Deck the Halls

Which is festive


Inner Ward of Anvard

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You stand in the Inner Ward of Anvard. The ground is hard-packed earth, and it is open to the sky above. Wonderful aromas come wafting out from the Kitchen to the south, near the well. Huge, impressive, intricately carved doors lead to the Great Hall. Staff hurry about, in and out of their quarters, serving the Great Hall and the Council Chamber. A quieter corridor to the northeast leads to the library and schoolroom. Noble lords and ladies also pass through, walking towards their quarters seeing to other business. A guarded gatehouse to the east stands between the inner and outer wards. Two stairways line the curtain wall, climbing to the upper reaches of the castle. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Council Chamber <N>, Northeast Hallway <NE>, Inner Gatehouse <E>, Kitchen <S>, Great Hall <SW>, Staff Quarters <W>, Infirmary <NW>, Southern Stairwell <US>, Northern Stairwell <UN>

Contents: Well.

Haft comes walking into the inner ward from the gatehouse with an armful of evergreen boughs.

Megren is sitting on a dusted off bench, her hood pulled up over her head and a book open in her lap. She looks up when she hears someone entering the ward from near her and her brows lift in delight. “What’s this!”

Haft’s lips twitch.  “Got pressed into decorating duty when I ought properly to be guarding the castle.”

Megren says, “Please, that’s a job that suits the man doing it if ever I saw one.”

Haft puts on a scowl. “How do you reckon?”

Megren says, “Green is definitely your color. Brings out the beard.”

Haft squints at her.  “I was under the impression I looked best in Anvard purple.”

Megren shrugs. “Sorry to disappoint.” She tucks the book away and gets up. “Here, let me help. Where are these headed?”

Haft holds out his arms so she can take a few.  “I was told that any hook, lintel, or doorpost was fair game.”

Megren HMs and turns a speculative circle to take in the ward.

Haft asks, “You have suggestions?”

Megren taps her lips thoughtfully. “There’s the Great Hall, obviously.”

Haft nods solemnly.  “Obviously.”

Megren says, “And the Mess, of course, and the Servant’s Hall.”

Haft says, “Special attention must be paid to the mess.”

Dalia walks toward you from the Staff Quarters.

Megren asks, “The market? What about there?”

Haft says, “Suppose so.  Though any merchant worth his salt will be doing what he can to make his stall more festive anyway.”

Myles comes walking toward you from the inner gatehouse.

Myles walks west toward the staff quarters.

Myles walks toward you from the Staff Quarters.

Megren hmmms, “That’s true. Gearn’s bunk, then.”

“Gearn’s bunk,” Haft says flatly.

Megren says, “Definitely Gearn’s bunk.”

Dalia enters the gate, humming under her breath. She is bundled up against the cold.

Myles comes down the northern stairwell wrapped in a thick cloak. He rubs his hands together as he makes for the gate.

Haft asks, “Does Gearn have some kind of horrible allergy I ought to know about?”

Megren draws a long face. “What do you take me for?” She smiles as Dalia passes them, and then Myles. “Hello, Dalia. Sir.”

Haft says, “A menace to public safety.”

Myles pauses and glances between Haft and Megren, then significantly down at the ground. “What, dropping branches all over for people to trip on?”

Haft shrugs.  “Fell trees to fell knights.”  He offers a deep nod as the branches make bowing awkward.

Megren bows to the knight as well. “Don’t tell, Sir. Everyone will just assume you are very graceful.”

Dalia curtsys to the Knight, smiling and pausing to greet Megren. “Hello Megren. Haft.”

Myles laughs heartily. “Emperor, what did the others do to you?”

Myles offers Dalia a friendly nod as he waits for their reply.

Haft says, “Nothing, but I’m sure they’re planning something spectacular for our next winter campaign.”

Myles grins in amusement. “Oh, and I’m the infiltrator, am I?”

Megren exclaims, “It seems so, Sir!”

Myles shakes his head with a face that is not really straight, but straighter than before, anyway. “How’s a poor man to know what to do with secrets such as these?”

Haft says, “Sell them to the kitchens for a batch of hot cobbler.”

Dalia glances at the Branches. “Decorating the Castle?”

Myles slaps his hand against his thigh. “Roast pig, now you’re talking!”

Haft tips his head to acknowledge the validity of roast pig.

Megren grins at Dalia. “Yep, that’s right. Got any ideas where these should go? Somebody told Haft anywhere. OOH,” she says suddenly, lighting up. “The rims of all the chamber pots!”

Haft stares.

Myles stops talking, tilts his head, and squints at Megren.

Dalia says, “”Perhaps the great Hall?””

Megren pushes her mouth to the side but does not protest the utter rejection of her plan.

“Yes, the hall,” Haft says firmly, heading that way before anyone can make another proposal.

Myles snorts at Haft’s hasty retreat, then suggests to Megren, “Could save a few to use as arms for the practice targets, if they really said anywhere.”

