The stables of Anvard are not large, but they are well-ordered and tidy. The wide alley runs parallel to the outside wall, with generously sized box stalls on either side. Many hold permanent residents, with the horse’s name on a wooden sign above the stall door, but several stand empty to receive visitors. The hard-packed dirt floor is kept well swept, and the stalls are clean, but there is a pervading smell of horse and hay that is not entirely
There is a small paddock in the east corner of the stable, and the far west end is devoted to tack storage and maintenance. A door in the west wall, kept closed most of the time, leads to the smithy.
Dar is speaking in low tones to a large, gray stallion. Instead of having one of the servants attend to the horse, he is saddling him personally, checking that the straps are properly tightened and looking the horse over carefully.
Lanisen enters the stable, pauses a moment to watch Dar prepare his horse, then bows unobtrusively and stands off to the side to await orders.
Dar pats the horse’s neck, offering him an apple, which Celeres gladly accepts. Dar catches Lanisen out of the corner of his eye and beckons him over.
Lanisen approaches immediately, bowing again as he does so. “Sir.”
Dar’s mouth twitches faintly. “I trust you are packed.”
Lanisen hesitates. “Think so, sir.” He nods toward the plain-looking bag sitting innocuously where he left it by the door.
Dar nods in reply, glancing towards the bag. “I will check it, if you would like. We will be traveling swiftly, and you will want to be prepared.”
Lanisen glances aghast at the Steward, and admits sheepishly, “It’s not very neat, sir.”
Dar hehs, rubbing at the back of his neck. “Well, then, perhaps it would be easier if I showed you.” He reaches for his own bag and opens it. It is, of course, neatly ordered. The steward has packed lightly, other than a serviceable cloak, and his bag contains several tightly-wrapped packets of food suitable for the road. “It is far easier to take what is needful than to deal with wishing you had along the way. At least–now that you have easy access to what is needed.” He continues to point out several items he has selected and explains why. “This other bag contains dispatches from His Majesty to Lord Ast. They are perhaps the most important items we are carrying and they are extremely sensitive. You will help me keep watch and make certain that nothing befalls them.”
Tyren slips into the stables, his garb less formal than tends to be usual, clearly favoring function over fashion. His presence is likely announced more by the friendly whinny of his destrier than any act of the knight himself.
Lanisen looks thoroughly embarrassed, but he edges closer to peer into the bag. He eyes the letters at Dar’s explanation and nods, frowning slightly. At the whinny, he glances up and immediately straightens, bowing toward the knight and withdrawing slightly from the Steward and his bag.
Dar raises an eyebrow, evidently reading something from Lanisen’s expression. He glances up at the whinny and dips a bow in his cousin’s direction. Celeres paws at the floor of his stall with a hoof, obviously eager to be off. His ears prick forward and he whinnies an equine greeting to Medon.
Tyren seems momentarily surprised, though only mildly. He bows in return to his cousin, and gives Lanisen a nod before moving to give Medon a pat in greeting, who gives Celeres another whinny in return. “Good morning, you two… three.”
Lanisen stands quiet and attentive where he is, not interrupting or venturing anything beyond his initial bow.
Dar replies evenly, “Good morning to you as well, Cousin. I intended to come find you and get those letters you were working on, though you have thoughtfully saved me the trouble.” Celeres tosses his head and Dar reaches up to pat the stallion’s neck, calming him.
Tyren hehs, keeping a hand on his own horse’s neck while he procures a pair of parchments from the folds of his tunic with the other. “I try. One for Astor, another for your sister.”
Dar takes the letters and secures them in the pocket of his tunic. “I will see they are delivered.”
Tyren nods a bit. “Thank you. And send my regards along as well, along with Astera’s… wish I could do so myself in person, but… well.”
Lanisen, watching the exchange, glances at Tyren at this. He still doesn’t interrupt, however.
Dar replies quietly, “I do understand. As will they. Perhaps they will be at court soon–”
Tyren hehs. “The chance will come.”
Dar nods his agreement, then turns to Celeres, who has given him a nudge. “Impatient? Well, you will have your chance as well, since we shall take to the road soon enough.” He furrows his brow. “Speaking of which–Lanisen, you will need a horse as well, if we are to cover the distance with the speed I intend.”
Tyren chuckles quietly as Medon lets out a quiet whinny, apparently chiding Celeres somewhat himself. “Oh come on. Do be reasonable. Not /all/ stallions are as patient as you. Besides, I’ll bet you’re eager for a good run yourself.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up at this, and he glances with trepidation at the stalls surrounding them. He swallows, hiding his shock as well as he can. “Y-yes, sir.”
