Wolves at the Door (part 116)

On their next trip back to their own world, Alfvin and Gil returned to one of the closer villages.  Or rather, Alfvin returned, while Gil waited nearly a mile away.  Having been recognised once on a road when he had expected to pass unnoticed, Gil was not taking any unnecessary chances this close to his old hometown.

Along the way, Gil told of what he had learned on his solo exploration, and Alfvin had to grudgingly admit the value of the translator Gil had bought.  After all, the short trading journey would allow more time between trips to spend on other side of the doorway where such an item might be useful.

Once they were back in the marketplace and the usual business had been taken care of, they indulged in some shopping for leisure.  Alfvin picked up a used translator, while Gil browsed the stalls that sold mundane goods until he found something that would serve his purpose.

While they were shopping, they ran into Alvin’s friend Pol again, coming in through one of the other stone doorways.  He was not alone; he led a girl who must have been several years younger than Gil.  Once more they engaged in the banter that was so foreign to Gil, though he made a token effort to join in this time.  From the way the girl kept looking around, Gil guessed that it was her first time here.  He wanted to make her feel welcome, though perhaps he was inspired by the novel  feeling of not being the most clueless newcomer for once.

She may have been new to this world, but she clearly knew her way around this kind of conversation better than Gil.  When Alfvin tried to apply some charm, she cut him down expertly.  For a moment his friendly demeanour dropped, anger and confusion showing clearly on his face.  Only for a moment though; he quickly regained his composure, but by then Pol was rushing her away into the crowd.

Gil had had to stifle a laugh at his friend’s discomfiture, but there was also a very serious side to it.  Every time Alfvin visited a village to trade, he depended heavily on his charm.  And not just for trading: his very life may depend on his ability to charm the young girls of the villages, to get what he needed from them.  If he could not count on that, what would he have to fall back on?  Things could very quickly get very ugly indeed.

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