Lanisen is working through the kennel chores in the late afternoon. There is a heap of dust swept up into a pile by the wall, and the crate for rubbish is sitting next to the door, ready to be carried out. Otherwise, the place has the sparkling just-cleaned look. Lanisen is whistling tunelessly, and a few dogs are milling about supervising.
Sareen uses her hip to bump open the door and lets herself in, a basket under her arm.
Lanisen pauses his sweeping, turning immediately toward the door at the unexpected entrance. His face is briefly guarded and wary, but he breaks into a quick surprised grin at the sight of Sareen. He leans the broom against the wall and crosses to meet her. “Afternoon, mistress,” he says, dipping his head to her.
Sareen says, “Good afternoon. I was heading back from Andale and saw some of the finest end of spring wildflowers by the roadside. Thought maybe your sister would enjoy them.”
She produces said flowers from her basket and lays them on the work table.
Lanisen’s mouth opens slightly, his eyebrows going up, and he looks from Sareen to the flowers and back again. “Oh, those’re– /thank/ you, those’re real nice. Here–” He gathers up the flowers into a bunch and carries them to the window, where a jug of water already sits on the sill, empty except for a tree cutting, no longer blooming but still adorned with green leaves.
Aravis pushes open the door, watching at about knee-height for any hopeful escapees. A number of the dogs break off to greet her; one bounces, considering jumping onto her, and she crosses her arms, commanding, “Down!” The hound and a couple of its companions obey immediately.
Sareen says, “You’re welcome. It was a pleasant diversion for a quarter of an hour, and on a fine day.” She turns as the door opens, and curtsies. “Lady Aravis.”
Lanisen sees her coming from the window and doesn’t startle again. He takes a few steps back, clicking his tongue to call off the hounds, and bows as Sareen curtsies.
Aravis frowns as the dogs all abandon her. “Hello, Mistress Sareen.” She nods towards Lanisen.
Sareen says, “Hello. I just came to visit Lanisen.”
Lanisen looks slightly wrong-footed at Aravis’s displeasure. He hesitates, then asks respectfully, “Will you be wantin’ me to fetch one of the hounds today, Lady Aravis?”
Aravis asks, “Yes. One that could use a run.” There’s just a beat before she adds in a hasty sort of way, “When you have a moment. Thank you.” To Sareen, she asks, “Do you come by often?”
Sareen says, “Often? No, I shouldn’t say so. I was just bringing some flowers.” She eyes a dog that is sniffing at her boot. “Are they always loose like this?””
Lanisen glances appraisingly over the hounds in the room. At Sareen’s question, his eyes dart briefly to Aravis before he answers. “Usually, yeah.”
Aravis fixes an approaching hound with a look and orders it to sit. When it does, she smiles and begins to pet its head, looking back towards Lanisen. If she notices his glance, she doesn’t react.
Sareen asks, “Are you going riding, Lady Aravis?”
Aravis says, “I am. There’s a trail into the hills I haven’t been along yet.”
Lanisen steps quietly to the side and turns to walk deeper into the room. He touches a rangy brindle deerhound lightly on the neck and draws him back toward Aravis and Sareen. The deerhound’s floppy ears perk up and his tongue lolls out, tail flipping crazily, but he stands by with well-mannered patience.
Sareen looks down at the dog Lanisen leads. “He looks friendly.”
Aravis stops scritching the first dog’s ear, looking at the deerhound instead. “What’s his name?”
Lanisen says, “This is Kite, my lady. One of the best coursers in the pack, always up for a run.”
Sareen asks, “Are there any of these chaps who /aren’t/ always up for a run?”
Aravis glances towards a few hounds who are piled in the corner and oblivious to the world. Back at the deerhound: “Kite. He’s beautiful.”
Lanisen volunteers, “Same dam as Sorrel, my lady. Prince Cor favors her.”
Sareen asks, “Does he? Which one is Sorrel?”
Lanisen glances over his shoulder at the hounds in the room. “She’s out with Danall, still,” he answers. “Same coloring, slighter build, nearly as fast, keener nose.”
Aravis smiles, just a bit, at the ‘nearly’ part. “He’ll do. He listens well?”
Sareen tilts her head to one side.
Lanisen says, “Very well. Especially on his own.”
