Characters: Sara Calvain, Kalan Silera and Lana Elsfeld, the Shang Swan
Location: The Marketplace in Corus, and Lana's Room back at the Palace
IC Date: March 3, of the Fourteenth Year of King Gregory's Reign
Summary: There's talking, talking, and then some more talking. It's fairly spectacular.
+----[ [Corus] The Marketplace ]---------------------------------------
Kalan is outside of the Palace. What's Kalan doing outside of the Palace? That's a very good question. For the moment, at least, he's strolling along with his hands in his own pockets; he's entirely comfortable weaving his way through the people crowded in the marketplace, and he's even whistling as he goes. There's nothing in particular to set him off from the rest of the people around him other than that while most of them appear to have things to do and places to be (that is, they're all a bit rushed) he's singularly relaxed.
Sara walks out of Eric's Equestrian, saying her farewells even as the door is closing. Despite having the day off, she's still in her rider uniform, although it's one of the older ones that she's had to sew back together in a few places. She doesn't look particularly happy at the moment, but she isn't crying or anything either. Rather, she looks... mopey. Even after she spots Kalan and heads his way with a small grin she looks as if she just found out her favorite puppy just died or something. "Hello, Kal," she calls over to the cook when she's close enough.
Swan is very quiet. She has just come out of the dancing dove, looking nothing worse for the short stay. She knows no one, and greets even fewer.
"Sara!" Kalan calls out exuberantly, waving with a bit more gusto than is perhaps necessary. "You're looking a bit under the weather today, if you don't mind my saying," he adds as he approaches. He's not saying it to be rude, he's just ... saying it. For the moment he doesn't notice Swan at all, but he probably will soon enough.
"It's been the sort of few weeks where I wouldn't mind too much if I suddenly forgot everything about my life until everything got all happy again." Sara isn't usually the sort to be so down about, well, anything, but everyone has those days. Or weeks, as the case is here. Spotting the shang woman, she tilts her head a little to the side and nods in her direction. "Is that the new hand-to-hand combat teacher? I heard one of the pages talking about 'er."
Swan catches the sound of her job, and turns in the direction of the voice, bowing.
Kalan quirks a brow at Sara. "Come on now, that's no way to be. You've got plenty to be happy about." This may not be a precisely helpful thing to say, but at that point Sara mentions the combat teacher and Kalan glances over in the woman's direction. "Well, so it is. What've you heard about her?" He's actually heard quite a bit, but he's not sharing just now. Instead he raises a hand in a half-salute half-wave to the woman.
Sara is taken aback when the shang woman apparently hears her, and then -bows-. No one has bowed to her since she was a little girl, playing 'lost princess of Queenscove' with her other little girl friends. Something about the whole situation kicks her out of her gloomy mood and instead she starts cracking up. "No need to bow at us, miss, we work for our money," she calls over, just hoping that no nobles without a sense of humor are within earshot. Turning her gaze to Kalan, she smirks in the sort of way that to her meant 'I'll tell you later since apparently we can be overheard,' but it probably just -looks- like a smirk.
Swan smiles slightly, the disfigurement causing a few raised eyebrows. "I'm Lana." she introduces herself as she comes closer to the pair.
Kalan certainly hasn't seen any nobles around, which is quite a shame because that's who he's looking for. In a roundabout way. He only returns Sara's smirk with that same raised-eyebrow look before turning back to the Shang woman with a fairly neutral expression. "Well met. I'm Kalan and this is Sara," he adds with a slight gesture towards the rider (who is certainly capable of introducing herself, but - oh well! too late now).
"Sara Calvain," Sara says, offering a hand to Lana. "Member of the Fifth unit of the Queen's Riders, and Trainer of the new riders. I'd heard you were new at the palace, training pages?" She -can- introduce herself, thank you very much. "Kalan here is a cook at the palace."
Swan takes Sara's hand in a firm grip. "Well met, though, I do not think Training would be the correct word. Whipping might be more appropreate."
