menagerie


Army Barracks
Castle Anvard


Lanisen is sitting up in his bunk, looking tired and bad-tempered and very very bored.

Colin enters the barracks, looking freshly washed and laundered with a clean tunic belted at the waist. Now that the dirt and blood have all vanished, there are various scrapes and bruises to be seen but nothing too serious. “Good mooorrrrrning, sunshine!” He crows, well aware of the fact that it is evening.

Lanisen says, “Ugh,” and covers his ears.

Colin raises an eyebrow and silently holds out the fresh cookies he brought. “Peace offering?”

Lanisen’s eyes go wide and he reaches for them. “Sweet lion are those ginger??”

Colin feigns a clueless look. “Mayyyybe.”

Lanisen says, “Gimme.”

Colin hands them over, keeping one for himself. “So…getting a little stir crazy up here?”

Lanisen says, “There’s nothin’ to do, the stuff they keep makin’ me drink makes my head hurt, my hand’s all pins’n’needles, and there’s /stairs/ between me and the nearest privy.”

Colin hms, rubbing the back of his neck as he tries to be sympathetic in his jovial mood. “All right…things to do…I can help with that. What do you want me to bring? And…I can’t help with the hand but I have your stick almost done, that should help with the stairs!”

Lanisen asks plaintively, “Can’t I move back into my room?”

Colin blinks for a second. “Well…now…that’s an idea. Maybe. Let’s ask Adrian when he comes by.”

Lanisen sighs.

Colin lifts both of his hands. “Whaat? I’m trying.”
Colin adds, “Besides, don’t you want to hang out here with the talking Wolves and Cats?”

Lanisen rubs the back of his neck. “Just want a door I can shut,” he mumbles. “An’ to not wake anybody else up if I wake up–makin’ noise.”

Colin ahs. “I can understand that…” He offers him a sympathetic smile. “I’ll see what I can do, all right?”

Lanisen leans back against the wall, wincing, and reaches for another cookie. “Thank you.”

Colin nods. “Anytime. In the meantime….what can I bring for you to be entertained? Books?”

Lanisen pounces on this. “Yeah! Books!”

Colin chuckles. “Anything in particular or just whatever I can get my hands on that looks interesting?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t even care. Anything.” He reconsiders. “Not poetry.”

Colin asks, “Oh please, what’s wrong with poetry?”

Lanisen says, “Actually–” He pauses, then asks, “Can you bring me somethin’ about Calormen?”

Colin nods. “Seems fitting, considering. I’ll bring the best!”

Lanisen says, “Thanks.” He glances restlessly around the mostly-empty room. “Tell me what’s going on outside?”

Colin hms. “Well… clean up, for one thing. There’s a lot of cleanup, outside and inside the castle. Most of the people have gone back to their homes, the town was unharmed fortunately. There’s a lot of repair going on, but everyone’s happy and relieved. And quite fascinated with all the talking beasts, I might add.”

Lanisen grins, glancing down the room to where a handful of Narnian soldiers have camped out. “I don’t doubt that,” he remarks. “That wolf, the black one, she scared the life out of me.”

Colin swallows a chuckle. “She seemed nice though…. it’s quite strange seeing a wolf…talk.”

Lanisen says, “Told you.”

Colin laughs. “But still!”

Lanisen says, “Are you satisfied now you’ve met some of ’em, or do you still want to go to Narnia.”

Colin grins. “Of course I want to go to Narnia! There’s more there! Did you /see/ those big Cats? You should have seen them in the battle–well come to think of it no you shouldn’t have anyway– they were taking down /cavalry/. They ran right into the horses and the ones they didn’t scare, they tackled the riders clean off their backs. It was incredible.”

Lanisen looks like he’s not entirely sure what to think of this. “Sounds like… somethin’.”

Colin’s grin grows in to a bit of a smirk. “See any of those Fauns yet? Half man, half goat.”

Lanisen says blankly, “Half /what/?”

Colin grins. “Nice fellows, really.”

Lanisen repeats, “/Goat/?”

