traitors may mend

Fischer’s Tavern

Loc enters the tavern, brushing some extra dirt off. He whistles a jaunty tune and pauses, scanning for a table.

Lanisen collects a bowl of stew from the bar and carries it back to the table by the fireplace.

Harmonia looks up from the table her family is at glancing at whoever is ententering or leaving the tavern

Loc spies Lanisen and grins. He flags a tavern girl, places an order and heads over.

Lanisen sets his bowl down and sits at the chair closer to the wall, glancing up as Loc approaches. “Oh, hey.”

Loc plunks down next to Lanisen on a chair, pulling it around so he can lean on the back. He folds his arms across the top and leans on it. “Hey!”

Lanisen asks, “What’re you up to tonight?”

Loc gives a small shrug. “Relaxing. We finished checking over the supports. Repairs on carts and tracks will be next but there’s no rush, production is up–and we’ve decided to celebrate the coming of spring with a brewing fest.” He grins. “Guess whose idea that was?”

Harmonia takes a piece of bread from the bowl in the center nibbling on it, she watches curiously Lanisen and the stranger

Lanisen rolls his eyes good-naturedly, taking a bite of stew. “I’ll never guess.”

Loc chuckles as he takes the mug of ale from the tavern girl. He tips her and takes a drink. “It’s going to be great! I think we might take a week off and just… have fun with it since things are going so well.”

Lanisen asks, “You can do that?”

Loc says, “Well, if the whole mine takes off I can too. Everyone needs a break sometimes don’t they–and it’s not like they haven’t had festivals before here.”

Lanisen says, “Huh.” He shovels more stew into his mouth. “When’re you doin’ all that, then?”

Loc says, “Well, we’re throwing together the arrangements in hopes of doing it the first week of spring. So… a couple weeks out.” He notices the new face watching them and nods to her with a smile.

Lanisen follows Loc’s glance and gives Harmonia a little wave. He looks past her at her family for a second, slightly wary.

Loc glances at Lanisen and aks quietly, “Everything okay? You have a look about you…”

Harmonia whispers something to her father before bouncing out of her seat towards Lanisen. “Hiya Mr Lanisen,” she says when she gets closer.

Lanisen says to Loc, “What? Yeah, sorry.” He glances at Harmonia’s father again, then grins at her as she comes nearer. “Hey, kid.”

Harmonia tilts her head at the stranger, “ello.”

Loc nods to her and smiles politely, “Hello.” He looks to Lanisen. “Friend a yers?”

Lanisen asks, “You know Loc? He works over in the mines. Loc, this is Harmonia.”

Loc extends a hand to the girl, “Pleased to meet you Harmonia. New to town or just visiting?”

Harmonia says, “”Don’t reckon we met.” She points, back over at her family. “Paw’s the fletcher. just met.””

Loc ahs and gives a small wave to the family, “Welcome. Carmichael’s a nice place. And we could always use a good fletcher. The woods provides a lotta nice huntin’.”

Lanisen glances back at her family. “And you’re learnin’ to hunt too, aren’t you?” he asks Harmonia.

Harmonia nodnodnods. “Paw’s showing me.”

Loc gives an approving nod, “Excellent skill to have.”

Lanisen asks, “You still practicin’ on targets with your bow?”

Harmonia says, “Some. Been cold out recently.”

Lanisen ahhs, understanding. “It’ll start warmin’ up soon.”

Harmonia looks to Loc. “I’m praticin’ so one I’ll be a great archer and no bad guys will ever trouble anyone.”

One of the near by patrons in hearing distance, who has overheard the comment, snorts into his drink and chuckles.

Loc grins, although it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. He looks at Lanisen for a moment before looking back at the girl, “That’s real cute. I bet you’ll be a great shot some day.”

Lanisen bites his lip and looks down at his soup.

Loc shifts position and arranges his arms on the chairback in a new position, the only sign of his discomfort. He asks, “So, where ya from?” in a friendly manner, trying to move away from the subject of “bad guys”.

