Echoes of Invasion: Whirlwind Tour of Weldyn | Scene 6

Tric remains at the counter, disinterested in papermaking and somewhat stunned by the welcome from Lonfar, which is far warmer than what he got from his own mother. Enthusiasm about family is not something Tric has had much experience with. Nasir is really level, and Heppa’s family tend to be similarly level or else scowling. Heppa and Uncle Thran get far more excited about research than they do about kin, as far as Tric can tell. Alric is friendly and was interested to meet another Manu, but he certainly was not as effusive as Lonfar.

Alric’s mother soon reappears with a jug of mead and cups for everybody. There is also a sachet of the mulling spices, and Tric watches closely as she administers pinches into each cup. Damal gave Tric a bag of them, but he did not provide any instructions, after all. Noting Tric’s attention, Lonfar tells him she has already mulled the mead with nutmeg and cloves, but that these fast-acting spices will help give the drink a bit more fizz. He gets to see this in action as she pours their drinks. She gives the first cup to him and takes the second for herself, lifting it up to clink against his. “May you always have enough to drink!” she toasts.

Appropriate for a desert culture, Tric reflects, and a sentiment Dad could get behind. “It’s not the first time I’ve heard that,” he says as he takes a sip of the beverage. He and Lonfar enjoy their drinks while Heppa and Osian enjoy the crash course on papermaking. Lonfar comments on how amazed she is to see him after all these years, and Tric tells her that the forest is the safest place there is. “I’ve just finally come of age now,” he says. “Things move a bit slower in Estbryn Forest, as you can imagine. But I’m finally scouting around, seeing what is all about.”

“You were just taking your first steps when last I saw you.”

“I’m just taking another step now,” Tric says reflectively. “Every day, one more step.”

“What is your business in Weldyn?”

“We’re actually just passing through. We’re headed to Dan’Tonk. We’ve got to discuss some things with some folks there. Actually… you might know a little bit about this because you lived in Hisanham, right?”

“I did, prior to the war.”

“Something that I am looking to do is to go back across the Sandy Wastes.”

Lonfar’s eyes go wide. “That’s a bold move,” she says, though there is no criticism in her tone.

“I’m a bold elf,” Tric says. “Anyway, I heard that someone organized an expedition from Dan’Tonk at one point and had headed out.”

Lonfar makes no effort to dissuade Tric from his planned course of action. She rattles off a list of people for him to talk with in Dan’Tonk and finishes by telling him that Fazoul is probably the best source of information. The last people to attempt the crossing were Fazoul’s kin. They left a few years ago, but Lonfar does not know more details than that. It was certainly well after the land had calmed down from the war. She loses a little bit of her cheerfulness as she shares, “They left long enough ago that if they had made it to the other side and had falcons with them, they should have been able to send word back. There hasn’t been any, as far as I know. Maybe Fazoul has more recent information. Part of the issue is that the falcons only live so long. When our group of the Manu got lost in the Great Storm, some of our falcons died and the ones that were left had been weakened by the hardships. They weren’t strong enough to fly back, which is how communication got cut off. The falcons I have now, none of them were alive then. None of them know the way, and I would never ask any of them to fly across the Sandy Wastes.”

With a sigh, she concludes, “It’s tricky. They could have made it to the other side. Maybe they are totally fine but their falcons did not make it, so they have no way to communicate because the birds on the other side don’t know how to get to Wesnoth.”

To lighten the mood, Tric decides to inject some chaos into the scene by bringing up Alric. How to approach this, though… “Yes, so Damal’s doing—well, he’s his usual self. Very professional. He agreed to help us with a certain ailment that may have had a magical connection to it.” Tric shrugs innocently. “But he was very helpful.”

“That is good that he’s doing well,” Lonfar comments, taking another sip of her mead. The mention of magic does not seem to bother her.

“While we were in South Tower we stayed at the Parting Glass?” Tric’s eagerness to see what response this gets turns his statement into a question.

“I’m not familiar with that establishment,” Lonfar says politely.

“Oh, that’s interesting, because we met Alric, your son, there,” Tric says casually. The cup slides from Lonfar’s hand and clatters onto the counter, mead spilling. That is not the kind of response Tric was hoping to provoke. “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry. I knew that he left under some ill auspices, but I didn’t mean to bring up anything truly unfortunate. I deeply apologize.” Lonfar stares wordlessly at Tric, and he adds reassuringly, “He’s doing well for himself.”

“You’ve seen my son?!” Lonfar’s tone is incredulous, not angry, and Tric relaxes a bit.

