He was young, and new--his eagerness and high spirits showed his lack of experience in the land. She watched him for a moment from the shadows, pondering, with a slight grin on her face. He wandered up to the innkeeper, greeting everyone whose eyes met his own, and when he paid for his ale he leaned back with his belt exposed and is money pouch loosely tied.

Yes, this one was definitely new to Mileth. But he looked honest and friendly, so she decided to offer him a bit of advice.

She fixed a mournful expression on her face and lowered her gaze before emerging from the shadowy corner. From the corner of her eye she watched the young aisling take notice over her, and she pushed her long wavy hair over one shoulder before settling onto the bench with a rather loud but meaningful sigh.

He was at the table in an instant. "Be ye unwell?" he asked anxiously, and she lifted her sad wide eyes to his.

"I am--" she coughed delicately. "Forgive me." She put a long, pale hand to the side of her neck, "my throat is dry."

"Here," the young man put his untouched cup before her without hesitation. "Drink, and tell me, what troubles ye?"

She sighed again just as eloquently, and he sat down as he turned away to signal the innkeeper for more ale. The hilt of his glistened silver with finely etched with flowers and vines, and it leaned towards her invitingly. She lifted it quickly from his belt and transferred it to her other hand under the table. The aisling turned back towards her, and she looked up at him with limpid grey eyes. "You asked of my troubles..." The young man nodded, and she leaned towards him a little. "But I do not wish to inconvenience you with the problems of a stranger, sir."

The young man's chest swelled and he put his arm out behind her on the bench. "'Tis no inconvenience to aid one in distress." He smiled a little, very pleased at the way his words had come out, and looked down to see their effect. But the damsel in distress was entranced by the fare of the patrons at the next table--a roasted joint with vegetables and fine bread. "Um..." he took a moment to recoup and to mentally tally his coins. "I will buy you supper," he proclaimed, and she immediately turned to him with a grateful smile. "Now tell me your tale."

"It is the story of a young girl named Raeven Kyrkonnel--my story. I am she."

The young man studied the length of her black hair, the way it curled against the small of her back and gleamed blue in the flickering candlelight. This time he sounded hoarse. "The name suits you well."

She fluttered her lashes a little. "Thank you," she said sweetly, and the young man felt himself starting to blush. At that moment, the innkeeper's wife appeared and he quickly reached out to hail her. This time, Raeven's nimble fingers dipped into the pocket of his cloak, discovering an amber necklace and an emerald ring. The sparkle of the green stone so entranced her for a moment she was nearly caught, but the aisling saw nothing amiss
in her ready smile.

"You were saying?" he encouraged her politely, though he dipped his head to hide the remaining color in his cheeks. Raeven settled lightly against his arm.

"I was born to noble parents--not the sort with wealth or prestige, but to the noble of spirit. My father is a fine weaver and my mother a midwife. From both of them I inherited long, slender fingers and great dexterity." She held her hands out over the tabletop for a moment like a traveling magician, turning them this way and that. "They both hoped I would choose one of their professions, but it was not to be." Raeven let her mouth droop a little and sighed before taking up her cup again.

"You're not a weaver or a healer, then?" The food had arrived, and the aisling was helping the maid empty her tray.

"No," Raeven said. "But fortunately, the village priest saw some promise in my own special talents and found me good training with a guild near Rucension. My parents were quite shocked and naturally disappointed at first, but the priest assured them that everything the Gods bestow is a blessing." Her eyes grew a little cloudy from memory. He saved my life, that priest. I owe him much."

The aisling smiled rather absently as he moved their cups out of the way for the meat. "Your parents were ashamed of the talents in your hands?"

"And of my eyes, and my mind." She plucked at the lacings that held his money pouch to his belt, never removing her gaze from his face.

"What manner of guild did you train with, then? Tailors, or herbalists?"

"Ah, no." Raeven palmed the small leather bag and slowly sidled away.

The aisling paused with the bread in his hands and frowned as he tried to think of another profession suitable for a pretty young girl. Raeven lightly unlatched the decorative gold belt around his waist and gathered it into the palm of her hand.

"Do you transcribe texts, or play music?"

Raeven laughed lightly. "Neither, young aisling." The lad finally threw her a look and she grinned. "I am a rogue."

Raeven placed his dagger, his jewelry, and his money on the rough table next to his ale cup. The aisling's eyes bulged out of his head for a moment, and he blushed again more fiercely.

"Fear not," Raeven assured him calmly and clapped him on the shoulder. "I don't take from good-hearted newcomers, priests, or from my friends. But others you may encounter here will not have such scruples, so take this ruse as a warning."

The maid still stood at the end of the table, definitely amused. The young man looked so crest-fallen Raeven actually felt a twinge of guilt. "Come now, here's what we'll do." She returned to her end of the bench, this time putting a respectable distance between herself and the moping young man.

"*I* will buy you *your* supper, and hear your story." She grinned again, and he reluctantly smiled back. "What was that you said--'tis no inconvenience to aid one in distress?"

Raeven arched a brow at the servingmaid, who nodded with a smile and went for more ale.