Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 26

From his position crouched at the southeast corner of the house, Alric is content to just watch everything unfold, right up until the point that Hepalonia falls out of the tree and lands sprawled at the feet of one of Sleidr’s thugs. Alric purses his lips and gives a long descending whistle, calling for Aderyn. He straightens up, keeping close against the wall, and swipes his hand across his chest. The one quick movement draws and looses a knife. It does not connect with its target point-first, but just the impact of the handle is enough to startle the man into dropping his blackjack. The weapon clatters harmlessly to the ground, and then the ruffian has to deal with Tric plummeting down from the tree right on top of him. Although the man is shaken by the impact, so is the Manu, and Tric rebounds off the ruffian, falling to the ground himself. Alric repeats his call to Aderyn.

Tric rolls to face Heppa. “I was thinking we should go on vacation after this,” he gasps out, quipping despite the pain in his chest. “For now, though, I brought you a knife,” he adds. “Wooo, kind of burns.”

Being so injured is a new experience for Heppa, and despite the pleasure she normally takes in learning things, this is not exciting. The elixir they drank earlier today may still be working, but there is no reason to take chances with Tric’s health. Sped up by the ruby ring, Heppa darts her right hand into her poultice pouch and pulls out a small packet. It contains the paste she scraped out of the pot in which she brewed the antivenom for Heledd. There was enough sludge leftover that she figured it was worth saving, and now she swipes the unfolded parchment across her cousin’s panting mouth. Then she jerks her hand to her quiver to snatch another arrow and takes a wild shot at the fellow who Tric Manu just bounced off of.

There is another flutter of wings, only this time it is not a magpie. For a moment, Heppa wonders if their attackers have brought a bird with them, but then a falcon swoops down low, coasting over her and her cousin. With a cry, the creature stretches out talons that rake across the ruffian’s face, tearing at the flesh and eyes. The man falls backward away from the elves with a short scream and then just lies there, silent and still. The bird flies on. Heppa’s heart pounds, not just from the ring, but from fright. Her stomach turns a little, too. Just this morning she had a close-up look at wounds from when a falcon was not deliberately trying to hurt someone. This is… much more gruesome.

While Heppa is looking right up at the falcon’s flight path, Tric’s orientation gives him clear line of sight on Sleidr crouched behind the well. Tric does not see any sort of attack, but Sleidr recoils, ducking farther down. This motion is accompanied by the sound of clinks, as though something metallic is hitting stone.

From his position at the well, Sleidr watches the dark shape of a falcon tearing into his underling. He sees a glint of light off something and jerks back down behind the well as a throwing knife clatters near him. Sure, Efa is in position, but not much else is going their way right now. And there is no sign of the mage or her lackey. Chances are those rings are long gone. His pride is stinging from being tricked into accepting a box of rocks, but Sleidr’s injuries are a more pressing concern. His sleeve is drenched in blood from the arrow wound, and his shoulder is still messed up from the tussle with Heledd. He decides it is time to cut his losses. Sleidr places his hands on the well wall and vaults inside. As he begins seeking his next hold for the climb down, another knife comes at the hand still grasping the top edge. Sleidr unthinkingly jerks it away from the strike and falls as a result. A startled cry escapes his lips and is cut off by his impact with the bottom of the well.

Tric lets out a long breath. The knife in his chest, that is still pretty bad, but he can already feel the cramping muscles relaxing. The gunk that Heppa stuck in his mouth tasted disgusting, but it was also effective. “Thanks,” he tells Heppa, who is practically quaking. That is some weird magic she’s doing, he reflects. Her eyes are not glowing, but when Tric tells the story later, he will include that detail to really convey the experience of seeing this. He is sure Glammur would approve.

“I think I am going to need the springy horsetail,” Heppa blurts out, words tumbling across each other so fast that Tric has to take a moment to parse her request. “Going to need it soon. The mushroom. The one with the cream-color and the spirals—”

“Yeah, I gotcha, I gotcha,” Tric gasps out, digging round in his side pouch. He pulls out the fungus and starts to hand it to her. In a blur, she swipes it from him and crams it in her mouth. He heard Sleidr’s fall, so there is nothing to do there, but he needs to help Henrick out with the scuffle in the house. Shooting through broken windows into the tangle of guards is not a good idea, though. 

