familiar strangers

Central Garden
Cair Paravel

You can easily discern this as the center of the royal gardens – a great fountain decorates the courtyard’s center point. It is a scuplture of a grand lion, standing over the water’s edge. This lion is not insignifigant though – it is an artist’s tribute to the ruler of all Narnia, and a portrait of a noble character.

At all four points of the compass a paved path leads to the corners of the courtyard, North, East, South and West. To the east lies the entrance to the grand hall of Cair Paravel, and to the west, the gates of the castle. North and South lead to flower gardens, where one might sit for a spell.

A dog with curly ears and a curly irish setter tail can be seen in the center of the courtyard chasing butterfies and her tail, and is quite at ease.

Lanisen has found a bench a little out of the way of the main paths to curl up with a book. As the dog’s gamboling brings her into his line of sight, he glances up to watch, grinning. After a moment, though, he squints one eye and tilts his head to the side, as though trying to remember something just out of reach.

Petria barks as the butterfly flutters high enough to land on a nearby tree out of reach. With a sigh, she turns and begins sniffing about the garden.

Lanisen bends his head back over his book, though he glances back toward the dog from time to time.

Petria sniffs her way over towards the human, glancing up when she sees the feet. “Oh hello!”

Lanisen straightens a little and answers, “Hi,” closing his book on his finger. He squints at her again and catches his lower lip briefly between his teeth. “Sorry– are you Petria?”

Petria nods, very enthusiastically, tail wagging. “Yes, I am. And page and messenger to their majesties. Are you one of the new visitors from Archenland?”

Lanisen says, grinning broadly, “Oh! I’m glad to meet you, I’m, I know Lady Avery. She told me about you after she came back last year.”

Petria exclaims, “Oh! Lady Avery! Yes, She was very lovely!” She barks a little in her excitement. “You must know all the people in the castle there!.””

Lanisen says, laughing, “Oh, some of ’em, I guess.”

Petria says, “Well it’s a pleasure to meet a friend of Lady Avery. After all, you seem like a good person.””

Lanisen laughs again. “Thanks, I think.”

Petria grins.

Petria says, “We dogs can tell.”

Lanisen asks curiously, “How? They say so, even the ones that don’t talk, but nobody’s ever said how.”

Petria tilts her head. “You know? I don’t think I’ve even been asked that before. Well of course, we can smell fear, and if you talk in angry tone of voice we can sense it.”

Lanisen says, “Mm, yeah, that I’ve heard, one of the Wolves said. But what if somebody isn’t angry or scared?”

Susan walks through the garden, tapping a letter against her hip. Her expression brightens when she sees Petria and one of her guests.

Petria swishes her tail back and forth. “I have never met a non-talking dog before so I wouldn’t know how it is for them, but we talking dogs, we watch the humans. If they are kind, you can see it. If they are loving, we can smell it.

Lanisen hmms thoughtfully. “I’ve got– at home, my job’s…” He turns faintly red and pauses to consider his wording. “The hounds who hunt for the king, I work with ’em. There was, um, a couple years ago, there was a man who kept comin’ in and they, they never liked him. He turned out to be, um…” He pauses and seems to lose track of his train of thought for a moment, but he rallies. “I always wondered how they knew, but of course they couldn’t tell me.”

Susan approaches the pair. “Good day, Petria. And…Lanisen, wasn’t it?”

Petria exclaims, “I take it he was up to no good? Perhaps they were sense his intentions. We dogs are very loyal to our humans.” She turns, scenting Queen Susan before she sees her and leaping to her feet. “Good day, Queen Susan! This is one of the Archenlanders. He is a good sort.”

Lanisen startles and gets quickly to his feet, turning to face the queen. He bows immediately, going redder.

Susan laughs. “I am glad to know it.”

Petria touches the son of Adam’s hand with her nose.

Susan says, “Have you found your lodgings pleasant, Lanisen? I hope you have been made comfortable.”

Lanisen stammers, “Ye– um, yes, your majesty, thank you. It’s been, it’s been very nice.”

Susan says, “I am pleased to hear it.”

Lanisen says, “It’s, it’s very kind of you to have us, your majesty.”

Petria circles back around settling comfortably at Lanisen’s side. “Have you any messages for me, Your Majesty?”

Susan looks down at the letter in her hand. “Not at present, Petria, thank you. I was just considering my response. Perhaps in the morning.” She looks to Lanisen. “Not at all. Who else shall I share my home with but our neighbors and Aslan’s good subjects? It should be a rather large and drafty place were it to house only my brothers and sister and I all the year through.”

Lanisen looks like he’s not entirely sure what to say to this, but he ducks his head and says, “Even so, it’s– it’s very– I mean to say, thank you, your majesty.”

Susan asks, “You are most welcome. But have I interrupted a conversation?”

Petria rests her head against the son of Adam’s hand, in an attempt to be comforting.

Lanisen glances at Petria and back to Susan, shaking his head. “Not, not at all, your majesty.”

Susan sweeps her skirts up and takes a seat on a bench. “Then I shall join you. You must tell me how things stand at court…Sir Darrin still lives at court, I believe?”

Lanisen shifts his weight uncertainly. “Yes, yeah, he does. Most of the time. He, he goes back to visit every now and then.”

Susan asks, “And you are his manservant?”

Lanisen says, “Ahh, no, I’m– I’m just a, I’m nobody.” He winces a little and swallows. “Um, I work in the kennels at Anvard, your majesty, Sir Darrin’s a friend.”

