sticks and crooks


Outer Ward
Castle Anvard


Eston limps into the outer ward. He is not using his crutch today and this is probably not a good idea on his part as when he is in the crowd he loses his footing and crashes into someone, apologising profusely for nearly knocking them off their feet.

Lanisen, sitting outside the kennel reading, raises his head at the commotion. He winces a little, watching.

Eston apologises some more to the person and looks around to find somewhere to have a sit down and rest. Seeing Lanisen he gives him a wave and makes his way over.

Lanisen doesn’t stand up as Eston approaches, but he reaches behind the crate he’s sitting on and hauls out another just like it. He turns it upside-down and sets it nearby, nodding to the man.

Eston sits down on the crate gratefully, “Wotcher, Lanisen”

Lanisen says, “‘Lo. They got you off the cane, huh?”

Eston nods with a grimace, “Says I should have healed enough to start without it.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, I’m gettin’ that too.” He grimaces a little. “You hurt yourself just now?”

Eston says, “You saw that did ya?” He shakes his head with a joking smile “Didn’t hurt m’self, that bloke there broke my fall”

Lanisen says, “‘S lucky.”

Eston says, “Guess so. ”

Lanisen asks, “How’s your kid doin’?”

Eston says, “She’ll be gettin’ back here, Adeliha’s gone to fetch her”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”

Eston nods, “Sister’s got sick or something like that she wasn’t too clear in her letter, says she can’t look after her anymore. I’d have gone myself but…”

Lanisen’s forehead furrows. “Heard somethin’ about that. Tough time of year to travel.”

Eston bites his lip and looks down, “I know, i don’t half feel dreadful askin’ her to go but I couldn’t think of no one else I thought could be trusted and I couldn’t go myself not with not bein’ able to walk more’n a few paces without fallin’ or some such”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, sorry, that’s what I mean. You ain’t in any shape to go.”

Eston sighs, “I know, still feel awful though”

Lanisen says, “Adeliha sounds like a good neighbor.”

Eston says, “Dunno if I’ll ever be able to make it up to her”

Lanisen says, “Just do somethin’ nice for her when you’re all healed up. You’re a thatcher, ain’t you? Do her roof for free or somethin’, roofs’re always needin’ fixin’. Anyway, maybe she’s the sort that don’t mind.”

Eston nods thoughtfully, “Aye, I’ll do that. S’the least I can do”

Lanisen says, “See, there you go.”

Eston smiles gratefully, “Yeah, thanks”

Lanisen asks, “Is she doin’ better, though, your kid?”

Eston asks, “I very much hope so, her letter didn’t say. You’d think if there was problems she’d have said right?”

Lanisen says, “No news is good news, prob’ly.”

Eston says, “That’s what I’m hopin’. Still, I’m just getting all as much as I can ready for when she gets here.”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah? You need any help?”

Eston shakes his head, “I’ll be alright, is almost done, was just pickin’ up some last few things today”

Lanisen nods. “‘S good.”

Eston nods and smiles, though his smile betrays the worry he feels.

Lanisen watches him for a moment, then claps the other man’s shoulder. “Hey,” he says. “It’s gonna be okay. You’re gonna have your kid with you soon, and you got good folk around you to help if you need it. Yeah?”

Eston blinks, snapping out of whatever thoughts he was in, “What? Oh, yeah, sure…’Course I do.”

Lanisen asks, “You all right?”

Eston says, “M’fine. Just got a lot on my mind right now”

Lanisen says, “Makes sense.”

Eston asks, “Aye.. You alright though? Holdin’ up ok with your injuries?”

Lanisen asks, “What? Oh. Yeah. Don’t need the stick so much, just kinda haulin’ it around for when I get tired anymore.” He looks down at his right hand.

Eston says, “Prolly shoulda done that myself”

Lanisen gives him a quick grin. “Yeah, prob’ly.”

Eston exclaims, “Bit late now though!”

Lanisen asks, “Can you get back all right without it? We might could figure somethin’ out if you need it.”

Eston shakes his head, “No, no I’ll be fine really”

Lanisen makes a rather doubtful face.

Eston tries to give a reassuring grin, which isn’r very reassuring.

Lanisen says, “All right, tell you what.” He grabs his stick from where it’s laying next to his crate. “You take this for today. I ain’t got so far to walk, and I got walls to lean on the whole way if I feel like it.”

