-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= This is a large, circular room with enormous diamond-paned windows facing each direction. North, the solarium looks out over the castle’s rooftop gardens, while the south and west windows provide a beautiful view of Archenland’s eastern forests. By standing at the east window, one can see down into the wards of the castle. The large door to the northwest can be propped open on pleasant days.
There are a number of plants growing here, ranging from the practical to the delicate and exotic. Several potted banks of medicinal herbs share space with a small fruit-bearing lemon tree, and a Calormene jasmine plant has been trained up an ornamental trellis near the south window.
Though the room is kept immaculately clean and the plants are well-kept and thriving, there is a sense of melancholic loneliness here. The chairs and tables arranged near the middle of the room are covered with white cloth. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
You can go: Tower Garden <NW>
Aravis is examining a branch of the pomegranate tree, where a few blossoms are considering forming fruit. There aren’t many on the tree; it seems that, though skillfully put in place, this isn’t going to be a particularly laden year. There’s a little smile on Aravis’ face as she lowers her hand and looks about at the rest of the growing plants, nearly all established and filling out.
Cor comes up the steps to the adjacent garden two at a time, a rather loud endeavor. When he reaches the top he peers around to see who else might be there. His efforts are, rather literally, short-sighted, as many of the plants in the area are tall enough to block his view.
Aravis looks around at the thumping sound of feet on stairs. She squints at the plants between herself and the stairs, then strides a few steps to the side and leans to see around the lemon tree. “Of course that was you.”
Cor turns at the sound of her voice. “What? Oh!” He screws up his whole face. “Well, I’m sure I don’t know what /that/ means.”
Aravis lifts her chin, eyes half closed and eyebrows high in mock disdain. “Some people come to gardens because they’re peaceful, you know. You bounding about like a half-blind gazelle ruins that.” She doesn’t hold the pose for long, however, instead grabbing his hand and pulling him further into the garden. “Have you seen how it’s grown? Look at this one!”
Sareen enters the solarium with a basket under one arm.
Cor starts to protest, but he is pulled out of the natural conversation by Aravis’s seizure of his wrist and the topic. Instead, he just gets a rather offended expression at the unfair hypocrisy of it all. “What are you even on about?”
Aravis doesn’t notice the gardener to begin with, pointing insistently at a particularly voracious patch of flowering vines. She’s rather uncharacteristically excited about it all, though the blossoms are quite pretty. “These, of course! And all of it, really, they started flowering all at once. They weren’t nearly here just a few days ago.”
Cor rubs the top of his head
Sareen says, “Spring likes to come upon us suddenly, but most of these are later bloomers. Almost waited for summer, they have.”
Cor turns at the sound of the new voice. “Oh, hello.”
Sareen smiles and bobs a bit. “Your Highness, Lady Aravis.”
Aravis straightens abruptly, switching from excited to proud. “Mistress Sareen.” She pauses briefly, then adds, “They look just as I pictured them before.”
Sareen says, “Then you’ve a good eye for color. These were well-chosen.”
Cor frowns at his friend and supplements, “Thanks for all the work you’ve been doing on them.”
Sareen says, “You’re welcome, Prince Cor. I’ve quite enjoyed the work. I think young Reina has as well. It’s always interesting to experiment with new things, though some of these are varieties my mother had in her own garden, but she had to coax them for years to get them to grow and produce fruit. The glass keeps in heat better.”
Aravis purses her lips in response to Cor. “They’ve been well planted. Do you think there will be fruit this year?”
Sareen shakes her head, setting the basket on a bench. “I shouldn’t expect much. First years are usually a shock to the tree, though that one is doing well, bringing out some blossoms. Especially as it’s still so small.”
Cor moves in toward the tree and takes a great sniff, then coughs. “Smells good.”
Sareen asks, “Not prone to hay fever, I hope?”
Aravis lets a brief disappointment flash across her face as she looks back to the pomegranate tree. “They aren’t very large trees ever,” she supplies with a bit more certainty than perhaps she ought to voice, then looks to Cor, brows drawn down, for his answer.
Cor coughs again, “Uh? Hay fever? I don’t know. Sorry. It was, it’s strong.”
