another one

Carmichael Village Square
Western Archenland

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.

A son of adam with rolled up shirt sleeves shakes his head. “Nope. You’ll have to do a lot more to get rid of me. See, since we’re getting to know each other-” his tone is slightly sarcastic here but he tones it down as he continues. “there’s something you should know about me. I don’t give up on people.” He speaks the last phrase slowly and deliberately. “Now, you can rant and rave and attack me all you want – and you really should work on that because you can only drive so many people away – but I’m a pest and I won’t give up easily, Cassandra.”

Cassandra turns back to face him, the anger has dissipated, “Why? We have met twice. You’ll just be wasting your time sticking around.” She laughs dryly, “I don’t have many friends for a reason.”

Renand relaxes slightly when he realizes she isn’t going to jump him again. He leans against the well between her and the pie. “See, that intrigues me. Cause everyone needs a friend.”

Lanisen leaves the lodge, heading for the tavern across the square. He slows, catching sight of his sister and the stranger, trying not to eavesdrop but also very interested and mildly worried.

Cassandra says, “Only people who deserve to have friends.” Movement catches her eye and she turns to see Lanisen. Her eyes shift to the pie, then the man beside her, than back to Lanisen, looking a bit embarrassed.

Renand notes the change in her demeanor and leans up a bit to catch a better look at the other man. He nods in greeting then glances at Cass with a questioning look.

Lanisen pauses, then switches direction to approach Cassandra. “Hey,” he ventures once he’s near enough, his eyes shifting briefly to size up the other man.

Cassandra nods at him, “Hey.” She makes brief introductions, “Renand, this is my brother Lanisen. Lanisen, this is Renand.”

Renand holds out a hand. “Ah, Lanisen! Nice to meet you.”

Lanisen takes his hand and shakes it. “Likewise.” He glances between them again, trying to make sense of the tension.

Cassandra doesn’t offer any explanation for the tension.

Renand relaxes against the well wall. “I’ve heard a lot about you from your sister.”

Lanisen gives him a baffled, wary look. “Can’t say the same,” he answers, glancing to Cassandra.

Cassandra speaks quietly, “He is the one that I said I knew from Coghill. And gave me that otter.”

Renand ahs. “Yes, the otter. I’m a carpenter out in Coghill. Here for a wood order.” He says with a relaxed grin.

Lanisen says, “Oh, right.” He scratches his head.

Cassandra clears her throat, “Renand is nice.”

Renand coughs, caught off guard. He looks sheepish.

Lanisen says, “Oh, um. Good?”

Cassandra looks between them, not knowing what to say.

Renand coughs. “So, Cassandra tells me you’re a squire.”

Lanisen shifts self-consciously. “Um. That’s right, yeah. For Sir Colin.”

Cassandra nods, “He is a good squire too.” Her voice sounds proud.

Renand nods. “How is that? He treat you well?”

Lanisen says, “Wha– Oh, yeah, absolutely. He was my best friend before I started workin’ for him, couldn’t ask for better.”

Cassandra listens with a blank expression.

Renand says, “That must be really nice.”

Lanisen nods. “It’s been good so far. I’m really grateful.” He glances uncertainly at Cass.

Renand asks, “I’ve heard he’s a nice bloke. Cass tells me you all are moving to Anvard soon?”

Cassandra mets Lanisen’s look and gives him a weak smile.

Lanisen looks a little relieved at the smile, but not much. “Ahh, yeah,” he answers, turning back toward Renand. “We’ll be headin’ back… I dunno when, actually, but soon, I hope.” He pauses. “You originally from Coghill, then, or?”

Renand nods. “Born and raised! My whole family’s been there for years. I’m the carpenter of the family, my older brother is a stone worker and my younger one likes to work with horses.”

Lanisen says, “Got one of everything, huh?”

Cassandra giggles, “And your mom is a cook, right?”

Renand nods. “Yup, dad’s quite proud. As for mom…she’s a cook if you consider she practically makes enough for an army each day to feed us all.” He grins.

Lanisen grins at this. “That counts, pretty sure.”

Cassandra seems to relax a bit, “Renand said that if we were ever in Coghill, he would ask his mom to make us a peach /and/ blackberry pie.”

Renand nods, his eyes widening. “Oh gosh, she makes the best pies in the world.”

Lanisen says suspiciously, “Peach and blackberry in the same pie?”

Cassandra nods, “That is what he was telling me.”

Renand says, “It sounds weird but it tastes amazing.”

Lanisen wrinkles his nose.

Renand says, “Trust me.”

Cassandra shrugs. “It might be worth a taste.”

Lanisen says doubtfully, “Might be.”

Renand says, “What kind do you like though? She makes everything, I swear.”

Cassandra answers, “He likes walnut muffins.”

Lanisen’s face breaks into a grin. “Sorry. I bet your mum’s pies are delicious. I got a thing about pie that crunches is all.”

Renand chuckles. “Her pie won’t crunch, trust me. She’ll convert you.”

Lanisen makes a skeptical, sour face.

Cassandra smiles at Lanisen, “Better than my cooking, no doubt.”

Lanisen says, “Nothin’ wrong with your cooking.”

Renand shrugs easily. “I wouldn’t know.” he jokes.

Cassandra eyes Lanisen, “I guess I can make a good egg.”

Lanisen looks at her quickly. Then, all at once, he’s wheezing with helpless laughter and has to turn away to be polite.

