Echoes of Invasion: Plains Problems | Scene 3

When they reach Dolydd, Sir Anyc leads Tric and Heppa to his home so that Heppa can treat his injuries. He strips down to the waist, and she sets to work. In addition to the bruises and contusions from the recent fight, his body also bears scars from his many years as a knight. Heppa wonders how many of them are from his armor cutting into him, rather than directly from the blades of his enemies. As always, Heppa appreciates the chance to study a human up close. Sir Anyc is well-muscled but with a build more like Knots than the bulky Beard. Like them, he is a healthy person, but one who has been in a lot of fights. Heppa does what she can for his new injuries, but Anyc’s wounded pride is beyond her ability. That is more Tric’s domain.

While Heppa works, Tric continues plying Anyc for information, and they learn that Sir Vinny is one of Sir Owaec’s retainers. Tric’s eyes go wide when he hears that. “Forgive my lack of familiarity with your culture… That holds some significant status, right, to serve Sir Owaec directly?”

“Yes. And for such a person to insult Dame Merriver!” Sir Anyc grumbles.

“And is Sir Vinny known to have some degree of martial prowess?” Tric continues. The glare Sir Anyc shoots at him causes Tric to quickly tack on, “Of course, he must have, to have bested you.”

“Do you know what the title sir means?” Anyc asks back, a bit prickly.

“It means you’re a knight… you ride on a horse… you are responsible for the people in your charge… No, not really.”

“We knights are no mere horsemen,” Anyc says, but all he gets from the elves are uncomprehending, blank stares. 

“Right… you have a lance,” Tric finally says.

“Everybody who is a knight has martial prowess,” Anyc states explicitly. “You are not called sir or dame unless you have demonstrated such prowess.”

“And a horse lord is a knight?” Heppa haltingly asks, trying to put this all together. They have met knights in other places, like Sir Sior who joined Rhodri’s caravan in Weldyn to escort the prisoners to the Ford of Abez.

“You are in the Horse Plains, populated by the Horse Clans. Our leaders are the horse lords. Anybody with the title horse lord is definitely, at the minimum, a knight,” Sir Anyc explains. “If you are a knight or higher, you still carry the title sir or dame. Lower than a knight, you have no such title, though you might own a horse and a weapon.” 

Right, right… Horse lord is a title that Terwaen aspires to. Thinking back to the cause of the duel, Heppa comments, “That seems complicated.”

“What does?” Anyc asks. “Needing to achieve victory on the battlefield before being given greater honors?”

“Oh, no, no. I mean what Sir Vinny was saying about Merriver, when he’s Owaec’s retainer and she’s Owaec’s daughter.”

“Yes, you see the trouble. Exactly. This is why I felt Sir Vinny needed to be—”

“Shown the error of his ways?” Tric cuts in.

“Yes,” Anyc growls, disappointment in himself clear in his tone.

“As I understand it, you did the right thing by the laws of your people, right?” Tric encourages him. “You challenged him, and you fought your duel, did you not? You stood up for your lady’s honor, did you not? You have the dents and bruises to show for it, do you not? That’s what standing up for honor means, isn’t it?” Tric waxes eloquent, using rhetorical devices to hammer home his points. 

He fails to bolster Sir Anyc’s mood, but the man appreciates that Tric tried and recognizes that he is a herald or orator of some sort. From their continuing conversation, Tric gathers that the knight is a true believer in Merriver’s cause. Anyc was not defending Merriver’s honor because it was his responsibility to do so, but because he truly took offense that she was slighted. He bears some deep loyalty to her that is not just from a sworn oath.

“Of course, it sounds outlandish that your lady would be part of any plot,” Tric says. “Surely she’s a champion of many great works here in Wesnoth. What can you share with us? We haven’t been through the Horse Plains recently.”

Sir Anyc lists various frontiers Dame Merriver has fought on. Although Tric and Heppa have traveled quite a bit in the past few months, they do not recognize most of the place names Anyc mentions, perhaps because they are smaller settlements out on the fringes of the country. Merriver has had a hand in putting down rebellions, pushing back orcs, and repelling banditry. Tric enjoys listening to the tales, filing them away for future storytelling opportunities of his own. “And she slew a yeti in the Heart Mountains, did she not?” he asks, getting a bit carried away. Anyc points out that those mountains are well beyond Wesnoth’s borders.

When Heppa is done wrapping his ribs, the knight dons his tunic again and thanks her for her ministrations. The poultices are very soothing, and his aches and pains have abated a good deal. Heppa takes advantage of his goodwill to ask some questions about the local people and culture. In Sir Anyc’s opinion, the Horse Plains, with their ranchers and farmers, are self-sufficient. The common folk see to the food production, while the mounted warrior class maintains the peace. “We keep the banditry out so that the peasantry does not have to deal with such rabble,” he explains.

They already know from Terwaen that honor plays an important role in this society, and the conversation with Sir Anyc reinforces this. He too ascribes to the belief that Terwaen described as, “You must meet a challenge, and you must show yourself worthy.”

“You cannot let a challenge to your honor stand,” Anyc insists. “That way lies chaos.”

With Heppa’s work done—and the knowledge that Sir Anyc’s challenger was not one of his sister’s followers—Tric asks for directions to the home of Dame Terwaen. Anyc tells him that she still lives at Sir Rugg’s homestead. Heppa flips through her maps to the sheet with Tric’s family tree on it and confirms for herself that Rugg is Terwaen’s father. 

“Do you happen to know her?” Tric asks Anyc.

“Of course I know her,” Anyc replies. The village is not very large, after all.

“Right, right, of course you know her!” Tric blusters. “She’s Terwaen of the Plains, as she’s known in South Tower.”

Anyc tilts his head in puzzlement. “Aren’t we all?”

“Yes, yes, but she made a very good showing of herself. Were you at the Full Bloom Festival in South Tower this past year?” Tric asks. Anyc indicates he did not go this year, though he has in years past. “She performed very well in the tournament,” Tric explains.

“Ah, so you wish to pay your respects to her,” Sir Anyc concludes. He provides directions.

“Yes,” Tric says simply, seeing no reason to provide any information beyond that. “Thank you very much, Sir Anyc, for introducing us to your town. I know you’ll get back on your horse,” he adds encouragingly. “And I’m sure you’ll be out there dueling again another day.”

“That will depend on how much people mind their tongues.”

“As I know people, they never mind their tongues well enough,” Tric replies with a laugh. Heppa handles the polite farewells, and they take their leave.