The lane here widens to form a square of sorts and has several carts sitting at nearby buildings. People hurry back and forth between the two busy shops. Handel’s Mercantile dominates the north half of the square, and the smaller shop, Verloren’s Found and Lost, sits to the south. There are several benches here for those waiting on shoppers and horses hitched to posts. toward the Herberg Road.
Lanisen passes through the town in the late evening, his limp evident in the gloaming. He keeps to the side of the road, nodding to the people he meets as he heads west but not initiating conversation.
Darius walks with his head down and sword strapped loosely at his side. One of the straps of the pack is slung over his right shoulder and both hands clasp it. Though his head is down, if one were extremely observent, they might notice their constant shifting as he attempts keep his surroundings in check.
Lanisen’s eyes fix on the man curiously as he walks, mostly looking at the sword.
Darius moves towards a nearby bench, dropping to the bench with a /thud/. Darius remains hunched over, setting his pack down beside him and putting his face in his hands. While his hands cover any sort of hint his face might give, his shoulders sag as the weight of the world is bearing down on him.
Lanisen slows a little as he watches the stranger, his forehead creasing in confused concern. He does not stop moving, and his path brings him nearer to the bench the man is occupying.
Darius rubs his face, loosing a soft groan.
Lanisen comes to a halt a little distance away and hesitates for a moment before venturing, “You all right, sir?”
Darius pauses a moment before looking up, careful to keep his bangs covering his one eye. “Oh… I am… Yes, I am alright. Just a bit weary… ” he glances around. “And lost apparently. ”
Lanisen asks, “You lookin’ for the inn?”
Darius nods “Yes” he sighs, waving a hand in the direction of the woods. “I had been wandering the woods for better part of the day. ”
Lanisen gestures with his thumb up the road, the direction he just came from. “It’s just that way a bit, not too far. You want I should show you?”
Darius takes a deep breath, nodding and looking in the direction of the inn. “You would be doing me a great service, sir. ”
Lanisen says, “‘S no trouble.” He turns back that direction, standing politely and waiting for the man to join him. “Where is it you’re from?”
Darius hoists his pack over shoulder, standing slowly. “My thanks. I have just come from Narnia actually… ” he frowns slightly. “Been quite the trip. ”
Lanisen raises his eyebrows, impressed. “What, over the mountain and all?”
Darius snorts, nodding. “Yep, that mountain. ”
Lanisen says, “No wonder you’re worn out. You know any of the wolves there?” He begins walking toward the inn.
The Herberg Road leads to Herberg’s public house, The Narrow Gate, a huge building that sits in a clearing to the east of the road. It’s obvious that rooms on the eastern side of the building overlook the beach and ocean. Clumps yellow of fruit trees shade the walls of the Public House and hardwoods line the lane.
The lane to the west leads the shops of East Andale, and continues north toward the Beach Road.
Darius nods once more. “Met a few on my way through. ”
Lanisen asks, “You know Tempest, or Drune?”
Darius shakes his head. “Did not come across them on my way through. ” his eyes narrow in thought. “If I recall… I met two wolves by the name of Crenna and Layavin. Kind wolves, they were. ”
Lanisen hmms. “I don’t know either of them. The other two came across with the army when Rabadash attacked.”
Darius ahs. “I see. ” he returns, looking unsure of what else to say.
Lanisen asks as they near the inn, “What brings you here?”
Darius says, “Visiting family. ”
Lanisen says, “Oh, nice. They live near here?”
Darius tilts his head. “Sorta… ” he waves a hand. “Coghill to be more specific. ” he sighs. “But, alas, it has been so long since last I made my way into Archenland… ” he shakes his head, voice trailing off.
Lanisen says, “Oh, Coghill. Pretty area. My friend’s visiting there now.”
Darius nods. “Pretty indeed, or… at least from what I remember. ”
Lanisen says, “Anyway.” He gestures at the inn. “There it is. The Narrow Gate. The walnut muffins are particularly good.”
