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 is at his desk working, although his mind seems elsewhere.
Lanisen comes to the door, but stops there, hesitating when he sees Garian at work.
Garian hears the footsteps and looks up. He nods to Lanisen and greets him in his typical soft spoken manner, “Good afternoon Squire.”
Lanisen says, “Um– if– I can come back?”
Garian gives a faint smile, pushing the work aside. “It’s all right Squire. I can’t say I’m making much progress anyway. I’d welcome a distraction–especially if there is something that needs to be seen to.”
Lanisen says, “Um.” He hesitates again, rubbing at his wrists, and finally steps fully into the room, though he casts a quick glance around it and notes the exits. “I… wondered if, if I might have a word.”
Garian nods and motions to the chair across from him. There are still a few broken cookies on a plate and a fresh pot of tea. “You may help yourself to the refreshments if you wish. Reina made the cookies for me.” He smiles.
Lanisen takes the seat, though he stays perched on the edge of it, and glances at the cookies. “Er, thank you.” He hesitates, then says, “I, um… I wanted to ask about– I think her name’s Maire.”
Garian gives a small nod. He joins his fingers together, placing his hands on the desk before him.
Lanisen asks, “She’s– she works in the kitchens?”
Garian nods, “Yes. She’s an apprentice cook, I believe.”
Lanisen is silent and watches Garian’s face, as if waiting for more information.
Garian waits some moments and then adds, “She is cousin to Healer Kairyn.”
Lanisen says, “But she’s not a healer.”
Garian says, “That is not the profession she is currently pursuing, no.”
Lanisen says, “Then…”
Garian sits quietly, waiting for Lanisen to finish his thought. His expression is serene and patient.
Lanisen waits a moment. He blows out a breath and looks down, his knee jogging. “Why was– why was she treatin’ my lord, sir?”
Garian says, “I’m not sure, Squire. I believe she may have some skills she picked up from Healer Kairyn and when Healer Kairyn wasn’t availible and Adrian needed a hand, she was there. I was… taking care of other matters when all that occured.” His expression becomes faintly apologetic. “From the little I’ve gathered so far, I guess she treated him that evening when Healer Kairyn was unavailable and Adrian was trying to see to Squire Megren’s injuries as well.”
Lanisen says nothing for a moment, trying to get his words in order. He glances at the door briefly and worries at his injured wrists. “I don’t–I don’t want her near Sir Colin if he’s hurt. Or me either.” Once he’s managed to get this out, he looks up at Garian, defiant and wary.
Garian gives an understanding nod. “I can inform her of your wishes, Squire.”
Lanisen doesn’t look entirely satisfied, but he nods.
Garian says, “I believe she respect those wishes–however, if Sir Colin has some reason to meet with her I defer to his judgment, as I trust his.–I do not think that… likely but in the event, you understand my position on the matter.” It’s more of a statement than question. He considers something, then asks, “Would it… help to know she and Healer Kairyn will be spending more time in town with realtives?”
Lanisen says, “I understand. Thank you.” He hesitates, his mouth slightly open as if to say something else.
Garian waits, his expression kind.
Lanisen seems to decide against it. He says again, “Thank you.”
Garian gives a nod. “If there is anything else you need Squire, I will be happy to be of assistance.”
Lanisen pauses at this, indecision in his face.
Garian’s expression is patient. He waits.
Lanisen says, “I want to see Aaron.”
Garian is quiet some moments, keeping a straight poker face. He then says, “That can be arranged. When would you like to see him?”
Lanisen says, “Soon. Please. I need to– I need to know…”
Garian’s expression softens. He nods and asks, “Would you like to wait and see him with Sir Colin? Or would any of the knights do?”
Lanisen hesitates again, looking at his hands as he thinks. “No,” he says at last. “No– I just…”
Garian gives an understanding nod. “I will see to it the arrangements are made as soon as possible.”
Garian pauses, then says, “I should add that no one is to meet with him alone.”
Lanisen nods again, distracted. His hands are shaking slightly, but his face is set and determined. “Thank you.”
Garian gives Lanisen a faint smile.
Lanisen gets to his feet. “Thank you for speakin’ with me, sir.”
Garian gives a small nod, “I will send for you when the prisoner is available.”
Lanisen pauses, then nods again. He glances at the door, then dips his head respectfully to Garian and makes his escape.
