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.
There is a knock on the door, and the voice of a guard from the morning shift echoes a little hollow, “Visitors.” Then the sound of keys in the lock.
Darius is laying on the floor, his legs arched and feet flat on the floor. Through gritted teeth and painful grunts, he slowly but persistently does sit ups. Sweat is beading his forehead. At the sound of the guard, he drops back to the floor and lays there, breathing hard.
Lanisen steps inside once the guard opens the door, and moves to the side to allow the next person to enter. He looks very pale, and a little ill, but composed.
Megren enters directly after him. Behind her, Sir Darrin can be seen speaking with the morning guards before the door is shut.
Darius’s eyes are trained on the ceiling. Letting out a breath, he heaves another painful grunt and jerks himself back up to a sitting position. Able to see his visitors now, he smirks. “Mornin’. ”
Lanisen rubs his wrists, watching Darius. He looks momentarily frozen.
Megren nods to Aaron. Her eyes flick over him to take in his condition, lingering on the areas she knows are wounded, but she doesn’t say anything.
Darius rolls on to his side, using his elbows and knees to gingerly and painfully stand. He looks between the two before easing down to sit on the side of the bed, his brow raising expectantly.
Lanisen seems to be struggling, but after a moment he says, “You knew Berke.”
Megren stands at attention a little behind Lanisen, letting him speak without interference.
Darius’s expression goes flat, something in his gaze flickering. “I’ve known a lot of men. ”
Lanisen falters. He takes a breath and presses, “Berke, you– knew him. Didn’t you?”
Darius’s jaw clenches, an obvious anger rising in him. “Hows your friend Colin doing? Eh? That knee of his… ” he chuckles quickly, though he looks quite unhappy. “Took quite a hit, I /MUST/ say. ”
Megren says, “Stay on topic, please.”
Darius’s eyes never leave Lanisen and he doesn’t respond right away. Finally, he takes a deep breath in then breathes out: “Yes.”
Lanisen’s eyes flick to him. He nods a couple of times and swallows. “Who was he to you?” he asks softly.
Darius’s eyes narrow and his tone becomes dangerous. “And why would I tell the likes of you?”
Lanisen pulls back immediately, looking down at the ground. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m– I wanted to–” He takes a deep breath, “Sorry ain’t enough, I’m–”
Megren frowns and takes a step forward so that she is standing closer behind Lanisen and off a little to the right.
Darius snorts, shaking his head and laughing. “Sorry?! ” His voice drips of disbelief and his laughing suddenly cuts off. “SORRY?! ” he yells, voice flashing to anger.
Megren’s hand immediately lifts to rest at Lanisen’s back.
Lanisen flinches at the sudden switch, but he doesn’t move, and he doesn’t look directly at Darius.
Darius seethes for a second more before shaking head again, regaining his composure. “You don’t know the meaning of the word sorry, you cowering /dog/. ” his voice his sharp. “No, you won’t know it. Not until… ” his voices fades and his jaw clenches, eyes glaring daggers into Lanisen.
Megren’s lips press together. “Until what?” she presses.
Darius shoots Megren a disguested look. “Oh bug OFF, you little witch. ” He looks back to Lanisen, eyeing him.
Megren’s brows draw together like she wonders what he thinks is useful in this answer.
Darius sighs, now looking more annoyed than anything else. “So, what now? Shall I rot in here til my bones turn to dust?”
Lanisen shifts and shakes his head helplessly, darting a quick glance at Megren.
Megren says, “That is not something either of us can answer. If you like, when you are finished conversing with Lanisen, I will request that someone come in an discuss it with you.”
Darius sits back, grunting. “That would be fine. ”
Lanisen glances at Darius again, rubbing his wrists. He doesn’t seem to know what to do, now that he’s lost the thread of the conversation.
Megren asks, “Until what, Aaron?”
Darius scambles to stand, looking quite sick of Megren. Once standing, he takes a couple steps towards her, bound hands hanging in front of him. “Until he knows /AGONY/! Until emptiness swallows him whole! Until his entire world collapses and doesn’t stand the slightest chance of rebuilding itself! ” his eyes are once again rage filled.
