At the beginning of the Great River
You stand at the head of the Great River of Narnia, where it flows from the Caldron Pool and begins its southeastern journey toward the sea. Here, the river is fairly shallow and small, and looks pretty easy to cross. As it happens, you also stand at the edge of Lantern Waste, which lies to the east. The trees crowd the riverbank more closely in that direction, but the going doesn’t appear to be that difficult. To the west, you can see Cauldron Pool’s clear waters twinkling in the sunshine, and hear the roar of the waterfall as it crashes over the western cliffs.
Sunlight filters through the trees this afternoon in the Waste, turning everything green and gold. Pheeobe, taking a moment from her patrol, stops to listen to the waterfall and admire the scene. Her ear twitch at every sound and (for once) she isn’t humming.
Lanisen follows the path west along the riverbank, his footsteps crunching softly over occasional dead vegetation.
Pheeobe’s ears flick at the sound of incoming steps. She calls out, “Hello?” and walks through the shallow stream to the other side, supposing it may be an animal passing through.
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Here is a wide open space carved in the rock, roughly circular and no more than twenty yards in diameter. The cliffs loom high on every side, providing shelter from wind and weather, but a great opening very far up lets in sunlight and sky. A thin jet of water, perhaps a daughter-stream of the river that pours into Caldron Pool, cascades down the western cliff face and feeds into a deep pool the color and clarity of a well-cut emerald. The ground, except for a ring of vegetation surrounding the pool, is dry and sandy. A single ancient larch tree grows tall near the north wall.
All around, the cliff face is etched and pocked with half-open tunnels and dark holes, entrances to small caves hollowed out years ago by the long work of water on stone. Some are fitted with wooden doors and appear inhabited, but many still yawn empty. Up above, ledges and crevices in the rock provide nesting spaces for eagles and hawks. In the east wall, through a wide crevice like a wound in the stone, the forests of Lantern Waste are just visible.
Lanisen is perched alone on top of one of the rocks surrounding the pool, watching the afternoon light reflecting off the water and onto the basin walls. Surrounding him are several articles of clothing in various states of dampness, spread carefully out on the rocks to dry, including his shirt. The pants he is wearing also seem slightly damp in the got-doused-a-few-hours-ago way, especially on the left side. There’s a letter unfolded on the rock beside him, but he seems to have set it aside.
Ayla pads quietly into the basin, her nose to the ground, clearly following a scent. Lifting her head, she yelps softly in greeting, padding toward the rock upon which Lanisen sits, though pausing several feet from it and settling back on her haunches. She looks rather pleased with herself, perhaps for finding him in his secluded place.
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