Rain & Strategy

•April 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Battlements of the Northern Watchtower
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The view here is breathtaking. You stand above the forests, able to see far
and wide into the surrounding countryside. Far to the west lie the cliffs of
the western border and to the northeast lie the moors stretching out into the
horizon. You could shoot a fair ways from here, too, through the arrow slots
provided in the stone walls. There is a trapdoor leading into the tower.
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Skarlieth is perched on the battlements, scanning the tree-filled horizon.
Jana lifts the trapdoor and pulls herself up onto the baseboards. Once fully up, she readjusts her hair around her shoulders and moves to stand near the eagle.
Skarlieth turns his head towards the approaching Daughter of Eve and nods, not in the position to bow. “Hail, Adara.”
Jana asks, “Nothing interesting, huh?”
Skarlieth shakes his head, looking back out. “Little moving beneath the trees in this part of the forest. I imagine it is much the same upon your part?”
Jana sighs laboriously. “Blooming trees, twittering birds, scampering vermin, all that sort of happy nonsense.”
Skarlieth clacks his beak. “I would have thought it a welcome break from the quiet of winter.” He examines her for a minute. “Is spring not a preferred season for you?”
Jana leans her back against the wall. “Something to do’s a preferred season for me.”
Skarlieth dips his head. “Truth.” Giving another idle scan over the woods, he asks, “What do you imagine you would occupy yourself with, if you were not a part of the guard?”
Jana snorts.
Skarlieth looks at her, head tipped.
Jana glances at him, and, seeing he’s serious, frowns and shrugs. “Sold cheese before this.” She pauses, then says, “Sold alcohol before that.”
Skarlieth asks, “You still brew, do you not? Do you yet make cheese as well?”
Jana says, “Kid took a liking to the goat.”
Skarlieth tips his head a bit, despite his reply of, “Ah, I see.” He glances towards the sky, where the day’s cloud cover has been progressively growing darker and heavier. He shifts a bit on his perch.
Jana looks up as well, giving in enough to say, “Yeah, we still make it sometimes. Don’t got to make a living on it any more, though.”
Skarlieth glances her way, blinking once. He seems to smile before turning back out. “Do you enjoy crafting it?”
You say, “I guess. Gives my boys something to do while I’m working, keeps the goat milked and the milk from spoiling.”
Skarlieth begins to ask, “How do th-” when the clouds decide to make good on their growing threat. It starts with a few large drops, a couple of which pelt the Eagle. He stops, turning a distinctly sour look sky-ward.
Jana lifts the hood of her cloak, then glances the eagle over. “Oh. Need to go down?”
Skarlieth hesitates, glancing between the forest and the sky… then, as the drops start getting faster, nods. “My watch was near complete as it stands.” He shuffles around and glides off the battlements to land near the trapdoor.
Jana opens the door for him.
Skarlieth nods his thanks before vanishing inside.

Watchtower Bunk Room
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The room is crowded with bunks and bedrolls. End-tables provide space to hold
weapons while their owners sleep, as well as bowls of washing water to refresh
the guards when they awake. There is a stair leading upwards to the
battlements and also downwards to the main level.
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Skarlieth hops onto the end of one of the bunks, going through a quick preening to get the drops of water off his feathers.
Jana descends and shuts the trap, removing her cloak, and running her fingers quickly over her hair to check for moisture.
Above, the rain picks up quickly and begins to knock against the wooden trapdoor and break on the stone. The Eagle, satisfied his feathers aren’t any more than damp, glances around the room, tapping a claw against the bunk.
Jana gathers her hair over her shoulder and leans against the arm of a bunk, seeing if she can’t wait the storm out before going home. After a while, she says, “What would you do.”
Skarlieth looks around at her, blinking as she breaks the quiet. “I?” He considers. “Likely, I would be helping train the younger Eagles in the Great Woods. Attempting to master Aerial Hunt, patrolling and speaking with Drune and Winterden. I doubt there would be much involved by way of cheesemaking.”
Jana says, “What’s that, Arael hunt.”
Skarlieth says, “Ah, forgive me. It is a strategy game that is quite popular amongst my kind.”
Jana says, “Oh, like cards.”
Skarlieth blinks. “I… am not sure I can speak upon that with experience. I was not aware cards were strategy-heavy, from what I have heard of them.”
Jana smirks. “Can be.”
Skarlieth says, “I… see.”
Jana says, “How do you play this one.”
Skarlieth taps his talon again as he works to word an explanation. “You have a board, and your opponent has an identical one. Each has a number of pieces, which you set upon the board, which your opponent cannot see. From there, you attempt to find the other’s pieces by searching one square by one before the opponent finds your own.” He frowns slightly as he finishes this explanation.
Jana narrows her eyes, attempting to follow this. “Suppose we could get a board around here?”
Skarlieth asks, “It would be easier to explain with the board, I believe… and it is possible. I could perhaps instruct one of the Dwarves to the south in carving one, if you would care to learn. How do you play your favored card game?”
You say, “My husband carves.”
Skarlieth says, “Ah. Forgive me, it had slipped my mind. I do not think it would be overly difficult to complete a board, should he be willing.”
Jana lifts her legs onto the bed and stretches them out luxuriously. “I’ll see if he’s interested.”
The quiet roar of water beating stone starts to fade into more of a drizzle. Skarlieth nods. “I would appreciate that. My thanks.”
You say, “Ain’t no trouble.”
Skarlieth asks, “Are you fond of strategy, then?”
You say, “It’s all right in it’s place.”
Skarlieth dips his head. “A fair answer.”
You say, “Folk get to thinking they’re clever just cause they know how to play a game.”
Skarlieth settles down a bit more on his perch. “Perhaps they are. At least in one sense of clever. Though it is true, mastery of a game is oft more indicative of practice than elsewise.”
Jana mms.
Skarlieth asks, “What would you say makes someone clever?”
You say, “Being clever.”
Skarlieth taps a talon, then nods once.
You say, “Ain’t poetry or philosophy or games, it’s just clever or not.”
Skarlieth eyes the woman for a moment, gaze considering, then nods again. “Perhaps so. For now, however…” he glances towards the trapdoor, where the drizzle has faded further. “I think I will attempt to return to my eyrie before more rain decides to fall. My thanks for the company.”
Jana swings her legs off the mattress and slips out from under the bunk. “Weren’t any trouble.”
Skarlieth hops off the bunk again and half-bows. “A fair eve to you, then, Adara. Stay dry.” He picks his way up the stairs and pushes open the trapdoor, letting it snap shut again as he exits.

