A Good Wife
Tasni stood in the courtyard outside the Harper Hall, her pack leaning
against her side and her back to the building. She was looking down the
road ahead which led to the Hold and the riverboat docks with a thrill
of excitement in her belly. Although she'd enjoyed her time in the
archives of the Southern Hall, she felt it was long past time that she
was out on the road again - and not travelling as a harper.
She had left her journeywoman's knots behind, in storage with the rest
of her research, and instead was dressed as a modest Southern wife. The
months in the Hall had at least given her hair a chance to grow out so
she could tie it back neatly like many of the holder women did here.
Most sensible harpers would have felt nervous, but she couldn't wait to
be out and on the way to their destination of Forest Springs. Her only
concern was whether her travelling companion would be as good at working
undercover as she was.
She heard footsteps and turned to see the tall journeyman coming out of
the Hall's main doors. "Ueltin!" She grinned. "Ready to get going?"
"As ready I'm ever going to be," Ueltin grinned with barely contained
excitement. It was refreshing to get out of the Hall a bit and do what
he did best. He was wearing scruffy workman's clothes and boots that had
seen better days, they were actually very comfortable to walk with
especially long distances, so worn down that they were shaped after his
feet and didn't cause blisters. He had a bagpack and satchel, the
satchel contained tools a woodcrafter would be using. His firelizard,
Allegro, was riding on his backbag.
"Then let's be on our way. We should be early to the riverboat docks, so
we'll get a good place on deck." Tasni shouldered her own light pack,
remembering as she did her friend's letter, now folded up neatly and
sewn into the lining. With luck, they'd find the guard and she could
deliver it at last, as well as finally getting to the truth about the
She looked over at Ueltin, pleased that she couldn't find anything in
his appearance to tell that he was a harper. "I was wondering whether we
should choose new names. I made mine a bit too well known when I
defended that holder at the bandit trial."
"You probably should. I don't think any one knows who I am. But I can
come up with alias if it makes you comfortable," Ueltin replied. He
headed out towards the docks. "Remember, good wife in Emerald Falls Hold
walks behind or beside her husband."
Tasni snorted. "I never said I was going to be a good wife. Perhaps I
can be a bad one, and you can complain about me to the other men. That
should get some conversations going."
"That should create some sympathy, or make me look like a sissy," Ueltin
said cheerfully. They approached the docks, so he gave Allegro a mental
command and the firelizard took to air, popping /between/. Firelizards
tended to attract attention and less people knew he had one, the better.
"Aww, poor you." She glanced at him with an unsympathetic glint in her
eye, but then modified her manner, walking more sedately at his side now
that there were more people about, some of whom might be fellow
passengers. Her voice took on an impatient tone when she spoke again,
much like that of an exasperated wife. "I hope you remembered to book
our passage, husband. We'll look very foolish if the boat is full and we
get left behind."
"I did book the passage," Ueltin replied, his voice changed to something
liess refined, less trained. "See, here's the tickets," he pulled two
slips of hide from his belt pouch and handed them a man on the dock who
was checking passengers before letting them on board.
The man checked them, nodded and gestured them to go on. "Ungrateful
wench," he muttered under his breath, but so that it was heard.
Tasni made an affronted sound and marched up the gangplank onto the boat
with her nose in the air, leaving Ueltin to follow with the bags. Once
she was on board, though, she looked around with delight at the long
wooden deck, crowded with passengers milling about, and up at the
stacks, billowing smoke as if they were just as eager to be off as she was.
"You chose a good boat, at least. It seems clean," she said to Ueltin
with a mischievous look as he walked up behind her. "Shall we go and
find our cabin?" Most of the passengers would only be going a few stops,
but since they were travelling a long distance they'd booked a room on
"Yes, I want to get rid of the bags, what did you pack here, rocks?"
Ueltin replied, settling into his role.
"If the bags are too heavy for you, then next time, you can pack," Tasni
sniffed as she descended the steps from the main deck towards the
passengers' quarters. "To think, I could have married that guard. He was
so strong, he wouldn't have complained about a few small items of
luggage. What a fool I am."
"I'm pretty strong! I work in a lumber mill," Ueltin protested, fighting
to keep a silly grin off his face. He was having a blast. "I should not
have been fooled by a pretty face," he complained. "Your sister has
more docile nature."
"How typical of a man. All you want is a drudge to satisfy your every
whim," she scolded him as they walked past the cabins, peering at the
numbers on the doors. "Well, I'm sorry that you've ended up with a wife
with a little more personality than a doormat, but there it is. Oh, I
think this is ours."
She pushed open a door with a number that matched the one on the ticket
and stepped inside. Once the door of the cabin had closed behind them,
she fell down on the bed and burst into giggles.
Ueltin laughed too, trying to keep it silent thou. "You think we over
did it?" he asked after a moment. Allegro popped out of /between/,
returning and started to explore the tiny cabin.
She sat up and put a hand over her mouth to stifle the giggles. "Maybe
we should tone it down a little once we get closer to our destination.
But it's so much more fun than pretending to be a meek little wife. And
you know, some couples enjoy bickering all the time."
"So they do," Ueltin agreed and stored their bags in a way that showed
familiarity with ships, boats and tiny cabins. Efficient and space
sparing, also so that potential storm wouldn't toss them around. "Shall
we go up to the deck to see boat depart?"
"Yes, let's. I can't believe how long it's been since I arrived at the
Hold on the riverboat. Nearly a Turn." The time had seemed to fly by
since the trial and all the work she'd got following that. She winked at
him. "And I'm not finished complaining about you yet."
Ueltin grinned and offered her the crook of his arm.
Last updated on the September 29th 2020