day 1: following the white stag

Fruited Copse
Lantern Waste
Northwestern Narnia

The Narnian wilds are more open here, full of life and bounty. Chains of cranberries and acorns have been hung up, stringing from branch to branch, a seeming dare to the intrepid Squirrel. Lanterns have been set up in convenient places, casing made from turnips and candle stubs and some industrious creature’s hard work at carving openings for the light to pour from.

Under the pear tree sits a huge feasting table, laden with everything good and in season. There are squash of all varieties, potatoes roasted, mashed, and boiled, a pile of nuts more enormous than seems quite safe or possible, kale and fresney in every form, soups and stews, venison and rabbit and fish, and of course, several apple, quince, and nutty pies.

A dwarf with a military bearing (Bracken) stands by the feasting table, helping himself to liberal servings of everything.

A faun with a green scarf (Wilder) sits quietly in a corner playing his pan pipes.

Lanisen sits with his back against a tree, his arms looped loosely around his updrawn knees, people-watching with great interest.

Bracken leaves the table and searches for a spot to sit, settling in near Lanisen.

Wilder is so busy playing his tune he barely notices anything else.

Lanisen glances at the Dwarf, then glances again, one eye slightly squinted as if he’s trying to place the face.

Wilder seems lost in thought as his fingers dance jauntily across the pipe holes.

Bracken looks up from his food, noting Lanisen’s look. “Hullo lad.”

Lanisen turns slightly red to be caught, but he straightens and offers a quick smile. “Afternoon.”

Bracken notes his style of dress. “Archenlander?”

Lanisen says, “Yes, sir.” He pauses and pulls his lips between his teeth, squinting again. “Sorry, I think I’ve seen you somewhere before.”

Bracken tips his head. “Have you? My people are from the Madderholt, not far from here, but I’m out and about in Sted Cair most of the time. Had occasion to visit some places in your country too, this past year or so.

Lanisen asks, “Carmichael?”

Wilder walkes over to the feasting table, putting his pan pipes under his arm, still lost in thought.

Bracken squints, trying to remember. “Don’t think so. I’ve been to Anvard and Chesterton both, with stops along the way.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! Anvard, of course. You were with…”

Bracken says, “With the army after the battle, and later attached to Lord Peridan when we travelled with Lady Avery.”

Wilder examines the different pastries and dishes.

Lanisen says, “Yes, I remember now. It’s been a while, sorry.”

Wilder picks a small nut pastry and starts to walk back to where he was sitting.
Wilder stops suddenly, noticing the two figures sitting on the ground. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you two there!”

Lanisen sits with his back to a tree nearish to the feasting table, chatting with a dwarf. He glances up at the faun and grins a pleasant, reserved greeting.

Bracken replies to Lanisen. “Can’t say as I remember you.”

Aliyah pads towards the feasting table, offering a nod to the three. She sits near Bracken. “Good day, Lanisen, Bracken… And Wilder, is it?”

Lanisen says, looking back to Bracken with a small rueful smile, “I try to stay out of the way.” He glances up again and grins. “Hello, Aliyah.”

Bracken’s eyes widen. “Lanisen?”

Wilder nods. “That’s right. And you’re Aliyah.”

Lanisen shifts, a little wary. “Yes?”

Aliyah tilts her head, looking between the two.

Wilder points to a spot on the man’s other side. “Mind if I sit with you?”

A wolf large and intimidating in appearance (Nevarre) walks around the outer ends of the clearing, casually checking the woods in all directions

Bracken focuses back on his food. “Heh, heard your name around, but ain’t been able to put a face to it. You were at Cair Paravel recently.”

Aliyah relaxes, glad this isn’t something to worry about. She glances around and notices the wolf at the edge of the clearing. She takes in a deep breath. “Excuse me,” she says, walking away from the others to approach Nevarre. She dips her head in greeting. “Alpha?”

Lanisen gets an anxious, almost peaky look at Bracken’s words. “Oh. Er, yes. A couple, couple weeks ago we were there.” To the faun, he nods.

Nevarre finishes checking the areas surround the woods and, content with the way things look, finds a spot by one of the tree and lays down to watch the festivities
Nevarre looks up from where he just laid down and offers a nod to the other wolf. “Good day, Aliyah.”

Wilder takes a seat, crossing his leg and tucking into the pastry.

Bracken notes the other’s demeanor and sighs. “Fact is I’ve got charge of that Darius fellow who troubled you some time back. So…” he waves a hand to indicate this explains his familiarity with Lanisen’s name.

Aliyah sits, a few feet in front of Nevarre. “Are you and Ulfden doing well?”

Lanisen goes still at this unexpected news. “Oh,” he says after a small pause. “I see.”

Zephyrwind smiles and says, “Glad you enjoyed it.”

Bracken asks, “What brings you to Narnia?”

Nevarre talks quietly with Aliyah on one of the edges of the clearing, “All is well. And you? Have you found what you were searching for?

Lanisen says, “Um, just– just travelin’. I’m with some friends from the castle.”

Aliyah nods, offering a slight smile. “It took a while, but I finally did find that place. I am happy in Winterden. Regardless, I feel I owe you and the others an apology. It’s been a long time since I have been up here for obvious reasons, and I didn’t want to just send a messenger.”

Bracken asks, “You’ve never been here before?”

Lanisen shakes his head.

There’s a certain deadness to Bracken’s voice now. “Seen anything interesting?”

Nevarre tilts his head, “And what makes you happy there?”

Lanisen glances at Bracken, alert to the shift in his tone and wary of it. “Sorry?”

A marsh wiggle wearing a large, wide brimmed straw hat (Qualmurk) wanders into the copse, taking in all the decorations- despite the festivities he seems somewhat gloomy as evidenced by the little sigh he gives.

Wilder looks at the strange creature. “Are you here for the stag hunt too?”

Bracken asks, “I mean have you seen any place in Narnia you especially liked?”

Qualmurk says, “I suppose so, it’s not like it’ll be found though… Likely even if we do see it- which I doubt- It’ll get away.”

Aliyah blinks, clearly not expecting the question. “It is… different there. The wolves are different. The place itself is different. Quieter which has offered more time to think over the past years. I needed that time to myself without the stress of many expectations and living fairly close to my family, as was the case here. they have knocked sense into me… Literally at times.” She smirks.

Wilder nods to the creature. “Yes, I suppose you’re right, but it will be good fun looking for it.”

Qualmurk sighs, “Fun? Maybe. Unless it rains, or we get lost, or someone gets hurt”

Wilder looks thoughtful. “Yes, I see where you coming from. Hadn’t thought of that.”

Lanisen says, “Oh. Ahh…” He pauses. “Queen Susan, um, she suggested some places we might go to see. It’s, it’s all been… I don’t know that I could pick.”

Qualmurk nods, “Now you know what we’re facing”

Nevarre hmms, though it sounds like a low growl, “I suppose part of growing up is figuring out who you are apart from your family. But in doing so you can hurt those who care most about you

Aliyah’s head lowers, ears flattening. “Which is why I wanted to apologize.” She frowns.

Bracken asks, “You’re travelling with Lord Darrin, I think?”

