Carmichael Village Square
Western Archenland

You stand in the center of a quaint little country village, nestled in the foothills of the Western Mountains. There are a few shops surrounding the square, including Isfar’s blacksmith shop to the east, which is ringing with the sound of iron-on-iron. To the southwest is a small tavern, which smells of good home-cooked food. There is a traveller’s shelter to the northwest with a sign over the door that reads “Carmichael Lodge”. There is also a shop to the northeast, and two others, to the southeast and to the west, respectively. In the midst of the square stands a a stone well.

The main road heads south toward the settlement, a collection of humble, neatly-kept homes to the southwest of the main town.

Colin strides through the square, wearing a pensive expression on his face.

Lanisen heads up the path from the south, eying an angry red welt on his wrist ruefully.

Colin nearly runs into the well in his distraction. Halting, he draws up the bucket for a drink and splashes a handful onto his face and through his hair.

Lanisen grimaces, tugs his sleeve down, and adjusts his quiver where it hangs on his shoulder. He catches sight of Colin and adjusts his course to join him. “Where you been?” he asks, bowing briefly for the benefit of the townspeople milling around.

Colin flicks some water at him. “Around. How’s the practicin’ going?”

Lanisen says, “Ugh. Everything is awful.”

Colin grins. “Arm turn black yet?”

Lanisen says darkly, “Not yet.” He hikes up his sleeve to show, in addition to the red weal on his wrist, an ugly red-purple blotch on the inside of his forearm the size of a grapefruit. “Give it a day or two.”

Colin hisses a breath through his teeth as he inspects the bruises. “That’s a beauty. We need to get you an armband…”

Lanisen says, “New arm, more like.” He gestures at the bucket, asking for Colin to pass it over if he’s done.

Colin sends another handful down over the top of his head and shoves the bucket towards him. “Can’t help you there.”

Lanisen drinks deeply, then steps back, shivering. “Shoulders’re killing me,” he complains. “And it got /cold/.”

Colin eyes the sky darkly. “Better not snow anytime soon.”

Lanisen flicks water at him. “It’s Archenland. It’s getting on toward winter. It’s gonna snow, and the sooner you get your head around that the better.”

Colin jumps back as a couple water droplets get him in the face. “At least the early snows won’t trap us here. Though, I wouldn’t object to that.”

Lanisen snickers under his breath.

Colin dips his hand in the water and sends it Lanisen’s direction.

Lanisen sidesteps most of the water neatly. “I’m goin’ inside, it’s too cold for this.”

Colin stretches both of his hands out. “What? This is fishing weather!”

Lanisen repeats disbelievingly, “/Fishing/ weather?”

Colin nods emphatically. “Or if there was a beach, I would definitely go swimming right about now.”

Lanisen scoffs loudly and turns away. “You /would/,” he retorts.

Colin says, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Lanisen says, “Are you coming? I want soup.”

Colin pffts. “Strawberry ice cream.” He falls in step with Lanisen.

Lanisen rolls his eyes and opens the tavern door.

Fischer’s Tavern

You are in Fischer’s Tavern. A tall lanky man is standing behind the bar with a towel in one hand and a grin on his face. In front of him there is a nice hardwood bar about four feet high. Quite a few glasses and bottles stand on it waiting for a order. The barkeep motions towards a stool, “Name’s Fischer. Have a seat, what can I get ya to drink?”

Colin follows Lanisen into the tavern and promptly asks Fischer if he’s made any strawberry ice cream lately. Fischer just stares at him.

Lanisen casually pickpockets him.

Colin bats at Lanisen and grabs it back from him and goes skulking to sit at their table.

Lanisen chortles, letting it go with good grace, and asks the increasingly bewildered Fischer for a bowl of soup.

Colin stuffs his pack under the chair where Lanisen is least likely to get at it and sits with his elbows on the table, rubbing his chin.

Lanisen, while Fischer is getting his soup, turns toward Colin’s table and makes a you-want-anything gesture at the pricelist with his eyebrows raised.

Colin shakes his head no.

Lanisen asks Fischer for some pie anyway and carries both it and the soup back to the table.

Colin grins slightly and places his chin in both hands.

Lanisen shoves the pie toward him and blows on a spoonful of steaming soup. “Okay, you’re thinky,” he says after a moment, glancing at Colin across his bowl.

Colin raises an eyebrow. “Thinky? Is that a word?”

Lanisen considers this. “I dunno. How about ‘prevaricatin’, is that a word?”

Now it’s Colin’s turn to stare at him. “Sure hope so.”

Lanisen snickers and eats the cooled bite of soup. “Eat your pie.”

Colin comments, “Oh, that’s for me?” He grabs the plate and claims it, taking a bite or two.

