difficult


Room 5
The Sun and Moon Inn
Lancelyn Green


You stand in a small but comfortably furnished private room of the Inn. The bed
is made neatly with a plain but pleasant quilt, and several blankets can be
found in a small trunk at the foot of the bed, should the room grow cold. There
is a lit fireplace in one wall. A window looks out westward, revealing a
pleasant portrait of the road out in front of the inn. A nightstand sits beside
the bed, and a washstand beneath the window. There is a vase of dried flowers
beside the pitcher and bowl on the wash stand. A woven rug by the door
completes the cozy effect of the room.


Kairyn moves down the hallway and knocks firmly on door number 5 and places her hand on the handle, waiting impatiently.

There is no answer at all for a long, waiting moment. Lanisen finally calls, “Who’s there?”

Kairyn calls out, “Kairyn and Cassandra.”

There is silence for a moment, then a quick shuffling noise, and Lanisen throws the door open.

Kairyn looks Lanisen over from the doorway as he stands there, her mind already beginning to work. “You’re on your feet!” She declares.

There is a strangled cry as Cassandra sees her brother. She lurches forward, her tone showing grief for the first time in days. “Oh Lanny, Oh Lanny.”

Lanisen staggers, dangerously unsteady for a moment, but he wraps his arms tightly around his sister and holds on. “Hey, hey,” he says, tears of relief beginning in his eyes. “Hey, it’s all right, it’s all right.”

Kairyn blinks her own eyes rapidly a few times and moves into the room, not taking her eyes off Lanisen even as she unslings her satchel from across her chest. Her blonde hair is falling out from her cap but she doesn’t take it off. She stays back, given the siblings a moment.

Cassandra hugs him back, though she tries not to touch any bruises(which may be near impossible). She gently pushes herself away from him, “You need to get in bed.”

Lanisen keeps a hold on her shoulders, looking closely into her face. “You– are you all right? Did Sir Chal find you?”

Kairyn says, “Um…someone did. He was in armor. I’m assuming he’s one of yours.”

Cassandra shakes her head, “Sir Colin sent word to me. I didn’t know his name and I didn’t ask.” She twists away from his grasp, “Lanny, please get in bed.”

Lanisen sways slightly as she pulls away, his balance tenuous. “It’s ok, I’m ok,” he says, and crosses one arm over his stomach, suddenly self-conscious as he tries to split his attention between Cassandra and Kairyn.

Cassandra frowns at his swaying. She places her hand on his good shoulder, steadying him. She glances at Kairyn.

Kairyn takes a step closer to Lanisen but doesn’t rush toward him. “All right, Lanisen. Are you..all right if I start taking care of you?”

Lanisen takes a step back. “Um,” he says. “I’m, I’m ok.”

Cassandra’s eyes narrow considerably. She still keeps a hand on him, watching silently.

Kairyn’s mouth quirks to the side and she stops fussing with her bag, looking really uncertain.

Lanisen says, “I’m– I’m feelin’ lots better.”

Kairyn nods a little. “They asked for someone who knew poisons?”

Lanisen’s eyes dart to Cassandra briefly. He swallows and worries at the bandages on his wrists. “It, it’s wore off, mostly, I’m feelin’… better.”

Kairyn’s hairline creases as she nods. “Are you sure?”

Cassandra growls a bit, rolling up her sleeves. She snaps at Kairyn, “Please attend to my brother, Kairyn. I wish not to lose another to sickness.” She turns on Lanisen, “And you, get in bed before I toss you.”

Kairyn looks at Lanisen and raises her eyebrows as if to say, “You heard the woman.”

Lanisen doesn’t move. He darts a glance between them, uneasily silent.

Kairyn draws a breath and sets her satchel on a chair and quietly begins to roll up her sleeves to her elbow. “I’m sorry, Lanisen.” she says softly.

Cassandra stares at Lanisen, her eyes narrowed. She simply turns to Kairyn, “What do you need?”

