In the Archenland Forest
You stand in the middle of a forest. The trees are broadly spaced, the ground beneath you uncluttered by underbrush, giving the gently rolling landscape an almost parklike feel. Dappled light filters down through the branches, leaves shimmering and translucent against the sunlight. A few birds flit by overhead while others sing in the trees, providing a merry counterpoint to the whispering of the wind. To the south, you can see the mountains that separate Archenland from the Southern Desert.
Lanisen is sitting at the base of a massive tree, sharpening his dagger and looking sullen.
Jana walks among the trees gracefully, her left hand brushing the tips of the grass that lies in the undergrowth, her right at the ready. She leans up against a nearby tree at the sight of Lanisen and cross her arms, pondering the sullen figure quietly.
Lanisen glances up, jerks his head in acknowledgment, and grunts a greeting.
Jana straightens off the tree trunk and strides toward him, settling on the ground beside him. “Looks pretty sharp to me.”
Lanisen glances at her from the corner of his eye. “What do /you/ want?” he asks suspiciously.
Jana raises her brows. “A bit of conversation, that’s all.”
Lanisen snorts. “Don’t know what you want to talk to /me/ for,” he says glumly. “/I’m/ sure not good for anything.”
Jana asks, “How old are you?”
Lanisen shrugs. “Seventeen?”
Jana mms. “Plenty of time to learn then, provided you keep yourself alive.”
Lanisen snorts. “Thanks,” he says dryly. “And how am I supposed to learn when I’m forever being sent off to catch rabbits and cook and… and /keep house/ while everybody else does the important stuff??
Jana says practically, “Got to eat somehow.”
Lanisen snorts and resumes his petulant teenage scowling.
Jana’s eye twinkles and there is a faint smirk about her lips. “How do you think Loc learned to use a bow?”
Lanisen glances at Jana and quickly away, glaring at the ground. But he’s definitely considering this concept.
Jana looks pleased with the effect her words have had on him. She pulls a rough bit of metal from somewhere within her skirts and files her nails.
Lanisen polishes the flat of his dagger with one sleeve thoughtfully. “I don’t have a bow,” he observes, thinking out loud.
Jana asks, “You hunt with that dagger?”
Lanisen nods. “I throw it, like so.” He demonstrates, grasping the dagger by the blade and flinging it forward a few feet at a patch of grass. The blade sinks into the ground with a quick, controlled ‘thump’. “Miss more often than not, though,” he admits.
Jana says, “Good practice. Better to fail on an animal than a human. You know, I grew up in the city. Hard to find a way to practice there. Especially when you’re female.”
Lanisen hehs. “I suppose it would be. What city?”
Jana says, “Loc and I come from Chesterton. Lived there all my life.”
Lanisen nods. “How’d you end up learning?” he asks, then tacks on, “Er… did you?”
Jana examines her nails and puts the piece of metal away. “It was either learn to defend myself, or die. My da was a crook too, but he and mum died when I was about 14, so it was every woman for herself, as you might say.”
Lanisen nods, absorbing this. “So you learned just by… jumping in with both feet?”
Jana says, “One way to say it. Doesn’t work for everybody though.”
Lanisen says, “Oh. Wow. You’re… uh, really brave, then… to be able to live that way…” His ears turn a little red belatedly, but the statement is backed by honest admiration.
Jana snorts. “Thank you.” She smirks. “Might please you to know Loc wouldn’t’ve survived that way if not for me.”
Lanisen’s eyes dance with malicious (only a little, I promise) glee. “/Really/?”
Jana nods slowly. “Not that you’re to mention it to him.”
Lanisen says, “I wouldn’t think of it.”
Jana crosses her ankles. “Knew I could trust you.”
Lanisen grins widely. “So. Is there a story behind that?”
Jana says, “Was about 10. Walked in and tried to steal a bag of money off my old pal, local knifer. Had to rescue him before he got knifed himself. I’d guess that was his first try at pickpocketing.”
Lanisen hehs. “Did you know him then, or were you just rescuing the cute little incompetent ten-year-old?”
