Love

Inner Wall Walk

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You stand on Anvard’s Inner Wall Walk. From here you have a view of both the Inner and Outer Wards. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals the bustle of people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle. In the Inner Ward you see nobles and staff, mingling happily or going about their own business.

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You can go: Toward the Trapdoor Opening , Southern Watchtower

Haft stands on duty on the wall walk.

Megren comes up through the north trapdoor and walks along down the length of the wall.

Haft turns. “Didn’t expect you up here.

Megren says, “I told Perth I’d cover his shift. Figured it would make good practice.”

Haft asks, “What’s Perth doing?”

Megren says, “Probably beating Geard at darts.”

Haft says, “Sounds like a good use of his time.”

Megren asks, “There’s little better. How’s the watch?”

Haft asks, “Pleasantly dull. How’re your last days as a squire?”

Megren says, “Fast.”

Haft asks, “The squires as eager to be quit of you as the guard was?”

Megren makes a face at him. “I loved being a guard.”

Haft says, “We loved having you. Can’t think why you left.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side gratefully and nods her thanks. “Even with the cartwheels?”

Haft puts on a mournful face. “Twas a stain upon our honor, to be sure. We do not speak of it.”

Megren hits him lightly in the arm.

Haft chuckles.

Megren says, “Sir Darrin and I talked about it a little. It’ll be different. I’ll miss it, I think, but I’ll also be glad to be done with it.”

Haft says, “Seems like you’re always moving about and progressing while I fight to just stand still.”

Megren’s brows draw together. “You feel that way?”

Haft says, “It’s not necessarily a complaint. I might have hoped in my youth to be a captain one day, and I’ll be glad of any promotions I achieve, but…I don’t know.”

Megren asks, “Is that what you’d like?”

Megren says, “To move up? I always sort of thought you were just where you wanted to be.”

Haft says, “Well, that’s what I mean, at least, well, in a way.”

He looks slightly flustered. “I’m grateful to be here at all. You know that.”

Megren nods. “I do.”

Haft says, “But I’ve always wanted to be the best at what I do. I study and train hard, and my duties have expanded since I came. I’m glad of it.”

Megren nods again, her lips turning upward a little now.

Megren says, “That’s good.”

Haft says, “Yeah.”

Megren watches the quiet ward. “You’re a good guard,” she assesses.

Haft follows her gaze. “Well, everyone started behaving after the first few fiery acorns sped their way.”

Megren snorts softly.

Haft says, “But thanks.”

Megren says, “You’re welcome.”

Haft drums his fingers on the parapet.

Megren glances at him.

Haft asks, “How’d the cubes game end the other night?”

Megren says, “Oh, we stopped when you left.”

Haft asks, “Why?”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “It’s more fun when it’s more than two.”

Haft says, “Coulda asked Owin.”

Megren says, “That’s true.”

Haft says, “Course that might also have terrified him.”

Megren says, “Almost definitely.”

Haft says, “Poor chap does try though.”

Megren says, “Sir Darrin would have comforted him.”

Haft grins. “So…you still owe me a question, don’t you?

Megren says, “Right, yes.”

Haft pauses a moment, takes a breath, then asks. “So why did Suir Darrin stiffen up like a fireplace poker when I asked about your dance partner?”

Megren tilts her head and is quiet for a moment. “Did he?”

She finally asks.

Haft says, “Yes.”

Megren says, “Well.”

She pauses again, and then says, “I guess maybe I haven’t been hiding it as well as I might have liked.”

Haft looks at her sharply. “Hiding what?”

Megren’s lips purse together and she lifts a shoulder.

Megren looks at him with a disbelieving expression.

Haft shrugs.

Megren says, as if she thinks it should be obvious, “It’s Sir Darrin.”

Haft just stares at her.

Megren frowns and looks back at the ward. “It’s, not appropriate or sensible, obviously, so you needn’t be sore with me about all that; I already know. I’d hoped I was addressing it a little better, though.”

Haft blinks at her, as though he’s still catching up. “Addressing it? You haven’t addressed anything at all.”

Megren asks, “Um, hide it and not let it get in the way, then?”

Haft says, “You’re…you /love/ Sir Darrin?”

He blinks again as the rest of the pieces begin to coalesce. “And he /knows/.”

Megren screws up her mouth. “That’s pretty strong words,” she argues.

Haft says, “What, ‘love’? So you just stumble while dancing with him then.”

Megren says, “On occasion.”

Haft asks, “And what does he think about all this? Does he…stumble back?”

Megren says, “I don’t think that’s a thing.”

Haft looks frustrated. “You know what I mean.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side, lips pressed together, and says after a moment, “You would have to ask him.”

Haft’s voice sparks. “I can’t very well do that, Meg. He’s one of my commanding officers.

Megren says with a touch of reprimand in her voice, “Mine too.”

Haft throws up his hands and stomps away to the other end of the wall.

Megren’s shoulders drop and she calls after him, “Haft–”

Haft ignores her and leans on the stone, perusing the ward.

Megren sighs and tries to close the distance between them. “I have just told you one of my hardest secrets, you know.”

Haft glowers at the ward. “Did you?”

He takes a breath. “Because what you’ve told me is a tangle and I can’t make heads or tails of it.”

Megren’s brows draw together.

