71st of Vhalar 719
"You named me yourself." Woe said, hobbling along as Toutouye followed, leaning against his cane sword with every step. "Did you not? Why change it now? You know how miserable I am at lying and playing pretend."
Woe had spent the more significant part of the last break arguing with a ghost that lived in his head. Toutouye probably thought him mad, or else stressed out of his mind at this point. The savage child didn't show any signs of caring, though. He could probably take care of Woe fairly handily, knowing how capable he was at survival.
It's not so much a change as an addition. You need a name that doesn't sound so -- daft and dehumanizing. You're not a slave anymore, my boy. I didn't expect you would keep the damned name when I freed you.
The Webspinner shrugged with one shoulder, pushing into his cane as he stepped over a large log. His leg hadn't improved very much in the days since he'd sprained it. He couldn't very well expect that it would, given all the walking he'd done over the past trials. "Fine, then. What should I call myself? Lord Julian Morandi? Do you expect that to go over well in Lysoria?"
A light chuckle from Erastus, No, certainly claiming to be a Morandi wouldn't do right out of the gate. I have little faith that you could pull such a ruse. You're far too honest for your good. What in Earth did Sintra see in you, I wonder?
Woe spat and shrugged as he and Toutouye found the beaten path on the way to Lysoria again. He went for a few more bits in silence, before responding, "So what? Give me a name that I can adopt."
As I said, you need not change your name, only add to it. Perhaps Woe is short for - say - Wolston or Wolwart or something along those lines. As for the last name, how about - Rand?
Woe thought on it for a few moments Wolston Rand... It wasn't a terrible name. Sounded ordinary and believable enough, and he felt soon he'd get used to it. "Fine then, Wolston Rand is my name."
A sigh from the ghostly presence in his mind sounded and then slipped away as he left the Webspinner with one final thought, Good. Own it, don't forget it. Lie to yourself until you take it on, and accept it as your name. I'll be watching.
No doubt. Woe mused to himself. He wondered idly if the ghostly presence in his mind could read his thoughts. In the end, he decided to err on the side of caution. He'd have to be careful even in his thoughts now, and it wasn't an excellent position for a slave to get possessed by their late master.
Up ahead, on the road, the path widened, and a large stone-built Inn could be spotted. The smell of chimney fires was wafting through the air, promising warmth and comfort that only civilization could provide.
Woe picked up his step but stalled when he couldn't hear Toutouye walking behind him anymore. He turned around and saw the boy crossing his arms. When Toutouye's eyes met Woe's, he shook his head violently.
"Come along, boy. We'll get some to eat."
Another shake of Toutouye's head, he took a step backward.
"What is it? Come on, and we don't have time for..."
But before Woe could finish, the boy darted off into the wood. Woe had half a mind to chase him, or call out, but supposed the savage child would do what he would do. He'd probably survive, at any rate, having proved capable enough at that.
Emma Heen's voice sounded in his mind at that point, He's probably safer out of your care than in, after all. A sultry chuckle followed. Now let's see what we can get up to inside...
The Webspinner sighed, a frown on his features, "You again? "
Me, always, Wolston. I wouldn't miss you getting stumble drunk again, for all the world.
A sigh and heavy steps led Woe inside the Inn, as he resigned to having Emma at the back of his mind. The interior was warm and smelled of cider and freshly cooked food. There were a good few people in there, more than Woe expected to find. All manner of conversations were being had. It was difficult to hone in on any one of them, but Woe listened in regardless. He caught some snatches of conversation. Mostly regarding the Council's closing of Ne'haer, due to food shortages. Woe looked in closely to that corner of the Inn, hoping to gather more information. He didn't hear much more about it, however, before Emma spoke up again in the back of his mind.
Oooo, look at that little one. She said, gently possessing Woe's neck muscles so he'd turn to look where she was looking. A thin, short woman with short-cropped ash-blonde hair stood dressed in travel clothes. She spoke in a high pitched voice to the bartender but otherwise sat alone. Let's give her some company, shall we?
Woe sought to test his resistance to Heen's possession of him. He planted his feet and stood still. He wanted to know more about Ne'haer's closure. He wasn't here to make random pick-ups for the ghost living in his head!
C'mon, Wolston! She looks so lonely. Emma gave Woe a little push, and that was that. Thus induced, he proceeded onwards toward the bar. He tried to take the seat two seats down from the woman but ended up getting force shoved by Heen into the one directly next to her. It was awkward.
He nodded to the woman, "Hello."
What a captivating introduction. Listen, I don't get much action elsewhere, so you're going to have to pick things up from here. Turn on that patented Wolston charm.
Woe hated that he couldn't respond without appearing crazy, so he did manage to ignore Heen, at least on the exterior. He stuck out his hand to shake for his neighbor, "I'm Wolston Rand." He felt he'd said it convincingly.
"I'm Sy." She smiled at him placing her hands on the surface of the bar. Woe withdrew his hand. Perhaps biqaj weren't the hand-shaking type.
A drink, she wants you to buy her a drink. Fucking dolt.
He lifted his hand to get the bartender's attention, "Hey, a couple of uh..."
Something strong and sweet... Do you want me to take control, Wolsty? Do you need an adult?
Woe blushed despite himself. "A pint of something strong and sweet." He said, putting on a fake smile.
Immortals below... Emma Heen's exasperation was palpable. For the love of Sintra, DON'T smile. We'll have to work on that skill in private. As it stands, it's creepy when you do it.
Woe took the advice and wiped the smile from his face without much effort. He wasn't pleased about this situation, having a ghost twist his arm into attempting the seduction of a stranger. So erasing any signs of false entertainment was easy.
Maybe we can get a pity fuck out of this. Heen's lilting amusement echoed in his mind.
The drinks came mercifully swiftly and placed before Sy and Woe. The Webspinner picked his tankard up, and sniffed it, smelling apples and alcohol. Probably some kind of cider. He began drinking it, sipping at first. It was delightful, with not much in the taste of alcohol. "So... Do you come to this Inn very often?"
Emma Heen smacked Woe upside the head, using a stray tendril. Shit, she as a ghost could hit him?!
Sy seemed not to notice, however, and instead, turned to face the ex-slave while enjoying her cider. She set it on the counter and shrugged, "I was just in the area. I travel between Ne'haer and Lysoria sometimes..."
Say something interesting! We're losing her!
Woe curled his eyebrows, and thought back at Heen, Why are you so desperate?
Sy noticed his expression. Woe could feel Heen panicking, but this time he suppressed her attempts at possessing him. "Do you know the way to Ne'haer well? I was hoping to get there myself..."
Sy shook her head and grabbed up her cider again to have another sip. "Yes, I know the way, but they've been turning people away. If you're looking to travel there, it might be better to lay up in Lysoria for a while."
"Are they not admitting outsiders? Because of the..."
Sy yawned. Then she replaced the drink on the counter. "Because of the rationing. Lake froze up, little food to be found, harvests lost."
"So, there's no way to get in?" Woe quirked a brow.
"Sweets, you've barely touched your drink. Why don't you join me for a moment, then we'll see if I like you enough to tell you more about that." She said with a sweet smile and then took another drink, her eyes smiling at Woe as he brought his tankard to his lips.