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Village in the Valley

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A Friend Re-Met [Jul. 24th, 2004|08:13 pm]
Village in the Valley
Backstory behind a series of lj-cuts:
The sun is beating down on the village in this early afternoon, though Westen pays it little mind. He's done his chores, and as long as he's back to the farm by nightfall, the rest of the day is his. And he certainly has plans to use it, as shown by his grin that just won't fade, even as he makes his way through the mid-afternoon throngs of people trading and selling and buying. He has respect for those housewives who have to buy their food from the market-- it seems like a rough place. Some of their husbands could use a 'real job,' though he has respect for blacksmiths -- they do real work.

All thoughts of the workings of society leave the boy's mind as he spies a special lady down the street. His grin grows fonder and his steps quicker as he hastens to meet her. Her, the one with the hair that's glowing gold in the sun, and the cheeks so fair they're already flushed from the heat. Her, with the shy demeanor and slim figure that make her seem so delicate next to the other women here. Her. It's her. The one with green eyes that shine like emeralds -- Hey, that's pretty good, he thinks, so he makes a note of that thought. He looks forward to seeing her... talking with her. Hearing her voice pour lightly from those ruby lips.

Westen sticks a hand inside of his cloak, bringing out a napkin that wraps something he'd picked for any of the special women he'd hoped to see today. It isn't often he has enough, but today is a good day, because he has the most delicious and flaky pastry he could find. He approaches this particular girl as she's looking at a display of fruits, and makes his entrance.

"There are a thousand wonders to see in the marketplace, but you, my dear -- you shine above them all." He grins at her, proud of himself for that one. She blinks in suprise, turning those green eyes toward him in shock and then amusement. She pushes her loose hair back from her face and over her shoulder, where it spills down over her simple brown dress. "Well, good afternoon. Out picking up women again, Westen?"

Westen in taken aback, and quite unable to come up with a quick reply to that one. Um, wha--? This was supposed to be going *well.* He blinks as he tries to think up a reply -- Aha! He puts on a suave smile, leaning forward a little. "I'm out to pick up a lady's heart. A *certain* lady." He's got her this time. If she denies that he's after her, she's saying she's not a lady -- and what girl would do that?

Amalric is meanwhile entering that same marketplace not too far behind Westen. This town is completely new to him, it is, and as such his cloak is drawn over most of his body, its hood covering his head. While he's intrigued by the display of goods on all sides, he has seen the like before, and he isn't comfortable here. What he really wants right now is some sort of hub, some place he can call an outpost, somewhere he can return if things get to be a bit much... and nothing of that sort is springing up, despite the generally friendly attitude of everyone around him.

Until he spots Westen, that is. Now, there is a welcome soul... He immediately heads in that young man's direction, hastening his pace and trying to catch Westen's attention.

Drat it, quit walking away from me... Amalric follows Westen as he weaves his way through the crowd, barely noticing the young girl until he is almost upon them. He blinks, then holds back a quiet laugh as the girl causes Westen to fumble his spicy introduction, and he throws back his hood casually, aiming to help break the ice a little more smoothly, with any luck.

"Hello, Westen. This a friend of yours?" He gives the lady a polite nod.

Said lady looks to Westen expectantly. "Well? Aren't you going to introduce us?" Westen gives the answer she had been expecting as he fumbles around trying to remember her name. She sighs quietly, looking up to Amalric in wry amusement. "Apparently not. My name is Malena. I wouldn't say Westen and I were friends, persay, just that I'm the lucky girl he spotted first today." Westen blinks, and is genuinely hurt and confused as he tries to figure out how he gave that impression. He looks over to Malena... she *is* such a pretty girl, and when she's not showing revulsion and annoyance, she's rather nice to be around. But- What to say now that wouldn't seem as if he's sticking his foot in it?

He runs a hand through his hair, giving a somewhat embarrassed grin. "Sorry, Malena, we hadn't really been introduced. I thought we could get to know each other better, that's all." He glances to Amalric, looking as if he really doesn't know what to do with the situation now, but he doesn't want to leave a friend out in the cold -- and it gives him something to get his mind off of things, so he focuses on Amalric, grinning again. "Look at you, back here in town. How are things going finding a place?"

