uncomfortable reunion

Lancelyn Green
Middle Archenland

You find yourself in the charming hamlet called Lancelyn Green. It’s a busy town, evidenced by the worn ruts in the road and the villagers who bustle past you, nodding a pleasant hello as they continue on about their business.

The area you stand in appears to be the town center, as the roads form a roundabout encircling a round, grassy lawn with a large well at the center. The main road runs east and west through the town, with a smaller track running south toward a cluster of straw-roofed cottages. A good-sized manor house sits amidst an ample lawn to the north, and the green is hemmed with shops. A blacksmith’s workshop can be seen to the northeast, some sort of tailor to the northwest, a dry goods’ shop to the southeast, and an open-air market to the southwest. The whole is marked with well-tended trees and even a few beds of cultivated flowers.

The westgoing road leads toward the Inn and wends its way out of town. To the east, the road curves past some larger structures.

Lanisen leaves the store, glancing briefly up and down the road. He pockets his money pouch, juggling an awkward handful of purchases, and turns west down the road.

Loc is sitting beneath a tree, arms behind his head as he rests against the truck and chews on a long blade of grass.

Rosalind passes through the roundabout on her way back to the Manor house from the village, a servant walking a discrete distance behind her. She has an empty basket, which had contained fresh vegetables for a family in need, looped over her arm, and her face is tipped upward to receive the warmth of the autumn sun.

Lanisen takes a minute to recognize the lady of the town. When he does, his eyes widen. He murmurs under his breath, “Okay,” and ducks quickly aside to walk behind a farmer and a mule, hopefully keeping out of sight.

Loc spies the lady as well. He rises as she nears, keeping his eyes low to the ground. He bows at the waist and offers a polite, “After noon m’lady.”

Rosalind beams at the aforementioned farmer, who smiles at her in turn and hands her a late summer rose as she asks him about his wife’s health and admires the sheen of the mule’s coat. She turns to greet Loc with equal friendliness. “Oh, good afternoon to you.”

Lanisen keeps walking, facing straight ahead, trying to look like he knows where he’s going and is in an awful hurry to get there. At Loc’s voice, his forehead beads out in anxious perspiration.

Loc spies the movement and turns his gaze away from Lanisen. He takes a step back so the lady can pass, still not looking up, and leans with his back to the trunk, his countenace somewhat awkward. He picks at the hem of his tunic.

Rosalind addresses her servant, who apparently believes that Lanisen is up to /something suspicious/ or at least something sneaky and has moved to stop his egress. “Let him go, Marin. Oh, my…” Her cheeks flush a little. “You look…familiar…”

Loc frowns a little at the servant and says in a collected manner, “Not everyone feels comfortable with the genteel type. No need for a fuss.” He keeps his back to the tree.

Lanisen stops short, looking trapped. He fumbles one of his packages and dives after it, just managing to catch it before it hits the ground. He bows quickly to Rosalind, his face very red.

Rosalind lets out a tiny sigh as Marin reluctantly takes a step away from Lanisen. “He’s not from here, m’lady, and there’s something I don’t trust about the way he was hurrying off soon as he saw you…” The slender, girlish impression is gone and there is steel in the Lady of Lancelyn Green’s spine. “That is enough. This is no way to welcome a visitor. I am disappointed in you, Marin…I know you’re only trying to protect me, but I am hardly in need of protection here. Please return to the Manor house. I will see to the rest of my errands.” She hands him the basket, and Marin does not seem best pleased as he takes it. “Yes, m’lady.”

Loc quietly returns to his position beneath the tree and chews on the long stem of grass, watching the rest of the exchange.

Lanisen keeps quiet as Rosalind speaks to Marin, fidgeting anxiously with one of his parcels. When the servant departs, he moistens his lips and says without quite looking at her, “Beg pardon, m’lady, I–I didn’t mean to cause a fuss.”

Rosalind smiles at him. “Oh, no. You weren’t…I am simply sorry you have had such a bad impression of our town. I…don’t stand on ceremony very much, I am afraid.” Marin lets out a huff and strides back toward the Manor.

Loc watches Marin leave.

Lanisen looks bewildered, but only says, “Yes, m’lady.”

Rosalind has to crane her neck to get a good look at him. “I’m certain I know you from somewhere, but…where? Is this your first time in Lancelyn Green?” Her tone and her expression are both purely friendly.

Loc chews the grass a little harder and looks around a good distraction.

Lanisen blinks at this and shifts his weight. “It’s, um, it’s been a few years since, ma’am.”

