Echoes of Invasion: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner | Scene 3

Hepalonia continues sipping her mead and jotting down notes for the day, thinking over everything she has learned. The next time Alric comes by, she asks him, “So is Kachen two names?” Maybe it is Ka Chen? It looked like just one word when he signed the letter, but now she is not sure. “Is that the case for all humans?”

Alric cracks a grin. “No, Kachen is his name. Like a lot of humans, he has just the one. Other than the Horse Clans, Wesnoth does not really have any clans. People tend to have just one name, though they might use their profession as a second name as a clarifier, like if there’s more than one person with the same first name in a town. How many words is your name? Is it Heppa Lonia? I’ve heard you being referred to as just Heppa.”

“Oh, no, Hepalonia is just one word. Heppa’s a nickname.” That explanation makes sense to Alric, who confirms that humans also use nicknames. “We don’t have an additional, second name, though. It’s just that my mother chose to name my sister and me with very long names.”

Alric laughs. “I think my mother chose the most Wesnothy-sounding name that she could find for me. It’s pretty plain, but there was a knight or something with it.”

“Mothers put their aspirations on their children,” Heppa reflects.

“Yes, I think she just wanted me to fit in.” Alric shrugs. “But, well, I’m making my own life for myself.”

“It is a nice tavern,” she congratulates him. Alric welcomes her to continue hanging out in the common room, writing at the bar or chatting with the other clients. Noting that her mead is finished, he asks her if there is anything else he can get or do for her. “Actually,” Heppa draws out, trying to organize her thoughts, “this might be a longshot, but I understand that there might be a library? Maybe the earl has one? But I’m assuming one would need to get an introduction somehow… Do you know how you would go about doing that?”

“The lady of the city, Sabine, she’s a scholar,” Alric tells her. “She keeps a lot of books and research materials. That’s all maintained at the tower. Maybe that’s what you’re referring to? I suppose you would have to submit a request of some kind, maybe through the seneschal. We’re right in the middle of a festival though, so Lady Sabine won’t be in her tower doing research. She’s among the people during the day. Maybe you could bump into her at the festival and strike up a conversation based on your shared research interests. Also the House of Light, they have a fair selection of books. I assume those are related to healing or whatever else a Mage of the Light does. I suppose it depends what you are interested in.”

Heppa perks up a bit. “Ah, I at least know somebody there.” She and Rhaessa seemed to get along just fine earlier today.

“Are you… Hmm…” Alric pauses and seems to be considering something. “Heledd knows a lot more about this than I do.” Hepalonia wilts a little. She does not think Heledd likes her very much. Yes, talking with Rhaessa is sounding more and more like the approach to take. But Alric continues, voice low, “If you cannot gain access to the libraries through high social status or however one properly interacts with white mages, there are other ways. Heledd knows a fair bit about the libraries and has some… access to their information.” Heppa files this away. Although an illicit approach is not her first choice, it is at least good to know that Alric trusts her with the knowledge that this other avenue exists.

“It is a little difficult for me to know if my status would be comparable here,” Heppa tells him. “I mean, my name is longer,” she adds with a smile. “I think that was my mother’s point, more status for more letters.” In elvish circles, Heppa might be able to rely on her father’s reputation to gain access to another noble’s scholarly work, but their society is also so much smaller. She would not be surprised if there were more humans in South Tower right now than there are elves in all of Estbryn Forest.

Heppa thanks Alric for the information and resumes work on her map, adding the locations Ulf told her about when he escorted her from their duel to the Tent of Light. She also makes note of the drinks Alric has served her so far, occasionally calling out questions to him about where they come from, which he answers good-naturedly between serving and chatting with other customers. Her seat lets her see the door, too, and she enjoys some people-watching as customers come in.

Tric Manu stops by to pick up their things before heading up to their room, then rejoins her after a while, having cleaned up from his exertions. Terwaen’s favor is once again tied around his arm. While Hepalonia was waiting for her cousin and documenting her findings, the tavern has filled up more. She has overheard rumors among the recently arrived diners that there is a new storyteller in town. “Well, the pressure is on now!” Tric says when she relates them.

“Oh, that’s you!” Heppa realizes. She had wondered about the odds of another elvish storyteller being around.