Lanisen is curled up on the one cot in the cell, wrapped in a rather ragged but warm-looking blanket. His head rests on his elbow, and he seems to be doing his best to stay asleep.
Colin enters the cell. The guard closes the door behind him with a bang loud enough to wake the dead, let alone Lanisen. He stands there and waits.
Lanisen jerks awake and pulls into himself, shivering, then gets blearily to his feet and bows. He’s clearly still half-asleep: his motions are mechanical and he doesn’t look up to see who’s come.
Colin approaches the lad despite a caution from the guard, which he silences by holding up a hand. When he reaches the boy he stands directly in front of him. “Can’t even look at me now?”
Lanisen’s head snaps up in surprise at Colin’s voice, and his face lights with hope. “Colin! Thought you were…” The significance of Colin’s words, better clothing, and shaved face catches up with him a instant later, and he steps back a little to study the man obliquely, uncertain and ashamed.
Colin sighs quietly and reaches out a hand to the boy’s shoulder. He pushes him to sit on the cot, and he sits beside him. “Thought I was what?”
Lanisen shies back a little from Colin’s hand, but allows himself to be seated. He stares at his hands and covers a cough. “Thought you were… um, back out, somewhere. Nobody’d tell me anything, it was, it was like some big secret.” He pauses, darting a glance at Colin’s face. “Guess it’s Sir Colin again now, huh?”
Colin nods, then hesitates. “Well, I hope so, anyway.”
Colin rubs the back of his neck slightly. “It seems every day that passes I discover more and more about my task that I failed at.”
Lanisen clearly does not miss the implication of Colin’s words. His shoulders hunch slightly and he avoids Colin’s eyes.
Colin sighs quietly. “What I don’t understand is,” he says, his voice laced with what sounds like discouragement, “why you protected a man you said yourself was rotten. He treated you like dirt, yet you still protected him.”
Lanisen doesn’t seem to have an answer. He draws into himself, miserable.
Colin asks, “Can you blame me if I now doubt everything you said to me about turning good?”
Colin says, “What am I…what are we supposed to think? Your actions speak the opposite of your words.”
Lanisen swallows, not raising his head. “I’m sorry,” he whispers.
Colin draws a slow breath and lets it back out again. “I hope for your sake that you are. You need to apologize to the king for lying to him. Doing so might save your neck.:
Lanisen says, “Didn’t lie to the king. Just lied to… to you.”
Colin arches a brow. “Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt your cause any.”
Lanisen just nods.
Colin runs a hand through his hair and rises to pace a step before turning to face Lanisen. “You speak of a new life. A home, a trade. A life without crime. Do you still want this life, Lanisen?”
Lanisen keeps his head down and is silent for a moment before responding, “If the king doesn’t kill me, Myrd will.”
Colin says sharply, “If the king doesn’t kill you then I will not allow Myrd to kill you. It is our job to protect you if you choose to side with the crown. But it is also your job to cooperate with us. By the Emperor, Lanisen! You cannot possess what you will not pursue. If you really and truly want to leave that life behind you, then cast off it’s chains and run like hell towards the life you could actually have.”
Lanisen glances at Colin, then back at his hands. “It… it ain’t that simple,” he finally says. “You don’t know Myrd. Please…” It’s unclear what he’s asking, possibly even to himself.
Colin says, “Lanisen, look at me.”
Lanisen does so with an effort.
Colin continues when he does so. “Myrd no longer has a hold on you. He may think he does, but he does not. Do you realize what will happen if he comes back to this country? If he contacts you, TELL ME! I..WE, cannot protect you if you do not make the effort. Do you WANT him to kill you?” he fairly shouts the last sentence.
Lanisen cringes and shakes his head in answer, avoiding Colin’s eyes. “Co–… if he finds out, he’ll kill me, he’ll find some way, I don’t know how… and he’ll find out. He always finds out.”
Colin restates with vigor, “It won’t be allowed to happen.”
Lanisen is not reassured. “What’s allowed and what ain’t hasn’t ever been one of his concerns.”
Colin almost looks bemused. “He can’t take on all of Anvard.”
Colin says, “I don’t care HOW clever he is, or thinks he is. A man has to make a mistake sometime.”
Lanisen takes a moment to cough into his fist, the sound lung-deep and hoarse. However odd, he almost seems more composed when he lowers his sleeve. “Doesn’t matter at this point anyway. Cat’s out of the bag as far as that goes, I s’pose… it’s happened.” He coughs again before wondering absently, “Who puts a cat in a bag?”
Colin glances at him oddly. “No idea.”
Lanisen closes his eyes briefly. “I think there’s a secret way into the castle.”
Colin sits straight up. He looks at Lanisen, looking ready to punch him, shake him… something. “That might make a difference. Now… ” he folds his arms. “Where the heck is it?”
Lanisen is already cringing, clearly expecting to be smacked. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I never– I never saw it, just he was lookin’ at the plans to the castle once and… we were s’posed to use it to get him out, but I never found out where it was or how to get to it. Was just supposed to follow Jana.”
Colin doesn’t smack him, rather jumps up and starts pacing the cell. “The plans. Could you recall where the entrance was?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “I didn’t, he didn’t let me see, I only got a glance, I’m, I’m sorry,” he answers, his voice low. “And I don’t know what the castle looks like on the inside, so I didn’t see anything… different.”
Colin looks momentarily frustrated, not necessarily with Lanisen but it’s probably a good guess. “What was the entrance going to be used for besides getting him out?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “I don’t know, I don’t know, please–”
Colin looks him dead in the face. “Are you positive about that? If there’s anything else you’ve been holding out on now is the time to cough it up.”
Lanisen lowers his eyes and responds quietly, “That’s all.” He pauses, ducks his head, and adds, “Except…” He pulls a small money pouch from a pocket and extends it toward Colin. “That’s… Loc thought they were gonna let me go. So he gave me that. I… there was a painter, he’s– I don’t know his name but they hurt him, they hurt him bad–”
Colin takes the pouch and gives him an appraising nod. “Armel.”
Lanisen says, “Sounds right, yeah.”
Colin gives another nod. “I’ll see it gets to him.”
Lanisen says, “The one with the…” He gestures toward his nose. “Thanks.”
Colin nods. “Yes, him.” He starts to say something else, but cuts himself off. “This will…certainly help.” He says meaningfully.
Lanisen looks at him uncertainly.
Colin points at Lanisen. “Should have told me…us, sooner. But… you still told.”
Lanisen doesn’t acknowledge this except to lower his head and study the ground. He coughs again, muffling it with his elbow.
Colin raises his eyebrow at him. “What is it?”
Lanisen shrugs again, still staring at the ground. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” he says softly.
Colin watches him, and acknowledges the apology with a nod. “Me too… apology accepted.”
Lanisen stays quiet.
Colin sighs quietly. “I need to go talk to the Steward…” he mutters.
Lanisen just nods. “You gonna come back?” he asks after a little pause. The question is almost emotionless, but there’s a little pleading unsteady note at the end that gives him away.
Colin nods. “I will.” He turns to face the door, saying nothing further as the guard unlocks the door.
Lanisen seems satisfied with this, as he says nothing more. He watches Colin go.