, Vinri.”

Haft nods, looking thoughtful.  “Nice to meet you, miss.”

Vinri shakes her head. “The poor king…” Looking up with a smile, she waves to Cassandra. “Good luck!”

Cassandra gives a wave and then slips back into the crowd.

Cassandra walks eastward toward the gatehouse.

Haft asks, “I suppose protesting that I am not actually courting anyone is the fastest way to make certain that rumor spreads throughout the town?”

Vinri glances at him and lifts a brow. “I thought we’d just confirmed you are most certainly not?”

Haft raises a brow.  “I’m not.  But by the way you were laughing, I thought you’d taken my actions to mean the opposite.”

Vinri laughs and shakes her head. “No, no, I was laughing because of how quickly you dropped the pin. It was such a pretty one, too.” She hops off her barrel to straighten said pin. “Besides, I spread as few rumors as I can.”

Haft says, “Good to know.  And yes, it seems very fine.  I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a buyer.”

Vinri agrees, “You’re quite right. By the way, has your friend cheered up at all?”

Haft frowns a little.  “I’m…not sure.  In a way, I guess.  You know, I forgot to give her that charcoal.  I’ll need to amend that.”

Vinri sighs, giving a somewhat sympathetic half-smile. “Pity that it can’t be simple, isn’t it?”

Haft’s brow furrows, and his eyes flick to the kennels for an instant.  “Life rarely is.”

Vinri watches this, one brow quirking up, then smiles. “A philosopher, are you?”

Haft shakes his head.  “No.  Just lived a while.  What about you?”

Vinri opens her mouth in mock offense. “Have I lived a while? Are you trying to suggest I’m /old/, Sir Guard?”

Haft’s lips twitch.  “I didn’t have to live very long to learn better than you comment on a woman’s age.  I meant, are you a philosopher?”

Vinri laughs. “Very wise, though I like to think I’ve earned every grey hair I don’t yet have. And oh, hardly! A simple merchant through and through, I am.”

Haft says, “But an observer of people.  You couldn’t make a living else.”

Vinri grins. “Just like yourself, I reckon. Hard to be a guard-a good one, at least-who doesn’t know how to read the cues.”

Haft says, “True enough.  Speaking of which, it’s time I got into uniform.  Wall duty soon.  Have a good afternoon, Vinri.”

Vinri smiles as she picks up her pie and hops back onto her barrel. “You as well!”

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