Avery is sitting at a small table just beside the apple tree. There is an empty chair across from her and a steaming cup of tea in front of her. Her eyes are focused on a letter in her hands, which she reads with an amused expression.
Deonyc is standing not far behind Avery and when he sees her read the letter he almost instinctively puts a hand too a pocket, he looks around at the garden after a short while.
Oren enters the garden, strolling along the path.
Avery shakes her head and folds the letter up, setting it aside. She picks up her teacup and turns her attention to the garden, catching sight of Oren. “Oh!”
She sets the teacup down and stands, curtsying.
Deonyc straightens at the sight of the other noble and he looks him over quickly.
Oren looks startled at Avery’s cry. He hesitates, then says, “Are you well Madam?”
Avery blushes. “Oh, yes, of course. I was only startled a bit.” She bows her head.
Deonyc glances at the ecchange but his expression remains impassive
Oren says, “I apologize. I was just enjoying the garden.”
Avery shakes her head. “No, it is quite alright.”
She reaches a hand up to smooth her hair. “You must be the Duke, if I’m not mistaken?”
Oren’s mouth twists wryly. “Must I? Yes, I suppose I must. And you are part of the Archenland party?”
Avery nods, “Lady Avery.”
Oren bows. “Oren of Lapidos. A pleasure.”
Avery smiles lightly. “Indeed.”
She motions to the table. “Would you care to join me for tea if you are not otherwise engaged?”
Avery waits for him to sit before
settling into her own chair, shooting a quick glance toward Deonyc. She picks up a delicate teacup and fills it. “Do you prefer it with any sugar?”
Deonyc catches the glance, and watches carefully.
Oren says, “I’ll confess to a bit of a sweet tooth. Only a little bit, if you will.”
Avery chuckles quietly. “I must confess I suffer from the same.” She scoops a little bit of sugar into the cup and sets it before him.
Deonyc can’t seem to find anything wrong with nobles having tea so he starts carefully looking at the spices planted, recognizing some but not all.
Oren stirs the sugar and takes a sip. “Thank you. So, what brings you to Cair Paravel?”
Avery picks up her own teacup, which is now cool enough to sip. “I have good friends here, some of the Court and some without. With Their Majesties’ disappearance, my family was hesitant to let me travel back, so some time has passed since I was last here. But the opportunity to travel came around and the plans were made. Now here I am.”
Oren asks, “Has there been any true danger to travelers? I know the people are understandably. decoys about the succession, but has there been civil unrest?”
Avery shakes her head. “No. Certainly not. Maybe confusion, but not unrest.”
She exhales. “My mother is extremely cautious, though.”
Oren asks, “Protective?”
Avery nods once. “Yes. I am grateful for it, however.”
Oren says, “That’s as well. I think it’s the nature of mothers.”
Avery asks, “I believe so.”
Her teacup clinks quietly as she sets it down. “I heard you brought a large party with you. Do you have family among them?”
Deonyc clearly thinks the party to be more important than looking at herbs and flowers and pays more attention to the conversation again.
Oren says, “A couple of distant cousins. Most of my family is back in Terebinthia.”
Avery asks, “They did not want to come or was it best for them to remain home?”
Wethil strolls towards you from the western path.
Oren says, “I thought it best. My son stayed to attend to our holdings. My daughter is but two years of age. Though I look forward to bringing her soon. She would love Narnia.”
Deonyc exclaims, “Hi!”
Avery smiles. “She is very young yet. I see the wisdom in leaving her home for now.”
Wethil flaps out of the kitchen, bleary-eyed and probably not entirely awake. She catches on a plum tree, dangling from a mid-level branch and starting to peer about for fruit, currently unaware of the others. feels more sure how things lie here.”
Oren reached up to unpin the cameo from his jerkin and passes it to Avery for her inspection.
Avery carefully takes the cameo. She smiles as she looks at it. “She is beautiful. What is her name?”
Oren says, “Noeli. Thank you. I think the artist did a fine job of it.”
Avery passes the brooch back. “You carry her with you always. That is sweet.”
Wethil blinks a couple of times when she starts to register voices. Squinting out of the tree, she sees the group. Immediately she clamps her mouth and starts picking plums, as quietly as she can despite the rustle of branches.
Oren doesn’t seem to know how to respond to being called sweet. He takes a sip of tea to cover it.
Avery colors a little, shaking her head at her own choice of words. “Does she resemble her mother much?”
