(514-04-17) Oh That Market, Fair
Summary: Acwel and Heulwen bump into each other - quite literally - while running errands.
Date: 17 April 514
Related: None
acwel heulwen 

One of the best things to do after you are done with a long journey is to resupply. And while it is unknightly to bargain for the prices of things, Acwel simply goes from stall to stall, asking for the price and nodding when the answer is given. Granted, what his squire seems to be carrying are mostly food products — and ample amounts of wine. Eventually they stop at a blacksmith, where the knight of Woodford hands an extremely worn suit of chainmail over for the master at his craft to look over and finally do something about it. Now, however, it is time to wait, and so he drifts away after a quick exchange of words with the smith and his squire.

Without a doubt an ample number of people are resupplying, and what with the burgeoning spring it is time for many to move away from the insular mode of winter living. Amongst these people strides one Heulwen, brown hair floating free about her shoulders, chattering amicably with the female cousin at her side. Both ladies have covered baskets hanging from their forearms, swinging merrily in time with their steps as they proceed from one stall of necessities to another. Wen pauses at a booth bearing the pretty trifles and trinkets commonly admired by her sex, and she gestures with a graceless flick of her fingers for her companion to examine a particular brooch. Something is agreed upon - perhaps its comeliness or how it might suit one or the other quite well - but they do not linger long lest they be mistaken for serious customers.

Their steps bring them 'round toward the blacksmith, albeit merely by coincidence. They do not look as if they mean to stop there for any services either, but the offerings at a roadside establishment adjacent to the smithy are true to form: fabrics, threads, and other tailoring needs. "I am low on white," Heulwen announces to her cousin moments before turning toward the display. "Go get the rest, and meet me here in a little while, hmm?"

Since it is fortunate both the knight and the lady meet at this particular juncture in the market, Acwel waves off a wandering merchant trying to offer him 'exotic wares' that likely just came from some weaver in a street that is not too often frequented in Salisbury. Regardless, the dismissal is polite, maybe even pleasant, but his focus is elsewhere, likely a concern or another, and so it is no surprise that he almost stumbles into Heulwen, catching himself right before he does — but just barely. "Excuse my clumsiness, my lady," he remarks, taking a couple of steps back afterwards.

This crossing of paths may be pure coincidence, indeed. Acwel waves off a wandering merchant trying to offer him 'exotic wares' that likely just came from some weaver in a street that is not too often frequented in Salisbury. Regardless, the dismissal is polite, maybe even pleasant, but his focus is elsewhere, likely a concern or another, and so it is no surprise that he almost stumbles into Heulwen, catching himself right before he does — but just barely.

"Excuse me," he murmurs, taking a step back. Glancing to the lady, particularly her noble features and mode of dress, he tacks on at the end, "my Lady."

Heulwen's fingers drift over the various skeins of thread, and although she lingers on some of the more exotic colors, it is with a heavy sigh that she begins to haggle a bit for the cost of the basic white. It is only for repairs, after all, and who is going to care about the stitches in their unseen shifts? She is just half-turned from the booth, tucking the precious skein into her basket, when the knight stumbles into her - or nearly. "Oh!" she exclaims, holding out a hand as if to stave off a pack of wolves. Her fingers brush Acwel's arm as they both draw back simultaneously, comforted in the knowledge that neither has wound up splayed gracelessly in the dirt. And then she laughs boisterously and dusts her clean skirt with her right hand in an attempt to cover the awkwardness of the moment. "No harm done—my lord," she replies, surveying Acwel quickly from foot to head. Her gaze lingers on his face for a moment, struggling with her memory, but it fails her in the end. Her lips curve into a warm smile and she dips her head. "With such a crush of bodies going to market, it's a wonder we aren't all strewn in the dust dazed from such collisions."

The brush of her fingers against his arm draw Acwel's gaze quickly to focus on Heulwen's face, while also rather beautiful, draws his eyebrow up as he tries to put a name to it. His squire, in the meantime, is busy carrying many things in separate bags, forced to stand while he waits for the blacksmith to finish repairs on teh knight's suit of armor. He chuckles when she laughs, as a good laugh is a great way to defuse what could be a rather awkward situation involving going face-down in the mud, or apologizing strenuously for dirtying a noblewoman's pristine white dress. He smiles back, if a little muted while his own mind races to find her name, and he nods to her words in agreement. "The Eagle Market tends to be less crowded, but it also has less variety of wares. Besides, the blacksmith I frequent opens his craft here and not elsewhere. It pays, sometimes, to be loyal clientele." A pause, and he takes in a short breath as in to brace for a possible embarrassment and he introduces himself, "Sir Acwel de Woodford, at your service, my Lady." Quietly, he lifts a hand, palm up, to take her hand in it by way of courtly greeting.