Haft says, “Well, from what you’ve said, you’ve taken a shine to Sir Darrin, despite his station. And to judge by his reaction at cubes, he knows about it. But you don’t want to tell me what he thinks of it, so I don’t know how much trouble you may be in or not.”

Megren says, “I don’t know why you think I’ve told him about it.”

Haft asks, “Have you?”

Megren’s lips press together.

Haft makes a face. “You have. If you hadn’t you could tell me. But you don’t want to speak for him I guess.”

Megren’s mouth pushes to the side and she clasps her elbows. “He’s my superior, Haft.”

Haft snaps. “Yes, I haven’t missed that, but what aspect of it you’re trying to drive home escapes me.”

Megren says, “It’s not appropriate for me to hold an interest, and it’s not fair for you to ask.”

Haft makes a noise of frustration and grips the stones, silent for a moment. “Agreed,” he says at length. “But you say you’ve told me a hard secret and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.

Megren says, “You /asked/.”

Haft runs a hand over his face.

Megren asks, in a quieter voice, “Would you have rather I lied?”

Haft sighs and looks back at her. “I would rather you had more sense than the Lion gave a Mouse, Meg. I don’t want you hurt.

Megren says, “I’ll — I know.”

Haft takes her by the shoulders. He sounds older, his voice more fatherly than usual in speaking to her. “What I mean is, the Mice–I don’t know if you met any–they are an honorable small folk. Their thoughts and goals are high and lofty, but too often beyond their measure to achieve. Do you…am I permitted to ask if this is more than a passing folly on your part?

Megren’s eyes skitter away. “It’s — you needn’t worry over it. And I haven’t let it get in the way of my training.”

Haft searches her face. “Lord Darrin is a good man, but few nobles can make the choice of Sir Colin, even if they would. You know this.”

Megren says, “I know.”

Haft nods solemnly. “Guard your heart then.”

He gives her shoulders a light squeeze and releases them.

Megren says, “I, thanks. I will.”

Haft still looks concerned, but says no more for the moment. “How are preparations coming for the vigil?”

Megren says, “We got the dress picked, and I’ve got everything polished, and Sir Darrin and I went over the schedule.”

Haft attempts a half smile. “What sort of dress did you settle on then?”

Megren says, “Tess came up with one I could wear armor with for the ceremony and then dress down for the dancing after.”

Haft says, “Impressive.”

Megren says, “It’s nice.”

Haft asks, “Color?”

Megren says, “Blue/mulberry.”

OOC> Megren says, “ooc That RP is ongoing and we haven’t chosen mulberry or blue yet*.”

Haft asks, “Not Archen purple?”

Megren makes a soft sound of laughter. “I wish.”

OOC> Haft says, “Archen *”

Haft says, “Some of us can’t pull it off.”

Megren gives him an offended look, only half serious.

Haft shrugs at his weak attempt at humor.

Megren says loftily, “Archenland’s colors would look good on anyone.”

Haft purses his lips. “I could name a fair few upon whom they would not look so well, but then Darius and Rabadash are not applying for the honor.”

Megren screws up her mouth but admits, “Fair.”

Haft nods in acknowledgment of her agreement.

Megren blows out a breath.

Haft asks, “Nervous?”

Megren admits, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “So would I be.”

Megren asks, “Yeah?”

Haft says, “Sure. I’d probably be like Agnalin the Unknighted.”

Megren snorts. “You would not.”

Haft considers. “Alright, I admit I’m not likely to knock over a candlestick and burn half the chamber down, but no doubt /something/ would go wrong.”

Megren says, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to get used to people bowing and calling me dame.”

Haft says, “I’ll call you Fritter if you’d rather.”

Megren says, “I’ll accept that.”

Haft says, “Just don’t step on anyone’s toes during the dancing. The rest will fall into place.”

Megren nods. “All right.”

Haft says, “As for the bowing and all, there’s nothing for it.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “Just look down your nose as loftily as possible.”

Megren tries this now.

Haft says, “Effective.”

Megren breaks into a grin.

Haft smirks. “And now you’ve gone and spoilt it.”

Megren says, “Well, I prefer this.”

Haft says, “Aye.”

Megren wrinkles her nose happily at him.

“You needn’t look so pleased with yourself,” he grumbles.

Megren pulls a frowning face.

Haft wrinkles his nose in a good approximation of hers.

Megren laughs, covering her mouth.

Haft says, “You’ll do just fine Meg.”

Megren smiles at him, and looks back out over the ward. “Thanks. I hope so.”

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Something You Can Twirl In

Seamstress’ Shop

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You stand in the Seamstress’ Shop, where the finest clothes in Archenland are sold. Bolts of fabric lie in neat piles, some rough, and others soft or shimmering. Threads of various hues, even a few which appear to be gold or silver, sit wound on neatly-ordered spools. While the common traveler can find a serviceable tunic for a reasonable price here, there are also fine embroidered gowns and doublets for court functions. The sheer variety of merchandise in such a small space is a bit overwhelming, and gives you the impression of having fallen into the center of a rainbow.

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You can go: Market Entrance <O>

 

 

Megren stands between the doorway of the shop and Tess and Lanisen, who are discussing a lovely roll of blue and darker blue patterned fabric.

Haft steps inside, pausing to let his eyes adjust.

Lanisen stands at the counter, frowning down at the fabric while Tess explains to him about skirt lengths and how she can fix it so the fabric brushes the floor but doesn’t often get stepped on.

