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.
"Why would there be enemies to fight around here?"
"I dunno, just, that's what gryphons do. Fight enemies."
"'Caussse we got big beakss and wingss and clawss. Look." Skan shows her his claws. He's very proud of them. They're already quite sharp, even though he's little.
"What if there aren't any?"
Skan looks like someone who has never particularly asked himself this question before.
"...I dunno. What'd you thhink I sshould do then?"
"Can you read books? Or is it hard to turn pages."
"Dunno how to read. I'm too little."
"I can read! I could read you a book."
"Oh!" Bounce bounce bounce. "What ssort of book?"
"My favorites are all at my house but I BET that the Tower has a LIBRARY." Where is the nearest hertasi.
Right nearby and very eager to help!
Then they will go to the library! Aza will read titles to him till something catches his interest.
Ohhohhh there's a book about historical BATTLES, he wants to hear THAT one.
Well, if that's what he wants! She will take it down off the shelf and find somewhere nice to sit and scritch him while she reads it.
Happy snuggly gryphon is delighted to get scritches and hear all about the battles!
...It's not as exciting as he imagined, really, a lot of it is kind of repetitive, there are a lot of descriptions of where rivers and hills are and how many soldiers and mages each side had, and not nearly as many dramatic aerial duels as he'd been picturing.
Well, if he wants another book there are lots here.
He will bounce around and look for which books have interesting pictures inside! He finds a book which turns out to be about building bridges! It's actually a lot more interesting than the one about battles! This is sort of baffling to him.
Maybe it's a better author? Or bridges are just very interesting, or battles are in fact dull in practice. She will read him the bridges book.
Eventually a polite hertasi suggests that she had better go home before her mother gets too worried, but they would be delighted to bring both of them to the library again tomorrow.
Azabel's mother knows that she is very responsible and not getting into trouble but she doesn't argue with the hertasi.
She is back the next day!
Skan has decided that bridges are the most interesting thing in the WORLD and he wants her to help him find more books about them, and also maybe teach him to read???
"My mama can teach you to read! This way," she says, and she attempts to lead him into her mama's classroom.
He obediently follows his new friend.
"Mama, mama!" says Azabel, interrupting.
"- Aza?" says her mama, in the middle of explaining the different ways people sometimes spell "morning".
"Mama, this is Skan and he can't read."
"Oh, I see. How about you start him on the alphabet for now," says Ranara, with acceptable grace, "and he can see about enrolling next time I circle back to the beginning? I'm not at the alphabet just now."
"Oh, all right," says Aza. She swipes a spare alphabet book.