apples and oranges

Castle Anvard

You stand in the Anvard Stable. All around you are stalls and equipment. There are horses of all colors, but all are high caliber. The far wall is hung with saddles, bridles, stirrups and other tack. There is fresh straw in every stall and buckets for water are hung on hooks. There are several special stalls for visiting talking horses. The floor is hardpacked dirt.

Lanisen makes his way up the stable’s alley with the aid of a stout stick, heading for a stall containing a tall gray gelding. He’s limping and leaning heavily on the cane, but seems to be getting along quite well. Once he reaches the stall, he transfers his weight to the stall door and sets his cane aside, murmuring quietly to the horse inside, which is really more interested in whether or not he’s got any apples.

Tyren slips into the stable with a hand behind his back – it could be presumed that whether Lanisen does or not, /Tyren/ certainly has apples – and moves to greet his horse with a pat, which is returned by a pleasant whicker. “Well hello, old friend.”

Lanisen starts slightly at the voice and turns to look for the source. He settles his weight carefully and dips a bow, holding to the stall door with his left hand.

Tyren proffers the yes-in-fact-it-is-an-apple to Medon, who whinnies, or more accurately half-whinnies before it’s lost in crunching noises, as he nods to Lanisen, with something of a smile. “Evening.” His expression flickers as he takes in Lanisen’s current position, and asks simply, “Recovering all right?”

Lanisen glances briefly at his right hand and answers, “Yes, sir. Thanks.”

Tyren nods once, smiling again. “Excellent. Seems to be the case all around, or at least to hear Adrian tell it.”

Lanisen says, “More or less, sir.”

Tyren hehs. “I suppose there’s more truth in phrasing it that way. Lot to recover /from/, depending on how you look at it.”

Lanisen nods noncommittally and says nothing. The gelding leans over the stall door to snuffle at his pockets, and he grins faintly and produces an apple.

Tyren chuckles. “Horses seem to be getting along decently as far as recovery goes as well.” He looks back to Medon, who has finished his own apple and is currently flicking his ears. “Then again, they have had ample reward, as well.”

Lanisen says nothing, focused on the horse in front of him. Once the apple is gone, he strokes the gelding’s neck over the stall door and combs his fingers through a particularly disordered area of the coarse mane.

Tyren says, “Which, I must admit, was well deserved.”

Colin enters the stables, walking in step with Lord Peridan.

Lanisen says, “I didn’t see it, sir.”

Peridan comes walking in with Colin, speaking amicably with him.

Tyren pats Medon on the neck again. “They did their job admirably – as can be said for everyone else, really.” His glance is diverted by the two entering, and he bows. “Ah, Sir Colin. Lord Peridan. Good eve.”

Colin’s gait slows as he takes stock of who occupies the stables. “Ahh-evening, Sir Tyren. Lanisen.” he greets amiably.

Peridan bows to Tyren, “Good eve, Lord Tyren. Lanisen.” He walks up to Adair’s stall, reaching out to scratch the stallion’s head, “How do you two fare?”

Lanisen raises his head as Tyren greets Colin and Peridan. He lets out a small breath and grins faintly toward them, his shoulders dropping.

Tyren smiles as he nods. “Quite well, from my end. And as for the two of you?”

Colin approaches his stallion, who is stabled next to Lanisen’s. He greets the horse quietly with a glance at Lanisen, offering him a knowing grin. “Quite well, thank you sir. And yourself?”

Peridan responds, “I am well.”

Lanisen picks up his stick in his left hand and gimps next door to say hello to Coalblack.

Tyren nods once. “Excellent. Lord Peridan, I do believe I owe you an apology for not welcoming you back to Anvard sooner than this. Granted, we have both been occupied, but it has been rather too long as it stands.”

Colin glances back at Peridan and turns to face his horse and Lanisen so only they can see his face, which is fighting a grin.

Peridan turns to Tyren, nodding his head, “It is quite alright, Tyren. It has been a long time.”

Lanisen glances at Colin, frowning a question.

Tyren chuckles. “In any case, it is good to see you again.”

