Abrielle laughs quietly as Haft goes pink. She bobs her head a bit at Barret. “Hello Barret. Nice to meet you.”
A son of adam with grey-streaked hair says, “Pleasure to meet you”
Haft says, “Barret here is one of the few men like me in the barracks who’s past his first shave.”
Lanisen leaves the kennels, shutting the door securely behind himself, and heads across the ward toward the stables. He is purposeful in his movement and keeps his head down.
Abrielle laughs. “Finally!”
Barret grins, “Well that’s his polite way of saying we’re the old codgers among all these kids”
Colin emerges from the inner gates and begins to cross the ward, headed in the direction of the stables.
Haft chuckles. “Too true, though Captain Garian is catching up. But to answer your question Abrielle, I was heading into the forest. We’re searching for a fugitive and since I’ve got the tracking skills…” He shrugs. “Most likely she’s already moved on, but it’s something at least.”
Abrielle’s eyebrows fold. “So the fugitive is gone?”
Haft looks surprised. “You’ve heard about it already?”
Lanisen passes near enough to pick up on the topic of conversation, and his face twists with misery. He continues on, shoulders tense, not looking in the direction of the guards.
Barret says, “I would be surprised if the whole town hasn’t heard.”
Abrielle waves a dismissive hand. “Lady Avery told me someone else was suspected but she didn’t know if they were here or not when I spoke to her.”
Colin notices his squire walking towards the stables and he falls in step behind him, his face growing troubled at the look on Lanisen’s face. He quietly follows him.
Haft heaves a sigh. Focused on the conversation, he doesn’t notice Colin or Lanisen. “We don’t know where she is. Chances are she’s left the area. That’s the one thing about being a guard, I wish I could ride out and help with proper searches. But I guess if all the guard did so, we’d have no one left for defense of the castle. This is just a short foray, since I’ve got the afternoon free.”
Abrielle looks off to the woods. “I hope she doesn’t go to Coghill…” She pushes her mouth to the side and adds. “Well if I can be any help…”
Lanisen’s head turns slightly, and he hesitates in the stable doorway as if he can’t quite help listening. He slips inside when it seems there is no further news to be heard from their gossip.
Lanisen is just climbing the last few rungs of the ladder to the loft when Colin follows him in. His feet vanish over the edge.
Colin limps into the stable and pauses a moment, noticing the movement of Lanisen’s feet up in the loft. The knight limps towards the ladder and begins to make his way up, slowly. “Hey Lanny?”
Lanisen is already halfway across the loft, but he turns back toward the ladder when he is called.
Colin’s concerned face comes up over the edge and he hauls himself into the loft. “Want company?” He asks quietly.
Lanisen says, “Oh.” He shuts his eyes briefly, as if disoriented, then swallows and looks back at Colin. “Yeah, um. I was– I was gonna come find you.”
Colin nods a little. He struggles to his feet awkwardly, then makes his way towards a bale of hay to sit down on. “How are you holding up?” He asks, genuinely concerned.
Lanisen says, “Fine, I’m– I’m fine, um.” He rubs his elbow, not quite looking at Colin. “I was– I wanted to…”
Colin is patient, his voice kind. “Wanted to what?”
Lanisen says, almost distracted, “To ask– um.” He takes a deep breath. “I’m, I’d like to… leave. For a while. Go somewhere else, just– I dunno, for, a couple weeks, a– a month.” His eyes dart to Colin’s face, and then skitter away. “I wanted to ask your leave, sir.”
Colin grows quiet, his face sobering. “Lanisen, the accomplice is still out there.”
Lanisen says nothing to this. He shifts, and his face twists unhappily again.
Colin rubs the back of his neck as he considers this dilemma. “I take it you don’t want me accompanying you?”
Lanisen says nothing for a moment, but the answer is clear in the guilty, anxious look he gives Colin. He takes a deep breath and looks down at his hands, flexing the right deliberately. “I need to– think over some, some things, I need some time.”
Colin nods, his brows knitting together. “I understand this… however I am still concerned over your safety.”
Lanisen is silent. He rubs his wrists, watching the floor between himself and Colin.
Colin runs a hand through his hair, thinking. His eyes narrow when an idea comes to him and he looks up at Lanisen. “What if I asked Lord Peridan if you could travel with them to Chesterton? This would address both the safety issues, and your need to get away and reflect. He will be respectful and allow you your space. Would this be an agreeable compromise? I want to help you Lanny, I really do, and I want to still keep you safe.”
Lanisen exhales, his forehead creasing, and studies the floorboards to his left unhappily.
Colin falls silent, unsure of what to do. “You want to look for Cass alone, don’t you?”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth and doesn’t answer.
Colin runs a hand through his hair again and leans his elbows on his knees.
Lanisen says in a low voice, not looking at Colin, “If anybody can find her it’s me, if there’s anybody she’ll listen to it’s me.”
Colin closes his eyes and rubs them with one hand. “I know… But I can’t…I can’t let you go. It’ll cause more suspicion to fall on you. And the accomplice…Lanny I’d never forgive myself. Cass wouldn’t either.”
Lanisen says, “It wouldn’t, if I had your leave.”
Colin gently reminds him, “That doesn’t change the fact the accomplice is still free. Lanny… Cass is suspected of being involved…or even /being/ the accomplice. Everyone is so focused on finding her that right now anyone could slip around undetected.”
Lanisen argues, “If Cass is the accomplice that’s more reason I should go!”
Colin rises slowly from the bale of hay. “Lanisen, if she /is/ the accomplice that is one more reason why you should /not/! The Accomplice tried to /kill/ you!”
Lanisen says, “Aaron tried to kill me.”
Colin’s voice cracks just a little. “If she was working with him… Lanny? That means she was helping him. Try to kill you.” He pauses, closing his eyes. “And we know…” he stops himself.
Lanisen turns away for a moment, letting out a sharp breath. “If that’s so,” he says, turning back toward Colin, his voice deliberately quiet, “then I want to hear it from /Cass/. I want to know /why/.”
Colin says, “I want to hear it from her too. Why she let him out…why she’d…” He shakes his head.
Lanisen looks at him at this, desperately hopeful.
Colin’s eyes look a little haunted as he meets his squire’s gaze. “We must be patient.” He says quietly. “The guards are under strict orders not to harm her and they are to bring her directly to me. We’ll have our answers.”
Lanisen looks away.
Colin says faintly, “I’m sorry.”
Lanisen says, in a rather brittle voice, “Don’t worry about it.”
Colin presses his lips together and begins to make his way for the ladder, shuffling a little. He pauses, running a hand through his hair. “I shouldn’t even say this considering my job…and you won’t hear it from me again…but it might be best for her sake if she’s not found.”
Lanisen’s mouth opens slightly, and he looks back at Colin. His eyes have gone dark with bewildered fear.
Colin’s face looks defeated. “She’s done things that my protection won’t completely cover.”
Lanisen stares at him. “So have /I/!”
Colin’s voice is quiet. “From the looks of things, she poisoned the king’s nephew. I don’t know if I can save her from that. I’ll do everything I can… I cannot make promises because I am not in control of anything, anymore.”
Lanisen’s face goes slack and blank. He doesn’t look away from Colin’s face.
Colin cannot keep the hurt he feels from Cass’s betrayal from his face. “I’m doing what I can. I will let you know the minute I hear anything. If I ride out to look for her, you may accompany me any time. I do honestly hope you can have your escape, soon. I will work to allow that to happen. Forgive me, Lanisen.” He reaches for the ladder and begins to make his way down.
Lanisen backs to a haybale and sits down.
Colin climbs down the ladder, limps his way through the stables and departs into the ward.