Lanisen’s eyes widen. He moistens his lips and glances at the door.

Kairyn side-eyes Cassandra a moment and doesn’t reply to her. She instead focuses on Lanisen. “What are your injuries, young squire?” her tone remains gentle.

Cassandra tenses but remains silent.

Lanisen swallows, glancing at Cassandra again. “There’s nothin’… nothin’ bad,” he finally says in a soft, rasping murmur. “Please, I’m all right.”

Cassandra looks incredulous, “Yes, the bruises are just for decoration I assume.” Her tone is hard. She gently but firmly grabs his good arm, “At least sit down.”

Lanisen tenses, planting his feet with surprising strength for somebody who a moment ago was swaying. “Don’t, don’t…”

Kairyn’s nostrils flare as she simply draws a breath.

Cassandra looks into Lanisen’s eyes, saying nothing.

Lanisen won’t meet her eyes. He stays tense and still, his shoulders hunched up.

Kairyn takes a step back in case Lanisen is feeling crowded. “What do you need, Lanisen? Do you need one of us to leave?”

Cassandra doesn’t take a step back, still just staring at Lanisen.

Lanisen swallows several times, not looking directly at either of them. “I don’t, I don’t know…” He takes a careful breath and turns his head a degree to look at Cassandra’s grip on his arm.

Kairyn carefully reaches up and places a hand on Cassandra’s upper arm. “Cassandra, could you please go ask the guard outside the door to bring some fresh water? And stand out there while he comes back just to make sure no one else comes in. That would really be a big help for me.”

Cassandra /glares/ at Kairyn though she drops her hand from his arm. Her eyes hold an unsurpressed rage as she simply just turns and slams the door behind her.

Kairyn winces slightly as the door slams.

Lanisen flinches. He takes a step backward and brings his hands up to the sides of his head. “I didn’t– I’m, I’m sorry–”

Kairyn shakes her head. “No, I’m sorry. I..really do need the water but..you seem to be a little overwhelmed. I’m sorry.”

Lanisen doesn’t look much less overwhelmed now. He is pale and uneasy and looking anywhere Kairyn is not.

Kairyn’s eyes crinkle at the corners and she tentatively reaches out a hand towards him. “I know you don’t like me…I’m sorry. But..Lanisen, please. Let me treat you?”

Lanisen leans away and closes his eyes tightly. “Please– I need– can I have a, a minute, please…”

Kairyn drops her hand and steps back again with a nod.

Lanisen stands for a moment, fidgety and trembling, and finally says without opening his eyes, “What– what do you need me to do.”

Kairyn uncertainly bites her lip. “I need to know where you are hurt. And what is in your system.”

Lanisen swallows. “I don’t– I don’t know, he said– mandrake, he kept sayin’ about mandrake but I don’t know that that’s…”

Kairyn hms, her head tilting to the side as she considers that. “All right. Mandrake. Let’s start there? Are you still having symptoms, such as the nausea, the weakness, or hallucinations?”

Lanisen says, “My– my stomach’s been sour, a little bit.”

Kairyn nods. “All right. How does your chest feel? Do you have any pain there?”

Lanisen says, “A little bit, not– it was a couple days ago.”

Kairyn clarifies, “It’s been a couple of days since you were last given it?”

Lanisen crosses one arm over his stomach. “I don’t, I’m not sure.”

Kairyn asks, “All right. That’s all right. I can give you something to help relieve the last of the symptoms. Have you ever had anything with larch needles? They actually smell wonderful, very piney. The taste is a little foresty but you can mix honey in the tea, or add honeysuckle. Which will also help your stomach. How does that sound?”

Lanisen still won’t quite look at her, but he nods after a pause.

Kairyn nods after he does. “All right. I’ll make sure you get some of that. I also have some mint and lavender tea that tastes quite good. The mint will help settle your stomach, the lavender will help you sleep, and they just taste plain good. Drinking water and tea will help get that out of your system, and rehydrate you. Does that sound like something else you’d like to try?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Kairyn backs off. “All right, all right. You don’t have to decide right now. It’s all right.” Her voice remains gentle.

