Tempest pads quietly through the market, keeping close to the wall to avoid getting in anyone’s way. She absorbs the few strange looks but it appears that most people have adapted to having talking beasts in their midst over the past few weeks.
Lanisen leaves the kennel building in the late morning, covered in dog fur and leaning on his stick. His eye is drawn to the canine figure and he looks briefly alarmed, looking quickly back to make sure he shut the door behind him. It takes him a second longer to recognize Tempest, and he relaxes.
Tempest lifts her head to sniff the air and her ears prick when she recognizes a scent amidst all the others. Following the strong scent of dog, she starts padding toward the kennels.
Lanisen pauses, watching with mild interest to see where she’ll go.
Tempest soon is standing before Lanisen, and she drops her front end down in a bow of sorts. “Hello, Lanisen! You look a lot better than the last time I saw you. How are you feeling?”
Lanisen says, “Oh! Umm, er. I’m fine, thank you very much.” He pauses. “How is–um, Dr…oooon? The one who got hurt?”
Tempest stands upright, her tail slowly moving back and forth. “He’s doing much better, healing nicely. He’s healed enough for traveling, so we will probably be leaving within a day or two.” Her expression shows a mixture of relief and disappointment.
Lanisen says, “Ahh, yeah. That’s… I bet you’re anxious to be home.”
Tempest nods. “Yes, but I think I will miss here. I’ve enjoyed getting to know people and exploring.”
Lanisen asks, “Yeah? Think you’ll come back?”
Tempest gives him a toothy grin. “I’d like to, some day. Do you think the humans would appreciate that?” She laughs.
Lanisen says, grinning back, “Well, they don’t seem to have minded too terribly much this time, so.”
Tempest bobs her head. “Too true, sir. Then yes, I would like to return someday.”
Lanisen says quickly, “Oh, I’m not a sir! I’m just a–me.”
Tempest tilts her head in confusion. “I don’t follow….”
Lanisen rubs the back of his neck. “Um. I’m not a knight.”
Tempest still looks confused. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
Lanisen says uncertainly, “Um…”
Tempest asks, “Are only knights allowed to be called sir?”
Lanisen says, “I guess–I don’t… Um, around here it’s a title, I think. For knights.” He scratches his head a little helplessly. “It’s confusing, sorry.”
Tempest’s blue eyes widen. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I thought it was just a universal term…respectful and such.”
Lanisen says, “Maybe it is and I got it wrong?”
Tempest chuckles. “Well, what’s safe to call you? Do you prefer just your name?”
Lanisen breaks into a smile. “My name works fine, sure.”
Tempest’s tail wags faster when she gets him to smile. “All right then, Lanisen.”
Lanisen asks, “And you, what d’you want me to call you?”
Tempest grins. “Tempest is just fine, you don’t need to worry about the alpha technicalities.”
Lanisen laughs under his breath. “Thanks for that. I’m so bad at honorifics and what-not. You don’t want to know how many times I made a fool of myself when I first came to the castle.”
Tempest nods. “I don’t doubt it. It can be so confusing.”
Lanisen raises his eyebrows and puffs out a little breath to confirm this. He shifts his weight, winces, and starts looking around for someplace to sit down.
Tempest notices the change in his demeanor. “Are you all right? How can I help?” she moves to his side.
Lanisen says, “Ahh, no, it’s fine, I’m fine, just–” He hobbles toward an empty crate, turns it over, and sits down. “Get to standin’ too long it lets me know is all. Sorry.”
Tempest nods, sniffing the air. “You were wounded in the leg and your shoulder…I remember. You’re doing well to be around on your feet as much as you are.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah–healer says I’m lucky it missed bone, oughta be back to where I don’t need the stick in another few weeks.” He happens to look down at his tunic and makes a halfhearted attempt to brush off some of the fur.
Tempest catches the scent of some of the fur. “Do you work in the kennels, Lanisen?”
