Ranara and her little daughter Azabel move to Urtho's Tower when the latter can say six words ("up", "mama", "milk", "no", "now", and "please") and hasn't started to walk yet. Ranara sets up to teach little children to read, ones who don't have evident Gifts yet - Ranara herself has Mindspeech, is all, with about a classroom's worth of range. Azabel sits in on classes, worn on her mother's back or later plopped in a corner with toys or, when she's only four, plopped in a corner with a book, younger than the other kids in the class. When Azabel has in fact sat through her mother's curriculum she is turned somewhat loose, to walk very carefully up and down and around the Tower, exploring.
It’s a pretty good dinner! Ma’ar sits back and is mostly quiet, again, while they eat it.
For the rest of the trip, he offers to help Azabel with magic for the locals, spends the rest of the time reading the books he brought in companionable silence with her and Charl, and continues to go dancing in the evenings but declines and makes his most polite excuses if Eliana asks for a walk home again.
She looks slightly hurt when he won't come along the following night and doesn't ask again.
Aza asks if he wants to do the Gate home or if she should.
"I can do it."
She gives her dad a last hug. "Ready when you are!"
And Ma'ar raises a Gate on the front doorway and transports them back to the courtyard outside the Tower.
She gives herself a little shake. "Gates feel so peculiar. Well, that was quite a lot of vacation, I feel the need to immediately go do a lot of homework, I don't know about you."
"Right, there's a lot to catch up on."
Ma'ar nods to her and escapes.
And they need to pick their classes for the next session! They can take intermediate-level weather magic, introducing concert work for very large scale urgent weather needs, or they can select their pick from a range of half a dozen specialized artifact-work classes; at this level, it makes sense to decide if one wants to focus on detection wards versus defensive shields versus communication and surveillance versus building maintenance, etc etc. There are several more combat courses. There's advanced illusion-magic in two versions, one aimed mostly at artistic performances, and one for 'practical purposes', which is widely known to be code for 'combat and/or spying'.
Aza is most tempted by artistic illusions and by the sorts of practical artificing that will, say, purify water.
Ma'ar signs up for the intermediate weather magic - it seems likely to be especially important in Predain, and he wants to know it well enough to teach it someday - and for both the detection wards and building maintenance courses. The latter is still separate from the 'day to day artifacts' class that Azabel wants to take, so they aren't going to have any classes in common this session.
Aala has officially gotten everything set up to move to the same regular girls' dorm as her new best friend, or possibly friends plural at this point.
"I don't know if I should try to keep an eye on her still?" Ma'ar frets to Azabel, when they're comparing their class schedules the day before the new session. "I mean, she seems to be doing really well here, just...she's still a kid..."
"...she's how much younger than you?"
"Three or four years."
"That's pretty young, yeah, but she seems comfortable operating here and has friends to watch out for her if she needs it?"
"Her friends do seem like they're - good for her, and on her side..." He shakes his head a little. "Apparently she maybe has a boyfriend now. I guess it's not like I'd even know what to tell her, if she asked for advice on that!"
"Wow, she's a little young for a boyfriend! I hope he's nice."
"I hope so too! And I really hope her friends are giving her good advice about it."
Aza nods. "They're about her age so probably not that great but at least oriented to the situation."
"Mmm." Ma'ar makes an unhappy face. "I really do feel like I'm - sort of responsible for her? Since she doesn't have parents here. ...I guess probably a lot of people don't tell their parents everything about their lives either."
Sigh. "Anyway, I'll remind her she can always come to me for advice if she needs it," he smiles crookedly, "she still thinks I'm wise or something just because I'm older and got here first. And if she asks something and I don't know what to say, I might need you to rescue me."
"Well, you know how to get ahold of me."
"Yes. Thank you."
Ma'ar chats a bit more about their upcoming classes, and then heads out.
Aza updates Lionwind on her work in Riverfork. Considers also signing up for the intermediate weather class since neither illusions nor artificing are all that high power (or at least not all the time; artificing can be but they spend a lot of time on design). Decides in favor.
Ma'ar is pleased to share a class with Azabel!
He doesn't bring up anything more about Aala's romantic life, at least not in the first few weeks of the new session. He also doesn't revisit their somewhat-awkward conversation during the visit to Riverfork.
Skan, however, does have some apparently-exciting news for Azabel, on one of the days he flies her home from class. "Guesss what?" Bounce bounce bounce.
"Wow, you're excited! What is it?"
"I have a girlfriend!!!"