Amalric gives a polite smile and bows to this lovely lady that Westen just happens to know. "A pleasure, Malena. I'm known as Amalric, or just Amal to friendly folk."

He turns that smile to Westen, a bit more bemused now that he sees the hole the other young man has dug for himself, and only feeling a little bad for interrupting. He lets Westen respond, at least, but then looks quickly around at the inquiry. It's obvious he isn't quite comfortable here, and Westen can probably guess why, based on the question he asked.

"Pretty terrible, I'd say, but I've only been in town a couple hours. First time, even. Either of you know a place I could call home while I'm here?"

Malena smiles back to Amalric, pointedly ignoring Westen. "Well met, Amalric. There's a inn nearby that's right good for resting at. You probably saw it on your way into town."

Westen opens his mouth to speak, then simply closes it again. Sheesh, how did he manage to get this girl so riled up? He doesn't think for too long on it, wanting to stay involved in the conversation. "Yeah, the inn's pretty good. We can show you where it is, if you'd like." He says 'we' without thinking, but realizes what he's said shortly thereafter, turning his blue eyes to Malena to see if she's going to get even more upset.

Malena smiles at Westen charmingly, then grins to Amalric, wrapping her arm around his. "Of course we could do that... we'd be delighted, Amalric. So tell me... if you haven't been here before, how did you come here?" Westen rolls his eyes at Malena, but he can't help but grin. Oh boy, now she's playing games with him... he always *did* like playing games...

Amalric blinks, looking down at that arm, then at Malena, then over at Westen, then back at Malena, all in the span of about a second. This is ... unusual, it is. He can tell somehow that it's to poke fun at Westen, though, so tries to go along with it as best he can. He gives Malena a quiet smile in return, reaching back with his other hand to extract his 'tail of hair from the cloak... much better.

"I'm actually out exploring the area for my clan... and Westen here said this might be a great place to start." He never even considers hiding what he is; if someone has issue with it, they can take it up with him. That jeweled glove on his right hand is highly visible, by the way, and the aquamarine probably glints in the sunlight.

Malena seems to pay very close attention to what Amalric says, but not in a way that she would pick him apart... no, much the opposite. She smiles sympathetically to him, and brushes her own hair back over her shoulder again. "Your clan? Are you a tribal?" Westen laughs, which earns him a dirty look from Malena. He just couldn't help it, due to her poor acting and picturing Amalric as a tribal savage dressed in a loin cloth or something... that's just rich.

After a few seconds of that look, he sobers up, though his grin stays around. "Nah, Amalric could never be a tribal man... look at how civilized he is. Even more than me." Malena doesn't drop the look, muttering under her breath, "You can say that again." But she soon remembers that such behavior isn't exactly becoming, and that she has a guest that she can make Westen jealous with, so she smiles winningly to Amalric -- just before spying that adornment on his hand, eyes widening a little as she leans closer to it to take a look, her hair just brushing Amalric's arm.

"Oh wow... where did you get that? From where you live?"

Amalric grins, letting the tribal comment go and focusing on Malena's question. Now, this he knows it's difficult for people to grasp; he had a hard enough time describing it to Westen. He lifts his hand, letting Malena get a better look, even though she leaned down like that. He doesn't seem to mind the hair brushing his arm, at this point.

"You like it? It's something special among our people; something we gain when we're young and pass a certain test. Stays with us all our lives after that." ... and if she wants more details, he'll gladly provide.

"You'd better watch out, Amalric," Westen teasingly warns, glancing to Malena with twinkling eyes to make sure she catches his jibe at her. "You know women and jewelry." Malena scowls at Westen lightly, then decides to ignore him again, looking up to Amalric apologetically for her outburst, face almost cherubic... she's young enough that she hasn't quite lost the youthful filling out of her facial features. Especially when she's in wonder about something such as now. She indicates places her other hand under Amalric's to help him keep it lifted as she peers closer. "Wow... what kind of test do you pass to gain something like this?"

