You stand at a busy crossroad outside Andale. The main road curves up from the
forest to the southwest, heading into the town to the east. A less-traveled
road winds up into the mountains to the west, and a smaller track descends into
a canyon to the north.
South of the crossroads is heavily forested, the main path disappearing into
the trees to the southwest. At the southeast corner of the crossroads stands a
tall walnut tree.
Sehsis does not seem moved by this, “Quite frankly I am not surprised, a stubborn child like you, it is said after all that as a single withered tree, if set aflame, causes a whole forest to burn, so does a rascal child destroy a whole family.”
Reina gasps, stumbling back a step, eyes wide. “So does a rascal child destroy a whole family? I have not… how dare… I never destroyed… that would be my father, you… you… you… aaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!” A shriek of fury erupts from the girl before him, and without another word, eyes wild with a hurt and rage so profound as to be far too old for her, she launches herself toward him, one arm coming up, fist balled.
>>> Reina swings awkwardly at Sehsis with her fist barely making contact. Sehsis doesn’t appear to be too hurt by the blow.
Lanisen comes up the road from the direction of the town, limping slightly, red-faced with the heat. He keeps to the side of the road with the most shade, and it takes a moment for him to register the altercation going on up ahead. When he does, he pulls a quick breath and picks up his pace, hurrying toward them.
Sehsis had been able to keep his calm throughout but the punch- though it did not hurt- is what changed that. He grabs the girl by the wrist and says in a low voice, “You do not do that kind of thing,” before giving her a sharp little slap and pushing her away.
>>> Sehsis smacks Reina hard with his fist! Reina doesn’t appear to be too hurt by the blow.
Reina gasps, stumbling back, one hand flying up to her cheek before she shrugs out of her pack, growling. “I will kill you for that!”
Lanisen closes the distance between himself and them as quickly as he may, breaking into an uneven jog. He catches Reina’s arm in an attempt to drag her back, interposing himself between them. “Hey, hey,” he says, looking between them in bewildered urgency. “What’s this?”
Reina looks at the Calormen with wild eyes, blood pounding in her ears. “You dare to think you have the right to strike me? Very well then, you want to teach me a lesson? Then teach it, blast you! That’s what your people are good for, isn’t it!” When Lanisen grabs her arm, she tries twisting away. “Let go of me! Let go! I will kill him! I swear it I will!” she shrieks.
Sehsis seems to calm down as Lanisen arrives and he inclines his head apologetically, “Ah, Lanisen I am sorry that you had to see that.” He casts a cold look towards the girl, “That child is psychotic, she ought to be locked away somewhere”
Lanisen’s grip fails with the force of Reina’s thrashings, and his face flickers with startled pain before he sets his jaw grimly and catches hold of her arm with his other hand. “That’s enough, that’s enough,” he says breathlessly, all his attention taken up with the struggle. “Hey! Stop that, you hear me?”
Lanisen adds, “Master Sehsis, my apologies, I think you had better go.”
“Would you care to know the best part of being psychotic, sir?” Reina growls, struggling with Lanisen, though not as fiercely as she could have, not wishing to harm him further. Her eyes are on Sehsis and her hand is clenched fiercely around the hilt of her dagger. “We have nothing to lose and no care for the animals we put down. Insult me again and see what will happen.” Her breath is coming fast, her entire body shaking.
Sehsis says, “I was not intending to stay, may the gods bless you” by now he has written Reina out of the universe and is ignoring her petulant wailing, instead he inexpertly gets the horse’s attention and leads it on in the direction of Coghill.
Lanisen says under his breath, “Okay.” He turns Reina toward the castle and marches her that direction.
Reina lets out a startled noise, but, unable to fight against the strength of the surprisingly sudden whirl and march, she goes, face flaming, teeth gritted tightly.
Lanisen says, “I’ll have your dagger, please.”
Reina glares over her shoulder at Lanisen. “Don’t talk to me. That’s what you’re good at, isn’t it?”
Lanisen says, unmoved, “Your dagger. Give it to me.”
Reina grinds her teeth audibly. “Why? I did not even use it! Besides, it is mine, not the castles.”
Lanisen says grimly, “Because you’re not fit to carry it. Now. Hand it over.”
Reina wrenches herself forward, out of his grasp. “No,” she growls. “You leave me alone. This is none of your concern. He is gone, so don’t pretend like you give a ruddy tin. I am perfectly fine. Leave me be, Lanisen! I have done nothing to you!”
