Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 12

Once the worst injuries are bandaged, Heppa and Tric bid their friends farewell and head the short distance back down the road to where the woses have assembled a mass of dead wood. Tric sets it ablaze and begins slinging each body into the flames after a wose has thoroughly crushed it. They get a rather gruesome assembly line going: drag, stomp, burn, drag, stomp, burn.

With no humans in the immediate vicinity, Heppa takes Gaenyn’s sword back out and shows it to Blululldrum. “Does this sword feel weird to you?” she asks.

“You should be careful,” the wose advises. “You are a very hasty elf. You should not be so quick to pick up such dangers. You already touch many things you do not understand. You must be careful.”

Heppa is puzzled by this statement for a moment and then a possible explanation occurs to her. “Do you mean like the ring?” She holds out her hand, looking at Lady Sabine’s ruby and then showing it to the wose. Blululldrum’s glowing eyes squint, and the wose leans over to get a closer look at the object. It creaks in displeasure. “Do you sense any corruption from it?” Heppa asks.

“Only in you.”

“Hunh.” They are already in a corrupted forest, and beyond that, Blulldrum can sense additional corruption in Heppa. That does not sound good. “Is it bad?” 

“I do not know how long elves usually live. But you are burning through your time.”

As unsettling as that is to hear, it is not exactly surprising, given how the ring hastens Heppa’s movements. “All right, I’ll be careful,” she assures the wose. “Thank you.” With that, she puts the sword back away. She does not feel any strange vibes from it, so it should be safe enough for the pony. The ring, though, that is something she will have to think further about. Magic comes more easily to her with it than by traditional elvish techniques; perhaps she will need to work harder on elvish magic, just as her mother has repeatedly told her. Or maybe this rune is not the source of her corruption; perhaps her experiments with the purple crystal from the necromancer staff had lasting effects on her.

When Tric’s cousin joins him at the bonfire, she finds him in a much quieter state than usual. His yakking got him into this trouble—in more ways than one—and this time he nearly paid for it with his own life. He is quietly reflective as he tosses the final bodies onto the fire. Aside from the gravity of that situation, there is the matter of his not-quite-illusion earlier. He was just trying to create the illusion of light, but somehow he caused the reversion of Gaenyn’s darkness. To Tric, magic has always seemed some powerful, uncontrollable force. To cancel it, that is practically unheard of among elves. Some of Kachen’s criticisms of white mages implied that they did things like this that temporarily stopped necromantic efforts, without really completing the job. 

Tric definitely did not do whatever human mages do, and the only person he knows with the gift of the gab is the dwarf Glammur. It occurs to Tric that maybe Breda would know if any elves have ever wielded this sort of storytelling magic before.

Heppa breaks the silence between them by telling Tric, “That was very neat, what you did to clear the darkness earlier.”

“Yeah, it was… well, I don’t know what it was.”

“You just turned off magic! I wonder if you can fix corruption.”

“What?! I don’t know about that! I was just trying to see light. I thought that if we all thought we could see light, that would be just as good as seeing it. But… that isn’t what happened. I’ve heard that maybe some of the mages of light can do things like that…”

“Can get rid of magic?”

“Temporarily.”

“I wonder if they can heal corruption. I wonder if you can.” Although Heppa is concerned about the world and the forest, this topic has recently become far more personal.

“I have no idea,” Tric insists. “I feel like that would take a lot of energy and you would need a lot of people working together. You’d need some kind of festival… maybe one during springtime, when everything is abloom and people are thinking of life…” Tric shrugs. “Somehow, I dispelled Gaenyn’s darkness with my ‘gift of the blab.’ I need to ask Breda about this when we get back home.”

Heppa pulls out her map folio and makes a few notes. Storytelling magic… dispel darkness, remove corruption? Runes are corrupting? She has no need to write down a reminder that she herself bears corruption; that is something she is unlikely to forget.