Lanisen is kneeling by the hearth, sweeping out last night’s ashes. He has to jostle with an interested harrier for elbow room.
Peridan walks into the Kennels. Though his face is calm, there is a weariness that seems to be surrounding him. He goes over to one of the keepers, speaking quietly to him.
Lanisen says to the hound, exasperated, “/No/. Go on, get.” He gives the hound a shove in the shoulder to get his point across, and the hound trots away sulkily, her nose covered in ash.
The keeper points to where Lanisen is. Peridan thanks him before walking over to the man. He smiles faintly, “Do you wish that they could talk back?”
Lanisen starts slightly and turns to look up at Peridan. After a hesitation, he gets to his feet with a wince and bows, answering, “They just about do, milord.”
Peridan chuckles, “Well, you are a good listener, I figure. I did not mean to interrupt your duties but I was wondering if I might have a word?”
Lanisen says, “Ahhh…” He glances back at the fireplace and the bucket, and brushes at a gray smudgery on his shirt self-consciously. “Yeah, that’s– yes, sir.”
Peridan points upwards, “Perhaps, somewhere more comfortable?”
Lanisen finds a rag and wipes off his hands. He looks at Peridan briefly, apprehensive and assessing, then nods and steps to the side to let Peridan go first up the steps.
Peridan meets his gaze evenly as he nods before making his way up.
Peridan glances around, “Any place in particular you would like me to sit?”
Lanisen follows, lagging a little behind Peridan. “Ahh, uhm,” he says a little helplessly. “There’s no, there’s not really any– any chairs up here, there’s, Danall’s got some downstairs if you…”
Peridan smiles, “That spot looks nice.” He gently eases himself down on the floor, leaning his back against the wall. He winces slightly as he does so.
Lanisen winces in sympathy, rubbing the back of his neck. He looks distressed. “There’s– um, they’re a bit furred-up but the blankets make a right good seat.”
Peridan waves a hand, “I am quite comfortable, do not trouble yourself.” He smiles, “As I told Lady Avery the other day, after sleeping in a tree, anything is more comfortable to me.”
Lanisen shifts his weight and nods, subsiding. He rubs his wrists and watches the ground about halfway between himself and Peridan.
Peridan says, “Please, do not stand on my account, Lanisen.”
Lanisen murmurs apologies and finds a place on the floor across from Peridan. He settles back against the wall and loops his arms loosely around his knees.
Peridan rubs his eyes, the only sign that he is not as calm as his outward expression may tend to lead, “I’ll get straight to it. Do you know of my recent assignment of duty?”
Lanisen pauses uncertainly. “No, sir?”
Peridan says, “Sir Darrin has placed me in charge of the prisoner Darius and made me co-lead in this investigation.”
Lanisen says, “Oh.” Comprehension shows in his face, and a sort of resigned determination follows quickly after. “/Oh/.”
Peridan watches the man’s facial expressions. His voice is kind, “I know that this topic can be unpleasant.”
Lanisen says, “It’s–” He shakes his head a little and worries anxiously at the rope-marks on his wrists. “No, it’s, it’s fine.”
Peridan’s voice is still kind, “I wanted to hear from you, your thoughts on this supposed accomplice. Everything I have been gleaning is from second-hand sources.”
Lanisen asks, “My– my thoughts?”
Peridan nods, “Anything, anything you can tell me about her will be a big benefit to me.”
Lanisen shakes his head helplessly again. “I don’t, I’m– I’m not sure there /was/ one, sir.”
Peridan nods, “That is okay, Lanisen. If you can recall anything, I would appreciate it.”
Lanisen says, “I saw, um…” He swallows and tries to explain. “There were a lot of things that weren’t– /real/, sir.”
Peridan says, “Hallucinations, you mean.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. I guess.”
Peridan asks, “Sir Colin mentioned that you saw several women?”
Lanisen nods. “Men, too,” he adds quietly after a pause. “Other stuff.”
Peridan leans back, spreading his legs out in front of him, “Other stuff?” His tone is encouraging.
