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Tea For Three [Closed]

Conrad Krause

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38
#1
((26 Kingsway, 35 Dragon; Cousland Estate in Denerim; mid-morning; @Ferren Bairston ))

The infirmary had been spared the damage from the fires that had spread during the darkspawn siege, but not from the looting in the days and weeks after. Conrad could at least see a reason for desperate folk to steal the healing supplies to help the wounded, but they had certainly left a mess to be cleaned up. Glass bottles and canisters shattered on the floor, shelves knocked askew, cabinet doors ajar, and all of it coated in a heavy layer of dust.

But Conrad could see the possibilities, and they pleased him greatly. The area was spacious, with a main room to greet patients and examine them (what looked to have been cloth and wood screens had been torn and splintered), another room to hold patients who required observation or extended care (the cots were gone) and a small supply room (empty of supplies).

First things first. By the middle of the next month, Conrad intended to have the mess cleaned up and a full list of the furnishings and supplies that would be needed to return it to service, with the associated costs, if he could find them. He could purchase herbs from Cora, and he'd heard there was a carpenter in town -

“Tee?”

Conrad looked up, then stepped quickly across the room to intercept Riane before she could step onto the glass-strewn floor. “What are you doing here, little one?” he asked, crouching before her. The Teyrn was not with her, nor, so far as Conrad could tell, was anyone else.

She offered him a sunny smile. “Tee.”

“I … do not understand.” He regarded her helplessly. “Your kitten … is he well?”

“Kitkit!” She beamed at him. “Kitkit tee!” Wrapping one tiny hand around his index finger, she began tugging at him. Standing, he allowed himself to be led through the halls, drawing odd looks from the workers they passed. Conrad had given the Teyrn permission to be honest about his past, but he had no idea who had been told what at this point. A young elf carrying an armful of linens saw them and her eyes grew wide. Before he could speak, she dropped the sheets and scurried off.

“Tee!” Riane insisted, tugging him in the opposite direction when he tried to follow the elf. Briefly, he considered just picking her up and carrying her, but if she started crying, it would look even worse for him. Giving up, he followed her to a spacious, well lit room that had been thoroughly cleaned. There was a comfortable looking couch beneath the window and toys strewn across the floor around a child-sized table and chairs on which was set -

“Ah … you meant tea,” Conrad exclaimed, feeling foolish. But on the other hand, it was not as though he was invited to tea often.

“Tea!” Riane confirmed delightedly, tugging him toward the table. “Kitkit tea!”

In a doll-sized cradle beside the table, the kitten lay, garbed in a frilly dress and bonnet. The feline opened one green eye as he approached, then closed it again, the generous bulge of his belly providing an explanation for his somnolent state.

“He seems to like his tea very much,” Conrad told Riane, bending to pat the kitten and do a check of the new splint, finding it secure.

Riane nodded happily, then pointed at him, then the table. “Tea!”

He stared down at the tiny chairs, the even tinier cups and saucers. “I think that I am too large, little one.”

That got him a look of wide-eyed appeal that was going to be the death of some young man in a dozen or so years, and a wistful, “Tea, pease?”

Defeated, Conrad shifted one of the chairs to the side and lowered his bulk to the floor, sitting cross-legged in front of the table. With a happy laugh that would have been sufficient reward for a far more onerous chore, Riane bounced into the chair across from him and picked up a tiny teapot, pretending to pour into her cup and his, then sat back, watching him expectantly.

The tea set looked to be made of tin … a better choice than porcelain for one so small, the outsides painted with colorful designs to please a young eye. But so tiny! Gingerly grasping the handle of his empty cup between thumb and forefinger, Conrad raised it to his lips and pretended to sip. “It is very good,” he told Riane solemnly. “Thank you.”

She laughed again and pretended to drink from her own cup, then gestured to him that it was time for a refill. He passed his cup to her, wondering how long it might be before the elf found whoever she had been running for.
 
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Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
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#2
Ferren considered himself a pretty decent problem-solver.

He'd been solving all sorts of problems since he was a kid. Problems like: How to make it look like you'd actually stolen something so your dad didn't give you that look you hated, or later on, how to avoid setting him off without having to sleep on the streets. As he'd gotten older, the problems had become more complicated. A few years ago, there were problems like: How to keep doing your job when you weren't technically allowed in uniform. A while after that, it'd been problems like: How to find your fiancee--who was an attempted murderer--when she didn't want you to.

