Knights’ Practice Room
Megren stands near the end of the room, dressed down for practice, hair braided back on either side and gathered together at the back into a very tiny bun so that it is out of her eyes and off her neck. She is facing a target and repeating the same three moves against it, her blade hitting the same spot on almost every repetition.
Lanisen peeks in through the door, leaning forward a little on his toes so he can check the room without fully entering. Finding Megren, he slips inside and finds a place on a bench about halfway down the room to sit without distracting her. He is carrying something wrapped in a napkin, or possibly multiple somethings.
Megren’s concentration does not seem easily disrupted; she does not even look up from her target to see who has come in until she has finished her routine. When she does finally take a look around, her face lights up at the sight of Lanisen, and she moves off the main practice floor toward him, wiping her brow with the back of her forearm.
Lanisen has leaned back against the wall, watching the windows and the view to be seen there, idly rolling the foot of his bad leg back and forth with a sort of contented peace. When Megren winds up, he shifts and straightens, turning toward her. “Hey,” he greets, and offers the napkin, which holds one of the particularly good meat pies from a particularly good vendor in the ward.
Megren grins, “Hey. What’s this?”
Lanisen says, “It was the last one. It looked lonely.”
Megren says, “So you thought you’d put an end to it? Grim, Lanisen.”
Lanisen says, “Such is life.” He gestures at the target. “Goin’ well?”
Megren sits beside him and pulls the crust off one side of the pie. “It’s easy to hit the right spot when you know ahead what move to make and your target never dodges.”
Lanisen hmms noncommittally and starts in on his own pie, which he seems to have been saving until he could eat with Megren.
Megren glances over at his whole pie and her lips quirk in a private, pleased sort of way. “What sort of trouble are the dogs giving you today?” She asks, settling back against the wall and picking up her waterskin to take a drink.
Lanisen says, “Oh, you know. Rebellions, revolts. The king is indisposed; long live the king. The usual.”
Megren asks, “Wait, which dog is the king?”
Lanisen shrugs and takes a bite of his pie. “Whichever one’s got the boot or the bone or whatever they’ve taken it into their heads to squabble over, I reckon.”
Megren asks, “Can I be the king?”
Lanisen says, “I dunno. It’s a big responsibility.”
Megren says, “I could handle it.”
Lanisen asks, “Have you got a boot?”
Megren says, “I’ve got /two/ boots.”
Lanisen says, “I’d say you’re qualified, then.”
Megren says, “I knew it.”
Lanisen grins around another bite of pie. His eyes shift back to the target.
Megren asks, “You want to have a go?”
Lanisen says, “Oh.” He shifts and shakes his head. “I went this morning. Thanks, though.”
Megren nods. “All right.”
Lanisen asks, “What’re you doin’ after?”
Megren says, “I’m done, that was the last.”
Lanisen asks, “Next?”
Megren asks, “Doing something with you, sounds like?”
Lanisen says, “Oh, er. I just wanted to be sure I wasn’t keepin’ you from somethin’, is all.”
Megren says, “Nah, you aren’t.”
Lanisen says, “Good, all right.” He pauses, then asks, “D’you want to go walk someplace?”
Megren asks, “Sure. Your leg’s not hurting you?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “It ain’t been so bad, lately,” he adds. “Long as I don’t push it too hard.”
Megren asks, “Really?”
Lanisen shrugs a little and nods, smiling faintly. “I been doin’ stairs a bunch, and ain’t hurt after.”
Megren asks, “Even with the cold?”
Lanisen says, “Cold don’t bother my leg so much, mostly.”
Megren says, “Oh. Your hand’s still bad.”
Lanisen says, “Don’t need my hand to walk.”
Megren nods, and places her hands on her thighs, then pushes off the bench. “Where to?”
Lanisen pauses, then admits, “I hadn’t actually gotten that far. Um, somewhere– outside the castle, if that’s–” He stops and gives her a quick assessing look. “You just been drillin’, are you tired?”
