In which Kasper is the only calm one

In the Stable
The inside of the stable smells of fresh hay and straw, and horses.  The
marshalls have apparently been hard at work, tending to the horses and
keeping the stalls clean.  The north wall is lined with probably twenty
stalls, some of which appear to be housing horses and some of which are
cleaned and ready to house the horses of visiting nobles and friends of the
Kings and Queens.  Each occupied stall door is marked with the name of its
occupant.   The south wall here is lined with neatly hung tack — bridles,
saddles, and harnesses — and twine-bound bales of hay and straw.  There are
several barrels of oats and other grains here, and at the far end, tucked
away, a large chariot with ornately carved decorations.  There is a wide set
of double doors leading out to the stable yard from here.
You can go: Out to the Yard <S>
Contents: A son of adam walking with a limp (Colin); A son of adam with blue
eyes (Peridan); and The Breastplate of Lady Raven.

Colin reaches through the door and grabs his cousin’s collar, not hearing his words. “Let me out, Peridan.” He warns, his tone dark.

Peridan grunts again as he is pulled back towards Colin. He is basically laying on the crate at this point, ”

Colin, I really do not want to pull rank.”

Haft enters the stable at a trot, a barn Cat at his heels. His eyes widen as he takes in the scene. “My lords!”

Colin grinds out. “You can’t keep me in here forever!”

Peridan is able to free himself of Colin’s grasp. He slides off the crate as Haft enters. He glances at Haft, “Ah, Haft, just in time.”

Colin lets go of Peridan and makes a disgusted noise. He turns his back and moves to the corner of the stall and slides to the ground out of sight, drawing his legs up and hugging his knees. Kaspar uncertainly sniffs at Colin.

Haft scowls. “In time for what?”

Kaspar steps forward to stick his head out of the stall and eye the two men. The horse is clearly confused at all the noises and tension in the air.Peridan walks over to Haft and mutters to him.

Peridan mumbles “If you could be so kind and keep what happens here strictly between us?”, to Haft.

Peridan mumbles “… … … be so … … … … … here … … us?”, to Haft.

Colin just goes silent, completely shutting down. He stares at the back of the stall and doesn’t move.

Haft frowns at Peridan, not offering affirmation. “What /is/ happening here?”

Peridan turns back to the stall, “A talk that should have happened years ago.” He climbs onto the crate, glancing into the stall. Once pinpointing where Colin is sitting, he jumps off the crate. He slides down the outside wall so he is back to back with Colin, the stall wall dividing them.

Colin is silent.

Haft raises his voice, eying Peridan uncomfortably. “Sir Colin, do you require assistance?”

Colin remains silent.

Peridan sighs, ”

Colin, the enemy that you are fighting is not in front of you, rather inside of you.”

Colin puts his hands over his ears and tucks himself further into the corner, turning his face to the wall and shutting everything out.

Haft lowers his voice, speaking to Peridan. “Sir, I really must protest. Surely you can have a civil conversation in your office?”

Peridan looks up at Haft, “I tried. He ran.”

Haft frowns, then dares, “So he ran. Sometimes that’s no bad thing. What right have you to force the issue, whatever it is?”

Peridan tips his head at Haft, “Maybe that is the problem, Haft. Sometimes, there needs to be someone who will give chase, no matter the circumstances. As for my right…I am his cousin and his friend.”

“Maybe there does, Sir,” Haft says, “but Sir Colin is a foreign guest in your ruler’s court. You are rather straining the bounds of hospitality, aren’t you?”

Peridan says, “Haft, Straining the bounds of hospitality would be throwing him in the dungeons.”

Haft claps a hand to his face.

Colin begins to mumble to himself as Kaspar sniffs his hair.

Colin mumbles “… … … … out…”, to Colin.

Colin mumbles “Please … me …”, to Colin.

Peridan responds to Colin, “That is the problem, Colin. Too many people have left you alone.”

Not hearing a request for aid from Colin, Haft slumps against the wall, waiting to see how this will play out.

Steady Kaspar shies a little away, jerking his head up when Colin yells, “Just let me /LEAVE/.”

Peridan says, “I would but you will ride off and Lady Avery and I are not ready quite yet.”

Colin’s reply is harsh. “I don’t want you going with me.”

Peridan shrugs, “Well, seeing how Lady Avery /does/ want to go with you, I have no say in the matter.”

Colin snaps, “Someone needs to tell her no.”

