Feats of Strength

North Andale

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This quiet area is known as North Andale. To one side of the gravel road is a glade of trees, mostly hardwoods, dominated by a huge White Oak. To the other side of the road is a small meadow, full of wild-flowers and there in the middle someone has placed a table and two benches, much weathered, but still sturdy. This is a favorite place for young sweethearts to pass time together.

To the south is the village of Andale and off to the east is the Range Road.

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You can go: Range Road <E>, Andale <S>, Climb <U>

Haft stands by a table laden with food, examining his options.

Nasrin strolls on into the meadow where the festival is being held, dragging along Sehsis. “It’s very lovely up here. I can’t believe you’ve never shown me before.”

Sehsis walks along with her, “I haven’t? I could have sworn I did”

Deonyc rushes in towards the table with a last loaf of bread and sets it on the table.

Nasrin shakes her head. “Never before, no.”

Sehsis says, “Oh. I apologise then.”

Nasrin says, “All is forgiven then.” She takes a look around before walking on over to the table.

Deonyc is standing at the table, and cuts himself a slice of fruit bread, he sees Sehsis and Nasrin, “Hey glad that you could make it!”

Haft turns at Deonyc’s expression and makes a small frown of displeasure. Clearly he is /not/ pleased that the two could make it.

Nasrin waves to Deonyc. “It’s all looking so very nice, and you helped with this?” Upon noticing Haft’s reaction, she peers over at him and gives him a very bright smile indeed.

Haft draws back in confusion.

Sehsis instead opts to ignore Haft, speaking instead to Deonyc, “Well, as soon as she found out there was one there was really very little choice.”

Deonyc says, “Well there really isn’t that much reason to /not/ come.”

Nasrin gives Haft a cheerful wave too before nodding in response to Deonyc. “Why wouldn’t we want to come! Uncle is trying to pretend he’s reluctant, but deep down even he wants to.”

Deonyc smiles, “We all know he does.” he looks around for a good place to sit.

Sehsis shrugs noncommittally, is he going to admit they’re right? Absolutley not.

Haft says, “I shouldn’t think he’d much care for our local food.”

Deonyc sits down at the base of the oak with his piece of bread, and watches the gathering, smiling.

Nasrin hmms to herself as she examines all the food on offer.

Sehsis once again ignores the comment made by Haft.

Deonyc moves towards the table again, next to Nasrin, “You have celebrations like these in Calormen too don’t you?”

Sehsis says, “We have festivals yes.”

Nasrin nods. “Plenty of them, really!”

Haft selects some roast venison and looks for a place to sit.

Deonyc exclaims, “Well this will be your first Archenlandian celebration then I suppose!”

Nasrin exclaims, “I’m not sure about my uncle here, but it definitely is for me!”

Haft takes his place with a couple of guards, though still close enough to catch bits of the other conversation.

Sehsis says, “It would be the first I have attended”

Deonyc says, “I guess you would never come to the yuletide celebration, or for Father Christmas.”

Sehsis says, “I tend not to be around much during the winter.”

Haft furrows his brow.

Deonyc nods, and then walks over to the guardsmen, “Hello Haft, haven’t seen you in a while, How are you?”

Haft looks over his shoulder, mouth full of venison. He takes another moment to chew and swallow, then, with a glance at the two Calormenes, responds, “Fine.”

Deonyc nods, and asks a bit worriedly, “Is the venison good?”

Nasrin asks, “What sort of food would you recommend?”

Haft says, “Venison’s fine.”

Deonyc seems quite relieved, “Ok, good.”

Haft asks, “What, were you expecting it to be burnt?”

Nasrin nods listening along to the conversation and takes some venison for herself.

Deonyc says, “No, but I cooked it, I just wanted to make sure it was alright.”

Deonyc turns to nasrin, “All the food is good, the venison and breads are more filling, and the salad and ice cream are sweeter i guess.”

Sehsis says, “You have ice cream here? Why didn’t anyone mention this sooner I wonder…”

Haft makes a noise that might be a sneeze but sounds suspiciously like a snort.

Nasrin shows Deonyc her plate of venison. “I might take the ice cream later for dessert.”

Deonyc says, “Good choice.”

Sehsis does help himself to a bit of ice cream

Deonyc turns to Nasrin, “You can see almost all of Andale from the top of that tree, it really is one of the nicest places in Andale.”

