at fault

Sun and Moon Inn
Middle Archenland

You stand in a spacious, dimly-lit room. It is quite plain, furnished almost solely with cots, and plenty of them at that. There are several people sleeping here, but it is rather dark to try discerning precisely who. Seems to be a comfortable enough place to sleep, by the steady breathing and occasional snores coming from the people resting on the cots.

There is a door to the north leading into the Anteroom.

Myrd stalks back into the hostel. He looks, in a word, volatile. He leans over Lanisen’s bedside, coldly observing the boy.

Lanisen is asleep, his hands folded behind his head. His forehead wrinkles, reacting to the footsteps, and he cracks open his eyes. He’s fully awake a second later, cringing and scrambling to sit up. “Tryin’ to scare me to death??” he asks, trying to cover his fright with anger.

Myrd rubs at his chin. “Think it’d work, boy? ‘Cause I ain’t opposed to it.”

Lanisen leans back against the headboard, running one hand through his hair. “Good to see you too…”

Myrd doesn’t give the slightest hint of a smile at this. “You can move, can’t you? Then get up.”

Lanisen swings his legs over the side of the bed – the side opposite Myrd – and stands. He rubs the side of his head and waits, watching Myrd for instructions.

Myrd grabs the boy roughly by the collar, practically shoving him towards his belongings. “Get your things together.” He barks out, “Now MOVE.”

Lanisen coughs and staggers, still not entirely steady on his feet, but he reaches to gather up the few items that came with him when they brought him to the inn. “What’s, what’s goin’ on?” he dares to ask.

Myrd silences him with a look that might cause the window panes to ice over. “Shut up. No questions right now.”

Lanisen pales, glancing around the quiet hostel.

Myrd propels him towards the door with a well placed hand between Lanisen’s shoulderblades.

The Sun and Moon Anteroom
Lancelyn Green

The Sun and Moon Anteroom has a welcome, unassuming air. It is obviously a very old building, but it is well-kept, and clean. Several sconces, a fire, and the two windows facing the road brighten the room well, and the light color of the wooden desk and walls adds to the clean look. A vase of dried flowers sits on the desk next to an open guest book, and there is a large woven rug beneath the entrance door, giving the room a certain charm. A friendly young woman stands behind the desk, a list of available rooms at her elbow.

The sounds of mirth and clinking dishes reveal that the archway to the north leads into the tavern. There is a locked door to the east leading to the innkeepers living quarters, and a circular staircase to the south of it leading up into the private rooms. On the south wall is an arch leading into the common room, and on the west wall, a heavy double door leading back outside.

Lanisen stumbles through the door from the hostel, glancing back to Myrd, and steps aside to wait for him to lead. He looks shaken and still half-asleep.

Myrd narrows his eyes with a combination of annoyance and impatience, until the noise of the lumbering arrival of a rickety cart, driven by a cloaked, hooded figure, can be plainly heard. He makes his way over to Prindella and says, his manner almost humble, “Well, ain’t that something? I was able to find a healer last night who just happened to be passing through, and he said he’d take on both me and my brother. I know the innkeeper and his wife don’t hold with us abusing their hospitality, so if you’d just tell ’em thanks again and goodbye for both of us, I’d be mighty grateful to you.”

Lanisen, listening, glances out the door at the cart. He’s swaying a little where he stands.

Myrd clasps Lanisen about the shoulder. To an onlooker, he appears to be only supporting the younger man, but in reality he is pressing him sharply towards the conveyance.

Northern Trail
Middle Archenland

You stand along the Northern Trail of Archenland.  The vast plains of the country open up before you in a beautiful display of golden grasses and wildflowers.  The sun glows softly, giving the scene a warm and comforting look.  The trail itself winds slowly through the plains, going northeast and west from here. You can see the forest to the distant north.

Colin is back in the trees a bit, sitting underneath one of them with his back to the bark. He probably can’t be seen, and he’s pretty quiet as he whittles an arrow.

A rather rickety looking cart rumbles down the pathway. It is being driven at a swift pace by a hooded, cloaked figure. Also inside the cart are two men, neither striking in appearance.

Myrd does not speak to Lanisen, even when they are out of sight of the inn. He rubs at his chin, a scowl firmly in place.

Colin looks up at the noise and stands to see who is approaching. Unaware of how close they really are, he moves in the bushes to try to get closer to the road. He might not be seen by the cart’s passengers just yet but chances are his movements would spook the horse pulling it.

Lanisen keeps quiet too, wary of Myrd’s foul mood. He leans against the side of the cart, alternating between watching the forest and watching Myrd’s face. He does not see Colin.