Tric begins to feel droplets hitting him; rain is starting so he will need to pitch his encouraging message to get over its sound. He pushes himself up on an elbow and sucks in a painful deep breath in order to project his voice. The courtyard is darker now, as well, from the increased cloud cover, but with no more dangers in the immediate vicinity, that is not such an inconvenience. “Henrick!” Tric shouts. “We’ve cleared out the courtyard. You’ve just got to finish off the house!” He gasps in another breath. “I’ll be there in a second. You’ve just got to hang on. Hang on.”

“I believe you!” Heppa cheers, encouraged by her cousin’s words, just as she was in the fight against the bats. She looks over at the house herself, trying to see what the status of the people inside is. She is not even sure how many there are. What she does notice, though, is more chunks of stone sloughing off the side of the building. With the rain now, the roof will be even more slippery. If an archer falls hard enough, the whole roof might collapse, hurting not just those up on it, but also those inside. Some branches and brambles should be able to shore that up, Heppa thinks as she begins to channel energy towards the house. The ring is still active, and she draws power through it to do the work more speedily. Instead of the wood of the tree and the house responding to her, the stones do, flowing into place to support the weak areas. She is excited to be using runic magic instead of primal for something so grand. This is no permanent solution, though, and she has to keep part of her attention focused on the effect to sustain it.

A wave of fatigue suddenly washes over Heppa as the world around her snaps back into regular speed. Even with the positive effects of the springy horsetail, she finds she is exhausted. The ground seems a good place to stay for now, so rather than get up, Heppa simply scooches closer to Tric. She carefully pulls the small knife from his chest and smears ointment on the wound. With all the injuries happening around her, it makes her feel a little better to patch one of them up.

Tric and Heppa seem safe enough for now, but Alric is not entirely sure what forces are up on the roof. While it is true a sling cannot cast stones too far with much accuracy, if someone up there has a bow, the elves might still be in danger. He whistles to Aderyn for her to get into position and then turns to consider the eastern wall himself. Through the holes in it, he gets a good look at the javelineers taking jabs at Efa. The woman is a rock though, and unlikely to go down anytime soon. She gleefully takes the hits as she swings her morningstar back at the sergeant, who deftly avoids it. 

“Roof detail, report!” Henrick calls as he slashes at Efa. She evades it, and his sword clatters into the unstable wall. Small pieces shower down on Efa, but she shrugs them off with a laugh, loving every minute of this.

The archers have landed a few successful hits on the slingers so far. Meanwhile none of them have been struck by anything other than nerves as the roof creaks and groans beneath them. Just after the rain kicked in, the structure beneath their feet made even louder, more alarming noises, but some of the shaking seems to have stopped. One of them is about to call this down to the sergeant when a slinger shouts, “I’ve got a report for ya!” A stone hits the archer on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, we’ve got this handled, chief!” the outlaw continues. But the strike is merely a glancing blow, and the arrows that answer it fell two of his companions. The speaker is left standing alone and gasping, an arrow in his chest as well.

Alric starts up the wall, angling for a position with a better line of fire. The last thing he wants is for an injured Tric to feel like he needs to enter that fray. The gaping holes make the climb easier than it would otherwise be, presenting ample places for him to brace himself with his left forearm while searching for new holds with his right hand. Or while throwing with it. When he gets to a decent spot part way up the east side of the house, Alric sends a soporific knife hurtling down at Efa through the collapsed structure. She flails her massive spiked club about at the sergeant. Then her movements grow sluggish, and she staggers into a wall, bringing it and what remains of the attached ceiling down with her as she collapses. Alric holds himself steady for a moment while everything shakes, and then he continues up to the roof.

Henrick shrugs off the crumbling pieces of stone that rain down on him, but one of his javelineers gets hit pretty hard by a falling beam. “We’re going to add destruction of property to those charges,” the sergeant says, as he begins digging his prisoner out from under the pile of rubble that landed on her.

From their place of repose on the ground, Tric Manu and Hepalonia see a shadow gliding through the air above, too large to be Mate. They hear the calls of a falcon again, and the form flies past the archers. Its disappearance over the roof edge is soon followed by sounds of screaming. There is a flash of lightning, but the elves do not have line of sight to see what happened. Heppa is just fine with that. Her eyes inadvertently drift down to the unmoving body on the ground near them, a bloody mess where its face used to be. Once is enough for her.