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•March 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Behind the East Tower

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Behind the ruins of the old castle is an open but gloomy expanse of grass and

shrubs. Immediately to the west, you see a huge stone tower reaching upward

toward the sky, tapering at the top in such a way that it looks like an

enormous crag or a horn. There is a small archway here at ground level, and

several holes cut into the walls for several stories upward. Vines are

attempting to grow up the wall, but the stones are still smooth enough that

they don’t appear to be having much luck.

  

Beyond this, the expanse is overgrown and mostly featureless. To the north

and south, the land rolls in huge hills that obscure any long-distance view.

A short ways off to the east, however, you can see the edge of a thick

coniferous woodland area that almost appears to be creeping toward the

castle.

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Sigyn comes out of the tower, padding quietly on the ground as she checks for scents in the area.

Sigyn’s ears shift into a full pricked motion and she pauses to listen closely.

Jana emerges from between a pair of long trunks, shifting her hood back to reveal her face.

Sigyn lifts her head higher and then bows it in a nod to the woman. “Good day, Adara.”

Jana’s eyes shift to the ruined eastern arch of the castle, one of it’s last remaining frameworks. “What’s got you out about this way?”

Sigyn’s feline tail twitches smoothly behind her as she replies, “Just checking the area for any fresh scents.”

You say, “That Darius character ain’t been hanging about this way I hope.””

Sigyn shakes her head. “Not that I can tell. I still haven’t met him, but I haven’t scented any unfamiliar humans.”

Jana mmms, not seeming entirely satisfied.

Sigyn tilts her head a little as she observes the woman. “What’s he like?”

Jana shrugs, pouting her lips together and crossing her arms. “Dense.”

Sigyn chuckles throatily. “Is that all that’s wrong with him?”

You say, “Well, he ain’t too good with a knife, neither.”

Sigyn says, “Really? I was hearing he was a decent fighter.”

Jana looks skeptical. “From who.”

Sigyn shrugs a little. “Just a bird and a squirrel…I take it they greatly exaggerated?”

You say, “Or… don’t… know anything about fighting more like. Disarming him was like knocking a dagger out of a wobbly sword-rack.”

Sigyn huhs. “That’s a pity…will he have to train a lot to be able to join the guard, if Petraverd allows?”

Jana scowls, “Do you think Petraverd will?”

Sigyn hms. “I couldn’t really say….I’m afraid I don’t know our commander well enough…what do you think?”

You say, “Sure as ruddy well don’t need him.”

Sigyn tilts her head a little. “Don’t we need everyone we can get?”

You ask, “…No?”

Sigyn ohs. “I guess I’m still learning how the guard operates…I just assumed…”

You say, “We’ve practically beat the giants, and that’s not even the guard’s job. It ain’t as if we’re in some kind of desperate war and we need bodies.”

Sigyn looks a little surprised at this information, and she nods her head a little. “That makes sense.”

Jana mms, unimpressed.

Sigyn asks, “Do you think the commander will let him in?”

You say, “Be stupid if he did.”

Sigyn nods a little. “Especially if he’s not very good.”

You say, “Just so.”

Sigyn asks curiously, “How long have you been in the Guard yourself?”

You say, “Since it was formed.”

Sigyn asks, “How long ago was that?”

You say, “Couple years.”

Sigyn nods, clearly fascinated with the information. “How often do giants come here to Lantern Waste soil?”

You say, “Pretty well never.”

Sigyn says, “That’s good at least.”

You say, “Less buildings to repair.”

Sigyn nods. “I remember hearing about the ones several years ago.”

You say, “Yeah, I guess they used to come here sometimes, and Barfield got it pretty bad once, maybe six years ago.”

Sigyn nods. “Were you around for that?”

You say, “Just after.”

Sigyn shakes her head. “I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. With so many beasts there.”

Jana lifts a shoulder. “They set up some tents while we rebuilt.”

Sigyn nods, falling quiet a moment.

Jana glances at the ruins. “Where do you come from anyway. How come you’re here.”

Sigyn responds, “Originally I am from Sted Cair…my parents are there still. I’ve two siblings, one sister who lives here and a brother in Barfield. Growing up, I always wanted to–I don’t know. Make myself useful, do something with my life. Fighting in the Guard has always been a dream of mine.”

Jana nods, lips pressed together a little, but looking as if she can understand this.

Sigyn says, “Do you think I’m foolish for that?”

You say, “No. Better to be useful than nothing.”

Sigyn nods. “That’s how I feel. At least in regards to myself.”

You say, “I think it is the philosophy of most of the guard.”

Sigyn says, “At least I can relate on that regard.”

You ask, “You ain’t relate otherwise?”

Sigyn says, “I suppose I still feel too new, still feeling my way. And I’m just a runner, really.”

Jana mms.

Sigyn’s tail twitches a bit.

You say, “Well.” She lifts her hood. “Tell me if you hear something new about Darius.”

Sigyn dips her head. “I’ll do that.”

Jana glances at the ruins again. “See you around.”

Sigyn bows her head to Adara. “Take care.”

Meeting Darius

•February 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Along the Western Cliffs
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You stand at the base of the Western Cliffs, the bluffs of incredible height
that mark the western border of Narnia. This area is shady, but open. The
trees of Lantern Waste can be seen just to the east, but the foliage here is
sparse and scrubby, the ground rocky and hard.