Peridan says, “Feel free when you see her. I doubt that will stop her though.”

Colin says, “She’s not going with me.”

Haft frowns. “Where exactly are you going, Sir?”

Colin replies, “I’m /trying/ to go /home/.”

Haft looks to Peridan.

Peridan adds, “And Lady Avery and I have decided to accompany him. But there has been a hiccup.” He jerks his head to the locked door. ”

Colin wants to leave now but we are not quite ready.”

Colin suddenly stands, ducking under Kaspar’s neck as he moves to the opening in the stall and grabs the top, beginning to climb through.

Peridan is on his feet in a flash. He looks at Colin before attempting to push him back into the stall. “I really do not have time for this, Colin.”

Colin looks at Peridan with complete betrayal on his features. “Get out of my way.”

Haft says, “And when was I to be told about this? It’s my–Sir!” He clarifies, “Commander, stop.” There is a note of warning in Haft’s tone.

Peridan turns to Haft, assessing him quietly. He turns back to Colin before moving the crate out of the way. “You make your own choices, Colin.” With that, he turns and walks away.

Colin’s breathing is very ragged as he reaches out and unlocks the stall, shoving it open and leading Kaspar out. His hands are shaking.

Colin’s eyes keep darting towards the door, afraid Peridan will return.

Haft sighs, looking defeated. “Sir? Are you…” He doesn’t seem to know how to finish the inane question.

Colin looks at Haft, then struggles as he gets ungracefully onto Kaspar’s back. “Don’t let them follow me, Haft. They need to stay far, far away from me. Protect them.” he gathers the reins, still shaking. He swallows, fighting dryness in his mouth.
Haft grabs for the halter, belying his own worry. “Sir, wait. Please. What’s going on? You’re not just going back to Anvard, are you?”

Colin draws great gasping breaths as he tries to get himself under control. “Why…why didn’t..Why didn’t anyone tell me who that Calormene was?”

Haft says, “Chlamash? I don’t know. He’s…well, I guess you know who he is. One of the attackers.”

Colin nods as Kaspar dances, on edge as he senses his master’s turmoil.

Haft says, “He surrendered to King Edmund. He’s under house arrest here.” He scowls. “And Lion help them all if he ever gets his hand around a real blade again. He’s an extremely dangerous man.”

Colin presses his lips together, his forehead creasing as he shakes his head. “I don’t understand…I don’t understand. He…he wanted to offer /amends/.”

Haft considers, then shrugs. “He wants to be allow the freedom to walk without a guard, I expect. It wouldn’t do for him to just insist he was following orders, which is most of what he’s said to me…why should anything that worm says distress you so?”

Colin rubs the back of his neck, halting when he reaches the bandage. He rips it off and flings it aside. ”

Peridan’s angry at me. Said I need to learn to forgive.” he says, once more his face flashing with betrayal and hurt.
Haft winces at the removal of the cloth. ”

Peridan sees good in everyone,” he offers. ” But he’s a Narnian now. It wasn’t his home being attacked. Even Lady Avery speaks to the man, and seems to forget she’d be a slave under Calormene rule if he’d had his way. Forgiveness…” He shakes his head. “We all need it, I guess, sooner or later, but I don’t trust that one.”

Colin rubs his eyes, trying to get his breathing under control. “I can’t stay here…”

Haft inquires gently, “Why not, Sir? A spat with your cousin can be mended. You can avoid the Calormene. There’s no one who wants you to ride before you’re healed up.

Colin shakes his head vehemently. “I can’t…. I can’t. The nightmares are bad enough..I can’t. I have to find this accomplice. I can’t…”

Haft’s expression shifts in surprise. “Accomplice? To Lanisen’s kidnapping?”

Colin hesitates, realizing his error. He looks at the guardsman fiercely. “Not a word to anyone. You hear? I don’t know who to trust…and I don’t even know who we’re looking for anymore.” he says helplessly.”

Haft nods his acceptance of the order without blinking. “You’re not going to Anvard. This man is somewhere in Narnia?”

Colin groans, rubbing his head. “That’s what I thought but it appears that who I suspected is where they are supposed to be.” once more he hesitates, then he just goes on. “It might not be a man. We have to consider every possibility and there’s been indication that…/maybe/…” he trails off.
Haft asks, “Maybe…?”

Colin says, “There’s a woman involved.”

Haft asks, “That’s strange, isn’t it?”

