Getting ready in the morning to leave Gumreddoc’s home, Hepalonia reorganizes some sections of her backpack and comes across a small leather bag that clinks. She opens it and finds that it is full of coins. “Oh!” Her father has not included a note, but she is grateful for his foresight, as money is likely to come in handy the further they proceed into human territory. Or maybe he thinks we can just buy an artifact; he was pretty adamant about wanting a whole one. There is a second bag as well. “Oh look, Tric Manu!” she says, tossing one of them to her cousin. “Daddy gave us some spending cash!”
Tric catches the sack and hefts it. “Is this a lot?” He has spent his youth engaged in a variety of crafting and foraging activities. Money has not factored very heavily into that. “How many dowsing rods is this worth?”
Heppa shrugs. Her parents take care of whatever expenses are associated with their household. “I guess you could get a lot of sticks with it. But would you buy a dowsing rod? I thought you made your own.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t buy one,” Tric hastily replies. “And come to think of it, we don’t really sell them.” He reflects for a moment. “I guess a dowsing rod is worth one bag of meat and a man’s life.” He pours out the coins and quickly tallies them. “Could you get that for two hundred gold?” He puts most of the coins back away but keeps one out to flip. It catches the light in funny ways, differently than a knife’s blade does.
“I’m sure Daddy gave us a sufficient amount for whatever we have to do,“ Heppa says, thinking fondly of her father.
With the light of the new day increasing, Tilyn enters the central room and heads to one of the cabinets. He pulls out a triangular red pennant and then steps out onto the porch, where he raises it up a little pole. Gumreddoc emerges from the bedroom as well and insists that the elves break their fast with the family before they leave for South Tower.
At the table, the little girl Myfi is in a mood. Her whining eventually reaches a full-on temper tantrum. “Why do they get to go into the city and I don’t? It’s not fair that I can’t go to the Full Bloom Festival just ‘cause Mommy died last year. Why can’t Daddy take me in?”
Tilyn tries to reason with the child. “Honey, somebody’s got to stay and work the fields. We can’t spare a day of the only able-bodied adult in the family being away, not at this time of year.”
Gumreddoc stands up and does a few partial squats, testing out his knees this morning. The newly-healed joints move smoothly. He tells his son that he will spend the next couple days helping out in the fields. “If the knees and shoulder hold up well enough, I can cover for you while you take the children in for the festival.”
Heppa is surprised that the old man views farming work as easier on the body than going to a festival with a couple children. Upon further consideration, though, she realizes a lot of walking would be required for a trip to South Tower, far more than just taking care of the lands around this small hut. He would not want to risk ending up stuck far from home if his joints gave out. She is pleased to see, though, that her healing is holding up so far.
Wishing to encourage Gumreddoc and support his efforts, as well as to cheer little Myfi, Tric spins an over-the-top story of Gumreddoc’s legendary feats. “Early in life, Gumreddoc faced many challenges. He thought the worst of all he faced was Mal-Ravanal, whose great army of undead swarmed across the whole land. But the pair of Gumreddoc and Gweddry together defeated him. Little did Gumreddoc know that his true test would come many years later, in the field itself, the field he had worked many times. Not the field of battle, no! The field of wheat! His muscles were still strong, but time would tell if they were strong enough!” As Tric details ridiculous challenge after ridiculous challenge, he flips his coin and tosses it about, punctuating the action of the tale with reflecting light.
Gumreddoc plays along with the story, acting out parts. When it gets to a section about a bag of wheat, he picks up Myfi and tosses her in the air. “See! See how strong I am!” he cries as she squeals in delight. “I could clear a whole field of wheat!” Tilyn takes in the scene with a smile. Sure, elves are peculiar people, but they are also quite helpful.
With the story done, Myfi excitedly tells the elves all about the Full Bloom Festival. It is held in South Tower on the second full moon of spring each year when the meadows all around are filled with flowers. Merchants and entertainers come for it from a wide variety of places. Sometimes even fancy important people come, possibly even from Weldyn. Myfi’s eyes grow wide at the thought of the capital. Tilyn describes it as a big street party, and indicates that one is far more likely to meet people from the Northern Outpost there than from the main part of Wesnoth beyond the River Weldyn. He estimates that the elves will reach South Tower just a couple days before the festival starts.
This all sounds good to Tric. That leaves them enough time to get the lay of the land and hopefully some accommodations before the crowds all rush in. Or maybe just enough time to get in trouble or recover from getting lost along the way. He pulls out a stretch of blue and gold ribbon and gives it to Gumreddoc, explaining, “This is a mark that you have been a friend to elves. Other elves, if they see it, will know that you are good people and very friendly. Of course, you do not need to display it, but I’d like you to have it. I just ask that it not be given away.” Tric looks over at the children and then clarifies that it can certainly be passed down through the family. Gumreddoc hands the small banner to Tilyn who ties it onto the line outside. There it flutters below the red pennant.
Meanwhile, Heppa rolls her map out onto the cleared table and annotates it based on Tilyn’s description of the route to South Tower. That is just a fraction of what she writes, though. She has had some more thoughts on woses, so she jots those down. Heppa also includes other important observations from the past day, medical details on aging humans that some might consider a breach of privacy. The map was originally intended to help her and Tric Manu find their way through the world literally. However, it is rapidly taking on the trappings of something that will help Hepalonia make sense of the world at large.