a day Burell and I-always celebrate."
"How do we celebrate?"
"First, I have a present for you." She went around the counter into the kitchen area, reached into a cupboard and pulled out a brightly wrapped box.
"I don't have anything for you."
"That's the best time to get a present, isn't it? When you aren't expecting one?" She led him toward the sofa, squeezed into the small cleared area beside him. He liked the feeling of her body next to his. She handed him the box.
He opened it. Inside was something tan-colored, woven. He pulled it out. A scarf.
"To keep you warm." She grabbed it and wrapped it around his neck, her subtle essence enveloping him. She leaned back, biting her lip. "Quite handsome."
"Did you weave this yourself?" It had an odd texture, with bumps spaced irregularly over its surface.
She rested her head against his shoulder. "Of course."
"Does that mean there's a spell woven into it?" He ran his hand over the bumps as if reading Braille.
"That's for you to unravel."
They sat in silence for a few minutes as Galen puzzled over the gift. Isabelle's ribs pressed into him as she breathed. "Are there any more parts to this celebration?" he asked.
"Just one more. A toast." As she put a hand on his chest and pushed herself up from the sofa, he regretted asking the question. He followed her into the kitchen, where she poured two glasses of wine. Her head was bent, a line of muscle in her neck revealing tension. "I first read of the Well of Forever when I was nine years old. I knew Burell was having trouble getting tech to study, and I suggested to her that we go to the Well. When she told me that it had been lost, this burial place of the earliest techno-mages, this great repository of tech and knowledge, I became obsessed with finding