Lanisen is working alone in the strangely quiet kennels. There are only a couple of hounds present, and Danall and Kirb are nowhere to be seen. The air smells of soap and fresh rosemary.
Cassandra enters the kennels, darting a quick look over her shoulder as she does.
Lanisen straightens from where he has been sweeping dust and straw into a fat pile in the middle of the room and turns toward the propped-open door at the sound of her footsteps. He tilts his head at her questioningly.
Cassandra takes another quick dart around the room before crossing her arms, “Hey.”
Lanisen asks warily, “What’s goin’ on?”
Cassandra shrugs, “Can’t a sister visit her brother?”
Lanisen pulls his lower lip between his teeth and gives her an uncertain look.
Cassandra asks, “You eatin’?”
Lanisen says, “I’m sweepin’.”
Cassandra rolls her eyes.
Lanisen shifts his weight a little impatiently. “Had porridge this mornin’ from the big pot, same as everyone else. I was only not eatin’ cause Sir Colin said not to.”
Cassandra smirks, “Good. I made the porridge.”
Lanisen says, “It was good.”
Cassandra snorts, “Of course it was good, I made it, didn’t I?”
Lanisen resumes sweeping. He glances at her sidelong after a moment and says, “Why’re you jumpy?”
Cassandra looks down at her feet, “Looks like my feet on planted on the ground.”
Lanisen says, “Cass.”
Cassandra says, “I ain’t jumpy. Sometimes I just feel like someone is watching is all.”
Lanisen straightens, turning toward her. He looks concerned and alarmed, and he asks, “What’s– you seen somethin’, or?”
Cassandra raises her hand, “Relax, I ain’t seen nothing. I probably just need more sleep.”
Lanisen asks anxiously, “You’d say if somethin’ was wrong, right?”
Cassandra gives him a look, “Of course, I would.”
Lanisen nods. He doesn’t seem quite satisfied, but he returns to sweeping, herding the pile of dust and rubbish toward the door.
Cassandra sits on the floor where he has already swept.
Lanisen shoos the dust out the door and leans the broom against the wall. He wipes his hands on his shirt and rubs his shoulder, then crosses to sit on the hearth next to her.
Cassandra leans against the wall, “How you feeling?”
Lanisen considers this. He lets out a little bitter, laughing breath through his nose, raises his eyebrows, and shuts his eyes for a second. “You?”
Cassandra’s eyes narrow. “Just trying to help…..”
Lanisen blinks and turns to look at her.
Cassandra holds his gaze, “What?”
Lanisen says, “Nothin’, I didn’t– sorry, what?”
Cassandra says, “I said i was just trying to help. You know I’m no good at the lovey dovey stuff. ”
Lanisen wrinkles his nose in confused alarm at her.
Cassandra decides to just stop talking.
Lanisen ventures after an uncertain pause, “How’re you?”
Cassandra shrugs, “Fine. Nothing new going on.”
Lanisen nods. He hesitates. “Have you– d’you know anything about Maire, what’s goin’ on there?”
Cassandra looks up at him, “What do you mean?”
Lanisen shrugs. “Is there– you know, anything new? I know they didn’t find anything in her room, did they… have you heard anything?”
Cassandra shakes her head, “I went to visit her the other day. She won’t confess nor defend herself. She is a stupid one in my opinion.”
Lanisen glances at her. “You were friends,” he realizes after a second, and his expression falls a little with sympathy.
Cassandra snorts, “Lanisen, I do not have friends.”
Lanisen frowns, but keeps his disagreement quiet.
Dalia knocks gently on the doorframe, calling softly “Lanisen?”
Cassandra looks up at the knock, her hand moving down to her belt.
Lanisen glances toward the propped-open door. He gets to his feet, already smiling. “C’mon in, Dalia.”
Dalia enters, a small basket on her arm. She looks about to speak when she spies Cassandra. “Oh! I’m sorry… I don’t want to interrupt.”
Cassandra shrugs, “You ain’t.”
Lanisen shakes his head to confirm Cassandra’s words. “You’re fine.”
Dalia nods, still hesitating. “Are the dogs well?” She asks, glancing around.
Dalia asks, “All been well and everything?”
Lanisen glances around the empty kennel and says, “Yeah, yeah, Danall and Kirb are coursin’ today, they’ll be back… I s’pose another hour, maybe. I’m on cleanin’ detail.” He grins crookedly and gestures at the broom.
Cassandra looks confused, “Coursin?”
Dalia exclaims, “Oh! Alright, okay,” answering like she knows what she’s talking about and probably answering too quickly. She offers a timid grin back at Lanisen and nods.
Lanisen says, “Huntin’, sorry. They’ll prob’ly bring back a couple hares, a hart if they’re lucky.”
Dalia glances between Cassandra and Lanisen. She shifts her basket to the other hand.
Lanisen asks, “How’re you, Dalia?”
Dalia says, “I’m alright.””
Dalia asks tentatively, “You?”
Lanisen glances at the broom rather than look straight at Dalia, and he rubs his elbow as if he would like something to be doing with his hands. “I’m– I’m okay.”
