This field, cleared of trees, is quite even, and in the center there is a circle traced out by flat stones buried in the ground. Beyond the circle there is a pile of burlap sacks, and several bales of straw. A blond, blue eyed youth sits on a bale, and works at stuffing straw into the sacks, forming targets which are roughly the shape of a man’s torso. Beyond him, you can make out another field, and some benches.
Colin is a ways away in the field, pummeling a target.
Lanisen comes down the road from town, glancing over the mostly-empty field. He watches Colin for a second, then turns away to speak to the boy minding the targets. Some money changes hands, and Lanisen carries his target off toward an empty corner. He sets down his satchel and begins, using his fists.
Colin beats one fist after another into his target for quite some time before he pauses for breath, bracing both hands on his knees as he doubles over for air.
Lanisen works more placidly, finding a comfortable rhythm that doesn’t demand more than he can sustain.
Colin looks around as he catches his breath and notices Lanisen across the field. Hesitating a moment or two, he eventually starts making his way towards him.
Lanisen’s eyes flicker briefly away from his target and toward Colin. He nods, but doesn’t stop.
Colin watches for a bit before sitting on the ground and continuing to watch.
Lanisen slows and stops, backing away from the target self-consciously.
Colin says, “Don’t stop on my account.”
Lanisen shrugs and resumes. His distraction shows, but after a few blows he tunes Colin’s presence out again and resumes his regular rhythm.
Colin lets the silence grow.
Lanisen continues until the target begins to look worse for the wear. When the rough seam down the back splits and spills straw everywhere, he backs away, wiping his forehead.
Colin comments, “You’re getting really good.”
Lanisen shrugs dismissively, dropping to the ground besides Colin and pulling a waterskin from his satchel. “Targets.”
Colin starts tearing apart a piece of dry grass. “Been practicing much?”
Lanisen says, “A little.”
Colin says, “That’s good.”
Lanisen says, “It’s something to do.”
Colin says, “That’s true. Hey question. You know how to read much? ”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, I read all right. Had my letters before and Lord Dar made sure after.”
Colin nods. “That’s good to hear. If you want to read at all I can track down some interesting books for you if you’d like.”
Lanisen says, “If you want. I don’t really care.”
Colin shrugs a bit. “Just wondered if it’d be something that interested you.”
Lanisen considers it. “Figure it’s another thing to lug around on the road,” he finally says.
Colin nods slowly.
Lanisen says, “Why do you ask?”
Colin shrugs a little. “I don’t want you to be bored.”
Lanisen says, “I ain’t, it’s fine. Thanks.”
Colin says, “Sure.”
Colin says, “So…”
Lanisen takes a long drink from his waterskin and screws the cap back on. “So,” he answers.
Colin attacks more dead grass. “‘Bout last night…
Lanisen says, “What about it?”
Colin says, “I think I owe an explanation.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Colin falters, not really having thought that part out.
Colin makes a valiant attempt. “What I said..about not saying if I was all right or not–It wasn’t anything about you. I thought about that later. It kind of applies to everyone these days–didn’t mean for that to hurt any feelings.”
Lanisen says, “It’s fine. You don’t gotta… it’s fine.”
Colin says, “Yeah, I do.”
Lanisen shrugs and looks at the ground, resting his arms loosely on his updrawn knees.
Colin doesn’t appear to be certain of what else to say at this point.
Lanisen waits, pulling up a few pieces of grass to knot idly.
Colin glances at him. “Penny for your thoughts…”
Lanisen says, “Me?”
Colin half-heartedly quips, “Nah. Was asking the target.”
Lanisen says, “You’re the one talkin’ all weird and shifty.”
Colin says, “Well, yeah…”
Lanisen says, “I don’t got a penny on me but you could do some explainin’, that’d be fine.”
Colin finds a small stick and starts poking the ground with it. “I asked first.”
Lanisen spreads his hands. “I dunno what you want me to say.”
Colin says, “What you’re thinking.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t /know/.”
Colin says, “Oh.”
Lanisen says, “It’s not a big deal.” He drops the grass, four strands neatly knotted into a complicated-looking pattern. “I dunno what I’m s’posed to do when you talk like that, is all.”
Colin’s tone is honest. “I’m all right with whatever. You don’t have to just sit there.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know what you mean.”
Colin rubs his head. “Like, when I get all confusing or whatever. Or when I ask what you’re thinking. It’s all right to be honest or give opinions and such.”
