Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 17

Worn out by conflict, injury, and the weight of new knowledge, Tric and Heppa finally reach the small human city of Carcyn. At the gate, Tric gets directions to the local magistrate so that they can turn Saeth in. Before he speaks there, Tric takes a moment to compose himself. Heppa still looks a mess, and he imagines he does, too. He takes a deep breath and then calmly explains the situation. “We found this poacher in the Grey Woods. Among other things, beyond his crimes for poaching, he was cavorting with shadow mages. He, along with his cohorts, summoned a ghost. We release him into your care for whatever judgment you deem fit for one such as he. If there is a bounty, we will happily collect it,” Tric adds rather joylessly, just wanting the whole affair to be done.

The bureaucrat hands over fifty coins but looks the bedraggled cousins over disdainfully, saying, “Carcyn is no place for elvish riffraff. I expect you to be on the first raft out of here.”

“Please, when is that raft? I will get on it immediately!” Tric replies, more animated now. “I want nothing more than to be under the protective canopy of healthy green trees. I will gladly riff-raft my way out of here!” 

Much to Tric’s pleasure, the ferry departs later that afternoon, so there will be no need to overnight in Carcyn. He and Heppa begin to make their way to the bank of the Great River. The sounds of the city pick up around them as an influx of wagons enters and heads to the warehouses near there. With some startlement, they realize this is Rhodri’s caravan, newly arrived. They continue on to the ferry, and when they arrive, two familiar faces are already there: Knots and the Beard.

The two mercenaries eye the sorry state of the elves with raised eyebrows. “You didn’t look this way when you left the ambush behind,” Knots comments.

Tric nods in acknowledgement, staring down at his bruised knuckles as he stretches his fingers out. Heppa rubs her sore cheekbone. Even Butterbell has blood on her, though that is the poacher’s, not the pony’s. “Well, there were a few stragglers you didn’t take care of, so we had to do clean-up,” Tric says, voice laced with irritation, though he does not blame these two fellows.

The Beard dismisses that with a harumph. “We were doing our job guarding the caravan,” he replies.

Although she still feels poorly and looks terrible, Heppa is in a better mood than her cousin, happy to be around friends. “I just had to stop a morningstar with my face at least once,” she jokes, as though one of her life ambitions has now been achieved.

“Don’t we all, at some point in our careers?” Knots agrees philosophically with a grin.

“And it turns out some of the shadow mages really were necromancers!” Tric adds. “If you find those guys again, let me know,” he grumbles.

They all pay their fares, and Heppa carefully leads Butterbell aboard the ferry. Tric mutters, “So help me, if nagas try to ambush this raft…!” Fortunately, the crossing is uneventful in that regard. Knots tries to coax out more details of their recent skirmish.

“What is there to tell?” Heppa says. “There were a lot of swinging branches, and you can see what happened to us!”

“Thought you were supposed to be some kind of storyteller,” the Beard goads Tric.

Though still salty about how everything turned out, Tric manages to relate the tale in an engaging fashion. He admits that he and his cousin got a good pummeling and gives a lot of credit to the woses. “We’re ghost hunters, yes, but they had a wraith. And wraiths are the bane of all living creatures. I thought the woses would get hit a lot and we elves would pepper the foes with arrows. It turned out to be the other way around. The woses punched a lot of people and we got peppered with arrows!” He recounts their near-defeat with good humor, spinning it as a rescue by woses.

The Great River is wide, but the time spent crossing it passes quickly in the company of friends. At the small village on the northern bank, they say their goodbyes one last time. Knots and the Beard strike eastward to try their luck in any new baronies that may have popped up recently. 

The elves, though, head north into Wesmere Forest, relieved to lead Butterbell under its canopy at last. Before they get more than a pony-length in, an elf they have never met before suddenly appears before them. He is clad in green skirts and a brown leather jerkin. Shoulder ornamentation flares out like dried leaves, matching his leather arm guards and the headpiece that keeps his long blond hair back from his alabaster face. Unlike the border patrol in Estbryn Forest, this elf has no sword or pony, and his leather armor has more metal in it—latches and grommets and such—than Tric and Heppa are used to in elvish fashion. He does not threaten them with a weapon, but nonchalantly holds a spear with its butt planted in the ground as he greets them. “Welcome to our forest, strangers.”

“Oh thank goodness!” Tric groans.

“May I ask from where you hail? You are not ours.”

“You are correct,” Tric agrees, proceeding into formal introductions. “This is Hepalonia of House Thrandolil.” Heppa bows as her mother taught her. “I am Tric Manu of the water dowsers. We live in Estbryn Forest. We come most recently from the Grey Woods, where we have banished the humans corrupting it. We seek your assistance in healing our wounds and perhaps posting a sentry to the Grey Woods.” He lets out a breath and his shoulders slump as he abandons formality. “Phew! I just really need to take a break right now.”

Heppa nudges Tric. “Lord Volas…” she prompts him.

Tric pulls out the seal and resumes, “We come on behalf of High Lord Volas of Estbryn Forest—”

“And the woses!” Heppa adds. “They requested the sentry.”

“And the woses Dolmathengalin and Blululldrum,” Tric elaborates. “I don’t know if any of your druids have met with them.”

“I recognize Lord Volas’s seal,” the new elf acknowledges. “You may accompany me, but only as far as Elendor, at which point we will send messengers to the Ka’lian to see how they wish to further treat with you. We have not had news of the east in a while, but I am not prepared to make decisions on behalf of the whole forest.”

Filvarel introduces himself as a guardian of this area and then guides the newcomers to what he describes as a small village on the outskirts of Wesmere. It is about the same size as the main settlement where Tric and Heppa live in Estbryn Forest. Although they wonder how many more such places are in Wesmere, for now they are content to rest safely.