Eston pauses as he spots him but, growing curious about his strange behaviour instead of greeting him he just watches with vague interest.
Darius is standing with his left hand flat on the wall and eyes narrowly examining it. Still not yet aware of Eston behind him, he abruptly turns right and begins walking, hand never leaving the wall.
Eston’s curiosity gets the better of him and he call out, “What are you doing?”
Lanisen passes through the inner gatehouse, using his stick. He has a parcel of meat cuts from the kitchen tucked under his right arm.
Darius stops and tenses almost instantly at the call, his hand dropping from the wall and onto his dagger. Turning quick, a /large/ smile is plastered on his face and any visible tension now vanished. “Eston!” He returns, eyes locking on the man. “And how are you this /fine/ day?!” he asks, now swiftly making his way towards him.
Haft, above on the inner wall walk doings his rounds, hears Eston call out and glances down.
Eston gives an awkward half shrug while attempting to keep a hold of his pack and his crutch, “Could be better but I ain’t one to complain, what about you?”
Lanisen pauses at the sound of Darius’s voice, shifting the parcel, and turns to locate the source.
Darius’s smile morphs into a grin as he finishes his approach, extending a hand. “About is good as could be, friend!”
Eston awkwardly attempts a handshake with both arms full and says, “Well that’s good”
Lanisen watches them with mild interest for a moment. He glances around the ward at the various guardposts, then up at the walls, searching for Haft.
Haft nods down, meeting the other man’s eye briefly.
Darius grabs the man’s hand with his right and gives it a /firm/ shake. Noting the pack under Eston’s right arm, he extends both hands towards it. “My good sir, you look like you are quite burdened! Let me ease it for you. ”
Eston hesitates a moment, keeping a hold on the pack, “S’alright I can manage, I ain’t got that far, that’s for the offer though”
Lanisen, once he’s found Haft on the walls, nods back. He watches for another minute, then begins to make his way toward the kennels.
Darius’s arms remain, moving a bit closer even. “Oh, but I insist! ”
Eston looks rather uncomfortable, murmuring
Eston mumbles “No really it … … … wouldn’t want … … noone to no bother”, to Eston.
Lanisen pauses at the door, his hand on the latch, watching again.
Darius looks a little put-out, slowly dropping his hands and giving a quick scan of the Outer Ward. Catching sight of Lanisen at the Kennal door. His eyes lighting up like fireworks, he offers a quick “Excuse me for one moment.” to Eston and briskly makes his way towards Lanisen.
Eston seems somewhat relieved as the attention is turned away from him. He grips his pack tighter, more protectively than before.
Lanisen’s eyes go a little wide and he mutters under his breath, reaching for the door handle again. Alas, it is stuck.
Darius closes the distance quickly, grin becoming toothy. “Lanisen! By all goodness, what has it been? A few days, a week?” He spews, eyes darting to the door handle. “Far TOO long by any account! How ARE you?!”
Lanisen says, “Uhhh.”
Lanisen says, “Um. Fine, thanks.”
Haft’s brow furrows at Lanisen’s difficulty with the handle.
Eston gives Lanisen an awkward wave of his own while still holding onto the pack, “Hullo there”
Darius gives the man a once over and nods firmly. “/Glad/ to hear it! ” he exclaims, looking back to the door. “Trouble with the handle there?”
Lanisen shifts the package to his other arm and tries again. It opens. “Oh, hey,” he says, laughing awkwardly. “Look at that.”
Darius mimicks with his own laughter, taking a step forward and offering the man a hand. “Let me help you with that. ”
Eston figures that the other two are quite distracted and starts to make his slow way towards the gate house leading out.
Lanisen says, “No, no. I got it, it’s fine, thanks.”
Darius takes another step forward, brow now furrowing. “But I insist! ” he exclaims, now only about a foot away.
Lanisen says, “It’s really okay.”
Haft’s hands tense where they rest on the stone wall.
Darius moves half a foot foward, mouth twitching in a frown. “No, really, I /insist/. ” his tone now takes on a slightly darker tone, though it doesn’t appear an outright threat.
