the odd couple

Ziel’s Practice Grounds
Eastern Archenland

You stand in another bit of cleared ground, just off Vechter’s Field, and obviously a part of it. Ziel, a young Son of Adam, sits on his chair, generally snoozing unless he’s pestered for a target. Behind him is a pile of straw targets, some new, some half-made, some completely destroyed, ready to be taken apart and remade, if only Ziel would wake up and get to work. There are several stands at different hights, scattered across the clearing. It appears that the targets are affixed to these, once purchased.

The only easy way to leave is to go through Vecter’s Field to the east. The rest of the area is hemmed in by conifers.

Morrigan watches, once more quietly.

Lanisen is doing his best to tear up a target placed in an unobtrusive corner of the field. He’s obviously been at it for some time, as his face is beet red and glistening with sweat. He pauses, catches a glimpse of Shenzi, and turns with a scowl. “/What/?!”

Morrigan curls the end of her braid about her finger, her lips curling into a wry smirk as she was greeted in undoubtedly the normal way. “I’m watching. You’re not quite as bad as I thought you would be.”

Lanisen looks slightly flustered at this, but his glower doesn’t falter long. “L–” He pauses uncertainly, perhaps realizing he doesn’t know what name Loc is going by to “Shenzi”. “The fellow you’re looking for ain’t here.”

Morrigan raises an eyebrow, unsure of how to take his words. “I’m not looking for Jarson,” she eventually said, slowly, her voice growing darker. “Why would I?”

Lanisen looks even more wrong-footed by this. “Isn’t…? Thought…” He shakes his head. “What do you want?” he asks, settling on familiar ground.

Morrigan narrows her eyes slightly, eyeing him oddly. “What did you think?” she demands firmly, before shrugging. “Like I said. Watching.”

Lanisen eyes her. He swipes his sleeve across his forehead, picks up his satchel, and heads for the road, flipping a coin toward Ziel. “‘Scuse me,” he says, a caricature of politeness.

Morrigan rolls her eyes, half turning away from him. “Whatever,” she mutters before starting to head out.

In the Archenland Forest
Eastern Archenland

Squirrels chitter from the tops of the pine and beech trees that stretch high above your head. The mountains peeking over the trees to the north glimmer a pale purple and rise high into the sky. Here and there, the grassy forest floor is peppered with tiny white blooms.

Lanisen makes his way between the trees from a thick-branched elder tree directly to the south. He considers the pear tree, then grabs one of the branches, preparing to hoist himself up.

Myrd is leaning against the pear tree, eyes narrowed. He sends his dagger flying with a flick of his wrist. It lands firmly in the bark of the tree opposite, sticking with a ‘thunk’.

Lanisen pauses halfway into the tree at the noise, his feet dangling absurdly a foot or two off the ground. He drops lightly back down and looks around for the source of the noise.

Myrd ignores the boy completely.

Lanisen waits a moment, listening warily for more thunks, then swings himself up into the tree. He clambers precariously out onto a branch and reaches for a ripe pear. And then sees Myrd.
Lanisen freezes.

Myrd stalks over and retrieves his dagger. He expertly tosses it again, hitting precisely the same spot.

Lanisen jumps at the second thunk, tucks the pear into a pocket, and begins scrambling gracelessly backward down the branch. “Didn’t see you…”

Myrd snorts. “That’s what you’re supposed to have seen, boy. All the noise you were making, half the castle guard could’ve snuck up on you and you’d never have known it.”

Lanisen reaches the ground and stands next to the tree. His eyes are carefully fixed on the ground. “Sorry,” he mutters, managing to keep back his protests to this, amazingly enough.

Myrd gives a curt nod. “You learn. Good thing I’m not a fancy knight.”

Lanisen begins to relax as it becomes apparent that Myrd isn’t going to flay him then and there. He shrugs. “Would’ve made something up. No reason a common person can’t climb a tree to get a pear.”

Myrd leans against the tree, arms crossed. “Went to the castle today. Darlin’s there now, working on getting us in. Should be a good haul, too.” He sneers. “They have more wealth than they know what to do with, so we’re just doing the kindly thing and helping them out.”

Lanisen nods, keeping his eyes down. “She said she was gonna try today… How long’s it gonna be?”

Myrd shrugs, betrayed by a slightly anxious look. “Long as it takes, I reckon. She knows what to do.”

Lanisen leans back against the tree, Myrd’s expression mirrored on his face. “What about…” he snaps his fingers rapidly, “…eh, Shenzi? You met her?”

Myrd scowls darkly. “Reckon I did.”

Lanisen, encouraged by this reaction, prompts, “And?”

Myrd snorts. “I met her.”

Lanisen rolls his eyes. “What’d you think?” he clarifies.

Loc strolls through the woods, bow in hand loosely at his side.

Myrd says, “I don’t trust easily. Especially folks who know more than they ought to.”

