Across the River
The spray rising up from the waters of the tributary obscures the far bank until one is actually standing upon its uneven ground. Great slabs of stone are scattered pell-mell along the rise leading to a vast, natural chamber enclosed by walls of rock. Jagged stalactites dangle in eerie formations from the far distant ceiling, and what scant illumination there is reflects up off the waters and casts shadows on the walls.
To cross back over the river here looks to be dangerous, to put it mildly. The skeletal wrecks of several small, wooden boats tossed on the shore serve as a grim warning. Up ahead, the path divides, both forks leading further downward.
Jana comes out of the tunnel to the sleeping cavern, into the main chamber. Her skirts looks a little dingier than usual, and her hands looks particularly dingier.
Myrd scowls. “You look even worse than you usually do, woman, and that’s saying something.”
Jana shrugs. “Could say the same in return.”
Myrd’s scowl deepens. “Could. If you wanted to add a black eye. Wouldn’t help.”
Jana hms carelessly and leans up against a nearby wall. “Guess I’ll keep my thoughts to myself then.”
Myrd says, “Is that possible? Cause I’d positively relish it, Darlin’.”
Jana says, “And we all know how I like to please you.”
Jana smirks arrogantly in return.
Myrd eyes her coldly. “What do you want?”
Jana says, “Who’s says I want something? There ain’t many places to be down here, and this one I can stand in.”
Myrd says, “No pleasing you, confound it. You wanted somewhere nobody will find us and I delivered. Go complain to someone who wants to hear it.”
Jana says, “I ain’t complaining. You asked.”
Myrd crosses his arms.
Jana crosses /her/ arms.
Lanisen pokes his head up from where he is picking through the rubble and remains further downstream to roll his eyes eloquently.
Myrd scowls. “My apologies, Princess. Go make yourself useful before I make the mistake of asking you anything else.” He rounds on Lanisen. “You have something to say, boy?”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’ at all.”
Jana frowns and sinks down to the ground, arms still crossed, observing.
Myrd’s eyes narrow. “Seems like you’re both good at running your mouths off.”
Lanisen refrains from pointing out that he said nothing.
Jana says, “Seems like you’re good at being in a foul mood.”
Myrd says, “Good you can recognize it, seeing as you’re the cause of it at the moment.”
Lanisen, from a safe distance, blinks in way too much innocence. “You mean you let her make you mad?”
Jana is wisely silent.
Myrd stalks over to the boy, grabbing him roughly by the collar. He drags him over to the riverbank and holds him over the water. “Control comes with having power, boy, and the way I’m looking at it right now, you ain’t got any here.”
Lanisen doesn’t look too terribly surprised by this turn of events, but the brief that-was-totally-worth-the-look-on-his-face smirk disappears almost immediately. “Don’t–” He grabs Myrd’s arm for dear life, breathing quickly.
Myrd turns and releases his hold, dumping Lanisen unceremoniously onto the bottom of one of the ruined boats lining the shore.
Jana continues to remain silent and generally unremarkable as she watches the scene.
Lanisen lands hard. He groans, the breath knocked out of him.
Lanisen picks himself up, half-drenched, and tumbles onto the shore.
Myrd shakes his head. “Ain’t anybody likely to give you any power either, boy, ’til
you can prove you have two thoughts in that fool head of yours to put together.”
Lanisen wrings out his shirt as well as he can. “Did I ask for any power?” he wonders out loud.
Jana snorts, possibly bringing herself ill-advised attention.
Myrd narrows his eyes at Jana. To Lanisen, he says, “You’re more foolish than I thought if you don’t want power. Keep reminding yourself of your place every time you think of opening your mouth. Better yet, don’t open it at all until you have something to say worth my time to hear it.”
Lanisen looks suitably chastened. Mostly. Sort of. “Didn’t say I didn’t /want/ power,” he finds it necessary to point out. “Just that I didn’t /ask/ for any.” He shakes water off his hands.
Jana rubs the bridge of her nose.
Myrd narrows his eyes again. “I reckon your stupidity is chronic. Think you might be able to remember what I just told you for more than a second? Or do I need to give you another lesson?”
Lanisen takes a step back. “I’m good, thanks.”