Megren screws up her mouth and crosses her arms, eyes flicking over the stacks of color lining the room.

Haft looks surprised to find anyone there. “Oh, good day.”

Megren turns, surprised, and her face colors a little. “Oh, Haft.”

Lanisen glances over his shoulder, distracted briefly by the newcomer.

Haft tilts his head to look at the cloth. “Pretty.”

Megren says, “We’re just looking.”

Tess, no fool, casts an appraising eye at Megren and turns away from the counter, reaching down bolts of fabric in tones that will compliment her hair and coloring.

Lanisen lifts his shoulders at Haft and turns back to the counter as Tess sets the first bolts down. He pauses, catching his lower lip between his teeth, and looks back at Megren.

Haft gives her a curious look. “Me too. Thought I might find something nice for Calla.”

Megren says, “Oh, that’s nice.”

Tess lays out a good selection, ranging from rich jewel tones to paler pastels. They seem to be mostly on the cooler end of the spectrum, blues and greens with a couple of violets.

Megren hesitates, and then steps toward the cloths. She reaches out to finger an airy bolt of teal.

Lanisen steps to the side, smiling silent thanks at Tess.

Haft steps over to Tess. “Got something a little girl might fancy?”

Megren fingers the fabric for a long moment and then releases a breath, dropping her shoulders, and moves on to something a little less nice.

Tess moves down the counter, leaving Megren to consider in more privacy, and asks, “Does this little girl like climbing trees or dancing, or both?”

Lanisen watches Megren’s process keenly, but doesn’t interfere.

Haft says, “Both, to be sure.”

Megren looks up to watch Haft’s conversation, lips turning upward at his reply.

Tess grins at this reply. “I have two of those,” she answers ruefully, and turns to face the wall of cloth. She pulls out several bolts halfway, sturdy fabric in colors that won’t show stains easily: midtoned blues and greens and soft fawn-colored browns. She steps back to survey these, tapping her lower lip with her thumb, and reaches up above the fabric to the shelf of trimmings and pulls down a spool of simple lace. “A short dress over leggings?” she suggests. “Less liable to get in the way and tear; still good for twirling.”

Haft nods his approval. “Something like that. In blue I think.”

Lanisen reaches out to investigate a soft pastel green with near-invisible patterns in slightly lighter green and a liquid drape.

Megren points to linen bolt with an indigo stain among Haft’s selection. “That one’s nice.”

Haft examines the indicated bolt.

Tess lifts it down to the counter and unwinds a bit so Haft can have a closer look. She tilts her head to consider it and unspools some of the lace to lay across it, where it contrasts very prettily with the dark blue.

Lanisen touches Megren’s elbow. “What do you think of these?” he asks quietly, gesturing at the fabrics she hasn’t really looked at yet.

Megren moves to look. “I don’t know,” she says a little hopelessly.

Haft glances at Megren. “What’s the occasion?”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “It’s for the ceremony.”

Lanisen considers, then begins to sort the fabric into three piles by how they feel and hang.

Megren’s eyes shift to Lanisen with impressed alarm.

Tess lifts down a bolt of the fawn to set with the indigo and lace.

Haft says, “Ah. Well, get something you can twirl in so I can tell Calla all about it.”

Megren says, “There’s the kind of concrete advice I was looking for.”

Haft grins unapologetically.

Perhaps you should wait for the question before agreeing with it.

Lanisen prods gently, gesturing to the piles, “You want to pick which kind you like best?”

One pile holds the liquid, silky sort; another is richer and warmer and almost velvety; a third holds a light, airy fabric that will certainly be good for twirling.

Megren says, “They all look like something I would ruin.”

Haft says, “Did Sir Darrin offer any guidelines?”

Megren says, “We’re supposed to look together but I didn’t want to drag him around without any ideas.”

Haft grunts. “Isn’t exactly a lot of precedent. Can’t you just wear armor?”

Megren says, “I’m supposed to have a dress for the dancing.”

She glances at Lanisen and nods hesitantly.

Lanisen asks, “Light or dark, do you think?”

Haft eyes the choices. “I prefer the heavier one, in truth, but I’m afraid I’m pressed for time.”

He turns back to Tess and makes inquiry about the price of the bolts and the lace, frowning slightly at her answer. “I’ll think on it.”

Megren asks, “Um?”

Haft says, “Be spring before the day, won’t it? I don’t imagine it need be dark.”

Megren points to the minty green Lanisen was looking at earlier, and an aubergine. “I like this one, but I like that, too.”

Lanisen says thoughtfully, “There’s already snowdrops and crocuses, I bet there’ll be somethin’ good bloomin’ for you to wear by the time they’re done makin’ arrangements.”

Megren colors and looks a little overwhelmed by this prospect.

Tess says, moving back along the counter to join the conversation again, “Apple blossoms would be lovely against that dark purply blue.”

Megren asks, “Aren’t they just going to fall out?”

Haft glances at the fabric, then Megren’s hair, doubtfully.

Tess says dismissively, “Oh, I shouldn’t think so. They’re quite clever with flowers for wearing.”

Megren squints an eye doubtfully.

Tess lifts a shoulder apologetically. “I don’t know much about it, it’s not my trade. But I do know some of the ladies-in-waiting up in the castle who do some really lovely things for the spring and summer dances.”

Megren says, “Well, you’d know better than me.”

Haft snorts. “They can braid them in. It’d be fine.”

