River Turn Keep Main Corridor

Opulent chandeliers dangle from the arched ceilings of the main corridor of River Turn Keep. The hallway extends from the biinwood double doors opening onto the courtyard to the northern archway granting access to the ballroom.
The doorway to the west leads to the spacious, well-used dining hall, while the eastern doorway opens into the master bedroom.

Half the keep is up already, or so it sounds, for the noise of doors opening and slamming echoes down the main corridor--the sharp cracks of the newer ones, and the whining groans of the doors on hinges hundreds of years old. Sleepy servants dart in and out of chambers, some bearing burdens, some simply tagging along behind the workers, but all headed, antlike, for the outer door. Anyone who has come in through the portcullis beyond would find the going slow for the traffic of people bringing their burdens out to a waiting carriage. Doreen Lomasa, garbed in a day dress, is just leaving her own chamber.

From the outside, a muffled grunt is heard as a guard yanks on the heavy brass handle of the door to the court yard. It emits a sharp crack as it swings open into the cold. A small puff of vapour billows out along the ground, lit by the light from the chandeliers. The sky outside is a smooth gradient of blue, going from dark to light at the horizon. It is perfectly clear.

Shuffling into the doorway, a young man murmurs thanks to the guard. He wears a blue cloak, the cowl thrown over his head, under which plumes coming from his mouth can be seen. He steps over the threshold, and into the warmth of the indoors, and with a stiff hand pulls his cowl back. It is the youngest son, Lanar. His hair is slightly shaggy and in disarray, and his face is baggy and tired. A pack is clung over his shoulder, the strap of which bites into the fabric of his attire.

He pauses for a moment, bewildered by the bustle, and narrows his eyes at his sister, appraising her for a moment, before widening them again. "Sister?" He says.

Doreen Lomasa is moving at no leisurely pace, and even once her steps cease, her velocity carries her another a half-foot forward. She stares at her brother, brows quirked. There are several messages to be read in her face, and not one of them is 'welcome'. "Welcome," she says, kindly enough. "You can tell her 'no'."

Lanar clasps a thumb under the strap of his pack and lifts it over his shoulder. It drops onto the floor with a dull thud. His face is still deadset, but he walks forward, anyhow, looking his sister up and down.

He frowns for a moment, not comprehending. "T-tell who?"

Doreen Lomasa does the same for Lanar, her eyes taking the measure of him in a glance. "Mmm. You look terrible. Mother didn't send you? Shall I have someone pick that up?" She cocks her head towards the pack. "I'm so sorry--you really do look tired, but if we're to talk, you'll have to follow me. I've got things to do. Otherwise, I will set you up with a chamber and a bed, but I will be gone in a few hours."

Lanar Lomasa's eyes flicker sideways at the line of servants trooping back and forth. "No apology needed, sister." He says, turning around and scooping up his pack. "Who are yo-" He stands back up. "Why do you drive the household so at this hour? It is murder out there. Why the urgency?"

Doreen Lomasa is off down the hallway again, speaking so that only someone keeping up with her could hear, "I'm leaving. You really have exquisitely bad timing. This is only the second time I've left since I got here, and that must have been half a year ago." She's headed for the kitchens. She glances sideways towards a passing servant. "I do not 'travel light'." She says those last words disdainfully, as though they meant something common or in bad taste.

Lanar Lomasa grimaces as he shuffles after her, dragging his pack along the ground. Eventually, as they pass a pillar, he gives up and throws it against the pillar, before catching up with her. He works off his gloves as he says, not without a hint of exasperation, "Doreen, what /are/ you talking about? Who's left you th-" He stops, and doesn't continue.

"Arturo was here. I'm going to get Anys. And to get away from that horrid Wraye Mikin, who will be out here any minute, mark my words. Who left me what?" Doreen glances back at the sound of the crashing pack, and taps a boy passing with an oversized chest. "Drop that, get that, take it out of the way," she says, pointing.

"Do not." Lanar countermands, patting the boy on the shoulder. "I'll attend to it myself." He turns back and follows her, whilst tucking his gloves into his belt. "Your daughter. At Orana's glade. What about her? I saw her yesterday." He chews his lips as he mumbles, "Wraye...wraye..." He asks: "Who's Wraye Mikin?"

Doreen Lomasa stops in her tracks a second time. "Orana's Glade?" she asks, dumbstruck, brushing off the questions. "Not the Castle--" She places a hand on her hip and bites down on her lip.

Lanar stops with her and leans on one leg toward her. "Not the Castle." He says. "Now, if you would care to enlightening me?"