Eston’s eyes widen and he shakes his head, “Couldn’t do that Lanisen”

Lanisen says, “Nah, it’s fine. Master Adrian’s been on me to leave it in my room anyway. You’ve gotta walk all the way to the town, /and/ I already seen you fall today. Go on.”

Eston says, “No really, don’t want to put you to no bother, really”

Lanisen snorts under his breath, half-laughing. “Take the ruddy stick, Eston.”

Eston hangs his head, defeated, “A’right..”

Lanisen grins. “You could bring it back tomorrow, if you wouldn’t mind. Leave it here, if I’m not about. I’ll find it.”

Eston says, “I’ll do that, uh, thanks…Again.”

Lanisen shakes his head. “No trouble.”

Eston shifts uncomfortably on the crate.

Lanisen pauses uncertainly. “If you really don’t want it…”

Eston says quietly, “Don’t like to feel like I owe anything”

Lanisen says, “No, I know but–but you don’t? It’s a loan, is all.”

Eston gives an uncertain half-shrug, “If ya say so”

Lanisen looks away. “You don’t– I mean. You don’t have to. I’m sorry.”

Eston says, “Nah, is alright really”

Lanisen hesitates. “You want it or not, then?”

Eston asks, “S’prolly for the best if I do but…Well, don’t you need it?”

Lanisen says, “I can do without it for a day. Ought to, really.”

Eston says, “Only if you’re sure..”

Lanisen shrugs, offering the stick.

Eston hesitates then accepts it.

Lanisen looks pleased.

Eston gives Lanisen a grateful little smile.

Lanisen asks, “Hey, ah. That… Aaron? Is he a friend of yours?”

Eston looks thoughtful a moment, “Aaron? Not really, I mean I chat to him sometimes but I wouldn’t call him a friend, more a sort of acquaintance?”

Lanisen says, “Huh.” He frets absently with the fabric of his sling and glances at the outer gate.

Eston asks, “Something wrong?”

Lanisen shifts. “Nah.”

Eston says, “A’right then”

Lanisen says suddenly, “Just, does he make you uneasy?”

Eston frowns, “Aye now you mention it he does that. The way he’s all, well he just seems a bit well, not very sincere you know? Like he’s trying to hard to be nice or something” He waves a hand, “Don’t think I’m making much sense here, but, well… I suppose everyone has their funny little ways”

Lanisen says, absent, “Yeah, I guess.”

Eston tilts his head, “Ya reckon there’s something up? What with you askin’ I mean”

Lanisen says, “Well, he…” He pauses. “He followed me into the kennels yesterday, you remember. And he was… I dunno, different. Talkin’ different, actin’ different.”

Eston asks, “I remember, how’d you mean different?”

Lanisen says, “He quit talkin’ all fancy like he usually does, for one thing.”

Eston looks curious, “Oh right? What else he do?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. It was–I dunno.”

Eston’s eyebrows raise, “Was it bad?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, but… I don’t–I couldn’t tell you /why/, you know?”

Eston shakes his head, “Sorry, I don’t know”

Lanisen shakes his head. “It’s nothin’.”

Eston says uncertainly, “A’right, if you’re sure”

Lanisen says, “I’m– I mean, I’m not is the thing, I don’t know… he made me real uneasy, but he didn’t /do/ anything.”

Eston’s brows furrow, “Uhh, right. I /think/ I getcha?”

Lanisen says, shaking his head, “Sorry.”

Eston says, “S’alright, I’m just, well I don’t know him too well”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Me neither.”

Eston fidgets with the hem of his sleeve, “He did mention he was after a job in the castle if that’s a help? Wouldn’t say what it is he actually does, I assumed he was a vagabond of some kind cause he just said he wandered”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. That’s more or less–yeah.” He shakes his head ruefully, glancing up at the walls where the guards are posted. “I was– lion. Everybody’s got the squidges about him, seems like, and I was all sayin’ how he ain’t done anything, give it a rest. I feel a right fool now.”

Eston raises an eyebrow, “What d’ya mean?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t want him in the kennels, I don’t want him round my dogs, I don’t want him round the prince. I don’t want him round /me/ when I don’t got a knife.”

Eston shifts uncomfortably again, “That knife gives me the creeps I don’t mind telling ya”

Lanisen says, “Nothin’ to be done, I s’pose.”

Eston says, “Aye, s’pose you’re right”

Lanisen says, “Anyway.” He stands up, sighing. “I better get.”

Eston waves, “See ya around and– Thanks for the stick again, I’ll get it back to ya tomorrow”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, no trouble.” He touches his forehead and limps off toward the inner gatehouse.

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