Oren stiffens, tea in hand. He recovers and lowers his cup slowly. “Yes.”
Avery notices his reaction and bites her lip. “Do forgive me. I should not ask so many questions. My curiosity always gets me in trouble…”
Deonyc catches the rustle in the tree and glances from the tanle too it.
Wethil is putting the plums she harvests into her pouch.
Oren says, “No, it was mere conversation. My wife passed a year ago.”
Avery looks down. “I am sorry to hear this…”
Oren says, “Thank you.”
Wethil fumbles a plum, which plops to the ground. It’s firm enough not to splatter, instead rolling, bruised, away from the tree.
Deonyc has given most of his attention to the tree by now, he glances to Avery a second.
Avery sips her tea, allowing silence to sit between her and the Duke for a few moments. At the sound of the rolling fruit, she turns her head. seen her mistake. “Mm, mm, hullo, sorry, I, mmmm… didn’t mean to interrupt, I can leave?”
Deonyc frowns at the disturbance especially the offending plum, he glances to Lady Avery and Duke OrenAvery blinks at the bat. “Oh. Hello there.”
Wethil says, “Hullo, sorry…”
Oren glances at Avery, then turns to the Bat and shrugs. “Breakfast? Or is it supper for you?”
Wethil says, “Mm, more a, more like a midnight snack, except…” She trails off, squinting up at the sky for just a moment. “And, mm, bringing some into the, the kitchen, yes.”
Avery lifts a hand to her mouth, looking rather amused. “Do you need some help?”
Wethil blinks rapidly. “Mm! No, no, I, mm, I’ve nearly gotten enough, sorry for the slip, are you, mm, are you enjoying your tea? Can I, mm, request anything from the kitchen for you?”
Oren looks bemused. “I don’t think so. Are you sure you don’t want a hand?”
Deonyc watches the two nobles and the bat, he isn’t quite sure what to think of it all.
Wethil says, “Oh yes, I, mm, it might not, mmm, /look/ like it, but I, I’m very good at picking fruit, yes yes.”
Avery glances at Oren, and then at the bat. “Very well, then. But do let us know if we can help.”
Wethil nods quickly, hesitating as she starts glancing around at the fruit again.
Oren glances at Avery.
Oren mumbles “She…works here, doesn’t she?”, to Avery.
Oren mumbles “She…works here, doesn’t …”, to Avery.
Avery turns her attention to Oren and gives a slight nod, speaking quietly.
Avery mumbles “I suppose so. I’ve not met her before, though.”, to Oren.
Avery mumbles “… suppose … … not … her … though.”, to Oren.
Wethil, if Bats can blush, colors at what little she can hear. She starts picking fruit a little faster, though careful not to fumble again. She doesn’t look sleepy any longer.
You mumble “Well, since she offered to take our wishes to the kitchen…I suppose.”, to Avery.
Oren mumbles “Well, … she offered … take … … … … … …”, to Avery.
Avery listens to Oren, nodding her agreement. She looks to the bat. “What is your name?”
Wethil glances up and says in a small sort of voice, “Mmm, Wethil, my name’s Wethil, Lady Avery.”
Avery smiles. “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Wethil says, “A…and yours, Lady Avery, Duke Oren.”
She glances at the guardsman standing off to the side. “Mm, mm… I think I’ve enough, mm, fruit, if you’ll, mm, pardon me.”
Oren says, “Of course.”
Avery bows her head slightly. “Of course.”
Wethil does a curl-up type motion, maybe a bow. “Thank you, mmm, good day, good day…”
She drops and flies back towards the kitchen.
Wethil walks through the east door, disappearing into the kitchen.
Avery watches the bat fly away. “I quite like her.”
Oren asks, “So, what about your own family? Where do you hail from?”
Avery looks back at Oren. “From Chesterton. I have two brothers, both older. My mother, of course, but my father passed when I was young.”
Oren says, “What’s Chesterton like? I fear I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Archenland.”
Avery says, “It’s very beautiful. There is a large lake near the manor and all manor of waterfowl come and play.”
She chuckles a little. “Quite a bit of Archenland fashion comes from there. Metalworking and other sorts of merchants too.”
Oren asks, “Oh yes? Does that mean that you yourself set the tone for how all fine ladies dress?”
Avery laughs. “My mother more than I.”
Avery says, “There are a lot of seamstresses.”