Westen rolls his eyes as another good line goes wasted. He makes a note to himself, though -- jewels get more notice than silver. Westen is reminded of his own signet ring, and brings up that hand to rub the ring section of his fingers against his tunic. He's a little left out, but he understands being facinated with someone new. And Amalric's a good guy, too. He just hopes that Amalric can tell Malena isn't seriously interested in him... well, in that sort of way.

Amalric tilts his head, almost hoping she wouldn't ask that, yet being prepared just in case she did. "It's kind of like a rite of passage, except a lot younger than happens here... right?" He glances to Westen for confirmation, just because he's the only one Amal has spoken with about this on this world. "The latest it usually happens is around eight years old."

To be honest, he really doesn't think Malena is interested at all; he has far too many other things on his mind right now. Westen can rest easy on that one.

Malena isn't too concerned about that, and shrugs a little. "s'Better than getting nothing for a test. I think we were heading to the inn, were we not?" She straightens up and gives Amalric a smile, almost wishing the guy would play along a little more. She'd be cuddled up with most of the guys she'd try this with by now... sigh. Too bad the one she really wants is kind of a jerk. She glances over to Westen, who tilts his head and arcs a brow.

"Sounds about right. I bet they'll get you set right up, Amalric." Westen grins, a mischevious type grin that lights up his eyes. "Then maybe we can go find a drink after you're settled and catch up, huh?" He's not excluding Malena -- on purpose, anyway. He claps his hands lightly and walks in the direction of the inn, tugging at his cloak. "Pretty hot one, today." But he's a survivor -- he won't take the cloak off until they reach the inn.

Amalric again smiles back at Malena, taking her arm a little less uncomfortably this time, unless she lets go. He has no reason to believe this doesn't happen ever day, really; he hasn't been exposed to this culture for more than a few weeks, and this is only the second town he's seen outside their own near the mountains.

"Yes, and many thanks." And another glance to Westen at his side comment. "Hadn't noticed the heat, really... but it'll be good to get inside for a while, aye." Catching up sounds good to him, and he doesn't see a reason to send Malena away.

Malena walks with Amalric, drawing slightly closer to him as he seems to have relaxed. She can't help but tease Westen a little though, even if her annoyance toward the man has cooled. "Are you buying this time, Westen?" She looks toward him with sparkling eyes, knowing that he doesn't like to part with his money too often. He surprises her, however, and it shows in the expression on her face.

"Sure thing," Westen replies, grinning to them both. "That's what friends are for, right?" He reaches into a coin purse he has tied to his belt, fingers fondling the coins to recognize what they are by touch. Yeah, that'll work. He has enough for this, and it's about time he bought Amalric a drink. A good stiff drink... Westen grins a bit more mischeviously as he tries to think of the strongest and possibly nastiest drink the town has to offer...

Amalric smiles and almost chuckles with Westen and his offer to buy. "Long as I can pick? Lots of, ah, different things around here, like you were telling me last week." And even though he's mostly immune, he'd rather not take a swig of something and have to spit it back out, you know?

He reaches up and unties the cloak, shrugging it off to reveal himself a medium build with no real outstanding features, other than the black 'tail hanging down his back, which contains pretty much every hair on his head. It hits him just at the bottom of his shoulder blades and is tied at the base of his neck, leaving the rest to neatly taper from the top of his head to that point. Otherwise, he's wearing a white long-sleeve tie-up tunic, leather breeches, and brown boots.

The only other thing of note is the blade across his back. Its hilt is rather ornate, with another aquamarine at the cross-piece, which is made of a tawny, yet rare-looking metal. The blade itself has a silver-blue sheen to it and is about the length of a long-sword, though of a unique style. Not something one would see every day.

Westen grins to Amalric, taking a bite out of that pastry, since he's certainly waited long enough for Malena to come around. He tries to convey that to her, too, but there's a bit too much of a twinkle in his eye as he thinks about Amalric's drink. "Now why wuff you need to pisk? You doen know nuffin about drinks here, do ya?" He finally swallows that bite he talked though, grinning over to Amalric. "You're not scared... are ya?" Westen knows full well the challenge he places on Amalric there, as it's a challenge he'd place on nearly any of his friends. Another bite, and this time he waits until after he chews to speak.