Here is a valley that is broad and green and sunny, but sheltered. The rocky ridge of the northern mountains surrounds the area in a wide, impassable curve from east to west, while the high red walls of castle Anvard close off the southern mouth of the valley. There is no way to leave the valley without passing through the castle or scaling the sheer face of the ridge.
Stone walls fitted with wide wooden gates divide the valley into three separate pastures of lush grass and wildflowers. These are occupied by the castle’s cattle and horses, and a fair number of sheep share space with them. Accessible to each pasture is a long, narrow lake of clear dark water on the north side of the valley, fed from above by a rushing mountain stream. The dark entrance to a cave is visible behind it, and a broad path leads to it from the easternmost
Lanisen pauses in the doorway to the stable to get the lay of the land, glancing from side to side to place the herds and possibly the herdsmen. He finds Megren, but hesitates another moment before starting out to join her.
Megren rests her head against the wall.
Lanisen slows and stops a little ways away. “How’re you feelin’?” he ventures.
Megren turns and looks up, a little surprised. “Hey,” she says, and rolls her eyes. “Bored.”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’ to do but sit around and enjoy a lovely autumn day, it’s the /worst/.”
Megren wrinkles her nose at him amicably. She moves a little over, as if in invitation for him to sit with her. “How are you?” she inquires.
Lanisen settles next to her. “I’m all right,” he says. “Sir Colin’s out of the infirmary.”
Megren says, “As if it would take less than three physicians to stop him if he wanted.”
Lanisen says, “Very true.”
Megren starts to push her hair back, then remembers the service its doing her and scratches her cheek instead. “He’s good though?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. I think so, yeah. His eyes weren’t hurting much at all today. Gonna have a scar, though.” He rubs his own neck absently, thumbing along the white mark on his throat, and drops his hand.
Megren glances at him. “Match you,” she observes lightly.
Lanisen says, “Ahh, heh. Yeah.”
Megren says, “He’ll be all right.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah.” He glances at her, looking at her forehead.
Megren crosses her eyes at him.
Lanisen gives her an exasperated half-grin back and looks away. “I never been out here,” he remarks, glancing around the pasture.
Megren asks, “What, really?”
Megren turns to regard the horses. “Sir Darrin said to get out of the castle until he was done with meetings, so.” She shrugs, too.
Lanisen says, “Bossy.”
Megren says, “Really bossy.”
Lanisen leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes. “Knights. What can you do.”
Megren squints an eye at him. “What’s yours done now?”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’?”
Megren says, “Go about making unfounded generalizations like that, someone’s going to get offended.”
Lanisen says, “Someone’s gonna live.”
Megren elbows him genially. “You don’t know.”
Lanisen grins faintly and sways. He says nothing for a minute, tugging absently at the cuffs of his sleeves. “Thanks for… listenin’. Yesterday, I mean.” He looks down. “Nobody else was.”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side and nods. “It’s hard to, sometimes, when you’re trying to help.”
Lanisen fidgets and doesn’t say anything for a moment. “Am I bein’…?”
Megren’s brows draw together, and she says after a moment, “There’s a reason I live in a castle, and not out in the woods by myself.”
Lanisen glances at her, confused by this.
Megren says, “I’m glad someone came to find me.”
Lanisen half-smiles and looks down.
Megren releases a breath and leans her head back against the wall again.
Lanisen draws the cube she had made in Lancelyn Green out of his pocket and sets it down on the ground between them.
Megren laughs and closes her hand over it. “Gonna get it dirty!”
Lanisen squints at her. “It’ll brush right off.”
Megren casts her gaze skeptically over the livestock-dotted field. “Depends what you roll it into.”
Lanisen snorts. “How far you plannin’ to roll it, stars.”
Megren asks, “What are the rules?”
Lanisen says, “I dunno. No pickles.”
Megren considers the piece, then comes up with, “White, yellow, roller asks. Green, blue, roller answers. Red, I gotta tell you something but it can be anything. Purple, same to you.” She nudges at a sack on the other side of her and pulls out a windfallen apple. “Or you can choose to eat horse treats.”
A servant approaches with a message from the Guard Captain. The servant says to Lanisen that if now is a convenient time, the requested meeting can be arranged.
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear and gives Lanisen a little nod, putting the apple away and holding out the playing piece for him to take back.
Lanisen says, “Oh. Um.” He takes a breath and nods. “All right, yes, I’ll– just a second.” He takes the cube and glances sidelong at Megren. “I’ll– can I find you later, maybe?”