Haft gives Deonyc a curious look, then shakes his head and turns back to his fellows.

Sehsis tries some of the ice cream, maybe northern food is salvageable after all.

Nasrin exclaims, “I take it you’ve made the climb plenty of times then!”

Deonyc nods, “I have, sitting at the top of the trees is one of the best places to think.”

Nasrin says, “I think I might prefer to take the walk through the meadow. I’m unsure if I could climb the whole tree.”

Deonyc looks at the tree, “It is /tall/.” he looks over at the meadow.

Nasrin nods with a hmm and eats away at her venison, as she follows his gaze and looks across at the meadow too.

Deonyc slowly walks over to the meadow, he looks at the different wildflowers and sits down at the table.

Sehsis asks, “So what usually happens at these functions?”

Deonyc says, “Well there’s food, dancing, bonfires and chatting and walking around, just merriment.”

Gearn pipes up in response to this. “Mainly we try to see if we can get Haft to put flowers in his hair.”

Haft chokes on his venison.

Nasrin suddenly has a very large smile upon hearing Gearn’s comment and looks quite thoughtful to herself.

Haft dislodges the food from his throat and sets his food aside. “You asking for a wrestling match, son?”

Gearn grins lazily. “You’ll lose.”

Haft says, “I might, but I’ll /feel/ better.”

Sehsis manages to keep a straight face as he says to Gearn, “I wish you the best of luck in that endeavour.”

Deonyc watches the events smiling, and eats his fruit bread.

Gearn stands to his feet, canting his head toward an open space. Haft, for his part, narrows his eyes and follows.

Dalia makes her way towards the gathering, along with several family members, who scatter to talk to the various villagers present. She passes Haft on her way. “Oh hello Haft. Gearn.”

Haft grunts something indistinguishable in response. He’s keeping one eye on his fellow guardsman.

Nasrin finishes up her meal and looks across the meadow for where the prettiest of flowers may lie.

Haft and Gearn circle each other, Haft focused, Gearn grinning broadly. Gearn makes the first move, wrapping his arms around Haft and trying to force him to the ground. Haft gives way a bit before shifting his stance and trying to get and arm around Gearn’s neck.

A couple of other guards hoot and call encouragement to each man.

Deonyc watches the match, but also makes his way towards Dalia.

Sehsis watches with mild interest.

Dalia shrugs it off as Haft passes her with a grunt, and makes her way towards several other gathered.

The contest continues for a couple of minutes, during which time each man briefly takes the upper hand. In the end, Haft brings a foot behind Gearn’s ankle and brings him to his knees, but this gives the younger man leverage to propel Haft over his shoulder, then twist and pin him there.

“All right, I yield,” Haft mutters. Gearn releases him and extends a hand, helping him up.

Gearn asks, “Does this mean we /do/ get to put flowers in your hair?”

Haft gives him a dark look and Gearn raises his hands innocently.

Deonyc tilts his head curious.

Haft says, “I think not.”

Haft resumes his seat.

Nasrin returns and sidles up behind Haft, spotting her chance. She gives him the beautiful gift that is a great variety of bright and colourful flowers in his hair, before rushing off to the far end of the table!

Sehsis absolutely does not manage to keep a straight face at Nasrin’s actions, he coughs quickly to hide his amusement.

Deonyc smiles and turns his head away.

Haft spins at the contact, hand raised to strike at his attacker before he realizes it’s a girl and alters his posture in exasperation.

Nasrin exclaims, “You’re looking wonderful, Guardsman!”

Haft yanks the flower crown from his head, irritated. He looks like he’s about to toss it to the ground–and possibly stomp on it.

Dalia doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to goings on, waving to Deonyc and others gathered, till she notices Nasrin dash past and covers her mouth. Her eyebrows raise when it looks like Haft will strike her till he alters his position.

Haft notes the expression on Dalia’s face and relents just a little. “A crown for my lady?” he offers, holding it out.

Deonyc notices Dalia’s wave, and returns the gesture.

Nasrin sits and tucks into some ice cream, watching Haft carefully. She smiles upon seeing he has a soft side after all!

Dalia accepts the crown with a little smile, “Thank you, Guardsman. And a happy solstice to you.” She says sincerly.