Megren says, “Oh.”

Tess lifts a corner of the pale green and holds it up to consider again. “This would be nice in the spring as well…”

Haft says, “Anyway, I gotta get. I’ll see you later.”

Megren’s eyes stray to the teal again.

Lanisen follows her glance. He reaches out and tugs the teal out of its pile to add to the short list, to an approving murmur from Tess.

Haft heads out the door.

Megren says, “I’ll ruin any of those.”

Lanisen says, “Shhh, don’t worry about that right now.”

Megren says, “No, it’s important.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, but it’s, later, we’ll worry about it after we find a color and Tess can help figure out ways for you to work with it, yeah?”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear.

Lanisen asks, “What colors do you like to wear when it’s just, just for goin’ about?”

Megren looks down at herself and her squire’s clothes.

Lanisen says, “You got dresses, I seen ’em. What’s your favorite?”

Megren says, “Um, the blue one, I guess.”

Lanisen says encouragingly, “That’s a good color, do you want a color that’s like that?”

You exit the shop.

Anemones

Tower Garden

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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.

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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.”

Lanisen mms.

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.”

Haft nods.

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.

Peaceable Chat

Inner Ward of Anvard

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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>

Haft stands on duty by the inner gatehouse.

Dalia enters the by the inner gatehouse, her cloak pulled close around her. It seems like a fairly new aquision instead of an as opposed to the older serviable one she’s been using.

Haft nods. “Mornin’, Dalia.”

Dalia nods to Haft. “Good Morning.”

Haft asks, “Warm enough?”

Dalia nods, “Yes. Thank you. Watch been quiet, I hope?

Haft says, “Pleasantly so.”

Dalia smiles, “That’s good. Always good.”

Haft asks, “Yep. How’s yer sister settling in?”

Dalia ducks her head slightly as Haft mentions her sister. “She’s been doing well so far. I believe.

Dalia looks as if she might add something, but hesitates.

Haft says, “Ah. Good.”

Dalia says, “I want to apologize for what happened the other day… She’s been away apprenticing and We haven’t seen each other for a while….” She holds both hands nerviously, as if to wring them. ”

Haft shifts. “Yeah, we settled that. Don’t you fret about it.”

Dalia nods, offering a small if nervious sort of smile. “Thank you.”

Haft says, “I wasn’t trying to bump you.”

Dalia says, “Oh. Of course not, No. No, I didnt think you were.”

Haft says, “Figured. You’ve got a good head on yer shoulders.”

Dalia smiles at this, pausing to sympathetically offer. “I…I’m sorry about the courior. I hope you were able to get send what you needed?”

Haft makes a face. “Eventually. I sometimes wonder if someone there doesn’t have it in for me.”

Dalia frowns sympathetically. “I..I could always take a parcel or letter, when I go…”

“No,” he answers quickly.

Dalia nods, as if she was expecting such.

Haft glances away. “I appreciate the offer,” he says.

Dalia nods, she looks away to glance around ward.

Haft doesn’t sound or look like he appreciates the offer much at all. “What’re your errands this morning?”

 

Dalia says, “I’ve a few garments to take down to the laundry and a mend a few things for milady.”

Haft nods. “Well, have a good day then.”

Dalia nods. “Have a pleasant watch.”

Why Do People Write History?

Library

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The Library of Anvard rises around you. Reddish wooden pillars like twisted tree-trunks support the roof at even intervals, long bookcases in rows between them. The room is warmly lit by a multitude of round hung lamps, like globular fruit. The air is heavy with the sweet and musty smell of books, old and new.

Hundreds of volumes line the shelves, and a few spaces between trunks have been left open for tables at which to reading and write. Thick pillar candles can be used to bring a little more yellow light to late-night researchers in these places.

The room appears to be well-dusted and well-kept, its contents carefully maintained and repaired throughout the years.

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]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[

You can go: Hallway <W>

Haft sits at a table, immersed in a large book.

Lanisen enters the library, shutting the heavy doors behind him with a soft ‘snick’. He crosses quietly to the shelves where books on Archenland’s nearest neighbors are kept, stripping off his gloves, and kneels to inspect a lower shelf before he finds what he’s looking for. He carries the book toward the fireplace and the deep armchairs there, his path bringing him near to where Haft is sitting.

Haft raises his eyes. “Afternoon.”

Lanisen veers away slightly in surprise, but to judge by the quick pleasant smile he offers a second later, this is only the mild wariness natural to him and not anything personal. “Afternoon,” he answers, ducking his head.

Haft asks, “No dogs hounding your steps?”

Lanisen hms? “Oh,” he says, glancing toward the back of the library. “I don’t, I don’t think Master Nathen would approve of that, somehow.”

Haft looks mildly disappointed that his pun has been missed. “No, I suppose not.”

Lanisen nods, a little awkwardly. His eyes flicker away from Haft and settle briefly on the book in front of him.

Haft asks, “Why do you suppose people write history?”

Lanisen blinks.

Haft says, “Sorry. Just thinking about how we write stories for people who’ll never know us.”

Lanisen asks, “Are you plannin’ to write some?”

Haft asks, “Me? No. What on earth would I put?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. You said we.”

Haft says, “Oh. People in general.”

Lanisen nods. His eyes drop to Haft’s book again. “You’re readin’ a history, then?”

Haft says, “Yeah. Some Calormene retellings.”

