This room is rather more quiet and warm than the main kennel below it, the heat generated by the lower level rising to the top. Two or three dogs are nearly always present, catching a nap on top of the piles of folded blankets stored here, or taking advantage of the quiet to gnaw a bone in peace. A large box with a hinged half-cover is here, set near the chimney in the west wall, for new pups and their mothers. The red stone ceiling is relatively low, but a window overlooking the Outer Ward keeps it from feeling claustrophobic.
A set of stairs on the south end of the room leads back to the ground floor of the kennels.
Lanisen is not immediately visible, as he is obscured both by a stack of blankets and a bale of hay, presumably used for the dogs’ bedding. In addition to this, a massive black deerhound has positioned herself between him and the door.
The dog utters a soft growl as footsteps are heard on the stairs and Colin comes up.
Lanisen combs through the dog’s thick fur with his fingers soothingly, murmuring something indistinct. The dog’s tail thumps twice on the floor, and she nudges her nose under his hand. As Colin enters the room, Lanisen stands mechanically and bows. His eyes are not quite focused, and the hand he keeps on the dog’s neck is shaking.
Colin motions with his hand. “Sit back down.” He says, his voice quiet.
Lanisen does so silently, leaning his head back against the wall. “Thanks for goin’ with me,” he says after a moment. His voice is as dead and expressionless as his eyes.
Colin lowers himself to the floor next to the dog. His hand reaches out and absently scratches behind her ears. “No problem.”
The dog’s ears tilt toward Colin as he approaches and she sniffs toward him cautiously. Both of her eyes are filmy blue-white with cataracts – she is obviously blind, or partially so. She scoots back toward Lanisen slightly, but relaxes after a moment and even licks Colin’s hand.
Lanisen says abruptly, “It’s my fault.”
Colin looks over at him. “You know better than that.”
Lanisen stares at the wall opposite, though his eyes are unfocused and looking significantly further away. “Back… when we first met her, I screwed up. Let Myrd’s name slip. She heard it, so Myrd figured she knew too much and sent her off to make a distraction. He was hopin’ she’d get herself killed. And she didn’t.” He rubs a hand over his mouth. “If I hadn’t… she’d still be…”
Colin continues to slowly scritch the dog’s ears. “You cannot take responsibility for Myrd’s actions.”
Lanisen says, “An’ later, in the inn… Loc wanted to run off with both of us. Escape. I wouldn’t, and he wouldn’t leave without me. If I’d gone…”
Colin glances at Lanisen. “If you’d gone, you would all have signed your own death warrents, and there would be three executions on the schedule.” He says quietly. 1
Lanisen raises his head and turns it slowly to look at Colin. It looks for a moment as if he has forgotten who he is talking to, and he bows his head a moment later.
Colin looks away after a moment. “I…wish I knew what to say to you. Some way I could change this.”
Lanisen strokes the dog’s neck absently. “‘S it… for sure? That she’s gonna be…?”
Colin says, “I think so, yes.”
Lanisen shudders. After a moment, he draws his knees up, rests his elbows on his knees, and covers his face in his hands.
Colin releases a sigh.
Lanisen drops his hands and lets out a breath. His face is sickly pale, but again expressionless. “Would they let me be there, when…?”
Colin glances at him rather sharply. “You want to be there?”
Lanisen says shortly, so that there is absolutely no doubt in the matter, “No.” He swallows and fixes his eyes on the floor. “But… if it was me, I think I’d want somebody… there…”
Colin softens slightly and looks away to hide his rather sick expression. “Perhaps.” he says simply.
Lanisen rests his forehead on his folded arms, again obscuring his face. After a moment, his shoulders finally begin to shake, though he makes no sound.
Colin tenatively rests a hand on Lanisen’s shoulder in some effort to comfort him.
Lanisen straightens at the reminder of the other’s presence, making an effort to compose himself. He wipes his face, still silent, and takes a shuddery breath.
Colin frowns slightly at this. “Lanisen…” he says quietly. “There’s nothing wrong with crying. Not with this.”
Lanisen keeps his face turned away from Colin and is silent for a long moment, still fighting to keep his breathing steady. “It’s just I didn’t think it’d be like that,” he says finally, his voice somewhat level. “She was…” He stops there, shaking again.
Colin says, “I know.”
Lanisen leans back against the wall, taking another deep breath and closing his eyes. “She… Myrd… he put her in the… that room, too.” He hehs. “Also because of me. So it’s… bein’ down there now is prob’ly…”
Colin says, “It would get to anyone.”
