the salamander

Infirmary Garden
Cair Paravel
Eastern Narnia

Lanisen sits alone on a bench, absently braiding strands of grass together with a method that is slower than the usual one, but allows him to compensate for his bad hand. His knees are drawn up, and he has the shadowed eyes that mean a sleepless night.

Chlamash makes his way along the pathway towards the Infirmary garden, this time with purpose as opposed to aimlessly wandering. He pauses however when he sees Lanisen with his knees draw up.

Lanisen looks up when the movement of Chlamash’s approach catches his eye. He drops the grass and unfolds to stand, and bows.

Chlamash nods to Lanisen, “Good afternoon, Lanisen.” He observes Lanisen, noting the dark under his eyes. “How fare you today?”

Lanisen answers, ducking his head again, “Well enough, sir, thank you. And you?”

Chlamash nods, “I am in greater spirits than last we met in this place and I thank you.”

Lanisen says, “I’m glad to hear that, sir.” His eyes linger briefly and curiously on the Calormene clothing.

Chlamash follows Lanisen’s line of sight and shifts the box, he is holding under his arm. “A gift from my homeland. May I join you?”

Lanisen’s eyes widen slightly and he straightens. “A gift from– do you mean–” He stops himself. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, yes, of course.”

Chlamash eyes shine. “Yes, I believe it may be so.” He makes a motion with his hand to dismiss the apology and makes his way to join Lanisen on his bench. “This box arrived a short time ago and was delivered to me.” He sets the box down between them lifting the top to reveal the contents.

Lanisen asks, “Then it’s– then they’re well, they’re all right?”

Chlamash lifts up the cover of the box to reveal some small packages made of woven hemp, as well as a larger more protectively padded smaller package. Atop of them lies a letter bearing the seal of his house. If one were to look carefully, they might see the same device worked on one of the rings Chlamash wears, twinkling in the sunlight. He turns to reply to Lanisen, growing quiet when he notes the Letter, and draws it out.

Lanisen sits back down, his eyes darting between the box’s contents and Chlamash’s face

Chlamash remains lost in his thoughts for several minutes. “It is the seal of my house.” He says at last, before turning to Lanisen.

Lanisen asks, “So it– so it did come from your family, then?”

Chlamash slides his finger under the seal to scan the letter. He nods, “It is from my wife.”

Lanisen asks, “Are they all right, are they…”

Chlamash turns to the letter, his eyes twinkle as he starts, his face growing serious and sad with the look of one who used to bearing old wounds. “They do not seem to be in danger… yet I cannot be certain that this letter has not changed many hands before its arrival”

Lanisen says, “Good; good. Sir, I’m so– I’m so glad.”

Chlamash turns to Lanisen, a look of gratefulness on his face as he offers a rare smile. “Thank you.”

Lanisen smiles back, and whatever was weighing him down earlier seems to have eased for the moment. “So they…” he begins, but pauses and frowns. “Why, why now?”

Chlamash shakes his head, “I do not know. It may be that she was not was uncertain of herself… Unless my own letter went astray.” He sets the letter down among the small parcels. “Perhaps you may gain more clarity than I.” He lifts one of the small parcels from the box opening it. The fragrance of roasted coffee beans wafts out from the package and smile briefly graces his face.”

Lanisen, watching, sniffs. “What is that?”

Chlamash offers the small parcel out to Lanisen so that he may see for himself, “Roasted coffee beans.”

Lanisen says, “Oh! That’s–? Oh!” He sniffs the parcel, and then sniffs it again. “I had coffee once,” he remarks. “This smells a lot better than that tasted.”

Chlamash says, “Indeed? Someday perhaps I shall have to see if we may get the cook to make you some as it it made in my own homeland.” He sets the parcel aside, going for the larger package which is more carefully wrapped.

Lanisen puts his elbows on his knees, watching.

Chlamash carefully unwraps the package and lifts the top off it to reveal several good-sized pastries of various sizes. They are honey-covered and are sprinkled and seasoned with various things such as nuts or tiny seeds.

Lanisen asks curiously, “What are those?”

Chlamash says, “They are called Baklava and are a dessert among my people.” He offers the box to Lanisen as well. “Try one if you wish.”

Lanisen gives Chlamash a startled look. “I don’t want to– they sent ’em for you, sir.”

Chlamash looks mildly perplexed. “And I have offered them to you in the spirit of friendship. Will you not share one with me? I shall take no offense if such be not your pleasure.”

Lanisen hesitates, briefly frozen. “Um,” he says after a moment, lowering his head. “Um– if that’s… I don’t want to, to take…”

Chlamash sets the package down. “All is well, my friend. Please be welcomed.” He takes a pastry from the package, a little honey drips from it.

Lanisen rubs at his wrists and takes a small breath, glancing at Chlamash. He hesitates another moment, then reaches out to take the smallest piece of baklava, murmuring, “Thank you.”

Chlamash nods in reply, accepting. He breaks of a piece of his, the fine dough cracking and crumbs falling to the ground.

Lanisen cups his free hand under his and takes a tiny bite, his fingers already sticky with honey. He chews slowly, taking his time, and a small smile of surprised delight makes his whole face light up.

Chlamash smiles as well in a slightly wistful way as he enjoys his. He turns to gauge Lanisen’s satisfaction and is pleased when he notices his friend’s expression.

Lanisen, glancing back, offers a quick grin. “This is… really good,” he says. “Thank you, sir.”

Chlamash says, “You are most welcome, Lanisen.” He finishes his own baklava, savoring it, then looks from his hands to the elaborate coat he is wearing. He glances at Lanisen to see if his fingers are similarly sticky. “It appears that I have not give this matter the proper forethought. Perhaps the Master Healer will allow us the use of his pump?”

