There is a frantic pounding on the door.
Colin is sitting on his bed reading a book, which jerks into the air in surprise when the pounding suddenly begins.
Lanisen is flopped on his bed, absently doing his hand exercises and reading a letter. He startles a little and glances at Colin, sitting up.
The pounding continues and a shaky voice calls, “Lanisen!”
Colin jumps up and moves to the door, opening it a crack, looking out then opening it wide.
Lanisen scrambles up, his eyes wide, and limps quickly to the door. “Cass?”
Cassandra is standing in front of the door, tears streaming down her face. Her collar is ripped and she clutches her left wrist. She trembles badly and looks exactly like a scared 17 year old girl.
Colin steps out of the way. “Come in.” he says, looking out in the hallway after her.
Lanisen stops short. He doesn’t say anything for a second. “What happened.”
Cassandra comes in and answers, “I…I…I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do…” She still shakes.
Colin takes in her appearance. “Cassandra, what happened?” He shuts the door firmly after her once he confirms she isn’t being followed.
Lanisen shakes his head a little, distracted. He reaches out, asking wordlessly to look at her wrist.
Cassandra fights him for a minute but finally concedes to let him see it. “It…” She wipes her tears, trying to control her breathing. “I was dumb, so dumb.”
Colin asks, “Who did this to you?” his eyes travel up to Lanisen and his expression is quite grave as he asks the question on his mind. “Was it Loc?”
Lanisen supports her wrist from underneath with both of his hands, turning it gently to look at it. He is careful not to close his hand around it. At Colin’s question, he looks up at her face.
Cassandra shakes her head,” No…It was my dad. He didn’t mean to. I…just need to sit down.”
Colin’s eyebrows shoot up into his hairline and he finds a chair buried under a cloak and moves it out a little for her.
Lanisen goes still for a second, then leads her toward the chair. He glances at Colin.
Cassandra sits down, breathing hard. She takes a while to collect herself before starting. “Every since you and Dad talked, Lanisen, Dad has been on edge. Everything was fine…but then, I let slip that I was leaving to go to Anvard. He…didn’t like that.” Her voice trembles a bit, “Calling me ungrateful for leaving and things like that. I…told him it was my choice…so he told me if I wanted to leave then don’t bother coming back. I told him, fine, I never wanted to see him again and ran…” She shakes her head, “I tripped and hurt my wrist and tore my collar.” She is holding back tears at the end of the story.
Colin lets out a breath and looks at Lanisen.
Lanisen looks back at Colin, then down at the hurt wrist. “It looks like a sprain…”
Cassandra winces as she moves it. “It’s fine.” She just shakes her head, “I didn’t know where else to go.”
Colin runs a hand through his hair. “All right…first things first…You need to have that looked at. It’s good you came here, you’ve got us.”
Lanisen nods. “There’s a healer at the mine, one of the dwarves… I dunno what you’re s’posed to do for hurt wrists, wrap ’em?”
Cassandra holds her wrist tenderly. “Don’t worry about it. I’m just clumsy is all.”
Colin puts a hand on her shoulder in a protective, brotherly gesture. “Oh, we’re worrying about it. It needs taken care of. Let me pop down to Prindle. We’ll send word to the mine for her to come up when she’s available.”
Lanisen gives Colin a quick, grateful glance. “You’ll be needin’ a room, then, prob’ly,” he says to Cassandra. “You’re not wantin’ to go back home tonight, yeah?”
Cassandra looks up at Colin, “Thanks.”
Colin gives Lanisen a nod and mouths, “I got it” and heads out the door.
Cassandra looks at Lanisen, her voice quiet, “I…i don’t have enough money for a room, Lanisen.”
Lanisen shakes his head quickly. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”
Cassandra looks down at the ground, “I don’t even have my things.”
Lanisen asks, “What do you need?”
Cassandra says, “Well I need clothes and things.” She shakes her head, “I think dad made it clear that I’m no longer welcome.”
Lanisen goes to his side of the room and begins digging around in a pile of belongings next to his bed. He returns a minute later with a charcoal stick and a piece of paper. “Tell me what you need, we’ll get it.”
Cassandra begins to list off various things, including various sorts of clothing and small items, such as combs and brushes. “Oh, and my carved Otter.”
Lanisen nods, writing quickly as she speaks. His grip on the utensil is odd, but he seems to have had plenty of practice and doesn’t have much trouble with it. “You said you fought with Dad,” he says after a minute. “Where’s Mum in this? Is she…?”
Cassandra says, “Working. As always. ”
Lanisen asks, “Is she mad, I mean.”
