Of Councils, Love and Elephant Ears

Central Garden
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Avery is sitting on a bench close to the fountain. She is in quiet conversation with Haft, pointing to some flowers beside the bench.

Megren walks alongside Linor and a cart that is chockful of treats.

Haft glances at the flowers. “Alacanthas, I believe.”

Linor stops the tray near the benches and goes over to Lady Avery and gives a small bow. “Good afternoon My Lady. Would you like some tea or wine?”

Avery hmms thoughtfully, nodding. When she hears the other voice, she turns slightly and smiles. “Ah, Linor, hello. I would love some wine, thank you.”

Linor goes over to the cart and pours a glass and hands it to Avery. “You’re Welcome, M’lady.”

Megren sits on the adjacent bench. “Alacanthas is the flower?” Continue reading Of Councils, Love and Elephant Ears

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Of Tarkaans, Dukes and Badgers

The Beach near Sted Cair

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Megren sits on the end of the harbor dock, legs swinging over the edge.

Haft strolls down the dock toward her. “Don’t fall in. You’ll get your boots wet.”

Megren tilts her head back far enough to see who’s coming. “That would be a disappointment,” she agrees. Continue reading Of Tarkaans, Dukes and Badgers

Early Knighthood

Off-duty Mess

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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.

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You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

The mess is fairly quiet. Haft sits with his feet propped up in front of the fire.

Megren walks into the room and hangs back in the doorway to survey it. Seeing Haft, she gets a cup of tea and goes to sit in the chair beside his.

Haft looks up and smiles, rising and offering a small bow. “Dame Megren.”

Megren wrinkles her nose at him. “Hello.”

Haft reseats himself. “How goes your beginning as a knight?”

Megren says, “About how you’d expect. Sleepier.” Continue reading Early Knighthood

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.”

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.

Snowball Fight

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>

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.