Wilder looks grave. “I like the way you think, being ready for every eventuality and all.”

Lanisen says, “Yes, sir. And his squire.”

Zephyrwind glances around at everyone and says, “I want to see if I can get a better look from above, so if you’ll excuse me…”

Qualmurk says, “For what good it does, doubtless well all forget something leading to tragedy.”

Nevarre nods, “I accept your apology. I would recommend you seek out the rest of your family early to tell them the same. Do not be fraught with worry at a splendid festival like this. You will not be able to enjoy it if you are filled with uncertainty as to how they will respond.”

Wilder looks even more grave. “You don’t think you’d forget something like that, do you?”

Lanisen darts a glance around the immediate area, his eyes lingering briefly and curiously on the Marsh-wiggle, and then on the unfamiliar Wolf.

Qualmurk shrugs a little, “I couldn’t say, but it’s what’s likely to have happened”

Aliyah shakes her head. “I will talk to the rest of Ulfden, but I was referring to my other family… The one I do not expect to see again. My mother and all… I do hope to see her at some point in my life IF she is still alive.”

Wilder looks up at Zephyrwind curiously as he lands. “See anything? No wait, I don’t suppose you did. You’d have said something already like as not.”

Zephyrwind shrugs and says, “I didn’t see anything. I went all the way to the fork in the river.”

Wilder nods. “I was right in thinking such.”

Nevarre gets up from where he was sitting. He replies quietly, “Well, don’t delay then.” With that he offers a nod and leaves the way he came.

Aliyah pads back to the others, an uncertain expression on her muzzle.

Wilder perks up. “You know, what’s the use of looking on the dark side of things when you have music, food, and fire.” He smiles. “And company to talk to.”

Qualmurk says, “Until the fire spreads and takes everything down… These leaves are highly flammable.”

Aliyah’s ear flicks in the direction of a voice she’s not familiar with. She turns to see the marsh wiggle. “I think the fire is contained well enough.”

Wilder smiles. “You’re damp. You’ll stop the fire from getting very far .”

Qualmurk says, “You -think- that but anything could happen, a sudden gust of wind could send sparks everywhere.”

Wilder shakes his head. “We would probably run for it.”

Lanisen listens with rather morbid interest to the conversation about the possibility of fire.

Zephyrwind, with an inquisitive look, approaches Qualmurk, and says, “I haven’t met you before; my name is Zephyrwind. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr Marshwiggle.”

Qualmurk says, “And I’m Qualmurk. It’s okay if you forget”

Wilder remembers his manners. “Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. The name is Wilder.”

Aliyah comes to stand beside Zephyrwind. “And I am Aliyah.” She addresses both of them. “Qualmurk, I doubt it’ll be easy to forget you.”

Qualmurk says, “You’d think that but just you wait.”

Lanisen keeps quiet, watching the group and listening with interest. He draws up his knees again and wraps his arms comfortably around them.

Aliyah’s teeth show when she grins. “My head is pretty hard. I am sure my brain is stable in there. I can’t forget a marsh wiggle when they are not seen often. What do you guys do? Keep to yourselves all the time for fear we Narnians might give you some disease?” She laughs, joking.

Qualmurk considers this, “I expect some might get ill, or they might get lost and not find their way back home and die of starvation– Likely as not something like this might happen to me.”

Lanisen, sitting under a tree near Bracken and within earshot of the small group, raises his eyebrows.

Wilder smiles. “But it might not, you know.”

Leon wanders over to the little group, look rested and refreshed. “Ah, afternoon all. This will be a memorable hunt, eh?”

Aliyah snorts, looking slightly amused. “You are serious. Wow. So what in the world brought you out of hiding… Um, I mean away from your home?”

Wilder nods to Leon. “I have no doubt it will.”

Qualmurk says, “I was in the area and thought… Well i might as well, i’m npt expecting much mind”

An otter with brown fur and a sparkle in the eye (Belgwyn) lopes into the clearing with a fish in a pouch. He looks around and cuddles up with Aliyah when he notices her. He spots the other son of Adam and turns to Aliyah, “Hey, who’s that one? He’s not a royal right?”

Peridot walks into the midst of festivities, nodding to those who she knows.

Zephyrwind looks down at Belgwyn, and says, “Greetings, otter; I’m Zephyrwind.”

Aliyah is distracted from her conversation by Belgwyn and nudges him. She follows his gaze. “Oh, that’s Lanisen. He is the keeper of the hounds for the king in Archenland.” She speaks more softly.

Wilder looks up at the creaters entering the clearing “Geetings friends.”

Aliyah mumbles “… think he might … … … … of … … us. … … not … talking … … … and he has been awfully …”, to Belgwyn.

Leon bows to the unicorn. “Good day to you.”

Lanisen watches the Unicorn with slightly wide eyes, then averts his gaze so as not to stare.

Wilder looks at the otter, trying to remember. “Belgwyn, right, from yesterday?”

Belgwyn tilts his head curiously, whispering to aliyah, he also nods in greeting to the faun and the eagle, but more off to the side concentrated on the stranger and aliyah.

Bracken glances at Lanisen. “Never seen one before?”

Aliyah nods emphatically. “Yes, yes I do.”

Wilder notices the unicorn and bows. “Hello there!”

Lanisen says, “Not, not many.”

Peridot bobs her head politely in turn to the faun, smiling. “And to you as well. It’s nice to see so many visitors to the Waste, although I’m not quite used to it yet.. I’m Peridot of the Un’airekan Cail.”
Peridot bobs her head to the other faun as well.

Bracken says, “Can be a bit of a shock to the constitution. There’s something… other… about them.”

Leon nods. “I am honored by your presence, fair Peridot.”

Wilder bows again.

Lanisen laughs a little and rubs his nose. The movement briefly reveals a badly scarred wrist. “There’s somethin’ other about this whole country,” he says, not unhappily.

Bracken says, “Suppose there is.”

Aliyah nods emphatically. “Yes, yes I do.”

Wilder nods. “The same as what Leon said.”

Lanisen draws a deep breath, watching all the Beasts and Wild People assembled. There’s something wistful in his face.

Belgwyn nods to Aliyah. He jumps up onto all four paws and bounds up to the son of Adam and the dwarf. He nods his head in greeting to the dwarf and looks up curiously at the human. “Hello Bracken, how are you, who’s your friend?” he asks happily.

Lanisen, sitting under a tree near Bracken, grins at the Otter. “Hello!”

Chiltic simply flutters on down from a nearby tree and hovers on around, wings beating rapidly.

Leon strolls over to the Marshwiggle. “Good day!” he says, overly cheerful. “And how are you?”

Aliyah follows Belgwyn at a comfortable distance, a glint of excitement or mischief in her eyes. It is hard to tell.

Qualmurk says, “I’m okay… For now. The winds picking up, doubtless I’ll catch my death of cold before long though.”

Leon exclaims, “Cold? Pishposh, Sir!”

Belgwyn looks up at the son of Adam. “What’s your name, ah, sir?”

Lanisen answers, “I’m Lanisen. And you?”

Qualmurk says, “You say that but the weather’s changing fast and soon it’ll be winter”

Belgwyn smiles and nods his head, “Oh well I am Belgwyn, nice to meet you Lanisen.”

