Why Do People Write History?

Library

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#

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.

-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#-#

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.”

 

Dancing Distracted

Off-duty Mess

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

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

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 enters the mess, pink-cheeked, and heads straight to the food table, ladling hearty stew into a bowl.

Megren sits cross-legged on the ground in front of the fire, a book open on her lap, Tiny resting on her shoulders.

Haft scans the room and heads in their direction. He looks relieved when another guardsman leaves an adjoining chair to depart, and gratefully sinks onto it.

Megren looks up when Haft comes into her periphery. “Hello,” she smiles.

Haft asks, “Hey, Megpie. How’s the reading coming?”

Megren lifts the book, careful not to jostle Tiny. “Nathen let me take a history.”

Haft asks, “Did he? History of where?”

Megren says, “Archenland, around when the witch was taking Narnia.”

Haft asks, “Yeah, what did that look like?”

Megren extends the book to him. “I’m not very far,” she admits.

Haft asks, “Still, you understand what you’ve read so far?”

Megren says, “The first three pages? Sure.”

Haft says, “Well, you couldn’t read at all when we met. I’d call that good progress.”

Megren wrinkles her nose.

Megren says, “Thanks.”

Megren wrinkles her nose. “Thanks.”

Haft asks, “So how’s the rest of it coming?”

Megren asks, “The rest of training you mean?”

Haft says, “That’s right.”

Haft tucks in to his stew.

Megren says, “All right. Sir Darrin says I’m doing well. I’m getting more comfortable.”

Haft asks, “That’s good. Remind me what else you’re learning besides fighting and reading?”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

 

Megren says, “Well, riding. I’m supposed to practice swimming; I don’t know if it counts as learning. And the same for tracking and forestry and all that. I sit in on Sir Darrin’s meetings so I can see how council works.”

Haft asks, “Been sitting in on the ones about the Narnian problem?”

Megren says, “Only a few.”

Haft asks, “How’s that going?”

Megren says, “There’s not a lot to discuss at this point, we told them we’d stay out of it except our embassy unless they request more, so now it just seems like a lot of postulating.”

Haft looks surprised. “Not sending anyone?”

Megren says, “Well, they sent the embassy.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft says, “Think I missed that. Can’t have sent many.”

Megren says, “No, just a couple of knights.”

Haft makes a face. “Won’t do much to keep the peace if trouble breaks out. Their own military’s holding up?

Tiny’s tail curls up at the end.

Megren lifts her shoulders. “I don’t think they’re really looking for a coup, anyway.”

Tiny protests the movement of her resting place and Megren nudges her impatiently until she hops off.

Haft says, “It’s the most successful ones you don’t expect, the way I reckon it.”

Megren says, “Well I certainly wouldn’t want to have the military ruling civilians because of a philosophy like that.”

Haft makes a face. “Not what I said.”

Megren says, “Kind of.”

Haft says, “At all.”

Megren shrugs again.

Haft says, “I’m saying I’m glad if their military isn’t falling to pieces without their rulers, and that it would be stupid for their council to ignore the possibility that some group might not have their own ideas about how things should be run. A little vigilance doesn’t hurt.”

Megren says, “I’m saying don’t think the proper form of vigilance is sending a bunch of soldiers from another country.”

Haft looks irritated. “Which, again, ain’t what I said. At least, as long as the native Narnians have everything well in hand.

Megren says, “I said a couple of knights, and you said that won’t do much to keep the peace.”

Haft says, “It won’t. But sounds like they don’t need our help with that, from the bits you’re telling. Tadpoles, Meg, you’d think I was planning an invasion.”

Megren says, “Well, they chose it that way especially so it wouldn’t feel like one, that’s all.”

Haft says, “That’s fine.”

He looks down at his forgotten stew, then shovels in another mouthful.”

Megren says, “Sorry.”

Haft shrugs, tilting his head and eying her as he swallows. “All right.”

Megren drops her book back into her lap. “Dancing, that’s the other one.”

Haft grins. “How’s that coming? You were improving, if I recall.”

Megren says, “Well, I don’t expect I’ll ever be a natural. Lady Astera always looks so graceful when she does it, and I think I probably look quite stiff. But it’s mostly just memorizing what foot goes where when, and memorizing I’m not too bad at.”