Lanisen goes still, his polite smile failing. He gives Darius an uncertain, guarded look.
Eston, still within earshot of the others, pauses at Darius’ tone and watches uncertainly.
Darius catches the change in Lanisen’s expression, blinking and taking a half step back. His eyes instinctively shooting from side to side, he settles his attention back onto the man and gives him a subdued nod. “As you wish. ”
Lanisen says awkwardly, “Right.” He gestures at the package, then the door. “I’ll just…”
Darius nods slightly. “Of course… ”
Lanisen murmurs, “Beg your pardon,” and slips through the kennel door.
The kennel of Anvard is a fairly spacious room, well-lit by the windows in the south wall looking toward the Outer Ward. It is immediately obvious that the hounds housed here are quite well-treated: the floor is kept clean-swept; the blankets padding the dogs’ wooden beds are thick and warm; and the hounds themselves have a certain sleek, well-fed look. Several pens can be seen toward the back of the room, likely used to isolate dogs that are sick, injured, or in need of further training, but the majority of the castle hounds are allowed to roam freely about the room.
A fireplace, lit on cold days, is set into the east wall, opposite the door to the quarters of Danall, the Master of Hounds. A set of wooden stairs leads up to a second level.
Lanisen limps into the back toward a long table, on which he sets the parcel he was carrying. He tries to untie the twine, but seems to be having some difficulty with the knot.
Darius enters the Kennal, closing the door behind him before scanning the room. Finding his man, he lets the latch click into place before slowly making his way further in. “Too good fer a lowly wanderers help eh?” He says, voice low and lost of all proper tone or speech.
Lanisen starts at the noise, glancing up. “Thought I closed that door,” he says evenly after a pause.
Darius walks up to one of the Kennals, peering in. “You did. ” He replies, snorting softly as he eyes a few of the puppies. “Right in my face. ”
Lanisen watches him closely, staying very still. “No offense was meant.”
Darius chuckles wryly, shifting to face him. “Nah, I’m sure ye didn’t mean anythin’ by it. ” he drolls, eyes narrowing a hair as he examines Lanisen. “What happened to yer neck?”
Lanisen says, “Not your concern.”
Darius smirks. “Got somethin’ to hide? Or are ye jus’ too good for the likes of me? ”
Lanisen shifts. His eyes flicker to the door, and to his walking stick leaned up next to it. “You’re not meant to be in here.”
Darius follows the man’s gaze, a wry grin tugging at the corner of his mouth as he eyes the walking stick. Starting to make his way over to it. “No? I thought the Outer Ward was open to any and all free folk. ”
Lanisen says, “This ain’t the outer ward.”
Darius reaches the stick, lifting it slowly. “Well, if it ain’t meant for jus’ anyone, then why’d ya leave it unlocked, eh? ” he clicks his tongue, turning back to the man and making his way towards him, walking stick in hand.
Lanisen watches. His eyes are dark and wary, but he makes absolutely no move.
Darius locks eyes with the man, gaze similarly dark. He releases a soft chuckle, spinning the stick a full three-sixty with ease as he finishes closing the distance. Catching the stick in its upright position, he firmly plants on the floor between them and slowly leans it towards him, eyes never leaving his.
Lanisen reaches out, not looking away from Darius, and grasps the cane above the other man’s hand.
Darius releases it and takes a step back. “There, see? I mean no harm. ” He chuckles, seeming thoroughly amused by the whole situation. Letting his hand fall to his dagger, he releases the man from his gaze and wanders back over to one of the pens. “And, as you can see… ” he snorts. “My touch doesn’t turn things into stone. ” he pauses, eyes narrowing in thought. “Or is it that you all are allergic to a commoner’s help?”
Lanisen takes a deep breath, shifting his cane back to his side, and seems to relax a little. “Why do you keep sayin’ commoners, like as if I ain’t one.”
Darius snorts, hands his arms over the side of the pen. “As if you ain’t. ” he repeats, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Ya, right… Don’t yet try to convince me ye don’t get special treatment. ” he spits to the side. “Yer slave– ” he grunts. “I mean /Lord/ and all.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t.”