A gust of afternoon wind breezes through the market, causing Heulwen's skirts to stir. Locks of untied hair flick into her face, and she reaches up to tuck them behind her ears. "Ah, of course! And I am here for some of the better spun thread, although I do wonder at the audacity of a man selling cloth to establish his foothold so near a forge - stray sparks and all. But I suppose it is relevant; they are all types of garments, more or less, hmm?" She smiles a second time, and when the hand is offered she reaches out to place her fingers atop Acwel's palm in response to said courtly greeting. His name, however, is what allows her features to brighten with pleased recognition. "Oh, Sir Acwel! I knew you were a familiar face in the crowd, my lord, though perhaps you may not remember me. Lady Heulwen de Dinton. My brother, Sir Kamron, made mention of your greatness at Exeter. I am grateful to the Lord for ensuring your safe return and his."

That gust has Acwel pull his cloak a little tighter about himself, averse to cold after Winter as he is. He does smile when Heulwen's untied hair flick into her face and she sweeps it behind her ears, nodding to her words, "Between you and I, I think it is a sort of mercantile trick. He sells the 'wasted' wares to the blacksmith for a price a little higher than they would fetch in the market and the smith cannot complain about it to anyone but the Earl, and nobody wants to bother his Lordship with matters that are frankly futile," he murmurs, conspiratorially, casting a glance toward said tailor. When she places her fingers atop his palm, he offers a bow as he presses his lips to her knuckles, lingering just a moment or two overlong before he gently lets her hand go, rough fingertips brushing against her palm in the process. "Ah, indeed! Lady Heulwen," his smile brightens a little when she mentions her brother and complimenting him, "truth be told, Sir Kamron was the real inspiration in our exploits. He rushed to defend a damsel in clear distress, risking great personal harm to himself for such. And I am grateful to the Lord for the safe return home, mine and that of all the entourage."

"Of course he did," Heulwen replies with a light laugh as her hand slips away. Her fingers close, pressing the tips into her palm for just a moment. Her basket slides down her forearm and she grasps the handle with both hands, holding it casually and letting it bump against her knees. "That sounds exactly like something my brother would do, but one could hardly fault him for it. I am only grateful that enough damsels deign to be in distress so that you gallant and honorable knights will have something to do to break up the monotony of making battle with each other." Although the words may sound nearly scornful, the tone of her voice is light and humorous and punctuated at the end with a little laugh.

"Are you preparing to head to court, then?" Wen inquires conversationally, casting a glance over Acwel's shoulder toward his squire lingering boredly about the smithy. She offers the squire an apologetic smile and then turns her attention back to the knight before her.

The knight reaches up to push a rogue strand of his hair away from his face as he talks to Heulwen, his smile flashing just a little as she laughs again, touching his fingertips to his palm before they rest on the scabbard of his sword. Not a threatening gesture, but rather an idle soldier's habit. "I do not fault him for it at all. Of course, at a point it was himself and I fighting three Picts to one each, until Lady Arian rode in and they thought a woman was an easier target, so two of those six went to fight her. The other part of the trip was rather peaceful compared to our arrival in stranger lands, I suppose, but your brother probably already told you that." He laughs when she conveys her gratitude that enough damsels deign to be in distress, "The best fights are on behalf of a cause, whether that's your liege's or a great love. The chroniclers say the latter is what matters most — to fight on behalf of your love, that is, as proof and impetus for your fighting. What do you think, my Lady?"

"Ah, yes, soon, I think. I have some errands to finish, and then I will head in to report to the Earl myself. I expect I will be late, though. My squire," he glances over his shoulder, following her look, "has quite a few errands to run for me."

"My brother did mention that most of the journey was peaceful, and for that too I am grateful," Heulwen murmurs in response, glancing away for a moment in an attempt to locate her cousin. The bustle of people tending to work and shopping, however, is a confusing miasma of bodies; no truly recognizable face among the many. She squints, scans about herself once more, and then returns her attention to Acwel in time to catch word of his sentiments on fighting and his inquiry as to her opinion. "I think," she replies slowly, "that whatsoever a knight chooses as fuel for his will to live is a worthy cause. A lady might find it the grandest of romantic compliments to her person that she be the sole impetus, but I myself would not be displeased should my love choose any reason at all to survive. That he should come home to me hale and whole is the greatest gift of all."

She allows this to sink in for a moment before putting another query to the knight. "Are you participating in the tournament, Sir Acwel?"

And while Heulwen tries to locate her cousin, the knight of Woodford makes sure his squire isn't in any trouble of carrying the rather heavy things he told him to. That there is a mass of people, and their transit makes for a confusing sight when trying to pinpoint someone is truly a challenge. Even a person who is stationary. But eventually his squire does receive the suit of chainmail, now reinforced with some extra links to make up for those that were broken in battle and he approaches Acwel with the resulting bag. A knight's foremost priority is to look after his own armory, after all.

