(1311-08-20) Strangers in a Foreign Land
Summary: Elin meets Tancred, and conversation is had, about amber, giants and husbands-to-be.
RL Date: 20+23/08/2019
Related: None, directly.
elin tancred 

Place des Mains — City of Marsilikos

Even if usually referred to as Place des Mains, the full name of this square is actually Place des Mains d'Eisheth, and it has earned it for a reason. According to legend, Eisheth herself once descended from the heavens to save an ancestor of House Mereliot, who had collapsed right here in this spot, shaking with a heavy fever. When Eisheth placed her hands upon the lady's shoulder and forehead, a light and warmth emanated from them that pulled the disease out of the Mereliot's system, and she came to, refreshed and as healthy as she had ever been. To honor this tale, a 12 feet tall statue has been erected in the center of the square, a depiction of the patron of Eisande, clad in wide flowing garments, with her hands outstretched to dispense her blessing and to apply her powers of healing. Both the statue and the pedestal she stands upon are of white marble, the pinnacle oeuvre of a local master stone mason who managed the rare feat to have features of d'Angeline beauty chiselled with striking realism, high detail there in delicate fingers and the fall of the garment. %r%rFour avenues of cobble stone are crossing here: The road to the northeast leads away towards the Noble District, another road heads southeastwards, winding higher upon the rising terrain towards the Dome of the Lady; a third in northwestern direction leads towards the town square with the harbor beyond, and a fourth can be used to reach the Night Court of Marsilikos, through the impressive red sand stone archway that looms to the south.

Oh these wonderful warm summer mornings. Elin Asbjornsdottir may not be quite used to them. She has gone for a stroll in the city, clad in the more practical travelling attire of shirt, leggings and riding skirts. There may be the fine work in the chain of silver she wears about her neck, and the amber pendant indicating that she is not just another foreign commoner. Her blonde hair spills about her upper back and shoulders, untamed as is the wide grin that adorns her face. Her attention is on the fine houses, the elegant people emerging from the noble district and the road that leads to the palace. In her wake trails a guard, as foreign as she by his looks. They are both blonde, features fine but not as finely chiselled as those of the average d'Angeline. She wears a dagger at her belt, and her gait gives away confidence and pride and a certain lack of fear. She looks a bit amused but intrigued as well. On her way, she suddenly pauses, gaze dropping to an apple that has rolled before her feet. An apple, that probably has been dropped by a little commoner girl, who was probably headed towards the Grand Plaza.

This morning, Tancred has been granted reprieve from house chores and riding lessons. He wears his mail coat and stout, comfortably-tailored work clothes, with his helm tucked underneath an arm and a blunted spear carried with him on his way to the Citadel to find a guardsman or three willing to spar with him - and not 'accidentally' use a sharp while doing so. Of course, he stands out just as much, being of obvious Skaldi stock; he didn't even have the luck to be particularly fine-featured like Elin and company! Hard to ignore an enormous Skaldi lug, half-removed from barbarian roots, walking through the streets of enemy country. But he moves with familiarity, like it's home. As it happens, his passage coincides with the dignitary. He notices the apple first, sparing a thought for wasted food, and then comes to notice the duo. He stops, stares, tilts his head. "Good morning," he rumbles in accented d'Angeline.

Elin moves to kneel as she picks up the apple, in one fluid motion. Not minding the bother. She lifts her gaze to regard the girl and holds the apple out to her. "Here you are. I think you've lost this," she tells the child in her accented d'Angeline. Moving to stand then, as a shadow falls over her frame, and she smiles up into Tancred's face. There is a soft creak of leather and a clink of steel, as her guard appears at her side, his hand moving to the pommel of his sword, resting there, but not coincidentally.

"Good morning," Elin returns the greeting, tilting her head as well as if to mimick his motion. "You don't look like you'r from these parts." She grins a little and gives the guard a slight shake of the head.

"You should tell her to wash the apple." Tancred doesn't do it himself; the girl's likely out of range for anything but a shout, anyway. His bright blues track her passage, then flick back down to Elin after sizing up her guard. (He has the advantage, he reckons, even without a helmet on.) "I am not. You are not, either. We are not so different, though they ought like you better." He sets the butt of his practice spear on his boot. "What is your name, yours and your father's?" He knows at least that much, if he'd guessed right.

"She looks like she'd know that.", Elin counters, looking after her as the girl runs off, apple held firmly and protectively in her hand. The blonde woman meanwhile lifts her chin and meets Tancred's inquiring stare, and she doesn't seem to be troubled by it at all. "I am not," she confirms with a smile. "Not from these parts. I am Elin, daughter of Asbjorn, who is the Jarl of Kalmar up in Gotland where I hail from. What is it they call you? Giant?", Elin teases lightly. She doesn't bother to introduce her guard, whose features are after all not as fine as hers.

