inevitable offense

Selale Basin
Lantern Waste
Northwestern Narnia

Lanisen sits cross-legged in the sunshine near the pool, his back to a boulder and a letter unfolded in his lap. A large wolfhound is bounding around the basin area, snapping gleefully at grasshoppers.

A leopard with a long tail (Nimera) pads into the basin, her tail twitching back and forth. The human and dog stop her in her tracks as she stares at the newcomers. Her whiskers twitch as she observes in silence.

The wolfhound pauses what he is doing as the wind brings him Nimera’s scent. He tucks his tail and lowers his head and bares his teeth in a low growl.

Lanisen glances up in some alarm to see what has caught the hound’s attention. “Tohol, to me,” he says quickly when he’s found the Leopard, getting to his feet. “Here, now, come here.”

Nimera may look a bit affronted when the dog snarls at her. She flicks her tail, “I say, there is no need for snarls.” She sounds almost bored.

Lanisen says, folding the letter and tucking it away as he crosses quickly to the hound, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, he’s never met one of you before. He don’t talk, he don’t know better.”

Zephyrwind, noticing the leopard, nods politely, and says, “Well, I can’t speak for the dog or Lanisen, but uh, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure. My name is Zephyrwind. I live up there in that rock,” gesturing toward his eyrie high up in the rock face.

Nimera assess the Son of Adam before turning her gaze to the Eagle. “Greetings Zephyrwind. I am called Nimera.”

Zephyrwind’s stomach growls. “I just came down here for a drink and to look for a couple of mice. You haven’t seen any, have you?” He looks slightly embarrassed. “Beg your pardon. Nice to meet you.”

Lanisen looks startled when the Eagle speaks, having not noticed him before. He turns in place until he locates him, then kneels to settle his spooked hound.

Nimera answers the eagle, “I do not believe I have noticed any mice about the area. Though I have not been seeking them out.”

Zephyrwind looks about impatiently. “I like mice…for snacks. I suspect you would go for something a little weightier…a small deer perhaps.”

Nimera gives a bit of a feline smirk, “Deer meat is my preferred food.”

Lanisen glances up interestedly from where he has settled petting Tohol.

Zephyrwind with a thoughtful look, responds, “Well, I could eat a deer…” He stops with a flustered look, “oh, enough about food!” He continues, “What shall we talk about? Not food, please. Yeah, I know, I started it. But, how ’bout our travels, No? Or what’s happening at Cair Paravel these days? Or Aslan maybe? I always enjoy talking about Aslan,” his appearance brightening just a little.

Nimera’s ears perk up at the topic of Aslan. “Ah, I see we have a common interest. I too enjoy discussion of the Great Lion.”

Lanisen shifts slightly, biting his lower lip. He looks down at Tohol, who has calmed, but still watches both the Eagle and the Leopard warily.

Zephyrwind closes his eyes halfway, and begins to reminisce dreamily, “I remember my parents telling me about Aslan years ago when I was just an eaglet. Their experience of Him really affected me…in a good way, I should say. Their accounts made Him so real to me; even though I didn’t see Him face to face, I still feel like I know Him. And I’m sure He knows me.”

Nimera nods. She pads to the tree and reaches up to use it as a scratching post. “My same thoughts, Zephrywind.”

Lanisen wraps his arms around the hound and keeps quiet. He doesn’t join in or even look directly at either speaker, but he can’t seem to stop himself from listening.

Zephyrwind smiles a kindred smile. “You know, even though the Kings and Queens have gone, there is still something of them here. But I feel it even more so with the great Lion; He’s here. I know He hears us even now, and merely talking about Him gives me a great sense of joy. Hah! I’m not even hungry any more.” Zephyrwind laughs quietly at himself.

Nimera smiles, her ear twitching to the sound of wind. “Ah, yes. I fear some may believe that he is not among us. But that is just nonsense.”

Lanisen’s eyes flit to Nimera at this.

Nimera remarks, “Do you have something to say, Son of Adam?”

Lanisen asks, “Sorry?”

Nimera turns her head to stare at Lanisen with her assessing gaze, “You are quiet over there.”

Zephyrwind turns his attention to Lanisen, as if expecting a response.

Lanisen glances between them uncertainly. “Sorry,” he answers, ducking his head. “I didn’t think I should talk without anything to say.”

Zephyrwind acknowleges Lanisen’s reservation, “It is enough just to be here, I think. Does one have to speak in order to participate? I think not.”