Lanisen asks, “You must live near here?”

Leon laughs at the Wiggle. “Ha, are you always this pessimistic?”

Qualmurk says, “I’m just realistic”

Leon laughs again.

Belgwyn shakes his head. “No. Well, not really. I travel a lot you see, along the rivers, but my home barrow is along the Swift.”

Lanisen asks, “The Swift, that’s… is it south?”

Peridot listens to the conversation around her and then sees the feasting table. Her ears perk up and she heads in that direction. As carefully as she can, she draws an apple from the table.

Belgwyn nods, “Yes, it’s a tributary to the Great River and it flows from Bergdale, where the fauns live. Just about a day’s travel west from the Stone Table.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! I know the one you mean. We crossed it, but I didn’t know its name.”

Belgwyn nods. “Well, that’s the river I grew up on, so you know. Did you visit Madderholt?”

Lanisen nods. “We spent a day there.”

Bracken rises and dusts himself off. “Well, I’d better go see if Lord Peridan has need of anything.” He nods to Lanisen in parting.

Belgwyn nods understandingly and asks, “Well, you toured most of Narnia, then, I suppose?”

Lanisen says, glancing at Bracken with a rather searching look, “‘Course, yeah. Good to, good to meet you.”

Bracken says, “Right. Enjoy the festival.”
Bracken heads off.

“By the way, I’m Leon,” the faun says to Marshwiggle. “A pleasure to meet you!”

Qualmurk says, “And I’m Qualmurk, though I don’t mind if you forget as well.”

Lanisen rubs his wrists absently, watching the Dwarf go. He looks back at Belgwyn. “Ahh, sorry. I dunno about /most/, but we’ve seen a lot of it, these last few weeks.”

Leon hmms. “Why should I do that? Forget your name, I mean?”

Belgwyn says, “Well, a few weeks is plenty if you only stay a few days at each place.”

Lanisen says, “I suppose, though it’s… I’d, I’d rather stay longer and get the feel of a place.”

Aliyah nods, tail wagging. “It is fun to travel. I don’t do much of it these days as I did when I was a rogue. I was like Belgwyn though. I didn’t stay in one place for too long.”

Lanisen asks curiously, “Rogue?”

Peridot eats her apple as delicately as she can. Her ears are perked, listening to conversation.

Leon waves to Peridot again.

Aliyah says quickly, “Yes. For a time I was not in either of the Narnian packs.” She clearly isn’t going to elaborate further.

Lanisen says, “Oh! I hadn’t heard the word before.”

Belgwyn says, “We Otters don’t really have packs. More like families, and then the juveniles go and head off on their own.”

Aliyah says, “Ah, I see. Basically, I chose to be on my own for months. It was… interesting… Thought I wanted it that way long-term.”

Lanisen nods, listening. “Time alone is good, sometimes.”

Peridot finishes her apple and gamely walks toward the faun wearing the blue scarf. “I’m sorry- Did you want me to bring you something from the table? And I didn’t catch your name.”

Leon bows to the unicorn. “Not at all. I am Leon, and it is an honor to meet you.”

Aliyah looks around, trying to find someone. “It can be for sure…” She seems distracted.

Lanisen asks, “Lookin’ for somebody?”

Aliyah nods. “Yes. Figured I would have seen her by now.”

Lanisen asks, “Who?”

Aliyah asks, “Pheeobe. You Do you know her?”

Qualmurk examines the table, as if trying to decide whats least likley to accidentlly poison him

Peridot dips her head to Leon. “Well-met, Leon. Are you from Bergdale? I used to make frequent trips there before I joined the Cail.”

Lanisen squints, thinking. He shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”

Belgwyn looks quite exited, “Is she coming, Aliyah?”

Lanisen is sitting under a tree near the feasting table, talking with an Otter and a Wolf. It’s early morning, a little chilly and damp, but the gathering is in good spirits.

Aliyah shrugs. “I don’t know. I’ve not seen her since I’ve been here. I forgot to ask Nevarre about her earlier.”

Lanisen asks, “Nevarre? Is that who you were talkin’ to earlier?”

Petria scampers into the copse sniffing this way and that at all the new scents.

Leon nods his head, smiling pleasantly. “Indeed I am, though, of late, I have been visiting with my cousins further south toward Sted Cair. Bergdale is a beautiful area, though.”

Aliyah says, “Yes. He is the alpha of Ulfden.”

Lanisen says, “Oh. He looked a serious fellow.” His eyes shift past Aliyah and light up with recognition. “Petria!” he calls.

Chiltic buzzes on over to the table, flittering in between all the food on offer.

Peridot’s green eyes light up. “Sted Cair is beautiful. Petraverd and I were planning to take our foal there for a visit soon.”

Qualmurk looks over to the bird, “It’ll all cause food poisoning I’ve no doubt.. And if it doesn’t you’ll likely get indigestion.”

Though the copse is fuller of Talking life than the twitter of dumb beasts, the sound of birds and squirrels is never entirely absent in any part of the forest, especially one so full of good things to scavenge. Despite the chatter, then, it is still noticeable when all the skitter and skuttle of dumb beasts hushes. What’s more, there’s a kind of peaceful feeling that washes over the whole area, like that of waking or entering a deep and refreshing sleep.

Leon nods to Peridot. “You simply must. I have seen Cair Paravel itself, and had tea with Queen Lucy on several occasions…” His voice trails off, as everything seems to go silent, a hush falling all around.

Aliyah starts to reply to Lanisen. “He is very serious, but this…” She stops as the entire forest grows quiet. She sits.

Qualmurk trails off, his litany of doom falling silent as everything hushes.

Belgwyn notices the change in atmosphere and leans away, laying low on the ground, his paws in front of him and head rested on them.

Petria bounds over over to Lanisen, barking a greeting. “Hello!” she settles down, as the hush falls upon the copse, blinking sleepily. Her ears are however alert.

Lanisen stills, his breathing deepening, as if in sleep. He blinks a couple of times and half-rouses, his forehead furrowing like he’s trying to remember something he’s forgotten.

Chiltic chirps a few notes to Qualmark, before noting the sudden silence. Still hovering, he spins around to see what is going on.

A white stag steps into the edge of the copse. He seems concerned, for having come across such a large party. One ear flicks as he stares at those gathered, and the feasting table beyond.

Leon’s breath catches as he sights the stag, and the faun remains utterly still. Never in all his years did he imagine he’d see the stag himself.

Peridot’s ears flick, noting the sudden silence around them. She doesn’t further the conversation, keeping the silence. She spies the stag, with a coat as white as her own-perhaps even whiter if it’s possible.

Lanisen blinks several times and gives his head a little shake, fighting against the overwhelming feeling of peace and complacency that seems to come with the stag. He gets a little unsteadily to his feet.

Qualmurk lets out a light breath on sight of the stag, for once unable to think of anything negative.

Aliyah rises, mouth gaping, when she sees the stag, her tail wagging ever so slowly as her ears perk.

Belgwyn pads up quietly to Lanisen and leans against his leg, smiling up at him. He mouths, “Listen,” at him, smiling.”

