[intensity intensifies]

Castle Anvard

Lanisen is in the back of the room with a slender brindle deerhound, putting her through her paces. He has a bowl of meat cuts on the table next to him, and he appears to be trying to teach her a new trick.

Dalia opens the door softly as is her way, and calls out “Lanisen?” before stepping inside.

Lanisen pauses what he’s doing, turning warily toward the door as it opens. He relaxes at Dalia’s voice and starts limping forward to greet her. “Hey–back here.”

Dalia slips into the kennels, and closing the door behind her, with a “thump”. “Hello again. Is now a good time?”

Lanisen says, “Um, sure?” He scratches his head, glancing around the room. “You’ll be wantin’ to see the puppies, then?”

Dalia nods, “Yes, please. I-if it’s no trouble?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, nah, that’s fine. Sorrel’s needin’ a break anyway.” He makes a gesture to the hound, releasing her, and she trots immediately toward Dalia to say hello.

Someone knocks on the door.

Dalia reaches down, holding her hand out for Sorrel to sniff, before reaching to stroke the dog’s head. She turns, glancing to the door as she hears the knock.

Lanisen’s head goes up at the knock. He glances at Dalia, then limps over to take a quick look out the window. “Oh,” he says, and crosses to open the door.

Outside, Megren holds up a pail and grins. “Guess who drew the short straw on scraps from the mess.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows. “It’s the short straw, is it?” He steps aside so Megren can come in.

Megren wrinkles her nose and holds the bucket up near to his face, “/You/ want to carry this slop that far? It’s a walk!”

Lanisen looks unimpressed. He closes the door behind her, shooing away a harrier who is a little too interested in the world outside.

Dalia moves out of the way for Megren to enter as well. She resumes her stroking of Sorrel as she quitely listens.

Megren makes a face at back at him, then breaks. “You caught me. I volunteered.”

Lanisen mutters, “Yeah, that’s what I /thought/.” He reaches out, offering wordlessly to take the bucket.

Megren hands it over before greeting Dalia. “Hey, Dalia! I didn’t know you came in here.”

Dalia is a small bit startled by the greeting turning a bit pink. “Lanisen told me there were some new puppies. So I-I came to see them.”

Lanisen carries the bucket over to a table in back and sets it down next to the empty food troughs. “They’re upstairs in the whelpin’ box,” he says to Dalia, limping toward the stairs. “They’re pretty little yet.”

Dalia nods and heads towards the stairs. “Thank you.”

Lanisen glances at Megren. “You can come, if you like?”

Megren gestures for him to lead the way.

Lanisen says, “You two go first, I’m not so fast at stairs yet.”

Megren accepts this graciously, following Dalia up the stairs.

Kennel Loft
Castle Anvard

This room is rather more quiet and warm than the main kennel below it, the heat generated by the lower level rising to the top. Two or three dogs are nearly always present, catching a nap on top of the piles of folded blankets stored here, or taking advantage of the quiet to gnaw a bone in peace. A large box with a hinged half-cover is here, set near the chimney in the west wall, for new pups and their mothers. The red stone ceiling is relatively low, but a window overlooking the Outer Ward keeps it from feeling claustrophobic.

A set of stairs on the south end of the room leads back to the ground floor of the kennels

Dalia makes it to the top of the stairs and waits for the others to join her.

Megren hops up the steps, finding an out-of-the-way place to perch in the windowsill.

Lanisen makes his way up slowly, two steps to a stair. “Whelpin’ box is over there,” he says, a little out of breath. “Against the wall. Top comes off.”

Dalia nods, making her way to the boxes and lifting the cover off.
Dalia makes a soft “aww” noise looking down at them. “They look so cute.”

Megren grins. “How old, again?”

Lanisen leans on the wall, rubbing his leg. “‘Bout… I dunno, three, four weeks?”

Megren asks, “What do you plan to do with them?”

Lanisen scratches his head. “Train ’em, send ’em off to new homes. They’re mutts, so I don’t think Danall is gonna want to keep ’em in the pack. They’ll make good farm dogs, though, they’ll be smart and quick on their feet.”

Dalia nods, gazing down at the sleepy pups. She glances up at Megren’s Question.

The door down below crashes against the wall and someone calls out urgently, “Lanisen?”

Off in the distance you can hear the town alarm bell ringing.

