The evening before his departure, Kachen has a meeting with Thrandolil to which Heppa and Tric are not invited. Tric is not inclined to impinge upon their privacy. He feels bad for all the trouble Kachen has had up to this point, as well as all the cracks he has made at his expense. Now that he knows the fellow really is cursed, Tric will not give him a hard time about anything related to this. Rather, he uses the time to seek out Fenowin.
Heppa, however, sneaks up to her father’s study door, hoping to listen in. The meeting is happening in her own home, which is enough for her to justify to herself what she is doing as she creeps up the stairs to the library. When she reaches the door, the low rumble of male voices pauses. Fearing discovery and wanting to avoid any sort of confrontation, Heppa flees. She can ask Daddy later what they talked about.
Tric fares better in Fenowin’s glade, where he finds the druid in a somber mood. There is no happiness for having driven Kachen away, nor distress that he is free to potentially return one day. From Fenowin’s perspective, the whole affair of placing blame on the visiting human is relegated to a legislative matter at this point. Of far more concern to her is the state of the forest following the undead attack and the fire. The latter has damaged some of the old growth, and the former cost the lives of two young elves. Now that the council has finished making their decision, they will no longer be distracted and can focus on regrowth.
Tric knows it is unlikely he will be able to extract an apology for how she treated Kachen. However, he hopes to divert Fenowin from this pollen nonsense and recruit her to assist in implementing a final rest for undead. From what Heppa has said, they may be able to repurpose the pollen toward dealing with that. It could contribute to a ward against becoming a walking corpse even if one dies from their touch.
Although he knows of her stash, Tric still opens by inquiring whether she has any more of the pollen with which she attacked both him and Kachen. Fenowin admits readily that she does, taking him over to the alcove where it is stored. “We cannot launch that at every visitor who comes to our forest,” Tric admonishes her. Fenowin agrees, accepting that a certain amount of trouble came from her actions.
“I know you put a lot of work into that, but the problem of undead is not the necromancers themselves, terrible though they may be,” Tric says. “In a sense, the problem is all these bodies scattered everywhere across the countryside. When we don’t have a chance to bury and plant a tree or we don’t know where someone has fallen, that seems to be when there’s trouble. And of course, it’s not just elves. Heppa and I encountered an undead wolf, so this can happen to animals, too. Is it just bodies? Or only those who have already been turned into undead and might rise yet again? We don’t know for sure. Kachen has had to deal with undead before, and working with him, we can develop plans for putting them down for good, to make sure they don’t come back. Your pollen might be a component in that, but it is going to take scouring the forest a bit to know where to apply it, to find those would-be undead who may arise. It will be long and arduous work, but elves have a long time to live so are uniquely suited for this. And it’s all the more important that we stay dead when we die.”
Fenowin agrees to help with this. Heppa already has some ideas from her medical study of undead corpses, and Tric resolves to get what further insight from Kachen he can on the hike out of the forest the next day. He is pleased to have redirected Fenowin’s energy away from blowing pollen in people’s faces. “Gusto is good,” he tells her, “but that’s not how plants operate.”
“Well, actually—” Heppa might have stayed for a druidic lecture, but Tric lets the curtain of vines muffle the rest of Fenowin’s response as he beats a hasty retreat. There is still time to squeeze in some relaxing night fishing with his dad before the day’s end.
Kachen himself has a productive meeting with Lord Thrandolil. When he leaves the elvish noble’s study, he has acquired information, a destination, and most importantly, a staff. It is of human make, not a twisting branch like the elvish kind. Though it has a slot for mounting a focus crystal, that is currently empty. This one also lacks a necromancy skull. There is no indication of what sort of mage ran their power through the staff previously, but it matters not to Kachen where Thrandolil acquired the staff. All that matters is that the elvish lord was willing to provide it as partial payment for the task Kachen has agreed to undertake on his behalf. For one exiled from Alduin, this kind of equipment is not easy to come by, and though he can take care of himself better now on Heppa’s new dapper inkcap treatment, Kachen remains quite weak from his spotty attention to self-care. A staff is quite a practical item, as well as being a desirable magical implement.