A white stag bursts past the crowd, west through the copse.

Aliyah whines in annoyance as the stag and peace leaves. “Why did I not move?” she asks herself.

Lanisen looks down at Belgwyn. He startles back when the stag gallops through. “We’ve–” he begins. “Their majesties, we gotta tell their majesties! Who’s fast, who’s fast here?” He glances around the area, his eyes resting briefly on Peridot and the Hummingbird.

Mikkle enters the copse with an eye to the festivities, oblivious to what’s just occurred.

Leon raises a hand. “Away! We must away! To their Majesties! We saw the Stag! The Stag!”

Belgwyn looks around and shouts out, “Eagle, you can fly there quickly, can you not?”

Mikkle gapes at this news.

Aliyah paces, ready to bolt.

Chiltic chirrups as he hears an opportunity, zooming on over towards Lanisen! There he spirals his head as he chatters away. “I know who can be fast! I can be fast! Faster than the wind and the wind is very fast! And strong! Sometimes the wind even nearly blows me away and that is not good, but luckily I can fly fast enough to get away!”

Petria barks loudly as the stag leaves, her tail wagging eagerly.

Lanisen focuses on the Hummingbird, following all this with effort. “Do you know where they’re camped? It’s west, due west, hurry!”

Leon nods. “This is most fortuitous!”

Chiltic bobs up and down to nod in his own little way. “I can hurry so fast you won’t believe it! To the west,” he chitters before flying on off.

Lanisen, as the winged beasts take off, follows them at a quick walk. A slight limp makes itself evident at this pace.

Leon claps his hands. “COME! Let us make haste, everyone! This is an auspicious occasion!”

Lantern Waste
Northwestern Narnia

You stand among the trees of Lantern Waste, the forested region that stands where, according to lore, Narnia first began. As if to testify to the truth of this legend, there is life abundant everywhere you see. The trees seem to murmur to each other in the breeze, fruit grows abundant, and forest creatures seem to be everywhere.

A large oak tree grows here, towering to dizzying heights above you. Its lowest branches, though small, actually appear to be easy enough to climb. The path branches northward here toward a pretty little stand of trees just beyond it. Another faint path leads east, past the oak and deeper into the Waste.

A flash of white can just be seen through the trees to the southwest.

Mikkle catches sight of something ahead. “Oh! Oh look.” She points.

Lanisen, with a large group of Talking Beasts and Wild People, is just leaving the orchard. He’s a little out of breath already, but is urging the others on. He pauses at the path to look west.

Leon peers out, then points. “I think I see something!”

Lanisen, at the general outcry, looks around to see what they’ve all seen.

The flash is already quite gone.

Belgwyn yips happily and bounds along at the edge of the group.

Aliyah barks as they move out of the copse.

Caileana trots in from the west and pauses, shaking out her fur when she sees the crowd.

Leon waves to the approaching wolf.

Lanisen is toward the back of the general group of Narnians, which is beginning to stream to the south after the flash of white. He seems too preoccupied to be surprised by Caileana’s presence, and only asks, limping hurriedly to meet her, “Are they comin’?”

Petria dashes between Lanisen and the rest of the party barking. “There it goes!.

Leon exclaims, “To the south!”

Caileana’s ears tilt back. “Who?” She asks, looking up at Lanisen with a puzzled expression. Then the wind changes and her nose twitches. Her golden eyes widen in realization.

Lanisen says, “The, the kings and queens, it’s, the white stag–” He points vaguely south.

Caileana says, her voice hurried now that she’s caught on, “I came from the den, their Majesties were camping in the Gathering Circle, I believe.” She sniffs again. “If it’s heading south, it might be going right for them.”

Lanisen nods, pressing on after the stag with the rest. He does his best to keep up, but ends up at the back of the crowd anyway.

North Bank of the Great River
Lantern Waste

You stand on the north shore of the Great River, where it passes through Lantern Waste. The dense forest presses close to the riverbank, and thorny raspberry and blackberry bushes grow here that snag your clothing as you pass. Beyond that, though, traversing this area doesn’t seem that difficult.

The river babbles cheerfully in the broken patches of sunlight that filter down through the leaves above you. The air here is filled with the rich scents of growing things. You can continue following the bank to the east or west from here.

Caileana keeps pace with the Son of Adam for a bit, but her eagerness now she’s got the scent of her quarry quickly leads her to the forefront of the group.

Aliyah pants as they chase the stag. She ends up running alongside Caileana. She gives the she-wolf a slight nod of greeting but is too focused on finding this creature.

Leon claps his hands. “Onwards!”

An ape with a silver back (Kurl) proceeds with the throng, relying on his knuckles for speed.

Caileana’s ear twitches, and she gives Aliyah a nod in return.

Mikkle runs after the group, though she can’t keep up with most of the beasts any better than the Son of Adam can.

Petria puts her nose to the ground, sniffing this way and that and making as much noise and carrying on as possible.

A varied group of Narnians, apparently come straight from the festival if the proliferation of autumn garlands and such is any indication, is in hot pursuit of the stag, all moving in a general southwesterly direction.

Qualmurk follows along, grumbling to anyone who’ll listen that they’ll probably lose the stag and never see it again.

Lanisen jogs and walks by turns, his face set.

Leon laughs merrily at the Marsh Wiggle. “Always doom and gloom, are you?”

Kurl hoots between breaths. “He’d probably be right, if it weren’t for the canines.”

A son of adam wearing the crown of the high king (Peter) comes into view among the trees, following a small dash of color that might be a Hummingbird and riding hard, along with his Royal Siblings and several others.

The woods are not quite silent, especially given the group of Narnians, not all of whom are… /experienced/ hunters. But still, the trees and dumb beasts are quieter than usual — not quite in a stifling way, but rather, a sleepy one.

Leon draws up short as King Peter draws into view. “Your Majesty!” He bows low.

Lanisen glances over his shoulder at the sound of hooves behind them, and gets quickly to the side so as to not be in their way. He bends over to rest briefly, putting his hands on his knees and breathing heavily.

Chiltic chirps as he flutters into view. “Their majesties are here, their majesties are here!”

Edmund comes into view not long after the High King, a light and eagerness upon his face.

Aliyah’s ears perk at the proclamation. She glances over her shoulder to see the kings and queens.

Susan follows hard after her brothers.

Lucy rides hard after her brothers, almost abreast of her sister and then falls behind.

Lanisen straightens and gulps another breath as they come nearer. He bows as they pass.

Cor looks around at his party from where he rides near the back, his horse shuffling as he tries to see what’s happening at the front. Catching sight of Lanisen gathering his breath off to one side, Cor leans a little dangerously far to one side to draw attention to himself and wave.

Leon bows again, as the other Royals approach. “Your Majesties!”

Lanisen’s face lights with surprised recognition when he sees Cor. He waves back at the prince, grinning broadly, and bows again before he has quite passed.

Aliyah turns back as Lucy comes into view. She moves to run along side the queen’s horse. “It is still here!” she exclaims, looking up at her grinning. Forget greetings and all. There is more important business at hand.

Lanisen starts moving again once the royal party has thundered past, walking this time. He rubs at his side ruefully.