They don't hire bodyguards for their looks, after all. Tancred can relate. He still nods at the man, hands kept empty, well aware of the same bodily cues ones of their trade rely on and striving not to commit them. "That is one name. Skaldi is another. I am called Tancred," the big Skaldi says, introducing himself with the formal sentence structure. "Son of no one important, I fear." Pause. "Would you be noble or royal?"

"Noble, I think.", Elin replies, holding his gaze, with her grey eyes glittering faintly. "We have a king in Gotland, and my father is one of his vassals. Pleased to meet you, Tancred. So… you are of Skaldia? I'm curious. A Skaldi speaking d'Angeline in an d'Angeline city… how did you get here, and how do you get along with them?"

Einar relaxes just a little, but his attention remains on the tall Skaldi. That subtle body tension of his indicating that he is on his guard.

"It is a tale." Tancred, rather monotonous and stone-faced, seems to grow uncomfortable with the subject. "I am of Skaldia, though I am doubtful I would be welcomed in the settlements of my tribe any more. A lady of this land has been kind enough to employ me, though for years I did not have that luxury." Elin has caught him after steady feeding has done him much good. "It is a subject that goes well with the vine."

"A tale?", Elin echoes. "I like tales. And yours seems to be an interesting one." She does a half turn, and lets her gaze drift about. "Does it go well with the vine? Or wine? Isn't there somewhere around here where one can get a stiff drink?" She chuckles, blonde hair whirling about as she turns to face Tancred again. "My tale is far less interesting, I fear. I've been sent here by my father, to show goods of my country at the Great Exhibition." A glance is spared for his spear and she lifts a brow. "Do you get to use this often, in this civilized city?"

"No." Tancred passes Elin the spear, in case she wants to hold it. It's made for his height and reach, at least eight feet of turned ash and padded wool, though lightweight. "It is better to have and not need, than to not need and have," he recites that old bit of common wisdom, turning a glance to the southwest and then to the north. "I know of places for drink in the market and by the port, cheap and expensive alike. There is also the baths in the Temple, where they serve lighter drinks." His bright blues settle back on her, seeming to leave it to her to decide which. "I hear plenty of Alba's imports and those of the city states, but not Gotland. What is your country known for?"

Elin accepts the spear, resting the end of it on the ground so that she doesn't have to lift its weight. Her fingers run over the blunted tip. "This is a practice weapon?", she wonders, shooting him a glance. "I prefer smaller weapons. I can handle a sword, but I'm better at archery and throwing things…" A sudden gust of wind plays with her hair, and she shakes it back in place. "I rarely go anywhere unarmed. The market, then. I need a drink, this warm weather… I'm not used to it. But I see how people thriving in this climate can grow all soft and beautiful…", the latter part she murmurs, with a pointed sideways look towards a d'Angeline lady and a lord in her company, passing them with their retinue. "I've already enjoyed a bath in my quarters earlier, so I don't think I'll wish to seek these baths you mention out today." And as she starts moving in the general direction of the market, Elin replies to Tancred's latter question, "Oh… is it goods you are asking about? Then… Amber… the finest amber found on our shores. But if you ask me, what I like most about Gotland… It's the woods. To roam freely through the wilderness. To ride and hunt, Monsieur Tancred."

"The sword I favor the most, but whether afoot or ahorse, a spear has many uses and should not be forgotten." Tancred takes the spear back once she's done holding it, propping it back over his shoulder as an inconvenient article. He follows marketwards, not having to move fast to keep up. "Their people can afford to be soft, and in doing so, raise great works. It is said their race bear the blood of angels come to earth. Would you believe it?" A slight slant in his intonation suggests he doesn't. "I do not know of amber, but as of late, many more ships have come in from the New World with great cargoes of lumber."

Leaping Fish Inn — Market Promenade

The Main Room of the Leaping Fish is tidy and well-kept - and warmed by a fire in the hearth to one side on colder days and evenings. An old tapestry depicting a pair of two leaping fish is adorning the opposite wall - a reference to both the ruling House of Mereliot and the name of the inn. The common room has five tables of sturdy oak with chairs and benches, between which two serving maids move to take orders or bring food and beverages. The air is filled with tasty smells of freshly cooked meals, and murmurs of conversation - and occasionally even melodies rippling through the room, when a lute player is around to provide entertainment. The fare is of good quality that even would not disappoint noble tastes.

There are stairs leading upstairs towards a number of comfortable and well kept rooms the inn has to offer.

