Echoes of Invasion: There’ll Be Heledd to Pay | Scene 5

When Heppa returns with her kit, she finds Alric has laid Heledd out carefully on the floor atop her undone cloak. His blouse is speckled here and there with her blood from straightening her out and conducting an initial examination. The knife that was in her back now lies very intentionally set to the side. It rests upon a clean cloth, and he has not wiped the blade down. When he hears Heppa enter, he looks up and asks, “Did you see who did this?”

“She was unconscious when I found her.” Hepalonia describes the alley entrance where she tripped over Heledd. “I don’t know how long she was out there,” she adds as she kneels down alongside the woman.

Alric stands up and steps back into his room. He hooks the bandolier of knives up off his chair, swinging it over his head so that it lays across his chest from his right shoulder. Heppa refrains from asking him if he has any medical skill himself, as clearly he has something else in mind to do. He leaves Heledd in her care and strides purposefully out through the curtains.

Out in the street, Heppa determined that there were no signs of head injuries or internal bleeding, so now she focuses on the poison, worried about what long term effects it might have. If it is some sort of paralytic it might interfere with Heledd’s breathing. In addition to Heledd’s blood, the knife has a dark oily substance on its edge. Heppa delicately touches her tongue to it, trying to get an idea of what the material could be. It has a subtle taste, savory and slightly salty. She sets the knife down and pulls her map from her pocket, unfolding it across the kitchen floor to consult notes she has made on it. Based on their location by the river, Heledd’s symptoms, her own sensory input, and what Damal mentioned about his preparations and inks two nights ago, Heppa concludes that this is likely a poison derived from cuttlefish ink. While the pain of it can lay a person out quickly if they exert themselves, it is not going to do any more damage to Heledd’s system right now, particularly if she stays unconscious and still. It occurs to Heppa that the fight Heledd was in was not necessarily where Heppa found her. She could have taken her injuries elsewhere and fled toward the tavern, making it as far as that alley before the poison dropped her. When Alric comes back in, she will have to mention this to him.

From her discussions with Rhaessa about non-magical healing in the Tent of the Light yesterday morning, Heppa has a fair idea of what would go into an elixir to counter the effects of cuttlefish venom and purge it from Heledd’s system. It would probably take a few hours to brew, but many of the spices Yggy told her about last night contain the necessary active agents. She should be able to find most of what she needs in this very kitchen, and she can supplement that with a few herbs she herself has gathered while traveling. Most importantly, this all suggests to Heppa that she can delay dealing with the poison for a little longer.

Having convinced herself that even though poisoned, Heledd is stable, Heppa now turns her attention to the open wounds. A kitchen floor is no place for surgery and could likely soon become busy, depending on when Yggy comes to work. Heppa does not know whether this would need to be hidden from him, but they certainly do not need to be in his way. With all that in mind, Heppa drags Heledd into Alric’s room and heaves her up onto his bed. Once the patient is situated, Heppa closes the door and gathers materials from the kitchen, hot water, rags, and such. She also picks up the poison-laced knife so that no one hurts themself on it. Then she returns to Alric’s room herself. For a brief moment her eyes dart around it, but she suppresses her curiosity for now.

Heppa gives each of the knife wounds a thorough cleansing, then stitches them up and bandages them with poultices against them, just like she did for Kachen’s spear wound. It is a little different to have a completely still patient, but the novelty of working on humans has not yet worn off. It occurs to Heppa that some mushrooms could be helpful here. She takes a quick look through her bag but then remembers that Tric Manu has the dwarvish fly and the springy horsetail. Heppa does what she can with what she has, but Heledd does not rouse. It is just as well because until the antivenom elixir is ready, the injured woman really should just rest.

With the patient stable for now, Heppa steps back from the bed and idly looks around the room. Maybe something in here can help her make the elixir, she tells herself. No, it is not just curiosity that has her opening drawers and quickly glancing inside the chest. Nothing useful is immediately obvious, and she feels a little guilty violating the privacy of someone who values that so much. Resolving to make up for that indiscretion later, Heppa moves on to the bar to gather some alcohols in which to dissolve components. Then she assembles the most useful herbs and spices in the kitchen. She spends a while working out proportions that seem reasonable to her. She has never done this before, but once everything seems as ready as it can be, she sets the whole thing to brew.

She watches it for a while, but when it is simmering steadily and all the ingredients have been introduced, there is nothing further she needs to do. She checks in again on Heledd, but then she hears a shout. “Who is brewing anti-cuttlefish elixir?”

Heppa is thrilled that her concoction is correct enough to be identified just by scent. She steps from the bed to Alric’s doorway, “You can tell?!” she asks excitedly. “Damal!”

The older Manu stands in the kitchen over her pot, peering down into it. He is fully decked out in his vest of pockets full of vials and bottles. At her voice, he looks up and frowns at her. “What is going on?” he demands. “Where’s my nephew?”

Hepalonia has no idea why Damal has shown up, but he is Alric’s family and has a right to be here, so she does not question him. She steps up to him and notices that he has a satchel with medical supplies as well. Taking his arm, she pulls him into Alric’s bedroom. “Heledd was attacked. I think it was the cuttlefish venom. It’s on that knife.” Damal looks over at the weapon laid carefully out on Alric’s desk and nods in understanding. Heppa explains everything she did to treat the injured woman so far—except that she tried magic. She most definitely does not mention that to him. 

As Heppa talks, Damal double checks all that she has done. He satisfies himself that cuttlefish antivenom is indeed what Heledd needs. At that point, he has one question for Heppa. “And what are you doing in my nephew’s bedroom?”

Heppa is a little surprised; she thinks that is obvious. “I had an appointment in the fairgrounds, and I stumbled over Heledd,” she explains. “I brought her back; she was unconscious when I found her. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know where else to put her. I don’t think I can get her up the stairs, and I didn’t want to leave her in the kitchen.” Her response seems to deflate whatever he was affronted about.

They return to the kitchen where Damal reviews the ingredients and steps that Heppa used to prepare her antivenom. Then he provides some feedback on her work. A number of her components contain the necessary active agent but in less than ideal amounts. His vials contain more concentrated forms of these. For example, half of Yggy’s turmeric supply has gone into Heppa’s pot; Damal could have achieved the same result with a spoonful from one of his pockets. He may be a bit crusty toward her, but Heppa has a great time learning everything Damal is willing to tell her.