Lanisen swallows and shifts his weight, and says nothing else.

Kairyn draws a deep breath, still giving him space by not approaching. “I can leave it here and you can try it if you’d like.”

Lanisen nods once, a short small motion of his head.

Kairyn says, “I also can give you something if you are in any pain.”

Lanisen says, “I’m all right.”

Kairyn nods. “How do your bones feel?”

Lanisen is bewildered enough by this question to look at her.

Kairyn asks, “Does anything feel broken? Or not normal?”

Lanisen ohs. “No, no.”

Kairyn dips her head. “All right. How does your head feel?:

Lanisen says, “Fine, it’s fine.”

Kairyn asks, “Your neck?”

Lanisen says, a little desperately, “It’s fine, I’m fine.”

Kairyn falls quiet.

Lanisen swallows, his eyes darting to the door. “I’m, I’m, sorry.”

Kairyn asks, “What can I do, Lanisen?”
Kairyn asks, “Can you tell me why you are afraid of me?”

Lanisen is standing a little away from Kairyn, his posture anxious and closed-off. He opens his mouth at Kairyn’s question, but doesn’t seem able to find an answer. He shakes his head helplessly. “Sorry, I’m sorry–”

Megren knocks at the door.

Kairyn frowns helplessly and goes to her satchel on the chair. She unties it and pulls out a small leather pouch, which she sets on the bed. “Everything you need is in here.”
Kairyn says, “I think, anyway.”

Lanisen jumps at the knock, his attention split again.

Megren pokes her head in. “Oh. Oh, good, Kairyn, hello. I’ll just–”

Kairyn calls out to her. “Meg, come in here.”

Lanisen’s face clears with relief when it’s only Megren, but he shifts when Kairyn calls, his eyes flicking between them uneasily.

Megren hesitates, then accepts the order, stepping fully inside and shutting the door behind her.

Kairyn motions to her satchel and pouch, then to Lanisen. “I need you to treat him.”

Lanisen tenses immediately, looking at Megren.

Megren blinks. “Um… I’m not… really… trained…”

Kairyn tugs her cap off her head, letting her dirty and sweaty blonde hair spill loose. “I’m afraid you’re the best we’ve got. I can’t get near him.” she says quietly.

Megren pushes her hair back, looking at Lanisen to try and access his feelings on this.

Lanisen draws an unhappy breath and takes another step backward. He looks at the door.

Megren sucks her lower lip. “Maybe we could talk outside for a bit,” she says to Kairyn.

Kairyn draws a breath and slowly releases it, lifting her hands and letting them stay in the air a moment before they drop. “I just…I can’t very well tie him to the bed because he just spent his last week tied up and..he needs treatment. So..just…give him what’s in that pouch. Larch, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Mint. And the pain herbs are in the jar.”

Megren blinks, and then says again, “Um, can I– can you explain what they all do, out in the hall? I don’t want to– um, I just, I have some questions.”

Kairyn moves for the door, rubbing at her tired eyes.

Megren releases a breath and moves to let her go out first, glancing at Lanisen over her shoulder before following after.

Lanisen watches them go, white-faced and slightly hunched.


Megren knocks on the door again, not waiting for an answer before reentering this time.

Lanisen is tucked away in the little walk-space between the bed and the wall, his knees drawn up and his hands clasped over the nape of his neck.

Megren shuts the door behind her and just stands there for a lost minute, her mouth pulled downward.

Lanisen raises his head when the door shuts to see who it is. He watches Megren for a moment, apprehensive and miserable, then drops his forehead into his hands and shuts his eyes. “I’m sorry, I’m, I’m so sorry.”

Megren closes the space between them, kneeling and placing her hand on his back. “Sh, hey… no. Hey, what do you have to be sorry for?”

