You stand in a corner of the gardens where the courtyard meets the castle’s walls, just outside the door to the Castle Apothecary. The Royal Garden here is dominated by a variety of plants known for their healing properties, including small shrubs of blackberries, various wildflowers and assorted herbs.
The plants are well-tended and the walk is quite aromatic! Beneath your feet is a decorative path which leads south and west away from the walls. South leads to the door to the Great Hall, West leads along the wall and further into the garden, in the general direction of the main gates of Cair Paravel.
Lanisen sits on a bench with his back to an old twisting yew tree, eating a handful of cherries and reading a book. The book is a different one from the one he was reading yesterday, this one bound up in green cloth.
Mateo walks through the garden, pausing in the middle to look around, he has a slightly lost expression.
Lanisen glances up alertly. He doesn’t call out, but waits to see if the other man is actually lost or just wandering.
Mateo resumes his walking, though as he does he catches sight of Lanisen and walks towards him, “Hello again”
Lanisen straightens and offers a quick smile of greeting. “Morning.”
Mateo asks, “Nice day isn’t it?”
Lanisen says, glancing up at the cloudless sky, “Yeah. Cooler’n yesterday.”
Mateo asks, “Mind if I sit?”
Lanisen says, scooting down on the bench, closer to the yew tree, “Yeah, of course.”
Mateo takes a seat on the bench and glances over the book, “What’s being read today then?”
Lanisen says, “Um–” and flips the book closed to show the cover. “It’s– I went to the infirmary earlier and the centaur there let me borrow it. It’s got sort of… there’s a lot of instructions and recipes for how to make… oh, the tinctures and balms and things they give you when you’re hurt. It’s interesting.”
Mateo oohs, “There’s a centaur here too? I met one yesterday”
Lanisen says, glancing up, “Yeah, there’s– there’s at least a few, I know there’s one on the council, I think her name’s Niobe? And the healer is Stormsbreath, and I know there’s a few on the guard.”
Mateo says, “Wintermoor’s the name of the one I met. He remembers the time before the winter, I didn’t know that was still in living memory”
Lanisen hesitates, his face going shadowed for a second. “Well–” he starts, but he doesn’t finish it. “Wintermoor’s, yeah, I know him. He’s very kind.”
Mateo casts Lanisen a curious glance, “Something wrong…?”
Lanisen says, “No, no. It’s just, ahh– not, not my story.”
Mateo asks, “Sorry I don’t understand…?”
Lanisen says, “Nevermind, it’s not– nevermind.”
Mateo says, “Huh..”
Lanisen says, “You ain’t seen a centaur before Narnia, then, I reckon?”
Mateo shakes his head, “No never.”
Lanisen grins, looking down. “Oh, how was the book?”
Mateo exclaims, “Oh! Very interesting, made a point of looking up centaurs when I got back.”
Lanisen’s grin widens. “That was me the whole month after the battle,” he remarks.
Mateo asks, “You were at the battle?”
Lanisen says, “At– At Anvard, a couple– three years ago?”
Mateo nods, watching with great interest, “I heard about it, you were attacked by Calormen”
Lanisen says, fidgeting with the page corners with a hand that doesn’t seem able to open all the way, “That’s– that’s right, yeah. Um– there were, there were a lot of Narnians who came to help, and I hadn’t, I mean, I’d never left the country. I grew up in Carmichael, so I knew Dwarves, but– you know, there were… Talking Wolves, and Leopards, and Fauns. My lord told me about Marsh-Wiggles and I reckoned he was pullin’ my leg.”
Mateo nods along, “That must have been something… I mean, a battle like that, and the Narnians too… Marsh wiggles, they’re the gloomy ones right? I read about them last night but I haven’t met one”
Lanisen says, nodding, “That’s right.” He gestures to his left foot, the one he’s been favoring with a limp, and says, “Turned my ankle a few weeks back, there was a Marsh-Wiggle at the inn who’s a healer. Sombersigh’s her name. She knows her business, but she did talk like as if my foot was gonna rot off.”
