In the opening of the hearing, Tric and Heppa did their best to convince High Lord Volas and the council that the undead attack was not Kachen’s fault, but the time has come to embrace their backup plan, which is compromising on banishment. “First, I want to apologize on behalf of myself, Hepalonia, and Lord Thrandolil,” Tric begins anew, addressing the human visitor before turning to the council. “We invited Kachen here, and he was treated very poorly when he first arrived. From speaking with Kachen himself, I understand that everything that has happened is outside his control. Of course, we, the elves of Estbryn Forest, were the ones who knocked him unconscious and, in a way, brought this on ourselves. But! Kachen does not want any further trauma visited upon elves,” Tric says. “So that we can focus on our regrowing efforts, he will leave right away. If this is agreeable to the council, that would be acceptable to him.” Tric is confident that this approach will work and is not just unleashing their problems onto another community. Heppa has spent the past day doing a considerable amount of alchemy to make Kachen’s existence safer for everyone.
With Kachen’s supply of dapper inkcap on hand, Heppa had enough to run some experiments in support of the theories she developed when he was comatose. She was also able to ask the now-conscious Kachen about his dosage levels and frequency. The human mage answered her many questions on how he has been treating himself, but since his background is in arcane magic, it was not all comprehensible to her. Damal would not be happy to hear that there is a magical component to the treatment. Something related to what Heppa observed through her primal lens, that thing which smothers the connection to the fae, is also involved in cloaking Kachen’s presence so that the undead cannot detect him. That effect needed to remain, but the undesirable ones, like muted emotions, sleeplessness, and so forth, those Heppa counteracted. The result was a light powder that Kachen can take with liquid, such as in hot tea. Heppa was able to produce a supply that should last a full season.
Tric reiterates to the council that Kachen was taking all the necessary precautions, but that actions of elves interfered with that. Heppa shares her alchemical findings on how Fenowin’s pollen reacted with a medicine Kachen was taking. She also talks about how Kachen is researching ways to stop undead, much like Lord Thrandolil is. Maintaining a working relationship, albeit from a distance, will benefit their forest.
Since Tric has brought up Thrandolil and his research, Breda dispatches Dicllon to bring the noble forward. As the shaman passes Tric’s table, glaring at him again, it finally sinks in that she is trying to psych him out, not just looking at something beyond him. “If it would please the council, Kachen will agree to depart immediately,” Tric says, repeating himself a bit in his distraction. “It will be in everyone’s best interest, so that we need not linger longer over these matters. We can move on with the regrowth and putting to rest those who have passed.”
Dicllon escorts Lord Thrandolil before the council, and Breda sends her out again for Nasir, the only other elf who has spent any appreciable time with Kachen. Breda is a little stunned at what seems like a capitulation from the opposition. She shuffles through her parchments, wondering what aspects of Thrandolil’s research might help her case. Maybe something about the staff? “Lord Thrandolil, please, uh…” she starts, but her mind is currently disorganized as she tries to decide how to proceed from here. Has she fulfilled her responsibility by prompting the other side to put in what almost amounts to a guilty plea? Or is there some other retribution she should push towards? Having a more extreme punishment on the table could give the council some leeway to appear more magnanimous if they accept Tric’s offer. Breda’s work here is about justice, but it is also about presentation. A council session is just one point in time, while a story is forever.
Tric did not really want to engage his uncle on this topic, but since Breda has already brought him in, he figures he might as well. He and Heppa jump on the opening that her silence presents. Heppa talks with her father a little about the nature of his research and then points out to the council that Kachen is on the same side, wanting to deal with the stockpiles of undead that are lying around, prime fodder for reanimation. She reminds them of her map again, and all the areas within several days travel that have seen undead activity. “Some may find it satisfying to strike them down with the sword, but that doesn’t really solve the problem in the long term. Kachen and my father are working on ways to do that. We’ve already been able to determine that there is a disease borne by some of them and that reducing their mobility can negate the danger of others. If we are able to continue working together, I believe we can accomplish a lot more.”
Tric takes the reins at this point, asking Thrandolil questions regarding whether Kachen has been helpful in his research and whether he has shown any malice directed at elves. Tric concludes that it is best to maintain an amicable working relationship between Kachen and Thrandolil, for the sake of the entire forest and beyond, even. “It is better for all of us if Kachen is allowed to live and to continue to—perhaps from a distance—assist with our research. We’re all on the same side here, and we can benefit from Kachen’s fieldwork.” Where’s a hock of ham when you need one? Tric reminisces to himself, recalling the last time he argued for Kachen’s life. “This research can be conducted safely if Kachen is not around, can it not, Lord Thrandolil?”
Heppa’s father nods, and she inserts, “We can act as envoys, Tric Manu and I, doing research with Kachen outside the forest and bringing back information without having him come back.”
Growing more formal, Tric rephrases this, “If it would please the council, Hepalonia and I will agree to be the intermediaries, taking on the risk of visiting Kachen so that no one else need trouble themselves over this.”
This appeases some council members who thought some of the blame lay on those who brought the human into the village. Dicllon returns alone, having failed to get Nasir to leave his work ameliorating forest fire damage. She reports that he told her that anything he could add is already known by Heppa or by Thrandolil. Volas turns to Breda to see what else she might have to contribute. She bows her head respectfully, indicating that she feels enough has been said.
The council confers briefly, and then High Lord Volas addresses all present, granting Kachen one more night in the village, making allowances for the human preference to travel during daylight. He is allowed the time to wrap up his exchange with Lord Thrandolil and make arrangements for going forward. Tric Manu and Hepalonia will depart with Kachen in the morning.
As elves begin to file from the hall, Tric steps over to Breda’s table, needing to protect Kachen further from any tales that may result from recent events. Tric feels no animosity toward his mentor, but a gentle reminder that accuracy is only so important in a story cannot go amiss. He lets out a long breath, releasing the tension from the council session, and compliments Breda, “You know, I’ve never done this before, but I think you might have a couple times. I see why the council asked you to do this.” Casually he adds, “So… this is an uncommon event… Have you thought about how you’re going to frame this to future generations? Nobody wants to hear stories about necromancers. Trust me, I’ve been in some human bars recently. This should be a story about the wisdom and the mercy of the elves, their compassion for a man who is perhaps cursed.” Tric figures that rumor was bound to circulate anyway.
For his part, Kachen accepts the decision with no complaint, not even a comment. He knows that what he wants is not at all under consideration here, and this outcome is really the best he could hope for. Blame, but no real punishment, just banishment from yet another place. It is Untdunben all over again, though with less shouting and waving of weaponry. At least this time, there has been no discussion of turning him over to human authorities, which would have been a death sentence.