"Besides... I can't imagine the look on people's faces if you didn't know what to order... giving a listing isn't exactly normal around here, y'know?" This time, he wasn't really teasing. It *would* be odd to ask what they had instead of ordering... in this part of the world, the drinks are pretty standard, and everyone knows which drinks only the tough guys will touch. One of which is on Westen's mind as a fairly decent choice for his little prank... heeheehee.

Malena rolls her eyes, disgusted by Westen's little chewing trick, and more than a little miffed that he ate *her* pastry... well, what *would* have been her pastry, if he weren't such a womanizing creep. She glares at him, eyes narrowing, and suddenly, she doesn't look so sweet and innocent anymore. An edge sneaks into her voice, and it cools by several dozen degrees. "Perhaps Amalric would be *safer* if I helped him pick a drink, hmm?"

Amalric tilts his head, easy to pick out that he's noticed the little challenge in Westen's voice. His face is hard to read as he sizes that up, not smiling, but not frowning either. Even if he knows Westen isn't calling him a coward -- not in the true sense, anyway -- he's still more serious than he was before.

"Scared, Westen? If you have something specific in mind..." He's old enough, he's had his first drink, he's already passed out for a few hours because of it ... *ahem*. Okay, that wasn't the most pleasant experience in the world, but he knows it won't happen again. That's the way it is with his race; one knocks you out and the rest have next to no effect. Ever again, even.

He's distracted by Malena's reaction, though, and he catches enough of it to know that Westen just made a serious blunder. Never mind that he has little clue what it was, or that he probably thinks that just speaking with your mouth full is a capital offense, based on the girl's change in tone. Oooh, Westen, how're you gonna work your way out of this one? That thought is enough to lighten his mood again.

From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 06:48 pm (UTC)
Westen can tell that between the two of them, he's in serious trouble now. He grows a little more serious himself. "Malena, Amalric is an old friend of mine. I'd never think of hurting him." That should suffice as an explanation for her, he thinks, and he moves on to the more serious issue with both words and a troubled blue-eyed gaze -- Amalric. Maybe he really offended him, but... in order to save face... Westen grins a little, it twisting only one side of his mouth up.

"Yeah, I have something in mind. Surprised me that you might not be interested, is all." Malena rolls her eyes at his comment. Oh, please... he's acting like a little kid about to play some immature trick. Not that she expected much more from this jerk. She tosses her hair over her shoulder in annoyance, both at its weight and that of her mixed feelings for the blond oaf over there.
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 06:58 pm (UTC)
Amalric smiles back to Westen, being nice in the presence of a lady and not ribbing him. He gives Malena's arm a light little tug and grins at her; don't mind him, he's just trying to keep from burying himself alive. I'll give him a little slack if you will.

"Not up for it? But of course I am, my friend. Pick away, and maybe then I'll start getting the hang of what's around here a little more." His tone is friendly, but there's a subtle acceptance of Westen's challenge in there, along with amusement of the shock Westen may get that the drink won't affect him much. Come on, boy...
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From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 07:05 pm (UTC)
Malena glances to Amalric with reluctant green eyes, expression filled with touches of... regret? She nods slightly and quickly tears her gaze away while she rewraps her arms around his.

Westen rips off another hunk of pastry and gives a few chews before he grins and responds. "Now daff's more liesh it!" He appears cheerful again, jauntily working his way around the two through the crowd and taking the lead. He swallows before commenting, "Not far now!"
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 07:09 pm (UTC)
Amalric notes the expression on Malena's face and just about cringes. It's times like these that he wishes he could talk to Westen like he could any one of his own people... It doesn't happen often, but occasionally Westen's teasing really hits someone, and it looks like this time is one of those.

He swallows it for now, though, just trying to be comforting as he can to Malena as they head toward wherever Westen is leading them. "Good... would you mind if we found a pastry for the lady first, though? Would you like one, Malena?"

