Echoes of Invasion: Kachen Up | Scene 2

Tric Manu has embraced the term ranger to describe his career path. Although he goes out on scouting missions, he has no interest in taking on a pony. During the spring months, he participates in the border patrol, working alongside Renwick and Endathalas under Baeowin’s supervision. The latter two have their ponies along in case they need to get urgent word back to the village for any reason. Tric’s crew has been focused on the eastern edge of Estbryn Forest, where there has been a slight uptick in activity, due to the trade relationship established with Connie and Marvin. Additionally, this is the direction Tric expects Kachen will arrive from. Tric gets along well enough with Renwick now that they have a working relationship. As for Endathalas, Tric is pretty sure that he has trained Milquetoast to shimmy him awake whenever the elf’s name is said. Tric can respect that sort of cleverness.

Mari-Elin the Carter comes by every few weeks to deliver brewed drinks and pick up more ingredients. On one of those visits, Tric catches up with her and suggests she lay low when around South Tower. That is not much of a concern to her; she has given up the tunnel work in favor of this current business, finding work above ground far more pleasant. However, from the way Tric provides his advice, she gathers that he had a thing or two to do with the increasing threat level in the city. She heeds his warning, but news of this might get back to her contacts in the South Tower underground and damage his reputation there.

Each scouting crew spends three or four days out on their rounds before returning to the central village where the scout quarters are. Tric passes the time in the field regaling his companions with stories from his travels. He tries not to talk about himself too much, or at least obfuscate when he is. At this point, rather than build up his own reputation, he focuses on the escapades of a vigilante he claims he met in South Tower, the Falcon. “He single-handedly took down an entire gang of thieves!”

“How large is the gang?” Renwick asks. “What are we talking here? Some squirrels?”

“No, a gang of humans!” Tric corrects. “I understand you don’t know humans as well as I do, from multiple perspectives. Humans become desperate when they turn to crime. This gang, they call themselves the Rats. Now, we don’t have that many rats in the forest, but the city: full of rats. Under every rock, a rat. Under that rock,” he says, pointing to a larger boulder as they pass it, “there’d be two rats. In a box? Rats, more rats!”

Endathalas looks puzzled. “So these human settlements are completely composed of criminals?”

“Not completely,” Tric says. “Although I would say that perhaps in every human there is a little criminal,” he adds, sounding reflective. That might be fodder for another tale. For now though, he tells his companion how the Falcon dispatched all of the villains and collapsed an entire house upon them.

Still looking confused, Endathalas asks, “Were any actual falcons involved?”

“Yes,” Tric confirms, “an actual falcon was involved. This vigilante, in order to protect his identity, goes as The Falcon.”

“Does he transform into a falcon?”

“No, he has a falcon with him.” Tric points at Mate on his shoulder, “And no, this is not the falcon.” The magpie gives his stupid, stupid call, though it is not clear whether he is referring to the audience, the tale, or his old nemeses in Alric’s aviary.

Endathalas continues trying to puzzle through the story. “And how did he collapse the building?”

“Nobody knows,” Tric answers mysteriously.

Baeowin speaks up finally. “There seems to be a number of things in this story that nobody knows.”

“The Falcon is very mysterious, I agree. That’s a good point, Baeowin,” Tric says with a smirk. Eventually he accepts that the story will not go over quite as well with this crowd as he wanted it too, though. They just do not have the touchstones to understand it as a form of entertainment. These scouts have not had nearly as much exposure to thieves and humans as Tric has, and they take advantage of his expertise to become more familiar with the topic. They pick the story apart, dissecting it for nuggets of tactical value. For them, it is not an exciting tale but a warning about the dangers of human settlements. Baeowin in particular asks some pressing questions, as Tric had formerly told her that the city was not unsafe and he had even met with the captain of the guard. Tric does not mind too much. Being the local expert on human urban environments is still renown.