Colin re-enters the room from the hallway, a small bundle tucked under his arm.
Cassandra turns as the door opens, looking at him a bit skeptically.
Lanisen looks up from his list as the door opens. His eyes drop to the bundle, and he gives Colin a questioning look.
Colin drops the bundle on the bed. “All right. Prindle’s gone to the mines to pass on word that the healer’s needed up here. Here’s this-” He hands Cass a room key to one of the inn rooms, then gestures to the bundle. “I got that too…Mortessa and I were guessing at size so hopefully it works for now…til we get what else you need.”
Cassandra blinks at the bundle, “You didn’t have to do this.”
Lanisen grins faintly, glancing at Colin.
Colin looks slightly confused but he nods. “Sure I did.”
Cassandra takes the bundle, looking a bit in shock. “Thank you, Sir Colin.”
Lanisen asks her, gesturing slightly with the list, “Anything else you need?”
Colin squints down at the paper Lanisen holds, and points to a couple things. “Hey those are good ideas…” he says helpfully.
Cassandra can’t stop herself, “Thanks, I have good ideas sometimes.” She looks at the list, “I think that is all for now.”
Lanisen says, “All right.” He looks down at the list and blows out a breath. “You all right here if I go for these?”
Cassandra nods wordlessly.
Lanisen hesitates for a long moment. “Please,” he says finally. “If you don’t mind.”
Colin nods, moving to his side. “You be all right, Cass?”
Cassandra rubs her face, “Yeah…I’ll be fine. I’ll go…to my room.”
Lanisen says, “We won’t be long.”
Cassandra nods, “Okay.”
Colin opens the door for Lanisen and strides purposefully after him.
You stand in a clearing nestled close to the mountains and surrounded by
thick brush and tangle. Scattered around the clearing in the shade of the
mountain are several stone houses with carefully-thatched roofs. They
are a fair size, though most consist of only one room, but they look snug
and dry. Most are lit brightly as their occupants go about their daily
routines, but some are dark and look like they might have been abandoned.
Lanisen follows the path as it winds through the settlement, and at last stops in front of one small cottage. And stays stopped.
Colin stands right beside him, letting his hands rest on his scabbard belt instead of at his sides.
Lanisen looks down at the list again. He takes a step back, glancing desperately in the direction of the town. Finally, he sets his shoulders and limps up the walk with intent. He raises his hand and knocks on the door.
The door opens a crack and a gruff voice calls out, “Who’s there?”
Colin moves in step with Lanisen, staying right beside him.
Lanisen says, “It’s… it’s Lanisen, sir. I’m– I’ve got a list, from Cass.”
Colin also speaks, not bothering to lower his voice, which comes out somewhat boomy. “Sir Colin is here too.”
The door remains a crack, “Sir Colin? What is the trouble, Sir?”
Lanisen glances nervously at Colin.
Colin flashes Lanisen a grim smile. “May we come in please?”
Langin opens the door a bit more, “Can I help you, sir?”
Colin’s tone doesn’t change. “Lanisen is here with me, as I am sure you heard. May we come in please? We have some things we need to retrieve for Cassandra.”
Lanisen takes an automatic step back as the door opens further. His eyes dart apprehensively between his father and his friend.
The door opens more and the man says, “Fine. You can come in.” He ignores the part about Lanisen being there.
Colin’s face grows steely and he gestures for Lanisen to go in front of him, keeping an eye on the door so it doesn’t conveniently swing shut on one of them. “Thank you.”
Lanisen does so, shakily. He scurries past his father, watching him like a fox might watch a hunting hound.
The man stands proudly by the door, not doing anything.
Colin motions for Lanisen to start gathering the things on his list, while he turns to face said proud man to distract him. “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure.”
Lanisen does so, somewhat hampered by the fact that he doesn’t know the house well, but he recognizes a satchel as Cassandra’s and begins putting her belongings in it.
Langin speaks, “Langin.”
Colin nods his head curtly even though the man can’t see him. “And I am Sir Colin of Nieklot, as said before.” He pauses a beat then grasps for something. “How long have you folks lived around here?”
Lanisen finds the otter. He drops it into his pocket rather than jumbling it up with the clothing and toiletries and risking it being lost or damaged.
Langin answers, “We moved here into the village a few years back.” He doesn’t sound at all friendly.
Colin ironically sounds less friendly, if that’s possible. Someone might get frostbite from the chill in the air. “So I hear. I’ve heard a lot about you from your son. And your daughter. Did you know both of them are in my employ now? Best people I know, and have.”