Mateo squints at the foot, “It’s not going to rot off is it?”
Lanisen says, “Ahh,” and laughs. “No, no, it’s fine, it wasn’t ever gonna, it was just a bad turn. That’s just– mmm, they… I read a book a Marsh-Wiggle wrote once, it’s, they like to expect the worst so they’re prepared whatever happens, you know? I bet you a lion once she looked at it and said that she went and looked to make sure she had everything she needed to treat a bad infection.”
Mateo nods slowly, “Well I mean there’s being prepared for the worse and thinking life is one bad thing after another but who am I to judge anyone their ways”
Lanisen says, looking down at his book, “Yeah.”
Mateo settles back on the bench looking out over the garden.
Lanisen waits a moment, then finds his page again. It seems to be concerned with plant identification: there’s an ink illustration of what looks like a willow tree, with closer-up sketches of the leaves and layers of bark.
Mateo glances at the page, unable to resist the curiosity.
Lanisen says, without looking up from the page, “There’s a tincture they make from it, from the bark. I go through a lot of it. Figured I might as well know how to make it, in case.”
Mateo asks, “You get hurt a lot?”
Lanisen says, “No, I got– my shoulder likes to cramp up.”
Mateo says, “I shan’t pry”
Mateo returns one of his own, and, true to his word, doesn’t pry. He casts around for a change of topic and eventually settles on, “I met another one of the guards from your party before, he seemed nice.”
Lanisen asks, “Haft?”
Mateo says with a shake of the head, “No, I think he said his name was Deonyc, chatted about talking animals and where makes the best drink”
Lanisen goes briefly still, faintly worried. “Yeah?”
Mateo nods, “We came to the conclusion that Archenland wins in Cider and Mead, but the islands win in Wine and Rum”
Lanisen sits on a bench under a yew tree with Mateo, a book open on his knees. He lifts his eyebrows. “That so?”
Mateo nods with a grin, “So it seems!”
Lanisen says, “I got a friend would take issue with that assessment of the wine.”
Mateo raises an eyebrow, “Oh yeah?”
A son of adam who carries himself well (Oren) strolls along the path, dressed informally, though his brooch is ever present. He smiles as his gaze lands on his companion-at-arms.
Lanisen says, “Neiklot, known for its wine. His da’s the lord there.”
Mateo stands and gives Oren a bow, “Good day Your Grace”
Lanisen startles slightly and peers around Mateo, then gets quickly to his feet. He lowers his head respectfully.
Oren asks, “Good day, Oren. Who is your friend?”
Mateo says, “This is Lanisen, he’s with the Archenlander party.”
Lanisen ducks his head in acknowledgment and confirmation. “We only arrived yesterday, sir.”
Oren says, “Aye, we heard the trumpets.”
Lanisen’s mouth curves up apologetically. “They were loud,” he agrees.
Mateo allows the two to speak, remaining silent for now.
Oren laughs. “It wasn’t a complaint. It’s well that Narnia still welcomes her guests with a merry fanfare.”
Lanisen relaxes slightly. “Yes, sir.”
Oren asks, “What’s your line then? Squire?”
Lanisen’s eyes dart down and to the side. “No, sir. I’m, I work with the king’s hounds in Anvard.”
Oren’a eyes brighten with surprise and interest. “Indeed? Has His Majesty sent one of his dogs as a gift to someone here?”
Lanisen hesitates. “No, no sir,” he answers. “I think– I think an Archenlandish hound would have to be raised here from a pup to be fully comfortable in Narnia.”
Oren says, “Oh yes? Why is that? The Talking Beasts?””
Lanisen nods, smiling a little ruefully. “It’s– it’s confusing for them, when something their nose and their training is tellin’ them they ought to be fighting or chasing tells ’em to sit down and behave themselves.” He glances at Mateo briefly, then back at the duke. “How– how have you found Narnia, sir?”
Mateo can’t help but give a smile at the mental image of confused puppies.
Oren laughs at this explanation, then replies. “As beautiful as ever, despite her recent wounds. She is as wonderful as ever she was in my grandfather’s stories.”
