Carver tackles Merrill, and the two of them tumble to the soft earth, giggling, bright orange leaves stuck in their hair. For a brief moment, Aveline watches them roll about in the mud and twigs like mabaris. Then her back goes rigid, and her eyes narrow.
“Alright. Enough you two,” she says crisply. “We’ve business to attend to.”
Carver reluctantly lets go of Merrill’s waist, his fingers lingering on her hip. He glares at Aveline. “Were you born with that stick up your arse,” he grumbles, “Or did they shove it there during your guard orientation?”
Merrill snorts and elbows Carver in the side. Aveline glares at them both, unamused.
“I said up,” she says, flicking her fingers as if calling a warhound to her side.
“They’re leaves, Aveline,” Merrill sighs. She casually picks a twig out of Carver’s hair. “Don’t tell me you never played in leaves before.”
“I—” Aveline’s eyes narrow dangerously. “You look ridiculous. Both of you.”
Merrill’s eyes go wide. “You haven’t, have you?”
Aveline crosses her arms, not admitting anything, nor much caring for that sly grin Merrill and Carver exchange when they think she isn’t looking. “Just get up already,” she snaps. “We don’t have time to—AUGH!”
She tumbles backward into the leaves, chestplate over sabaton, as Merrill and Carver simultaneously pitch into her like battering rams.
“Gotcha,” shouts Carver in triumph.
“Oh that’s it,” yells Aveline. Shrugging them both off like an enraged bear, she catapults herself onto Carver’s back, and he tumbles face first into the leaves with a very satisfying oof. Then she grabs a fistful of orange leaves and smugly grinds them into his hair.
“Look, Carver,” cackles Merrill. “Now you and Aveline match!”
Carver clutches his belly in laughter as Aveline launches herself at Merrill next.