Lanisen leaves the kennel, heading toward the inner gatehouse. He looks exhausted.
Maire enters the ward, her hair completely undone, and her skirts covered in sand. She also looks tired. She sees Lanisen exit the kennels and she comes alongside him, careful to keep healthy distance between them.
Lanisen does not see her for a moment, but he starts slightly when she comes enough into his peripheral vision that he can see her, and gives her a quick guarded look.
Maire nods in greeting. “Hello,” she says. She rubs at the bridge of her nose. She eyes Lanisen, her expression seemingly baffled.
Lanisen surveys her uneasily. He nods slightly to return her greeting, and picks up his pace, limping toward the gatehouse.
Maire follows in step beside him, but not trying to rush. She tries to read him, but recalls how miserably she failed the last time. Instead she says, her tone neutral. “Sir Colin returned, but you know that. You must be relieved?”
Lanisen weaves away from her, clearly trying to break away. He avoids her eyes. “Yes.”
Maire tries very hard to not pursue but not break the conversation. She seems satisfied with the answer, but continues. “Me too.” her voice is quiet, she watches Lanisen.
Lanisen gives her another half-fearful look, then ducks his head and presses on to the gatehouse.
You stand in the inner gatehouse, the last barrier to entry to the inner ward
of Anvard. To the east are wrought iron gates, capable of barring entry to
the castle. Knights stand guard here ensuring the safety of those within.
To the west is an arch leading into the inner ward.
Maire follows Lanisen, “Wait. Please.” she says.
Lanisen slows unwillingly and stops. He rubs his elbow, and his eyes dart out to the east side of the gatehouse to the guards.
Maire’s eyes follow Lanisens towards the guards. She remains where she stands. “I do not mean to alarm you. I am /sorry./” she says. She opens her mouth as if to ask a question, but slams it shut quickly.
Lanisen is still visibly uncomfortable, and does not look at her directly, except to glance at her dagger sheath.
Maire keeps her hands where Lanisen can see them, hoping it will help him. She visibly hesitates, a question at the ready as always, but she holds back. Instead she takes a step away. “Never mind…I am sorry. I shouldn’t have…” her words trail off, but she holds Lanisen’s gaze, even though he does not look directly at her.
Lanisen relaxes a little as she moves away. He hesitates, then backs away a step and turns to pass into the inner ward.
Maire before he walks away she does say, “Lanisen?”
Lanisen’s shoulders tense.
Maire takes the smallest step closer, her tone is hushed. “He was upset. You are his friend. You should be with him.” though her words are a statement, they hold the barest inclination of question.
Lanisen gives her an incomprehending look over his shoulder, and escapes.
Inner Ward of Anvard
Darrin straightens. “Power…” he repeats. “That’s…ohh. Meg, you’re brilliant.”
Maire comes walking into the ward, her hands tucked in her skirts and her brow furrowed in thought. She seems focused on her own inner thoughts.
Megren looks like she very much does not think this is proof of such a statement, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt. “Sir?”
Lanisen makes his way through the ward at a rapid limp a little ahead of Maire, his shoulders hunched and his head tucked down as if he doesn’t want to be seen.
Darrin says, “That explains everything much more efficiently.”
Darrin is standing near the door to the staff quarters with Megren. He frowns. “Though I’m not sure how it helps us, just yet.”
Megren’s attention falters when she spots Lanisen. Her lips pull downward and her brows draw together.
Maire rubs her forehead and watches Lanisen up ahead. She frowns to herself.
Lanisen keeps moving. He darts a glance back over his shoulder and nearly stumbles when he catches Maire watching him.
Darrin touches Megren’s elbow and nods at Lanisen questioningly.
Megren just nods, already pulling away to come up along Lanisen’s side, her body partially blocking him from the view of the rest of the ward.
Maire pauses mid step, her eyes landing on Megren and Darrin. She freezes, moving only to push wind blown strands of her unbound hair out of her face.
Lanisen draws up abruptly and makes a veering movement away from Megren, until he realizes who it is. He hesitates, still half-poised to push on to the staff quarters, and looks between her and Darrin.
Megren puts her hand to his back, giving him a soft nudge toward the staff quarters. She gestures with her head for Sir Darrin to pull away from the doorway.
Darrin gives a friendly wave to Maire and moves in her direction.
Maire never losing her gaze of the threesome, Maire continues to make her way across the ward toward the kitchen. She sees Sir Darrin wave and gives a nod, but she keeps moving.
Lanisen dips a quick bow to Darrin as he moves on. He casts a quick searching glance after Maire, and slips through the door into the tower.
Megren follows Lanisen.
Lanisen begins toward his room, digging the key out of his pocket. The dexterity of his right hand seems to be suffering, and he has to try several times to get the key into the keyhole.
