an unexpected party

Castle Anvard

Lanisen is busy cleaning, shaking out the rugs and sweeping heaps of shed dog fur and straw and dried herbs out into the ward. The windows are all open and the kennel smells pleasantly of soap and fresh herbs.

Deonyc comes walking in from the outer ward in his hunting gear which he carefully hangs on a peg, making sure a small leather bag is well out of reach of the hounds. He looks around, and, spotting Lanisen, gives a quick, “Hello!”

Lanisen pauses his work as the guard enters. He leans his broom up against the wall and wipes his hands on his shirt, crossing toward Deonyc. “Hi,” he answers uncertainly, questioning.

Deonyc walks around and gives a dog that walks up to him some ear scritches, “I thought I’d come here after being out in the woods, I’d rather have some quieter company than the barracks, if I’m not bothering of course.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! No, um–” He pauses again, giving Deonyc a slightly worried measuring look. “That’s, that’s fine.”

Deonyc sits down on a stool and gives the dog following him a good rub on the back, “How’s your day been?”

Lanisen says, “Um– ahh, fine, fine. It’s a nice day, it’s been, gettin’ a lot done.”

Deonyc hmms, “Tell me if you’ve got something i can help you with, I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment,” he waits a second, “Whats the name of this dog.”

Lanisen says, “That’d be our Poppy.”

Dalia knocks softly on the door.

Deonyc turns to watch the door.

Lanisen glances at Deonyc briefly, then goes to the door and opens it. “Oh, hey,” he says, smiling at Dalia.

Deonyc smiles when he recognizes Dalia, he greets with a quick, “Hi”

Dalia grins back, looking a little suspious. She holds a small basket in her hands. “Nessa wanted me to rest, but I told I felt better already. May I come in?”

Lanisen says, “‘Course, yeah. I got more ginger tea, should I put on the kettle?”

Dalia exclaims, “That’d be lovely. Thank you!” She turns waving to Deonyc as she enters. “Hello Deonyc.””

Deonyc asks, “How’s it going Dalia?”

Lanisen says, already reaching down the kettle from its shelf and crossing to the table to fill it from the pitcher of water, “I’ll get it started.”

Deonyc looks around, “Do you take the hounds out a lot Lani?”

Dalia moves to sit on one of the halebales, turning to speak to Deonyc. “It’s been going alright, you?”

Deonyc says, “I’m doing alright, the usual really.”

Lanisen shakes his head in answer to Deonyc, disappearing behind the wall to put the kettle on the fire.

Dalia nods, “That’s good to hear.” She reaches into her basket and whistles for Nia.

About eight hounds respond to Dalia’s whistle. None of them are Nia.

Deonyc watches the hounds move and smiles.

Dalia laughs as if she ought to have expected this and reaches in pulling out a tidbit for each, looking around for Nia.

Lanisen emerges from behind the haybale wall, kettle-less. He glances again at his guests and goes to the shelf on the west wall, reaching down a canister of tea and a plate of scones.

Deonyc gets up and walks over to Lani, “Should I set the table?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, that’s– All I’ve got is scones, it’s all right, they’ll eat up any crumbs that fall.”

Dalia makes a noise of appreciation upon seeing the scones. “Mmmhm scones.” she looks around for Nia.  She glances up at Lanisen inquiringly?

Deonyc nods, and draws up chairs for them three, he smiles “Haven’t had scones in quite a while.”

Lanisen asks, “Hmm?” in response to Dalia’s look.

Dalia asks, “Where’s Nia? I haven’t seen her around lately?”

Lanisen says, “Oh…” He glances over the hounds in the room. “Prob’ly upstairs sleepin’. She sleeps a lot these days.”

Dalia nods. She slips a package out of her basket, raising it above the eager hounds as she pulls it out, “I brought some morsels for her.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! Thank, thank you, that’s very kind. I’ll see she gets them.”

Dalia grins, reaching down to scratch behind one of the nearby hounds ear’s
Dalia says, “She’s a dear.””

Lanisen agrees simply, “Yeah.” He pushes the plate of scones closer to Deonyc and disappears behind the haybale wall again to get the kettle.

Dalia takes a scone and nibbles on it contemplatively.

Lanisen emerges again and prepares the tea, fetching down the honey as well. “You been feelin’ better, anyway?” he asks Dalia.

Dalia nods, “A bit better every day. Much better today.”

Lanisen says, “Good, yeah,” as he pours honey into the bottom of a cup for her. He glances at Deonyc questioningly and prepares a second mug when he gets a nod.

Dalia thanks Lanisen and wraps her hands arround the cup, “And you, how’ve you been?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, I been well, thanks for askin’. Busy week.”

Dalia nods, “Yeah.”