Lanisen asks, “Retellings of what?”

Haft says, “Battles. They seem to enjoy fighting a lot.”

Lanisen ohs. His forehead furrows a little as he looks at the book, but he doesn’t say anything.

Haft asks, “What about you?”

Lanisen says, “Oh.”

He looks down at the book in his hands, turning faintly red, and turns it so Haft can see. It’s a work on Narnian woods and waters and the nymphs that inhabit them.

Haft asks, “Huh. You meet any?”

Lanisen says, “A, a couple.”

Haft asks, “What’d ya think?”

Lanisen lifts his eyebrows and looks down at the book. “I think they’re a bit beyond what I might think of ’em,” he answers after a small thoughtful pause. “Beautiful, I suppose, in a very… wild, /other/ sort of way. Frightening, when you think what they might do if they didn’t like you. But beautiful.”

Haft nods and turns a page. “Sounds about right.”

Lanisen’s eyes follow the motion. He looks down and takes a step back.

Haft looks up again. “What?”

Lanisen shifts uncertainly. “Sorry?”

Haft says, “Uh.”

He shakes his head. “Nothin’. Never mind.”

Lanisen says, “I’ll–” He hesitates. “I’ll let you get back to…?”

Haft says, “Sure. We came to read. Didn’t mean to interfere.”

Lanisen says, “No, no.”

Haft says, “Well, carry on. There’s plenty of room.”

Lanisen seems like he’s not sure whether or not this is an invitation.

Haft glances up again, but doesn’t appear to have more to add and continues reading.

Lanisen ducks his head and begins moving again in his original direction, toward the chairs in front of the fire.

Astray

Outer Ward

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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

You stand in the busy outer ward of Castle Anvard, full of people seeing to the needs of king and kingdom. There are market stalls along the outer wall, bustling with merchants and shoppers. Grooms work in the stables, tending to the horses there, and you hear the occasional bark of a dog from the kennels. The sounds of hammer hitting iron rings out from the blacksmith shop. There are stairs leading to the gate towers on the northern and southern corners of the outer curtain. To the east is the outer gatehouse, and the road leading into the realm of Archenland, and to the west another gate, leading to the inner gatehouse, the inner ward, and the main keep of Anvard.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[]-[

You can go: Stables <N>, Northern Market <NE>, Outer Gatehouse <E>, Southern Market <SE>, Kennels <S>, Inner Gatehouse <W>, Blacksmith <NW>, South Stair <US>, North Stair <UN>

 

Haft stands on duty by the gate with Deonyc.

Sehsis wanders among the stalls, not really paying too much attention, just killing time.

Nessa walks up to Half “Good morning. Sorry I was so quick to judge you a few days ago

Haft raises his brows in surprise at Nessa’s approach. “Pardon?”

Nessa says, “Dalia explained that you are normally a very nice person, and not just because Dalia thinks that everyone is a nice person, and that I just so happened to meet you at an inconvenient time. I am sorry that I yelled at you. Though I do maintain that Dalia is as fine as any lady.”

Sehsis doesn’t really seem to notice Haft et al as he approaches.

Deonyc glances at the woman and then haft before turning back to his bow wich he is carefully polishing with a small cloth.

Haft doesn’t seem to know how to take this statement. He glances at Deonyc, but seems to think he’ll find no help there. “Ah, it’s behind us then. Thank you,” he says stiffly.

Nessa says, “Good, because I’d rather it not be akward every time I have to get past you to visit.”

She looks at his fellow guard. “Hello, my name is Nessa. My sister livese in the castle so I’ll probably be seeing you more”

Sehsis now notices the guards, he pointedly ignores Haft and instead offers a greeting to Deonyc

Deonyc looks up from his bow and looks back and forth between sehsis and nessa before regaining his composure, “Oh hello, im Deonyc, nice meeting you Nessa.” He nods politley in greeting to Sehsis, and greets with a friendly, “Good Day.”

Haft says, “She’s Dalia’s sister.”

Nessa says, “It’s nice to meet you as well.”

She nods in agreement with Haft. “Yes, I moved here this week and I was going to let her know that I’m setting up my stall here so she can visit it”

Haft says, “We’ll…be seeing a lot of you then.”

Nessa says, “Yes. I was hoping to speak to the seamstress sometime as well about becoming a supplyer for the castle”

Sehsis pulls a candied fig from his pouch and eats it.

Haft asks, “What’s your line?”

Nessa says, “My line? Heavy wool mostly, I do a lot of patterend fabric.”

Haft asks, “You weave?”

Nessa says, “Yes, I weave. I made the cape I’m wearing, and that one that Dalia was holding when you bumped into her”

Deonyc looks to Nessa, “Im sure that the Armourers could use heavy wool as padding and such, you need that even if you are only wearing chain.”

Sehsis walks eastward toward the gatehouse.

Nessa says, “Thank you, I’ll be sure to talk to them about it. Any work is good right now”

Madeline is currently 27 minutes idle and may not get back to you soon.

Haft eyes the cloak. “It’s nicely done.

Nessa smiles and turns a little to show the fabric “It’s one of the first paterns I designed myselfDeonyc looks over the desing and nods in approval, “If I wouldn’t already have a good cloak id even consider getting one like that.”

Nessa says, “And I would try to sell you one, but I know the value of using what you have for as long as you can”

Deonyc turns to haft, “You want to get a bite to eat, I can check wich of the vendors are around.”

