Vance could speak, she stood and walked across the square, a hand covering her smile.
'Wait a minute,' said Vance, following her. 'What do you mean "you didn't"? You must have had some idea. Merreck's almost a master. Just how well trained are you Religious Caste types?'
'As I said, my foster parents were always respectful of my father's wishes and teachings. However, my foster father, Keltoc, was not always of the Religious Caste.'
Vance could see another session in the library coming on. Whoever this Keltoc was, he must have been a denn'bokmaster, maybe even as good as Durhan. 'You realise you're now going to have to impart your teachings to me,' he said, struggling to keep up with her. She didn't answer, changing her walk into a trot, then into a run. Vance began to pursue, and he was sure he could hear her giggling as she ran into Tuzanor's maze of streets. However, increased heart rate caused a pounding in his mashed face, forcing him to stop. Much to his frustration, she had lost him completely within seconds.
* * *
Despite her initial reticence, Jerklenn agreed to spar with Vance in the combat hall, and this time she did not hold back. She proved to be a good teacher, and Vance responded to her instruction much better than to Durhan's. Mer-reck appeared in the view of others only when he had to. His pride had taken a real beating, and he made a point of avoiding Jerklenn and Vance whenever he was in the same part of the academy. Vance felt sorry for Merreck but could never actually bring himself to offer words of consolation. He knew they would not be accepted in the proper spirit, and he would get a condescending rebuff at best.
One morning at prayers, Turval interrupted the assembled acolytes with news of their impending graduation. 'Soon you will