Echoes of Invasion: The Society of Shadow | Scene 8

Prior to leaving the Society of Shadow, Tric seeks out Ulf to pay him the other half of his fee. “We don’t need a guide back to Dan’Tonk, so here is the rest of your money,” Tric tells the archaeologist as he hands over the coins. Dropping his voice, he continues, “I know you heard some of what we spoke with the woses about. These woods are not a safe place. I’m sure these shadow mages do what they can to keep it safe. But long term—and understand, long term from an elvish point of view is different from a human point of view—it is not safe to stay here. You do what you will, but I would recommend that you avoid this place. The magics that the shadow mages are working are unstable. As Gaenyn said, undead can sometimes arise. You’ve seen undead arise in other places, too. It can happen.”

Ulf remembers all too well the fight with the skeletons in the tunnels beneath South Tower. But he also reads between the lines of Tric’s statements. Something not good is going to be happening here, and he is pretty sure those enormous woses will be involved. The elves leave the campsite, and soon after, so does Ulf, but not before warning his previous client that undead are not the only restless things in this forest.

Tric and Heppa only get a few hours of sleep that night, safely ensconced at the base of a wose. Mate finds them without too much trouble and flies in with a peanut clutched in each small claw. Tric wonders whether the magpie convinced both the Beard and Knots to each pay one peanut or if there was some thievery. He does not ask, though, surprised that Mate has held off eating them this long. Mate sets them in his roost with his other treasures and then settles down for the night as well.

The elvish contingent is awake and moving before dawn, needing to be in position with some semblance of a plan before the Society of Shadow attacks Rhodri’s caravan. Wose tactics are pretty straightforward. They are not fast moving, but their crushing limbs swing with the strength of ages. For all that they are fae creatures, they do not sling spells in battle like druids and sorceresses do. However, if they rest their roots, they can regenerate surprisingly quickly. Using small sticks as figurines, Tric goes over their strategy. Dolmathengalin comments that those with short legs move very quickly, and Tric counters, “But what if those with long legs also moved quickly?” This seems a good opportunity to try his convincing conversation on woses. With his willow knuckledusters, Tric raps an increasing rhythm on the battle mock-up to back his words. The sticks begin to vibrate, making Tric think of how a dowsing rod behaves in the hand of an expert wielder. But then he notices a shimmering surrounds them, and that same wavy effect manifests around Dolmathengalin. Tric’s eyes go wide. He has never before seen such visible evidence that the gift of the gab is magical. 

Woodland creatures in the area pause and take note, vaguely aware of something of significance happening. Not Mate, though. He is too busy ripping a worm from the ground for a snack. With overly-large orange eyes, Dolmathengalin regards Tric. “You are not an elf like Isthiniel,” the wose observes again.

“As I said, I get that a lot,” Tric says. “I’m half of an elf,” he admits, “so I apologize if I brought some offense.” Hoping that this shimmering effect is not evidence of corruption, he asks, “Are you all right? Do you feel faster? Do you feel all right, though, is the main thing.” The wose assures him that it has taken no offense at his magical actions and that they have not increased the corruption in the area, which greatly relieves Tric. The woses did feel the casting though, as did Heppa. They all contributed some energy to it, though not in a way that sapped their life force. Their interest and attentiveness is what fueled the magic. This experiment, with woses monitoring it, has demonstrated that verse power, storytelling magic, whatever it is that Tric and Glammur do, works off of camaraderie.

“Where attention goes, energy flows,” Heppa comments. It is a saying she has heard from some of her teachers. She had not realized it was quite so literal. “So you really are using the same sort of energy as elvish primal magic, just not the world’s reservoir. More of a local pool.”

This makes sense to Tric, as he has never been too good at talking himself up with his own power. He needs an audience for it to really be effective. He jokes that it is just like passing a hat around for coins after a good performance, except he is asking for magical donations.

Dolmathengalin, now more speedy than the other woses, leads them down to the human road. With an eye to the natural tree line and how the beaten path moves along it, Heppa gives the woses guidance on where to stand so that they blend in. She secures Butterbell a little away from the road to keep the pony safe and then rejoins Tric at the base of Dolmathengalin and Blululldrum, her ring on and her bow in hand. Tric has his knuckledusters on and bow out as well, though he looks a little distracted. She does not blame him; they are scouts, after all, not soldiers.