Nimera hmms, her tail flicking back and forth, “I suppose not though conversation is better when all parties participate.”

Lanisen’s ears turn red. “I beg your pardon,” he says humbly.

Zephyrwind, with a concerned look, answers, “Well, in his defense, the son of Adam DID have the appearance of one listening carefully, which in my mind qualifies as participation.”

Nimera looks at the Eagle, “I am not accusing anyone of anything. I simply asked the Son of Adam a question and responded with a statement to his answer.”

Lanisen shifts. “I don’t mean to make any trouble,” he says, smiling a little nervously. “I’ll go, if you like.”

Zephyrwind gives Nimera a nod, “My apologies. I misread, Nimera.”

Nimera flicks her tail, “Why should you go? If we were going to have a private conversation, we would have told you before we had begun.”

Lanisen glances from Nimera to the Eagle. “All right,” he answers.

Zephyrwind smiles; then asks Lanisen, “What stands out, son of Adam, in your mind? That day the Pevensies left Narnia? …if I may ask?”

Nimera looks intently at the man, awaiting his response. Her tail ever flicking back and forth.

Lanisen blinks. “I’m– I’m not sure I understand what you’re askin’,” he says slowly.

Zephyrwind tries to explain further, “Well, I know how I was affected by the events of that day: the royals on horseback in pursuit of the stag, and all others trying to contribute, to be a part of what, we didn’t know. I would have been curious to hear what a human would have to say about all of it. There was such exhilaration in the air! Excitement! It was even fun, and then suddenly…nothing. I think in some ways I’m still getting over all of it. I guess I just wondered how others might have felt…how you might have felt”

The flicking of Nimera’s tail is the only indication that the Leopard is listening.

Lanisen says, “Um…” and falters. He lifts his shoulders. “I don’t– We, we followed after the Stag, it was… I got so tired, I remember. We didn’t get to worryin’ after the Kings and Queens really until the next day, as I recall.” He makes a face and says, “You were there, I know, /you/ remember.”

Zephyrwind smiles a big smile and says, “I appreciate that, Lanisen. I guess I wonder at times if sons of Adam and daughters of Eve are very different from the talking beasts of Narnia. But I can see we are not so different, even feeling the same things at times: sorrow, regret, uncertainty, and sometimes fear and dread. As strange as it may seem, it’s even comforting, in a way.”

Lanisen looks a little bit bewildered, but he nods politely.

Zephyrwind looks inquistively at Nimera, “Have you never wondered such things, leopard?”

Nimera turns her head to look at the Eagle, “No, I always assumed that either Beast or Human would experience the same emotions. Why would you assume that it would be different?”

Lanisen watches them deliberate over this, quiet and interested.

Zephyrwind turns his feathery head to one side, and blinks, “Perhaps it was the idea that there should be humans on the thrones of Narnia, rather than beasts. And Lanisen, being human himself, might be privy to things that only humans would know about other humans. I’ve been in Lantern Waste all my life. By creation’s design I might never be as close to the Kings and Queens as was this son of Adam. Royalty lives in a castle. But my home is in these trees. Is my curiosity so strange?”

Lanisen lifts his eyebrows at this, half-grinning in confusion.

Zephyrwind says, “Do you think I’m being silly.”

Nimera sits down, curling her tail around her legs. Though her gaze is netural, to those who knew her well, there is a certain glint in her gaze of one who enjoys discussing topics such as these. “I suppose Humans may have some bond as a species including different experiences than what us Beasts may encounter. Just as you and I, Zephyrwind. I do not know the experience of flight nor you know the experience of climbing up trees. However, I think all created beings, Both Humans and Beasts have the same emotions and feelings. Then again, as you have also mentioned, our points of view are shaped by our encounters.”

Lanisen draws up his knees to listen, his eyebrows still up.

Zephyrwind breathes a long sigh, “I don’t mean to make too much out of it. I was just hoping, I suppose, to relate a little more closely to the son of Adam. Admittedly, most of my friends are talking beasts. This was the first time I’ve ever visited with a human at such length. But, as I said, it’s comforting to know – we’re not so different.”

Nimera remarks, “I suppose one difference between Humans and Beasts are their pets.” She looks at the dog. “That is one thing I have never been able to discuss with someone at great lengths. How does one communicate with them?”

Zephyrwind looks at Lanisen, “Hmmm?”

Lanisen hesitates, almost warily. “I guess it depends on what you mean by communicate,” he says finally.

