Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 16

Hepalonia is only too happy to take a seat in the bleachers along the side of the tournament field, already worn out from walking half-bent over her staff. She takes a moment to roll her shoulders a bit and then surveys those seated around her. Her cousin is here as himself since he is supporting Terwaen, so he is keeping away from Heppa for now to avoid any association between his true identity and her feigned human noble. From her higher perch Heppa can see him down on a lower bench, waving his sister’s ribbon and cheering as the event gets started.

Mhaev rides out to the center of the field on her white horse Zhamayba. Her town guard is out in force, not to participate in the grand melee, but to make sure all the rules Mhaev is now announcing are followed. They line the edge of the field, and once the crazy free-for-all gets underway, the guards periodically yell at or yank people out for violating the esoteric rules of engagement. Sometimes a swing is too high maybe? Or too low? The rulings seem arbitrary to the elves. The competitors are all in armor, hacking or bashing away at each other. Whatever is going on seems like it would hurt, even with the chain and plate mail in use.

Tric is here mainly to root for Terwaen, but he looks around the field, trying to see if anyone else he recognizes is competing. Gwaffalyn is certainly not, nor does Tric see either of the duelists Heppa fought. He imagines that one needs to be a really hardcore warrior to participate. Anyone who just dabbles in sword fighting without investing in heavy armor would be crushed to bits in the opening moments. He spots his sister and waves her favor up in air, getting his section of the bleachers to resume the chant he started during the joust. “Terwaen of the Plains! Terwaen of the Plains!” Her design is wavy silver lines across deep blue, and Tric coaxes his fellow audience members to replicate it with body moves. “Everybody make the shape!” he shouts, standing up and throwing his arms above his head, waving them about. He gets the whole section around him to do this undulating move.

Fortunately, his boisterous antics egg on rather than distract his sister. She handles herself well on foot with a sword, taking on multiple opponents. When the fighting in her area is down to just her and one other, her opponent manages to knock the sword from her grip. Tric jumps to his feet, making fisticuff swipes and shouting, “The power was in your hands all along! Use your Manu street-fighting! Roll with the punches!” Terwaen, whether she can hear him or not, does exactly that. Her opponent does not seem inclined to do the honorable thing and allow her to regain her sword. He comes straight at her, and she bats aside his blade, then clocks him across the jaw with her gauntleted fist. He goes reeling, dropping his sword as he staggers back. Terwaen snatches her own sword up from where it splattered into the mud and insists that he pick his up again before she will advance. Once he does, she unleashes a flurry of blows, beating him all the way back to the edge of the field.

Heppa pays some attention to the confusing clash down below, but her real focus is the role she is currently playing. So far, her approach is to act like Mother, just not as graceful. Here, though, she has some examples of fancy humans to use as models, so she observes their behavior more closely than the warriors’ activities. Some of the nobility do have servants, and as they send them on errands, she notices that none of them say please or thank you. It is going to be quite a fascinating experience to be so stiff and impolite.

Lady Sabine watches the grand melee from the high booth at the southern end of the field. The seat next to her is empty, as Earl Gweddry is competing in the event. She wears grays and reds, and Alric said she was a researcher. Plus some magical rings have been stolen from her… Heppa realizes she must be one of the red mages that Rhaessa mentioned. She is also a middle-aged human noble, so worthy of observation on that front. Her movements are not the most fluid. She shifts uncomfortably in her seat and often beckons servants to go get her refreshing beverages. Lady Sabine does not look particularly interested in the grand melee, often casting her eyes down at a book that she has open on the side table next to her. Heppa can use this as a model for the level of interest to show in things outside the realm of ring artifacts as she carries on in feigning to be an Alduin mage.

At the end of the grand melee, the winners are announced. Terwaen has earned a mark of distinction and will be recognized with the title Most Honorable Fighter at the final ceremony on the morrow. That will follow the parade of flowers which concludes the Full Bloom festival. The winners of all the physical competitions, as well as the artisans who have received best-in-show ribbons, will be presented to the crowds then.