noble quest, pt 1

Castle Anvard

Lanisen has tucked himself away at a little round table against one of the inner walls, hiding from the heat of the day. There is a heavy book open in front of him, and he is sitting hunched over it, absorbed.

Darrin wanders among the stacks, pulling books out occasionally and adding them to the small stack cradled in his right arm.

Lanisen turns a page, glancing up a little warily at the sound.

Darrin blinks, turning towards the rasp of paper. “Oh, hello Lanisen,” he says cheerfully when he sees him.

Lanisen scoots his chair back and gets quickly to his feet. “Afternoon, sir,” he answers, bowing.

Darrin smiles. “Good afternoon.” He shifts the books in his arm.

Lanisen’s eyes follow the books curiously, but he glances back at Darrin and rubs his elbow self-consciously. “It’s, it stays cooler in here, seems like,” he ventures.

Darrin hums in agreement. “I’m fairly certain Nathen has a theory about that being better for the books.”

Lanisen blinks and darts a surprised look up at the shelves. “Really?”

Darrin gives a Serious nod. “I would not suggest asking about it, though,” he says in a low, conspiratorial tone.

Lanisen looks uncertain and mildly alarmed. He glances around for Nathen and asks, matching Darrin’s tone, “Why?”

Darrin clears his throat and leans closer, lips quirking. “It may be a longer conversation than you are prepared for,” he says meaningfully.

Lanisen’s eyebrows go up and his mouth opens a little in comprehension. “Oh, oh. I see.”

Darrin nods again. “What’re you up to this fine day?”

Lanisen says, “Um–” He shakes his head slightly, looking down at the book. “Nothin’, it’s, the hounds are all off with Kirb and everything’s done there and it’s so wretched /hot/, I just– um– I didn’t, I didn’t reckon I’d disturb anybody here.” He glances sidelong at Darrin to see if this is so.

Darrin says, “Ah, well, you’ve come to the right place then. In fact…” he looks at the books he’s holding and then back to Lanisen’s face. “Would I be disturbing you if I asked for your assistance?”

Lanisen straightens slightly and shakes his head quickly. “No, sir, ‘course not. What, what can I…?”

Darrin beams, holding out a couple of the books from his stack. “Well, it’s – a bit of a long story. Has Megren has told you about her mother? There was something she said, a while back, about this lullaby her mother used to sing, one she couldn’t remember completely. But it sounded familiar to me, and I think it’s Narnian in origin…” The books he has handed over on are Narnian folklore and culture. He looks a little sheepish as he continues, “Well, anyways, I just thought I’d see if I could find it.”

Lanisen’s eyes go sharp with recognition and he reaches willingly for the books, but he pauses uncertainly a second later and looks almost worried.

Darrin’s expression switches quickly from pleased to puzzled as Lanisen pauses. “What is it?”

Lanisen says, “It’s– sorry, it’s– She told me about it, she was, I remember she was lookin’ for it back in the winter but she didn’t… um, she didn’t seem like she wanted to talk about it, much?”

Darrin rubs the back of his neck with his left hand. “Yeah, she – well, she seemed to want to talk about it but also to not talk about it at the same time, to me.”

Lanisen pauses again, then nods. “Yeah, that’s– yeah.”

Darrin says, “I figure even if she doesn’t want to talk about it a lot, she would still like to know.”

Lanisen nods slowly. He adjusts his hold on the stack of books with a small wince and reaches over to close the one he was reading. “Should I take these to one of the bigger tables, sir?” he asks.

Darrin glances at the table Lanisen was using. “Hmm, probably best.”

Lanisen nods and heads that direction. He sets the books out one by one, pausing to carefully examine each.

Darrin brings the other books that he’s holding and sets them down, sliding into the chair across from Lanisen.

Lanisen hesitates, the books spread out in front of him. “Sir…”

Darrin looks up from pulling the top book off his stack. “Yes?”

Lanisen says, “Um. What are we lookin’ for, sir?”

Darrin steeples his fingers together. “Any sorts of songs or lullabies, or even poems that might have been transposed into songs, really. Megren said she remembers it being about trees watching over you, so I think it might be about dryads? If we can even find a reference to a song about dryads and such, we can probably try hunting it down from there.”

Lanisen listens attentively, his eyes flitting from book to book with indecision. He reaches out toward one, then switches direction and grabs another, murmuring, “/Trees/…”

Darrin opens his book on Narnians and child-rearing and flips through it. “It’s not a lot to go on, but I think it’s a start.”

Lanisen pulls his book closer and opens it. He seems to be turning pages with a sense of purpose, as if the book is familiar to him.

Darrin chews on his bottom lip as he skims.

Lanisen reads quietly for a few minutes, then lets out a small breath through his nose and sets the book aside for the next.

Darrin goes back to the beginning of his book to glance through it again, more quickly this time, and then he sets it aside.

Lanisen says, after some time in the next book, “This one’s got poems with dryads, but they don’t seem very…”

Darrin looks over and attempts to read Lanisen’s book upside down. He squints.

Lanisen says, “Oh, um–” and swivels the book so he can see too. “I dunno, they don’t seem like lullabies, is all. They might be songs, I can’t tell.”

Darrin wrinkles his nose. “Lullabies usually rhyme, yeah?”

Lanisen says, “Well…” He wrinkles up his nose, unsatisfied. “Don’t they– they, they rhyme a certain /way/, don’t they? Or it’s… mm, I dunno. When you read these ones they don’t… ugh, I’m sorry, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a sleepin’ song, though.”

Darrin takes a moment longer to read them. “I don’t think so,” he agrees, after a moment. “Closer than anything I’ve found so far, though.”

Lanisen asks, “Worth showin’ to her, do you think? Maybe she’ll remember somethin’ more?”

Darrin looks like he’s thinking about disagreeing for a moment, but then he nods. “If she could give us another clue, that would help a lot.”

Lanisen hesitates, watching Darrin and trying to gauge this reaction. “Or we could– leave a page-marker in it and keep lookin’?”

Darrin admits, “I was kind of hoping to bring it to her when I was pretty certain I had found the right one, but…that might be optimistic.”

Lanisen says, “Let’s, let’s wait, then, we ain’t been lookin’ that long yet.”

Darrin smiles. “Okay.”

Lanisen tugs the book back toward himself and draws a deep breath, resettling to the search.

Darrin starts in on the next book in his pile.


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