"The blood of angels, aye," Elin smirks. "I've heard as much, and they sure are beautiful. And a bit haughty. Which can be a disadvantage. Who thinks themselves superior, is perhaps more vulnerable than a common thug in the streets." They are sitting meanwhile inside of the Leaping Fish Inn, and the Gotlandish lady has claimed a vacant table in a corner where she is now seated across from Tancred. Her shadow, Einar, leans against the wall, out of earshot, but he casts a watchful glance their way, now and then. "If you favor the sword, we can try to spar some time, perhaps? I hear, there are tournament grounds outside of the city, where people can train.", Elin suggests as their drinks are brought, ale or whatever they have ordered to drink. Elin, for her part, ordered ale.

"Their beauty is delicate, and they grow little hair below the neck, even the men," Tancred claims, he of bushy beard and tufted forearms. "It is not their custom to wear beards like our peoples." What better to leave exposed angelic chins? He has ordered fortified ale along with a bowl of whatever they've got in the pot, their conversation having rekindled his hunger. "I spar more often in the citadel, where the ire of veterans provides more challenge. In the grounds I am more keen on riding. But yes, I am amenable to this." He rests a gloved palm on his helm set aside. "Last I had fought a lady, we had made a wager of it."

"Interesting," Elin remarks to Tancred's explanation about d'Angeline's lack of body hair. Her dark grey eyes consider the Skaldi for a moment nd she grins, a light shake of her head making her blonde hair shift about her shoulders. Lifting her tankard of ale, she smiles. "And odd. I'm not sure I prefer men with beards or without. As for sparring… it was just a thought." She shrugs her shoulders lightly. "We could ride, or we could spar. A wager? Who won? And. What was the wager about?" She for her part doesn't appear to be hungry, contenting herself with the ale, she takes a god swig from.

"It feels true enough for the women," Tancred looses that fun little tidbit when met with her grin, sharing in the mirth if not smiling. He carefully picks up his own copper alloy spoon, using it to gesture. "A race or a spar. It will do for me either way. You are the more important one between us two; your schedule is what matters," he reasons shrewdly, though her further questioning has him inclining his head. "I won. The wager was a favor - within reason."

Elin raises a brow at that. "A race /and/ a spar," she decides. "Why limit yourself to only half of the fun?" Tancred's next remark has her look up. "I'm not that busy yet. There will be more things to do and see to, the closer we get to the Great Exhibition." Her smile widens into a grin. "Congratulations then. But I am slightly undecided whether to ask what the favor within reason was, Monsieur Tancred. Would I want to know?", she wonders, as her hand plays idly with a strand of blonde hair.

"It would not do for a lowly guard to get the neck of a dignitary broken," Tancred reasons, in a low - and one may reckon amused - voice. He digs through a heavy layer of greens to get at what little meaty and chunky bits he'd be lucky to get in this bowl. What a treat. "They will have to send another to tend to the exhibition." That sense of elation is more palpable with her second question. He looks up, bright blues meeting Elin's gaze. "What is your guess?"

Elin's brows furrow a little at that. "Break the neck of a dignitary? We were talking about a race and a spar, monsieur." His amusement is met with some of her own, even if of the slightly bewildered sort. "There will be no contest, and no wager, then." At which she takes another swig of ale from her tankard. "As for your wager…" She grins. "I suppose, by /favour/ you mean something the lady could grant you that is otherwise rarely granted?" Keeping it vague, while watching Tancred over the tankard, Elin once again enjoys a sip of ale.

"Someone might fall off their horse," Tancred delicately points out, but seems to relent after a second. "But it was a jest. I am open to it. It cannot be worse than riding into an actual battle." His composure is slightly shaken by her next question, despite having every reason to expect she'd know what's up. He watches her in bemused silence, pondering his response carefully. "Yes," he settles on the honest route. "She accepted it gracefully, but she may have been expecting it."

"I don't think so," Elin replies, her dark grey eyes narrowing. "I know how to ride." Still, his delicate explanation is met with a light chuckle. "And those that are on my side in battle have never regretted it." Stating as much, in her accented d'Angeline. Leaning back then in her seat, the blonde lady listens to yet another delicately put reply. "I see.", is her curt reply, allowing him to gracefully leave it at that. "So. Monsieur. I see you have settled in quite well here in Marsilikos? Are there ever times when you think of your past and miss your home country?"