Lanisen can’t help taking a step back this time, turning his head to the side so he doesn’t have to look at Darius.
Megren’s hand remains at Lanisen’s back. “Is that what happened to you?”
Darius’s eyes flash. “Does it LOOK like it?!”
Lanisen looks back at him at this.
Darius shakes his head, jaw clenching and turns his back to them. He moves to the warped window and stares at it.
Megren looks at Lanisen.
Lanisen watches his back for a moment, his head still lowered. “I can’t– undo,” he finally says haltingly. “I’m–” He takes a deep breath and looks at the ceiling. “There’s nothing I regret more.”
Darius asks, “Was it you?”
Megren’s lips press together again but she doesn’t make another interruption.
Lanisen moistens his lips. “I don’t know.”
Darius doesn’t turn. “Leave.”
Lanisen stands for a moment, like he’s trying to think what to say. He bows his head and turns toward the door.
Megren runs her tongue over her teeth and looks like she’s going to try to stay behind, but she thinks better of this course and moves to follow Lanisen.
Darius doesn’t turn, continuing to stare at the glass without moving.
Lanisen knocks twice, and slips out when the guard opens the door.
Lanisen passes through the dungeon at a rapid limp, not looking at the guards or Megren.
Megren follows after him, giving Sir Darrin a look to indicate they can meet up later.
Lanisen leans on the wall beside his door once he is safely inside, closing his eyes. He rubs his forehead, looking exhausted. “I dunno what I thought was gonna happen,” he mumbles.
Megren closes the door behind her and crosses to sit on his bed, facing him.
Lanisen lowers himself to sit on the floor. He stares distantly at the leather pouch on his floor for a long moment before it really registers.
Megren ventures, “I don’t think there’s a lot of sense to be made of him.”
Lanisen says wearily, “Made plenty of sense to me.” He reaches out after a moment to drag the pouch closer.
Megren pushes her mouth to the side in discouragement.
Megren puts forward, “He changes the subject any time the conversation starts to go toward showing he’s in the wrong.”
Lanisen says, “I killed somebody important to him, Meg.”
Megren says, “He poisoned you and stuck you in a tomb for almost a week. I’m not saying you don’t have wrongs to be made up. That doesn’t make him right, though.”
Lanisen draws up his knees and wraps his arms around them.
Megren gets off the bed to go sit next to him. “You’re only in charge of your present self.”
Lanisen shifts a little to give her more room. “Thanks for goin’ with me.”
Megren says, “I think you’re a good person. One of the best people I know, actually. I don’t know what to say about what happened with Berke. Just — that’s who the you I know is.”
Lanisen’s forehead creases into anxious lines, and he picks at the string on the leather pouch rather than answer her.
Megren folds her hands in her lap with a sigh.
Lanisen finally undoes the string enough to look inside. He goes still and perplexed.
Megren glances at him and then at the bag.
Lanisen opens it further, looking inside for some clue. A large number of coins can be seen in the pouch’s mouth.
Megren’s brows draw together and then her eyes flick across the room.
Lanisen looks up when a quick rummage through the pouch yields no results. His eyes settle on the mace, and he gets up to go investigate.
Megren’s heart can visibly be seen sinking in her expression.
Lanisen kneels and shifts the mace off the two pieces of parchment. He picks up the first and unfolds it to read.
Megren pulls her knees up, crossing her elbows over them and resting her forehead on her knees.
Lanisen’s lips move as he reads, and he shifts to sit more comfortably, but after the first line he goes quite still.
Megren lifts just her eyes when he doesn’t say anything.
Lanisen shakes his head a little and reads it over again. He reaches for the second piece of parchment and opens it, then drops it with frustration. He scrambles to his feet and leaves the room, leaving the door open.
Megren gets up quickly to follow.
Colin’s room appears to be strangely and uncharacteristically bare. It is clean. There are no papers, books, weapons, armor, or clothes strewn about. Upon further inspection the cupboards are rather emptied with only a few possessions placed in them. The bed is made and a sword lays flat on the surface with the hilt towards the pillows. A fine layer of dust covers all the surfaces as if the room has not been touched in a few days.