... okay, so maybe not *entirely* swallowing it. He may regret that, but gotta at least try.
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From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 07:17 pm (UTC)
Westen's enthusiasm dies out with the sweet taste in his mouth. He glances back to Amalric, only showing a little of the aftermath of an emotional slap. "Uhh, no, I wouldn-"

Malena shakes her head fiercely, lifting her chin after in stubborn defiance. "Thank you, but I would not like a pastry at this time." She refuses to allow herself the pleasure of stooping before the man she loathes and loves all at once, particularly after he's hurt her. Malena dislikes being seen as vulnerable and just another one of the girls in town -- she is more than that, at least to herself. A quiet dis-ease in her heart is beginning to convince her that Westen may never be able to discover that fact.

Westen blinks in surprise, at a loss for words.
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 07:22 pm (UTC)
Amalric nods quietly to Malena's response, getting a feel for how this lady reacts to things. A bit of pride in her, never a bad thing in his opinion. He can't think of a response to her decline that wouldn't stab at Westen even more, so he somewhat awkwardly says, "Okay."

He subtlely shoots Westen an apologetic look. Didn't mean it to turn into that... and now he's looking for a way to brighten the mood again.
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From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 07:31 pm (UTC)
Westen shrugs one shoulder to Amalric, knowing his friend didn't mean any harm. He looks to the half-eaten pastry in his burly hand. He also knows better than to offer the pastry to a woman who obviously doesn't want any. Besides, it'd probably taste no better to her than to him. He glances around the crowd for a moment to meet the right person's eyes before he subtly holding the pastry out a couple of inches and calls a kid over with a few curls of a finger.

"Who needs pastry anyway, right? Gotta watch my girlish figure and all." He shoos the kid off with a couple of flicks of a hand, after a wink and finger over his mouth to indicate that this will be their secret.

Malena doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at this attempt to save face, and can not tell if the face he is saving is hers or his own. She settles on a lightly forced chuckle, her mood easing just a little at Westen's foolery.
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 07:35 pm (UTC)
Amalric can't help but laugh at Westen's comment, though he does notice his little slide of the pastry to the kid. That just serves to make it more humorous, though. Oh, good recovery, Westen... but he can't resist making it a little more fun.

"Girlish figure, eh, Westen? Is there something you should be telling us, here?" Making aaaabsolutely no indication of what that something is.
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From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 07:40 pm (UTC)
Malena giggles, hands gripping Amalric's arms a little more warmly instead of keeping their looser hold of moments before. "Oh please, Westen, do tell. I'm sure all the girls would be interested to know." Her eyes twinkle in amusement, glad not to be underneath *his* teasing any longer. Turnabout is fair play, and when not taken too far it can be rather sweet.

Westen looks down at his body in a quick assessment. Toned muscles, very little fat -- "Just that I am definitely no competition for the beauties in this town."
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 07:46 pm (UTC)
Amalric laughs out loud, mood very much improved now. How quickly Westen can turn things around, given the chance... "I'd be very concerned for you if you were, Westen. I'd have to put you on one of my clan's workout plans..." He winks a little, having shared just a few of the training rituals with Westen by now, no doubt. He does notice Malena's grip changing, but he's a mite distracted at the moment to react much.
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From: westen_malin
2004-07-24 07:52 pm (UTC)
Westen visibly pales, something Amalric would know he can do on command. "Anything but that! That's too much work for someone like me." He grins his irresponsible eighteen-year old grin, color returning to his face. Westen may be one of the better able humans to handle something of the sort, but his own regimen is quite enough for him.

Malena looks up to Amalric curiously. "Workout plans?" She leaves that for him to fill in as much or as little detail as he wants, seeing as he was a little evasive earlier about his people and their rituals.
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From: amalric
2004-07-24 07:57 pm (UTC)
Amalric blinks, looking to Malena again. "Oh... well, when someone becomes old enough and is skilled enough to earn something like my glove, here, their reward is not only the equipment or jewelry, but often much greater challenges. Most skilled boys train heavily with the adults at least a few hours per day, until they're given a specific task or job." That's ... about as simple as he can put it, really. He can offer more, since that doesn't speak of dragonry as much as his glove did, but only if she seems interested.
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