Outer Ward
Castle Anvard

Lanisen leaves the kennel, brushing dog fur off his trousers and wiping his sweaty forehead with his sleeve. He casts an automatic glance up at the walls and at the gates to see who of the guard is on shift.

Megren is apparently not actually on shift by her posture, but she sits on a crate near the gatehouse chatting with Perth there.

Cassandra strolls through the Ward, two walnuts muffins in hand. Her path is directed to the Kennels.

Lanisen shades his eyes to squint up at the walls, then turns toward the gatehouse to say hello. He catches sight of Cassandra and the muffins before he gets too far and switches course instantly. “Is one of those for me??”

Cassandra quickly hides them behind her back, while raising an eyebrow. “Why, hello Lanisen. /It’s/ good to see you too. I’m great, thanks for asking.”

Lanisen turns the corners of his mouth dramatically down.

Megren sees Lanisen’s approach and subsequent about-face, and her eyes move to find the cause, settling on Cass. She wraps up her conversation with Perth culminating with a pat on his shoulder, and then moves to join them.

Cassandra rolls her eyes before handing one to him. “I made it myself.” She smiles as Megren approaches, “I’m glad I brought two muffins.”

Lanisen says, delighted, “/Did/ you? Hey, look at that! No black bits at all!” He turns toward Megren and says without preamble, “Look at this! She’s gone and taught Dranken how to bake!”

Megren lifts her brows. “How have we survived all this time without her?’

Cassandra grins, handing the other muffin to her. “I may have stormed back there to give him a cooking lesson.”

Megren hands the muffin off to Lanisen. “I /just/ ate.”

Lanisen offers it back to Cass. “Yeah? How’d he take that?”

Cassandra takes the muffin back, shrugging, “Mad at first, but once I gave him my muffins to eat, he was okay with it.” She beams a bit, “That’s how I got my job.”

Megren grins in surprise, concluding, “You’re working at the inn!”

Kairyn enters the ward from the outside gate, basket on her arm. Her blonde hair is tied back with a ribbon that it is escaping from. She looks windblown and ruddy from the outdoors. Her apron and dress are smudged with dirt that suspiciously look as if she’s been crawling around in the dirt. She weaves her way through people in the outer ward, many of which don’t take much notice of her.

Lanisen breaks off a bit of the muffin and eats it, closing his eyes reverently. “Ohh, that is an improvement.”

Cassandra smirks at Lanisen, “You are so dramatic, you know that, Lanny?”

Lanisen opens his eyes wide in mock outrage. “/I’m/ dramatic?”

Megren says, “You’ll be hard-put to find someone in this castle who isn’t.” She catches sight of Kairyn. “Speaking of…” She lifts her arm to wave the other woman over.

With a straight face, Cassandra answers, “I am the model of mellowness and peacefulness.”

Lanisen snorts with laughter, turning to see who Megren is greeting. He nods politely to Kairyn, going quiet.

Megren nudges Lanisen with her elbow to ease up.

Kairyn notes Meg through the people and begins making her way over, nodding a greeting to the people her friend is standing with.

Cassandra smiles a bit in the direction of the newcomer.

Lanisen shifts, giving Megren a startled look.

Megren grins at him before greeting Kairyn. “Looks like you’ve had an adventurous morning.”

Kairyn looks momentarily confused as she looks down at herself, then she laughs lightly and pushes her hair back behind her ears. “I look quite a sight…my apologies for my appearance. In public no less.”

Cassandra shrugs, “If someone is bothered by your appearance, they can just get over it.”

Megren laughs. “Sounds logical to me.”

Lanisen pockets the rest of his muffin so he can do justice to it later, grinning faintly.

Kairyn looks at the unfamiliar young woman with an appreciative grin.

Megren looks between them. “Have you two met?” She gestures to one, then the other. “Kairyn, Cassandra.”

Cassandra watches Lanisen pocket the remainder of his muffin and just shakes her head. She then nods, “Nice to meet you, Kairyn.”

Dalia slips out of the inner ward , a piece of bread in hand

Kairyn dips her head to Cassandra. “It is nice to meet you as well.”

Lanisen makes a face back at Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “What? I’m saving it for later.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “What? … saving … … …”, to Cassandra.

Megren says, “Kairyn works in the infirmary.”

