Bird and Baby Inn
Southeastern Archenland

Strangely enough, this attic seems to see quite a bit of traffic. Perhaps the trunks stored here are arranged in a haphazard fashion; at least, it looks like there’s no method to the configuration. Everything in the attic, from the tattered crimson velvet curtains to the faded paintings, dates from at least a century ago. While the items covered in fabric to protect them were once opulent, even the best of them could only be described as shabby now.

At the back of the attic is a stout door. The knob has been recently changed out, and it has a sheen to it which is not evident elsewhere in the room. It is secured with a massive lock; whatever is kept beyond the door must be valuable indeed. There is a small, grimy pane of glass set high in the wall, and the seams around it must have worn away over time, since the wuthering noise of the wind creeps in.

Lanisen sits on top of a trunk near his bedroll, going through his pack methodically.

Colin climbs up the stairs, looking around the attic. He blinks rapidly as his eyes adjust to the dimmer light.

Lanisen glances up. He sets the pack aside with a quick guilty motion, then picks it up again, looking confused.

Colin approaches cautiously. “Afternoon, Lanisen.”

Lanisen wipes his palms on his knees. “Hello, sir,” he answers.

Colin makes efforts to scoot a trunk around to face the one Lanisen is sitting on. He himself takes a seat, drawing one leg up to sit sideways facing him. “What are you up to?”

Lanisen shifts, not quite looking at Colin. “Um…” He shrugs awkwardly. “Just–reorganizin’. For Anvard.”

Colin nods. “Makes sense. We’ll be heading there soon.”

Lanisen fidgets with the buckle on his satchel. “Yeah.”

Colin tightens a strap on his boot for something to do. “Hey, Lanisen. I think we need to talk about what happened.” He says, his tone quiet, but still remaining calm and kind.

Lanisen looks down at his hands, twisting anxiously at a frayed bit of his sleeve. “I thought you might think that.”

Colin watches him. “The first thought in my mind is, are you all right? You don’t act like you are all right.”

Lanisen looks bewildered. “I’m… fine? I’m fine.”

Colin repeats himself quietly, his face showing his concern, “You don’t act like it.”

Lanisen shakes his head and lifts his shoulders, confused and distressed. “I’m– I don’t… know what I’m supposed to be saying, sir.”

Colin offers gently, “How about what’s bothering you about what happened.”

Lanisen says, “I thought– you ain’t still mad?”

Colin shakes his head. “I was only mad for a brief time, and only about you not following orders at the time. That’s an issue to be addressed later, it’s not necessary today. However, I know I probably could have handled it better. I’m angry at myself, not you. I didn’t know what else to do to get you to act, so I did the first thing that popped into mind.”

Lanisen shifts again, unfastening and refastening the buckle on his satchel with painstaking precision. “I understand why you did it,” he says at last, quiet. “I don’t blame you, really.”

Colin watches him. “Scared you, what I did…didn’t it?”

Lanisen says, “No. Yeah. I don’t know.”

Colin hehs.

Lanisen says, “I didn’t think you’d shoot me.”

Colin starts a bit. “I never would have. Unless somehow it would have saved your life.”

Lanisen relaxes a little, this confirmed.

Colin rubs the back of his neck. “I’m sorry I scared you so badly…”

Lanisen says, “No, I– I knew you wouldn’t. I did. I know why you– it’s fine. I’m fine.”

Colin says, “Tell me about it.”

Lanisen says, “What?”

Colin says, “Tell me why you are fine.”

Lanisen says, “Um.” He shakes his head and hunches his shoulders, confused again. “Because– I know you wouldn’t hurt me? And… because I know you only drew on me to get me out of the way of the boar? I don’t–I don’t know what you want me to say, sir, I’m /fine/, I’m okay, and you’re okay, nobody got hurt, I don’t…” He scrubs his hands over his face.

Colin reaches out and places a hand on Lanisen’s shoulder to give it a squeeze before letting go. “Hey…tell me how you’re feeling. It’s all right. Seriously. I’m your friend, not a sir.”

Lanisen drops his hands from his face. He looks at the hand on his shoulder. “I don’t know. I really… I’m sorry, I don’t…”

Colin squeezes his shoulder again. “Don’t apologize. It’s okay.”

Lanisen folds his arms over the satchel in his lap. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen,” he says, looking at the floor in front of him.

Colin nods slowly. “Apology accepted. Next time…even though it’s hard, try to listen, okay? Sometimes things plot themselves out in my head but I can’t get them spoken in time other than to fire instructions. I was planning on following you up…but I needed to make sure you were okay so I could focus properly. I understand why you didn’t though…and I really am sorry that I scared you. You’re like a brother to me, I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Lanisen’s fidgeting goes still and he glances quickly at Colin. He takes a breath as if to speak, forehead furrowing, but he bites his lip and says nothing.

Colin nods, trying to prompt him a bit.

Lanisen shakes his head and moistens his lips. “Everything’s all…” He makes a vague gesture to indicate confusion. “But… you should’ve climbed first.”

Colin shakes his head. “Why? What makes me better or more important than you? Or Arael, Winbrytt, or Simetra? I know I can take care of myself and when others are in harms way, it’s best to remove them from harm and then remove myself.”