Lanisen steps forward and takes hold of her arm again with his left hand, the grip certainly not cruel, but one she’ll not escape again in a hurry. “No,” he says shortly. “But you would have done, to him.”
Reina does not try to wrench free of this grip, not wishing to pull him off his feet. She sighs, letting out a furious noise. “There is a difference between squires and curs, Lanisen,” she grinds out. “He is gone, and I would not pull a blade on *you*, so I hardly see how this is necessary.”
Lanisen ignores this, and simply plucks the dagger from its sheath.
Reina glares at him. “Hey! Give it back!” she says, trying to swipe it.
Lanisen uses his greater height against her, holding it up where she can’t reach. “That’s enough.”
Reina hisses like an angry snake, but does not try to grab the dagger or to fight the young squire for it. “Fine. What else do you want?”
Lanisen communicates this by marching toward the castle, Reina in tow whether she wants to be or not.
Reina half stumbles, half trots in after Lanisen. “Would you stop! Dragging! Me! I’m not a blasted sack of… let! Go!!!!!” Her voice rises into a furious shout. “Enough! Leave me alone!”
Garian is speaking quietly with one of the guards on duty.
Lanisen’s face is set and slightly pale. He is not dragging Reina along faster than she could walk if she felt like cooperating, but he does not stop to argue either. He slows as they pass through the outer gatehouse, looking searchingly around the ward, and crosses with intent toward Garian as he spots him, bringing Reina with him.
Reina does not, in fact, feel like cooperating and digs her heels in as she sees where they are headed.
Lanisen hisses something under his breath to her.
Lanisen mumbles “Do you /want/ to make a spectacle?”, to Reina.
Lanisen mumbles “Do … /want/ … make … spectacle?”, to Reina.
Reina glances around the ward, at some curious faces gazing her way. “What are you all looking at?” she spits. “Haven’t you got silks and satins to buy? Mind your own business.”
Garian looks over when the guard points and he turns to look, as do several patrons. A light frown crosses his features, as well as a look of concern.
Lanisen sighs through his nose and gives her arm a little shake. “Captain,” he says quietly once they are near enough to converse. “A word, please?”
Reina says nothing, just pinches Lanisen’s arm with her fingernails.
Lanisen jumps, and grabs the offending hand with his free hand to pry it away.
Garian nods, clearing his throat and gives Reina a firm look. “Reina, please cooperate with Squire Lanisen.” His voice is even but leaves no room for protest. “And do not scrap with him.”
Lanisen says, “Away from here, if you please, sir.”
Reina freezes at Garian’s tone and says nothing.
Garian nods. He motions for them to follow him.
Garian turns and leads the way to a location which offers more privacy.
Lanisen follows, keeping a tight hold on Reina.
This is the barracks belonging to the officers of the Army and Navy of
Archenland. While it is smaller the the other barracks, the items here are
of a higher quality. As well as bunks and lockers, there are also several
desks, covered in maps and journals.
Garian leads them to the Officer’s barracks, to his “office”. He takes some extra chairs and places them by his desk before taking his chair. He says, “Please have a seat.”
Lanisen finally releases Reina so that she can do so.
Reina hesitates for a moment, and looks as if she is going to throw said chair for a long moment before she throws herself into it, tugging at the bandage on her right hand which is torn and askew.
Garian remains quiet until all are seated. He directs his attention to Lanisen, his tone even and business-like, “How can I help you, Squire?”
Reina mumbles “Sure, … … …”, to Reina.
Lanisen remains standing. He rubs his right shoulder with the heel of his hand and looks at Reina unsympathetically. “You want to explain to the Captain, or shall I?”
Reina glares at Lanisen, eyes burning, then turns her glare on Garian. “There is a Calormene in Archenland. We met at the crossroads. Things were fine until he decided to be condescending, and he didn’t like it when I called him out on it. We had words. I told him I would not be treated like a Calormene slave, and asked him if he was going to strike me for not hanging my head and kissing his feet like one. He said that those sharp lessons were reserved for my parents who were obviously not doing their jobs. I told him he was right, and that father has tried teaching me such sharp lessons but I just haven’t learned them yet. He said he hoped I learned them soon, the riddled fiend of a spineless dog. I grew angrier and demanded to know what he’d said. Demanded to know if he meant my father should thrash me more. He said some rot about how a rascal child destroys a whole family.”
Leaping to her feet, Reina paces back and forth, shaking with fury. “How dare he! Destroy my entire family! he can go kiss rotten tin! If there is anyone who is destroying our family, it is father! And so I hit him, because the lousy cur deserved it! I did not even hit him hard. He hit me back, then pushed me away. Then Lanisen decided he’d pretend to give a tin himself about what was going on and decided to get involved in what was clearly none of his concern!”
