punching bag

Cave Entrance
Western Archenland

You stand on a narrow ledge overlooking the pool below. A cool breeze blows off the spray of the waterfall, though it also makes the ledge quite slippery and dangerous. A narrow trail, littered with dirt and pebbles, goes behind the waterfall. The trail leads to a dark hole and looks to have been well travelled once upon a time.

Myrd climbs up the rope, choosing to sit some distance away. There is a scowl on his face.

Jana eyes him a moment, then chooses to ignore the scowl since its not altogether unusual anyway.

Lanisen comes out of the cavern, yawning and scrubbing sleep out of his eyes. He stretches and peers around the ledge blearily, giving a half-hearted nod to Jana and Myrd before plopping against the cave wall in his usual spot.

Jana raises her brows at Lanisen. “You sure do sleep a lot.”

Lanisen grunts, “Growing boy. Need lots of sleep.”

Myrd snorts. He contents himself by dropping tiny pebbles off of the side of the cliff and listening to them fall below.

Jana frowns. “So much for having a hiding place.”

Myrd glowers at her. “I would know if someone was down there.”

Jana says, “Cause the trees and the waterfall are real easy to see through.”

Myrd grunts out something decidedly unpleasant. He gets up and turns his back on her.

Jana raises her brows conspiratorially at Lanisen.
Jana mumbles “Someone’s sulky.”, to Lanisen.
Jana mumbles something incomprehensible to Lanisen.

Lanisen smirks, scratching his nose to hide it.

Myrd ignores them.

Jana speaks louder for Myrd to hear this time. “What’s got you up in knots, sweetheart?”

Myrd glares daggers at her. “Call me that again, woman, and find out just how sweet I can be.”

Jana awws, “Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the cavern this morning.”

Lanisen says, “Right under that drippy spot. Nothing makes for crabby like wet blankets.”

Myrd snorts.
Myrd says, “That knight made his way to the mines last night. I’m starting to get an itch to move on again, before he sees too much.”

Jana gives Lanisen a friendly if mildly aggressive punch on the shoulder. “You got old frown-y face to laugh.” She perks up at the mention of movement. “So let’s get out of here, then.”
>>> Jana hauls off and punches Lanisen with all her might! Lanisen is bruised!

Myrd clenches his fists tightly.

Lanisen lets out a squawk at the “mildly” aggressive punch. “OW! What was that for?”

Myrd snorts again. “Be more observant next time,” he offers helpfully.

Jana asks, “Show of friendliness. Don’t you know affection when you see it?”

Lanisen rubs his shoulder gingerly. “Uh. Affection.”

Jana mumbles “Get hit by a girl and you STILL whine.”, to Jana.
Jana mumbles “… … … … girl … … … …”, to Jana.

Myrd turns his back on them again.

Jana asks, “Aw, sweetheart’s impatient. We’ll listen. What’s the plan?”

Lanisen proceeds to sulk.

Myrd abruptly turns and stands toe-to-toe with her, leaning over her in menacing fashion. In a low voice which is more frightening than if he growled it out, he says, “You ought to rephrase that, darlin’. Everyone’s expendable to me. Remember that.”

Lanisen forgets about pouting and watches the showdown with apprehension.

Jana raises one brow. “How’d you’ve gotten that axe in there if not for me, I’d like to know. Or kept Tyren off you the other night.”

Myrd snorts. His face is granite-like, and he looks as if he has no intention of backing down. “Fancy boy? Even he could handle that.” He jerks a finger in Lanisen’s direction.

Lanisen looks like he very much hopes he won’t actually be asked to handle Fancy Boy, thank you very much.

Jana merely raises the other brow. “Mhm.” She rises, somehow managing the act with grace despite the fact that Myrd is leaning over her, and leans against the wall, arms folded casually. “You got plans for us to move out of here, or what?”

Myrd gives the briefest of nods, addressing himself to Lanisen rather than to Jana. “Something so foolhardy that nobody would expect us to actually do it. And that’s where the payoff comes in.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows. “Foolhardy? Like what?”

Jana looks mildly amused.

Myrd rubs his hands together. “We’re paying a visit to the king.”

Jana lools less amused now.

Myrd crosses his arms. “You have a problem with taking your share from what we’ve done so far, woman?”

Jana says, “I didn’t say nothing.”

Lanisen coughs lightly. “You mean the king as in…?”

Myrd sneers, “As in the king of the dwarfs, of course.”

Lanisen snorts. “You don’t mean the /king/ king, though,” he persists. “Do you?”

Myrd cuffs him on the side of the head, none too gently. “Any other smart questions, boy?”
>>> Myrd smacks Lanisen hard with his fist! Lanisen is bruised!

Lanisen cringes, raising an arm to fend off any further blows. “Guess not,” he retorts. “Now that that’s all cleared up.”

Jana says, “So how do we do it? Lanny here can’t very well play courier to the king and expect him to believe it.”

Myrd snorts. “You think? Don’t worry. This time, you’re the one we send in, darlin’.”

Jana says, “Darlin’ don’t accept jobs without details.”

Myrd eyes her. “Darlin’ better do as she’s told.”

Jana says, “I’ll watch my neck, thanks. I ain’t more scared of you than I am of a legion of knights even if I am a woman and they got their principles. You tell me what the job is, I’ll tell you if I think it’s possible.”

Myrd grits out something that’s too low to hear. He takes out his dagger and begins pointedly cleaning it. “You say you have a way of talking pretty, don’t you? Rather proud of it, ain’t you?”