Darius halts alongside him, looking over the inn before looking back to his guide. “My thanks, sir.” He hesitates, waving a hand towards the inn. “Any way I could buy you a drink? I wouldn’t feel right letting you leave without repaying your kindness…”
Lanisen makes a dismissive gesture. “‘S nothing, you needn’t.”
Darius makes another gesture to the inn. “I insist… ” he returns, tone more of a prod than anything else.
Lanisen hesitates, giving the door a thoughtful look. “I’d join you for a drink,” he decides finally. “But I got coin, there’s no need, you’re travelin’.”
Darius finally allows for a small grin to poke through, a chuckle following soon after. “First you to guide me to the inn, then you offer to pay for my drink.” He shakes his head. “No sir, I will take care of the drink. ” He waves towards the inn. “After you.”
Lanisen laughs, and shrugs, and heads through the door into the inn.
The Narrow Gate Hall
The Hall of the Narrow Gate is brightly lit by a large chandelier, and by torches on the walls. A bar runs along the length of the south wall. Behind the bar stands Dranken, the Barman, polishing a glass. The wall behind him holds several bottles, and racks of glasses. There is also a menu offering drinks and food. The north wall is dominated by a cheerful stone fireplace.
The rest of the room is filled with tables and stools, in little clusters all over the scuffed wooden floor. An arch leads to the Anteroom to the south.
Lanisen leads the way into the relatively quiet tavern, heading for a stool at the counter with a casual familiarity that suggests it is his usual spot.
Darius follows close after him, coming up to a stool next to him and taking a seat. Setting his pack down next to him, he put both arms up on the bar and releases a contented sigh. “What’ll you be having?” he asks, glancing over to his newfound companion.
Lanisen says, “Oh, hm.” He considers. “The cider’s usually real good, they get spices from Calormen. Hey, what’s your name?”
Darius looks to the barman, calling out for two ciders before looking back to Lanisen. “Darius is the name. ” he returns, offering a warm smile alongside his name. “And yours?”
Lanisen says, “Lanisen. Nice to meet you.”
Darius gives him another nod. “Likewise. ” he hehs. “I’d probably be wandering around the town aimlessly had I not run into you… knowing my fortune. ”
Lanisen laughs. “Nah,” he says. “Town’s full of friendly people, somebody’d have given you directions.” He dips a nod of thanks, accepting the cider.
Darius tilts his head. “Well, if they are anything like yourself, I look forward to the next few days. ”
Lanisen asks, “You stayin’ for a while or just passin’ through?”
Darius says, “I’ll be staying for the next few days to gather directions and supplies for the next leg of my trip. ”
Lanisen nods. “Rest up a bit,” he agrees. “Smart.”
Darius nods, taking another sip. “So, you have told me your name, but I have yet to know who I am truly in the company of.” He chuckles, looking him up and down. “I’ve nearly put my foot in my mouth in front of a Lord before and I should hope I have not once more.”
Lanisen’s face lights with humor at the insinuation. “No, no no, I’m not, I’m just– I work in the castle, that’s all. You?”
Darius chuckles, looking a bit relieved. “Good… I myself am simply a sword for hire.” He glances down, a flash of disappointment crossing his face. “Hasn’t been met with much in the way of work though.” He sighs, swishing the cider in his mug. “Traveled the length of Narnia I did… on the recommendation of a Lord no less.”
Lanisen takes a drink of his cider as well. “I don’t reckon, country at peace,” he remarks. “I heard it’s all comin’ up roses over there, lately.” He glances at Darius, and his forehead wrinkles a little.
Darius doesn’t seem to notice the wrinkle, continuing with a nod. “At peace, yes. Honestly, that is most likely why I was met with silence in my ventures. ” he tilts his head. “I don’t know if you’ve heard of them but, I attempted to join up with the Northern Guard. ” he takes another swig. “But, as I said, only silence and.. ” he frowns slightly. “a sore arm. ”
Lanisen pauses a little before answering, studying the man. One eye is narrowed and his mouth is slightly open in thought, but after a moment he only says, “Sore arm, huh?”