Megren says, “Well, I’d rather not go for a swim or a climb just now.”
Lanisen laughs at this, but says, “Let’s not go now, then.”
Megren asks, “What, not at all, or not climbing?”
Lanisen says, “Let’s go walkin’ some other time when you ain’t just been workin’ hard.”
Megren says, “I don’t mind.”
Lanisen gives her a narrow, appraising look.
Megren says, “I really don’t.”
Lanisen persists, “Would you say if you did, though?”
Megren screws up her face disapprovingly.
Lanisen lets out a huff of breath. “Okay, all right.” He tips his head at her. “You know the country ’round here better’n I do, where do you want to go?”
Megren tilts her head back. “Make me do /every/thing.”
Lanisen says reasonably, “I brought you pie.”
Megren asks, “How far do you want to go?”
Lanisen says, “Far enough you can’t see the castle.”
Megren says, “All right.”
Lanisen says, “Could just follow the road a ways, I s’pose.”
Megren says, “No, I know where we’re going.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! All right. You want me to fetch anything before we go, or…?”
Megren says, “Well, I better change, so you can grab whatever you want while I do that.”
Lanisen asks, “Is it far, should I get food or anything?”
Megren says, “A little far. I never say no to food.”
Lanisen gets to his feet, brushing crumbs off his trousers. “I’ll get food. Meet you in the outer ward?”
Megren says, “Sounds good.”
Megren skips down the steps of the north stair, dressed warmly in her cloak and gambeson.
Haft appears to be just getting off duty as he farewells Gearn. Seeing Megren, he lifts a hand in greeting.
Lanisen is waiting outside the inner gate, sitting on a crate, his satchel on his knees. He gets to his feet when she reaches the bottom of the steps.
Megren grins at Lanisen, sticking her hands in the pockets of her cloak. “Ready to go? Oh, hello, Haft!” she adds the last when she sees the guard.
Haft looks slightly uncertain as he realizes who she’s meeting, but continues toward her. “Heading out for a walk? Bit brisk.”
Lanisen straightens slightly. He dips his head to Haft politely.
Megren says, “Thought we’d pop out into the forest for a bit.”
Haft seems more at ease after Lanisen’s reaction and nods back. “Why?” he asks, “Is it going somewhere before Spring?”
Megren squints an eye at him and retorts, “Shall I not spend time with you ’til the spring either then?”
Lanisen rubs his elbow and keeps quiet.
Haft says, “Well, old bears do hibernate, you know.”
Megren says, “Good, one less friend to have to keep track of.”
Haft puts his hand over his heart, mock-wounded.
Megren says, “Oh, please.”
Haft asks, “Yes, but you see, I’m still capable of chess and cubes and reasonably intelligent conversation in the winter. What about the trees are you keen to see?”
Megren wrinkles up her nose and glances at Lanisen.
Lanisen takes a second to realize a response is required from him, and he looks slightly put on the spot when he does. “Um, it’s– fancied a walk, is all.”
Megren looks back to Haft. “Can’t walk on you.”
Haft folds his arms. “Not unless you made a bear rug, no.”
Megren’s mouth curls in distaste. “… No thank you.”
Lanisen cracks a faint, baffled smile.
“An old joke,” Haft explains.
Megren glances at Lanisen again. “We better go soon if we want to be back before dark.”
Lanisen says, “Oh– sure, yeah.” He glances at the sky and hauls his satchel up over his shoulder.
Haft says, “Have a nice walk.”
Megren asks, “See you in the mess after?”
Haft says, “Probably.”
Megren says, “Good. I owe you a trouncing in chess.”
Haft says, “Hmm, that almost sounds like a threat. Perhaps we should have a witness to ensure fair play.” He glances at Lanisen.
Lanisen glances between them and takes a half step back. “I– I don’t, I never played chess.