Cassandra observes this with a frown.
Dalia nods, silently.
Lanisen says, “Um.” He casts about for a second, then says, “All the young hounds are on the hunt, but Nia’s here?”
Dalia offers the basket to Lanisen suddenly as if she’s forgotten it was on her arm. “Oh… um here.”
Lanisen blinks at the basket and looks uncertainly between it and Dalia’s face before reaching out. “What…?”
Cassandra peers to look at the basket.
Dalia says, “Um…. well I promised and um… well, I made it. Made it at home to so.””
Cassandra asks, “What is it?”
Lanisen asks, “Cobbler?”
Dalia nods timidly. “Mother and I tested the ingredients…so…um… and um…you can share it with um Cassandra if you like.”
Cassandra takes a step closer, sniffing it.
Lanisen’s eyes seek out Dalia’s, and his mouth opens a little. He closes his mouth again, and swallows, and he says a little huskily, “Thank you.”
Cassandra mutters casually to him.
Cassandra mumbles “We can feed it to a animal or something to make sure before we eat it.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “… … feed … … … … … something … … sure … we … …”, to Lanisen.
Dalia nods, she offers Lanisen a small smile. “You’re welcome.”
Lanisen shifts and frowns at Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “Stop it, it’s Dalia, she wouldn’t.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “… it, … … … wouldn’t.”, to Cassandra.
Cassandra shrugs, replying.
Cassandra mumbles “I didn’t know her that well. But I’m not a great judge of character.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “I didn’t … … that … But … … a … judge of …”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen glances at Dalia, apology in his face, and replies to his sister.
Lanisen mumbles “I do, and I trust her. It’s fine.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “I … and … trust … It’s fine.”, to Cassandra.
Cassandra shrugs again.
Dalia tries to offer Lanisen an encouraging smile, while nibbling on her lip.
Lanisen glances around the kennel. “No spoons here,” he says. “I’ll– I’m gonna run to the kitchen and grab some, real quick.”
Dalia nods, making to leave as well.
Cassandra nods, “Okay.” She goes to sit back down.
Lanisen asks Dalia, “You’ll stay and share with us, yeah?”
Dalia nods, her face brightening. “I will.”
Cassandra shoots Lanisen a look but remains silent.
Lanisen says, “All right, sit tight, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Cassandra looks at Dalia, “What kind of ingredients did you use?”
Dalia takes a deep breath, before reciting the list of ingredients. “There’s Flour, and water, and salt, and cinnamon. Some apples, a duck’s egg and some sugar.”
Cassandra says, “I like Cinnamon.”
Dalia nods. “So do I.”
Cassandra leans against the wall, “You cook?”
Dalia says, “A little. For my mother and…and friends.””
Colin walks through the ward and hesitantly approaches the kennels. He holds a bowl in each hand. Sticking his head through the open door, he glances around, looking for someone.
Dalia says, “Do..do you?””
Cassandra is sitting on the floor talking to Dalia, “Do I cook? Well I don’t work in the kitchens for nothing.”
Dalia hehs softly, and glancing down at the floor.
Colin ers when he sees the two maids and he nods a greeting. “Sorry to interrupt…” His gaze flickers to Cass briefly and he begins to turn away.
Dalia instantly drops a curtsy. “Sir Colin.” She hesitates. “Are you looking for Lanisen?”
Cassandra scrambles up, also dropping a curtsy.
Colin automatically starts to raise a hand to do a customary nervous move probably like rub the back of his neck but then he realizes he’s holding a bowl in each hand and he stares at them, blinking in confusion. “Ahh… Yes, I was.”
Lanisen returns after a few minutes, three spoons clutched in his right hand. He stops in the doorway.
Cassandra replies, “He went to the kitchens….” She trails off as he reappears.
Colin hesitates once more. “Hey…Lanny. Sorry. I didn’t know you had company.”
Lanisen doesn’t seem to know where to look. He bows. “It’s all right, sir.”
Colin says right away, “I’ll get out of your way.”
Cassandra remains quiet.
Dalia glances from Sir Colin to Lanisen, looking rather relieved that Lanisen has returned.
Lanisen shakes his head and says again, “It’s fine.”
Cassandra bows, “I should get back to work anyway.”
Colin shakes his head. “No, don’t let me interrupt…ah, sorry. Oh, um… Cook made some ice cream with some dried strawberries she’s been saving…tastes pretty good. You all should try it.” He sets the bowls down.
Dalia steps out of way to let either Cassandra pass or Sir Colin. “It is good to see you well, Sir.”
Colin dips his head a little. “Thanks..thanks…”
Cassandra curtsies, “Cook will get mad.” She makes her way to the door.
Lanisen rubs his elbow, glancing between them. He steps automatically out of the way as Cassandra passes.
Colin watches her leave, his face growing troubled.
Dalia hesitates, glancing from Colin to Lanisen and the spoons to the basket she’s brought and back again.
