snakes and hounds

Castle Anvard

Lanisen is mopping the back section of the kennels. There are no dogs about, and the whole place smells strongly of soap.

Darius slips into the Kennels as silently as possible, carefully closing the door behind him until a ‘click’ is heard. Taking in the scene before him, a grin forms as he notes Lanisen. “Why! If it isn’t Lanisen! ” he chuckles, taking a few steps further in.

Lanisen looks up immediately, on his guard. His face goes stony white, and he advances on Aaron, the mop held out like a weapon. “You. Get. Out.”

Darius chuckles, side stepping and moving in a wide circle away from Lanisen. “Whoa, whoa there! ” he laughs, looking as if he is playing a game. “Watch it with that mop!”

Lanisen says, “/Leave/.”

Darius continues his wide circle. “Or what? You’ll scream for yer guards? ” he chuckles once more, amused.

Lanisen warns him, “I don’t want to fight you, Aaron.”

Darius’s brow raises as he moves up to one of the pens, his back now to the man. “Fight me? Who said -anything- about fighting? ” he pauses. “I just came to visit a friend… ” he smirks.

Lanisen says harshly, “You’re a /viper/ and you’re no friend of mine!”

Darius spins around, slapping a hand over his heart. “You wound me! ” He shakes his head, taking a few steps closer to him now. “Listen ‘ere Lanisen. ” he begins, gaze growing dark and voice lowering. “I know ye aren’t the peaceful man ye parade yerself to be. ” he points a finger at him, eyes narrowing. “Yer scar says just as much. ”

Lanisen, despite his big talk, gives ground as Darius advances, his face flickering with fear. He musters himself and says, lip curling, “Yeah, I know what you been tellin’ folk.”

Darius places both hands on his chest. “Did I tell ’em lies? ” he asks, voice dripping of innocence as he continues his slow advance.

Lanisen backs away, step for step, the mop held out in front of him. He curves his path to avoid being trapped against a wall and stares at the man with helpless, dead-eyed /hate/. “Get out.”

Darius smirks, spinning back around and moving further into the Kennel. “Why? As I said… just came to visit a friend. ” he chuckles. “And I feel like we don’t really ‘know’ each other. ”

Lanisen lets out a breath, left hand tight on the mop handle. “I think I know all of you that I want to,” he retorts.

Darius walks back up to one of the pens. “But you know -nothing- of me!”

Lanisen snorts.

Darius spins back, crossing a leg and leaning back. “What?”

Lanisen gives Darius a contemptuous once-over. “You grew up poor, I reckon,” he says abruptly. “Now you got the idea you’re some flashy master of disguise, that’s why the fancy clothes and posh talk. You’re thinkin’ you can get inside the castle somehow but I bet you ain’t thought what you’re gonna do once you’re in there. I seen your type before, it’s pitiful.”

Darius doesn’t seem fazed by this, actually seeming to feed off this instead. “Is that so? Well… ” he clicks his tongue, looking down as if he were pondering this. “I don’t even know where to begin. None of that sounds correct in fact… ” he chuckles, grinning wide.

Lanisen watches him.

Darius crosses his arms. “But, I am not so interesting… really. It is -you- whom I find -most- interesting. ” he returns, locking the man in his gaze. “What if yer scar, Lanisen? If that -is- your REAL name, of course. ”

Lanisen says, staring back, “Why d’you think I’d explain myself to you.”

Darius asks, “Why not?”

Lanisen says, “Because you’re a viper.”

Darius waves a hand. “You keep saying that! Why?!”

Lanisen says, every word clipped, “You been spreadin’ stories. You tried to get me in trouble with my lords. You’re /standing/ there, still /talkin’/, when I said more than enough times to /leave/!”

Darius waves a fingers, shoving himself off the wall and slowly pacing. “You -keep- saying things about -stories- ” he opens a hand. “That implies a lie… And, I REALLY don’t think these stories are lies, do you? ” he grins, looking back up to him.

Lanisen watches him pace.

Darius continues on, waiting for a response from with man.

Lanisen says, “I want you to leave, now.”

