The trail leading from Gumreddoc’s home to South Tower is not a road by any stretch of the imagination, but the tracks are firmly enough trod that the elves have no trouble following them. Over time, they begin to see evidence of more carts. Smaller trails fold into the one they are following, giving them a feel for where other outlying farms might be. The distance is still greater than can be walked in a day, though. As the light begins to dwindle, Tric looks around for a place to make camp. Although they enjoyed the hospitality of humans last night, tomorrow they will be in a town. Tric wants to savor one more night in the open air.
He spots a promising copse of trees off away from the trail. It is just dense enough that if he and Heppa were at its center, they would not be able to see out, nor could others see them inside. It is not big enough to be called a forest, but it provides the illusion of being in one. It feels a little bit like home.
As they set up their campsite, Tric looks at the nice canopy overhead and wonders how no one has marked this yet. Heppa pulls out her map to annotate it with the wonderful spot. She labels it, “Tric Manu’s favorite place,” and then adds a subscript when her cousin announces a name.
“I’ll call it Nasir’s Hideaway, after my dad,” Tric declares, “because there are yew trees and willow trees. Mark it good for dowsing rods.” He knows one of those woods makes good dowsing rods, he just cannot remember which. Heppa nods and adds some notes about the types of trees. Before the light is too far gone, Tric scouts around the edge of the copse. The borders of forests and meadows is the springy horsetail’s ideal environment, and sure enough, he finds one. After a flurry of sneezes due to the different pollen in this area compared to home, Tric tucks the mushroom away as his cousin joins him.
Hepalonia, encouraged by her success at healing the elderly human, is engaged in magic research. As there are no injured subjects, she is focusing instead on her brambles spell. She had considered experimenting with how different types of plants react to the spell, wondering whether willow brambles behave differently from yew ones. However, she does not want to ruin this nice copse. With that in mind, she joins Tric Manu at its edge, so that she can target plants farther afield. She plays around with the spell, focusing on the ensnaring mode that she learned in introductory shaman school but trying to get plants farther and farther away from her across the meadow to comply. It is much harder for her to get a response from the plants dozens of strides away, but she convinces herself it is possible. Probably it just requires a lot more practice. It might even be a topic covered in the second year of shaman school that she has not yet attended.
Heppa returns to the encampment and pulls out her map again to add some notes on magic near Nasir’s Hideaway. Kachen told her that the staff made his fire missile spell easier to do; she wonders if that is related to making the target seem closer than it actually is. He was shooting across the keep from their bedrolls to where Tric was cooking the hog. Maybe it extends one’s arm in a magical sense. She jots down a few more ideas, and then, with Kachen on her mind, she pulls out his letter again. It’s too bad he left before we finished all our experiments with the staff and crystal, she thinks.