wreckage


The Bird and Baby’s Tavern
Coghill
Southeastern Archenland


Sehsis shakes his head, amused despite himself, “The latter is what I aim to do, as for the former, I do have a wife as you know- And this reminds me” He takes a letter from his satchel and hands it to her “I was back in Calormen for a short while and have this for you, before I forget”

Abrielle smiles brightly and takes the letter greedily. “Thank you! How was your wife?”

Lanisen enters the tavern through the door from the inn. He looks exhausted, with bruise-like shadows under his eyes, and his movements are rather sluggish. He makes his way to the counter and asks quietly for a cup of tea.

Sehsis says, “She’s doing well” he glances around as the door opens and Lanisen enters

Abrielle nods while she opens the letter. “Good.” She doens’t see Lanisen as she reads.

Lanisen pays up and takes his tea, bringing the vessel close to his face to breathe the fragrant steam. He turns away and makes his way to a table without really paying attention to where he’s going, and settles fairly close to Sehsis and Abrielle without even noticing.

Sehsis nods, then says to Lanisen, “Hello Lanisen”

Abrielle glances up at Lanisen. “Hello, Lanisen.”

Lanisen starts slightly on being addressed. His eyes dart from Sehsis to Abrielle and back. “Ahh. Evening.”

Sehsis, now that Lanisen is facing them properly, notes the tired circles under his eyes, “Apologies if we are interrupting and you wish to be left in peace”

Abrielle continues looking, waiting for an answer.

Lanisen says, “Oh. No, not–not at all. Um.” He pauses uncertainly. “How are you? Both?”

Sehsis asks, “Rather well, yourself?”

Abrielle nods.

Lanisen wraps his hands carefully around his tea mug. “I’m well, thank you,” he says. He seems to realize that his tone is too subdued to be credible a beat later and offers a quick wry smile that doesn’t quite meet his eyes, adding, “Little tired.”

Abrielle laughs. “We can see that. Were you up late?”

Lanisen says, “Just had a hard time sleeping is all.”

Abrielle nods. “That is too bad.”

Lanisen shrugs, hunching over his tea. He takes a careful sip, then blows on the surface of the liquid to try to cool it down.

Abrielle eat some more of her bacon and stares at her letter.

Sehsis does not press the issue, noting Lanisen’s grave demeanour, instead sips his tea.

Lanisen goes quiet, too worn out to try to be social.

Abrielle get up suddenly. “I need to head out to make dinner for Lewis. It was nice seeing you again, Lanisen. Bye.”

Sehsis says, “Of course, good day Abrielle”

Lanisen nods to Abrielle as she leaves. He glances again at Sehsis, then rubs at his eyes.

Sehsis hesitates then says, “Is there something troubling you…?”

Lanisen shudders slightly, as if chilled. He is silent for a long moment, trying to think how to answer, then moistens his lips. “A little,” he answers finally. “But it’s nothing–it’s not–”

Sehsis bows his head, “My apologies, I did not mean to pry.”

Lanisen shakes his head quickly. “You didn’t, I’m sorry.”

Sehsis says, “It is quite alright”

Lanisen turns his tea in idle circles, staring down at it. He finally shifts in his chair and draws a deep breath, looking up at Sehsis. “Sorry. I’m not good company today. How are you? Stayin’ warm all right?”

Sehsis says “Everyone has those days, I quite understand” He shrugs, indicating the fact that he has given into the cold and changed into more a more Northern style of clothes, “Well enough, though i still do not see how people can stand it”

Lanisen grins faintly, though it still doesn’t seem entirely meant. “Tell you a secret,” he says. “We don’t. We hide from it. And drink hot things to compensate.”

Sehsis says, “Truly, tea is a blessing of the gods.”

A son of adam with disheveled hair (Philip) pushes through the tavern doors, stomping his muddy boots on the floor mat. He shoves his hands in his pockets and shivers. A grin spreads across his face as he looks up and sees Sehsis. “Oh, Mister Sehsis! You won’t believe what Mum told me.” He quickly comes over and sits down next to them.

Lanisen sits at a table adjacent to Sehsis, hands wrapped around a cup of tea. By the hunch of his shoulders and the tired pallor in his face, he’s not having the greatest of days. He blinks at the boy, distantly curious.

Sehsis raises an eyebrow, though he is sure he does know what his mother said, he none the less asks, “And what was that?”

Philip glances at Lanisen, but then looks back at Sehsis. “She said we’re going to Andale.”

Sehsis nods, “She has agreed to the apprenticeship, and since I was going to go there for the market anyway I think it would be a good place for you to start to learn”

Lanisen watches quietly, then turns back to his tea.

Philip rubs the top of his head. “It’s almost like an adventure…” He looks to Lanisen again. “We’re going on an adventure.”

Lanisen musters a grin for the boy. “I bet it will be,” he answers.

Sehsis sips his tea, amused by Philip’s enthusiasm

Philip smirks. “But Mum said I need to stay at your side at all times.”

Sehsis says, “Well, we would not want you to get lost”

Lanisen goes quiet again. He looks down at his tea, now cooled, and drinks deeply.

Philip shrugs. “I won’t get lost…”

Sehsis says, “Good, I’d rather not have to explain to your mother that you wandered off and cannot be found”

Philip snorts. “She’d give you a whooping for sure.”

Lanisen finishes his tea quietly. He stands up and puts his chair right, nodding to Sehsis, and makes his way back to the inn.

Sehsis nods to Lanisen as he leaves and says to Philip, “A fate i would rather avoid”


much later


Colin enters the tavern, orders an ale and sits at a corner table, silent.

Lanisen comes through the door from outside, shivering. He casts a quick glance around the tavern, catches sight of Colin, and hesitates in the doorway. After a brief pause he ducks his head and hurries for the door to the inn.

Colin’s eyes follow him. “Lanisen.” He says before he reaches the door.

Lanisen halts, caught, and turns slowly. He gestures at the door awkwardly, looking at the floorboards between himself and Colin, and mumbles, “Sorry, I was…”

Colin finishes, “Avoiding me.”

Lanisen says quickly, “No! I mean– I didn’t…”

Colin corrects, “We’ve both been avoiding each other. Don’t you think we should talk about what happened the other day?”

Lanisen rubs his elbow anxiously. “Um,” he says under his breath, his eyes skittering briefly to Colin and then away, “Can we just… forget it happened, maybe?”

Colin watches him, fiddling with the handle of his tankard. “Do you think that’s what’s best?”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders in answer, not looking at Colin. Another patron of the inn brushes close behind him, jostling him slightly, and he starts and shifts away.

Colin asks, “Will you be able to forget it happened? Really?”

Lanisen mumbles, “Not if you keep talkin’ about it.”

Colin raises an eyebrow at him.

Lanisen shifts, looking miserably apprehensive, still not looking at Colin. He’s on alert, with minuscule reactions to every creak of the door opening, raucous laugh from down the bar, or scrape of a chair’s leg against the wood floor.

Colin reaches up and rubs his forehead and eyes, just staying that way for a while. “Fine. Have it your way.”

Lanisen goes still and uncertain and finally sneaks a glance at Colin.

Colin rubs his eyes another minute before taking hold of his tankard and taking a swig.

Lanisen ducks his head and takes a step back toward the door.

Colin lifts his eyes and watches him, resigned.

Lanisen bumps into somebody as he backs away, ricochets into a chair, and catches himself on a table. He scrambles to right himself and the chair and escapes in a flurry of wide-eyed apologies.

Colin flinches as he watches him go. He buries his face in his hand once more.

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