The Appalling Shirt

Outer Ward

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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= You stand in the busy outer ward of Castle Anvard, full of people seeing to the needs of king and kingdom. There are market stalls along the outer wall, bustling with merchants and shoppers. Grooms work in the stables, tending to the horses there, and you hear the occasional bark of a dog from the kennels. The sounds of hammer hitting iron rings out from the blacksmith shop. There are stairs leading to the gate towers on the northern and southern corners of the outer curtain. To the east is the outer gatehouse, and the road leading into the realm of Archenland, and to the west another gate, leading to the inner gatehouse, the inner ward, and the main keep of Anvard. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Stables <N>, Northern Market <NE>, Outer Gatehouse <E>, Southern Market <SE>, Kennels <S>, Inner Gatehouse <W>, Blacksmith <NW>, South Stair <US>, North Stair <UN>

Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).

Haft enters the ward from the outer gatehouse, in no hurry judging by his gait.

Megren stands near the gatehouse, apparently at the end of a conversation with a market vendor, given that the other woman seems to be parting.

Lanisen sits on a crate outside the kennels, bundled up but enjoying the thin late-winter sunshine and the reasonably nice, if cold and muddy, day.

Haft notes Megren as he passes through, and pauses until the other woman has left.  “Good day Meg.”

Megren exclaims, “Hey! Where are you coming in from?”

Haft says, “Town.  Had an errand.”

Megren says, “Errand, huh.”

Haft tilts his head.  “Had some things for the courier.”

Megren asks, “Brigid?”

Haft says, “For one, yes.”

Megren asks, “How is she?”

Lanisen is just people-watching, his eyes following the comings and goings of the market. Tohol sits at his side, looking pleased with life, his tongue hanging out. After some time, Lanisen gets up and moves toward the area of the market that deals more in food, the hound trailing along behind him without needing to be told.

Haft says, “She seems well.  Calla is progressing in her needlework, she says.  I’m not convinced, based on the last kerchief she sent, but I’m sure Brigid is a better judge than I.”

Megren grins. “Better than me, I’m sure.”

Haft replies, “Couldn’t say.  Do you mend your own shirts, ’cause they’re ghastly.” He winks.

Megren sticks her tongue out.

Haft says, “I mend mine when I have to…it’s usually better if I get ’em to Adeliha though.”

Megren asks, “Ha. Then who are you to talk?”

Haft says, “I’m the one who doesn’t have to wear your appalling shirt.”

Lanisen and Tohol emerge from the more crowded section of the market after a moment. Lanisen has a baked potato in one hand, and his other is resting on Tohol’s neck.

Megren catches sight of Lanisen through the crowd and waves. “Keeps the snow out and me in, I call that success enough.”

Haft turns his head to see who she’s waving at.  “I suppose that’s a fair requirement of service from your garment.”

Lanisen returns the wave with the potato. His eyes slip to the side to her companion and he pauses uncertainly, scanning Haft’s face.

Haft gives a small nod, expression neutral.

Megren asks, “What else do you ask it to do?”

Haft asks, “My shirt?”

Megren says, “Sure, or, clothes in general, I was thinking.”

Haft says, “Keep off the rain and remain stain and odor free as long as possible.  Though when I was younger I had a shirt trained to do cartwheels across the ward.”

Megren says, “That’s the sort of needlework Calla ought to aspire to.”

Haft asks, “You think there’s a market for it?”

Megren says, “Definitely.”

Lanisen returns to his crate to eat his potato, evidently choosing not to interrupt.

Haft watches Lanisen.  “Wish he’d just come over.  It’s not like I’m gonna bite him.  I already ate.”

Megren rolls her eyes. “You’re hilarious.”

Lanisen sits to eat, unwrapping the top of his potato from the waxed brown paper, and biting off the top. He breaks off pieces occasionally to share with Tohol.

Haft sighs.  “Wasn’t really trying to be.”

