Carmichael Village Square
Western Archenland

Lanisen passes through the square, walking from the inn to the tavern.

A dwarf with precisely stitched clothing also happens to be heading for the tavern, although from the direction of the mines. She was smoking a pipe of vanilla smelling baccy, but puts the pipe away as she nears the tavern.

Lanisen, glancing back as he enters the tavern, holds the door open for the dwarf behind him.

Freya glances up at the Son of Adam, nods in curt thanks, and heads inside.

Fischer’s Tavern

Lanisen makes his way to the counter and sits on one of the stools, quietly requesting a slice of pie when Fischer turns to him.

Freya takes a dwarf sized stool at a table by herself and orders an ale. However, as she digs through her satchel, her eyes widen. She digs through her satchel furiously now, muttering, “By the mane! Freya, did ye ferget…?”

Lanisen glances over to the table in idle curiosity.

Freya sighs and drops her satchel back to her side. Her face is as red as her beard. As the barmaid comes with her order, Freya shamefacedly admits, “Hold t’ order. I forgot m’ coin purse somewheres. M’ apologies fer wasting yer time. I’ll be back fer it when I find it again.”

Lanisen winces a little for the dwarf woman. He hesitates, then volunteers, “I’ll cover it.

Freya raises her ale to him in salute and finds a stool at the bar near him. “Thank ye. I’m Freya, what passes for a healer in these parts, although my best work runs toward fixin’ limbs fer t’ miners. I’ll pay ye back fer m’ tab iffen ye don’t waiting fer me t’ go home t’ get it.”

Lanisen’s eyes sharpen a little at the name, and he looks at the dwarf woman again, but he shakes his head quickly and adds the coins for the ale to the payment for his pie. “No, no, it’s no trouble.”

Freya shrewdly notes the look, “T’ lads complaining ’bout me at t’ bar when I’m not here? I promise they probably deserved e’ery cuff fer moving while I’m setting bones.”

Lanisen looks rather alarmed and says hastily, “No, sorry. Nothin’ like that. Somebody I was talkin’ to said you were a good healer is all.”

Freya takes a sip of her ale, thoughtfully, clearly not expecting that reaction. “Aye, I suppose. Why? Did ye need someone t’ look at yer limp or yer arm?”

Lanisen gives her a startled look. He shifts his bad hand to rest in his lap, out of sight. “No, no, I’m– it’s fine.”

Freya raises an eyebrow. “Are ye that shy ’round lasses that ye’d rather endure t’ pain of remaining crippled?”. Her lips curl up ever so slightly as she teases him. ” I’d think it’d be worth gettin’ limbs fixed so ye stop ‘wakin’ in t’ middle o’ t’ night in pain.”

Lanisen doesn’t seem to know what to say. His eyes dart around the tavern briefly, and after several failed starts he says without looking directly at her, “They– they looked at it in Anvard, said there wasn’t– it’s just– waitin’, is all, it’ll fix itself eventually, maybe.”

Freya also glances around and speaks a little lower. “Says them that ne’er endured that kind o’ injury. T’ best healers are those familiar w’ the pain their customer’s ken.” She sits back and sips her ale. ” T’ ones in Andale are plenty smart about illnesses and stoppin bleeding, but Lion help ’em, they’re babes w’ mine injuries. Fer starters, ye have t’ work t’ limb properly or it gets stiff.”

Lanisen makes no answer to this, other than a small nod. His hand stays out of sight and he looks horribly self-conscious.

Freya sighs and finishes her ale. “I’ll stop shop talk here, as ye look uncomfortable, lad. Iffen t’ pain becomes too much, send fer me or pay me a visit. I owe ye a reward fer savin’ my bacon anyway, Master….?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, it’s– I’m Lanisen, mistress.”

Freya nods, noting the name with visible recognition. “Aye, Lanisen. Headbanger mentioned ye once or twice in passing.”

Lanisen repeats, bewildered, “Head… banger?”

Freya laughs, “O, I suppose ye surface dwellers prefer t’ call ‘im Loc.”

Lanisen’s expression closes off a little and he looks away. “Oh. Right. I think I did hear that.”

Freya appears confused. “I was under t’ impression ye were friends from t’ way he spoke of ye? Is this a Son of Adam trait, t’ pretend friendship.”

Lanisen says neutrally, “We get on all right most of the time.”