Haft says, “Like swordplay. Enough practice and you’ll forget you ever didn’t know how, specially if yourself across from a handsome chap.”

Megren squints an eye, “I think that usually makes me forget more.”

Haft chuckles. “Oh really now?”

Megren blinks, and then colors. “People, I mean.”

Haft asks, “Makes you forget people?”

Megren says, “People forget.”

Haft shakes his head, eyes merry. “You said ‘me’. When’s the last time you danced with a handsome fellow anyway.”

Megren rolls her eyes dismissively still quite pink. “I don’t know. When’s the last time I danced with you, Haft?”

Haft laughs. “And you forgot the steps? I don’t remember that.”

Megren lifts her shoulders, grinning a little.

Haft snorts. “Your face is red.”

Megren feels her cheek, which grow redder with the comment, her mouth pushing upward protestingly. “It’s not,” she says, against evidence.”

(Missing…)

Snowball Fight

Outer Ward

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

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

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>

Megren walks through the ward from out of the stables. She is well wrapped up against the winter chill, though it is not especially cold out today, just around freezing.

Dalia makes her way into the outer ward from the inner ward. Seeing Megren, she makes her way toward her. “Megren!” The blue bead on her necklace bouncing up and down as she does.

Megren turns at the noise. “Evening Dalia! Got it off?”

Haft enters the ward from the north stair wearing his scarf.

Dalia grins. “Evening! Yes, I’m quite free.”

Megren asks, “How nice. Any plans?”

Lanisen passes through the inner gate, a half-eaten handpie in one hand, and heads for the kennels. He treads gingerly to avoid slipping on packed snow.

Haft makes a beeline for Megren.

Dalia is thoughtful, “No, I don’t think so. How about you?”

Megren shakes her head. “Sir Darrin was supposed to meet me, but the king asked for him.”

Haft says, “The indispensable man. Not a bad title.”

Lanisen wobbles a bit, corrects, and continues on his way. He takes a bite of his pie mid-slide.

Megren whistles for Lanisen’s attention. “It does make for some inconvenient rescheduling, though.”

Dalia nods, making a sort of frowning disappointed face for her friends sake. I’ve heard there’s a standing challenge between Guards and Knights. Had any snowball fights yet?”

Megren glances at Haft. “Not recently.”

Lanisen pauses at the whistle, and then begins picking his way toward Megren and the rest.

Haft says, “Idle threats keep making their way back and forth.”

 

Dalia looks around as Megren whistles, waving to Lanisen. “Is there any challenge for the castle staff of Anvard?”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “Did you want to make one?

Haft asks, “How would we reckon each side?”

Lanisen asks, coming into earshot, “Make one what?”

Megren says, “Hey, hello. A snowball challenge.”

Dalia laughs reaching down to grasp some snow and start molding it. “The Snow is quite fresh still, would be a shame to waste it.”

Haft says, “Better declare a side, Dalia.”

Lanisen looks alarmed.

Megren ducks behind Lanisen.

Haft glances at Megren. “So is he your teammate or a handy barrier?”

Dalia looks to Lanisen as if to gauge wether or not he really want to be in the middle of snowball war.

Lanisen raises his eyebrows and his hands.

Megren says, “Whatever keeps me from getting hit.”

Dalia turns to Haft, “It would seem the teams are already drawn up.”

Haft shrugs and stoops to gather some snow.

The Snowball Dalia’s hands looks pretty ready to throw.

Lanisen half-turns to the side to present a smaller target, providing less shelter for Megren.

Megren pulls him backward, glancing behind her in search of a crate.

Dalia tosses her snowball towards Megren, turning and fleeing for her own shelter.

Megren gets smacked in the shoulder while she’s looking for a good place to hide.

Haft grins, forming his own ball. “Well-cast!”

Lanisen skids a little on the slippery ground, ducking his head and shoulders when snowballs start flying.

Megren tugs him down behind a cart someone’s left behind.

Dalia grins, bending down make more snowballs.

Haft exclaims, “Carts aren’t like castle walls! You’re stuck without room to maneuver and you haven’t got the high ground.”