Lanisen looks bewildered and gives Colin a side-eye. “I just did. I don’t know what I’m s’posed to do when you tell me something’s wrong but won’t… I mean, you don’t have to tell me everything, that’s fine, obviously, I just don’t…” He shrugs again.
Colin rubs his eyes. “Yeah I’m confusing myself….”
Lanisen says, “It’s fine.”
Colin says, “I just have a lot on my mind…lot of decisions to make. It’s making me crazy.”
Lanisen says, “I know.”
Colin hehs. “Sorry you’ve been bearing the brunt of it.”
Lanisen says, “Sir, it’s fine. I don’t mind.”
Colin pokes the stick at the ground for a bit.
Lanisen watches. “Listen,” he says finally. “You don’t gotta tell me everything, you don’t gotta tell me what’s going on, I mean that and I promise I’ll drop it if you don’t want to say anything more. But will you tell me when you’re not all right? Don’t just do the ‘I’m fine’ thing?”
Colin glances at him for a while and nods, agreeing to the terms. “Yeah. Yes. I can do that.”
Lanisen nods. He’s quiet for a minute, then asks, “Are you all right?”
Colin thinks about it long and hard for a bit before answering. “Yes and no.”
Lanisen nods again. “All right,” he says. “All right.”
Colin draws his name in the dirt.
Lanisen asks quietly after a pause, “You want to talk about it, or nah?”
Colin replies, “I don’t think I can.”
Lanisen nods. “All right,” he says. He glances sidelong at Colin. “Want to go hunt down Loc’s cold spot?”
Colin rubs the back of his neck. “Yeah. Sure. Today’d be a good day to do that.”
Lanisen grins faintly and hops to his feet, offering Colin a hand up.
Colin takes the hand and hauls himself up.
Lanisen thumps him on the shoulder once he’s up and nods toward the road.
Colin nods in response and falls in step beside him.
The forest here is serene and peaceful. The ground carpeted with a thick layer of leaves from years of autumn, to the south a rises up a steep cliff looking difficult to scale. To the north the mountains rise up forming a forbidding boundary to Narnia. The slope continues downwards into a canyon.
Lanisen halts near the pool, about where the arrow on Colin’s map points. “‘Round here someplace, you think?”
Colin swings his pack down and pulls out the book, consulting the map. “Think so.” he says, looking around and squinting his eyes in confusion.
Lanisen says, “Let me see,” and reaches for the book.
Colin keeps a firm hold on to the book and just tilts it for him to look at.
Lanisen gives him an odd look but lets go and circles around for a better angle. “Dunno why I thought that’d be helpful,” he grumbles, turning away. He turns in a circle, frowning.
Colin consults the page and squints, then points. “That way?”
Lanisen says, “Sure. That way’s as likely as any other.”
Colin chuckles under his breath. “I think that’s it.”
Lanisen asks, “What makes you think so?”
Colin says, “I have a map.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, I know you do, I drew it.”
Colin replies, “So we’re in the right place, then.”
Lanisen says, “Ish.”
Colin says, “Ok, pick a direction then.”
Lanisen starts walking in a wide circle around his starting point, arms held out. “I feel like an idiot,” he remarks.
Colin grins at him as he watches. “You trying to take off flying or something?”
Lanisen wings a pinecone at him.
Colin dodges it smoothly. “Start flapping them up at down, that’ll help.” he demonstrates.
Lanisen says, “You’re the worst.” He picks his way back towards Colin, grumbling, “Dunno how we’re supposed to find a cold spot in the middle of fall, /everything’s/ cold.”
Colin squints as he looks around. “Huh. Yeah. Good point. We might not have picked the best time of year.”
Lanisen says, “I bet Loc was just makin’ it up anyway.”
Colin starts working his way through some bushes.
Lanisen follows. “Where’re you goin’?”
Colin calls back, “I’m lookin’!”
Lanisen trails after him. A squirrel explodes out of a pile of leaves and he yelps in surprise.
Colin jumps to the side, startled. He looks at Lanisen, then the squirrel darting across the ground and he grins. “Careful. Vicious ruffian right there.”
Lanisen says, “You hush your mouth.”
Colin bends to snag a pinecone from the ground. He tosses it up and down in his hand and eyes Lanisen mischievously. “What was that?”
Lanisen eyes him. “You really want to start this?”
Colin asks, “Think you can take me?”
Colin simply hangs on to the pinecone and pushes through a few more bushes. “Watch out for squirrels.”
Lanisen grumbles, “/You/ watch out for squirrels.”
Colin suddenly turns and whings the pinecone at him. “Watch out!” he shouts.
Lanisen lets out a squawk and tumbles backwards in his effort to dodge. “Hey!”
