Lanisen sits by the pool at dusk, wrapped up in his heavy cloak, watching the waterfall a little distantly.
A wolf with half of a left ear (Virika) pads along the cliff face into the basin. Her pace is casual and leisurely.
Lanisen glances up as the Wolf comes into his field of vision. He starts to call out, then stops, a little puzzled, and watches her.
Virika heads for the larch tree. She takes a seat beneath it, scanning her surroundings. Seeing the Son of Adam, she nods. “Hello.” Her tail curls around her hindquarters.
Lanisen sits forward, drawing up his knees. “Hello,” he answers, then ducks his head and offers a quick disarming smile. “Sorry, I– I thought you were Crenna, but you’re not. I’m Lanisen.”
Virika’s ears swivel up, “Ah! Then she /is/ here! Excellent! I have not seen any of the Winterdenites for some time.” She bows her head. “Well met Lanisen. I am Virika of Ulfden.’
Virika asks, “Do you mind if I enjoy the comforts of the basin as well?”
Lanisen says, “The– oh! Of course, please.” He shifts and says, “Crenna’s been here… a few days, I guess. A week, maybe.”
Virika says, “I should probably make more of an effort to get out and socialize.” She hehs. She asks, “Do you live here or just visiting?”
Lanisen says, “Just, just visitin’. I been stayin’…” He trails off and gestures toward a cave opening that looks rather lived-in.
Virika looks in the direction and nods. She smiles, “This is one of the nicest places to stay. The Inn isn’t bad for human folk but… there’s nothing like nature.”
Lanisen says, “The Inn’s very nice, yeah.”
Virika asks, “This your first trip to the Waste?”
Lanisen asks, “Hmm? No, I was here for a few months earlier this year, and– and last autumn, we were here.”
Virika’s ear and a half droops and she looks down at her paws. “Ah yes.” Her voice is quiet. “And it was looking to be such a lovely season.”
Virika pauses, “I mean it was… just…”
Lanisen watches her, and then averts his eyes, nodding silently.
Virika looks up at him, “But… we move forward. We existed before them… and we… had them to guide us so… we can carry on.” Her ears remain drooped. “Did you get to meet them?”
Lanisen says, “Yes, I did.” He pauses, catching his lower lip between his teeth. “I’m sorry, I can’t imagine what– I’m sorry.”
Virika smiles a little, “It’s okay. It’s good to remember. We can’t go around acting like they were never here–and even if we miss them… the memories make me happy.” Her ears lift. “I met Queen Lucy after the giants attacked. I will never forget her kindness… and I hope that I can show others what she showed me.”
Lanisen pauses. “I think they would like that, havin’ that for their legacy.”
Virika nods. “What more could you ask than a legacy of love, strength, beauty, and justice?”
Lanisen smiles, a little absently, and wraps his arms around his knees.
Virika looks around at the basin and sighs contentedly, “It’s nice to know some things never change.” She chuckles. “What made you pick this spot in the Waste over others?”
Lanisen says, “Um,” and ducks his head a little bit, shifting and smiling embarrassedly. “Location?”
Virika grins, “I do think it’s one of the nicest places. Sort of private and set back–very beautiful.” She looks at the falls. “Good place to just sort of think.”
Lanisen looks like this isn’t entirely what he meant, but he just sort of nods noncommittally.
Virika asks, “Have you seen a lot of the Waste?”
Lanisen says, “Oh…” and considers, glancing at his pack. “I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say /all/ of it, the woods up north get a little bewildering.”
Virika grunts and nods. “Even for a well trained hunter. You don’t want to step off the path.”
Lanisen says guiltily, “Yeah, I learned that the hard way. I think the trees might’ve spun me around a bit.”
Virika says, “If it’s any comfort… I can still get lost there and I’ve lived here for years.” She smiles a little.
Lanisen says, “Oh, good, it’s not just me. /Do/ they move around? The trees?”
Virika considers this, then says very genuinely, “I don’t know. It’s entirely possible. Some dryads have quite the sense of human… and so do some of the trees. I /swear/ that roots will purposely trip you!”
Lanisen says, “There’s a patch of aspens in the lower plains, I swear they move around.”
Virika says, “Well, when the land has it’s own form of magic.” She chuckles. “I’d believe it. Suppose it’s good for keeping you on your toes though.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. They don’t mean any harm, it’s just a game. And it’s been, there’ve been a couple times I got good and lost and then found myself someplace familiar again just, just out of the blue.”
Virika says, “I think it’s a sign they like you.”
Lanisen says, laughing, “Oh, well, good?”
Virika says, “It’s nice to think the wood has such a playful spirit. I hope it always stays that way.” She paused. “Our wood’s gotten better too, with all the Watch has done for it.”
Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”
Virika nods. “I always hated patrolling around the Ruins but… when they took it down… well, what they could, I felt it really helped… the land. If that makes sense?”
Lanisen nods thoughtfully. “It’s… I went there the other day with a, a Squirrel, she said it used to be…” He trails off and lifts his shoulders. “It feels, it feels wholesome, now.”