Colin nods his head gravely, eyes twinkling. “Aye.”

Lanisen gives him a long suspicious look and narrows one eye. “You’re having me on,” he declares.

Colin grins, clearly enjoying himself. “Nay, the best part of this is that I am not.”

Lanisen says, “Goat though?”

Colin nods. “Read about ’em in some books about Narnia, I swear they exist. Agile little fellows, too…”

Lanisen asks, “Are there half-geese wandering around out there too? Half-oxen? Come on, the other one’s got bells on.”

Colin looks at him dryly. “Lanisen, come on now, you know perfectly well that those don’t exist.”

Lanisen says, “I dunno, apparently there’s chaps who are half-goat!”

Colin says, “Makes more sense than half-GEESE.”

Lanisen retorts, “Not by much!” He stops to think, frowning. “Which half’s goat, then?”

Colin taps his leg.

Lanisen looks utterly baffled. “How do they /walk/??” he finally bursts out.

Colin says, “Upright, like you or I.”

Lanisen asks, “On /hooves/?”

Colin gives him a look. “No, actually, they have to walk around on their hands.”

Lanisen says, “I think you’d better bring a book about Narnia too.”

Colin says, “I was just thinking the same thing.”

Lanisen says, “So. Wolves. Cats. Goat-things. What else came?”

Colin sits down on the floor by Lanisen’s cot. “Well, other talking beasts like horses, bears, dogs. There are centaurs, those are like fauns only the animal half is horse, not goat. And giants.” He says with a huge grin. “Giants that TOWER over me, over twice my height. They make the ground shake when they walk and it’s hard to understand them cause their voices are so deep.”

Lanisen looks rather unnerved, not sure how much to believe. “You’re awfully happy about this,” he mutters.

Colin laughs. “Oh just you wait and see. They’re very nice.”

Lanisen watches a leopard pad through the room on the other side, shifting. “Take some getting used to, for sure.”

Colin grins. “For sure. I think it’s great.”

Lanisen frets with his bandages again. “Hate being stuck,” he mutters.

Colin says, “Won’t be for too much longer….Adrian said you’d heal cleanly. And, did you hear him say he wants you to start moving around like…tomorrow? It’ll hurt like crazy but it helps with healing.””

Lanisen says, “Wow, thank you for that piece of encouraging news.”

Colin replies, “Anytime. You can use me as a punching bag if you’d like.”

Haft sits up, stretching.

Lanisen is sitting up on his cot, chatting with Colin, who is sitting on the floor next to him. There is a half-eaten plate of cookies between them. “Might do, look out.” He rubs the fingers of his right hand, flexing them one at a time with the same puzzled, dissatisfied look.

Colin leans slightly away from Lanisen. When he hears movement, he stretches to see who’s stirring. Noticing the stranger from last night, he nods a greeting.

Haft rolls over and goes back to sleep with a grunt.

Colin says, “Real charmer, that one.”

Lanisen snickers under his breath. He lets his head ‘thunk’ back against the wall, closing his eyes for a second. “I think,” he remarks, after a moment of contemplation, “I might need more of that hag’s brew of Adrian’s.”

Colin hoists himself to his feet, staggering a bit. “That’s something I can do! Gonna talk to him about your room and all the walking and stuff and…yeah I’ll be back.” he waves his hands a bit as he talks before he heads out the door for a few minutes.

Lanisen watches him go. Once Colin is out of sight, he exhales and sags, closing his eyes for a moment. His face goes tense and pinched, now that he is not actively trying to hide the extent of his pain.

Colin eventually comes back with brew from Adrian. He catches sight of Lanisen’s face as the door opens. “Hey mate…Adrian sent this up.”

Lanisen blinks and pulls himself together hastily. “What’s this one, then? Rotten cabbage, or pickled bog-lights?”

Colin gives him a sympathetic look that tells him he isn’t fooled before he dramatically bows, holding the drink out. “Even better! Pickled cabbage lights.”

Lanisen says, “…that doesn’t even make sense.” He takes the drink without any further comments, a testament to how badly he needs it, and downs it without stopping.

