Echoes of Invasion: Wesmere Welcome | Scene 5

“I’m sure somebody knows how to do this, with the right inks and all,” Heppa murmurs, as she continues to jot down alchemical ideas.

“Hey, Heppa,” Tric calls from the window, causing her to startle. She was not aware he had even left the house! “Did you know I have another relative here?”

“Well, Grandmother and Grandfather—”

“No, no, no!” Tric excitedly interrupts her. Then he drops into a stage whisper for drama’s sake. “Anador had another son!”

“Really? How do you know?”

“Because I just met him.” Tric gestures with his head, back over his shoulder. “Come on out and let’s go meet him. He’s really good at hiding, though.”

“That sounds wonderful!” Heppa says, hurrying outside. 

Tric makes a show of looking all around, but Ash has not concealed himself again. Perhaps he did not inherit the same trickster impulses that Tric himself did. “Ah, there he is!” Tric points the obvious elf out to Heppa.

“Hello,” she says politely. “You’re Anador’s son?” she asks for her own confirmation. Manu words for relatives seem pretty flexible, and she wants to make sure she understands all the family lines on the elvish side.

“Yes, my name is Ash.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Hepalonia. Thrandolil is my father.” 

With the introductions out of the way, Tric congratulates Ash on what a fine job he did tracking them all day. Ash simply says he heard that they were in Wesmere and was curious.

“I wish to apologize,” Heppa says. “I don’t know if you know about my father’s situation. I only found out about my uncle a few months ago, so I didn’t know anything about you. It’s been a long time since I’ve even seen Grandfather and Grandmother.”

“I only found out about Anador a few months ago,” Tric chimes in.

“Yes, so I apologize that I had not heard of you,” Heppa concludes. “Mother has been a little secretive,” she adds with some bitterness.

“Oh! Did you want to know anything about Estbryn Forest, since you said you were curious about it?” Tric asks.

Presented with a direct question, and silence into which to speak, Ash answers, “I do wonder what types of trees grow there.”

Normally lists of common things bore Tric to no end, but he makes an allowance for this new brother and pushes through to provide that very thing. “First of all, we have very many willow trees,” he begins, pulling out his knuckle dusters and handing them over to Ash to inspect. Tric continues with yew and oak, then elaborates on how Estbryn has fewer pines than Wesmere, being farther south. “And we do have a few ash trees,” he adds. The conversation leaves list format and turns into more of a dialogue as Ash asks questions, citing local trees, and Tric responds knowledgeably. Ash seems more comfortable speaking on this topic, his comments less halting than earlier. He admires the craftwork of the knuckle dusters, and Tric explains, “My old man Nasir made that. He and Anador were together when they were in Estbryn Forest.”

“Nasir is your father?” Ash asks.

“I grew up with Nasir.”

It seems to Ash that Tric is offering explanations to address something, but he is not sure what. Maybe he is trying to spare my feelings? “I have never met Anador,” Ash says, trying to articulate that he has no emotional connection to the elf.

“Neither have I,” Tric replies.

“Me neither,” Heppa adds.

“So who did you grow up with?” Tric asks his brother.

“I grew up with my mothers.”

“Are they rangers as well?”

“One is. The other is a shyde.”

Tric hesitates a moment and then presses on. “Do you mind if I ask… Have you met any other of Anador’s offspring?”

“I do not know that there are any others,” Ash replies. “I feel as though Quaemilya or Cleomithir would have told me, since they sought me out.”

“Do we have other uncles or aunts?” Heppa asks, wondering just how much of her family has been hidden away due to Penna’s decisions.

“The only knowledge I have of Anador’s family is what his parents have told me.”

That is surprising to Heppa. “Oh, you do not live with Grandmother and Grandfather?”


“And you’re not close to them?” Heppa leaves no space for an answer, continuing on with, “Do you think our family is strange?” While Ash is trying to formulate an answer to that, she rattles off even more questions. This is her first exposure to extended family beyond Tric and Uncle Nasir, who have always taken her questions in stride. And she has so many questions now, since Mother has never told her anything. “Do you look like Anador? Oh, but you’ve never met him, so maybe you wouldn’t know…”  She eventually comes to a stop when she realizes that she is making Ash uncomfortable. She is not sure if the problem is her natural curiosity coming across as being nosy or if it is the subject matter of the questions themselves. Her questions are certainly predicated upon numerous assumptions about relationships. Based on the warm welcome they have gotten from some of the Manu that are part of Tric’s extended human family, Heppa has adopted a level of familiarity here that could be off-putting to this new cousin.

“Uh, maybe this is a lot to take in,” Tric interjects. Trying to move the conversation to more comfortable topics, like trees, he asks, “So you’re a ranger here?”

“I am sometimes here,” Ash replies, not catching that the question was more about his occupation than his location.

Tric rolls with that interpretation. “Ah! So you’re not always in Wesmere. You travel around a little bit?”

“I range much further afield. I am an avenger.”

Tric is impressed. “I don’t think we have any avengers in Estbryn Forest.”  Avengers are types that rangers would consider intense.

This new information puts Ash’s discomfort under a new light for Heppa. It may not be her specific questions that are the problem, just the burden of social interaction. Avengers spend a lot of time out on their own in the wilderness away from elvish society. Seems like the more one specializes, the stranger one gets, Heppa reflects, thinking of Fenowin as well. “So you just don’t know Grandmother and Grandfather? You’re just not in the village as often to know the goings-on and such?” she asks.

