The garden at the top of the nobles’ tower is a wilder and less formal garden than the queen’s garden below. Mountain-hardy wildflowers such as columbine and aster are grouped in attractive clusters, growing in large planters of varying heights, and a large bank of lavender thrives on the west side of the tower, out of the shade of the solarium to the southeast. There is a small raised pool in the center of the garden, full of enormous orange-mottled carp grown fat and slow and tame with daily feeding.
A circular stairway winds around the exterior of the pool, leading down into the tower, and a break in the crenellated wall on the northwest side leads to the queen’s garden. Standing at the east wall, one can see down into the inner ward, and the curve of the wall on the west side from south to north overlooks the castle grounds below. The mountains of Archenland rise over thecastle to the immediate north, the range stretching away into the west.
You can go: Queen’s Garden <NE>, Queen’s Solarium <SE>, Nobles’ Quarters <D>
Lanisen wonders, “Is it cold enough to be freezin’ over?”
He’s sitting with Megren by the side of the fish pond, which is not frozen over.
Megren says, “If it were fall, I wouldn’t say so, but since it’s /been/ cold, maybe.”
Haft walks up the staircase that circles the pond.
Lanisen says, “We don’t have time to go look, I suppose.”
Megren shakes her head. “Sir Darrin said dancing lessons after his meeting’s out.”
She looks up at the sound of someone new coming up the stairs and, seeing Haft, ducks her head a bit, tucking her hair behind her ear.
Haft grins at this. “More dancing?”
Lanisen blinks and wrinkles his nose up. He follows her glance and offers Haft a quick smile of greeting.
Megren says, “Hello. Just, just lessons.”
Haft gives her a swift, keen look, but let’s this pass. “Hello Lanisen.”
Lanisen answers, “Afternoon, Haft.”
Megren rubs her palms on her thighs. “We were just wondering about whether the tide pools might be frozen.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly. He watches Megren from the corner of his eye, and gives Haft a narrow look.
Haft glances at the fish pond. “This ain’t.”
Megren looks at the pond. “Hmm.”
Lanisen says, “They warm it, I think. And break the ice off the top when it forms.”
Haft looks down at the still pool. “The fish seem to think it’s too frigid to come up, anyhow.”
Megren trails her hand in.
Lanisen glances at Megren again. “They keep gettin’ their noses bopped when they do.”
Haft says, “That would deter anyone.”
Megren looks throughful and reaches out to try bopping Lanisen’s nose.
Lanisen catches her hand before it gets to his nose and removes it from the vicinity of his face.
Megren makes a disappointed face.
Haft exclaims, “Well caught!”
Megren concedes, “I suppose you’re right, then.”
Lanisen looks satisfied.
Haft says, “I think I’ve lost the thread of the conversation. Who’s right about what?”
Haft says, “Oh. Well I’m always right.”
Megren says, “Ha.”
Lanisen gets to his feet, a little stiffly. “I’m gettin’ cold, I’m gonna head in,” he says, gesturing with his book toward the solarium.
Megren’s eyes flick to his shoulder. “Oh, sure.”
Lanisen asks, “See you later?”
Haft says, “Enjoy your book.”
Megren says, “Yeah. After… um, around supper, I think.”
Lanisen nods to this. He glances back to Haft and dips his head, grinning again briefly. “Thanks, I will.”
Megren says, “See you.”
Lanisen nods again and heads toward warmer climes, waving as he goes.
Lanisen walks down the stair, circling the raised fish pond wall and the central pillar.
Haft looks after him with a pleased expression.
Megren glances back at Haft as Lanisen departs, and the corner of her mouth turns upward.
Haft turns back. “What brought you two up here?”
Megren says, “I was already here, and then he came up to read.”
Haft asks, “Oh. What brought you up then?”
Megren says, “Just, had an hour. Wanted to see the fish.”
Haft says, “Stop boppin’ ’em.”
Megren says, “No, they usually like it. They nip.”
Haft sits next to her. “It’s the cold then. Doubt you’ll see em before late spring.”
Megren says, “Yeah, might be.”
Haft asks, “So you thought you’d check the tidal pools instead?”
Megren says, “Well, not now. Next time I get an afternoon off.”
Haft says, “Yeah. I don’t expect they’d be iced over just now, but I ain’t been down to look.”
Megren nods. “We got to see them iced once last winter, but not this one yet.”
Haft asks, “What’s yer favorite critters?”