Haft frowns. “I’m still on duty.”

Deonyc nods, “Me too I was thinking i could run off quick and get something to eat here, or we could get one of the kids around here to go?”

Nessa exclaims, “It was nice meeting you gentlemen, but I need to go and get to my work. Have a good day!”

Nessa walks eastward toward the gatehouse.

Haft says, “Or you could ignore your stomach, stop fiddling with that bow and do what you’re paid for.”

Deonyc turns to haft, “They pay me to fiddle with my bow.”

Sehsis comes walking toward you from the Outer Gatehouse.

Haft sighs. “Do you see me sharpening my sword on duty?”

Deonyc shrugs, “Then again sharpening a sword requires concentration, polishing a bow not so much.”

Sehsis walks into the ward, taking a look around as though looking for something.

Haft mutters something under his breath.

Haft mumbles “It’s fine if you’re confident you can walk and think at the same time.”, to Haft.

Haft mumbles “It’s … … … confident you … … … … … the same …”, to Haft.

Deonyc shrugs, and puts away the cloth and straps the bow on the quiver, “Soo that’s Dalia’s sister.”

Sehsis spots the guards and walks over to them, after briefly glancing over at Haft he instead speaks to Deonyc, “Deonyc, Good day… By any chance have you seen Nasrin anywhere”

Haft says, “That’s right.”

He turns to Sehsis. “No.”

Deonyc says, “No, sorry I haven’t seen her anywhere in the market today.”

Sehsis pointedly ignores Haft, instead he keeps speaking to Deonyc, “Ah how irritating. This is getting beyond absurd”

Haft asks, “Misplaced her?”

Sehsis says, “Misplaced? You have a strange way of thinking.”

Deonyc says, “I’m sorry nothing much I can help you with at the moment.”

Sehsis says, “Ah, well. Never mind.”

Haft asks, “Do I? She’s either lost, stolen, or strayed, isn’t she?”

Deonyc nods, “Good luck finding her then, ill pass on that your looking for her if I see her.”

Sehsis says, “Thank you, that would be appreciated”

Haft says, “Not that knowing a guardian was looking has ever encouraged any young lady to hasten homeward.”

Sehsis says with a shrug, “Oh yes, I’m sure you know all about the habits of young ladies.”

Haft crosses his arms and looks smug. “I largely raised my little sister.”

Sehsis says dryly, “Congratulations”

Haft smiles tightly. “We both survived.”

Sehsis says in that same monotone, “By the gods, i am impressed, truly you have accomplished a great feat; survival, however did you manage it”

Deonyc goes and checks a wagon with goods before letting it pass.

Haft frowns. “Perfectly well, to be frank. She has a responsible husband and three fine children.”

Sehsis says, “I’m sure you had -so much- to do with that.”

Haft narrows his eyes. “I made sure she had a husband worthy of her. I’m sure to hear Jorgen tell it, winning my approval was no mean feat.

Haft asks, “Where are you staying, if she’s found?”

Sehsis asks, “Hm?”

Haft says, “I suppose you want her to run along to your lodgings, but if something has happened we’d need to know where you’re staying in order to inform you.”

Sehsis says, “I just need to tell her some important information.”

Haft says, “I meant if something has happened to /her./”

Sehsis says, “No. Nothing. I just cannot find it.”

Haft looks exasperated. “Find what?”

Haft asks, “Amd she’s been missing how long?”

Sehsis says, “She’s not missing, she’s doing this deliberately.”

Haft’s brows lift into his hairline, then retract. He seems to be having difficulty keeping his mouth in a straight line.

Sehsis stares impassively. His default expression when trying not to show any expression.

Haft says, “Imagine that.”

Sehsis says, “Hm.”

Haft asks, “You, uh, getting ready to head back to Calormen or something?”

Sehsis says, “Yes.”

Haft asks, “And…she doesn’t want to go?”

Sehsis shrugs.

Haft asks, “Well, this should be interesting. What would she do if she stays?”

Sehsis says, “That will not happen.”

Haft looks doubtful. “How many girls of your own do you have?

Sehsis says, “None.”

Haft says, “Yeah, as I was saying. Interesting.”

Sehsis asks, “How so?”

Haft says, “Young women can be fairly strong-willed when they know their minds.”

Haft says, “And downright irritating.”

Sehsis gives a brief grimace, it’s over quickly and he just says, “Really now.”

Haft says, “I imagine you’ll find out for yourself. If you find her.”

Deonyc turns to the two, “Soo how long has nasrin been missing?

Sehsis says, “She’s not missing. I just don’t know where she is.”

Deonyc asks, “Thats the same thing, how long has she been away then?”

Haft smirks. “No, you’re missing a subtle distinction, Deonyc.”

Haft says, “She’s not missing. She’s hiding.”

Deonyc shrugs, alright, “How long has she been hiding then?”

Sehsis says, “Midday”

Deonyc says, “So not all that long really, what is the worry then.”

Sehsis says slowly, “There is no worry, I just need to impart important information”

Haft scans the crowd.

Nasrin comes walking toward you from the Outer Gatehouse.

Nasrin wanders amongst the crowd, dressed in a fairly low-key and dark red dress for the day. She weaves in and out of the townspeople, before stopping to buy herself a quick sandwich. No sooner than that is she off again, strolling along.