Jana says, “Something more toward the second. I knew I could use a partner, and training one from age 10 on seemed like an advantage.”
Lanisen hms. “He definitely seems quite… capable,” he admits grudgingly. “Not to mention loyal to you.” The look on his face suggests that the words left a nasty taste in his mouth.
Jana nods and crosses her arms. “He is. I could teach you, you know.”
Jana is sitting on the ground, legs crossed in front of her, next to Lanisen.
Lanisen glances at Jana in some surprise. “Really?”
Loc walks along the open areas of the brush, bow drawn with an arrow nocked. He keeps his view over his shoulder.
Jana smirks. “Speak of Tash.”
Lanisen looks up as Loc comes into view, shifting warily at the sight of the nocked bow. He seems to deliberate, then stays exactly where he is.
Jana looks pleased by this.
Loc turns his attention to the two, his expression neutral. Seeing Jana so close causes a mild flicker of discontent, but he seems to ease his grip on the bow lowering it. He nods, “Jana. Lanisen.”
Lanisen replies, “Loc.”
Jana taps a finger against her lower lip. After considering Loc a moment, she looks at Lanisen. “What do you know about Myrd’s plans for us?”
Loc takes a seat next to Jana and in front of Lanisen. He keeps his bow across his lap, with the arrow lax against the string. He keeps the way he came in his line of vision.
Lanisen shrugs, still watching Loc. “Something wrong?”
Loc says, “I saw our four footed lumbering friend on the way here. I don’t like to be about unprepared in such situations.”
Jana turns her eyes to Loc, dropping her finger to her collarbone.
Lanisen hehs. He leans to one side and retrieves his dagger from where it’s stuck hilt-up in a clump of grass and wipes the blade clean on his knee. “I see.”
Jana says, “Loc, I think we’d better go back to brother and sister for Lancelyn Green.”
Lanisen quirks an eyebrow at this, glancing between Jana and Loc.
Loc tilts his head to the side, “Oh?”
Jana nods. “That way you can pretend you’ve just gotten through a bad relationship and sympathize with Colin.”
Loc grins deviously. “I like that.”
Loc’s expression evens out and his eyes become dull. “I thought… I thought she was the one…. I had it all planned. And then–”
Lanisen lets out an unwilling snort of laughter.
Loc’s countance remains gloomy, “I can’t believe she’d just walk away like that. After all I’ve sacrificed.”
Lanisen snorts again, the sound closer to a snicker. He tries to keep his face straight.
Jana mms sympathetically. “If only we could find you a fellow who’d drink away his woes with you…”
Loc nods gloomily. He glances at Lanisen and grins a bit.
Loc asks in a business-like fashion, “Anyway we can find out more about what happened with he and the little minx from Chesterton?”
Jana looks to Lanisen. “You know the town better than we do. How do you get the best castle gossip?”
Lanisen shrugs. “Can’t say I’ve ever really tried to hear castle gossip before… but the servants hear most everything. I’d imagine there’s a few of them who could get some details if… eh, asked nicely…”
Jana rolls her eyes mildly. “Well, I’ll look to the women. You see if any of the menservants hang around the tavern.”
Loc feigns a pout, “Why can’t I flirt with a few of the gossips? They’d open up just as well to me.”
Jana raises a brow. “Alright. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Lanisen smirks, watching expectantly.
Loc smiles a bit. “Right now?”
Jana says, “Sure. Go for it. Lanisen, you be the girl.”
Lanisen’s jaw drops. “What? Why do I have to?”
Loc blinks, “What?”
Jana says sensibly, “Good acting practice. You can be a girl, you can be anything.” She looks at Loc, “You have a problem with that? Think you can’t win him over?”
Loc straightens, “Well….” His expression screw’s up.
Lanisen is still spluttering indignantly.
Jana looks between them, brows raised expectantly.
Loc looks at Lanisen, his usual cool and confident demeanor now quite awkward.
Lanisen is equally unsettled, turning red and purple and white and all manner of funny colors. He glowers accusingly at Jana.
