Tric finds his dad outside the family home and gives him a hug. Nasir is happy to see Tric back, safe and sound, all in one piece. Tric says that is mostly the case and casually mentions having gotten stabbed by a knife. “Well, I guess it was thrown,” he clarifies further. “Does that still count as stabbing?” Nasir’s eyes go a little wide, and Tric cavalierly throws in that he was also punched by a skeleton.
“But you’re all right now?” Nasir checks.
“Oh, yes! I feel pretty good,” Tric assures him. “And I’ve got this little guy.” He coaxes Mate out of the backpack. “This guy was causing so much trouble where we were staying. I had to get him out of there. He eats everything.” Mate flaps to a perch and yodels his stupid, stupid call. “Hey! No!” Tric admonishes him. “You can say that to me; you can’t say that to Dad.”
Mate, who was looking at Tric when lobbing the insults, now turns to Nasir. “Clever?”
“Yes,” Tric agrees with a smile. “Yes, very much so.” He gives the magpie a treat for some positive reinforcement, then tells his dad that Mate is making good progress learning to tie knots.
“Well now, my bird! Come into the house, let’s see what you can do.” Nasir ushers them inside and over to the wall display with all the different types of knots. “Which ones did you teach him, my boy?” Tric dumps all his stuff in the corner, and then they spend a while watching Mate demonstrate what Tric has taught him to do. “Very impressive!” Nasir compliments the bird as he both ties and unties the knot.
“Show off!” Tric mutters. Louder he says, “That’s right, he cleans up after himself sometimes, too.” He then digs through his backpack and pulls out the mulga branch. “Oh! And I got this. I thought it might be good to make a new dowsing rod out of it since I had to trade away my old one.”
“I thought you said you were done with the dowsing life,” Nasir says.
“Well, yes,” Tric allows. “But it’s a good thing to have. You never know when you’re going to need it, right?”
“The right tool for the right job,” Nasir observes.
“Exactly. And sometimes the right tool is an extremely valuable dowsing rod. You’re always saying it could save an elf’s life. Well, it could save a lot of lives, just in ways you never knew before. So, I thought I’d make that, something we can do together.” He thinks for a moment, trying to remember if there is anything else to tell his dad right away. “Oh, and I met Mom—Mhaev. It’s a long story, but she did give me this.” Tric holds up the composite bow. “It’s different. I’m trying to figure it out.” He also takes out the few remaining ribbons he has. “And I have all these little tassels I’ve been handing out, so I’m going to have to give a full report to Baeowin on all the places we stayed.” He lets out a long breath. “There’s a lot of work that goes into scouting, it turns out!”
Nasir laughs. “It’s like any other job, my boy. A lot of work goes into work.”
Tric nods wearily. “It does. It really does.”
“So, you had, um, a good meeting with Mhaev?”
“I mean, she’s, uh…” Tric searches for the right words. “She’s a piece of work. I don’t know how well you knew her…” Tric implies without stating it outright that he now knows Nasir is not his father, but he has no intention of bringing up Anador at this point. His dad has been through enough muck already. “She’s really driven. Turns out she’s captain of the guard there in South Tower. And I have a sister that I met. She’s in her twenties, and she’s a knight in Wesnoth. She’s a very nice person! Also somewhat driven, but very nice, very upstanding.” More nice than Mhaev, Tric implies. “So, it was good to meet more people, but it’s a very different place. There were interesting things there and I’d probably go back, but this is definitely home,” Tric assures his dad. Nasir gives him a broad grin. Tric knew these words would warm his dad’s heart, but they are also true. This is not just a story he is spinning for effect. “I’m hoping to do some fishing, work on this dowsing rod…”
Nasir asks if this means Tric will be home for a while. Tric thinks so. He admits that he is probably overdue for participating in some local patrols and tells his dad that someone they met on their first trip out will be visiting the forest this summer. “I need to be around to make introductions,” Tric says. “He’s a little bit of an odd fellow, so I should be there to smooth things over. He puts people off sometimes.”
“It’s good that you’re making friends and finding your place,” Nasir tells him with a pat on the shoulder. Tric inquires about how the water situation is going, and Nasir informs him that the council’s representatives met with Lord Knutan. They worked out an arrangement whereby the elves would provide material to help the dwarves transition their mining further east. “Everything has worked out as you had hoped it would,” Nasir tells him proudly.
“Well, sure, it seems a little weird for elves to be giving mining advice to dwarves,” Tric says with feigned worldliness, “but I took archery advice from a human last week. These are weird times.”