What a sweet place you have wandered to. The forest trees here are scattered across a soft meadow of heather and wildflowers, and the sun dapples the ground through the leaves above. This is a wide section of earth, and it seems to be a gathering place–indeed, there is a ring of stones in one side of the open clearing where it seems fires have been built over many nights. To the south, a worn path leads to the Caldron Pool and the waterfall that feeds it. You can also see a path leading west toward the cliff-face. To the east the path leads into the deeper forests of Lantern Waste.
Lanisen passes through in the early evening. The sun has already set beyond the cliffs, but the sky is still light. Cicadas are chirring in the trees, and an insistently buzzing Nighthawk sings a quarter-mile away.
There is a series of chirps and squeaks that can be heard coming from behind one of the large stones.
Lanisen slows and halts, already searching warily for the source of the noise. He approaches the stone cautiously.
Another excited chirp rings out into the twilight.
Lanisen asks, “Hello?”
A skunk with beady black eyes (Rainsey) freezes behind the stone, her front paws quickly reaching for her tail as she nervously hugs it close, listening for the voice to come again.
Lanisen hesitates, listening. He pushes his mouth to the side and then ventures, “Are you all right back there?”
Rainsey’s black eyes dart back and forth. With one paw, she reaches for a pile of raspberries that looks like it had been carefully arranged and pulls one toward herself. “Oh…oh…y-yes. I just, erm, the rasp–They are here…I have them.”
Lanisen says, rather bemused, “All right.”
Rainsey continues to pull them closer, a little frantically, but one of them becomes crushed and her ears wilt a little. “Oh, it is smooshed…”
Lanisen edges around the stone at a careful distance until he can see who’s behind it, but stays well back. “What’s smooshed?”
Rainsey lets go of her tail and it droops to the grass as she holds the marred berry with both paws. “This r-raspberry…” She sniffs, too distracted to fully focus on the Son of Adam.
Lanisen lowers himself, crouching so he isn’t so terribly big compared to the Skunk. “Oh no,” he says, appropriately sympathetic. “I bet it still tastes good, though?”
Rainsey shakes her head sadly.
Lanisen asks, “No?”
The Skunk’s voice sounds hollow as she tips her paws and lets the berry roll away. “No. It does not.”
Lanisen says, “You didn’t eat it, though; how do you know?”
Rainsey blinks. “I can’t eat it. There is dirt on it.”
Lanisen says, “It’ll wash!”
Rainsey says, “No, it will not. Because it will make the water dirty too.”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side again. “At least you’ve got others,” he offers.
Rainsey looks at the berries and then at the Son of Adam. Then back again. Her eyes grow steadily larger with each glance. Her whiskers twitch.
Lanisen cants his head.
Rainsey squeaks. “Please don’t take them. I picked them all j-just now and I am so hungry…”
Pheeobe walking into the circle, humming to herself, She pauses to smell the air before spotting the pair, “Hello all!” She prances up to them.
Lanisen says, “Oh! No, no no, don’t worry, I’m not gonna take your raspberries! Truth be told,” he adds, lowering his voice as if imparting a secret, “I don’t even really /like/ raspberries.”
Rainsey’s expression is a mixture of fear and astonishment. She just blinks, nervously combing the fur on her tail.
Pheeobe sits next to Lanisen, “You don’t like raspberries, Lanisen?”
Lanisen overbalances a bit when he turns to look at Pheeobe and falls on his rear. “Mmph.” He shrugs. “They’re not as bad as blackberries, but I don’t much like the crunch. Seeds, you know.”
Rainsey perks her ears, listening. Recognition fills her face and she peers around the rock. “Is that Pheeobe? Are you here?”
Pheeobe shakes her head at Lanisen, grinning when he falls over, “I wouldn’t know….meat eater only. You alright?” Her ear turns to Rainsey, “Rainsey? Yes it is Pheeobe.”
Lanisen settles himself into a more comfortable position, cross-legged with his elbows on his knees.
Rainsey says, “Oh! Pheeobe is here.” She chirps, coming out from behind her protective rock.
Lanisen murmurs, “Hello, there.”
Pheeobe smiles, “Hello!” She settles in. “What did I interrupt?”
Lanisen says, “Rainsey’s– Rainsey? Rainsey’s found some raspberries, but one got smooshed.”
Rainsey looks up at Lanisen, one paw in the air. Her nose wiggles, sniffing. She bounds toward Pheeobe, and stretches to speak to the Wolf quietly.
Rainsey mumbles “… … … … Is … …”, to Pheeobe.
Pheeobe smiles and nods to Rainsey, “I believe so.” She smiles and then looks to Lanisen, “It is such a shame to have smooshed food.”
Lanisen says, “I bet we could find some more, though. Maybe the seeds from the one that got smooshed will sprout and then there’ll be more berries in a few years.”
Rainsey turns her black eyes on Lanisen, watching him. “I have some more.” She runs back behind the rock.
Pheeobe nods at Lanisen, “What a positive outlook! Where did you come? Did Aslan send you?” She looks to Rainsey and waits for the berries.
Lanisen squints at Pheeobe.
Rainsey comes back out into the open, hugging some berries with one paw. She squeaks excitedly as she drops them in front of Lanisen, arranging them into a neat row.
