“So, Daddy, are you working on this project just on your own, or are there other people also studying it with you?” Heppa asks, wondering just how pressing the undead problem is. “Were you just studying the right thing at the right time, given the recent undead attack? Fenowin has concerns, too,” she adds, not realizing that the druid’s worries about dapper inkcap were triggered by her own conversation with Fenowin back in early spring.
“There’s no organized effort,” Thrandolil tells her. “It is gratifying, of course, to hear that the high lord tasked you both with playing a larger role. But as with many of my interests, it is something I pick up and put down as new information comes in.” He gestures at the wall of scrolls that cover mushrooms, artifacts, and many other topics. “I dabble in many things. I’m pursuing this right now because new information is available. You both have been out doing things to contribute, and that’s helping it be my focus at this point in time.”
The answer strikes Heppa as somewhat evasive. If this were Mother, Heppa would wonder about what she was scheming. But with Daddy, this must be about protecting her. He probably thinks the undead situation is more pressing than he is letting on, but he just doesn’t want to worry me, she thinks. With that settled, she moves on to her next question, what to do about returning the ruby ring. “So, Daddy,” she says a bit bashfully, showing him the piece, “I know this ring was stolen from Lady Sabine. I bought it, but it was only a hundred and fifty gold. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about what I should do, like how to return it.”
Thrandolil is confused. “Why don’t you just return it? Did you buy it for the sake of returning it or for something else?”
“I didn’t know if there was a way to return it diplomatically. I didn’t want her to think that I stole it.”
Tric slips in the suggestion, “Perhaps Lady Sabine would just be very grateful to have it back. In fact, she might even reward you for it.”
Heppa points out, “We were in the library where she keeps these things.”
“But we couldn’t have stolen it. She was with us the whole time there,” Tric counters.
“You think it would just be that simple?”
“It can be,” Tric offers.
Thrandolil cautions that he is not sure how approachable Lady Sabine is. She is an arch mage, but she is married to a human noble.
“I just didn’t want to get anybody into trouble, and I didn’t want her to think that we stole it,” Heppa reiterates.
“Who would you get in trouble?” Thrandolil asks. “The merchant?”
“That would be a target,” Tric acknowledges, “but I think I can smooth things over so we can give it back to her. Chances are, she hasn’t even noticed it’s gone.” He pointedly looks at the wall of—to him—random junk in this room.
“You did say she has a lot of artifacts,” Thrandolil adds, supporting Tric’s point.
“She doesn’t seem to use them, either,” Heppa says, sounding a little affronted.
Thrandolil regards all his items. “Well, there’s only so much that a person can do at one time…”
“But how would you know what it does, if you don’t try it out?” Heppa asks with a giggle. This seems so obvious to her.
“Oh! I thought you meant often, but you mean she doesn’t use them at all?” Thrandolil asks.
“I asked what Gweddry’s amulet did when she tried it, and she said she hadn’t. I think she just likes to look at the artifacts. Oh, what was the artifact that she sent to you?”
Thrandolil explains that it was an elvish broach which he estimates as having been crafted approximately ten to twelve hundred years ago. The style of the leaf suggested Lintanir as the place of origin. Magically speaking, it is imbued with the essence of the eagle, helping the wearer to be more vigilant. This description reminds Heppa that she still needs to ask Lala to teach her Falcon Sight. Thrandolil provided his analysis in the letter that Tric sent via Aderyn and commented on some of the other questions Sabine had included in her letter. He thinks it probable that they will continue to correspond, which makes Heppa glad.
Thandolil himself has no need for more artifacts of the kind Heppa and Tric have so far sought. They have already achieved what he originally sent them out for. Two complete necromancer staffs are sufficient for him to compare and contrast. Rather than add yet another to his pile, he would like them to pursue Tric’s Society of Shadow lead. Thrandolil is intrigued by the tomes of lore that may exist. He doubts they will be able to just borrow or buy the Book of Rhys, but it is possible they could copy some of it. If not, maybe there is some other tome that would be useful. Or even just making contact with the Society of Shadow to learn their purpose could be good. “You stumbled upon an exceptionally useful resource when you met Kachen,” Thrandolil tells them. “If there’s a society dedicated to investigating these topics—which maybe among humans they would need to be reclusive to not have their work misinterpreted—it would be useful for me to have access to some of their lore. If the Book of Rhys is not available, then head further west and investigate whatever leads you have related to this society.”
Thrandolil smiles broadly at Heppa and Tric. “You two have shown independence and flexibility in the field. I’ve been very happy with the results of your work so far, so I encourage you to run with that. I’m very proud of what you’ve been able to accomplish in just a season, really, since you first started helping out with my project.”
“Thank you, Daddy!” Heppa says, throwing her arms around him in a big hug.
“And here’s a bag of a hundred coins each to set you on your way.”
The cousins gratefully accept the money, a chunk of which should help pay their falcon-related debts. Then they leave Thrandolil to his work so that they can prepare for departure.
Heppa spends the rest of the day sorting out what she wants to bring with her on the trip and spending some more time with her older sister. Quaemilya teaches her how to cast Falcon Sight. Although Heppa only attended shaman school for a short while, she has enough of the basics and a keen enough mind to quickly pick up the technique. Her main reason for wanting to learn how to enhance her vision is to help her write small messages. However, it will also be helpful for surveying the countryside as she rides through it—rides, because she is taking Butterbell this time. The pony can help carry some of her gear, as well as provide an option if speed is required for some emergency. Before Heppa packs up her alchemy kit, she gathers some local ingredients together to mix up a tonic for Alric. There is not enough time to really do it properly, but she hopes that the several days of riding ahead will give it time to fully brew. With that done, she packs the kit, along with her poultice pouch and writing supplies, but she leaves the Hisanham tongs behind. They were an interesting find, but they are rather unwieldy.
Tric leaves his elvish bow at home, deciding to travel with the composite bow his mother gave him. He has no dowsing rod either, the last one he carved being now a decoration on the wall of their small common room. Tric has not yet found an occasion to drink the mead Alric gave him, so he brings that along with the mulling spices from Damal. Although Mate has a roost in Tric’s backpack, there is plenty of space for the trail rations Nasir has assembled and Tric’s bedroll. When he meets Heppa in the morning to head out, he even offers to carry the writing kit for her. He has the messenger bird, so he figures he might as well carry the messaging supplies, as well. And so they leave their village again, Butterbell easily keeping pace with Tric on foot.