Which... alright. Maybe he hadn't ever solved any of those problems. But that didn't mean he couldn't solve the problems in front of him now. It wasn't life or death or anything. Just... finding people he could trust enough to ensure the safety of the Teyrn and his daughter while they were in Denerim. That wasn't a big deal at all. Definitely wasn't any pressure on him or anything.

A snapping sound interrupted his thoughts, and Ferren swore aloud. That was the third damn quill he'd broken today. Apparently it was a sign that he shouldn't try to write this out. Especially since the only things he had down were:

1. Have you ever seen anyone die?

2. Do you like dogs?

They weren't bad questions. They were pretty much the only two things Ferren needed to know about somebody to decide whether he liked them or not. But he wasn't sure they were going to get him any closer to figuring out who of the dozen or so people he'd recruited so far was actually capable of doing this job.

He groaned, searching the desk for another quill. But nobody kept more than three quills in a desk, so of course he'd have to go looking for some more. Ferren pushed out his chair, stretched, and strode toward the door. He'd barely opened it before a woman nearly slammed into him.

"Whoa, hey," he said, trying to get some idea of who'd been about to get real familiar with. It was a young elven woman. Arisa? Was that her name? "What's wrong?"

"There's a..." She was gasping for breath, and trying to push words in between those gasps. "...a man. A very large... I-I think he's a man... h-he might... he might be an ogre, I--"

She turned back to look down the hall, like the very large ogre-man might be chasing her even now. Ferren looked, too, but he saw nothing.

"It's okay. You're alright. Where'd y'see the ogre-man? What was he doing?"

She pointed down the hall, but there was still nothing there. "H-he had Lady Riane. He was taking her--"

Ferren's blood froze in his veins, and for a second, he couldn't move at all. Some part of him knew it was probably a misunderstanding. There was probably a perfectly good reason why an ogre-man was taking Riane somewhere. But that part of him wasn't the part that reacted. The part that reacted was all action, pushing that once-frozen blood through his body, making his pulse pound in his ears. He was running, barely aware of the fact that he was unarmed and unprotected, toward where he thought she should be right now.

Somewhere in the haze that always came over him when he got like this, Ferren heard her giggle. As far as sounds went, it was one of the best he could think of, and it calmed the roaring in his ears to a low din. His heart was still pounding, adrenaline had left him a little shaky, and he was still trying to catch his breath when he stopped in the doorway.

His gaze fell on Riane first, who was fine. More than fine. She was beaming and holding up... yep, that was a teacup. "Tea!"

It took him longer than he would've thought to get to the very large man sitting in the very small chair. He'd been so focused on Riane and her well-being that he hadn't paid much mind to anything else. If there had been trouble here, he'd be lying dead with a sword wound through his belly, and Riane would still be gone, all because he'd let emotion rule him. A little bit of shame washed through him at that.

He pushed it back as best he could and cleared his throat, his attention turning to Riane's guest. "Sorry about that. Never seen an ogre before, but I'm guessin' y' aren't one. And if you'd intended to ransom Lady Riane, well. Have t'say you're doin' a terrible job of it."

"Tea!" Riane repeated insistently.

"I dunno," Ferren said, still trying to recover. "I'm a little hurt I didn't get an invitation earlier. How'm I supposed t'know you actually want me here?"

Riane gave him that wide-eyed, pleading look that always worked on her father. It always worked on Ferren, too, and he finally stepped inside the room. This wasn't his first tea party, and it wouldn't be his last, so he sat obediently in the empty chair between the two of them. He waited for Riane to pour him some tea, then pretended to drink it all in one go. She giggled at this, and Ferren bit back a smile, feigning the same wide-eyed innocence she'd turned on him.

"What? Did I do it wrong? I did it wrong, didn't I." He nodded to the man across the table. "Looks like you've got better manners than I do. Name's Ferren. Sometimes I'm th' Teyrn's Guard-Captain. Mostly I think I'm just here t'entertain his daughter," he said with a grin.
 
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Conrad Krause

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#3
The clearing of a throat brought Conrad's attention around to the door. The man who stood there wore a blue doublet, linen shirt, and the look of a man willing his heart to slow down from a breakneck pace.

"Sorry about that,” the newcomer offered, the relief edging his tone hinting at the fading panic beneath. “Never seen an ogre before, but I'm guessin' y' aren't one. And if you'd intended to ransom Lady Riane, well. Have t'say you're doin' a terrible job of it."