Wondering if he could have responded better, Tancred stares at the tabletop for several heartbeats. He opts to dwell on their match first. "Afoot I have the advantage, but ahorse you have my number. We will see." He takes hold of his ale at least to drink, slow and purposeful. "You are the second in recent times who has asked me that." The Skaldi's eyes flick to the tables adjacent to them, as if worrying they might listen. "They tolerate me here, and in some ways my life is much better than it was before now. I dwell on my homeland, but … this regard it may not return in kind." With a slight sense of unease, he passes the focus back to her. "What is your homeland like?"

"Majestic mountains and fjords cutting into the land," Elin responds, and her eyes sparkle faintly. "There is lots of greenery, and the people… they drink the water and eat the food that Odin provides. There are castles and fortresses, and we have ships. There is a king, and there are jarls that serve him. While some women elect to stay at home to raise their children, others…" And here she smiles, "Other will go to battle, like the men. My father has promised me not to force me into marriage. But I am a jarl's daughter. Eventually, I may end up as a wife of one of his vassals."

"Would you prefer to choose your husband instead? I feel you would only wed a man who could best you in a fight." Tancred asks, half-knowing the answer. "It sounds like a beautiful land, though many would think so of their own homes. The whole of Skaldia is not my home, but only where my tribe lived. I recall great forests and hills. There are cities and fortresses as well, despite what the people of this land often think. We are as varied a people." His wistfulness is brief, but present. He studies his chipped nails, then goes for a smack of ale. "Ours, instead, are of some kinship. We pay worship to the same gods and speak similar tongues."

"I will choose my husband," Elin states as if this were the most certain thing in the world. "He will have to prove himself first. But I'm not sure I'd ask him to fight me, to attain my favor." More ale is had and she grins. "You worship Odin and Tyr and Freya as well? Yes. I've heard as much. But our languages are not at all similar." She pauses and gives him a look, before she says a long sentence in her mother's tongue.

"They are more similar to each other than they are to d'Angeline," Tancred clarifies, likely having held up a hand of surrender when Elin gets to speaking some foreign nonsense. He responds in Skaldic, wallowing in their mutual lack of comprehension, and actually chuckles. He's back to using this land's language. "Some of the gods, at least. But we call him Odhinn, or in some tribes, Woden. The customs, the other gods, they may differ." Then he presses her : "How would he prove himself?" Pause. "What do you seek in a husband? In body, mind, spirit?"

Elin does not understand a word of the Skaldic tongue. She merely grins and shakes her head, amused, obviously at the sound of the language. "I see," she nods, to his statement about the gods. Before she leans her elbow onto the table, tilting her check into her palm. "How would he prove himself?", she echoes. "I'd say, in battle. In being a strong leader of men. A man of courage and pride." Her smile deepens a little. "A man who will appreciate a strong-willed woman at his side. Why do you ask?"

"And not of his skill in axe throwing or poetry?" Tancred shakes his head just slightly, tone lighter, with his emptied food bowl set aside and his hand used to try and clean his beard. "Women of strong will and sinewed calf are not easy to find. They intrigue and interest me, at times more than the soft maidens of this land, but I am no suitable husband for their ilk. Not yet, at the least." His lips twitch, his manner easy and relaxed. "There are many things I must prove and earn."

"Indeed. You are not," Elin counters with a soft chuckle. "But that should not keep us from becoming acquainted, should it? After all…" She rolls her eyes a little, "we are considering tests of skill, in sparring and horse racing. We are strangers in a foreign land. It can sometimes be relieving to share a fate, a conversation." The blonde lady gives her almost empty tankard a pointed look. "A tankard of ale."

"A set of sparring bruises in due time, though yours may end up being the larger." Tancred picks up a clipped silver to set down on the tabletop, and as he rises, procures his spear from the wall adjacent. He empties the dregs of the tankard, setting it down and admitting, "The day escapes me. There are things I must see to for the afternoon." He pauses as he slips his helm back on. "Where shall we meet next?"

Elin Asbjornsdottir leans back in her chair, nonchalantly placing the heel of her boot onto the seat he just vacated. Lifting her gaze to the giant towering now over her, the proud daughter of a jarl replies, "Let's make it a game of chance. You can try to catch me on the tournament grounds, or elsewhere in this fair city. I have just arrived, and I hear there are so many fine places to explore."

"If you are making a game of it, do you mean to say time with you is the prize?" Tancred asks Elin with his typical head-tilt tic, spear-butt planted on top of his boot.

"You could say that any moment where you are enjoying yourself is a prize in its own right," Elin counters with a glint in her eyes. "If you manage to come across me, time will be spent in conversation and in tests of skill. That way, yes, you could say it is the prize."

"I await the championship, Gotlander." Tancred shakes his head just slightly, meeting her gaze with juust a tiny note of challenge. Saying nothing more, he meanders towards the exit.

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