Someday, Kalan will explain to Sara that proper introductions include as little actual information as possible. That day isn't now, though, so instead of breaking down into a lecture Kalan merely watches Lana and Sara. "Makes me glad I've no aspirations for knighthood," he murmurs, folding his hands behind his back.
Sara chuckles and nods to Lana. "Aye, whipping is definitely needed sometimes." A certain stuck-up trainee comes to mind, but she won't bring that up. "How are you liking the palace so far, Lana? Comfortable enough? Kalan's not burning your food is he?"
Swan raises an eyebrow. "Kalan is the cook? I try to eat in town as much as possible." Nothin against the cook of course, "I find it easier at times."
"I wouldn't /burn/ food," Kalan says, a hint of disdain in his voice. "Although I'll admit I've not yet had the pleasure of cooking for the Shang." At least to his knowledge, anyway, and being the gossip monger he is he feels he'd probably know which new and important Palace figures were eating during the times he was cooking.
"Well, one of the cooks," Sara explains. "Not the head one. He does cook though. Sometimes." She grins at Kalan, somehow finding her way of explaining 'yes, Kalan is a cook' amusing. "Is that what you're doing in town? I don't really know of any good places to eat. When I worked here I couldn't afford to eat out, and now it's just easier to eat at the palace. There's good food there too." Raising an eyebrow at Kalan, she adds, "Speaking of which, what are you doing in town? Are you going to that party tonight?"
Swan eyes the chattering pair. There is absolutly nothing for her to add to it, so she says nothing at all. Silence makes one seem slightly smarter however.
"There isn't much here," Kalan starts, with a slightly expansive hand gesture, "that's of the quality we can cook at, anyway. Only the best for royalty." The tone in his voice on that last sentence isn't entirely mocking, and there's certainly no malice behind it, but it's not exactly the same voice he's been carrying conversations on in either. "I'm just here seeing things out. I've a bit of down time," he adds to Sara, by way of explanation. "I'll be back by tonight." Which is a roundabout way of saying he'll be at the party.
"It's true," Sara explains to Lana. "In the main hall they serve everyone the same as they serve the Queen. I think it's a little different for the pages and riders, but you're a teacher, you'd eat with the best." At least that's how she thinks it works... Looking back to Kalan, she nods. "Aye. I have the day off, and was visiting my old coworkers at Eric's. The palace is no place for me to be when I'm already in such a dreary mood. There's not even Samwell or Fabio to cheer me up, now." Of course, Samwell and Fabio's absence is part of why she's so dreary.
Swan quirks a smile. "Perhaps I will go. What sort of interesting gossip would I hear there though? News about the war? Pah, I hear enough from the little ones. It is the news of the street I wish to hear."
"I still can't believe you sent your best horse with healer-boy," Kalan says with a slight frown, shaking his head a bit. That's probably not a worthwhile conversation to have, though, so he just turns his attention back to Lana with a slight smirk on his face. "You'll get more of /that/ by staying out here to listen." Or at least he does, anyway.
"It depends on what kind of gossip you want," Sara says, deciding that she is infintely more helpful than Kalan. "Gossip travels faster than light among the palace walls, but then again, it gets here pretty fast too. If you want gossip that's closest to the truth, officials in the palace are best to keep your ear on. If you want gossip that's done because the speakers are bored and don't really believe it, you'll find plenty around here. But every so often you can find some really interesting pieces of information around town. Just gotta know who to listen to." She frowns at Kalan when her horse is brought up. "Healer-boy happens to be very close to me. I couldn't have him out there in danger with a second-rate palace horse."
"If I wished for the truth, I would ask the page master. It is not that which will cause people to react. Tis the sewer scum who cause the difficulties." Swan says mildly in responce. "Who is this Healer?"
It's not Kalan's fault that he doesn't think anyone who has to /ask/ about finding gossip deserves to hear it in the first place. Or maybe it is. Either way, he just shakes his head minutely as Sara speaks to the Shang, and he outright snorts when conversation gets back to Samwell. "Healer-boy is a tragically lacking fellow who was the assistant Palace healer before he got sent to war." Kalan's actually got a bit more to say on that, but he's not completely stupid and out of respect for Sara he shuts his mouth.
