Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 20

With Heledd’s help and some sort of alcohol back at the Parting Glass, Heppa is able to remove all the dye from her skin. Once she is back into her own leathers, she is also able to remove the crick from her back. Never before has she realized what a joy it is to stand up straight! Heledd herself is also doing much better now, though she is still resting on Alric’s bed. Heppa performs a quick check up and applies fresh bandages to the knife wounds. They still need time to mend, but Heppa’s elixir has completely pushed all the cuttlefish toxins out of Heledd’s system, so things are looking up on that front. 

“Are you working tonight?” Tric asks. “You woke up this morning after having been stabbed in an alleyway.” Heledd acknowledges that she is, though her shift does not usually start until dinner time, so she is able to rest a while longer.

“And after she took out three guys!” Heppa adds. Tric clarifies that Heledd only injured three. “Still!” Heppa insists. “Looking at her, would you think she could take on three guys!”

Heledd raises an eyebrow at that assessment, and Tric says, “She looks pretty tough to me.”

“She was poisoned! That’s the only reason she didn’t win!” Heppa adds, some awe in her voice.

“One of them never made it out of the caves chasing me. He might be gone completely,” Heledd observes. Tric realizes this must be why they only saw two shadows at the festival. That means one less person to deal with at the ambush tonight.

“It sounds like quite a story to me,” Heppa says. Heledd agrees that it is, and one that she owes them since telling it is part of the payment for recovering the rings. There is not time to do the tale justice right now, but Heppa extracts a few more details on the poison’s effects. “Have you ever been stabbed before? Can you tell a difference when the cuttlefish toxin is involved? Does it hurt more? I know it hasn’t been very long, but so far, the healing looks like what I would expect for cuts.”

Heledd provides answers to the questions, grateful for Heppa’s help, but no one would say her manner is warm. “Getting stabbed hurts, sure. Who hasn’t been stabbed?” she tosses out rhetorically. As Heledd goes on, the two elves exchange wide-eyed glances and, muttering, confirm that neither of them have been. “But the cuttlefish… That makes your muscles cramp up. It’s painful, but it isn’t the pain of being stabbed. And it doesn’t make the stabbing pain any worse.”

“Oh, can you hold onto these for a while?” Tric asks casually, holding the rings out to Heledd. 

Her eyes light up. “Ah! Perfect!” Heledd holds the rings up to the light, tilting them this way and that to check them out, making sure that they are the correct ones. 

“Oh!” Heppa cannot help herself. This is an opportunity to share what she has learned! “You can see the little rune imprint if you look close enough.” She points it out to the other woman. “They are artifacts. I activated one of them, but it didn’t work for what I was trying to do.”

Heledd shrugs. “It makes sense. Lady Sabine had them, and Kachen wanted one of them, so I’m not surprised that they can do magic stuff.”

Tric knows they could get trapped here for a while if Heledd makes the mistake of asking too many questions of his cousin on this topic. Heppa in theory mode is just as much a time-sink as Heppa in interview mode. He poses one of his own to the waitress. “I’ve got a general sort of question. Maybe you would know, or maybe you wouldn’t and Alric would… Are there any other crimes recently that Sleidr would be associated with? Or some unsolved mystery that you think he was responsible for?” He is fishing for more material to share with his mother to back up his claim that action should be taken on these thugs.

While Heledd thinks for a moment, Heppa recounts some of their encounter with Sleidr. “Tric Manu is so amazing!” she gushes. “We thought we were going to have to ambush them or fight them, but nope! Tric Manu just talked his way out of it! He showed Sleidr a box of rocks, and he walked away! It was amazing!”

Heledd tells Tric about a recent job that Sleidr did on behalf of the Rats. “There’s a lot of people in town from all over the place right now. People pulling credit, but also people coming in with more transportable wealth. Boxes of rocks, if you will. No one wants to travel with enormous bags of coins clinking around. Traveling with gems is easier, and then you can just trade them in for money when you reach town. Sleidr did a job at the trading house not a week past. It was just two or three days before the festival, when the first wave of merchants were rolling in and preparing their cashboxes.”

That sounds good to Tric, more ammunition to feed to his mother for busting Sleidr… without busting any of the elves’ friends. “That will certainly help us bring in the guard tonight for the trap we’re setting up.” 

Tric sounds a little too cavalier for Heledd’s tastes. She asks some probing questions, and he brags about how he is luring Sleidr back. Heledd shakes her head; this amatuer conman still has a lot to learn. “You put too large a piece of bait on your hook there! Sure, he’s only got those three ruffians that he tends to boss around, but with what you’ve put out there, he’ll call in other Rats, probably a lieutenant. That kind of prize he can sell up, because that’s not him interfering with my job, that’s him finding a mark for the Rats to move on.”

“Well, that’s even better!” Tric crows. “Two less criminals and their flunkies on the streets. More we can tell the town guard to get buy-in from them.”

Heledd sighs. This fellow is definitely not going to be her protege, nor will she feel any responsibility if he gets himself strung up alongside Sleidr.