Lanisen says, “Uh, I used to.”
Tempest asks curiously, “What do you do now?”
Lanisen says, “Um, right now not much of anything. I was travelin’ with Sir Colin a bit before, but he’s off, um, on a trip. Couldn’t go this time around, so, here I am.”
Tempest nods, her expression sympathetic. “Injuries can take a bit of time to heal… hopefully you will soon be up and traveling. What sorts of things do you do when traveling around?”
Lanisen says, “Uummm, it kinda depends. He’s, um, he’s big on helpin’ out where it’s needed.”
Tempest nods, not fully understanding, but accepting nonetheless. “Do you enjoy it?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. Yeah, I do. It’s been–” He glances around the ward and grimaces slightly. “Felt like I was useful, like I was maybe makin’ a difference for folk.”
Tempest notices his expression. “And you don’t feel that way here.”
Lanisen shifts. “Not so much, no.”
Tempest puts a paw on his good knee. “Don’t worry. We’re often making a difference and not realizing it. I’m sure you’ll only be stuck here for a time.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, maybe.”
Tempest asks, “How came you to be in the battle?”
Lanisen says, “Uh, we were here for the hunt, me and Col–Sir Colin, and then the king asked for people to fight and I was standin’ there, so.” He shrugs.
Tempest’s eyes observe him unblinkingly. “You volunteered then?”
Lanisen says, “Er, yeah.”
Tempest bows her head to him. “That was very brave of you.”
Lanisen shifts, alarmed and self-conscious. “No, it–I wasn’t the only one, not, not by a long shot. And there’s folks who stepped up riskin’ more. /You/ came, and all the other Narnians, even though it wasn’t even your country.”
Tempest continues to look at him. “We all risked the same, losing our own lives or those we love, and the Lion was good to us. I don’t doubt Archenland would have returned the favor. They even did, holding Rabadash here instead of moving on to our country.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah that’s…that’s what I’m sayin’.”
Tempest says, “But you’re part of that. Even if things didn’t go exactly as planned…you still volunteered.”
Lanisen says, “Wish I’d been able to do some good.”
Tempest tilts her head at him. “How do you know you didn’t?”
Lanisen says, “Well, I–I was only on the walls, you see, and I kinda got hit first thing. I didn’t even fire any arrows.”
Tempest keeps her head tilted. “How did your falling in battle affect those around you?”
Lanisen says, “Um, I imagine it was a distraction.”
Tempest asks, “Was it?”
Lanisen says, “I was kinda knocked out at the time.”
Tempest chuckles a bit. “Then you can’t really say.”
Lanisen lets out a breath. “If you say so.”
Tempest grins at him. “Never assume anything. Now, while you’re having to sit down, is there anything I can bring you?”
Lanisen says, “Wh–oh, no, no, I’m fine!”
Tempest nods. “All right, if you’re sure.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t have to sit down, really, it’s just more comfortable is all. Adrian’d probably like it if I was walkin’ more.”
Tempest tilts her head. “Adrian…the healer?”
Tempest asks, “Has he been helping you a lot?”
Lanisen glances down at his right hand automatically at this, flexing the stiff fingers. “He knows a lot,” he answers.
Tempest nods. “As much if not more than our healer. It’s an admirable profession. One of our wolves is even learning the art of healing.”
Lanisen asks, “Really? How does that–” He stops short and turns red. “Um.”
Tempest finishes, “Work without hands?” She says with a grin.
Lanisen mumbles, “More or less.”
Tempest giggles a little. “Well…the knowledge is helpful, she will definitely need an assistant with hands as she continues to develop. Right now she’s just learning about plants and remedies, so she could give instructions if necessary. She’s a perfect mother figure so healing suits her.”
Lanisen says, “Makes sense…” He glances at the kennels, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip.
Tempest tilts her head a little. “Are you interested in anything like healing or some such hobby?”