The cliffs continue northward and southward. Ahead to the south, you can see
an opening in the cliff-face.
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Jana walks along the cliffs, hair tied back and mien alert. Because the weather has warmed up over the course of the day, she is wearing her cloak but the hood is pushed back.
A son of adam wearing a plain, black tunic and white trousers walks along the cliffs from the south, his hands are freshly bruised and there are traces of blood on them. As he walks, he flexes his hands, flinching as he observes their condition.
Jana lifts her hood with a finger when she sees the son of adam, before he’s looked up from his hands. The effect of this is to mostly hide her scar.
A son of adam wearing a plain, black tunic and white trousers finally looks up from his hands, letting his left casually fall onto the hilt of his sword. Catching sight of the hooded daughter of eve, he slows and examines the figure in silence for a moment before offering a greeting. “Hello there. ”
You say, “Afternoon.”
A son of adam wearing a plain, black tunic and white trousers smiles uncertainly. “Haven’t seen many of my kind up in these parts. ” he states, continuing his examination of her. “Name’s Darius. ”
You say, “We met already.”
Darius’s brow slightly. “Ah, yes! You were the Lady whom I saw upon first meeting the Commander. ” he chuckles. “I hardly count that as having met. ”
Jana mms.
Darius’s brow lifts further as he looks a bit more uncertain. “Something I said?”
You say, “Something you said what.”
Darius’s brow furrows, expression turning perplexed. “You… went uh… ” he coughs awkwardly before mirroring her. “mmmm”
Jana mhms.
Darius searches her, an amused twinkle entering his eyes as he mhms.
Jana rolls her eyes. “I’m on patrol. Did you need something.”
Darius chuckles, holding up a hand. “My apologies, that was uncalled for. ” he shakes his head before clasping his hands behind him. “No, I was just out for a stroll myself. ”
You say, “Congratulations.”
Darius says, “Uh, congratulations? ”
Jana mhms.
Darius’s amusement seems to be growing, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. “M’lady, I am TRULY sorry if I said anything to offend. ” he brushes the bang away from his eye. “And if recompense is needed, then I will certainly do so. ”
Jana gives him a shrewd look. “Will you?”
Darius dips his head. “Of course. ”
Jana smiles finally. It’s a pretty smile, if cunning. “Agreed.”
Darius eyes her, smiling now. “Alright… and what might that be then? ”
A fox comes trotting toward you from the north.
You say, “Go home.”
Darius looks momentarily surprised. “Home?”
You say, “That’s right. We ain’t need any more men on the guard. You’re just liable to hurt yourself. Go home and find something good to do there.”
Darius shifts from one foot to another. “Hurt myself? ” his brow furrows, the amusement wiping from his face. “I’m just looking to help… ”
You say, “I’m sure.”
Darius asks, “Why am I liable to hurt myself?”
You ask, “You want to fight giants, right?”
Darius says, “I am simply looking to help and serve. Be that in fighting giants or simply watching over an area. ”
You say, “Well, this place is looked over just fine.”
Darius asks, “And I couldn’t be of any more help?”
You say, “Now you’ve got it.”
Darius looks a bit deflated at this. “That what the commander said?”
Jana raises a brow, looking unimpressed and no longer amused. “It’s how it is.”
Darius’s brow furrows once more. “You don’t know a thing of me. ” he looks up, voice a bit stronger but not unkind. “How do you know I wouldn’t be of more help and simply get hurt?”
Jana takes a curt breath. “Easily tested.”
Darius’s brow raises. “That so?”
You say, “I am–” she looks him over assessingly. “Ten years your senior, a woman, and a parent. If I can overcome you in a spar, I suppose just about anyone could.””
Darius takes a step to the side, releasing a soft heh. “I don’t see why those would make me feel any better about you failing to best me in a spar. But, I wouldn’t mind the opportunity in any case. ”
You ask, “The stakes?”
Darius asks, “Stakes?”
You say, “What will you do if you fail.”
Darius gives her an appraising look. “I don’t know. What would you have of me… beyond leaving? ”
Jana shrugs.
Darius waves a hand. “How about the simple satisfaction that you have beaten me and a hundred coin?”
Jana’s brows rise, her movements careful. “You’ve that to spare, have you?”
Darius nods slightly. “For this, I do. ”
Jana considers him and then tilts her head and steps past him. “No thank you.”
Darius turns with her, brow raised curiously. “Then what do YOU want should I lose?”
Jana shrugs, still walking away. “Don’t know.”
Darius frowns slightly. “One hundred fifty coin. ”
Jana smirks, still walking.
Darius’s eyes register disappointment more than anything as he moves to follow. “Goodness, fine! Two hundred coins… I daresay you have my attention M’lday. ” He presses.
You say, “Eager to beat up a woman, hm.”
Darius blinks. “No! Eager to see the measure of my skill against a seemingly worthy opponent. ” he slows. “Man, woman, mouse or giant… I’d be the fool to assume simply because of what you are that I would best you easily, if at all. ”
You ask, “You’ve asked to join the guard when you ain’t even know the measure of your own skill?”
Darius looks like he just got smacked across the face. “That is not what I said. I certainly gave Lord Peridan a spar… And while I did not best the man, he let me know my skill wasn’t lacking. ” he states, determination in his eyes. “I simply wanted to test my skill against one of those in the guard. ”
Jana turns. “Fine. You keep your dagger.” She pulls her own out of her skirts and tosses it on the ground.
Darius takes a half-step back as the dagger is tossed at his feet. Keeping his eyes on her, he gingerly moves to pick it up.
Jana doesn’t remove her cloak, but says, “You’d better drop that pack, too.”
Darius takes hold of the dagger. Then he carefully sets down the pack before removing his scabbard and setting it next to it.
Jana takes a step back and spreads her hands. “The first move is yours.”
Darius clasps the dagger uncertainly, waiting for her to pull out one. “What of your weapon?”
Jana lifts her hands demonstratively.
Darius hesitates. “As you wish… ” With that, he takes a ginger step forward and lunges for her arm.
Jana steps back, blocking the attack with a blow from the heel of her hand to his wrist. She unclasps her cloak with her other at the same time.
Darius releases a sharp breath before yanking his hand away and spinning low in an attempt to slice at at her legs.
Jana tosses her cloak over him and kicks him in the guts.
Darius lets out a loud grunt, flailing as the world is blotted from his view. Falling over, he struggles to get the cloak off and even when he does, he spins, disoriented.
Jana gives him a clean knock to the chest with her elbow to knock the breath from him.
Darius staggers as the breath is knocked from him, eyes flickering. Just as he is about to fall back, he plants one foot behind him and lunges for her, looking to engulf her and bring her down in a last ditch attempt.
Jana wraps her hand around the handle of the knife to wrench it away.
Darius’s hand releases the knife as he continues forward, hoping to pin her to the ground.
Jana turns so that her elbow lands in his gut again.
Darius dives right past her, taking the elbow to the gut and landing on his back. Coughing as he attempts to catch his breath, he groans. “I concede.”
Jana mhms.
Darius slowly sits, snorting and rubbing his side. “As I said… I’d be the fool to believe that any of those made you a less worthy opponent. ” he grunts. “Or me a better match. ”
Jana leans to gather her cloak.
Darius winces as he gets to his feet, moving over to his pack and rummaging through it. Pulling out a small bag, he dips his hand into it.
Jana waves her hand at him. “Keep your money.”
Darius hehs, moving towards her. “I’d rather keep my word. ”
You say, “If you were a more difficult opponent I might feel I’d earned it. As it is, I might as well have taken it off a child.”
Darius stops short, shoulders slumping a bit. “My thanks for the spar in any case… ” he says quietly, letting the money fall back into the bag before putting it back into the satchel.
Jana mhms.
Darius hehs, slinging the satchel over his shoulder. ” I ‘spose this means I should continue working at it. ” he returns, smiling softly. “Enjoy your patrol. ” chuckles, glancing down and beginning to turn. “I don’t reckon I have earned the right to know your name either. Farewell then. ” he flashes her one last smile before beginning to make his way back towards the cavern.
Jana’s eyes flicker, and she watches him depart without stopping him.
Darius continues off, never once looking back.

