freak show

Cell 2
Castle Anvard

Lanisen is seated cross-legged on his cot, again (still?) huddled beneath his blanket, staring in rather absent concentration down at a makeshift game of Foxes and Wolves, which he seems to be playing against himself.

Tyren makes his way into the cell, somewhat earlier this time around, and directs the guard as usual to, what else, give the prisoners their ration.

Lanisen, as usual, stands, bows, and accepts the ration from the guard. He sets Loc’s share down on his cot and takes a half-hearted bite of his portion. “Thanks,” he mumbles around the mouthful.

Tyren says, “Simply doing my duty.”

Lanisen glances wryly at the knight. “Drew the short straw, huh?”

Tyren lifts a brow slightly. “As a matter of fact, no.”

Lanisen looks rather skeptical but half-smiles politely.

Tyren says, “It is a knight’s oath and duty, after all, to serve his king and country, and the people therein. Unless I’m terribly mistaken, prisoner you may be, but you are still a ‘people.'”

Lanisen’s face briefly takes on an intent expression, once again looking almost as if he is listening for something difficult to hear. The expression disappears as he ducks his head and grins faintly at Tyren’s phrasing.. “I see. Still, ‘m sorry you got to be always comin’ down here.”

Tyren shrugs. “Would you rather I didn’t?”

Lanisen says equably, “Glad you do.”

Tyren pauses a moment. “I suppose in truth, so am I.”

Lanisen eyes Tyren for a moment, lifting one eyebrow in rather bitter resignation. “Learnin’ lots about the human condition?”

Tyren answers without hesitation, his own tone softening briefly. “Much. My own as well as a whole.”

Lanisen’s expression twists briefly, and he looks down. “A privilege to be an extension of your noble education, then.”

Tyren lifts a brow. “I have always held that a man should always see his enemies as still human, and treat them as such – never have seen its importance in this extent, though.” He pauses briefly before he says, “I would take this point to remind you that I am human as well.”

Lanisen regards Tyren silently at this without entirely raising his head, his expression unreadable.

Tyren’s tone becomes just a /hair/ sharper, which is perhaps somewhat more ominous than if it was more overt. “It is not my purpose in coming here to rub salt in wounds, you know.”

Lanisen’s eyes flicker angrily, but he catches himself in time and stares passively at the ground.

Tyren doesn’t miss the action, and nor does he let it stand on its own. “You think otherwise?”

Lanisen takes a deep breath, his eyes fixed on a corner of the cell. “You…” he begins slowly, choosing his words with difficulty. “You keep sayin’ that. About how we’re human an’ you’re human an’ all. But… you, him, everybody troopin’ through, wantin’ to know how we turned into, how we got where we are…” He stops. “We’re just… we’re… just somethin’ to be gawked at and pulled apart an’ /learned from/.” He pauses, swallows, and darts a glance at Tyren’s face, and dares to ask bitterly, “Ain’t that right?”

Tyren leans forward, his tone low, and whatever might be taken from his words, the many meanings that might be ascertained from them are trimmed to a very minimal selection as his tone indicates he is completely and utterly dead serious. “If that were the truth, I would have no reason to be here. I would need to look no farther than my own reflection if I wanted /that/.”

Lanisen’s incomprehension of Tyren’s meaning is briefly visible. Just as quickly, however, the flicker of confusion is hidden, and he lowers his head again.

Tyren takes a breath, the reason for it somewhat unclear. His expression, after all, remains as stoic and unrevealing as ever – perhaps even moreso, if that’s even possible. He strides over to Lanisen, puts out a hand, and turns Lanisen to face him. His grip is not forceful, and clearly not meant to be threatening or painful; in truth, it seems that he is taking care /not/ to be by the gesture. But it does have the effect of giving Lanisen little choice of looking him in the eye. “Another question. Look me in the eye. Study every detail of this face and tell me what you see written there.”

Lanisen stiffens immediately at the contact, his shoulders hunching up with fear and discomfort. He does not resist Tyren’s intent outright, though he is tense, but his eyes flicker to the knight’s for the briefest possible second and then away. He makes no answer.

Tyren is not deterred by this, remaining where he is. “Your tongue was loose enough a moment ago.”

Lanisen swallows, still avoiding Tyren’s eyes. He seems tongue-tied and frozen. His eyes drop to Tyren’s grip on his shoulder.

Tyren’s tone softens a slight degree. “I’m not going to hurt you, you know.”

Lanisen closes his eyes briefly, taking a breath. With what seems to be a herculean effort, he raises his head to look Tyren in the eye.

Tyren’s voice remains calm and even. “There. Now. Tell me what you see. And don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. That, after all, might not be what you expect it to be. Better to speak the truth.”

