Echoes of Invasion: Wesmere Welcome | Scene 3

As they amble around Elendor, the cousins chat with each other. Although their mushroom supplies were recently bolstered, Heppa is interested in foraging for more, but Tric discourages her from doing that in other elves’ space. With mushrooms on the mind now, she wonders whether dapper inkcap grows in the Grey Woods, contributing to the corruption there. Kachen mentioned some grows in the tunnels around Untdunben, but maybe there is some sort of secluded cave in the Grey Woods sheltering more of it.

Given the pleasant quarters that they stayed in last night, conversation moves on to houses next. Tric idly wonders what happened to Anador’s house, if it was anything like Thrandolil’s. Heppa points out that Tric would inherit such a place if it existed, but then wonders whether Anador would just live with Thrandolil, if her house is actually the entire family’s home. Her father does not have any other siblings as far as she knows, and she has no idea where her grandparents on that side are. She has only vague memories of them from her very early years. Heppa wonders whether it is unusual to not know where one’s grandparents live, but Tric is no use there. He is not close to his, and he supposes that half of them have already died, given how short human lives are.

Mate yodels at Tric, trying to attract his attention, but when he looks over at where the magpie is, he sees nothing of interest. “If you want to eat the caterpillar, you can eat the caterpillar,” Tric tells the bird, assuming this is about food. “I’m not going to stop you. I don’t want it.” Heppa cautions that it might be a fuzzy one, and Tric changes his advice, reminding Mate of past stomachaches. Mate calls him stupid and then flies away, since clearly Tric does not care about what caused the magpie to issue an alert. Tric is left with nothing but a vague sense of being watched, though there is no sign of anyone in the trees.

There are many craftselves at work in the village, as well as more of those polearm-wielding guardian types. Tric and Heppa also see elves kitted out similarly to the scouts back home. They stop to chat with a leatherworker, and Tric pulls out his small mirror, trying to casually use it to spy around him for whoever the mysterious watcher is. He gets nothing other than sunlight in his own purple eyes for his trouble.

Doing anything further in that regard is interrupted by an elf on ponyback riding into the central clearing and announcing that he is looking for Hepalonia of House Thrandolil. Heppa steps up, presenting herself in the polite but formal manner her mother would use. The rider drops down from the saddle, and for a brief moment, Heppa entertains the fantasy that there might be another letter from Alric, as crazy as that would be in Wesmere, where he has no idea she has gone. 

There is indeed a message, and it is from someone unexpected. “Lady Quaemilya is interested in meeting with you. Do you have time during your stay here?” the rider asks.

“My lady grandmother is here?” Heppa asks back, certain that there is no way he means her sister Lala. Tric looks at Heppa quizzically, and she murmurs, “Lala was named after our grandmother.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. So Quaemilya is Thrandolil’s mother?” Heppa nods. “So she’s also Anador’s mother.” Heppa nods again. “So she’s my grandmother.”

“Yes,” Heppa agrees with the analysis. Turning back to the rider she asks whether they are to go right now, but he indicates he has no instructions to bring her immediately, just to schedule a time. They settle on tomorrow, and Heppa checks whether her companion is also welcome. “Tric of the Manu is here as well. He may be interested, too. He is my cousin.”

“Tric Manu of House Anador,” Tric cuts in, a bit pompously.

“Oh, I guess we can say that here,” Heppa comments. She looks around, a little alarmed. “Can we?”

“I just did,” Tric says. “The seed’s out of the pod now.”

The rider acknowledges that Tric is welcome. He provides instructions for how to reach the village of Arryn, giving landmarks that will help them follow the correct stream as they head up the River Telfar. “As far as I know, Lord Cleomithir will be there as well,” he adds.

“Oh, wonderful!” Heppa says, pleased that she will get to see her grandfather, too. After the messenger mounts up and gallops off, she turns to Tric. “I didn’t know that Grandmother and Grandfather lived here.”

“Neither did I.”

“Hrm… my family is a mystery. Your family is, too!”

“Our family is a mystery, it’s true,” Tric agrees. Heppa starts spinning theories that the family originally came from Wesmere and the two brothers moved southeast together, but Tric thinks that less likely than the grandparents retiring to Wesmere.

“Maybe Grandmother will tell us,” Heppa says hopefully. “After all, she’s related to Daddy, not Mother.”

The cousins spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering around, taking in the sights and chatting with other elves about Wesmere. Heppa develops a working knowledge of the forest’s layout. Between the Heart Mountains to the north and the Great River to the south, Wesmere sits along both sides of the River Telfar. Elendor is on the eastern side, and the Ka’lian is based on an island in the river, accessible by bridge, more towards the north of the forest. Dancer’s Green is in the southwest; Neia will likely lead them across the Ford of Ayas to reach it. There are also a few other greens in Wesmere. Estbryn Forest is too small to have any such open spaces without tree cover. Anyone wanting a green back home would simply leave the woods for the meadows around them.

West of Wesmere there are a couple of human settlements. The whole area has periodically been referred to by humans as Annuvin Province. At various points in centuries past, they have claimed to own the forest as well, but the elves here have always set them straight. Humans seem to think they can own anything if they draw a line around it on a piece of paper. For their part, elves think they have stewardship of anywhere that there is a tree. Over the course of the day, Heppa and Tric do see some contingents of elvish troops passing through on the way to a mustering point. Those are likely the forces destined to fight undead around Lintanir, though, not ones looking to evict human squatters.

Tric occasionally sees a shadow shift or a branch move, but other than such things—which could easily be explained away—there is no sign of the watcher. Whoever it is, they are doing a really good job staying hidden, Tric reflects. Gotta respect that. And we haven’t been shot at. If they wanted to murder us, they could have murdered us last night, and they didn’t. So this must be a friendly place. “I’m pretty sure there is someone watching us,” he tells Heppa unconcernedly. She wonders whether it is simply a guard like the ones who kept an eye on Glammur and Kachen in their village, although those two visitors were certainly not elvish emissaries. Tric still thinks that is the most likely explanation. After all, if it were someone who wanted to talk with them in private, that could have been accomplished back at their lodging.

They head back there to ensure they are in place to meet Neia. “I’m curious to learn how to dance,” Heppa mentions. “Oh, wait, I learned a little bit with Alric! Still, I’m curious to learn the elvish way. I’m not sure I really see the point of dancing, but it will be fun to try. Although, without Alric here…”