Jeremy gulped and backed away from the others. “You’re going to throw me into a ravine?”
Much to his relief, Walter barked a laugh and Ama giggled. “No lad, not at all,” Walter chuckled. “Though after you get there you might wish we had thought of that.”
“Old Fox, that might be over stating a bit. The Ravine isn’t as bad as you make it to be. Just because you don’t care for it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible place.” Ama turned to Jeremy, “The Ravine is the Capital of The Valleys, Jeremy. It’s where the Senate convenes, and it’s where we will have to take you.”
“Yes, Walter, ‘we.’ You may have found Jeremy, though as I ponder it seems more likely he found you, but I’m the one who allowed him to be revealed. I will need to stay with him as he finds his way. You will as well, Walter.”
Walter stroked his chin, an expression of doubt on his face. “Ama, you know me well enough that I’d never abandon a stray…”
“Which is why I believe Jeremy must have chosen you.”
Walter waved his hand gently to silence Ama as he continued, “…but you can’t just leave your practice, Ama. The folks here in Water Gap depend on you, if you could have left I would have brought you out to the coast years ago.”
Ama beamed a smile, “You never give up on your dreams, Old Fox, do you?”
Walter grunted playfully, “Not the ones worth dreaming, no.”
Ama reached out with her right hand and cupped Walter’s cheek. She held both her hand and Walter’s gaze for several heartbeats before she smiled slightly and shifted over to the cabinet where her restoratives were stored. She picked up a small hand bell and gave it a gentle ring. To Jeremy’s great surprise, a panel was suddenly removed from the examination room’s ceiling. As soon as it disappeared a rope ladder swung down from the hole, followed by a young lady clothed in what Jeremy assumed were bed clothes. As she turned to meet Ama’s gaze she briefly met Jeremy’s stare. Her gentle, yet penetrating, eyes reminded him much of Ama’s. It took several moments from the ring of the bell until the newcomer was placed in front of the healer. Once settled, Ama offered an introduction.
“Gentleman, may I present to you my apprentice, Ami.” Ami didn’t turn to respond to the greetings Walter and Jeremy offered. This didn’t seem to bother Ama at all. In fact, she seemed subtly pleased as she addressed her apprentice. “You were listing?”
“Of course, Lady.”
Ama nodded. “Then you know what I must do. I may be gone for several months at least. The care of this town will fall to you, child. Are you willing to accept this responsibility?”
Ami smiled with pride. “You have trained me well, Lady. Water Gap will not suffer in your absence.”
Ama placed her hands on the younger woman’s shoulders. “Of that I have no doubt. You were soon ready to be tested at any rate. Things will go well here in my absence, and our guild may very well be persuaded to consider you a full healer upon my return and inspection.”
Ami, with some apparent effort, managed to contain a shout of glee. Instead, she offered a simple, “It would be an honor if that were so, Lady.”
Ama practically exploded into a grin, “Oh child, you are a dear one. I doubt any other apprentice in The Valleys would have been able to contain her excitement at that revelation! Now, I have things to prepare for my journey this evening. Why don’t you put on some suitable attire and run and share your news with Mary and Cinny. I’m sure they’ll happily squeal with delight for you.”
Ami broke forward and embraced her mentor, an action which took Ama briefly by surprise. After only the slightest pause, the healer closed her eyes and affectionately returned the embrace. When Ami released the older healer she returned to her warm, but somber, demeanor and replied, “I would like that very much, Lady, thank you.” With that, Ami burst past Walter and exited the room. Ama smiled after her momentarily before taking notice of the two men once more.
“Now, gentleman, let us prepare for our journey.”
Jeremy turned to Walter, looking to follow the older man’s lead. Walter only grinned and pointed back toward Ama.
“Don’t look at me, Lad, she’s the one who’s in charge.”