Although Heppa spends some of her time studying the new purple crystal shard, her father does not like for it to leave his supervision. Thus, while she is out and about in the forest gathering apothecary supplies to refresh her poultice pouch, she does not have it on her person when she gets an idea for comparing it with the ice crystal. That rune she does have on her, along with the rings. Heppa pulls out the blue crystal and steps into the center of the clearing, leaving her satchel by the herbs she was in the process of harvesting. When she used the rune from the new necromancer staff to try to make a thicket, she ended up creating a barrier of purple mist around herself. That is not something she can even imagine fae energy being used for; she certainly has never seen an elf sprout leaves or thorns. But she wonders what will happen with the ice shard when she tries the same sort of thing. Heppa concentrates on creating a barrier on her own skin, just like the clingy purple mist.
A sheen of ice forms on Heppa, like rime on foggy winter mornings. It is cool but not cold enough to cause any lingering damage like frostbite. Heppa has a stick in her right hand tapping at the ice layer on her left arm when she hears a familiar voice ask, “What is going on here?”
Hepalonia is used to those words being laced with disappointment, but right now they just hold curiosity. She looks up and sees Penna at the edge of the clearing. “Oh! Mother! Um… I’m experimenting with this ice shard.” Penna seems surprised rather than angry, so Heppa screws up her courage. “Would you like to try it?” she asks tentatively, holding out the crystal.
Penna joins her younger daughter in the middle of the glade, pleased to see she is applying herself to something. She takes the proffered crystal to remove the distraction from Hepalonia while they converse. “Yes, ah, I can give this a try… after we have a little chat.”
Unaware of the topic her mother has in mind and still focused on her experiments, Heppa asks whether she has tried it before. “No, this is more your father’s area of interest than mine. And that’s what I wish to talk with you about: your father.”
“The purple shard?” Heppa asks, still thinking of runes.
“No. His brother.”
Penna twists her lips, choosing her words carefully before she responds. “Your father… he was very close to his brother, and he took it poorly when he died. Any reminders related to that are liable to be very emotionally damaging. We have shored him up against that, but if you continue to chip away at it, you could ruin him.” As she speaks, she taps the shard upon her palm, punctuating her statements.
Mother still does not seem mad, so Heppa decides to be bold and ask for further clarification. “What do you mean by ‘shored him up’?”
“The mind is one of the most fragile organs. We applied healing magics to your father to help stabilize his emotional state. That is the shoring up I referred to.” It is news to Heppa that healing magic could be used for emotional damage, though upon reflection, she is not too surprised. This is not so far from the elixir that Sir Marthynec is taking. Heppa has so many questions, but she does not want to interrupt her mother with them.
“Even just hearing his brother’s name could remind your father of the tragic loss. It could lead to unraveling some of those healing magics. I appreciate that you haven’t brought it up again at the dinner table, but I have heard that you are asking questions around the village. That could be even worse! If he happens to stumble upon people talking about Anador when I am not around to patch the magics, then he could have another meltdown. Please, for your father’s sake, for his health and for his mental stability, do not discuss these matters in the village.”
The idea that healing magic can unravel is also new information for Heppa. She is very curious about it, but she could ask any druid for insight on that topic. Insight on her father, though… Uncle Nasir said that Daddy was an unstable mess at Anador’s death, but maybe she can get more than that from Mother. “Meltdown?” Heppa asks.
Hepalonia was just an infant; of course she would not remember that time. Penna describes how distraught Thrandolil was. He was unable to deal with anything, which was particularly dangerous given that his brother died during a battle. Thrandolil was in that fight too, and he became a danger to those around him because people had to defend him and extract him from the situation. When they brought him home, he was exceptionally depressed and non-responsive. Penna had an infant she had to be taking care of, Hepalonia, and she could not handle essentially having a second one on her hands, a husband who she had to prod just to get him to eat.
Elves live a very long time. Sudden death, even death from illness, is not very common. This would add to the sense of tragedy around Anador’s loss. And no one was expecting it. Even though there were skirmishes with the humans, they were not at war, not really. That is the only context in which elves are prepared for sudden loss of life. In this case, the elves were withdrawing back into the safety of the forest. Nobody expected they would be attacked during that move. It was shocking, and it was world-shattering for Thrandolil. He was bewilderedly lost, and so it was deemed necessary to magically remove the source of his discomfort.
Heppa knows her mother is ambitious. She believes there is affection between her parents, but she imagines expediency played a large role in Penna’s decisions at that time. Heppa has firsthand experience of her mother’s impatience. Erasing Anador sounds like the easier, faster choice, though maybe not as appropriate as the longer, slower, more natural route of processing the trauma and working through it.
“Anador was very likable and very competent. It was a surprise to everybody when he fell,” Penna concludes. She lets out a long breath. With that uncomfortable subtopic out of the way, it is time to address what really prompted her to seek out her younger daughter. What Quaemilya told her combined with the news regarding Hepalonia’s conversation with Breda has made this a necessity. “You’re a grown elf now,” she starts, “and you are able to make your own choices and decisions. But I cannot have you bringing some Manu ‘round the house. That is too dangerous for Thrandolil. It will remind him, and it will break the conditioning.”
Hunh… it was never a problem before when Tric came by… “You think Tric will be a problem now?” Heppa asks, confused.
Penna is a politician in many ways, and it is her habit to talk around issues. Her oblique language does not serve Hepalonia well here. “No, Tric is not a problem!” Not for that reason, anyway. He is probably not the best influence on her unfocused daughter, though. “I know what you were talking with Breda about. I don’t have any judgments to make about you consorting with humans—”
Heppa had been starting to think maybe this was about Mhaev coming to visit, but that does not seem to be the case. “Alric?!”
“Yes,” Penna says explicitly. “Do not bring your Manu beau to our house. It will upset your father because it will remind him of his brother’s death. I do not object to you having a relationship with a human,” she reiterates, “but it cannot lead to Thrandolil being put in a position where he remembers his brother’s death.”
Alric is nothing like Mhaev in Heppa’s experience, though she supposes Mhaev may have been different when she was younger and not yet a war-hardened veteran. Mother has a lot more experience than Heppa does in these sorts of matters, though, so she does not protest. “I understand. Yes, Mother.”
Penna hands the blue crystal back to her daughter. “Carry on with your homework.” She departs.
Heppa looks down at the ice rune. She didn’t even try it… she thinks a little sadly. Then she brightens a bit. Mother at least seems to approve of her doing this sort of magic.