Pheeobe looks to Lanisen and smiles before laying on her front legs, “What all have you got?”
Lanisen admires the raspberries dutifully.
Rainsey giggles quietly as she lines the last one up. “Oh, I just have some raspberries here. See? Just six of them.”
Lanisen asks, reaching for his bag, “Do you like apples? I’ve got a couple of those good yellow ones that grow by Knollsted.”
Pheeobe counts the berries, and smiles at each one them, “I think this one looks best.” She points to a medium sized on on the left.
Rainsey tips her head. “I do like apples because I live near Knollsted. But I like the berries more.” She looks at Pheeobe and pops the raspberry into her mouth, chewing loudly.
Lanisen meekly sets his bag down again.
Pheeobe laughs at Rainsey and rolls on her back, “I like fox most….”
Rainsey looks towards Lanisen’s bag and sniffs. “You’re not going to have an apple?”
Lanisen says, “Not just now, nah.”
Pheeobe rolls back over, “In terms of fruit the apples smell delicious.”
Lanisen asks curiously, “Do you eat fruit ever?”
Rainsey picks up a raspberry and sets it on Lanisen’s knee. “You can have this one.”
Pheeobe smiles at Rainsey’s gesture and then looks to Lanisen, “No I do not…It is one of the things I listen to my pack about.” She laughs and then licks her paws.
Lanisen says, “Ohh, I don’t want to take your raspberries, Rainsey!” He offers it back to her.
Rainsey takes it and wipes it off with her paw. “Oh, but it’s not dirty.” She examines it closely.
Pheeobe looks to Lanisen, “Then you must eat it.” She grins and continues licking her paws.
Lanisen says, “But you’re hungry, you said.”
Rainsey nods slowly. She puts the berry down and looks back at Lanisen. “Do you live here?”
Lanisen says, “I’m stayin’ here, for a little while.”
Pheeobe looks at Lanisen, “Are you? Now where are you staying?”
Lanisen says, glancing at Pheeobe, “Ahh– do you know the caves south of here? There’s a sort of…” He makes a scooping motion with one hand. “There’s a space in the cliffs with a little waterfall, and there’s caves all around?”
Rainsey shakes her head. “I don’t.”
Pheeobe smiles widely, “I do…” Her yes sparkle, “I got there often to think. It is beautiful.”
Lanisen agrees, “It is.”
Rainsey asks, “Is it like the waterfall in the Pool?”
Lanisen says, “Much smaller.”
Pheeobe nods, “I could take you sometime, Rainsey.”
Rainsey looks at Pheeobe. “Oh, sure.”
Lanisen draws up his knees and loops his arms around them comfortably.
Pheeobe smiles, “I have so many good memories there…”
Rainsey asks, “Of the caves?”
Lanisen glances at the Wolf curiously.
Pheeobe tilts her head from side to side, “Of the area.”
Rainsey eats one of the berries. “When you were a pup?”
Pheeobe shakes her head, “Oh no…I didn’t grow up here.”
Pheeobe smiles and adds, “Just some memories with packmates.”
Lanisen asks, “Where are you from?”
Pheeobe looks to Lanisen, “The Northern woods…Far North.”
Lanisen asks, “Near the moors?”
Rainsey finishes off her berries as she listens.
Pheeobe nods, “Yes. Not too many good memories from up there.” She looks at Lanisen, “I hope you have never been there.”
Lanisen says, “Not so far as the moors, no.”
Rainsey pipes up. “I have never been there either.”
Pheeobe nods to Rainsey, “Anyways, you were born here right, Rainsey?” And to Lanisen, “And you hail from Arcehnland?”
Lanisen says, “‘S right, yeah.”
Rainsey says, “Yes, in Knollsted.”
Pheeobe nods and looks around the clearing.
Lanisen shivers slightly and looks up at the sky. “Oh, it’s–” he says, and gets to his feet. “It’s gotten dark and I’ve got a ways to walk yet.”
Pheeobe looks up and jumps up, “Oh dear…I have patrol!” She then looks to Lanisen, “Need a limping female wolf for protection?”
Rainsey grabs her tail. “Oh, will you come here again?” She looks up at Lanisen.
Lanisen blinks at Pheeobe in alarm, looking at her assessingly. “Why’re you limpin’, are you all right?”
Pheeobe laughs and gives a good run around, “I am fine. It is old.”
Lanisen watches, as well as he can in the poor light, still frowning. “What happened?”
Pheeobe grins, “Run in with a giant. But that is neither here nor there. We all need to head on home.”
Lanisen looks rather taken aback at this.
Rainsey whimpers a little. “Scary…”
Pheeobe nods and then looks around, seeming uncomfortable, “I should go…It was nice seeing you all again…” She paces for a second and then goes through the trees.
Lanisen hesitates, watching her go, then looks back at Rainsey. “Are you all right to get home, Miss Rainsey?”
Rainsey nods. “I’m going to explore and then I’ll go home.”
Lanisen breaks into a grin. “All right. I’ll see you around, I bet.”
Rainsey smiles a little. “Goodnight.”
Lanisen shoulders his pack and begins down the path to the basin.