squashed fruit

Inner Ward of Anvard
Castle Anvard

Avery is sitting on a bench, book in hand.

Lanisen heads purposefully from the staff quarters to the inner gatehouse, walking quickly with his head down. He doesn’t make eye contact with any of the servants or nobles milling around the ward.

Avery turns a page.

Lanisen keeps hurrying through on his way. Since his head is down, he doesn’t notice when a servant carrying a tray of fruit toward the noble’s quarters steps in front of him, and he promptly walks right into the servant. Fruit goes everywhere.

Avery gasps as the fruit flies. An apple rolls towards her feet. She picks it up and stands. “Are you alright?” she asks.

Lanisen is already scrambling to pick up the fruit, mumbling apologies. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to, it’s only I wasn’t payin’ attention, sorry…” He tries to return the fruit to the tray, only to be met with a disgusted glare from the servant. The servant snorts. “You think I’m going to serve the King fruit that some clumsy /crook/ dumped on the ground?”

Avery frowns. “Now, wait just a minute.” She walks over and sets the apple on the tray. “It was an accident.”

The servant immediately bows deeply toward Avery, his tone switching to something markedly more deferential. “Of course, if you say so, m’lady. It doesn’t,” he adds, turning again toward Lanisen, “change the fact that the King’s breakfast is now spoiled.”

Colin walks toward you from the Staff Quarters.

Avery takes the tray from the  man and hands it to Lanisen. “That’s easily fixed.”

Lanisen stares down at the tray suddenly in his hands, looking very much like he’d rather be anywhere else. The servant merely raises his eyebrows.

Colin enters the Ward. His attention is drawn to the fruity mess surrounding Lanisen and a servant. From the angle where he stands and is walking from he does not see Avery. Approaching Lanisen with a slight frown, he looks between him and the servant. “Everything all right, here?”

Avery looks at the other servant and points to Lanisen. “We will finish cleaning up the mess while you go get unspoiled fruit for the King.” She turns from him, but a voice stops her. Turning, she sees Colin and her face goes white.

Lanisen and the servant start to explain simultaneously. Lanisen shuts up first, and the servant shoots him a Look before turning to Colin and bowing deeply. “He ran into me. Made me spill the King’s breakfast, and then tried to put it back on the tray, like the dust and such all over it wasn’t a big deal.” He glances back to Lanisen and adds under his breath, “Suppose it /wouldn’t/ be, to the likes of you.”

Colin’s frown deepens. “Tell me, Erak. You are loyal to King Lune, so does that mean you are to comply with his decisions and wishes?”

The servant bows again, affecting an expression of rather hurt surprise. “Well, yes sir, of course, sir!”

Avery snaps out of her staring. She whispers an apology and promptly turns away from the men.

Colin continues. “Without question or complaint?” he presses the servant.

The servant replies, “Of course, sir.” By the look on his face, he’s beginning to grasp where Colin is going with this.

Colin raises an eyebrow. “Then I suggest you remember that, and let this go. I trust it was an accident. Fruit washes off. No harm done. Understand?”

The servant’s jaw clenches. He performs another respectful bow toward both Colin and Avery, then takes the tray and its contents unceremoniously from Lanisen, shooting him a covertly contemptuous glance.

Colin clears his throat, having seen the look.

Avery returns to her seat on the bench and picks up her book.

The servant, without further comment, carries the tray of dusty/smashed fruit off in the direction of the kitchens.

Lanisen watches him go, then turns to bow to Colin. “I didn’t mean to, I swear I didn’t mean to,” he says, upset.

Colin holds up a hand. “I know. Don’t trouble yourself about it.”

Lanisen’s shoulders slump a little, and he rubs his temple with the heel of one hand. “Sorry,” he mutters. “Should I… go help him cut up some new fruit, y’think? Or would he just gut me or somethin’?”

Colin eyes the direction of the kitchen. “Better leave him be. You have your own duties to take care of.

Lanisen agrees, “Prob’ly wouldn’t be good to get innards in the King’s breakfast, huh?”

Avery finds herself staring at Colin, rather than her book. She sighs and snaps the book shut, laying it aside.

Colin looks at him with an appraising eye and chuckles. “No, indeed. I cannot imagine that being appealing at all.” he starts to say something else but at the sound of a strange thump, he looks in the correct direction and sees Lady Avery.
Colin stops talking mid-sentence, needless to say.

Avery steals another glance, but looks away when she sees that he’s looking at her.

Lanisen follows his glance. He looks uncertainly back at Colin.
Lanisen mumbles “‘S that…?”, to Colin.
Lanisen mumbles something incomprehensible to Colin.

Colin nods and raises both eyebrows at Lanisen in an expression that looks an awful lot like “Oh-brother…I don’t know what-to-do you got any ideas cause I sure don’t.”

Lanisen blinks and shrugs in a definite I-have-no-idea expression.

