Lanisen pulls open the heavy door leading to the pasture and squeezes through into the relative warmth of the stable. He is well bundled up against the cold and looks very nearly stocky under his layers. His cheeks and nose are red.
A son of adam with a hearty build leads his horse in from the outer ward. He is wearing a warm hood and cloak, and his horse’s hooves are well soiled with road mud. Once he gets inside, he pushes his hood back off his head and leads his horse toward his stall.
Lanisen’s eyes follow the horse and shift past it to the man’s face. He averts his eyes quickly and nods as they pass.
Myles glances at the young man as he nears. He returns the nod and greets, “Good day, Lanisen.” He guides the horse to a stop outside of his stall.
Lanisen answers, “Afternoon, sir.” His eyes rest on the horse again briefly, and he hesitates before venturing, “Was it cold, your ride?”
Myles says, “Rather. There’s a bite in the wind today.” He keeps a loose hold on the reins as he rounds the horse’s head and takes a halter down from a hook outside the stall. He looks at Lanisen across the horse’s back as he begins unfastening the bridle. “Is the pasture feeling it?”
Lanisen nods, shifting to come nearer, within comfortable conversation distance. “A bit. Not so bad as out there, I’m sure.”
Myles nods as he slips the bridle down off the horse’s head and throws it over his shoulder. “I don’t envy the messengers this time of year.” He gets the halter into place. “Particularly if they have to cross the pass.”
Lanisen asks, “Surely they wait if it ain’t safe?”
Myles buckles the halter and ties the lead rope loosely through a ring on the wall. “As much as they can,” he answers, hanging up the bridle and turning back to unbuckle the saddle. “No one goes riding into a blizzard, though of course you can’t always predict a storm.” He lets the girth fall loose and walks around behind the horse, patting its rump. “And even on a clear day, there’s the cold.”
Lanisen says, “If it’s– if it’s too cold to be safe, I was meanin’.”
Myles says, “Ahh. No, surely they wouldn’t go then. No sense in that.” He approaches the opposite side of the saddle and unbuckles the girth there, too, then loops it over his shoulder.
Lanisen nods. He hesitates again a little awkwardly, as if he hasn’t decided whether or not to say something, then nods again and begins to withdraw.
Myles, who has been busy lifting the saddle off of the horse’s back and carrying it over to the rack, does not notice Lanisen’s withdrawal. “Haven’t seen Rase lately, have you?” he asks cheerfully.
Lanisen pauses and turns back toward Myles. He shakes his head a little. “No, sir. Try the kitchen?”
Myles sets the saddle on its rack and hangs the girth nearby. He nods as he picks up a dry rag. “A good plan. I suppose I’d be there myself, if I were cleverer.” He grins.
Lanisen asks, “You want me to see if I can find him?”
Myles shakes his head. “No, no. Let him stay in front of the fire, if he’s found one.” He begins to rub the horse’s back and flanks in vigorous circles, drying his sweat with the rag. He looks at Lanisen. “Is the kitchen where you’re headed next?”
Lanisen says, “Er, someplace with a fire, sir. The hall or the kennels, I guess.”
Myles nods. “Another clever one. Enjoy it, then.”
Lanisen ducks his head. “Thank you, sir, I will.”
Myles nods in return and moves around the horse to dry his other side.
Lanisen hesitates again, then makes his way to the door.
Myles continues with the horse’s grooming.
Lanisen is making his way toward the door to the ward, bundled up in his coat and scarf. He looks like he’s been outside in the recent past, and his nose and cheeks are still red.
Myles too is dressed in a hood and cloak for being out in the cold, but these have been pushed back out of his way. He is rubbing down his horse, who is tied up outside his stall.
Megren walks through the doors from the ward. She is dressed warmly, but not really warmly enough for a ride or any wind. Seeing Lanisen, she grins. “Hey,” she says, a little breathless from the cold.
Lanisen says, “Hey, yourself.” He squints at her. “What’re you up to?”
Megren says, “Sir Darrin’s got meetings all afternoon, got to check his horses.”
Myles tosses the drying rag aside and goes rummaging for a brush. He doesn’t notice Megren’s entrance just yet.
Lanisen asks, “Want company?”
Megren says, “Sure, if you’ve got the time. Swiftly’s always happier the more eyes he’s got on him.”
Lanisen says, “I got time. I got loads of it. Ain’t you cold?”
Megren looks down at herself.
Megren asks, “No?”
Myles finds the brush and returns to the horse’s side. He glances up and, spotting Megren standing beside Lanisen, waves to her before he begins brushing his horse’s saddle-matted fur.
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side. He unwinds his scarf and loops it around Meg’s neck instead, pre-warmed.
Megren shoves him in the side of her head to show her gratitude. Seeing Sir Myles wave, she offers him a quick bow in greeting and a squinted eye for being caught in the inelegant action.
Myles grins and snorts a little at her expression before he bends down out of sight to reach lower on the horse’s side.
Lanisen makes a mumphled grumply noise and bats her hand away, following her toward Swiftly’s stall.
Megren opens Swiftly’s stall and the horse sniffs at her excitedly, though he turns his attention immediately to Lanisen when he sees there is a new person. He whuffs in Lanisen’s face and noses his shoulder.
Lanisen pulls his face back away from Swiftly’s enthusiastic inspection, squeezing his eyes shut and already grinning. He raises a hand to scritch under the horse’s chin. “Hey, hey.”
Megren grins, and unhooks the stall door again. “Be right back with the brush.”
Myles moves around his horse, dodging a wet snort. “Careful,” he calls out as he begins on the other side. “He’ll try to drag you out for a toe-freezing.”