Megren says, “Oh, um. I don’t know if I could say. I’ve always liked lynx, maybe because they’re hard to catch a glimpse of. And birds.”
Haft’s mouth twists. “Can’t say I’ve seen many lynxes in the pools.”
Megren says, “Oh, just in pools you meant.”
Haft says, “Yeah.”
Megren says, “Um, hmm. I don’t know all their names.”
Haft says, “I used to know those pools like the back of my hand.”
Megren asks, “What’s your favorite then?”
Haft says, “I like the anemones.”
Megren says, “Those are the ones that –” she holds out her hand with fingers extended and then closes them up, looking at him and lifting her brows for confirmation.
Haft grins. “I liked to poke their centers and see them curl in, aye.”
Megren agrees, “Those are pretty good.”
Haft says, “Glad you approve.”
Megren says, “Sometimes there are bright red weeds, I like those.”
Haft says, “Oh, yeah, I know the ones you mean.”
Megren says, “And the crabs.”
Haft clicks his fingers together at her.
Megren snorts softly.
Haft stands and extends a hand to her.
Megren’s brows lift and then draw together as she takes it.
Haft says, “Practice before you go to lessons.”
Megren wrinkles her nose, coloring lightly. “Mmm,” she says with a bit of skepticism.
Haft says, “Oh come now. You’ll never tell me I’m handsome enough to muddle your steps.”
Megren wrinkles her nose further.
Haft asks, “So show me how it goes?”
Megren shows him the proper posture and positioning, and then walks him through the first couple of basic steps.
Haft says, “This is…slower than I expected. I don’t recall seeing the nobles dragging their heels so.”
Megren says, “You have to go slow to learn it.”
Haft exclaims, “Ah! Well, that would be better than treading on you, yes.”
Haft follows through the motions.
Megren’s a little stiff, but technically accurate.
Haft asks, “What’s this one called?”
Megren says, “Waltz.”
Haft says, “Is it? I’ve heard of that one. Always thought it was a funny word though.
Megren grins. “It is, I guess.”
Haft says, “It’s not too terribly complicated, anyway.”
Megren says, “No. There are spins and things you can do to make it more complicated, but the main step is just remembering when to go up and down and long and short.”
Haft says, “Ah, well I’ll botch it then, certain.”
Megren laughs. “Sir Darrin’s been teaching me to lead if you’d rather.”
Haft says, “I thought the man usually led.”
Megren says, “He said if I wanted I could learn both.”
Haft asks, “How terribly permissive. And I suppose you lead him all over the place?”
Megren makes a face.
Haft asks, “Do you?”
Megren says, “I don’t know what that means, ‘lead him all over the place’.”
Haft says, “I have no idea. I’m making this up as I go along.”
Haft muddles a couple of steps.
Megren steps back. “Well, it’s a good start, anyway.”
Haft says, “I suppose. You’ll have to show me more sometime. Then when I’m ready I can borrow some of Lord Tyren’s things and join in. No one will be the wiser.”
Megren snorts again. “I’m sure he’d be very obliged.”
Megren says, “Be a bit floppy at the ends.”
Haft says, “Could roll it up. Be the new fashion.”
Megren says, “Hmmmm.”
Haft asks, “Whose clothes would you borrow, if you could wear anything?”
Megren asks, “Uh — probably… a guard uniform?”
Haft says, “I’ll have to secure my trunk.”
Megren grins. “I still have mine.”
Haft asks, “You don’t look terrible in dresses. Don’t you have to wear one for most of your dance lessons?”
Megren says, “Oh, sometimes I do. ”
Haft says, “Well, for what it’s worth, I prefer the guardsman uniform too. Most of Lord Tyren’s collars look a touch tight.”
Megren says, “Yes, I don’t think I’d like to wear a lord’s clothing.”
Haft says, “Probably a lady’s would look better.”
Megren tilts her head, hestitating momentarily, and then says, “We’ll aim for a knight’s.”
Haft says, “That’ll do.”
Megren takes a breath and says, “I probably better be off to meet him now, though.”
Haft says, “Right, sure. If you stumble, just tell him I tuckered you out.”
Megren colors and says, “I’m sure I won’t.”
Haft looks perplexed. “You need to splash some cold water on your face. Yer lookin’ overheated.
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear and turns toward the stairs. “Will do, grandpa.”
Haft chuckles as she leaves.
Megren hurries down the steps.