Echoes of Invasion: Kachen Up | Scene 10

Fenowin confirms the events of the morning up until now. She knocked on Kachen’s door and then backed away from it. When he opened it, she flung her pollen at him, and he collapsed forward into the courtyard. He did not have a weapon in hand, as the only things he has brought to the elvish village are his satchel and the staff that is now in Thrandolil’s study.

“Do you have any strong scents in your apothecary kit?” Tric asks Heppa. “Some of the things in Damal’s shop were pretty pungent.”

“Smelling salts? This is far more serious than that,” Heppa tells him. “Can we get him onto his bed?”

“Absolutely.” Tric asks Baeowin to give him a hand. Kachen is slight enough that Tric could certainly lift him himself, but he does not want to just throw the human over his shoulder. They do not know the full extent of his injuries, so they should be cautious in how they proceed. Baeowin readily helps Tric transfer Kachen carefully onto the cot in his assigned hut. 

Kachen’s satchel is on the floor next to his bed. The only other notable features in the room are the pitcher and washbasin on the table and the stool pushed under it. That will provide a convenient surface for Heppa to set up her equipment so that she can work while keeping an eye on her patient. First though, she needs to see what he has been taking, which means going through his bag. Of course, she is also curious about what else is in there… Hopefully whatever medicine he has been taking is not dangerous to elves, but just in case, Heppa announces, “I’m going to go through his stachel, and I don’t know what’s in there.”

That wording alarms Fenowin, who is watching from the doorway. “Perhaps you should remove it to an open area before—”

Tric cuts the druid off. He asked for her help with this, but her agitation could likely just get in Heppa’s way. “Fenowin, could you give us a full rundown on what exactly is in the pollen? You would know best what could help us neutralize it.” 

Heppa does decide to take Kachen’s bag out into the open courtyard, so that it is away from the pollen on him and scattered around his doorway. “I don’t think the dapper inkcap will kill us, but there’s no point exposing everybody,” she announces. To Fenowin, she adds, “It doesn’t help if there’s two of us unconscious.” Tric offers to handle the material, assuming it will be less dangerous to him due to his mixed ancestry, but Heppa declines. She wants to see for herself what is in the satchel.

Tric leaves with Fenowin, and Baeowin gets a scout to stand as sentry at Kachen’s hut. Meanwhile, Heppa goes through the small bag. It contains dried trail rations and a waterskin. There is also a small book, pages of parchment bound together with a cover that is tied shut. The last item of note is a small pouch. 

At first glance, the contents of the pouch look like thin strips of dried vegetable matter rather than jerky. Heppa has never seen a real dapper inkcap growing, just heard descriptions of it and seen illustrations. Fenowin has said it is velvety and black, whereas these are withered dark gray strips. The mushroom has a sharply peaked cap, but these shriveled pieces could come from any original shape. Heppa has no idea if this is actually the dapper inkcap, and it occurs to her that Kachen might drink it instead of eating it. She takes a sniff at his waterskin, but all she smells is weak alcohol, like the low-grade dwarvish ale he had at the keep.

“Maybe he has a recipe or something,” Heppa mutters, as she starts on the knot sealing the small book. And if there’s anything else of interest written in here that I just happen to see… Her grin of curious anticipation turns quickly to a puzzled frown. At first, she sees nothing that she recognizes as letters. She has seen examples of human writing, signs in South Tower, Damal’s letters, the monument in Hisanham. These squiggles are not that. As she flips through the pages, she begins to recognize that some of those squiggles recur often. There are other places where shapes are much more similar to letters, perhaps when the topic is something that this other form of writing is not designed for.

There are sufficient indications for Heppa to conclude that this is Kachen’s personal notebook, one he is actively writing in, not a text he has picked up from somewhere. The pages are only filled so far, and the handwriting, though strange to her eye, uses the same ink and pressure as the letter that Kachen left for her and Tric at the keep. The parchment is even similar. There are also drawings scattered among the squiggles. A sketch of the staff from the Foul Fen comes later in the notebook than a drawing of the dapper inkcap. Unfortunately, Heppa can make no sense of the writing around the mushroom. There are also sketches of several rings, including the Ring of Gritta that Kachen now wears. The drawing of that also comes before the picture of the staff, which fits the timeline of Kachen visiting South Tower before heading to the Estmark Hills.

There are probably a lot of interesting things in the book, but nothing that she can learn without devoting time to its study and decipherment. Heppa may be curious, but it is one thing to casually read a person’s diary and another to toil over it. And besides, Kachen needs her attention focused on healing him. With a little regret, she closes the book and puts it back in his satchel. She will just need to assume that the small pouch contains dapper inkcap. She still does not know how he treats it or what the dosage schedule is. As she starts to think about that and how she might regulate his medicine, she realizes there may be more crucial maintenance to worry about, such as basic hydration and nourishment. Kachen is already malnourished, and being unable to eat for a couple days might kill him outside anything Fenowin’s pollen did.

Right now, though, Heppa decides to take advantage of Fenowin’s absence to run some experiments on the supposed dapper inkcap. The druid seems to get very agitated by any mention of the mushroom, so it is best to work on it when she is not around. Heppa retrieves her alchemy and apothecary supplies from her room and then sets up her little field lab on Kachen’s table. This way she can keep an eye on his condition as she works. A few hours later, Heppa has thoroughly convinced herself that the dried material is indeed unadulterated dapper inkcap.

There is still the issue of treating whatever ailment Kachen is taking medicine for, though. There are no other reagents of any kind in his supplies, just food and weak ale, so he must be consuming the dapper inkcap in this raw form. There are probably about half a dozen total mushrooms in the pouch, but they are broken into smaller pieces. If just one piece is a dose, and he takes it just once a day, this supply could last for weeks. But Heppa can think of many other qualifying factors. Maybe the dose is really small, and he is carrying so much because the mushroom is so hard to come by. Or maybe he eats multiple pieces throughout a day.

At any rate, there is enough dapper inkcap here that tomorrow she will be able to conduct experiments in dishes using the herbal materials she gets from Tric and Fenowin at the end of the day.