Damal dips one of his super-fine tips in an ink pot and adjusts the frame in front of him, ready to write. “So, tell me what you would like me to write in your message.”
“Hmm… I guess we need to figure out what we want to tell Kachen…” Heppa murmurs. Damal sighs, and Heppa ponders for a bit, still a bit fuzzy from the blaand. Something this man mentioned earlier is nibbling at the corner of her mind and has Heppa thinking that some of the containers on his person hold other types of materials. “Do you specialize in potions as well? Like healing potions?”
“I am skilled in ointments and potions to naturally heal injuries and illnesses. I also brew my own inks. It requires a particular blend of ink to withstand the weathering that some of these messages get subjected to. For example, one of the components comes from a squid I purchase from the fishmongers at the riverside.” He slips his eyegear back on and looks down at the thin strip of uncoiled paper held open by the collapsable wooden frame.
Heppa hits Damal with a barrage of questions about the inks and what different uses they have. As with the knots, she had not imagined there could be so much variety in such a mundane object. The human obviously does not want to talk about magic, but maybe they can connect to each other over his apothecary and alchemy work.
Damal, however, is in no mood to teach things to an inquisitive elf. Although he does comment on a few of his inks as he scribes her message, he does not go into any great detail on their formulations. Heppa manages to piece together a rudimentary understanding, along with a few specific ingredients that she can keep an eye out for on her travels.
For the falcon letters, the inks—and the paper too, for that matter—are carefully chosen to reduce spreading. Writing speed, the pen nib, and the pressure applied also play their part in combating this issue. This is crucial for enabling Damal to write as narrowly as possible. Another ink quality important for the falcon messages is insolubility so that if the bird is caught in a rainstorm, the message is not lost.
In contrast, business ledgers are prepared using inks that stand out better to the eye. Non-permanent records are made with inks that are soluble in water so that the paper can be rinsed and reused. One can use cheaper and more common materials for such work.
With advanced arrangements, other types of inks that can be used for falcon letters are those that can only be viewed in certain lights or when some other reagent is applied to them. And some clients specifically want messages that will fade over time, so that is yet another type of ink.
As for the actual letter to Kachen, it is not a well thought-out missive, but rather a jumble of ideas thrown together somewhat randomly by a tipsy elf distracted by all the new experiences she has recently had. After Heppa rambles for a while, Tric suggests, “Are you going to mention that our benefactor would still like to meet with him?”
“Oh! Yes, yes! Thank you, Tric Manu,” Heppa giggles. She speaks some more thoughts out loud, then asks, “What else should we add?”
“Thanks for the pig. Don’t eat too many doughnuts.”
“Oh, no, I want him to eat as many doughnuts as he will eat,” Heppa objects, remembering how undernourished Kachen seemed. She and Tric Manu talk over the ghost and what to say about the events surrounding it. Finally, the letter is done. It is a long thin scroll, but Heppa has no means by which to judge if that length is unusual. “There, that’s short and sweet, don’t you think?” she says.
There is a rap on the frame of the booth. Alric’s voice drifts through the curtain apologizing for interrupting them but saying that he has a question. He patiently waits for them to open the curtain themselves, rather than barge in on their private meeting. Tric pulls the drape aside, and Alric apologizes again for disturbing them. “I didn’t have a chance to ask you this earlier, but do you mind if anybody knows that there is a bird being sent to Kachen? There might be other people who are interested in sending messages by that same bird. But, we wish to respect your privacy; if you don’t want—”
“I think if other people want to send him a message, that’s fine,” Tric Manu says with a shrug. “We can bird-share.”
Hepalonia agrees, seeing no way that it would compromise their privacy. “Sure!” she agrees. “And thank you for asking.” Alric nods his appreciation and recloses the curtains, leaving them alone with Damal again. He begins removing the strip of paper from its frame. “Wait, how’s Kachen going to read this?” Heppa suddenly asks. If she and her cousin ever receive a bird message, they will have to deal with this same issue.
“Do you need a special mechanical aid to read it?” Tric asks the scribe.
Damal reads the message back to the elves. Then he takes the tiny coil of paper and stretches it out for them to look over. He needed his magnifying lenses to write so fine, but they see that regular eyesight is sufficient for reading the tiny print.
Dear Kachen, I hope your health is good and that you are taking care of yourself. Yes, and be careful with the mushrooms; I don’t think they are good for your health. Daddy would still like to meet you. His name is Thrandolil, and he’s very curious about the staff. Thank you for leaving the pig for us. Tric Manu does not want you to eat too many doughnuts, but eat as many as you like. I hope that we shall see each other again soon. We’re in South Tower during the Full Bloom Festival. I’m looking forward to my duel tomorrow, and Tric Manu just met this delightful little bird. It is called a magpie, and it is so clever! Oh, yes, and we met a ghost. Well, we didn’t completely meet the ghost, fortunately. It’s a good thing that you left because it turns out the keep was haunted. Tric Manu had to dispatch the ghost twice! With a single arrow! We still consider you a friend.Hepalonia