Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 16

When the wraith’s last cry fades away, the forest grows quiet. Tric takes a swig from his waterskin and breathes out in a snort, clearing his air passages of the smoky fly spores and shaking off their effect. Mate drops two other mushrooms off at Tric’s feet and then jogs away along the ground, looking around curiously. Tric scoops up the two dwarvish flies and then notes what has caught his bird’s attention. Nasir’s handiwork seems infused with his talents; the willow knuckle dusters have found a moist patch of ground where water is bubbling up from an underground spring. These are perfect conditions for dwarvish fly to grow, and indeed a mushroom has sprouted there. Tric looks it over carefully, making sure that it really is a dwarvish fly, not another smoky fly. He hurts all over, and he could certainly benefit from eating one right now, but it is probably best to save them for a future scrape. This debacle has only highlighted further just how valuable these mushrooms are.

Behind him, he hears Heppa weaving around, collecting her own fallen weapons from the underbrush. She looks even worse than he feels, with blood streaming from the side of her head, as well as bruises and gashes from Donella’s morningstar. Tric hands her one of the dwarvish flies, but rather than eat it, she looks down at it blearily, murmuring about working up potions from it with her alchemy kit. This does not seem the time or place for that to Tric. He may not be as well-practiced as Heppa at field care, but simple bandaging is part of general wilderness training. Given how much she is wobbling, he suggests she sit down a moment so that he can look at her head wound. “You bonked your head really badly. Why don’t you let me take care of that?”

It would never have occurred to Heppa to ask Tric for such help, but she gratefully accepts it. Blululldrum folds down some branches into a convenient bench, cradling her while Tric rummages through the poultice pouch, complaining about how things are labeled. He cleans and bandages the injury, then encourages her to take it easy and rest some while he secures their prisoner.

“Thank you, Tric!” she say. “I’m just going to take a little nap here… I’m not doing so well.”

Tric steps over to the downed man. He binds his hands, noting the P branded on the back of one of them that indicates Saeth has faced human justice for his poaching at least once before. Tric is none too gentle as he bandages up the most obviously bleeding injuries from the beating the woses gave the man. He certainly does not go out of his way to revive him. They can drag him to Carcyn with them; perhaps there is even a bounty.

Dolmathengalin creaks and stretches its branches down, offering to carry the prisoner. “You little ones need rest, and this is no place to do so. We will take you back to your pony.”

The elves camp for one last night in the Grey Woods. In the morning, Tric recommends they make straight for Wesmere, where they should be able to request aid or at least a safe place to stay while they rest up. Although she is still rather rundown, Heppa uses her primal magic to give their natural healing abilities a little boost. This improves Tric’s physical situation significantly but does nothing for his mood. While Heppa loads their packs on Butterbell, he rouses Saeth so that they can get moving. The most direct route to Wesmere is a ferry out of Carcyn, and this fellow is coming with them that far so that Tric can turn him in there.

“Get up,” Tric tells Saeth. “We don’t want any trouble. We’re just going to get you to Carcyn, and then we’re going to the Wesmere forest. You just need to leave us alone until then, and you’ll be fine.”

The poacher sees through these false reassurances, hearing the bitterness in the elf’s voice. “Oh, so everything you said during that fight, it was all more elvish lies. ‘You can just go away, you can just leave the forest and it will all be fine!’ Now suddenly you’re going to turn me in to—”

Tric loses his cool. “Just shut up, man! You’re the ones causing the corruption!” Yesterday was a really long day, and this fellow is grinding on his already frayed nerves. He cuts off any response from Saeth with a punch to the gut. The already injured poacher collapses, passed out again.

Heppa is startled by the violent act, but she does not object; after all, the man did shoot her with arrows. She is actually a little relieved to have him unconscious again. “I could have probably given him a sedative,” she says a little tentatively. 

“That probably would have been a better idea,” Tric acknowledges. He takes a deep breath, hoping that Wesmere will be a space in which he can recover his equilibrium as well as his health. “We’ll just drop him off with the human authorities in Carcyn. I’m sure he’s wanted,” Tric says, pointing at the fellow’s brand. “Let’s just go,” he adds wearily. He hefts Saeth up onto Butterbell, and the pony shies at the extra weight. Heppa is unable to calm her, so with a sigh, Tric begins undoing all the packing, moving items back to their bags instead of Butterbell’s sacks. The journey will be slower now, due to the weight on their backs, but on the bright side that puts them at the same speed as their wose escorts.

Domathengalin and Blululldrum accompany Tric and Heppa to the edge of the forest, where the elves bid the woses farewell. Tric promises them they will try to arrange for a sentry to replace Isthiniel.

“Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Grey Woods,” Domathengalin says.

“It was our pleasure,” Heppa replies politely.

“Sorry we couldn’t be more effective,” Tric grumbles.