picnic


Outer Ward
Castle Anvard


Cassandra is bustling into the ward wearing what appears to be a new sun hat. There is a basket on one arm and a blanket over the over. She begins to make her way to the kennels.

Lanisen leaves the kennels just as she comes near. He gives the hat a surprised look, and the blanket a skeptical one. “What are you up to?”

Cassandra smiles big, “Lanisen! Just the man I wanted to see. What are you doing right now?”

Lanisen says, “Nothin’? I was about to go find some dinner, is all, why?”

Cassandra grins, “Wonderful, I’m not too late.” She grabs his good arm, “Come on.”

Lanisen squints at her, but goes willingly. “Come where?”

Cassandra looks back at him, “Never be a detective, Lanisen.” She giggles, “You are going to take me to the mountain so we can have a picnic.”

Lanisen slows, an expression of consternation crossing his face. “Ohh, oh, hmm.”

Cassandra stops, sighing, “What?”

Lanisen says, “Sorry, no, I just–” His forehead furrows and he glances around the ward, his eyes lingering for a moment on the stable door. “Um. My leg ain’t gonna like that much, goin’ up the mountain.”

Cassandra frowns, “Oh, I didn’t think-” She shakes her head, “No matter, perhaps we can go to the beach?”

Lanisen says, “We could take Maestro, maybe.”

Cassandra’s eyes get huge as she breaks out into the hugest grin. “You think so?”

Lanisen says, “Um.” He thinks for a moment, still frowning, then nods. “Yeah, I think that would work.”

Cassandra clasps her hands on his arm, “Oh this day just keeps getting better.”

Lanisen gives her a sidelong look, amused. “All right, well, gimme a little while to get him tacked up and we can go.”

Cassandra pipes up, “I’ll come with you.” She looks like she is ready to follow him.

Lanisen says, “Sure, all right,” and begins toward the stable.


Stable
Castle Anvard


Lanisen ducks into the tack room, and the sounds of a brief conversation can be heard. He emerges a minute later, carrying a bridle and a blanket, while one of the stablehands follows carrying the saddle. They make their way down the alley to Maestro’s stall.

Cassandra makes her way to Maestro’s stall. She scratches his nose while waiting for Lanisen to come back from the tack room.

Lanisen and the stablehand enter the stall, where Lanisen settles the blanket across the gelding’s back and the other man heaves the heavy saddle up over the top of it. He pats Maestro’s neck and strolls back out, leaving the fastening of buckles and straps for Lanisen.

Cassandra leans against the stall door, watching him. “So are we both riding or am I walking?”

Lanisen says, fastening the cinch, “He can carry us both, unless you want to walk. We’re neither of us very large and it’s not too far. We’ll not ask more than a walk of him.”

Cassandra’s eyes light up, “I’ll ride with you. I have never been on a horse.”

Lanisen asks, “What, never once?”

Cassandra shakes her head, “Just been on a wagon. I did get to drive one once.”

Lanisen offers the bit to Maestro, who takes it agreeably, and finishes fastening the bridle before checking the cinch again. “All right,” he says, and leads the gelding out of the stall toward the mounting block.

Cassandra picks up the basket again, looking ready to go.

Lanisen thinks for a moment, then nods. “I’ll go up first, then you follow,” he says. “That’ll be easiest, I think.” He steps up onto the block and takes a deep breath, muttering to himself.
Lanisen mumbles “Oh, this is a trick…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… this … … …”, to Lanisen.

Cassandra waits for him to mount, moving side to side in anticipation.

Lanisen puts his left foot into the stirrup and grabs the pommel, moistening his lips and hesitating a beat before he hauls himself up gracelessly, grunting. He rubs his bad leg once settled and rolls his shoulder, a bit pale, then shifts himself to sit behind the saddle, gesturing for Cass to follow him up.

Cassandra walks up to the mounting block. She hands the basket to Lanisen, “Hold this please.”

Lanisen takes it, daring to peek inside.

Cassandra places a hand on the horse and one on Lanisen’s shoulder. She pulls herself up, probably about as gracelessly as Lanisen. She tries to settle her skirts as well as she can but kinda gives up. “I can hold the basket now.”