Myrd lets out an oath as the horse shies, dislodging one of the cart’s wheels. He pushes the driver aside and takes the reins himself, pulling the horse up sharply.

Lanisen grabs on to the side of the cart when it lurches to the side, but is jolted violently across the floor of the cart nonetheless. He pushes himself upright, shaken, and stares back at the lost wheel.

Colin blinks in surprise as he views the accident. He nearly steps out to offer his assistence, but remembering his status he hesitates. Watching closely, he waits to see if there are any injuries.

Myrd jumps down from the cart with surprising agility. To say he looks annoyed would be a massive understatement. He kicks at the wheel where it lies on the ground, splintered in two.

Colin’s expression is almost sympathetic at their plight. He continues to wait to see if they need the assistence of a banished knight.

Myrd, with the assistance of the driver, hauls Lanisen out of the cart. He holds the boy firmly by the collar, keeping him upright while the driver pushes the cart to the side of the road. The cloaked figure grunts with the effort. Myrd’s tone brooks no argument. “We walk from here.”

Colin’s face flickers with recognition and he frowns slightly as he observes the manhandling of Cal.

Lanisen cringes away from both Myrd and the driver and struggles, but doesn’t seem to require much force to haul around. He looks pale and weak, like he’s recently been very ill.

Myrd shakes him once, rather roughly. “Quit your squirming and stay quiet. This is your fault, boy.”

Colin’s frown deepens. He silently slips his pack from his shoulder as he watches.

Lanisen stops struggling and bows his head, though he tugs at his collar to keep Myrd’s grip from choking him.

Myrd glances up sharply. He notes Colin’s presence and narrows his eyes, nodding once in his direction.

Colin sees he’s been spotted and steps into full view. “That’s a rather good question. What /is/ going on?” he asks firmly.

Myrd scowls. “Reckon I’ll tell you if I decide it’s your business, stranger.”

Lanisen’s expression flickers with horror as Colin becomes visible. He lowers his head quickly, his face now all-but-invisible.

Colin says, “I think it’s become my business.”

Myrd signals the cloaked driver silently. The figure slips silently into the woods and is soon lost to sight. “And just how do you figure that?”

Colin doesn’t answer the question. He folds his arms, holding his satchel close. “Let the lad go,” he says, his face unreadable.

Myrd snorts. “This boy’s my apprentice, stranger. Ain’t about to do that.”

Lanisen stands silently. He makes no indication that this is not true, his head still lowered.

Colin tries to make eye contact with the boy before looking back to the bully. “Apprentice or not, no matter what he did there is no call for treating him the way you are. I repeat, let him go.”

Myrd makes no sign of loosening his grip on Lanisen. “Well, for your information, though I repeat it ain’t no concern of yours, he ran away and I found him. He owes me another year at least, and you ain’t a lord or that king to say differently, now are you, stranger?”

Lanisen keeps his eyes firmly fixed on the ground.

Colin’s face flickers slightly. “Lad, is this the man you ran away from?”

Lanisen hesitates, then nods once, still not looking up.

Myrd says, “See? The boy’s my property, and he knows it. Now, I’ll thank you to move out of my way. We’ve got a distance to travel before nightfall.”

Colin frowns. “Where are you traveling?”

Myrd scowls. “Again, that ain’t no affair of yours.”

Lanisen swallows and shifts his weight, bringing one hand up to tug at his uncomfortably-tight collar again.

Colin eyes the man and shoulders his pack. “I think I can see why the lad ran away.” He mutters. “Regardless. He’s your apprentice, and a runaway. Some punishment is warranted, I’ll concede to that.” he pauses. “But, I’ll see him alive and well in a few days. If you get my meaning. Understand?” he says, his tone carrying an ominous warning.

Myrd narrows his eyes further. “I’m afraid I don’t answer to you, and I’ve already wasted enough time and good coin searching after him. I ain’t intending to come back this way.”

Colin merely says “You never know when our paths will cross again. I almost look forward to our next meeting.”

Lanisen is shaking slightly by now, though Colin would probably not be able to see it. He keeps his eyes down.

Myrd smirks. “I reckon I look forward to it myself. Got a name I can watch out for, Stranger?”

Colin says, “I would have yours as well.”

Myrd rubs at his chin with the hand not keeping the boy firmly with him. “Way I see it, I asked first.”

Colin looks fairly annoyed. “Colin. Now yours?”

Myrd retorts, “I go by Meschino.” His eyes narrow in feigned recognition at the name Colin gives. “Didn’t realize I was adressing such a fancy woodsman as all that. Good thing for you I’m a fair man, or I might just see my way to informing your uncle all about how you’re pestering his honest subjects. What do you think he’d give me in reward for letting him know just where you are?”