Waspish

•January 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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The Northern Wood is a dense and varied woodland. It consists primarily of oak
and white pine trees, with a variety of other groves growing here and there.
Some of the thicker trunks bear black, ribbed scars from some ancient fire,
which might help to explain the large natural clearing that has formed here.
The trees thin out to buckthorn and gorse bush about a large tower built of
rough-hewn stone. The tower is in good repair, and stretches high enough to
clear the tree canopy, presumably affording a good view from all approaches.
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Tempest pads through the trees, following scents along the ground.
Jana descends the tower, pushing her hair behind her shoulder with the back of her hand. The scent of the northernmost part of the woods still lingers on her, but faintly.
Tempest’s pace slows as she approaches the tower and sees the figure emerging. Taking a deep breath, she approaches, bowing her head in greeting. “Hail…Adara.”
Jana narrows her eyes at the approaching wolf and adjusts her cloak, which hangs slightly off-kilter around her shoulders, as if she has just put it on a moment before. “Tempest? What’re you doing in these parts?”
Tempest replies, “I’ve just arrived…I’m here to talk to a couple of people.” she begins.
Jana lifts her hood. “About that business in Archenland? I heard there was Winterden folk in it.”
Tempest nods. “Drune, Aliyah, and myself all ended up at Anvard in the battle.” she explains.
You say, “Ain’t look worse for the wear. Who’re you looking to talk to? Maybe I can help you find them.”
Tempest chuckles a little. “Well….I’m actually here with the intent to talk to you, for one.”
Jana frowns a little, surprised. “Oh. Well, my husband’s meant to be out with Tristran, if you want to come for a drink and get out the weather. It’s not far.”
Tempest nods her head. “If it’s not too much trouble. I don’t want to inconvenience you.”
Jana shakes her head and trudges forth to lead the way.

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This comfortable room is walled in stone and fixtured with a dark reddish wood.
The kitchen area is furnished with cooking fire, cistern, stacks of stoneware,
and utensils hung by nails along the wall. A window looks out onto the forest,
framed by greying curtains. The kitchen is separated from the rest of the room
by a long, heavy table serving as a kind of bar. The room is set up in a
functional, Spartan fashion, adorned only by the lanterns used to light it.
Several stools of varying sizes serve as the only exception. While some of them
remain crude, the legs of others have been carved to look as if they are held
up by various beasts: a wide, squat one by bears, a set of smaller stools by
various mustelids. These stools can be dragged into whatever formation might be
useful, or pushed against the wall as needed. One of similar style is behind
the counter, the legs wound with roses instead of animals.

A door leads outside into the forest, and another leads into a back room.
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Tempest follows Adara to her home. Looking around, she comments to the woman, “This looks like a very nice place to live.”
Jana holds the door open for Tempest to come inside before shutting it and removing her cloak. “Got some dried venison if you’re hungry, or I got a good cider if you want something to warm you up.”
Tempest dips her head. “I thank you kindly for the offer. I just made a meal of a few rabbits, so my stomach is quite content for the moment.”
Jana doesn’t quite hide her distaste for the meal. She goes behind the table and reaches down. “Well, I’ll have something, if you don’t mind,” she says, pulling a prettily carved wooden stopper from a bottle.
Tempest shakes her head. “I don’t mind at all.”
Jana pours herself a generous drink and crosses around to the larger part of the room, picking out one of the shorter stools, this one bearing a set of polecats. She sits on it, stretching her legs out in front of her, and it puts her at about Tempest’s height. “What’d you need?”
Tempest sits facing Adara, hesitating a moment as she gathers her thoughts. “Well…heh. Now that we’re here my mind has quite gone blank. I’d…I’d like to talk to you about someone.”
Tempest says, “And something.”
Tempest says, “Sorry…I’m all jumbled.”
Jana scoots back a little so she can lean her back against the table leg. Her brows draw together. “…Take your time.”
Tempest tilts her head as she gauges how exactly to start. “Do you…do you remember all those years ago? When you and Raistlana came and rescued me from Tainn?”
Jana mms affirmatively, making small circles with the hand that holds the alcohol.
Tempest says, “I remember something from that day… when she called you J”
Tempest says, “Jana.”
Jana mms, and takes a sip from her drink. “Because that’s my name,” she says once she’s swallowed.
Tempest asks, “Why do you tell everyone it’s Adara?”
Jana glances at the ceiling, “Usually I say to call me Adara.” She looks back to the wolf. “But that’s not much to your point, I guess.”
Tempest nods a little, looking at Jana in a non-threatening way. “Why do you do that?”
You say, “‘Cause it’s my name, too.” She narrows her eyes at the wolf thoughtfully. “Who’s been telling tales on my name in Archenland, mm?””
Tempest shakes her head. “No tales.”
Jana looks skeptical, but she takes another sip. “New life, new name, that’s why. Does that make sense or you looking for more?”
You say, “You ain’t come all the way here just for a name.”
Tempest shakes her head slowly. “No…I didn’t.”
Jana gestures with her cup for the wolf to go on.
Tempest says, “I suppose I’m curious as to why your name makes a grown man quake in fear over the idea of traveling to Narnia.”
Jana’s face goes blank.
Tempest adds, “And Myrd’s name too.”
Jana looks down for a moment. She wets her lips and says carefully, “It is common knowledge that my husband brought me here while he ran from the consequences of his life in Archenland. Were you not aware?”
Tempest shakes her head. “I wasn’t, no. Was probably too young at the time. Could you tell me about it, please?”
You say, “It is… not a time I like to dwell on. Myrd was… very possessive, and I felt safer running with him than running from him.”
Tempest nods, her ears flicking backwards at that bit of information.
Jana glances at the door uncertainly as she says this, as if afraid he may be listening in even now. “Perhaps this was not the right place to talk, after all.”
Tempest nods her head. “I’m very sorry if I’ve put you in a bad position…”
A group of Narnians–two Hares, a Sparrow, a Dwarf, a Faun, and a Horse–all cluster around a little stream in the grass, staring down at it in confusion. “Welp,” says the Dwarf at last. “It’ll save a trip to the well down by Adie’s.” <Save Warning>
You say, “You couldn’t have known–”
Tempest asks, “Would it be better for you to meet with me at another time?”
You ask, “I… I’m not sure what you want to know, exactly, not knowing the man’s name. Perhaps another place?”
Tempest nods. “Yes. Wherever you think is best.”
Jana’s brows draw together in thought. “The cellar, perhaps. He cannot come there without my knowing, and the earth makes it difficult to listen in.”
Tempest’s expression remains blank as she nods to Jana.
Jana starts to rest her drink on the table, and then thinks better of it, downing about half and tossing the rest into the fire. She puts the glass back away and the stools where they were when they came in, so that it looks as if no one has spent any time in here at all — certainly not as if Jana has had company.
Tempest blinks in surprise, looking at the fire a moment and moving out of Jana’s way so she can reset things.
Jana takes her cloak back up and makes a quick but shrewd glance out the window before opening the door. Her countenance is much more casual as she does this– she pauses to adjust her cloak, but as soon as she is sure the area is clear she stops adjusting and gestures for Tempest to follow her.
Tempest obediently does as Jana indicates.