Megren exclaims, “No walls!”

Lanisen looks like he’s not entirely sure how he got caught up in this. He hangs on to his pie.

Dalia spies a barrel and ducks behind it.

Haft neatly sprints to the carts and lobs his snowball over it before retreating.

Megren exclaims, “Ah!”

Dalia laughs, offering Haft one when he returns.

Lanisen looks sadly at his snow-covered pie.

Megren looks down at his hand, then places her hand bravely on his shoulder and rises.

Lanisen blows hopefully at the pie to try to dislodge the snow before his lunch is ruined.

Dalia tosses a snowball towards Megren and Lanisen’s hideout. It probably sails way off course, due to her hiding.

Haft puts some distance between himself and the cart but stays more or less in the open, stopping for more snow.

Megren scoops up a second snowball to that she had been forming during Haft’s attack and she books it across the square., lobbing one in Dalia’s direction and saving the second for when she’s closer to Haft.”

Dalia makes a muffled sound of surprise as she’s hit by Megren’s snowball.

Lanisen stays where he is, though he peeks up over the top of the cart to follow Megren’s progress.

Haft sees Megren approaching and is forced to abandon his snowball in favor of flight.

Dalia gathers more snow to provide cover for HaftMegren ducks her head to catch up to him better.

Dalia gathers more snow to provide cover for Haft

Megren ducks her head to catch up to him better.

Haft looks over his shoulder.

Megren pelts him in the back.

Lanisen looks at the kennel door consideringly, gauging the distance between it and himself, and glances over the top of the cart toward Dalia.

Haft laughs and, as Megren is now unarmed, crouches to scoop together some ammunition, rising again to hurl it, not fully packed, at her.

Megren crouches at the same time, but still takes a full face of it.

Dalia has been ambitiously working and now has a few snowballs

Megren curls into a ball. “I surrender–!”

Haft looks mistrustful of this capitulation, but pauses to brush snow from his hair and shoulder.

Lanisen stands up quietly and carefully while Dalia is distracted and slips out of the cart’s shelter, making for the kennels.

Dalia peers out from her hiding spot to check on Megren, “I accept.”

Megren glances up just long enough to see Lanisen slip into the kennel with his pie mostly intact and looks smug.

Haft catches sight of Lanisen. “Is it deserting if an accord has been reached?”

Dalia sneezes.

Megren says, “I’m left to do the bidding of the winners, but Lanisen’s home free.”

Haft snorts. “I bid you fetch us cider. What say you?”

Megren extends a hand. “Fair punishment.”

Haft takes it and helps her up. “I’ll go with you. I ain’t drinkin’ it standing in the snow.”

Megren starts that way, gesturing for Dalia to join them.

Dalia raises dusting herself off and joins them.

 

On the Decoration of Harnesses

Stable

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

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

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.

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

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

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.”

Do You Love Him?

Kennels

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

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

Anvard’s kennel is a spacious room, longer than it is wide. It has two large windows in the north wall that serve well for light during the day, and lamps are suspended from the ceiling where they cannot be knocked over by rowdy hounds. A row of pens can be seen along the far wall, likely used to isolate dogs that are sick, injured, or in need of further training, but most of the castle pack is allowed to roam freely about the room. There is a door at the south end of the east wall with a hound-sized hinged flap on the bottom that leads out to the hounds’ yard. Behind a door in the back wall is a set of wooden steps that lead up to the second level, and a door in the west wall opens onto the private quarters of the master of hounds.

The room is kept very clean, and it has a comfortably shabby lived-in sort of feeling. The smell of dog, while present, is not overpowering, and small bundles of fragrant dried herbs are hung at intervals from the ceiling. There is an ancient, heavy wooden table across the room, and two overstuffed chairs face the enormous hearth on the east wall: all slightly gnawed and ragged, but sturdy. Cupboards and shelves on the west wall hold the sorts of liniments,herbs, and bandages used to treat the more common hound ailments, but they also hold tins of tea, dishes, a plate of biscuits or sweetbread, candles, books, and other accoutrements of pleasant evenings.

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

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

You can go: Outer Ward <N>, Huntsman’s Chamber <W>, Up <U>

Megren says, “Maybe. I wouldn’t hang my decision on that.”

