Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 11

While Tric is dealing with the knight, Heppa turns her attention to medical work, starting with the dead. Given all the magical corruption in the area, she advocates for breaking the bones of the corpses and burning them on a pyre. The woses approve of this course of action, provided it takes place in the center of the road where no living plants will be hurt. They contribute fallen branches—there are many from the fight—to be fuel.

Heppa verifies that Gaenyn is dead—he has been trampled so much by Dolmathengalin that even his skull is crushed—and picks up his sword. She tells herself that this is to prevent it falling back into the hands of the Society of Shadow, but she is also quite curious about the object itself. This is not the time or place for examination, though, so she wraps it up and fetches Butterbell from the edge of the woods to store it with the packs on the pony’s back.

Most of the injured people are the fighter types. The Society of Shadow wanted the goods, so they did not attack the wagons themselves. Once again, Rhodri benefits from Heppa’s medical skills at no extra charge. When he is done with Sir Sior, Tric finds his cousin at the caravan rendezvous point further up the road, just finishing patching up another injury. That person takes their leave, and Mate lands nearby, looking up at Tric and tilting his head. He gives his new lightning call and then looks past Tric and changes to stupid. Tric turns to see what has attracted the magpie’s attention just as a heavy hand claps down on his uninjured shoulder.

“You owe me three peanuts!” the Beard says good-naturedly. Knots is alongside him, a bit singed but otherwise all right.

“The note clearly said one peanut,” Tric counters.

“Yeah? Well, what about the stolen ones?” the Beard asks.

“Look, that’s between you and the bird,” Tric insists. He starts rummaging in his backpack to see what Mate ran off with. “Hey, you got caught! You’ve got to fess up,” Tric tells the magpie, who pecks at him, displeased at being scolded. In the roost, Tric finds pieces of shell, indicating that Mate has already eaten one of the extra peanuts. But there is something else there he did not expect. From the feel of it, it is a ring of some sort. Tric wonders where it came from and then recalls that he sent Mate to keep an eye on Ulf in the encampment. If this is a magical ring, it bears examination but not right now. He will have to get back to that somewhere more stable that the Grey Woods. Tric pulls out the one intact peanut that remains and holds it up for the Beard to see its condition. “Do you really want this back?” he asks. “After where it’s been?” The Beard laughs, clearly in a good mood, and declines. “Tell you what… I’ll give you some ham I have. It almost saved my life, but not in the way I expected.”

They all share a snack, and Heppa asks if the Beard or Knots are injured. “Nothing as bad as Tric!” Knots says, eying the scorched leather.

“This is from lightning blasts fired by Gaenyn, the most powerful shadow mage,” Tric explains. “Yes, Dolmathengalin and I share a shocking bond, you might say,” he adds, pointing over at where the elder wose is moving branches to form a pyre. Having been hit by lightning blasts itself in the recent combat, the wose bears fresh burn scars.

“Except Dolmathengalin has probably regenerated a lot of that by now,” Heppa says. “Let me take a look at that again.” The healing magic she did during the battle took the edge off the pain, but her salves can do a lot more to help. “There was a lot of magic thrown about today, and if anything is going to arise, I’d like you to be healed for that.” Tric opens his leather top and the shirt he wears under it so that Heppa can examine the injury. There is a fascinating pattern of burns spreading from each of the places lightning hit him. They wind and split into smaller and smaller tendrils, like branches reaching to the sky or roots yearning toward the water table. “Oh! This is fascinating,” Heppa says. As she works on the injury, she describes in detail everything that the lightning did, commenting on how it must have heated the blood in his chest muscles as it forked through him.

Although Tric could do without the medical lecture, he does find the scarring interesting. The shape reminds him of Dolmathengalin’s branches. With a little bit of magical nudging, he figures he can make it look even more tree-like. It is something he will have to experiment with, though perhaps not right now.