Mild Indigestion

In which Haft briefs Megren on the falling incident

Megren stands on duty on the wall, watching the traffic down below in the Outer Ward.

Haft steps out from the tower, coming to join her. “Anything interesting?”

Megren looks up. “Nothing much.”

Haft says, “Wasn’t sure you’d still be on shift here today.”

Megren replies with a swift nod. “Last shift, actually. Well, without Sir Darrin, anyway.”

Haft says, “Ah, well, I’m honored to share it then. You excited?”

Megren takes a breath. “People keep asking that.”

Haft whips back, “You already bored to tears?”

Megren asks, “Those are all the options I have?”

Haft scrunches up his face and offers, “Mild indigestion?”

Megren points at him. “Mm.”

Haft says, “Yeah, if you don’t tell me, I’ll have to go with that.”

Megren tilts her chin. “Easier to let you believe what you like.”

Haft grunts. “When did you start taking the easy route?”

Megren gives him a charming smile.

Haft rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Fine, be inscrutable.”  He squints at some fuss at the edge of the ward, but it quiets down. “Have you heard yet what happened in the ward?”

Megren blinks, looking at him. “I didn’t get any reports–”

Haft turns to look at her. “Huh? Oh! Sorry, too vague.  Nothing like that. Just something that happened to me–of /course/ it did.

Megren returns her attention to the watch. “Oh, sure. What happened?”

Haft asks, “You ever had something happen where you weren’t sure what to do, but running away or crawling into a hole seemed like equally viable options?”

Megren looks up and to the left. “Hmm.”

Haft says, “Yeah, well try having Lanisen turn up just as his little sister falls on top of you.”

Dar makes his way along the wall, leaning a little forward with the force of the wind.Megren frowns. “I told you not to–” Seeing Lord Dar she bows and returns her attention to her watch.

Haft turns as Megren breaks off, and bows in turn. “Sir.”Dar inclines his head, the gesture serving as greeting to the pair of them. “I trust I do not interrupt? How stands the watch?”Megren says, “Quiet, Sir.”

Haft nods in affirmation.Dar gives rather grave thanks for the report. “That is as I hoped to find.”Megren asks, “Were you just checking in, Sir?”

Haft listens for Dar’s reply.Dar glances out over the walls. “I thought I might use the time, yes. I had a meeting which was cancelled–” His tone is far less enthusiastic at the prospect of free time than another man’s might be.Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “Well, you are welcome to join us in the interim if you like.”

You say, “Indeed.”Dar nods his thanks, leaning his lanky frame against the sheltered portion of the wall as if it was one of his more typical haunts. “I suppose I ought to enquire just what I happen to be joining. It was not my intent to break the course of your conversation.”

Megren glances at Haft. “We’re just on duty.”

Haft glances at Megren. “I had just mentioned an incident the other day. Nothing report-worthy. Someone took a tumble when that rotting barrel in the outer ward broke
up.”

Dar raises a sharp eyebrow. “A rotting barrel? Indeed? And did harm come to anyone as a result of the–tumble?”

Megren lifts her brows to convey her unknowing state.

Haft coughs. “No. The young lady fell…um…on top of me when I went to warn her off.  She was unhurt, and the pieces have been disposed of.”

Dar receives this information with very little change in expression. “I see–“Megren gestures to the ward. “Meanwhile, no further incidents of poorly maintained storage equipment to report.”

Dar’s mouth twitches very faintly at Megren’s addition to the conversation. “And I trust the merchant will be more careful in future. Barrels are more hazardous than he was evidently aware.”

Haft lets out his breath, amused.

Megren says, “Surely the case, Sir.”

Dar glances out again, over the rooftops of the town stretching below. “Dealing with such hazards serving as one of the many lesser known functions of the guard”, he observes.

Haft says, “Yes, the young lady offered to pay to replace it, but under the circumstances I didn’t think she could be held accountable for something already
deteriorating.”

Megren says, “It is a gloried profession, Sir, with many the hidden chance for honor.”

Dar nods to Haft. “That seems a reasonable response to me.” He glances to Megren, watching her a moment to determine whether or not she is making a jest. “Aye, and if that were known, we should not want for those eager to fill the ranks.”

Haft inquires, “Have you been in want of new recruits, Sir?

Megren leaves him no good indication either way, her expression no more nor less jovial
than usual.

Dar maintains his own unreadable expression with practiced ease. “We manage well with those we have; a guardsman who cares only for personal glory will find that recompense slow in coming.”