Sareen chuckles. “And if he’s surrounded by a half-dozen rabbits?
Aravis approaches and offers Kite a hand to sniff. “Good. Thank you.” She looks at Sareen. “Why, I’d hope he’d catch one, if he’s so fast.”
Lanisen dips his head slightly at this.
Sareen says, “I suppose I was asking if he would listen so well if distracted. I know for me all it takes is a plum tart and I’m lost to the world.”
Aravis says, “Then it’s good you don’t work in the kitchens, I suppose.”
Sareen says, “It is.”
Lanisen clears his throat softly. “A quarry won’t distract him to where he don’t listen,” he says, the words certain.
Aravis nods. “Will he follow without a lead?”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows a little, as if he thinks it a strange thing to ask. “Yes, of course.”
Sareen scratches behind the ears of the dog nearest her.
Megren knocks three times on the door and then slips inside. Seeing people there besides the kennel workers, she hangs back near the door, though she extend a hand to a dog that comes to greet her.
Aravis looks briefly embarrassed. The expression vanishes behind her lips tightening and a nod. She’s about to reply when Megren enters, pulling her attention.
Lanisen’s eyes flit to the door at the knock, something in his posture easing up. He gives Megren a quick smile of welcome, the corners of his eyes crinkling up.
Sareen says, “Hello Megren. Goodness, it’s getting crowded in here.”
Megren stays back near the door. “Sorry, I didn’t meant to interrupt anything. I can come back another time.”
Aravis calls Kite over. When he’s at her side, she looks towards Lanisen. “We’ll be back before it’s dark. Thank you.” Walking towards the door, she nods to Megren and says to the room at large, “Have a good visit.”
Megren bows to the Calormene lady and then gives Lanisen an uncertainly apologetic look.
Sareen says, “Have a good ride, Lady.”
Lanisen removes his hand from Kite’s head when Aravis calls him. He bows and straightens again, rubbing his elbow.
Aravis smiles at Sareen. “I will. Thank you.” She and Kite exit.
Megren glances at the others. “New dog?”
Lanisen says, “Maybe. She’s just takin’ him for a run today.”
Megren asks, “Oh. What do you think?”
Sareen says, “He seemed chipper.”
Megren laughs. “Is that good or bad for Lady Aravis? I’m not sure I’d ever think to apply the term to her.”
Sareen says, “Perhaps he will complement her then.”
Megren nods, accepting this. “It could be.”
Sareen asks, “You for example, Squire. A dour, floppy-eared dog for you, don’t you think?”
Lanisen moves to the windowsill and draws his knife, picking the wildflowers out of their jug one at a time to trim down. He glances between Sareen and Megren at this, amused.
Megren grins. “I have one! Licorice. My da’s actually. She isn’t the least bit dour.”
Sareen asks, “Oh, and he suits you?”
Megren says, “I like her very well, anyway.”
Lanisen asks, “They’re still gettin’ on all right?”
Megren nods, leaning back against the kennel wall. “If you ask da about her he’ll go /on/.”
Lanisen says, “I’ll make sure to do that.”
Megren says, “So long as you have an hour.”
Sareen says, “Talk is the refuge of the old. Though not so very old in your father’s case.”
Megren says, “He’s normally more –” she pauses to think of the word. “– you might call it reserved. You’d think Licorice were his own child.””
Lanisen says, gesturing to the flowers, “Look at what Mistress Sadie brought for Cass.”
Megren lifts her brows, eyes lighting up. “Oh, lovely. Not from the garden, are they?”
Sareen says, “Just off the road between here and the village.”
Sareen says, “These old bones do leave the glass of the solarium now and again.”
Lanisen grins, glancing at Sareen. He carries the flowers to the table and sits down. “I’ll take ’em to her tonight.”
Megren says, “I’ll have to go and take a look for myself.”
Sareen lifts her hand from the head of her new four-legged acquaintance. “I hope she enjoys them. Visit me in my glass chamber soon, Lanisen. You too, Megren.
Megren nods. “Sure. Thanks, I will.”
Lanisen says, “Yes, ma’am. Thank you for thinkin’ of Cass with the flowers.”
Sareen says, “Certainly. Good afternoon.”
Sareen steps past Megren and leaves the kennels.