Megren says, “I’m sure Sir Darrin will like to gloat when I eat my words. We’ll ask him.”
Haft smiles faintly. “Knowing the game ain’t required. Just make sure she doen’t move the pieces while I’m refilling my cider.” With this parting offer he turns and heads toward the inner gatehouse.
Lanisen ducks his head to Haft again.
Megren screws up her face a bit, then lifts her shoulder and and moves toward the gate.
Lanisen doesn’t realize she’s moving for a second, then hurries to follow her.
In the Archenland Forest
Light beams through patches of open branches above, and you can see that you stand on a well-worn path running east and west through the forest. Purple mountains rise up northward, separating Archenland from Narnia. To the south, the sprawling forest continues. Tall beech trees line either side of the path and provide ample shade. On the edges of the path, you occasionally spot small groups of flowers in myriad pastel hues.
Megren leads Lanisen through the open woodland until they reach a thicker part of the forest. She pauses for a moment to get her bearings, and then proceeds through the brush, taking him slightly uphill. Soft, pale yellow leaves, and crisp brown leaves, and mulchy near-black leaves spread over the whole forest floor, making it almost impossible to tread lightly, although Megren mostly seems to manage to do so.
Lanisen trails behind her. He’s noisier, but doesn’t seem to be bothered. He breathes deeply as they go, turning his head from side to side to watch the nuthatches and chickadees in the underbrush.
Megren pauses rather suddenly, very silent.
Lanisen draws up behind her, looking for whatever has caught her attention. He holds his breath.
Megren calls in a clear, even keel, “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee!” The chickadees do not seem amused, although it’s not a /terrible/ likeness.
Lanisen’s breath all explodes in a startled burst of silent laughter.
Megren grins, and keeps moving.
Lanisen follows after her, trying to get his chortles under control.
Megren giggles in spite of it being her own joke, finding his mirth catching.
Lanisen asks, after a few moments, “Where is it we’re goin’?”
Megren says, “Just, the trees clear a bit up here and you can see the mountains and the forest.”
Lanisen ohhs, craning his neck to try to see ahead.
Megren says, “No peeking.”
Lanisen complains, “What?”
Megren says, “Peekers get blindfolded.”
Lanisen narrows one eye at her.
Megren turns backward to grin at him as she walks.
Lanisen sticks out his tongue.
Megren sticks hers out in return and turns back around.
Lanisen follows, keeping half an eye on her to make sure she isn’t looking, and peering ahead.
Megren knowingly halts very suddenly in front of him, so that if his attention is on anything other than her, he will very likely run into her.
Lanisen lets out an ‘uff’ sort of sound at the impact and steps back quickly.
Megren grins at him. “Sneak.”
Lanisen asks, “Why’ve we stopped?”
Megren says, “See if you were peeking.”
Lanisen protests guiltily, “I wasn’t!”
Megren says, “Yeah, I’m sure.”
Lanisen’s eyes flicker past her to look ahead.
Megren says, “We’re almost there.”
Lanisen grumbles good-naturedly, grinning.
Megren is true to her word, and they soon emerge from a stand of birches onto a shallow hill. The mountains rise purple against the evening sky to the north, and the forest falls away grey-green to all other sides.
Lanisen brings his hands up to lace at the back of his head, turning in place, drawing a happy breath of the chill air.
Megren watches him with a vicariously pleased expression.
Lanisen drops his hands, rubbing his cheek, and turns one more time. “How’d you find this place?”
Megren says, “Oh, da and I used to go up here all the time. In fact–” she pauses, turning once in a circle and then making another half circle before taking several strides toward a tall birch. There is a wound in its trunk at a little about hip height. She kneels to rub at it with her thumb. “This is mine.”
Lanisen follows her and crouches down to see, wincing a little. “When you were that tall?” he asks with sudden insight.
Megren shakes her head. She brushes at the dirt with the tips of her fingers, then pulls a knife out from her boot to loosen it.