Lanisen says, “Here, we’ll fix it to the saddle. You’ll want both hands, I reckon, if you’ve never been on a horse before.”

Cassandra nods, “Good idea.” She holds onto the saddle, perhaps a bit tightly.

Lanisen says, “You can hold onto his mane, it won’t hurt him.” He settles himself, reaching around her to get the reins and takes a deep breath. “Tally-ho.” And they’re off at a walk.

Cassandra switches to grabbing his mane. She has a huge grin on her face.


Lower Slopes of Stormness Head
Eastern Archenland


This is a wide meadow on the southern slopes of Stormness Head, littered with
gray boulders that glitter with mica. It is open and grassy, shaped like a
bowl, with small white mountain flowers sprinkled indiscriminately throughout.
The dense pine forest that covers the mountainside higher up shelters the area
from the worst of the north wind. The path passes through to the west, climbing
into the trees, and descends to the east.

From this height most of Archenland can be seen. The town of Andale is a little
distance to the east, and rich green forest extends for miles to the south,
with the thin grey-gold line of the Calormene desert beyond. To the west are
lower fields, golden with wheat, then forests again, very far away. The view of
the base of the mountain is blocked by a low ridge that rises on the southwest
side of the bowl.


Lanisen guides Maestro up the road leading east from the town and draws them to a halt once they have reached the meadow overlooking Anvard. “What do you think?”

Cassandra gasps in wonder. “Wow, it is so beautiful.”

Lanisen grins broadly at her reaction and keeps quiet for a moment so she can look her fill. “The bridge is a little further on,” he says finally. “Want to keep going, or eat first?”

Cassandra doesn’t looks back towards him, “There is a bridge? And I don’t care.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, the bridge I was tellin’ you about.”

Cassandra asks, “Would it be better to eat here or at the bridge?”

Lanisen considers. “Here, prob’ly, but we can nip up and back first, if you like.”

Cassandra nods, “Yeah that would be great!”

Lanisen says, “All right,” and nudges Maestro back into motion, heading west up the mountainside into the treeline.


Stormness Pass
Eastern Archenland


Here the path follows an easy slope along the southern side of Stormness Head,
climbing to the west and descending to the east. The trees on either side of
the path grow sparsely enough that one can see for some distance up and down
the mountainside, but the view out over Archenland is still obstructed. The
mountain air is crisp and noticeably thin, but not so much as to cause
discomfort.

A wide stone bridge crosses a noisy mountain stream, very old, but cleverly
constructed and still sturdy. The stream disappears into the trees down the
slope on the south side of the path, and the distant roaring of a waterfall
marks where it plunges down to lower ground.


Cassandra’s eyes are huge as the pair make it to the bridge.

Lanisen draws up at the edge of the bridge. “This is as far as I’ve ever been.”

Cassandra points across the bridge, “Is…is that Narnia?” Her voice is downright excited.

Lanisen laughs. “Nah, we’re still on the south side of the mountain. I dunno how far it is to Narnia /exactly/ but it’s a good deal farther and higher to get across the pass.”

Cassandra ohs, still just staring at the pass.

Lanisen looks at her, and most of the mirth leaves his face. He says, maybe a little hastily, “Want to head back down and eat?”

Cassandra looks at him, “Uh, sure, sure.”

Lanisen turns Maestro to head back down the path, relieved.


Lower Slopes of Stormness Head
Eastern Archenland


Lanisen, once they reach the meadow again, steers Maestro toward a flat-topped boulder that they can use as a block. “Go ahead,” he says, once Maestro is halted.

Cassandra awkwardly dismounts, perhaps kicking him a bit. She looks at him, “Need help?”

Lanisen shakes his head, scooting forward into the saddle and putting his left foot in the stirrup. He hesitates again before putting his weight on his left leg, then swings his right leg over Maestro’s back and drops to the boulder with a grunt of pain. “Okay.”

Cassandra finds a nice sunny patch and spreads out the blanket. They are facing towards Archenland.