Colin mouths “Tell you later” to Lanisen. He points at the injuries and looks at him questioningly.

Peridan asks, “And you. Fourteen years is a long time. How are you recovering?”

Lanisen’s eyes dart away. He shrugs and reaches up to stroke Coalblack’s cheek.

Tyren waves a hand in a dismissive fashion. “Oh, just fine. Nothing I haven’t dealt with before a dozen times over. And as for yourself?”

Colin frowns slightly as he rubs Coalblack’s ears. The stallion is in heaven as he receives all the attention.

Peridan hehs, running a hand over his side, “It would be better if I was more patient and waiting to ride until I was fully healed.”

Tyren smirks faintly at this. “Sounds about right, I’d say.”

Lanisen tries to reach into his right pocket with his left hand. He mutters in annoyance and unslings his right arm, then retrieves a lumpy piece of sugar from his pocket, which he clumsily transfers to his left hand before offering to Coalblack.

Colin begins to move about, securing Coalblack some feed for his dinner.

Peridan grins slightly, “Indeed, I believe that is something we have in common, my good sir.”

Tyren says, “Oh, less so over the space of the intervening years, I must admit. At least, they’ve stopped threatening to tie me to my bed until I recover, over in the infirmary. Whether that is due to my improvement in that respect or their realization it would do no good anyway is anyone’s guess.”

Lanisen finds an empty crate and turns it over to sit on, stretching out his leg and rubbing it gingerly.

Dar leads a tall, grey horse into the stables. His clothing, fine as it is, indicates the marks of heavy riding. Celeres nudges Dar’s shoulder, and Dar takes a moment to find an apple for the stallion.

Colin enters Coalblack’s stall and tends to him for a few minutes. Once finished, the stallion focuses on his meal as Colin lets himself out of the stall, closing it behind him. He slides to the ground next to Lanisen’s crate, resting his back on the stall behind him.

Peridan laughs, “Indeed.” His gaze falls over to Lanisen, assessing him quietly as the man and horse enters.

Tyren’s attention is drawn to Dar’s entrance by his horse, who lets out a cheerful whinny toward the grey Dar accompanies. Tyren, in turn, grins broadly, dipping a bow. “Lord Dar.”

Lanisen glances up at Dar and Celeres’s entrance and starts automatically to stand up, then winces and settles back. He glances at Colin.

Dar pats Celeres’s shoulder as the grey returns the whicker. “Cousin”, Dar says simply. “Sir Colin. Lord Peridan. Lanisen.” He bows toward the nobles and inclines his head in Lanisen’s direction. “There is no need–be at your ease.”

Colin looks at Lanisen and offers a wave in Lord Dar’s direction, grinning apologetically for not standing.

Peridan bows to Dar, “Lord Dar. Have a nice ride?”

Lanisen says quietly, “Thank you, sir.”

Tyren moves over to greet Celeres as well, with a pat on the neck.

Dar answers, “Business, I am afraid. Not pleasure, this afternoon–the ride was productive.”

Tyren says, “Which, I believe, can still be covered under the definition of ‘nice ride,’ at least, the way you go about it.”

Peridan chuckles, “Indeed, I am glad that it was a productive trip as well.”

Colin says something aside to Lanisen.
Colin mumbles “Trick is to stay real still and you are easily forgotten.”, to Lanisen.
Colin mumbles “… … to … real … … you … easily forgotten.”, to Lanisen.

Lanisen bends toward Colin to hear him better, then throws back his head and laughs. But quietly.
Lanisen mumbles “Yeah, yeah. Teach your grandmother to suck eggs.”, to Colin.
Lanisen mumbles “… … Teach … … to suck eggs.”, to Colin.

Dar hehs. “You do know me rather well, Cousin.”

Tyren smirks. “I have had a fair amount of time to learn your particular quirks.”

Colin coughs and places his hand over his mouth.

Lanisen thumps him helpfully on the back.

Colin swats at him.

Peridan glances at the conversation going on between Colin and Lanisen, raising his eyebrow at them. He turns to Adair, entering the stall to check on his horse as the others converse.

