Pets and Progress

In which there are many pointy objects

Knights’ Practice Room

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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. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Equipment Room <E>

Darrin is off to one side, observing Megren moving through some drills, and occasionally-but-rarely calling out commentary.

Haft enters the room, dressed down for a workout.  He stops upon noticing Megren and DArrin at practice, and watches her movements as well.

Megren moves in a line forward and backward across the room. She has broken a sweat, but just barely, indicating they have been at this a while, but that it is either easier than what she is capable of, or they are not yet near the end.

Darrin is distracted by the movement at the door. He glances over and gives Haft a quick wave before going back to watching Megren’s practice.

Haft steps over to Sir Darrin and bows, continuing to watch.  “Her form is sharper than it was.”

Megren is clearly working through a predetermined set, as she loops back to the first series of movements she had been making when Haft first arrived. She lifts her chin with a grin to acknowledge him.

Darrin nods to him and gives an approving hum. “She improves rapidly.”

Haft calls out, “Hullo, Magpie.”

Megren sticks her tongue out at them both, not letting up until she is given the signal that she may.

Darrin tilts his head and waits until Megren reaches the end of that particular set of drills and is about to start again to wave her off.

Haft opens his mouth as if to offer a compliment, then closes it, waiting for Sir Darrin’s comments.

Megren drops her sword arm and releases a breath, wiping her brow as she moves to approach them.

Darrin tilts his head towards Haft and says, “Haft here is particularly complimentary of your form, Fritter, and I’m inclined to agree.” He grins.

Haft nods. “I remember you used to have trouble keeping the pommel against your wrist.”

Megren nods to Sir Darrin. “Can’t get away with that around this fellow.”

Darrin says, “Slave driver, that’s me. Here to rap wrists and perfect one’s grip.”

Haft looks to Megren. “Does he really rap your wrist?”

Megren lifts her brows. “He said it, not me.”

Darrin draws his fingers over his mouth in a ‘my lips are sealed’ gesture.

Haft says, “Well, he is a knight of the realm.  We must hope we may trust his word.”

Megren says, “I have never known him to be anything but honest.”

Darrin laughs. “Now, don’t go trumping me up to be more than I am. I have been known to lie outright in aid of a good jest. Or prank.”

Haft seems very interested by this.  “Oh haaaaaave you?” he asks.  “Because Megren and I were trying to solve a certain mystery in the barracks yesterday.”

Megren breaks into a grin.

Darrin looks between them. “I get the feeling I’m not going to like this.”

Megren’s face falls exaggeratedly. “How could you say that?”

Haft’s expression turns rather mournful.  “Was it you then, Sir?  To play such a harsh prank on poor old Perth? I wouldn’t have thought it of you”

Darrin eyes Haft suspiciously. “He looks plotty, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. How’s that go – one fears what one doesn’t understand?” He winks at Megren and then straightens and blinks rapidly at the mention of Perth. “While there are very few pranks I would deem harsh, I assure you I am innocent in any sort of affair involving Perth,” he says, with exaggerated dignity.

Megren rolls her eyes. “You both,” she says exasperatedly. “Perth’s /fine/.”

Darrin asks, “What, er, happened to Perth exactly?”

Haft says, “Apparently someone put cold stones at the end of his bunk…resulting in…ah…shrieking.” He coughs. “Of a decidedly unfeminine nature.”

Megren affirms, “Shrieking is a universal, unaffected by gender.”

Darrin uh-huhs. He presses his lips together to suppress his grin, and glances at Megren pointedly, arching a brow.

Haft says, “I warned her that Perth might retaliate if he ever discovers the perpetrator.  Now if it was you…”

Megren says, “I am sure Perth will be discerning as ever in any attempts at retaliation.”

Darrin says, “I, personally, would find retaliation aimed at myself amusing, regardless of whether I instigated or not.”

Haft says, “Something to keep in mind.”

Megren takes on a thoughtful countenance, tapping her chin like she is absorbing this with due consideration.

Darrin glances between them with slightly narrowed eyes, and then shrugs good-naturedly.

Haft says, “Occupational hazard, Sir.”

Megren furrows her brows at Haft. “Did you come here just to rag on me for pulling pranks, then?”

Darrin says to Haft, “Quite so, quite so.”

Haft looks innocent.  “Indeed not.  I was trying to help you pin it on /him/.”

Megren looks at Sir Darrin. “Will you defend your honor, or shall I?”

