Applebud scampers along the ground gathering up nuts and putting them in her litle pouch.
Lanisen makes his way along the path, crossing into the circle from the west. He shades his eyes, peering toward the rustling in the dead leaves on the ground, then brightens up and makes his way toward Applebud.
Applebud looks up at the sound of footsteps, and chitters excitedly when she sees Lanisen and goes blouncing off towards him.
Lanisen says, as the distance between them closes, “Hey, hi, I was hopin’ to run into you–” He unslings his bag and kneels to rummage, shifting aside the bulkier stems of herbs to get to the bottom of the sack.
Applebud exclaims, “Lanisen!” She bounces up towards him. When he kneels to rummage in his sack, she pauses inqusitively.
Lanisen hmms as he digs and makes an annoyed noise when a bundle of lavender blooms get in the way. He finally just gathers up the bulkiest of the herbs and sets them gently on the ground, then withdraws a much smaller pouch of the same material from his bag. “Here,” he says, extending it to her. “I been pickin’ up what I happen across for you.”
Applebud looks into the pouch and chitters excitedly!
Lanisen sits back on his heels and grins.
Applebud exclaims, “Oh! Nuts and acorns! Thank you!”
Lanisen says, “‘S no trouble at all, I’m out and about anyway.”
Applebud puts the acorns and nuts she’s started collecting in her pouch. “Momma’s gonna be so pleased with me!
Applebud scampers a little closer to peer into the pack.
Lanisen’s grin widens. “Is that the right sort?” he asks, though, just to check.
Applebud nods excitedly, her head bobbling back and forth.
Lanisen says, “Oh, good.”
Applebud exclaims, “I saw Kiyon, but he was busy!”
Lanisen begins picking up his gathered herbs to return to his bag. “Yeah? I met him yesterday. He’s nice?”
Lanisen smiles and gets to his feet, wincing a little as he slings the bag over his shoulder. “That’s good. Guards should be nice.”
Applebud asks, “He’s a guard?”
Applebud asks, “Like Mister Petraverd?”
Lanisen says, “Uh– I think so? I’ve seen him around the guard tower a few times. Never talked to him before yesterday, though.”
Applebud looks up at Lanisen, “Where are you going? Can I come?”
Lanisen says, “Mm? Oh, just around. I thought I’d go skirt the ruins and see what’s growin’ near there.”
Applebud exclaims, “Can I come? I heard there’s a garden there!””
Lanisen says, “Sure, if your mum says you can.”
Applebud scampers up into the tree and scampers off scampering right back. “She says I can!”
Lanisen waits patiently while she does this, and grins. “All right, then, come on.”
Applebud, who seems to have left her stash of nuts, hops from the branch onto Lanisen’s shoulder.
Lanisen is prepared for it this time and doesn’t startle up at her landing. A slightly goofy, pleased grin spreads secretively across his face and makes his eyes crinkle up at the corners. “Ready?”
Applebud chitters excitedly, “Ready!”
Lanisen says, “All right, hang on, then.” He sets off, stepping gently to avoid jarring her as much as possible.
Mossy footstones and stretches of grass mingle over this minimalistic garden, accented mainly by gatherings of shrubs. Most are dotted with red hawthorn berries, and a couple are large enough to provide shade, should the rest-seeker be willing to avoid thorns; if not, worn rocks offer a place to sit. Every so often along the outer wall, a white pine sapling stands sentry.
The mossy stone path splits into three shortly after coming through the opening to the west. Two narrow paths lead to either side, cumulating in small loops around a couple young evergreen trees. Leading up the low rise to the east, and deeper into the garden, is the widest path. It passes beneath the boughs of two oaks and meets a wide flight of stairs. To the west, a larger opening leads out to Lantern Waste.
Applebud sets her claws to grip Lanisen’s clothing, and not his skin so she can hold on. As they travel, she marvels at the scenery.
Lanisen slows and stops just inside the gardens. He breathes deeply, taking a moment to look at the toppled stones and reclaimed ground.
Applebud exclaims, “It’s so pretty now!”
Lanisen agrees quietly, “Yeah.” He shifts his weight and turns his attention to the ground, to the various broad leaves growing along with the lush grass.
Applebud says, “It used to be scary. Once my friend Cael showed me, but Momma wasn’t happy cause Neevils used to visit she said. It was creepy.”
Lanisen asks, “Before they knocked it all down?”
Applebud looks up at Lanisen with big innocent eyes, shrinking a little like she thinks she might get in trouble. “Unnhuh.”
Lanisen gives her a rather knowing look, but doesn’t scold. “I’m glad they made it safe,” he says instead.
Applebud bobs her head. “Yep! Sometimes me and Belgwyn play here.”
Lanisen finds an interesting patch of leaves and lowers himself carefully to his knees, one hand hovering up near Applebud in case he jostles her. “Do you know Kala?”
Applebud shakes her head. “Who’s she?”
Lanisen says, nodding east, “She’s in the well sometimes, she’s a naiad.”