Freya raises an eyebrow in wordless query and then shrugs. “As ye be. Thank ye, Lanisen, fer t’ drink. I’m thinking I ought t’ head home. Pleasure t’ meet ye.”

Lanisen says absently, “No trouble.” He looks down at his hand and chews his lip, hesitating. “Can you– really stop it hurting?” he blurts after a second.

Freya hops off her stool. “I’d be a poor mender iffen I promised no pain would ever be felt in that limb, especially without a proper examination. Ye could have bone breaks ye’d feel when it rains and that no one can cure. However, muscle and sinew can be shaped and made stronger. With proper dedication (and by that, I mean no sass), ye could wield an axe as well as any…*she pauses, considering her audience*…Son of Adam. And t’ pain will be nearly gone, iffen not all gone.”

Lanisen darts a quick, hopeful look at her. He nods, and says nothing more.

Freya glances up to where Lanisen is guarding his limb. “Later, ye’ll have t’ tell me where ye got t’ beauty. Sometimes t’ past hinders healin’ as well, ’cause some folks would rather deal w’ t’ limb pain than t’ memory.” Her eyes cloud with unspoken grief as she pats the bar with a hand and makes to depart. “Have a good eve, Lanisen.”. Her voice is a touch gruff.

Lanisen looks uncertain at this, but he responds quietly, “Evenin’.”

Lanisen sits alone at the counter, eating a slice of pie. Only except he’s not really eating it, he’s just kind of absently looking at it and occasionally using his fork to cut it into smaller pieces.

Cassandra comes out of the back, looking like she has spent all day in the stockroom. She wipes her hands on her apron that she has started wearing, scanning the tavern.

Lanisen pushes a bit of mashed plum from one side of the plate to the other, not really paying attention to what he’s doing.

Cassandra sees Lanisen and smiles. However, she observes him for a bit, eyes narrowing.

Lanisen finally sets the fork down and pushes the plate away, sliding off the stool. He glances around the tavern as he does so and sees Cassandra. “Oh. Hey.”

Cassandra responds, “Hey. What’s wrong?”

Lanisen asks, “What? Nothin’.”

Cassandra raises an eyebrow, “mmmhmmmm.”

Lanisen frowns at her and looks away. “I didn’t figure you were workin’ today,” he says after a moment. “Didn’t see you.”

Cassandra frowns, “Oh, I see.”

Lanisen pauses, giving her an uncertain look. “Did I say somethin’ wrong?”

Cassandra starts rubbing the counter off, “If you didn’t want to see me, that’s okay.”

Lanisen says, “I didn’t mean…”

Cassandra looks up at him, “What did you mean then?”

Lanisen says, a little helplessly, “That I didn’t see you?”

Cassandra shrugs, dropping the subject, “Whatcha you up too?”

Lanisen says, “Eatin’ pie.”

Cassandra flicks the rag at him, sounding a bit sarcastic, “Really? That is exciting.”

Lanisen ducks away. “Sorry.”

Cassandra snorts, “Lanisen, what is wrong with you? You mad at me?”

Lanisen says quickly, “No! No, I’m not– nothin’ like that. I’m just… tired, I guess. I’m sorry.”

Cassandra asks, “Not sleeping well?”

Lanisen seems to find this funny. “I’m sleepin’ normal. Don’t worry about me.”

Cassandra props her elbows on the counter, her hands holding her face, “If you say so.”

Lanisen asks, to change the subject, “How’re you? What’ve you been doin’ today?”

Cassandra sighs, “Taking inventory….it was the most boring two hours of my life.”

Lanisen laughs under his breath. “That’s rough,” he agrees.

Cassandra grins, “I betcha you have some boring duties.”

Lanisen says, “Nothin’ so bad. A body can get used to anything.”

Cassandra asks, “What do you mean by that?”

Lanisen shrugs. “First time you do somethin’ it seems like the worst thing in the world, next time it’s not so bad. You look at somethin’ all I can’t believe it’s come to this, but next thing you know it’s just part of life and it ain’t the worst.”

Cassandra eyes him, “When did you get all philosophical?”

Lanisen looks almost offended at this. “That’s not– that’s just common sense.”

Cassandra looks back at the counter, “Sorry.”

Lanisen adds under his breath, “Philosophy’s stuff you say when you’re wantin’ to sound smart but don’t actually know anything.”