Darrin waves a hand aristocratically. “Oh, by all means, please, defend away.” His blue eyes take on a particular gleam.

Haft tilts his head.  “Are you challenging me?”

Megren turns to lift her brows as Haft with a grin. “Choose the weapon.”

Haft looks down at the weapon he’s brought with him.  “Sword.”

Megren nods, and hefts her own sword, moving out toward the middle of the room.

Haft follows, saluting briefly before moving in quickly to strike at her torso.

Darrin wanders over to the bench along the wall and sits down to observe.

Megren salutes in return, but Haft gets a good strike it right off, throwing her a little out of balance for the start of the bout.

Haft steps back slightly, hoping to have thrown her off enough to finish the match quickly, but she gets a good blow in before he presses forward with another stroke.

Megren takes the hit well, showing good stamina in pressing forward through his attack, if not as much finesse as would be safer in a real battle.

Haft isn’t able to block her next move, but refuses to give any ground before her advance, only stepping sideways slightly to bring his sword across her from the right.

Megren gets a hard hit on her forearm, and she grits her teeth through it, not balking exactly, but not quite able to hide the pain of the hit. She retreats into a defense for a few moves before moving forward again.

Haft raises his sword, trying to meet the taper of hers with the broader part of his near the hilt, but misjudges the angle and receives a smack for his trouble before changing the direction of his wooden blade.

Megren gets a little confident with the hit, which earns her another like the previous one. She tries employing a glisse to get his blade out of his control.

Haft continues to display an economy of motion learned from many years experience.  His movements are quick and efficient and they start to bear fruit as the match progresses.

Megren’s improvement is still evident in her sparring, but the strength of her grip and solidity of her movements continue to be at the cost of some important finesse and speed against Haft’s more natural muscle memory and experience.

Ultimately, Haft lands a deciding blow and steps back.

Darrin tracks their movement across the room intently, sitting forward with his elbows on his knees at one point. When it becomes clear that the match has gone to Haft, he rises.

Megren also steps back, gratefully, breathing hard. “Good match,” she breathes. When Sir Darrin rises, she squints an eye at him. “Sorry, Sir.”

Haft’s breath is equally labored.  “You too.  I can definitely see the improvement.”

Darrin shrugs and grins at her. “All good.” He glances at Haft. “I should thank you, though, Haft – I don’t have nearly enough opportunities to observe her progress mid-spar.” He looks thoughtful, nodding to himself. “Highly useful.”

Haft bows slightly.  “Glad to be of service.”

Megren rubs her shoulder with her opposite hand, looking wry. She makes a wary noise.

Darrin chuckles at the look on Megren’s face. “All good things. He’s right, you’re doing marvelously well. We can work start working on the finer points of your technique, I think.”

Haft watches her rubbing her shoulder.  “At least you didn’t shriek.”

Megren screws up her face at Haft punishingly.

Haft appears blithely unperturbed.

Darrin eyes Haft skeptically.

Megren says, “I’m pretty sure the way this works is we all go and have a drink now while our bruises form.”

Darrin says, “Hm, that does sound like something we would do.”

Haft tilts his head to one side.  “The custom sounds vaguely familiar.”

Megren gestures with her head. “Lead on to the mess, then, winner.”

Haft raises his eyebrows.  “And turn my back on you two?”  He sighs and precedes them out anyway.

Off-duty Mess

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This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

Contents: Hearth <LIT> and Tiny.

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Megren gestures with her head to Sir Darrin that they should follow Haft, then gives a little hop before hurrying after him.

Darrin follows them into the mess readily enough.

Haft finds some free chairs by the fire–unusual at this time of day, but certainly welcome, and waits for the other two to make their selections.

Megren moves to fetch them all their drinks, cider for Haft and herself and wine for Sir Darrin.

Darrin settles into a chair and accepts the wine from Megren with a wide smile of thanks.

Haft nods gratefully as he receives his cider and sinks into a seat.

Megren plunks down into her own chair, wincing regretfully at the vigor of the motion.

Darrin sips at his wine.

Haft takes a drink from his mug.  “Anvard’s finest,” he says with satisfaction.

Megren grins. “Only the best for you, grandfather.”

Darrin coughs politely.

Haft makes a face.  “Just how old do you think I am?”

Megren screws up her face and considers him. “Hundred and three?” she estimates.

Darrin says, “Oh, please, he can’t be above 85.”

