The path here offers you two choices, as it branches off into several directions. South will lead you to the center of the garden, southwest to the castle’s hall, and east further into the garden. The best option perhaps is to wander about and enjoy the beautiful shrubbery.
Edmund strides out of the training grounds, sheathing his sword as he walks. His stroll is a pleasant one, and he seems at ease.
Lanisen is just wandering, it seems. He’s bundled up against the day’s chill in a wool coat that looks quite warm, if well-worn, and he has his hands in his pockets. He pauses at the sound of footsteps, looking alertly down the path.
Edmund catches sight of the other man as he rounds a corner in the path. He considers the Son of Adam a brief moment before closing the distance between them. “Art Lanisen, from the company of Lord Darrin, I believe.”
Lanisen straightens, takes half a step back, and bows deeply. “Yes, your majesty.”
Edmund asks, “Well met. Hast been given good quarters and had thy needs attended?”
Lanisen says, “Oh! Yes, er, yes, your majesty, it’s been– everything’s– more than generous, thank you.” He takes a deep breath. “I’ve been, I’ve been wonderin’ if there’s anything I can do to, to thank your majesties.”
Edmund leans forward and lifts his hand to the side of his mouth to impart in a loud whisper, “If we are quite frank with one another, my good sister the High Queen has been nigh plaintive for want of company to entertain since your Princes last departed a full month past. Your presence here grants relief to us all.”
Lanisen’s face shifts from attentive and half-wary to a quick surprised grin. “Oh,” he says. “Well, er. Good?”
Edmund says, “And how do you find Narnia, now that you have beheld it and walked among its Beasts and Peoples? Sir Darrin tells me it was you who first took the notion to sojourn here.”
Lanisen turns rather red. “Sir Darrin was, he was very kind to indulge me, er, me and M– Squire Megren both. Um, it’s–” He stops, looking to the side briefly. “I don’t, I don’t know how to say, sir, it’s–”
Edmund allows him some room around the question. “Hadst met any Narnians before leaving Archenland?”
Lanisen straightens slightly. “Yes, your majesty, a few, when–” He pauses and ducks his head slightly. “Um, after the battle at Anvard, I met some of the Wolves who came with you to help us.”
Edmund’s eyes stray to the wound at the other man’s neck, but they don’t linger there, perhaps identifying the injury as too old, perhaps only not meaning to be a busybody. “Ah, I recall where I have seen you now. You were there when Aslan gave Prince Rabadash his judgement.”
Lanisen hesitates, then nods. “Yes, your majesty. I was with Sir Colin.”
Edmund says, “Wert injured as I remember it.”
Lanisen says, “Not, not so bad as some, your majesty. We’d’ve… If it hadn’t been for your aid, it would have been a much worse day.” He darts a glance at Edmund’s face and adds, ducking his head again, “Thank you, sir.”
Edmund says, “Thank your Prince. Were it not for him, I fear both our countries would have felt it much differently.”
Lanisen nods mutely.
Edmund begins walking again, appearing to expect Lanisen will join him. “How dost spend thy leisure hours, Lanisen?”
Lanisen hesitates until this is clear, then falls into step. “Um– with the, with the hounds, usually, your majesty. Or in the library, or with Meg. Er, Squire Megren.”
Edmund observes, “You have a quieter nature than she.”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “She can make friends with anybody,” he says with matter-of-fact admiration.
Edmund smiles, resting his hand on his sword pommel in an easy way. “It is sometimes good to be in the company of such a person. My youngest sister is much the same. I oft find that her easy flow of words offer me better time to consider my own thoughts in full, for I am not expected to speak before I have gathered up something to say. Though her council is always well-made in its own right.”
Lanisen grins, glancing at the king. “Sounds familiar,” he says. “Meg’s a good listener, though, she’s– she knows what to ask.”
Edmund asks, “Queen Lucy, too. Have you and she had the chance to make acquaintance?”
Lanisen answers, “A little, sir, she was lookin’ for a book.”
Edmund says, “Ah, yes, you mentioned the libraries. You enjoy to read then? Tis not an art always found in kennel keepers.”