Lanisen says, “No, well–” He pauses for a long moment, tapping his knee with his index finger. “Um. It’s just–I don’t want to say something to, to offend you. Um, workin’ in the kennels they’d–the dogs’ll get into all sorts of things if they’re able, and we don’t always know what kind of things they can have as remedy. What’s good for humans ain’t always good for hounds, you know?”
Tempest ahs, nodding her head. “No, I’m not offended. The same is for us, we cannot eat most plants that are used for remedies that would work with humans or fauns or dwarves.”
Lanisen nods quickly. “Yeah, yeah, I figured.” He pauses. “I’d–like to talk with the wolf who’s learnin’ healin’, maybe. Once he’s learned it, if he’s willing.”
Tempest nods. “Her name is Crenna…I’m sure we could arrange something. Perhaps a return trip when her training is finished, or if you’re ever coming to Narnia…are you?” She says with a hopeful grin.
Lanisen says, “Oh, she, sorry.” He nods to the mention of a return trip, but freezes up a little at this last. “Uhh…”
Tempest tilts her head at him. “There’s lots of places for humans to stay with human food and beds….you’d always be welcome.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, ahh–no, it’s not–sorry.”
Tempest tilts her head the other way this time, looking at him cockeyed with curiosity.
Lanisen rubs his palms on his knees, going alternately pale and flushed. “Um, there’s–some folk in Narnia I used to know, is all.”
Tempest’s black nose twitches a little and her brow furrows. “You smell like fear…you are afraid of these people?”
Lanisen starts slightly. “You can… smell?”
Tempest nods. “When people are afraid, or angry, it has a certain smell. It’s easier with humans and fauns than with wolves, but possible. I smell the increase in perspiration and whatever else changes.”
Lanisen says, a little weakly, “Oh. I see.”
Tempest touches her nose to his hand. “Hey, it’s all right. Being afraid isn’t a bad thing. Why are you afraid of these people? Who are they?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “Just–people I used to know, is all. It was a long time ago, I dunno if they’re even still in Narnia.”
Tempest nods. “Might not be, if it was so long ago. What were their names? And were they..heh, human? Most likely if they were from here…”
Lanisen says, “Uh–um.” He swallows, glancing around the ward. “M-Myrd?”
Tempest hms. “I don’t think I’ve heard that name.”
Lanisen looks relieved. “It was a long time ago,” he says again.
Tempest nods. “Anyone else, or just him?”
Lanisen says, “Um.” He hesitates longer this time. “Uh, his …wife, I guess.”
Tempest tilts her head. “What was she called? I don’t remember any married couples.”
Lanisen worries nervously at a frayed bit of his right sleeve, pulling out a thread from the fabric. “Uh. Jana.”
Tempest’s blue eyes squint a bit. “Hm…I don’t know. It sounds familiar but…no, can’t say really.”
Tempest says, “They certainly don’t live in our Woods, if they still live in Narnia.”
Lanisen sags a little bit with relief. “Well,” he says, trying to grin. “There it is, then.”
Tempest tilts her head at him. “Would you come visit us in the woods sometime then? Please know that you are always welcome in our region, even if it is years down the road.”
Lanisen says, noncommittal, “Maybe?”
Tempest nods her head with a chuckle. “I’ll take that. And when Crenna has finished her training, I think a return trip to Archenland will be in the works.”
Lanisen relaxes a little more at this. “I’d like to meet her, I think,” he says earnestly. “I’d like that very much.”
Tempest grins. “You would love Crenna. And I think she would adore you.”
Lanisen says, “Um… all right?”
Tempest offers as explanation, “She likes to adopt things….”
Lanisen looks like he’s not even a little bit sure what to make of this.
Tempest says, “I think she’d adopt you.”
Tempest grins apologetically.
Lanisen says, “…Okay, then.”