Lanisen tips his head at her in wordless question, and watches curiously.
Megren’s digging takes a little while, as, while the dirt is not /too/ tightly packed, it is hardened with cold. Finally, she unearths a very small metal box, about the size of the boxes small lockets or other cheap jewelry are sometimes sold in.
Lanisen’s mouth forms an ‘O’, and he glances from the box to Megren’s face, trying to gauge from her expression what might be inside.
Megren pushes the sliding lid of the box open, the work taking some effort, as it is a bit rusted shut. She pulls from it a piece of blue seaglass, a small wire ring with a green glass bead, and an old coin, tarnished with age.
Lanisen catches his lower lip between his teeth and glances at Megren again, the corners of his eyes crinkled up with unabashed delight.
Megren says, “Forgot what all was in here.”
Lanisen asks, “How old were you, d’you think?”
Megren tries the ring on her fourth finger, and, when it doesn’t fit, her pinky. “I guess about nine maybe? I remember da bringing the glass back for me, but I don’t remember the story on the ring or the coin.”
Lanisen watches, his eyes bright and fond. “Does every kid have a stash like that, I wonder,” he muses after a moment.
Megren says, “I don’t know. Maybe. Sir Darrin’s got one still, I think. Perth once said he used to make swords for mice out of sticks and hide them them near all the holes in the walls.”
Lanisen laughs out loud at this notion, but it’s a nostalgic sort of laugh, with softness in it.
Megren asks, “Did you have one?”
Lanisen takes a breath and shifts to a more comfortable sitting position. “Yeah…” he says, squinting one eye in thought. “I don’t remember what all was in it, it was– um, there was a rock, it was all smooth, shaped like an egg, it was black with a white stripe through it, I remember that. Um… buttons, acorn caps… I had a copper coin from Calormen, I think.”
Megren’s brows lift. “I’ve seen one of those once. Owin has one, I think.”
Lanisen says, “My granddad, my mum’s da, he was a merchant. He had some things like that.”
Megren asks, “Did you know him well?”
Lanisen shakes his head. “He died when I was real little, I don’t remember him at all.”
Lanisen nods at Megren’s box. “Small you had good taste in trinkets.”
Megren wrinkles her nose. “Thanks. Small you, too.”
Lanisen says, “And in hidin’ spots.”
Megren says, “Well, that’s credit at least as much to da as me.”
Lanisen says reflectively, “Your da seems like an interesting person.”
Megren says, “I think you two’d get on.” She pauses, then offers, “Come with me next time I go to see him, if you like.”
Lanisen glances at her sidelong, almost as if expecting a joke. He closes his mouth and looks to the side, fidgeting with the cuffs of his sleeves as he considers. “All right,” he finally answers.
Megren says again, “If you like.”
Lanisen says, “I’d– I think I’d like that, if…”
Megren says, “How about not the next time, but the time after. So I can tell him ahead.”
Lanisen says anxiously, “If it’s, I don’t want to– to– you don’t have to, if it’s…”
Megren says, “No, I really do think you’d get on.”
Lanisen looks half relieved and half more apprehensive, but all he says is, “All right.”
Megren narrows one eye, looking out on the forest, where the chattering of the crepuscular birds has begun to pick up. “We’d better head back, I think.”
Lanisen glances at the sky and nods, reluctantly getting to his feet.
Megren says, “Thanks for the suggestion.”
Lanisen answers, “Thanks for bringin’ me here.” His eyes drop again to the box.
Megren’s eyes also drop to the box. She hesitates, and then reburies it, without replacing the ring, which stays on her little finger.
Lanisen averts his eyes while this is done.
Megren rises, brushing off her hands on her thighs. “All right, that’s done.
Lanisen echoes, “All right.”
Megren moves back into the forest.
Lanisen follows close behind, reaching out after a little while to link his arm with hers.
Megren takes his arm up very happily.