"Rouark, thank you for your offer, but I must go home. I need to see my parents ~ my foster-parents, that is".
She smiled awkwardly as she acknowledged the change in her relationship with her 'parents'.

Rouark offered to accompany her.

"No, thank you, I shall be all right. It is not far."

She noted that Rouark looked dejected. She had rejected his friendly offers ~ she had rejected him ~ but she needed to get back onto home territory ~ and focus, as Delia had advised.

And what about Delia? What could she she do about her?
She felt sure that a dragon walking into her home might cause some disruption in the district.

The young dragon seemed to read her thoughts.

"Remember my invisibility, Maia. I shall come with you and protect you ~ and no-one will suspect anything."

Maia felt relieved. She was not ready to accept Rouark's help ~ not yet, anyway ~ but she was glad to have the companionship of a magic dragon on her travels.

"Rouark, I shall go home and think; I shall converse with my parents ~ and I shall see you again soon. I am truly grateful to you for your offer of help." She smiled at him; and he gave a half-smile back.

They said their farewells, and Maia watched as the prince walked off into the distance with his young charge.

Then she turned to the dragon.

"Come, Delia" she said."


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.