On the Decoration of Harnesses

Stable

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The stables of Anvard are not large, but they are well-ordered and tidy. The wide alley runs parallel to the outside wall, with generously sized box stalls on either side. Many hold permanent residents, with the horse’s name on a wooden sign above the stall door, but several stand empty to receive visitors. The hard-packed dirt floor is kept well swept, and the stalls are clean, but there is a pervading smell of horse and hay that is not entirely unpleasant.

There is a small paddock in the east corner of the stable, and the far west end is devoted to tack storage and maintenance. A door in the west wall, kept closed most of the time, leads to the smithy.

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You can go: Out to the Pastures <N>, Outer Ward <S>, Blacksmith <W>

 

Haft enters the stable with a large, full sack hefted over one shoulder.

The stable is relatively low in traffic, somewhere in the morning hours before the knights and squires are thinking of any riding, but after the stablehands have finished their primary chores. Megren can be seen ahead of Haft, apparently not having heard the door behind him. She pauses a moment on the threshold as she surveys the room, and then surreptitiously slips in.

Haft heads further into the stables. Not seeing Megren but catching a sound he glances toward the tack room as he passes it.

Megren can be seen with her back to the doorway, bending over one of the knight’s hooks, where their tack is hung. A bright flash of rowan berries can briefly be seen before being hidden again by her position.

Haft grunts under the weight of the sack. “More plants for your knight?”

Megren startles, turning quickly. “Oh,” she says, coloring a little. “Yeah.”

Haft asks, “No respite, eh?”

Megren twists the rowan branch in her hands. “Well he keeps having all these meetings — about Narnia — and he always looks — I’ve just been trying to cheer him a bit.”

Haft lowers the sack with a thud. “That bad?”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know. It seems reasonable to be worried or sad, even if it all goes as well as it can.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I reckon so. They seemed good rulers. Held up their end with Archenland anyway.”

Megren says, “They were kind to us.”

Haft says, “Kind to about everyone. Yeah.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “So you think fiddling with his tack will cheer him up.”

Megren screws up her mouth and lifts her shoulders helplessly. “It seems to.”

Haft says, “I’d take exception to most folks meddling with my gear, but I suppose you are his squire.”

Megren says, “I’m just making it look nice.”

Haft asks, “I…see. And what do the other lords say when he trots by?”

Megren says, “He can take it off before he saddles Dawn if he wants.”

Haft says, “And ruin all your hard work? That’s not very chivalrous”

Megren admits, “Well, I don’t think he usually does.”

Haft grins, “So what do the other lords say?”

Megren guesses, “Probably, ‘My, your saddle looks nice. I wish /my/ squire paid me such care’, something like that.”

Haft says, “Most of their squires wouldn’t think of flowers or berries.”

Megren says, “Well, I suppose flowers or berries might not be what brightens most of the knights’ days.”

Haft says, “What does, d’ya reckon? I’m all for hot cider.”

Megren says, “Hm, me too.”

Haft says, “Also bacon–don’t tie bacon to his saddle.”

Megren says, “No, that doesn’t seem like the best use of bacon.”

Haft says, “It would really confuse the hounds.”

Megren says, “Hm, that’s true.”

Haft says, “Oh, speaking of the dogs, how’s yer pa? He got that one.”

Megren snorts softly. “He did, yeah. Licorice. He’s doing well. Glad I’m back.”

Haft says, “So’m I. Was getting boring round here.”

Megren smiles, wrinkling her nose. “I am too, I think.”

Haft asks, “You think?”

Megren says, “Well, I would have liked to stay and help.”

Haft says, “Oh. Yeah. Might be a long time before they can get things sorted.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft asks, “You need any help decorating his bridle?”

Megren says, “Oh, I– oh. Sure, if you,” her eyes stray to the sack.”–were you in the middle of something?”

Haft hitches his shoulder up, trying to work out a kink. “One of the oat suppliers likes to send his boy on a cart with the bags. Boy’s big enough to drive the cart.” He chuckles. “Not big enough to heft the sacks.”

Megren wrinkles her nose, lips curving upward. “Aw.”

Her eyes flick to the doorway. “Are there more? Is he waiting?”

Haft says, “Nah, this is the last.”

Megren says, “All right.”

She extends a branch to him and shows him what she was doing. “Just that one here.”

Haft weaves the branch into the tack accordingly.

Megren says, “That’ll work.”

Haft says, “We should tie a ribbon on. Let the other knights fancy he has a lady and see if he changes colors.”

Megren blinks, a little surprised, and having to take a moment to turn this idea over before it occurs to her to say, “I haven’t got any ribbon.”

Haft makes a face. “Well I certainly don’t…”

His brows lift in realization. “Alright I do…”

Megren blinks again, looking a little uncomfortable this time. “You do?”

Haft says, “It’s for Calla.”

Megren asks, “Oh, oh. That’s nice. Is she coming to visit?”

Haft squints at her. “Why, who did you think it was for?”

Megren says, “Um, I don’t know. You could have just wanted something nice to look at, I suppose.”

Haft asks, “Does that sound like something I would do?”

Megren says, “Maybe if it was purple and gold with little mountains embroidered on it.”

Haft opens his mouth to protest, then nods in mock concession.

Megren grins.

Haft says, “In any event, yer knight can’t have it.”

Megren says, “I think he’ll live.”

Haft says, “All deprived of his lady love. And he never even knew her.”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear and then drops her hand to rub her elbow. There is an awkward pause, and then she takes a step back and surveys their work, rather consciously rerouting the subject. “Well. What do you think?”

Haft stares at her for a second, as though he suspects he’s missed something, but shrugs it off. “Looks cheery. Can’t say if it’s combat-tedium-of-political-meetings cheery, but it’s a solid try.

Megren nods. “It’ll do for a start, anyway.”

Haft says, “Aye. Well, I’m off to the cobbler’s for a repair. I’ll see you later.”

Megren says, “Thanks for the help.”

Haft says, “Any time.”

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