Echoes of Invasion: Plains Problems | Scene 6

Terwaen leads Tric and Heppa around behind the back of the house to the workshop where her father’s younger sister is working. Midge is married to Sir Inyc, who was a knight in Konrad II’s army during the war with Mal-Ravenal. Like Sir Marthynec, he was held captive and terrorized by revenants. Following the war, he continued to fight alongside the knights of the horse clans and ultimately settled down among them, marrying into the community. Presumably, Sir Inyc is doing better mentally and emotionally than Sir Marthynec, but if that turns out not to be the case, Heppa knows how to make a potion that can help.

As for Midge herself, she is a potter. When the elves first see her, she is seated at her wheel, arms covered in wet clay up to her elbows. She wears a formless shift with a spattered apron over it and is a rather thin, shapeless woman. Her long, straight blonde hair is in constant danger of getting into the clay as she leans over to inspect her work.

When they enter the workshop, Terwaen introduces Tric as Mhaev’s son, and it occurs to him that he is now around people who knew a younger version of his mother, in contrast to those familiar with Anadaor in Wesmere. Terwaen explains that Tric and his cousin will be staying with the family for as long as they are in Dolydd, probably a few days. She requests that they be allowed to use the tools in the workshop to repair their weaponry.

A broad smile spreads across Midge’s pale face. “I would greet you properly, but I’m a little slimy right now,” she says. She nods her head toward where tools are mounted on a wall above a work surface. The workshop is well-kitted. In addition to basic carpentry tools for maintaining a home, there are also metal-working tools and a small anvil. This is not a full-on smithy like Serces’s shop in South Tower, but clearly Terwaen can reshoe her horse when she needs to. Pots in various stages of production cover shelves on the opposite wall. Some are drying, while others are freshly glazed. The workshop itself is a cozy temperature from a kiln in the corner.

Heppa quickly determines that her bow’s stiffness is beyond repair; it has indeed been magically weakened, and she will need to get a new one when they return to their village. Tric offers her his old one, since he likes traveling with the Dunefolk-style bow his mother gave him. While Tric keeps working, Heppa drifts over to watch Midge’s work closely, as interested in this as she was in Osian’s papermaking. Tric has an easier time with his repairs. After he glues together the cracks in his willow knuckle dusters and sands down the rough patches of wood, they are as good as new.

Midge keeps up a friendly conversation with the elves, answering Heppa’s questions about how her pottery wheel works. Periodically she pauses in her shaping to kick the wheel back up to a fast spin. Pottery-making is a more elaborate process than Heppa had imagined. In addition to the shaping, there is also the whole firing process. The topic of glazes proves to be a common ground for her and Midge, and they discuss what pigments go into them compared to Heppa’s inks. Some glazes provide color, while others give a pot a shiny or matte finish, sealing in the colors and making the material non-porous. There is an alchemical bent to the topic that Heppa finds intriguing. For example, different glazes need to be fired at different temperatures.

“Midge, you do not ride a horse for a living, like most people that we’ve met around here, is that right?” Tric asks. “You do not swing a sword for a living.”

“No, I throw pots for a living.” She gestures at the wheel. This is her trade, not just a hobby. Almost every home in Dolydd has some of her handiwork.

“Filled with the right material, a thrown pot could do a lot of damage,” Tric jokes, and Midge laughs. Heppa gives the matter more consideration, musing over what you could put inside a pot to weaponize it. 

Midge allows that one could do this, but it seems to her that would require a lot of upfront work for a one-time benefit. “If you were going to do something like that, you would want it to be very impactful. You wouldn’t strike with a pot as often as with a sword,” she says. “Pots don’t hold their edges as well,” she adds with a smile, making Tric laugh. 

They playfully bat around ideas for a bit. Heppa suggests filling the pot with materials that would explode on impact. If the pot only knocks a single rider down, that is not a very good return on the work investment of the potter. It would need to disrupt a whole line of horses. Anything that sent shards flying into the horses would be horrible for those poor creatures, though. A less distasteful approach would be using the pot to disperse a sleeping agent. “That might not affect the horses as much as the people, since they are so much bigger,” Heppa muses. “But it would have to reach a lot higher to get the riders.” 

When the thought experiment on weaponized pottery finishes running its course, Tric returns the subject to a brighter topic: decorative pots. He compliments Midge on her artistic skill. Some of the pots are colored just with solid glazes, but others have hand-painted patterns or details such as stylized depictions of galloping horses. 

“I promised my sister that I would purchase a pot for her,” Heppa shares. “She’s interested in artistic pots of human design.”

Midge chuckles. “These have definitely been designed by a human. Does she have any preferences?” She wipes off her hands and goes over to the shelves. “Something striking like one of these solid green or blue ones? Something with a design?”

Heppa does not have much sense of style or taste. All she has to go on is that Quaemilya asked for human art. The easiest way for Heppa to interpret that is to find something very specific to this particular culture. “Maybe something with horses would be appropriate, since that is evocative of this region,” she suggests. “Would you be willing to sell this one?” Heppa asks, pointing out a pot with dark horses painted on a gleaming background. The twenty-coin price tag is far more tractable than what pots were going for outside Dan’Tonk. Heppa thanks Midge profusely as she examines her purchase. The bronze-like background color has a nice sheen to it and goes well with the rich blue used for the horses. The color combination reminds her of the flags she has seen among the horse clans. “Wonderful! Quaemilya’s going to love this! Oh, but how do I travel with it?”

Midge recommends wrapping it in cloth and storing it in a saddlebag. Heppa pulls out her Dunefolk-inspired scarf and uses that. “Put it on Butterbell, and don’t let Butterbell fall down a cliff,” Tric advises. “Again.”

Heppa is so excited. She talks more with Midge about the specific pigments used here and asks more about any cultural significance to the artwork so that she can relay it to her sister. With a big smile on her face, Heppa thanks Midge one last time. “Now all I have to do is get it home safely,” she says with satisfaction.