In which Haft and Megren discuss her upcoming trip to Narnia.
Inner Ward of Anvard
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 walking towards their quarters seeing to other business. A guarded gatehouse curtain wall, climbing to the upper reaches of the castle.
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>
Megren comes out of the northeast hallway, looking rather beat.
Haft speaks to Gearn near the gatehouse, apparently turning over watch duty.
Megren’s path to the tower takes her near them.
Gearn looks over. “What dragged you over the wall and under the moat?”
Megren squints at him.
Haft says, “What moat?”
Gearn says, “It’s an expression.”
Megren says, “Anybody up for a hot cider before it gets all cold and wet?”
Haft claps Gearn on the shoulder. “Bad luck, Gearn.” Then he heads toward Megren. “Don’t have to ask me twice.”
Megren grins. “Good.”
Haft looks her over. “You won’t fall over on your way up the stairs, I suppose?”
Megren screws up her face at him. “Have you known me to do that?”
Haft says, “There’s always a first time, but I’ll take that as a no. Because we could always go to the servant’s hall if you’re feeling tuckered.”
Megren says, “Mess for me.”
Haft says, “On your own head be it.”
Haft waves her up the steps ahead of him.
Megren hops up the steps.
This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room.
You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>
Haft follows Megren up the stairs and into the mess.
Megren swings by the table for cider, making a happy noise when she sees there’s hot new bread and butter as well.
Haft pours himself a liberal portion of cider as well and takes two large slices of bread, slathering them liberally with butter.
Megren plunks down in the nearest armchair to the fire, curling up in the seat.
Haft says, “Not on the floor tonight? You’re getting soft.”
Megren slithers to the floor. “You demand so much of me.”
Haft says, “I’ve never known you to listen when I demanded anything.”
Megren concedes, “Well.”
Haft asks, “So, how did you spend your day?”
Megren lies on her back, resting her cup between her ribs. “Mm, mounted combat, Swiftly’s grooming, rapier, then lunch, then arming sword and shield and defense classes, and dinner and reading.”
Haft asks, “You look mighty tired if the last thing you were doing was reading. What on earth did you read?”
Megren says, “Well, it was a long day.”
Haft says, “Sounds like it.”
Megren asks, “You?”
Haft says, “Woke up to see Deonyc half hanging off his bed, but he hasn’t fallen off it yet, so that’s something. Then Owin came in and I delivered a shirt. Apparently Dalia’s mending for free now. Then down to early breakfast and morning duty.”
A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.
Megren says, “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me about Dalia. She’s always finding good deeds to do for whoever she can convince to take them.”
Haft says, “Aye, she’s a good sort. Good cook too.”
Megren says, “That too.”
Haft asks, “Speaking of cooking, you had any lessons with Nathen yet?”
Megren says, “Not yet, and not for a while, I think — Sir Darrin and Lanisen and I are finally popping off on that trip to Narnia we’ve been talking about so long.”
Haft looks surprised. “Well that’s news. What’s brought it on?”
Megren makes an uncertain noise. “Well, it was — I don’t know, last winter sometime. Lanisen mentioned he’d always wanted to go, but he was too — you know, with Aaron and everything. So we made it a kind of a, a long-term goal, a reminder that he’s free and in charge of himself, I guess. That’s what he went to Neiklot about last month. One of the things. To ask Sir Colin’s permission.
Haft asks, “Oh? But Sir Colin’s not going along, new bride and all?”
Megren says, “No, he’s not going.”
Haft asks, “Good that Sir Darrin can make the time. He have friends at court at the Cair?”
Megren says, “He went a few years ago, for a festival, I think.”
Haft says, “They know how to throw a party, I’ll allow.”
Megren says, “I’ve never been.”
Haft says, “As you’ve never left Archenland, I gathered that.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Haft taps his temple. “See? That’s why they made me a guard. I can put together the evidence and draw conclusions.”
Megren sits up to drink her cider. “Hmm.”
Haft asks, “So what do you plan on doing in Narnia?”
Megren says, “Just see it, I guess. I might ask Lord Peridan if he needs anything done if we see him.”
Haft asks, “What would he need done?”
Megren lifts her shoulders.
Haft says, “Right, velvet-ribboned love letters delivered to Lady Avery. Silly me.”