Cassandra giggles, not bothering to keep her voice low. “You know that there are more muffins than just the one I gave you, right?” She then turns to Kairyn, “So you are a healer?”

Kairyn takes her basket off her arm and holds the handle with both hands in front of herself. “I am. Well. Apprentice.”

Cassandra says, “Well, you may want to check on the Guard Haft. I accidentally fell on him the other night.”

Megren waves a hand. “I already inquired. You’d think gramps would’ve thrown out his knee or something, but he’s fine.”

Kairyn shrugs a shoulder. “He’s tougher than he looks.” She says with a small grin. “Like old shoe leather.”

Cassandra grins, “Glad to hear it.”

Lanisen shifts, glancing up at the walls.

Kairyn watches Lanisen for a brief moment and raises both eyebrows slightly before she nods to the two women. “Well. It was nice seeing you all. I’m afraid I have to get back to work now though.”

Megren nudges Lanisen again before replying. “Oh– sure all right. Maybe I can catch up with you later this evening?”

Kairyn dips her head. “Sure. You know where to find me.” She flashes her friend a smile, then directs the smile to Cassandra. “Nice to meet you.” She nods to Lanisen. “Lanisen.” She then departs the group and walks towards the gate.

Cassandra waves at her, “Good bye.”

Lanisen says, “Afternoon, miss.”

Megren gives Lanisen a look. “Scared her off.”

Cassandra eyes Lanisen as well but doesn’t say anything.

Lanisen says, “I– What?”

Megren grins.

Cassandra remarks, “Generally, I’m the one to -” She glances at Megren briefly before asking, “How are the puppies?”

Megren gets a keen look.

Lanisen takes a confused, guilty second to answer, looking at Megren to see if she is joking or not. “Ahh– the puppies are good, doin’ real good. Growin’.”

Megren gives him another grin to make it clear she wasn’t serious.

Cassandra grins, “Good.” She taps her mouth, “They aren’t for sale, are they? They belong to the castle, right?”

Lanisen says, relieved, “Er– yeah, for now. Until they’re trained, at least.”

Megren says, “Licorice is the only one left from the mutt batch for selling. Danall and I have been talking about me paying her off a little every month so I can buy her for my da, though.”

Cassandra looks at Megren, “That is good.”

Lanisen says, listening with interest, “Oh, she’d be good with your da, I bet. She likes to think she’s the most important person in the room.”

Megren grins. “What are you saying about the girl that lived eighteen years with my da?”

Cassandra giggles, listening.

Lanisen’s ears turn red and he gives Megren an exasperated look. “I meant she’d be a good hearth-and-home dog, is all, along with the huntin’ and such.”

Megren looks at Cassandra, “He’s telling me I’d be better off cooking meals now.”

Cassandra grins at her, “Well, you could cook all the walnut muffins you wanted and then not give him any.”

Megren concedes, “Fair point.”

Lanisen throws up his hands.

Cassandra pokes Lanisen, “You still need to get me a dog.”

Megren mms. “And a horse, while you’re at it.”

Cassandra perks up, “Yes, I like the way you think, Megren.”

Lanisen dodges away from the poke. “You ain’t even got anyplace to put a dog yet.”

Cassandra frowns, “Yeah…”

Lanisen says, “‘Sall right, I don’t have a dog for you yet anyway.”

Megren says, “I bet my da would help you get settled in with someone in the village, so you don’t have to stay at the inn.”

Cassandra tips her head, “I don’t want to be a bother.”

Lanisen’s eyebrows go up and he looks at Megren, immediately attentive.

Megren shakes her head. “I know there’s an older woman who’d probably like another pair of hands around the house, and if not her, I’m sure he knows of some others.”

Cassandra bites her lip, “Maybe…I’ll have to think about it.” She glances at the sun, “I need to get back to work now.”

Lanisen asks, “All right if I come by later?”

Cassandra nods, “‘Course.”

Megren looks upward as well. “Come out this way again soon.”

Cassandra nods, “I will. Good bye.” She brushes past Lanisen before making her way out of the gate.

Lanisen says, “See you ’round, Cass.”

Megren watches her go with a guardswoman’s interest.

Lanisen says, “Well. I’d better start hangin’ ’round the tavern more, sounds like.”

Megren says, “As if you don’t get enough free food here.”