Sara frowns at Kalan's explaination of Samwell anyway. "His name is Samwell, and he isn't tragically lacking in anything." Well, social skills maybe. She isn't about to bash her best friend though. "In any case, I have to go see Hal about the face. I'll see you tonight Kalan, and it was nice to meet you Lana." With a nod to them both, she turns towards the Dancing Dove.
Swan raises an eyebrow at Sara as he leave then looks at Kalan. "Would you care to enlighten me? I would be willing to buy you a drink."
Maybe he shouldn't have said that. Kalan only shrugs at Sara, though. "Have a good time," he says, and then turns to give the Shang an appraising glance. "You buy me a drink, and then we'll see what I can do," he says after a moment, as if whatever he's seen in her he deems acceptable.
Swan could care less if someone is judging her. Really, you get use to it after a while. "Why don't we take it in my rooms then? I have a nice bottle that I've been saving for a time such as this."
Kalan raises a brow. He hadn't intended on getting back to the Palace so early, but then, he didn't tend to plan things much anyway. "That sounds fine," he agrees with a slight nod and a gesture indicating that she should lead the way.
Swan bows once again slightly and leads the way back to her rooms.... whereever they are.
+----[ [Tortall Royal Palace] Second Floor - Lana's Room ]-------------------+
Swan opens the door fo Kalan.
Kalan steps into the room behind the Shang and glances around briefly, although he hardly seems interested in the actual surroundings. "Now, where's this wine you were talking about?" he asks, for lack of anything better to say. He's only just met her, after all.
Swan nods at the bed. "Have a seat and I'll get it." She makes her way to the window ledge and uncovers the wine. "When do you cook?"
Kalan sits on the bed, not entirely in a sprawl but in a pretty comfortable position. "Varying times, mostly during the mornings and evenings. I've generally got a bit of time off during midday," he replies, toying idly with something in his pocket while he speaks.
Swan pours the drinks and brings one over to the cook, snagging a chair with one foot. "Which particular group do you cook for? Or is it just general food?"
"General cooking and specialty orders for whoever can make them," Kalan replies with a slight shrug, reaching out to take the glass. He pauses then to sip the wine before continuing. "You ought to give Palace food a try sometime. It's far more convenient than going to the market every time you need to eat."
The Shange sips at her drink, considering the cook for a bit. "Where would I go to eat?" Swan has not been her quite that long.
"The mess hall, I'd imagine. Some take their food in their rooms," Kalan says, but he doesn't sound as if he suggests that and he's not in fact certain that the Shang has that privilege anyway.
Swan seems to be getting the vibe that this cook does not approve of her very much. "Do you often drink with strangers?"
"As often," Kalan pauses to punctuate this by taking a long drink, "as I can humanly manage it." He takes another drink then, before glancing back over at her. "Do you often invite strangers back to your room in the Palace based on the fact that other strangers told you they happened to work there?"
Swan smiles wryly. "Often enough. You seem to be honest enough, even if you do seem to have a low opinion of people."
To his credit, Kalan doesn't laugh. (Well, he's had a lot of practice.) "I'll take that as a compliment," he says, pausing slightly before he continues with, "Well, you wanted me to enlighten you about something?"
An upraised eyebrow is all the responce Kalan gets to the first half of the conversation. "People seem to be fairly closemouthed about the little conflict that is going on." Swan is very curios about anything about the war.
"And you're coming to a cook to find your answers?" Oh, come on, Kalan couldn't make it /that/ easy. Sure, he knows a lot of stuff, but if someone outside of his immediate circle wants to know they're going to have to work for it.
"Of course. Cooks hear the most." Swan says calmly, tilting back her chair and putting her feet on the bed to stabalize it. "People seem to think that one cannot use their hands and their minds at the same time."
