Echoes of Invasion: Plains Problems | Scene 5

Terwean’s younger brother throws a peanut at Mate, and the magpie launches from Tric’s shoulder to catch it in the air. “I think you have to tie him a knot now,” Tric tells the bird. “He did give you a peanut.” Mate lands and pecks the shell open with a comment on how majestic he is. “But if you want more peanuts…” That argument appeals to the magpie. Mate flaps back over to Tric and pokes around inside his backpack. When he emerges, he is wearing a piece of Anador’s gold and amethyst jewelry and carrying two ribbons to tie together. Tric is amused at the little crown. “Oh, it’s High Lord Mate now, is it?” Then he realizes that one of the items Mate has for tying is actually Volas’s seal—that Tric needs to take a little more seriously. He decides to let the magpie play with it for now but makes a mental note to get it back before they leave. “This is my magpie, Mate, Lord of the Skies,” Tric says, introducing the bird to Bayar.

“Have you had any new adventures?” Heppa asks Terwaen while the bird antics are going on.

“Surely it hasn’t all just been keeping your horse clean,” Tric adds.

In the months since they have last seen her, Terwaen has been out on a few sorties in the northeast corner of Wesnoth, east of the River Weldyn. Across the river from Soradoc, there are plains wherein sit the Northern Outpost, which did not grow into as impressive a town as the Southern Outpost did. It has more small villages around it, scattered through the farmland, but it does not have the prestige that South Tower does as the earl’s seat. Keeping the lands around the Northern Outpost safe is the responsibility of the horse lords. Sir Owaec was actually in charge at the Northern Outpost in his youth. Terwaen has been active dealing with banditry in that area, as well as some rogue orc elements. “There have been rumors of orcs crossing the Great River further east, perhaps looking to move into Earl Gweddry’s province. We fought what was probably an advanced scouting party.”

“Is campaign season ending because fall is approaching?” Tric asks.

Terwaen explains that as harvest approaches, the knights have to spend more time patrolling the Horse Plains themselves to keep the farmers and their goods safe from bandits. Then, as winter sets in, they mainly stay at home since it is hard for the horses to move through such thick snow. Sometimes the weather gets severe enough that they bring the horses and other animals inside the home to share warmth. Certainly, the lightweight furnishings are easy to push aside to make room.

“Oh, on our way into town, we met Sir Anyc, another knight in town,” Tric shares. “He said he knew of you?” Terwaen confirms that she knows Anyc. “I don’t know how common this is, but we actually got to witness a duel between him and one Sir… Sir Vinny, is it?”

Terwaen’s eyes go a little wide. “Sir Vinreddaent?” she suggests.

“Oh, sorry. I misheard his name,” Tric claims.

“That’s what I thought he said, too,” Heppa assures him. “Sir Vinny.”

“No, no, you must address him as Sir Vinreddaent,” Terwaen advises them, helping them practice the pronunciation. “You would not wish to offend him.”

“I understand he is a retainer to Sir Owaec, which is a significant rank or status?” Tric asks.

“Indeed, he has Sir Owaec’s ear, and that is a position of much importance.”

“I do not think I could duel him on Butterbell,” Heppa comments. “She would go right under his horse.”

Tric voices the opinion that duels are only between knights, and asks his sister what would happen if she had a dispute with a mercenary who was not under her direct command. 

“A mercenary who besmirched my honor would have to defend their words with their sword,” Terwaen says. If the mercenary has no horse, such a fight would take place on foot. It would still be considered a duel.

“And if they had no sword?” Tric asks. He poses such questions partly because he loves to mince words, but also to learn about horse clan society just in case he or Heppa get in trouble.  

“What sort of mercenary are they then?” Terwaen rejoins. Tric tells her about the Beard’s giant axe. Terwaen would have no qualms meeting such a weapon with her sword. “A mercenary is a skilled fighter, as are you and Heppa, and as such, can take part in an honorable duel. The criteria is that you are people with weapons who know how to use them.”

“I’d hate to lose my sword,” Heppa jokes, “but I guess I still have my bow and magic.” Those are less reliable, though, particularly of late.

“I’ve got a tiny knife and some knuckle dusters,” Tric says, pulling the carved wood out. “I don’t need a sword; that puts you at too much distance. You either want to be so far away that your foe is not a problem, or so close that you’re the problem.” He slips his knuckle dusters on and takes a few swipes at the air. The splintered wood catches his skin, reminding him that he still needs to repair them. “Do you happen to have a workshop here I could use for a little woodworking?” Tric asks Terwaen.

“Oh, yes, my bow is damaged too,” Heppa remembers.

“Would you believe a necromancer’s jaw did this?” he brags, holding out the weapon for Terwaen to see the cracks.

“And your bow as well?” she asks, turning to Heppa.

“It hit the ground, not the necromancer,” Heppa clarifies.

“But it was the necromancer’s fault,” Tric argues. “He sent a chill wave at you.” 

“Good point. It’s possible that magic made the wood brittle.”

“I can take you to where Midge is working,” Terwaen offers. “I’m sure her workshop will have some tools useful to you.”

Before they leave this room, though, Tric must recover his important items from Mate. Mate and Bayar are currently playing a game where the magpie tries to flick empty peanut shells through a target made by Bayar’s hands. Seeing that Mate is distracted, Tric decides to sneak over to the game. He puts up the cowl Ash gave him and slips on the onyx ring Mate stole from the shadow mages. Despite his preparations for stealth, Mate hears Tric coming and flaps up to the loft space just below the ceiling. There the ribbons are tied to a beam well out of Tric’s reach. Tric holds out a piece of dry-cured ham. “You know you want this more than you want that seal,” he says.

The terms are acceptable to Mate. He picks apart his knot and flies down with both the seal and the regular scouting ribbon. Pulling off the shadow ring, Tric offers it to the magpie. “I will give you this one for that jewelry,” he proposes, since the bird has taken an interest in the black ring before. Mate consents to the trade, allowing Tric to take back Anador’s jewelry. Tric slips the shadow ring onto Mate’s leg and ties it in place with a little string so that it will not slide around. 

While Tric retrieves Volas’s seal, Heppa flips through her map book with Terwaen, showing off some of her findings from their travels. With her inks, Heppa has documented the color of her sunburn on the way to Dan’Tonk and the shade of green her hair turned on the way to Weldyn. “This was my first time having a sunburn,” Heppa says almost proudly. “It was pretty bad.” Terwaen shares that she, too, got sunburns in her youth. Her skin is brown like Tric’s, but it gets darker in the sun and can burn if she is out uncovered for too long. This topic fascinates Heppa. A lifetime spent under the trees has made sunburns quite the novelty.