Rosalind smiles at this. “Welcome back, then. I don’t think I caught your name…”

Lanisen hesitates a beat too long. “Lanisen, m’lady.”

Rosalind turns the name over trippingly on her tongue. “Lanisen…Lan…” Her eyes grow saucer-wide in recognition.

Loc slowly stands and begins to step, one foot in front of the other toward the market.

Lanisen risks a glance at Rosalind, then winces and looks away. “Right,” he says under his breath.

Rosalind’s smile reinforces itself. “That explains it. I hardly recognized you, but then you were so young then. Welcome back”, she repeats, more firmly this time.

Lanisen is silent for a minute. He lets out a little breath through his nose and says quietly, “Thank you, m’lady.”

Rosalind says softly, “You deserve a second chance as much as any other man, Lanisen. What…brings you back here?”

Lanisen says, “Um, Sir Colin, m’lady.”

Loc relaxes as he merges with a crowd of people, moving for the well.

Rosalind gives him a quizzical look. “Sir Colin is here too? After so long, it seems that the larger world is coming here again…” There is a note of hope in her tone. Loc passes by, and she gives him the same, slight look of recognition that she gave Lanisen. “Oh…it really does seem that way…”

Lanisen closes his eyes briefly, wincing. He glances toward Loc.

Loc tenses a little, trying very hard not to look guilty. He draws some water to drink and glances back at Lanisen.

Rosalind murmurs, “Lord Barron will be pleased to see Sir Colin again, I don’t doubt…”

Lanisen says, “Aahh, will he. Um. Good.”

Loc remains near the well, fiddling with the bucket awwardly.

Rosalind glances in Loc’s direction. “You know him?”, she asks quietly.

Lanisen says, “Me?”

Rosalind nods at this. “The man by the well…”

Lanisen says, “Oh, umm. I–yeah, yes, m’lady.”

Loc grimaces as the bucket falls in with a tremendous splash.

Rosalind winces in sympathy when the bucket falls. “Then I shouldn’t keep you any longer. You’ll have catching up to do”, she says kindly. “And my husband dislikes it when I am gone too long. He worries…” This last is added in a conspirational tone.

Lanisen says, “Ahh, heh.” He smiles weakly, bowing again.

Loc takes a few steps back, trying to appear as if nothing has happened.

Rosalind gives them both a warm smile and turns toward the road leading back to the Manor house.

Loc gives a small bow to her.

Lanisen backs away, watching her go. He lets out a breath and glances wryly at Loc.

Loc gives a small salute and smile to Lanisen.

Lanisen glances down the road again, then turns to approach Loc. “Hey.”

Loc relaxes and nods to him, “Hey, how’s the day going?” His tone is friendly.

Lanisen lets out a long breath, deflating a little bit as he glances down the manor road again. “Better now.”

Loc gives a small nod, his expression earnest.

Lanisen shifts his parcels into one arm and rubs a hand over his face, raising his eyebrows. “She ain’t changed, has she.”

Loc chuckles softly, grinning suddenly. “Not a bit–but then, she was always that friendly. Even as a young girl.”

Lanisen says, “What’s her game, even.”

Loc says, “I kinda like how friendly she is with the common folk. Lettin’ know she cares.”

Lanisen says, “Right. Sure.”

Loc says, “I think it helps she was one of us–well, common anyway. Once.”

Lanisen makes a face, looking away.

Loc rubs the back of his neck and grunts. “Didn’t mean to be an idiot. Sorry.”

Lanisen says blankly, “What?”

Loc shakes his head, looking sheepish. “Nothing. Just too much sun I think.”

Lanisen gives him the side-eye.

Loc rubs his eyes and sighs. “Gimbor’s in the Goods store working on picking out seeds. Been waitin’ hours for him. I think he’s got lost somewhere in all the informtion needed to grow stuff… or arguing why we don’t need it.”

Lanisen snorts. “Ain’t sold on carrots yet, huh?”

Loc chuckles, “He has a deep seated fear of anything green that isn’t made of stone and shiny–and orange is always highly suspcious. Red… Red he’s coming to terms with.”

Lanisen says, “That’s a start, I guess.”

Loc says with a small ‘heh’, “Not that I’m big into vegetables but… I think they could brew some pretty good ale or mead with the right grain.”

Lanisen says, “You tried takin’ that tack yet? ‘Cause that’s gonna be a solid selling point with this lot, bet you anything.”

Loc chuckles, “That’s how I got them to even entertain the idea.”

