You are in Fischer’s Tavern. A tall lanky man is standing behind the bar with a towel in one hand and a grin on his face. In front of him there is a nice hardwood bar about four feet high. Quite a few glasses and bottles stand on it waiting for a order. The barkeep motions towards a stool, “Name’s Fischer. Have a seat, what can I get ya to drink?”
Cassandra is sitting at a table, tapping her foot. She looks a bit impatient as she chews her lip.
Lanisen pauses at the door to scrape the mud from his boots, then continues in. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, and crosses to the counter to speak with Fischer without noticing his sister.
Cassandra sees her point of interest. She jumps up, making a beeline for him. “Lanisen!”
Lanisen turns at the sound of his name. “Hey!” he says, lighting up. “How’re you?”
Cassandra grabs his arm, “You are coming to dinner tonight.” She says this very matter of factly.
Lanisen says, “Uh–um.” His eyes dart nervously around the room. “Am– I don’t… I don’t know if that’s a good idea…”
Cassandra starts to look stubborn, “Of course, it ain’t but I don’t care. I can’t take it anymore.”
Lanisen, for his part, looks rather trapped. “Cass…”
Cassandra just grows more stubborn, “Don’t you Cass me, it is time you came home, Lanisen.” Her voice rises a bit, causing a few patrons to start glancing at the two.
Lanisen shifts his weight, lowering his voice. “Do they even… Am I even invited?”
Cassandra doesn’t lower hers, “Yes, I’m inviting you.”
Lanisen lets out a breath. “You know what I mean.”
Cassandra arches her brow, “What, so you are just going to slink around the village and pretend that we don’t live around the corner?”
Lanisen flexes his right hand. “I’m not–I’m not pretending anything, I don’t think they… want me there, is all.”
Cassandra looks angry, “Right and you always do the right thing, don’t you?” With that, she storms out of the tavern.
Lanisen calls after her, “Cass!”
Cassandra walks out to the square.
Lanisen lets out a frustrated breath through his nose. He rubs the back of his neck and limps after her.
Carmichael Village Square
You stand in the center of a quaint little country village, nestled in the foothills of the Western Mountains. There are a few shops surrounding the square, including Isfar’s blacksmith shop to the east, which is ringing with the sound of iron-on-iron. To the southwest is a small tavern, which smells of good home-cooked food. There is a traveller’s shelter to the northwest with a sign over the door that reads “Carmichael Lodge”. There is also a shop to the northeast, and two others, to the southeast and to the west, respectively. In the midst of the square stands a a stone well.
The main road heads south toward the settlement, a collection of humble, neatly-kept homes to the southwest of the main town.
Cassandra storms towards the well, her fists at her side. She starts to angrily pull up the bucket.
Lanisen limps after her, trying to catch up. “Cass, wait?”
Cassandra whirls around, tears in her eyes. “What?!”
Lanisen draws up short at the sight of her tears. He takes a breath and quickly looks down. “I’m sorry,” he says to the ground.
Cassandra wipes her eyes, still looking angry as she turns away from him, “Thanks, Lanisen. You know that I hate crying.”
Lanisen says helplessly, “I’m /sorry/, I didn’t mean to–” He grimaces and looks away across the square. “What…” he begins haltingly, then continues with more strength, “What d’you think’s gonna happen? If I go back?”
Cassandra frowns at him, “The worst thing that could happen would be that Dad wouldn’t let you come in.”
Lanisen pauses. He takes a deep breath. “You say it like that, it sounds like nothin’.”
Cassandra sniffs, still wiping her face, “I’m sorry.”
Lanisen closes his eyes briefly. There’s a moment where his face is twisted up with dread, then he nods once. “All right,” he says. “Let’s go, then.”
Cassandra blinks at this, before giggling in delight, “Come on.” She grabs his right arm and begins to pull him home.
Lanisen pulls a quick breath. “Ow! Hang on, hang on, stop–”
Cassandra stops in her excited state, looking back at him, “What’s wrong?” There is concern in her voice, “Are you hurt?”
Lanisen reclaims his arm and rubs his shoulder, wincing. “Bad shoulder,” he says succinctly.
Cassandra looks at his shoulder, “What happened?”
Lanisen says, “An arrow did.” He gestures to keep going.
Cassandra blinks, “An arrow?!”
The gears start to click as Cassandra immediately ohs. “You were at Anvard, weren’t you?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. It’s gettin’ better, it’s just still sore.”
Cassandra rushes to him, hugging him. “Oh Lanny! You are so brave!”
Lanisen, as he did the last time she hugged him, goes tense and still. “Um,” he says after a startled pause. “I’m– I wasn’t, it wasn’t– lion.”
Cassandra looks at him, smiling, “Now you will be welcomed! You are a hero and a squire.”
Lanisen says, “Don’t tell them.”
Cassandra blinks at him, “What? Of course, I’m going to tell them.”
