Echoes of Invasion: Wesmere Welcome | Scene 9

After sleeping in the next morning, Heppa and Tric make their way to the village of Arryn. This section of Wesmere is more built up than around Elendor, and the buildings blend in less closely with the vegetation. Their grandparents’ home is modest, not as large as Thrandolil’s house, but still more spacious and fine than the cousins’ temporary quarters. Heppa knocks on the door, and an elvish woman in fine dress—ageless, as all adult elves are—answers it. With a broad smile, she calls, “Cleo! Cleo, the grandchildren are here!” Then she throws open her arms. “Give your grandmother a hug!”

She welcomes them into the house, offering them refreshment and asking how the walk was this morning. Mate flies in as well, eager to poke at whatever snacks there are. Heppa remains polite, marveling at all the different houses there are to see in the area, but she sheds some of her formality, drifting into the interaction style she uses with Daddy rather than the one she adopts for Mother.

Lady Quaemilya asks how Thrandolil is doing, and Heppa answers that he is well. She shares some details of the research projects he is working on that she and Tric are helping him with, though she does not specifically mention undead. “He’s got so many scrolls in his library. It’s so wonderful!”

“It’s good that he’s keeping busy,” his mother comments happily. 

Lord Cleomithir enters the room with a tray of beverages and snacks, some healthy, some not. Tric insists Mate eat some of the former first, cutting the vegetation into small pieces so the magpie will have no excuses to not eat them. 

 “We brought Uncle Thran a human sage to talk to,” Tric contributes to the conversation. “He was excited to talk to that fellow, and I think they had a really good conversation.”

“Oh, and Lala—that is, my sister Quaemilya—just got her sorceress promotion.”

“Ah!” Quaemilya the elder says with satisfaction. “And have you decided? Sorceress or druid?”

Tric takes a long slurp, watching Heppa over the brim of his cup to see how she will respond. Lady Quaemilya sounds far less demanding than Aunt Penna, but he knows his cousin does not like to be penned in.

“No, I’m still exploring…” Heppa answers.

“You don’t even have a staff!”

“No, I have my sword and my bow.”

“Oh, so a scout, then!”

“Um, maybe more like Daddy, like a scholar. I like to make maps.” Heppa is happy to open her folio up and show off her maps when her grandmother asks to see it. She could talk for days about all the different annotations, but she just explains that she takes a lot of notes. “I’m interested in medicine and healing and a bit of alchemy…”

“It does look here like you have a lot of notes related to magic, though.”

“Yes! I’ve been trying to learn a little bit about the different magics, so I ask everybody I can about magic theory.”

Everybody,” Tric whispers to Cleomithir next to him.

“But when I ask somebody about magic, they only know about their specific type. They don’t have ideas about other types of magic. A lot of people in my village don’t really have an interest in human magic, and a lot of humans don’t have an interest in elvish magic,” Heppa says with some disappointment, but her grandmother just nods, as though that makes perfect sense to her. “So it is hard. I’m trying to figure out how they may be similar and how they differ…”

“Of course magic is hard when you don’t even have a staff!” Lady Quaemilya exclaims. “Wait here. Let me see what I have in my chest.”

While she scurries off to go rummage through her things, Lord Cleomithir takes up the reins of conversation. Tric notes that his grandfather also has purple eyes and wonders if Penna banished him from Estbryn Forest. He does not ask any questions on that topic, though. Cleomithir seems interested in political talk, so they stick with that. 

“How are things on the other side of the river these days?” Cleomithir asks. “Are they humans managing to keep themselves together? You’ve traveled through their land. How much have things fallen apart in the last couple decades?”

“They’ve built up some of their cities nearby, but they’re not encroaching on the woods, so that’s fine,” Tric says. “They’re at least in a good enough position that they’re squabbling with each other about who’s in charge of some political unit,” he shares, thinking of Merriver’s weapon cache. “I don’t know too much about that,” he adds innocently.

Cleomithir nods. “Sounds like humans.” Heppa provides more details, explaining how someone was buying weapons from the dwarves and how it seemed like things might come to blows but so far there has been no fighting. “But they’re leaving the forest alone?” Cleomithir asks, that being his main concern.

“Yes, the woses are helping regrow the forest in places suffered,” Tric says.

“Right here, in Hisanham.” Heppa helpfully points out the spot on her map. “You know how humans always have different ideas than we do about which part belongs to them and which to us. But they don’t seem like they’re moving very fast to encroach on us. South Tower is all the way over there.”

“All good news to hear!” Cleomithir says happily.

“But what of you?” Heppa asks. I didn’t even know where you lived! she grumbles to herself, unhappy with her mother, but less willing to say so around her grandfather than around her new cousin. “I wish I had known that we were going to be so close to where you are. We could have brought you something from Estbryn Forest.”

“Well, you know, Wesmere has quite the elaborate settlement here. There’s not very much we need. We do sometimes miss the quiet of Estbryn. And of course, we miss seeing the grandchildren grow. But, well, we all make sacrifices, don’t we? We do hear from your father, but it is still good to get direct news from you.” He asks for the latest news about the council, having been on it himself in the past and thus knowing the movers and shakers of the Estbryn political scene.

They let him know that Penna is on the council now and that they themselves took part in an inquest, serving as counsel to one of the parties. They also tell him about how they are currently on a mission for High Lord Volas, investigating undead activity and mapping it out.

“That seems pretty ambitious for such young elves,” Cleomithir comments.

“We’ve got things to do,” Tric says nonchalantly.

Heppa is more humble. “It’s just something he asked us to do, since we were traveling for Daddy anyway.” She shows the map again. “I’m not exactly sure what the level of interest in it is. I think it’s just a general concern that things might spark up, but I don’t pretend to fully understand High Lord Volas’s intentions. We just watch for things, ask around about problems, and then report back to him.”

Quaemilya returns with a present for Heppa, a short, thin, twisting branch with a smattering of thorns. “This wand should help brambles be more responsive to you,” she says.

“Oh, thank you!” Heppa receives the gift gratefully. “That sounds wonderful. I love to work with brambles. I’ve found so many uses for them.”

“I am a sorceress myself, but you take what time you need to decide. Maybe this wand can help you with that, too.”

Heppa wonders whether Lala actually has an interest in sorceress studies, or if Mother forced her down that track to be more like Grandmother. Learning now that her grandmother is a sorceress, Heppa shares with her that they encountered corruption in the Grey Woods to see if she knows anything about that.

“Oh, no, my senses are definitely not honed well enough to detect that!” Lady Quaemilya says.

From the woses, Heppa had gotten the impression that all elves were supposed to be able to do this. Maybe the issue is that the woses only met a small sampling of elves or that she has only met a small sampling of woses. She supposes, though, that if sensing and healing corruption were common elvish powers, it would not be such a big problem. On the other hand, humans are pretty prolific at doing corrupting things.

Tric lets Heppa guide the conversation, as he has no particular agenda here. Although he is related by blood to these people, he feels little kinship with them. He feels welcome here, certainly, and Cleomithir even slips Mate an extra treat, but these elves are from a different social tier than he is. He is more comfortable once he slips into storyteller mode, and he shares the tale of their fight with skeletons in the tunnels beneath South Tower while searching for an artifact.

As they prepare to leave later in the afternoon, Heppa offers to hand deliver any messages they have to Estbryn Forest, though it will be over a month before they get back there. Quaemilya and Cleomithir promise to write up a letter for Thrandolil and have it ready on the morrow. As they say farewell for now, they express pride in the grandchildren for being seal-carrying emissaries. They actually know and respect High Lord Volas, so it warms their hearts that Heppa and Tric have his notice.