Harmonia’s father shoots an unfriendly glance the patron’s way, her mother glancing concernedly after her daughter.

Harmonia says, “The Isles. You, Mister?””

Lanisen stays quiet, keeping his head down. He darts a glance at the man who snorted, and from there to Harmonia’s parents.

Loc keeps his focus on the girl. “Chesterton. Bit further south and maybe a tad west a here. Big fancy smancy place. I like this much better.” He allows his gaze to trail to the man who snorted and says, “Folks ’round here are much more friendly ‘n don’t put on airs.”

Harmonia glances at Lanisen, “You okay, Mr Lanisen?”

The patron who snorted decides that his current company and drink are more interesting than the two men talking with the child and doesn’t look at Loc.

Lanisen says, “I’m okay, yeah. Sorry.”

Loc says with a grin, “Lanny sometimes gets lost in his thoughts. Comes from being the thinky type a personality.”

Lanisen says, “The what now?”

Loc says, “Thinky–you know, smart. Tho in chesterton we like to use the term thinky.” He gives a cheeky grin. “Least ya ain’t spoutin’ off philosophy and such.”
Loc’s tone is playful and light hearted.

Lanisen eyes Loc for a second. “Thanks, I think.”

Harmonia says, “‘e’s my friend.”
Harmonia says, “Ain’t got many friends about here.””

Loc says, “Anytime” to Lanisen and turns to Harmonia, “Give it some time and you’ll have plenty a friends. Folks are nice here and eager to know new comers.”

Harmonia shrugs. “Somebody knocked down ma snowman.”

Lanisen pauses. “It’s been warm,” he offers. “I bet he just melted and fell over. Snowmen do that.”

Harmonia shugs.

Loc gives a small nod. “Yeah. It’ll be real warm soon and then all the snow will melt.”

Lanisen says, “Summer’s comin’. Summer’s for makin’ friends. I met all my best friends in the summer.”

Harmonia asks, “Really?”

Loc nods, “Yeah. The weather’s nice, the sun’s out. And it’s lovely here with the woods all bloomin’. Tons a kids and such will be out fer ya ta meet.”

Harmonia says, “Hope so.”

Lanisen says, “Hey. We used to be kids so we’re kind of experts.”

Loc nods sagely at this and takes another drink.

Lanisen leans toward Harmonia and whispers loudly, “Loc actually is still a kid.” He leans back in his chair and taps the side of his nose twice.

Harmonia giggles.

Loc snorts into his drink and then grins, “Told ya he was smart.” He teases.
Loc asks, “Who wants to grow up and be responsible?”

Lanisen informs Harmonia seriously, “Loc plays with sparkly things for a living.”

Harmonia says, “really? Mister Lanisen? I’d love to see them. ”

Loc laughs as he takes another sip, “That’s one way to put it.”

Harmonia says, “don’t reckon Paw’ll want me going to close to the mine”

Lanisen glances at Loc.

Loc says, “Well, lotsa work usually happens at the mines, so I’d agree with your pa on that. But maybe if I get permission, I can bring some here sometime.”

Harmonia says, “s face lights up. “Wow. Thanks Mister.””

Lanisen says, “Thought you said everybody was takin’ the week off.”

Loc says, “Yeah, but they live in the mines. And I got leave to go and come when I please.” He shrugs. “And they ain’t gonna mind if someone /wants/ ta work more.”

Harmonia’s mother slips from the table making her way over “Harmonia, what have a said about bothering others.” She turns to the to men, “I hope she hasn’t been any bother to you.”

Lanisen says, “Aahh, no ma’am, she’s– she’s fine.” He sits a little straighter and looks down at the table.

Loc shakes his head, giving a friendly smile. “Not at all. I always enjoy gettin’ ta know more people here, ‘specially if they’re new. Welcome ta Carmichael.”

Harmonia’s mother nods approvingly, “Thank You, Sir.” She leans down to speak softly to her daughter before moving back to her table. Harmonia’s father nods towards Loc and Lanisen’s table, before turning back to converse with his wife.

Harmonia replies “Yes, Ma.”