Cassandra bursts out laughing at this.

Lanisen’s face makes the sideways smirky grimace that means he’s pleased with himself and trying not to laugh.

Cassandra grins at him, “There is a smile.”

Lanisen ducks his head and grins more fully. “Sorry.”

Cassandra says, “Lanisen.”

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Cassandra takes a breath, “I have made a decision.”

Lanisen looks at her quickly, his eyes going wide with hope before he hastily schools his features. “Yeah?” he asks neutrally.

Cassandra nods, “I’m…I’m going to go.” She nods firmly, “I am going to go to Anvard. If…if you’ll have me?”

Lanisen breaks into a broad, glad smile. “Wow,” he says in measured tones. “All right, wow. Excellent.” He lets out a big, gusty breath of relief and, there’s no other word for it, /giggles/. “I can’t wait to show you around! You gotta meet Nia, and, and Megren! And wait ’til you see the view from the gate towers, it’s /incredible/. And–I dunno when we’re goin’ back but I bet you anything there’ll be pups.”

Cassandra seems to grow excited as he begins to speak, “Really? Pups?”

Lanisen assures her, “There’s always pups in the spring.”

Cassandra sits down at the bar, thinking. “Who is Mergren? Is she another hound?”

Lanisen asks, “What? No, no!” He stops to laugh and sit down next to Cassandra. “No, she’s on the castle guard. You’ll love her, she’s the sort of person who can make anybody forget to be nervous, and then she freezes their socks once she’s made friends with them.”

Cassandra giggles, “That sounds like a good friend to have.”

Lanisen confides, grinning wickedly, “She was the one who gave me the idea to put frozen coins in Sir Colin’s bed.”

Cassandra holds her head in her hand, “I can’t wait to meet her!”

Lanisen bites his lip and grins at her in sheer glee. After a moment, he sobers and asks, “What’re you gonna tell Mum and Dad?”

Cassandra’s face goes from excitement to depressed in two seconds, “I don’t know…”

Lanisen is quiet for a minute, then takes a deep breath. “You can–” he begins. “You can tell them… what I do now. And that I got pardoned. If you think it would make it less… I dunno.”

Cassandra nods, “Maybe. I mean, they know that I don’t like it here. I’m not quiet about it. Maybe if I could tell them that I have an job opportunity or something.”

Lanisen latches onto this. “Yeah. And it’s /true/, Colin’ll make sure you have somethin’. Actually– you could just mention Sir Colin and Arael, and leave me all the way out of it, maybe that would go over better.”

Cassandra’s face hardens a bit, “So what if they don’t like me living with you. It’s my life, after all.”

Lanisen nods his head to the side a little, conceding this. “Well, but– you don’t…” He makes a face. “You’re on speakin’ terms with ’em, you’ve got a relationship. Don’t… don’t mess that up.”

Cassandra shrugs, “They won’t miss me.”

Lanisen says, “No, that’s not what I– Just… don’t just storm off, you know? You might…” He runs a hand through his hair, struggling to find the right words. “It might–right now maybe it seems like you could leave and never want to see ’em or talk to ’em again but that’s not gonna be… There’s gonna come a day when you want to. So just… leave that door open. Make sense?”

Cassandra takes a minute to consider this, “It does.” She looks at him, “Do you…do you want me to talk to them for you?”

Lanisen gives her a look that is a little grateful, a little compassionate, but mostly sad. His mouth quirks into a grin that doesn’t come near his eyes. “Nah,” he says, looking away. “That ship’s sailed, pretty sure. You look after you, little sister.”

Cassandra looks at him sadly, “I’m sorry, Lanny.”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders, looking at his hands. “It’s none of your doing.”

Cassandra stares at the wall, “They might forgive you sometime. I did.”

Lanisen says, “Maybe so.”

Cassandra stands up, “I should get back to work.”

Lanisen straightens. “Right. Sorry.” He takes a deep breath and looks at her sidelong. “I’m glad you’re comin’, Cass. I’m really, really glad.”

Cassandra smiles. “Me too.”

Lanisen grins at her again, full and real, then says, “Don’t work too hard.”

Cassandra hrpmhs, “I don’t.” She begins to clean tables off.

Lanisen looks back at his uneaten pie. After a few minutes, he slips off his stool and heads for the door, waving in passing to Cassandra and Fischer both.


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