Lanisen pulls his knees in tighter and curls his hands around his neck as if to warm them. He and Megren both are out of sight from the door, hidden behind a high wall of haybales which certainly wasn’t there yesterday.

Megren falls silent, reaching out to rub his back.

Haft enters the kennels carrying a small bag in one hand. He looks around and, seeing no one, proceeds toward Danall’s sleeping quarters.

Tohol, in front of the fire, raises his head with his ears perked. He lets out a low ‘BOOF’ sort of noise and leaves the warmth of the haybale structure to investigate.

Megren looks up uncertainly, and starts to rise to follow Tohol out.

Lanisen unfolds, straightening slightly, and gets up to go with Megren.

Haft raps on Danall’s door.

Megren peeks around the corner of the haybale room and lifts her brows. “Evening, Haft.”

Lanisen blinks. His shoulders drop a little in mild relief, and he sits back down.

Haft starts and turns. “Oh, didn’t know anyone was here.” He lifts the pouch. “This got left at one of the market stalls. Owner reckoned it was Danall’s.

Megren asks, “Oh, he’s out. Lanisen?”

Lanisen says, looking up, “He’s, he’s at home, he’ll be in tomorrow sometime.” He raises his voice a little to reach Haft past the barrier. “I can see that it gets to him if you like.”

Haft glances at the pouch, then at the haybales. “Yeah, allright,” he says, passing it to Megren.

Megren squints an eye, but plays along and circles around to bring it to Lanisen.

Lanisen gets up again and steps out from behind the wall to carry the pouch to the shelf. He sets it up with the tea, where it won’t be forgotten, and glances at Haft. “Thanks.”

Haft nods. “Of course.”

Megren asks, “Are you off for the evening?”

Lanisen glances between them, stepping back politely toward the bales.

Haft asks, “What? Oh. Yeah, I am. Why?”

Megren snorts. “Because that’s how you make conversation?”

Haft lowers his brow. “Disappointing.”

Megren asks, “What answer did you want?”

Haft says, “You might have been planning a game of darts or a dip in the pool or some festive carols and you just want to make /conversation/.”

Lanisen grins faintly, looking down. He crosses his arms over his stomach.

Megren says, “Oh.” She glances over at Lanisen. “Hmm–”

Haft offers a small smile. “He can come.”

Lanisen says, glancing up briefly to both of them, “That’s, that’s all right, I’m, I’ll stay in. Go ahead, I don’t mind.”

Megren looks unsure.

Haft stops smiling. “You two were talking. I didn’t plan to drag her away.” He glances between the two of them, then at the hay bales dividing the room. “Come up when you’re done, maybe. Either of you, or both.”

Megren nods. “Sure — sure, that would be nice.”

Lanisen says, looking at Megren, “It’s all right, it’s all right. I don’t mind, really.”

Haft clears his throat. “Right, later then.” He’s out the door in a matter of seconds.

Shortly thereafter…

Off-duty Mess

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

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
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>

Contents: Hearth <LIT>.

Megren comes walking into the Off-duty Mess.

Haft is standing in front of the dart board, alternating turns with Perth.

Megren peers in, not very far behind Haft’s departure.

Haft glances toward her as Perth takes his turn. “That was fast.”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “He said to go.”

Haft makes a frustrated face and tosses his own dart, missing and hitting the wall. “I said you could stay.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Megren says, “I know. Our, I think maybe he needed to think.”

Haft asks, “Think?”

Megren asks, “Um, he, did I tell you we met Jana and Myrd in Narnia?”

Haft frowns and turns to Perth, offering a word before leaving the game to address Megren properly. “Myrd? I’ve heard that name a few time…he was a suspect in Lanisen’s kidnapping, as I recall, some sort of bandit?”

Megren says, “Ha, um.”

Haft asks, “Um?”

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “Here, why don’t we find somewhere to sit.”

Haft grins. “For ‘conversation?'”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “Well, if we must.”

Megren casts around until her eyes land on a pair of chairs left empty because they are under a window. She grabs some blankets from near the fireplace and carts them over.

 

Haft accepts one gratefully. “Good of you to consider my old bones.”

