We walk back to his house after we leave the old woman's – Penelope? – house. The afternoon is warm and the sun is low in the sky behind us. I grab the skirts in my arms and step carefully around a pile of road apples. George is saying something, I'm too busy trying to watch my step.

"...so I'll go down to the carpentry shop on Watersday and have one made for you. I suppose you should learn herb lore as well. When you are good at that, we'll work on minerals and gems..."

"Why?" I interrupt.

"Gems have important properties, scrying for example, and are used in a lot of spells. Then there's..."

"Why th' carp'n'ter?" I ask. Does he want me to stay?

"A woodworker." he says.

"Know that." I say. He's being stupid. "Why?"

"For a bed." He says, simply. "You can't sleep on the floor. Do you mind the attic? There's not much room in my workshop."

"I c'n stay?" I ask.

"No else can teach you, so you might as well."

I don't have to leave?

He stops suddenly, takes me by the shoulders, and kneels down to look me in the eye. "One more thing. You are going to learn to talk properly. I mean it. You won't call the Guardsmen Piglets anymore, you will call them Guardsmen. You will say You, not Ya, and you will say The. Do you understand?"

I watch him. He's getting me a bed. A real bed! Off the floor! He hasn't hit me, yet. He never came in the room last night. The Weaver lead me here. The Piglets haven't knocked. Maybe I can stay? I nod.

He stands up, then looks down at me again. My arms are still full of skirts and petticoats. "You don't like that do you?" He asks.

I drop them, the bottom of the skirt trails in the mud. "Too fluffy." I put my hands out to the sides to demonstrate. I pull at the front of the bodice with both hands. "Too big." I raise a foot to show him a shoe, caked with road mud, "Too..."

"I get the idea." he says smiling. "Tomorrow we'll get you breeches and boots."

"I c'n stay?" I ask.

"You CAN stay. And you already asked me that."

"Ya din't – dident -" I try to say the whole word. "say yes."

"I suppose I did not. All right, yes, you can stay as my student. I'll teach you how to use your talent."

I smile and look around the street. We pass a shop with a sign that has two crossed swords on it. The shopkeeper comes out and turns to lock the door.

"An' a dagger?" I ask hopefully.

"AnD." He says. "Why do you want a dagger? You're a Magician, use magic."

"What if I can't?" I'm careful to pronounce the T's. "Gotta have somethin' else."

He looks over at me. I bare my teeth at him. He sighs and rolls his eyes. "We'll see."

I grin and skip ahead.


"The Lady take your burdens," the priestess intones over me, "She bears them for you as she faces Chaos..."