“That’s not my area of concern.”

“Have you seen any undead activity?” Heppa asks.

Ash relaxes a bit into this new topic, one which more fits his professional experience. He spends a lot of his time up in the Heart Mountains, and he has encountered some stirrings of undead there, though nothing that seemed really organized to him. He has done some tracking work, monitoring small groups of undead. 

“They can be stirred up. Now, I don’t know all the things that can do that,” Heppa tells him, “but we just came from the Grey Woods where there were some shadow mages accidentally stirring them up.”

Tric takes issue with that description. “Not entirely accidental,” he insists. “Not that last one.”

“Well, as a by-product of their magic, it was accidental,” Heppa qualifies. “I’m not talking about the wraith. But I don’t even think that was intended. Do you think they just summon wraiths?”

“It did seem a little bit out of her league,” Tric acknowledges. “Anyway,” he says to Ash, “I don’t know how you feel about the Grey Woods… Good news, it’s been cleared of shadow mages.”

Heppa pulls out her map and begins taking notes. “All right, so you have found some activity that is just undead… Can you sense corruption in the magic?” It is a long-shot, since most male elf commoners do not do magic, but Ash’s father was Anador, an elvish noble, so he might have some ability. And even if he does not cast himself, he might still have a sense for corruption.

“That would be something that you should ask my mother more than me,” Ash says. “I don’t wield magic; she’s a shyde.”

“Have you ever been to the Grey Woods?” Tric asks.

“I…” Ash actually smirks a little bit as he thinks over how to answer, and Tric laughs. He makes a show of looking around to make sure no one else is listening and encourages Ash to share. “My mothers don’t know I’ve been to the Grey Woods, but as a child, I did poke around a bit where I wasn’t supposed to.”

“As a kid?!” Tric lets out a long breath, impressed. “That is a dangerous place to go as a kid.” Tric begins to form a plan: recruit Ash to be the new sentry for the Grey Woods. It seems that he does not like to be around people, and he has demonstrated himself to be more than capable. Even if he cannot sense corruption himself, the woses would help with that part. “We cleared out the human encampment of shadow mages and took out their leader, but there’s no guarantee they won’t come back. Their magical experiments corrupted the place. Did you meet one of the woses when you went there? Maybe Dolmathengalin? Or Blululldrum?”

“No, I did not meet any woses. I was quite young and had not had much contact with humans. I was mainly focused on sneaking past the town of humans that was in the way. It seemed like a good test of my talents. I got around Carcyn without any humans seeing me and camped for the night on the north edge of the Grey Woods, just to prove to myself that I could do it. Then I snuck back home. I certainly did not see any shadow mages or woses. I didn’t encounter any humans in the Grey Woods themselves. I didn’t go far in. I was young and naive.”

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t encounter anything dangerous back then.” Tric pulls down his collar a bit to show his lightning scar. “Those shadow mages, they have a few nasty tricks. I don’t know if you’ve ever been hit by lightning. I have. Twice. I shouldn’t be surprised; lightning strikes quickly.”

“The lightning is related to the shadow mages?”

“They can conjure lightning. He summoned it, not from the sky, but from himself!” Tric says.

“He may have directed it through his sword, but he was wrenching it from the aether,” Heppa clarifies. “And thus, the corruption!”

“Yes, but we took care of him, thankfully. That guy was a piece of work! But anyway, we cleared them out,” Tric says. “Point being, part of why we came to Wesmere—other than to recover from getting shocked—is that the woses do need an elvish sentry to help them keep an eye on the woods. They haven’t had one in a long time. Not since Isthiniel, hundreds of years ago. I presume she was from Wesmere, but I don’t know. So… I don’t know if that’s a job you might be interested in…” Ash’s eyes widen a bit at the prospect of a regimented job being assigned to him. Heppa can understand that response; she does not want to commit to anything long term, either. “Or… just something you might want to do,” Tric quickly amends.

“That sounds like something that the Ka’lian would need to weigh in on,” Ash says.

“Yes, if we get a chance to talk with them, I think we’re going to raise it,” Tric tells him. “We talked with Neia a little bit. Do you know her? She’s one of the shamans around here, apparently. She’s very… Her bowstring’s wound tight. Anyway, she showed an interest in the case, as well.”

“Perhaps the role is something that she could grow into,” Ash suggests. A shaman might not have enough experience yet, but were she to hone her skills to druid-level, she could be suited for what Tric and Hepalonia have described.

“I didn’t ask her if she could sense corruption,” Heppa murmurs. “I should have taken more classes,” she reflects. Then she shakes herself, and returns her attention to this new family member. “Well, what are you doing here then?” she asks Ash.

“Watching you.”

“How long have you been watching us?”

“Since last night.”

“Oh, so you were just in the village.”

“I was in the forest.”

“Well, then it’s a happy coincidence that you were in the area!” Heppa concludes. 

Tric is not sure there was anything coincidental about this. Word reached Ash about their arrival, probably through Filvarel, and then Anador’s other son made a beeline down here to check them out. Indeed, Ash’s response is, “News of your arrival spread rather quickly.”

“I suppose you do not often get elvish visitors, and not from Estbryn Forest especially,” Tric says.

“More common would be from the Great Forest. And as there have been many rumblings lately, the arrival of another set of emissaries did send ripples. Your name being attached to those was of interest to me.”

Tric snorts. “Why are people always rumbling my name?” he asks with feigned innocence.