Can He Tell a Delivery Boy from a Squirrel?

Army Barracks(#12898R/AHJKM)

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You stand in the barracks belonging to the Army of Archenland. Here is where the men reside when not on campaign. There are many bunks along the walls and at the foot of each bunk is a foot locker. The barracks is neat and tidy. Arrow slot windows facing out allow for defense and provide light.

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You can go: Knights’ and Officers’ Barracks <S>, North Gate Tower <E>,

Northern Stairwell <W>

Haft dozes on his bunk.

Megren stands in the doorway to the men’s barracks, inquiring with one of the guards after Haft.

The guard calls over his shoulder. “Oy! Haft, you got a female caller.”

Haft sits up, hair askew and blinks. “I have a /what/?”

Megren grins, waving from where she stands in the doorway.

Haft says, “Oh, her.”

He swings his feet over the edge of the bed and stands up, heading to the doorway. “That puts a different face on things.”

Megren asks, “I’m not interesting enough, am I?”

Haft says, “You might be less intimidating.”

Megren says, “Magda’s a fright, I’ve always said.”

Haft’s face contorts before he recovers himself. “You needed something?”

Megren nods. “Got a little to talk?”

Haft shrugs. “Sure.”

Megren gestures with her head outside.

Haft follows her lead.

 

North Gate Tower

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You stand in the North Gate Tower, and through the narrow windows you can see off into the distance of Archenland. Here soldiers and knights can defend Anvard, raining arrows down on any enemy who should approach the gate. There are stairs leading down to the outer ward, and a door into the Army Barracks.

Narrow stairs continue up to the higher reaches of the tower.

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You can go: Army Barracks <W>, Upstairs <U>, Outer Ward <D>

Megren comes walking into the gate tower from the Army barracks.

Megren swings around the corner and leans back against the wall. “I just wanted to ask you about Nathen a bit.”

Haft bites his cheek. “Yes?”

Megren asks, “Um, did you, I guess there was something about him thinking a dish might be poisoned after talking to you?”

Haft makes a face, looks away, then turns back and says, “The foodstuffs weren’t delivered through the usual channels. I’m supposed to keep an eye out for the unusual. We’ve had a poisoning not so long ago, if you’ll recall.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side and nods. “I see, yes, that’s true. How did the, can I ask how did the conversation go?”

Haft crosses his arms. “Because you have a problem with what happened after?”

Megren asks, “He, um, yes, did you hear what happened?”

Haft says, “I did.”

Megren says, “He tried to give it to the dogs.”

Haft says, “Yes.”

Megren sighs. “Well, anyway, I thought I’d ask.”

Haft says, “Lanisen and I discussed the matter. I will be directing suspicious items away from the kennels hencforth.”

Haft doesn’t sound particularly pleased.

Megren says, “I, oh. He hadn’t said he was going to. I didn’t mean to blame you.”

Haft grunts. “I should have known better. I told Nathen to simply make sure the cooks inspected the delivery. Feeding some to the dogs was his idea. I should have directed him toward the pigs or chickens.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side again. “Well, I, I promised I’d talk to Lord Dar about it, as it sounds like he’s taking authority on duties that aren’t his expertise and it’s tossing things in a fray. You saw earlier — not just Lanisen. Only, I don’t want to make it sound worse than it is, you know?

Haft looks confused and uneasy at the mention of Lord Dar, but after a moment his face clears. “Ah, I see. Well, I may have alarmed him unduly. He had no thought that the food might be dangerous until I put the idea before him. But I would rather err on the side of caution than not.”

Megren says, “Yes, I don’t think I disagree with that. It’s all the same impulse, I suppose. Everyone wanting to keep the order and having a different way about it.”

Haft nods. “Quite.”

Megren looses a breath. “Well. Thank you. Sorry to pull you off your rest for it.”

Haft says, “That’s all right. It’s only fair you get the whole story before you speak to Lord Dar.”

Megren asks, “Lanisen– how did the conversation go?”

Haft says, “Not so badly at first. I saw him in the kitchen yard and asked him how it had gone when Nathen visited. He said Nathen tried to feed the dogs without asking first. I had told Nathen to speak to Lanisen or Kirby first, to avoid poisoning a favorite dog. It ended with him rather forcefully telling me not to send suspect items to the dogs for testing again. I told him I understood.”

Haft’s mouth twitches.

Megren asks, “You told him to take it to the dogs?”

Haft says, “No. I told you, that was Nathen’s idea. But I did tell Lanisen that I would prefer a dog be poisoned than one of us. He said something about them not being ‘cupbearers’. That’s a Calormene custom, isn’t it? I can’t remember the post from Archen history.”

Megren says, “I suppose I’ll inquire with Lord Dar after the policy, as well. If we’re getting rid of human food because it might have poison, I’m not sure I see the sense in feeding it to anyone, as people won’t be eating it either way. I’d think it’d be bury it in the wood and have done — but there must be a policy, anyway.”

Haft says, “Maybe the policy should be that the delivery boy should do his own work and not shuffle it off on the court librarian.”

Megren says firmly, “That, I utterly agree on. Is that how he ended up in it, then?”

Haft asks, “So it would seem. Said he met the delivery boy in town and was asked to bring it in. That would be an excellent way to get something dangerous into the kitchen and then be well away before it was discovered. Not to mention with the way Nathen’s been lately, who’s to say he can tell the delivery boy from a squirrel?”

Megren screws up her face. “Half the time I think he’s just looking for a good rise, but sometimes he’s serious and I can’t seem to tell the difference.”

Haft says, “Never a dull moment, I guess. I–” He cuts himself off.

Megren lifts her brows.

Haft frowns. “I’ve lost ground with Lanisen. It can’t be helped now.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry.”

Haft shrugs. “Like I said, nothing for it now. Time. Again.”

Megren says, “I suppose.”

Haft says, “I don’t know what kind of policy Lord Dar will come up with. In this case, the risk was slight enough that it would have been a shame to waste good food when it could have been easily tested…even if there might be more suitable critters to test it on.”

Megren says, “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I’m sure there’s something in place already and we’ve merely to inquire. Brosie probably knows it, as I suppose it’s more usually in her jurisdiction.”

Haft asks, “Fair enough. But still, what would make sense to you?”

Megren says, “If you don’t think it’s poisoned, let it be eaten. If you do think it might be, then let it not be eaten.”

Megren says, “It’d be a greater waste of a dog or a pig than of the food.”

Haft says, “Suppose. But then in the normal course of things, you’d be unlikely to lose either. Still, it would be good to have a policy, I guess.”

Megren says, “I’ll ask what it is when I talk to Lord Dar.”

Haft says, “Let me know if he needs to speak to me about the incident. I’m not sure I did wrong, but I might have done better.”

Megren says, “Of course; I will.”

Haft asks, “Thanks. That your next business?”

Megren says, “I guess so. I’ll leave you back to your rest.”

Haft says, “You want me to accompany you? It’s less your problem than mine, I should think.”

Megren says, “Um… well, I made that pact with Nathen, is the thing, so I rather feel it /is/ my problem, even if the incident itself is larger. But I won’t say no, if you want to share your part in it.”

Haft says, “Probably more straightforward that way. If I’m to be taken to task, better to get it past than be sought out for it. And less trouble for Lord Dar.”

Megren’s brows furrow. “I — all right.”

Haft unfolds his arms. “Let’s go then. I’ve got time before my shift.”

Megren says, “Sure, all right. If he’s free.”

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