Megren exclaims, “Yes!”

Myles says, “Festive, and good avoidance training to boot! If you get through your set without getting any sap on you, you’ve made it.”

Megren says, “It’s inspired.”

Haft calls over his shoulder. ‘Are you lot helping?  Come on then.

Dalia says, “I’ll see if if the kitchens  have some hot chocolate and perhaps some cobbler.” He heads following the same way as Haft.

Myles laughs and turns to follow. “Seems I am.”

Megren hops to follow after Haft.

Great Hall

!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= More than any other part of the castle, the Great Hall gives the impression of age and enduring strength. It is a long, rectangular room, spacious enough to accommodate several long tables on feast days, with high walls built of massive blocks of red stone and two rows of matching pillars to support the arching roof. There is an enormous fireplace in the middle of the southwest wall, directly across from the intricately carved double doors that lead out into the inner ward. A wicker screen blocks the door to the kitchen in the southeast wall from sight. Six tall, narrow windows on the northeast wall let in a fair amount of sunlight in the morning and early afternoon, but decorative iron sconces that hang at functional intervals along each wall provide most of the hall’s illumination.

At the far northwest end of the hall, three steps lead up to the dais, where the high table sits beneath the banners of the noble houses: Coghill’s eagle, Carmichael’s stag, Chesterton’s dragon, Lancelyn Green’s horse, Neiklot’s tree, and the crown and mountains of Anvard’s standard. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!.vVVv.!

You can go: Kitchen <SE>, Inner Ward <NE>, Dais <NW>

Haft eyes the sconces along the wall, but glances at Megren and Sir Myles, looking sheepish.

Myles stops in the middle of the hall and peers around, rubbing his chin.

Megren goes to Haft’s side and starts relieving him of boughs.

Haft chews on his lip, then says, “One year Her-Her Majesty had us join the boughs together into garlands and hang them from once sconce to another the whole length of the hall…”

Myles nods as he, too, approaches Haft and takes a few of the boughs. “I remember the place looking like that once or twice, too.”

Megren steps back with half the boughs to survey the hall. “We could do that, I think.”

Haft says, “Twine, I think we used.”

Myles glances around again. “Where do you think is the nearest place to find twine?”

Haft shrugs.  “Stables, kennels maybe?”

Megren says, “What? The kitchen, obviously.”

Haft winces.  “Or there.”

Myles glances at Haft and shrugs. “I’d forgotten, too. They haven’t served the twine soup in months.”

Haft says, “Probably cause we all complained so much about it getting caught in our teeth.”

Megren makes a face at the knight.

Myles nods gravely. “How’s anyone to know you mean business when you’ve got a smile full of twine?”

Dalia enters not to long after with a tray in her hands, a fellow Servant holding the door open while she passes through.

Megren passes her boughs off to Sir Myles. “I’ll go fetch the twine.”

Myles takes the branches and begins trying to wrangle them so they’re all pointing in the same general direction.

Haft does the same.

Myles frowns down at his tree-filled arms and then looks around. “I suppose we’ll make less of a mess if we lay these out on the floor instead of the tables.”

Dalia makes her way towards the others, finding a place to set the tray down. “Here’s the Cocoa and Cook was even able to spare some cobbler.”

Darrin opens the doors from the Ward and slips inside.

Haft’s eyes light up at the mention of cobbler.

Darrin catches sight of the revelers and makes his way towards them with a faint grin.

Dalia grins at Sir Myles’s complement.

Myles stoops to lay the branches in his arms on the floor, as far out of the way of being stepped on as can be managed. He straightens and checks his hands for sap before reaching for a mug of cocoa.

Haft lays his branches aside as well, and helps himself to some cobbler.

Megren reenters the hall, carrying three good-sized balls of twine.

Darrin says, “So this is where the party is.”

Myles turns toward the sound of Darrin’s approach and bows over his cocoa.

Megren comes up just behind Sir Darrin. “Oh, hello, Sir!” she says, bowing carefully in the attempt not to drop any of the twine.

Dalia glances up as Darrin speaks, curtsying. “Would you like some, Milord?”

Darrin nods. “Evening everyone,” he says cheerfully, and then oohs appreciatively at the cocoa and cobbler. “If I may, certainly.”

Haft bows as well, but omits the greeting as his mouth is full of cobbler.

Megren moves to place her twine on the table and join the others.

Myles replies, “Evening, Sir.” To Megren he says, “Managed to rescue enough from the soup-pots?”

Megren sticks her tongue out.

Dalia nods, “Certainly.” to Lord Darrin.

Myles snorts and sips his cocoa, turning to survey the array of evergreen branches.

Darrin takes a mug of cocoa with a murmur of thanks and looks over their gatherings. “How can I help?”

Haft says, “We need to bind the boughs together to make garlands.”

Megren picks up a ball of twine and walks over to one end of the arrangement, mug still in hand. “If someone holds it, I can tie.”