Nimera flicks the tip of her tail, “When you speak to it, does it understand you? How do you form a bond? What if it attacks you?”

Zephyrwind lets slip a funny chirp.

Lanisen glances between them. “Um,” he says. “He did, once.” He rolls up his right sleeve to show them his arm: there’s a shiny ring of scar tissue around his wrist, but he indicates a set of ropy scars further up his forearm. “It was, he was young and I was learnin’. As for speakin’, he understands some words. He knows what I mean when I say come, or stay, or that he’s been good. The rest is just as we’re doin’ here.” He gestures to the hound, still sitting at his side and getting his neck scritched, even though he’s still obviously leery of the big cat. “He ain’t really sure he’s safe, but he knows I think he’s safe, and he trusts me enough to stay.”

Zephyrwind’s face brightens up, “Fascinating. Good question, Nim.”

Nimera stares at the dog with her aloof gaze, “How interesting. Same with your horses, I suppose? I remember see many of them at the battle.” Her ears lay back at the mention of the battle. “Nevermind that.”
Nimera turns to the Eagle, “It is Nimera. Not Nim.”

Lanisen asks, “What battle?”

Zephyrwind says, a little embarrassed, “I beg your pardon. Nimera, of course.”

Nimera stares at Lanisen, “Are you not from Archenland?”

Lanisen asks, “The battle at– you were, you were one of ’em who came?”

Nimera does not answer right away, a distant memory capturing her attention. “Yes. It was Anvard, was it not? The site of…the battle?”

Lanisen says, “Yes.” He hesitates. “I’m sorry for askin’, we don’t have to talk about it, if you’d rather not.”

Nimera flicks her tail, “I was the one who brought it up. I tend not to dwell on it though. I am glad of the outcome but War is not pretty.”

Lanisen says quietly, “No.” He moistens his lips and says, “Thank you. For comin’. It would’ve… I don’t like to think of what it might’ve been like if you hadn’t, you and the rest.”

Nimera dips her head, “Of course. Though we may be different countries, we are allies. I expect that Archenland would have sent their armies if we were attacked.”

Lanisen nods silently, his hand still running soothingly up and down on the hound’s neck.

Nimera remarks, “It seems that you have been present in many of the important events in the last few years. Lanisen, was it?”

Lanisen says, “That’s right.”

Nimera bluntly asks, “What is that brought you so far from home?”

Lanisen says, “A friend, I got a friend who lives here.”

Nimera raises her eyebrow, “That is a long way.” She turns her attention to the Eagle, “So you have only lived in Lantern Waste?”

Zephyrwind nods, “Yes.”

Nimera looks at her companions, “Well, so we have a local, a transplanted local and a traveler. How very Narnian.”

Lanisen lowers his head and grins.

Zephyrwind, with a look of earnestness asks, “You two – you’ve seen Aslan?”

Nimera grows solemn, dipping her head, “Yes. I have.”

Lanisen nods without speaking.

Zephyrwind, with the eager look of a child at Christmas, “I hope I get to see Him someday. I was too young; I could not be in the battle with the white witch.”

Nimera blinks, “I do not think any of us were old enough for that. I saw him at Anvard. Where I expect Lanisen saw him too.”

Lanisen nods again.

Zephyrwind, caught up in the moment, “Yes, well, someday…someday.”

Nimera dips her head, “It indeed is something that never leaves you.”

Lanisen stays quiet.

Zephyrwind looks up, “I am so glad to have been here today. I have made a new friend and I’ve gotten to know Lanisen a little better today; this has been good. I have enjoyed our visit very much.”

Lanisen glances up and smiles.

Zephyrwind adds, “You know, I think if I were to see the Great Lion, that I might feel something like I’m feeling right now.”

Nimera flicks her tail, “And that Feeling is?”

Zephyrwind looks up and says, “Like things are good, and life is good, and…peace, yes, peace…like a sense of well-being that is stronger than anything I could have otherwise imagined.”

Nimera dips her head in agreement of those emotions.

Zephyrwind says, “…and love.”

Lanisen makes a small discontented face, like this doesn’t entirely cover it for him, but says nothing.

Nimera looks at Lanisen “What emotions would you add?”

Lanisen looks up at her, startled. “Oh,” he says, and shakes his head quickly.

Nimera just looks at the Son of Adam intently. “Do you not agree with the emotions Zephrywind has spoken of?”

