Beach North of Sted Cair
You stand on the beach at Narnia’s seashore. East of you the blue waters of the Great Eastern Ocean dance under the sunlight as they stretch toward the horizon. The waters are surprisingly calm, but this is probably because the Cair Paravel Peninsula, which juts out into the ocean just south of here, makes this stretch of beach something like a harbor.
To the west, you can see the thatched roofs of Sted Cair just beyond the beach. The sand here is warm, and the beach is quiet save for the rhythmic lapping of the waves. You can follow the beach northward.
Lanisen comes wandering aimlessly down the beach from the direction of the castle, watching the colors of the sunset play over the sky and the water. His trousers and shirt sleeves are rolled up and his shoes are in his hands.
Aliyah is in her newly claimed position atop a sand dune. It seems this may be where she is found more often than not when she is in thought.
Dreygan happens to be coming along the beach from the direction of the forest. He’s just deep enough in the water that, when waves come in, it laps over his ankles.
Aliyah has her head propped on her paws. She remains quiet as she looks out over the water, not seeming to notice anyone.
Lanisen shades his eyes with his left hand, peering up the beach at the wolf-shape. He picks up his pace to meet the other, then, recognizing him, steps into the water to make some noise on his approach.
Dreygan lifts his head when the splashing of someone else becomes audible over his own. He sniffs at the air, then continues wading forward, nose up now. “Beach is a crowded place these days.”
Lanisen asks, lifting his eyebrows, “Crowded?”
Aliyah leaps down from the dune as quietly as possible. She tries not to disturb the sand as she goes… Though really, that is difficult to do at best. She heads towards the other two but remains on dry ground. “Lanisen… Dreygan…”
A mink with a batter soaked pink ribbon on her tail (Linor) is wandering the shore, sometimes sniffing the ground, before noticing the group and heading towards it to get a better look.
Dreygan tips his head when it’s Lanisen’s voice. “…Huh. You enjoy just popping up, don’t you? But yes. Keep running into people here.” He turns his head towards Aliyah. “See what I mean? Hey, Aliyah.”
Lanisen startles slightly at the unexpected voice, but quickly grins. “Hello.”
Aliyah nods to them. “How are you both doing?” Her ear flicks as another scent hits her nostrils. she turns to locate Linor and gives her a grin.
Lanisen follows her glance and turns slightly toward Linor, curious.
Linor scampers over towards the female wolf. “Hello Aliyah! If I knew there were going to be so many people here on the beach I would have brought you something from the kitchens. I just like to hunt here on my free time”
Dreygan asks, “According to you, probably getting fat and happy all day long. I bet this is the first walk I’ve taken all day.” He sniffs at the same scent Aliyah noticed before the mink suddenly arrives. “Who’s this?”
Aliyah snorts. “I thought you looked fluffier Dreygan, and I don’t mean in a good way.” she pokes at his flank with a single claw. “This is Linor. She bakes in the castle.”
Niffum comes walking up the road and stops when she sees the creatures gathered on the beach, sme smiles, “Well Lo there young’uns!”
Dreygan looks vaguely annoyed at Aliyah’s comment, but simply snorts in response, for once not trying to retaliate. “That explains the baked-goods smell.” When the Dwarf speaks as well, he angles his head that way, sniffs, and gives a single nod.
Linor raises up to her full hight of less than a meter and is about to introduce herself, when Aliyah does it for her. “That’s me! One of the castle bakers.” her noses twitches and then she notices Niffum and climbs up her and draps herself around the dwarf. “Who are you?”
Lanisen keeps quiet, blinking a couple times at the rapid convergence of /people/. He looks from one person to another, interested and smiling.
Dreygan angles his head up towards Lanisen. “See? Crowded.” To the Mink: “‘s Dreygan.”
Niffum chuckles, “Well, ‘Lo again missie, didn’ we meet at ta’ feast a fortnight or so ago, where I got ta taste ‘yer tasty treats?” She smiles and
Aliyah nods in agreement with Dreygan for once. “True. haven’t seen this many around here since the festival.”
Lanisen nods mutely in response to Dreygan, then remembers and murmurs, “Uh-huh.”
Linor exclaims, “Nice to meet you, Dreygan” Linor replied, twitching her tail contentely. “We did meet at the festival, Niffum! You told me about how you used to bake at the castle too.”