Darius tilts his head. “More like a sore pride.” He shakes his head. “It was this woman with a scar under her eye, of the guard I believe. I was looking to test my skills against her as she was very skeptical of me as a whole.” He sighs. “Well, in a few moves she hand not only bested me, but had disarmed me and had my weapon turned against me.”
Lanisen’s face goes slack, and he is immediately distracted. “Wh-what–” He stops and clears his throat. “What was her name?”
Darius catches this, brow raising slightly as he studies the man’s reaction. “I don’t believe I ever caught her name. She never offered it and didn’t seem the type for small talk.”
Lanisen says, “Oh.” He takes another drink of his cider.
Darius asks, “She sound familiar to you?”
Lanisen says, “Um.” He shakes his head. “Maybe, I dunno, it’s been– no, prob’ly not.”
Darius is sitting at the bar next to Lanisen, cider in hand. “I see. ” he returns, letting this go for the moment. “Well, I don’t suppose you know of anyone looking for a sword for hire or at the least training around here? I may be moving through, but there is good chance I will be back this way. ” he pauses. “And, as I said, I got a small commendation of my skills from a Lord… if that helps at all?”
Lanisen asks, “Which lord?”
Darius says, “Lord Peridan”
Lanisen looks surprised and impressed. “/Really/.” He scratches his forehead. “You could– you might could try the castle guard, I s’pose.”
Dar makes his way into the Narrow Gate, his height easily allowing him to both see and be seen above the heads of the other patrons. He approaches the bar and accepts the heartfelt congratulations of Dranken. “Cause for celebration indeed, milord. Your usual?” Dar inclines his head in assent. “Not getting much sleep, I wager”, the barman continues as he pours Dar’s cider. Dar’s mouth twitches faintly. “I have no complaints on that score, Dranken.”
Darius’s brow raises hopefully. “Certainly sounds better than wandering. How would I go about doing that?” he asks, gaze flickering over to the newcomer.
Lanisen says, “Garian’d be the one to talk to, Captain Garian.” He turns slightly to follow Darius’s gaze, and turns back, lowering his head in the attitude of one who hopes not to be noticed.
Dar accepts his mug with thanks and places a coin, clearly more than the cost of the drink, on the counter. “And two of them”, Dranken continues. “You don’t do anything by half measures, do you, milord?” Dar hehs. “So my cousin has remarked–” Dranken hands him the change and Dar waves this off, then turns to look for a table to settle at.
Darius studies Dar few moments longer, eyes widening a bit as he realizes he is in the presence of another lord. Looking back to Lanisen, he shifts. “And where might I find this Captian?”
Lanisen says, “He’d be– the castle, he’d be at the castle. Ask one of the guards, they can take a message if he ain’t about.” He glances again toward Dar, trying to keep track of where he is in the room.
Dar makes his way across the room, carrying the full mug. He acknowledges Lanisen with an inclination of his head. “Pleasant evening to you”, he states.
Lanisen’s shoulders go tense. He gets to his feet and bows. “And you, my lord,” he replies quietly.
Darius’s eyes shoot between the two and he quickly stands, not wanting to seem disrespectful, and bows awkwardly to the Lord.
Dar gestures for the two men to be at ease. “I am not here in any official capacity”, he adds. “Nor did I intend to interrupt your revels.” His glance lingers on Lanisen’s companion, as if he wishes to place the man. Finally, he gives it up with a slight shake of his head.
Lanisen dips his head respectfully, not looking directly at Dar, and returns to his seat on the barstool. He cups his hands around his mug of cider, but does not drink.
Darius notes lingering glance and settles back into his seat carefully. “You did not interrupt anything milord. ” he offers a quick smile and then hesitates before adding. “The name is Darius. ”
Dar takes advantage of the vacant seat nearby, setting his mug on the counter. “Ah–Darius. Evening to you. Yes, I would imagine that Captain Garian is about his duties. The man is nothing if not reliable.”
Lanisen keeps silent. His knee jogs.
Darius’s eyes light up with interest. “Is that so? ” He pauses in consideration. “Considering my recent ventures, I think I might head over to the castle and see if I can catch him this night. ” he glances between the two. “Unless I shouldn’t bother the Captain while he is on duty?”
