Riverbank, Northeast of Beaversdam
You stand at the eastern edge of Lantern Waste, on the northern bank of the Great River. To the west, the dense foliage of the Waste forest makes the riverbank path shady and cool, while to the east and south, Narnia opens into magnificent rolling plains.
The Great River is dammed here by a large assemblage of logs. The dam appears to be sturdy and juts out across the water to the southwest to a charming little mound in the very center of the river. The spillover is constant, but the dam appears to be wide enough to walk on provided one doesn’t mind wet feet.
The riverbank path continues eastward downstream, and follows the riverbank westward into Lantern Waste.
Jana walks along the bank of the river, a small child’s hand in her own.
Lanisen is waiting near the dam, sitting cross-legged on the ground in the shade of a weeping willow.
Tristran stops his mother some distance away. She leans down to speak with him and he points toward the figure under the willow, exclaiming jubilantly. After a few further exchanged words, he scuttles away from her and down the slope toward the man. “Hello!”
Lanisen gets to his feet as Jana and Tristran come into view and steps forward to meet them, pushing aside the hanging willow branches and grinning fit to split. “Hello!”
Tristran says, “I’m Tristran!!”
Lanisen puts out a hand solemnly to shake. “It’s very nice to meet you, Tristran. I’m Lanisen.”
Tristran lifts up a small wooden knight figurine. “Look!”
Lanisen kneels down to get a better look. “Ohh, how about that,” he says, appropriately impressed. “Look, he’s got a little sword and everything!”
Tristran confides, “Mama calls him Sir Snooty, but actually he’s really nice.”
Jana crosses her arms and pushes her mouth to the side.
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows at this, shooting an amused look at Jana. “Yeah?”
Jana lifts her shoulders.
Tristran says, “She said I had to leave Sir Fancy and Sir Stuck-Up at home.”
Lanisen tilts his head back and laughs out loud at this. “Ahh, well,” he says. “Maybe they can come next time, yeah?”
Tristran looks back at his mother at this.
Jana indulges, “Maybe.”
Lanisen glances at Jana, a wordless question in his face.
Jana lifts a shoulder, expression open.
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth, but he doesn’t let the worry show on his face very long. He looks back at Tristran and says conspiratorially, reaching into his satchel, “I might have somethin’ for Sir Snooty.”
Tristran’s brows lift and his mouth opens and he looks uncertainly back at his mother.
Lanisen produces a little wooden cart, almost proportionate to the knight, and a little horse with moving legs to draw it.
Tristran looks thunderstruck. A whole new world has opened before him.
Lanisen says, “What d’you reckon, will it serve?”
Tristran grabs it and then goes running toward his mother to show it off.
Lanisen stands, grinning broadly again and ducking his head to try to hide it.
Jana admires the toy dutifully.
Lanisen rubs his elbow and hangs back.
Jana says something else to the boy and then he runs headlong back to Lanisen. “Thank you!” he says all in a rush, to make up for the time in which he’d forgotten to say it.
Lanisen says, beaming, “You’re very welcome. Do you like it?”
Tristran nods solemnly and asks, “What’s the horse’s name?”
Lanisen tilts his head at the boy and says, “See, now, I was gonna ask /you/ that.”
Tristran looks bewildered.
Lanisen asks, “What do you think is a good name for a horse?”
Tristran says, “Ummm–” he looks over his shoulder at his mother. “Hoofter?”
Lanisen says, “I like it!”
Jana’s lips curve.
Lanisen says, “Maybe Sir Snooty can ride him to have adventures. Does he have adventures?”
Tristran says, “Sir Snooty goes into the moors and fights everyone, even the Meta.”
Lanisen asks, “The Meta?”
Tristran says, “She’s evil and tiny with big claws and she shoots green out of her hands.”
Lanisen pulls his chin back at this interesting explanation. “Green, huh?”
Tristran nods. “But don’t worry, mama says she isn’t really real.”
Lanisen says, “But even if she were, I bet Sir Snooty could take her.”
Tristran says, “Sir Snooty can defeat anyone, except for mama, and salamanders.”
Lanisen says, “/Salamanders/.”
Tristran says, “He’s allergic.”
Lanisen manages not to laugh at this, but it’s a very near thing. “I always wanted to meet a salamander.”
Tristran says, “Papa says they’re worse than snakes because they’re like snakes but slimy and firey, and then mama says he’s full of it, but she won’t say what it is.”