Lanisen says, “There you go, then. They know how many things you can turn into booze?”

Loc looks thoughtful, “Depends. See, they ain’t got all the agricultural knowledge the Narnian lot do–they’re much more focused on the stones. But they’re comin’ round slowly. Hoping to eventually get a few fruit trees too. Ain’t nothing lie good dwarf brew!”

Lanisen says, “Right. Well. Good for you, bringin’ peaches to the unwashed masses.”

Loc laughs, “Aye. And they don’t wash very often. They say it dun matter anyhow as the dirt stops comin’ off at some point.”

Lanisen says, “That–was a joke. But all right.”

Loc says, “I….” He looks around and lowers his voice, “I ain’t as strong as I was on cues… not with regular folks…” He looks down. “Wasn’t allowed to spend much time outside the miners. And when I finally was… well. They all know why I’m there so…”

Lanisen’s expression goes from alarmed to suspicious to mildly disgusted. “Right.”

Loc coughs and looks away, embarassed.

Lanisen says, “It’s been four years, Loc. Not a lifetime. You ain’t forgot the language, have you?”

Loc says, “No. But I don’t often feel in my element anymore.”

Lanisen shrugs.

Loc asks, “You sleep easy at night?”

Lanisen says, “Do you?”

Loc says, with an edge, “No….” He looks around again. “Seen a ghost about a year in one night.” He turns and looks at Lanisen. “Ain’t ever slept easy since.”

Lanisen says, “Ghosts ain’t real.”

Loc’s jaw tightens. “This one was flesh ‘n blood, easy enough Lanny. I ain’t referin’ ta the kinda ones in stories.”

Loc shifts uneasily and looks around again.

Lanisen says, “What’re you talkin’ about.”

Loc lowers his voice, “An old acquatince we both had once. Did ya ever hear what happened to our other half?”

Lanisen stares at him. Comprehension hits him all at once and he recoils, sucking in a breath.

Loc says, “I kept my doors locked… but it still… got it. Scared the livin’ tar outta me. Ain’t seen ‘im since… but she sent me a letter with Tyren once. They’re north a here. Far north. Guess they can’t come back… Think she has a kid now too.”

Lanisen finds his voice at last. “Y-yeah, that I knew.” He blows out a long breath, staring at the ground a little distance away, and rubs a hand over his mouth. “A year in, so– three years ago now? Not since?”

Loc nods.
Loc rubs the back of his neck. “Still… left an impression.”

Lanisen asks, “What… what did he say to you?”

Loc says, “If I breathed a word of the visit he’d find a way ta kill me…” He hesitates, “And… he wanted ta test me. He gave me something. Something that’s long gone now.”
Loc says, “I dun wanna think ’bout how he got it.”

Lanisen asks, “What? What did he give you?”

Loc says, “Was… a map. Of a place. A way to get people out–if you were ‘brave’ or stupid enough to use it.”

Lanisen stares at Loc. Finally, he says, “I don’t understand why would he do that.”

Loc says, “I dunno either.–Guess he knew I always felt bad ’bout the girl.–And hoped I’d be dumb enough to risk the noose again.”

Lanisen asks, “What did you do with it?”

Loc says, “Hid it fer a long time… then got rid a it.”
Loc says, “Too dangerous to keep around.”

Lanisen says, “Got rid of it how?”

Loc says, “Turned it over to a proper authority… who wouldn’t hang me for havin’ it.”

Lanisen says, “So somebody has it who knows to stop up any holes?”

Loc nods.
Loc says, “If it was even real.”

Lanisen nods, conceding this. He rubs his hand over his mouth again and meets Loc’s eyes, frightened and searching. “He’s been back?” he asks. “Really? You’re not just… you wouldn’t…”

Loc looks a little paler than usual, his voice low. “Would’t lie ’bout /that/.” He swallows hard, “But this was before Tyren went up cuz they were discovered… so I think now they been watched too.”
Loc says, “Been least three years.”

Lanisen asks, “Sir Tyren, did you tell him?”

Loc nods.
Loc says, “He took the map.”

Lanisen says, “And you told him where you got it?”

Loc nods.

Lanisen relaxes a little, but still looks badly shaken. “All right,” he says softly. “All right.” He glances around the square, then nods and looks at his hands. “Sir Colin’ll be lookin’ for me, I said I wouldn’t be long.”

Loc nods, “Best not ta keep ‘im waitin.”

Lanisen nods, backing away. He looks at Loc, nods again, and turns to go.

Loc nods to Lanisen and heads for the store.


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