Lanisen asks, “You have family from here, sir?”
Oren smiles. “My great-grandfather fell in love with a Terebinthian woman and made his home on the island.
Lanisen answers the smile with one of his own. “I see.”
Oren asks, “But you, what brings you with the embassy?”
Mateo watches Lanisen to see his answer.
Lanisen rubs his elbow. “I came to Narnia last year with Sir Darrin and Dame Megren,” he answers. “There are many in the castle I consider friends, so I was glad to come again when the chance came. They’re travelin’ with Lady Avery, you see.”
Oren asks, “Ah. Yes. Was that your first trip?”
Lanisen says, “My– my first visit to Narnia, yes, sir. It was–” He hesitates and looks down. “I’m… very glad to have met their majesties.”
Oren says, “Did you? I’ve never experienced such a welcome. King Edmund played a formidable game of chess.”
Lanisen pauses again, his eyes flicking assessingly over Oren’s face at this. “I never had the pleasure,” he answers. “But I’m not much of a chess player.”
Oren says, “You know the game though? Perhaps we should see if there’s a set about that we might borrow.”
Lanisen says, “Ahh,” and rubs the back of his neck, ducking his head with an apologetic, self-deprecating smile. “Not– not really, sir. I read the rules once?”
Mateo says, “You should learn, Lanisen.”
Oren says, “Yes, I forced poor Mateo to learn the game several years ago when we were becalmed at sea.”
Lanisen grins, glancing between them. “Did you?”
Mateo gives a little chuckle, “Learning wasn’t that bad, your grace, though I can’t say I’m any good”
Oren says, “Perhaps you could instruct Lanisen if he wishes it.”
Mateo says, “If he wishes it i’d be glad to”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows. “I’m willing.”
Oren glances at the position of the sun. “I need to speak to Captain Deander. No, don’t trouble yourself Mateo. I’ll be quite safe on a walk to the harbor. Perhaps I can fetch our chess set from on board while I’m at it.
Mateo had made to follow as Oren said this but pauses at his words, “If that’s alright with you, Your Grace”
Oren smiles. “It is. It was well to meet you Lanisen. Do excuse me.” He turns and heads back the way he came.
Mateo gives Oren another bow as he leaves.
Lanisen bows slightly as well. He lets out a breath and rubs his elbow.
Mateo gives Lanisen a reassuring smile, “No need to be so tense”
Lanisen turns another exhalation into a breath of anxious laughter. “I didn’t… think to be the first person in our group to greet the Duke,” he says, and rubs both hands over his face.
Mateo nods sympathetically, “You were fine though!”
Lanisen huffs out another breath. “Thank you,” he adds.
Mateo says, “No problem”
Lanisen mourns, “Why’d I talk so much about /hounds/.”
Mateo chuckles, “Hey, if it’s what you do it’s what you’ll talk about, besides, you were asked”
Lanisen says, “I /guess/.”
Mateo gives Lanisen a reassuring pat on the shoulder, “It’s all fine”
Lanisen reacts with a slight flinch, his shoulders hunching up, but it seems to be nothing more than an automatic response. He rubs the side of his face again and says, “Yeah, thanks.”
Mateo withdraws his hand at this, “Sorry, sorry”
Lanisen looks back at him, confused.
Mateo looks a little awkward, “You sort of flinched”
Lanisen says, “Oh.” His face flushes up red, and he doesn’t seem to know what to say for a moment. “I’m… sorry.”
Mateo too looks for a moment like he doen’t seem to know what to say, “Its okay?”
Lanisen says, “Um–” He bends to pick up his book.
Mateo asks, “Yeah?”
Lanisen says, “I should prob’ly–”
Mateo says, “If you like, don’t let me push you away”
Lanisen says, “No, of course not.”
Mateo nods slowly, “Yeah… Well uh”
Lanisen says, “I’m just gonna go and check if my friend’s in the library.”
Mateo says, “Sure, bye now”
Lanisen nods a couple times, offers a slightly anxious smile, and goes.