Doreen Lomasa frowns. "Anys was supposed to be at the Castle of the Hours," she says grousily. "It was where I was bound, and Light, but Arturo would have let me go all the way there thinking she was there." A pause while she digests some of her irritation. "Wraye Mikin is a new cousin of ours--the girl swore to Mother that she'd convince me to pay a visit, and she's been most cursedly persistent. I am in a hurry because I meant to leave yestermorn, but was delayed, and wish to make good time today. I suppose if I had left before, it would all have been a waste."

Lanar Lomasa rubs his chin with a grubby palm, whilst listening. "...Ah." He says hesitantly. "So you have no idea where your daughter is. You know she's broken her ankle, don't you?"

Doreen Lomasa says, "You know that too, do you? Was /everyone/ informed before me?" Then, without any pause, she asks, "Can a pup be taken from its mother at two weeks, do you think?"

"Can a pup be tak-?!" Lanar asks, halfway between confusion and a sneer. "Might I just clarify this: your daughter has taken leave without your permission?!"

Doreen Lomasa says, "Oh yes. Ran off about a month ago, and Art dropped by only yesterday to imply that it was my fault, and so is the broken ankle, somehow as well. Now I'm going to bring her a pup, I think, because...well, you can't beat a girl with a broken ankle, can you? So I might as well give her something to quell her when I drag her back here." She beckons and moves into the kitchen.

River Turn Keep Dining Hall

An airy chamber with floor-to-ceiling windows, a long polished biinwood table surrounded by twenty-four chairs beneath a glittering crystal chandelier, and an open kitchen preparation area with an L-shaped counter, where the estate's servants work in full view of the guests.

Lanar's brow furrows, and he purses his lips in incredulity. He follows her through. He sighs. "I must say, she recognised me before I did her. The last time I really saw her was when she was still an infant. Are things difficult between you two?"

The dining hall is a good deal quieter than the hallway, and the few people who are already breaking their fasts at the long table are subdued by exhaustion. Their weariness must be infectious; tiredly, Doreen says, "I can hardly convey to you the understatement of that question in the time I have. Why are you here, Lanar?" She squints at the open kitchen, and looks displeased for what she finds, or does not find.

Some of servants at the table look up at Lanar confusedly. He inhales deeply, and sidles over to a steaming hunk of bread, sitting by the fire. "I had to get out of Orana's glade. Turned twenty the other day. I'm not particularly fond of my mother, either, you know." He replies, bending over the loaf and tearing off a piece. "Although, as I gather, most people have been heading in the opposite direction." He pops a piece into his mouth and chews.

"Well," says Doreen. "Happy birthday. Another year. Engaged yet? You don't have to answer--that's a jest. Though, if you do care to answer, we're both rather curious..." She looks around for the nearest commandable person, and decides on a girl leaning up against the wall. "Fetch Master Slope," Doreen bids. The girl does not respond, and presently it becomes apparent that she is asleep on her feet. Doreen goes to shake her gently by the shoulders, and repeat her command.

"Driving them hard as ever. You seem well." Lanar says. "No, I'm not engaged. Three years now I've been well, still holed up at the glade. Partly why I've decided to come back. How long has it been? Four years, five years?"

Doreen, who has nowhere to go until the cook arrives, stays still. "Four years, six months," she says breezily, crossing her arms. "How does Anys look?"

Lanar nods, with the twitchiness of someone who has not rested. "She looks well. She's grown so much. I'd only seen her, once, since she was an infant, last year at Father's funeral." He sniffs. "She had company: a young man, what was his name? Oh, yes: Sion Kahar. Trying to teach her to mount a horse with a broken ankle." He pauses. "So you're going down to fetch her?"

"A Kahar? A horse? She'll break her other ankle. /I/ should break her other ankle--maybe she'll stay put for five minutes. Did she mention me?" Doreen sniffs. "Yes. I'd offer to bring you along, but you don't look up to it, and we'll be back soon, if the Light shines well and warm."

Lanar shrugs and snorts, turning a piece of bread over in his hand. "As it ever does on our family." He says. "I spent seven years in bed. Sleep is not something I'm going to find myself in deficit anytime soon. I'll go if you go, although I wonder whether you should let her come back of her own accord."

Doreen Lomasa says, "I'm glad I'm not the only one who wonders." Just then, the plump, green-eyed cook enters and she turns to him. "Your bitch, the one who whelped, where is she?" Burgan Slope blinks, trying to understand through his sleepy haze, and starts, at length, to protest that the pups are too young to leave the mother. Doreen just rubs her temples and asks again, voice tighter. Resigned, the cook points her towards a corner of the hall where a nest of rushes and old rags has collected.