Jana doesn’t seem to see what’s wrong. “Well. Go ahead.”
Loc coughs and takes a deep breath. He tries to give a charming smile, but it only makes him seem more awkward. He gives an bow at the waist to Lanisen, “Good day Miss. I see you’re quite burned by those groceries. Perhaps a gentleman might lend a hand?”
Jana smirks and crosses her arms, watching.
Lanisen gulps, his adam’s apple bobbing. He squints his eyes shut, shakes his head violently, and opens his eyes. “Well, /thank/ you, kind sir,” he simpers, fluttering his eyelashes. “Here, take these groceries – since you’re so kind – and these, and these, if you don’t mind…” He mimes handing bulky packages to Loc.
Jana lifts a delicate hand to her face to cover the cackling (giggling?) that Lanisen’s acting brings forth.
Loc mimes adjusting the packes in a suave manner, his expression slowly becoming more even and his charming smile more at ease. “Where might we be heading Miss?”
Lanisen is apparently inspired by Jana’s cackling to stretch for new heights of ridiculousness. He smooths invisible skirts and sashays a few steps forward. “/Well/, I was just on my way to the well to chat with all my friends and confidants,” he says in a high-pitched voice. “You won’t mind coming along and standing there with all my packages, will you? You see, I’ve just /got/ to whisper to them about you, and that’ll be /ever/ so much more effective if you’re standing there!”
Jana recrosses her arms as she waits for Loc’s reply, smirk still on her face.
Loc’s grin widens, “I wouldn’t mind at all for such a pretty Miss as yourself.” He takes a step forward, as if following Lanisen. “You must be one of the nobles handmaids…”
Lanisen giggles, tilting his head and batting his eyelashes. “Well, now, ain’t you just the cleverest thing!”
Jana’s hand returns to her mouth, her brows rising a bit.
Loc nearly breaks. He bites his lower lip for a moment and looks down shyly, “Aw, I ain’t nothing but a poor farmer’s soon Miss. I feel right honored to have such a Lady’s attention.”
Lanisen takes one step backwards and narrows his eyes. “Only a farmer’s son, you say?” he asks, pursing his lips. “Hm…”
Jana’s eyes shift to Loc for a response.
Loc takes a step back and nods. “My father works a farm near Carmichael. We have a few sheep. Raise some vegetables.”
Lanisen raises one haughty eyebrow. “Sheep and vegetables. Hmph.” He mimes snatching back his packages and minces off with his nose in the air.
Jana ooohs and winces sympathetically.
Loc snorts, “Well, isn’t that just like a real castle maid.”
Jana says, “You ever thought about being a city pickpocket, Lanisen? You’ve got the skills.”
Loc nods in agreement.
Loc grins, “And you do seem quite the charmer.”
Lanisen bows and drops back to his previous seat. “What, city pickpockets act like castle maids?”
Lanisen says, “Always thought those big-city crooks had airs and graces. Hmph.”
Jana yawns. “I guess you’ll find out pretty soon with us around to stay.”
Loc looks to Jana and offers an arm.
Loc nods in agreement.
Lanisen says, “Well, I ain’t playing any more maids. You can flirt with a tree next time.”
Loc chuckles, “A tree will be easier to win.”
Jana stands up. “That’s the city-bloke’s signal that he wants to leave,” She says, gesturing to the arm. “And Loc, don’t go flirting around with trees. It’s embarrassing. I’m sure we can find /some/ girls who’ll put up with your airs.”
Loc’s smile flickers for a minute as he looks at Jana. “I suppose.”
Lanisen snickers. “Later, then.”
Loc offers to lead Jana.
Loc gives a small salute to Lanisen and nods. “Let us know when we move out.”
Jana takes Loc’s arm. She flicks a hand at Lanisen. “Good night. Don’t let the bear get you while we’re out.”
Jana decides to follow Loc.
Lanisen stands back to his feet and swings up onto a low branch of the elder tree, giving a mock salute in the direction of Loc and Jana.