Echoes of Invasion: Closing Time | Scene 10

The door of the Parting Glass opens, and two more people enter the crowded space. It is Heppa and Alric, mid-laugh from whatever amusing anecdote they were just sharing. Tric calls out and raises his glass in greeting, but they do not seem to notice, so he just clinks it to Glammur’s.

Although they are back at his establishment, Alric does not go behind the bar. It is a night off for him, the first he has had in who knows how long. He steps up to the counter and asks Maebl for the package under it. She fetches it for him, and he turns it over to Heppa. The ornate writing addresses it to the Noble Thrandolil, Care of Hepalonina, Via the Parting Glass with many swirls. The letter is secured by a wax seal imprinted with a fancy emblem. There is also a small package, which Heppa expects contains the artifact Lady Sabine wants examined. In addition, there is a bag of coins, the bounty for the two Rats they dealt with the previous night.

At this point, Heppa notices Tric farther down the bar, head bowed in conversation with Glammur. She asks Alric whether he knows the dwarf, and he tells her that they stay at the Parting Glass every now and then. She realizes the little green ribbon on the cord above the bar is similar to the ones from Untdunben and probably came from them. Alric tells her that actually a few of the favors up there are from Glammur, not just the green one. The performer is quite well-traveled, after all. “I guess the stage is free now that you and Tric are leaving, so maybe Glammur can draw the crowds in,” Alric observes. 

Heppa mentions having had a lesson in storytelling from them, but when Alric asks if she performed, she insists her story was just for practice. “I don’t think it went very well…” 

Alric nevertheless smiles at the thought of it. “Do you want a drink?” he asks her.

“Maybe some of the tea,” she suggests. Dinner certainly has helped steady her a bit, but she figures she should stay away from alcohol at this point. They drank enough of that over the course of the afternoon.

“Oh, then we should go in the back,” Alric says. “Tea is generally not served out here, not at this hour.” Heppa grins back at him; she has picked the right beverage for spending more time with just him.

Alric leads her down the bar, and they stop by Tric and Glammur just long enough for her to give her cousin the reward pouch. Then they continue through the curtains to where Yggy is hard at work. “So you’re back at last!” he cries when he sees Alric. “The hag’s going to leave!”

“Nope,” Alric says calmly. “I’m not here.” He steps around Yggy and gets the kettle set up, ignoring any further fluster from the cook. Alric offers to make Heppa chamomile again if she wants it, but she requests whatever other recommendation he has, so he makes ginger tea instead. Once it is brewed and they have their mugs, he opens the door to his bedroom so that they can have some privacy from Yggy. He offers her the chair at his desk and then sits on the chest. “So, clearly you have magic training… Did you ever try to make anything explode?” he asks. “I told you about the incident with the silver salts; what’s your equivalent? Did you ever pull any magic pranks? What trouble did you get into as a child?”

“Trouble? Mostly it was just not going to class… But, there was a bush one time that I blew up. That wasn’t even to make an explosion! I was just trying to do brambles for real. That was definitely not the way it was supposed to go, purely an accident. Oh, but we found an ice rune, and that made a real mess of our campsite where we were staying with Kachen. It destroyed Glammur’s room, too. I slung the little snowsorm at a bush, which burst from the ice. I made a rock crack from another little snowstorm, too. I just like to experiment with things, and sometimes they don’t go well.”

Heppa never really intends to get in trouble, but somehow she still seems to, at least with her Mother. Alric, on the other hand, really was a troublesome child, and he admits he did it deliberately. Heppa’s misbehavior stemmed from wanting to do her own thing rather than be forced down the path that her Mother chose for her. When she considers it that way, she does see some similarities, as clearly Alric’s temperament is more suited to bartending than the solitary apothecary work his family wanted for him.

“There’s a lot of school, you know,” Heppa complains. Alric shrugs; he did not go to much of it himself. Heppa continues, trying to explain what she means. “It’s very structured, and it takes a long time. Sometimes it’s good, but if you go really deep into some stuff, then you don’t have time to learn as much about other things.”

They finish their tea companionably, and then Alric collects her mug from her and bids her goodnight. “I had a really nice afternoon with you. I hope that if you are ever coming through South Tower again, that you would please come by,” he tells her.

“I had a wonderful time, too,” Heppa replies. “I feel really comfortable around you,” she adds with a blush. “Goodnight, Alric.” She gives him a quick kiss on the cheek, blushing even more, and he wraps his arm around her in a brief embrace.

Heppa heads up to her room, all smiles. She gets ready for bed, rubbing peppermint oil into the bruises she has from falling out of the tree. Then she takes out her map packet and starts scribbling down some of the new things she has learned.

* * *

In the morning, Tric and Heppa pack up their things and check out of the Parting Glass. Alric gives Tric twenty more gold pieces, money earned from storytelling. Glammur, who is having breakfast farther down the bar, takes note of the payment. “Not bad, laddie,” they observe.

Then Alric pulls down two bottles from the shelves behind the counter. To Tric, he gives a bottle of mead, a traditional drink of the Manu. For Heppa, he has a bottle of blaand, the fermented whey beverage she enjoyed so much her first night at the Parting Glass. She receives the bottle with a broad smile, and he takes her hand, bringing it up to his lips to kiss her fingers in farewell. “Goodbye, Alric,” she tells him, blushing again. “If you’re ever near the forest…”

“Maybe Aderyn will be,” he replies with a grin.

The elves say goodbye to Glammur as well and then head to Damal’s shop, their final destination in South Tower.