The older woman sat near the fire, warming herself as the cool breeze blew in from the sea. She often felt cold these days, despite wearing the heavy robes of a wizard.

Next to her was an older man. He was dressed lightly. In the light of the fire you could see his dark skin and thick muscles. He was one who gathered food and carried it back to the village. He gazed at the woman with a slight smile on his face.

To the side of the fire were a group of children and young people. A boy sat in front, dressed in heavy robes similar to the ones the woman wore. But, he was not as comfortable in them as she was.

In the fire, a figure of light was hoisted up on the hands of a multitude hidden in the fire. The figure carried a staff and waved it around.

“And that,” the woman said, “is the story of of when I went to the convocation. It was an exciting trip, right?”

The children let out shouts of agreement. A few got up and enacted parts of what they had just seen. One crawled around like a speaking beast, another pretended to be one of the rock men and protected the first. They burst into laughter.

The woman turned her gaze to the boy in the robes. “Well, what do you think?”

He shifted a bit, moving away from the fire. He shrugged and looked at the ground.

“Are you afraid?”

He boy looked up suddenly. “No, I just…” his voice trailed off.

“You’re lying.”

His face grew red. “I don’t like magic.”

The woman nodded. “He didn’t like magic, either. Mhorik. He said he hated it when he was your age.”

“I don’t like the way that old crone Moonwind teases me. It’s not fair!”

The woman chuckled. “Many parts of life are not fair, my apprentice. But, we must still do the best we can.”

“Do we really have to go to the convocation?”

The woman took a deep breath before answering, preparing for the old argument again. “Yes. I have not been back for all these years. I let my own fear and hatred keep me away. Even when Katia came, I refused to go. But, it is not fair to you.”

The boy played with some dirt on the ground. “I don’t care if we go.”

“But, I do. It is important for you to not hide from your fear. You are powerful. More powerful than I was at your age. I want the others to understand.”

The boy let out a sigh. He had already been through this fight, and he knew he wasn’t going to win this time, either.

“Go get some sleep. We will leave in the morning when the others get here.”

The boy got up and walked away from the fire.

“Dorua,” the older man said quietly.

“Yes, I know. I’m stubborn in my old age.”

“That’s not what I was going to say.”

Dorua gave a short laugh.

“I was going to say that our son will be fine. You are right, he is powerful.”

Dorua smirked. “You are not that quiet boy I fell in love with all those years ago. Now you are a bit too sweet with your words!

He stood up and offered his hand. Dorua grabbed it, and he pulled her into an embrace.

“Did you really not fall in love with me that night you returned?”

Dorua looked at him and smiled. “I still need some mystery, don’t I?”

Balar chuckled. “Have a great trip.” He gave her a last hug and walked back to the buildings in the village.

Dorua stood there, looking at the dying fire. She grabbed the pouch of ashes that hung at her neck and gave them a squeeze. She felt the warmth there and smiled.

“That was some story,” a voice came from the darkness.

Dorua rested against her staff, not even looking at the voice. “How long were you there, Carves-the-Foundation?”

“Since near the beginning. I heard you talking and didn’t want to interrupt.” A stone man appeared out of the darkness and into the light of the fire.

“You still haven’t changed.”

“But, you have changed a lot. And that boy, he grows so fast, doesn’t he?”

Dorua smiled. “Yes, yes he does. They all do.”

“Are you ready for the trip?”

“I am now that you are here. I’ll finish preparations tomorrow, and we will start the travel the next day.”

Dorua watched the dying flickers of the fire.

“It is time I returned and set things right.”


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