Niffum nods, realizing the mink wasn’t asking who she was but who Draygen was, “Aye, ‘at reminds me, iffin’ yer truly interested in learnin more cookin’ I’d be pleased ta come an’ work wi’ ye at ta castle, been wantin’ ta get back ta cookin’ an bakin’ gain, an’ running ta inn is jes gettin’ ta be too much, so helpin’ in ta kitchens at ta castle woul’ be a welcome change.
Linor says, “I’m sure that cook would welcome you to the kitchens. We’ve finally had more to do now that we have the council meetings to cook for””
Aliyah flicks an ear in Linor’s direction. “Anything interesting coming out of those meetings?”
Lanisen’s eyes shift between Aliyah and Linor at this.
Niffum is silent, listening with interest for the response.
Dreygan sits, not bothering to move out of the shallow water.
Aliyah decides to sit, though she keeps herself out of the water and on dry sand.
Linor says, “I wish I knew if anything interesting came out of the meetings, but I’m not able to get in. I only ever serve tea and I don’t serve that, a maid actually takes care of it. I have gotten to talk to Peridan on occasion, but he’s all propriety”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side sympathetically. He moves to sit near Dreygan, but on the dry side of the waterline, and stretches out his legs so his feet are in the water.
Aliyah gives the mink a slight grin. “I know all too well what you mean.”
Dreygan breaks his silence to quip, “‘s true, she does know what you mean. Aliyah never serves tea and doesn’t know anything interesting, either.”
Niffum nods, “Aye, I’m sure we’ll be knowin’ in due time what be ‘appenin’. Lord Per’dan is wise, an’ iffin’ there were summat ta tell us, e’d be sure ta say.
Aliyah can’t decide if she wants to swat Dreygan or Lanisen more, so she goes with the wolf. “Take everything out of context, don’t you?” she asks while batting at him with a paw.
Dreygan this time does return the swat, if rather carelessly. “Context isn’t any fun.”
Lanisen pulls up his knees to be out of the way of the tussling.
Linor looks at the son of Adam with the scarred throat. “You’re a son of Adam, have you been able to be in the meetings?
Niffum chuckles at the two wolves, then turns and listens for Lanisen’s reply
Lanisen glances up at the Mink. He smiles slightly and shakes his head. “Not me.”
Niffum looks down to where Lanisen is seated, “Oh, are ye ‘ere wi’ one o’ ta lairds or lad’ies? Ye be from Carmiclael ‘rigionally, am I right?
Lanisen says, straightening slightly, “Yes, ma’am.”
Linor says, “Well, that is unfortunate. I’ve been seeing more of Lord Oren lately, maybe I can tease some information out of him.”
Aliyah covers her muzzle with a paw, trying to suppress a laugh.
Niffum stiffens a bit at the mention of that name, “Not sure ‘at ‘un would be as r’liable as Per’dan”
Linor says, “I’m not saying that the Duke would be reliable as Lord Periden, just that he might not be as on guard with talking animals weaseling information out of him.” she said with a little bit of mirth in her voice”
Lanisen watches the interaction on this topic with keen quiet interest.
Dreygan angles his head towards Niffum at the tone of her voice. “Sounds like this Oren fellow’s a grand old friend of yours.”
Niffum grins at the mink’s humor then replies, “It be a ‘ard task ta work out what is ta come nex’ fer Narnia, but I trus’ Lord Per’dan, he allus be willin’ ta ‘ear what folks got ta say, even if it don’t be poplar, an’ answer ques’tons iffin’ ‘e can. ‘E says ta Duke be o’ good char’cter, but I jes didn’ feel like ‘e keered ta listen ta what a Narnian ‘ad ta say, but iffin’ ta council sees fit ta trust ‘im well then ‘at be what must be. But fer meself, I choose ta look ta Lord Per’dan an’ ta rest o’ ta council ta lead our fine lan’
Niffum rolls her eyes a bit at the wolf’s comment
Lanisen shifts a bit, looking thoughtful.
Linor pulls a candied fig from her pouch and eats it.
Dreygan asks, “Those our only options?”
Aliyah speaks up. “To our knowledge, no one has made a definitive claim yet. I am in agreement with Niffum though. It would be lovely if Lord Peridan was king.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows shoot up at this.