Megren calls, “Who, Lanisen, or Swiftly?”
Myles answers, “Lanisen’s already gone and come again, no dragging to be seen!”
Lanisen grins, reaching up to stroke Swiftly’s forehead. “No fear of that,” he agrees. “Maybe it’s different if you ain’t got toes.”
Megren emerges from the tack room, carrying her equipment. “You two go out somewhere without me?”
Myles steps back to survey the horse. “No–well, yes, but in different directions, see.”
Lanisen glances at Myles, then to Megren. He shrugs to confirm this.
Megren reenters Swiftly’s stall and pokes Lanisen lightly in the bad arm, lifting her brows at him in a silent question regarding its state.
Myles pats the horse’s neck and switches to a different brush, working more quickly now.
Lanisen shakes his head a little, dismissive.
Lanisen mumbles “‘S a good day.”, to Megren.
Lanisen mumbles “… … good …”, to Megren.
Megren nods, taking this at face value and handing him an extra comb. “Sir, have you got anything after dinner tonight?”
Lanisen takes the comb and begins. Despite his words, he switches to his left hand after a moment.
Myles glances up. “Tonight? No, nothing.”
Megren says, “Sir Darrin’s hoping to get a group together for darts.”
Myles says, “Aha! Then it seems I’ll be beating you all at darts tonight.”
Megren says, “Never.”
Lanisen glances between them over the top of Swiftly’s neck, grinning slightly as he combs.
Myles ducks to get a last spot with the brush. “Brave words, young squire!”
Megren asks, “Lanisen, you want in?”
Megren says, “I’ll go off-hand with you.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, ahh. Heh. That’s all right.”
Myles bends to trade the brush for a pick. “You ought to come and watch her eat her words, at least,” he suggests.
Megren gives the knight a death-stare from over Swiftly’s back.
Lanisen makes a noncommittal noise, ducking his head to focus on the combing.
Megren says, “Lanisen’s got too many dog-friends calling his name.”
Myles smirks in return as he approaches his horse’s shoulder. “They’re louder, I suppose.” He disappears from view again as he nudges the first hoof up and cleans out the mud clumped there.
Megren says, “Droolier.”
Megren says, “That might not be true.”
Lanisen snorts involuntarily.
Myles guffaws. He runs the pick along the inside of the horseshoe a final time and then sets the hoof down and straightens up so he can see them over the horse’s back. “Speak for yourself.”
Megren feels the lower half of her face with her fingers experimentally.
Lanisen keeps quiet, though he’s still grinning.
Myles snorts, pats the horse’s flank, and moves on to the back hoof.
Megren asks Lanisen, “Where were you out to earlier?”
Lanisen gestures to the door. “Just out around the pasture. Felt like walkin’ a bit.”
Megren says, “I think it will snow tonight.”
Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”
Myles moves to the hooves on the other side.
Megren says, “Yeah, the air feels close.”
Lanisen asks, “That means snow?”
Megren says, “A lot of times.”
Lanisen hmms thoughtfully. “I always heard you could tell from the smellin’,” he offers after a second.
Megren says, “Closer to, yeah.”
Lanisen asks, “You like snow?”
Megren stands in Swiftly’s stall with Lanisen, working through the last steps of the horse’s grooming routine. “If it’s not too wet.”
Myles’s horse is tied outside his stall, and Myles is leaning over next to him cleaning out his hoof with a pick. When he finishes, he straightens and sets the pick down next to the brushes.
Lanisen lowers the comb and begins to untangle Swiftly’s mane with his fingers. “I like it as long as I can get inside when I like, I guess.”
Haft pushes open the stable door, peers around, then steps inside.
Megren nods, “That too. It’s not so nice if you work outside.”
Lanisen smooths a hand over Swiftly’s neck a few more times and takes a step backward to depart.
Myles opens Rumble’s stall door, unties the lead rope, and guides him inside.
Megren pulls a carrot from inside her gambeson and offers it to Swiftly. “Now just… three more horses to do.”
Lanisen says incredulously, “Three?”
Haft leans back against the wall. “You working for Amon now, Meg?” He bows to Sir Myles.
Myles looks up at the sound of Haft’s voice and nods in greeting as he unfastens Rumble’s halter.
Megren says, “Sir Darrin’s got me doing his horses.”
Haft asks, “How many does he have?”
Megren says, “Well, he’s got Onyx and Dawn and then he’s still working with Gambol because Gambol doesn’t really respond to anybody else except Amon and a couple of the grooms.”
Haft shakes his head.
Lanisen pauses, then offers, “I’ve got to see to dinner for the hounds, but I’ll come back after to help if you like, if you’re not finished by then.”
Megren says, “If you’ve got the time.”
Myles slips off the halter, checks the level of the water trough in the stall, and then steps back outside and latches the stall door.
Megren asks, “See you tonight, Sir?”
Lanisen opens Swiftly’s stall door and steps outside, closing it behind him.
Myles grins as he hangs up the halter outside the stall. “That you will, unless you plan to back out now.”
Haft looks curious.
Megren asks, “Afraid you won’t live up to your big talk, huh?”
Lanisen waits for a moment, following the banter with a small, quiet smile, then knocks his knuckles gently on the top of Swiftly’s stall door and says to Megren, “I’ll see you later.” He bows to Myles and nods to Haft, and makes his way for the door.
Haft nods back, continuing to lean where he is.
Megren says, “You better, or you’ll never get your scarf back.”
Haft reaches up to clutch his own protectively. “She’s confiscating scarves now?”
Myles waves to Lanisen as he goes to fork some hay into the stall. He seems about to answer Megren, but snorts at the scarf threat instead.