Colin’s hands tighten on his upper arms and his expression remains unreadable. “I can’t really speak for him, now can I?” he says with some mild sarcasm.

Myrd sneers. “No, I guess you can’t, now can you? And you’re still in our way, Colin.” Still holding onto Lanisen, he gives the former knight a bow that is in every respect a mockery of everything the gesture ought to stand for.

Colin’s jaw clenches. With several long strides he’s in front of Meschino. With his strong grip he grabs HIM by the collar, jerking him close to Colin’s face. With a deep breath to stem his temper, he says “Forgive me, /sir/” – this said with equal mockery – “for taking up so much of your time.”

Lanisen’s shoulders hunch up and he tries to pull away from the altercation.

Myrd doesn’t respond except for a slight hardening of his expression. He plants his feet, so he doesn’t budge much, despite Colin’s efforts. “Oh, I ain’t /sir/ anything. Way I figure it, you and I are equal now, ain’t we. Now, I appreciate the apology, but I’d rather you get out of my way and back to whatever it is you’ve been finding to do with yourself.” He forcibly removes Colin’s hand from his collar.

Colin’s expression flickers. He very much wants to knock this man’s teeth down his throat, and it shows in his face. With great effort, he backs down and leaves, going back into the forest before he does something he regrets.

Myrd’s expression becomes smug as he hauls Lanisen deeper into the forest.

Lanisen watches Colin go and stumbles after Myrd, looking very close to terrified.

Across the River
Middle Archenland

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.

Morrigan is sitting against the back, knees drawn up to her chin.

Myrd is in a particularly foul humor. He is dragging Lanisen behind him. Shoving Lanisen against the wall of the cavern none too gently, he peers into the smaller room through the air hole to see how his ‘guest’ is doing.

Morrigan looks up, hearing the noises. “What?” she asks, harshly.

Lanisen stumbles and catches himself on the wall. He looks up at the voice, startled and horrified. “You’ve– you’ve got somebody else in there?”

Myrd glares coldly at the boy. “Trouble you’ve caused me, I reckon it ain’t your place to be asking questions.”

Morrigan moved slightly closer to the small, tiny, gap in the rock wall, placing her hands on either side of it and trying to look through. “Somebody else?”

Lanisen swallows. He glances cautiously at Myrd, then approaches the wall and stoops down to squint through the air-hole. His eyes widen. “Shenzi?”

Morrigan makes a rather irate face at Lanisen. “Yes. Lucky me.”

Myrd pushes the boy out of the way. “Way I see it, that’s your fault too, boy.”

Lanisen asks the ceiling, “How is it that everything is suddenly my fault?”

Morrigan shrugs, walking away from the hole and back to seating herself towards the back of the room. “I don’t know,” she replies dryly. Obviously, she had finally recognised that Myrds ‘brother’ had been Lanisen.

Myrd scowls darkly, pulling his knife from his satchel. “Now I reckon that’s because it is. You’re just lucky you were able to move fast enough earlier. And that my tongue’s as fast as my dagger.”

Lanisen takes a few steps backward, watching the dagger. His shoulders hunch up.

Morrigan tilts her head, unable to resist curiosity – she crawls forward. “What actually happened?” Clearly, her time in isolation has made her eager to talk. For once.

Myrd ignores her. His tone is frighteningly cold as he advances. “And that I’m just rotten enough to enjoy keeping you alive a bit longer to spite that infernal woman.” His smile is full of malice. It is more of a grimace, really, if one wants to be technical. “Though I reckon it’s amazing what a body can live through.”

Lanisen backs away further, holding up his empty hands. “Just sayin’… please– please, I didn’t mean…”

Myrd spits on the ground, clearly contemptuous. He mocks the boy. “Just sayin’?…Didn’t mean…? How long do you think you’d last in one of the his high and mightyness’s fancy cells?”

Lanisen moistens his lips nervously. “Couple days longer’n I lasted in there, I guess.” He jerks his head toward Shenzi’s enclosure.

Morrigan doesn’t say anything; she’s sat towards the back again, glowering at the small hole.

Myrd snorts. “Reckon so, do you? Maybe I ought to let you share it with that [insert particularly foul word here] Calormene woman, in that case.”

Morrigan narrows her eyes – even though no one could really see them. Deciding to hold onto SOME of her dignity by not answering, she instead makes a dry ‘hmph’ noise.

Lanisen glances toward the air-hole. “After you went to the trouble of gettin’ me out and better, huh?”