Niffum shakes her head, “I don’t be knowin’ ‘at fer sure, jes sayin’ ‘ow this dwarf be feelin’ o’ late
Linor exclaims, “Only options? I don’t know if having two high born sons of Adam in one castle means that they’re our only options. Maybe Aslan could still send us someone from Spare Oom! Or maybe Aslan will send someone from Archenland. Or maybe Lord Periden /will/ be king. Lord Periden is….comfortable. I’m used to having him around the castle. I would be happy with him as king. Duke Oren is mysterious though…so there is that.”
Dreygan snorts. “Is Peridan even a choice? I haven’t heard anything about him wanting it. And are we just choosing any Son of Adam? ‘Cause there was some guardsman in the arena the other day, he’s human, how about him?”
Aliyah gives a look that suggests she is somewhat bored of this talk and somewhat over it at the same time. Shaking her head, she stands. “Excuse me for a bit.” Before anyone can respond, she disappears down the beach.
Linor says, “Does birth really matter? I thought that all the mattered was that Aslan thought you should be king. High King Peter was just a child from some other world, but Aslan said he was king, and a jolly good king he was.”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows briefly in thoughtful agreement at this.
Niffum nods, “Aye, b’lieve me it’ ‘as been a struggle fer me, a Narnian born an’ raised ta sort all this out, but o’er the past days I begin ta see ‘at it be more ‘portant ‘at they be wise ‘an ‘at we kin trus’ ta great Lion to settle matters. T’only reason I mention Lord Per’dan is b’cause I r’spect ‘is wisdom ‘an fer me person’ly would be a comfort knowing ‘at one ‘o was so close ta their young maj’sties an’ stood fer Narnia during it’s darkest times might be leadin’ our lan’, but I’m willin’ ta wait an’ see
Dreygan says, “If you want wisdom, what about a Centaur. Heard there was one of those on the council. Probably was close, too.”
Linor tilts her head in puzzlement “Centaurs are wise, far wiser than I’ll ever be. But they’re too wise to ever want to be king or queen. Aslan says that the ruler of Narnia has to be a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve. Don’t you think it foolish to disagree with Aslan?
Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly at this.
Dreygan asks, “He say that to you, personally?”
Niffum chuckles softly, “An’ ‘ere we go ‘gain, you be right lassie, ta great Lion is truly good an’ wise, an’ ta council is as well, so, when all be said an’ done, an’ we offer our ‘pinions, we mus’ trust an’ wait an’ see. It be ta waitin’ what kin be powerful frustratin’ at times tho.
Linor exclaims, “What? No! Of course not! But He decreed it when Narnia was first created! Didn’t your parents teach you history? He made us talking beasts and then he brought a Son of Adam and a Daughter of Eve to be King and Queen. I would never presume to disbelieve my history because Aslan didn’t personally tell it to me. I am a beast after all.”
Lanisen listens quietly with his head canted to one side, frowning slightly in something like disagreement and something like can’t-quite-remember.
Dreygan doesn’t look impressed. “No, actually, they didn’t. And things change. Just because it was /created/ with a human ruler doesn’t mean it should stay. Didn’t work out for us at the start of the winter. And now, poof! Our precious humans are gone, no one Lion-sent to take their place, no children to inherit… maybe it’s time for it to change.”
Linor shoots the wolf something between pity and anger. “I’m sorry you weren’t blessed with loyal parents. And it might have taken Aslan a hundred years to send us humans and it might take him another year, but I trust Him. I know whatever he chooses will be right. But we can’t go against the rules that He set in place and never took down, it might anger him and we could be worse off than we were during the winter.
Lanisen tenses slightly, glancing quickly at Dreygan to see how he will take this. “There’s no need for that kind of talk, Miss.”
Linor takes a breath. “I’m sorry I meant to insult your upbringing when I don’t know anything about it. It wasn’t my place. But I’m still standing by Aslan’s rules….even if I’m a just a cook who really doesn’t have any kind of say outside of what flavor of biscuits there are with the tea.
Dreygan, for obvious reasons, isn’t phased by the look. He gives a sort of snicker instead. “Trust me, my parents were blessed with plenty of loyalty. And sure, I’ll wait a hundred years for some human to come with whatever divine blessing you want. But /someone/ is gonna lead in the meantime, and I’d rather pick someone, human or not, than chase my tail and wait.”
Lanisen looks troubled, and rather disappointed. He goes quiet again.
