go-between


Outer Ward
Castle Anvard


Vinri is setting her stall up for the afternoon. There is a little sand sticking to her skirt.

Lanisen emerges from the kennels, blinking in the bright sunlight. He picks a few tufts of dog fur off his shirt, trying to get the worst, then gives up. He eyes the north stair for a moment and finally makes a face and turns toward the market.

Vinri shifts around some samples of fabric. As she smooths the repositioned pieces out, she looks up and scans for familiar faces, flashing smiles whenever someone else meets her gaze.

Lanisen wanders near her stall on the way toward somebody selling some interesting-smelling meat pies and pauses to say hello. “How’s business?”

Vinri looks his way and her smile morphs to something a bit less cheerful, though sincere enough. “Just started back up for the day, it was a quiet morning. The kennels’ve been sounding lively.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, you could hear that, huh?”

Vinri asks, “They can make quite a chorus. Did a cat run through, or was lunch something special?”

Lanisen says, “Kirb found ’em a new ball and they all had to have a turn.”

Vinri giggles. “Of course. Should’ve guessed.” Her smile slips as the mystery is unraveled.

Lanisen, recognizing something is off, gives her a closer look. “Well,” he says after a small pause, backing away. “I won’t keep you. Hope your afternoon goes well.”

Vinri lifts a hand. “Wait a bit? I was just wondering… Have you and Cass had much time to talk, last few days?”

Lanisen turns more fully toward her. “Um, a bit? Why?”

Vinri rests her elbows on her stall counter, fingers laced in front of her face. “I reckon she hasn’t mentioned being upset with me?”

Lanisen pauses, surprised. “Noo?” he says cautiously. “What’s–I mean. Is… What’s happened?”

Vinri sighs. “Figured not. I said the wrong thing, I s’pose, even though it was just a joke and not even /that/ much of a tease.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.” His forehead furrows, perplexed. “What– I mean, d’you want I should talk to her?”

Vinri considers, then makes a face. “I reckon that wouldn’t actually do much good, would it? She’s not much of the talking type, not to me at least.”

Lanisen winces a little, conceding this. “What’d you say? I mean, I don’t mean to pry, you don’t gotta answer if you don’t want to, but…?

Vinri says, “Something about crawling our way to the top, if we ended up somewhere hard?” She gives a forced chuckle. “Can’t say as I’m certain whether she was madder about my suggesting she might be a touch ambitious or about the word crawl. All I /meant/ was that I thought she’d be a resourceful sort, if it came to it.””

Lanisen bites his lip, shaking his head a little. “I don’t… I’m not sure why she’d be mad about that, but…” He lifts his shoulders and says frankly, “I don’t know her very well yet.”

Vinri’s brow furrows. “You seem fairly close…”

Lanisen says, “Gettin’ there.”
Lanisen adds, “I hope.”

Vinri looks at him for a moment before admitting, “I don’t quite follow.”

Lanisen says, “Sorry. There were a few years where we didn’t see each other, I mean.”

Vinri ohs. Then ohs again. “Of course, that makes sense, sorry. I mean, you’ve been here for a while, and she hasn’t, not sure what I was thinking.” She rubs her forehead, then offers a smile his way. “Guess we’re both just sort of feeling our way, aren’t we?

Lanisen says, “I guess so.” He lets out a small breath. “I’ll talk to her, if you like?”

Vinri shakes her head. “No, I’ll figure something out, I reckon. Or just wait her out for a while. Just thought I’d see if you had any snippet of brotherly wisdom.”

Lanisen spreads his empty hands. “Sorry.”

Vinri waves a hand. “Then I suppose there’s nothing for it and I’ll just have to charm some forgiveness out on my own.”

Lanisen nods again, awkwardly, and starts to turn away. He stops, though, and after a hesitation says, “She’s… sort of suspicious, I think. Of people who are nice, people who want to be friends, you know. Could be she’s got scared, is all.”

Vinri smiles, more relaxed now. “‘ve noticed that. She’ll have to adjust that, though… all your friends seem awfully intent on being hers, too.”

Lanisen grins faintly at this, though he looks worried. “Seems so.”

Vinri studies his expression, though she doesn’t lose her smile this time. “Well, I won’t keep you from your meal any longer. Temma made some delicious pies with potatoes and pheasant earlier, have you ever had hers?”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows, interested. “Not with pheasant I haven’t. Where’s she at today?” He turns half away, shading his eyes as he looks at the stalls.

Vinri points across the ward. “Right over that way, near the weaver’s. Might want to be sharp about it, I’ve watched hers go like warm seats in winter.”

Lanisen says, “I’ll take your advice on that one. Thanks for the tip.”

Vinri exclaims, “Of course!” She begins shuffling around her display again. “Have a good day, Lanisen, and thanks.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, you too.”

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