Lanisen relaxes slightly. He glances at Loc.

Loc watches the woman return to the table and looks to Harmonia, “Hope we didn’t cause any trouble.”
Loc grins a little.

Harmonia shakes her head, she replies albeit in a quieter tone. “Ma thinks I talk to much, an’ bug the neighbors.”

Loc pffts and says, “Nah. Nothin’ wrong with bein’ friendly.”

Lanisen glances up, alert and hopeful, as a young woman with dark hair enters the tavern and walks behind the counter. He looks away when she turns around, disappointed.

Harmonia tilts her head questioningly at Lanisen.

Loc’s eyebrow quirks somewhat at Lanisen.

Lanisen looks back at them, confused, then shakes his head dismissively.

Harmonia asks, “you lived hear all your life, Mr Lanisen?”

Lanisen says, “Wh–no, no, I haven’t lived here for a long time. ‘Bout… seven years, now. My friend is visiting /his/ friend who lives here so I’m here with him.”

Loc hm softly and takes a drink.

Harmonia ohs!

Lanisen says, a little awkwardly, “Yyyep.”

Harmonia glances around suspiciously and asks quietly “He one of them from Anvard?”

Lanisen asks, “My friend?”

Loc listens and quietly sips his ale.

Harmonia nods “Yeah? is he?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, he’s a knight.”

Harmonia asks, “What they like them knights an’ Ladies?”

Lanisen says, “‘Bout like other folks, but with fancier clothes. Some of ’em got airs, some of ’em don’t. Sir Colin’s one of the good ones.”

Harmonia nods.

Loc nods to this and takes another drink, “He’s a good one. Kind and understanding.–He’s really come into his own, I think.”

Lanisen glances at the door hopefully again as another one of the tavern maids enters to help with the supper rush, then looks away. “He has at that,” he agrees absently.

Harmonia huhs. “Never met a lord or knight. You aint’t one are you?”

Lanisen blinks. “Uhh,” he says, and laughs awkwardly. “No, I’m–no.”

Loc chuckles softly, sipping his drink, and teases, “Not yet anyway.”

Lanisen says quellingly, “No.”

Loc takes a drink and shrugs, “Guess it ain’t for everyone. You gonna keep with the hounds? Heard you’re good with ’em.”

Harmonia says, “didn’t think so cept in stories. Sometimes in the stories knight’s or prince or in disguise. ”

Lanisen shakes his head. “Not while I’m squirin’. I’ll still stop by, though.”

Loc asks, “You ever get ta keep a hound yourself?”

Lanisen says, “Me? Um. No, not really, uh– I’ve got one who’s my own dear friend but she’s not /mine/, she’s just part of the pack.”

Harmonia sits quiet and listens

Loc says, “Never owned a pet myself, but I always see folks with ’em. Wasn’t sure if ya ever had one.”

Lanisen shrugs. “Sir Colin’s got one?” he offers. “I dunno, I think ownin’ a castle hound is a …you know, a lord thing.”

Harmonia glances back to her family as they prepare to get ready to leave.

Loc gives a small nod, “Suppose so. Still. Might be fun some day.”

Harmonia says, “Guess I gotta go.” She waves.

Lanisen says, “Yeah. I dunno, I don’t want to… get above my station, you know? Not any more than I already have, anyway.” He half-grins ruefully and looks down. “Oh. See you, Harmonia.”

Loc gives a small wave, “Nice to meet you Harmonia!”

Harmonia grins. “Bye Mister Loc. Bye Mister Lanisen.” She waves again and skips off to her parents.

Lanisen watches her go, then raps his knuckles softly on the tabletop. “Keep waitin’ for somebody to tell her I’m one of the bad guys she’s so anxious to fight,” he admits, very quietly.

Loc gently pats Lanisen’s arm, “Eh, you’re just fine. You ain’t a bad guy–and you got the pardon to prove it.” He takes a sip of his drink, his expression darkening at a particular patron. “Still… it does make one uncomfortable.”

