Elsewhere in Estbryn Forest, in a stately home with soaring white birch walls and delicate thatched roofing the color of jade, Hepalonia reclines in the sitting room with a book. She had hoped it would contain interesting information, but if it does, it is well hidden. So far, she has only encountered dry essays about human settlements, like this place Wesnoth, which is essentially an enormous forest, but one without trees. Presumably somewhere in here is a discussion of their mages, but right now, the author is going on again about their king and his earls, some sort of human version of the high lord and council. From this history, she can see why she has overheard her elders complaining about Wesnoth spreading back across the River Weldyn and settling the plains north of them again. It sounds like some humans consider the borders of Wesnoth to even encompass Estbryn Forest. That’s so cute, Heppa thinks. It is like her father has repeatedly said: the humans perpetually fail to take a long term view of things and inevitably overextend themselves. They have such short memories. Heppa does not know much about how humans run their politics, but from what all the adults around her have said, it must not be very well.
“Hepalonia!” Her mother’s voice rings through the house. “Hepalonia, I’ve heard some disturbing news from the druid mistress. Where are you, my girl?”
Heppa does not really want to talk to her overbearing mother, but she burns with curiosity regarding the news. “I’m in the parlor, Mother,” she calls back.
The main room of the ground floor of the house is a welcoming space for receiving guests, but it loses some of its charm as the enchantress Penna glides in. “Now, what is this that I have heard about you not even being able to wrap a vine around some ruffian’s leg?” Heppa’s heart sinks. This is not the kind of news she was expecting to hear. “That is the most basic expression of our link to the fae!”
“I tried it, Mother.”
“That’s all you have to say?” Penna counters, hand on hip. “That you tried?”
“Well, surely I just need to practice, Mother.”
“And yet here you are in our home, instead of out, potentially on patrol backing up some of our scouts. That would be a good opportunity to practice. Or sitting at the feet of some of our learned druids, another such opportunity. What are you doing here?”
Heppa closes her book and stands up. I’ve got to get out of here. “Yes, Mother. May I be excused?” Maybe she will think I’m going to go practice and let this drop. “I’ll go right now and see where I can be of use.”
Penna does not fall for it. “No, you may not be excused to continue frivolously wasting your time. Why can’t you be more like Quaemilya? She’s a sorceress in her own right!” Her voice takes on a slightly softer tone as she continues, “If you have no talent for magic, we can find you a place in the scouting ranks. It’s not as prestigious, but we can find something for you to do. The scouting vocation would still be worthy of your line of ancestry.”
Heppa frowns at the comparison to her older sister, but what she says is, “It’s worth a try, Mother.”
Her agreement takes her mother aback. “Oh, well… In that case, go see your father and tell him that this needs to be arranged on your behalf. I’m sure he can pull the necessary strings to make this happen.”
Heppa offers one more, “Yes, Mother,” and beats a hasty retreat.