Had that been the tale that the elf woman had told? Small wonder that the man had been alarmed. “An ogre would make me look small,” Conrad assured him, keeping his tone light, well aware of Riane's attention, “but I have little doubt that this small fräulein would have kidnapped him as easily as she did me.” He winked at her, and she giggled, then turned her attention to the other man, whom she clearly knew and was fond of.

“Tea!” she invited him.

"I dunno," he told her. "I'm a little hurt I didn't get an invitation earlier. How'm I supposed t'know you actually want me here?"

That got him the same winsome pout that she had used on Conrad, and he chuckled. “If she has a more persuasive look than that, I do not want to give her the opportunity to perfect it. Please, join us.”

The man did join him, likely more because of Riane's persuasion than Conrad's invitation, and was brave enough to trust one of the chairs with his weight (which, while nowhere near Conrad's was nonetheless definitely well above that of a child). The chair creaked a bit, but held, and Riane poured him a cup of tea, which he promptly quaffed like one tossing back a shot of whiskey. This earned him a round of laughter, and he feigned puzzlement.

"What? Did I do it wrong? I did it wrong, didn't I." He inclined his head toward Conrad with an amiable expression. "Looks like you've got better manners than I do. Name's Ferren. Sometimes I'm th' Teyrn's Guard-Captain. Mostly I think I'm just here t'entertain his daughter.” The last was said with a smile that indicated that he did not mind this in the slightest.

“A most worthwhile task,” Conrad agreed. He had always enjoyed his brief contacts with small children in his role as a healer, but always, he had known that their innocent acceptance of him would not last. To know that the smile on Riane's tiny face would never give way to fear or suspicion when she looked at him … that was a gift beyond price, and one that he determined to always prove worthy of. “I am Conrad Krause,” he introduced himself. “Teyrn Cousland has hired me to run the infirmary and tend the health of the residents of this estate. I am originally from the Anderfels.” He looked to Riane. “Do you know how they drink tea in the Anderfels?” he asked, and when she shook her head, eyes wide in anticipation, he lifted his cup to his lips and slurped noisily.

He had no idea how nobles in the Anderfels drank tea, and in all likelihood, his demonstration was highly incorrect. He had a brief vision of the ensuing awkwardness, should she ever travel to Hossberg or meet a dignitary from the Anderfels, but Riane's shriek of delighted laughter quickly shifted such concerns to a very distant second place.

While she was distracted, Conrad addressed Ferren quietly. "I am sorry for causing you concern. She wandered into the infirmary while I was working there, and I thought only about getting her away from all the broken glass on the floor. I should have the place safe to enter in a day or two."
 

Ferren Bairston

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#4
Ferren hadn't really planned on attending a tea party, but who really did? Fancy people, he guessed. Two year olds. Kittens. Though one glance at Riane's KitKit told him the cat probably hadn't planned on it, either. But here they all were, sitting around a tiny table drinking invisible liquid out of tiny cups. Even if Ferren wasn't the type of person to play make believe with a toddler, this whole arrangement was a lot better than what he'd been doing. He loved his job. He did. But some parts of it...

“I am Conrad Krause,” the man said in introduction. “Teyrn Cousland has hired me to run the infirmary and tend the health of the residents of this estate. I am originally from the Anderfels.” He looked to Riane then. “Do you know how they drink tea in the Anderfels?”

Ferren laughed right along with Riane as Conrad pretended to slurp his tea. Good timing on his part, because Ferren definitely recognized the name. Fergus told him about the new healer he was hiring on, and a little about his past. It'd made him uneasy at first. He'd even said as much. The fact that Fergus had faith in the main was enough for him... mostly. But seeing him interact with Riane made it easy for Ferren to let his guard down.

"I am sorry for causing you concern. She wandered into the infirmary while I was working there, and I thought only about getting her away from all the broken glass on the floor. I should have the place safe to enter in a day or two."

Ferren waved this off. "Wasn't any trouble. Rather come runnin' for ogres that don't exist than miss th' one that does, y'know? Did the Teyrn not give y' anybody t'help clean up the place, though?"

A lifetime spent as a Guard had convinced him that infirmaries were always useful. Somebody was always getting into something, every single day. Ferren himself could probably pay rent at the infirmary in Highever. And most of the clinics around the city. He still remembered the time he'd had to stop at the one in the Alienage after breaking his hand.