Sareen looks to Aravis. “Are they? I’m afraid I haven’t any experience growing one before.”
Aravis shrugs, looking at the little tree again. “My father had a few in his gardens, and some were kept no taller than me, so that the fruit could be picked easily.” She also leans in for a whiff, not getting quite so close or breathing in quite so much.
Cor screws up his face but keeps his mouth shut.
Sareen asks, “Have you tasted pomegranate, Your Highness?”
Cor shakes his head. “Saw them a couple of times when I had to go in to market.” He pauses, some memory registering on his face. “Why, I think Arsheesh said there was an orchard nearby, now that I think on it.”
Sareen says, “I saw an illustration in a book. The fruit seems to have a lot of seeds to it.” She looks to Aravis. “How do you eat one?””
Aravis narrows her eyes ceiling-wards, then nods. “There /was/ an orchard that way.” She looks at Sareen, brows lifting. “Why, you break it apart, of course, and eat the pips.” Hesitating, she adds, “I do remember it’s a bit messy, opening a ripe one.”
Sareen says, “You eat them all? That’s unusual.”
Cor asks, “How long do they take to start fruiting?”
Aravis nods. “They’re a bit like berries, once you’ve broken them apart.” She pauses at Cor’s question. “About as long as any fruit, of course.”
Sareen says, “It takes five to seven months for a fruit to mature, but we’re unlikely to see more than a couple for two to three years.”
Cor frowns at Aravis and presses, “As long as any fruit? And I suppose next you’ll say /everyone/ knows how long /that/ is.”
Aravis says, “Anyone who’s been around fruit trees. Though these take a bit longer than some, I suppose.”
Cor looks like he finds this response incredibly irritating.
Sareen hums and sits down next to her basket, lifting a corner of cloth and peering at its contents.
Aravis looks at Sareen’s basket–or at least, the cloth over the top–with supreme and determined nonchalance.
Cor nods toward the basket. “What have you got there?”
Sareen flips the fabric back, revealing a small round of yellow cheese. “My daughter-in-law makes her own. She sent it up with my grandson.”
Aravis asks, “Does she sell it?”
Sareen asks, “When she has extra. Would you two care to share a bit?”
Cor looks a bit uncomfortable. “Oh. I… no thanks. That is — thank you for the offer. It looks very nice.”
Aravis takes her turn to frown at Cor, then back at the cheese. “I’ll try a small piece, thank you.”
Sareen smiles at Aravis and cuts her a slice with a small knife, then offers it up.
Cor steps awkwardly to the side, out of the way.
Aravis takes the cheese and nibbles on the edge of it consideringly. “Mm. Thank you. Do they live nearby?”
Sareen says, “In the village.”
Cor says, “Oh, that’s not so far.”
Aravis nods. “Do you have much family nearby?”
Sareen cuts herself a slice of cheese and pops it into her mouth. “A son and a daughter and their families in Andale. More elsewhere.”
Cor glances around the garden. “Oh… right. That reminds me. Has anyone seen Corin?”
Sareen says, “Not today.”
Aravis asks, “He was avoiding his lessons, earlier. The same he missed last week, in fact. Do you need to find him?”
Cor says, “Should have guessed. He’s probably got distracted boxing someone in the training hall. We were supposed to meet and –” He pauses guiltily. “We were supposed to meet.”
Sareen glances at Cor with a brow raised ever so slightly in interest, but she makes no inquiry.
Aravis’s eyebrows lift immediately, though she asks in her deliberately uninterested way, “Do you want help finding him?”
Cor narrows his eyes at her calculatingly but concedes slowly, “Sure, if you don’t have some kind of lessons to Not Avoid.”
Aravis says, “If I did, I wouldn’t be up here. Thank you for the cheese, Mistress Sareen.”
Sareen asks, “You’re very welcome. Mayhap I should go to your lessons instead. They’re bound to be interesting. Do you suppose any are still going on?”
Cor says, “Search me.”
Aravis says, “None of mine, today.”
Sareen says, “Pity. I’d never pass for the princes. Well, off with you then. Enjoy your afternoon.”
Cor steps off to the side, toward the other garden and the stairs. “Thank you!”
Aravis follows close behind, nodding her farewell to the gardener.