Niffum straightens a bit and looks from the wolf to the mink, “Aye, ye both be right, ta Lion is wise, ‘an it were ‘e what brought King Frank an’ Queen ‘elen to us at ta dawn ‘o time, leastwise ‘ats what ‘istory says, ‘an ‘e be ta same Lion t’day, ‘an, as young Draygean be sayin’ we can’t be standin’ roun’ chasin’ our tails neither, fer ‘e gave us minds an’ wills an’ we are ta use ’em, ta council was choosed b’cause they were deemed, by ta Lion ‘imself, ta be wise an’ good an’ fair an able ta ‘elp us fin’ a body what woul’ lead us now at their young maj’sties be gone. An’ ta council I be sure is considerin’ all possbilities, whatever they be, As I be sayin’ ‘afore, I’d rather be seein’ one what we know ‘as a love fer Narnia an’ knows ‘er an ‘er ‘istory, but there also be room fer them what truly show they want ta be learnin’ an care ’bout seein’ Narnia preserve ‘er ‘istory an’ way o’ life, that be includin’ son’s o adam an daughters o’ eve fer our b’loved young maj’sties were not from our lan’ but there was none better in my ‘pinion,” She dabs at her eyes as tears form in the corners”
Lanisen listens to Niffum, his eyes on the waves. “Mistress Niffum, can I ask–?”
Niffum looks to the son of adam, “Ye may ask whatever ye wish ta be askin’
Lanisen says, “Um…” and pauses. “You– I can see you hold Lord Peridan in, in pretty high esteem. Can I ask what, how he earned that?”
Niffum turns and smiles, “Aye, I’d be ‘appy ta tell ye. There were a time, not so long ‘afore, ‘at th’ giants an’ other foul creatures from ta north threatend our fair lan’ well it were Lord Per’dan who fought an’ was right ‘longside their young maj’sties, an’ in times o’ peace, it were Lord Per’dan who were a trusted ‘visor an’ confidan’ ta their maj’sties, most specially their ‘ighnesses Kings Peter an Ed’mund. I worked in ta castle an’ saw an ‘eard much. An’ we all be knowin’ jes ‘ow much ‘e did during ta battle what ‘appened in yer lan’. But personly, ‘e ‘as been a frien’ ta me, ‘elpin an’ ol dwarf, who was set in ‘er ways see reason, an’ ‘member what truly matters.
Dreygan listens in silence now, a small, lazy sort of smirk that might be his default expression on his muzzle.
Linor nods in agreement with Niffum “And Lord Peridan is a true Narnian, he knows us beasts. I admit that I find Duke Oren interesting because he finds us beasts interesting. But Peridan just knows that we’re people.
Niffum smiles, “Aye lassie, could not ‘ave said it better meself.”
Lanisen listens quietly to both, looking between them to acknowledge them each as they speak. “Thank you,” he says when they have finished, nodding.
Niffum smiles and nods, “Yer lan’ an Narnia fer my part ‘ave a kinship o’ sorts, an’ I ‘ave seen some what truly seek ta bridge ta gap an’ ta work t’gether, an’ fer ‘at I be grateful.”
Dreygan stands. “Yeah, thanks. It’s been fascinating. If you’ll excuse me, though…” He pauses, looks slightly annoyed, then, with a sigh, says, “I need to find my packmates. Nice talking to you all.”
Linor says, “And I’m terribly sorry for Archenland’s loss of our leaders as well.” Linor directs towards Lanison. “I heard that Queen Susan was quite close to your prince, that must complicate things for you now that she’s gone.””
Lanisen hesitates, glancing toward Dreygan. “It was good to see you,” he says. “Will you be in the area long?”
Linor looks up at the sky at the sun that is not quite as high as it once was. “I really ought to start heading back to the castle soon
Dreygan replies to Lanisen, “A while. Half my pack’s over here, anyway. Guessing you’ll be around a while?”
Niffum nods, “It were good ta tlak wi’ ye again Lan’sen, an’ Linor, I will come by ta castle soon an’ we kin talk ’bout cookin’ an’ p’raps speak ta th’ steward bout whether they might be willin’ ta ‘ave me back
Lanisen says, “I expect so, yeah.” Glancing back to Niffum and Linor, he says, “Oh, good evening, then.”
Linor exclaims, “That sounds quite fine, Niffum! I hope to see you around the castle. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing the rest of you around either.””
Lanisen watches them go, thoughtful. He draws furrows in the sand with his fingertips.