Darius waves a hand. “Whatever ye say. ”
Lanisen asks, “What do you want?”
Darius chuckles, looking amused once more. “What do I want? I /want/ a lot of things. ” he looks back to Lanisen, now smiling. “Why do ya ask?”
Lanisen says, lower and slightly hostile, “What are you doing in here.”
Darius shrugs, looking unperturbed. “Felt like seeing the inside. ” he returns, eyes wandering the room now. “Where does that go?” he asks, looking to the stairs.
Lanisen says brusquely, “Storage. I think you should go.”
Darius asks, “Why?”
Lanisen says, “Because you’ve no business here.”
Darius moves as if Lanisen’s last words never left his mouth, taking a couple steps up the stairs as he tries to get a view of the second level.
Lanisen says, “I’ll call the guards.”
Darius does an about-face on the stairs, smiling broadly. “And tell ’em what? A man has wandered into an open area of the Castle? OR shall I let them know that /you/ let me into a restricted area? ” he chuckles, looking overtly confident. “Seems like people whom ‘accidently’ let others into places they shouldn’t be doesn’t end too well around here, now does it?”
Lanisen stays silent, watching to see what he’ll do.
Darius’s smile seems to grow as he leans up against the wall, cupping one hand over his ear and tilting his head. “Ah, my… my hearing /must/ be leavin’ me. I just don’t hear those guards coming!” The air of confidence around him is thick.
Lanisen shrugs and starts walking toward the door.
Darius chuckles to himself, shoving off of the wall and following him towards the door.
Lanisen’s shoulders hunch slightly but he doesn’t look around, thump-limping on resolutely in front of Darius.
Darius keeps a pace or two behind Lanisen, grin never leaving his face.
Lanisen reaches the door, shifts the stick to his right hand, and holds it open for Darius.
Darius places a hand over his heart. “Oh, /how/ kind. Maybe y’all aren’t allergic to us commoners after all. ” he smirks before making his way outside.
Lanisen stares at him without expression until he is out, then shuts the door behind him.
Lanisen opens the kennel door, and Aaron walks out into the outer ward. Lanisen’s face is pale and stony, and he shuts the door firmly behind Aaron.
Lanisen leans on the doorframe for a moment, then limps over to look out the window and make sure Darius is really leaving. Satisfied, he crosses back to the table and starts again on the parcel of meat, but his hands are shaking too badly to unwrap it.
Haft strides into the kennels.
Lanisen sits at a long table in the back, portioning out unwanted cuts of raw venison. As the door opens, he looks up quickly, half rising from his seat, then sinks down again on recognizing Haft. “I’ll thank you,” he says, “not to say ‘I told you so’.”
Haft shakes his head and nearly collapses onto a bench opposite Lanisen. “Mane,” he says, running his fingers through his previously-tidy hair.
Lanisen nods silently, putting meat in a long feeding trough.
Haft says, “Talk to me. What’d he say.”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’ of consequence. Wanted to see upstairs.”
Haft nods. “That’s about the measure of it. Anything else I should know?”
Haft asks, “He told me Sir Colin told him to seek out Lord Dar to find employment. You know if that’s right?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “No idea.”
Haft nods and runs his fingers through his hair again. “Prince Cor was /just outside/, walking this way not ten minutes after you two came in here. I had to discourage him from entering–wanted me to tell you he came by, by the way.” He sighs. “Don’t know what I’d’ve done if he’d pressed.”
Lanisen says absently, “Followed him in, of course.”
Haft shakes his head. “You don’t let a young charge walk into a confined area with a suspected rascal. More likely I’d’ve had to tell him there was danger and he needed to go back into the Inner Ward. That’s part of the job. Something I’d prefer to avoid. He don’t need the worry.”
Lanisen agrees, “Yeah, for sure.” He frowns down at his work, distant and preoccupied.
Haft rises. “I gotta get back outside. I’m still on duty.” He nods at Lanisen and makes for the door.
Lanisen says, “Have a good watch.”
Haft lifts the latch and steps out into the sunlight.