Echoes of Invasion: Wesmere Welcome | Scene 1

Elendor, which the guardian Filvarel described to Tric and Heppa as a small village, is about the same size as the main settlement where the cousins live in Estbryn Forest. Filvarel leads them to their accommodations, a so-called “modest” building that has a room for each of them, including the pony Butterbell. The structure is larger than the home Tric shares with his dad. Hepalonia’s house in Estbryn is much grander, so she is not as impressed, but she is still grateful.

Filvarel can tell they are rundown from their recent adventures and invites them to rest and recover while he forwards news of their arrival on to the Ka’lian. The cousins are too worn out to do any exploration that day, and they spend the rest of it nursing their injuries and taking it easy. Heppa prepares fresh poultices for their bruises and brews relaxing teas to ease their muscles. She is finally able to shake off the crick in her neck from one of those hits with the morningstar. It is refreshing to stand up fully straight again. As they prepare for bed, she sets out soothing scented sachets to help them get a good night’s sleep.

Tric marvels at the size of the place they have been given, and Heppa acknowledges that it is nice for guest quarters, certainly more expansive than the scout lodgings where Glammur and Kachen stayed. “Do you think they are trying to impress us, or is this standard?”

“Maybe it’s because we’re official emissaries,” Tric says, fiddling with the ribbon High Lord Volas entrusted to him, “and this is the official treatment.” Idly he comments, “I’ve never seen an elf with a spear before, though.”

“They mustn’t have saurians here to steal them,” Heppa jokes, thinking of how Hezzis swiped a polearm from right next to them on their first foray. After some more jocular chit-chat to unwind, they finish their chamomile tea and drift off to sleep to the scent of lavender.

In the morning, Tric wakes up feeling completely refreshed. It’s amazing what a night under the canopy of healthy green trees can do for you! he reflects appreciatively. As he and Heppa enjoy some of the muffins from the guest provisions and a cup of invigorating tea, there is the sound of wooden clattering at the door. A voice calls, “Uh, visitors? Are you—”

“Of course!” Tric answers merrily, throwing the door open. He sees a young elf clad in the green dress and brown corset popular among shamans. She is rapping on the doorjamb with the top of a twisted branch she holds as a staff. Tric invites her in to join him and Heppa for breakfast. He has supplemented the provided food with some of his dwindling supply of ham. 

The new arrival sits down at the table. In addition to food, it is also covered with Heppa’s map and writing supplies, as she has been updating it to reflect their journey through Carcyn yesterday. “I heard that there were newcomers, and I wanted to see for myself if that was the case. Where are you in from? I didn’t catch the place name from Filvarel. Oh! Forgive me. I’m Neia.”

Such an easy-to-say name after those woses! Tric performs the introductions and explains that although they are from the Estbryn Forest a ways to the east in the Estmark Hills, they have most recently come from the Grey Woods where they were clearing out corruption.

“Oh, that’s horrible!” Neia exclaims. “Hopefully the council will be able to fit you in their busy schedule,” she adds. Tric hears some scorn in her tone and asks what they are busy with. “Talking away! Wasting time!”

“What should they be doing?” Tric asks.

That sets Neia off on a rant. As she tells it, the members of the Ka’lian are squabbling over what it means to technically fulfill their obligation to supply troops in response to the request from Lintanir. Whose troops actually count? How many people are they going to send? Bitter disapproval sounds in Neia’s voice, but not because she is against the action. It is more that she sees all the inaction piled up in front of it. “If all goes well, I’ll be going with the troops myself since they will need support,” she finishes.

Heppa throws a questioning glance at Tric, who shrugs in response. This is the first news they have heard of elvish troop movements. “What are the ill tidings from Lintanir, that they need troops?” he asks.

“Oh, there’s rumors of undead stirring. I think it’s not rumors; I think it’s true. I believe—”

“We fought a wraith two days ago,” Tric blithely interjects.

Neia’s eyes go wide. “Here?!”

“In the Grey Woods, across the river. Courtesy of some would-be necromancers.”