Tempest wags her tail. “If you ever come see us, there’s lots of very nice wolves and other Narnians. There’s Fidus and Penny and their family, there’s my favorite little creature Chiara, we’ve got a hedgehog–he’s a bit of a shy fellow but really very nice. The talking deer herd, Niffum the dwarf, a Bear, and many others. The woods see a lot of varieties living there and traveling through. And Lord Peridan is just a border away, he wants to start working with the pack more.”
Lanisen blinks, looking a little overwhelmed. “Sounds very–wow.”
Tempest grins, calming down a bit. “Sorry…I think I’m getting a bit excited to go home. I do hope you get to see it some day. But we’ll definitely be back.”
Lanisen asks, “Are there any humans that live in your woods?”
Tempest shakes her head. “No, but some live a border away in Sted Cair. There’s a few in Barfield, that’s further north, and then a few in Lantern Waste. I know there’s Kiyon, who works with the Northern Guard, and Ad–oh lion I’m an idiot….”
Lanisen looks a little taken aback. “S-orry?”
Tempest narrows her eyes in thought and just shakes her head. “My apologies…I, ah…forgot to send word to my pack that we have a new Tenderfoot. I need to do that so she is not under any threat when we approach the den.” she says, her words truthful.
Lanisen says, “Oh. I see.”
Tempest shakes her head as if to clear the cobwebs. “I’m sorry,” She says again. “Sometimes my head gets away with me. I think out loud.”
Lanisen says, “I know the feeling.” He gives her an uncertain sidelong look anyway.
Tempest’s eyes narrow as she loses focus, growing thoughtful for several moments. When she speaks again, she asks carefully, “Lanisen…I’m sorry to ask but…why is it you are so afraid of the people you knew…who used to live in Narnia?”
Lanisen says, “Ahhh…” His eyes dart around the busy ward.
Tempest ducks her head in apology.
Lanisen says uncomfortably, “It’s not really important.”
Tempest nods. “I’m sorry, forgive me for being nosy. It’s really not my business.”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s–fine, it’s all right. Um.” He fidgets again for a minute and finally offers in explanation, “I used to–I didn’t always work here, Sir Colin kinda–um.” He pauses, then says, “I used to run with a bad crowd, is what I’m tryin’ to say, I’m here now and not still out there because Sir Colin dragged me in to face the law. It ain’t a secret or anything, um. Jana and M–I knew them then, is all.”
Haft wanders into the ward, clearly preoccupied. He does not hear Lanisen’s comment but goes about his own business.
Tempest nods, the news of Lanisen’s past not appearing to change her opinion of him. She pauses a beat, then tells him, “When I was younger, I came very close to joining with a wolf called Tainn. She’s evil, and my life would have taken a very different turn. Fortunately as it seems, we both were given opportunities to change directions.”
Lanisen gives her a quick grateful look at this, the set of his shoulders relaxing a little.
Tempest touches her nose to his hand. “Lanisen…” She says uncertainly.
Lanisen says uncertainly, “Yeah?”
Tempest hesitates a moment before she says in a low voice. “There is a woman called Adara who lives in Lantern Waste….” she watches his face.
Lanisen takes a minute on that one. “Ah.”
Tempest continues slowly when it seems he can handle this. “She rescued me years ago, from Tainn, with another lady. The other lady called her Jana…I had forgotten until…”
Lanisen nods, processing this new information in calm stillness.
Haft leaves the market, still looking rather dazed. He takes a cursory glance around the ward, but then continues into the keep.
Tempest touches her nose to his hand again, her face concerned at his reaction.
Lanisen takes a deep breath, glancing at her again. “Is–her husband there too, then?” he asks. “In Lantern Waste?”
Tempest says, “I think so…I assume so…”
Lanisen says, “An’ they–I heard they got a kid?”
Tempest’s nose twitches as she thinks, and nods. “Yes, I think so. I remember talking about that.”
Lanisen nods again, still very still and quiet. “And they’re just… livin’, they’re not… under guard or anything like that.”