Lanisen makes his way through most of the soup in companionable silence, then leans back in his chair and peers at the weal on his wrist again in morbid fascination.

Colin reaches down to dig in his pack and pulls out a leather armband, which he tosses to him. “Here. Use mine, or you’re going to seriously regret it.”

Lanisen takes the armband and looks at it with interest. “Where do you get somethin’ like this?”

Colin says, “Tanner, in Anvard. Least that’s where I got mine.”

Lanisen says, “Huh.” He slides it back across the table to Colin. “I’m not going again for a few days, I think, but I’ll let you know. Thanks.”

Colin nods. “When you do, borrow it. It’s good you’ll let those welts heal a bit.”

Lanisen grumbles, “Ain’t care about the welts, it’s my arms hurt.”

Colin says, “Yeah, the bruises go pretty deep.”

Lanisen says, “What? No, not the bruises, just from pullin’ the string.”

Colin ahhs. “The stiffness. I got ya.”

Lanisen asks, “What’d you do today?”

Colin replies, “Mostly tried to track down Ara. Seems that the winter preparations at the manor have taken over her life. She doesn’t even know we’re here yet.”

Lanisen gives him a sympathetic glance and tilts up his bowl to get at the last of the broth.

Colin shrugs a little. “Oh well. We can keep ourselves amused for a few more days before heading back to Coghill, yeah?”

Lanisen asks, “Coghill?”

Colin says, “I think so, yes. I think I need to talk to Dar.”
Colin keeps his tone casual.

Lanisen goes still. He sets his bowl down. “Yeah?”

Colin attempts to reassure him. “Nothing about you. Don’t worry.” He thinks a moment before lowering his voice. “Need to get his advice…we talked before about me approaching my uncle…about Ara.” he says in hushed tones.

Lanisen says, “Oh.” He lets out a breath and laughs silently, awkwardly relieved, and rubs his hands over his face. “Ah. Lion. Yeah, I bet he’d be a good one to talk to about that.”

Colin slowly eats another bite of pie, chewing absently. “What’d you think I wanted to talk to him about?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. Sorry.”

Colin taps his fork on the pie plate several times. “Y’know. In my experience, when people say they don’t know, often they just don’t want to say the answer.”

Lanisen says, “Or they don’t know.”

Colin forks another bite. “That too.”

Lanisen considers his empty bowl and hops up without another word to get himself a slice of pie.

Colin chuckles under his breath as he watches him go.

Lanisen returns and proceeds to demolish.

Colin continues to slowly work his way through his own slice.

Lanisen, once he’s finished, leans his chair back on two legs and watches the other patrons with idle interest.

Colin asks, “Hey, Lanny?”

Lanisen lets the chair thump back to all four legs. “Yessir?”

Colin twirls an uneaten bite on the plate. “D’you think I’m crazy?”

Lanisen says, “Yessir.”

Colin shoots him an unamused look. “I’m serious.”

Lanisen squints at him. “…Okay,” he says at last. “If this is a serious conversation, I’m goin’ to need more context.”

Colin continues to destroy the bite with his fork. “Like, digging up all the old stuff with Myrd… and the Ara thing. Do you think I’m crazy?”

Lanisen doesn’t speak for a minute. “Digging up the stuff with Myrd,” he repeats.

Colin flicks the bite of pie in his direction. “You know what I mean.”

Lanisen says, “No, I don’t. What do you mean digging up.”

Colin releases a sigh. “Well, the maps, and the questions. You know.”

Lanisen says, “The maps ain’t got anything to do with Myrd.”

Colin pushes his plate away, finished even though there are still several bites left. “Never mind…” he mumbles.

Lanisen watches. “I don’t think you’re crazy,” he says finally. “Why is that even–”

Colin shakes his head. “Forget it.”

Lanisen says, frowning uncertainly, “Sir…”

Colin rises from his chair. “It’s all right. Just tired. I think it’s time for me to turn in.”

Lanisen says, “Sir, wait, no. What’s… Are you really? What’s going on?”

Colin shakes his head. “Nothing. Just thinking too much.”

Lanisen says, “So talk to me. You dragged me out here for somebody to talk to, talk to me.”

Colin squints at him. “You dragged me here today.” He informs him.

Lanisen rolls his eyes. “You know what I mean.”

Colin says, “Sorry.”

Lanisen looks at him directly and asks, quiet, “Are you all right?”

Colin rubs his eyes for a couple seconds and nods.

Lanisen says, “Would you say if you weren’t.”

Colin says, “No.”

Lanisen stares at him for a second, then finally nods and looks down.

Colin massages one of his temples for a moment before he just gives a nod and quietly departs.


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