The lane rounds a little bend and meets a fork here. To the south, it widens into a well-kept road, lined with trees on either side, with chimney tops and brightly painted wood peeking through here and there. To the northeast and southeast, wilder forms of life begin to creep in as the trail passes through the forest.
Roughly west, a narrower path shoots off of the main road and begins winding in among the trees. It bears the marks of many hooves, some of which look fresher than others.
Lanisen makes his way down the road from town, winding his scarf an extra loop to keep off the chill.
Colin emerges from the trees, walking down the narrow path that meets up with the road.
Lanisen raises his bow in a casual salute and amends his path to join Colin. “Hey.”
Colin rubs his hands together before slipping on a pair of gloves. “Evenin’. How’s it going?”
Lanisen shrugs. “Fine? You?”
Colin nods. “Not too bad. Starting to feel the cold a little.”
Lanisen asks, “How long you been out?”
Colin squints at the sky. “Few hours, give or take.”
Lanisen asks, “And you’re just now gettin’ cold?”
Colin chuckles as he adjusts his pack. “I was referring to in general, not meaning I started feeling it right now.”
Lanisen says, “…Right.”
Colin asks, “Why?”
Lanisen says, “‘Cause it’s ruddy cold is why.”
Colin gives him an odd look. “I thought we established that already…”
Lanisen says, “…Yeah. Anyway.”
Colin asks, “Yeah. So. Wanna go track that fox?”
Lanisen says, “Sure, why not.”
Colin turns to go back into the forest, motioning for him to follow.
Lanisen falls into step behind him, eyeing a nick on his bow.
In the Archenland Forest
The Archenland forest spreads out in all directions here. The trees are quite dense, shading the ground underneath them almost entirely. The forest floor is littered by bracken, stones, and fallen branches, but it is quite passable. A tranquil atmosphere reigns all around, the stillness broken now and again by the chirping of birds and the rustling of other woodland animals.
The ground begins to rise a little to the west.
Colin crouches close to the ground periodically, examining the cold dirt for any signs of fox.
Lanisen points wordlessly to a bit of partially hidden scat and the tracks surrounding it.
Colin looks to where he is pointing and nods, staying low and silent as he makes his way along after the trail the tracks leave behind.
Lanisen takes a second to string his bow, then follows, drawing an arrow.
Colin examines the tracks, looks at Lanisen, and holds up two fingers before he continues to follow the trail.
In the Archenland Foothills
The green, gently rolling foothills of the Archenland mountains stretch out all around, scattered with heather and dotted by the occasional leafy tree. The ground is quite smooth and soft underfoot, and the air holds the sound and smell of many living things.
To the southwest stands a smooth green wall about ten feet high. There’s no clear way through it from here, and it looks quite impossible to climb over.
Lanisen whispers as they go, “I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.”
Colin responds as quietly as possible. “Two foxes.”
Lanisen snorts and takes a breath, no doubt to make some smartmouth remark, but he catches sight of the boar first. He freezes, then reaches out quickly and snags Colin’s elbow.
Colin goes completely still, his eyes moving about to peer at the shadows until he sees what caused Lanisen’s reaction. Eying the boar, he slowly steps backwards to start easing Lanisen back the way they came.
Lanisen is already very carefully backing away. He moistens his lips and spares a very brief glance for the arrow on his string.
Colin moistens his forefinger and holds it aloft to gauge the wind. He continues to back up as silently as possible while removing his bow and silently stringing it. He nearly backs into a tree when he removes a barbed arrow from his quiver and places it on the string.
Lanisen keeps his eyes on the boar as much as possible, but shoots Colin an alarmed look at this.
Colin’s own expression grows alarmed when he tests the wind again and finds that it has shifted. The boar pauses it’s rooting and squeals.
Lanisen takes a breath, slowly raising his bow.
Colin raises his, sighting the arrow directly at the boar. He stops moving and simply waits, as still as a stone.