Dar hides a smirk at his cousin’s comment. He covers his amusement by fastening his satchel and securing it to Celeres’s saddle. He says dryly to Lanisen, “I doubt you intended to keep up with Celeres on foot.”
Tyren says, “That’s quite a trick, I can tell you that one from experience.”
Dar coughs, nearly tempted to chuckle this time.
Lanisen glances between them and at Celeres. He gulps. “Figured I’d manage somehow, sir,” he mumbles.
Dar reaches up to pat the stallion’s neck, curbing Celeres’s impatience to start by doing so. “Let either myself or Sir Tyren know if you require help with your choice.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up again. “I gotta pick one out?”
Dar automatically suggests, “Have to, and no. I simply thought you might be more comfortable with a horse you selected yourself.”
Tyren jerks his head toward a stall where a black, docile-looking stallion observes the goings-on. “Pelrith over there might be a good choice, if I might make the suggestion.”
Dar nods his agreement. “I would approve. Besides which, he and Celeres manage well together.”
Lanisen rubs the back of his neck and turns on the spot to look around at the horses in the stalls surrounding them. At Tyren’s suggestion, he crosses to Pelrith’s stall, raising a hand uncertainly to greet the horse. Pelrith noses at his hand for a treat; finding none, he allows his nose to be stroked. Not looking away from the stallion, Lanisen says, “I don’t know anythin’ about ridin’, sir…”
Dar says reassuringly, “That is a skill that can be acquired, and you will find me patient in the teaching. Pelrith is easygoing enough that you should have little difficulty.”
Tyren nods. “He is, I believe, the horse often used for the training of squires.”
Lanisen continues to cautiously stroke the stallion’s neck. “Uh… what do I got– have to do, sir?”
Dar hehs. “Well, you could begin by learning how to saddle him.” He walks over to the wall and selects an appropriately sized saddle, then demonstrates how to get Pelrith to remain still and how to adjust the saddle. “I cannot tell you how often I have had to do this in the field. Sir Tyren as well, I would wager.”
Tyren hehs. “Don’t know which of us has done it the more often. You’ve been at it longer than I, but then again, I seem to be out on the field a bit more often, so to speak.”
Lanisen nods quickly and stands aside to watch. “Awful lot of straps and things,” he comments under his breath.
Dar stifles another amused look. “Just remember that you will want to have this part of the saddle cinched so that it will not slip off, but not so tightly that it hurts him.” He shows Lanisen which of the straps he means and indicates how to tell the proper adjustment.
Tyren allows the two of them to it without interruption for the time being, though Medon sees fit to offer a whinny or two of advice.
Lanisen nods, watching intently, and reaches to tug at the strap to feel the tension for himself. He glances over the rest of the saddle, taking note of the other bits and pieces and how they’re supposed to look.
Dar steps aside to allow Lanisen to take as close a look as he wants. Pelrith stands docilely in his stall.
Lanisen glances at Dar after a moment and asks, “Is that all there is to it, then, sir? ‘Sides the…” He gestures vaguely at his own face. “The head-thing?”
Medon pokes at Tyren’s shoulder, and the knight lets out a quiet ‘heh’ and pats the stallion’s neck. “Essentially, yes. At least for the tack. There’s the whole matter of actually riding, after all.”
Dar nods at Tyren’s words. “That will come in time. Would you care to explain the detail this time, Cousin?”
Tyren opens his mouth to reply, but a small push from Medon causes the knight to take a step or two forward before and words escape. “It seems the decision’s been made for me. I suppose I shall, then.”
Dar once again has to work to keep from smirking. “Since it has been settled, by all means–”
Lanisen glances between them again and ducks around to be able to observe from a better angle.
Tyren nods a bit, and strides over toward Pelrith. He proceeds to explain the proper fitting of the bit and reins and such, all the while providing a demonstration to match, and doing his best to keep the stallion calm and comfortable.
Lanisen watches, still carefully attentive to what is happening and how it is being done. “All right…”
Tyren continues to work and explain, his motions demonstrating this is indeed the who-knows-whicheth time he’s done this. He gives the stallion a pat on the neck as he says, “There. That should do it.”
Dar adds in a comment or two of his own, backing up what his cousin is saying. “It is no more difficult than tending to the hounds, Lanisen, and you did that well enough. Your horse is your companion along the road, and you will need to see that he has sufficient food and water. You will also tend to his hooves. A horse’s hooves are as important to you as they are to him.”