Darius bobs his head, smiling bright. “I want a lot of things too Lanisen. ”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah? What d’you want, then?”

Darius ponders this a moment, considering the man. “Can’t say. ”

Lanisen says, “Well then.”

Darius walks up towards him. “It is a nice castle though… ” he comments.

Lanisen tenses as he comes near, but doesn’t flinch back this time. “How ’bout this,” he says calmly. “You tell me what it is you want, and I’ll tell you if what you heard about me is true. And then you leave.”

Darius busts out into a fit of laughter, slapping his right hand onto Lanisen’s shoulder. “Ah, boy, I don’t reckon that is quite a fair trade. ” He returns, smiling as wide as the cheshire cat. Giving him a good squeeze, he releases his shoulder and pats the side of his head twice. “Nice try though. ” With that, he lets his hand fall from the man and begins circling around him and towards the door.

Lanisen pulls a quick breath and cringes away, shoulders lifted and eyes squeezed nearly shut. He doesn’t move as Darius heads toward the door.

Darius stops at the cringe, turning slightly and looking back at Lansien. “What, afraid of something?”

Lanisen says nothing.

Darius chuckles, turning from him and making his way towards the door. Upon reaching it, he grabs the hande and yanks it open. Turning one last time before exiting, he waves. “Farewell, Lanisen! It was truly a pleasure talking with you. ” he returns, finally ducking out and shutting the door behind him.

Lanisen doesn’t watch him go, but once the door is shut he limps to an angle where he can look out the window and make sure he’s really leaving.


Lanisen is working near the back, scrubbing out pens.

There is a tentative knock at the kennel door, which then opens with Eston stepping inside holding Lanisen’s stick.

Lanisen gets to his feet with astonishing speed, given his hurt leg, and stands watching the door warily. When Eston enters, he lets out an explosive breath and slumps his shoulders, then limps to meet him, mumbling to himself.
Lanisen mumbles “Lion, I can’t live like this…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… I … live … this…”, to Lanisen.

Eston edges his way towards him, he seems a little uncertain, “Wotcher Lanisen” He says, holding out the stick.

Lanisen says, “Hey,” and takes his stick with a nod of thanks.

Eston grins nervously, “Thanks for that”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, no worries,” and leans the stick against the wall. He seems jittery and distracted, and does not notice Eston’s odd mood.

Eston bites his lip nervously and looks like he wants to say something.

Lanisen turns back around, starting to head back to his task, but stops, frowning a little at Eston. “All right?”

Eston frowns slightly as though trying put his thoughts into words, “Ya remember when you an Colin helped me down the pub in Carmichael? How ya helped me when m’daughter was sick?” he waves a vague hand, “Well, that was awful nice and I reckon that anyone’d do that would be decent kind of person an’ I spoke with Aaron yesterday and well he gives me the willies and seems kind of insincere with his nice an’ he said you was an act? And I don’t reckon that’s right an’ then he said you killed someone an’ well I don’t reckon you seem the kind?” He shrugs apologetically

Lanisen stares at Eston for a moment, his face going slack. He brings up both his hands to the sides of his head and turns away. “He told you too, huh.”

Eston nods slowly, “Yeah, at the pub yesterday…Is not true is it?”

Lanisen is breathing with some difficulty. “What if it is?”

Eston looks a little uncertain, “Well…I don’t know?”

Lanisen drops his arms. He says nothing for a long moment. “It was a long time ago,” he finally answers, something pleading in his tone.

Eston’s eyes widen, “It is true?”

Lanisen turns around to face Eston, but doesn’t quite look at him. He nods twice.

Eston blinks with disbelief and says in a low voice, “Bleedin’ heck, why?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know.”

Eston’s disbelief turns slowly to confusion, “Ya don’t know?”

Lanisen shakes his head slightly. “It was–” He pauses, moistening his lips, and tries to explain. “I was a kid, I didn’t… it wasn’t supposed to–”

Eston asks, “Was an accident then?”

Lanisen closes his eyes briefly. “No.”

