It is never too early in the day for ale. Daven and Port lead Tric and Heppa to the alehouse, which is really just the same place they had dinner the previous night. They introduce the elves to the alesmith, and Tric asks to sample the wares. They take their pitchers and mugs over to a side table, and then Tric transforms the simple tasting into a drinking contest. His intention is to soften up their minders enough that they will be more friendly and less observant. If they also become more loose-lipped, so much the better. And if this succeeds… what a great story!
Although he intends to cheat, Tric drinks the first round fair and square. The alcohol starts working on him right away; he can feel that he is too much of a lightweight to keep up with his opponents on a level playing field. He puts his nimble mind and agile hands to the task. With sleight of hand tricks, he fills his mug less than those of the dwarves. He takes smaller sips and splashes liquid out by slamming his mug down. He pours ale into his waterskin, held sneakily beside his mug.
Hepalonia politely samples the ale, but she does not participate in the contest—at least, not as a competitor. She does what she can to support her cousin, trying to distract the dwarves from his tricks by asking them questions about the ale. Although they are experienced drinkers of it, Daven and Port actually know very little about its manufacture.
Then another approach occurs to Heppa. She knows that experienced druids are able to magically heal people suffering from poisons and toxins. Alcohol and drunkenness might work similarly, she thinks. Sitting right alongside her cousin, she concentrates on the healing magics she has studied. She feels the primal energy flowing through her to him and is pleased at her success. However, the stress she puts on her own system in the process exacerbates her earlier injuries. The scabs on her bat bites crack, and new blood seeps into her bandages. She is proud of herself, but she knows her mother would say that she needs more practice.
The table is now a sticky mess, and the pitchers are almost empty. Daven and Port are wavering a bit, but there is still one last round to go. Heppa pulls out her sample of bog iron and plops it down right in front of the two dwarves. “Look what we found!” she says and then goes on to explain what she knows about bog iron to them, distracting them from Tric’s final adjustment of his mug. “What do you think of it as an iron source?” Heppa asks.
Daven and Port have spent some time processing ore for iron and find this new source to be quite interesting. They happily accept the sample to turn over to their superiors. Then they finish off their last mugs and look blearily across the table at their opponent, who is still sitting sharply upright.
“I will admit that dwarvish ale is better than elvish cider,” Tric graciously grants. “I’ve drunk enough of it now to know!” Then he stands up with nary a wobble and says brightly, “Let’s go look at that forge! I bet you two are excellent smiths, and that’s why Trigadur asked you to show us around. Give us a good tour, and I won’t tell anyone that an elf beat you in a drinking contest.” Or no dwarves, at least.
“Finally, a friendly elf!” Daven exclaims, clapping Port on the back as they shakily get to their feet.