Lanisen says, “Sorry.” He grimaces. “I know it’s… That–the thing with Aaron, I’m just paranoid.”

Loc frowns thoughtfully, “Thing with who now? What happened?”

Lanisen says, “Aaron, this– I didn’t tell you about this? This man, we met him in Lancelyn Green last summer and then he showed up in Anvard, and he… I don’t know, he found out somehow, about, you know. And he started tellin’ folks, and he told one of the guards and Eston? You know Eston? And I dunno who all else, but the guard came and said he was gonna dig everything up and tell everybody, even though– um.” He lets out a breath and stops. “Um. Sir Colin came back, and the king stopped the guard from–I dunno, it’s all right now, it was just–”

Loc’s expression darkens as Lanisen explains. He says coolly, “Well, glad they took care of it… Aint’ anyone got a right ta be mindin’ anyone else’s business.” Loc turns to the patron who snorted and says loud enough for the man to hear, “If a man minds his own business, he’ll keep himself plenty busy.” He turns back to Lanisen, lowering his voice, “What happened ta this Aaron guy?”

Lanisen says, “Um. He set his house on fire and left town.”

Loc blinks, clearly caught off guard. After some moments he says, “Huh…. Well then.” He drains the rest of his mug. “Huh…”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Nobody’s seen him since, but I heard there’s standing orders to arrest him on sight.” He pauses. “I got a note.”

Loc frowns again, “Since he left?”

Lanisen says, “No, it was the night he set his house on fire.” He hesitates again. “I shouldn’t say that, there’s no /proof/ really that he did but–Sir Colin got a note too, see, and it said–” He lowers his voice. “It said somethin’ about smoke signals. And Colin got it right before the alarm bells started goin’ off ’cause Aaron’s house was burnin’.”

Loc eyes narrow and he grumbles. “I’d like ta give /him/ some smoke signals.”

Lanisen says, “Anyway. That was a couple months ago now, and he ain’t been back. I hope he’s a hundred miles away and stays there. It just–it’d been a good while since anybody took any notice of me for–you know, for what I did. And all the sudden there’s folk askin’ again if I killed folk and it’s like the last four years never happened, it’s–I dunno.”

Loc blinks and frowns, “But ya didn’t. And that was a full life time ago. No one should go snooping around like that. It ain’t right.”

Lanisen shifts, looking at his hands. “C’mon, Loc,” he says in a more subdued tone, low enough that the words can only reach Loc. “That–with the grocer, we were /all/… it was dark, I don’t even know which of us… It might’ve real easily been me, I was–I was hittin’ and kickin’ as hard as anybody else.”

Loc grunts softly, keeping his voice so only Lanisen can hear it, “Look, we might a punched him a bit and kicked, but it’s not like either of us went for the head–and we weren’t the most vicious. Myrd and Zan had a field day with that boy.”
Loc’s expression darkens, “Zan moreso.”
Loc says, “And I’m pretty sure he was alive when we left ‘im.”

Lanisen says, “He was. I looked. But that’s not… that don’t make it not /us/, Loc.”

Loc shifts again and sighs looking down. He doesn’t speak for a while. When he does, his voice is quiet, “I guess we had a part in it.–We all did. But if Myrd and Jana can move on and be free of it all, why can’t we do the same? We ain’t the same people we were then. I wasn’t even the same by the end of that whole messy business. I look back at the stuff I did… and I sometimes can’t even believe it was /me/.”
Loc looks at Lanisen, “I mean, I know it /was/… it just… it’s like being on the outside looking in.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. No, I know. I been thinkin’ about that a lot.”

Loc laughs a little, although it isn’t as merry as it usually is. “You were never so bad tho. You just got dragged along…. and I took out my frustrations on you.” He frowns and looks into his empty cup. “I’m not sure I ever said sorry…. but I am. I’m sorry about a lot…”

Lanisen’s eyes lift briefly to Loc’s and he half-smiles, letting out a small breath like laughter but not. “No, it’s… People seem to think that, people who know or care, ’cause I was the youngest and all, but it’s not… I made my own choices, Loc. I decided to tag along with Myrd, I decided to stay. That’s on me. Anyway, you were always all right to me. Almost always.” He pauses, studying the tabletop, and takes a deep breath. “Loc, I saw the Lion.”