Lanisen has already discreetly dealt with his own similar problem by turning his face away and slurping the sticky honey off his fingers. “Um,” he says guiltily. “Prob’ly, yeah.”

Chlamash rises, making his way into the Infirmary, returning shortly after to tidy the things that are in the box wrap the baklava carefully again.

Lanisen asks, “Will you write back?”

Chlamash considers this question, “It is in my heart to,” he finally answers after some time. “Yet I do not wish to raise the Prince’s ire.”

Lanisen nods silently, his face going shadowed. “Maybe if–” He pauses. “Maybe if this one got through to you, maybe he doesn’t mind.”

Chlamash says, “Perhaps, though his Highness is not known for his forgiveness.” There is a seriousness about his words that adds weight to his meaning.

Lanisen nods again, going quiet.

Chlamash says, “Perhaps Lord Peridan will know of a way wherein it might be sent with some safety.”

Lanisen hmms thoughtfully.

Chlamash releases a breath, “I must do what I may and give her an account of myself and my conditions. I cannot leave her to wonder. There will be plenty who will wish to fill her ears with their lies.”

Lanisen glances at him at this, silently sympathetic.

Chlamash is quiet as well. He looks to Lanisen after a while, “Something troubles you, my friend?”

Lanisen glances at Chlamash again, lifting his eyebrows, and then looks down, shaking his head. “It’s nothin’,” he says, and takes a deep breath. “It’s– my friend and I, we quarreled, a bit.”

Chlamash nods, “I am sorry to hear that…It is never easy.”

Lanisen says, “It’s nothin’ at all compared to your troubles.”

Chlamash frowns, concerned and thoughtful. “To each his own burden may be weighty,” he offers.

Lanisen shifts, half-smiling tiredly.

Chlamash says, “Do you wish to speak of it? My own concerns are not so great that I cannot listen to the cares of another and one who is a friend.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s…” He takes another deep breath and rubs a hand over his face wearily. “Um, do you– You know the story about the Salamander that came up from under the earth and, um, it took… um, the version I heard it took the gold out of the sun and sand and the sparkle out of the river until everything was just sort of– sort of gray and bleak?”

Chlamash asks, “The Salamander of the Flaming Mountain of Lagour? I am familiar with it, yes.”

Lanisen says, “Maybe, that’s– I only heard it once, a long time ago. Um…” He pauses and rubs his elbow, crossing one arm over his middle. “I been, I been the Salamander.”

Chlamash considers this. “Indeed?”

Lanisen nods.

Chlamash considers the matter for short time looking for the right words before replying. “Do you know why he is called the Salamander of the Flaming Mountain?”

Lanisen says, “Um,” and rubs a hand over his face. “He– he came out there?”

Chlamash shakes his head, “When the Tarkaan spoke to him he asked him why he had done such a thing taken the sparkle from the river and the gold from the sky and sand. He replied, ‘Because I am alone and far from home and I had need of such things for the sun was dark to my eyes and the wind cold to my skin.’ Then he Tarkaan after reasoning with him to return the things he had taken, told him that there was a village where the people froze by night and the old mountain which used to bring them good things had had gone still and quiet and been abandoned. If the Salamander went there, he might able to be shaded from the wind and from the cold and still be able to look upon the sun and the golden sand and he might be able to also do some good for the people there. So it was done, and and the people were happy for now they no longer froze during the might when the winds came upon them for they had mineral streams to warm them and many other good things.”

Lanisen goes still, listening. “That’s– that’s different from the version I heard,” he murmurs after a moment.

Chlamash glances at Lanisen inquiringly.

Lanisen draws a breath and straightens slightly. “So all he had to do was– was go away from the people he was hurting, and find people he could help instead.”

Chlamash muses softly to himself
Chlamash mumbles “Perhaps … already has”, to Chlamash.

Lanisen asks, “Sorry?”

Chlamash looks to Lanisen, “Can you not make amends with this friend of yours? I do not believe from what I have seen of those I have met that they any great wish for your departure But if it is so, then you as the Salamander must take council with the wise. I cannot think of the salamander any great ill if he was willing to help the people of the village.”

Lanisen murmurs, “Um,” and shakes his head very slightly, rubbing at his wrists without looking up. “It’s– I thought we were friends, but it’s, I think I don’t know how to… how to be a friend.”

Chlamash nods, “It is something I am finding myself new at as well.”

Lanisen glances up at this and smiles a little wanly.

Chlamash offers Lanisen a smile back.

Lanisen says, “Thank you for the story.”

Chlamash nods, “You are most welcome.

Lanisen says, “I think– I think I know what to do now.”

Chlamash nods, offering Lanisen a look of sympathy. “Let me know if I may be of any help.”

Lanisen says, his eyes darting to the box, “Likewise, sir.” He hesitates. “I think,” he says slowly, “I think I might go to Lantern Waste, just for a while, while the person I hurt is still here. But I’ll come back.”

Chlamash nods, “If you wish to leave a message for them, perhaps one of the messengers may take it to them after your departure.”

Lanisen pauses, slightly taken aback by this suggestion, but he nods.

Chlamash says, “I hope your god will grant you the piece you seek.”

Lanisen pauses at this, a rather strange expression on his face, but he says, “You too, sir.”

Chlamash rises, taking up the box, “Let us see if one of the cooks can fix us some proper Calormene coffee?”

Lanisen lifts his eyebrows, looking up at Chlamash. “All right,” he agrees, a little hesitantly, and gets to his feet.

Chlamash waits for Lanisen to rise before before making his way towards the kitchens.

Lanisen follows after quietly.


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