The next morning, in the dim predawn, Hepalonia heads down the street alone in the direction of the fairgrounds. Mate’s clever mimicry of a rooster woke both her and Tric Manu early this morning, reminding her of the one night they stayed on Gumreddoc’s farm. Her cousin is not with her now, though, having elected to stay behind in the hopes of getting more sleep. Heppa has her sword for sparring with Terwaen, but she neglected to bring any source of light, since the sun will be up before long. Under these still-dark conditions, she trips over something near an alley entrance just a few blocks from the Parting Glass. Heppa catches her balance before falling over and then glances back to see what it was. A person wrapped in a cloak lies on the ground with some hair of a whitish-blue cast visible. Hepalonia apologizes, “Oh, I’m very sorry. I didn’t see you there.” The person does not respond or even move for that matter. Polite and curious, Heppa crouches down. “Excuse me?” This non-responsive person seems in need of medical aid, so she rolls the body over. “Oh!” she exclaims, seeing now that the cloaked figure is Heledd.
Aside from the dark, hooded cloak, Heledd is wearing the same functional leathers she had on when Heppa last saw her at the Parting Glass. Hepalonia does a quick check of the waitress’s condition, trying to determine what—besides the small knife in her back—is the matter with her. She is alive but unconscious. There are a number of other knife wounds, some slashes, others nicks. Her skin feels warm to the touch, and her olive complexion is flushed redder than usual. At first Heppa thinks fever, but then her thoughts turn to poison. Unfortunately, she is not carrying her apothecary supplies—the poultice pouch as Tric Manu likes to call it. Nor does she think she is strong enough to carry Heledd to the House of Light or its tent on the fairgrounds. But if she could just get Heledd moving, this would be much easier…
Heppa places her hands on the woman near one of her cuts and concentrates, trying to apply all the shaman lessons she learned in the forest to this scene in a mucky city street. When magic does not work right, there can be serious consequences, but Heppa sets those considerations aside. In class, it was always assumed that the patient would be responsive in some fashion; it is much harder to work on an incapacitated person. Heppa feels the magical energies flowing through her, but she does not have the control needed to direct them properly into Heledd. Instead, the primal energy, too much of it, pools in her own pathways, scorching her. There is no wound to point to, but Heppa feels internal pain from the systemic injury she has done to herself.
With no other options, Hepalonia grabs Heledd under her arms. She is not strong enough to carry the waitress far, but she can drag her the couple blocks back to the Parting Glass. There she will have access to her supplies and enough light to properly bandage these wounds. As Heledd’s heels drag along, Hepalonia considers what she needs to do. Her room is up on the third floor, and there is no way she can get the other woman all the way up there. Everyone else is asleep, though…
When she gets back to the Parting Glass, the tavern is nearly silent, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the previous night. Heppa carefully drags Heledd through the curtain behind the bar into the kitchen, stopping just outside Alric’s door. Good thing I know where he is now, she reflects. Privacy seems important at this establishment, but she thinks he would want to know about this. Wrapping one arm around Heledd, Heppa politely knocks on the door. The drapes mute sound between the kitchen and the common room, so she takes a chance with a loud whisper, hoping it will not disturb any of the lodgers out there. “Alric!”
The door cracks open, and Alric looks out at her, rumpled and bleary-eyed. “Heppa? Is there a problem?”
“There’s something wrong with Heledd,” she says. “I think she might have been poisoned. I need to get my apothecary supplies.” Alric’s eyes widen in alarm, and he throws the door open the rest of the way, revealing to him his unconscious waitress being held up by Heppa’s other arm. He takes hold of Heledd and begins gently lowering her to the floor. “I do have some medical skill,” Heppa assures him, and then she dashes out of the kitchen and up two flights of stairs.
When she gets to the room she and Tric Manu share, she bangs the door open a little too forcefully. It clatters against the wall, and she drops to her knees by her bag, digging around in it to find her bandages and poultices.
All the rustling wakes Tric back up. “Did you forget your sword?” he mumbles.
“Oh! Tric Manu, I’m so sorry to wake you up,” Heppa replies, sparing a moment to look up from her backpack. “I think Heledd has been attacked. I’m going to help her. Perhaps you could go to the—”
“The House of Light?”
“—to the fairgrounds and tell Terwaen—”
“Tell her you’ll have to duel her another time?”
Tric yawns. “All right. Lemme fetch the House of Light or something, too.” He shakes his head, trying to wake up more. “Wait, did you say attacked?!”
“I’m not quite sure…” Heppa starts to answer, and Tric waves her onward, realizing that he is wasting her time. She grabs her little satchel and leaves the room in a hurry.
Tric sits up with another yawn, and turns to the magpie perched at the foot of his bed. He’s basically a falcon, Tric thinks. Mate met Terwaen—he was there at dinner last night—surely he can find her. “Just let Terwaen know we’re not going to make it,” he starts, but then he thinks that might be too much. “No, just bring her back here. Get Terwaen’s attention, and get her to follow you back here.” He throws open the window, and as Mate flies off, Tric reflects that this could go very wrong. Mate might seek out Mhaev to bring back, and that could be awkward.