Leadfoot and the Case of the Vanishing Legs

In which Haft’s veractiy–and skill as a dance partner–is called into question

Ziel’s Practice Grounds
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You stand in another bit of cleared ground, just off Vechter’s Field, and obviously a part of it.  Ziel, a young Son of Adam, sits on his chair, generally snoozing unless he’s pestered for a target.  Behind him is a pile of straw targets, some new, some half-made, some completely destroyed, ready to be taken apart and remade, if only Ziel would wake up and get to work. There are several stands at different heights, scattered across the clearing. It appears that the targets are affixed to these, once purchased.

The only easy way to leave is to go through Vecter’s Field to the east.  The rest of the area is hemmed in by conifers.
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You can go: Vechter’s Field <E>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle);
Straw Target; and Ziel.

The Practice Grounds are almost empty except for the occasional ogre-like man, pushing their different ways towards their targets. But around the corner, Abrielle is there, hair in a messy (not her usual) ponytail, hitting and kicking a target nearing it’s end. She seems pretty oblivious to her (slightly frightening) surroundings.

Haft wanders onto the field, scanning the occupants, but looking a bit disappointed until his gaze comes to rest on Abrielle and the expression turns to one of surprise.

Abrielle continues punching and kicking, not noticing Haft.

Haft approaches her, coming up alongside and out of range so as not to startle her. “Has that target done you some grievous wrong, then?”

Abrielle, even with his efforts, jumps. She pauses for a moment to catch her breath before shaking her head. “No. What are you doing here?”

Haft says, “I come down occasionally to see if any of the comers are talented swordsmen.  it never hurts to practice beyond the walls of Anvard.”

Abrielle ahs and rubs the pack of her arm across her forehead. “See anyone interesting?”

Haft shakes his head. “Only you.  These are village lads, mostly. They’ll box for coin or to impress the others.  They’re not swordsmen.”

Abrielle shrugs. “I suppose you are right…”

Haft whispers conspiratorially, “To tell the truth, some of ’em aren’t boxers either.”

Abrielle laughs and then stops suddenly. “I shouldn’t laugh. I hardly am.” She looks around though at the men and whispers back. “But again, I suppose you are right.” She points to one man who looks like he is having a fit.

Haft looks. “Put your hand down.” He continues, “You know, when they say practice makes perfect…it’s also possible to perfect bad habits till they’re ingrained.”

Abrielle wiggles her finger at the man for a moment longer before putting it down. “Well…I hope that isn’t me.”

Haft scowls ate her gesture, then asks, “Have you had any instruction?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Not really…I think Adrian may have tried to help me once.” She puts a finger to her cheek. “But I may be wrong about that.” Shaking her head she looks back at the target. “Doesn’t really matter though.”

Haft folds his arms. “Why is that?”

Abrielle shrugs. “Because I am just like all the guys in here…nothing is going to come from what I am doing. It is just to relax.”

Haft purses his lips, then seems to accept this logic. “Fair enough.”

Abrielle nods. “Want to help me finish this one off?”

Haft looks balefully at the target. “I suppose I can’t convince you that I’m tuckered from hard training in the practice room when I’ve just admitted to looking for a sword fight.” He removes his swordbelt, laying it aside, and steps forward to strike at the target.

Abrielle laughs and hits the target.

Haft swings again in his turn, alternating blows with hers.

Abrielle follows Haft’s lead and alternates her hits.

Haft talks between blows. “Does he have a name?”

Abrielle’s eyebrows crease. “The target? Joe.”

Haft looks unimpressed. “Joe?”

Abrielle raises an eyebrow. “You don’t like it?”

Haft shrugs. “It’s less interesting than some Megren and the guard have come up with for their dummies.” He frowns. “On the other hand, it’s less bad than some of the monikers she’s bestowed on the poor dogs in the kennels.”

Abrielle shrugs. “I am not feeling in the most interesting of moods.” She looks over to him. “Care to tell me a few of the names?”

Haft tilts his head. “Of the targets or the dogs?”

Abrielle says, “Either.”

Haft says, “Old Strawbelly, for one, and Leadfoot.  He’s a rather poor dancer, you know.”

Abrielle stops hitting suddenly. “A poor dancer? You danced with it?” She hits the target again with all her might.

Haft says, “Every fight is a dance.  especially in swordplay, it’s best to ensure that you’re the one leading.”

Abrielle ahs. “Still, you don’t dance outside of that?”

Haft looks surprised at the turn in conversation. “Not lately, why?”

Abrielle shrugs. “Just asking.”

Haft considers. “I danced with my niece a couple months ago?  Does that count? And before that…” he breaks off with an amused smirk.

Abrielle smiles. “That counts! So sweet…” She notes his smirk and tilts her head. “What is that about?”

Haft says, “Prior to that, I danced a jig with Megren in the ward, for a dare.”

Abrielle ahs and turns to hide her smile.

Haft asks, “What about you?”

Abrielle shrugs. “Last time was with Adrian. We used to do it a lot.”