Myrd backhands him. “Oh, I suppose you’d have rather died, out of your head and filthy with your own vomit. Calling me foolish for not arranging that’s just plain stupid, boy.”

Morrigan inches closer to the gap, pretending not to be interested.

Lanisen stumbles back from Myrd, turning his face away and covering his reddening cheek with his hand. “I didn’t, I didn’t say that.”

Myrd narrows his eyes. “Didn’t actually figure out when to keep your mouth shut either. I need to know exactly what you said to that nosy innkeeper’s nosy wife. Got them suspicious.” He grips the hilt of his dagger. “And don’t try to play me, boy. You ought to know that ain’t safe.”

Lanisen says, pulling back, “I already told you what I said to her!”

Myrd scowls deeply. “You sure that’s all it was? Got that that common [insert another profane word here] who thinks she’s a lady down to the inn right quick last night.”

Lanisen nods quickly. “That’s all! And you were there for half of what I /did/ say to her, so you should already… know…”

Myrd cuffs him again. “Must’ve said something to put them on their guard. Think, boy.”

Lanisen stumbles backward and quickly puts a healthy amount of space between himself and Myrd. “I didn’t, I’m serious!”

Myrd scowls more deeply, his hands still balled into fists.

Lanisen scrambles farther away, then halts, watching Myrd. “What’d they say, then?”

Myrd asks, “Didn’t exactly get invited in to have tea with them, now did I?”

Lanisen says, “If you think they’re suspicious, you must have some reason to think they’re suspicious.”

Myrd says, “Ain’t ever felt the need to discuss my reasons with the likes of you, and I ain’t about to start now.”

Lanisen asks, “So you don’t know that they’re suspicious?”

Myrd scowls. “Didn’t say that.”

Lanisen says, nearly shouting in his desperation, “What /did/ you say? Other than that whatever it was was my fault?”

Myrd raises his hand again. “You watch your mouth, boy. I ain’t one to take kindly to disrespect.”

Lanisen takes another step back, maintaining the distance between them. “Just trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Myrd says, “Told you. You let slip a name, and next thing I know, that innkeeper ain’t nearly so friendly. ”

Lanisen asks, “What name? Avery’s?”

Myrd hits him for this, hard. “You ain’t got the brains of a gnat, boy.”

Lanisen cries out and goes down. He gets to his feet, staggering back, raising his arm to try to defend himself against any more blows. “I can’t remember everything I said when I was sick!”

Morrigan is once more leaning against the gap, listening intently.

Myrd gives Lanisen a look that would wither fruit on the branch.

Lanisen takes a moment to make sure his face is still intact.

Myrd says, “Never slip the name of that fancy knight’s fancy sister out of that empty head of yours again. I swear, I never cease to be amazed at what an idiot you are. Even they ain’t dumb enough not to put two and two together once word of our little escapade leaks out. ”

Lanisen just stares at him, still from a healthy distance. “What are you talking about?”

Myrd glowers at him. “Do I have to spell everything out for you, boy?” He eyes Morrigan, then lowers his voice.
Myrd mumbles “Who do you think waltzed me right by those castle guards. It’s ’cause I’m such a charmer.””, to Lanisen.
Myrd mumbles “Who … … … waltzed me … by those castle … … … … … a charmer.””, to Lanisen.

Morrigan tries to squeeze herself closer to the gap: failing dramatically, due to obvious lack of space.

Lanisen blinks. And blinks again. He spreads his hands and looks like he might laugh, or cry. “How… was I supposed to know that?”

Morrigan tilts her head before scowling and, apparently sulking, pushes herself away from the gap again.

Myrd gestures towards the enclosure. “And now you just said it again, in front of her.” He rounds on Morrigan. “Good thing I ain’t about to let you go running your mouth off, even if you wanted to.”

Lanisen looks about to protest, but he glances at the gap and wisely shuts up. He clenches his jaw and looks down at the ground, wrapping his arms around his ribs.

Myrd rubs his jaw, considering. “Could always turn you in up at the Manor house. Reckon that fancy lord up there’d be glad to know who killed his squire.”

Morrigan doesn’t move, but scowls all the same. “You wouldn’t, ’cause I know too much – and if I’m gonna die anyway, MYRD, I might as well do it on my terms.”

Myrd scowls darkly at hearing his name. He drawls, “What makes you think, Sweetheart, there are any who’d even recognize that name still left alive? Wouldn’t mean a thing if you did mention it.”

Morrigan shrugs, much to used to gesturing when people could see her. “We’ll have to see then, won’t we?”

Myrd narrows his eyes. “Ain’t you figured out yet that I’m a man who doesn’t mind taking a risk now and again?”