Dreygan doesn’t leave, despite being posed to walk off. After a moment, he snorts softly.
Lanisen glances at him. He’s quiet for a moment, then asks, “What do you think?”
Dreygan says, “I think all the dithering and waiting for the Lion to pop up and hand us our next ruler’s useless. And I think the longer there’s not some clear choice about who’s in power, the more likely someone’s gonna come along and decide for us.”
Lanisen smooths out the furrows. “I don’t think he will, anyway,” he says reflectively.
Dreygan agrees, “He won’t.” He sits again, this time on drier sand. “Why don’t you think?”
Lanisen says, “Because– because he said, when he came, that it was… that he wanted Narnia to choose. He told us, he said what to look for. He won’t come and say clearer than that.”
Dreygan asks, “Oh.” He flicks an ear. “Right. I’d forgotten about that, actually.” He’s silent for a moment. “He ever mention there that ‘human’ was what we were looking for?”
Lanisen says, “No.”
Dreygan says, “Well.”
Lanisen glances at him. “Thinkin’ of puttin’ your name in?”
Dreygan laughs. “Wouldn’t that be interesting? Always thought it’d be fun to be the Alpha. But seems like Aliyah’s determined to malign my name to anyone who’ll listen, so I have a feeling that if it came down to a vote…”
Lanisen shifts, pushing his mouth to the side. “I noticed that, a little,” he says, his frown coming out in his voice.
Dreygan smirks, a little harshly, an automatic response. “Eh. Nothing new anyway. Though that’s part of the problem. I can put up with insults, but she could /try/ to be less repetitive.”
Lanisen snorts. He pauses, then asks, “Have you talked to her about it?”
Dreygan’s ear goes back at the thought. “Lion’s teeth, I can only imagine how that would go down.”
Lanisen asks, “So badly?”
Dreygan says, “We don’t have the best history of long, heartfelt talks, let’s say.” He stands again and stretches. “‘Sides, the damage is done. Ask that guard, the sulky one. Pretty sure he’s from Archenland, at least. Sounded like he’d gotten the story already.” He grins. “One way to be known across kingdoms.”
Lanisen asks uneasily, “Deonyc?”
Dreygan says, “Sounds right.”
Lanisen asks, “What, what story?”
Dreygan says, “Nothing specific, just that I’m the big, bad Wolf who doesn’t need to see your hand to bite it off or something.”
Dreygan, after a moment of consideration, says, “Well, to be fair, ‘s probably more like ‘the one who lies around all day until he throws a temper tantrum’.”
Lanisen snorts. “Um,” he says. “All right.”
Dreygan asks, “What, don’t believe it?”
Lanisen says, “Not particularly, no. I mean,” he reconsiders. “I’m sure you could bite off somebody’s hand if you /really/ wanted to, but you don’t seem the type.”
Dreygan grins. “See? That’s what I always say. ‘M far too charming for a move like that.”
Lanisen laughs under his breath. “You’d rather convince somebody to bite off their own hand,” he guesses.
Dreygan asks, “Exactly.” He sniffs around and puts one paw in the water, then orients himself based on that. “Should actually be getting back to my pack. Where’re you staying?”
Lanisen says, “The castle, with the others. They put us up in one of the watchtowers. It’s nice.”
Dreygan tips his head. “Fancy. Careful, though, or you might end up in the running. Warn the others, no human is safe.” He pauses, about to start walking away. Again.
Lanisen wrinkles up his nose. “Are you all right gettin’ where you need to go?”
Dreygan says, “Yeah, I’m fine, I lived here a good couple months before the woods. Just so you know… there was a Cat that said you Archenlanders were coming down to prepare to fight for the throne. Don’t think many believed him, but if some little Bird or other gets it into their head he’s on to something…” He shrugs, one shoulder, and starts to sniff his way back. “Probably won’t turn into anything.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows fly up. “He said /what/?” he asks incredulously. “Was it– was it Trim?”
Dreygan twists to speak over his shoulder to Lanisen. “Yeah, Trim. Must not have met your party first, though; you’re not exactly a warlike lot.”
Lanisen blows out a breath. “I guess I’d better tell Sir Darrin…”
Dreygan says, “Not a bad plan. Like I said, though… no one seemed all that convinced.” He starts to walk off, more committed this time. “Good luck, if you need it.”
Lanisen says, “Ha, thanks.”
Dreygan meanders off along the waterline.