Which is extremely good-looking
At the bottom of the slope, the beach spreads, a mixture of sand and gravel. Seagulls scream overhead, and small crabs scuttle about between pools and bits of driftwood. There are a few larger rocks as well, slowly being eroded by wind and water. The Eastern Ocean seems to go on forever, the gray green waves stretching out to the horizon.
A path leads up the slope to the west toward the Beach Road.
You can go: The Beach Road <W>
Megren sits astride Swiftly, who has come to almost a standstill near a patch of frosted grass which he investigates curiously. “I didn’t expect it to be someone they knew.”
Darrin, riding Onyx, soothes the stallion with a quiet murmur when he sidesteps impatiently. “It’s…” he frowns and settles on, “ugly.”
Megren says, “He was just… shaking. Right in my arms. Like a — like… I don’t even know. I don’t know how else to describe it. Like he was sick, almost.”
Haft walks up the beach at a brisk pace, though he doesn’t appear to have Megren and Sir Darrin as his goal.
Darrin looks over at her, not noticing Haft yet, and a muscle in his jaw clenches, his fingers tightening on the reins. “Why is it always Lanisen…” he mutters, more to himself than to her, it seems.
Megren scrubs her hand over her mouth. She dismounts Swiftly and loops his lead in her hand so she can walk alongside him. This movement brings her gaze behind her. “Oh,” she says. “Haft’s coming.”
Haft has been mostly watching the sea, but looks up and chances to see the pair. He waves a hand in greeting.
Darrin twists to look over his shoulder and then raises a hand to Haft in return. He glances back to Megren.
Megren pats Swiftly’s neck and gently tugs him around to start walking to meet Haft.
Haft calls out. “Bit cold for a morning ride!”
Darrin nudges Onyx to follow. “Never too cold for a ride,” he objects with a small smile.
Megren says, “Cold for a walk, too.”
Haft answers, “Very, but it’s a good view.” He indicates the shore and ships and boats at anchor.
Darrin hums in agreement, glancing out to the water as he dismounts to walk beside the other two.
Megren rests her hand on Swiftly’s neck and looks out to the sea, over which hangs a low, cold fog. “No shift this morning?”
Haft shakes his head. “At noon, and then a late one after midnight.”
Darrin listens quietly and then snorts to himself when he notices his stallion has his head up and ears pricked alertly, pointed directly into the wind so that his mane streams behind him majestically.
Darrin mumbles “You … … …”, to Darrin.
Megren says, “Good luck sleeping with that kind of split.”
Haft shrugs. “I was always able to sleep most anywhere, any time of day. Just so I can get a pillow over my head to block out the light.”
Darrin says, a bit jokingly, “That is a rare gift.”
Megren squints an eye at him. “A little more common among guards than nobles, I think,” she says lightly.
Haft says, “Be downright miserable if I couldn’t.” He cracks a small smile at Megren’s comment. “Yes, well, we can’t help if we’re more disciplined, with them growing up soft, as they do.””
Darrin wrinkles his nose, but says, “Fair point,” to Megren, and then Haft speaks and he looks downright indignant.
Megren is already grinning at Haft’s remark, but she grins bigger at Sir Darrin’s reaction.
Haft spreads his hands innocently. “Nothing personal, Sir. We know you can’t help it.”
Darrin makes a sputtery sort of noise, though it’s obvious he’s hiding a smile.
Megren presses her fingers over over lips.
Haft says, “On the other hand, you do have one advantage over a poor guardsman.”
Darrin says, “Well, let’s hear it, then.”
Haft says, “You can afford a fine horse to carry you wherever you need to go, so if your dainty feet get pinched in those fashionable shoes you can still get where you want to be…and he can strike a manly pose to boot.”
Megren gets something stuck in her throat.
Darrin makes a sort of repeated lip-smacking, tongue-clicking noise and gives Haft a squinty-eyed look.
Haft crosses him arms over his chest and looks out to sea, unperturbed.
Megren clears her throat a couple times. “Pretty sure I’ve seen you strike your fair share of manly poses, Haft.”
Haft snorts. “When?”
Megren asks, “…Right now?”
Darrin looks over his shoulder at his horse in commiseration and sees Onyx still posing. He snorts again and pats the stallion’s neck. “The man has a point about you though.”
Haft drops his arms.
Megren grins. “A little better.”
Haft rolls his eyes.
Megren stumbles a few steps forward as Swiftly nudges her in a shoulder. She turns to give the horse a disciplinary look. “You, on the other hand.”
Haft asks, “The other hoof?”
Darrin says mournfully, “I dunno, at least he’s not as buttoned up as this one.” He jabs a thumb at Onyx.
Megren makes a face at Haft. “Hoof?”
Haft says, “Well, yes…he doesn’t have another hand.”
Megren does not appear to find this logical.