Lanisen says, “Er, when I can, your majesty.”
Edmund asks, “What do you read?”
Lanisen says, “Um,” and ducks his head, embarrassed. “Um, histories, sometimes, or– after, after the battle I read about Calormen, a bit, and Narnia, and, um–” He stops and takes a breath. “I was, I wanted to know more about, about the Lion, after…”
Edmund pauses in his walking while Lanisen explains, and then with an “Ah,” and a nod, he moves again. “Tis never less astounding, however familiar it may feel as if you ought have become. Tis as if–” he pauses, considering. “As if your whole self has been laid bare. There is nothing to hide, because nothing hath been left hid. I found it — I found in it both wondrous relief and terrible dread upon our first encounter. More the latter, that first time. More often the former, now. But never fully the one without the other.”
Lanisen glances at the king, startled, then lowers his eyes and watches the path in front of them, unfocused. After Edmund concludes, he is silent for a moment, then draws a slightly unsteady breath and nods.
Edmund glances at him, and then allows that they may walk in silence for some time.
Lanisen admits finally, in a low voice, “I thought– that was just me.”
Edmund says, “I can only speak for myself, but no, I do not think you alone.”
Lanisen nods, silent again.
Edmund glances at him again and says in an apologetic tone, “I don’t know that you are any more likely to encounter him here than at home. I don’t think he works that way.”
Lanisen starts slightly. He looks down, away from Edmund, and nods. “I didn’t, I didn’t think he did,” he says, trying for nonchalant, but his face is twisting up painfully with the disappointment.
Edmund rubs the pommel of his sword with his thumb, watching the way the movement shines the steel. He makes a thoughtful noise. “Tis good to dwell on him, I think — the things he hath spake to you, the judgments he hath laid before you. And it is not my part to speak for him, you understand. But I do not think he would wish to be sought after in idleness.” He pauses, and then resumes, “No, that is not quite what I mean. I mean, when I have encountered him, he has bid me look toward the future and not the past, toward what I will do for my people and land, for my sisters and brother, and
toward how I will make merry, or what I must mourn. He has bid — he has bid I be /present/, whatever the present may hold.” He looks at Lanisen. “Forgive me, I speak what I have oft thought of but rarely put into words. Do I hold any coherence for you?”
Lanisen nods quickly, rubbing the side of his face. “Yes, thank you, your majesty,” he says after a small pause, his voice carefully even. “I’m– forgive me, it’s not– it’s not mine to wish, even, I’m sorry.”
Edmund’s voice softens. “It is not a wicked thing, to have loved that which is good, and I do not mean reprimand. You show a good heart in desiring to see him again and know him better. But I think it easy to desire after what may not come to pass, and to let that desire immobilize us.” He frowns. “I do not say you have arrived at such a place. I know not the nature nor size of your wishes. I onl speak what comes to mind. I will say, and I think I may say it with some measure of surety, that what we may confidently do is /trust/ the Lion. Trust that he knows us as we felt he did upon that meeting, and more, trust that when he is most needed, then will he arrive.”
Lanisen nods, his eyes still down. He swallows and nods again with more conviction, then glances at Edmund sidelong with a small grateful smile.
Edmund claps a hand on the other man’s shoulder. “In the meanwhile, I have a great will to see a full plate before me. Wilt join me in supping?”
Lanisen tenses up slightly and there’s the suggestion of a flinch on his face, but he masters himself quickly, though he still looks surprised by the offer. “Er, if– I mean, yes, thank you, your majesty.”
Edmund taps his hand once, much more gently this time, on Lanisen’s shoulder, and then pulls it back as swiftly as he may without drawing attention to the action. A curious expression crosses his features, but he only says, “Excellent. My sister tells me I look a bore when I dine alone, and that is surely something to be avoided at whatever cost.”
Lanisen laughs under his breath, ducking his head. “I suppose so, your majesty,” he agrees.
Edmund’s lips quirk upward crookedly, and he gestures toward the great hall, where lights have already been lit and a good smell has begun to waft.