Megren says, “You’re probably right.”

Haft sniffs.  “Thank you.”

Darrin lifts his glass to Haft and smirks.

Megren takes a long drink from her own glass and leans back with a sigh of satisfaction. “He keeps beating me at chess, too,” she reports to Sir Darrin.

Haft says, “Age and experience do occasionally win out over youth and stamina.”

Darrin asks, “Oh, do we need to practice your chess game, too?”

Darrin brightens at the idea.

Megren inclines her head. “Darts, too.”

Haft looks wary.  “Darts…?”

Darrin says, “Ooh, yes.”

Megren lifts her brows at Haft and grins. “You look concerned.”

Haft says, “Anybody with a lick of common sense would be, the way you two play.”

Megren laughs, affronted, and returns, “You play the same!”

Darrin looks at Megren with raised brows. “Is he accusing us of being dangerous company?”

Megren asks, “It certainly sounds that way, doesn’t it?”

Darrin tsks. “Well, if we weren’t, that wouldn’t be much fun, would it?”

Megren tilts her head one way and then the other.

Haft snorts.  “I play a nice, normal game of darts.  You two add in dangerous question and dares to humiliate a chap.”

Darrin says, “As I said.”

Megren pouts her lips, “Humiliate? Haft.”

Haft says, “Sorry Meg…I didn’t mean to impugn yer dancing.”

Megren says, “I’m quite sure that in fact you did.”

Darrin says, “Also, I really don’t see how dancing is humiliating, but to each their own, I suppose.”

Haft says, “There’s a time and a place for it.  A harvest festival, a fancy do.  Not the center of the outer ward.”

Megren makes a skeptical noise.

Darrin lifts a brow in judgmental and equally dubious fashion.

Haft rolls his eyes and takes another sip of cider.

Megren says, “Fine, only chess for you. The rest of us will keep our fun.”

Darrin mmms over his glass.

Haft asks, “Are we starting a game then–chess or darts–or are we just debating the merits?”

Megren’s lips curve delightedly, “Oh, /are/ we starting a game?”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Darrin suggests, “Well, we could just continue to voice our opionions snootily over our respective drinks, that’s always fun.”

Haft makes a face.  “Snoot-i-ly?”

Megren hides her giggling behind her cup.

Darrin affects an exaggeratedly snobbish expression, his shoulders going back and his brow arching again. He purses his lips and stares down his nose at Haft, hiding partially behind his wineglass, and then sniffs, loudly. A blink, and he’s back to his grinning self. “Like so, see?”

Haft nods slowly.  “Aye, I see.  Pray…don’t make me see it again.” With this he rises and goes over to the dart board as if to evade further antics.

Megren covers her mouth with her hand and looks away to try and get a hold on her laughter.

Darrin starts laughing so hard he slouches in his chair and there are tears in his eyes. “I think I broke him,” he stage-whispers to Megren, and bursts out laughing again.

Haft glances over his shoulder, offering Darrin a likeness of one of Megren’s punishing looks.  He pulls the darts from the board and waits.

Megren gasps, “You looked… /just/ like… your Aunt.”

Darrin glances at Haft and hunkers down snickering again at the look. “Well, where did you think I learned that from?”

Haft asks, “Are you two coming?”

Megren sucks in both her lips in order to stop her laughter. She nods at Haft and gets up to join him.

Darrin wipes at his eyes and follows.

Haft hands one dart apiece to Darrin and Megren before taking aim and letting fly.  His toss lands near the outside and he sighs.

Megren takes hers and sticks her tongue between her teeth, eyeing the target carefully before letting it fly. Hers lands just outside Haft’s.

Haft looks slightly relieved.

Darrin sets his wineglass down on a table and picks up his own dart. He tosses it lightly and it lands just slightly inside from Haft’s.

Megren clasps her hands behind her back. “Are we doing confessions or challenges? Or neither for the sake of Haft?”

Haft folds his arms over his chest.  “Whichever you prefer.”

Megren says, “I’ll want confessions from the two of you in upcoming rounds, so I suppose I’d better offer the same.””

Darrin chuckles and motions for Haft to take the first one. “Winner of the spar asks the first question?”

Haft taps his chin.  “Favorite song?”

Megren’s brows lift. “Song? Um.” Her eyes shift to Sir Darrin and she nods her head to indicate him. “That one you like to sing with all the spices in it.”