Lanisen flushes and ducks his head at this.

Myrd mutters something under his breath.

Loc pauses and leans against a tree.

Myrd mumbles “Fool boy. Chasing … a … … She’d … you.”, to Myrd.

Jana saunters into the grove, looking full of herself but also incredibly alert for anyone following her.

Loc nods to her,

Lanisen frowns slightly, trying to make out Myrd’s words. He nods briefly to Loc and blinks at Jana. “Thought you were…”

Myrd snaps at her, “What took so long?”

Jana says, “Girl wanting to get a job ain’t in a hurry to leave the one who can give it to her.”

Myrd snorts, then shuts up when he realizes what this means. “You got in to see the steward?”

Loc’s eyebrow shoots up.

Jana crosses her arms and smirks.

Myrd grunts out a few quiet words.
Myrd mumbles “… she’s … … be …”, to Myrd.

Lanisen grins widely and straightens. “Did he give you a job?”

Jana says, “Ah… well…”

Loc looks to Jana curiously.

Myrd snorts again. “Told you it wouldn’t be that easy.”

Jana says, “Here’s the thing…”

Myrd glowers at her, indicating that she’d better get to the point quickly.

Jana says, “I need an intended.”

Loc snorts and grins a bit.

Myrd says, “Come again, woman? ”

Jana says, “A suitor. A beau. Someone to marry. A man. I need a man.”

Myrd snorts. “Never thought I’d hear you say it, Darlin'”

Lanisen snickers.

Jana retorts, “Never thought I’d see you do anything cause a woman told you.”

Myrd scowls darkly at her.

Loc smirks faintly, watching them. “A match made by the heavens.”

Lanisen glances at Loc, biting his lower lip hard in an effort to keep from laughing.

Myrd shoots Loc a murderous look, his hand going to his dagger. “Don’t recollect asking for your commentary.”

Jana examines her nails. “Here’s the deal. Dar wants-” she looks at Loc. “Shut up.” She starts over. “Dar wants to meet my intended to make sure I’m what I say I am. All I need is someone to come in and look poor and lovesick, and we’re in.”

Loc shrugs, remaining in his spot. He tucks away his bow.

Myrd says, “He doesn’t trust you. Guess he has more brains than I’d have given him credit for.”

Jana shrugs, “You don’t think anybody got brains but yourself, so that’s no surprise.”

Myrd snorts. “Don’t have much cause to, usually.”

Jana says, “Which is what’s gonna get you killed, one of these days. Now about this beau…”

Loc pulls a twig off a branch and gets out his dagger. He begins to whittle.

Myrd glowers at her. “Didn’t think you cared, Darlin’. You may be onto something, though. We don’t play along, and he starts asking questions.”

Jana leans up against a tree, and gracefully slides down to a seated position. “So what’s the plan?”

Lanisen raises his eyebrow, glancing assessingly at Loc, then Myrd, then Loc again.

Loc continues to work on the twig, listening.

Myrd frowns. “He’s got to be plausible.” He eyes her. “Your scam, you pick.”

Jana blinks.
Jana looks between the three men uncertainly.

Loc examines his work, then begins to carefully cut at a portion towards the end that displeases him.

Myrd crosses his arms. His expression has a trace of mockery as he watches her. “You expect to get trusted with the important decisions when you can’t even pick a man when you have the chance.”

Lanisen takes a seat next to the pear tree. “Give her a minute,” he mutters irritably.

Myrd glares at him. “Shut that mouth of yours, boy, before I shut it for you.”

Loc examines his work again. Finding it satisfactory, he stows the dagger in his belt.

Jana sets her lips into a line, looking as if she is displeased with the choice she has decided to make. She looks at Loc for several seconds, then turns to Myrd. “You, then.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows.
Lanisen mumbles “Lovely couple, wouldn’t you say?”, to Loc.
Lanisen mumbles “Lovely … … you say?”, to Loc.

Loc shrugs. “I’d say it was the smartest choice.” He grabs another twig, stowing the one he’s worked on.

Myrd has, in the meantime, taken a bite of one of the pears and is in the process of wiping some of the juice off of his stubble when she answers. He coughs and nearly chokes on it. “Fine.”

Loc’s lip twitches.

Jana says, “If you don’t think you can do it, then say so now, cause I ain’t about to get caught.”

Myrd sneers, “Oh, I can do it, Darlin’.”

Loc smirks but wisely stays silent.

Jana nods, looking slightly uncertain. “Good, then.”

Myrd’s expression hardens. “You doubting me, woman?”

Jana says, “If I didn’t doubt everything a little, I’d be dead.”

Loc rolls his eyes a bit as he works.

Myrd smirks. “Now you’re talking sense. Must be ’cause you sound like me.”

Jana says, “Cept more attractive.”

Myrd snorts.