Haft nods. “Never really seemed like that’s the sort attracted to the position
anyway. Long, quiet watches, standing silently in the shadows…it’s for people who enjoy doing their work well so the people they protect can live their own lives free of worry.”

Megren gives Haft a small smile for this response before returning her attention to the ward below.

Dar nods his agreement. “That is so. Though no less important for passing unnoticed.” His attention follows Megren’s. “And what do you see below?”, he asks
her.

Megren points at a small grouping of people. “The woman who likes to say she’s been sold bad merchandise is buying potatoes. I saw the cart earlier when I was down below; they’re good, not that I’ve ever known that seller to hand out anything else.
Ribbon seller’s still sweet on on the girl that helps in the stable–you can see he’s got his eye out watching for her.” She indicates a young scruffy-looking boy. “He’s been known to thieve a couple times, but Perth made sure he got some food this morning and you can see Gearn’s watching him close, in case.”

Dar nods, seeming more than satisfied with this reply. “Sharp eyes and clear. If there were trouble afoot, you would know it by the break in their ordered pattern with time to intervene.”

Haft nods in agreement.

Megren responds with a small nod of her own, not taking her eyes off the crowd. “That’s the aim, anyway.”

Dar hehs. “It is rather like chess, seeing at least two moves ahead”, he comments. “Well, you to your work and me to mine. I will see that the servants send up your rations as I pass through the Ward.”

Haft bows. “Thank you Sir.”Megren bows as well, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Thank you, Sir.”

Dar inclines his head and, bracing himself against the wind once more, makes his way to the stairwell.

Haft says, “Well done. He was pleased.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side doubtfully, returning her eyes to the job.

Haft shrugs. “I was pleased, anyhow. You see very well.  But I think you were about to say something before.” There is a small frown in his voice. “You told me not to–what?”

Megren looks confused, still stuck in her surprise interview, and then understanding dawns on her. “Oh– talk to Cass.”

Haft scowls. “First off, you don’t ‘tell me’ what to do and not.  Second, It was me and Owin on duty there and he was already engaged with someone when she jumped on that barrel with all the delicacy of a rhinoceros. I went to warn her–I’d warned her about that one before–and the rest just…followed.”

Megren tilts her head in something like concession.

Haft eyes her, then lets it pass. “Anyhow, I fell on my back with her on top of me, and then Lanisen was stumbling up, asking if she was all right. And it was fine I guess, until…”Megren asks, “You tried to get up and couldn’t because you threw your old back?”

Haft makes a face. “Aha, very funny. No, I know how to take a fall. Admittedly I ain’t real well versed in doing it with someone else in the mix…no, after we got up she thanked me–and then asked me why I stare at her every time she comes into the ward!Megren tilts her head in concession again, as if to imply she makes a good point.

Haft sputters, “I stare at everyone! that’s sort of the idea.”

Megren says, “If you’re anything with her like you are with Lanisen, it’s not quite
indistinguishable.”

Haft ducks his head slightly. “I notice she’s around, sure.  But I don’t see how she can have picked up on it. I’ve only seen her three–maybe four times.

Megren asks, “So what happened?”

Haft rubs the back of his neck. “Nothing, really. He looked uncomfortable and I imagine I looked uncomfortable, and then she was off on something else and I got back to Owin.”

Megren nods thoughtfully. “And… that made you want to fall in a hole?”

Haft shrugs, mouth twisting wryly. “Or run. The latter was more practical.”

Megren says, “Well… I guess I’m glad you didn’t.”

You ask, “Didn’t?”

Megren says, “Uh, run. Or fall in a hole.”

Haft says, “I believe the running was covered in ‘getting back to Owin’. I mean, don’t mistake me, I’m not sorry I caught her–if that’s quite the right word–just that the whole rest of it felt awkward, and if he thinks I’m keeping an extra eye on his sister for some reason…” He shrugs.”

Megren rubs the back of her head uncomfortably. “Well, nothing to do about it but act right, I guess.”

Haft glances at her. “I should hope I have been.”

Megren nods.

Haft sighs. “Well, we’ll see.  Was just a strange day. We all have them.” He turns his gaze back to focus on the ward.

Megren looks half-relieved to find Owin approaching them to cover her.

Haft nods in welcome to Owin. “Been a pleasure sharing your last watch,” he adds to Megren.

Megren hesitates, then gives him a small smile. “Yeah. Thanks.”

Haft smiles back before turning again to brief Owin on activity below.

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