Root Cellar
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The walls and floor of this shallow room are earthen, supported in a few
locations by wooden beams. Barrels are stacked all along one side of the room.
An adjacent wall features a worktable, equipped with spoons and funnels for
wine-making as well as a lamp and several kinds of knives and some
woodshavings. Against the other walls are stacked supplies: sugars, cooking
staples, and dried winter store mostly, but a large wooden crate and an
unmarked trunk also stand there. Some bushel baskets have been buried in the
ground and covered in straw to keep fruit and vegetables fresh and away from
frost. The room is cool and smells distinctly of alcohol. The only exit is a
ladder leading up to a trap door.
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Jana leads her down into the cellar. She lights the lamp that sits near her wine-making things.
Tempest follows Jana down into the cellar, her nose twitching to catch any scents down in the room. When the light fills the space and she is reassured that the place is empty, she asks, “Why are You are afraid of your husband?”
Jana circles the room, her eyes to the ground. “I… you see…” She cants her head as she acknowledges the truth of the matter. “We are married because he told me he would rather see me dead than with another. Even my attachment to my own brother disturbed him. Is that who you spoke to? My brother? He’d be a little thin, about ten years my junior.”
Tempest tilts her head as she looks at Jana. “Jana…if I tell you this man’s name, will it cause him harm? He is a dear friend…and I don’t take kindly to those who hurt friends of mine.” Her tone is not threatening, but serious in it’s delivery.
Jana stops walking to look at the wolf and shake her head. “I will not tell my husband.”
Tempest asks, “And will you harm him?”
Jana blinks at her, surprised. “You think the Northern Guard would accept such a person?”
Tempest shakes her head. “No…I don’t think they would. Do they know about your time in Archenland?”
You say, “I have spoken with Glyn at length, and their majesties have made arrangements for us.”
Tempest nods her head. “So their majesties know.”
You say, “Yes.”
Tempest nods. “Very well then. I’m not approaching you officially, but my connections with Lord Peridan will be put to good use if any harm comes to my friend. Are we agreed?”
Jana scowls at the implication. “Look, if you don’t want to tell me, then don’t. It’s not as if I haven’t lived the last half a decade cut off from my home. I’ll find a way to continue living if I have to keep on like that.”
Tempest sighs. “I need to take the precautions to be certain. Surely you of all people can understand that.”
You say, “No, I don’t. Because I, of all people, know that words are nothing. You’re not taking precautions, you’re threatening me. If their majesties have a problem with me, they know where I am.”
Tempest’s ears flick backwards. “I, unlike most people apparently, still hold people to their word and it is currently good enough for me.”
Jana crosses her arms. “I brought you here at danger to myself to let you inquire into a history about which it was clear I was sensitive, and you expect me to accept a threat as return for the kindness.”
Tempest says, “I am not threatening you, Jana. I can see and smell your fear. I know that it isn’t a show for me. I am asking for a promise. If this just involved myself it wouldn’t matter, but I owe it to /him/. Because I could also smell his fear.”
You say, “You want me to promise that I understand you will try to send an army after me regarding a person it is impossible for me to touch, given that we live a country apart.”
Tempest releases a sigh and keeps her tone as gentle as possible. “I want you to promise that you will not do anything that may result in the harm of this man. You’ve promised not to tell your husband and that may be the only thing that may result in harm, but I don’t know that, not knowing all the factors. I want this promise on the understanding that if harm comes, I will have to protect this man. Not with an army because I do not command them, but myself. I know it’s not likely but I cannot assume anything.”
Jana rolls her eyes. “Fine.”
Tempest says, “Thank you.”
Jana leans against the table behind her, some of her weight resting on a hand that grips the edge. She gestures with the other hand for Tempest to continue wherever she is going with all this.
Tempest begins, “When I was in Anvard and my packmate was recovering, I befriended a man, a volunteer who was severely injured in the battle. We kept each other’s company while my packmate recuperated. His name is Lanisen.” She says slowly.
Jana’s brows rise. “In the army?”
Tempest shakes her head. “Don’t think he was in the army, he was a volunteer when the King called for them, when the siege began. Poor man was the first to fall…he nearly died to hear his friend talk of it.”
Jana blinks a few times. “Brownish hair, sort of real skinny like he’s never seen a right meal?”
Tempest nods. “Brown hair, scar on his neck. He looks a bit more well fed than that I think but he’s still lanky and skinny.”
Jana looks just a little disappointed. She nods. “He worked for my husband.”
Tempest says, “He mentioned something like that but he wouldn’t give me too many details.”
You say, “Then I reckon they’re his details to say or not, and not mine.”
Tempest says, “He said enough.”
You say, “Can’t say I know what that means, but so long as you’re satisfied.”
Tempest looks at her. “How was he hurt by your husband?”
You say, “Like I said. If he ain’t see fit to tell you, don’t seem right I should.”
Tempest frowns slightly, uncertain.
You say, “I don’t reckon he’s thought of him in a long time.”
Tempest’s frown deepens but she doesn’t comment.
You say, “Something else I can help you with.”
Tempest looks at Jana appraisingly. “Nothing you’ll answer.” She observes.
You say, “He ain’t in danger.”
Tempest nods. “Thank you for that.”
Jana looks to the trapdoor.
Tempest takes the hint and pads out of the cellar.
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The dense and varied woodland of the Northern Wood has been broken up a little here, and a real glimpse of the sky is finally visible. The oak and white pine trees still dominate the area, but a small plot of land has been cleared for a sort of garden-meadow. A goat stands in a pen near the edge of the clearing, and a deep well has been dug there as well, walled up so that no one will stumble in. Set back into the trees and brush, where it would be almost hidden if it did not have the goat pen to mark it, is a small cottage-like house. Because of the thick undergrowth, it’s rather hard to see any distinct paths leading out of the clearing.
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Jana follows her, putting some space between their exits.
Tempest turns to look back at her, dipping her head. “I apologize for taking up your time.”
A mouse comes scurrying toward you from the east.
Jana purses her lips. “Hope you found what you were looking for.”
A mouse scurries eastward, disappearing through the trees.
Tempest lets out a mirthless laugh as she pads into the trees.

