Putting a foot (or two) in your mouth

No big plot points revealed, but here is a sample of my current writing.  No, I won’t tell you what’s weird. The point of this is the meeting of two people and dialogue. Here’s hoping I did it right.

“Well, that IS weird,” commented Tonyn. “We need to worry about getting this horse shod and getting out of here though. The Duke will recognize Aella for sure, he and the Duchess used to be friends with the King and Queen.”

“Come on, the smithy is over here,” Ash said, leading them toward a side of the bailey. Sure enough, Aella heard the ringing of the hammer on the anvil and could see the furnace from here.

It was much larger than the one Ash had kept in Eban. Both her and her father looked around carefully, noting differences and similarities. Aella breathed in deep, enjoying the smells of hot metal and ash, feeling like she was coming home.  

There were at least three smiths working and several apprentices running errands or getting a lesson from a master. It was much busier than the quiet smith of her youth, but all the sights and smells were the same. She was first to arrive, mostly because she was short and wanted to get a look before the taller folk crowded in front of her. She waited for one of the workers to greet her. And waited. And waited. It was only as Ash and Tonyn walked up beside her that someone finally looked up.  

“I’ll be right with you,” he apologized to Ash, gesturing to the papers on his desk and the man in front of him. Aella took a deep breath, annoyed at being ignored, only to let it out in a gasp.

“STOP!” she cried and reached out to grab the customer’s hand just before it grasped a burning hot tong. “Goddamnit, you idiot!” she scolded. “Don’t EVER touch anything in a smithy unless you KNOW it’s cool.”

The man was staring at her in amazement. “It IS cool? It’s not red or smoking.”

Aella gave him a withering glance and picked up a piece of straw from the floor, carefully swept away from the forges. She dangled the straw over the tongs and to the man’s amazement, it began to smoke and then caught fire. She held it up and staring the man in the eyes, blew it out. “Oh, really?” she said dryly.

“Excuse me, sir,” Ash said behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “She didn’t realize who you are; she meant to disrespect.

Huh? Aella looked back at him, startled to see him keeping his eyes down. She’d never seen him be subservient before.

“Oh it’s alright,” came a hasty response. “No harm done.”

She shot the man another glance. No harm done?! She saved him from a serious injury. Harm PREVENTED. Ash squeezed her shoulder, feeling her muscles tense in anger, and whispered, “Look at his clothes. Use your eyes, Aella!”

She took a steadying breath and looked. He was young, but older than her by quite a few years. His clothes were brown but of high quality, very finely woven. There was a coat of arms emblazoned on one shoulder, and he wore leather vambraces, but no other armor, and there was a VERY fine sword hanging from his hip. He stood as if he knew how to use it. This was no man-at-arms as she had thought originally. This was someone with much more money, perhaps a son of the house. Shit.

He laughed and she realized she had said the last word out loud. “I have never heard a woman use language like that. I’m Riain of House Allea.” He extended his hand, which she stared at as if it were a snake.

“Shake the man’s damn hand,” Ash growled at her. She jumped and reached out. His hand was warm and his shake of greeting firm.

“Sir, my apologies,” she said, embarrassed. “I was raised by a blacksmith and not used to nobility.”

“So you use language like the with normal people, but not nobility?”

“Of course, I wouldn’t want to offend someone of delicate sensibilities.” The words popped out of her mouth before she could stop herself and she stared at him in chagrin.

He surprised her by laughing. “Damn, you’re the most honest person I’ve ever met. Do you always just say what you’re thinking?”

“No, sir, I don’t. I have no idea what’s wrong with me.”

“Yes, she does,” Ash corrected her. “She’s just more aware of it now. Aella, do shut up.”

She shot her father a grin and closed her mouth, standing with her hands clasped in front of her primly. Riain’s eyes danced with amusement. Very nice eyes, she noticed and then wondered where that thought came from.

“Sir? Here’s the girdle you wanted for your lady mother,” an apprentice interjected and handed Riain a belt made of gold and jewels that would have bought Ash’s smithy six times over. “My Master asks that you let him know if she likes it.”

“Of course, thank you. I’ll go have it wrapped. Will you be in the hall for the festivities?”

It took a minute for Aella to realize he was talking to her. “What? Festivities?”

“Goddess above, Aella,” muttered Ash behind her.

Riain repeated his question, clarifying, “It’s my mother’s birthday feast tonight. All are welcome to dine in the hall.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know. We plan to be on our way after my horse is re-shod.” Ash poked her back. “Oh! Um, thank you, sir.”

Riain smiled and nodded, then turned and left after paying the apprentice. For a space, no one said anything and an heavy silence hung over the group. It was broken by Tonyn swearing loudly.

“Aella, you pick NOW to practice flirting?!”

What?” Aella gasped. “I did no such thing!”

“Well, whatever you didn’t do, you grabbed that man’s attention right quick. The one person we didn’t want noticing us, too. And he invited you to his mother’s birthday feast. It was the best flirting I’ve ever seen someone not do.”