Echoes of Invasion: Wose Is Me | Scene 1

As the new moon draws nigh, Tric Manu and Hepalonia leave their village, the largest elvish settlement in Estbryn Forest. The days of home-cooked meals are now behind them, but the two young elves have been more discerning about their selection of trail rations this time. They also bring more rugged backpacks to carry their supplies. In addition, they have actual information about their route because Tric has looked over the scout Baeowin’s map, on which was marked the southern battlefield that is their goal as well as several good campsites along the way. While Uncle Thran is hoping they will find a complete artifact at their destination, Tric is also motivated by the prospect of learning something about the Manu, his mother’s people.

The young elves hike southward at a leisurely pace. Tric occasionally adjusts the feather he recently added to his red bandana, and his cousin pontificates on all the mushrooms she read about in her father’s scrolls. Heppa seems excited by them, considering them essentially naturally-occuring artifacts. She describes the appearance and uses of the springy horsetail, the dwarvish fly, and the dapper inkcap. Tric realizes he actually has one of the mentioned fungi on him and starts patting down his pockets. He pulls out a seven-leaf clover, a roll of blue and gold ribbon, some rations, and finally a red mushroom with white spots and a white stalk: the dwarvish fly. These analgesic mushrooms are found in dark, moist environments like the Foul Fen where he picked it; he and Heppa are unlikely to come across more where they are now headed. Heppa reports that Fenowin claimed the velvety black dapper inkcap cuts off one’s connection to “the life force,” whatever that is. To Tric, it sounds rather melodramatic and probably over-blown. At any rate, not as useful as the energizing springy horsetail, which the edge of the Estbryn Forest is the right environment for. Tric makes a note to keep his eyes open for those cream-colored spirals. 

On the journey south, the elves stay in various places Tric learned about from Baeowin. There is no need for his cousin to know about his inside information, though. He makes a show of scouting around and comes up with elaborate explanations for what makes the locations so great for camping. As they settle down at a comfortable spot one evening, he tells Heppa, “This location has the best sightlines. If you watch carefully here—well, if it weren’t cloudy we could watch the beautiful sunset off to the… west!”

Hepalonia smiles at her cousin’s chatter. It is clear to her that he wants to be well-known as the skilled hunter he is. Maybe even one day he will be a great elvish hero, like Kalenz. Someday, people will tell stories of Tric Manu and all the amazing places he found, all the people he met, all the people he changed. He has a boastful air about him, that is for sure.

“This site is so good that I’m going to mark it!” he announces, pulling out a strip of blue and gold ribbon. The branch above them is already adorned with one, but it is a bit weathered, so he refreshes it from his supply.

He is doing a better job with his travel responsibilities than she is, though. She should have spent more time looking at Daddy’s map than his miscellaneous botany scrolls. “I think we’re a little lost,” Hepalonia tells her cousin. “Do you recognize any of these landmarks? Where do you think we are? I thought I knew…”

“I recognize all these landmarks!” he announces boldly, thankful again for his peek at Baeowin’s map. “We’re not far from the mid-forest hamlet. We’ll probably spend tomorrow night there.”

Heppa shakes her head at herself. “A map would be a much better approach to this than constantly looking around.”

“Maps are hard to come by,” Tric points out. “But making one ourselves as we go is a good idea.”

The following night, when they stay at the small cluster of elvish homes in the middle of the Estbryn Forest, they acquire a sheet of parchment from their friendly host and begin sketching out their route so far: their home in the northern section of the forest, the evergreen glade, the hill from which they were able to see Estmark Peak. Heppa reconstructs what she saw on their hike with Hezzis: the valley in the distance, the plains, the desert. She does not know exactly where all those features are, but she notes their general locations relative to each other. In the margin, she scribbles, “Bog iron? Horse lords? Mushrooms?” with arrows pointing to where such things may be found.

Over the next few days of travel, they flesh the map out more. Each night, as they sit around the campfire, Tric rambles about what they saw and did, while Heppa sketches images and jots down notes on the parchment. The stars prove helpful for keeping directions straight, particularly as the nights are growing darker. There was a full moon when they were at the Foul Fen and met Hezzis and Kachen; by the time Tric and Heppa finally reach their destination, the new moon is barely visible.