Lanisen glances immediately to the hooves in question and nods. He pauses, frowns slightly, and hesitates. “How do I do that, sir?”
Tyren says, “Care, precision, and gentleness. And the ability to build up a measure of trust between the two of you. A horse that does not trust you is far more likely to… protest, after all.”
Dar hehs. “As you and I both have the scars to indicate, I believe.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up again and he glances to Pelrith with apprehension. He eyes the hooves again, the puzzled frown still in place.
Tyren says, “So we do. Daresay you’ve more, though, I do believe Celeres is a tad more… feisty than Medon.”
Dar pats his stallion’s neck with obvious fondness. “He has spirit, but–we have come to an understanding.” Celeres’s ears prick forward and he gives a quiet whinny in reply. “While there is no need for nervousness around horses, their strength and intelligence means that they ought to be respected and treated that way.” He touches Celeres’s foreleg, and the horse obediently lifts his hoof and holds it steady. Dar takes up a hoof pick to carefuly clear any packed dirt and stones away.
Lanisen watches the Steward, then bends to touch Pelrith’s foreleg in imitation of Dar’s actions. He seems startled when the stallion actually lifts the hoof indicated.
Tyren glances to Medon with a faint smile. “Few know that better than a mounted knight, I suppose. He and his horse depend on each other for rather a lot.”
Dar nods soberly as he continues to inspect each of Celeres’s other hooves in turn. “That is indeed the case.”
Lanisen, glancing again at Dar, takes a hoof pick of his own and begins to gingerly clean out Pelrith’s hooves, jumpy and reactive to any of the stallion’s movements despite Dar’s reassurance.
Tyren moves back toward his own horse, who looks rather put out at the fact Celeres and Pelrith are clearly being Readied for a Ride and he isn’t.
Dar glances over and gives Lanisen a nod of approval. “That is the way.”
Lanisen finishes up, Pelrith standing placidly through the process. Lanisen, nevertheless, looks relieved when it is over and returns the hoof pick to its place.
Tyren pats Medon on the neck in a soothing sort of manner. “Soon, my friend. That /was/ my intention in coming here, after all, although perhaps it must wait a bit.”
Dar adds, “You will find that Pelrith will take little effort to direct. There is a responsibility in that.” He coughs again at Tyren’s conversation with Medon. “Perhaps the two of you can accompany us to the borders of Anvard at least. It seems a shame for Medon to miss out on the entire journey.”
The stallion in question lets out a cheerful sort of whinny, and Tyren chuckles. “In all honesty I believe the both of us would like that.”
Lanisen watches to see if there’s anything he’s missed in preparing a horse for travel, then again glances up at the massive animal and rubs between his ears, combing through the forelock cautiously with his fingertips.
Dar’s mouth twitches faintly at the corners when he observes this. To his cousin, he replies, “As would we. There have been few journeys Celeres has set out on without Medon alongside, after all.”
Tyren replies, “Well then. I suppose that settles that… give us a moment.” He opens the door to Medon’s stall, and proceeds to ready the stallion for a quick jaunt, Medon all the while remaining quite placid.
Lanisen, giving Pelrith a last pat, slips out of the stallion’s stall and crosses to where he left his bag. He carries it back to the stall, and kneeling, begins to rummage through it and rearrange things, apparently trying to get it into some kind of order. He keeps an eye on Tyren and his progress to avoid holding things up when the knight finishes.
Dar makes a few last-minute adjustments of his own, then leads Celeres over towards Pelrith’s stall.
Lanisen, glancing up, closes his bag and looks for someplace on the saddle to tie it.
Tyren finishes up relatively swiftly, leading Medon out of the stall. Medon lets out a little whinny in Celeres’ direction.
Dar quietly points out to Lanisen how he can secure his bag. Celeres tosses his head in response to Medon, letting out a small whinny of his own.
Tyren observes, “Seems he’s pleased for the extra company, if only for a bit.”
Lanisen does so, tugging at the bag to make sure it’s secure. He reaches across to open the stall door and leads Pelrith out to join the others.
Dar slips into Celeres’s saddle in one smooth, fluid motion.
Tyren vaults into his own stallion’s saddle, the motion expert and practiced.
Lanisen fits a foot into the stirrup with difficulty and hoists himself up with all the grace of a sack of potatoes.
Dar glances back, his brow furrowing slightly. “You will grow more used to it with practice–“, he observes evenly.