Colin takes the glass when it is empty. “So..Adrian says if you can get up and walk around tomorrow without dying, you can stay in your room if you want. Until then…” He holds aloft a book and sits down beside Lanisen again. “While you remain immobile, how about some fun facts about Narnian people?”

Lanisen swallows several times, gone green around the mouth from the taste of the medicine, and hastily gulps some water. “Okay,” he says finally. “Whatcha got in there.”

Colin settles in and opens the book. “Let’s look at fauns first, just for grins.” He flips to the appropriate page. “Fauns: creatures that are half-man, and half-goat–” he looks at Lanisen pointedly, “and inhabit the land of Narnia. Their hair is customarily curly, and they will have small horns protruding from the top of their human head. They wear clothing as needed, or not, and partake of human food and living customs. It is normal for them to carry their long tails over their arm for convenience. Fauns reside mostly in the region of Bergdale, a valley which contains the famed Bergdale Peach trees. They are a merry people, prone to music and dancing for days on end. It is advised to not try to outdistance them with drink, as they will put anyone save a giant under the table. Huh, good to know on that one.”

Lanisen says, “Gimme that.”

Colin hands it over, sitting there with a smug look on his face. “There’s drawings, too. Made sure to grab the good book with pictures.”

Lanisen reads over the paragraph and gives the picture a long doubtful look. “Hmph,” he says finally, and flips ahead to see what else might be in the book.

Colin snorts at him, shaking his head.
Colin says, “Take a look at the section about the trees…”

Lanisen says, “Where’s that at.”

Colin grins. “Under ‘D’, for dryad.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, right, dryads. I know about dryads.” He flips pages anyway and shakes his head. “Stuff of nightmares, really.” He glances guiltily down the row of cots to see if any native Narnians have heard and are offended.

Colin asks, “Hey, I think it’d be handy to have the trees on your side. And what about naiads? The water nymphs?”

Lanisen counters, “You’re just tryin’ to wash your socks and suddenly the laundry water’s tryin’ to have a chat?”

Colin’s eyes widen and he nearly falls over with laughter. He covers his face with his hands, laughing loud peals of mirth while tears begin to stream down his face. He tries to speak once or twice and eventually gives up.

Lanisen blinks at him. “Shh, lion,” he says, glancing around the barracks. “There’s folk tryna sleep in here.”

Colin grabs a pillow from the cot and shoves it over his face, stuffing the corner into his mouth to try to muffle his chortling.
Lanisen shakes his head. “Wow,” he mutters, and keeps flipping pages. “Oh,” he says after a pause. “Look. There /is/ a half-ox-half-man thing.”

Colin finally just slides to the floor, still snickering like a half-mad idiot.

Lanisen picks up a pillow and whaps him with it.

Colin jerks, yelping. “Hey now!”

Lanisen smirks down at the book, unrepentant.

Colin’s head finally peeks over the edge of Lanisen’s cot. “What’s the thing called?” he finally asks.

Lanisen says, “Meenotower.”

Colin blinks. “Meenawhat?”

Lanisen says, “Says it’s got the head of a bull and the body of a man– pretty sure we told scare stories about those in Carmichael– oh! Heh. Not to be confused with bulls with men’s heads, because apparently that’s a thing too.” He reads on, fascinated.

Colin snickers, craning his head to peer over Lanisen’s shoulder.

Lanisen lets out a snort of laughter. “And here we got half-human-half-fish. Kind of picking up on a theme here.”

Colin asks, “Hey that sounds familiar. Mermaids, yes?”

Lanisen says, “Um, it says “merfolk” but I figure there’s maids among ’em.”
Lanisen is still sitting on his cot, Colin nearby. He has a book now, however, and is poring over it with extreme interest. “Oh, /that’s/ a centaur,” he says suddenly, looking at a sketch. “I was figurin’ on a two-legger.”

Haft asks, “So, meals in the Great Hall still?”

Colin stares at Lanisen. “I told you they were half horse…what horse is two legged in your world?” He starts when the stranger awakens and he looks over at him. “Um…think so?”