Lanar throws the remnants of the loaf onto the table, and walks over to the pile where the pups are. As he does so, he says, "I don't want to intrude on your family affairs, but I might have some insight into how your daughter feels." He nods at Slope, and interjects quickly, "Hello again, Burgan." Before continuing. "If you really want her back, I might act as intermediary. It's just a suggestion, nothing more."

Doreen follows Lanar over to the corner. A mutt, neither big nor dainty, lifts her head, pulls back her lips, and growls. "Will you call her off?" she says, and it is unclear whether she is speaking to Slope or her brother. Then, more directedly, she says, "What does she feel?"

Lanar Lomasa peers at the mutt, and crouches down to get a better look at dog, apparently unfazed. "I wouldn't know. We only spoke briefly." He looks up. "Why would Arturo lie to you?"

Doreen says impatiently, "He thinks he's doing her a favor by keeping me from her. Insight. You said you had some insight."

"/Might have/." Lanar says, insistently, looking back at the dog, which is still growling. "I don't know how much Mother made it clear, but we have not had an easy time together."

"What? I cannot follow so much at once--will you give me the insight that you might or might not have?" Doreen reaches a hand for the dog, who snaps at her. "Slope!" she squeals, backing off. "This dog probably has fleas, and so will her pups," she complains. "Lady Mikin's dog just whelped too. Pretty things, and far more fit to be taken to the table, which I'm quite sure Anys is going to try...but they're only a few days old, and surer to die on the way than these." She looks as though she's not paying much attention to what Lanar has to say.

"That's insight as in empathy." Lanar replies, tiredly, his head jerking back as the dog snaps. He tries putting a hand out for the dog to sniff. "I wouldn't know. I am partial to mutts. Hardier, smarter." He looks up, "In any case, I wouldn't risk alienating or aggravating her."

Master Slope advances to help, but the dog is already quietening herself, extending her black nose to sniff at Lanar. "I'd prefer clean and compact, but this will have to do," says Doreen. "Can you get her off of them?" From time to time, a pup squirms visibly beneath the dog, or lets out a small, piping cry. Some have open eyes; others doze fitfully.

"Perhaps that might be what Arturo was hinting at." Lanar proceeds to run his hand up the dog's snout and pet its head. "You might do better to let her blow off a little steam before coming back. How old is she now? Fifteen? Sixteen?"

Doreen Lomasa looks at Lanar queerly. "Blow off--what are you talking about? My daughter is not a pot. She is a girl. Thirteen."

"Thirteen." Lanar says, dropping his hand away from the bitch. "Well. How do you intend to go about making her stay? How do you think Mother feels about this, bearing in mind that she's living with her?"

Lanar hrms slowly, and bites his lower lip. "I'm not so sure you would want to get the pup away this soon." He says. "I don't think it would give Anys the right message if you handed her a pup, near death because of untimely removal from its mother, as a conciliatory gesture." He stands up and wipes his hand on his cloak. "Do you?" He adds. "And don't ask me about Mother. Your guess is as good as mine."

Doreen Lomasa glances back towards the doorway, thinking. "Perhaps Lady Mikin's dog...I could take one of those pups and put it to this one's teat, to keep it alive when she leaves the keep with her dog." She looks back to her brother. "She never mentions you in her letters."

Lanar Lomasa sniffs. "No." He says. "I presume she was sparing you the ugly details. Although quite how she could ever cast herself in a positive light if she were to relate goings on is beyond me. Anyhow: Anys. You're set on fetching her yourself? I might make a good intermediary. I have no allegiances, remember."

Doreen Lomasa blinks. "Intermediary? I haven't seen her for a month. There are enough people between us already--I have no wish to enlist another."

Lanar Lomasa nods. "So it's decided, is it? Tell me, how do you intend to keep her here, assuming you bring her back?"

Doreen Lomasa clucks her tongue and turns away from the dog, who sinks back down. "I'm not sure. Perhaps I will stay there a time. Oh, it's getting late! Are you coming?"

Lanar Lomasa shakes his head. "If there's no point, I shan't bother riding all the way back so soon. I need to finish setting myself up here, first. Speaking of which, which room may I use?"

Doreen Lomasa tugs on her cuffs and leans out to kiss Lanar quickly on the cheek, should he permit it. Then she is hurring for the door, passing Slope and Lanar both. "Ask the castellan, Master Rift. I think the third one down the hall from here, on the right, is free, but ask one of the chambermaids. I really must go now!"

Lanar Lomasa has a quizzical look on his face as she leans in to kiss, but allows her to do so, anyway. "Suit yourself. A mother's prerogative is a mother's prerogative." He says, shrugging.

He turns to watch her leave. As she reaches the door, he says. "It's good to see you again."

Return to Season 3 (2005)

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