Lanisen pauses his hunt for combs to give Colin a pleading look. He shakes his head slightly.
Langin’s face crinkles into a face of dislike but all he says, “Good to hear it.”
Colin says, “I thought you might think so.”
Colin leaves it simply at that.
Lanisen turns away, trying to pack faster.
Langin doesn’t offer anything else.
Colin says, “Nice place you have here.”
Lanisen checks the list one more time, glancing around the area. He closes the satchel and crosses quickly back to Colin. “Got everything,” he says quietly.
Langin says, “It fits our needs.” He snorts a bit as Lanisen speaks.
Colin nods at Lanisen’s words before addressing Langin. “Now, is there anything else to be taking you don’t want to keep around? I highly doubt we’ll be back soon, Langin.”
Langin shakes his head, “No.”
Colin asks, “You’re sure then?”
Langin still stands by the door, “I’m sure.” He hasn’t shut the door yet.
Lanisen opens his mouth, but hesitates before he speaks. “If– you and mum, you can write, if… if you want. If you send it to the castle it’ll reach… either of us.”
Langin speaks curtly, “I don’t think that is needed.”
Lanisen closes his mouth and looks down.
Colin doesn’t bother trying to hide his scowl at the man’s words.
Langin still holds the door open, “Anything else you need, Sir Colin?”
Colin says, “There doesn’t appear to be. Thank you for your time.”
Lanisen says nothing.
Langin nods once, waiting for the men to leave his house.
Colin steps through the door without another word.
Lanisen follows, and doesn’t look back at his father.
The door slams shut behind them.
Lanisen flinches, his shoulders hunching up. He closes his eyes for a second. Then he walks on without a word, putting distance between himself and the house as quickly as possible.
Colin moves in step with him.
Lanisen slings Cassandra’s satchel over his good shoulder and heads back up the path to town.
Colin opens the door and holds it for Lanisen.
Cassandra turns from the window as the two enter. She looks remarkable better than earlier with the new dress on and her face washed. If anything, she just looks emotionally drained.
Lanisen sets her satchel down on the floor next to the bed. “Got everything on your list,” he says. “Oh–” He digs the otter out of his pocket and holds it out to her in the palm of his hand.
Colin goes over to the window, his hand tightly on his sword hilt as he takes several breaths. When he turns back to them, he appears to be completely normal. He watches Lanisen hand her the carving.
Cassandra takes the carving before setting it on the table. She then gives a quick assessment in her satchel before nodding, “Thanks.” Her voice sounds a bit listless.
Lanisen asks, “You doin’ all right?”
Cassandra looks at him a bit incredulously, “Just fine. I have no job, no home, and my wrist is hurt. It have been a great day.” Her words lack the usual sarcastic tone to them though.
Colin’s tone is gentle as he responds. “You’ll always have a home with us. As for a job, that shouldn’t be a problem. Don’t worry about that right now, all right?”
Lanisen grins faintly and raises his eyebrows a little at Cassandra, as if to say, ‘see?’
Cassandra turns to Colin, “Thank you, sir. I’ll pay you back for the room as soon as I can.” She begins to rubs her temples, shifting to sit on the edge of the bed, however she winces when her wrist moves.
Colin says, “Don’t worry about that right now, Cass.”
Lanisen catches the wince, and winces sympathetically. “You know anything about what to do for hurt wrists, while we’re still waitin’ on the healer?” he asks Colin.
Cassandra nods to Colin mutely. She subconsciously begins to rub the wrist in question.
Colin nods and moves to rummage about in his bag, producing a bandage. “We should wrap it to support it til the healer can see it.”
Lanisen says, “Makes sense. You done it before?”
Cassandra eyes Colin a bit skeptically and doesn’t hand over her wrist just yet.
Colin nods. “Seen plenty of these in training, had a few myself.” he motions to Cass for her hand.
Cassandra extends her arm but watches him like a hawk.
Lanisen watches too, but seems relieved by Colin’s assertion.
Colin takes her arm gently in one hand and proceeds to wrap her wrist like a pro.
Cassandra relaxes a bit as Colin seems to know what he is doing.
Lanisen says, as he watches, “Looks like the swelling’s gone down some.”
Colin nods as he releases her. “Try not to move it or jostle it. I’m going to go down to the mines, see if I can’t hurry up that dwarf.”
Cassandra inspects the wrappings. “Thank you.”
Colin gives her a little smile. “You two be all right?” He asks as he heads for the door.
Lanisen says, “Yeah, we’re fine.”
Colin nods. “All right. Be back when I can.”
Lanisen says, before he leaves, “Hey. Thanks.”