Petria lies down, laying her head on her paws to listen.

Susan glances between Petria and Lanisen. “I see. Does he keep hounds of his own?”

Lanisen says, rather uncomfortably, “Um, he’s–” He glances at Petria briefly. “He’s, one, yeah, his name’s Reginald.”

Susan smoothes her skirt. “And what is he like?”

Lanisen says, “Um, he’s– sweet, clever. Liable to climb in anybody’s lap who sits still long enough. Lots of energy, he’s pretty young yet.”

Susan exclaims, “Oh, you startled me for a moment. With a name like Reginald, I had pictured something rather large and imposing, and then in my mind’s eye he had bounded into my lap!”

Lanisen says, breaking into a quick grin, “Oh– no, not particularly, that’s, that’s just Sir Darrin. He gives things big names.”

Susan arches an elegant brow. “Does he? Have you other examples?”

Lanisen says, “Um.” He glances rather sheepishly toward the gate, just to be sure Sir Darrin isn’t in earshot. “Well. His horse is named Dragondawn.”

Susan cocks her head, considering. “I rather like it.”

Lanisen rubs the back of his neck.

Susan smiles archly. “We /did/ name our ship the ‘Splendour Hyaline’.”

Lanisen says, “That’s a very nice name, your majesty.”

Susan says, “Yes, but it is a very /big/ name, as you say. Still, I don’t think I should have preferred to call her the Clearwater. It wouldn’t be the same. ”

Lanisen says, ducking his head, “I don’t suppose so, your majesty.”

Susan asks, “So, do you have a dog of your own? What is he named?”

Lanisen says, shaking his head, “No, no, I don’t.”

Susan says, “Oh. Well, I suppose if you care for everyone else’s dogs all day, that might be more than one would like. Rather as if I were to visit the Seven Isles and be asked to run them while I was there when all I really wanted was a swim.”

Lanisen frowns a little, as if this is not entirely what he meant to say, but he shifts his weight to the other foot and doesn’t disagree.

Susan asks, “What do you most look forward to seeing while you’re here?”

Lanisen says, “Ahh, mm.” His gaze shifts up and to the left before he looks back at the queen, grinning rather helplessly. “I don’t– I’d, I’d hoped to find some of the wolves of Winterden, and we’ve done that, and to see the sea and the castle and the town and by your kindness we’ve done that too. I don’t know what to look forward to next. What do you think?”

Susan considers the question. “There is Bergdale. The fauns there are all so dear, though their parties are oftimes a bit wild. And I am told there is excellent fishing where the river meets Lantern Waste, though I do not fish myself. You might visit New Anvard, just north of here. I’m certain Lord Peridan would be pleased to see fellow countrymen, and he makes his home there.”

Lanisen considers this. “I’d like to see Lord Peridan again, maybe, if he ain’t– if he isn’t too busy,” he remarks thoughtfully.

Susan laughs. “He does always seem to be in a hurry.”

Lanisen asks, “Really?”

Susan tilts her head. “You know him then? When did you meet?”

Lanisen says, “Um– A couple of years ago, it was, after the battle.”

Susan plucks at her dress. “I see. You were there?”

Lanisen’s eyes dart to the side uncomfortably. “Not– I was– Not in the battle proper, your majesty.”

Susan says, “Oh. Well, I’m pleased you weren’t harmed.”
Susan offers a small smile.

Lanisen draws a small breath as if to answer, but seems to have no idea what to say.

Susan asks, “What have you found most enjoyable in Narnia thus far?”

Lanisen pauses. “Mornin’ in the woods, your majesty,” he answers.

Susan asks, “An experience I haven’t had in some time. What about it moved you so?”

Lanisen hesitates before he answers. “The…” He makes a slightly helpless face. “Um, the, the /quiet/, I guess, it’s– I’m used to the castle, and there’s always people in the morning settin’ up for market but here it’s– it’s a different kind of quiet than our woods, even, it’s… There’s more, more life in it.”

Susan says, “Yes. Our people don’t always make their presence known, but they’re always listening.” She rises and looks toward the Great Hall. “Do you know that I woke up my first morning in Narnia in a cave? It was quiet then too, for just a moment.””

Lanisen tilts his head curiously at this.

Susan smiles. “We were stuffed all together, my elder brother and sister and I, and the Beavers. I was ever so stiff when I woke up. And it was very quiet. Then we heard the bells. Father Christmas came. He isn’t one to let you sleep in.”

Lanisen has a strange expression on his face at this, like there’s so many questions he can’t pick, or decide even if he should ask. “Was that… when the winter was startin’ to break up, then, your majesty?” he finally asks.

Susan says, “Yes…it all seems a bit embarrassing now. We heard the bells on his sleigh and thought it was the Witch.”

Lanisen draws a deep breath. “You must have been very afraid.”

Susan says, “Yes…everything seemed so uncertain then. But I was given tools and instructions, and a purpose. It helped.”

Lanisen considers this quietly for a moment, and then offers a small smile.

Susan says, “I’m afraid I must make my excuses now. I must see that all is prepared for the mdiday meal, and decide how I am to answer this letter. Good day to you.”

Lanisen says quickly, taking a step back and bowing, “Of course, sorry to– Thank you, your majesty.”

Susan offers another smile before departing in the direction from whence she came.


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