Lanisen considers this seriously. “Potato bugs,” he suggests.
Tristran looks confused.
Lanisen says, “Maybe it’s potato bugs he’s full of.”
Tristran says, “Ohhhh. I’ll ask him.”
Lanisen nods decisively, this settled. “What about the other two, what’re they like? Sir–” He pauses. “Uh, Sir Fancy and Sir Stuck-Up?”
Tristran says, “Sir Fancy has long flowing blonde hair in the wind and he likes poems and he’s a detective but mama says the poems probably make him a bad detective because they usually do and then papa goes outside to make firewood.”
Jana crosses her arms and clucks her tongue at the boy, but her lips curl a bit smugly.
Lanisen gives Jana a sort of incredulously awed look, masters himself, and asks, “And how ’bout the other?”
Tristran says, “He’s new, we’ve only just said hello, and mama says I can’t carry the new ones out of the house with me or I’ll lose them.”
Lanisen says, “Mm, yeah. And if he don’t know you very well yet, he might not think to come back.”
Tristran blinks, and frowns, explaining uncertainly, “He’s a toy.”
Lanisen ducks his head humbly and says, “Beg your pardon. You never know, in Narnia.”
Tristran squints up his eyes in a manner which he seems likely to have picked up from his mother. “Toys are pretend everywhere,” he says, and then looks at his mother to double check that this is true.
Jana nods sagely once.
Lanisen makes a mysterious and skeptical face.
Tristran appears to need only Jana’s approval to be certain. “All toys,” he repeats.
Lanisen says doubtfully, “All right.”
Tristran gets a stubborn expression that he /definitely/ picked up from one or both parent and insists, “They’re wood.”
Lanisen says, “So’re trees.”
Tristran looks exasperated.
Lanisen lifts his hands in a defensive manner. “I’m just sayin’, I had a very nice conversation with a Walnut dryad this mornin’.”
Jana chimes in, “Some people can’t be helped, baby.”
Tristran tries anyway, “Trees ‘n wood aren’t the same thing. ‘n dryads ain’t /trees/.”
Lanisen says, “I /guess/.”
Tristran says, “They’re /not/.”
Lanisen sighs gustily. “All right,” he concedes.
Tristran looks unsure that he’s won, but very glad not to have to contend with such ignorance any longer. He extends Sir Snooty toward Lanisen as a peace offering. “Want to play?”
Lanisen brightens. “Sure! What’re we playin’?’
Tristran squints. “Knights and horses?”
Lanisen says, “Right, of course,” and sits down cross-legged. “What’s Sir Snooty’s favorite weapon?”
Tristran says immediately, “Throwing knives.”
Lanisen asks, “What’s he do when he runs out of knives to throw?”
Tristran says, “Goes and gets them.”
Lanisen considers this, then tilts his head to either side. “Can’t argue with that.”
Jana looks skeptical.
Tristran, on the other hand, looks satisfied. “Where should the knights be going?” he asks generously.
Lanisen uhhs. “The market, for pretzels.”
Tristran says, “What’s that.”
Lanisen asks, “What?”
Tristran says, “Prezzles.”
Lanisen asks incredulously, “You don’t have pretzels here?”
Tristran looks at his mother.
Jana says, “I think I saw them in Sted Cair a couple times.”
Lanisen says, “/Hmm/. Well. They’re bread, but they make it kind of into a rope, and then they twist it all up into a loop–” His hands describe it in the air. “And kind of braid it around itself? I dunno how they do it.”
Tristran asks, “How come they don’t call it bread?”
Lanisen says, “Cause it’s– ’cause of the shape. And there’s somethin’ they do before they bake it so it comes out different, it’s… I don’t know. It’s different from normal bread.”
Tristran looks skeptical of this magic bread.
Lanisen says, “It /is/, I swear.”
Tristran gives him a rather sophisticated side eye and allows, “All right.”
Lanisen grumps, “Someday when you’re grown-up and traveling someplace, you’ll find somebody sellin’ pretzels someplace unexpected, and /then/ you’ll believe me.”
Tristran says generously, “Maybe.”
Lanisen throws up his hands. “All the knights /I/ know like pretzels.”
Tristran asks, “Cause they keep off salamanders?”
Lanisen says, “Well. I’ve never seen a salamander attack a knight eating a pretzel.”
Tristran says, “That makes sense, then.”
Lanisen says, “So Sir Snooty is going to the market to get pretzels for himself and his friends to save them all from the salamanders.”