Haft grunts in amusement. “Trying to sort out the Critters in the hall?”

Lanisen says, “Um, what goat is two-legged in yours.”

Haft’s mouth twitches.

Colin thinks about that for a minute. “Okay…I’ll give you that one.” He looks over and responds, “Sort of. He’s a little, uh…paranoid, shall we say. And skeptical.” He says with a grin.

Lanisen says absently, “Shut up.”

Colin says, “Well, you are.”

Haft says, “Nothing wrong with some healthy skepticism.”
Haft sighs.
Haft says, “Keep you from being taken in.”

Lanisen has gotten to the section of the book that documents the creatures of evil. He leans close, squinting, then breaks out laughing. “Here’s a handsome fellow,” he says, showing Colin a picture of a Toadstool man. “Lookit that fearsome face.”

Colin pulls a face. “I’d hate to meet him…”

Lanisen says, “Says they’re tiny. Lion, what a look. You know what he looks like? He looks like Aryna’s kid Bern when he don’t want to eat his soup.”

Haft says, “The people of Narnia are odd, sure enough. It’s not wonder that Calormene in the hall was afraid last night.”

Lanisen glances up curiously. “Sehsis?”

Haft says, “I didn’t catch the name. Seemed some thought he was a spy, but the king didn’t think so. Who is he?”

Colin snorts, and nods to Lanisen. “Yes…he wasn’t doing too well last night. I feel a bit sorry for him.” he cranes his head to look at the picture. “Please, Bern’s way cuter than this guy.” To the stranger, he replies, “Sehsis is a merchant. He’s been here for quite a while.”

Haft narrows his eyes.

Lanisen says, “I saw him in the crowd the other night. Wonder how he got caught up in all this.”

Colin rubs the back of his neck. “People were ready to go after him pretty quickly, that’s for sure.”

Haft says, “Hardly surprising. I don’t envy him.”

Lanisen looks alarmed. “He get out all right?”

Colin nods. “King Lune saw to it.”

Haft says, “I was surprised to see him in the hall. Was he locked up during the battle?”

Colin appears puzzled. “I’ve no idea.”

Lanisen nods, relieved. “I’m glad,” he says. “He didn’t seem like a bad sort.”

Haft says, “He’s a Calormene.”

Colin says, “Just because Rabadash is a complete sod doesn’t mean they all are. Prince Cor seems to like his friend Lady Aravis well enough, and if he’s anything like his father, he’s a good judge of character.”

Lanisen raises an eyebrow and murmurs, “Can see nothing gets by you.”

Haft glowers. “Not anymore.”

Colin’s eyebrow goes up a little. “While we’re on the subject…sort of…I don’t think I caught your name.”

Haft hesitates. “Haft.”

Colin nods. “Colin. Good to meet you.”

Haft nods.
Haft asks, “And your friend who doesn’t believe in centaurs?”

Lanisen has lost track of the conversation, having come upon the entry on spectres. He stares at the illustration in morbid fascination.

Colin jerks his thumb toward the avid reader. “Lanisen.” he says with a grin.

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Haft says, “Must be a good book.”

Colin nods, pulling himself to his feet. “That and healing is just boring.”

Haft says, “Worst part of battle, and that’s the truth. The mending.”
Haft asks, “So what happened to you?”

Lanisen’s face turns slightly red as he realizes he missed something. “Sorry.”
Lanisen says, “Um. Arrows did.”

Haft winces.

Colin’s forehead creases as he looks at Haft. “Sure. The mending.” he pauses for a minute before looking at his friend. “I need to go..it’s time to get back t’ help with some of the cleanup.”

Haft nods. “Of course. I might join you. I haven’t broken my fast yet.”
Haft says, “I think we can safely leave Lanisen with his book. Unless he had questions about the pictures. I lived in Narnia for a time”

Lanisen looks interested. “Did you?”

Colin’s tone is somewhat apologetic. “I won’t be going in the direction of the hall, but I can point you that way.”