Colin grins at this and touches two fingers to his forehead. “Anytime.” he says before he pops out the door.
As soon as Colin leaves, Cassandra crawls into her bed, leaning her back against the wall. She draws her knees up and rests her forehead on them, crossing her arms.
Lanisen asks, “You hungry?”
Cassandra doesn’t lift her head, “Not particularly.”
Lanisen nods. He sits, resting his elbows on his knees, companionably quiet.
Cassandra takes a long time to speak. “I feel numb.”
Lanisen glances at her, listening.
Cassandra says, “I can’t even take care of myself for two minutes.”
Lanisen says softly, “It ain’t the end of the world. Promise.”
Cassandra says, “Sure feels like it.”
Lanisen says, “I know.”
Cassandra lifts her head, resting it against the wall. “Thank you, Lanisen.”
Lanisen shakes his head a little, dismissive. He is quiet for another minute. “Maybe… give ‘im a chance to cool off, maybe you can still…”
Cassandra shakes her head firmly, “No. He made it clear. If he wants me gone than I’m gone and won’t look back. He can think whatever he wants about me. I don’t need him more.” She pauses, looking at him, “After all, I…got a new family, yeah?”
Lanisen’s breath catches at this. “That’s not… you shouldn’t… You shouldn’t have to /pick/.”
Cassandra shrugs, “Why not? We pick our friends, I guess we have to pick our family as well.”
Lanisen doesn’t seem to know how to answer this.
Cassandra says, “Doesn’t matter now, I guess. I knew it was coming as soon as I made the decision to leave. Maybe as well get it over with.”
Lanisen covers his face with his hands for a minute. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I really hoped… I didn’t want this for you.”
Cassandra shakes her head, “Not your fault.” She stops and in a sincere voice, “I’m, just glad that you were here. I don’t know what would I would have done if this happened and you weren’t here.”
Lanisen says, “Well…” He shrugs. “If I weren’t here it wouldn’t have happened.”
Cassandra jerks herself upright. “Don’t you think that. This is no more your fault than it is mine. Yeah, I lose my temper but I have every right to leave and no one can decide for me if that is a good decision or a bad one.”
Lanisen startles slightly at her vehemence. “Sorry.”
Cassandra drops her back against the wall, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s– you can yell if you want to. It’s a yelling kind of day.”
Cassandra hehs, “Yeah.” She looks around the room, finally forcing herself to get up and begin to unpack her belongings. “I guess this is home now for a bit.”
Lanisen glances around the room. “Good view,” he comments. “You got mountains. Ours has got the square.”
Cassandra stops her unpacking and looks out the window. “Will we climb those on the way to Anvard?”
Lanisen says, “Climb ’em? No, we don’t go that way. We’ll go through Lancelyn Green, that’s mostly flat, mostly wheat fields. We’ll stay south of the mountains.”
Cassandra comments, “If we go through Coghill, I know someone.” She yawns, “I think I just need sleep.”
Lanisen says, “See? Friends everywhere.” He stands up. “You think of anything you need, any hour, just let me know, yeah? Or Colin. He likes you, you know.”
Cassandra rubs her neck, “I know. I don’t know why though.”
Lanisen grins faintly. He takes a breath to speak, but hesitates. “You thought any more about… about talkin’ to him? About… you know.”
Cassandra goes rigid, “Why do you keep bringing that up?”
Lanisen looks down. “‘Cause… it’s important.”
Cassandra turns on him, her eyes searching. “You haven’t told him, have you?”
Lanisen asks, “Do you think I would?”
Cassandra continues to search his face, “I won’t be surprised if you did.”
Lanisen swallows. His eyes cut away from hers.
Cassandra’s face falls at the reaction. She turns stiffly away, looking out the window. “He knows, don’t he?”
Lanisen says nothing for a moment. “I didn’t know what to do,” he says finally. “He’s my best friend, I knew he wouldn’t… and he /hasn’t/, Cass, he knows but he still likes you and he wants to help and it’s gonna be okay, it’s all gonna be okay, I promise…”
Cassandra keeps her back to him. She mutters to herself before saying, “You always say that.”
Cassandra mumbles “… that is … he … … …”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen says, “Only when it’s true.”
Cassandra kicks off her shoes, “Yeah, sure.” She makes her way to the door, opening it. “Thank you for your help.”
Lanisen gives her a long look, hoping and uncertain. He ducks his head and walks out into the hall.
Cassandra watches him for a moment before shutting the door. The lock can be heard as it turns.
Lanisen stands in the hall for a moment, then slips back into the room he shares with Colin and closes the door.