Dar raises his eyebrow as well, the gesture rather effective (and clearly habitual) coming from him. To Tyren, he continues evenly, “It is fortunate for me that knowledge will only be used for good.”

Lanisen ducks away, still laughing.

Colin notices Peridan’s glance and he grins unashamedly at his cousin.

Tyren chuckles. “Quite. In any case, I have a matter or two to attend to this evening myself, so I believe it’s time I bid you all farewell.” He bows to the nobles, and nods toward Lanisen. “Until next our paths cross.” With that, he grins and departs.

Lanisen subsides quickly as Dar and Tyren’s attention turns their way. He dips his head toward Tyren as he leaves.

Peridan looks up in time to catch Colin’s grin. He just shakes his head, finishing his check of Adair before coming out of the stall. He bows to Tyren as he leaves.

Dar shakes his head, looking as close to amused as his austere features will allow. “Far be it from me to keep you from your duty–” He bows to Tyren as well as his cousin departs.

Colin lifts a hand in farewell as Sir Tyren leaves the stables. He looks at Lanisen and raises both eyebrows.

Peridan turns to Lord Dar, “Lord Dar, I am glad to run into you. I have a matter to discuss with you if you are available?”

Lanisen has gone quiet and watchful, the playful mood vanishing.

Colin glances at him. “All right, mate?” He asks quietly so as not to disrupt the other conversation.

Lanisen shakes his head, glancing back at Colin. “Yessir. Sorry.” He absently flexes his right hand.

Dar’s expression is perfectly neutral. “Indeed? Well, I am perfectly at your disposal, as it happens.”

Peridan says, “I would be amenable to talk now.” He turns to Colin and Lanisen, “Colin, I thank you for your advice. Lanisen, It was good seeing you.”

Colin nods. “You are welcome any time cousin.” he replies.

Dar hands his horse to a waiting groom. “Very well. Tend to him, please. Recall that he has done great service in recent days.” The groom bows. “Yes, Milord”, takes the reins, and leads Celeres off to one of the waiting stalls.

Lanisen says to Peridan, “Evening, sir.”

Peridan dips his head to Dar, “After you, sir.”

Dar bows to Colin and lingers a moment in front of Lanisen. “I wish you a speedy recovery”, he states before leading the way out.

Lanisen says, ducking his head, “Thank you, sir.”

Colin bows his head respectfully. “A good evening to you both.”

Peridan dips his head to them before following Lord Dar out of the stable.

Lanisen, as they leave the stables, lets his head thunk back against the stall door behind him.

Colin says, “Being back at court is harder than I anticipated……”

Lanisen says wearily, “Shut up, you’re leavin’ soon.”

Colin runs a hand through his hair. “Not for long…have to come back.”

Lanisen asks, “What for?”

Colin chuckles a bit. “My job. Being a knight, still have to work out where to travel when…things’ll be different if and when there are wedding plans but…I’ll have to sort it all.”
Colin adds, “So never fear, you shan’t be alone for too long.”

Lanisen looks a little relieved. “Right.”

Colin suddenly looks down at his empty hands, remembering something. “Oh…have a new stack of books for you. Left them in the library, I did.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! Thanks!” He pauses. “I meant to ask you about that–am I allowed in the library when you’re gone?”

Colin nods. “Of course! If anyone tries to give you any trouble, have them take it up with me. I’ll make sure the librarians know what sorts of things you are looking for, they’ll be able to help. Probably do a better job than I can.” He grins.

Lanisen says, “Thanks. Really.”

Colin says, “Anytime.”

Lanisen asks, “When’re you goin’?”

Colin ers. “Dunno. Hoping in a day or two. I knew there was a reason I mostly kept away..once you’re here duty after duty comes up and keeps you tied down from things that are far more important.”

Lanisen says, “I s’pose.”

Colin muses “Wonder what they’d do if I just…disappeared?”

Lanisen gives him a quick look.

Colin raises both of his eyebrows. “What? I’ve a maid to win!”

Lanisen says, “Oh,” and relaxes. He shrugs. “His majesty knows where you’re off to, don’t he?”