Megren says, “We could always… walk that way.”

Haft says, “After you.”

Megren traipses on over then.

Haft follows a step behind.

Megren calls as they swing by Lanisen, “What’s the market got today?”

Lanisen is caught with his mouth full. He swallows hastily and wraps up the remains of his potato. “Dunno,” he answers as soon as he’s able. “I stopped at the potatoes.”

Haft asks, “Are they still hot?”

Megren snorts. “Just straight to the potatoes, of course.”

Lanisen gets to his feet. “Um,” he says, glancing at Haft again, “They’re– not hot, they’re warm, real warm, not, you can eat ’em right away, I mean.”

Haft says, “Sounds good.” He glances at Megren.  “Nothing wrong with a good potato.  Fry ’em, stew ’em, mash ’em up.””

Megren says, “Oh, I’m not protesting that.”

Lanisen nods several times when these are listed off. “They’re, um,” he says after a small pause, and points at a stall with a dark green tarp. “He’s put cheese inside ’em.”

Megren asks, “Well, who could say no to that?”

Haft says, “Oh, now you’ve got me wishing I hadn’t had lunch.”

Lanisen glances at Megren, a little uncertainly. He nods.

Megren glances at Haft and screws up her face. “Maybe before your next shift, then.”

Haft says, “Perhaps.”

Lanisen rubs his elbow and ventures, “You might should ask if he’ll save you one, if it’s, if you’re not on shift for a while. I think, they looked like they were goin’ pretty fast.”

Haft chews his lip. “Thanks. Don’t want to keep him if the others all sell.  There’s other days.

Megren says, “Well, I’m getting one.”

Lanisen rests his hand absently on Tohol’s neck and nods.

Megren slips off that way.

Haft watches Megren leave before turning back to Lanisen.  He lowers his gaze to the dog.  “Who’s this then?”

Lanisen looks slightly startled when Megren leaves. He shifts his weight and looks back at Haft. “He’s, uh, he’s called Tohol.”

Haft asks, “How old?”

Lanisen looks down at Tohol. “Um, maybe– I’m not sure but maybe eight, eight years?”

Haft nods.  “Looks about right for eight.  Know a little about dogs–not much, just more than I know about horses.

Lanisen shifts slightly at this, angling himself a little more toward Haft. “Yeah?”

Haft says, “Well, I practically grew up in Anvard.  Used to scamper off to the kennels sometimes while Mother was at the market.  And I used to ask more questions than were probably appreciated.”

Lanisen finds a small grin for this piece of information. “Has it changed much, since then?”

Megren reemerges from the crowd and waves to the pair with her free hand.

Haft considers.  “No so much, no, I don’t think so.”

Lanisen keeps his hand on Tohol’s neck, nodding as if this makes sense. He shifts again and looks mildly relieved when Megren comes back into view.

Megren announces, “Got one!”

Haft asks, “And…?”

Lanisen says, “Good job.”

Megren sticks her tongue out at Lanisen and starts unwrapping the package.

Haft says, “You have to tell me if it holds up to expectations.”

Lanisen shifts again, glancing at Haft, then watches Megren for her reaction.

Megren pulls at the sliced top and breaks off a piece, then holds out the potato to Haft. “Take some.”

Haft smiles faintly.  “Thanks.” He pops the food into his mouth, then nods his approval.

Lanisen keeps rather awkwardly quiet, one hand clasping the opposite elbow.

Megren says, “Lanisen, I was wondering if you wanted to help with the horses later.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, uh, sure, if you like. I’m free.”

Haft looks at the sky.  “I should go.  I agreed to meet Perth for a game of chess.”

Megren says, “Tell Perth to stop taking my partner.”

Haft says, “Can’t keep sharp if I only play with one of you.”

Megren says, “Exactly.”

Haft snorts and makes for the stairwell, gesturing in farewell.

Lanisen dips his head to Haft and murmurs, “Afternoon.”

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