Leon waves up at Lucy as well! “Indeed, my Queen! The Stag is near! I saw him!”

Caileana raises her muzzle high and circles back around to the Royals. She slows besides the Kings and bows her head deeply. “Your Majesties. If I may, Aliyah of Winterden and I can lead you after our prey,” She smiles, fangs bared, “It is prey, after all.”

Peter pulls his mount back slightly to hear what the Narnians have to say about their quarry.

Aliyah smirks, nearly laughing at Caileana. “So, so true.”
Aliyah mumbles “… … that dog … stop carrying on, we … … some … catching … …”, to Caileana.

Caileana shoots Aliyah a wicked grin.

Lanisen slows and stops again, nearly spent.

Petria is panting from the exertion. She scampers back to Lanisen.

Lucy grins down at the wolf. “Today shalt be the day we catch our quarry- Lion willing!” She waves back to Leon, “We shalt all see him soon, if our endurance holds.”

Edmund follows suit after his brother, slowing his own steed’s pace.

Leon claps his hands! “I wish thee luck, My Queen! May Aslan guide you to your prize!”

Lanisen urges Petria, “Don’t hold back on my account, go help ’em catch it!”

Cor looks a little disappointed when he sees Lanisen isn’t looking to keep up, but he’s soon past the other Son of Adam and back to trying to peer over the heads of his companions before him.

Peter glances at Edmund and tells the scarred Wolf, “We would welcome thy aid, and that of thine fellows, in this endeavor.”

Aliyah moves about, nose to the ground. “It went this way,” she says, jabbing a paw in an eastern direction.

Susan smiles at Aliyah. “Art blessed to be able to scent so, friend.”

Lanisen begins walking again once he’s got his breath back a bit, but he’s well back from the rest of the party.

Bracken shifts in his seat.

Edmund nods in agreement with his brother. “Lead on then, Aliyah.”

Aliyah smiles up at Susan. “Thank you, Your Majesty. As hunting is what we do, it is imperative for our noses to work well.”

A deer with a gangly appearance (Wilfry) steps off a little way from the group, head high and ears back as he searches for sound or smell of the Stag.

Leon claps. “We shall find the Stag, I have faith.”

Caileana lopes ahead of the royals and turns to look over her shoulder at them before she carries on.

Qualmurk says, “No doubt we’ll lose it soon enough, it’s fast and bound to get away”

Mikkle ambles along, trying to keep up, but she looks blown.

Leon exclaims, “Lead us on, please!”

Zephyrwind flutters to the ground, flanking Aliyah on her left.

Edmund urges his steed into action, thundering after the wolf.

Peter clicks his tongue and his palfrey breaks into a gallop as well.

Susan laughs and rides after.

North Bank of the Great River
Lantern Waste

You stand on the north shore of the Great River, where it passes through Lantern Waste. The forest here has a bright, cheerful air about it. The air is fragrant with the scent of flowing water and growing things, and alive with the sounds of forest creatures and the other residents of the Waste going about their daily routines.

The riverbank continues on to the east and west here. Just north of you, there seems to be a funny kind of light shimmering through the foliage.

Bracken nudges his pony, but both he and the beast look a little tired.

Lucy holds back just a little, saving her horse’s strength until the stag is sighted. For now, she lets her brothers go ahead.

Leon does his level best to keep up with Queen Lucy.

Caileana runs as fast as her paws can carry her, her nose to the ground, though she pants harder than she should be after so short a run, her tongue lolling out of her mouth.

Ahead, there is another flash of white.

Lanisen breaks into an awkward jog as the party takes off again, managing to keep within sight. The jog does not last long.

Aliyah maintains pace with Caileana. Her ears are back as her muscles begin to ache for some odd reason, but she pushes on as best she can.

Leon exclaims, “I dare say, not sure I can go much… AHOY, the stag!”

Qualmurk says, “Even if we do see it, doubtless we’ll all collapse from exaustion before we get bear it”

Leon points toward the flash.

Mikkle begins to lag.

Peter catches sight of the flash, even as the Faun does. “There!” he cries, pointing. He spurs his stallion on afresh.

Kurl says, “If I catch it, I’m asking for 10,000 coins. Make it 100,000.”

Bracken mutters, “At this point I’d be tempted to ask for a softer saddle.”

Wilfry’s bounds grow more labored as he pushes through the underbrush in the direction the stag can be glimpsed off ahead.

Lucy straightens in the saddle, seeing the same flash of white and laughs. She pushes her horse ahead after her brothers now that the stag is sighted.

Edmund exclaims, “Onward Friends!”

Qualmurk continues onwards despite the developing stitich, “I shouldn’t wonder if it doesn’t grant wishes at all and is just leading us all to our deaths from over exertion”

Susan exclaims, “There! I see him!”

Caileana must catch a good noseful of Stag scent, because her eyes dart up just as the flash of white fades away. She lifts her head and howls to the sky, her pace quickening.

Lanisen keeps walking, adjusting his course to match the hunt’s. His face is flushed and gleaming with sweat.

The woods get REALLY hushed, but they’ll do that after a howl.

Leon is panting, as he tries to keep up.

Wilfry freezes and holds his head up again, but not quite so high as is his wont.

There is more white ahead again, but this time it’s quite far ahead, perhaps having picked up pace out of fear from the noise, perhaps having just gained ground against the hunters, who are, after all, a rather large group.

Kurl scratches his flanks, ape-fashion.

Caileana’s ears swivel, and there’s a hitch in her run, like she’s waiting for a response to her howl. When none comes, she growls low in her throat and surges on after the Stag.

North Bank of the Great River
Lantern Waste

You stand on the northern riverbank of the Great River, where it flows through Lantern Waste. The forest is more open here than it is to the west, so making your way along the bank is somewhat easier here. Below, the river babbles cheerfully along its bed, wider here than upstream but not deep enough yet to flow noiselessly. Forest creatures appear with surprising frequency, and there is a faint hum of activity all around you.You notice that the ground at your feet is rocky. The open woods to the north is also quite hilly here.

The riverbank continues upstream to the west and downstream to the east. To the north, a faint path can be seen leading through the trees to a small rise in the distance.

Lanisen gives up. He bends over again, gasping for breath, and just sits down where he is.

Petria slows her pace in her excitement drawing back to check on those on foot. She noses at Lanisen’s hand inquiringly.

Leon is not yet ready to give up, even if he does grow weary.

Cor pulls up beside the Dwarf in his party. “Lieutenant Bracken, you look spent.”

Lanisen says to Petria, between gasps, “It’s all right, go ahead, I’m fine.”

Aliyah is beyond howling. For fear of scaring the creature and never seeing it, she remains as quiet as she can minus the panting. As they move, she loses scent of the stag and comes to a halt, glancing at Caileana. “You got anything?” she half-growls, though not at the other wolf… just out of frustration.

Bracken shakes his head, but he appears to be measuring his breaths. “I-I’ll be fine in a moment, Your Highness.”

It may occur to you that the stag seems to be leading you in a circle, and has only ever been close when no one was prepared to catch it.

Leon calls out to Lanisen, “Giving up already?”

Wilfry’s nostrils flare as his head turns this way and that, looking confused.

