Lanisen stands at the top of the stairs from the staff quarters, trying to explain his presence to an increasingly dubious and exhausted-looking night watchman, who is, no doubt, quite ready to be finished with his shift and really not in the mood to deal with misplaced kennel boys.
Dar opens his door, perhaps alerted by some sound. He holds a stack of papers under one arm, and it is evident that despite the earliness of the hour, he has yet to retire for the evening. He wearily presses a hand to his temple as he scans the length of the corridor, but his eyebrow raises sharply when it falls on Lanisen. The watchman fiddles with his hat. “My lord Steward. My apologies for disturbing you…”, the guard stammers.
Lanisen, as the Steward opens his door, blanches slightly and quickly bows, looking like he’s not at all certain that this is where he’s supposed to be. He adds his own apology to the guard’s.
Dar inclines his head. “There is no need. As you see, I am still up.” To the guard he adds, “You should have had instructions concerning Lanisen’s change in assignment here. I left them with your superior.” He then turns to Lanisen. “I commend you for being–prompt.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up at the word “still”, and he looks fairly staggered by the hours the Steward keeps. On being addressed, he takes a step forward. “I– uh, sorry, sir, wasn’t sure… I just–” He gestures to the window in the east wall, already pale with dawn, and says a little helplessly, “‘S mornin’.”
Dar nods briskly. “Indeed it is. I had asked you to attend upon me this morning, as I recall. However–“, and here he gestures towards the door of his chamber, “There is no need to disturb anyone who might have been able to sleep.”
Lanisen glances at the guard, then nods abashed obedience and approaches the door, apologizing silently with the hunch of his shoulders.
Dar merely says to the guard, his face its usual impassive mask, “I trust that you will inform the rest of the staff of Lanisen’s new permissions in this area so that there is no further confusion.” The shame-faced guard nods. “Of course, my lord.” With this, Dar leads the way inside, stifling a yawn as he does so.
This is a well-appointed suite on the second level of Anvard. A curtained, canopied bed sits opposite the door. An armoire of some dark wood is provided for clothing, and a small desk holds other personal items. Two windows allow sunlight to come streaming in, and also provide a breath-taking views of the countryside. It’s a nice place for Dar to stay in during visits to Anvard.
Lanisen follows the Steward in. He halts by the door, glancing around the room rather cautiously, and rubs his elbow.
Dar moves to one of the chairs. “If you are hungry, there should be something edible–” He pauses and glances around the room with slight consternation “somewhere. Or–I could remedy that if there is not. I am uncertain when there will be time to eat tomor–er, later this morning.”
Lanisen says, “I ain’t… I ain’t hungry, sir.” He hesitates, then asks, “You been up all night, sir?”
Dar stretches some of the kinks out of his back and tries to conceal another yawn. “Most of it. A–situation arose which required immediate attention. Strong tea, perhaps, would be in order.”
Lanisen frowns slightly, then offers uncertainly, “You want me to get it for you, sir?”
Dar waves a hand dismissively. “Next time. We have other matters to discuss first.” He moves to the door, where he has a quiet conversation with a servant just outside. The servant hastily bows and departs, and Dar returns to his chair. “Now. I realize I will be asking a great deal of you, and it will be important to tell me if there is any part of your instructions which is unclear. A great deal may depend on your ability to execute them.”
Lanisen steps aside as Dar approaches the door, then resumes his place. “Yes, sir,” he answers, the words a request for explanation.
Dar reaches a hand to the table and takes up parchment and quill. “First, I need to determine exactly where your training must begin. You will have some skills which will translate, and that will aid us in assessing just where to focus you. Do you read or write? Have you any rudimentary knowledge of sums?”
Lanisen swallows and rubs the back of his neck. “I know my letters, sir, I can, I can read a little.” He shrugs a bit. “Never learned sums.”
Dar nods. “Very well. It is a start. I know of your abilities with the hounds, having spoken to the kennel master earlier to–yesterday. Have you ridden horses before? Ever cared for them?”
Lanisen looks startled. “No, sir, you said– you said I wasn’t to go near horses.”
Dar makes a few marks on the parchment, apparently compiling a list for himself. “You will. This next question may seem quite random, but I assure you it is not. What was the Master of the Hounds wearing this past evening? As much detail as you recall.”
Lanisen blinks. “Uh…” He frowns, trying to remember. “I don’t– uh, think it was a yellow shirt, brown trousers and boots, same as usual.” He pauses, frown deepening, and then nods slightly with certainty. “Shirt was all stained up from cleanin’ stuff after the hunt.” He shrugs, clearly confused by the question.
Dar replies instantly, without even having to think of it, “The tunic was green. The stain you recall stretched from just below the elbow on the right sleeve down to the wrist, and the pants were black rather than brown. One boot had a scratch in it, measuring, oh, approximately six inches in length, and the left heel had been recently mended. Within the last week, I should venture to say.” He glances up at Lanisen to see how this is received.
Lanisen looks a little taken aback. He averts his eyes from the Steward quickly.
Dar waves a hand dismissively. “That will come. However, you will find that observation and attention to detail will serve you well. I shall set you a task each day, then, which will develop your ability to observe detail and to make note of it.” He furrows his brow, as if attempting to recall. “Ah, yes, and there will be the care of weapons–along with learning how to properly handle a blade. What other skills do you possess, Lanisen? However minor they may seem, there will be a use for them.”
Lanisen shifts, looking slightly overwhelmed, bewildered and suspicious of the mention of weapons. “I– I don’t really…” He pauses, then plows ahead. “I can… sort of… I can usually figure out how to make things, you know– put stuff together, make-shift. It ain’t… anything all that good, and nothin’ that lasts very long. Tried to put together a boat once, and it sank, but it– it got me across all right once, and that’s all I wanted it to do.”
Dar nods. “I will add resourceful to my list. You must have been in order to survive as you did.”
Lanisen doesn’t seem to know what to say to this. He looks away and ducks his head slightly.
Dar holds Lanisen’s gaze with his own, his tone firm though not unkind. “The past may impact the future, but it does not need to determine it. You will be judged only on the path you choose to walk now. You would not be here if we were not hopeful that you could succeed at court. There will be aspects of your duties which you may find tedious. Perservere and you may find them expanded. For this morning, I am in need of an inventory of the supplies to be found in the kennels. You should have little difficulty in ascertaining what is needed, having cared for the hounds for so long. I would usually leave this to the Master of the Hounds, but he has been called back to Coghill this morning to see to family business, and it cannot wait until his return. Observe carefully, take parchment and paper, and compile a list for me, since you say you write a little.”
Lanisen nods immediately, seemingly relieved by the shift of topics. “Yes, sir. You– should I… now, sir?”
Dar nods and indicates the stack of blank parchment on his desk. “That will serve. Make it as legible as possible. I have meetings later on this morning, but bring it to me after the noon meal. If it is accurate, I will send you to the outer ward in the afternoon to procure what is necessary. If you have any difficulty in the kennels, let me know and I will address it.”
Lanisen bites his lip and eyes the fine parchment with some trepidation. “Yes, sir,” he says, taking the stack gingerly.
Dar nods. “Very well. See to it.” He tries to mask another yawn as a soft knock on the door heralds the arrival of his tea.
Lanisen says again, “Yes sir.” He ducks a bow and turns toward the door, narrowly avoids a collision with the servant carrying the tea, apologizes profusely, and makes his escape.