Darrin nods. “Ah, yes, the fair song. An excellent choice.”

Haft turns and pulls the darts from the board, handing them out again.  He throws his dart and it lands in the second ring.

Megren throws again, her dart landing exactly opposite Haft’s in the same ring.

Darrin’s throw lands so close to Megren’s that the other dart shivers.

Megren squints an eye, resting a hand on her hip. “Now what?”

Haft shrugs.  “Everyone gets a question.”

Darrin suggests, “First pets?”

Megren squints a vaguely amused eye at him, and says in a tone that implies she doesn’t think this question really quotes for her, “Swiftly. Or Tiny, however you want to call it.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft says, “Dog called Anselm.”

Darrin says, “My own, technically Relentless, I suppose.”

Megren asks, “Your family kept dogs or something, though, I suppose?”

Darrin nods. “Right, yeah, the hounds. Mostly for my father’s hunting.”

Haft asks, “You never claimed one?”

Megren crosses her arms over her middle and leans back against a table edge as she waits for his response.

Darrin shrugs. “Not till Reg, no. I thought about it, but then I left to squire to Ast, and it just didn’t happen.”

Megren asks, “How’d you get Anselm?”

Tiny sits down on his haunches and grooms furiously at something invisible on her shoulder.

Haft smiles faintly.  “Pa brought him home.  A mix from the Anvard kennels.  I was proud as punch to own a castle pup.”

Megren starts to respond, but her breath catches, and she moves off away from them toward a dark corner.

Darrin smiles and goes to collect the darts.

Haft looks after Megren curiously.  “Seems she’s lost interest,” he remarks wryly.

Megren crouches, darting left and then right and then skittering across the room.

Haft says, “Or possibly she fancies herself a spider.”

Darrin says, “My money’s on the spider one.”

Megren finally rises, a tiny orangeish shape on her shoulder.

Haft says, “Ah, she’s located the pest.”

Megren catches that. “Pest!”

Haft asks, “Yes…Tiny…she found you, right?”

Megren narrows her eyes at him, lips thinning in false offense.

Darrin looks delighted when he finally figures out what is on Meg’s shoulder. “Tiny’s not a pest, are you, Tiny?” he coos at the cat.

Megren turns the cat toward the knight so that she’s ripe for the petting. “I think he’s saying she found me.”

Haft smiles beatifically.

Darrin purses his lips suspiciously but isn’t able to hold the expression and instead goes back to fawning over the kitten with glee.

Tiny makes the leap from Megren’s shoulder to Sir Darrin’s shirt front, claws flailing in hope of a catch.

Haft bites his lip, as if restraining some comments with great effort.  Ultimately, he gives it up.  “Cat-apult.”

Megren snorts. “Groundbreaking wordplay, Haft.”

Haft says, “I do apologize.  Couldn’t be helped.”

Darrin grimaces as tiny claws sink through his shirt and into his chest, but he moves his hands quickly to cup underneath the kitten and help her onto his shoulder, where she perches primly, rubbing her head under his ear. “I thought it was rather good,” he chimes in, a beat late.

Haft says, “Well, she seems to have gained the north parapet at any rate.”

Megren’s face breaks into a delighted grin at the sight of the pair. “She’s already got control of the barracks.”

Darrin glances sideways at the cat, his lips quirking in a wry smile. “I told Lanisen she seemed rather inclined to be the queen of the lot.”

Megren observes, “She seems to prefer you over me.”

Haft says, “She certainly thinks she’s entitled to lie down wherever she likes.”

Darrin glances at Haft. “Well, she’s a cat,” he says, rather obviously. He scritches her under the chin and wrinkles his nose at Megren. “I highly doubt that.” His tone gives away that he finds this improbable to a degree that means it probably doesn’t apply to just the cat.

Haft says, “Well, I’ve got a late shift later.  If I want a nap first I’d better go claim my pillow before Her Majesty does.”

Megren lifts her hand so that it would be easy for Tiny to leap back. Tiny nuzzles up again Sir Darrin’s head and flops down against his collar.

Megren glances at Haft, “Oh. Sure, we’ll see you later.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft gives her a nod and offers a bow to Sir Darrin and the cat before departing.

Darrin gives Megren a helpless shrug with the shoulder that is not occupied by a cute fluffball, and glances to Haft, then back to Megren. He whispers, “He secretly loves it, I’m sure,” and winks.

Megren says, “Oh, I know.”

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