Across the room, Osian stutters out, “W-w-wait? What!?” Abandoning the papermaking, he hurries over to join Lonfar, putting an arm around his shaking wife and looking to Tric for more information. Heppa follows along.

Tric rights the fallen cup and refills it, pouring some mead for Osian and Heppa as well and adding the proper amount of spices. “Alric’s doing well,” Tric reiterates. “He owns an inn there, in South Tower.”

“In South Tower?” Lonfar echoes. “He owns an inn?”

“Yes, the Parting Glass. It’s a nice place,” Tric says pleasantly. Lonfar murmurs in disbelief, repeating what Tric states as though trying to convince herself of it. “He runs the falcon aviary there.”

“Damal runs the aviary,” Lonfar insists.

“Well, I think formally Damal owns the aviary, but I believe he has ‘entrusted’ Alric with the day-to-day running of it and care of the falcons,” Tric responds a bit jocularly, relaxing more now that he believes he has gotten a proper read on the situation. Beside him, Heppa takes a polite sip from her cup of mead. Tric glances over at her, but she does not seem inclined to speak herself. Tric decides to prod her a bit. “Alric and my cousin Heppa get along quite well,” he announces. Then he takes a long drink, peeking over his mug to watch what happens.

Heppa blushes. “Yes, he’s very wonderful, and so kind,” she gushes into the silence that has descended. “So perceptive…” she trails off awkwardly. Alric’s parents do not seem to be angry or even annoyed like Damal. Rather, they appear to be in some sort of shock. Did Alric’s parents not know he was still alive? Heppa wonders. I’d have thought he would have mentioned that. He knew we were headed to Weldyn. 

Having had his fun, Tric decides to bail his cousin out. “And we met Aderyn as well, of course. Aderyn now knows us, and she actually ran the messages to our forest when we needed Damal’s services in a hurry. But I do apologize if you haven’t been able to receive word from him,” Tric adds, trying to smooth things over for Alric, though he is not entirely sure what the issue is. Clearly Lonfar and Osian have not talked with their son in a while. Did Alric just escape from Weldyn? Tric wonders. That does not exactly match what Alric told them, but Tric is not one to object to minor alterations in a story. Still, he does not want these two to think that Alric has been ignoring them; Tric knows only too well what that feels like. It has been about ten years for Alric, not quite the thirty it was for Mhaev, at least. “Yes, I’m sure Alric would have tried to send a falcon at some point,” Tric begins rambling, trying to make excuses for Alric, “but he didn’t start owning the inn right away, he was just working there at first. Owning the inn started somewhat recently. He’s been very busy running it; it’s one of the busiest establishments in town, I would say. No matter who you are, you can always go to the Parting Glass. He’s always got entertainment there.… Uh, but I’m very surprised you hadn’t heard…. Have you lost any falcons? Has he? Maybe he’s lost some falcons…” Tric ends in a mumble, running out of plausible reasons for the lack of communication between two messenger services.

“He’s in South Tower,” Lonfar says, her voice held strangely level.

“He’s safe in South Tower,” Tric agrees.

“He’s been in South Tower this whole time,” Lonfar continues, checking her understanding of the situation.

“I can only vouch for him having been there the past two seasons,” Tric admits now that the conversation seems to have turned to fact-checking. “But it seems like he’s planted deep roots.”

“He runs the aviary.”

“Yes,” Tric confirms. In a flash of insight, he comes up with a plan to deflect blame from Alric. “This is all Damal’s fault,” he suggests. He does not know if this is true, but it seems plausible. Damal is the scribe, after all.

Lonfar picks up the empty mead jug and startles everyone by hurling it across the room in a fit of rage. It shatters against the wall, and she screams, “DAMAL!” She pulls away from her husband’s embrace to storm out of the front room into their private quarters.

Osian remains at the counter, looking nervously after his wife and then back at the visitors. He has been quiet through this whole conversation, trying to process all the incoming information. This abrupt change has left him uncertain. Do I run after her? Do I stay here?

Tric apologizes, and Osian suggests, “You should probably go now. I’m sure she will want to talk further with you, but she needs to… We both need to…”

“That sounds good,” Tric hastily agrees. “We’ll stop by tomorrow some time.”

“I have an important client coming back mid-morning, but feel free to come by after that,” Osian tells them.

Oooh… that must be the other elf! Maybe we’ll come by a bit early so we can meet her, Tric thinks. “Yes, we’ll go now,” he agrees.

“Well, we’ll see you again tomorrow,” Heppa says politely.

Osian barely waits for their confirmation before hurrying after his wife.