Lanisen says, “Um.” His breathing has quickened a little. “It– not, not real stuff.”
Peridan nods, “I know but if you want to process it…” He trails off.
Lanisen takes a deep breath and lets it out through his nose. He seems irritated with himself. “It was… a tomb,” he says, deliberate and measured, not looking at Peridan. “I was drugged out of my mind and scared, you can– you can figure out the rest.”
Peridan’s gaze does not leave the man, “I understand.”
Lanisen won’t look at him, but after a moment he shifts. “What were you wantin’ to ask, sir.”
Peridan says, “I just wanted to hear from you about the accomplice.”
Lanisen draws and releases another long breath. “There was– somebody brought and left a candle, and somebody took my pardon, and I can’t– I can’t swear to anything more’n that. I think it wasn’t Aaron.”
Peridan quirks a brow, “A candle…”
Lanisen says, “It–” He shuts his eyes tightly for a second, his face creased in concentration. “The, the door, it blew out when the door shut.”
Peridan strokes his chin, “Interesting.”
Lanisen’s forehead knits. “They didn’t mean to leave it. I took it, they didn’t mean for me to have it…”
Peridan smiles, “Very well done, Lanisen.”
Lanisen glances briefly at Peridan, and then away.
Peridan continues, “To be able to have the wits to steal a candle when in the state you were in. It speaks highly of your potential.”
Lanisen says, “It was light. I didn’t want to be left in the dark again.”
Peridan nods, “A very reasonable want.”
Lanisen says nothing more.
Peridan looks at his hand, “Lanisen, I know you do not trust me that well but I am fighting for the truth as best as I can.”
Lanisen’s eyes flicker to Peridan’s face.
Peridan asks plainly, “You doubt my words?”
Lanisen says, “No, sir.”
Peridan shifts a bit, letting the silence settle.
Lanisen stares at his wrists. “I think it was a woman,” he says finally. “She had– her face was covered.” He holds up his hand to demonstrate, covering his nose and mouth. “So I don’t know. Um. She– I think she had light eyes.”
Peridan points to his, “Like mine? Or lighter?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “I don’t know, it was– candlelight.”
Peridan asks, “And Aaron was not there?”
Lanisen pauses, then says with some certainty, “No.”
Peridan hmms, “That would provide slight credibility to his story.”
Lanisen lifts his eyes from his wrists to look questioningly at Peridan.
Peridan meets Lanisen’s gaze, “The prisoner claims to not know who this person is either.”
Lanisen’s eyes drop to the side. He is quiet for a moment, thinking, then he says softly as if to himself, “Then he prob’ly doesn’t have my pardon, huh.”
Peridan rakes his hair with his hand, “I do not know. I can ask him but I doubt it will not do any good.” There is a slight scowl that crosses his face before disappearing.
Lanisen says, “I already did.”
Peridan asks, “And what did he say?”
Lanisen says nothing for a moment. He finally shudders and shakes his head.
Peridan says, “For what it is worth, I am terribly sorry for what you went through.”
Lanisen is silent for a moment, looking at the ground, and his face looks aged and tired and miserable. He shakes his head. “Please don’t, sir.”
Peridan looks confused, “Do not what?”
Lanisen says, “It’s not, it– it don’t bear thinkin’ on.”
Peridan quietly assesses the man, “Lanisen, the pain you went through was not deserved. Do not allow yourself to think that it is nothing. Feel the pain, the grief. Learn from it, Heal, use it to make you a better man.”
Lanisen doesn’t look at him.
Peridan doesn’t move.
Lanisen stays silent, head lowered, knees up, elbows tucked in, wretchedly self-conscious. Finally he manages to ask, not looking up, “Was there… anythin’ else, sir?”
Peridan shakes his head, struggling to get up. He walks over to Lanisen and places a hand on his shoulder, “You are not alone in this. Lion works through the good and the bad.”
Lanisen makes a small movement when Peridan gets up, but stays where he is. He watches Peridan from the corner of his eye.
Peridan makes his way downstairs.