Lanisen says, looking at her earnestly, “Cass, don’t you dare. Promise me.”
Cassandra looks at him but decides to not pursue it. “Fine, fine, I promise.”
Lanisen hesitates, gauging her answer warily. “Thanks,” he says at last.
Cassandra grabs him on his uninjuried arm. “Let’s go.”
Lanisen says again, “All right.” He is very pale around the mouth, but he sets his jaw and limps after her.
Cassandra leads Lanisen into the family home. “Mom, Dad! Guess who is here?”
Lanisen is shaking slightly by the time they reach the cottage. He hangs back behind Cassandra and refuses to enter further than the threshold. He crosses one arm across his stomach, glancing quickly around the room.
Cassandra runs to her mother first, “Mum, look who it is!” She sounds very excited.
Brena, a tall woman with a lined face and flour on her apron, turns away from where she has been slicing carrots into a large pot of something simmering over the fire. She straightens slowly, setting the knife aside and wiping her hands, and gives Lanisen a long look. Her face shows nothing.
“Who are you speaking about, Cassie?” A gruff voice calls from the other room. A older man, hands rough from long days of hard work, comes into the kitchen, his seeing cane held out in front of him.
Lanisen’s shoulders hunch, but he carefully and deliberately straightens, standing with almost a soldier’s formal posture. His eyes dart between his mother and his father, and though he opens his mouth he doesn’t seem able to speak.
Cassandra rush over to her father, kissing him on the head, “Dad, Lanisen is here for dinner.”
Brena looks at her son for another moment, then says simply, turning away, “I’ll add another potato.”
Langin goes still at the name. His sightless eyes stares in the direction of the door for a moment, before waving a hand, “Call me when dinner is ready, Brena.” He struggles to go back to his chair by the fire.
Lanisen blows out a shaky breath, deflating a little as both his parents turn away. He gives Cassandra a helpless look.
Cassandra’s face falls as her parents do not react at all. She tries her mother first, “Mum, I can finish up so you can rest and talk with Lanisen.”
Brena says brusquely, making quick work of the potato, “Nearly done here. You can lay the table, if you’re so anxious to be useful.”
Cassandra’s mouth twitches at her mother’s remark as Langin calls to her, “What is the news in town, Cassie?”
Lanisen swallows hard. He looks down at his boots, his face set.
Cassandra begins to set the table, moving over to Lanisen. She speaks quietly to him before answering her father, “Nothing of interest, Father.” She glances at her brother, “Except Lanisen is back.” Langin just hrmphs.
Cassandra mumbles “Sit at the table, you have a right to be here.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “Sit … … table, … … a … … … here.”, to Lanisen.
Brena drops the last few pieces of potato into the pot, cut very small so they won’t take long to cook, and gives the soup a good stir. She turns back around, looking at Lanisen again without any particular warmth. “Go on, then,” she says, and nods at the table. “Come in. Sit down. Leave your boots at the door, if you please.”
Lanisen looks torn. He glances at Cassandra again, then murmurs, “Yes, ma’am.” He toes off his boots obediently and shuffles to the table.
Cassandra gives him an encouraging smile as she finishes up setting the table. She makes her way to her father, “Come on, dad. Come to the table.” She grabs his arm, helping him up. Langin follows but his lips are pursed together.
Brena pulls out her chair and sits down, crossing her arms in front of her. She keeps looking at Lanisen, taking in every detail of his appearance with appraising eyes. “You got taller,” she says abruptly. “Not /tall/, but I suppose that’s to be expected.”
Langin sits down at the head of the table. He keeps his attention on the table.
Lanisen looks uncertain, but seems to think the safest course is agreement. “No, ma’am,” he answers.
Cassandra glances around at her family, sitting down at her normal spot, “But he did get bigger, mum. I think he has been eating too much.” She frowns as soon as she says this.
Brena lets out a disagreeing hmm, eyeing Lanisen with faint disapproval. “Not enough, I should say,” she counters. “But you always were a scrawny boy.” Her eyes do not once flick toward her blind husband as she continues to remark off-handedly on Lanisen’s appearance.
Langin slams his palm on the table, “Yeah, he was always scrawny. Guess that is why he left. He couldn’t handle being a man.” He struggles to his feet, grabbing his cane, “I ain’t hungry anymore.” Without another word, Langin stumbles his way out of the door and down the street.
Lanisen flinches from the noise and pulls into himself. He stares down at the table as his father leaves. After a very long pause, he shakes his head and stands up, not looking at either his mother or his sister. “I’m sorry, this was a bad idea, I shouldn’t’ve– I’m sorry.”
Cassandra jumps as her father hits the table. “Da-” She cuts off as he makes his way out, looking very torn up.
Brena alone does not look surprised. She does not stop her son.
Lanisen limps to the door and shoves his feet into his boots. He doesn’t bother with laces in his haste to escape.
Cassandra bites her lip before running off to her room.