Tyren chuckles and nods, shifting his glance to Dar briefly. “I’m sure you could tell dozens of stories of how long it took me – and how awkward I was until then.”
Lanisen gets himself situated and replies, a bit breathlessly, “Got it, sir.”
Dar gives Tyren a look that is answer in itself. To Lanisen, he answers, “Then let us be off.”
Lanisen nods, looking briefly panicked as to how to actually get going, but he watches Dar and Tyren for direction.
Tyren merely gives Dar’s Look a smirk in return, and nods. “Right behind you, cousin.”
Dar nudges Celeres, and the stallion responds immediately. Celeres settles into a trot that looks effortless as they pass out the stable doors.
Lanisen gives Pelrith a nudge as well — and immediately clutches at the saddle as the stallion responds with a trot and follows Celeres. Forget the reins, he’s just hanging on for dear life.
Tyren brings up the rear, nudging Medon forward, who quickly is brought up to speed.
In the Archenland Forest
You stand on a forest path. Trees lean overhead, providing shade for your passing. Mountains rise up to the north, and the path you are standing on continues to the east and west. Daylight flickers between the branches of the trees, casting dollops of light at your feet. The occasional insect hums past, but except for the rustle of wind, most is still. To the south, the forest gives way to a grove of willow trees.
Lanisen, on Pelrith, follows Dar, but as he’s still clinging to the pommel and looking shaken by the fact that the massive animal beneath him is Moving, this likely has nothing to do with his direction and everything to do with the stallion’s initiative.
Dar slows Celeres’s pace as they reach an area where the trees become more dense.
Tyren brings up the rear on Medon, tall and steady in the saddle. He too slows as Dar does, letting out a soft sigh.
Lanisen lets out a sigh as well as Pelrith slows. He swallows and straightens his posture, shivering visibly with both apprehension and delight.
Dar allows Celeres to nose through some of the patches of grass which have sprung up between the trees. “The first time my father brought me through the forest this way, I was younger than you are, Lanisen”, he comments quietly.
Medon remains alert, head raised and ears flicking. He hehs quietly at Dar’s comment, but adds nothing himself for the time being.
Lanisen glances at the Steward, trying to get his reins figured out. Pelrith stands patiently beneath him, then lowers his head to nibble as well. “Yeah, sir?”
Dar adds, “I was, quite frankly, terrified of what being presented at court would mean. I suppose I had to learn to navigate it.”
Tyren’s expression is unreadable as he observes simply, “We all do.”
Lanisen eyes the reins in his hands, apparently feeling secure enough in his seat to release his death-grip on the pommel for a second (until Pelrith moves a step to nab a patch of wood sorrel), and replies without irony, “Guess you had a little more to worry about than I do, sir.”
Dar glances to his cousin, raising an eyebrow in clear indication that he reads something, despite the inscrutibility of Tyren’s features. He does not press for an explanation, however, simply remarking, “Not more perhaps. It was different for me, perhaps, but that does not negate what you are facing, Lanisen. We will see how you manage.”
Tyren merely nods once, indicative of his agreement.
Lanisen keeps his eyes down, using his unfamiliarity with what is happening in front of him as an unspoken excuse to avoid looking at the men.
Dar lets out a breath, glancing to the west. “Those trees mark the border between Anvard and Lancelyn Green. I suppose we must part ways here. Tyren–should you have need of me, you know the couriers to send–” This is as close as as he comes to acknowledging that he recognizes that something is troubling his cousin.
Tyren nods again, urging Medon forward until he and his cousin are side-by-side. He reaches out a hand to grasp his cousin’s forearm in a gesture of parting. “Take care, cousin. I will miss your presence here. If there is anything you need taken care of, let me know and I will see to it as best i can.”
Lanisen observes the farewell quietly, then looks away. He turns Pelrith in a few experimental circles to get accustomed to how the reins work, giving Tyren and Dar a bit more space.
Dar returns the gesture. “You know I will. Be well, Cousin. And if any advice of mine can be of service, it is yours by letter.”
Tyren hehs quietly. “As it always has. Goes both ways, as I am sure you well know by now.”
Dar dips his head, acknowledging this.
Tyren releases his grip, his only further words being, “Safe travels.”
Dar nudges Celeres into motion, gesturing for Lanisen to do the same with Pelrith.
Lanisen does so, half-bowing awkwardly to Tyren from his seat in the saddle, and turns Pelrith to follow Celeres.