Tristran says, “But then on the way he gets attacked by the Meta’s evil naiads and they get his horse wet and he slips and he falls in the mud and now the sellers wont give him any pretzels because he’s too dirty.”
Lanisen sets pebbles in a line to mark a road for the horse and knight to travel along. “But maybe one of the naiads really likes pretzels, so after the Meta is gone she comes back and says, if you bring me a pretzel I’ll wash off all the mud.”
Tristran argues, “He /can’t/ bring her a pretzel because he’s too dirty.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, so she splashes him off.”
Tristran says, “But then he could just keep all the pretzels for the knights.”
Lanisen says, “But the naiad makes him promise to bring her one.”
Tristran demands, “How.”
Lanisen says, “She says, if you promise to bring me a pretzel I’ll wash all the mud off for you.”
Tristran says, “But he’s already clean so he can get one, though.”
Lanisen sits back and squints. “I thought he was all covered in mud!”
Tristran says, “But /you/ said she splashes it off so he can go buy her a pretzel.”
Lanisen says, “Only after he promises to bring her one!”
Tristran says, “But she can’t trust him because they are enemies, though.”
Lanisen says, “Maybe they make a pretzel truce.”
Tristran asks interestedly, “What’s a pretzel truce?”
Lanisen says, “It’s a–” He pauses. “It’s a very sacred truce where you have to stop fighting until both of you have eaten your whole pretzel, and then you decide whether or not you’re gonna fight more, or if you’re just gonna eat more pretzels.”
Tristran agrees, “All right.”
Lanisen says, “So they have a pretzel truce and he goes and he buys a whole wagon full of pretzels and he gives one to the naiad.”
Tristran says, “And then what.”
Lanisen says, “I dunno, what do you think?”
Tristran says, “Then the salamanders attack and he has to sneeze so he loses all his pretzels.”
Lanisen says, “Oh no!” and very gently tips the cart on its side.
Tristran says, “But the naiad rains on them and cuts off all their legs so they have to be slimy snakes now.”
Lanisen says, “I think salamanders grow new legs.”
Tristran says disappointedly, “Oh.”
Lanisen says consolingly, “Maybe not very quickly, though.”
Tristran warms a little, “Oh.”
Lanisen says, “And while they’re growin’ their legs back they have time to decide not to attack knights anymore.”
Tristran screws up his whole face.
Lanisen asks humbly, “No?”
Tristran says, “No.”
Lanisen says, “Allll right.”
Tristran says, “But he gets home safe to the other knights, though, and Sir Fancy writes him a poem.”
Lanisen says, “What about the naiad who likes pretzels?”
Tristran says, “Huh?”
Lanisen asks, “What happens to her?”
Tristran says, “She goes back in the water?”
Lanisen says, “Ohh, all right.”
Tristran gives him a confused look.
Lanisen says apologetically, “I don’t know about naiads.”
Tristran explains, “They live in the water.”
Lanisen says, “/That/ I knew.”
Tristran looks extremely unimpressed.
Lanisen says, “Does she keep workin’ for the Meta, then?”
Tristran says, “Yeah, course.”
Lanisen says, “What if the Meta finds out she likes pretzels?”
Tristran looks confused.
Lanisen says, “Maybe she and Sir Snooty can be friends and eat pretzels sometimes!”
Tristran says, “No, she’s bad.”
Jana shifts, frowning a little. “Oi, Tristran, it’s about time you had your lunch.”
Lanisen sits back and rights the wagon, putting both horse and knight inside it for easier carrying.
Tristran takes them and pulls the horse out of the wagon because that doesn’t make any sense, and then goes running toward his mother.
Lanisen gets to his feet and trails after, a little sadly. “See you ’round?” he says to Jana.
Jana nods. “I got time tomorrow.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Jana says, “Tristran, tell Lanisen thanks for playing with you.”
Tristran says dutifully, “Thanks for playing with me.”
Lanisen says, grinning, “Thanks for lettin’ me. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime?”
Tristran says, “All right.”
Lanisen says, “Take good care of Hoofter.”
Tristran says, “I will.”
Jana says, “Thanks; we’ll see you, Lanisen.”
Lanisen says, “See you.” He steps back, bending to pick up his satchel, and brushes his hair out of his face.
Jana reaches out for Tristran to take her hand, and they start back toward their home.
Lanisen watches them go, then sighs, slings his satchel over his shoulder, and makes his way up the riverbank.