Jana says, “Talking pretty? I never said that. Maybe with some practice though.”

Myrd shrugs. “Guess we’ll find out, huh? Sweet talk that steward and I might start to believe you. He should be an easy mark for someone like you. You’ll need a good sob story.”

Jana’s brow furrows. “How’m I supposed to see him in the first place?” It is clear that she’s tempted by the challenge, though she continues to sound mildly defiant.

Myrd snorts. “Do I have to spell it all out for you, woman? I don’t care how you do it, as long as you get yourself a job there.”

Jana contemplates this a moment, then seats herself. “Alright. Then what?”

Lanisen follows the conversation intently, frowning.

Myrd smiles with pure malice. “We waltz right through the front gates, with you letting us in.”

Jana remains to the point. “And do what, exactly?”

Myrd looks around, eyeing the shadows warily. “I grew up hearing all about how those fancy folks in Anvard lived. Nobody lived higher than Bar did, except maybe the king himself. Rumor has it that he built himself a special room to keep things he didn’t want anyone else finding out he’d siphoned off the tributes. And not all of it disappeared with him.”

Jana shifts. “So, we steal things they don’t even know exist.”

Myrd says darkly, “And if we don’t find that, well, I guess we just content ourselves with picking off whatever won’t be missed for our trouble.”

Lanisen aws. “/Only/ what won’t be missed?”

Jana hurls a pebble at Lanisen, “You want me killed, boy?”

Myrd brings back his hand preparatory to hitting Lanisen again.

Lanisen dodges the pebble and holds up a hand to fend off another smack. “You mean she’ll still be working in the castle after we’ve taken whatever’s there?” he asks quickly.

Jana looks at Myrd, “That’s what I’d like to know.”

Myrd does smack Lanisen for this. “That would be foolish, now wouldn’t it. I’m lots of things, but foolish ain’t one of them.”
>>> Myrd swings his fist at Lanisen, grazing him. Lanisen doesn’t appear to be too hurt by the blow.

Jana asks, “Then how exactly do I get out?”

Myrd rubs at his chin. “I reckon she gets called home suddenly.”

Lanisen rubs ruefully at his shoulder, muttering something under his breath.

Jana looks skeptical.

Myrd says, “It’s not like they’re going to even know we’re there. With however many hundreds of servants they have running around, who’s bound to notice one more? They don’t look at anyone but themselves anyway.” ”

Jana says, “I don’t like to operate by trusting on people’s oversights.”

Myrd glares at her. “Then let’s hear your plan, woman.”

Jana asks, “Didn’t say I had one. Just said I don’t like to put my neck out there without being pretty sure it’s got some protection. Who do I tell I got called home suddenly? Why did I get called home suddenly? What common business was so important that it makes me leave the king’s service and never come back?”

Myrd stalks several steps away, thinking it over. “Your father just developed a fever or something, and he’s going to die if you don’t tend him. Some people are so empty-headed they’ll believe just about anything.”

Jana frowns. “And others aren’t.”

Lanisen says, “Maybe a bunch of no-good dirty rotten bandits set your family’s house on fire and you have to rush home to help rebuild. Could happen.” He grins.

Myrd snorts.
Myrd says, “Fire’s too obvious.”

Lanisen says, “Not if there’s a real fire.” He cracks his knuckles, raising his eyebrows.

Jana looks at Lanisen and smirks a little, despite herself. She then looks to Myrd. “What if I asked for a temporary job?” She pauses a moment, then continues, “We’ve arranged a marriage for me, but the farm isn’t doing so well this summer, and we don’t have the dowry we planned on, and my intended is considering backing out. Say… a month’s wages as a servant would earn enough for the dowry needed.”

Myrd shakes his head in response to Lanisen. “You like fire so much, boy, guess you won’t complain about fixing our meal.” He waves him away as one would swat at a bothersome gnat. His eyebrows draw together when Jana presents her idea, and he actually seems slightly impressed. “Now that might work.”

Jana says, “Work better than setting Lanisen on fire, anyway.”

Myrd snorts. “Don’t tempt me, woman.”

Lanisen says indignantly, “Oi!”

Jana rolls her eyes. “We ain’t actually gonna do it, Lan.”

Myrd grudgingly nods his agreement. “Though if I get hungrier, I might rethink that, boy.”

Jana looks disgusted by the notion.

Lanisen ehhs. “Right.” He crinkles his nose and stands grudgingly, muttering under his breath, “Don’t know why /I/ got to be the one to cook all the time…”

Jana says, “You’re just that good at it.”

Lanisen shoots her a dirty look.

Jana says, “Expecially like the way you get the rabbit just the right color of black.”

Myrd shoots him a look. “You convince Darlin’ over there to take over, and just maybe I’ll let you do something else instead.”

Jana says, “Hey, now, I call everybody sweetheart, ‘cept Zan, cause he don’t need help getting ideas. You start calling everyone darlin, THEN you can call me that.”

Myrd towers over her again. “I can come up with some other names for you, if you’d rather.”

Jana asks, “How about you start with Jana?”

Lanisen watches, snorts, and shakes his head. He heads into the cavern, muttering again under his breath.
Lanisen mumbles “Fight like an old married couple…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… like an old married …”, to Lanisen.

Myrd gives Lanisen a murderous look as the young man heads out. “I’ll be dealing with you later, boy.” To Jana, he says, “How ’bout we wait on getting better acquainted ’til you’ve earned it, Darlin’?”


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