Lanisen speaks up. “I can show you the way if you like.”
Dar’s eyebrow lifts. “The matter is of some urgency, then?”
Darius quickly shakes his head. “Urgency, it is not. More of eargerness milord. I have been searching for hire for quite some time and having been presented an potential opportunity, I’d like to jump on it. ”
Vinri enters the Hall, walking quickly towards the bar. Or as quickly as she can, with the way she pauses for a quick hello at almost every other table. Her eye falls on the tall, well dressed man quickly, brows raising.
Dar takes a sip from his tankard, somehow managing to make this action seem contemplative. “I see–and your background and skills would tend to qualify you for joining the castle guard? There are certainly less–demanding vocations to pursue.”
Lanisen is sitting at the bar on the other side of Darius from Dar, shoulders hunched. He looks quietly uncomfortable.
Darius nods slightly. “I should like to think so. Admittedly, my eagerness has been bolstered by the Lord Peridan as he offered some encouragment in the matter. ”
Vinri examines the people talking to the noble man. Managing to see Lanisen, she flashes him a bright smile and begins to drift over, casually listening to the conversation.
Lanisen takes a moment to notice her, but returns the smile when he does.
Dar’s eyebrow jerks upward sharply at this. The expression seems more than natural in the man. “That may well serve. Captain Garian has my entire trust in his judgement. I will take his recommendation under heavy advisement. He should not be difficult to find.”
Darius dips his head to the Lord at this, looking to Lanisen. “I would greatly appreciate the guidence, Lanisen. ”
Vinri strides over to Lanisen, though she looks between them as they discuss leaving. She pauses far enough off not to make it too awkward to leave without chatting.
Lanisen nods slightly and slips off his stool, leaving half his cider. He bows again to Dar.
Darius sets down a tankard. A serving wench picks it up without asking if Darius is finished. She carries it away to the kitchen.
Dar inclines his head in parting before he raises his tankard again. “May your success accord with your merit”, he states.
Darius sets down his ale before standing, grabbing his satchel and bowing to the Lord. “My thanks, milord. ” he smiles, eyes flickering over the woman before he looks to Lanisen for direction.
Lanisen waits until Darius is finished, then turns toward the door. He dips his head to Vinri as he passes.
Vinri meets the man’s gaze when he briefly glances her way with a quick, easy grin.
Before the Gates of Anvard
A flat green space at the foot of the mountains opens here, sheltered by the slopes of the northern mountains. Stormness Head looms high to the northeast, its peak nearly always in clouds, and the double-headed peak of Mount Pire rises over the trees to the northwest. A steep ridge like the side of a bowl curves around from the northwest to the east, and the ground descends into dense forest to the south.
At the center of the clear area is a small turreted castle, facing east. Its weathered walls are built of large blocks of red granite that glitter faintly in the sunlight, and elegantly functional ironwork graces the front gates and portcullis. A stone cobbled road wide enough to easily facilitate the passage of carts and carriages crosses over the broad green lawns from the castle gates, disappearing into the trees to the east.
Lanisen leads Darius toward the castle. The odd tension seems to lift from him the farther they get from the inn.
Darius follows along at an easy pace, observing Lanisen curiously as he notices the tension begin to lift.
Lanisen gestures to the gates as they come nearer. “There we are, then,” he says. “You can ask one of the guards to take a message to Garian. Somebody’ll know where to find him.”
Darius nods, looking to Lanisen quickly. “My thanks Lanisen. You have been a great help this evening!.”
Lanisen shakes his head, smiling slightly. “No trouble, glad to do it. Thanks for the cider.”
Darius waves a hand. “Tis the least I can do. ” he dips his head to him. “It was good meeting you. ” he smiles before looking to the gate. “I do hope we cross paths once more. ”
Lanisen says, “I’m sure we will. Have a good evenin’, I’d stick around but I told Danall I’d check in before it gets too late.”
Darius dips his head to Lanisen. “Farewell. ” He says before moving towards the gate.
Lanisen walks with him, and breaks off with a small wave once they are inside the outer ward.
Darius waves him off before moving to speak to one of the guards.