Lanisen draws a shuddering breath, as if the contact may push him over the edge to tears. “They– Cass is here, and Kairyn, and I’m– I don’t know, I don’t know, everything is…” He lowers his forehead again almost to his knees, holding the back of his head in frustration and distress.

Megren pulls her hand back again uncertainly. She reminds him, “That’s good, Cass is safe, she’s got us to watch her. And she not in the room right now, nobody is, it’s just you and me.”

Lanisen shakes his head quickly. “I know, I know that.” He takes a deep breath and tips his head back to look at the ceiling. “I’m not– I don’t mean to be, difficult, it’s– I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Megren releases a weighting breath and seats herself facing him, legs crossed under her. “You don’t have to be easy or know everything.”

Lanisen rubs the side of his forehead with one hand, his eyes closing again. His face is tight with exhaustion. “I want to go home.”

Megren nods. “I’ll take you home, if you want it. We can, me and Sir Colin.”

Lanisen raises his head to give her a searching look. He nods, and a second later says, “Please. Yes.”

Megren says, “Are you sure? It won’t be an easy ride for you.”

Lanisen says. “Yes. I don’t care, I want to be home. Please.”

Megren nods. “I’ll ask Sir Colin.”

Lanisen swallows and nods, lowering his head again. “Thank you,” he whispers.

Megren hesitates, and then leans forward to slip her arms around him.

Lanisen leans to meet her, uncurling enough that he can return the hug.
Lanisen mumbles “I dunno where I’d be without you.”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “I dunno … I’d … without you.”, to Lanisen.

Megren cups the back of his head, holding him for a good long moment.

Lanisen closes his eyes and breathes for that moment, and when he draws back he seems more settled.

Megren sits back when he does, drawing a breath. “I’ll talk to Sir Colin now. Do you want to ride with me or do you want– do you want Sir Colin to make other arrangements?”

Lanisen shakes his head. “I don’t, I don’t care, whatever’s… anything, anything works.”

Megren asks, “Are… anything? Are you sure?”

Lanisen says, “I just want to go home.”

Megren nods, breathing out and rising. “I’ll go ask. We’ll get something figured.”

Lanisen says again, “Thank you.” He lets out a breath and almost smiles in relief. “Thank you.”

Megren nods, taking a backward step toward the door, looking reluctant to have to make the choice between leaving him alone again and making the request for him.

Lanisen hauls himself up out of the cubby. He limps to the washbasin and splashes water over his face, then sinks down on the bed again.

Megren slips back outside.


Megren reenters after not too short a time, knocking three times before entering as has become her habit.

Lanisen is sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning his side against the headboard. Nia is flopped on the rug next to his feet.

Megren says, “Hey.”

Lanisen says, “Hey.” He looks at her, his face hopeful but guarded.

Megren comes and sits beside him. “Sir Colin says you can, but you’ve got to be seen to first.”

Lanisen is confused for a moment. Then, “But– she did, she left the, the…”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “She says you haven’t been properly looked at yet.

Lanisen pulls an unhappy breath. “She asked questions, she– I answered everything I could…”

Megren says, “I know.”

Lanisen’s knee jogs. He finally asks, subdued, “What do I gotta do?”

Megren says, “I think she’s got to examine you still? I don’t know, I’m not a healer. But I’ll sit with you if you want, or Sir Colin says he will.”

Lanisen pulls at the bandages on his wrists. “If, if I let her, I can go home?”

Megren takes a breath. “I don’t want to– um, I think so. You won’t if you don’t, I know that.”

Lanisen thinks this over for a minute. “I’m,” he begins, then stops. He draws a quick anxious breath and offers finally, “I’ll try.”

Megren nods. “You want someone in with you?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” He pauses to consider and opens his mouth slightly as if to answer, but another several beats pass before he says, “Yes.”

Megren nods. “Me, or Sir Colin?”