Oren asks, “Oh yes?”
Avery nods. “Perhaps if you’d like to have a new wardrobe for your daughter, you might consider directing your attention there. I can assure you, the quality is remarkable.”
Oren says, “She’s growing so fast, I doubt they’d have it made before she was too large for it.”
Avery laughs. “I suppose that’s true.”
Oren says, “Besides…” He grins. “If I knew you better I should offer a jest now.”
Avery asks, “Oh?”
Oren says, “I should say that I hesitate to employ anyone who designed that atrocity you’ve wrapped yourself in.”
Deonyc gives Oren a very challenging look. He clearly doesn’t appreciate the jest.
Avery looks down at her gown. “Now that you mention it, the color is a
little…like a carrot, is it not?”
Oren laughs, then continues more seriously. “I should say it is more the color of a sunset.”
Avery shrugs a bit. “That /is/ a nicer thing to compare it to.”
Oren laughs. “Well-answered. In truth It’s a beautiful gown. Only I find that sometimes the ladies who set the fashions can be a little… overly concerned with their own appearance. I’m glad to find that is not the case with you.”
Avery bows her head, hoping to hide her blushing cheeks. “I thank you.”
Oren says, “And perhaps we may further discuss your seamstresses. All children grow much alike and as long as they make the dresses light and airy and something she can run barefoot down the beach in, my daughter shall be merry as seafoam cresting upon the waves.”
Avery says, “Then we might, for I wore just the same when I was a young girl.”
Oren glances at Deonyc. “I fear I have offended your companion.”
Avery turns her head to quickly look at Deonyc. She lowers her voice as she speaks to Oren.
Avery mumbles “No, surely not, but he may be growing bored…”, to Oren.
Avery mumbles “… surely not, … … may … … …”, to Oren.
Oren mumbles “Did you wish for him to join us?”, to Avery.
Oren mumbles “Did … … … … … join …”, to Avery.
Avery mumbles “I would, but if I am honest, I don’t think he would find it anymore enjoyable than standing there…”, to Oren.
Avery mumbles “… … … if … … honest, … don’t think … … find … … enjoyable … … …”, to Oren.
Oren mumbles “What do you propose?”, to Avery.
Oren mumbles “What do … propose?”, to Avery.
Avery asks, “Please, do excuse me.” She stands and moves toward the guard. “Deonyc?”
Deonyc takes a half pace forward, “m’lady?”
Avery speaks in a lowered voice.
Avery mumbles “… … a castle guard … … … … I … … quite … here, so you … go, … you choose. … do … … guard … your way …”, to Deonyc.
Deonyc mumbles “… I get …”, to Avery.
Avery tips her head. “If he can be spared.”
Deonyc nods and bows, “m’lady if you would be so kind and excuse me.”
Avery nods and returns to her seat.
Deonyc heads to the kitchen to inform the Guard before heading of towards the northern path.
Oren glances after Deonyc. “Did you send him to find something more interesting than listening to me?
Avery smiles. “Something more interesting than looking after me…”
She glances up as the Narnian guard moves more into view.
Oren furrows a brow at the guard. “Am I missing something?”
Avery says, “No. Deonyc is supposed to watch over me, but I told him he could go. This guard is simply a replacement.”
She colors a little. “Not out of distrust, of course. But for protection of our reputations, you see.”
Oren’s brows raise. “But…I’m a, well, a little bit older than you. And, well, a widower.”
Avery nods. “I’m aware of that. Perhaps I am too careful. I’ve spent a good deal in Anvard where gossip can spread like wildfire. As you are in quite a delicate situation with the Narnian court, I would not wish such a thing to happen to you.”
Oren says, “I never knew customs in Archenland were so delicate. But of course, whatever makes you comfortable.”
Before Avery can answer, a Squirrel runs down the path, “Lady Avery, for you.” He bows, holding out a folded note, his fluffy tail bobbing.
Avery takes the note, with an apologetic look toward the Duke. She unfolds it and reads silently, frowning disappointedly. “Oh, do forgive me, Duke Oren. I completely forgot an engagement I had…I am already quite late…”
The Squirrel bows to both of them and scurries down the path.
Oren rises. “Of course. I’ll let you be about your business. Thank you for asking me to tea.”
Avery smiles and stands. She curtsies. “Good day, Duke. I enjoyed our chat.” With that, she makes her way through the garden.