Jana refrains from snorting this time. With effort.
Myrd’s jaw clenches.
Lanisen takes another step back?
Myrd forcibly propels the boy towards the water.
>>> Myrd kicks Lanisen firmly! Lanisen is bruised!
Lanisen gasps and stumbles backward, arms windmilling.
Jana rises but she doesn’t do anything.
Myrd crosses his arms, stands back, and smirks.
Lanisen regains precarious balance at the very edge of the river, looking well and truly scared by now.
Myrd waits to see if Lanisen has any other smart comments to make.
Lanisen apparently doesn’t.
Myrd is apparently satisfied with this. He swaggers his way into one of the smaller chambers.
Jana watches him pass apprehensively.
Lanisen makes his way back to less slippery ground and slinks off to sulk.
Myrd storms out of the tunnel a moment later. He begins to curse at Jana. “You meddling, infernal woman! What are you playing at?”
Jana broods in the darkness of her corner. “Ain’t playing nothing.”
Lanisen blinks and pauses to listen, curiosity apparently winning out over self-preservation.
Myrd looks livid. He leans over her until his face is less than an inch from hers and growls out, “I asked you a question. I don’t recall giving you permission to start redecorating.”
Jana looks (more) intimidated (than usual– at least that’s a start?). “I didn’t figure you’d mind the ability to stand.”
Lanisen cranes his neck to peer into the passageway.
Myrd’s jaw twitches, a sure danger sign if she happens to notice. “That ain’t all you did and you know it.”
Jana’s brows furrow together.
Lanisen sticks his head into the passageway to see.
Myrd continues to loom over her.
Jana appears to be honest. “I ain’t stupid enough to do stuff without asking you first.”
Myrd says, “I wish that was the truth. Explain what I just saw in there, then.”
Jana frowns at him. “You just saw something you didn’t like that I didn’t do. That’s the explanation.”
Myrd snorts. “Oh, it has the mark of your meddling all over it.”
Lanisen watches bemusedly.
Jana moves out from under his looming presence, looking more peeved than intimidated now. “Clearly you don’t know me so well as you think, then.”
Myrd’s face is red with anger. “You calling me stupid? Or a liar? That ain’t wise.”
Jana says, “I’m calling you suspicious without cause. You keep at it and you’ll prove the stupid without me having to say anything at all.”
Myrd hands clench into fists. “I’m suspicious when I find that someone’s been going through that room, fancying it up and taking what ain’t rightly theirs. Zan and Loc don’t know about this place yet. That leaves you and the boy.”
Jana says, “And you’re saying that of the two of us, you expect me to be the one dumb enough to go about and do something that’d make you mad.”
Myrd points out, “Wouldn’t be the first time, woman.”
Jana spits at his feet.
Myrd grabs hold of her, wrenching her chin up and forcing her to look at him squarely. His voice is deadly even. “I’m going out. I expect that room to be jest the way you found it when I come back. You ain’t seen half of what I’m capable of yet.”
Jana’s dagger is immediately to his ribs. “You’ll let go of me.”
Myrd doesn’t seem concerned. He keeps his grip on her, reaching for his own dagger with his free hand and holding the point against her. “You ain’t the one to convince me to do anything until I’m good and ready to do it.”
Jana glowers, but she makes no further move.
Myrd narrows his eyes. “Reckon we’ve got ourselves an impasse.”
Jana’s eyes flicker to Lanisen for a moment before returning to Myrd’s face. She remains silent, releasing the pressure of the dagger.
Myrd lowers his dagger slightly. “I ain’t repeating my orders. See to it.”
Jana lowers her eyes submissively.
Myrd takes the only useable boat, fixing his gaze on her until he is safely across the shore.
Jana spits again in his general direction once he’s a safe distance away, and moves into the storeroom, not the sleeping chamber.
Lanisen stays quiet until Myrd is out of hearing distance, then calls after Jana, “What’d you do?”
Jana snaps over her shoulder, “Didn’t do nothing. Mind your own business.”
Myrd emerges out of the river’s spray and steps onto land.
Lanisen frowns, then peers into the sleeping chamber again. He scratches his head. “No ribbons or some such?”
Jana menaces, “You want your hair shorter?”