hiding places

Castle Anvard

It is an oppressively hot. windless day out: the sort of day that feels as if you might roast out-of-doors and, if you have been out-of-doors any length of time at all, surely bake once inside. Though largely empty, the kennels smell heavily of dog, and the humid indoor heat even makes it feel as if the dog-smell might cling right to you. Toward the back of the pens, the sound of a dog’s tail can be heard thwapping heartily against the floor despite the languid heat, alongside a quiet, slightly whiny voice.
Cor mumbles “You might at … think she’d … fussing … manners … even /half/ a … … you could … … what … … So … if … …”, to Cor.
Cor mumbles “… … been grateful, I’m … … … … … if they … sense.”, to Cor.

Lanisen steps inside, pausing a moment to make sure the windows are open as far as they will go. He wipes his forehead and goes to the table, splashing a bit of water from the pitcher onto his face and neck, then hesitates and peers toward the back of the room.

The back of the room goes silent, except for the dog’s eager thwap-thwapping.

Lanisen hesitates a second longer, then heads on back to see what’s what. “Oh,” he says, realizing, and bows quickly. “Sorry, your highness.”

Cor lies on his back, Sorrel’s head on his stomach and his hand on her head. He makes an effort to sit up for Lanisen, much to Sorrel’s (very brief) disgruntlement. “What? Oh,” he screws up his face and scrubs the back of his head with his hand. “Don’t be sorry; I’m in your place, I think. You can say it’s my father’s but he wouldn’t have any of that, so you needn’t try.”

Lanisen grins at this, quick and real. “Even if it were my place, which it ain’t, you’d be welcome, your highness. Is Sorrel behavin’ for you?”

Cor says, “Yes, good enough anyway, except for insisting I be a pillow whether I care for the title or not. She’s friendly, though, and she hasn’t tried to knock me down once in a whole fortnight.”

Lanisen asks, “It ain’t too hot to be a pillow?”

Cor says, “Too hot by half.”

Lanisen squints apologetically. “I got the windows open…”

Cor twists to look. “There’s nothing for it except to sleep and get on with the day when the sun’s got lower, I expect. Closing the shutters, maybe.”

Lanisen glances at the windows, pushing his mouth to the side. “Worth a go,” he agrees, and crosses to see to it. “Sometimes you can catch a breeze, but there’s no breeze today.”

Cor scrambles to get up. “Here, I’ll help.” Sorrel gets up, but thinks better of the hot work of following, and makes a little circle before lying back down.

Lanisen says, “I can, I can get it, your highness.”

Cor goes to do the opposite window anyhow.

Lanisen closes the shutters on his side and steps back, blowing out a breath that makes his fringe fly up. The room is not noticeably cooler, and only seems more still and close.

Cor rubs the back of his head. “Well, it was worth a try, anyhow. You haven’t got to go upstairs, I hope.”

Lanisen says, “No, no.” He glances ruefully around the mostly-empty kennel. “They’ve prob’ly all found some shady glen to wait out the afternoon in.”

Cor glances over at Sorrel, and then the windows. “Hm. Are there any good ones, near?”

Lanisen asks, “Shady spots? Mm.” He pauses. “The cave in the pasture is nice, days like this. Or, or I like the room under the big tower, where the water is. It’s usually cooler.”

Cor’s brows lift, his mouth dropping open for a moment before he closes it with an expression that probably indicates a recollection of snooty tarkheena comparisons between his own face and a fish’s. “With the, the servants go through it, with the reservoir?” He asks eagerly. “Have you been there in the mornings, right when the sun’s sort of–” he tries to make a window with one hand and a ray of light passing through it with his arm, to minimal effect.

Lanisen says, startled and pleased, “Yeah, yes, when it’s, the sunshine’s reflected all over the ceiling?”

Cor exclaims, “Yes, why–! Yes, I tried to take Aravis–” he adds forgetfully, “Tarkheen–” and then switches entirely, “Lady Aravis, I tried to take Lady Aravis, and she just said all water does that and it wasn’t anything to make a show of.”

Lanisen says, “Hmm,” and squints one eye.

Cor gets a rather sour look. “Anyway, I don’t know about what all water does, but I like /that/ water. And I hadn’t thought to try hiding in there in the afternoons when it’s hot.”

Lanisen says, “It’s, bein’ underground, you know, and stone. And that water always seems to be colder.”

Cor says, “Can we go, do you think? It’s sort of in the way.”

Lanisen asks, “In the–? Oh. It’s not so much, you can, um, if you get on the other side of the stairs most times they don’t even realize you’re there.”

Cor says, “Oh.” He looks thoughtful. “Hmm.”

Lanisen says, “The side with the windows, not the morning windows, the other ones. Everybody’s comin’ in from the kitchen passage, mostly, they don’t even see you if you’re on the other side.”

Cor’s eyes shift to Sorrel.

Lanisen says, “You can bring her, your highness, it’s all right.”

Cor’s face breaks into a grin. “Oh. Do you — do you want to come?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, um– I– I could?”

Cor looks around the room. “Well, don’t stay here, anyway.”

Lanisen laughs under his breath at this and rubs his elbow. “Yes, sir.”

Cor whistles for Sorrel, who trots up to his side. “Thanks.”

Lanisen says, “Good luck, your highness.”

Cor lets Sorrel trot out ahead of him before following after.


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