Lanisen bangs on Colin’s door with a fist a few times and tries the handle. It opens readily, and he stands hesitantly in the doorway as it swings silently open, looking inside.
Megren mumbles something incomprehensible to Megren.
Lanisen steps inside numbly, staring at the empty room.
Megren says, “…Surely he told Lord Cole or the King his plan.”
Lanisen mumbles “Why didn’t he…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “… didn’t …”, to Lanisen.
Megren walks inside to stand next to him.
Lanisen turns abruptly, making for the door at a rapid pace.
Megren rubs her forehead and hurries to catch up, again.
The stables of Anvard are not large, but they are well-ordered and tidy. The wide alley runs parallel to the outside wall, with generously sized box stalls on either side. Many hold permanent residents, with the horse’s name on a wooden sign above the stall door, but several stand empty to receive visitors. The hard-packed dirt floor is kept well swept, and the stalls are clean, but there is a pervading smell of horse and hay that is not entirely unpleasant.
There is a small paddock in the east corner of the stable, and the far west end is devoted to tack storage and maintenance. A door in the west wall, kept closed most of the time, leads to the smithy.
Lanisen goes to Coalblack’s stall, and is visibly relieved to find him inside where he belongs. He reaches up to touch his neck, resting his forehead against the horse’s face, and looks around as if he expects to find Colin in the stable, hiding out.
Megren taps the toe of her boot on the ground uncertainly and confesses, “He left a buckler on my bunk.”
Lanisen repeats blankly, “A buckler?”
Megren lifts her shoulders.
Lanisen takes off again.
You stand in the Outer Gatehouse of Anvard. Its sturdy, iron-bound wooden gates loom to the east. Another pair stands open to the west. Within, you can see the busy Outer Ward, full of people coming and going from Anvard’s open air market.
Across the ward you see the inner gatehouse, Anvard’s second line of defense. To the east you can see the road leading away from the castle.
Lanisen has a quick conversation with the first guard, who directs him to the second guard. After another brief exchange, he turns away, looking lost.
Megren holds her upper arm with her opposite hand.
Lanisen says, “Yesterday morning, he left yesterday– he–” He shuts his eyes for a second and tries, “Narnia? He was talkin’ about runnin’ to Narnia, he’s– I can catch him up if I take Maestro, he ain’t on Coalblack, I bet he’s walkin’–” He’s already heading back to the inner gatehouse.
Megren catches him by the back of the tunic. “Hang on.”
Lanisen stops, but pulls away, trying to turn to look at her and get out of her grip at the same time.
Megren lets go, saying again. “Hang on. Why?”
Lanisen opens his mouth, but only shakes his head helplessly.
Megren says unhappily, “He must not have brought you for a reason?”
Lanisen stares at her. He turns away, not with intention this time, but with a sort of confused blankness. His hands come up to the sides of his head and grip his hair.
Megren tilts her head to the side regretfully and comes up beside him. “Maybe Lord Cole knows,” she says again.
Lanisen nods mutely.
Megren lifts her hand to rest it on his back again uncertainly.
Lanisen mumbles “Why would he leave without…”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “Why … … leave …”, to Lanisen.
Megren makes a sound with her lips and then turns to take his face in her hand. “Listen, Sir Colin’s been acting strange and secret and single about Aaron since before the fire. That’s not a reflection on you.”
Lanisen shudders and shuts his eyes. He shakes his head and opens his mouth, but he can’t speak for a minute. “I, I ran away, I ran away.”
Megren asks, “What?”
Lanisen says, “He told me, about Berke, I ran away–”
Lanisen says, “I didn’t go back, I should’ve gone back…”
Megren says firmly, “No.”
Lanisen says, plainly and desperately, looking directly at Megren, “This is my fault, I need to go after him.”
Megren says, “No. I mean it. This is not your fault. This is not your fault.”
Lanisen says, “What do I /do/ then?”
Megren says, “Take the half hour’s time to inquire first with Lord Cole, and if you still want to follow, take a second.”
Lanisen stares at her for a moment, then nods.
Megren gestures with her head. “He’ll be in his office.”
Lanisen’s eyes go to the inner gatehouse. He nods again and starts that way.
Megren follows after him, again.