Guardswoman

In which Megren is the bearer of news


Northern Wall Walk

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You stand on Anvard’s Northern Wall Walk. From here you have a view of travellers approaching from the north and northeast. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals the bustle of people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle.

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You can go: Gate Tower <E>, Outer Wall Walk <S>, Watchtower <W>

Haft is talking to another guard on the Northern Wall Walk.  Duties for the morning completed, he turns and heads toward the gate tower.

Megren hops up the steps, her eyes searching the limited space of the walk as soon as it is in sight. She skips toward Haft to close the space between them. “Haft!”

Haft looks up in surprise.  “Megren?  Has something happened?”

Megren’s brows lift. “Oh! Sorry, no. Or, well, sort of. Nothing bad. I was hoping I could talk to you.”

Haft asks, “Oh.  Well, I’m just off duty.  What is it?”

Megren glances at the other guard and tugs Haft a little further along the walk where they can talk a little more privately. “Um.” She wrinkles her nose. “Um, Sir Darrin asked if I’d be his squire.”

Haft gapes.  He blinks a few times.  “He’s…done what?”

Megren nods, watching his face. “What, um– what do you think?”

Haft continues to blink, then his face breaks into a grin.  “Meg, that’s remarkable!  Congratulations!”

Megren’s brows lift with something between relief and surprise. “Do you think so? I– I haven’t said I would, yet. He said I could think about it.”

Haft takes her by the shoulders.  “I think it’s an extraordinary opportunity.  I’ll miss you terribly, though.  But he’s mostly in residence here…what do you plan to do with your training, if you say yes?”

Megren asks, “Well, that’s… that’s sort of what I’m not sure of. I mean, could I– would it make me a better guard, do you think? Could I do both? I don’t want to do it if it’s just a nice word for people to hear and less good work attached. You know?”

Haft releases her, nodding thoughtfully.  “I guess…it depends.  What does Sir Darrin do?  When he’s not playing embarrassing games of cubes, I mean.  Whatever he applies himself to, you’ll be part of that.”

Megren nods slowly. “Yeah…” She thinks about this. “Yeah, that’s true. And sometimes he /is/ on the wall with the guards, after all.”

Haft says, “As far as making you a better guard…such a recommendation won’t hurt your chances for advancement, if you’re interested in that.  I imagine it’ll make you a better rider, in any event.  You’ll have charge of his horse and gear.  That’s not wasted training.”

Megren concludes, “You’d do it in my place.”

Haft tilts his head with a smile.  “Every little boy wants to work for a knight, Meg, even one who’s got his heart set on guard work.  I’m happy here, and it’s here I want to be.  But twenty years younger, with a different past, aye, I’d do it.”

Megren nods again, still looking nervy and uncertain, but encouraged nonetheless.

Haft continues, then adds seriously.  “But you’re not me.  We don’t think the same.  And I think what I’d take as a boon might not sit the same with you…what’s worrying you, Megren?”

Megren turns to look out over the court, leaning her forearms on the wall. “I… really love being a guard. I’m good at it.”

Haft nods.  “You are.  You’ve got a way with people that sets them at ease–‘cept me.  You like to keep me on my toes–and you do your work very well.  So I guess you should ask yourself what he’s offering that appeals.  Travel?  Maintaining justice beyond Anvard?  If Coghill appealed to you when we visited, that’s a factor, cause you’ll be seeing it more.  Beyond horsemanship, the skills you’re likely to pick up.  You’re already good with a blade, and working for Sir Darrin might detract from time spent studying that, or you might gain a new teacher, if he’s skilled.”

Megren chews the inside of her lip. “He’s set to be steward when Lord Dar moves over to Coghill.”

Haft looks surprised.  “That’s news to me.  He’ll be doing a lot of administrative work too then.  But Lord Dar’s not leaving us anytime soon?”

Megren tilts her head. “I think… they’re not sure.”

Haft looks confused.  “So, you don’t mean upon Lord Shar’s death then…sooner than that?”

Megren nods, “Because they want to give Lord Dar time to learn ruling under him, I think.”

Haft says, “Ah.  Well…if you’re here when he takes that role, you’ll be needing to brush up on your letters, probably even learn some mathematics.  It’s a different business, stewarding, than being a knight errant.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft asks, “Does that interest you?”

Megren says, “Well, I’ve never done it.”

Haft says, “No.  I guess you’ll find out if you hate it when you try then.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side.

“You’ll never know if you don’t try,” he reminds gently.

Megren nods, pressing her lips together. “I know. I think– I think I want to do it. But it feels like such a big thing if I say I will and then I decide after all I’d rather not.”

Haft says, “Well, it’s about five years of squiring, yes?  You can bear education that long.” Haft’s lips twitch.

Megren squints a good-natured eye at him. “I think five years seems like a lot less time to you than it does me, grandpa.”

Haft smiles.  “I hear there are skin creams the ladies use to diminish wrinkles if five years takes too much out of you.”

Megren responds to this with a noiseless snort.

Haft leans against the stonework.  “I guess the question is this:  will you look back and regret saying no?”

Megren looks back over the ward. “I would, wouldn’t I? Surely I would. I’d wonder, at least.”

Haft says, “Wondering’s not the worst thing…it’s regret that’s hard.  You’ll have to think it over and decide.  Might be that you need to ask him a few more questions.”

Megren nods. “I will. I’d meant to, anyway. How long, and what he expected, and why me and not– Perth, for instance.”

Haft says, “Well that bit’s obvious.”

Megren raises her brows at him.

Haft says, “He needs a co-conspirator in jesting.”

Megren rolls her eyes with a small grin.

Haft leans his chin on his hand.  “Perhaps I’m going about this the wrong way and ought to be discouraging you.  The pair of you would be a menace to dull, law-abiding citizens.”

Megren says, “I’ll tell him you said.”

“Please do,” says Haft with apparent unconcern.  “I have no fear of Sir Darrin of the Blossoms.”

Megren gives him a look, “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

Haft smirks.  “Well, maybe if you tell him I called him that.”

Megren says, “On my list.”

Haft says, “You might want to wait till after you’ve asked him all your questions.”

Megren nods. “How long, what are you expecting, and Haft warned me off, got it.”

Haft snorts.  “I did not warn you off.”  More seriously, he adds, “You don’t need my approval, but I’ll support whatever you decide.”

Megren looks at him. “Thanks. I just… needed to talk to someone I knew cared for guarding as much as me.”

Haft says, “I guess…it might be our loss, for a while. But don’t mean it’s forever.”

Megren nods. “Yeah.” She pushes back off the wall. “I got duty downstairs in only a bit.”

Haft says, “I’ll see you later.  Make sure you tell me soon as you decide.”

Megren says, “I will.”

Haft smiles.  “Good day, Guardswoman.”

Megren gives him a crooked kind of grin and slips back off for the staircase.

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