Because I’m Clever

•January 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Riverbank, Northeast of Beaversdam
Jana walks along the bank, alert and smelling of the northern part of the forest to those with the sort of noses that can sense that kind of thing.
Caileana is perched near the river’s edge, her attention on the freezing water. It appears she is fishing, judging from the concentration on her face.
Jana slows a little as she nears the wolf.
Caileana’s ears twitch at the sound of Adara’s approach and she looks up, away from the water. “Ah, hello, Adara,” she says, offering a faint smile.
You ask, “Fishing?”
Caileana nods. “Not much call for it with the game we have around here, but I figure it probably helps with my reflexes a bit, and I can always sell the fish to Pesca and make some coin for the pack to use on targets for the Tenderfeet and whatnot.”
Jana glances at the river. “Industrious.” An expression flicks across her face… something surprised, or maybe bittersweet. It is just as quickly gone, and she says, “My husband is fond of it, I think.”
Caileana glances at her curiously. “I suppose he uses a pole, like the Beavers, rather than his hands? Must be difficult to catch fish as a human otherwise.” She scrunches up her muzzle slightly. “I’m not particularly fond of the taste of fish myself, but the effort is, at least…entertaining, I suppose.”
You say, “A meal is a meal.”
Caileana inclines her head. “Pragmatic,” she observes.
You say, “I guess.” She comes up to the riverbank. “What’s entertaining?” she says, with apparent, if mild interest.”
Caileana rolls her shoulders in a shrug. “Pawfishing, as a test of…concentration and speed, I guess? I’m not particularly good at it compared to some Beasts, but it does offer something to do if nothing better presents itself.” She smirks faintly.
Jana’s brows draw together. “It seems… slow.”
Caileana nods. “It is, but you also have to be quick on your paws once you see something. Can be a lot of waiting in the meantime though.”
Jana releases a breath. “I think you and my husband might get on.”
Caileana gives her a very skeptical look. “Really? He seems…er. Prickly.”
Jana lifts a shoulder. “So do most wolves.”
Caileana snickers. “Point taken.” She smirks. “We seem to be…getting away from that. A bit. With the younger ones anyways. It’s good, I think, for the most part, even if it seems…I don’t know, perhaps a bit naive, to me.”
You say, “It doesn’t have to be.”
You say, “No one trusts or listens on my husband. He’s lost most his advantages from it. Being friendly don’t have to mean you ain’t being smart underneath it.”
Caileana hmms, nodding. “The same could be true of our Alpha, especially in years past. I see your point.”
You ask, “Then again, telling folks you don’t know well that you ain’t always showing all your cards is naive, too, so who’s cleverer, him or me?”
Caileana chuckles. “I’d be hard-pressed to pick between you, but then, I haven’t seen your mate in action quite as much, so I suppose my natural bias would be towards you.”
Jana cocks her hip to the side a little. “I’ll take that answer.”
Caileana gives a toothy grin in answer.
Jana returns to her regular mien, lips pursing a little. “Speaking of the family, though, I guess I’m at the end of my rounds, and they’re the sort as wonder after you when you’re late.”
Caileana looks up at the sky and squints. She nods. “A good point. I should be on my way as well. Nice talking with you, Adara, as always.” She offers a faint smile.
Jana smirks. “That’s the goal.”
Caileana’s lip pulls away from her teeth in a smirk. “Of course,” she says dryly. “How could I think otherwise.”
You say, “Reckon I’ll see you another time.”
Caileana says, “Likely. Take care, Adara.”

Trust

•July 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Battlements of the Northern Watchtower

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The view here is breathtaking. You stand above the forests, able to see far and wide into the surrounding countryside. Far to the west lie the cliffs of the western border and to the northeast lie the moors stretching out into the horizon. You could shoot a fair ways from here, too, through the arrow slots provided in the stone walls. There is a trapdoor leading into the tower.

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Kiyon blinks and hesitates as if words are slow in coming to him. “As do I. And perhaps the trouble with that is we all have different ideals.”

Skarlieth inclines his head briefly, gaze still trying to pierce the shadowed woods before him. “Indeed… and each is not trying to fit a single Guardbeast, but the entire ideal Guard. And yet even then, I feel that is too simplistic an explanation.”

Jana ascends the tower ladder, lifting the trapdoor lid and peering out at those situated before her. “Evening folks,” she says, in order to announce her presence to them.

Kiyon scans the landscape out of habit but it’s a halfhearted gesture. “Do you suppose it has to do with our roles not being defined? I admit at times I’ve not been sure what-” He turns his head at the greeting and trails off, smiling to Jana. “Good evening.”

Skarlieth twists his head to look over his shoulder in that nifty way birds have. He does have to shift around to give his customary half-bow, however. “Good eve to you, Adara.”

You ask, “What am I interrupting?”

Kiyon glances shortly to Skarlieth as if gauging what to say. “We’re talking of similar thoughts resting on our minds of late. I don’t think you’re an interruption.”

Skarlieth calmly responds, “We are discussing how the Guard has not quite become what we had hoped. An expansion of our own discussion, I believe, Adara.”

Jana pulls herself up the rest of the way and goes to lean against the parapet. “Mm.”

Kiyon nods, “It seems there’s been a few of us who have felt this way, even if we’ve not all voiced it.”

Skarlieth nods once as well. “The question is, now, what to do to change it, since we can agree that something must be changed.”

You ask, “Well what do you reckon’s exactly wrong with it?”

Skarlieth manages not to launch into a monologue this time, keeping to the relatively simple, “I believe that the core issue is one of trust. Or rather, the lack of it between members.”

Kiyon rubs at his chin. “And I suppose we’re asking ourselves why the trust isn’t there and what we’re to do about it.”

Jana’s nose wrinkles a bit and her lips press together. It’s clear she has some thoughts on this issue, but she doesn’t seem comfortable saying them.

Skarlieth tips his head, examining the Daughter of Eve by the torchlight on the Tower. “As perhaps displayed at the moment,” he comments, more as a supporting point than in a critical way.

Kiyon turns toward the woman with questioning eyes. “Do you have some thoughts on it? I’d certainly like to hear them if you’re willing to share.”

You say, “Ain’t displaying it.” She scowls, either at the suggestion or her indecision, or both. “I don’t think you’re full wrong, but…” Her lips press together again. “Look, I was raised to mind my betters.””

You see a Squirrel bounding along in The Old Dwarven Path below.

Skarlieth tips his head slightly. He does not speak, however, as if waiting for an expansion on how that relates.

Kiyon still seems a bit far off, thinking to himself. “Maybe since we’re all so very different, we’ve never had much chance to properly know each other’s tendencies. So it /seems/ easier to take on matters ourselves.”

Jana glances at Kiyon, and nods. “I figure that’s part of it.”

Skarlieth glances Kiyon’s direction. “I believe that the Commander intends for that to change, if it can be organized.”