Lanisen detatches the basket from the saddle and fixes Maestro with a loose hobble around his back ankles, leaving him to graze on the sweet grass, then follows Cassandra. “Good time of day for this,” he remarks appreciatively: the sun is just setting, and the view is spectacular.

Cassandra grins, “I do occasionally have good ideas.” She pats the ground beside her, “I’m hungry.”

Lanisen lowers himself gingerly to sit on the blanket. “Yeah, all right,” he agrees. “I’ll give you this one. Good idea, little sister.”

Cassandra snorts, taking the basket from him. She begins to divide up the food.

Lanisen watches with professional interest.

Cassandra says, “I made some blueberry muffins, meat sandwiches, and raspberry pie for desert.”

Lanisen humms approvingly, taking a muffin.

Cassandra takes a sandwich. “Did you finally finish all those walnut muffins I made?”

Lanisen says, “They lasted about two days.”

Cassandra giggles, “I’ll need to start charging you.”

Lanisen sniffs, breaking off a piece of the muffin, “I dunno what you expected, when they wouldn’t stay good more’n another day anyhow.”

Cassandra shrugs, “True I suppose.” She takes another bite out of her sandwich.

Lanisen asks, “How’s everything going there, anyway? Still like it all right?”

Cassandra nods, “It is wonderful. Meg likes my muffins. Oh and guess who is in town?”

Lanisen asks, “Who?”

Cassandra takes a careful bite of her sandwich, “Renand.”

Lanisen glances at her at this. “Oh, huh,” he says, trying not to show too much interest. “How’s he?”

Cassandra nods, “Good, he is in town for a few weeks.”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah? He’s been around the inn a lot, then?”

Cassandra giggles, “Well, he just got in yesterday but I except he will be hanging around a lot.”

Lanisen says, “Well. Good?”

Cassandra nods, “I think so.”

Lanisen looks awkward, and a little red-faced, like he’s not really sure how to talk about this, but he says, “Well. Keep me… y’know, updated?”

Cassandra side eyes him, “Updated?”

Lanisen asks, flustered, “Readin’ it wrong?”

Cassandra looks like the light comes on, she giggles, rolling her eyes, “Oh, Lanisen.”

Lanisen looks annoyed and takes a sulky bite of his muffin, but seems relieved that she isn’t actually mad.

Cassandra eats a muffin, “How is the squiring?”

Lanisen shrugs. “Sir Colin’s still in Carmichael.”

Cassandra ohs, going quiet. After all, “How is your arm?”

Lanisen chews and swallows, picking up a sandwich. “Fine.”

Cassandra goes quiet, chewing.

Lanisen asks, “So Meg liked the muffins, huh?”

Cassandra looks a bit smug, “Yes, she does. So does Renand.”

Lanisen looks pleased. “That’s gotta be a good feeling, makin’ somethin’ people like.”

Cassandra nods, “Very much so.”

Lanisen focuses on his sandwich for a while, peacefully quiet.

Cassandra hands for the pie, “Do you like Raspberries?”

Lanisen says, “Yep, mostly.”

Cassandra side eyes him, “Mostly?” She begins to cut into the pie.

Lanisen amends, “Most always.”

Cassandra serves him a slice, “Meg gave me some raspberries.”

Lanisen says, “I think her da must know where there’s a really good bush.”

Cassandra nods, “Yes, He must be magic.”

Lanisen says, “Or that.” He takes a bite of the pie.

Cassandra pokes at the pie, “How is it?”

Lanisen chews thoughtfully, nodding. “Real good. Not too sweet like some make ’em. Crunches, but what can you do.” He takes another big bite.

Cassandra grins, taking a bite herself.

Lanisen brushes off the crumbs and begins stacking the remnants of their meal back in the basket. “We oughta get back before it gets dark, prob’ly.”

Cassandra brings to fold up the blanket, “Thanks for coming with me.”

Lanisen says, “It was a good idea. We should do it again sometime.”

Cassandra grins, “We should.”

Lanisen gets to his feet, heading over to unhobble Maestro and lead him back to the flat-topped boulder.

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