Bad News

Kennels

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Anvard’s kennel is a spacious room, longer than it is wide. It has two large windows in the north wall that serve well for light during the day, and lamps are suspended from the ceiling where they cannot be knocked over by rowdy hounds. A row of pens can be seen along the far wall, likely used to isolate dogs that are sick, injured, or in need of further training, but most of the castle pack is allowed to roam freely about the room. There is a door at the south end of the east wall with a hound-sized hinged flap on the bottom that leads out to the hounds’ yard. Behind a door in the back wall is a set of wooden steps that lead up to the second level, and a door in the west wallopens onto the private quarters of the master of hounds.

The room is kept very clean, and it has a comfortably shabby lived-in sort of feeling. The smell of dog, while present, is not overpowering, and small bundles of fragrant dried herbs are hung at intervals from the ceiling. There is an ancient, heavy wooden table across the room, and two overstuffed chairs face the enormous hearth on the east wall: all slightly gnawed and ragged, but sturdy. Cupboards and shelves on the west wall hold the sorts of liniments, herbs, and bandages used to treat the more common hound ailments, but they also hold tins of tea, dishes, a plate of biscuits or sweetbread, candles, books, and other accoutrements of pleasant evenings.

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You can go: Outer Ward <N>, Huntsman’s Chamber <W>, Up <U>

Lanisen is sitting with Megren at the table, an open bottle of wine and two cups between them. His face is slightly flushed, and he looks upset and desperately conflicted. He stares at Megren, then moistens his lips and leans his elbows on the table, folding his hands in front of his mouth.

Megren says, “He isn’t you, though, and I trust your instincts. Maybe you–” she pulls in her lips. “I, maybe the right thing to do is live there a couple months and see.”

Lanisen says, “You think I should–”

Haft opens the door and enters the kennel, loosening his scarf and then stilling in surprise at the sight of Megren and Lanisen.

Megren screws up her mouth, about to say something when the door opens. She looks up.

Lanisen glances up quickly, alert and guarded despite the wine.

Haft breaks into a smile. “You’re back.”

Megren stands up, her hand slipping from around Lanisen’s back to his near shoulder. “Hi — hi, Haft, hi. Oh, I’m sorry, I should have gone up and said hello right off.”

Lanisen gets up as well. He blinks a couple of times and puts his hand on the back of his chair.

Haft crosses his arms. “Agreed. When did you arrive?”

Megren glances over her shoulder at Lanisen. “About, maybe about an hour ago? Did you, have you seen Sir Darrin and the rest yet?”

Lanisen nods to confirm her estimate.

Haft says, “No, not yet.”

He frowns. “The /rest/?”

Megren says, “Um, we brought back Prince Cor and a couple people who’d gone out with him.”

Haft brightens at this news. “Be good to see him around again.”

Lanisen shifts his weight. He looks at Haft, frowning slightly, then glances at Megren.

Megren says, “It’s, um, here–” she pulls out a chair and glances at Lanisen again. “I don’t even know how to, how to say it.”

Haft asks, “Say what? Is His Highness all right?”

Lanisen takes a deep breath. He rubs the side of his face tiredly and nods. “C’mon, you’d, you should sit down.”

Megren says, “He’s, Prince Cor’s fine, or, it’s not him.”

Haft glances between Megren and Lanisen. He walks over and lowers himself to the bench. “Who?”

Lanisen goes to get another cup.

Megren runs her hand through her hair and sits down herself. She takes a drink from her cup. “Uh, um, their, the Narnian Kings and Queens.”

Her eyes skitter to Lanisen again. “It’s, it’s all so bizarre, I don’t even know how to tell it.”

Haft asks, “Try?”

Lanisen sets the cup down in front of Haft and slides the bottle over to him in silent invitation. He sits down next to Megren again.

Megren says, “There was, all right, there was a hunt, because there was a stag that, a white stag? That’s supposed to give wishes? And they all went after it.”

Haft nods slowly. “All right. And…what? One of their wishes went awry?”

Megren looks at Lanisen again.

Lanisen looks at Megren. He takes a deep breath. “No,” he answers, looking back at Haft. “It’s– I’m sorry, I’m sorry, they’re, they’ve gone.”

Megren provides, “Aslan, Aslan came, he said they’re gone.”

Haft asks, “Gone? Gone where?”

Lanisen shakes his head slightly. “I don’t, we don’t know. Aslan knows but he didn’t… he didn’t say.”