Haft says, “Sounds nice.  Nicer than dancing with Leadfoot at any rate.”

Abrielle smiles. “It was…and once his business is done, I am sure we will continue to do so.” She gives the target a few more whacks.

Haft glances around. “You get many odd looks from the fellows here?

Abrielle looks around. “I don’t think so…”

Haft nods. “That’s good.”

Abrielle looks over. “Why would they?”

Haft opens his mouth and then closes it again rapidly. “Never mind.”

Abrielle looks at him questioningly for a moment before going back to the target.

Haft resumes pummeling the target.

Abrielle looks over. “You sure know what you are doing.”

>>> Abrielle smacks Straw Target with her fist!

The target falls apart completely, leaving only a heap of straw.  Ziel wakes up and sweeps up what remains of it, and then goes back to his nap.

Haft says, “Well, I’ve been practicing since I was six.  You haven’t.”

Abrielle nods. “That is true…knots were my thing.”

Haft asks, “Do you still find much use for them?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Nope. Not at all.”

Haft says, “I used to see some craft work in Narnia.  Folks would weave items using lots of knots.  Make colorful pouches, mats…there was a gain who sold them at fairs.”

OOC> Haft says, “Narnia has macrame!”
OOC> Haft says, “we all knew the fauns were a bunch of hippies”
OOC> Abrielle says, “haha”

Abrielle tilts her head. “Really?” She thinks about this for a moments and then sighs. “I think I would really like Narnia.”

Haft frowns. “That makes you unhappy?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “No…I was just thinking.”

Haft asks, “Bout what?”

Abrielle shakes her head. “Nothing important.” She looks off. “Want to go get some food?”

Haft shrugs. “I could eat.”

Abrielle nods and begins walking.

The Narrow Gate Hall
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The Hall of the Narrow Gate is brightly lit by a large chandelier, and by torches on the walls.  A bar runs along the length of the south wall.  Behind the bar stands Dranken, the Barman, polishing a glass.  The wall behind him holds several bottles, and racks of glasses.  There is also a menu offering drinks and food. The north wall is dominated by a cheerful stone fireplace.

The rest of the room is filled with tables and stools, in little clusters all over the scuffed wooden floor.  An arch leads to the Anteroom to the south.
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You can go: The Anteroom <S>
Contents: A daughter of eve with a red streak in her brown hair (Abrielle);
Dranken, the Barman; Pricelist; Sign — Rooms, 500 coins per day; and Wolves
and Foxes Game Set.

Haft follows Abrielle to the Narrow Gate Hall and promptly sits down at a corner table.

Abrielle watches Haft as he takes a seat and goes to order.

Abrielle takes the food and comes back to Haft. She sits and proceeds to fix her hair.

Haft considers for a moment before ordering some soup.

Abrielle finishes and eats some of her sausage. “So tell me, how was it that Megren got you to play a game that forced you to do a dare?”

Haft ducks his head slightly.  “Sir Darrin was involved.  The two of them can be fairly persuasive.”

Abrielle smiles. “You seem to fall into their games quite easily.”

Haft looks at her. “No doubt I shouldn’t.  It was stupid of me.”

Abrielle shakes her head. “The dancing part not so much…the swimming part, yes.”

Haft’brow furrows. “Sorry?”

Abrielle sighs. “The dancing was not stupid…right? The swimming was a bad idea.”

Haft says, “The swimming wasn’t part of a game.”

Abrielle eats a sausage. “Then what was it?”

Haft shrugs. “Fun?”

Abrielle ehs and continues eating.

Haft says, “The mistake was in walking back to Anvard in the rain, while you three dried off in here. But I didn’t have much choice.”

Abrielle nods. “How is Megren? I haven’t seen her since that day.”

“Quite well,” Haft says easily.

Abrielle smiles. “Good to hear.”

Haft takes a mouthful of soup.

Abrielle looks out the window, squinting.

Haft turns his head to follow her gaze.  “Something interesting?”

Abrielle shakes her head and returns to her sausage again.

Megren walks into the tavern, heading for Dranken, with whom she exchanges a few pleasant words and some coins, though no goods are exchanged in return.

Haft looks up as Megren enters the hall, noting her interaction with Dranken. “Speaking of Megren…”

Abrielle follows his gaze. “Did you whisper her name?”

Megren finishes speaking with Dranken and looks to move toward the door, but, catching sight of Haft and Abrielle, she offers them a greeting instead.

Haft raises a hand. “Not staying?”

Megren closes the distance between them. “I can! What are you two up to this evening?”

Abrielle shrugs. “Not much. We are beating up a target a bit ago.”

Megren looks between them with brows raised.

Haft moves over to make room.  “The target had it coming.”

Abrielle smiles. “We totally got him.”

Megren says, “Congratulations.”

Haft says, “We thought we’d celebrate by sitting down.”

Megren finds a third chair and pulls it up. “A time-honored tradition. May I?”

Abrielle also scoots over. “Please.”

Haft takes another mouthful of soup.

Megren sits. “I realized I didn’t get to ask when we last talked Haft, but you look better?”