Haft inclines his head.

Deonyc heads over to Nasrin, “So what do you think so far?”

Nasrin exclaims, “I think I shall like to see the dancing at one point, yes. I love a good dance show!”

Deonyc says, “Its less of a show and more, those dancing that like too.””

Nasrin asks, “Oh?”

Dalia adorns the floral crown with a smile.

Deonyc nods, “The whole celebration isn’t all that structured really, you just do things how they fit.

Dalia moves towards Deoync and Nasrin, “Hello Deonyc, Nasrin.”

Nasrin nods listening to him. “It’s still very much something I’d like to see. Perhaps I could join in… perhaps.” She thoughtfully eats before spotting Dalia and nodding in greeting. “Hello there!”

Deonyc says, “Hi, Nice crown Dalia.”

Haft asks, “/Do/ they have dancing in Calormen?”

Megren comes walking up the hill. She is still using her cane, but doesn’t seem to be relying on it very much.

Sehsis says to Haft, “Yes. We have music too. What a strange world we live in, hm.”

Nasrin says, “I’d be very surprised if there was a country out there that didn’t have any dancing. ”

Dalia grins in reply to Deonyc, “Thank you.”

Deonyc hmms, “We should make some music, Dalia your Father is a Bard is he not?”

Haft says, “I can picture the music. It’s the dancing I can’t imagine.”

Nasrin asks, “Why not?”

Dalia coughs upon hearing Sehsis’s reply to Haft. Of course, it was a cough. For sure. Before turning to answer Deonyc. “Indeed, he is. Both bard and minstrel.”

Haft says, “Couldn’t say. Never thought about it.” He grudgingly asks, “What’s it like?”

Deonyc looks to some of the fellow townsmen, and talks to a few, some heading of to town, returning with various instruments.

Dalia smiles as she sees her father among them, then moves towards Megren smiling. “Megren! Good too see you!”

Haft turns his head at Dalia’s cry and breaks into a grin. He rises and goes to meet his friend. “Need an arm?”

Megren wrinkles her nose happily and takes his arm. “Thanks. It looks good out here!”

Haft says, “It doesn’t taste bad either. Try the venison.”

Megren says, “If I must.”

Megren exclaims, “Hello, Dalia!”

Nasrin thinks about Haft’s question before saying, “It’s very emotional, very fluid. It’s really quite the spectacle.”

Dalia steadies the floweral on her head to keep it from slipping off and grins at Megren.

Megren’s eyes fall on the flowers. “Look at those! Did you weave it?”

Haft chews his lower lip.

Dalia shakes her head, “No. Not I. This was a gift from a noble guardsman, after perfoming feats of strength. I do believe Nasrin could make you one if you wish.”

Megren exclaims, “Feats of strength!”

Haft blushes.

Gearn laughs at this, but doesn’t add anything.

Megren looks at Haft inquiringly.

Haft looks back at her. “What?”

Megren says, “Tell me about these feats.”

Haft says, “Well…” he looks around. “There was wrestling.”

Megren lifts her brows.

Haft says, “What? That’s what you’re supposed to do at festivals.”

Megren asks, “And the old grandpa won?”

Edana walks hand in hand with her son to the festival.

Sehsis says, “No.”

Dalia offers, “He strove very well against Gearn.”

Deonyc spots Edana and Kaie and walks over.

Haft snorts. “‘Course not. The young buck won.”

Haft says, “Thank you Dalia.”

Kaie escapes his mother and runs to give Deonyc a hug around his knees. “Deonyc!” He shouts, “we are here for the festival!” Edana catches up slowly.

Megren says, “Aw.”

Haft says, “I am perfectly content with my performance.”

Deonyc stops abruptly his knees trapped, “Hi Kaie, Edana!”

Edana smiles. “Hello. How goes the party?” Kaie looks around Deonyc, bobbing his head in excitement.

Megren says, “Gearn would beat me too, I’ll bet.”

Deonyc smiles, “It’s going well, I think most of us are enjoying themselves.”

Dalia nods to Haft. She turns to look at some of the assembled villagers with intraments in their hands. “I do believe some of the villagers have assembled to play some music.”

Haft opens his mouth to reply to Megren, but thinks better of it and shuts it again.

Megren grins at him, seeming to think she has an idea what he was going to say.