Bracken breaks into a smile. “After all, you’ll look worse than this when you reach one hundred years.”

Lanisen raises a hand, too worn out to reply.

Indeed, you are growing more tired, and seemingly no closer to the stag, though the inn is near, and it promises hot things to drink and good things to eat.

Leon is not entirely spent yet, and he certainly doesn’t have to worry about his feet starting to hurt. But… “Mmm… I am not sure we are gaining on the stag. What say you lot?”

“Still…” Bracken takes a deep breath. “Keep going. Don’t wait for me. I’ll catch up.”

Caileana runs a wide circle until she picks up the scent again. She yips, all the response to Aliyah she has breath for, and turns her paws northward.

Petria looks back and forth between Lanisen and the party, panting, her indecision clear.

Lanisen moves to sit with his back against a tree.

Mikkle looks almost as though she’s fallen into a stupor. She stares at the others, mounted or otherwise, but appears incapable of keeping up.

Aliyah follows Caileana, not willing to stop even though her energy is decreasing. After all, this can happen with some hunts, right?

Qualmurk slows to a stop, too tired to continue. “So this is the end. What did I tell everyone.”

Bracken strokes his pony’s mane. “All right there, Lichen? We can break for a moment.”

Leon looks up at the sky. “Mmm… Should I continue?”

Peter pays no heed to the unusual weariness of his mount, instead reining the stallion in as the wolves slow, and then spurring him on again when they pick up the scent.

Cor shakes his head, pulling up his reins. “I don’t have anything good to wish for, anyhow. Why not go to the inn and get something to drink instead?”

Wilfry shakes his head a little and bounds onward over a clump of underbrush, but with visible effort.

Edmund plunges on after Aliyah. “Shalt likely gain our quarry before thee, Lu!”

Leon calls out to Lucy, as whenever she draws closer, “My Queen, I grow tired… I am unsure I can go further! But it shall please me to play for you, as promised, later. Fare well!”

Kurl drops onto knees and knuckles. “No coins for me, not today.”

Bracken looks confused by this statement for a moment. “There was one thing I wanted…no, I’m forgetting. That was settled. I’ve got all I need.” He glances to Peridan, but his lord shows no signs of proceeding either. Bracken turns to Cor. “I’ll go back with you lad.”

Lanisen rubs his left leg, wincing slightly.

Cor nods and slips off his horse to give it a bit of rest. Seeing Lanisen not too far behind, he goes to collect him. “Want to head to the inn with us?”

Petria wines as Lanisen begins to rub his leg. “Is your leg hurt?”

Chiltic buzzes on over to a collection of nearby flowers, hovering above them as he feasts on that sweet, sweet nectar for much needed energy!

Peter laughs freely. He calls out, “Thou shalt be the rotten egg amongst us, Sister!”

Leon waves a hand, turns, then trots back toward Lanisen. “Might I join your party, Sir?” He asks Cor.

Lanisen looks up as Cor approaches. He grimaces and gets wearily to his feet to bow, glancing past him at the departing kings and queens. “I’ll, I’ll catch up, your highness, if that’s all right.”

Bracken smiles after the royal party. “Good hunting, Your Majesties!”

Cor glances around at the group gathering round him and lifts his hand to the Narnian royalty. “I think some of us are tired, your majesties! We’ll stay behind.”

Lucy slows a little to calls after Leon, ” Write a song for our return in triumph. We shall surely catch him today!” She encourages her horse forward after Ed. “I’ll not be a goose egg this time!”

Peter lifts a hand to Bracken and young Prince Cor, giving them a merry wave.

Susan laughs and urges her horse past them both. “Edmund and I shall outstrip you both if you talk more than hunt!”

Cor waves heartily back before turning back to the crowd around him. “Shall we move to the inn and see about a fire place?”

Leon claps, somewhat tiredly. “I shall be happy to, your Majesty.” He is admittedly curious about this Prince Cor.

Edmund also lifts a hand to farewell before urging his horse after Susan.

Peter grins at Susan. “Shan’t!” he declares, nudging his horse faster, perhaps finally realizing that the stallion isn’t moving at quite his normal pace.

Leon leans against a tree trunk, panting. “Whew, I hope they catch him.”

Bracken gazes after the party. “Of a surety, they will.”

Qualmurk sits against a tree to catch his breath, “I shouldn’t think so, likely it’ll outpace them and they’ll end up just like us.”

Mikkle raises a hand to her mouth, stifling a yawn.

Cor assures Lanisen, “We needn’t hurry.” He leads his horse toward a spot where the water eddies off the speeding great river, and lets her drink there, leaning down to splash a little water on his own face, despite the cold.

Lanisen sits back down again as Cor moves away, drawing up his knees and holding his side.

Leon watches the others. Presently, he removes his pipes from his satchel, and starts to play a slow, quiet tune.

Lanisen leans his head back against the tree and shuts his eyes for a moment.

Mikkle turns back toward the inn, but there is a frown on her face. She tries to shake herself. “Feels like magic,” she murmurs, but there’s no worry or urgency to her words.

Leon pauses his music. “Magic? Hmm…”

Leon says, “It has been said that the Stag *might* be magic, so maybe so.”

Petria wanders over to Lanisen settling down close beside him, her head on her paws.

Leon leans over to slap Lanisen on the shoulder. “So, what did you think of the stag hunt, eh?”

Kurl says, “If there’s magic, I might want out. I don’t fancy another eternal winter. Very bad for business.”

Lanisen flinches in surprise and opens his eyes, his posture shifting instantly from loose and wearily relaxed to something more defensive. “It was somethin’,” he answers after a small pause.

Cor returns to the group, standing back a little to survey them and see if they look ready to continue toward the inn.

Mikkle turns at the Ape’s words. “What? No, not like that. It doesn’t feel like that. It’s…nothing. A stray thought, is all.”

Leon grins at Lanisen. “Aye, wasn’t it! Fun, yeah? Do you lot have fun in Archenland?”

Bracken sees the Prince’s look. “Lead on, Your Highness. Might be they still have warm sausages.”

Lanisen swallows a couple times, blinking at Leon’s enthusiasm.

Leon has boundless enthusiasm.

Lanisen folds his arms over his middle and exhales.

Leon watches Lanisen expectantly.

Cor comes up around Lanisen’s other side, as surreptitiously as he is able handing off a silver cup which had been attached to his belt by a chain and which is now full of water. It is not as sneaky as it could be, but perhaps still a nice thought. “Warm sausages sound like just the thing.”

Leon claps his hands. “Warm sausages sound amazing right about now.” Clearly, the faun is recovering from his tiredness rather quickly.

Lanisen starts slightly when the prince comes around. He straightens and accepts the cup, murmuring thanks and ducking an awkward sitting bow.

Rocky Place
Lantern Waste
Northwestern Narnia

You find yourself in a more open part of the forest where the terrain is rocky and uneven. All around you the ground rises up in little hills and valleys, and rocks ranging in size from pebbles to large boulders dot the landscape. Trees with soft needles and broad leaves grow tall here.

To the west, the forest becomes more dense with foliage, and the ground levels out. To the east, the land dips down into a small valley.

