In the Archenland Forest
Green light filters down from the canopy of translucent leaves overhead. The cool mountain air brushes your face and ripples the shadows of the trees. On occasion, you see a small squirrel or other animal cross you path, but mostly all is quiet. The forest continues to the north and east, while to the south and west, you see the mountains that divide Archenland from the vast expanse of the Southern Desert. If you look between the trees in just the right spot, you can even glimpse the twin peaks of Mt. Pire in the distance.
Lanisen hurries through on the path commonly taken to the town, two empty waterskins slung over his shoulder. He looks irritable and tired.
Jana is essentially invisible behind a tree. She waits until he has passed her before stepping out and clapping an iron-gripped hand over his mouth.
Lanisen’s startled yells are muffled by Jana’s hand. He struggles, kicking back at her shins and searching frantically for his dagger.
Jana’s grip only grows tighter. She presses closer to him so that she can hiss into his ear, “Shut your trap. It’s me.”
Lanisen goes briefly still, then redoubles his efforts to get away.
Jana holds him like that for a couple more seconds, until she’s sure he’s not going to scream, and then lets her hand slip down to his collarbone where she can still keep him in place but he is free to talk. “Ruddy boots are gonna tear my skirts.”
Lanisen shoves at her with his elbow, still trying with most of his resources to escape. “What’s the matter with you!? Let go!”
Jana releases him. “What’s got into you? Jumpier than a Talking Squirrel that’s gotten into the good ale.”
Lanisen wastes no time in putting some distance between himself and Jana and quickly straightens his tunic, face flaming. “What the was that for??” he demands, clearly shaken.
Jana gestures up the tree with her eyes. “Loc’s up there. I’m doing my job and keeping watch.”
Lanisen starts on another indignant rant, then stops short, his jaw going slack. “/Loc/?”
Jana says, “Picked him up in Andale.”
Lanisen runs a hand through his hair, looking utterly bewildered. “Figured he got caught or somethin’. He… Andale?” He cranes his head to look up into the tree to see for himself.
Jana says, “Myrd had him out collecting information. Think he was hoping to lose him. He didn’t even know about the plan or nothing.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up. “So now…?”
Jana says, “So now he knows. Some of it, anyway. I ain’t told him Myrd plans to look dead, so you tell him and you better plan on looking dead yourself, ‘cept for a lot longer.”
Lanisen blinks. “Myrd’s plannin’ on lookin’ dead?”
Jana’s brows rise a little and she shoots out a good obscure curse word, shushing him and covering his mouth again, as if she thinks someone will overhear. “You don’t let nobody know you know.”
Lanisen shoves her hand away impatiently. “Right. When were you gonna get around to tellin’ /me/ that?” He sounds vaguely offended. A little bit whiny. Well, a lot bit whiny.
Jana looks pretty upset with herself for having spilled the information. She peers around the forest carefully. “Thought Myrd told you.”
Lanisen scowls and glances around as well. “Nope,” he replies, and lowers his voice as well. “How’s he gonna do that? You got some fancy potion or somethin’?”
Jana shakes her head. “He ain’t told nobody.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows, and he, for once, shuts up as he works through this. “Huh.”
Loc tries to descend slowly. He still looks tired, stubble peppering his chin and cheeks. He slides down with some success until the branch snaps. He drops the last few feet and grunts, cursing loudly.
Jana’s eyes follow Loc, having been riveted there at the first sound of movement. There is something uncertain and almost frightened in her features.
Lanisen turns to watch as well, rubbing his neck. He winces briefly as Loc misses his step, then ventures, “‘Lo.”
Lanisen raises his eyebrows and glances to Jana.
Jana avoids Lanisen’s gaze and goes to Loc’s side silently, to help him if he needs it.
Loc accepts the help, either not caring or noticing her avoidance. “Thanks.”
Jana nods, glancing up the tree as if scrutinizing its fragility.
Lanisen shifts his weight, watching, and frowns slightly. “You… all right?” he asks finally, as if he’s really not sure that’s the thing to be asking, but can’t think of much else to say.
Loc grunts, “Yeah.” His voice is flat and he doesn’t sound much convinced.
Jana brushes off his shoulder, where a good deal of bark has broken off. “Looks like you slept even less with someone keeping a look-out than before I found you.”
Loc says, “A tree does not warrant much sleep when you get used to something fancy like a cot.”
Jana’s brows crease with a frown. She glances at Lanisen and it is clear that she is debating with herself again.
Lanisen shifts again, returning her look. He obviously does not know what to make of Loc.
Loc plunks down in the grass.
Jana paces. She looks agitated and antsy.
Lanisen glances between Loc and Jana and slowly lowers himself to the ground too. He seems to be waiting to follow Jana’s lead.
Jana stops in front of Loc. She has taken on a business-like stance. “Tell me what you know. First what the gossips are saying, then what Myrd told you.”
Loc snorts, “Myrd never tells me anything if he can help it. He said you stick it out in town boy and see what comes of your mistakes. You keep yourself outta a cell and you’ll get more from me when you need to know.”
Jana lets out a long breath through her nose. She leans her back up against a tree so that her shoulder is facing them, her countenance shadowed. A curse escapes her lips which is clearly in reference to Myrd and not as vehemently intoned as the meaning deserves. After a moment she looks at Lanisen, her eyes rather threatening. “Ain’t you supposed to be with Zan?”
Lanisen blinks. “Uh,” he responds eloquently, glances again to Loc, and quickly stands and slinks off to comply with the implied order.
Jana watches him leave and then returns her head to its natural position, shadowed again and in profile to Loc’s view.