Megren says, “My bones will thank me for it, too.”

Haft says, “Likely true. So, about Myrd…”

Megren says, “Um, right. I’m not sure — I mean, it’s all, most people pretty much know most of it, but I don’t want to tell a story that’s not mine to tell, so you’ll, you’ll forgive me if there’s holes.”

Haft says, “All right…”

Megren says, “Myrd’s, Myrd’s the one that led the little band with Lanisen and the rest of them.”

Haft pulls the blanket tighter. “Charming.”

Megren says, “Yeah. Lanisen was, I don’t think he was a lot older than Reina, it was, um, you know, they get the young folks who are in some kind of trouble — anyway.”

Haft says, “Yeah, I’ve seen it. Less often near Anvard, but I can imagine.”

Megren says, “Anyway, I guess they got married and had a kid, Myrd and Jana, only it’s not, she’s in a spot of trouble about it, and now Lanisen’s worried about the child and I, I think he might go and see if anything can be done.”

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Haft frowns. “What kind of trouble? With the man?

Megren says, “Yes. I guess he’s — I’m not sure. Sort of got her shut up, and he takes care of the son but he doesn’t let them — I don’t know. She said he doesn’t let them have friends.”

Haft asks, “Does he strike her?”

Megren looks a little sick at the thought. “I don’t know.”

Haft asks, “Was he involved in that death? Darius’ cousin?”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft asks, “And her? She was part of this band?”

Megren says, “Right.”

Haft says, “And she went off and married the leader.” He rolls his eyes skyward. “People do stupid things for ‘love’.””

Megren says, “I think he didn’t really give her a choice.”

Haft’s face darkens. “Wasn’t aware that was even legal in Narnia. So, now she’s got a kid and he’s keeping them locked up…and Lanisen…?

Megren says, “Not… exactly locked up. She, she asked Lanisen if the child could run to her, if he ever ran away.”

Haft’s eyes widen. “That’s a long run. What’d he say?”

Megren says, “He said yes, of course he did.”

Haft asks, “How old’s the boy?”

Megren says, “Six.”

Haft shakes his head, the guardsman in him wanting to solve the problem. “If the child’s in enough danger to need that, aren’t there local authorities charged with protecting him?

Megren says, “I think he’s not — I, I don’t know. It sounds like a mess. She works for the guard; she’s said they’ll help if something goes wrong. But Lanisen thinks it’s already wrong.”

Haft says, “If the guard’s helping, she shouldn’t need Lanisen’s aid. He’s too far away. And…to be blunt, he doesn’t /usually/ show much spine.”

Megren wrinkles her nose, frowning. “I — well, anyway I think he wants to get to know the son, so then the son will really have someone to go to instead of a stranger.”

Haft asks, “Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Lanisen…/Lanisen/ wants to go to Narnia, and stay in Narnia for an extended period of time, on a kennel-worker’s savings, and then he wants to spend time with the son of the outlaws who corrupted him to begin with, against the father’s wishes?”

Megren frowns. “It’s a noble thing to do.”

Haft nods. “It is. My respect for his character has just improved immensely. It’s his sense I’m concerned about.

Megren says, “Well, he hasn’t decided yet. He’s not going to choose it unless he thinks it’s right.”

Haft says, “Keeping a child safe is always right. Putting himself back into bad company and provoking the father makes him the wrong man for the task.”

Megren says, “I don’t get the impression there’s anyone who wouldn’t provoke the father.”

Haft asks, “How did Myrd react when you two ran into him?”

Megren squints an eye. “Um.”

Haft asks, “Well?”

Megren says, “I didn’t like him. Lanisen handled him as well as you could expect.”

Haft asks, “How well?”

Megren says, “He wasn’t cowed.”

Haft asks, “All right…it’s a start…you think he could keep it up?”

Megren says, “I think he’s capable, and I think when he cares about someone he’s still more capable.”

Haft asks, “And Myrd? If his wife’s worried he’d hurt his own child, how volatile is he?”

Megren says, “I think she’s worried the child will run.”

Haft says, “Yeah, you said that. What I’m asking is whether Lanisen is safe from Myrd if he goes and meddles where he’s not wanted.”

