Echoes of Invasion: Downtime in Dan’Tonk | Scene 11

After the writing lesson, the teacher introduces today’s speaker from the Luminary Council. Heppa already got an introduction to optics yesterday, and it was more advanced than this one, so her attention wanders during Roshanak’s presentation. She looks through her maps and notes, discussing with Tric what they know so far of Dunefolk politics. Science and learning are very highly prized in Dunefolk culture. The elves’ knowledge of Wesnoth governance is pretty low, but they have gotten the impression that there is some sort of inherited power structure. It seems like the Dunefolk have more of a meritocracy. For certain professions, the most esteemed member achieves Luminary status and is given a council position with civil authority. There are only so many people to choose from here in Dan’Tonk, but it would be a high honor in a Dunefolk city.

Heppa comments that this does not sound so different from how elves operate, but Tric objects that professions are not involved in elvish councils. Heppa disagrees, citing the importance of magic. “There’s no water dowsing representative on the council,” Tric points out. “They’re not representatives at all. They’re all nobles.”

Heppa, a born noble herself, fails to see the distinction. “But it’s based on the magical profession…”

“I don’t think it is,” Tric disagrees. “Magical prowess might help, but you have to have the credentials. The elvish way is not as direct as the Wesnoth hereditary system, true, but nobility is required. Competence, too. I’m not sure how important that is to the Wesnoth humans.” Tric doubts Aunt Penna would be on the council if she had not married into nobility. It makes him wonder just how official the relationship between Nasir and Anador was. Could Nasir also get a spot on the council that same way? He doubts his dad would want such a thing, though. Tric himself could probably make a claim of nobility based on his blood-ties to Anador, but a position on the council is not of sufficient interest to him to be worth stirring up all that trouble. 

The students all respectfully give Roshanak their attention, even if the elves do not. She has a variety of mirrors and small lenses with her. As she discusses the scientific principles of optics at a low enough level for her audience, she uses her equipment to concentrate light and send beams skittering across the room. Some of the younger children chase after the bright spots. At one point, a spot of light moves across Tric, and he finds it is hotter than he expected. He begins to think about how concentrating the sun’s rays in this fashion could be used to start a fire. It would not help when setting up a camp at night, of course, but if you are waiting until dark to do that, you are already doing something wrong. Just holding Heppa’s new magnifier to a pile of tinder would be a lot less work than generating friction with sticks.

While Tric is pondering that, Heppa’s attention is drawn to a conversation behind her. The adults are talking about how the road to Carcyn is not as safe these days. The previous caravan to come in from that direction lost several wagons’ worth of goods along the way. “I heard them talking about bandits wielding lightning,” someone claims. Sounds like magic or an artifact, Heppa thinks. Oh, Carcyn! That’s where Rhodri’s caravan is going next. Magical bandits might make transporting prisoners more complicated. It might be good to let Rhodri know.

After Roshanak’s presentation, Sazid gets up in front of the group and the gossiping adults quiet down to pay attention as well. He relays the latest news gathered from recent incoming falcons. He also reminds the children that there are openings for apprentice scribes. “If you particularly enjoy your letters, you can earn your living from them!” At that point, some of the adults in the back speak up to also pitch for apprentices, now that Sazid is done with formal news transmission and is unfairly taking advantage of his platform. When that settles down, Tric is invited up to tell his story. “Greetings, everyone. I am Tric Manu, an elvish storyteller.” That is all he says about his own origins, allowing the matter of his mixed heritage to go unaddressed. “I’ve traveled far and wide and met many Dunefolk in my time,” he exaggerates, letting them think he is much older than he actually is. “Here is a story of one from not so long ago, about Windrider Terwaen of the Horse Plains. She is one of the new generation, not so much older than yourselves,” he tells the children, though she has at least a decade on the oldest child here. Windrider is not a title Terwaen herself would claim, but their grandmother and mother fit the bill, so Tric assigns it to her as well. Never mind that she does not use a bow and would be scandalized by a mace…

He relates the tale of her performance in the grand melee at the South Tower Full Bloom Festival, altering details to reinforce the cultural norms of Dune School. Following the bardic tradition he shares with Glammur, Tric tells a true story—only the facts have been changed. He even dips into that special power as he speaks, twirling around his willow knuckle dusters to channel the magic as he pantomimes Terwaen’s most honorable fight. He is not quite able to weave the spell he wants, though, not over this large an audience. The children know more of windriders than he does and pepper him with questions about why she was not on her horse, why she did not just use her bow against her opponent, and why Tric is swinging around something that is clearly not a mace. Tric’s audience are engaged with the story, just not quite in the way he intended.