Lanisen pours the tea, and the warm scent of ginger rises from the mugs. He slides Deonyc’s over to him. He glances between them, a little awkward now that this is done, and goes quiet.

Dalia says, “So Megren is a knight now…” she says not really seeming to have a purpose in saying or to shy.”

Lanisen says, grinning slightly, “Yep, mm-hmm.”

Dalia says, “Do you think-” she says breaking off not completing her thought. “Mm… it feels different.”

Lanisen glances at her curiously.

Dalia shakes her head, gesturing inarticulately. “Do you think things will be different?”

Lanisen seems not entirely at his ease with the question and only shrugs. “Time’ll tell, I s’pose.”

Dalia nibbles her lip, not reasured. “I suppose.”

Lanisen says, “Um–” He pauses, glancing at Deonyc, and then looks back at Dalia. “I might be goin’ back to Narnia here shortly.”

Dalia turns her gaze from the from the fire to Lanisen as He speaks. “Oh!”

Lanisen says, “It’s, I’ve got a…” He hesitates, and then settles on, “A friend there, she’s, she’s asked for some help. I’m waitin’ on a letter yet but if she says she wants me to come then–then I’m gonna go.”

Dalia nods, “Sounds like a very good thing then.”

Lanisen laughs, a little nervously. “Haa, maybe, yeah. I hope so.” He glances up and nods as Deonyc stands to depart for his guard shift. “Take a scone,” he urges, and Deonyc does so before leaving.

Dalia waves as Deonyc departs, wishing him a good afternoon.
Dalia turns back to Lanisen after Deonyc has left. “Will you be staying with her or nearby? I mean somewhere to write? That is if you don’t mind.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know, just yet.” He pauses. “I been writin’ her care of the guard tower in Lantern Waste. You could write there, if you wanted.”

Dalia nods, “Well I wish you all the best either way.”

Lanisen wrinkles up his nose at her, hunching his shoulders self-consciously. “Thanks.”

Dalia offers a reassuring smile, before breaking of taking a sip of tea. She breaks off a piece of scone and dunks it in.

Lanisen asks, nodding to the tea, “Sweet enough?”

Dalia says, “It’s just right, thank you.””

Lanisen says, “Good. Good.”

Dalia says, “I wonder what’ll do? I mean in Narnia, now that their majesties are gone. I suppose Lord Peridan must be pretty busy.””

Lanisen says, “I suppose so.” He picks at a rough spot on the table. “Meg was sayin’ how she’d said she’d go, if they needed more knights.”

Dalia nods, she pauses thinking. “What was it like Cair Paravel?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, um.” He pauses. “Really… really different. Part of it was ’cause I was with Sir Darrin, I mean, but it was– it was really different. They’ve got errand-runners there who are… they’ve got Bats, and Dogs, and Centaurs… You don’t know what you’re gonna find around the next corner.”

Dalia exclaims, “That sounds amazing! Father says that he heard from some of the traders and merchants in Chesterton, it gleams like a gemstone when the sun hits it.””

Lanisen laughs, rubbing the back of his neck. “I dunno about gemstones,” he admits. “But it’s a sight to see.”

Dalia sighs, imaging it. “I bet.”

Lanisen says, “I hope you get to see it one day.”

Dalia smiles, “Thanks.”

Lanisen says, “I bet when they choose their new rulers there’ll be diplomatic visits and things. Maybe Lady Astera will go on one.”

Dalia nods, “That would be nice. I believe she mentioned being there once. But I wonder if they’re still there. Those ones she knew. I mean besides their majesties.”

Lanisen nods.

Dalia asks, “Do they have a Library? I mean they must. But is it like the one here?”

Lanisen says, “They do. It’s… mm, it’s bigger and brighter than ours. I don’t know which has more books, though.” He’s sitting at the table with Dalia, a pot of ginger tea between them.

Nessa comes through the kennel door with a satchel and looks slightly annoyed, but softens when she sees the pot of tea on the table. “I thought I told you to rest! One of the guards said you were here after I went looking for you when you weren’t in your room. Mother sent some of her tea blend for you, but I see you already got some.”

Lanisen startles slightly when the door opens again without warning, drawing himself up to sit straighter.

Dalia looks up a little sheepishly, “Ah, Hello Nessa.”

Nessa looks at the empty chair and considers sitting down. “Is your cold getting any better? It’s been holding on for so long.”

Lanisen folds his hands together on the table in front of him, not interrupting.

Dalia nods, “I’ve been feeling much better. And the fire is really quite toasty in here so there’s little chance of chill.” She looks to Lanisen, before glancing back back at her sister. “Does Mother need us?”

Nessa takes a seat. “No, no, mother’s fine. I just stopped by home for lunch today and she gave me the tea. I just finished most of my weaving for the day and wanted to give it to you.” she looks over at Lanisen. “Sorry I didn’t say hello, Lanisen. How are the dogs today?

