Ser Chrisfer and Lancyn

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment

Nasty Cold White Stuff

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It was rather a pity, Lance thought, that they couldn't have stayed here for Midwinter. Joel and Cally were delightful company, and very willing to invite him and Chrisfer to share the midwinter feast. Lancyn would have been most happy to sit and listen to Joel tell more stories, and to learn lewd songs, and to play horse for one of the twins and race the Chrisfer-horse through every room in the house.

But, knights had duties, and couldn't loaf about for a sennight with nothing to do. So Ser Chris had applied for another quest.

"Hmm, one here might suit you," the towermaster pulled a scrolled paper from the array in the Assignment Room. "Bit of travel involved, nothing you can't take in your stride, of course. Seems there's been some difficulty on one of the northern demesnes, something about counterfeit coinage. Not very clear what the actual problem is," Ser Jevenet squinted disapprovingly at his paper, "but see what you can do, hmm?"

Ser Chrisfer took the paper, and glanced at the details.

"Be cold, that far north," Ser Jevenet observed. "Still, I expect you'll find somewhere cosy to stay, over Midwinter."

Ser Chris looked up, and grinned suddenly. "Thanks, Jev."

"Mind your poor tender squire's southerner hide," the towermaster advised. "He doesn't know what snow is."

Lancyn hid his indignation, successfully, he thought. Doesn't know what snow is, indeed! There was plenty of snow here, powdering the world like confectioner's sugar. Frost, too, that crisped the morning dew in the grass and turned spiderwebs into jewellery. Hmm. Lancyn was trying out augmented modes of expression this week. Ser Chrisfer made him read poetry, when they stayed in a tower, as an antidote to the dry, factual style of the reports they had to write, and he was doing his best to see the world as a poet would see it, but it was rather trying.

In all honesty, Lancyn didn't think he was meant for a poet. Ser Chrisfer, for all his cynical pragmatism, was much better at that kind of thinking. And Lancyn secretly quite liked writing quest reports, now he was tolerably fluent with a pen and had a reasonable idea how to proceed. Ser Chrisfer, of course, protested loudly at the incursion into his valuable off-duty drinking time that report-writing represented, and grumbled at the end of every sentence as a matter of honour. It took him twice as long to complete the reports that way, but Lancyn thought Ser Chris probably needed to vent his wrath aloud so that he could write in a suitably dry and factual style.

Anyway, snow. Yes. He knew about snow. If there was to be more of it where they were going, he'd be sure to pick up an extra blanket.

* * *

Lancyn said an affectionate goodbye to Brown, who was now practically barrel-shaped. The stablemaster shook his head when he heard where their quest would take them, and said she would almost certainly drop her foal before they returned. This was a pity. Lancyn had hoped to witness the event.

But, a quest was a quest, and he had his own sword now, was extremely conscious of its exquisite weight against his hip. He'd only used it in drill, so far, but perhaps on this quest... Not that he was anywhere near a swordsman yet, Lancyn knew that, but he hoped he wouldn't be a liability, in a fight.

* * *

Lancyn had never been so cold in his life.

They'd come a very long way north in three days, riding through the meagre hours of daylight, stopping to camp only when dusk was upon them, and rising to break fast before it was truly light. And now, Ser Jevenet's words about the snow made sense to Lancyn, for there was snow in plenty here, snow up to the knees of the weary horses, once they left the mostly-cleared roads. When he could stop his teeth from chattering, he might ask Ser Chris how the roads were kept free of snow, but for the moment, he just clenched his jaw and applied himself to the horses. Normally Ser Chris would attend to Horse himself, but tonight he was hurrying to get a fire started and the portable shelters for men and beasts set up. The pack-animal, Cropper, was Lancyn's responsibility anyway.

The three beasts safely fed, blanketed and stowed in their hide, it was time to eat. The exhausted and well-nigh frozen squire stumbled to the fire and accepted a hot bowl of stew with enormous gratitude. He cupped his hands round the bowl and breathed the fragrant steam until his fingers were warmed enough to use the spoon.

Afterwards he crawled into the shelter Ser Chris had slung for the two of them, wrapped himself in his two blankets, and tried to be comfortable. It wasn't possible. In the brief moments while he'd checked the horses and Ser Chris had banked the fire, the cold had penetrated deep beneath his skin and he felt no warmer than before. Colder, even, now that the sun was completely gone.

"Lans?" Ser Chris had slithered in alongside Lancyn and was settling himself.


"Are you all right? I thought you'd be asleep right away, after the day we just had."

"Um. Bit cold," Lancyn muttered, trying not to let his teeth chatter.

There was a groan from his knight. "All right, come here." And Ser Chrisfer rolled him ruthlessly out of his huddle of blankets, settled him again and spread the blankets—four, now—over both of them. Warm body against his back, and that felt better, but... shamelessly, Lancyn squirmed round and tucked himself firmly against his knight, nestling into Chris's neck. Much better.

"Stars above, kid, your nose is froze!" Chris protested, but he wrapped his arms round Lancyn anyway. "Gimme your hands. Oh, sweet grief, two little icicles." Ser Chris wriggled and tugged, and a moment later Lancyn's hands were planted against the blissfully warm skin of his knight's midriff. Lancyn purred contentedly, even as Chris squeaked and swore. "Better?"

"Mm," said the squire, and slept.


On to the next story: Ribbons


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