Edana nods and begins walking further into the party. Kaie keeps darting around, avoiding legs, and looking for friends. “Why are there all these flowers?”

Nasrin is busy weaving a series of yet more flower wreaths by herself as she looks up every now and again at the assembling music players.

Deonyc says, “I think Nasrin thought they’d be a nice addition.”

Deonyc sits down next nasrin, to try and weve some flower wreaths of his own.

Haft says, “It’s like the holly boughs at Yule, Kaie. Nothing like hanging dying plants everywhere to add to the festivities.”

Sehsis gives Haft a look then says to no one in particular, “And people say I can be dour…”

Edana watches Deonyc as he moves towards Nasrin and chooses to try to make one as well, looking up from time to time to watch Kaie. Kaie smiles at Haft. “You are funny Sir! Mum hates flowers too!”

Haft growls playfully. “I like my dead holly.”

Megren squints an eye at Haft.

Haft smiles at Megren.

Nasrin watches Deonyc and Edana make their own wreathes as well, setting the ones she’s made into a little pile. “We’ve got a good collection going on here!”

Dalia waves to Kaie and Edana.

Edana shakes her head at Kaie and keeps making the wreath. Kaie squeals at the growl and dances around in a little circle.

Edana returns Dalia’s waves but Kaie seems too busy dancing.

Deonyc makes a wreath that is slightly larger than the rest and gives it to kaie as a necklace.

Megren moves over toward Nasrin, which means that unless he extracts himself she drags Haft along too.

Haft’s jaw twitches, but he accompanies her.

Nasrin smiles up at Megren and Haft. “Hello there! Would you two care for some flowers?”

Megren pulls her arm out and carefully sits, depending on her cane a little for help. “I would. What have we got?”

“I’m fine,” Haft mutters.

Deonyc hands some flowers to megren, “Mostly Dandelions, but theres some others too.”

Kaie wears the necklace around proudly for a moment before running over to Dalia to show her.

Nasrin says looking at Haft wistfully. “But they suit you so well.” She turns to Megren and waves a hand over the collection. “I like to think of it as colours of the rainbow.”

Haft’s lips thin.

Edana looks at Haft and frowns.

Dalia bends down to Kaie’s level to speak to him. “What a lovely necklace you have there, Kaie.”

Megren picks up a long stem that ends in a cluster of small, dark bluish purple flowers. She holds it up against her hair. “Yes or no?”

Sehsis is content to listen to the music

Haft nods. “It suits. Lighter might be better.”

Kaie smiles at Dalia. “Thank you.” He hugs her and then walks to his mother. He looks at all the flowers and picks a small one, handing it to her. “Here you go! A flower for you!”

Megren hmms thoughtfully.

Nasrin hmms and offers Megren a lighter wreath. “Let’s compare how the two look.”

Deonyc finishes a wreath of light blue coneflowers alternating with white dandelions.

Megren picks up the new wreath, made mostly of cornflowers and feverfew, and holds it over her head inquiringly.

Dalia makes her way over to listen to the musicians and smiles, watching her father amoung them.

Haft nods his approval.

Edana takes the flower and places it near her ear. Kaie moves on to sit next to Dalia, listening to the music.

Megren lowers it reverentially onto her hair. “There.”

Deonyc says, “Beautiful, really.”

Sehsis comments, “Are we sure this is not a flower festival instead of a summer solstace”

Megren says, “We do need a good fire.”

Nasrin says, “Oh, uncle! Come heeere!” Dragging him on over to her, she smiles and places a wreath on his head.

Deonyc goes of with some of the men to get kindling and logs from the sourounding areas, they pile it near the center of the meadow.

Haft sees the wreath on Sehsis head and gets a most peculiar expression on his face, though he doesn’t burst into laughter.

Sehsis blinks as he’s dragged over and flower’d, “Thank you?”

Edana gets up and starts cleaning up and organizing the flowers. Kaie continues to listen to the music, swinging his feet.

Sehsis adjusts the wreath so it’s at a more jaunty angle.

Deonyc turns to the others, “Bonfire?”

Dalia gets up and offers to dance with Kaie.

Megren says, “It looks good, Sehsis.””

Kaie jumps at the offer and does a little jig while holding her hand.

Dalia dances back and forth, holding Kaie’s hands.

