In which there is an affront to Haft’s stomach and a question on Calormene woodcraft
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>
Myles stands off to one side of the room conversing with one of the other knights. He is a little sweaty, but no longer breathing hard.
Haft enters the room, dressed to exercise. He pauses to observe two of the younger guardsmen sparring and calls out advice to the one who’s hardest put. “Don’t move around so much. It’s a spar, not a jig!”
Myles glances up in the direction of Haft’s exclamation and chuckles before returning to his conversation. After another moment, the two knights bow to each other and the other leaves the room.
The sparrer in question attempts to make his movements more conservative, and after a moment slips in a blow under his opponent’s defense. The match ended, he turns to grin at Haft.
Myles turns his attention back toward the sparrers. Finding them finished, he shakes his head in amusement and makes his way over to the group. “Ending dances just by entering the room now, are you, Haft?”
Haft says, “Well, you know me, Sir. I put an end to merriment and frivolity wherever I can.”
Myles says, “Poor fellows never stood a chance.”
Haft says, “Afraid not. Really, though, it’s just a matter of striking close to the center and conserving energy, neither of which you can do if you move too far away. We teach the young men to use their feet, but then sometimes we forget to rein them back in once they’re doing so.”
Myles nods. “Using all the energy of three beats in one–I remember it well.” He grins. “Have you noticed that it’s easy to remember what you used to do wrong, but harder to remember how you learned to do it better?”
Haft says, “Actually I spent the last year and a half unlearning a couple bad habits I’d picked up…so, yes, I do.”
Myles says, “A very good reason to keep teaching, that.”
Haft shrugs in acknowledgement. “I’ve always enjoyed studying the techniques. Seems a waste not to pass it on.
Myles says, “A way to keep us all fresh and honest.”
Haft says, “Honest?”
Myles grins. “I’ve learned you can’t tell yourself you know what you’re doing if trying to teach someone else gets you all muddled.”
Haft asks, “Ah. And how did your own practice go today?”
Myles says, “Bracing. It’s been some time since Sir Oweyn has put me through my paces. Another way to stay fresh.”
Haft says, “Quite. I’ve seen him. He’s good.”
Myles says, “Indeed.” He glances around the room. “Are you for the targets today, or a spar?”
Haft says, “A spar, I think. Though I might take to the targets if I can’t find an opponent.”
Myles says, “I’m game, if you don’t mind an opponent who’s less than fresh.”
Haft says, “I don’t. That’s the case in battle, sometimes, isn’t it? One opponent must often be more tired than the other.”
Myles grins. “Indeed it is.” He spreads his hands wide and bows a little. “I will get in my practice of being disadvantaged in battle.”
Haft says, “Will you be taking the role of the Calormenes or the Narnians then? I’m not sure which side had it worse…they did, I guess. We had to march through the night, but they’d had to cross the desert.”
Myles nods his head. “And they were felling trees all through the night to boot. I wouldn’t choose to be outmanned and under siege again, but we did at least get to rest a little between watches that night.
Haft asks, “And I’m guessing Calormene scimitars–and Calormene lords–aren’t made for chopping wood…I wonder if any of them had the presence of mind to carry an axe?”
Myles barks a laugh. “Do you know, I never thought to ask if one was found among them.”
Haft says, “A conversation I now intend to have with Captain Garian. The truth must be told.” He takes up a practice sword and stands ready.
Myles grins broadly as he too selects a practice sword and stands with one leg back and his sword-arm outstretched toward Haft. “I look forward to a full account.”
Myles swings his blade first, but is otherwise mostly on the defensive through the exchange of thrusts and parries. Several minutes in, his blade cracks hard against Haft’s, splintering the other man’s weapon halfway down. He quickly draws back a pace and holds his sword down and off to one side, surveying Haft to make sure he is uninjured.
Haft says “Blast!” as his wooden sword breaks. He colors a little at the language. “Pardon, sir. This match goes to you, it would appear.”
Myles relaxes his posture and takes a few quick breaths. “Bad luck,” he says with a sympathetic wince. “You’ll mend it the next time.” He nods is head toward Haft with raised eyebrows and confirms, “No stray splinters to worry about?”
Haft says, “Nah. Nothing to worry about. Had one shatter near the hilt and several large pieces go into my hand when I was younger. That was nasty. Was lucky nothing was seriously damaged long term.”
Myles grimaces in agreement. “Those can fester something awful.”
Haft says, “Trying not to howl in the infirmary while they pulled the pieces out was miserable.”
Myles nods before using the sleeve of his free arm to wipe a few beads of sweat from his temple. “All the worse when you’re green and have something to prove.”
Haft says, “Heh. Indeed. Well…I never said I managed it.”
Megren comes walking into the Practice Room.
Myles stands facing Haft in the area used for sparring. He holds a practice sword loosely at his side and is sweating and breathing more heavily than usual. “A painful way to learn sympathy,” he says.
