83rd of Vhalar 719
There was a caravan of covered wagons moving south from Lysoria, which Woe and Sywena hitched a ride-along. Their morning after a night of drinks and fumbling about trying to find a room... (NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED) had been awkward.
"The least you could've done was undress me before throwing heavy covers over me!" Sywena had complained to Woe at the time of their departure. "I woke up feeling like a sponge left in a cold basin."
"I..." Woe started, but then shrugged and gave up. Woe thought it was the honorable thing, just letting Sywena be and covering her up. Despite her throwing herself at him, he'd resisted, knowing how drunk she and he both were at the time. Well, leave it to the woman to miss the whole point of dignity.
Now they found themselves just north of Ne'haer, on the road from Lysoria. The wagons trundled along while Woe sat opposite Sywena in one of them. They stared at the floor intently, fiercely avoiding looking at the other. Woe was a bit confused by this attitude. Hadn't this been precisely the situation he sought to prevent by NOT bedding her? Yet here they were, looking quite awkward.
Woe was the first to speak, as they trundled onward from Hyran, toward the road that led to a ferry. The Ferry would presumably take them into Ne'haer proper, where they would, according to recent rumors, be turned away as the city wasn't accepting new residents.
Woe had a plan. It wasn't fool-proof, but it was something. The Webspinner hadn't much in the way of experience in smuggling, so he would use his arts of manipulation to get what he wanted. The problem was, he only had a short window in which to study the soldier that would be refusing them entry. In the end, he might have to bribe them.
As the wagon rolled along, the wheels bumped against rocks in the road, roughly jostling those in the carriages. During one of these particularly bad instances of turbulence, Sywena was thrown from her seat, and onto Woe's lap. The woman blushed like a maid and swiftly corrected herself, slipping off of his lap into the place beside Woe.
"Listen, this is exactly what I tried to avoid, this... awkwardness." Woe relented to his sense of exasperation with the current atmosphere. "If I thought us sleeping together in Lysoria would've put you at ease..."
"Well, I'd still probably not have done it. Not that you aren't attractive, I mean..."
"Shhh." Sywena shushed him audibly, and with a roll of her eyes at what he'd said. "Did you hear that? Why have we stopped?"
Woe did indeed feel it. As the Webspinner did, he reached out with attunement magics, trying to suss out what was going on outside the carriage. Soft voices were issuing from the front of the Caravan. They began as soft, anyways, but eventually, they turned into shouts of alarm and twangs of crossbows firing, followed by the cries of injured men falling.
Woe turned to Sywena, "Stay in here, hide, don't move for anyone or anything!" Not entirely a brave move on his part... Sywena was his backup plan for getting into Ne'haer, after all.
With that command on his lips, he hopped out the carriage, leaving the cane-sword with Sywena, while bearing his blacksnake whip. He crouched low at first, trying to get the slip on the attackers.
There were at least half a dozen of them, but they outnumbered the guards at the head of the traveling party and were currently extorting the caravan master for coin and valuables. Woe entwined his sense of confidence with that of the caravan master, hemming his sense of fear for the moment so that he wouldn't do anything rash out of panic.
That done, he approached from the other side of the Caravan.
"We want yer gold, and any women travellin' wif ya!"
So they were a ransom gang. Despicable. Ransom gangs held prisoners and awaited payment from whoever valued said prisoners. In the meantime, they always felt entitled to abuse the prisoners. A bunch of amateur jailers was what they were, flunkies.
And there was nothing Woe hated more than a pack of amateurs.
He summoned his sense of rage, severing the knot that he'd kept hidden for his time in Etzos. There had been much to get angry about then, but he'd sorted his sense of malcontent and contempt for the situation by knotting it, hemming those feelings off to be summoned when they'd be useful. Now was that time.
With a vengeance, he severed the knot and let his anger loose.
The lucky first to sample his blacksnake was just rounding the corner of the perimeter of the front carriage. Woe sent his blacksnake forward in a rat-tail maneuver. A quick snap of the whip took the cretin full in the face, screaming in agony as his eye nearly fell out, bloodied and ruined.
Woe silenced his screams, by moving into his measure and wrapping the whip around the bandit's neck as a garrote. In moments, his windpipe was crushed under the force of Woe's technique. He wouldn't be alerting his fellows.
However, one had been alerted, and went around the corner, following after the noise the fallen bandit had made. This one, Woe snapped his whip at once more. The crack of the whip this time did alert the rest as to something going on.
Woe reached out among the caravan guards, and without discriminating among them, stoked their sense of confidence. He'd need help if he were to overcome these bandits. Woe wasn't a good enough fighter, nor sneaking sufficient to take ALL of them alone.
That done, Woe reversed the grip on his blacksnake whip and blackjacked the next fool to round the carriage. Unfortunately, the force of his blow wasn't enough to knock him out, or otherwise hadn't hit him precisely the right way.
The bandit dropped his crossbow and brandished his club at Woe. The Webspinner glowered at him, giving some slack to the heavy end of the whip as he gripped it by the narrow cracking end. The bandit was the first to make a move, bearing forward with his club in a horizontal swipe at Woe.
The Webspinner brought up his vambrace, to block the attack, simultaneously bringing his blacksnake's handle around in a swing, toward the poor fool's head. With a resounding crack, the lead and grave-gold filled ballbearing in the handle knot made contact with the man's skull. His fall was near-instantaneous.
The rest of the guards had recovered their morale, it having been stoked by Woe's attempts to unknot their confidence and his daring assault on the few bandits that were wielding crossbows. Within a few bits, they'd brought the bandits to heel, and the Caravan was on the move again, this time with a few prisoners for the Ne'haer jails.
Woe didn't return to Sywena in their carriage but remained at the head of the Caravan, where he might be able to scout for danger, lest they come under further attack. In a few breaks, they managed to make it to the Ferry that would bring them to Ne'haer.
The prisoners were loaded ahead of the rest, trussed up as they were. Then those who were bound for Ne'haer separated from the rest of the Caravan. This included, obviously, Woe and Sywena.
Within the next trial, they arrived at the Harbor of Ne'haer. There at the docks, as expected, were customs officers, ready to turn away non-citizens.
Sywena spoke for Woe, then, taking the lead. "Officers, Blades... I'm a citizen, and while he isn't a citizen, we've only just wed in Hyran."
Woe was almost ready to sap her with the blacksnake at that point but was too stunned not to let her continue.
"By the law, he IS a citizen of Ne'haer."
The guard, looking tired for all the excuses he had to hear, sighed, and rolled his eyes. "Very well, what is his name for the record?"
"He's... Wolston," She said, having trouble remembering at first. Woe chimed in before she got his last name wrong as well, "Wolston Rand."
"Mmhmm. Fine, you can go into the city. But you'll need the proper marriage documents at the Aedile's or the city council. For a fee, I can escort you there myself..."
Woe came to his side then, with a bag of gold ready to hand over. "I'll give you more if you don't escort us..." The Webspinner had some work to do as far as subtlety.
The guard looked him over and then shrugged. A bag of gold, and not a bad day's work for all the frustration he had to deal with.
So Sywena and Woe proceeded into the city proper, her arm twined with him as they arrived as 'husband and wife.' Woe had to wonder how long they'd have to keep this ruse up before a horrid thought occurred to him.
Perhaps it was permanent.
As they walked into the streets, they were already bickering like an old married couple, arguing over which Inn to stay at.