Wilfry scuffs a hoof over the ground as he watches the Kings and Queens ride off to get wishes. The droop of his head looks rather like pouting.

Caileana lays on the ground, staring west dreamily and panting quietly.

Aliyah bites her own paw hard, trying to wake herself without succeeding.

Leon looks around the clearing, and spots Cail. “What happened? Has the stag been caught?”

Qualmurk says, “It would be here if it had…”

Bracken frowns in confusion at the presence of the Wolves and the absence of the kings and queens.

Caileana lifts her head from her paws as the Narnians come into view. “The Kings and Queens have gone on without us,” she explains, something distant about her tone.

Leon sighs. “Alas. I was hoping to visit with Queen Lucy longer.”

Cor walks his horse northward with the rest of the party, talking with some of the other nobles, who also lead tired horses, and stopping to playfully but wearily wrestle down a dumb hound that bounds around him, still looking for some fun.

Aliyah does not even acknowledge the others as they come into view. Her gaze is distant.

Wilfry looks sheepishly over his shoulder as the rest of their party approaches.

Leon puts his pipes away once more. “Well… Perhaps we ought head to the inn, until their Majesties return?”

Chiltic hovers on the spot wobbling a little as everyone else makes their way along, sticking his head out looking for somewhere nice to rest.

Bracken notes the irregular pattern of the hummingbird’s flight and holds a hand out.

Lanisen follows some distance behind Cor, exhausted and shivering. His face is still flushed blotchy red with the unaccustomed exertion, but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other.

Caileana is distracted by the commotion enough to pull her gaze to them. She wrinkles her muzzle in obvious disdain at the mention of inns, and then turns an equally disdainful gaze on the unintelligent dog jumping around about the Sons of Adam.

Leon gestures to Lanisen. “I mean, this unfortunate son of adam looks close to passing out.”

Wilfry’s legs criss-cross as he takes a few steps forward.

Chiltic gladly takes the opportunity to rest well, perching his feet upon one of the dwarf’s fingers.

Leon turns to the Prince. “Your Majesty. I think I should enjoy sharing a drink with you at the Inn!” Not a shy one, this faun.

Aliyah shakes her head, suddenly feeling alert. “What in the world?” she says, standing. “I’ve never recovered this quickly before.”

Lanisen finds a flat-topped rock to sit on and does so. He rests his elbows on his knees.

Wilfry stumbles only a moment more and then gets his balance and stands upright.

Caileana sits up, her eyes clearer than they have been. She stretches her paws out in front of her.

Peridot trots toward the company gathered. “What happened?” she asks. “I went back to the Cail and now everyone is here. Did we get the stag?”

Aliyah looks at Caileana. “You too? So… Do we now follow?” She looks uncertain at the thought. “I would think they might feel we gave up if we did.”

Bracken looks perplexed at Aliyah’s question, as though he can’t remember now why he felt so tired before.

Caileana tilts her head, “No…” she tells Aliyah thoughtfully. “I think we did all we could. Let’s leave it to the Royals, now.” Her ears perk up as Peridot approaches. “Peridot!” She gets to her paws to greet the Unicorn. “We spotted the creature, but couldn’t keep up with it. The Kings and Queens continued on after it.”

Cor hesitates, tilting his head and glancing around at the group, which has grown to something rather larger than it was when he first proposed the inn. “Or… maybe we should go to the festival instead. There’s food and water and fire there and it’s about as near.”

Wilfry turns a half circle so that he is facing the greater part of those gathered.

Leon feels rather refreshed himself. “Peridot!” He waves. “We were all heading to the nearby Inn, I think.”

Aliyah nods as thoughts tumble around in her mind. She pads away from the main group before sitting again.

Lanisen stays where he is, though he looks rather despairing at the prospect of walking back to the orchard.

Leon says, “Your Majesty, I believe the Inn is closer.””

Bracken gazes in the direction the monarchs have gone, as though he wishes to follow. Then he turns back to Prince Cor. “Of course, Your Highness. I said I’d accompany you.”

Petria simply sits by Lanisen, panting.

Cor’s eyes fall on Lanisen again and he rubs the back of his head, then drops his hand, taking a breath and announcing in a louder voice, “If you are weary and in need of a roof and a good seat, the inn is only a little ways north.” He addresses one of the noble humans he is more familiar with and directs the lady to lead those who want the inn that way. “You others, go on west to the festival, so that we do not — so that we do not overburden the innkeep with our numbers.”

Wilfry perks up and shuffles his hooves in place. “Where do you suppose Their Majesties will come first after they get their wishes?”

Leon says, “The Inn, I wager, as I have an appointment with Queen Lucy, to play for her at the Inn.”

Peridot sighs, “I was hoping to get Petraverd and maybe help track. I suppose their Majesties stand the best chance of any of us now.”

Leon says, “I think I may return to the feast, first, though, as that seems to be the livelier spot.”

Aliyah stretches again and shakes out her coat. She gives a glance to the others and then disappears into the trees without a word. Unless someone was looking at her, they might miss her leaving.

Caileana tells Peridot, “I think so. It was very fast, and very smart. I didn’t make it as far as I expected.” She looks a little puzzled by this.

Wilfry nods in response to the Faun’s words. “If they come to the inn first, someone will send a messenger to tell us, and if they come to the feast first, I’ll run to the inn and tell them!”

Lanisen stays where he is as the group begins to disperse.

Leon stands, once more, and claps. “Come, let us go back to eat, drink, and be merry!”

Petria noses Lanisen as some of the members of the hunt disperse. “Are you alright?”

Lanisen assures her, “I’m all right, I’m all right, I’m just tired. Just gonna sit a spell.”

Petria says, “Would, would you like some company?””

Leon says, “Well, Hmm.”
Leon spies Bracken.

Lanisen says, “You don’t, you don’t gotta stay, it’s all right.”

The noblewoman hangs back to see about Lanisen, giving him space since the dog is speaking with him.

Leon trots on over to the dwarf, who looks familiar.

Bracken turns his head at Leon’s approach. “Did you need something, Master Faun?”

Leon waves a hand airily. “Need? Not at all. I was curious if you should like to share a drink back at the feasting area! A drink to their Majesties!”

Bracken says, “Aye, I’d be happy to. Fraid I haven’t caught your name yet.”

Leon nods, bowing. “Ah, of course. I believe we met briefly at Sted Cair awhile ago, sir. I am Leon, of Bergdale.”

Peridot remains as others leave. She looks between the direction of the inn and the feast, not sure which direction to pick.

Caileana sniffs the ground for a trace of the Stag, a look of something like disbelief on her face, though of course the trail is lost beneath all of the traffic of feet and paws. She slips away to the west, towards the feast.

Lanisen stays where he is for a little while longer. He finally draws a deep breath, rallying, and gets to his feet. He begins to make his way east after the others.

Gathering Circle
Lantern Waste
Northwestern Narnia

This wide meadow is carpeted with fallen leaves and smells richly of autumn. It is surrounded on all sides by tall trees, evergreens mixed with elm and beech and towering oak still clinging to their leaves. A well-traveled path passes through the meadow, east into the forest and west toward the cliffs, and another branches south toward the distant sound of a waterfall.

