"We're done Grandfather," said Daniel.
"So I see." he said, fitting his spectacles onto his face.
"How did we do?" said Ariel as she and Daniel sat beside him.
"A question like that has been nothing but a respectful formality for some time, my dear," he said.
"Perfect then?" said Daniel.
"Absolutely," he said with a deep nod. "And this completes anything which I might contribute until Neron has worked with you for a time and we get you ready to go study with Meri Greenwood. And it is he who will prepare you for your staves and take you to see Longbark in Mount Bed."
"And then?" said Ariel. "Are we...?"
"Oh," he said with a smile. "I expect we'll have you back here again for one final inspection and a little practice."
"And then we get her..." said Daniel.
"When the moment falls exactly right," said Razzmorten as everyone went silent, listening to the swallows and the trickling water and the river pounding in the deep reaches, drawing away the echoes from the sink.
Daniel dug at the rocks with a twig.
"Abaddon ought to be back with Toast, directly," said Razzmorten, looking at Ariel with sudden innocence.
"Great-Grandfather Razzmorten is naught but a matchmaker," said Arial, giving him a peck on his cheek.
"Not at all. You've had your heart bond for all these years."
"Are we done?" said Daniel.
"With magic, anyway. Go enjoy the day."
"Thanks Grandfather," he said, tossing aside his twig.
"Father keeps saying that in spite of the bond, I might eventually be safer away from Abby," said Ariel.
"Yea? Is that what you want?"
"No you're not. And worse than that, you're guessing. How's that fit for a young and powerful sorceress? What do you want to do with your guesses, anyway, break his heart and then go die? Maybe you'd better do what your heart wants."
"You're right as usual," she said as she stood and brushed the seat of her skirt. "I shall indeed follow my heart."
"And you're not going to say another word about dieing," he called out after her as she stepped into the lava tube. "Ye hear?"
Ch 2, Doom
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps
Heart of the Staff: Complete Series NOW Just $0.99 on Amazon