Eston asks, “No?”

Lanisen takes a deep breath and looks down at his hands, which are shaking slightly. “It weren’t– we didn’t mean for him to, to die, but it wasn’t… an accident.”

Eston listens with wide eyes, “What actually? I mean…Blimey”

Lanisen takes another few settling breaths. “It was a long time ago,” he says again, his tone carefully even. “And it’s– If I could… go back…”

Eston asks, “….You’d change it?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Yes. A million times, yeah.”

Eston just nods awkwardly.

Lanisen swallows, looking at the floor. “Um–the king knows, if you’re… wondering about that. Sir Colin, too, I’m not just…” He shrugs.

Eston says slowly, consideringly, “Then I reckon, I reckon that is all sorted long ago…”

Lanisen nods mutely. He shifts after a pause and says, trying to smile, “But apparently folk’re still talkin’ about it. Thought that was long over.”

Eston says, “Well, if the King knows and is alright with it then who’s they or me or Aaron or anyone else to say otherwise? ”

Lanisen goes still for a moment, glancing up at Eston with disbelieving hope.

Eston is still speaking in a slow and considering voice, “I’ll trust the kings judgement over that of some gossiping hens and ‘sides. I don’t know nothin’ about what happened, I wasn’t there and I didn’t know them. But well, ya seem to be feelin’ sorry about it, and you’ve been nothin’ but nice to me since I met ya”

Lanisen stares at Eston for a moment, then takes a shaky breath. “I… Thank you.”

Eston offers him a lopsided grin, “Is a’right”

Lanisen leans his hands on the table, bowing his head for a second, then looks up at Eston with a grin that is crooked and weak and very, very relieved. “It’s been– it’s been such a day, today’n yesterday both, I’m so… I’m glad. /Thank/ you.”

Eston rubs the back of his neck, “If it’s been that bad I shan’t ask ya the details then”

Lanisen says, a little wryly, “I’m obliged.”

Eston says sincerely, “I reckon since it’s old it’ll all blow over soon and everything’ll get back to normal”

Lanisen straightens and takes a deep breath, setting his shoulders. “Yeah. You’re right.”

Eston says, “I find things usually end up alright in the end”

Lanisen says, “Here’s hopin’.”

Eston nods and adjusts his grip on his own stick which he had actually brought along this time, “Well, I reckon I ought to be getting on, got a couple things I gots to pick up from the market.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, ‘course.” He glances at his own stick, still leaning against the wall where he left it. “Thanks for bringin’ that back. And for… thanks.”

Eston says, “S’fine, don’t worry ’bout it” he gives Lanisen a wave and makes his way out the kennels and towards the markets.

Lanisen watches him go, his mood considerably lifted.


Lanisen is curled up by the hearth, a hound sleeping across his lap and another flopped by his legs. There is a book on the floor next to him, but he’s only sitting with his back to the wall, staring with unfocused eyes at the ceiling and idly stroking the dog’s neck.

Haft opens the door, stepping in slowly. He does not close the door behind him but waits for Lanisen to acknowledge him.

Lanisen and the hound on his lap raise their heads in tandem. Lanisen looks at Haft for a moment, eyes flat with tired resentment, then turns his face away.

Haft says, “I won’t keep you long. I’m here in my official capacity.”

Lanisen ignores him.

Haft continues. “I spoke to Aaron yesterday while Cor was in here. I told him if he harrassed or harmed you I’d have him arrested. Should he do so, report it to me–or another member of the guard. You can give them my name. I can’t–” He waves his hand vaguely. “–actually arrest him just for being irritating…but I can speak to the Captain. If he threatens harm I can do more.”

Lanisen lets out a breath through his nose, turning toward Haft without looking at him. “How about you leave,” he says, “and don’t come in here again. How would that be.”

Haft maintains his composure. “That would be my preference, but I fear I can’t indulge it. Not while Aaron is perpetually fascinated with this place and Cor spends time here.

Lanisen says quietly, “Do you see him here now?”

Haft quietly says, “No.” He turns to step outside.

Lanisen watches him go.


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