Haft faces Myles with a broken practice sword in hand. He, too, is breathing hard. “Who says I needed to learn sympathy?”
Megren steps into the room, peering in like she is looking for someone.
Myles shrugs and grins crookedly. “Not me.”
Haft says, “Well, this’ll make for good kindling in the mess. Nothing like the smell of hardwood and defeat over a fire.”
Megren asks, “Haft, have you been jumping on swords again?”
Myles snorts at Haft’s comment, and then looks up and snorts again at Megren’s rejoinder.
Haft asks, “I beg your pardon. When have I ever jumped on a sword?”
Megren says, “Just now, looks like.”
Haft says, “Oh this…no. Sir Myles kept whacking at it with his own, for some reason.”
Myles lifts said sword up and surveys it with an expression of mock confusion. “Couldn’t seem to help myself.”
Megren says, “Well, stop putting it in his way.”
Haft says, “Well I might have, but then I’m afraid he would’ve taken aim at my stomach instead.”
Megren looks at Sir Myles like she wonders if there’s any reasoning with this guy.
Myles throws up his free hand. “Don’t like the sword, don’t like the stomach. What’s a man to do?”
Haft sputters in protest. “What’s wrong with the stomach?”
Megren squints an eye at him.
Myles grins cheekily. “Nothing, seeing as you’ve kept the swords out of it.”
Megren says, “Well, are you both finished, or have you more to go? I was hoping to find Haft.”
Haft looks mournful. “Why? What have I done now?”
Megren sticks out her tongue at him. “Come see. You too, Sir, if you like.”
Myles stashes the sword away again. “Certainly, if it’s not the torture he seems to be expecting.”
Haft lets out a long sigh, increasing his hangdog expression. “Ladies first.”
Megren gives the knight a brief bow to acknowledge his now official company and starts back toward the door. “I shan’t say. Grab a cloak from the equipment room when you drop off your practice swords, though; it’s on the wall. I’ll give you that much free.”
Haft says, “You’re going to throw us off it…well, at least we’ll be warm.” Nevertheless, he follows after.
Myles falls readily into step as well.
Southern Wall Walk
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= You stand on Anvard’s Southern Wall Walk. From here you have an excellent view of travellers approaching from the south and southeast. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
You can go: Outer Wall Walk <N>, Gate Tower <E>, Watchtower <W>
Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).
Haft arrives, following Megren.
Myles comes walking toward you from the Southern Watchtower.
Myles arrives, following Megren.
Megren brings them out onto the wall that overlooks the forest and her aim is immediately apparent. Great sparkling flakes float downward all around, the bare earth of the outer ward already white with a soft, thin sheet of snow.
Haft’s face breaks into a delighted smile in spite of himself.
Myles claps his hands together firmly and rubs them. “Oh-ho, there’s our friend winter!”
Megren laughs at Myles’s response to the sight, crossing her arms against the cold. She gets an ineffable sort of grin upon seeing Haft’s face, the kind of grin that comes of vicarious delight.
Haft lays his palms on the wall, then pulls them quickly back at the chill. “I’ve always loved first snowfall here. Thank you, Meg.”
Megren says, “I remembered from last winter.”
Myles glances at Haft, then Megren, and grins. “It’s a sight.”
Haft says, “We’ll have the knights challenging the guards to strategic maneuvers again soon.”
Megren snorts. “Sir Darrin is probably waiting with Sir Tyren to ambush us on the inner wall even now.”
Myles taps the side of his head. “And I’m drawing up plans for the advance of our line.”
Haft gazes out to the ward below. “Might have to wait till at least dawn before any defensive fortifications can be constructed.”
Megren says, “I think there won’t be enough for that tonight. Snowballs, maybe, but walls take a lot.”
Myles nods with a grave expression. “Just a skirmish for now, to test our strength.”
Haft says, “What, right now? Some of us have watch coming up.”
Megren says, “True, wouldn’t want to get snow on you right before you went and stood outside in the snow.”
Myles laughs from down deep. “You can’t tell me there won’t be any snowballs flying by down in the wards right now.”
Haft straightens up. “Well, hopefully not at poor, hapless guards.”
Megren says, “Hapless /is/ the first word that comes to mind after ‘Haft’.”
Myles claps a hand on Haft’s shoulder, still chuckling. “Better dress in layers,” he advises.
Haft scowls at Megren, then addresses Myles. “Happily, my own watch is not for several hours.”
Megren asks, “Warm up with cider in the Mess first then?”
Myles nods sagely. “An excellent foresight.”
Haft says, “Sounds very fine.”
Megren nods, rubbing her hands together to ward off the cold and stomping the snow from her boots. “Good, I think so, too. Haft, you lead our merry troop this time.”
Myles steps back to allow this.
Haft narrows an eye at her. “I expect not to be hit in the back of the head with a snowball for my trouble.” This said, he precedes them off the wall.
Megren’s brows lift, and then she looks deeply contemplative for a moment.
Myles guffaws, but bides his time and makes for the cider.