Lanisen maintains the eye contact for as long as he is able, but it’s not easy or comfortable for him. There is both fear and a sort of tired resentment visible in his own eyes, and by the time he looks away, he is trembling. “I don’t…”

Tyren simply nods once, seemingly thinking this is enough of an answer for the time being. He removes his hand, and returns to his former position. “Rather a difference between thinking one thing of a man, even saying it in his presence, and actually staring him in the face and telling him the truth, isn’t there. Between thinking one thing of a man and matching it to his face.” He does not wait for a response to this, instead following right on its heels with “Let me tell you what I’ve seen in this face in recent days.”

Lanisen pulls away immediately as Tyren lets him go. He keeps his eyes trained on the floor.

Tyren only pauses a moment to gather his words, before continuing. “I have seen eyes that profess to be observant, and yet overlook portions of their possessor that make him uncomfortable. I have seen scars that speak of the pride their bearer has in his deeds, the glory and rush he feels on the battlefield – as he forgets why a knight /should/ do what he does. I have seen a man who has professed time and time again to stand for what he believes to be high morals and standards – only to cast them aside when he finds his own position in peril. If I wanted to gawk at a monster, I need look no further than my own reflection – for one dwells within me as well.”

Lanisen’s expression is transparent as he attempts to understand what Tyren is saying and what it has to do with him; confusion, distrust, and uncertainty are evident in his face, but he does not look up from the floor.

Tyren says, “However, I have also seen hope there – the knowledge that though a monster may dwell within, it does not have to define him. Regardless of whether it might have done so or not before.”

Lanisen says nothing.

Tyren says, “The choice, of course, remains with the man himself and no other.” He is quiet a moment before he adds another statement. “I said before that I am not here to rub salt in wounds. But if you believe that treatment for them is completely painless, well.” He gestures to his face, more specifically the scars there. “I can assure you that’s not the case.”

Lanisen swallows and pauses a long moment before he finally says abruptly. “We ain’t the same.”

Tyren says, “Perhaps, perhaps not. In the end, though, does it really matter? I will make my choices, and you will make yours. Either you can resign yourself to what you have become and despair, or you can resolve to no longer let it define you as it has, and at least face justice with a shred of dignity.”

Lanisen shakes his head, something urgent and frustrated in the motion. “Don’t you get it? It already defined me. It’s… I’m /here/, ain’t I?” He gestures around him at the cell. “I can’t change anything. It’s too late, it was too late before he caught me. There’s nothin’…”

Tyren says, “To change your situation? The results of what you’ve done thus far? Perhaps not. But to change yourself? Quite the opposite.”

Lanisen says, his tone flat and colorless, “How.”

Tyren says, “You’ll have to answer that one for yourself if the choice is to be sincere.”

Lanisen finally asks, in the same dead voice, “Why’s it matter to you?”

Tyren does not respond to this right away. When he does, his tone is quiet and somewhat thoughtful. “I’m not sure I fully know, to be honest. But apparently it does.” He lifts a brow. “Could you have said that about the others you found yourself among?”

Lanisen’s expression becomes stone. His eyes dart briefly to Loc, still snoozing away.

Tyren glances to Loc himself. “Well, I’ll give you that one.”

Lanisen looks away.

Tyren shrugs. “Consider things as you will. As I’ve said, your choices are yours and yours alone.”

Lanisen says in an undertone, “Choices ain’t much use if they can’t make any difference.”

Tyren says, “And as I’ve said, they may not make a difference to the world around you, but they can make a difference /in/ you.”

Lanisen rubs his forehead, obviously thinking it through. After a moment, he asks, with a rather blunt change in subject, “What’s gonna happen to us?”

Tyren says, “I don’t know. His Majesty will act as he sees fit and just.”

Lanisen rubs his arms absently as if suddenly chilled, staring into space. “What about Colin? Where’s he?”

Tyren pulls a slow breath, and for the first time seems affected by a question. “I wish I knew.”

Lanisen looks up at Tyren, his forehead furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Tyren says, “Meaning I don’t.”

Lanisen lets out a breath. “Did he leave the castle or somethin’? When I asked before, the Steward said he was still… did he go somewhere?”

Tyren furrows his brow, now looking somewhat confused himself.

Lanisen waits for some sort of answer, his eyes intent on Tyren’s face. It’s obvious he very much wants to know, for whatever reason.

Tyren takes a deep breath, masking his face once more. “In any case, it is a question I cannot answer.”

Lanisen’s disappointment is quickly hidden, but still definitely there. He nods once jerkily.

Tyren says simply, “Believe me, I wish I could.”

Lanisen turns away and sits down on his cot, a glaring breach of etiquette of which he seems wholly unaware. He leans his elbows on his knees and rests his face in his hands.

Tyren shrugs off the obvious breach, saying simply, “Perhaps it would be best to leave you to your thoughts at the moment. If there is nothing further you would ask? For I have nothing further to, myself.”

Lanisen drops his hands and shakes his head silently, his expression bleak.

Tyren nods once, and speaks with a guard briefly, exiting the cell.


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