Tempest makes a pained face. “Not that I am aware of…but keep in mind I hardly know them. I…think she’s a part of the Northern Guard…she wore the armband.” She says slowly.
Lanisen says, “The Northern Guard, what’s–what’s that?”
Tempest explains, “They were formed during a time I was not in Narnia…but they reside in Lantern Waste and work hand in hand with Ulfden to protect the border between Narnia and Ettimoor…it’s a highly respected group and position. Drune was part of them before he decided to return full time to our pack.”
Lanisen says, “Oh.” He releases a long breath, staring at the ground a little ways ahead of him. “Well,” he says finally with very little expression. “Good for them.”
Tempest sniffs his knee, then gently nudges his hand, not buying it for a second. “I shouldn’t have told you…” She says sorrowfully.
Lanisen rubs a hand over his face. “No, it’s–fine. I’m glad you told me.”
Tempest places her cold nose into his hand. “Are you sure?”
Lanisen looks down at her. “Can you smell that I ain’t, too?” he asks wryly.
Tempest says, “I have sense for these things.”
Lanisen looks away. “Right.”
Tempest asks him earnestly, “What can I do?”
Lanisen says, “Nothing, no, it’s fine.” He takes a deep breath and looks down at his hands, saying evenly, “I got a chance to change my life, guess it’s fair they did too.” His expression twists bitterly despite his words for just a second.
Tempest winces a little at his face. “They hurt you badly, didn’t they.”
Lanisen tenses automatically, guarded, but rather than try to lie or change the subject, he says quietly, “Nothin’ that bad. Nothin’ permanent.”
Tempest’s head nods a little. “If you don’t let it be.” She appears to be considering something before she speaks. “Remember that wolf I mentioned? She kidnapped me when I was a pup….wanted me to be her own kid and she made me train mercilessly and let things like Orkneys and bats attack me. She took me away from my home and we went underground, to the caverns in Ettinsmoor where it was dark and close. When I was rescued, I came home to find my mother had made busy work while I was gone and got mated as if she hadn’t a care in the world. That almost destroyed me..and many times I almost went back to Ettinsmoor, because what did I have at home to keep me there? It takes time…sometimes a lot of time. Something like that doesn’t have to break you…”
Lanisen listens silently. After a pause, he stirs and looks up at her. “And… Jana? rescued you?”
Tempest nods. “And Lady Raistlana…I don’t know how she came to be part of the rescue or why she’s trusted, but as abrasive as those two women were, they did get me out of the caves and home.”
Lanisen laughs, silent and mirthless. He takes a deep breath, pulls his lips between his teeth, and nods.
Tempest gently nudges him as she watches his face. “We’ve a bit more in common than I thought….I didn’t think anyone else could have had such a rough start as I did…. and here we both are, having volunteered for the good side. Come quite a ways, haven’t we.”
Lanisen gives her a rather wan grin. “Guess so,” he says. “If you put it that way.”
Tempest’s tail wags a bit at the grin. “I know we’re going back to Narnia…but if you ever need a friend, I’m one message away.”
Lanisen says, “Thanks. I’ll remember that.”
Tempest backs away a step or two and paws at him. “Will you be all right?” she looks at him earnestly.
Lanisen nods quickly. “Yeah. I’m fine. Thanks for–tellin’ me.”
Tempest nods, backing away further to drop her upper half down onto the ground, her tail moving back and forth. “I’m really glad I was given the chance to meet you, Lanisen.”
Lanisen has to grin a little at her antics. “Yeah,” he says. “You too.”
Tempest stands up normally and returns his grin as she trots through the ward to the gates. Looking over her shoulder, she gives a short bark of farewell.
Lanisen lifts his hand to wave after her.
Tempest barks once more, then bounds through the gates.
Lanisen folds over a bit once she’s gone and rubs his forehead with his good hand.