Lanisen passes through the gatehouse on his way back toward the staff quarters, carrying an empty satchel.
Dalia enters by way of the gatehouse, pausing at the well to take a drink of water.
Sareen speaks to a guard. “And you’re telling me that no one has come through yet with fertilizer?”
Continue reading the case of the missing dung
Lanisen is working through the kennel chores in the late afternoon. There is a heap of dust swept up into a pile by the wall, and the crate for rubbish is sitting next to the door, ready to be carried out. Otherwise, the place has the sparkling just-cleaned look. Lanisen is whistling tunelessly, and a few dogs are milling about supervising.
Sareen uses her hip to bump open the door and lets herself in, a basket under her arm.
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Megren slips into the kennels, face bright with cold.
Lanisen is playing a game of toss-and-retrieve with about ten hounds at once. It’s a little bit noisy.
Megren stands back against the door when she sees the chaos.
Lanisen throws the bone the full length of the kennel, sending the mad barking rush to the other side of the room, and turns toward the door. “Hey!” he says, almost shouting to be heard.
Continue reading closed in
More than any other part of the castle, the Great Hall gives the impression of age and enduring strength. It is a long, rectangular room, spacious enough to accommodate several long tables on feast days, with high walls built of massive blocks of red stone and two rows of matching pillars to support the arching roof. There is an enormous fireplace in the middle of the southwest wall, directly across from the intricately carved double doors that lead out into the inner ward. A wicker screen blocks the door to the kitchen in the southeast wall from sight. Six tall, narrow windows on the northeast wall let in a fair amount of sunlight in the morning and early afternoon, but decorative iron sconces that hang at functional intervals along each wall provide most of the hall’s illumination.
At the far northwest end of the hall, three steps lead up to the dais, where the high table sits beneath the banners of the noble houses: Coghill’s eagle, Carmichael’s stag, Chesterton’s dragon, Lancelyn Green’s horse, Neiklot’s tree, and the crown and mountains of Anvard’s standard.
Lanisen slips through the door at a relatively quiet time of the day, pausing just inside the door to wipe his feet and take the measure of the people present.
Sareen sits by the heart with a steaming mug beside her. She is working some kind of cloth with a hook.
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Sareen ambles slowly through the ward, eyeing the decorations.
Lanisen makes his way out of the kennels, closing and latching the door securely behind him. He is bundled against the chill in so many layers that he looks almost stocky, but by the way his shoulders hunch up at the cold it’s not quite enough.
Continue reading interruptions
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 the castle to the immediate north, the range stretching away into the west.
A daughter of eve with dark skin and a no-nonsense demeanor stands outside the solarium, directing a couple of workers who are carrying what appears to be the top of a stone bench.
Lanisen ascends the steps from the nobles’ quarters, his hand on the pillar for balance. He shifts hastily to the side to let a garden worker pass, and stands at the top of the steps, trying to be invisible and out of the way. He has a having-second-thoughts look on his face.
Continue reading flowers