With a strategy outlined, Tric turns to Alric with one more question. “Let me ask you this… Would it be really bad if Sleidr died in the fighting? Would the Rats launch an investigation of their own to figure out what happened and that would be bad for you? Mind you, I’m not saying that I want to kill the fellow.”
Alric’s good humor fades, and he grows serious again. “I don’t think the Rats hierarchy would do something about it because it wasn’t an official job, but—”
“They’ll just look at it like he overstepped his bounds and got what he deserved,” Tric concludes. He nods to himself. He can work with that if he has to.
“But!” Alric continues. “You were talking about looking for him at the festival. If you go up against him in a public place, him dying is going to be a problem for Mhaev. If you’re involved in killing somebody out in the open, you’re going to be dealing with human justice.” Alric has been holding his left arm with the rag pressed around it, but now he punctuates his statement by laying the handless limb on the kitchen counter between him and Tric.
Oblivious, Heppa just says, “Mm-hmm.” It makes sense that doing things in a human town would involve human laws and such.
“Oh!” Tric exclaims. “Oh, I see.”
“What?” Heppa asks.
“The punishment for thievery is often the hand that did the thieving,” Tric says. That is what he has heard in stories. It seems reality is bearing that out. Tric doubts it will come to conflict out in the open; Sleidr is not likely to want to do his deal in a public place. And Tric does not want to needlessly kill someone. “Is Sleidr known to the local law enforcement?” Tric asks Alric. “Or is he too low-level for them to concern themselves with?”
“It’s a big city with a lot of hiding holes. Not every pickpocket and thug can always be tracked down and arrested. Unless you’re caught actually doing something, you can get away with it. They cannot charge you based on your reputation; that’s not how this town is run. The guard does not act with impunity here. Nor do they have full knowledge of what goes on. But Sleidr can’t operate in Weldyn. There? Yeah, there he would get strung up.”
“Because they have more resources to deal with it there? That’s an even bigger city.”
“Because we were bolder there,” Alric states.
“Oh! He’s known there,” Tric concludes. “Now I understand.”
We were bolder there? Heppa takes a moment to make sense of that statement, and finally it clicks that Alric was himself a thief. And on the human health front, now she knows about his missing hand, that this was a trauma suffered later in life, not a birth condition or somehow the result of aging. She is learning so much here at the Parting Glass.
“If Sleidr dies in a fight, it’s only going to be a problem if it’s done in a way that the town guard is then called on you,” Alric sums up. “The Rats would not be a problem for Heledd or me or the Parting Glass, not with Sleidr doing side business.”
“Does Tric Manu’s plan assuage your concerns, Alric?” Hepalonia asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I think that all sounds good.”
“Then it must be a good plan,” she says with a smile.
“Yes, if the Falcon vets it, it must be good!” Tric agrees. He leaves the kitchen to go talk with Yrogin over breakfast and maybe trade bows with him for the day.
“Thank you for your concern,” Heppa quietly tells Alric.
He nods and invites her to properly bandage his left arm. He pushes up the torn and bloody sleeve, and she can see the gouges from the falcon’s talons, as well as the smooth scar that prematurely ends his arm. “How long ago was it?” she asks, looking where his hand is not.
Unfazed by the question, he replies, “Ten years ago or so.”
“How old are you?” she blurts out curiously, but then she swiftly apologizes at how impolite that is. He chuckles at her just being herself and tells her he is twenty-seven. Heppa dabs at the cuts a bit and throws a glance over her shoulder at the door to Alric’s room. It is still closed with Damal inside it. “Do you mind if I try magic?” she tentatively asks the barkeep.
“Oh, no. Sure, go ahead.”
Heppa centers herself, focusing on the primal energy flow in and around herself. She summons the energy and concentrates it on the open wounds. This time it works, and Alric’s natural healing process accelerates. The gashes scab over, and then the crusts of dried blood slough off, leaving light scarring behind that dwindles away until all that remains is unblemished golden-brown skin. Heppa wipes away the dried blood trails from earlier, and Alric’s forearm looks untouched underneath. This is the first time Heppa has ever successfully healed actual wounds with her magic. With no sounds or flashes, it is also quite different from what she observed Rhaessa doing with her human magics yesterday. “So where does the light come from?” Heppa mutters. She spends a while inspecting her work, proud and excited at the healing she has performed.
And so it is that she is leaning across the table brushing her fingers along Alric’s arm when Tric comes back into the kitchen and raps on the bedroom door to talk with Damal. They negotiate back and forth for something the elves can take ahead of time to fortify them against cuttlefish poison. Ever the professional, Damal engages in the business exchange, but it is clear he does not like Tric’s manner.
“A lot of people don’t like my flippant attitude,” Tric assures him. “You’re in good company.” Then he takes the small bottles, turns to Heppa, and invites her to join him in a visit to Gwaffalyn. There is time to do that and still make it to the fairgrounds to enjoy the grand melee before they go shopping.