Megren asks, “Does he sell them, then?”

Megren jumps off the sill at the sound of the alarm bell, giving a perfunctory look out the window before making off toward the stairs. People in the ward are bustling about in a kind of anxious fervor that grows louder with the bells.

Footsteps come running up the stairs and once more the urgent call of “Lanisen!” can be heard.

Dalia jumps suddenly, nearly dropping the cover as she quickly covers the puppies again. “Megren? What is it? What’s going on down there?”

Megren stops at the door long enough to say. “Not sure. Best to get into the keep as soon as you can. I’m going to investigate.”
Megren descends the staircase leading to the main section of the kennels.

Lanisen glances at Dalia and makes his way to the stairs. “Up here!” he calls down.

Colin bolts through the door, gasping for breath and face positively gray.

Lanisen takes a step back, startled. “Lion! What’s the matter?””

Colin takes a cursory look of the room and looks so relieved to see Lanisen safe he nearly collapses. “Thank the lion… Aaron…” he gasps.

Lanisen reaches out automatically to steady his friend. “What–Aaron what?”

Colin does his best. “Just got a letter…thought he was after you. The alarm, you hear it?”

Lanisen glances at the window, his face beginning to reflect Colin’s alarm. “Slow down–what’s, what letter?”

Colin shakes his head, grabbing Lanisen’s good shoulder. “Go to the castle. Now. No time, I’ll explain later. “Promise me, go to the castle!”

Dalia stands back watching the interchange with alarm and growing worry.

Lanisen stumbles a bit, bewildered. “Castle–what? Colin!”

Dalia glances worriedly from Lanisen to Sir Colin and back.

Colin looks to Dalia. “Make sure he gets into the castle, please. I’ll explain later.” With that, he bolts back down the stairs.

Lanisen watches him go, utterly baffled. “Um,” he says, glancing at Dalia. “I’ll go, you needn’t–” He begins down the stairs after Colin as the Andale bell tolls rhythmically in the distance.

Outer Ward
Castle Anvard

Vinri’s brows fly up as she sees the king, leaving her earlier sentence unfinished.

Avery looks up and sees Lune. She moves out of his way, curtseying a bit.

Lune nods to Avery as he passes, calling out, “Send every hand able to help to Het Noorden, I charge thee!” Putting action to word, he departs out the front gates with his guard.

Lanisen leaves the kennels, glancing around the chaotic ward. He bows automatically toward the king.

Dalia dashes out of the Kennels after Lanisen, bowing automactically to the king as well and makes it to his side breathless.

Avery nods quickly to King Lune. Glancing around the Ward, she sees Lanisen and waves to get his attention. “Lanisen!”

Lanisen starts toward the inner gatehouse, but changes his path when Avery calls out to him. He limps toward her and bows. “Lady Avery?”

Dalia curtsies, and says nearly out of breath “Milady Avery, Sir Colin said I was to make sure Lanisen got into castle.” She is biting the edge of her lip hard with worry and nerviousness.

Lanisen asks, “What’s going on, what’s the bell for?”

Vinri fades a bit into the background as she listens, moving a little away from the Lady after bobbing a quick curtsey.

Avery nods to Dalia. “There’s been a fire, but the Lords and guards are taking care of it. Please go to the infirmary and tell Kairyn, Adrian’s assistant, to meet me here.”

Lanisen’s eyes flit to the outer gatehouse. His forehead furrows in confusion, but he bows again and limps off to do so.

Castle Anvard

The infirmary of Anvard is a long, bright room, a little over half the length of the Great Hall. It is shaped oddly, the northeast and southwest walls curving inward to accommodate the towers on either side. A partition that faces the door out to the inner ward bisects the room, separating the front area where the castle healers work from the back.

Three windows on either side of the door in the southeast wall let in a good amount of sunlight, especially in the late morning, and their sills are cluttered with the pots of several frequently used plants. To the left of the door stands a large cabinet, and bundles of herbs in various stages of drying hang from the ceiling. There is a long oak worktable to the right of the door, and a desk in the east corner is piled high with half-completed notes and books and other useful documents.

Kairyn sits at a little desk in the corner, having slumped forward and fallen asleep in the midst of her work. Her spectacles are crooked on her face where her arms have pushed them.

Lanisen makes his way into the infirmary, limping rather badly. “Kairyn? Miss?” he calls loudly into the room.