Lanisen casually blocks the door.
Garian’s gaze moves to Lanisen and he faintly nods.
Reina doesn’t notice Lanisen’s move, just continues pacing, appearing to grow angrier and angrier with every pass before her Captain.
Garian says in a quiet, calm manner, “Reina, return to your seat.”
Lanisen folds his arms and stays where he is.
Reina stops walking, shooting Garian an enraged glare. “Oh, so now I am not even permitted to walk? Smoke it, Captain, you cannot control my feet.”
Garian replies simply, “That was not a request, Reina.” His voice becomes firm and he rises very slowly.
Garian’s expression is composed and he says in an even voice, “You may have spoken to your father in such a manner Reina, but you will not speak to me in such a way or such a tone. I am taking the time to hear your side of things before considering what must be done as a consequence, your actions being entirely inappropriate.”
Garian says firmly, “I repeat, take your seat Reina.”
Lanisen’s eyes flicker between them watchfully.
Reina goes very still, trying to hold Garian’s gaze and failing. Jaw clenching, eyes flinty, she takes her seat. “That’s right, completely disregard the Calormene dog’s actions and just blame the child. Very well.”
Garian says sternly, “Hold your tongue.” His tone is that of a commanding officer and he frowns. “I am very disappointed by your behavior Reina. You are capable of much better. I shall seek out this man and see his side too. That is what is fair–that is what is just. And that is how the guard works. We do not act on impulse or in the heat of emotion. Violence in anger is especially shameful, as it means you have given into a more base desire. We are reasonable beings, and I don’t care if you do have a temper, you will not strike another in the heat of it. Words in a rage can be harmful enough.”
Garian says, “When I tell you to sit or give another similar order, I am not doing so to control you. I am giving you an order which allows you to control your behavior before I must. And given the option, all of my guards, despite their emtoional state, can take it upon themselves to act accordingly.”
Lanisen kneads his shoulder, watching silently.
Garian says, “It is very important to be able to command your will when you are angry or experiencing another passionate emotion.”
Reina says nothing, just listens, head bowed, eyes staring daggers into the floor.
Garian joins his hands behind his back. He remains standing, his tone authoratative but not severe. “What I want you to do now, is draw in a series of breaths slowly and release. Count to ten. If you continue to feel angry, repeat the exercise. Allow your mind to quiet and your emotion to cool.”
Reina breathes in shallowly, then breathes out, breathes in, and out, in and out… but she only begins to feel dizzy.
Lanisen rolls his eyes a little, but doesn’t interfere.
Garian corrects her manner, “Slowly. Like you are breathing in the night air on the first eve of fall. Take a moment to savor the air and the moment–although this may not be as crisp or inspiring as the first days of fall, the idea is the same.”
Garian says, “Often mistakes are made in anger, and had a man or women taken ten seconds to calm their mind and think more clearly, a good deal of pain could be spared.”
Reina sighs, then tries again, breathing in, holding it for a beat, breathing out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. Explosive sigh. Shake of the head. Well, if embarrassment was preferable to anger… She tries again, tearing strings from the tattered bandage on her hand and snapping them between her fingers. Gritting her teeth, she rips the entire thing off, balls it up and hurls it against the wall. It was not. Working.
Lanisen shifts, watching the bandage fall.
Garian frowns. “Return to your quarters and see to a new wrap for your hand. Do not leave your quarters until I summon you. Take the time to calm your mind. If you can draw, and it helps exercise your anger, then do it. I see now is not a time to continue this conversation.” He pauses, “Do not give me reason to doubt you will do anything but what I order.”
Reina shoves to her feet, whirling toward the door and storming toward Lanisen. “Move,” she snarls.
Lanisen steps out of her way, his face impassive.
Garian’s tone is sharp and stern, “Freeze.”
Garian directs his order to the girl.
Reina freezes instantly, unable to do anything else.
Garian’s tone is even and firm, “If you wish for Squire Lanisen to move, you will ask politely.”
Garian says, “Try again.”
Reina glances to the door, clear and unblocked, then to where Lanisen is standing. She wavers, looking like she wants to simply go through the door, but not daring quite that much.
Lanisen looks back at her, waiting to see what she will do.
Garian’s gaze is locked onto the back of Reina’s head.
Reina sighs and retreats to her chair. Sitting down, she closes her eyes, mouth moving silently, forming the shapes of numbers. One… two… three… four… five. Rising, she turns slowly and walks toward the door. Pausing, as i Lanisen is standing there, she turns her head to face him. “I beg your pardon, squire,” she says miserably, “may I pass?”