Megren says, “Sure.” She looks like she’d like to get up and go with him, but she stays put, as ordered.
Lanisen brushes grass off his trousers and heads back to the castle with the servant. He looks rather pale, and his jaw is set.
Megren watches him leave with her mouth drawn down and to the wrong side from usual.
The lowest level of the royal tower is a large, semi-circular room, dimly lit with a slight smell of must. The ceiling is fairly low, giving it a slightly claustrophobic feeling. Iron sconces are fixed to the walls to hold lanterns, and a small barred window near the ceiling on the south side of the chamber offers a warped view of the inner ward at boot-level. There is a wooden table and two chairs for the guards on duty.
There are three heavy wooden doors on the northwest side of the room, each iron-bound with a barred window cut at the top. Another door, just as heavily reinforced, leads out into the corridor.
Tyren frowns. “I’m not fond of it myself… and honestly, I am not certain it would bring about anything different than the truth would. He seemed rather terrified of what someone might do to him if word got out he’d been in the castle.”
Garian gives a small nod, “Yes–but suppose… it would be more terrible, don’t you think, if they thought he had come to us for help?”
Lanisen follows the servant down the corridor to the dungeon. He draws up short at finding Tyren there, but he turns his surprise into a small bow, then looks to Garian.
Tyren continues to frown. “Truth be told, Captain, I’m the wrong knight to consult when falsehoods are considered as a tactic, well-intentioned as they may be.” His brow lifts as Lanisen arrives, and he glances to Garian.
Garian gives a small bow to Lanisen and says, “Ah, Squire. I am glad the servant found you. Would it be all right with you if Sir Tyren and I assisted you in this venture, as I have found Sirs Darrin and Colin unavailable?”
Lanisen’s eyes shift to Tyren briefly. He nods slightly, a small jerky motion of his head.
Garian’s hand casually moves to rest on the hilt of his sword. “When you are ready, Squire, we shall procede.–If at any time you feel uncomfortable and wish to leave, move to the door and the guards standing watch will open it for you.”
Tyren gives a small nod in return, adjusting his grip on the dagger in his hand.
Lanisen nods consent. His hand goes to the small of his back briefly, and he nods again to signal that he is ready. His eyes are very dark in his pale face.
Garian turns to his guards and nods. They open the door. He enters first.
This cell is small, but not unreasonably so, wedge-shaped with a curving outer wall. It is livable but spare, a bed and a small table the only furnishings. These are both sturdily built of thick oak, too heavy to easily move, and fixed to the stone walls and floor with iron bolts.
The door is iron-bound oak with a small barred opening at the top to let in noise and air from the outside. Across the cell from the door is a very small window, fitted with glass so thick and warped and wavy that it is impossible to see anything clearly out-of-doors except for a general impression of ‘green’. On either side of the pane are iron bars the width of a child’s wrist, spaced regularly a few inches apart.
Darius is laying flat on the bed, his bound hands resting on his torso. If it weren’t for the bindings, he may actually look like he is comfortable.
Garian steps in as the door opens. His expression is composed and he walks in an authoratative manner. He is not alone.
Lanisen follows a little behind Garian. His face is colorless, but expressionless. His eyes seek out Darius immediately.
Tyren strides in just behind Garian, making use of every inch of the imposing stature and demeanor bestowed upon him by the House of Chesterton. A dagger is in his right hand, the knight apparently nonchalant about its presence there – and also just as apparently ready to use it at a moment’s notice.
Darius’s eyes blink open slowly at the sound of the three. With a grunt he slowly sits up, shuffling his uninjured leg off of the bed so that he is eventually sitting on the edge. His expression is quite calm as his eyes flicker between the three. Once he realizes Lanisen is a part of the group though, the corner of his mouth tugs in a grin.
Lanisen’s breathing picks up, but he stares back at Darius.
Garian takes a position to Lanisen’s right side once all three have entered and the door closes. He is slightly in front of Lanisen as well (perhaps about one step). His hand rests on the hilt of his blade.
Tyren slides to Lanisen’s other side as Garian moves, his glance flicking briefly to the squire as he does so, before it comes to rest on Darius once more.
Darius’s eyes remain on Lanisen for a couple seconds more. When the two men move up to his side though, he takes note of both of their weapons and begins chuckling. “Scared of a bound man?” he asks, lifting his bound hands as a show. “I may have a few tricks up my sleeves… but, I certainly hoped you would have checked them. ” His eyes glint.