Dalia dashes into the Infirmary, after Lanisen her shoes having made quite the noise as she raced through the halls.

Kairyn jerks upwards from her dozing position on her desk. “Ah! What?!”

Lanisen, finding her, makes his way toward her desk. “There’s a fire in the town, miss. Lady Avery’s askin’ for you in the outer ward.”

Kairyn’s blue eyes fly open and she jumps out of her chair, toppling it to the ground as she bolts from the infirmary. A second later she flies back in, grabs a bag that she slings criss cross over her chest before departing at top speed.

Lanisen watches her go, chewing his lip indecisively. “I’m going up on the wall.”

Dalia nibbles her lip. “we you ought to stay in the Castle.. Well..Sir Colin said…” she breaks off nerviously

Lanisen says, “Just the inner wall. That’s still the castle.”

Dalia tilts her head unsure, “I’ll follow you..that is if you don’t mind.”

Lanisen makes his way out, limping hastily into the inner ward.

Inner Wall Walk
Castle Anvard

You stand on Anvard’s Inner Wall Walk. From here you have a view of both the Inner and Outer Wards. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals the bustle of people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle. In the Inner Ward you see nobles and staff, mingling happily or going about their own business.

In the outer ward below, Avery holds the boy on her hip, pulling one of the other children closer with her free hand. “Their parents?”

Abrielle follows Lady Avery over to the children, taking the hand of one.

Colin replies. “Helping fight the fire. His Majesty wants a fire built to warm the little ones against the night air. Let’s take them inside…Great Hall.”

Avery nods and turns again. “Come along, children.” She leads the small group away.

Lanisen makes it to the top of the wall and leans on the parapet, looking down over the gatehouse. “Oh,” he says, seeing Colin. He glances at Dalia. “And down again, I guess.”

Colin picks up a tired little girl and follows her, helping guide them.

Avery gently touches Kairyn’s arm as she passes. “Stay here, in case someone does get injured.”

Vinri watches the group leave, tapping her fingers against her skirt a few times before letting out a short sigh and turning towards the other woman. “A single week here and seems like there’s never half a moment quiet…”

Kairyn looks at the other two women, brushing blonde tendrils from her face as she nods quietly.

Abrielle lets the little girl go as she follows after. She watches for a moment before turning to the other women.

Lanisen makes his way back across the wall, unsteadily descending the stairs again.

Inner Ward
Castle Anvard

A castle guard approaches Lanisen. “Lanisen! I have a letter for you… ” he frowns slightly “It is from the man Aaron. I felt inclined to reject his asking me to deliver it, but the captain has asked us only to keep him from entering. ” He hands Lanisen the letter. “If you will excuse me. ” Promptly turning, he heads back to his post.

Lanisen looks at the letter, frowning distractedly, but does not open it. He limps toward the Great Hall after Colin and Avery, hurrying as quickly as his leg will let him.

Great Hall
Castle Anvard

More than any other part of the castle, the Great Hall gives the impression of age and enduring strength. It is a long, rectangular room, spacious enough to accommodate several long tables on feast days, with high walls built of massive
blocks of red stone and two rows of matching pillars to support the arching roof. There is an enormous fireplace in the middle of the southwest wall, directly across from the intricately carved double doors that lead out into the inner ward. A wicker screen blocks the door to the kitchen in the southeast wall from sight. Six tall, narrow windows on the northeast wall let in a fair amount of sunlight in the morning and early afternoon, but decorative iron sconces that hang at functional intervals along each wall provide most of the hall’s illumination.

At the far northwest end of the hall, three steps lead up to the dais, where the high table sits beneath the banners of the noble houses: Coghill’s eagle, Carmichael’s stag, Chesterton’s dragon, Lancelyn Green’s horse, Neiklot’s tree, and the crown and mountains of Anvard’s standard.

Colin follows Lady Avery into the Great Hall with the small gaggle of children. He sets down the little girl he is carrying and looks to Lady Avery, his expression still somewhat blank as he tries to grasp for what to do.

Avery spends a few moments, assuring the children will be well. She looks up at Colin and asks, “Are you alright?”

Lanisen limps in through the door a few minutes after Colin, clutching a piece of paper in his hand. He stops short, glancing around the grand room, and suddenly looks extremely uncertain.