As such, the knight holds the strap of the bag on one hand, weighing it against his hand for a moment. He listens to Heulwen, nodding to her reply once and smiling at the end, "That is selfless and modest of you, I appreciate the sentiment very much," he lets her know, contemplating her query after her pause, "I… am not sure. Perhaps at the Grand Melee, I will. But if the Earl would prefer me to fight in Lonazep against the Saxons, I see honor in that as well. I shall consult him. Perhaps I ought to carry a Lady's favor with me, for good luck, either way."

After all, as brave and determined he is, there is that pesky old Woodford curse.

Heulwen watches as the squire approaches with the repaired mail, and she assembles her face into a mask of polite cordiality in the presence of a third person to their party. "Modestly is comely in a lady, is it not?" she retorts playfully, albeit in a rehtorical manner, and so quickly latches on to the discussion of the upcoming tournament. She lifts an eyebrow at the mention of foregoing tournament events in favor of true combat, but the polite curiosity dissolves into something approaching pleased amusement. Indeed, a touch of pink rises up into her cheeks, and she must glance away for a moment to hide; blessedly, her hair is blown into her face once more to obscure her features.

By the time she has tamed her wayward locks, Wen is once again pleasant, polite, civil, cordial - all of the somewhat boring words that brook no approaching scandal. Instead, she laughs quietly and begins to dig in her hip pouch for something. A silent moment later, she fetches forth a stretch of dark blue cloth embroidered in white with a fair hand depicting a trailing rose vine. Some mark of her House is apparent - a less detailed patch of yellow in one corner, but no less recognizable despite. "I should not want you riding to your glory without a Lady's favor, Sir Acwel," she intones grandly, holding the fluttering fabric out to him ceremoniously. "For good luck, and for your protection."

"As it is in a knight, one of the seven virtues," here, perhaps, the Woodford agrees with the Lady's playful note in a more general fashion. Acwel dismisses his knight to fetch their horses, which allows them to speak with more liberty to each other. As much as a conversation in public affords them, at any rate. That smile of his grows a little brighter when her expression turns into pleased amusement and she looks away, apparently keen on observing these things. Quietly, he keeps his gaze upon her, lowering it just slightly to afford the Lady her discretion.

He looks up when she turns back to him with her hair tamed, lifting his chin and then looking to her hand as she fetches a cloth. His expression betrays some surprise - lifted eyebrows, a pleased, if not entirely cocksure smile, as she hands it to him. Reaching out to take it, his hand brushes against hers as he meets her gaze, the knight quick to tie the cloth to the pommel of his sword securely, keeping it from floating in the wind. "My Lady, you concede me a great honor," he murmurs, solemn, pleased. "I shall carry your favor, whether it is in battle or in tourney, confident of my success for it."

It is the merest of coincidences, to be sure, that during this momentous exchange of favor Heulwen's cousin has returned from the rest of her shopping. The young girl, a similar brunette but with features that clearly denote her mother of separate lineage, pauses somewhat behind and beside Wen; she is close enough for her presence to be noted, but far enough to maintain some discretion. For her part, Wen seems almost loathe to withdraw her hand even after Acwel accepts the favor. Her fingers curl up slowly and she finally lowers her arm; that same hand seeks out the handle of her basket, and the roughness beneath her knuckles seems to break her out of a reverie.

Clearing her throat, Wen hikes the basket up onto her forearm in the most businesslike of manners; perhaps that fluttering fold of fabric was bittersweet, indeed, to signal the end of their brief tete-a-tete. "I must apologize, Sir Acwel, for having kept you from your errands. Please extend my apologies to your squire for making him loiter about with his burdens overlong. I'm afraid that as our own have been addressed, I must return home." She glances over her shoulder, smiling briefly at her cousin as if to say she'll be along in a moment, and then turns back to the knight one last time. "I hesitate to say if I shall make it to court, but if I do, I shall look for your banner during the tournament. God go with you, Sir Acwel." She completes her farewell with a deep and graceful curtsey, eyes trained downward toward his boots in sudden modesty.

"My Lady Heulwen, if there is anyone who should excuse themselves for keeping one from their errands is me," Acwel states, dipping his chin slightly to Heulwen, a smile threatening to curl at the corners of his lips again as he looks to her, noticing her hesitation to withdraw her hand does make his smile flash a little brighter, earnestly so. Then her finally does, and he angles his head courteously, like a lord to a lady, rather than a knightly salute as he would with his fellow Sirs.

"I am sure my squire feels no inconvenience for it at all, Lady Heulwen. He understands, as I did, that the more work he does, the more diligent a knight he will be and the less his enemies will surprise him." Then the squire approaches again, with the horses, and he murmurs, "Oh… Yes, that is the case for myself as well," he replies, as she says her goodbyes, a little uncertain for a moment, perhaps a bit at a loss for words. "God bless, Lady Heulwen," he nods deeply again, his eyes seeking hers in that moment before he turns, to mount his horse while the squire climbs his with some difficulty due to the weight. And off they go.

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