Garian doesn’t reply. His expression remains stoic and his gaze on the prisoner.
Lanisen’s eyes flit quickly over Darius, taking note of his injuries.
Tyren gives no reply either, face impassive.
Darius’s brow raises, though this looks to be another show of amusement. This time he chooses to remain silent.
Lanisen finally speaks. His voice is quiet and rasps slightly. “I want my pardon back.”
Darius’s head tilts, the amusement never leaving his expression. “Yer what?”
Garian remains quiet, allowing the Squire to speak.
Tyren only adjusts his hold on the dagger, eyes narrowing just slightly.
Lanisen takes a small step to the side to be out from behind Garian. “My pardon,” he says, trembling with anger or fear or both. “You took it, or your friend. I want it back.”
Darius doesn’t hesitate this time. “No.”
Lanisen stops short, at a loss.
Tyren says, low but firm, “I don’t believe that was a /request/.”
Darius’s eyes don’t leave Lanisen. “Did I stutter?”
Garian remains quiet, watching the interaction with interest.
Lanisen rallies. “Where is it?”
Tyren, meanwhile, refuses to rise to the bait, and lets Lanisen pick up where he left off without any further input from his own corner.
Darius chuckles. “Didn’t I already answer your /request/ Lanisen?”
Lanisen stares at him for a moment. He turns his back and reaches for the door, making to leave.
Garian remarks casually, “You don’t have it. I wonder if you even know who does. maybe it was someone more clever than you.”
Tyren’s glance flicks toward Lanisen briefly as he moves.
Darius ignores the captain’s slight for the moment, focus still on Lanisen. “Regardless, Lanisen, what /is/ the point? We all know it was never /real/. ”
Tyren observes, “And thus, by that logic, no point in holding it back, either.”
Lanisen stiffens, and pauses with his hand on the door. He doesn’t look around, but his head turns almost involuntarily to listen.
Garian says evenly, “A pardon is more than a simple piece of paper. The paper itself is just the manifestation of redemption and mercy. Two things you know nothing of. And Lanisen doesn’t need that paper to know he has earned every word of his pardon.”
Darius’s mouth twitches in a smile, his voice soft. “That’s right. You know it… it meant nothing. I mean, how could it? ” he chuckles, still ignoring the other two men.
Garian adds thoughtfully, “I am even willing to wager His majesty would write another. And if that was taken, another. On point.” He keeps his gaze on Darius, but the words are not to him.
Garian says calmly, “You see… to a penitent man, His Majesty’s mercy is boundless. And a man who is willing to turn his life around can go from the dungeon cells to a position of authority by his bravely. It is one of the things I find so remarkable about our King and the way he rules.”
Lanisen seems frozen. He glances over his shoulder at Darius.
Tyren says nothing during any of this, merely staring. Blinking. Looming.
Darius is in a completely different world, his entire focus on Lanisen. “Good, now you begin to see it. A piece of paper, some words. ” he snorts. “Papers can be burned and the greatest lies are made up of some of the /best/ words. You know this to be true. ”
Lanisen says, “You don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”
Garian adds thoughtfully, “You’d know, wouldn’t you Darius.”
Garian takes a step closer to him.
Tyren takes advantage of currently being blithely ignored, scrutinizing the prisoner’s demeanor, brow furrowed just a hair as he considers the words being flung about – and continuing to keep from adding to them.
Darius’s eyes flash. “Don’t I?”
Garian smiles, “So clever. So good at what you do.”
Garian says, “It was rather impressive, wasn’t it? How elusive you were.”
Garian steps forward again.
Lanisen spares Garian a brief, distracted glance, his attention on Darius.
Darius still doesn’t pay any mind to Garian or Tyren. “Tell me Lanisen, what is it that Pardon is for? What was your crime?”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth and looks down. “Goodbye, Aaron,” he says, and knocks on the door to be let out.
The door opens for Lanisen at the sound of the knock.
Tyren is as stony as a statue, and just as silent.
Darius snorts, his voice lowering. “Think about it, Lanisen.”
Garian watches Darius with interest.
Lanisen slips out the door.
Tyren shifts the dagger in his hand again, still refraining from remark.
Darius watches him leave, eyes glinting. His gaze holds on the door for a moment longer before looking back to his company. Noticing the movement of the dagger, he snorts. “Feelin’ a bit jumpy Knight? I’d be careful… ” he feigns concern. “Last time I saw you twitchy, your arrows didn’t /exactly/ do their job. “