Haft’s eye twitches slightly as he looks over the crowd, but if he sees anything unusual he makes no comment.

Sehsis looks around too, possibly to avoid being drawn into more conversation with haft or possibly to continue his search. As he looks over at a sandwich stall he catches a glimpse of red vanish into the crowd!

Deonyc glances at the two and then also looks around, but doesn’t catch anything unusual, he isn’t looking very hard either.

Nasrin munches on her sandwhich, taking in the beautiful day as she unknowingly nears the trio.

Sehsis now is sure that it’s her and walks over, “Nasrin.”

Haft follows with his eyes and presses his lips together.

Nasrin says, “tugs a hair-covering around her head a little tighter, before speaking. “Oh, hello there, young man.”

Deonyc turns to haft, “Why do you think Nas is “hiding” away?”

Nasrin exclaims, “Oh, you must be mistaken my good sir – why, I’m Nasira!”

Haft says, “Do you have wool between your ears? He said so. Besides…”

He nods in the direction of Nasrin and Sehsis.”

Sehsis says, “That… That is the worst attempt at hiding your name I have ever heard. Ever.”

Deonyc smiles as he watches the scene unfold.

Nasrin gives Sehsis a bemused smile indeed from under her hair-covering. “I’m sorry, sir? Why would I try and hide my name…?”

Sehsis sighs, “Nasrin enough of this”

Nasrin cants her head to the side. “Enough of what?”

Sehsis says in a sterner voice, “Nasrin enough. I need to tell you that at the end of this week we’re returning to Calormen”

Nasrin hands her sandwich to Sehsis as he speaks, and promptly speeds off.

Sehsis finds himself with a sandwich in his hand. He blinks in bemusement, “What..? Nasrin!”

He would try and persue her through the crowd

Haft frowns. “This could get unpleasant.”

Nasrin dashes, trying to blend within the crowd!

Deonyc looks to haft unsure what to do, and decides to just stand and straigten up at his post.

Sehsis tries to follow her, “Nasrin you can’t just run! You have to go back eventually”

Nasrin does run however, stopping only to avoid crashing into an cart in her way. She tries to sidestep around it, but by now Sehsis would have caught up.

Sehsis does indeed catch up, and he moves in front to block her path, “Nasrin. Why are you doing this?”

Nasrin blinks, before giving an innocent smile. “Oh hello there, uncle!”

Sehsis folds his arms, “Are you ready to stop this foolishness”

Nasrin asks, “What foolishness?”

Sehsis asks, “This… Look, why are you so reluctant to return home?”

Nasrin asks, “Why are you chasing me?”

Sehsis says, “Because I need to know that you will return, I cannot just leave you here.”

Nasrin says, “Certainly, you could leave me here. I’m old enough.”

Sehsis says, “Absolutley not. Your parents would kill me.”

Haft mumbles “We should be so lucky”, to Haft.

You mumble “We should be so lucky”, to Haft.

Haft mumbles “… … be … …”, to Haft.

Sehsis shakes his head, “And how exactly would that be kept hidden? As soon as it was discovered I was back they would want to see you”

Nasrin narrows her eyes slightly, before she shakes her head. “May I go?”

Sehsis asks, “Not until you explain why you do not wish to go back?”

Nasrin stares up at Sehsis momentarily before saying, “I’m afraid I’ve been ill recently.”

Sehsis says, “You have not mentioned it or shown any signs”

Nasrin says, “I thought it would pass, but it seems to be getting worse.”

Sehsis says, “That does not explain the fleeing. And foolishness.”

Nasrin says, “It was an instinctual reaction to being suddenly chased, and my parents have always said I was foolish.”

Sehsis sighs, “The ship sails on friday, even if you are ill you should be well enough to travel by then”

Nasrin says, “Hopefully…”

Deonyc turns to haft, “My shift is over, I ll send your relief over soon.”

Deonyc walks up the north stair.

Haft says, “Sure.”

 

First Impressions

Andale

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You stand in the heart of Andale where most of the folk who support Anvard live. Young children play here on nice days, skipping rope, or shooting marbles, and older ones can be seen reading scrolls. Adults hurry through on their way from home to where their business takes them. A well with a stone wall sits on the western edge of the road.

The road here widens and splits to run toward the shops to the east, North Andale to the north and the Crossroad to the south. Short paths lead to the two settlements here; Het Noorden to the northwest, and Zuiden to the southeast.

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You can go: Het Noorden <NW>, North Andale <N>, East Andale <E>, Andale

Crossroad <W>, Zuiden <SE>

Nessa comes walking down the lane from East Andale.

Haft walks through the down, bundled against the chill. He carries a couple of small parcels in one hand.

Nessa exclaims, “Hello! Are you a guard at the castle? I just moved in to town and I wanted to visit my sister there.”

Nessa wanders through the town carrying a somewhat large parcel, looking loost

Nessa says, “Sir, I’m sorry to bother you, but I seem to be unable to find the road to Anvard. Or the road back to my shop for that matter”

Haft turns and looks her over. “You talking to me?”

Nessa looks down at the ground nervously “I suppose I am. You just looked like you knew were you were going”

Haft says, “Yeah, I do. Don’t know you though.”

Nessa says, “My name is Nessa, I just moved here this week. My sister is on staff at the castle and I thought that I would be able to pick up more weaving work here.”

Haft asks, “Oh. Who’s your sister?”

