You stand in the Library of Anvard, a room well-lit by a multitude of wall sconces. The air is heavy with the unique, but pleasing smell of books, old and new. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of volumes line the shelves from top to bottom, and a number of tables have been provided for reading and writing. The room appears to be well-dusted and well-kept, its contents carefully maintained and repaired throughout the years.
Lanisen prowls up and down the section of the shelves containing books on Archenland’s nearest neighbors, his head tilted oddly to one side as he reads the titles. His stick clacks loudly against the floor in the ubiquitous library silence no matter how quiet he tries to keep it.
Tyre enters the library and surveys the territory to see if it is safe.
Lanisen bends to squint at a title on a lower shelf. He leans his stick on the table next to him and reaches down with his left hand to dislodge it.
Tyre’s eyes fall on Lanisen and he observes this movement with something like interest. He waits until the deliberateness of his actions are less obvious to approach the young man. “Ah, excuse me?”
Lanisen jumps and whirls guiltily. He wobbles, predictably, but catches himself on one of the shelves behind him. “Ahh–Lord Tyre!”
Tyre says, “Sorry.”
Lanisen says, “No no no–I’m, er, I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t think there’d be anybody… here.”
Tyre says, “Sorry, yes, I, sometimes come here.”
Lanisen laughs weakly. “I see that.” He darts a glance to the door. “Uh, sorry, would you like me to go?”
Tyre says, “No, no. No, no.”
Lanisen stands uncertainly, weight balanced precariously between his good foot and the shelf. “I don’t–um–I hope I won’t disturb you?”
Tyre asks, “Ah, actually, Sir Colin, ah had asked me to– ah, that is, what have you got there?”
Lanisen says, “Um.” He looks down at the book, slid halfway out, and turns a little red. “It’s–I think it’s kid’s stories is what it is. From Narnia.”
Tyre says, “…Oh.” He pushes his glasses up. “Uh… I think my… sister is fond of those.”
Lanisen turns even redder. “It’s not–the librarian said it might have–I was tryin’ to find more about the Lion is all.”
Tyre says, “Ohhh.”
Lanisen flounders a bit, seeming to feel the need to explain himself. “Um, it’s just there’s–in the other books there’s kind of sometimes–they, they /mention/ stuff that happened, but sometimes they don’t really tell the whole… the librarian thought it might be because it’s just stuff everybody already knows so he said I should try in this kind of book. That’s all.”
Tyre steps next to him to look at the shelves. He examines the area closely, then shakes his head. “There’s a book in Chesterton… I, uh–” he clears his throat and adjusts his glasses. “I can ask to have it sent here, if you expect to be in the area for a while.”
Lanisen asks, forgetting himself, “Really?”
Tyre nods. “I– I, uh, was, rather… fond of it when I was first lord. Sort of old… ah, prophecies and tales. Dated, of course. From before we were isolated from Narnia by the winter. But still quite — quite, ah, it sounds like what you are looking for.
Lanisen says, “Oh! That’s–er, that sounds like… um, something… precious.” He clears his throat. “That’s very kind of you to offer, sir, but I couldn’t, couldn’t ask–”
Tyre says, “Ah, oh, it’s not as old as that, no. It’s been copied. It’s little read any more. It would be no trouble.”
Lanisen relaxes a little at this, glancing at Tyre with renewed interest and hope before he can stop himself. “Um,” he says uncertainly. “If it’s… really no trouble–?”
Tyre says, “I will send instructions, then.”
Lanisen’s face breaks into a startled, pleased smile. “Thank you, my lord,” he says. “I–really, thank you. If there’s anything I can…?”
Tyre shakes his head, seeming by the slight peak in his lips and brows to take the offer seriously but to truly feel there is nothing the other man can provide him. “Sir Colin, uh, also said you were interested in, ah, dwarfen trade? But I suppose he was mistaking this for that.” He seems a little hopeful that his conclusion is wrong.
Lanisen blinks. “Uhhh,” he says cautiously. “I haven’t–um, that is to say, I don’t know that I’m /not/? I’ve, um–” He glances at a small stack of books on the table nearest to him. “I’m mostly reading about Calormen, when I’m not reading about–er.”
Tyre asks, “Ah, what about Calormen?”
Lanisen rubs the back of his neck, offering a little sheepish grin. “Um, well. I don’t actually know anything about Calormen, so. Everything. It’s interesting, after last week.” He pauses. “I was talkin’ to a girl I know from Coghill, she said that merchant who was here during the attack is afraid he won’t be able to keep tradin’.”