Megren rolls her eyes good-naturedly.
Haft says, “No, I wouldn’t choose you to deliver something like that either. He’s probably got…I don’t know…jewel-plumed pheasants or something…might be up to the task.”
Megren asks, “I’m not good enough for love letters?”
Haft asks, “You tell me. You have experience delivering them?”
Megren says, “Uh…”
Haft asks, “No? Receiving them then?”
Megren says, “I only learned to read in the last two years.”
Haft says, “I suppose someone might have written in pictures. I heard some of the northern villages in Narnia tell stories like that. They’ll show a fellow standing on a plain next to a wigwam. Then they’ll show the wigwam catching fire. Then they’ll show the plain flooding, and then an invasion of Ettins…so I heard anway. Someone might’ve been making a joke. Seemed like quite a long way to tell an epic.”
Megren says, “That doesn’t sound like a very good story.”
Haft says, “Then I don’t recommend you visit the northern villages.”
Megren says, “I can’t imagine they’re often like that.”
Haft asks, “The stories or the villagers?”
Megren says, “Uh, the villages? Surely they only get the regular amount of disaster.”
Haft says, “I imagine they do, but I’m told they have a certain way of expecting the worst. Didn’t ever see too many of that sort. They don’t come round Barfield much.”
The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.
Megren squints an eye and says in contradiction to her expression, “I… see.”
Haft says, “No ya don’t. But if you ever meet a Marsh-wiggle, you can tell me how it went.”
Megren says, “Fair enough.”
Haft asks, “You’ll be leaving soon then, before the pass gets too muddy?”
Megren says, “End of the week.”
Haft scowls. “And you haven’t warned me before now?”
Megren screws up her face. “I’m sorry. I rather thought I had.”
Haft says, “So much for all the letters I was going to have you deliver to my girl back there.”
Megren lifts her brows in surprise and delight. “You’re teasing.”
Haft looks affronted. “I beg your pardon? Do you doubt me?”
Megren lowers her brows and takes on a serious, trusting expression. “Never.”
Haft says, “Well good, because she’s a very nice willow and I’d hate for you to accidentally insult her.”
Megren asks, “A willow?”
Haft asks, “Well of course. You didn’t think a birch would give me a second glance?”
Megren says, “I wouldn’t think any tree would have an eye for a person called Haft.”
Haft opens his mouth to retort, but pauses with it open, then bows his head and starts snickering.
Megren sips her cider nonchalantly.
Haft says, “That, I will admit, is an excellent point. I’ll have to use that the next time Gearn ribs me about not finding love during my time in Narnia.”
Megren rolls her eyes. “Because there are so many eligible possibilities there.”
Haft says, “Dryads, naiads…I guess humans and dwarfs might could, but I never heard of it. He seems to find it funny, though.”
Megren says, “I suppose.”
Haft asks, “What about you? Reckon you might find a handsome Ash who’ll take your fancy?”
Megren says, “I don’t think so.”
Haft asks, “Oak then?”
Megren says, “If you’re looking for a favorite tree, willow or cherry, maybe.”
Haft asks, “Why those?”
Megren tilts her head to the side. “I don’t know. I like all the flowering ones. And the ones that take good colors in the fall. And — well, lots of others too, I guess. I like the branches on the weeping willows, though. It makes a kind of private room.”
Haft says, “Aye, I suppose they do. Brigid used to braid crowns and rings and bracelets from the trailers.”
Megren says, “I’ve never thought to do that.”
Haft says, “Said it was easier than daisy chains, though I recall her being quite prolific with those. I wouldn’t know.”
Megren says, “I could see it being. Not very big though.”
Haft says, “Well, not everything has to be flashy.”
Megren says, “No, and it would make for a peaceful activity, anyway.”
Haft says, “Aye, that’s Brigid. Well…some of the time.”
Megren asks, “Some of the time?”
Haft says, “Far be it from me to imply that Brig wasn’t a perfect darling all her childhood.” He rises. “That’s a story for another night. I’ve got early duty.”
Megren says, “Oh sure, all right. See you tomorrow, I’m sure.”
Haft says, “Don’t flee north without saying goodbye.”
Megren says, “If you insist.”
The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.
Haft waves vaguely and disappears through the door.