Myles follows, scratching the back of his head. He sets his mug on the end of the table and crouches beside the arrangement, testing the sturdiness of various parts of the branches.

Megren waits for him to find a good place to gather them for her to tie.

Myles finds a spot and clamps the two boughs together with his hands. “Try there.”

Darrin looks to Haft. “I’ll tie?”

Megren wraps the twine around and ties it in a tight, neat bow.

Myles moves over and lifts the opposite end of one of the boughs, testing the join. When it holds, he says, “Well, will you look at that!”

Megren says, “Even soup twine has its merits.”

Haft says, “Truly a marvel of engineering.”

Darrin bites the inside of his lip to keep from smirking.

Myles begins arranging the next two bough ends. “Well, when you save a thing from being boiled and chewed on, you can expect some thanks, anyway.”

Megren asks, “That’s what they teach you in knight training, is it?”

Darrin says, “‘Inanimate Objects and Their Feelings’ is course 32.”

Haft says, “between that and Megren’s suggestion on where to put the branches, I’m beginning to have serious doubts about knight training.”

Myles protests, “But we haven’t even told you about ‘How to Negotiate with Pack-Mules’ yet!”

Megren makes a face at Haft. “That joke was hilarious and you know it.”

Haft narrows his eyes. “It better be referring to Prince Rabadash and not someone in this room, Sir.”

Haft snorts. “I know no such thing.”

Myles guffaws. “It was referring to pack-mules, Haft.”

Darrin quirks an eyebrow in the family fashion at Haft and sends Myles a commiserating glance. “I can see we’ll have to step up our game, Sir Myles.”

Haft grimaces in a “must you?” sort of way.

Myles nods his head with an expression of intense thought. “Seems so, Sir. ‘How Not to Lose Your Hair to Pine Sap’ might be a good one for today. Mules are really better with a demonstration anyway.”

Megren looks at her sticky hands with a kind of dangerous interest.

Darrin says, “Mm, yes, rather more relevant, that one.”

Haft picks up one end of the assembled boughs and begins affixing it to a sconce.

Myles says, “Right, then.” He moves over so Megren can tie the next pair of boughs. “Part one is, don’t put pine sap in your hair.”

Megren reaches thoughtfully toward Sir Myles’s head.

Darrin sets down his cocoa to help Haft.

Myles jerks his head away. “Oi!”

Megren grins, “What not other people’s either?”

Haft shakes his head.

Darrin tsks.

Myles says, “Well. You just have to expect some more to find its way onto your pillow if you do. Funny thing, that.”

Megren opens her mouth, aghast.

Myles smirks, pleased with himself. “Part two: if a tree–or a villain–puts sap in your hair, find someone you can beg for some oil.”

Megren looks for someone to defend her honor.

Darrin says, “I believe you may have just been implied to be a villian, Squire.”

Megren starts to fold her arms, but stops herself before she stains her sleeves.

Myles shrugs, grinning, as he picks up one end of the second garland. “If the misdeed fits.”

Haft mutters, “It usually does.”

Megren makes a face and moves to finish tying up the boughs.

Darrin looks amused.

Myles waits for her to finish before starting to hang the garland on the opposite wall.

Megren stands back to survey their work.

Haft glances at Megren. “It meets with your approval?”

Darrin looks surprised when a page appears and gets his attention, then says something quietly. “Oh, yes, right,” Darrin says. He directs an, “Excuse me,” to the group and follows the page out into the Ward.

Megren narrows her eyes, pushing her mouth to the side assessingly, and then nods once. “Cheery,” she pronounces. When Sir Darrin starts to leave her expression drops a bit and she bows to him. “See you for practice?”

Myles bows as well and then goes to retrieve his mug of cocoa.

Darrin glances over at Megren and gives a smile. “Of course.”

Haft says, “Oh good…’cheery’. He bows to Sir Darrin.

Megren smiles back, nodding again before she returns her attention to the group.

Darrin walks out to the Inner Ward.

Myles looks around the hall and marvels, “And here I was afraid it would look like someone spit out chewed tree.”

Megren wrinkles her nose at the knight.

Myles catches her expression. “I didn’t say it /did/.”

Haft gets a curious expression on his face. “I’d love to see you say that to a dryad.”

Myles asks, “Like me that much, do you?”

Megren asks, “What would chew trees anyway? Giants don’t do they?”

“Beavers,” Haft mutters absently, adjusting a garland.

Myles barks a laugh. “So look out for any beavers roaming the castle before Christmas, then.”

Megren hmms. “I guess.”

You say, “Indeed.” He drops his hand. “I’m going back into the forest to gather more branches. Might bring back some holly too. We can start on the market.”

Megren asks, “Then the mess?”

Myles sets down his empty mug.

Haft turns. “Then the mess,” he says before heading out.

Megren nods, satisfied. “See you soon, then.”

Myles lifts one hand in farewell. As Haft goes, he says, “I ought to go check on some things, but perhaps I’ll be able to join for the mess later.”

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