Lanisen inclines his head slightly to her.
Reina darts forward, wrenching the door open, flinging herself through and slamming it behind her with all the strength she can muster.
Garian watches her and when the door slams he gives a deep sigh. He closes his eyes, using one hand to massage the bridge of his nose. His voice is quiet and polite, “Thank you Squire.” He returns the hand to clasp it behind his back. “What were you able to observe? And are you familiar with the man she was speaking with?”
Lanisen exhales as the door slams shut, and his head turns slightly to listen for her departure. He seems to sag slightly, the strain of the encounter showing. “Yes,” he answers. “That is– we’ve spoken, a bit. Sehsis is his name, you might know of him.”
Garian ahs softly and nods, “Yes. Merchant who dealt in the ward before the… incident. Haven’t seen much of him since then, but then I heard there was some scuttle abut his presence. Do you know if he is in town or passing through?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “I don’t know, sir, I’m sorry. There wasn’t really– it wasn’t a good time for a conversation.”
Garian gives a nod, his expression understanding. “I’ll look into it. When did you come in on the encounter?”
Lanisen says, “Um,” and rubs his cheek, frowning. “Towards the end, it sounds like. I didn’t see any of that, what she said, I can’t speak to it. When I came on ’em they were… she was screamin’ at him, and hittin’. He smacked her back, I saw that part. Not real hard, you understand, just sort of…” He shrugs.
Garian gives a small nod, waiting for him to continue.
Lanisen says, “I pulled her back from him once I got close enough, she was yellin’ she’d kill him, calling him cur, all sorts of names. Oh,” he adds, and hands over an unsheathed dagger, hilt first. “This is hers. I didn’t reckon it was good for her to have it, the way she was carryin’ on.”
Garian’s eyes grow a little larger at the sight of the dagger. He nods, carefully taking the hilt. “Thank you. That was quick thinking. I’ll keep it here until she’s ready for it… which may not be for a long time.” He puts it in a drawer. “Thank you for intervening. It could have been disasterous had it continued.”
Lanisen says, “I hope not, sir. But I’m glad I was there.” He shifts onto his bad leg and eases back with a small pained grimace.
Garian gives a faint smile, “I am too. Can I help you with anything else?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “No, sir. Thank you.”
Garian gives a small nod, “I’ll let you get back to your duties. Have a pleasant day Squire, and thank you for being vigilant.”
Lanisen nods, and dips a small bow, turning to go.
Garian turns to his desk, grabbing a quill and some parchment.
Lanisen opens the door and closes it again behind him, more gently than Reina. His uneven gait can be heard departing on the other side.
You stand in a circular tower which serves as a sort of corridor. In the
center is a stone pillar, around which stairs are placed, rising to the
Nobles’ Quarters above. To the south is the Sewing Room. All around are
small tidy rooms, the staff quarters. To the east is the Inner Ward.
Lanisen lets himself in the door from the inner ward and closes it softly behind him. He rubs his shoulder, his face drawn and tired, and makes his way across the corridor toward his room, limping.
Reina opens her door, peering out through the small crack.
Lanisen’s eyes are drawn to the movement. He drops his hand and looks away.
Reina scans the corridor, her eyes landing on Lanisen. She stares at him thoughtfully.
Lanisen reaches his own door and puts his hand on the doorknob.
Reina suddenly pulls her door open and steps out into the corridor.
Lanisen raises his head at the sound and looks toward her door. He stands still where he is, watchful.
Reina stares at Lanisen for a long moment before stepping forward and reaching for him.
Lanisen’s eyes sharpen warily as she moves toward him, and he takes a quick step back, watching her hands for weapons or sudden moves.
She stops instantly, lowering her hand. After a moment, she speaks. “Thank you,” she whispers. “For not taking my rot and for making me face it. I know you do not like me, and I have given you no reason to, but I had to thank you. I do not know who you are, but there is more to you than I ever believed. You have a strength in there, Lanisen. Thank you for using it to prevent me from becoming even more of a monster… a monster with blood on her hands.” She turns back toward her door. “I will go now, and will not bother you again. I merely wished to speak my piece. You may not believe it, and I would not blame you. But it had to be said.” Reaching out, she grasps her doorknob and pushes the door open.
Lanisen goes still, watching her face. He doesn’t move for a moment, then he lets himself into his room silently.
Reina grimaces at Lanisen’s door before heading back into her own room.