Lanisen swallows, anxious and unhappy. “There’s…” he starts haltingly, then shifts and goes on with more resolution, though he stares at the ground rather than look at Colin. “There’s the fact that you’re… you’re about four steps away from the throne, sir.”

Colin snorts. “Who cares.” He states. “Too many people have to die for me to be crowned. If I die, the next poor sap can have his turn. Besides, as a king or a lord, my duty is to care for my people. /All/ of them.” he emphasizes.

Lanisen says nothing.

Colin turns his head to catch Lanisen’s eye. “Hey.”

Lanisen glances at him unwillingly.

Colin says, “I mean it. It doesn’t matter if I’m in line or not. My actions would be no different, even if I were one step from the throne instead of four. I hold fast to my convictions and follow them through to the best of my ability because that’s how I believe men should act, noble or common.”

Lanisen takes a deep breath. “You still should’ve climbed first.”

Colin shakes his head, a slight smile at the corner of his mouth despite the seriousness of the topic. “No. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.”

Lanisen insists, “You /should’ve/. You’re the better archer, it just makes sense.”

Colin releases a patient sigh. “Hence why we get the less experienced person in the tree so they’re /safe/, so that the other one can then climb the tree and position himself accordingly. Seriously, Arael was much more cooperative than you about the whole treeing thing.” He says with a slight jesting grin.

Lanisen rubs his hand over his face, frowning and shaking his head. “No– no. Because if… if you’d got yourself settled first and it decided to charge, you’re the better archer and you could’ve got it. I couldn’t hit it before it got to you because I’m not that fast yet.”

Colin shakes his head. “Doesn’t work that way. I need to focus soley on the danger, not what’s in the danger’s path. Those things are fast and what if the angle had been wrong to where I worried about hitting you? No, you needed to listen to me and that would have been the end of it. Think back on what happened. We had the time. Had you listened right away I’d have been up there too and settled and we both would have been able to aim, had it even charged at that point at all.”

Lanisen doesn’t have an answer to this. He looks at his hands.

Colin adds, “That’s all in hindsight, though. I need to know that in future should something happen that you trust me with what I tell you to do and ask questions later….” He asks, his tone quiet.

Lanisen hesitates, then nods silently, not looking up.

Colin watches him for a minute. “Lanisen?” He prompts.

Lanisen says immediately, “I’m sorry.”

Colin hehs. “No…I know you are. I had another question for you.”

Lanisen looks up, startled and chagrined. “Oh! sorry, I– sorry.”

Colin holds up his hand. “It’s all right, really.”

Lanisen waits.

Colin asks him, “Can you forgive me?”

Lanisen looks even more startled at this. “What?” he asks blankly. “You didn’t–”

Colin merely raises an eyebrow as if to say, “Please.”

Lanisen shifts, distressed. “You didn’t do anything… wrong.”

Colin repeats with a little more clarity, “Can you forgive me? For scaring you, and everything?”

Lanisen says, “But you didn’t do anything wrong!”

Colin says, “I may not have done anything wrong but it resulted in scaring you pretty badly, which in my opinion is wrong.”

Lanisen says, “You wouldn’t’ve… you wouldn’t’ve.”

Colin says, “Nevertheless.”

Lanisen scrubs his eyes with the heel of one hand. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles after a pause. “Shouldn’t’ve been scared.”

Colin blinks rapidly several times as he processes. “What? No…Lanisen. You shouldn’t apologize for being frightened… That fault doesn’t lie with you.” He tilts his head slightly as he scrutinizes Lanisen. “Do you understand?”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders in a shrug, guilty. “I’m–” he waves his right hand in small circles, trying to settle on a word, “–jumpy? Even when I know better. Ain’t your fault.” He glances sidelong at Colin, trying for a grin. It comes out terribly weak. “See why I didn’t figure this’d work?”

Colin blinks a few more times. “Being jumpy isn’t a bad thing….and you think this isn’t working? Just because we hit a few rough patches doesn’t mean this isn’t working…life isn’t perfect, people aren’t perfect. I’m a crazy old codger sometimes, you know that well enough.”

Lanisen is quiet for a minute. “I dunno if I’m cut out for this is all,” he says at last.

Colin rubs the back of his neck. “Do you really hate it that much?” He asks quietly.

Lanisen looks at him quickly. “I–no. I love it. These past couple months have been– you’ve got no idea. I just…”

Colin raises his eyebrow slightly. “Then what?”

Lanisen swallows. “I messed up. You coulda got hurt.”

Colin nods slowly. “That’s no reason to throw in the towel on the whole thing…”

Lanisen says, “And I’m …jumpy.”

Colin lifts both of his hands. “So? I would be too…I /have/ been jumpy before. There’s nothing wrong about that.”

Lanisen doesn’t respond. He rubs his palms on his knees, troubled.

Colin reaches out and pats his shoulder one more time. “Let’s get some rest…after the hunt..if you decide you really don’t want to, you don’t have to stick with me any more.”

Lanisen says, “I’ll always want to stick with you.”

Colin offers him a relieved grin. “My sentiments exactly. Get some sleep, Lanny.”

Lanisen’s mouth quirks up on one side, not quite a smile but close. “I’ll try.”

Colin nods and sets about laying out his bedroll for the night.


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