Lanisen shifts, swallowing a couple times. “I don’t– I don’t know.” He closes his eyes and rubs his hands over them. “I don’t care.”

Megren asks, “You want a minute first?”

Lanisen takes a couple deep breaths and shakes his head.
Lanisen mumbles “Get it over with.”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… … … …”, to Lanisen.

Megren nods uncertainly. “Then– then I’m gonna go get her, then.”

Lanisen says, “All right.” He folds his arms over his stomach and nods.

Megren waits another second, then pats his leg and gets up to go to the door.

Megren reenters a moment later with Kairyn in tow.

Lanisen has not moved from his seat on the edge of the bed. He looks up when the door opens again.

Kairyn steels herself by squaring her shoulders as she walks through the door. “Megren tells me you are ready, Lanisen.” She says gently.

Lanisen nods once, a quick jerky movement of his head.

Megren moves to stand near Lanisen, a little out of the way.

Kairyn draws a breath and nods, flashing him a little smile in an attempt to reassure him. “May I take a look at your head wound first, please?”

Lanisen nods again. He fixes his eyes on a neutral point on the floor.

Megren sits next to him, looking at Kairyn to make sure this is an acceptable thing to do.

Kairyn steps closer to give his head a good, thorough squinting at before she nods a little. “It looks good…it’s not deep enough to need stitching. How does your head feel? Can you look at me so I can see your eyes?”

Lanisen obliges, though he is beginning to be tense and on-edge.

Megren picks up his hand and holds it in her lap between both of hers.

Kairyn just keeps forging onward. After a good look at his eyes and making him follow her finger with his eyes back and forth she nods. “No concussion, that’s good.” She then inspects his leg wound and nods approvingly at Sir Chal’s work.

Lanisen lets her, keeping perfectly still the entire time.

Kairyn keeps her voice steady. “May I look at your stomach now?”

Lanisen seems to cringe very slightly at this, shifting to draw into himself. He doesn’t answer for a moment, then nods with difficulty.

Kairyn asks, “Can you lift up your shirt for me?”

Megren turns her head to look at the woodwork in the wall.

Lanisen shifts a little, then does so. His stomach is mottled with an ugly rainbow of colors, black and green and violet.

Kairyn informs him she’s going to touch him very carefully and her fingers very lightly brush his skin to feel for differences in temperature.

Megren squeezes Lanisen’s hand a little, still trying not to watch.

Lanisen shuts his eyes tightly while Kairyn works. He breathes deep and quick, as if he expects any minute to have to be running.

Kairyn is as gentle as she can be and she also works quickly to avoid causing him stress longer than necessary. She checks his back, ribs, and stomach area to make sure the severe bruises aren’t coming from organ damage. After she’s finished, she steps back. “It appears your ribs are severely bruised, but not broken. One or two might be cracked so you are going to need to take care. No horseback riding, no falling, nothing strenuous for a while. The bruises, while awful and painful looking, appear to be deep muscle tissue damage while your liver, kidneys and other organs are fine. Sore, but no internal bleeding. If you start coughing up fresh blood or brown or black things that look like soil we will need to address it immediately.”

Megren’s lips press together a little.

Lanisen lowers his shirt again the second she is finished, curling his arm protectively around his middle. He listens without looking directly at her, nodding where it seems some response is required. When she finishes, he hesitates before asking softly, “Can I go home?”

Megren returns her eyes to Kairyn.

Kairyn chews on her lip. “I think you should stay at least one more night at the inn…and only travel if a good cart or wagon is available that won’t toss you about.”

Lanisen asks, “Tomorrow?”

Kairyn glances at Meg. “I’d prefer if you stay in one place longer but your recovery will likely go better at home and under Adrian’s care.”

Megren says, “I can help find a cart and fix it up with blankets and things, and we can take it slow.”

Kairyn nods.

Lanisen sags slightly with relief.

Megren looks at Lanisen. “Is tomorrow all right?”