The area is unusually active, dotted with small campsites arranged in a large ring. Several shared firepits flicker cheerily in the center. Larger tents ring the clearing to provide shelter through the chilly nights, including four particularly fine pavilions striped in the colors of the Narnian standard.

Lanisen walks with Petria into the meadow from the woods to the east. He has the wilted look of somebody who has very recently overexerted themselves, and he is limping slightly.

Megren sits on a round flat stone beside a dryad who has stayed behind the hunt to keep watch of the camp. She is eating a cheese sandwich and talking animatedly.

Lanisen catches sight of Megren, makes a small sound of relief, and crosses to join her. He plops dramatically on the ground at her feet.

Petria comes along the way jogging easily besides Lanisen, though still panting.

Megren’s brows lift. “Um, hey, hello. You’re a sight, aren’t you?”

Lanisen says, leaning back against the stone she’s sitting on and shutting his eyes, “That’s a bit rude.”

Megren looks unrepentant. The dryad beside her giggles, a sound more like bells than the usual, metaphoric ‘bell-like’ sound usually means.

Petria barks a little greeting upon seeing dryad and the daughter of eve, and makes her way over following Lanisen.

Lanisen opens his eyes, blinking at the dryad, whom he apparently took to be another human at first. “Sorry, hello.”

The dryad nods in response to the greeting, her big murky eyes unblinkingly traveling over him to survey his weariness and seeming injury.

Megren screws up her face at the dryad and provides, “This is Karidea.”

Lanisen dips his head to her, glancing briefly at Megren. “Pleased to meet you.”

Karidea extends a hand. It is very dark and full of deep rivulets, but all-in-all, also very much like a hand.

Megren bobs her head at Petria now that Lanisen and the dryad seem to be getting on. “Hello Petria. Where have you two been?”

Lanisen takes the hand, curious and interested but trying not to let on how new this is to him, and shakes it politely. “I’m Lanisen.”

Petria settles down beside Lanisen, “Hello!” she says with canine eagerness. “We’ve been hunting the Stag. It was spotted again and their Majesties pursued it.

Megren lifts her brows. “What, really?” She look at Lanisen for his confirmation.

Lanisen nods. “I don’t like hunts,” he says plaintively, and wilts against the rock again.

Karidea looks surprised, and picks up a water cup that sits beside her, dripping a little on him experimentally to see if it unwilts him.

Lanisen yelps, “Oh, oh, don’t, please, it’s too cold!” He scrambles away, out of watering range.

Petria wags her tail, “We were close, right on his tail. But he was too swift.”

Karidea pulls back, startled. “Sorry,” she says, “It might have helped me.” She points a long finger toward the fire. “There’s a fire.”

Lanisen shivers, trying to soak the water out of his shirt, and then can’t seem to stop shivering. The sweat still visible on his neck and face, now chilled, might have something to do with this. “Thank you,” he says to Karidea, looking where she points. It takes him a moment to muster up the energy to get to his feet.

Megren frowns and gets up, disappearing into a tent and then reappearing and going to follow Lanisen with a fresh towel and someone’s spare tunic in hand. Karidea greets the Dog.

Lanisen finds a spot close to the fire and settles with his back to the warmth. He draws up his knees and tucks in his elbows to warm up more efficiently.

Megren hands him the towel first.

Lanisen says, “You’re wonderful.”

Megren says, “I know.”

Lanisen wipes at his face and the back of his neck.

Megren waits until he’s done this and then extends the tunic.

Lanisen pauses worriedly. “Who–”

Megren says, “I’ll wash it and return it. They aren’t wearing it, and they’ll rather it was used than someone got sick.”

Lanisen says, “No, no, I’m not–” He glances anxiously around the meadow. “I can’t–”

Megren says, “I’m serious. You aren’t the only one who’ll suffer if you get sick. I’ll pay them for it if they’re sore.”

Lanisen looks extremely uncomfortable. “I’m not– no, it’s– I’ve got shirts at, at the cave, I’ll go change.”

Megren rolls her eyes, looking slightly annoyed, but she gets up to go put the tunic back.

Lanisen’s face flickers with alarm. “Sorry,” he says quickly before she is out of earshot. “Thank, thank you, I’m sorry.” He glances around self-consciously, then gets rather stiffly to his feet and begins down the path toward the basin.

Megren comes back out after a brief interval. “I /will/ carry you,” she threatens as she picks up pace to catch up.

Lanisen glances back toward her, half-searching, then grins wearily. “Please don’t,” he requests.

Megren comes up beside him and nudges him with her shoulder. “Can I at least throw your arm around my shoulders and pretend like it’s helping?”

Lanisen says tolerantly, “If you must.”

Megren lifts his arm and bows a little so that it’s easier to toss around her shoulders. She hangs onto the wrist so that he’s forced to lean on her a little.

Lanisen looks startled and ends up tip-toeing to try to avoid leaning on her, but this puts him further off his balance.

Megren doesn’t change her technique, just lets him figure out he’s going to have to give in.

Lanisen does eventually, and by the time they’re halfway to the basin is leaning on her slightly more than she’s forcing him to.

Megren gets him back to the basin and sits to get the fire back to going strong. “Better not see you sitting here until you’re changed and with a blanket round your shoulders.”

Lanisen says, tired but agreeable, “All right, mum.”

Megren doesn’t even seem to register it. “Are you hungry?”

Lanisen says, kneeling inside the cave to rummage through his things, “I dunno. I’m tired.”

Megren says, “I’ll make eggs.”

Lanisen says, sounding mid-yawn, “You don’t gotta.” The rustlings from inside suggest he is changing.

Megren can be heard making eggs anyway.

Lanisen emerges after a moment, a blanket wrapped around him like a cloak. He settles next to Megren by the fire, but after a moment shifts to lie down.

Megren pushes a waterskin toward him. “Drink the whole thing first.”

Lanisen groans, but obediently sits up and starts on the water.

Megren balances a tin plate with two scrambled eggs mixed in with lamb’s quarters on a rock near his feet.

Lanisen asks, “You’re eatin’ too, right?”

Megren says, “I already had a sandwich at the encampment.”

Lanisen looks like he’s halfway to troubled that he’s being looked after, but seems too worn out to make a fuss. He picks up the plate gratefully, murmuring, “Thanks,” before he sets to.

Megren does go ahead and make herself another sandwich while he eats, and also goes and refills all the waterskins.

Lanisen eats with enthusiasm despite his earlier ambivalence. He gets up once it’s gone and carries the plate over to wash.

Megren is still filling waterskins when he comes. “Still hungry?”

Lanisen shakes his head, crouching down to rinse the plate. “Tired,” he adds after a pause. “I don’t like runnin’, I think.”

Megren says, “It’s rough if you don’t do it much.”

Lanisen hms.

Megren waits til he’s finished washing, then trades him for a full waterskin. “Drink some more if you can and then take a nap. I’ll find Sir Darrin after.”

Lanisen nods agreeably, accepting the waterskin. He makes his way back over toward the cave and curls up just inside it, close to the fire. He covers his head with his blanket and doesn’t move again for some time.

Megren watches him for a careful length of time before getting up to find their knight.

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