Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 29

With the ambush successfully resolved, Tric and Heppa drag themselves through the dark damp streets of South Tower. “How are you doing, Heppa?” Tric asks his cousin. She shrugs a bit. “That could have gone worse,” he points out.

“I didn’t mean to fall out of the tree so hard,” Heppa says. “I didn’t think I was that far up.”

“I meant to fall out of the tree,” Tric replies. “But I didn’t mean to get knifed.”

“Is it in your lung? I should look at that.”

“No, the problem is there’s nothing in my lung, not even air. When we get back, you can look at it there. I’ve been worse.” Has he, though? Really? Probably not, but it is good for his image—and for her conscience—for her to think so. “It’s honestly not that big a deal. What about you?”

“Yes, I can make it back, too. Unless we’re beset upon.” She throws that in as a joke, but it falls kind of flat here in the middle of the night in a strange city. She exchanges a nervous look with her cousin and then scans the area behind them in the dark street. 

Tric slowly lifts Mate down off his shoulder. “Anybody smell weird around here?” he asks the bird. “Besides—you know.” He casts the magpie up into the air to search for threats. Mate circles a bit and then yodels. Tric narrows his eyes, trying to pierce the shadows down below the bird. Yes, there is the faintest suggestion of a dark-clad figure there, dressed much like Sleidr was. It could be he did manage to signal for reinforcements. On edge, Tric grabs his bow. “It’s been a long night. Why don’t we both just go our ways,” he suggests, projecting his voice. He is weary, but he will fight if he has to.

Beside him, Heppa looks at the same spot, stunned. There is a person at the mouth of an alley a little ways behind them. Although he is in shadow and dark dress, she recognizes the build and the stance. She has been watching him for days and thinking about him maybe a bit too much lately. All at once, she goes from being worried that they are about to be attacked again to ridiculously reassured that everything is, in fact, totally fine. He has been trying to protect them from one thing or another ever since they stepped into his bar. The storm of emotions leaves her feeling completely drained, and she bursts out in tears.

“I fell out of the tree!” she sobs, the length and danger of the day fully catching up with her. “And I was holding up the roof, and it was so hard!” It clicks, all at once, that there was a falcon at the battle. He is not just watching over them in the street now, he was there, too. “And then Alric had to show up and help, and now he’s…” Alric must be so mad at us! We’re going to be in trouble… “That was the whole point! Keeping him out of it!” He was not supposed to be involved, and now he is in danger, too.

Although Tric has assumed that Alric helped them in the fight, he did not recognize him here now. The shadowy figure whistles a falcon call in confirmation, and Tric lowers his bow, realizing that his cousin is right. He wraps an arm around Heppa to gather her to his shoulder and shushes her so that she does not blurt out Alric’s name again to any unfriendly ears that might be about. “It’s fine, Heppa,” he assures her. “You did great.”

“It was so dangerous,” she sobs.

Confident now that he will not be shot, Alric swiftly closes the distance to the elves. He is in a close-fitting outfit of dark silks and leathers, with a hood up and scarf over the lower half of his face. He wears no cloak because Tric is currently borrowing his. “I don’t think you’re being followed,” he tells them quietly. “I think they got everyone.”

Tric lets out a sigh of relief, but Heppa squeaks, “We might have been being followed?! I’m so sorry.” 

Alric lays his right hand on Heppa’s arm. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he assures her. “Just get back, and I’ll make sure nothing else happens.”

Heppa sniffles some more, and Tric encourages her along. “You did great,” he tells her again, and to Alric he adds, “Thank you.” Alric tells them to meet him at the inn’s back door and asks whether they need Damal. Tric declines the offer, confident that Heppa can handle their injuries. They resume their walk to the Parting Glass, Alric fading back into the darkness to give them space as they move through the streets but still somehow beating them back to the tavern.