Abandoned House
Lanisen and Cassandra’s childhood home
Western Archenland

Cassandra is stoking the fire, preparing to make some more soup.

Lanisen slips back into the house after dusk, shivering. He hesitates at the door, looking toward the hearth, then makes his way toward where he has left his satchel.

Cassandra looks up at him, surprise on her face. However, when he moves to his satchel, she looks away with a slight resignation in her face.

Lanisen kneels, searching through his satchel. He digs out a small jar of ointment and sits back on the floor with his back to Cassandra, unscrews the lid, and pulls his collar enough to the side that he can rub the stuff into his bad shoulder. A strong smell of rosemary fills the room.

Cassandra pokes the fire, her voice quiet, “If I’m not a monster, than why does everything I do ended up hurting those close to me?”

Lanisen shuts his eyes and exhales as the ointment begins to work. Still holding himself stiffly, he screws the lid back onto the jar and scoots back to huddle against the wall. He doesn’t answer Cassandra.

Cassandra goes quiet again. She begins to chop the vegetables for the stew. Depending on the angle in which Lanisen can see the fire reflecting on Cass’ face, red eyes may be detected.

Lanisen keeps quiet and shuts his eyes again. He leans his good shoulder and the side of his head against the wall, kneading his right shoulder absently with his left hand.

Cassandra stands to her feet and pours the vegetables into the broiling water. Her motions are automatic and tired.

Lanisen looks asleep, except for the circular motion of his thumb digging into his shoulder below his collarbone, and the tight, pained cast to his face.

Cassandra finally turns to look at him, concern on her face. “We need to get you to a healer.”

Lanisen says in a soft rasp, not opening his eyes, “I been.”

Cassandra looks like she wants to go to him but remains in her spot.

Lanisen finally sighs and shifts to lay down. He curls onto his side, his face still tense and pinched, not sleeping.

Cassandra grabs one of the blankets and goes to cover him gently.

Lanisen flinches slightly when the blanket touches him, but he opens his eyes and draws it up over his shoulders gratefully.

Cassandra doesn’t meet his eyes as she says, “I’m sorry.” She goes back to the fire.

Lanisen watches her, pain in his face, but doesn’t say anything.

Cassandra stirs the soup quietly. “I trust you.”

Lanisen doesn’t answer right away. “All right,” he answers finally.

Cassandra’s voice sounds resigned, “I guess we don’t have to wait for Colin.”

Lanisen rouses a little at this. He looks at her searchingly, confused.

Cassandra keeps her back to him, not saying anything further.

Lanisen waits, unwilling to push.

Cassandra says, “We can leave when you want.”

Lanisen is quiet for a while. He finally says softly, “All right.”

Cassandra bangs the spoon against the pot before tasting it. She crinkles her nose a bit before setting the spoon down on the hearth. She sits down against the wall and wraps her arms around herself.

Lanisen asks, “Tomorrow mornin’, maybe?”

Cassandra shrugs.

Lanisen doesn’t push the matter.

Cassandra just stares at the wall, resignation in her face. For once in her life, there is no suppressed fire in her eyes, just emptiness.

Lanisen watches her a moment longer. He lets his eyes drift shut, his face and lips still pale, his left hand still trying to squeeze the cramp out of his shoulder.

As the stew starts to boiling, Cass gets up and moves to the pot to the hearth.

Lanisen finally sits up, though he keeps the blanket and still looks terribly weary. “What’re you thinkin’?” he asks after a few moments.

Cassandra looks at him, “Doesn’t matter.”

Lanisen looks down.

Cassandra says, “Soup is ready.” She begins to make him a bowl.

Lanisen doesn’t comment. He watches distantly, as if not really seeing what she’s doing.

Cassandra brings him a bowl, setting it down beside him. She returns to her corner, not getting any herself.

Lanisen asks uncertainly, “You’re not gonna eat?”

Cassandra says, “Not hungry right now.”

Lanisen asks, “You made enough for you too, though?”

Cassandra nods wordlessly.

Lanisen accepts this. He picks up the bowl.

Cassandra lays down, rolling over to turn her back to him. She curls up into a tight ball.

Lanisen sips some of the broth, but mostly just pushes things around in the bowl, not really eating.


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