gift


Southern Forest
Middle Archenland


In this part of the wood, the trees form a thick and leafy tent, spreading out and tempering the light. A fragrant scent issues from the soil itself, and the branches sway in the slightest breeze. The ground is verdant with a cover of grasses, and from far above the song of birds who must be hidden in the topmost boughs floats down. The faint trickle of a river can be heard somewhere to the north, although the concentration of trees in that direction eliminates the option of walking that way to see it. The trees are unusually concentrated to the west as well; a thick, ancient stand of pines grows there, and appears almost impassable beyond a faint trail, likely from some sort of animal.

Another faint trail can be observed leading to the south.


Jana slips silently through the woods, only visible by the occasional flutter of her cloak.

Lanisen leans agains the trunk of a tree almost on the path between the main road and the hideout. He raises his head as Jana moves through, almost before he sees or hears her.

Jana pauses upon sight of him. It is possible that she has not yet been seen, though by his apparently unusually keen awareness, this is not so.

Lanisen waits a moment, then rests his head back against the tree. He seems to have not actually seen her, and to only have had a vague idea of somebody else’s presence. He sighs quietly and shifts into a more comfortable position, looking faintly uneasy.

Jana slips behind a tree, hoping to be out of sight before he has the chance to discern her presence, which was not quite as hidden as it could have been.

Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly, though this reaction is probably not visible in the darkness. He waits a moment, then rolls smoothly to his feet, glancing around.

Jana stays where she is.

Lanisen does too.

Jana remains perfectly still, her best hope that he will not look around.

Lanisen stays still for a few moments longer, probably listening hard for whatever slight sound it was that made him stand up. He finally steps uncertainly forward, not really looking so much as just… reaching. He actually walks past the tree behind which Jana is standing and pauses a few paces farther, not having seen her.

Jana slips off in the other direction while he is not looking at her.

Lanisen turns slowly back toward the tree Jana was using, just meandering, not from having heard anything or any such. He just manages to catch a glimpse of her slipping off and cranes his neck to see for sure.

Jana has disappeared before he can be absolutely certain.

Lanisen glances behind him and back to where he thought he saw something, and turns to walk that direction aimlessly, with the air of having nothing better to do.

Jana continues moving stealthily and swiftly through the trees ahead of him, again virtually invisible.

Lanisen is really only walking that direction on a whim, so quickly falls behind.

Jana soon is out of his reach.


Jana returns not long afterward. Though she is stealthy to avoid others seeing her, she does not appear to be hiding herself from Lanisen, now.

Lanisen is still heading aimlessly in that general direction, and he pauses on seeing Jana.

Jana pulls a pin from her hair as she approaches him, the locks falling about her shoulders. She offers no greeting as of yet.

Lanisen stays where he is, keeping quiet as well. He watches Jana, unguarded.

Jana puts the pin in his palm, closing his fingers into a fist with her hand. It is a long, elaborate metal device, sharp and lovely. Though it is a humble woman’s tool, there is a strangely dangerous and even exotic quality about it, if one were wise enough to look closely and with discerning eyes. Indeed, it seems to represent Jana in all her facets.

Lanisen blinks, staring down at the weapon in his palm. He turns it over, looking at it closely from every side before glancing back up to her, puzzled.

Jana says, “Bring it to Loc.”

Lanisen’s forehead furrows. “Why don’t you?”

Jana says, “I’m off looking for a new hide-out, in case we need to get out quick. Won’t be around for a while.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows. “What about Myrd?” he asks cautiously.

Jana says, “We got some time. Don’t do nothing til I get back, no matter what you hear.”

Lanisen regards her in some confusion, but merely nods, all too obviously trusting her completely. “‘K.”

Jana says, “Zan comes after you while I’m gone, you team up with Loc. He’ll watch your back.”

Lanisen’s hand closes around the pin, and he nods, looking even more confused. “All right… um.” He pauses, looking for words. “Be careful?”

Jana says, “Always am.”

Lanisen nods and hesitates before turning back to the hide-out.

Jana stands in the same spot and merely watches him disappear.

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