Kiyon runs a hand through his hair, “I would like to hear what our Commander has in mind. We haven’t had much opportunity to chat in sometime.” He stifles a yawn and turns to Jana. “It’s a thought, anyway. What else have you noticed? I’ve run over it in my head but… perhaps you’ve noticed something I haven’t.”

Jana shifts uncomfortably. “I think it’s him as doesn’t trust us and that’s makes it hard for us to trust each other the right way even if we do reckon well on each other.”

Skarlieth tips his head a little. “And by him, you refer to the Commander?”

Kiyon listens curiously, letting Skarlieth’s question gather a response.

You say, “He’s said he ain’t trust me anyway.”

Skarlieth calmly responds, “He does indeed share the difficulty in surrendering any task to another, it seems to me, and I believe that is in itself a mistrust of sorts.” He examines Jana a moment longer at this addition, then spreads his wings slightly. “Then you have recieved a candid response upon the matter. Have you earned such a position?”

Jana’s face registers hurt, a rare genuine expression, though still muted. “I done everything that’s been asked of me and more.”

Kiyon mutters, “That he does…” at the words about Petraverd and then frowns a little as the conversation shifts.

Skarlieth continues to survey the woman, then spreads his wings with a little bit of a bow. “I do not doubt that,” he says evenly. “It is simply that, despite a year of being a fellow member of this Guard… I do not know you. As such, I cannot pass any judgment upon what the Commander has said.”

Jana looks annoyed. “I don’t understand what you all want to know about people. We know each other are good at what we do, we know we put the guard first. That’s enough to trust a person to do her job well.”

Kiyon looks thoughtful, “But what if our jobs are just that… our own. If we don’t know each other how do we know what to do?”

Skarlieth dips his head slightly. “My apologies for the offense. I do not doubt that you are capable.” A little bit of a wry look passes through his gaze, gone again in a moment. He turns his head toward Kiyon.

You say, “All I know is, if the woman who grew up with thieves and brigands is the person who best trusts the rest of the guard, there’s something deep wrong.”

Skarlieth fixes Jana with his keen gaze and says, tone still even, “That, I shall agree with.” He glances at the now-thoroughly-dark sky. “And with that, I must bid you both a fair night.” He half-bows to both before turning and taking off, gliding to the branches of a nearby tree.

Kiyon bows to the departing Eagle, “Thank you for the discussion, Skarlieth. Be well.”

You say, “Good night Skarlieth.”

Skarlieth opens the trapdoor and climbs down into the tower.

Jana turns away from the parapet and sinks down to a sitting position, leaning back against it.

Kiyon looks to Jana and finds a tired smile. “What brings you by the Tower this eve, Adara?”

You say, “Please tell me at least you trust me.”

Kiyon frowns, “You’ve never really given me reason /not/ to trust you. I think we could all trust each other /more/, however, if we knew each other more than a passing update about Guard tasks. You’ve been one of the few who’s done more.”

You ask, “I keep… thinking… people will just /see/. What do you have to do to make people see? Why does everything have to be dark secrets and souls bourn bared?”

Kiyon says, “I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for you. I left Archenland because I didn’t understand the people and now that I’m here I don’t understand the Beasts. I don’t know how to make someone see or trust. It’s paralyzing; I can see the problem, we all can. What I can do past that is clouded in my mind.”

Jana takes a breath and releases it. “Well I’d like to blame Petraverd but I reckon it looks like it’s bigger than that, and I don’t have things figured out like I’d like to think I do.”

Kiyon nods, smiling a bit. “It’s not simply Petraverd. Or you. Or me, though I’ve more than a share in the trouble. It’s a clustery sort of combination of the lot of us and it’ll take some time to have it figured out well anyway.”

You say, “I don’t know the right thread to pull. I keep yanking them and the cloth just keeps pulling tighter around my wrists.”

Kiyon asks, “What do you mean by that?”

You say, “I mean I’ve done everything anyone could want of me, not just done my duties, but been friendly to folk and gone home to my family, tried to be the traditional sort of wife the commander expects of me while still holding some inkling of my actual self, and counseled people as have asked it and done whatever extra I thought was needed and you’re the only person who thinks I’m worth his time. If anyone’s feeling half that struggle, it’s no wonder you all are disappointed.””

If one were to look closely in the moonlight they might see Kiyon’s eyes glistening a bit more than usual. “I don’t think anyone means to hurt you or take advantage. I’m sorry you feel that weight… I wish I had some counsel I could give you. Everybody seems to know what I have to say, anyway.”

You ask, “What do you mean by that?”

Kiyon shakes his head a time or two. “The only thing I feel I can offer the rest of you is a sword or an axe. And when there are no giants rushing in on us, I’m not sure I’m much help.”

Jana nods quietly. “I reckon… that’s what most of us feel like. That’s what we signed up for. Now here we are running around the Waste doing chores and it ain’t like they aren’t good for folk but it ain’t what we thought we could offer.”

Kiyon glances her way and smiles a little. “Exactly. It’s almost as if we try and keep busy, all the time. The chores, as you call them… they’re good in their own way. Maybe staying so busy isn’t what we need right now.”

You say, “I’d rather run missions together. Survive together. Even if they were the same, sort of chore missions. Things that sent us out in little groups doing things together. Feeding each other, watching over each other at night.”

Kiyon smiles at her again, “I’d like that. Very much. But we can’t very well do that if we don’t have a respect and a trust for each other. It’s something I’ll have to give more thought, I don’t think I can discuss it much more tonight.” He tries to hide a yawn behind his fist.

You say, “I think you ain’t learn to trust people unless you shove them together.” She sniffs, “Anyway, though, you’re right, and I got to get back to my kid.””

Kiyon chuckles softly, “Perhaps you’re right. Maybe we’ve had too much space.” He dips his head to her. “Good evening, Adara. Thank you for the talk and be well.”

Jana goes to the trapdoor. “You too.”

Every Way Makes My Gain

•March 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Beach North of Sted Cair

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You stand on the beach at Narnia’s seashore. East of you the blue waters Great Eastern Ocean dance under the sunlight as they stretch toward the horizon. The waters are surprisingly calm, but this is probably because the Cair Paravel Peninsula, which juts out into the ocean just south of here, makes this stretch of beach something like a harbor.

To the west, you can see the thatched roofs of Sted Cair just beyond the beach. The sand here is warm, and the beach is quiet save for the rhythmic lapping of the waves. You can follow the beach northward.
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Edmund guides the small party onto a quiet section of beach. He walks a little ahead, deep in thought as he looks out to sea.

Lucy looks up at her brother from time to time as they walk along the shore. Once in awhile, she picks up a shell and tosses it into the waves just to hear the satisfying ‘plop’ accompanying it.