Renand presses his lips together and does his best to behave himself.

Cassandra glares at Lanisen, “Alright, go ahead and laugh. You might miss my eggs one day.”

Lanisen holds up his hand and shakes his head, but he’s still laughing too hard to explain himself.

Renand watches with amused delight now that Cass’s attitude is directed at someone else.

Cassandra continues to glare but the the laughter brings forth a slight grin.

Lanisen takes a deep breath and gets control of himself. “That– that one morning, when Loc was sassin’ you and you made him eggs with a little extra crunch, that’s what I was thinkin’ of.”

Renand’s eyebrows shoot up with curiosity and he looks at Cassandra for her reaction.

Cassandra grins big, “Oh yes, I forgot about that. He was being particular ornery that day.”

Lanisen says, “Should’ve seen the look on his face.”

Renand’s amusement grows. “I can imagine.”

Cassandra shrugs, “He shouldn’t have been so vocal about how I was too young to cook a proper egg.”

Lanisen snickers again, but after a moment he looks down at the ground and goes quiet.

Renand says, “Note to self, never make fun of your cooking.”

Cassandra catchs Lanisen’s reaction, also frowning. She looks up at Renand, “Ah yeah.”

Lanisen changes the subject after a minute, glancing at Renand. “How long you been in Carmichael, then?”

Renand replies, “Just a couple of days. I haven’t been back since the fall so there has been much to accomplish.”

Cassandra watches Renand out of corner of her eye, “When are you heading back?”

Renand answers, “Probably within a couple of days, once I get transport set for the wood.”

Lanisen asks, “You get up to Anvard much?”

Renand nods. “Off and on. I like to get up there, when there’s reason to.”

Cassandra asks, “What kinds of reasons?”

Renand gives her quite the ornery, teasing look. “Work, friends. I’m not picky. I’m flexible like that.”

Cassandra looks at bit abashed, “Those are good reasons, I suppose.”

Lanisen tilts his head at Cassandra.

Renand says, “Anvard area’s good for birch and elm trees. At least the quality I like to work with.”

Cassandra nods, looking back at Lanisen. She avoids his eyes though.

Harmonia comes skipping up the path, singing to herself.

Lanisen says, “We’ll likely be seeing you, then.”

Renand nods his head. “That’s the plan.” He then looks directly at Cassandra to see her reaction.

Cassandra looks at Renand in the eye, “I guess it is a good plan.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows.

Renand’s reply is smooth. “Oh good, I was hoping that would be the case.”

Harmonia spies Cassandra and Lanisen and calls out. “Hiya Mister Lanisen, Hey Miss Cass.”

Lanisen gives Renand a narrow look, but he turns away as Harmonia calls. “Hey, kid.”

Cassandra snorts and turns when she is addressed, “Oh hey kid. How did training go?”

Harmonia exclaims, “Went real well. Thanks!”

Renand leans against the well when the girl comes up and starts talking with his two counterparts.

Lanisen asks curiously, “Training?”

Cassandra clears her throat, “Harmonia is learning how to defend herself.”

Lanisen blinks.

Renand’s eyebrow goes up just a hair.

Harmonia nods, “yep. Miss Cass is teaching me. ”
Harmonia seems very proud of this.

Renand rubs his chin and focuses on the sky for a few minutes.

Cassandra meets Lanisen’s eye, “Yeah, I am.”

Lanisen says, “Huh.”

Harmonia glances up at Lanisen, “How’re you Mister Lanisen?”

Lanisen shifts his weight. “I’m good, thanks,” he says. “How ’bout you?”

Harmonia says, “I’m good. ”

Cassandra glances up at Renand, “Harmonia, this is Renand…a Friend.”

Renand’s eyebrow goes up slightly at the term and he fails at hiding a pleased smirk. “Pleasure, Harmonia.”

Harmonia says, “‘lo. You live here?””

Renand shakes his head. “No, in Coghill.”

Harmonia oh’s. “It near Anvard?”

Renand nods. “Yes it is.”

Harmonia says, “huh. I’ve never been anywhere else ‘sides here. ‘Cept when we lived in Terebinthia.”
Harmonia says, “An’ then I came here an’ met Mister Lanisen and Miss Cass.”

Cassandra grins a bit and mutter to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “She has been more places than me.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “… has been … … than …”, to Lanisen.

Renand grins a little. “I just met them myself.”

Lanisen grins faintly. “I gotta run a few errands while it’s still light,” he says to Cass. “Find you later, maybe?”

Cassandra nods at him, “I got no place else to be.”

Renand extends his hand again. “Lanisen, it was real nice to meet you.”

Harmonia says, “Bye Mr Lanisen. an’ take care.””

Lanisen shakes Renand’s hand again, giving him a hard look. “You too,” he answers, friendly enough.

Renand squeezes his hand firmly, giving him the friendliest sincere grin he can must. “Look forward to getting to know you.”

Lanisen is momentarily thrown for a loop. He withdraws his hand and steps backward, nodding, and glances at Cassandra.

Cassandra nods once at Lanisen before looking at the ground.

Renand nods his head as well since that seems to be what everyone else is doing.

Cassandra turns to Renand taking a deep breath, “Can I speak you real quick?”

Renand nods once more. “Sure?”

Lanisen says awkwardly, “Well.” He waves a hand to all present and backs toward the general store.


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