Tyre says, “Ah, yes, he is… rather a nervous sort. I imagine his suppliers may be hesitant for a time, but Chesterton does not blame him for the action of one Calormen prince. Our larger relations will be more tenuous for longer, and that may trickle some impact down to him, depending on what we clarify of the Tisroc’s position.” He pauses. “The Tisroc’s position is… ah, it’s… I do not have as much fear as the merchant Sehsis. But it will take time to sort out.”
Lanisen shifts his weight and winces. He picks up his stick again and hobbles to a chair with a murmured ‘beg your pardon’. “I don’t understand,” he confesses. “I heard the council that night–or well, I heard pieces of it–but I don’t understand why it is that we aren’t… all the way at war.”
Tyre releases a belabored breath. He sits across from Lanisen. “Well. I am not, mm, among the king’s war council. But, ah, one reason is that Calormen is several times our size.”
Lanisen says, “Wh– oh. No, I meant– why aren’t…” He bites his lip and grimaces slightly. “Um. I don’t understand why they stopped, I mean. Why there aren’t more coming. I mean–with Rabadash, er, how he is now–isn’t the Tisroc angry?”
Tyre says, “Ahhh, yes, well. That’s the part we’re trying to sort out. I don’t think the siege had his full support.”
Lanisen pauses. “I heard them talking about that on the walls, but I didn’t understand it then either.”
Tyre asks, “Ahh, did you, ah, did you gather much of Prince Rabadash’s, mm, character?”
Lanisen hesitates, thinking. “He was sort of–he used a lot of fancy words. He talked real friendly, until all of a sudden he didn’t anymore. Just–” He snaps his fingers to indicate the suddenness of the change. “He doesn’t seem very, um…” He casts about for a word and settles tentatively on, “Constant?”
Tyre says, “So– yes, so– I think the conclusion is, ah, he, well, Lady Aravis has reported some confusing information, and I have not been, ah, fully privy to it all yet, but I… ah I imagine Sir Colin is liable to– ah, that is, while the Tisroc seems not to have forbidden it, I, ah, do not think he moved with his father’s blessing.”
Lanisen sits back in his chair, frowning. “Bit sticky for everybody, sounds like,” he remarks.
Tyre says, “Yeees. Ahh, but you see why Sehsis’s position is not in as much jeopardy as it, uh, might be.”
Lanisen asks, “Do you think people will still want to trade with him, though?”
Tyre says, “Chesterton is his largest trade partner in Archenland.”
Lanisen says, “Oh!” He frowns again, then grins sheepishly. “I don’t know much about how trade works, turns out.”
Tyre says, “If it is something you are interested in, I, ah, do not have a great deal of time, but I would be willing… that is, yes, I could give you some, ah, instruction, or books if you’d rather. If you’re, if it’s of importance to you.”
Lanisen looks startled. He gives Tyre a quick searching look and takes a moment to answer. “That’s very– Um, if– if you could recommend some books?”
Tyre rises, “Certainly.” He takes his glasses by the frames and lifts them and replaces them closer to his eyes, then heads to a section of shelves, running his finger along the spines.
Lanisen sits for an awkward second, then grabs his stick and limps after Tyre to see what he’s looking at.
Tyre pulls six books off the shelf in quick succession. He starts to hand them over, then his eyes fall to the hand on the cane, and he moves to put them on the table for him instead.
Lanisen looks a little daunted as Tyre begins pulling books. By the time he’s pulled the last book, Lanisen looks a lot daunted.
Tyre takes two off the stack. “These give history of trade with Calormene.” He takes off another and puts it on top. “This would be best to read first. More basic trade law. Prince Cor may need it eventually, but if you read it in the library it should be no problem to him.”
Lanisen says, “Aaahh, all right.” He blinks a few times. “Um. Thank you, sir.”
Tyre says, “You’re quite welcome. I’m afraid I’ve got my own work to tend to in the, ah, meantime.”
Lanisen says, “‘Course, yeah.” He moistens his lips and eyes the stack of books with intent, then glances back at Tyre. “Thanks for… talkin’, sir.”
Tyre’s eyes linger on the slung arm again in a distracted sort of way before he responds, “Oh– my, ah, my… pleasure.”
Lanisen ducks his head in a kind-of-sort-of bow that does not in any way adversely affect his balance and thumps back toward his chair.
Tyre picks up his papers and moves away to pick out a few more books and sit with them at another table, where he begins writing.
Lanisen pulls the top book over to himself and goes quiet as he starts reading.