Loc’s attention snaps to Lanisen and he blinks, head tilting to the side a little. “What?”

Lanisen’s head ducks and his half-grin grows and brightens into something more real, though a little distant. “Yeah, it was… it was after the battle. You prob’ly heard about the thing with the Calormene prince, the–” He waggles his hands by the sides of his head, imitating donkey ears.

Loc snorts and covers his mouth, trying to cover a grin. He nods.

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Um. I was there. And… yeah.” He grimaces a little, because words. “I don’t know.”

Loc asks quietly, “What… happened?”

Lanisen is silent for a moment, then shakes his head. “I don’t know what to say about it,” he admits. “He was there, he talked– it don’t sound like much, to say it like that, but it /was/, it really was.”

Loc thinks this over, then asks, “So… all those stories… they’re… they’re /real/?”
Loc doesn’t look skeptical but rather almost amazed by this.

Lanisen says, “Yeah. Looks like it.” He takes a deep breath and tries to rally his thoughts. “It was… um. What you said just now about, you know, it don’t seem like you that did all those things? It seems like it was a different person? That’s– I know what you mean by that because that’s how it seems to me–seemed to me, I mean, because now it’s like… it’s–” He huffs and shakes his head. “I dunno how to explain it.”

Loc urges him quietly, almost pleadingly, “Try.”

Lanisen is quiet another moment. He moistens his lips. “It’s real easy,” he begins slowly, “to get to thinkin’ like, oh, that stuff I did, that was /old/ me. /Nowadays/ me, he’d never do that. Lookin’ at him, it was like… I sort of, I had to face up to old me. You know?” He lets out a breath. “It wasn’t… it wasn’t very nice at first. But then…” He shrugs.

Loc pauses, considering this. Finally he nods. He says very quietly, “I guess… I never understood…”
Loc falls silent and struggles.

Lanisen waits, listening.

Loc draws a shaky breath. “I shoulda hung, Lanny. I knew when I turned myself in what I deserved. What I’d /earned/.” He clamps his mouth shut, then draws an unsteady breath. “I tried to pretend I wasn’t scared… that I was ready for death. But… the truth is… I flirted with death because I didn’t want to admit I was scared of it.–I was terrified of–of what I was going to get–and rightly deserved.”

Lanisen crosses his arms on the tabletop and hunches over them. He is not looking at Loc, but his attention is fully on him.

Loc says, “I don’t understand why they let me live.”

Loc’s gaze is in the bottom of his mug and his voice is very quiet.

Lanisen says, “They ain’t hung anybody for years and years.”

Loc shrugs. “Still. Two dead. Kidnapping. Maiming.–What made me so different than Morrigan?–Why did I deserve this and not to rot–” He glances at Lanisen and ends the thought, although the end is clear enough. He shakes his head and puts the mug down. “I deserved tenfold worse than I got. I don’t get it.”

Lanisen says softly, “We all did.” He takes a deep breath. “I think–it’s, it’s important we–oh, I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I think we’re… we got this second chance, yeah? Even though we didn’t deserve it? I dunno how we’re meant to repay that, only… I mean to try, is what I’m tryin’ to say, I guess.” He clears his throat awkwardly and looks down at his hands.

Loc looks at Lanisen and says softly, “A chance to maybe… try to correct some of the mistakes made? Some can’t be fixed… not completely anyway, but I guess… be given a chance to do /something/ to fix it maybe.”

Lanisen says, shifting, “Yeah. That sort of thing.” He clears his throat again, uncomfortable. “I should prob’ly go find Sir Colin.”

Loc grunts and nods. “Have a good night Lanny.”

Lanisen pushes back his chair and hesitates before standing. “Yeah. You too. See you ’round, Loc.”

Loc nods, “See ya.”

Lanisen pauses again, then nods and limps toward the door.


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