Lanisen says, “Hmm. No walnut muffins here.”

Megren furrows her brow at him. “You aren’t asking the right folks in the right manner.”

Lanisen says, “/Really/ now.”

Megren says, “You’ve got to get better at manipulating people.”

Lanisen waves this aside impatiently. “Who’s got walnut muffins? How have I lived here this long and haven’t heard about this?”

Megren says, “I think I’m going to let you investigate that one yourself.”

Lanisen gives her a large-eyed betrayed look. “I thought you were my friend.”

Megren says, “I don’t know what gave you that idea.”

Lanisen says, “Give me some idea where to start.”

Megren says, “The kitchen.”

Lanisen makes a fist and stares off into the distance. “The /kitchen/.”

Megren says, “Where all worthy quests begin.”

Lanisen drops the fist and shrugs expansively. “Or I could walk to the tavern and get ones my sister made, which are probably better.”

Megren tilts her head in concession. “There is that.”

Lanisen says, “It figures that she got a job by shouting at somebody.”

Megren says, “You’d think they’d make her crier, then.”

Lanisen laughs under his breath, his eyes on the gate. He sighs and rubs the back of his neck.

Megren makes a face at him. “Everything all right?”

Lanisen says, “Mm? Yeah.” He pauses. “I wish she wouldn’t get so… shouty. But she knows she’s shouty, and she don’t like it any more than I do, I figure, so there’s nothin’ to be done. Anyway, it worked out all right this time.”

Megren nods. “She’ll figure it out.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah.”

Megren says, “Some people take longer to settle into themselves.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah. And, hey, she’s doin’ loads better than I was at her age, so.”

Megren says, “And look how you turned out, the castle favorite.”

Lanisen snorts.

Megren says more seriously, “Should I push for her to find someone to live with in town, or is that a bad idea?”

Lanisen says, “Well, pushin’ her on anything’s always a bad idea.” He gives it some thought anyway, frowning, and admits after a moment, “I don’t know. It… could be good? I think it would be good, I mean, but also it might… not. I don’t know.”

Megren says, “I suppose Dranken’s probably putting her up as part of her pay.”

Lanisen says, “Wouldn’t be the worst, her stayin’ there. She’s fed, she’s got a roof, her work’s right there. Might be that would be good for her, really, learnin’ to look after herself instead of tryin’ to figure out somebody else’s house and rules.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. I’ll talk to her about it some more when there’s time. Thanks for offerin’ to help, it means a lot.”

Megren says, “Old guard habits. Don’t worry, I’ll be self-involved in a fortnight or two.”

Lanisen laughs. “I don’t doubt that.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “Speaking of which, I’m meant to see to some tack-cleaning that won’t get done today unless it happens soon.”

Lanisen snorts. “Welcome to squirehood. Want help?”

Megren says, “If you want to watch and tell me when I go wrong. I’m still figuring things out a bit.”

Lanisen ducks his head to snicker. “Oh, mane. I’ve only done it twice, in Carmichael, two months ago, with the stable master standing there telling me what comes next. I was hopin’ you knew what to do. I bet we can puzzle it out between the two of us, though.”

Megren says, “Sir Darrin’s going to set to ride and find his saddle’s somehow turned inside out.”

Lanisen says, “He could find it stuffed with sweet william instead.”

Megren says, “That was already on the docket.”

Lanisen says, “Why did I ever doubt you.”

Megren says, “You are a natural skeptic.”

Lanisen squints at her. Skeptically.

Megren laughs. “Come on, then.”

Lanisen offers as he turns toward the stables, “I know where there’s some stinkweed with real pretty yellow flowers growin’, could fetch you a whole bunch.”

Megren makes a thoughtful noise. “Alongside some garlic, maybe.”

Lanisen says, “Maybe leave the garlic sit someplace in the sun a few days first.”

Megren says, “Smart.”

Lanisen says, “What’s that one what smells like socks, val– val something.”

Megren asks, “Valerian?”

Lanisen says, “Yes! That one. Only I don’t know what it looks like, I only ever drunk it.”

Megren says, “I think it’s like carrot flowers.”

Lanisen hmms doubtfully. “Stinkweed and garlic might have to be enough.”

Megren skips into the stable. “Ah well.”

Lanisen trails after her.


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