Haft looks up. “Oh, my cold?  Yes, I’m quite recovered.”

Abrielle eats some sausage.

Megren looks relieved, perhaps at the implication that she has not been so rude, in that case. “Good. Just in time for us to dump you back into the ocean.”

Haft’s mouth twitches. “Abrielle was just condemning me for that.”

Abrielle shrugs. “Only a little bit…

Megren, you should tell me about dancing with Haft.”

Megren asks, “About dancing with–?”

Haft lays down his spoon and leans his chin on his hand, waiting to see how this exchange plays out.

Abrielle says, ” Apparently it was some sort of dare.”

Megren narrows her eyes in thought and then her brows suddenly lift. “Oh, you mean his first time with the darts. I’d forgotten. Um?” She looks at him. “It was just your usual dancing.”

Haft says, “There.  You see?  I am a perfectly capable dancer.”

Abrielle shrugs. “I guess so.”

Haft scowls. “And what is that supposed to mean?”

Megren says, “Oh, that’s what you meant? No, I recall you being quite terrible, Haft.”

Abrielle smiles at Haft. “The truth comes out.”

“That,” Haft says pointedly, “is a downright lie.”

Megren tilts her head, undeterred, and crosses her arms with a self-satisfied grin. “Prove it.”

Abrielle looks at Megren and mumbles something to herself.

Abrielle mumbles “… … that.”, to Abrielle.

Haft blinks. “What, here in the hall?”

Megren gestures to an empty table top.

Abrielle can’t contain her laughter but she stops soon enough.

Haft rolls his eyes and doesn’t bother to respond.

Megren says, “You see, Abrielle. Quite awful, really. No sense of rhythm at all. They say two left feet, right? Two wooden feet more like.”

Abrielle nods once. “So it would seem.”

Haft says, “If you doubt me, ask Sir Darrin.  He was keeping time.  I imagine you’d trust the word of s knight.”

Megren looks unsure whether the knight in question would side with her or corroborate Haft’s story.

Abrielle eats some sausage and looks between the two of them.

Haft asks, “So, that settled?”

Megren says, “That’s between you and Abrielle, I’m sure.”

Abrielle smiles. “I think it is settled. I wouldn’t want you to dance on the tables.”

Megren squints an eye at her.

Haft says, “Remind me never to tell either of you anything again. You just turn it back on me.”

Abrielle shakes her head and goes quiet.

Haft says, “Also, knowing Megren, she’s already sawed through one of the table legs.”

Megren makes a face at him. “That’s mean.”

Abrielle looks under their table and the tables around them. “They look fine to me.”

Haft says, “One of the men in my old regiment did that once–sawed through the bed legs of another guard.  The Captain docked him two week’s pay.  Never did see the Captain so mad…well, maybe one time.”

Abrielle shakes her head. “That is awfully mean.”

Abrielle gets up from the table. “I need to be going. Lewis will be wondering where I am…either that or I need to go find him.”

Haft says, “Well, it’s not nearly as far to the floor from there as a tabletop…the fellow actually…oh…sure, Abrielle.”

Abrielle smiles at Megren and then to Haft. “Maybe you can tell me the rest of this story later…I did not mean to cut you off.”

Haft waves her away. “Later.”

Abrielle nods. “Have a good day.”

Megren says, “Oh, have a good day, Abrielle. Give Lewis our greeting.”

Abrielle nods. “I will.”

Abrielle walks into the Anteroom of the Narrow Gate.

Megren watches her go before turning to Haft. “I’ll hear the end of the story.”

Haft turns back to Megren. “Anyway, the man got into bed and was fast asleep before anything happened.  Then I guess he rolled over and WHUMP.  Gave a yell like the world was ending, then tumbled out of the bed.

Megren covers her mouth. “That’s terrible.”

Haft unsuccessfully tries to fight a smile.  “Woulda just been a good lark if he hadn’t damaged property.  Don’t know what he was thinking.” He frowns. “And I still haven’t worked out when he managed to saw with no one seeing.”

Megren says, “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”

Haft asks, “You don’t believe me?”

Megren asks, “Well how would he have?”

Haft leans on his hand again. “All right, maybe I’ve a theory.”

Megren leans her forearms on the table. “Tell me.”

Haft shakes his head, “Riddle it out. There’s really only one explanation.”

Megren says, “Yeah… he didn’t do it.”

Haft asks, “Or…?”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know. Did it a bit at a time? Maybe that’s why it didn’t fall right off. Wasn’t sawed all the way through.

Haft says, “Probably, but that doesn’t explain how he hid what he was doing, Saws make noise.”

Megren asks, “Yodeling?”

Haft laughs heartily.  “Might cover the sound, but more likely to draw attention than not.”

Megren waves a hand.

Haft pushes away his empty bowl and rises from the table. “I’ll give you some time to mull it over. I should be getting back.”

Megren rolls her eyes, grinning. “You’re faking.”

Haft smiles. “I’m not.  Good day, Meg.” He heads toward the door.

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