Morrigan shrugs; “Clearly you’ve figured out I’m a woman who can’t be taken down by just ONE crazy person.”

Myrd snorts. “Been called much worse, Sweetheart.”

Morrigan raises an eyebrow. “That wasn’t meant to insult. I was merely feeding my own ego in the fact it took not only you, but your little lapdog as well to overcome me.”
Morrigan shakes her head and spreads herself out, clearly not interested in talking anymore.

Jana slips into the main chamber from the storeroom. Her hands look a bit dirtier than normal. One might guess she had been gardening, if she wasn’t in a dank smelly cave.

Lanisen is standing a little ways away from Myrd and the air-gap to Shenzi’s enclosure, pale and scuffed up. He watches what appears to be something of a conversation between Myrd and Shenzi, then turns to slink away, heading toward the store-room.

Jana is blocking his way in moments. “Well look what the big scary man drug in.”

Myrd’s face is red with annoyance, for all his pretense otherwise. He piles up the rocks even higher, then turns his back on the enclosure and rounds on Jana. “You shut up, and then you get out of my sight.”

Jana frowns at him, still in Lanisen’s way. “I ain’t done nothing.”

Lanisen keeps his head down, watching them.

Myrd clenches his hands into tight fists. His jaw clenches tightly also.

Jana glowers and stalks over to a dark crevice, where she seats herself, out of sight.

Myrd stalks over to an unoccupied corner of the room to sulk in peace. He pulls out his knife and starts sharpening it ominously.

Lanisen’s eyes flit between them. He slips silently past Jana while she isn’t looking at him to make his escape.

Jana scowls upon seeing that Lanisen has taken the opportunity of her distraction to disappear. She hesitates, then rises to follow him.

Ruined Storeroom
Middle Archenland

The noise of the river tumbling over the rocks is nearly deafening here, cutting off most other sounds. The way ahead is partially blocked by a pile of fallen stones from an earlier collapse. This stair to the cavity below is slick with moss and the ever-present spew of water. The floor oozes with a thick coating of mud, making it necessary for the original occupant to hollow out a series of long, earthen shelves several feet above the floor. These still contain the remains of what must have been an impressive storeroom, now completely ruined by dankness and mold. A few tarnished disks of metal have been left behind, and shreds of what once might have been a fine bolt of cloth. Brackets where torches might once have stood are still affixed in place, but they are black with rust.

The path comes to an abrupt dead end, with no other visible means of escape than the same, slippery fall of rocks used to arrive here.

Jana fairly stalks into the storeroom.

Lanisen is sitting rather closer than is strictly safe to the river, perched on one of the boulders overhanging the water. He puts his hand in the water to cool it, and then presses it to his bruised and puffy face.

Jana saunters over to him and plunks down rather closer than necessary. The result is that her presence is both threatening and overbearing. “What happened exactly?”

Lanisen shifts uncomfortably away, making himself small. “Um. What part?”

Jana closes the gap and gestures with her hand, indicating any or all.

Lanisen keeps shifting until he realizes he’s out of room and teeters a little over the water. He steadies himself, his hands going white-knuckled on the stone. “He… uh… took me to the inn.”

Jana says, “Yes, I got that part.”

Lanisen shivers. “And I… uh, talked, I guess, when I was sick.” He doesn’t look up at her. “And the innkeeper’s wife said I said something about… um… Avery. When I was sick. And babbling.”

Jana fairly looms, for all her feminine size is capable of it. “You told them about /Avery/?”

Lanisen cringes and hunches his shoulders. “No! I didn’t even /know/ about Avery and… all that. Not until Myrd told me today! I haven’t got any idea why that came out. When I was /sick/,” he reminds her.

Jana pokes him in the chest hard enough that he might fall off balance. “Then what had you thinking about her then, hm?”

Lanisen clutches the side of his seat and manages to regain his balance. “I don’t know! I was sick! I don’t even remember saying it!”

Jana lets loose a string of curses at him. “Why are you still alive?”

Lanisen’s face flushes. “Wouldn’t’ve happened if Myrd hadn’t taken me there in the first place.”

Jana backhands him. “Ungrateful little…” She calls him a number of degrading names. “If he’d left you here, you’d really be dead.”

Lanisen cowers away and lets out a small sharp hurt noise as Jana adds another bruise to the set obtained from Myrd. “Dunno why he didn’t, then,” he retorts, his voice cracking. “Seems to be what you all want!”

Jana scowls and backs up off a bit. “Want what the boss wants, like usual.”

Lanisen scrambles up off the rock and past her, seeking solitude further upstream.


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