Jana walks along the beach from the other direction carrying a basket of laundry. She has her babe slung onto her back. He watches the scenery attentively from his perch.

Petria tail makes her way to King Edmund and in typical dog manner nudges his hand in a comforting manner.

Edmund has stooped to pick up a smooth stone. He brushes the sand off of it and turns it over in his hand, feeling the weight of it. When Petria approaches him he acknowledges her with a nod, his expression even.

Jana stops when she sees their majesties approaching. She steps aside, her bare feet entering the cold water, and curtsies low.

Lucy notices the woman in the distance and waves to her. “Good evening!” she shouts to the woman over the sound of waves.

Jana glances up, looking surprised by the acknowledgement. Her son hides his face behind her.

Petria sits quietly watching King Edmund turn the stone over in his hand.

Edmund pockets the stone, though it is not dissimilar to many others along the shoreline. He has yet to pay much attention to who his sister is conversing with.

Lucy continues in a relative shout, “You should get out of the water! It’s too cold this time of year!”

Jana steps forward a bit, obediently out of the water and closer to the others, so that the queen won’t feel the need to shout quite so much. “Cold or no, the laundry must be clean, your majesty,” she says, curtsying again and glances uncertainly at Edmund.

Petria asks, “Sire?”

Edmund gives Jana the most cursory of glances, still preoccupied to do more than this once she has come away from the water at Lucy’s request. He turns his full attention on Petria. “Yes? What is it you wish?”

Lucy comes in toward her brother and the page, herself. She speaks to the woman. “Is there no well and washtub in the New Anvard settlement? Surely then you would not have salt stains on your clothing.” At Petria’s question, Lucy’s head turns toward her brother in concern.

Jana doesn’t reply, as the questioner’s attention moves elsewhere.

Petria says, “Aught lays heavy on your mind. Would you rather prefer solitude, my king?””

Edmund glances not at Petria when she asks this but at his sister. “No, though we thank you for your concern. We have had solitude enough of late.”

Lucy dips her head nobly in acknowledgement to her brother’s reply and returns her gaze to the woman. “I am sorry. I was distracted. About the washtub and well?”

Jana shifts the weight of her basket. “Ah, no, I wasn’t meaning to interrupt. I can move elsewhere.”

Petria starts slowly, attemptting picking her words with choice “Aslan blessed you and made you, King, Your majesty.He will see you through I say I and all Narnian stands behind you.” she she says softly, for her King’s ears only.

Lucy moves a few more steps away from Petria and Edmund to speak with the woman. “No, please do. Perhaps you are not the only resident of New Anvard who is forced to come here to do laundry. I would like to know.” She adds with a hint of mischief in her smile. “And I believe it is good manners to answer my question.”

Edmund gives Petria his most cordial thanks. “Such loyalty and faith. We are indeed fortunate in our subjects.”

Jana frowns, and adjusts the basket again. “Ah, well, the river is best, your majesty, because of the salt, of course. But my husband and I both work to provide for our child, and the river is far when we got other things to do. Stains ain’t bother me so much as that the clothes be wearable. Well-water’s more important for drinking.”

Lucy unconvinced by her thoughtful frown. “Surely there’s a better way. If only for the sake of your husband and child, to have cleaner washing water. I may not have much experience with babies, but I imagine they like softer clothing which won’t chafe or rub.”

Jana glances over her shoulder to get a glimpse of the still-shy child. “Your majesty, my son’s best interest is my first thought.”

Edmund makes his way over towards his sister. He gives the other daughter of eve a brief nod, and though he must recognize her, he makes no effort to draw Lucy away, seeming content to listen for the moment.

Lucy’s expression softens upon catching the briefest glimpse of the child. “Then, if it isn’t too much of a bother to you to wash clothes here, I won’t keep you any longer. It will get colder before it gets warmer and I would rather you got yourselves out of the cold sooner rather than later. May the Lion keep you both safe.”

Jana says, “Thank you for your concern, your majesty.”

Jana glances at Edmund uncertainly.

Edmund lifts his eyebrows in question when the woman looks to him. “You had something else you wished to discuss with us?”, he inquires.

Jana says, “Ah, no, your majesty. Only–”

Lucy nods graciously in return for the thanks but remains silent as Edmund questions.

Edmund prompts her. “Only?” He looks less vague now as his gaze resting on Jana becomes penetrating, as if he seeks out what is beneath the surface of her words.

Jana says, “Uh– well, only I wondered if you had spoken to Lady Raistlana recently. Personally, I mean.”

Edmund states, “We have.”

Lucy glances between her brother and the woman with interest.

Jana says, “She– came to my house a short while ago. Upset, which is not something I knew she could be.”

Edmund shows concern at this. “When did this happen?” There seems to be some urgency to the king’s question. “And did she say why?”

Jana says, “Not too long after the Calormenes came? It was about the slaves. She wouldn’t like me telling you this, I’m sure.”

Lucy questions, “The slaves?”

Edmund betrays first relief and then surprise. “The–slaves?”, he echoes.

Jana doesn’t display a reaction to their surprise. “Yes. It should be obvious why.”

Edmund states, “It is. We have no jurisdiction over the Calormene emmisary, however. Go on–why do you bring this to our attention?”

Lucy wraps her cape tighter around herself.

Jana shrugs, “It seems to me that you do have some j– control, on account of he’s in your country. It ain’t polite of him to be ignoring what are obviously your customs considering that Lady Raistlana is right in his face. Folks’re supposed to see you’re out to defend them and it ain’t seem to me Lady Raistlana feels a whit of that just now.”

Edmund weighs her words before replying. “We will bring your opinion to the attention of our elder brother and sister. Such matters often require delicate handling, and without all the facts, it is impossible to determine the exact course of action to take. You are right, however, when you say that Lady Raistlana is not prone to giving vent to emotions. You–are her friend, are you not?”

Jana frowns slightly. “Reckon Lady Raistlana maybe ain’t have friends. But she came to me, and seems like that says something or other.”

Edmund inclines his head. “Quite so. Then we charge you in particular to be observant of her welfare and to stand by her as much as she will allow. It is of concern to us.” Turning to his sister, he says, “With that, we had best return before our brother the High King needs to search for us.”

Jana’s brow furrows with displeasure, but she makes no comment and merely bows her head in a curtsey, lifting her hand for Tristran to grab at it when he makes a fussy sound.

Lucy nods to her brother’s suggestion. “And it is getting later as well as colder.” She takes her brother’s arm.

Petria gets to her paws, her tail slowly wagging now that she’s aware of movement from the royals.

Edmund nods in parting and begins to escort his sister back to the castle.

Petria follows behind them, patterning in zigzags across the sand.

Jana waits for them to move some distance away before rising and finally going to her task.