Virika nods solemnly. She shudders a little. “It was always cold–even long after the Winter ended. And it drew evil to it–and here. It just felt wrong and heavy.” Her expression softens, “Now though… it’s like the blight is gone and has been healed.”
Lanisen nods again. He glances at her and asks, “Did you– were you here during the Winter?”
Virika shakes her head. “I wasn’t, but my mum was.” She frowns a little and looks down. “And my father. He was one of /hers/. But my mum always believed in the Lion. He fled with some of the loyal into the Wilds, taking my mother with him.”
Virika says, “It’s part of the reason I came here. I wanted to… undo the pain and cruelty my father had done.”
Lanisen pulls his chin back slightly. “Are there still Wolves out there, then?”
Virika says, “I’ve been here for years… but my brother came a few after me so… who knows?” She shrugs. “I’ve found my home and am happy. If there’s anyone else out there… they’re there by choice. I’m happy to stay here and make sure my home is safe, you know?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, that’s– I understand.”
Virika says, “I…. didn’t always believe in Aslan. But my mother did… and in time… after I came here, I did too.”
Lanisen hmms softly, considering this. He is sitting near the pool, his arms wrapped around his updrawn knees, talking quietly with Virika in the dim evening light. Stars are coming out overhead.
Virika is seated comfortably under the larch tree. She is very relaxed and in a good mood. “I think… I wasn’t ready at first. But then I saw how much my mentor believed–and the others. And that lead me to sort of… come to peace with who I was and what I wanted to be.”
Virika looks down at her paws, “Sorry for babbling on about it.”
Lanisen says, “No, no, it’s– it’s all right, I understand. It’s sort of– it changes everything, doesn’t it?”
Virika smiles and nods. “Yeah. It was like I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it.”
Lanisen hesitates, and then nods slightly.
Pheeobe comes into the Basin humming to herself before spotting Virika. She yips excitedly in greeting and jogs over to her packmate, “Virika!” She allows her tail to wag wildly before even noting Lanisen. She calms herself a bit and grins, “Hi Lanisen!”
Virika grins and nods, “Hey Pheeobe.”
Lanisen straightens slightly. “Hey, Pheeobe,” he echoes.
Pheeobe settles a little and looks between the two, growing a little more serious, “I am sorry. What did I interrupt?”
Virika smiles, “We were talking about the Waste and Aslan.”
Lanisen shifts where he sits.
Virika stands, “I hate to duck out but I should get back. Early hunt tomorrow morning.” She nods, “It was nice to meet you Lanisen.”
Lanisen says, “‘Course, yeah. You too. Sleep well.”
Pheeobe frowns a bit but nods, “Oh…sleep well, Virika.”
Virika smiles, “I hope to see you both around.” She nods to Pheeobe and pads back along the cliffs.
Virika passes through the split in the east wall, leaving the basin.
Lanisen watches her go, then glances at Pheeobe.
Pheeobe also watches her go before sighing and turning back to Lanisen, “Aslan huh?”
Lanisen shrugs slightly.
Pheeobe frowns, “Have you ever seen him?”
Lanisen draws a breath. “Yes,” he answers. “I have, yeah.”
Pheeobe nods, “It shakes you up, huh?” She watches him for his reaction, ear pricked.
Lanisen laughs a little, lifting his eyebrows, and looks down. “A, a bit,” he agrees, with a little wry twist to his mouth that indicates that this is a conscious understatement. It fades, and he brushes at a loose thread on his cloak, his face going absent and wistful.
Pheeobe nods, “I saw him too. It was…” She sighs and then smiles, “The happiest I will ever be.” She looks off and then watches Lanisen before shrugging, “Virika probably had some good thoughts on him, right?”
Lanisen says, “She was– she was talkin’ mostly about her experience.”
Pheeobe nods, “I would like to hear that sometime…” She looks off an around the Basin, “I am pretty simple in how I interpret things so sometimes it is nice to hear other experiences.” She moves to let down on her side.
Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”
Pheeobe nods, “Of course…and that is always useful anyways, right?”
Lanisen asks, “What do you mean, about your, your interpretin’?”
Pheeobe shrugs, “I am just not very reflective.”
Lanisen considers this. “That sounded reflective to me,” he observes.
Pheeobe laughs, “Nah…just fact.” She looks him over, “How was your day?”
Lanisen says, “Oh… it was, it was good. Had a bit of a late start.”
Pheeobe smiles, “Sleep in?”
Lanisen rubs the side of his nose. “No, I just…” He shrugs, and his face twists up briefly. “I didn’t– I don’t know, I couldn’t seem to…”
Pheeobe nods, “Ahh…sleeping is hard sometimes.”
Lanisen says, “No, I just… um…” He trails off, then shakes his head. “Never, never mind.”
Pheeobe watches him with a frown and then gets up, shaking out, “I had best be off. See you.” She gives him a grin, “I hope you have a good night.”
Lanisen straightens. “Right, sure, you too. I’ll see you around.”
Pheeobe nods and runs off into the woods.
Lanisen stays where he is. He pulls his cloak tighter around himself and sighs, watching the little waterfall, and doesn’t move again until it’s well into nighttime.