Megren says, “Out of the world, I think? We don’t really know.”

Haft says, “Out of the-” He stares. “You mean they’re not coming back?”

Lanisen nods mutely.

Megren takes a big breath and releases it. She ducks her head and rubs the heel of her hand over her brow, then looks back up at him. “He said, he said they’re not.”

Haft looks between the two again. “If you’re having me on…”

Lanisen assures him, a little desperately, “We wouldn’t, we wouldn’t.”

Megren says, “I know it’s, I told you, I don’t know how to tell it, it’s–”

Haft looks grim. “So who’s next in line?”

Megren shakes her head unknowingly.

Lanisen says, “It’s– They’re meant to look for somebody, I think.”

Haft asks, “Look for somebody? Was there a prophecy?”

Lanisen shakes his head.

Megren says, “Choose somebody, I tink.”

Haft rubs a finger along the grain of the wood. “Who’s in charge in the meantime?”

Megren says, “There’s a, they’ve got some kind of council that rules when they all travel places. And Lord Peridan, he’s been doing a lot.”

Lanisen watches Haft’s face to see how he’s taking the news.

Haft nods. “That’s good. He’s got sense.” He amends, “Sometimes. When Lady Avery’s not at hand, and when he doesn’t drive himself so hard he’s falling down.”

Megren says, “Prince Cor, Prince Cor was real good.”

Lanisen nods emphatically at this.

A smile plays around Haft’s mouth. “Tell me.”

Megren says, “He was, everyone was all scattered and arguing, and he didn’t shut them up, but he pulled them together and got them to organize and stop fighting and I think he, I think he tried to make sure everyone felt useful,” she glance at Lanisen for confirmation. “He gave them all jobs and made sure they ate.”

Lanisen nods. “It was– We were, everybody was scared and worried,” he says. “Him more than most, I think, they’re, they’re his friends. But he kept it together, he– he led.”

Haft inclines his head. “He’ll be a great king one day.”

Lanisen says softly, “Yeah.”

Megren’s mouth curves upward on one side.

Haft lets out a breath. “Which doesn’t solve the current problem.”

Megren says, “No.”

Lanisen curls his hand around his cup and looks down at the remainder of his wine.

Haft asks, “Do you think they’ll try to find ties to the old bloodlines?”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “Sir Darrin said we should get Prince Cor home and tell everyone here rather than interfere with a task that wasn’t ours when we hadn’t told the King yet. And Prince Cor said the same, because Aslan told them it was their task.”

She looks tired.

Lanisen nods silently.

Haft drums his fingers on the table. “It’s a two-edged sword. They need a king soon to maintain stability, but they need to be careful to choose wisely. Err to one side and Narnia could fall to outside forces. Err to the other and it will decay from within.

Megren rubs her temple.

Lanisen takes a drink of his wine. He looks exhausted.

Haft asks, “What about you two? Are you all right?”

Megren says, “It…was a long last couple of days.”

Lanisen looks down at the table.

Haft asks, “I can imagine. You rode straight from…where did they disappear? Why were you even nearby?”

Megren says, “Um, we wanted to see the lamp post.”

Haft asks, “The what?”

Lanisen lets out a small breath almost like laughter.

Haft asks, “Oh, of Lantern Waste?”

Megren nods.

Haft asks, “And you rode back all the way from there?”

Megren nods again, lips turning downward.

Haft asks, “And Sir Darrin and the prince are closeted with the king now?”

Megren says, “I think so. I’m not, that’s what they were saying.”

Lanisen nods.

Haft sighs and shakes his head, then pushes himself up. “I can’t stay. I want to hear the rest but it’s almost my watch. I only came in here to see the…” He glances at Lanisen. ” Well, anyway, I should go.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry I didn’t find you right away.”

Lanisen gets to his feet as Haft does, but he seems tired enough that he doesn’t notice anything odd in what he says.

Haft waves this away. “It’s all right. I imagine you’re both exhausted. Turn in soon?”

Megren says, “Yeah, we will. I’m, here–” she gets up and hugs him. “It’s good to see you again.”

Haft returns the hug. “I’m glad you’re safe.”

Lanisen stays quiet, reaching down to rub Tohol’s ears when he ambles over.

Megren just nods, stepping back. “Have a boring watch,” she quips.

Haft says, “I’ll try.”

Haft slips out the door.

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