“You said ‘on the other hand’…?”
Megren says, “Yes, that’s the phrase.”
Darrin snickers into his hand.
Haft says, “But he doesn’t…never mind.”
Megren squints an eye at him. “Hm.”
Darrin looks between them as Onyx, at his side, lowers his head to whuffle at some sad-looking grass.
Haft asks, “Anything particular bring you two out riding this morning?”
Megren looks at the knight. “It was Sir Darrin’s idea.”
Darrin shrugs. “Horses need the exercise.”
Megren looks back to Haft and lifts her shoulders. “Exercise. Horses.”
Haft says, “Ah. It seems they do have a drawback then. I only need to exercise myself.”
Megren says, “Closer to an excuse than a drawback in some people’s cases, I think.”
Darrin says, “I’m sure I don’t know what you could mean, Megren.”
Haft tilts his head.
Megren looks back to Haft. “To be honest, it was as good a reason as any to get out of the castle for a couple hours.”
Darrin nods. He gives Megren a lingering look.
Haft looks to Sir Darrin. “You’ve heard about Lanisen’s accusations?”
Darrin says, “I heard the report, yes.”
Haft nods. “I don’t know what to think about all that. He seemed very sure though.
Megren nods. “There was more than what you said, when we finally got to talking.”
Darrin looks like Megren’s comment maybe goes a bit beyond what he knows of the situation.
Megren looks at Sir Darrin. “The bit about seeing Vinri right before Aaron took him.” She looks back to Haft. “Did he tell you that?”
Haft frowns. “No…no he didn’t mention that.”
Megren nods, as if this does not surprise her.
Darrin ahs, and nods.
Haft asks, “That hadn’t been investigated before?”
Megren says, “It wasn’t… I don’t think it was suspicious at the time. I don’t know if he ever thought of it before.”
Darrin says, “Captain Garian looked into it, but initially it had seemed coincidental at best.”
Haft says, “Hard to believe. She’s such a little thing.”
Megren rubs her upper arm.
Darrin says, “I don’t believe I’ve actually met her.”
Haft says, “I’ve bought some things from her. Can’t say I know her at all.”
Megren lifts her hand to about five feet or a little under. “About this tall. Sells… carved soap, embroidery, jewelry, that sort of thing. I don’t– she, she seems sweet. She helped me make sure Lulunan had a good place to sleep.” She glances at Sir Darrin and clarifies, “The, the monkey.”
Darrin nods thoughtfully. He doesn’t seem particularly inclined to share whatever he is thinking at the moment.
Haft says, “I can’t fathom any motive, unless she’s another relative of Berke…but then Darius would know her.”
Megren shakes her head unknowingly.
Darrin says, “I think you probably hit the matter on the head when you said Darius will need to be spoken to again, Meg.”
Haft looks to Megren.
Megren says, “WhenLord Peridan’s gone, too.”
Darrin says, “And Lord Peridan was the one who seemed reliable at actually getting somewhere with him.”
Haft says, “Which is a thousand wonders, if you ask me. Man’s a right trial to talk to.”
Megren says, “I’m not sure we’ll get anything from him. But I’m not sure where else to start either. The cart, I guess.”
Darrin cracks a smile at Haft. “Quite.”
Haft wrinkles his nose in distaste. “You can smile. You don’t have to guard him.”
Megren asks, “Does he still talk at you, then?”
Haft says, “Sometimes. I don’t make a point of announcing myself when I come on shift.”
Darrin seems to think this is wise.
Megren says, “I’ve been put on shift for Cass once, but it was at night and not out in the main cell.”
Haft’s brow furrows. “I had watch several times to relieve Gearn when she was confined to her quarters. Not sure why she was moved. Has she been sentenced for the poisoning?”
Megren says, “That’s what I can tell, but I don’t know what the sentence was exactly.”
Megren looks at Sir Darrin.
Darrin says, “She has been sentenced, and it’s my understanding that Sir Myles and Sir Tyren are overseeing that. The rest is, I believe, more a matter of what Cassandra herself and those two feel they should share.”
Haft nods. “Someone, uh, seeing to her kitten?”
Megren crosses her arms against the cold.
Darrin says, “Lanisen and I check in on him occasionally, but he’s a very independent sort of fellow.”
Haft says, “More’n his sister anyway.” He glances back toward the castle. “I should be heading back.””
Megren nods. “Let me know if you hear anything new about Vinri?”
Darrin gauges the position of the sun and says, “I should too, really.”
Haft says, “Yeah, sure.” He bows to Sir Darrin. “Good day, Sir.””
Megren glances at Sir Darrin and nods to this affirmation.
Darrin nods to Haft. “Always a pleasure, Haft.” He loops the reins back over Onyx’s neck and mounts up.
Haft begins his walk back toward Anvard.