Echoes of Invasion: Kachen Up | Scene 12

When Heppa checks on Kachen the next morning, he is still unconscious. At this point, she needs to do something about keeping him fed. But she has never had to nourish an unconscious person before, so she is unsure about how to go about doing it. It occurs to her then that her mother mentioned needing to get Daddy to eat when he was upset about Uncle Anador’s death. Although seeking out her mother is not something Hepalonia would normally do, they did actually have a reasonable conversation recently, so she decides to give it a try.

She approaches Penna at their home and asks if she has any knowledge about feeding unresponsive people. Unthinkingly, Heppa provides context for why she thinks her mother knows something that can help her. “When An—I mean, when…”

This approach rubs her mother the wrong way. “Why would you bring this up here?!” Penna hisses, shutting down the conversation.

Left to her own devices, Heppa returns to Kachen’s hut and examines how his throat responds to stimuli. She concludes that swallowing still functions if his head is held up properly, so some sort of soupy or mashed food could work. There is still the issue of his medicine, though. Heppa must decide whether to risk overdosing him or causing withdrawal symptoms. It seems that the former is more likely to kill him than the latter, so she chooses not to include any dapper inkcap in the porridge she will give him. She pays a visit to her family’s kitchen (quite different from Alric’s) and asks Theoda and Brin, the servants there, to fortify an easy-to-digest mash with nutrients. Maybe Kachen’s overall health can actually improve as a result of this whole situation. 

Once that is all taken care of, she returns to her alchemical work, conducting experiments to see how the dapper inkcap, the pollen, and the materials that Tric and Fenowin gathered yesterday all interact with each other. At this stage, she is operating in a purely observational role. Reflecting on the worst case scenario, she considers that she might knock out her casting powers or herself. Although that would itself provide information, she should probably avoid those outcomes if she can. With that in mind, Heppa opens all the windows in Kachen’s hut and moves the small table to below one of them. She enlists Endathalas’s help to wave a large leaf fan so that no fumes build up in the room. Finally, she ties a wet cloth around her nose and mouth as further insurance against breathing anything in.

Dressed in Alric’s old vest, Heppa uses her solvents and miniature distillation setup to extract an elixir of the active reagent in dapper inkcap. The whole process makes her feel very alchemical. There is physical interaction between the pollen attack and the dapper inkcap extract, complete with fizzing. The gas thus produced could indeed knock someone out. Heppa reflects that Fenowin could have weaponized dapper inkcap herself by putting it and her pollen mix in two breakable containers. Throw that at an invader, and they will pass out when the two smash together. It is useful information, but it does not fully explain Kachen’s reaction since dapper inkcap is throughout his system.

Heppa monitors the reaction with her eyes, but she also reaches with her magical senses. She detects the fae energy inherent in the forest plants and monitors how it recoils from the dapper inkcap. It is acting like a fae phage. This certainly fits with what she heard about how it could interfere with elvish magic and suffocate woses. The additional ingredients in Fenowin’s pollen mix do give it enough strength to push back against the inkcap’s attack and win the fight in the dish before her. As Heppa watches the ebb and flow of the struggle in the dish, she muses over what it would take to make an antidote for elves if they actually encounter weaponized dapper inkcap. Maybe that would have been a better way for Fenowin to direct her nervous energy.

* * *

As the second day of Kachen’s affliction starts, Tric is at a bit of a loss on how to obtain the rest of the herbal materials that Fenowin said can counteract her pollen concoction. Then it occurs to him that this is exactly the sort of thing Damal’s shop might carry. He is four days away on foot, though, and Tric is not an accomplished enough pony rider to get there much faster. But Mate… The magpie had questionable success delivering a message to Terwaen, and he is unlikely to remember Damal’s shop. However, he used to hang out at the Parting Glass. He should certainly be able to find that, and this time, Tric has time to compose a note for the bird to carry, not just tie on a favor and trust in Mate’s mimicry skills. 

Tric begins making plans. Damal already has a sample of the pollen; Heppa laded Aderyn down with that a month ago. Damal has not sent back his report on that, so at the very least Tric should encourage him to do so, now that there is a very practical need for the information. In his staccato note, Tric includes that the person hurt by the pollen weapon is a human who had consumed dapper inkcap, though he names no names. He fills the small piece of parchment with lists of what they have on hand and what else he thinks they need. He asks if Damal has any other ideas regarding substitutes or a recipe for a counteragent. Tric makes no mention of magic, but he emphasizes that a person is injured to appeal to Damal’s professional code.

Of course, Damal will require payment for this is a consultation. Tric needs something of value that is still light enough for Mate to carry. He settles on gathering some seeds and herbs endemic to Estbryn Forest that could be useful to Damal but harder for the city dweller to acquire on his own. Tric concludes his message by scrawling on the bottom of the back, “If this is not sufficient payment, you can bring this letter to Estbryn Forest, and I’ll be happy to compensate you properly.”

Tric sticks his message inside the small pouch of his foragings and then ties the whole thing to Mate’s leg. “If it gets too heavy and you need to take a break, feel free to untie it and rest,” he tells the magpie. The bird has been very patient with him all day, reading his anxiety and not harassing him too much. Tric remembers Alric sending Aderyn for his uncle and tries a similar approach, repeating Damal’s name a few times for Mate to understand. “Go straight to Alric—he’ll recognize you—but say Duh-maulllll, Duh-maulllll….” The magpie lifts off, following the setting sun to the west.