Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 23

Following the tour of the tower, Hepalonia and Tric Manu have some time to rest up in their room at the Parting Glass so that they are refreshed for the midnight ambush. While Tric Manu settles down for a nap, Heppa pulls out her map, spreading it across her bed in front of her. She just needs to jot a few new findings down, and then she can go to sleep for a couple hours. So much new information came in today, though, and soon she is immersed in the activity as all the various strands come together.

She has a sample of Sir Marthynec’s medicine and knowledge of why he was taking it. It is to suppress nightmares and other disquiet associated with the horrors he experienced during the war, particularly the undead holding him captive. Lady Glynnis mentioned that while he is under the effects of the medicine, he is muffled, things do not seem to taste good… These are symptoms she observed in Kachen.

Heppa snatches up the vial and looks at it closely in the dim light of the bedroom. Is it her imagination, or does the milky liquid have a faint glow of its own? “Does this have dapper inkcap in it?!” she murmurs. She has had a theory for a while now that Kachen is consuming the dangerous mushroom, but up until this point, she has had no idea why he would do so. She would need better apothecary supplies to conduct a proper test; maybe Damal can help her with that before she leaves the city.

Fenowin and Roombledoombledeur told her about some of the effects of dapper inkcap on elves and woses. It cuts off the woses’ connection to the fae, effectively suffocating them. Fenowin feared it might strip elves of their magic. Heppa saw Kachen cast the fire missiles, so he was still able to use magic, but then, humans do not use primal energies when they cast. The effect on humans would be different, but it seems there are still some commonalities. It is providing some kind of film or veil between the human and something else, something horrible. Kachen had a sort of detachment about him, muted emotions. These were things that could be explained away as being reticent among strangers, but with this new information, Heppa now believes it is—at least to some degree—brought on by the dapper inkcap. Clearly Kachen is not affected to the same level as Sir Marthynec; Kachen was able to function on his own in a hostile environment.

Maybe the emerald ring is an attempt to compensate for one of the side effects of the dapper inkcap. Kachen was perpetually tired, and the ring is energizing. One does not need to understand runic magic to be buoyed by its basic power.

But why is he self-medicating himself in this way? He must be protecting himself from something that he has no other way to stop. Heppa remembers he said something that alluded to this in his letter. She flips through her papers and pulls it out to review. Ah yes, this is the relevant part: I had not realized how far I had let myself go. I shall have to be more careful with the dapper inkcap in the future. Perhaps with what the staff can show me, I shall need it less. Should you still think well of me, I would very much like to consult with your benefactor, but I think now is not yet the right time. I must conduct a bit more research to determine if this path is a viable permanent solution.

Kachen is not building anything; he is treating himself for something, and it is not just a simple illness. Maybe he is attempting to find a magical solution, and taking steps to make magic easier is the alternative approach to consuming dapper inkcap. Did he do something magically to himself and break something within him? Maybe he is so wary because people have mistaken him for being power-hungry, when really he is just trying to amass enough strength to reverse… whatever. Or maybe Tric Manu’s fifty-fifty odds are right, and Kachen is a necromancer, even a lich, but does not want to be one anymore. Maybe whatever rite-of-passage or induction is involved in that fundamentally changes a person, and he is trying to undo it. It could also just be some horrible accident. Heppa thinks that is a far more likely explanation than that Kachen purposefully did something to himself to cause his current condition.

Well, when I see him, I can figure out if he needs help with something, and we’ll go from there, she resolves. Feeling positive about the future, Heppa curls up on her side for her a short nap and falls asleep easily.