Colin nods, looking at Lanisen thoughtfully. “Aye, he does. What was your first inclination when I said that?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. It was a funny thing to say is all.”

Colin hms and lets it go.

Lanisen goes quiet again, working his hand absently.

Colin points to the hand. “How’s things going with the exercises and such?”

Lanisen looks down at it. He rubs the fingers with his left hand and crosses his arms over his stomach. “Fine,” he says, shrugging. “Nothin’ to report.”

Colin just nods. “Time.” he says. Coalblack, having decided he is tired of being ignored, leans his head over the edge and drops it down between the two of them, whuffling noisily.

Lanisen says, “I know that.” He leans away from Coalblack, cracking a smile.

Coalblack shoves his nose first into Lanisen’s hair, then Colin’s.

Colin grunts in surprise and moves away in protest. “You already ate.”

Lanisen shoves the horse’s face out of his personal bubble and scritches under his chin. “/And/ had sugar. Greedy oaf,” he says affectionately.

Coalblack whuffles happily when Lanisen starts itching under his chin.

Colin reaches up to stroke the stallion’s cheek. “I can’t refrain from spoiling him…not after that battle.”

Lanisen makes a vague ‘mmm’ noise of agreement. He does his part to spoil the horse for a few more minutes, then glances at Colin. “You doin’ all right? With all that?”

Colin makes an ‘eh’ face. “It helps to be able to focus on the situation with Arael, and to focus on you. It’s my sanity right now.” He strokes Coalblack’s velvety muzzle.

Lanisen doesn’t look entirely satisfied with this answer. He keeps quiet, silently offering to listen.

Colin sputters when Coalblack noses him full on the face. “All right, enough.” He good naturedly pushes the nose away. “Sleep has been interesting as well…but no matter. It’ll soon pass.”

Lanisen asks quietly, “Nightmares?”

Colin says, “Bit, yes.”

Lanisen says, watching the horse across the aisle mill around in its stall, “Makes sense, really.”

Colin asks, “How’ve you been doing in that department?”

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Colin asks, “Sleeping. Dreams. You having any of the siege?”

Lanisen frowns a little, shaking his head. “Not of the siege.”

Colin asks, “What of, then?”

Lanisen shifts uncomfortably and doesn’t answer.

Colin doesn’t press, just leaves the silence open if Lanisen wishes to share. Coalblack sticks his head down for another pat and Colin obliges.

Lanisen stays quiet for a few minutes, unraveling a piece of thread from his sling. “Um,” he says at last, not looking away from what his fingers are doing. “It’s–um, it’s the Lion I been dreamin’ about.”

Colin tilts his head to look at him, his own demeanor easing at just the simple reminder of the Lion. “That a fact?”

Lanisen twists the thread between his fingers nervously, doubling it up into a slender two-ply rope. “I mean–it was–um, the Lancelyn Green cave before, so it’s, you know, an improvement. Um.”

Colin gives a little nod. “Seeing Him really shook you, didn’t it?” He comments with a sympathetic look.

Lanisen shrugs a little, not looking up. The string drops out of his fingers and he watches it hit the ground.

Colin asks, “Would it help to talk it out?”

Lanisen starts over, pulling a new thread free of the fabric. “I don’t know.”

Colin watches his ministrations with the thread quietly. “Well….if you ever decide to try, you know I’m always here.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Thanks.” He glances at Colin after a minute and says, “You too, you know.”

Colin gives a nod. Not his trademark acknowledge and dismiss type of nod, but one that indicates he’s seriously thinking on it. “Best friends to the end, you and me. There’s no going back now.” He says with a crooked grin.

Lanisen gives him a quick grateful grin. “Guess not.”

Colin slowly rises from the floor, giving Coalblack another few pats. “It’s getting late…temperature’s going to drop. We should head in, or they’ll find us in the morning mucking.” He says with a grin, holding out a hand.

Lanisen finds his stick and takes Colin’s hand. “Prob’ly so.”

Colin helps him find his footing. One last pat for Coalblack and they’re off.

Lanisen follows him out, thump-shuffling along beside him.


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