Riane was serving KitKit--who was still sound asleep--but Ferren knew it wouldn't be long before she wanted attention again. She was a quiet kid. Definitely capable of entertaining herself. But she had two people to entertain her today, and Ferren knew her well enough to know she'd take advantage of that fact. So he held up his own teacup to be filled again, trying not to wince as his chair creaked under his weight. After he took a sip, he rested a hand on his stomach.

"Y'hear that?" he asked Riane. "Pretty sure there's a dragon trapped in there. Only way he's gonna stop carryin' on is if he's given cookies, so I hope y'have some."

Riane gave him a skeptical look, but Ferren raised his brows, feigning innocence. Apparently this was enough to clear him, because she passed him a plate which... actually did have cookies on it. One of the maids must have set this up for her. She hadn't even been in Denerim a full two weeks and already she had everyone wrapped around her little finger.

"This is goin' to a worthy cause," he assured her, dipping his head in thanks. He took one of the--admittedly very small--cookies and tried to take a bite without just getting the whole thing in his mouth. Riane offered the plate to her new friend like a good little hostess, and Ferren turned his attention to Conrad, too. "The Teyrn let me know you were comin' on. An'... just so it's out o' the way, he told me about your, ah... background. I guess just so I'd know, if it ever came up. Won't come up from me, though. And just so we're on even footing, I'll be happy t'tell you about my background, too. When we're not expected t' be gentlemen," he said, nodding to Riane.

He ate what little bit was left of his cookie and washed it down with a sip of tea, wishing there was something in that cup. The "cookies" were more like biscuits, and they were very, very dry. Somebody was apparently trying to make sure Riane didn't spoil her next meal.

"So, all that aside. How'd you end up becomin' Riane's fourth... maaaaybe third favorite person?"
 

Conrad Krause

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#5
"Wasn't any trouble,” Ferren dismissed Conrad's apology easily. “Rather come runnin' for ogres that don't exist than miss th' one that does, y'know? Did the Teyrn not give y' anybody t'help clean up the place, though?"

“He said that I should recruit who I needed,” Conrad replied, “but I was in the process of assessing the extent of the damage when Riane arrived.”

Riane had turned her attention to the kitten, pushing one of the cups under his nose, but he never stirred. Ferren patted his belly, the motion drawing an ominous creak from the miniature chair beneath him. "Y'hear that?" he inquired in all seriousness. "Pretty sure there's a dragon trapped in there. Only way he's gonna stop carryin' on is if he's given cookies, so I hope y'have some."

The look that she gave him suggested that she knew even at this tender age that dragons were not found in stomachs, but at last, she offered him a tiny plate with three tinier cookies.

“And what of me?” Conrad wanted to know, rubbing his own stomach. “I think my belly must have a hungry ogre in it … perhaps two, with the ruckus they are making.” That got him a look much like the one Ferren had received, but also his own trio of cookies not much larger than his thumbnail on a painted tin plate.

"This is goin' to a worthy cause," Ferren promised her. Evidently satisfied with this, Riane turned her attention to serving cookies to KitKit while two grown men attempted to eat tiny cookies. Picking one up, Conrad nibbled off a bit with his front teeth. Not bad, if a bit dry.

"The Teyrn let me know you were comin' on,” Ferren told him, adding carefully. “An'... just so it's out o' the way, he told me about your, ah... background. I guess just so I'd know, if it ever came up.” Conrad nodded; he had given the Teyrn permission to tell whom he chose. He was done with hiding his past; some might shun him for what he had been, but it was not the social custom that it had been in the Anderfels. “Won't come up from me, though. And just so we're on even footing, I'll be happy t'tell you about my background, too. When we're not expected t' be gentlemen."

“Agreed,” Conrad said readily. “And at that time, you may ask me whatever you will. I wish to hide nothing.” He shook his head ruefully. “I have done that enough.” Regardless, it was not the kind of thing that Riane needed to hear.

Ferren finished his cookie, pretending to sip from his cup. "So, all that aside. How'd you end up becomin' Riane's fourth... maaaaybe third favorite person?"