 

Megren says, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Haft reaches out to lay a hand on her arm.

Megren releases a breath.

A log on the fire shifts, sending a column of sparks flying upwards.

Haft says, “I’m not saying it’s not commendable, and it sounds like someone needs to act. I’m not sure he’s the someone I would choose.”

Megren asks, “Who would you choose?”

Haft says, “I’m not sure. A member of the Narnian guard, a woman or a creature of another species if he’s a jealous sort. Someone who has a patrol in the area on occasion, but can be located easily if the boys needs him or her.”

Megren releases another breath.

Haft asks, “And this is what he needs to think about?”

Megren nods.

Haft says, “That’s hard. It ain’t a request that can go unanswered. If he can’t help her himself, then other help must be found.”

Megren says, “Yes.”

Haft says, “He got any idea how he’d live over there? Granted, it’s not a hard land, but humans got needs the Beasts don’t.”

Megren says, “He’ll join the guard.”

Haft raises his brows. “He got the skills for that?”

Megren says, “She said she could get him on it.”

Haft nods slowly. “All right…that’s a start anyway. He’d have people to miss him if he didn’t turn up, and food to eat.”

Megren nods quietly.

Haft asks, “What about you?”Megren says, “I don’t want him to go.”

Haft looks relieved at this. “Thought maybe you were thinking of going with him.”

Megren’s eyes flick away from him toward the fireplace a little distance away. “No. I wish but– it would be, it would be selfish.”

Haft asks, “How so?”

Megren says, “I would be giving up working toward helping our whole country just so I could help my one friend.”

Haft punches her lightly in the arm. “You’ve got at least two friends.”

Megren’s eyes flick back to him and she rolls them, one side of her mouth quirking upward a little.

Haft smiles. “You don’t have to save the kingdom, Meg. I’m not trying to say that you can’t make a difference. We both know that the fate of Archenland can hinge on the actions of one. I’m an example of that. Cor is a better. But neither of us planned to bear that weight, and you needn’t either.”

Megren asks, “You think I should go with him?”

Haft says, “I didn’t say that. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t count the cost. There are a number of things I think you /should/ consider.”

Megren’s brow furrows.

Haft says, “Sir Darrin, for one.”

Megren’s unhappy, resigned expression indicates she’s already thought of this. “He couldn’t leave that long and it would break his heart.”

Haft asks, “To leave Archenland or lose a promising squire?”

Megren says, “Well, either, I suppose. But he couldn’t leave, for lots of bigger and better reasons than mine.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft says, “Yeah, being invaluable to king will do that. Anyway, you’d want his blessing, since you’re under his authority.”

Megren says, “If I, if I really thought I ought, he’d, I think he’d give it. If I really thought I ought.”

Haft says, “But right now you’re not even sure that Lanisen ought.”

Megren agrees, “No.”

Haft leans back in the chair, letting his head fall back. “I was right. Ice dipping would have been simpler.”

Megren concedes, “Probably.”

Haft sits up again. “It’s a big change to make, even for a friend.”

Megren says, “Lanisen’s thinking to do it, and I wouldn’t call her his friend.”

Haft says, “There’s the child. It’s different.”

Megren nods.

Haft asks, “So you, if you go, are you going for Lanisen, or the child?”

Megren says, “I, I don’t know. Lanisen. I’m not afraid for the child right now. I think he needs to get out, but I think he has time.”

Haft pinches the bridge of his nose. “You do realize this is a ridiculously far-sighted plan?”

Megren asks, “Because he’s still safe now?”

Haft says, “No. Because the whole idea revolves around spending years engendering trust on the off chance that a boy /may/ run away sometime in the future.”

Megren screws up her mouth. “Lanisen ran away, and Cass ran away, and I get the feeling Jana did, too…”

Megren says, “And anyway, he should have a safe place to go even if he doesn’t run.”

Haft sighs. “Sometimes they don’t run, Meg, even when they should. Blood binds, and some sons stay to protect their mothers.

Megren says, “She should have a safe place, too.”

Haft runs both hands over his face. “I find myself wishing she’d find one now.”You feel a little hungry.

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Haft says, “And you, would you join the guard? You might finish up your knighthood here first if Sir Darrin would allow it. I imagine they could use some more trained knights just now in Narnia.”

