Breakfast for House Thrandolil is a family affair, so with Hepalonia’s return, all four of them are eating together the next morning. “Oh, I forgot!” Heppa suddenly exclaims. “Tric Manu met his mother—You have a brother, Daddy? Uncle Anador?”
The room goes silent, aside from the clatter of a utensil on a plate as it slides from Penna’s fingers. Quaemilya quickly stands up and in an uncharacteristically bright voice, announces, “Father, I have, um, some books that I need to show you that we just recently got.” She rushes Thrandolil out of the room, leaving Hepalonia alone with Penna.
Heppa looks at the closing door with confusion. That is not like Lala at all; spontaneity is far more Heppa’s style. The cheerfulness definitely seemed forced as well. She turns questioningly to the only one left. “Mother?” Heppa braces herself for a scolding in case she did something wrong, but she has no idea what that could be. Was the trigger Anador or Mhaev? she wonders.
“You cannot mention that name around your father,” Penna says levelly.
“His brother’s name.”
“We have worked very hard on your father, and you could undo everything if you poke at this. He’s in a good space right now. This is not a good topic for him.”
This answer, although it addresses Heppa’s question, is still so mysterious to her. “But what do you mean, Mother?” Curiosity overrides Heppa’s usual reluctance to push back.
Penna lets out a put-upon sigh. “If you had stuck with your studies, you would have more context for understanding these things. But as you have neither proceeded down the sorceress nor the druid track, there are aspects to this that you cannot comprehend at your current level of ignorance.”
So I am in trouble. “Yes, Mother, I should have studied more,” Heppa concedes, though she has no idea how that would help her here. Her mother has said so little that Heppa does not even know how to focus her questions. “Is it a magical problem? Can you please try to help me understand? Just give me the general overview?”
“We will not discuss this under this roof,” Penna says with finality. She pushes away from the table and leaves the dining room.
Heppa looks around at all the abandoned half-eaten breakfast dishes upon the table. She finishes eating her own food, confused and alone. Working on Daddy? What does that even mean? I’ve got to tell Tric about this.
* * *
On the other side of the village, Tric enjoys the opportunity to sleep in. Mate tries pecking at him a bit to get him moving, but when he resists, the magpie switches to imitating the skirl of Glammur’s bagpipes. That is annoying enough to get Tric up. After breakfast, he goes to see Baeowin. As is often the case, she is brushing down her magnificent pony in front of the scouts’ quarters. It is an impressive animal, with rippling muscles under a shiny coat. Still, Tric is glad to instead have an animal companion that can take care of himself. Mate sits on one of Tric’s shoulders, preening his feathers. Over the other shoulder, the creepy skull of the necromancer’s rod is visible.
“Good to see you back in town, Tric Manu,” Baeowin greets him professionally.
“It’s good to be back. I had a good adventure.”
“Do you require a fresh roll of ribbons? How far afield did you get?”
“Probably would be a good idea to restock,” Tric agrees. “I did find a number of safe places to stay.” He describes some of the locations he and Heppa overnighted, including Nasir’s Hideaway and the Gumreddoc estate. He also gives an update on the status of what was once Hisanham, informing Baeowin about the woses there. He includes in his report that the Parting Glass in South Tower is a safe place for elves if they need to go to town. “Not that other places are unsafe,” he hastens to add. He cannot help but brag a little too, so Baeowin will see him as an important emissary. “Yeah, I talked with the captain of the guard there as well…”
Baeowin takes his report at face value. The activities he has described are all examples of appropriate scout work. “Great to hear. It sounds like you accomplished a lot. There are some irregularities in your scout training, though, so we should take advantage of your time back here to flesh out your skill set. Renwick will take you under his wing for a bit.”
As Baeowin talks on, Tric keeps his face level, but inside, he is initially quite displeased. I shouldn’t have to do that! I have so much potential power under my fingertips. She has no place telling me I need to train under a fool such as Renwick. If she was going to train me herself, maybe, but Renwick? Tric reins himself in before going too far down that thought trail. It is a pretty selfish way to think. He is part of the scouts now, not just on his own. He needs to participate in the organization. And maybe I can show Renwick up, he thinks. Teach him a thing or two.
Having made peace with his orders, Tric asks Baeowin for advice regarding the bird now in his care. Magpies are not forest birds, so she has no particular insight on their upkeep. And as for training, she does not have any immediate ideas. “Scouts tend to work with ponies. They can carry you a little farther than small birds can,” Baeowin tells him with a slight quirk to her lips.
“Well, he’s working on it,” Tric jokes back. “He can fly faster than a pony, though,” he points out. Baeowin acknowledges that Mate has the advantage of not having to negotiate terrain. She recommends Tric talk with Fenowin, who has more experience with birds.
Tric thanks Baeowin. Failing to keep reluctance from his voice, he adds that he will also track down Renwick at some point. Baeowin comforts him that he will not be there alone, as Endathalas is also doing some remedial training. He was caught nodding off when on escort duty during the visit of the dwarf Glammur. Tric turns to Mate and says, “Well, perfect! We can play some bagpipes for him!” The magpie yodels a skirl. Baeowin raises an eyebrow and then returns to caring for her pony.