The Teyrn would be first, and Ferren second … Conrad wondered briefly who he was in competition with for third place. Mallory, perhaps? If so, he would accept with good grace. “I suppose because I bandaged the leg of Ser KitKit, here,” he replied, reaching out to scratch the kitten beneath the chin. KitKit liked this immensely, stretching out his neck and purring loudly, eyes still closed. This delighted Riane, who tried to imitate Conrad, with a bit less success. A bit of guidance as to scratching versus bouncing his chin on her fingers, and the tail that had begun to lash in annoyance stilled, the purring resuming at full volume.

“She is a good child,” Conrad said quietly, watching her in satisfaction before glancing back to Ferren. “Have you been in the Teyrn's service long?”
 

Ferren Bairston

Guard-Captain of Highever
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#6
“I suppose because I bandaged the leg of Ser KitKit, here."

Ferren looked at the kitten all curled up in its cradle. Little surprising to him that he'd let Riane dress him up--cats weren't really known for their good humor, from what Ferren could tell. They were like Ser Grim in that way. But Riane could get pretty much anyone to bend to her will, so that made sense enough for him. Seemed the kitten was fond of Conrad, too, and why not? Tiny thing probably wouldn't have lived with a messed up leg.

"That's an awfully noble way t'get into th' Teyrn's service. 'Fraid my story's nothing like that," he said with a grin.

How had he gotten into Fergus' service? He knew the sequence of events that led him here, but which one had made the Teyrn stop and go--yep, seems like Guard-Captain material to me. Ferren was pretty sure he'd never know the answer to that.

He watched with a smile as Conrad taught Riane the right way to pet a kitten. Ferren wouldn't call himself much of a cat person, but KitKit was cute, and Riane loved him, so he'd make an effort to learn, too. Reaching across the small table, he gently scratched behind the kitten's ears. The purring continued, and Riane clapped at this, apparently signaling that he'd gotten it right. Ferren decided to have a celebratory cookie.

“She is a good child,” Conrad mused.

"Yeah, she is,"
Ferren agreed. "Lookin' at her, seeing how she is now, always makes me wonder what she'll be like when she's older." He watched Riane now as she tried to give KitKit a cookie. The kitten woke long enough to sniff the crumbly treat, but didn't seem interested beyond that. To his surprise, Riane actually put the cookie back down. "She's pretty quiet, but I think she catches a lot o' what's going on around her. Guess that'll be a good trait t'have if she ends up takin' over Highever one day."

How old would he be when Riane was grown? She was two now, so... in his fifties? That was weird to think about. Might have a kid of his own by then.

“Have you been in the Teyrn's service long?” Conrad asked, drawing him from his thoughts.

"About six months as Guard-Captain," Ferren said. "But I've been workin' for him for... Mmm, guess it's been around three years? With some time in th' middle t'... figure some things out." The Year That Would Never Be Mentioned. "I grew up in Denerim. Worked as a City Guard there for a long time, but I, ah... had a bit of a fallin' out there. Th' Teyrn offered me a job in Highever, and I took it. Always assumed that'd be it, y'know? But after what happened..." He glanced at Riane, then back to Conrad. "I s'ppose he felt like he needed people he could trust."

For all the faults Ferren found in himself--and there were a lot--he was a trustworthy man. He'd proven that over the years. The only reason he'd leave Fergus' service now was if he was forced to, and the only way Ferren figured that would happen is if the Teyrn himself decided to get rid of him.

"Can I get a refill please, Your Grace?" Ferren asked in his best fancy accent. Riane giggled, and once she was suitably distracted by pouring, he spoke to Conrad again. "Did he speak t'you about any of that? I guess it's.... I mean it's important to me. She was a friend. Pretty good one. Can't imagine you'll have t' deal with it much, but it's not something I ever want t'see again, the th' more eyes and ears we've got looking out for things, th' better off we'll all be."

Ferren didn't really like how much that topic came up in the official conversations he had, but it was all his own doing. Rae's murder made him paranoid. He'd give up his own life before he let somebody take out their damn "opinions" on Riane. Looking at the man across from him, seeing the way he was with her, Ferren could only assume Conrad would do the same.

"Guess what I'm saying is if y'ever notice anythin' suspicious, let me know and I'll take care of it before it becomes a problem." Ferren waved all that doom and gloom off, though, and gave Riane a smile to thank her for the refill. He lifted his cup between his thumb and forefinger, and after a moment, she raised her own and clinked it against his. "Good job. Who needs a tutor when you've already learned th' most important things, right?" He winked at her, then looked back to Conrad. "Th' Teyrn didn't make it too clear... are you only going t'be working here in Denerim, or will y'be coming back t'Highever, too?"
 