Haft says, “I know the way. Thank you. I’ll head down in a bit.”

Colin nods, heading for the door as he runs a hand through his head. “Lan, I’ll be back later to try to help you to your room.” He says absently as the door closes behind him.

Lanisen watches his friend go, frowning in some confusion. “Uh– all right.”

Haft turns to Lanisen. “Anything you particularly wanted to know?”

Lanisen says, “What? Oh, um. I don’t know yet.” He half-grins and gestures at the book in his lap.

Colin walks through a narrow door leading to the stairwell in the north tower.

Haft nods. “I suppose you saw them in the battle, but haven’t had much chance for looking since you were brought here?

Lanisen says, “Oh, I wasn’t in the battle. I haven’t seen anybody but those who have been up here since.”

Haft asks, “How were you injured then?”

Lanisen says, “The night before, on the walls.”
Lanisen adds, “At least… I’m pretty sure it was the night before. I might’ve lost some time, not really sure.”

Haft asks, “You were with the archers?”

Lanisen nods.

Haft says, “That’s still battle, lad. When your sons ask you, you can tell them you served honorably in the Battle of Anvard, when the prince of Calormen stood before the gates.”

Lanisen says, “No, no– I didn’t see any Narnians in the battle outside, I meant. Because I wasn’t there.”

Haft says, “Ah, I see.”
Haft says, “Well, hopefully you’ll see a few before they leave, if you get your rest and heal as you should”
Haft says, “It’s a queer land.”

Lanisen glances at the book. “Sounds like it,” he remarks. “Everything’s half-human-half-something.”

Haft says, “Not at all.”

Lanisen asks, “Sorry?”

Haft says, “There are a few, of course. The centaurs, fauns, satyrs. But most of the folk you meet are other sorts. Talking Beasts, for a great part.”

Lanisen says, “Oh. Right, of course.”

Haft says, “And others that might seem humanlike, but aren’t. The dryads, naiads. The Marsh-wiggles. Not THAT’s an odd folk.”

Lanisen says, “…Marsh-wiggles?”

Haft says, “If you look in your book, you might say they look half-frog-half human, but that ain’t a proper description, as they’re neither.”

Lanisen blinks. “/Frog/?” he repeats dubiously.

Haft says, “They’re tall, and solemn. Live up north, near the wastelands.”

Lanisen says, “Tall frogs.”

Haft says, “Oh, I say that because their hands and feet are webbed and their hair is reedy.”
Haft says, “I ain’t met many of them, truth be told. But you’d not forget it quick like, once you had.”

Lanisen is flipping pages, trying to find the section on this new oddity. He gives the illustration a long suspicious look, once he finds it, and shakes his head slowly. “That’s it,” he says. “I give up. Tall talking frogs, what next.”

Haft says, “I didn’t notice any in the hall, but it was crowded. If you should see one, make sure to strike up a conversation. It’s an education, and no mistake.”

Lanisen sits back against the wall and closes the book, looking overwhelmed. He automatically raises his right hand to rub his forehead, but quickly realizes his mistake, his face turning gray with pain from his injured shoulder.

Haft grimaces sympathetically.

Lanisen takes a couple of deep breaths and relaxes again, muttering to himself.
Lanisen mumbles “This is the worst.”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… is … worst.”, to Lanisen.

Haft says, “You should probably rest. I need to find myself something to eat in any case.”
Haft grunts in agreement.
Haft says, “Good day, lad.”

Lanisen sags back against the wall, resettling bolsters and blankets. “Thanks for the, um, information.”

Haft says, “Not sure it was any use.”

Lanisen says, “Well, you know. Wouldn’t entirely put it past Sir Colin to have a book commissioned just to mess with me, so it’s good to have a third source.”

Haft’s lips twist, but then he sobers. “It’s always important to know who you should trust, and when.”

Lanisen says easily, “Oh, I’d trust him with my life. Just not with Marsh-wiggles.”

Haft pauses in the doorway. “Be very careful, lad, with whom you choose to entrust your life.”

Lanisen watches him go, looking vaguely indignant.

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