Echoes of Invasion: Plains Problems | Scene 12

Sir Anyc escorts Tric and Heppa to Dame Merriver’s homestead. The main building is far larger than Sir Rugg’s house, but it is not their first destination. He takes them through the stables to show them the barding for her warhorses and then to the armory. As he guides them around, he continues to tell them about the liege he admires so much. “Dame Merriver is heavily involved in the training of young squires, of course. A lot of people look up to her. She has an important position as the child of the leader of all the horse clans. Sir Owaec is nominally our leader, but his attention is divided among all the clans, so Dame Merriver has taken a lot of responsibility specifically for our clan.”

“The Horse Plains are home to many clans?” Heppa asks, checking her understanding.

“Yes,” Sir Anyc acknowledges. “There is some conflict among them, such as duels and wargames. Sir Owaec’s task is not to keep all the clans from clashing; that would not serve us. We all need the practice. He is the most powerful horse lord, so all the other clan leaders defer to him on strategic matters.” 

Anyc shows off some armor and then racks and racks of weaponry. When he takes down a sword for a demonstration, Tric and Heppa each look it over. Sure enough, it bears the sigil of Garbor, Untdunben’s master smith, as do other ones on the racks. It was almost half a year ago that they saw it with their own eyes, but Heppa has a sketch of the mark in her portfolio. Swords were definitely included on the wall of accounting in the dwarvish fortress. It occurs to the cousins that these weapons might be cover for all the others; if anyone were to question Merriver’s spending in Untdunben, she has these swords to show for it.

“These weapons are in excellent condition and of excellent manufacture. Clearly the highest grade of steel,” Tric says, laying on the compliments. “They look very well maintained… or are they new? You must get shipments in several times a year.”

Anyc frowns a little, finding strange the type of attention the elves are paying to these weapons, such as their interest in the maker’s mark on them. For the sake of politeness, though, he answers the question, explaining that the swords are not as new as they could be. They have been sitting here for six months, unjoined by the newer weapons he had been expecting. Usually new shipments arrive on a quarterly basis.

At first, Tric thinks that is odd, but then a realization hits him. He told Mhaev where the tunnels came out near South Tower; she must have disrupted the deliveries. I guess that’s good, he thinks. He wonders if she is keeping the captured weapons or any of the carters. He hopes not the latter; he did ask for leniency for the people just doing their jobs. Maybe I can use that against Merriver, Tric thinks. Look, South Tower has captured your carters! he rehearses. Although maybe that would start a war between the Horse Plains and South Tower…. Still, it is an approach to hold in reserve.

This prying is making Anyc uncomfortable. “Anything else Dame Merriver wants you to see, she can show you herself,” he says, ushering the visitors out of the armory. He leads them through the large doors into Merriver’s great hall. This room is the size of Terwaen’s whole house, with a large open space in the middle and columns running along the sides.

Merriver is in conversation with a few people further down the room. They are hidden by columns and shadows, though, so Tric does not get a good look at them. Merriver herself, on the other hand, is fully visible. Her fine tabard shows off her athletic build, and though she is not in plate, she wears a sword at her side. She has light brown skin and long, straight black hair laced with gray. When Anyc speaks, she turns to him, and her piercing brown eyes take in the visitors. With a good look at her face now, Tric judges her to be a bit older than he is; she probably has childhood memories of the war with Mal-Ravanal.

“I beg your indulgence, my liege,” Anyc says. “I have visiting emissaries from across the River Weldyn.”

Merriver nods an acknowledgement to Anyc and then turns back to her hushed conference. Though Tric cannot hear her words, he notes her posture and general air of command. She is clearly issuing orders of some kind. She dismisses the others, and they quickly slip out a side exit. Were they mercenaries? Caravaneers? Tric does not know.

“This is the herald Tric Manu and Hepalonia of House Thrandolil, representatives of High Lord Volas and emissaries of Estbryn Forest in Estmark Province. It is a day’s ride east of South Tower, within several days of our recent skirmishes with orcs.” Anyc prompts Tric to show the seal verifying their positions, and Merriver takes note of it. She is of high enough status that she may have seen such emblems from other elvish forests. 

“Welcome to Dolydd and the Horse Plains,” Merriver greets them. Heppa offers the appropriate polite responses, and Merriver accepts them, establishing herself as the social superior in this engagement. When she dismisses Sir Anyc, Tric and Heppa are left alone to face the highest ranked human they have ever interacted with. They only watched Earl Gweddry and Sir Owaec from the sidelines at the Spring Bloom Festival. And though they did talk with Lady Sabine, she is a noble in name only. Dame Merriver, on the other hand, has commanded people and their respect for many years. Here on level ground with Tric and Heppa, Merriver has as strong an air of authority as the Ka’lian did up in their towers.