Applebud oooohs. “I’ve never been to the well.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! It’s just a little ways further in. We can go look, if you like.”
Applebud nods very rapidly again, hesitating for a moment. “Is it safe?”
Lanisen pauses, glancing at her. “Yes,” he answers. “As safe as where we are now, anyway. But we don’t have to go, if you’d rather not.”
Applebud exclaims, “I wanna meet a Naiad!” ”
Lanisen cautions, “She might not be there.”
Applebud nods her had, “Okay.”
Lanisen says, “And if she is, she’ll probably splash you.”
Applebud says, “Why?””
Lanisen says, “‘Cause. She’s a Naiad. It’s how she says hello, half the time.”
Applebud ohs. “Okay.”
Lanisen grins again and carefully gets to his feet, leaving the patch of leaves for later. He starts east, deeper into the garden.
There is something central to this garden, and not simply due to its placement directly between the two larger hills. The cobblestones become fewer and fewer, until meandering tendrils of morning glories engulf them completely, having brought you to its goal. Long grass shifts around your feet, hints of foxgloves and lupines peeking out though the green.
In the center of the grassy clearing grows a young apple tree. A wide well rests beneath the branches, made from simply carved stone. Upon the edge sit a bucket and a ladle, low enough for even a small Beast to quench their thirst. The grass looks especially long and soft at the base of the apple tree, and birds hop from twig to twig, fluting out fragments of songs.
The low wall has several gaps here and there, leading to other segments of the garden.
Lanisen approaches the well and peers down inside. The sound of bubbling water meets them, and he backs away, grinning at Applebud. “Let’s throw a flower at her,” he whispers conspiratorially.
Applebud grins and nods excitably!
Lanisen searches around, until he finds a little patch of yellow-blossomed wood sorrel. “How about this one?” he asks in a whisper.
Applebud replies in a quiet voice, “It’s pretty.”
Lanisen nods in agreement and gently pinches it off its stem. He steps quietly back to the well, sneaking a bit, and whispers, “Ready?”
Applebud nods eagerly!
Lanisen holds the flower out over the well, drops it, and steps quickly back.
Applebud waits with eager anticipation.
The sound of running water down below briefly stills and goes quiet, then there is a surging sound like a very small waterfall and Kala pokes her head up over the edge of the well.
Applebud waves eagerly, “HI!”
Lanisen takes a half-step back as soon as the naiad emerges, as if he expects to get splashed right away, but Kala is occupied with fixing the sorrel blossom in the ripples that make up her hair for the moment. She leans out of the well, staring at Applebud with undisguised curiosity.
Applebud says, “My name is Applebud. Lanisen says yours is Kala. You’re really pretty.” she says with undisguised admiration. She looks back at Lanisen and then at the Naiad. “Do you like the flower?””
Lanisen comes nearer, now that the immediate danger of hello-splashes is past.
The naiad nods several times, sending waves of water splashing down behind her, and ducks down behind the well wall so that only the top half of her face and her flower adornment are visible.
Lanisen says apologetically, “There’s not much else still bloomin’.”
Applebud peers closer towards the well.
The naiad giggles, a musical bubbling sound like a snowmelt stream, and splashes out at them. The effect is a sprinkling rather than a dousing, and she hides behind the well wall again.
Applebud ducks back as the water sparkles in the air and shakes her fur. She peers over further ove the edge of Lanisen’s shoulder.
Lanisen ducks back, reaching automatically up to steady Applebud, and makes a laughing noise of protest. He draws out a clean handkerchief and offers it to Applebud, mopping at his face with his sleeve.
Applebud fluffs her tail and leans against the handkerchief. She’s too curious to be much perturbed by the splash.
Lanisen explains to Kala, who bubbles up again to look at them, “My friend’s never talked to a Naiad before, right, Applebud?”
Applebud nods, “Yeah!” and then remembering her manners, “It’s nice to meet you!”
Kala bubbles up with laughter again, and then says, “Hello.”
Lanisen says, “She’s been helpin’ me look for herbs today, I thought we’d see if that patch of lemon balm in the outer garden’s grown out enough yet.”
Applebud exclaims, “Hi!” She nods enthusiastically in agreement with Lanisen.
Lanisen says, “I reckoned we’d follow the stream north a ways, after; do you want to come?”
The naiad pretends to consider, putting her head on one side, and then splashes at them in challenge and dives down into the well, disappearing from sight. The water below goes quiet.
Applebud ducks behind Lanisen’s handkerchief, which spares her from most of the water. A little tail fluffing and all is pretty much well again. “She comin?”
Lanisen says, “Oh–!” He huffs out a fondly exasperated breath and says, “She’s already halfway there, prob’ly. Want to race her?”
Applebud grins! “Sure!”
Lanisen says, “Hold on tight, all right?”
Applebud nods and holds tight
Lanisen starts to jog, reaching up with one hand in case she’s jostled too badly and holding his gathering bag with the other, and chases after the naiad.