Megren asks, “Lanisen? Do you — Can I help?”
Lanisen switches hands and succeeds in opening the door. He shakes his head a little.
Megren looks very doubtful.
Lanisen says, “I’m okay, it’s okay.”
Megren hesitates, and then takes his wrist to give him a peck on the cheek and backs off, nodding to indicate she’ll leave him his space.
Lanisen doesn’t pull away. He closes his eyes briefly, then gives her a grateful look before he slips into the refuge of his room.
Megren watches him uncertainly, then turns around to go back into the ward.
There is a knock at Lanisen’s door. Two raps.
After a brief hesitation, the lock clicks. The door opens and Lanisen looks out, his face showing the pale, dark-eyed quality that usually lingers a while after an anxious moment.
Colin stands there uncertainly.
Colin takes a breath, tries to say something, then swallows and takes another breath.
Lanisen looks at him for a moment, then looks away and opens the door a little wider so he can come in.
Colin’s shoulders droop down a fraction with relief and he steps into Lanisen’s room, slowly turning to face him.
Lanisen doesn’t look at him. He gestures at the chair.
Colin glances at him as if to make sure he’s sure.
Lanisen sits down on the bed.
Colin moves toward said chair, walking stiffly as he tries to mask the limp in his left leg. He sits slowly, looking over at Lanisen. “F–for what it’s worth…I’m really sorry, Lanisen.” He says finally.
Lanisen darts a brief glance at him, and his eyes skitter away. He rubs his wrists and shrugs.
Colin closes his eyes briefly. Any defense he has formed just dies on his lips and he sits there like a lump.
Lanisen doesn’t seem to want to break the silence. He sits, slightly slouched, not looking directly at Colin.
Colin rubs his eyes, swallowing around the lump in his throat as he tries to speak again. “I know I don’t have any…any right, to say sorry, or to ask you to forgive me. I did what I thought was best. I didn’t want to, or mean to hurt you. It doesn’t change the fact I did…”
Lanisen exhales and says, without looking at him, “Please don’t.”
Colin’s brows knit with confusion. “Don’t what?”
Lanisen says, “This, right– now. I don’t want to talk about it, right now.”
Colin says, “Oh–oh, ah…all right?” He presses his lips together, lost at where to proceed from here.
Lanisen is silent. He clarifies after a moment, “I don’t want to hear…” He rubs his wrists again and stops, his jaw tense.
Colin doesn’t say anything. He drops his eyes to his hands.
Lanisen says abruptly, “I was gonna, I was– I was goin’ to Carmichael.” His satchel is still packed by the door, and his shelf is stripped of the more essential tinctures and ointments.
Colin’s face grows alarmed as that sinks in. “Why? It’s not safe…”
Lanisen says bitterly, “Why do you /think/.”
Colin’s voice is weak. “Lanisen, no…”
Colin says, “I told you I was safe…”
Lanisen looks at him flatly.
Colin fists his hands in his hair, groaning. He starts to say, “I was–” then he cuts himself off, remembering Lanisen didn’t want to hear.
Lanisen goes silent again.
Colin’s breathing is a little shaky as he clenches the arms of the chair.
Lanisen looks at his hands.
Colin mumbles “I’m … to protect you.”, to Colin.
Lanisen says, “You left.”
Colin closes his eyes tightly, pained. “I’m trying to protect you.” He repeats. “I’m so sorry…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this.”
Lanisen says, “You didn’t say when you’d be back, you didn’t leave… /orders/, you didn’t– I didn’t think you were /comin’/ back, I thought–”
Colin’s words come out a strangled cry. “I /wasn’t/ coming back!”
Lanisen pulls into himself at that, and looks away.
Colin’s breathing is shallow and rapid. “I wasn’t supposed to come back. I was prepared not to. I was supposed to find that wretch and put and end to this so you’d never have to worry again, so you’d always be safe and they’d never come after you or Ara.”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth and stares fixedly at his hands. After a moment, he draws a breath through his nose and uses a bad name in reference to Colin.
Colin flinches, closing his eyes again. He doesn’t deny it or protest.
Lanisen folds forward and clasps his hands over the nape of his neck, bracing his elbows on his knees, and repeats the name. He is shaking.
Colin grits his teeth, holding himself to the chair, refraining from going to Lanisen.
Lanisen’s breathing comes ragged, halfway to sobs. “Please go,” he manages after a moment. “Please go, please go…”
Colin’s breath catches, stricken. He pushes his lips together and doesn’t bother to fight the tears that roll from his eyes. He stands, lurching a little on his leg. The chair tips over as he limps towards Lanisen’s door.
Lanisen jumps, and covers his face.
Colin doesn’t close the door behind him.