Loc asks, “So what about the rest of us boss? What do you want Lanny and I to do while you and the Misses are charming the Lord Steward?”

Jana chucks a pebble at Loc.

Loc dodges with ease.

Lanisen snorts
Lanisen mumbles “Decorate for the ceremony…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “Decorate … the ceremony…”, to Lanisen.

Jana looks incredibly put out.

Myrd throws his dagger, which lands just shy of Lanisen’s ear.

Loc glances at the dagger lodged by Lanisen’s ear and grimaces.

Lanisen flinches, then lazily yanks the dagger out of the tree and mock-salutes Myrd with it.

Myrd looks as if he’s about to backhand the boy for his insolence.

Jana doesn’t look likely to defend him this time.

Loc gives Lanisen a look and faintly shakes his head.

Lanisen hunches up his shoulders and ducks his head. He holds the dagger toward Myrd, hilt up.

Myrd grabs the dagger from Lanisen, looming over the younger man. “Just for that, you get a special job tomorrow, boy.”

Lanisen grimaces. “You threw it,” he mutters.

Jana mumbles something incomprehensible to Jana.

Myrd’s eyes glitter dangerously. “Next time, I don’t aim for the tree.”

Loc frowns and goes back to his work.

Lanisen scowls at the ground, not answering.

Jana moves over to sit more by Loc. She peers at what he’s carving.

Myrd says, “Thought so.” He turns back to Jana. “We’d better get our parts straight. He’s going to ask all sorts of nosy questions.”

Loc stops and examines the twig, which had been crafted into a sleek shaft. He nods his approval, carefully putting it next to the other. He reaches for a third twig.

Jana looks up. “Name’s Cos. You’re poor. And you sure do love me a lot ‘cept for the fact that love don’t seem quite so important to you when you don’t got as much to eat as you like.”

Myrd snorts. “That’ll be tough to pull off, but I guess I can manage.”

Jana ignores his remark. “And your farm ain’t too far from here, cause I was able to fetch you in a night.” She pauses, looking mischievous, “And you’ve got a stutter.”

Lanisen, startled by this, glances at Myrd.

Myrd takes this in, looking cunning. “Not half-bad, Darlin’.”

Jana eyes him. “Don’t know if we should change your face…”

Myrd sneers, “Aw. Zan’ll be upset if you make me not so pretty anymore.”

Loc looks at Myrd thoughtfully.

Jana says, “Only cause he likes to be the one to do that.”

Myrd snorts. “Not happening.”

Loc asks, “Has anyone at the castle seen Myrd’s face? That it might need to be changed I mean?”

Jana grabs her satchel and starts going through, apparently having decided that, yes, Myrd need a change of face. “Bard has,” she says dismissively, and continues, “Better decide where we met.”

Myrd frowns, spitting derisively on the ground. “She’s right. That no account bard saw me.”

Jana snaps at him. “Background. Where’d we meet?”

Loc says, “Well, if Jana doctors that face of yours you won’t have to worry.”

Myrd smirks. “You said I was a farmer, right? I took my vegetables to the market there and you just couldn’t resist my charms.”

Jana looks disgusted by the thought.
Jana asks, “So what are your charms, Smart One?”

Myrd toys with her. He pulls her closer, roughly, and says, “You’re just going to have to figure that out for yourself.”

Loc’s eyes flick to the two and he shifts, tucking away a third shaft.

Jana’s back stiffens. She keeps her face back from his. “You… like to have your way…”

Myrd smirks, taking an abrupt step back from her. “You’ve got that right, woman.”

Jana adds daringly, “Cute when you’re wrong.”

Myrd crosses his arms. “Good thing for you that doesn’t much happen. Can’t have you falling all over me.”

Loc snickers quietly, packing away his things. “Boss?”

Jana looks displeased to be interrupted.

Loc doesn’t even seem to notice her. “Got any special tasks for me to do while you’re away?”

Myrd rubs at the stubble on his chin. “You and the boy get yourselves to the shops. See if you can’t sweet talk a few of the maids into giving us information we can use.”

Lanisen asks, “Information like what?”

Loc grins at Lanisen, “Yes sir.”

Myrd grits his teeth. “Do I have to tell you everything, boy?”

Loc facepalms.

Lanisen lifts his chin a bit. “Doors? Guard shifts? That sort of thing?”

Loc looks at Lanisen, “No you fool. Like what kinda tea the King drinks!” He snorts.

Lanisen ignores him, eyes on Myrd.

Jana looks annoyed.

Loc nods to Myrd, “I’ll see what I can find out.” He heads for the usual spot.

Myrd does not seem amused. “Just let him do the talking.”

Lanisen’s face is flaming by now. He nods and turns to follow Loc.

Jana watches them go with pursed lips.

Myrd rubs at his chin. “What’s the steward fellow like? The sort to be easily duped?”


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