“Oh my goodness!” Neia lets out a sigh, and continues. “That’s it! I’m going to go right back up there and tell them they need to speak to you both right away!”

Should I stop her? Tric wonders, unsure of whether Neia has any sway or will just annoy the Ka’lian.

“Well, I’ve already made this presentation once to Lord Volas,” Heppa says matter-of-factly, flipping through her papers to the map marked with undead sightings.

The cousins learn that Neia is the apprentice of someone present at council meetings but is herself too young to have any direct influence on Ka’lian decisions. She seems to have an assistant role similar to the one Dicllon performed for Breda during Kachen’s inquest. Neia grumbles about how there are certain people who think that if one is not yet fifty, one has no insight to offer on anything. Tric and Heppa are likely to find that their youth is a detriment when dealing with the council. Then again, maybe some council members just dislike Neia’s drive and brashness, rather than have a problem with her years.

Heppa asks about the rumors Neia has heard about the undead and Lintanir. None of Heppa’s map has included areas north of the Great River, but there is no time like the present to start a new sheet.

“An envoy came from Lintanir saying that undead were moving in that area. He was seeking the activation of soldiers from Wesmere. Lord Ardonath was recruiting aid on his whole journey across from the Great Forest through the Heart Mountains to here. He approached all types of people, because if the undead are moving, everyone is under threat. He was very put out when he got less of a response from Wesmere elves than he did from some of the non-elves along his route.”

“So you haven’t had any trouble here then?” Heppa asks, her pen poised above where she has just drawn in Wesmere.

“No, not since long ago. Which is part of the problem, in my opinion. They’re just too comfortable. And some of them are excessively local-minded,” Neia complains. “Very Wesmere-centric.” Tric makes the observation that Mal-Ravanal’s horrible tide never made it quite this far, and Neia agrees. “Mal-Ravanal was much more focused on destroying the human nation. He had an axe to grind with them, so it only reached our outskirts. Any elves caught up in what he did would have just been bystanders.”

“How long ago did this noble show up?” Heppa asks, wondering how it fits into the timeline of the undead activity with which she is already aware. “Did he say when they were having trouble?”

“This has just been in the past months,” Neia says.

Heppa wonders if she has not heard word of this because she and Tric have been out of their forest so much, or whether they are just too lowly to have been informed. Maybe rumblings of this is what prompted her father to really focus his research. Of course, another possibility is that no one in the Great Forest bothered to inform Estbryn Forest, since High Lord Volas does not have that many troops under his command.

“The Ka’lian is still wrapped up in their deliberations, so it will be a little while before they have time to speak with you. But you just fought a wraith two days ago!” Neia gets worked up again. “A wraith! Just a couple days’ journey from here! We could have gone with our forces and fought it off! Argh!”

Heppa refills Neia’s tea cup, hoping it will calm her down. The young shaman thanks her, quite impressed with the brew’s flavor, but it seems to amp her up more. “If you’re stuck here and the inaction of the Ka’lian gives you nothing to do, then at the very least you should come out to the full moon dance,” she says, talking rapidly.

Tric thinks for a moment, trying to recall what point of the moon’s cycle they are at. The Grey Woods grew very misty in the evenings, so not much moonlight was able to penetrate to ground level. “When is that? Tonight?”

“Yes, there’s a big party over at Dancer’s Green tonight. It’s on the other side of the river, but there’s a ford so you should be fine getting there.” Neia looks at the two new elves a moment, and then adds, “But have you been to Wesmere before? Do you know your way around?” Tric admits they do not.

“I can come back and pick you up this evening to take you there,” Neia offers. “That way you’re free to spend your day exploring some. It’ll probably take us an hour or two to get there, so rather than dusk, I’ll meet you back here in the late afternoon.” Heppa thanks her for the lovely offer, and Tric agrees that the plan sounds great. Then, fueled by tea and youthful indignation, Neia heads off to rail at whoever she can find, using what little sway she has to further bring the current situation to light. “A wraith!” they hear her exclaim again to herself as she stalks off.