Kalan inclines his head slightly, because he's also taking that as a compliment. "What exactly do you want to know, then?" He's not just going to spill, but if she's got specific questions - well, maybe.
"Start with this healer-boy? Why would an assistant palace healer be on the front lines?" Swan is perfectly happy asking specific questions.
"Healer-boy is out there because they need as many healers as they can get. He might be tragically lacking in most important facets of life, such as, for example, personality, but he /does/ know how to heal," Kalan admits grudgingly.
Swan whistles lightly, under her breath. "Is the conflict really that bad then?"
Kalan finishes off the wine and sets the glass aside. "It would certainly appear that way, wouldn't it?" Well, the Prince was kidnapped; this wasn't something they could simply back out of if it seemed that they weren't going to win.
"How important is this prince?" From what she's gleaned from Marie, he was very important. Import enough to drive an entire country to war though? Swan is not quite so sure.
"They've gone to war for him," Kalan replies simply. There isn't much better explanation for how important he is than that. "And they'll be there until they get him back."
"How does one know that he is not dead?" Swan says simply, sipping at her drink.
That earns a shrug from Kalan. "They can't know. Right now we're working with the assumption that he is - and he's their trump card, so they're probably not going to kill him."
"What motive might they have though?" Swan sets all four of her chairs feet on the floor. "Tortall is a tasty target I'll admit. But why kidnap the boy?"
"Because he's what could get us into the war, but leave them with the upper hand," Kalan replies. He might sound like he actually knows what he's talking about politically speaking, but mostly he's repeating things he's heard from other people.
"Who is in charge of the war effort?" Swan is assuming it is not the king himself? "They must be very careful to not anger the enemy too much.
"Only Tortall's best," Kalan replies, "in combat and diplomacy. They wouldn't leave the young Prince's life in just anyone's hands. His Highness will be out there himself in the future," he adds.
Swan raises an eyebrow. "The king himself goes? Who will care for the day-to-day kingdom?"
"All the same advisors and gentry who normally assist him," Kalan replies. "He certainly doesn't do everything on his own even now."
"Of course." Swan lets that go gently. "The palace seems to be depopulated, this is due to the war yes?"
Kalan nods again, and then stands up. He's not necessarily going to leave, but he's getting restless. "There were more people around before - Knights and riders and the like." He doesn't say that the palace might not be as populated once this thing is over as it once was; that's depressing.
Swan considers the cook, "It must make life easier for the cooks though. This is a good thing yes?"
"Now that's a way of looking at things that I don't hear often enough, and that I /certainly/ didn't expect to hear from you," Kalan states, stopping where he is and turning to glance at her (after standing up, he'd started more or less pacing - though he obviously didn't get very far).
Swan shrugs slightly, seeing she's hit a nerve with the cook. "The shang are not involved intimatly with this business. Perhasps I am incorrect however."
Kalan continues watching her for a long moment, but then he doesn't say anything about it. "My work around the Palace is almost never strenuous," he says instead. "Things can get rushed when there's some sort of event going on."
"What events go on these day?" Swan rises and refills her glass, offering the bottle to Kalan also.
Kalan raises a hand slightly to decline the bottle; he'll be at another party later, and it wouldn't do to be drunk before he got there. "Not as many these days as there used to be," he answers with a slight shrug. "Because so many people are gone, and the rest are overworked or too anxious waiting for the war to end to want to have huge feasts."
Swan says, "Well enough. One more question, I met a Ladies' maid when I first arrived, Marie by name. Where might I find her?" "
"Mm," Kalan replies. "She works with the Princesses, right? If you follow this hallway, you'll find her room in the Princesses' Chambers, but I'm not sure if she's there now."
Swan nods. "Thank you Kalan. I do apologize for any insult to your cooking I might have given."
"All is forgiven," Kalan says very magnanimously, and then he steps towards the door. "Thank -you- for the wine." And then he opens the door and steps into the hallway.
Swan smiles slightly and sees Kalan out. "Good day."