Echoes of Invasion: Kachen Release | Scene 15

The elves trudge back through the swamp, discussing the latest developments. Hepalonia worries that the source of the water problem might be too large for them to handle themselves. If an imbalance in the earthen currents of the hill system is somehow to blame, she and Tric Manu definitely do not possess the magic to address that.  Elves are just not attuned to earth and stone magic. “I’m not sure what it would take to fix something like that,” she says, concerned.

“I feel like you’d need a dwarf,” Tric replies. “At any rate, we can check out the cave, and we can report back. Maybe it’s not natural. Maybe there’s some sort of agent responsible.”

“Maybe you can charm them.” Batting ideas around with her cousin is improving Heppa’s mood, so she jokes, “Could be merfolk or water locusts.”

Tric tries trotting out the horsefolk concept he has started workshopping. “The horsefolk on occasion like to live in caves…”

“Like seahorse-folk?” Heppa asks.

“Yes! Very much like that. Water-dwelling horsefolk…” Tric trails off in thought, searching around for more ideas, but this tale is already too tall.

Hepalonia fills the silence by pointing out that they are putting the dowsing rod through a lot with all the bad water they have used it on. Tric tells her about how his dad cycles through a number of dowsing rods so that they each have a chance to recharge.

“I think Hezzis likes you,” Heppa announces happily as they near the keep. “We’re making proper friends.” 

“She deals fair! And I respect Hezzis as a fellow great hunter,” Tric tells her.

“You’ve promised her almost half a pig by now. You’re probably feeding half her clan.” Tric suggests that an increased saurian population will help keep the undead in check. “We’ve only been out here a few days, and already you’ve made two friends,” Heppa observes.


“Kachen and Hezzis.”

“And Marvin and Connie,” Tric points out, reminding his cousin about the distillers. “Four friends. You and Kachen seemed to get along figuring out how that magic stuff works.”

“I don’t think he takes very good care of himself.”

“He lives alone. Maybe he doesn’t like to cook.”

“I was a little worried that there were some bad magics at play, but I think he’s just not eating or sleeping.”

“If you’re not sleeping well, it just makes everything else worse, right? Maybe he needs a bed…”

“Or not to be traveling alone. I probably wouldn’t sleep well if you weren’t here too,” Heppa shares with her cousin.

They enter the keep and find that Kachen is asleep. Tric starts gathering supplies together to transform the dull biscuits into irresistible doughnuts using lard from the pig. Heppa steps quietly up to their host, making a mental note to change his bandages when he wakes up. For now, though, she watches him sleep for a bit and is pleased to see that his resting is less fitful than during the night. Despite the noise and light of the day, Kachen sleeps deeply, lying on his uninjured side and holding the staff. The daytime is not as scary as the night. Maybe that’s what’s helping. Or just eating more.

“These doughnuts will put some meat on his bones,” Tric says over the sound of sizzling. “I learned this recipe from Breda. Breda got this recipe from the king’s chef. The king of Wesnoth has a personal chef, and he would make these doughnuts, not just to satisfy the king, but also for dwarvish visitors. Dwarves are well known to love doughnuts. And orcs, they have incredible appetites. A way to make peace with an orc is just to stuff his face with doughnuts. Once these are dipped in ale and sprinkled with nutritional yeast, no one can resist them.”

Before long, the sounds of an active camp rouse Kachen from his slumber. Hepalonia checks over his wounds while Tric talks up the doughnuts he is making. They share a half dozen for supper, and Heppa is impressed with her cousin’s work. Kachen eats his to be polite, mindful of Hepalonia’s watchful eye during the meal. The elves tell him that on the morrow they will be leaving for a few days to investigate a nearby cave system that may play a role in the bog’s water problems. Tric assures him they will leave plenty of doughnuts behind for him to eat while he continues to rest.

“Do you still intend to look at other battlefields?” Kachen asks.

“Yeah, we’ll come back before we do that,” Tric says. “Ah, but make sure you stay out of the bog while we’re away. Per the agreement with the saurian.”

Kachen considers for a moment, then agrees, “Yes. I will not go in the swamp.”

“Is there something time-sensitive you need to do?” Heppa asks, having noticed the hesitation before his response. “Can it not wait until we’re back from the cave?”

“I am, of course, interested in experimenting with the staff. But I can do that not in the swamp.”

Heppa wonders if maybe Tric should set up some extra traps around the keep before they depart to help protect Kachen. “Did you have any trouble while we were gone?”

“No, I had no trouble at all,” Kachen says levelly.

Heppa is satisfied with that response. “Great!” It does not even occur to her that he might want to conceal anything about his activities.

“Ok, so a doughnut a day,” Tric reminds Kachen, “and maybe if you’re lucky we’ll bring back some mushrooms. Some people have said that there are in fact mushroom-folk who live in caves, but that is of course absurd. There’s no such thing. Mushrooms are perfectly fine to eat: no opposable thumbs. If you see a cave rat eating a mushroom, you know it is safe to eat. If the rat’s not eating it, it’s a toadstool, and then you definitely don’t want it. That’s how you know what is good to eat. And do you know what else is good to eat? Doughnuts.”