Lanisen says, “No– no, I do.”

Nimera just hrmphs, her tail flicking, “You are free to speak your mind here, Lanisen. It is a free country after all.”

Zephyrwind lifts a wing toward the leopard, “Perhaps you shouldn’t press him. Perhaps it’s not easy for him to talk about.”

Lanisen doesn’t answer, but he looks slightly relieved. He lowers his head again, still stroking the hound.

Nimera flicking her tail, “I am simply asking a question and making a statement. That is all.” She doesn’t ask Lanisen any more questions…for now.

Zephyrwind’s stomach growls, “Oh, I’m sorry,” he says, obviously embarrassed.

Lanisen glances at the Eagle.

Nimera looks at the Eagle, “Do you require nourishment?”

Zephyrwind moves away slowly to spread his wings, “I hope we can get together again soon; I have really enjoyed getting to know you. Now, if you would excuse me, obviously I need to get me something to eat, so til next time …” Zephyrwind reaches for the sky and…

Lanisen says, “Wait–” but calls out too late.

Nimera dips her head to the departing Eagle, “Good day.” She snorts as he takes off without so much as a warning. “Some Eagles…”

Lanisen makes a regretful face. He glances at Nimera and draws a breath to say something, but hesitates.

Nimera stares at Lanisen, “Yes?”

Lanisen says, “Um–” He looks down at the hound. “I was wonderin’– you, you catch deer, right?”

Nimera flexes her claws, “I do. The occasional fox as well if I am famished and there are no deer in sight.”

Lanisen hesitates. “I been wonderin’…” He pauses and reconsiders. “Um, do you, do you have any use for coin? If– can I buy a haunch from you, next time you bring one down, or– or is there somethin’ else I can do for you instead? He ain’t been gettin’ as much meat as he’s used to since bein’ here, is why I ask.”

Nimera flicks her tail, “I may have a certain sense of propriety but I am not unkind. I will give you some deer meat for your…dog.” Her whiskers twitch.

Lanisen says gratefully, “Thank you. I’d, I’d like to pay you for it, though.”

Nimera shrugs her shoulders, “If that will appease your sensibilities. Are you in need of meat now?”

Lanisen says, “No, no, just– whenever you hunt next.”

Nimera dips her head, “I hunted this morn.”

Lanisen nods.

Nimera takes that as a sign. She slips into her cave to get the meat for Lanisen.

Lanisen blinks and twists to watch her go, his expression open and worried.

A few minutes later, the Leopard comes back with a nice looking doe.

Lanisen says, “Oh,” and lets out a breath. He rubs the back of his neck. “I thought– I reckoned I offended you.”

Nimera finally lets a semi smile break on her muzzle, “Trust me, Lanisen. You will offend me.” She sets the deer in front of the man, “Take what you would like.”

Lanisen blinks and looks like he’s not sure what to make of this. “Oh!” he says, and looks uncertainly at the doe. “Um. Yes. All right.”

Nimera waits for him to select his portion.

Lanisen gets up and draws his knife. “Um,” he says again, a little helplessly, and steps back and forth to try to figure out how to proceed.

Nimera just twitches her tail, “Do you know how to cut meat?”

Lanisen draws a breath. “Not– Rabbits, rabbits I done…”

Nimera flexes her claws, “I suppose you can imagine it like a big rabbit.’

Lanisen swallows and looks like this isn’t much help. He shifts his weight again, then looks back at Tohol. He rolls up his sleeves, kneels, and begins the work of quartering off a hind leg. It’s messy work, and his lack of experience shows, but he gets the job done.

Nimera’s lips curl a bit. She is probably offended.

Lanisen stands back, holding his hands away from his body, and looks at what he’s done. He steps back again, looking at the Leopard, and ducks his head and shoulders forward in a little bow. “Thank you.”

Nimera tips her head, “You can wash up in the river.”

Lanisen looks at the basin pool, but nods and turns toward the opening out of the basin.

Nimera stares at the dog, assessing him.

Tohol’s ears are lifted toward the Leopard, but he won’t look at her. He stays sitting where Lanisen left him.

Nimera flicks her tail, “Do you understand me?”

Tohol still won’t look at her. He whines quietly.

Nimera stands up. “I am not going to hurt you.” She begins to use the tree as her scratching post.

Tohol has had enough. He trots off after Lanisen.

Nimera may smirk but that is probably the trick of the light. She retrieves the rest of the deer and carries it back to her den.


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