Lanisen says, glancing at the hounds which are milling about, interested in the newcomer, “They’re doin’ all right, thanks.”

Dalia offers a smile up at her sister as if too say “See I couldn’t go wrong.”

Nessa returns the smile with a raised eyebrow to say that “she could go wrong, she just didn’t this time.” before noticing one of the hounds that approched her and starting to pet it. “This is a friendly pup, what’s his name?”

Lanisen says, “That’d be Kite, miss.”

Nessa says, “Well you’re a very good dog” she says, scratching Kite’s underside after he flopped down for a petting. “How many does his majesty keep?””

Lanisen says, “We got… fifteen, right now.”

Nessa says, “That’s a good number I suppose. Are they all the Kings, or do court members keep pets here as well?””

Lanisen says, “Ahh, Kite there is Lady Aravis’s, Sorrel belongs to Prince Cor. There’s Elek and Durant, they belong to Sir Tyren and the Lord Steward… there’s a couple more that come and go, but most of ’em are just the castle’s.”

Nessa almost to Kite “You all must look so grand out on a hunt.” and then back to Lanisen. “Kite is such a big hound, and I picture Lady Aravis as so delicate…but I suppose she must not be terribly delicate to have crossed the desert as she did’

Lanisen gets a funny look on his face. He scratches his nose. “Nahh,” he agrees. “She ain’t– um, she ain’t delicate. I wouldn’t let her hear you say that neither.”

Nessa says, “I realize that. It’s just what one expects of a lady of the castle…but Lady Aravis isn’t quite a normal lady of the castle””

Dalia hmms “Queen Lucy seemed to get on quite well with her, but then she rode to battle with King Edmund.”

Lanisen squints a little bit. “I wouldn’t call the castle ladies delicate,” he comments. “Not all of ’em, anyway.”

Nessa looks as if something has dawned on her “Oh no, no, of course not. Dame Megren certaintly isn’t. And you’re a strong flower, Dalia”

Dalia giggles, imitating the pose of a dainty lady of court fanning herself.

Nessa says, “Haft was wrong. You would make a good lady””

Lanisen folds his arms on the table in front of him, watching between them with good humor.

Dalia exclaims, “Ha!” she raises her brow archly in the imitation of another lady.

Lanisen covers a snicker.

Nessa asks, “You’ve met so many ladies of the court Dalia, what do you think they normally are like?”

Dalia pauses thoughtfully, “Well… They’re all differant Nessa. I haven’t met them all of course. And not all of them in the pleasantest circumstances,” She doesn’t elaborate, but continues. ” A fair amount are quite kind and pleasant, some polite. Some are more…” she struggles for a word ” Dignified. Lofty…. ”

Nessa says, “…So they’re humans, just like us. Varied and different. Huh. Well now I know.” she says, rubbing Kite’s ears”

Lanisen keeps quiet.

Nessa says, “I certantly knew that about those who work in the castle. Haft and Deonyc couldn’t be more different, not to mention Dame Megren”

Dalia says, “Well some them maybe… others would be less please to hear you say it.” she says in reply to Nessa’s comment about ladies. ”

Lanisen makes a noise of agreement.

Nessa says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with being human, any more than there’s anything wrong with a talking animal being a talking animal.” she smiles a bit. “The lords of the castle seem very kind from the few I’ve seen in person. We couldn’t ask for a merrier king. ”

Dalia smiles, “You should meet Lady Avery sometime, Ness. She’s very friendly. And an excellent artist.”
Dalia says, “And of course, Milady has been especially kind to me.”

Lanisen keeps quiet. He thumbs at a jaggedly worn place in the wood of the tabletop.

Nessa says, “Oh I would like to meet her then. It’s always good to see the work of other artists. And yes, your Lady has been good to you, I know she’s let you see us far more than another might””

Dalia glances at Lanisen, before turning back to her sister. “We shouldn’t keep Lanisen all after afternoon from his work.”

Lanisen says, “Oh,” and shakes his head. “‘S no trouble.”

Nessa says, “You’re right, we probably shouldn’t. Though Lanisen, do you mind if I come again sometime to sketch some of the hounds? I think they might make a good border for something.”

Lanisen looks confused by this, but agreeable enough. “If you want.”

Nessa says, “Thank you.” turns to Dalia and then stands. “Shall I walk you to your room?””

Dalia finishes her tea and stands thanking Lanisen for the tea and scone, before turning to her sister. “If you want to, thank you”

Lanisen stands as well as they do, making a dismissive gesture in response to Dalia’s thanks.

Nessa says, “Have a good rest of your day, Lanisen.”

Dalia offers a smile, “Good Afternoon, Lanisen.”

Lanisen answers, “Afternoon.”


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