Young

In which we glimpse the possibility of a bright future

In which we glimpse the possibility of a bright future

Inner Wall Walk

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You stand on Anvard’s Inner Wall Walk. From here you have a view of both the Inner and Outer Wards. 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. In the Inner Ward you see nobles and staff, mingling happily or going about their own business.

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You can go: Toward the Trapdoor Opening , Southern Watchtower

Haft stands on the wall walk, perusing the Outer Ward from above.

Megren hops up the steps, looking down the southern and inner wall walks. Finding Haft on the second one, she elects for that path.

Haft turns at the sound of approaching footsteps. He nods. “Megren.”

Megren joins him, leaning against the outer ward wall. “How’s the shift?”

Haft looks back out over the ward. “Fine. Quiet.”

Megren asks, “This what the mess is gonna be like from now on?”

Haft frowns, lowering his head slightly to stare at the top of the wall. “For now.  Or I take my food and eat elsewhere,” he responds quietly.

Megren says, “I don’t love that set of options.”

Haft turns to her. “Frankly, neither do I.”

Megren gives him a regretful look.

Haft shrugs. “I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to place you in the middle.  I ain’t asking you to…choose or anything.  You know that?”

Megren says, “Yeah. I know. It’s just — I think you two could get on, if you wanted. I’m not saying you ever will or… or trying to make you try, or anything.”

Haft looks at her steadily for a moment, then says, “I’d try, Meg.  I’m not so proud I’d perpetuate this mess on purpose, but for the time being I have no other choice.”

Megren asks, “Why?”

Haft says, “Because in plain speech I’ve been ordered to stay away from him.” He sighs. “By Sir Colin and Captain Garian both.  You were there when Sir Colin told me to stay away from the kennels.  He never rescinded that order Megren.”

Megren says, “The mess… isn’t the kennels.”

Haft says, “Sir Colin said the kennels, by which he plainly meant for me to stay away from Lanisen. And the Captain backed him up by telling me to stay away from Lanisen specifically.  I almost left the mess when I saw him there, except I can’t imagine it’s anyone’s intent that I don’t eat.  Of course when the order was given he was still eating in the servant’s hall.”

Megren rubs the spot between her brows, making a dissatisfied noise.

Haft says, “It needs addressing.  I know it.  But from what Gearn said, Sir Colin’s still in Carmichael, and I ain’t gonna ask the Captain to go against him.  It’ll have to keep.”

Megren admits, “That’s fair.”

Haft nods, though he doesn’t look happy. “That what you wanted to talk to me about?”

Megren says, “Oh– no.” She wrinkles her nose at him. “Um. It’ll get out soon once the captain’s heard, but I wanted to say to you first.”

Haft cocks his head. “Yes?”

Megren says, “I talked to Sir Darrin.”

Haft says, “And you’ve decided.”

Megren nods.

Haft says, “Sir Darrin must be crestfallen.”

Megren can’t hold back a grin. “Entirely.”

Haft smiles. “Not nearly as crestfallen as the rest of us. How’d you decide it was what you wanted?”

Megren says, “Um?” She goes a bit pink. “Um, he… thinks–” She gives him a furtive look. “He said he hopes some day for me to be a knight.”

Haft stares at her for a moment, evidently stunned. “That…goodness Meg, you’re serious?”

Megren says, “I know. It’s– I’m not saying I think it will happen. I know it probably won’t. He’s kind of– well, anyway. I don’t– I think it’s the right choice.”

Haft narrows his eyes marginally. “He’s kind of what?”

Megren says, “Um, I guess, idealist maybe? I mean, he does have a lot of influence and he does know how these things work, but sometimes I think he’s a little bit… in his head. I don’t mean in a bad way.”

Haft looks amused. “The word you are searching for, I believe, is ‘young’. I’ve observed similar idealism in you. It’s no bad thing, just needs to be tempered, and that’ll come in time.”

Megren pulls a face at him.

Haft grins. “If you are going to call me ‘grandpa’ then you’ll have to put up with such observations.  Besides, where would we be without young idealists? Why our northern neighbor’s been ruled by them lo these past fifteen years, and they prosper.” He turns more serious. “For what it’s worth, I think you’ve made the right choice too.”

Megren’s reply is equally serious, “Do you?”

Haft says, “Yes. When I asked you some time ago what you liked about being a guard, You said it was the opportunity to help people. Working with Sir Darrin and possibly becoming a knight yourself will give you a wider scope for your talents.”

Megren nods. “That’s… that’s what I’m hoping. I think it’s going to be narrower for a while at first, though, and that’s going to be hard.”

Haft replies. “That may be, but you’ll be learning new skills too, and I don’t think those will go to waste.”

Megren says, “Yeah. That’s– when he said he wanted me to be a knight, that’s how I knew that’s what he wanted for me, not just… a friend to follow him around and make jokes about flowers.” She adds hastily, “I mean, I know that’s reductive and of course it’s not what was happening, but I still… I still needed the confirmation, I guess.”

Haft looks thoughtful. “I think…that that is very good reasoning.  I hadn’t thought of it in such blunt terms, but you make a good point.

Megren looks out at the ward. “Anyway, even if it doesn’t work out the way he said… now I know we’re looking toward the same sort of thing.”

Haft says, “Yes, well, it will be an adventure anyway.” He sighs dramatically. “Vinri will be very pleased.”

Megren asks, “Vinri?”

Haft’s mouth twitches. “Because now I’m going to need to buy a second handkerchief.”

Megren blinks at him. “What?”

“To give to you,” he replies cheekily. “Every knight should carry a favor into battle.”

Megren barks a laugh. “Please don’t give Greta any more fuel.”

Haft wrinkles his nose. “Perish the thought.”

Megren looks at him. “If I’m ever a knight, you can get me a handkerchief.”

Haft smiles fondly. “I’ll hold you to it.”

Megren pushes back off the wall and taps him in the arm. “Anyway. Keep attention, guardsman.”

Haft replies, “The butcher’s boy just delivered a pair of hams, there are two new vendors and one of them is packing up early, and the little girl eying the sweets isn’t a pickpocket; her mother gave her a coin five minutes ago.  Observant enough?”

Megren grins. “Not bad for an old man.”

Haft says, “I do my best.  Off with you now. Go break the captain’s heart. And congratulations.”

Megren wrinkles her noise at the mention of the captain, but she says, “Thanks. I’ll probably have a few more regular shifts while we reshuffle the schedule. And then, obviously, when Sir Darrin is on.”

Haft nods. “Good you’ll still be about to keep me on my toes.”

Megren says, “Somebody’d better. Gearn’s terrible at it.”

Haft laughs.

Megren takes a breath and releases it. “All right. Thanks for– thanks for listening to me spout off.”

Haft says, “Course. That’s what friends do.”

Megren smiles brightly. “Yeah.” She taps the side of her leg with her fist. “I’ll see you.”

The corners of Haft’s mouth edge up in response.  “See you.”

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