Sehsis says solemnly, “Thank you”

Megren screws up her mouth to the side. “Has anyone seen Lanisen out here today?”

Edana watches Dalia and Kaie for a moment before glancing over at Sehsis.

Deonyc turns to Megren, “As far as i can tell he hasn’t appeared as of yet.”

Haft says, “I haven’t. I figured he was helping oyu down here when i couldn’t find you earlier.”

Megren says, “Maybe I’ll go and see if I can’t get him to come down.”

Haft says, “You will not.”

Edana comes over to Kaie and Dalia and makes some comment about food, leading her son over to the table.

Megren makes a face at Haft.

Haft says, “I mean it. You’ve walked far enough on that ankle. You don’t need to go walking there and back again.”

Megren says, “He’s just going to coop himself in there otherwise.”

Haft sighs. “I’ll handle it.”

Edana takes some fruit from the table and Kaie looks around at the items gathered with hungry eyes.

Deonyc says, “One of us could run.”

Deonyc says, “Im pretty quick when it comes to longer distances.”

Haft says, “I’ve already offered.”

Megren squints an eye but lets them sort it out between them.

Deonyc says, “Sure, I’m just saying id be willing.”

Haft nods. “I’ve got some things to see to anyway. You just make sure Meg stays put till her escort gets here.

Kaie puts his hand right into the fruits salad only to be swatted away by his mother. “I only wanted the grape!” Edana shakes her head and mumbles something to him about not putting his hands in the food.

Deonyc simply nods.

Haft turns back to Megren. “All right?”

Megren doesn’t look totally satisfied, but she nods. “All right.”

Haft lowers his voice for her ears only.

Haft mumbles “What’s wrong?”, to Megren.

Haft mumbles something incomprehensible to Megren.

Megren shakes her head and replies.

Megren mumbles “No, it’s fine. Thank you.”, to Haft.

Megren mumbles “No, … fine. Thank you.”, to Haft.

Haft looks at her for a moment, then nods and heads south toward the town.

Travelling.

Kennels

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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The kennel of Anvard is a fairly spacious room, well-lit by the windows in the south wall looking toward the Outer Ward. It is immediately obvious that the hounds housed here are quite well-treated: the floor is kept clean-swept; the blankets padding the dogs’ wooden beds are thick and warm; and the hounds themselves have a certain sleek, well-fed look. Several pens can be seen toward the back of the room, likely used to isolate dogs that are sick, injured, or in need of further training, but the majority of the castle hounds are allowed to roam freely about the room.

A fireplace, lit on cold days, is set into the east wall, opposite the door to the quarters of Danall, the Master of Hounds. A set of wooden stairs leads up to a second level. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Outer Ward <N>, Huntsman’s Chamber <W>, Up <U>

Contents: Kirby the Houndkeeper.

Lanisen is kneeling on the rug in front of the empty fireplace with an enormous wolfhound, brushing out the dog’s thick fur. Tufts of black fur have begun to accumulate in piles around them, and the hound looks extremely content, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

Haft raps on the door, sticking his head in and seeking out Lanisen as his eyes adjust to the light in the room.

Lanisen glances up. He gets quickly to his feet, brushing fur off his shirt.

Haft says, “Hey, I…” He breaks off, as though he hasn’t quite considered what he was going to say. “I’m not staying,” he assures. “Only, Meg’s up at the meadow and askin’ after you.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, ‘course.” His hand goes to the small of his back briefly, and he glances around the room, his eyes landing on a small, plain knife sitting in its sheath on the table. He crosses to fetch it and stows it away under his shirt. “What’s she, what’s she needin’?”

Haft says, “Just her friend, I imagine.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.” He glances at Haft and quickly away. “Um,” he says. “The– the pasture?”

Haft says, “The meadow north of town. I’ve got some things to do around here. Maybe you can make sure she gets home alright on that ankle, if I don’t make it back?”

Lanisen asks, “North of, of town?” His eyes dart to the window, and though he seems abruptly uncertain he rallies. “Yeah, I can– yeah.”

Haft seems to realize Lanisen’s concern, and opens his mouth, but then sees the man steady himself, and nods. “North of the well. There’s lots of folks milling about that way.”

Lanisen rubs his elbow and nods.

Haft says, “Right.” He backs out of the kennel. “Have a good time.”

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