Colin mumbles “Help!”, to Lanisen.
Colin mumbles something incomprehensible to Lanisen.

Lanisen eyes Colin, raising one eyebrow.
Lanisen mumbles “Well, what d’you want /me/ to do?”, to Colin.
Lanisen mumbles “Well, … … want … to …”, to Colin.

Colin returns the look in kind, eyebrow arching.
Colin mumbles “I don’t know. Something!”, to Lanisen.
Colin mumbles “… don’t know. …”, to Lanisen.

Lanisen finds a quarter of a strawberry stuck to his sleeve. Glancing surreptitiously around the ward, he picks it off and promptly eats it. His definition of “something”, apparently.

Colin death-glares.

Lanisen does look somewhat sheepish. He gestures toward another strawberry still on the ground.
Lanisen mumbles “‘Nother one there. ‘S all yours.”, to Colin.
Lanisen mumbles “‘Nother one there. ‘S … yours.”, to Colin.

Colin appears to be looking up at the sky and muttering something.

Avery stands and takes her book. She walks toward the staff quarters…but slips on something that resembles a smashed peach.

Colin is unfortunately too far away to be of any help.

Lanisen lurches forward involuntarily as if to try to catch Avery, but is also too far away to do any good.

Avery catches herself however, even if she does make something of a scene. She straightens, eyes huge and exhales.

Lanisen covers his face with his hands for a moment, then hurries toward Avery. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, stupid /fruit/…” He picks up the squashed peach and several other pieces of fruit in varying states of squishage, then straightens, his face twisted into a grimace of apologetic consternation. “Really /really/ sorry, m’lady…”

Avery shakes her head, “No, no, it’s alright.” She says, laughing lightly.

Colin’s tense demeanor relaxes just a tad. “Are you injured, Milady?”

Lanisen bows and backs away, looking for someplace to deposit the dripping sticky smashed fruit.

Avery looks at Colin and smiles gently. “No, I’m not.”
Avery clears her throat to get Lanisen’s attention and points to a potted plant.

Lanisen blinks from Avery to the potted plant a couple of times, obviously not getting it. A moment later, he ohs and hurries to dump the fruit at the base of the plant, covering it with a handful of soil and arranging the leaves so that the stuff is not immediately visible.

Avery chuckles lightly.

Several women, children in tow, pass by you. “The king’s nephew Colin? I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about him now that he’s disgraced.”

Colin raises an eyebrow slightly as he watches and chuckles a bit.

Avery turns to the women and lifts an eyebrow, listening.

“Oh, no! That’s all over with now. Turns out it was just a ruse all along, so he could infiltrate that gang of bandits,” another says, leaning in to speak more confidentially. “Everyone knows that now.”

A third adds, “He even grew a beard, which thank goodness he shaved off now that he’s returned to court.” They and their now quarreling offspring move on.

Colin looks at Lanisen.

Avery quickly turns to look at Colin, her lips parted. She stares at him, unsure of what to say.

Lanisen pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his sticky hands clean. For a given value of clean, of course. He, for his part, doesn’t look at Colin.

Colin folds his arms and looks rather uncomfortable. He keeps glancing periodically at Lanisen and finally mumbles something to himself.
Colin mumbles “… wasn’t THAT …”, to Colin.

Avery touches her temple and mumbles something.
Avery mumbles “I … … … down…”, to Avery.

Lanisen glances after the women, looking faintly relieved to have escaped discussion. He lets out a breath, then looks at Avery before finally glancing to Colin, his expression somewhat questioning.

Avery shakes her head. “Excuse me, I have to…I have to go.”

Colin gives a small nod, glancing at Lanisen once more. He remembers his long-lost manners and bows respectfully. “Good day.”

Avery is about to curtsey, but she hesitates, still unsure. She does so anyway, perhaps even lower than usual. “I’m sorry, I-I have to go.”

Lanisen watches, looking interested. And confused. He also bows, saying, “Sorry ’bout the fruit, really…”
Lanisen turns back toward Colin, eyebrows shooting toward his hairline.

Colin’s expression looks similar. “I…guess she hadn’t heard?”

Lanisen hehs. “Figured everybody prob’ly knew by now…”

Colin says, “So did I.”

Lanisen’s eyes are drawn to the kitchen doorway, where another servant – not Erak – passes through on his way to the King’s quarters with a new tray of fruit. He sighs and runs a hand through his hair.

Colin gives him a sympathetic glance. “Well… I should let you carry on.”

Lanisen sighs, glancing around for any more fruit on the ground. “All right,” he replies, sounding a bit weary.

Colin gives a small nod, unsure of what else to say to encourage him. “Carry on.” He says quietly, a clear double meaning in his words.

Lanisen glances at Colin, then away, nodding silently. He bows and turns toward the gatehouse, heading for the kennels.


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