Berry Suspicious

In which nobody likes berries and Haft wonders about Cassandra

Knights’ Practice Room
You stand on the chamber which serves the Knights’ Practice Room.  One part
is dedicated to hand to hand combat, and the rest of the area has stands for
straw dummies.  You can also see much of the countryside from here.  On a
chair near the door sits the old sergeant, Doel, who maintains the equipment.
You can go: Equipment Room <E>

Haft stands practicing at one of the dummies in the early morning, striking with only his right arm.

Megren walks into the room, dressed down appropriately, but rubbing her face sleepily like she’s not quite all there.

Haft turns, looking like he wants a distraction.  “Morning, Megpie.”

Megren holds back a yawn, turning her head to one side and then the other to hold back a yawn. “Morning grandpa,” she says. Her cheeky grin, it seems, is unaffected even by sleep.

Haft raises a brow.  “You told Kairyn you call me that?”

Megren lifts her brows and shakes her head. “I don’t think so?” She comes to sit on the bench near his target, and reflects, “Maybe.”

Haft looks amused.  “She said you were right about me being an old grandpa, when I asked for a different blend of tea for my medicine.”

Megren squints an eye. “…Sorry.”

Haft snorts lightly.  “You ain’t in trouble.  I can hardly fault you for my nickname if I’m gonna use one for you.”

Megren’s grin returns, but she inquires genuinely, “Shoulder’s still hurting you, then?”

Haft says, “Yeah.  Reckon it’ll be at least another two weeks before it’s better, but I’m not sure really.  It’s better’n it was.”

Megren nods. “And you got new tea?”

Haft looks slightly abashed.  “Uh, yeah.  She was putting raspberries in it to make it taste better.  I asked for it straight.”

Megren scrutinizes him. “Don’t like raspberries in your tea, or just too plum tough for that kind of nonsense?”

Haft makes a face.  “I’ve got a sweet tooth like anyone else.  Just not for raspberries.  I don’t mind ’em in jams, with sugar added, but not terribly fond of the natural flavor.  My mother used to make a tea like Kairyn’s for when Pa or I had bruises, so I grew up on the taste.”

Megren clicks her tongue. “What is it with people in this castle not liking berries?”

Haft protests.  “I like berries.  Why, who doesn’t?”

Megren says, “You don’t like raspberries, Lanisen doesn’t blackberries.”

Haft says, “Well I like blackberries fine.”  He eyes her. “Why up so early?””

Megren says, “Supposed to meet Sir Darrin for a ride after breakfast, and then there’s defense lessons, and he wants me to go over some reports with him after.”

You ask, “Reports? Stuff from Coghill, or…?”

Megren says, “Mostly interviews, trying to narrow down whether we can search out this accomplice Aaron’s on about.”

Haft asks, “The person who poisoned Sir Colin?”

Megren says, “If it’s the same. Sir Darrin’s assigned the leads from Lanisen, though.”

Haft says, “I’d have thought it was implied, that they were the same…although…”Megren lifts her brows.

Haft looks at her, then glances at the door, checking that they’re not overheard. “Sir Colin told me yesterday that there’s another suspect to the poisoning, not Maire. It seems from what I could make out that she didn’t mean to poison anyone at all. He didn’t say who the suspect was, but I’ve been wondering since it happened why Lanisen’s sister was released so quickly.

Megren’s mouth drops down and to the left, her heart sinking even in her expression. She pauses, and then asks, “Do you have any reason to suspect her besides that she was there?”

Haft says, “She said she helped Maire with instructions, but didn’t touch anything. Maire didn’t contradict her, but if it wasn’t one of them then it was an ingredient poisoned in advance and placed in their path by someone else. It’s possible, but as no one else has gotten sick…” He shakes his head. “This isn’t cause of my trouble with Lanisen, but I don’t see how else it was done.”

Megren sighs, nodding slowly and looking a little white.

Haft asks, “Is she still allowed in the kitchen, do you know?”

Megren says, “Sir Colin is in charge of that investigation.”

Haft runs his forehead. “I dunno. I’ve probably got it all mixed up and backwards. I hope so. Like I said, Sir Colin has a suspect.Megren asks, “Are you in good standing with him?”

Haft says, “With Sir Colin? Yes…I think so.”

Megren hesitates, and then says, “I think you should voice it. He knows Cass a little — better than most of us, I think. He’s better knowing than not.”

Haft frowns. “I don’t want to speak out of turn. Sir Tyren apparently discarded her as a suspect.”

Megren nods, and replies faithfully, “I know you’ll do what you think is right.”

Haft considers. “It might be worth mentioning. I’ll think on it. Been meaning to speak to Sir Tyren, but haven’t been able to catch him.” He sighs, looking back at the target without much regret. “I should go. Duty in an hour.”

Megren rises. “They’ll sort it,” she hopes.

Haft nods. “Have a good practice.” He then turns and walks from the room.


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