Lanisen just nods. He pauses, again stroking the side of the dog’s neck, and finally repeats quietly, “I didn’t think it’d be like that.”
Colin asks, “If you had it to do over again, would you do it?”
Lanisen opens his eyes to stare bleakly across the room. “Dunno,” he says after a moment. “Don’t think it helped anything. Maybe made things worse…”
Colin shrugs slightly. “I don’t think it did… years down the road when you look back, at least your conscience will be clear for reaching out to her, no matter how disconcerting it was.”
Lanisen glances at Colin, his eyes troubled. “Even if… it just ended up hurting her worse?”
Colin looks down, quiet for a moment before speaking. “I think she’s already beyond that now.”
Lanisen hehs bitterly and says, “You mean ’cause she’s gonna die it doesn’t matter.”
Colin says, “That is not what I mean.”
Lanisen stares at his hands rather than looking at Colin. By his mien, he probably understands exactly what Colin did mean, but would rather not accept it.
Colin sighs quietly, not pressing the matter.
Lanisen is quiet for a long time. “You told her Myrd was dead.”
Colin glances at him. “Yes, I did.”
Lanisen glances at him, obviously asking.
Colin returns the look, no shame in his face. “Would the knowledge about the man who is inadvertently responsible for the end of her life have benefitted her in any shape or form?”
Lanisen looks away, this obviously not the answer he was looking for. “No. S’pose not.” He shrugs slightly. “I thought maybe…”
Colin shakes his head. “The knowledge would have only made her last days more of a torment then they already will be. Why force her to suffer in the knowledge that the scum got away while she ultimately pays for his deeds?”
Lanisen says, “I know.” He releases a sigh. “Thanks for that… she wouldn’t’ve believed me if…”
Colin nods. “I know.”
Lanisen is quiet for a long moment, thinking things over silently. “You all right?” he asks finally, glancing tentatively to Colin.
Colin’s mouth upturns very slightly, the smile not reaching his eyes. “Yes.”
Lanisen watches him quietly, his eyes anxious. “I’m sorry.”
Colin shakes his head. “Don’t worry about me.”
Lanisen seems hesitant to ask further, but his eyes remain intent and fixed on Colin’s face – and, yes, worried.
Colin is uneffected by the look. “Really, I’m fine.”
Lanisen ventures, “Really?” There is no disbelief in his tone, but the fact that he’s asking at all might be an indication that he isn’t convinced.
Colin arches an eyebrow at him.
Lanisen flushes and looks away. “Sorry.”
Colin says, “As I said, don’t worry about me.”
Lanisen hesitates, not looking at Colin. “Only…” he says with an effort, “if there’s really nothing to worry about, sir.” The addition of the title might be some indication of how serious he is.
Colin says, “No, there is nothing.”
Lanisen can’t quite hold back a slight wince, but he simply nods.
Colin notes the wince. “What is it?”
Lanisen says only, “Nothin’.”
Colin merely arches an eyebrow. “Unlike me, you are not allowed to get away with just ‘nothin”.”
Lanisen says, “What’s that s’posed to mean?”
Colin says, “I know it’s more than ‘nothin” and I have the authority to make you cough it up.”
Colin doesn’t sound threatening, just matter-of-fact.
Lanisen glances at him, startled. There is time to see a flash of rebellion and fear in his expression before he looks away again.
Colin almost looks injured at that. “Well I’m not going to beat it out of you!”
Lanisen says dryly, “Well, thanks.” Despite the snark, there is something distinctly wary in his voice and posture.
Colin says nothing further, and rises to leave.
Lanisen scrambles up as well, upsetting the dog, which had fallen asleep with her chin on his knee. Aware that he’s done something wrong, he blurts, “I’m sorry.”
Colin shakes his head. “Don’t trouble yourself, Lanisen.”
Lanisen is clearly as reassured by this as he was convinced by Colin’s assertion that nothing is wrong. He scuffs the floorboards with the toe of one shoe. “I didn’t… I mean, I…” He lets out a frustrated breath, darting a glance to Colin’s face. “I’m sorry.”
Colin nods his acknowledgement. “Nothing you have done. As I said, don’t worry about it. Now… I have my duties as I’m sure you have yours. It’s best if we see to them.”
Lanisen just nods. The blind deerhound, alerted to his location by his voice, ambles toward him and leans against his legs, and Lanisen almost automatically curls his fingers into the dog’s fur.
Colin clumps down the stairs.
1. Archenland’s penal system was later amended by NarniaMUCK staff to not utilize capital punishment, as Archenland justice is characterized by canon to be founded on mercy and second chances. Morrigan was never executed.