Nessa says, “Her name is Dalia, sir. She’s a maid to one of the ladies at Anvard.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I know her. Good baking. Lady Astera’s maid. I’ve met yer pa, too, once or twice.”

Nessa smiles and nods a little “She does make the best bread, I dare say she’s surpassed our Ma. And papa does get around, I wouldn’t be supprised if he’s met everyone in Archenland by now”

Dalia comes walking up the road from the crossroad.

Haft says, “Yeah, well, the castle’s down that way.”

He jerks a thumb westward. “Veer a little southwest when you hit the crossroad.”

Nessa exclaims, “Thank you very much for your help sir!”

Pose turns around towards the cross road and then smiles brightly and runs toward the newcoming daughter of Eve “Dalia, you found me! And here I was going to try and surprise you.”

She?s a trophy. If you replaced your female character with a sexy lamp, would the plot change? If not, you need to rethink your character. “”

Haft has already turned his back, and heads of toward the couriers’.

Dalia grins as her Sister runs up to her. “Nessa!”

Nessa drops the sack she was holding and hugs the girl in front of her “You look like Anvard has treated you well.”

Dalia hugs back “It is so good to see you! Why it seems like forever!”

Dalia smiles and steps back, “Lady Astera is very good to me.”

Nessa says, “It’s almost been forever. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be with you at Christmas, I had to finish the last order at the shop I was at in order to be able to move here”

 

Dalia nods, “I understand. I’m just so glad you’re here.”

Dalia looks around calling a greeting to Haft. “Good Afternoon, Haft!”

Nessa says, “Is Haft your name? I’m sorry I never asked. He was just pointing me to the road to Anvard.”

Haft lifts a hand and turns his head briefly, but continues on and doesn’t hear Nessa.

Dalia turns back to her sister, “Ah you’ve already met? Yes, that’s Haft, one of the castle’s dependable guardsmen.”

Nessa waves and then turns her attention back to Dalia. “I’m glad to hear that the guardsmen are dependable, ever since that attack on Anvard a couple of years back I’ve been a little extra worried about you in that castle.”

Nessa says, “Then again, knowing you, you would find something good to say about the guards even if they were just there for show.”

Dalia smiles. “They are all very good as far as I have seen.”

Nessa says, “Is there anyone you don’t think is very good, dear sister?”

Dalia frowns, “A few…but it wouldn’t be very good to discuss them out here in public. Maybe… maybe when we’re at home.”

Nessa says, “Of course. I would love to hear about someone who is so much of a scoundrel that he or she has earned the scorn of my ever loving sister”

A raised voice, presumably Haft’s, can be heard from the direction of the couriers’.

Dalia makes a little laughing sound, turning at the raised voice. “I hope nothing is the matter.”

Nessa Nessa looks in the direction. “Perhaps I should go see what it is…or we could just let the guard take care of it”

Dalia nibbles her lip, looking caught between staying and going.

Haft glances over at Nessa. “Nothing.”

Nessa looks at him sideways “Then why were you yelling?”

The dispatcher looks harried. “We haven’t any couriers available at the moment. You’ll have to come again.”

Haft says, “I did come again. Twice. You said you’d hold one for me.”

Nessa says, “Oh, I see, a personal dispute.” She turns back to Dalia. “That package is for you by the way. It’s cold and you always need more warm clothing. Besides, I want my work seen in the palace.”

She pulls the cloak out bag and tries it on. Why it’s beautiful, Nessa. Thank you!”

The dispatcher mutters something unintelligible and Haft turns away, muttering imprecations under his breath.

Nessa says, “I’m glad you like it, it was one of the first complex designs I drew myself instead of doing pattern work”

Haft stamps away, accidentally bumping Dalia as he passes.

Nessa exclaims, “Haft! Watch where you’re going”

Dalia oofs softly, taking a stumbling step out of the way.

Haft turns a frustrated look on this woman who apparently knows his name.

Nessa says, “Dalia told me who you were and that you were a decent guard. Decent guards do not almost knock over ladies”

Haft gives her an odd look. “She ain’t no lady.”

Nessa says, “Perhaps not by birth, but she is just as fine as one.”

Dalia takes a deep breath putting her hand out as if to stay the matter. “Haft, this is my Sister, Nessa. It seems you’ve already met. She said you’d given her directions to the castle.”

She tries for a smile, “Nessa, this is Haft. One of the castle’s excellent guardmen.”

Nessa says, “If we had been introduced five minutes ago I would have said it was a pleasure”

Haft presses his lips together. “You all right, Dalia?” he asks tightly.

Dalia nods acquiescently “I’m fine, Thank you, Haft.”

Nessa holds out a hand defiantly “Then pleased to meet you.”

Haft stares at the hand, perplexed. “I don’t require your instruction in courtesy. I’ll thank you to keep them to yourself.”

Nessa lowers hand. “I don’t care how your courtesy is in general, only in regards to my sister.”

Dalia says, “It…It was a an accident, Nessie.” She puts a hand on her sister’s arm. “C’mon, Mom will probably wanting to tell you all the lastest news.”

Nessa says, “Of course, I wouldn’t want to keep Mom waiting.” She glares at Haft and then takes Dalia’s hand. ”

Haft says, “I do not recall you giving me time to apologize before offering your scolding.”

He turns to Dalia, perhaps to offer something more, then shakes his head and starts away.”