Kairyn goes to her satchel on the chair and pulls out an array of little pouches and jars. “Meg, you can put these with his other things. Larch will help with some of the remaining mandrake symptoms as will absinthe and honeysuckle and he needs to take it tonight. The lavender and mint will be for tea.” She sets them on a table and fastens her satchel closed.

Megren absorbs these instructions, nodding.

Lanisen says absently, “Tomorrow’s, tomorrow’s fine…” He watches Kairyn’s remedy line-up.

Kairyn puts her satchel over her shoulder after adding a rolled bandage to the small pile. “Have Sir Chal wrap Lanisen’s ribs for the trip tomorrow to protect them. He knows how to do it.”

Megren says, “Sir Chal– Sir Chal left, he’s probably in Coghill or somewhere, he went looking for Cass.”

Kairyn ohs.
Kairyn says, “I can wrap them before the trip if no one else can.”

Lanisen shifts unhappily.
Lanisen mumbles “Do they gotta be…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… … … …”, to Lanisen.

Megren says, “I’ll–” she glances at Lanisen. “I’ll watch? If I can? Maybe I can learn.”

Kairyn nods her head.

Lanisen rubs his shoulder and says nothing.

Kairyn nods once more and strides for the door. “I’m staying in town with my uncle if I’m needed. Or wanted for anything.” She informs them, then passes through the door and heads down the hallway.

Megren glances at Lanisen.

Lanisen breathes out as Kairyn leaves. He rubs between his eyebrows with the heel of his hand.

Megren pushes her lips upward.

Lanisen says finally, “Thank you.”

Megren just nods.

Lanisen’s eyes fix for a moment on the pouches and bottles Kairyn left. He looks away.

Megren says after a long moment, “Draaaagondawn.”

Lanisen is startled into a slightly hysterical snicker.

Megren grins a little.

Lanisen asks, “You heard, from…?”

Megren sobers and she shakes her head. “It could be a good thing; they might’ve found something.”

Lanisen rubs his shoulder, agreeing absently, “Yeah.”

Megren’s mouth turns a bit downward.

Lanisen glances at her after a moment.

Megren takes a breath and looks at him again, brows lifting and expression mostly clearing. “She didn’t say no bacon.”

Lanisen blinks, whatever thought process he had running derailed by this. “She didn’t,” he agrees.

Megren says, “She didn’t say no /any/thing, actually.”

Lanisen manages a small, hopeful grin at this.

Megren says, “Guess I should see about some blackberries.”

Lanisen says, “You wouldn’t.”

Megren looks cheeky.

Lanisen’s grin grows, but after a moment he asks, “You doin’ all right?”

Megren rubs under her nose. “Yeah. I, um–” Her eyes flick away for something else to focus on, landing on his table full of bottles. “I wish I was out looking for him,” she confesses.

Lanisen is quiet for a moment. “If– If you need to go,” he says hesitantly. “If you’d rather– I’m, I’m fine, Sir Colin’s here, you don’t gotta… um.”

Megren’s brows peak together as she looks back to him. “What? No, I– no, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Lanisen says, embarrassed, “Oh.” He shifts and rallies, without quite looking at her. “But if– just– Don’t, don’t feel like you have to stay, I mean.”

Megren gives him an uncertain look. “I’m glad I’m here,” she asserts after a moment.

Lanisen looks like he regrets saying anything. He nods and looks down, half unsatisfied and half relieved, and worries the bandages on his wrists.

Megren smacks his hand lightly. “Gonna make it all come apart,” she nags.

Lanisen jerks his hand back and says plaintively, “It’s itchin’ though.”

Megren elbows him, “Keep mewling like that and Nia’ll set to chasing you.

Lanisen makes a face at her, swaying slightly with the jostle. “They’re all scabbed over,” he says, peeking under one of the bandages. “I don’t see why I have to keep wearin’ ’em.”

Megren says, “I’m sure /I/ don’t know.”

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