Megren says, “Maybe, yeah. If I could get my knighthood first that would, that would make it easier. K–kind of.”

Haft tilts his head, encouraging her to elaborate.

Megren says, “At least I wouldn’t be abandoning my training.”The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft says, “Yes. You’ve come a long way to stop now. Even so, I can’t help but think this isn’t the best answer.”

Megren says, “I’m not, I’m not planning on it. I’m not sure Lanisen would even let me.”

Haft asks, “Since when does anyone ‘let’ you?”

Megren wrinkles her nose.

Haft asks, “Have you told him you don’t want him to go?”

Megren nods. “But I also told him if he thought he should then he had me to help.”

Haft makes a face. “Of course you did.”

Megren says, “Well.”

Haft asks, “May I suggest an alternate approach, if you two decide you don’t want to leave civilization and run off to live with the beasties?”

Megren lifts her brows.

Haft says, “Let me write a letter to Lord Peridan. Not just now, but when thing in Narnia have settled. He can contact the head of the guard and ensure that precautions are set in place to safeguard mother and child if needed.”

Megren pulls in her lower lip and nods. “I’ll ask Lanisen.”

Haft asks, “Has he…I don’t know, set a deadline to decide?”

Megren says, “I don’t think so.”

Haft says, “Well, I guess I hope he doesn’t drag it out. You don’t want to be wondering. Though…you can make your decision before he does, you know.”

Megren says, “Yeah. I don’t… I can imagine Lanisen living in Narnia. He loves it there.”

Haft looks surprised. “And you?”

Megren shakes her head.

Haft asks, “And him?”

Megren asks, “Hm?”

Haft clears his throat awkwardly. “Do you love him enough to follow him?”

Megren blinks. “I…”

Haft tucks his chin, looking like he wants to make himself disappear into his chair.

Haft says, “Am I reading it wrong? I, um…”

Megren asks, “You mean, you mean– do you mean like Lord Peridan and Lady Avery?”

Haft looks extremely uncomfortable. “I…no? Maybe?”

Megren says, “Oh, oh, all right. Good. Sorry.”

Haft pulls another face. “That’s…’no’…then?”

Megren looks a little off-kilter. “I, um… I don’t know–”

Haft’s eyes widen and he looks away.

Megren says, “No, I mean, not like, um — I don’t know how to say it.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Haft rubs the back of his neck like he’s not entirely sure he wants her to try, but he doesn’t stop her either.

Megren scrubs her hand through her hair. “N-no, when you put it like that it seems, it doesn’t feel right.”

Haft loses a bit of his tension. “Friends then.”

Megren says, “I’m, yes.”

Haft says, “Well.” He takes a deep breath. “Good.”

Megren says, “Do you– haaa.” She pushes her hand through her hair again. “Yeah. Good.”

Haft says, “For what it’s worth I’d kind of like you to stick around awhile so I can get in trouble for forgetting to address you as ‘Lady Megren’.”

Megren looks perhaps /more/ surprised and vulnerable for a moment, and then her expression clears. “Oh, oh, right. Haha.”

Haft relaxes further into his chair, apparently deciding the alarming part of the conversation is past. “The guard’s going to win the next snowball fight, you know.”You feel hungry.
Megren clears her throat. “What? Oh. Which, which side are squires on?”

Haft purses his lips. “Think it depends how many knights are in residence and willing to participate.”

Megren says, “That’s fair.”

Haft says, “We try.”

Megren says, “I’ll be on the winning team one way or another.”

Haft asks, “Because victory hinges upon just one person?”

Haft grins.

Megren lifts her shoulders. “Morale boost.”

Haft says, “Same thing, Meg. You’re good to have around.””

Megren wrinkles her nose. “Thanks.”

Haft says, “Any time.”

Megren says, “Listen, I should,” she looks a little awkward still. “Um, I feel like I ought to check on Lanisen.”

Haft says, “By all means. I’ll see if Perth’s up to humiliating me at darts again.”

Megren says, “I can’t imagine he’ll protest.”

Haft says, “Night, Meg.”

Megren gets up and gathers up her blanket. “Night, Haft.”