Conrad Krause

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#7
"That's an awfully noble way t'get into th' Teyrn's service,” Ferren joked with an easy grin. “'Fraid my story's nothing like that."

“I look forward to hearing it, then,” Conrad replied with a smile of his own. “It is an honor that I never expected, certainly not from one who knew my past. The Teyrn is a remarkable man.”

Small wonder that his daughter should mirror him in miniature. Ferren – unsurprisingly – agreed with his opinion of Riane. "Lookin' at her, seeing how she is now, always makes me wonder what she'll be like when she's older,” he mused, watching as the child offered the kitten a cookie, but did not try to force-feed him when he demurred, as some children might have done. "She's pretty quiet, but I think she catches a lot o' what's going on around her. Guess that'll be a good trait t'have if she ends up takin' over Highever one day."

“She will be a wise and kind leader,” Conrad agreed, not a trace of doubt in his voice or his heart. He glanced curiously at Ferren. “She is the Teyrn's only child, and will be his eldest, yes? Does inheritance not decide such things? Or does your Landsmeet vote on this, as well?” The entire idea seemed bizarre to him.

"About six months as Guard-Captain," Ferren answered when he asked. "But I've been workin' for him for... Mmm, guess it's been around three years? With some time in th' middle t'... figure some things out." His expression suggested that it was best not to ask of that time, and Conrad nodded respectfully, acceding to the unspoken directive. "I grew up in Denerim. Worked as a City Guard there for a long time, but I, ah... had a bit of a fallin' out there. Th' Teyrn offered me a job in Highever, and I took it. Always assumed that'd be it, y'know? But after what happened..." His gaze shifted to Riane, his expression significant. "I s'ppose he felt like he needed people he could trust."

“Indeed,” Conrad agreed, realizing that anyone capable of killing the Teyrn's wife for no greater offense than being an elf who dared marry a human noble might be just as capable of killing the elf-blooded child of a noble.

His thoughts must have been betrayed by his expression, because Ferren quickly distracted Riane by asking for more tea in an exaggeratedly formal voice. Schooling his face, Conrad offered his own cup and she tended to the task with a fierce concentration.

"Did he speak t'you about any of that?” Ferren asked him quietly once Riane's attention was turned. “I guess it's.... I mean it's important to me. She was a friend. Pretty good one. Can't imagine you'll have t' deal with it much, but it's not something I ever want t'see again, the th' more eyes and ears we've got looking out for things, th' better off we'll all be."

“He told me some,” Conrad replied, “and I am sorry for your loss. I told him what I will tell you. I have skills that may be of use to you, and if I may assist in any way, you have only to ask.” He had never resorted to torture lightly, something that he had made clear to Teyrn Cousland, but nor would he flinch from it if he believed it necessary to protect Riane. “I assisted a young woman in the Teyrn's service in questioning a person of interest on my first day in Denerim, in fact. Perhaps you know her: Linette Botten?”

"Guess what I'm saying is if y'ever notice anythin' suspicious, let me know and I'll take care of it before it becomes a problem,” Ferren concluded, accepting his teacup from Riane with a smile.

Conrad received his own refill, nodding his thanks to their gracious hostess. “If it involves this one, it will no longer be a problem when I bring it to your attention,” he replied, his voice as pleasant as one asking for cream and sugar, the resolve beneath it as hard as steel. Nothing would harm this child while he drew breath.

Ferren held out his cup and Riane tapped hers against it in a toast. "Good job,” he congratulated her with a wink. “Who needs a tutor when you've already learned th' most important things, right?"

“Aye,” Conrad agreed. “A pity we do not have a bit of jam for these cookies. Ah, there it is!” Reaching out, he pantomimed picking up an invisible jar and spreading jam on his remaining two cookies, then popped one into his mouth. “Perfect!” he proclaimed with a smile, earning another of those treasured giggles. “Would you care fore some, ser?” he asked Ferren, offering him the imaginary jar. “Peach jelly. Quite good.”

"Th' Teyrn didn't make it too clear...” Ferren began, “are you only going t'be working here in Denerim, or will y'be coming back t'Highever, too?"

“I am to remain in Denerim and see to the health of those who stay at this compound, for now, at least,” Conrad replied. “Would you have any idea as to the number?” Knowing how many he would be caring for would be crucial to knowing how much to stock.
 
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