Lanisen doesn’t draw yet, waiting to see what the boar will do.
Colin’s eyes glance at the tree they are backed against. “Up.” He mutters.
Lanisen says, equally quiet, “You first.”
Colin’s tone invokes no argument. “Now.” The boar squeals again, sniffing around.
Lanisen lets out a quick breath, planting his feet in preparation to draw. “With respect, sir, /you first/.”
Colin growls. “Lanisen, do as I say. I’m drawn and have experience, I have the advantage. Climb.”
Lanisen’s face is pale, but set. “Sir. Please.”
Colin eyes the boar as it begins to root again. He swiftly turns, facing Lanisen. The arrow still drawn and pointed right at him. “Get up that tree. Now.”
Lanisen pulls a startled breath and flinches back, raising his hands automatically and following the arrow’s point with his eyes. He stares at it for a second, as if not quite sure what he’s seeing, then looks beyond it at Colin.
Colin’s eyes keep going back and forth between the boar and Lanisen. “Climb.”
Lanisen swallows, white-faced, and finally slings himself up to the lower branches. Once there, he draws and sights toward the boar.
Colin swings to face the boar in one fluid motion, the relief on his face quite evident to whoever has an angle. The boar lifts it’s head as it gets a snoutful of human scent. It squeals, becoming agitated. It begins running directly their way. Colin curses and lets his arrow fly, rapidly replacing it with another. The arrow buries itself deep into the boar’s neck. Unfortunately this only enrages it.
Lanisen lets out a shout and fires as well, drawing again. “LEAVE IT COME ON COME ON!”
Colin lets his second arrow fly before he grabs onto the low branch, swinging himself up just as the boar reaches the base of the tree.
Lanisen is chalky white with the close call, but his hands are steady as he aims another arrow, this time directly at the boar’s small red eye. It’s an easy shot, from so close.
Colin finally gets his balance and draws another arrow, pausing as he places it on the string and sees that it is pointless, as Lanisen’s arrow has hit it’s mark and done the deed. “Oh thank….” he trails off and nearly falls from the tree with relief.
Lanisen sags and has to sit shaking for a second. He swings himself down from the tree after a pause and strides off without a word to Colin.
Colin lowers himself from the tree, not appearing all that surprised. Resting his palms on his knees, he slowly catches his breath before straightening. Shoving his bow back into the quiver, he stalks off into the forest.
The Bird and Baby’s Tavern
Lanisen sits at a table near the back wall some hours later, both hands cupped around a mug of something hot, staring at nothing in particular.
Colin steps into the tavern and approaches the counter, grumping out an order.
Lanisen doesn’t hear or notice. He takes a long drink.
Colin takes the tankard of ale that Clift places before him and looks around. Spotting Lanisen, he doesn’t approach, but finds a separate table to sit at.
Lanisen sets down his mug and glimpses Colin. He watches out of the corner of his eye, then looks away. His shoulders hunch slightly.
Colin begins drinking his ale, glancing Lanisen’s way once or twice. He makes no move.
Lanisen looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. He sits very still, looking down at the table, head bowed miserably, and carefully doesn’t look at Colin.
Colin shoves his ale away and rises, striding to Lanisen’s table before sitting in front of him.
Lanisen tenses as Colin approaches, watching from the corner of his eye, wary and guilty. He chews his lower lip uneasily.
Colin chews on his thumbnail for a minute before he says. “Look…I don’t even really know what to say…except I’m sorry, I know I scared you…could have handled it better but…I didn’t know what else to do.”
Lanisen’s shoulders drop a fraction as some of the nervous tension leaves him, but he still doesn’t look directly at Colin. He shrugs a little, hesitating as he tries to figure out how to answer, then just shrugs again.
Colin just nods, at a loss for further words. He stands up and heads out of the tavern without another word, leaving his half-finished ale behind.
Lanisen draws into himself as Colin walks away, and his cider goes cold on the table in front of him.