Colin gathers Kaspar’s reins. “The whole /thing/ is ruddy strange.”

Haft asks, “Do you know where you’re planning to look?”

Colin shakes his head, closing his eyes a brief moment in pain as he admits, “I have no idea where to start again.”

Haft chews his lip. “Where did the trail go cold?”

Colin looks down at his hands. “When we have no suspects. Someone suggested one of the merchants but I threw the name at Darius and he looked confused…I believe he couldn’t have reacted so believeably in the moment. The trail’s gone cold when I received word from Commander Petraverd that Myrd and Jana are where they are supposed to be.”

Haft says, “I don’t think I’m familiar with those names…Myrd sounds vaguely familiar…”

Colin says with a little acid, “Leader of a group of bandits, and his wife. They fled Archenland years ago…they’d have motive to go after Lanisen.”

Haft asks, “And they’re locked up here in Narnia?”

Colin glances to the side. “No. They live freely.”

Haft says, “Ah…” He hesitates. “What do they have against Lanisen?””

Colin scowls darkly. “He escaped them. They had him doing what they wanted and I caught him, and over the years he’s worked hard enough that the king granted him a pardon. They could have any reason to go after him.”

Haft nods slowly. “And you think they hired this Darius?”

Colin shrugs a little. “He could be hired but he also has reason to hate Lanisen. I just…I don’t know. There are no leads, no answers.”

Haft says, “What reason? I thought he didn’t answer.”

Colin closes his eyes miserably, keeping his balance as Kaspar shifts beneath him. “It is not mine to tell.”

Haft hesitates, then nods. “Sir, with respect, what you said about this Myrd and Jana, it doesn’t add up.”

Colin looks at him in confusion.

Avery steps though the stable doors, holding a piece of parchment. Her eyes are focused on the paper, but she freezes when she hears Haft’s voice. She slowly looks up, a bit of frown on her face.

Colin doesn’t notice Avery right away.

Haft explains, “No free man with an ounce of sense goes after a kennel boy…do you know what freedom is worth to a condemned man?

Colin lets his protest die on his tongue as the words sinks in and he seriously considers this.

Avery folds her arms across her chest, eyes narrowing as she listens.

Colin does think of a protest, and voices it. “But he’s more than a kennel boy now. He’s a squire.”

Haft says, “He wasn’t when Darius first took an interest ”

Colin frowns.

Colin meets Haft’s eyes and asks directly, “Well do /you/ have any ideas who it could be?”

Haft says, “I guess I’d need to know what tipped you off that there was an accomplice.”

Avery moves toward the nearest stall and holds her hand out to the horse, who noses it as he looks for a snack. She glances back at the two men, but chooses to stay quiet.

Colin frowns at the guard. “There were letters found, either penned by Darius or for him.”

Haft asks, “Saying…?”

Colin just looks at him, arching an eyebrow.

Haft asks, “Sir, with respect, an informed opinion requires information.” He frowns. “Was there anything in particular to make you think of this Myrd or Jana? In the letters?”

Colin says, “No.”

Haft strokes his beard. “All right, because then I’d say that if it wasn’t them, it was someone trying to implicate them. But if it wasn’t specific, it’s harder.”

Kaspar’s tail swishes. Colin says, “I don’t think Lord Darrin would allow me to release any more details about those letters, I’m sorry. He already has zero respect for me.” a pause, then, “This is why it is so difficult. We have nothing.”

Haft asks, “Lord Darrin? Is he heading the investigation?”

Colin says, “Yes.”

A Hare hops into the stable, his nose twitching. “Milady?”

Avery turns away from the stall, glancing toward Haft and Colin. She looks at the Hare. “Uh, yes?”
Haft turns in surprise, noting Avery’s presence for the first time.Colin’s head jerks toward the door and Kaspar dances beneath him, startled by his master’s reaction.

The Hare bows, “Milord. Milady. I have a question from Lord Peridan. He wonders if you are still wanting to leave for the Woods today?”

Avery says, “Oh.” She rubs her forehead and says, “Please tell Lord Peridan I will come speak to him in a few moments.”

Haft looks to Colin, worry plain on his face.

Colin glares at the Hare, then gives Avery a frown. Glancing to Haft, he gives the guard a resigned farewell nod and urges Kaspar forward. The horse moves past Lady Avery and the Hare and goes through the doors.

The Hare bows a bit from the glaring lord. He bows and scurries off to deliver the message.

Haft rushes after Colin.


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