Lanisen looks down at the spoons in his hand and shuffles them to his other hand. He nearly fumbles one, but catches it. “Um,” he says, and offers one to Dalia, while explaining to Colin, “Dalia made, um, she made some cobbler, you want…?” He offers the other to Colin.
Colin is finally free to run a hand through his hair. “That’s nice of you to offer…I don’t want to impose. Thank you though.”
Dalia says, “”You’re welcome to Sir” She looks to Colin and Lanisen again as if trying to decide something. ”
Lanisen nods a little, still holding the spoon out.
Colin hesitantly takes the spoon. “If you’re sure.”
Dalia looks to Lanisen
Lanisen nods again, glancing briefly at Colin and away. He nods to the table, and Dalia’s basket. “Shall we?”
Colin lets the two of them take the lead on this.
Dalia nods, making her way to the table. She returns for the ice cream and brings them also to the table.
Dalia lifts the cobbler from the basket, and removes the small cloth covering it.
Colin does his best to mask the fact that he’s eying the cobbler warily.
Lanisen follows Dalia and sits on the bench on the side closer to the wall. He glances at Colin again, and away.
Colin looks really lost now that he has to decide where to sit. He eventually opts for across from Lanisen.
Dalia glances between the two quickly and surreptitiously, choosing a middle-ish seat.
Lanisen asks Dalia, nodding at the cobbler, “You wanna do the honors?”
Dalia nods, slicing the cobbler into several pieces.
Colin watches, staying quiet. He spins the spoon nervously between his fingers.
Lanisen fusses with his own spoon, trying to get it situated in his right hand, then switching to the less coordinated but stabler grip of his left.
Dalia takes her spoon and scoops out a spoonful, chewing slowly.
Colin watches her do this, then rubs the space between his eyes. He reaches with his spoon and scoops out a little bite. He looks at it, then eats it.
Lanisen glances from the corner of his eye to Colin, then reaches out at the same time and takes a spoonful as well.
Dalia reaches for another spoonful, seeming to enjoy her handiwork. She looks to Colin and Lanisen for their approval.
Colin gives Dalia an apologetic smile, likely for his uneasiness and he reaches for another bite. “It tastes good, Dalia. Thank you for sharing it.”
Lanisen eats slowly, savoring it. He makes an appreciative noise, nodding at Dalia.
Colin appears to enjoy this bite, closing his eyes and chewing slowly.
Dalia nods to Sir Colin and Lanisen, a wide smile breaking out before she is able to subdue it properly. “Thank you. I am glad to hear you are pleased with it.”
Lanisen says, “It’s good, it’s real good. All your cooking’s good.”
Dalia grins. “Thank you.”
Colin says, “I don’t think I’ve ever sampled your cooking before, Dalia. You’re talented. It must have taken you years to build this skill.”
Dalia says, “I don’t believe so, Sir. I learned from my mother growing up. She taught me so I could take care of them when she was busy with the little ones.”
Colin takes another bite and says, “She taught you well.”
Lanisen continues to eat quietly, evidently enjoying each bite.
Dalia smiles, “Thank you, Sir. I will be sure to tell her.”
Dalia takes another spoonful, savoring the cobbler as well.
Lanisen asks, “Cinnamon in this?”
Colin takes a final bite. “Apple was a good choice. Good time of year for apples.”
Dalia smiles at Sir Colin’s compliment. “I always love this time of year, with the apples ripening, and the colors of the leaves changing. The weather getting cooler.”
Lanisen nods, silently agreeing.
Dalia turns, glancing towards the doorway to see if she can see the sky. “I should probably attend to Milady and see if she requires anything.”
One of the guards comes running across the ward and sticks his head into the kennels. “Milord, forgive me. But Lord Peridan requests your presence in the Dungeons.” He frowns, “Something is going on with that girl, Maire.”
Lanisen’s eyes dart between the guard and Colin. “What is it, what’s goin’ on?”
Dalia glances up at the Guard concern on her face at the mention of the name ‘Maire’
The guard shrugs and motions for Sir Colin.
Colin lays his spoon down and rises with a groan, limping a little on his leg. “Thank you for the cobbler, Dalia. Good eve to you both. See you around, Lanisen.” he says, turning to follow the guard, muttering to himself. “Great Lion’s mane /now/ what…”
Lanisen watches him go, silent and unsatisfied.
Dalia nods and curtsies to Sir Colin looking rather concerned.
Dalia wraps her hands around her arms as she watches them go.
Lanisen looks back at Dalia, and at the remains of the cobbler. “Thanks,” he says. “That was, it was really good. Good of you to make it.”
Dalia glances to Lanisen, “Huh? Oh. You’re welcome it was my pleasure. She smiles, but it doesn’t stick slipping back into a worried expression as she glances back to the door. “Thanks…You…You can keep the rest if you want?”
Lanisen says, “You don’t– you don’t gotta–” He stops, and looks down, and when he looks back up it’s with a half-smile. “Thank you.”
Dalia smiles back.
Dalia seats herself and glances to the Ice cream Colin has brought “Shall we?”
Lanisen says, looking at the slightly melted ice cream, “Yeah, it’d– prob’ly shouldn’t waste it.”