Colin looks down at the children, at least in right mind enough to be aware he has an audience. He looks back to Lady Avery and just nods.

Avery frowns, but looks away as the servants get the fire started. She stands and leads the children to the fire, helping them settle down.

Lanisen moistens his lips, his eyes darting nervously up to the dais. He makes his way toward Colin and Avery.

Colin’s eyes refocus when Lanisen approaches and once again he looks relieved to see him. “All right, Lanisen?”

The servants arrive with blankets and water to drink. Avery sets the youngest child in his sister’s lap. She unfolds the blankets and wraps them around each child’s shoulder. Once the cups of water are poured, she helps hand them out, to the children and to the others.

Lanisen says, “Yeah, yessir.” He glances at the small group of children. “What’s–goin’ on out there?”

Colin’s reply is quiet. “Aaron’s cottage is burning in Het Noorden.”

Avery blinks when she hears this. “He’s nowhere to be found?”

Lanisen’s forehead wrinkles deeply. “Aaron’s– /Aaron’s/ cottage? Is he–?”

Colin says, “Not inside.”

Avery rubs a temple. “Are there guards looking for him?”

Colin says, “I don’t know. No. They’re putting the fire out.”

Avery says, “What if he…” She shakes her head. “I’ll go check on the children.”

Lanisen looks at Colin, frowning, opening his mouth to ask a question. He checks himself and looks down at the piece of paper in his hand.

Dalia slips up behind Lanisen and curtsies. “Is Lanisen in danger, Sir Colin?” she asked quietly.

Colin’s gaze drops to the paper in Lanisen’s hand and he looks at him questioningly. “I don’t know, Dalia.” He anwers honestly.

Lanisen unfolds the paper slowly and reads what is written on it. His face does not change expression, but he goes very, very still.

The letter reads: “I’ll be seeing you soon.”

Colin holds his hand out to see the paper, his expression turning even grimmer than it already is.

Dalia glances worriedly at Lanisen.

Lanisen hands it over without argument.

Colin’s eyes drop to the page and he reads it.

Avery fixes the childrens’ blankets, refilling their cups. She looks up as Lanisen hands over the paper. She frowns, standing back up to join them.

Colin looks back up at Lanisen, his face turning gray again.

Avery frowns. “Colin? What is it?”

Lanisen stares back at Colin, his eyes wide and searching.

Colin says, “Mine said “Are these smoke signals big enough for you.””

Lanisen says weakly, “Oh.”

Avery clenches her jaw. “And Lanisen’s?”

Colin swallows and composes himself, holding up the letter. “Need to show Cole.” Is all he can manage to say, looking at Lanisen with an unspoken question.

Lanisen nods once. He lets out a breath and glances at Avery, oddly calm.

Colin nods and departs the Great Hall, in a daze.

Dalia stands quietly, watching the events unfold. Her face registers confusion and fear.

Lanisen watches him go, shifting uncertainly as if to follow.

Avery arches a brow slightly, but doesn’t press the matter. She frowns as Colin goes, however. With a sigh, she pours both Lanisen and Dalia a cup of water from the table. “Here,” she quietly says, handing the cups over.

Dalia takes the cup gratefully, glancing between the children, Lanisen and Avery.

Lanisen murmurs, “Thank you, my lady,” and takes the cup. His hand is shaking badly and some water sloshes out over the sides.

Avery reaches a hand out to steady the cup. “It’s alright, Lanisen. You’re safe here.”

Lanisen ducks his head.
Lanisen mumbles “‘S just this dratted hand is all.””, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… … this dratted … … all.””, to Lanisen.

Avery sighs. “Dalia, would you please help Lanisen to his quarters? I think it’s been a long day and night for all of us. Rest is in order…”

Lanisen goes from very pale to very red. “It’s all right,” he mumbles. “I don’t–I don’t need help, I’m fine.”

Avery arches a brow, but nods. “I shouldn’t have assumed.”

Dalia nods, curtsying to Lady Avery and turns to Lanisen. When he protests he’s fine, she bites her lip. Curtsying, she says “Aslan between you and Evil” not meeting either of their faces and then slipping out the door.

Lanisen, despite his protestations, wobbles a bit when he bows to Avery.

Avery nods her head toward him. “Rest well, Lanisen.”

Lanisen turns away, limping toward the door.


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