Colin grins at him. “Sorry. Thought I saw a squirrel.”
Lanisen retrieves the pinecone and finds a handful of acorns as well. He wings these one after another at Colin with shockingly good aim.
Colin yelps with each hit and darts ahead, ducking behind a tree.
Lanisen hunts around for more likely projectiles and advances once he’s well armed.
Colin has been busy himself and starts raining down pinecone bits, acorns, sticks, and anything else he can find. Once the torrent is depleted he dashes to another tree.
Lanisen decides on a strategic retreat and flees, laughing.
Colin pops out from behind the tree. “Get back here and face me like a man, Squirrel Boy!”
Lanisen calls back, “Truce?”
Colin peers suspiciously at him.
Lanisen shows two empty hands.
Colin holds his empty hands out and steps out from behind the tree. “All right, truce.”
Lanisen pulls a chestnut from his pocket, pitches it at Colin, and turns tail to run.
Colin chases after him. “Knew it!” he leaps for Lanisen in an attempt to tackle him.
Lanisen glances over his shoulder in the nick of time and dodges just out of reach.
Pool of the March
The trail ends here, in a forested box canyon. Your steps are cushioned by the leaves and needles that have collected over the years. Most of the western side of the canyon is filled with a large, waterfall-fed pool. The trail follows the narrow southern shore until it reaches the canyon’s back wall.
There is an abundance of tracks from the many animals who came here to drink. The trail rises steeply back out of the canyon to the east.
Colin hits the dirt and rolls back up to his feet and continues his pursuit.
Lanisen maintains his lead, throwing more chestnuts over his shoulder.
Colin eyes Lanisen’s proximity to the water and increases his speed, making another tackle attempt.
Lanisen’s eyes widen, making the connection at the same time as Colin. He lurches away from the tackle again and whirls, holding up his hands. “It’s too cold, it’s too cold!”
Colin nearly lands in the water himself and rolls upwards once more, grinning evilly at him. “No it’s not.”
Lanisen keeps his hands up, backing rapidly away around the curve of the pool’s edge. “No, come on, I’m serious, it’s too cold!”
Colin says, “No more acorns or you’re going swimming.”
Lanisen looks relieved. “On my honor.”
Colin halts his pursuit, but still eyes him.
Lanisen suddenly makes a throwing motion directly toward Colin.
Colin lunges for him.
Lanisen yelps, “No acorn, no acorn!”
Colin snickers. “Time for a swim!”
Lanisen dances quickly /away/ from the pool and Colin. “I didn’t even throw anything!” he crows. “You’re just like the hounds, you pretend to throw somethin’ and they’re fallin’ all over themselves tryin’ to get it!”
Colin lunges for him again. “You callin’ me a hound?”
Lanisen retorts, “You called me a squirrel!” He’s running out of room to retreat.
Colin bursts out laughing and attempts to corner him. “This is certainly appropriate.”
Lanisen searches through his pockets for any more acorns and comes up empty. He darts a glance to the side, feints to the right, and makes a hopeful dodge to the left to get himself un-trapped.
Colin loops his arm through Lanisen’s, resulting in his balance going haywire and him hitting the ground with a thud, hanging on for dear life.
Lanisen yells and tries to pull away from deadweight Colin.
Colin hangs on, trying to bring him down with him.
Lanisen manages to keep his balance. He braces his feet, pulling back from Colin’s grip on his arm, and threatens, “I will hunt down every acorn in these woods and put it in your pack I swear!”
Colin grunts with the effort of swinging his legs around and hooking one around Lanisen’s knee, jerking to knock him off balance. “If—*gasp*–you needed me—to hang on to your—squirrel—*wheeze*—snacks for you—shoulda just–asked!”
Lanisen hits the ground hard and groans. “Nnngh!”
Colin appears to be satisfied with just bringing him to the ground.
Lanisen remarks, once he has enough breath back, “That wasn’t nice.”
Colin grins as he hauls himself to his feet, offering a hand to Lanisen. “Let’s head back. I’m hungry and the acorns aren’t cutting it.”
Lanisen takes the hand and hauls himself up after Colin. “Fair enough.” He glances around the canyon, brushing his clothes off. “Bet you anything Loc was makin’ it up.”
Colin says, “Or, we need to come back on a day it isn’t cold. At least your standard of cold.”
Lanisen says, “If you can see your breath, it’s cold.”
Colin huffs out a breath. “I can barely see it!” He protests as they head back towards the path.
Lanisen rolls his eyes good-naturedly and follows him back toward the town.