Echoes of Invasion: Closing Time | Scene 3

As Tric Manu and Hepalonia enter the Parting Glass, he is speaking enthusiastically about running around with two bows on his back, like some heroic figures have borne two blades. Heppa suggests he would need to use his feet to shoot then and should consider modified boots. Alric greets the elves at the counter and takes their lunch order for two stew bowls. He asks what they would like to drink, and as usual, Heppa requests that he recommend something. This time he pours heather ale for the cousins. She quite enjoys the light beer. “This is very nice!” she tells Alric as they lunch at the counter.

“We’re going to be heading out tomorrow,” Tric tells the barkeep. “We’ve had an excellent stay here. Whatever scale is used to rate taverns, you score tops on. All those things I said about the food… it was edible. Very edible,” Tric says playfully. Then he draws out one of the gold and blue ribbons Baeowin gave him. “I’d like you to have this little favor to add to your ribbon display up behind the bar there. This signifies that this establishment is safe for elves. We stayed here at least one night and were not murdered in the morning, which is the minimum requirement. I will note that the place with the ghost did not get one of these,” Tric adds.

Heppa points out that he just did not have any ribbons yet at that point in time. Tric did put a piece of cloth up next to Glammur’s ribbon there. “Oh, right, after we cleared the ghost out of there, making it safe.” He heads around behind the bar to affix his ribbon next to a green one that he presumes the dwarvish bard left on a previous visit. “And I haven’t seen any ghosts here,” Tric adds. “You must have already had your ghosts cleared out, Alric.” Tric climbs up on a stepstool and secures the strip of cloth. Keeping his tone light, he continues, “Anyway, if any other elf is passing through town and they come into this bar, they will be able to see that the barkeep will not murder them in their sleep.”

“I appreciate your assessment of me,” Alric says with a grin.

“Especially,” Tric hops down from the stepstool so that he is right beside Alric before continuing in a lower voice, “especially knowing that you probably could if you wanted to. Which is also a good skill to have.”

“I suppose it is more meaningful then that I didn’t,” Alric replies.

“Seems like it is better for business, too,” Heppa adds.

With lunch finished, Alric asks if they are now free to visit the aviary, and the elves agree. Tric flips up the section of the counter by the stairs so he can get out from behind the bar. As he waits for the other two there, he makes a point of warning Mate to stay tucked inside his backpack. Stealing lunch from a falcon is likely to get the magpie in trouble.

Alric heads the other way down the bar, over to the curtains that lead to the kitchen. He calls through it, “Maebl, I’m done for the day now, so if you’d take over the front…” Heppa sits up a bit straighter. This is another new person. She wonders how many people actually work at the Parting Glass.

Yggy’s voice comes piercing from behind the scenes, “What?! It’s barely past lunchtime and you’re already—”

“Complain to Maebl, Yggy,” Alric cuts him off. “I’m not here anymore.” He comes out from behind the bar and joins Heppa.

“Shut yer trap,” a crackly new voice commands. The oldest-looking human female Hepalonia has yet seen comes through the curtains. She is rail-thin and would only come up to Heppa’s shoulder. Her skin is deep black and wrinkled, while her hair is brilliant white. She wears it pulled back into a tight bun. Once behind the bar and serving drinks, she looks even shorter. The stool Tric used to put up his ribbon is bound to see a lot of action from her over the next few hours. “You kids have fun now,” she tells Alric. He smiles gratefully at her and ushers Heppa along to where Tric is waiting at the base of the stairs.

“Nice to meet you, Maebl,” Heppa calls over her shoulder to the woman. She starts up the stairs following Alric and asks, “How old is she?! Do you know?” The farmer Gumreddoc said he was fifty-nine years old. “Is she older than sixty?” Alric guesses she probably is, though he has never asked her. Heppa admits that she still has not figured out when it is all right to ask this question.

“Probably not as the first part of a conversation,” Alric advises. “Maybe get to know someone a little bit first.”

“When you’re administering medical help you can ask,” Heppa observes. “That usually goes all right.”