Lanisen, despite the lateness of the hour, is kneeling next to the pen still holding Tohol, reaching one hand between the slats to stroke the wolfhound’s dense fur and talking to him quietly.
Colin enters the kennels, looking weary but still very much wide awake. He pauses, surprised to see someone else there at this late hour.
Lanisen twists around at the sound of the door opening and withdraws his hand from Tohol’s pen. He stands, brushes fur off his tunic, and bows to Colin. “Evenin’, sir.”
Colin asks, “Evenin’ Lanisen. What brings you down here at this hour? Does Danall still have tasks for you this late?”
Lanisen glances at Tohol’s pen and shifts his weight. “Uh, no… I just…” He rubs the back of his neck. “I don’t– I don’t work here anymore,” he says, eyes on his feet. “Lord Dar, uh… he moved me.”
Colin’s eyebrow lifts slightly. “Did he now?”
Lanisen says hastily, “Yeah, but he said I could come back here when I’m done there, so I’m not– I mean, it’s…”
Colin prods. “Done where?” His expression looks mildly apprehensive.
Lanisen plucks a bit of wolfhound fur off his tunic, shrugging uncomfortably. “Done… workin’ for him. For the Steward.”
Colin obviously was not expecting that. He looks rather surprised, then thoughtful. He coughs, NOT smiling in the slightest. “Very unexpected. Did he tell you why?”
Lanisen shakes his head, not looking at Colin. Then, “Well… yeah. It’s… he said he wants to– to be sure I understand what’s…” He trails off, rubbing his temple, and it’s clear he doesn’t have the slightest idea. “I don’t know, sir.”
Colin says, “I see.”
Lanisen asks helplessly, “Why would he… I mean, it ain’t that I’m not grateful, but sir… I don’t know how to do any of the stuff he needs doin’, I only know my letters enough to read signs and stuff, I don’t know how to look after a horse–” He scrubs the heel of his hand into one eye, looking suddenly like he hasn’t slept for a day or two. “What’s figures, sir?”
Colin eyes Lanisen with an appraising eye. “Numbers. Lanisen, I imagine he wishes you to learn these things, and more, which is why he is taking you on into his service.”
Lanisen shakes his head. “How come?” he asks quietly, like he’s really not expecting a logical answer.
Colin says, “I’m sure he has his reasons. Lord Dar is a very thoughful, precise man.”
Colin pauses, and watches the lad for a moment. “I think this will be good for you.”
Lanisen glances up at him, looking fairly hopeless on the prospect of even surviving this. “Think so, sir?”
Colin nods. “It will be hard work, but I’ve seen you with the hounds. You don’t appear to be afraid of work. You’re going to learn a lot.” He says with a slight smile.
Lanisen passes a hand over his eyes again. “I ain’t– I understand what I’m doin’ here… /did/ here… and it’s… I mean, doin’ the same thing every day is boring but I know what to expect and I– I like the dogs and I like Danall, but I ain’t /smart/, not book-smart. Mum tried to teach me letters but I gave up ’cause I’m just /dumb/, I can’t…”
Colin says, “Just because you were not taught it when you were a child does not mean that you are dumb, Lanisen.”
Lanisen lets out a breath, then says out of nowhere, “He’s takin’ me to Carmichael.”
Colin looks startled anew. “Wait a moment… to accompany him while he performs his duties or…to stay?” He asks apprehensively.
Lanisen swallows and shakes his head. “He says just to go with him.” It’s obvious he suspects the latter.
Colin’s features relax. “If he says so, then it is so. He’s a truthful man, as you well know.”
Lanisen glances at Colin. Evidently drawing some reassurance from Colin’s certainty, he nods.
Colin returns the nod. “When are you departing for Carmichael?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “Not sure… I think soon. Haven’t actually… asked.”
Colin ahs. “Well, he’ll inform you when the time is right. Do you know how long you will be there?”
Lanisen shakes his head again. “I don’t know anythin’ for sure.”
Colin chuckles softly. “The hour is late and I doubt you’ll discover these things tonight.”
Lanisen glances at the window. “Huh,” he agrees. “Lion, I’m tired…”
Colin says, “I recommend sleep. It does wonders.”
Lanisen says, “‘S what I’ve heard.” He takes a deep breath, glancing back to Tohol in the pen. Idly, he reaches out and releases the latch, allowing the door to swing open.
Colin nods approvingly. “Sleep on it tonight. Things will look better in the morning. I’ll be around and about.”
Lanisen nods vaguely, watching the wolfhound amble out to rejoin the rest of the hounds. “I’ll try, sir. Thanks,” he adds, glancing back to Colin.
Colin nods. “You’re welcome. Have a good night, lad.” He grins reassuringly at him, and departs the kennels.