It was already dark when they left the pub, but the crystal sphere on Wilfort's staff was glowing brightly to light their way as Herberta took them back to her family's home.
"I think you really enjoyed giving that little performance, Mister-Patron Wilfort."
"I must admit it was fun, Mistress-Vendor Herberta, but everyone in the pub thought it was just a story. I still do not understand how it will solve our problem with the monks."
"I'm sure there were a couple monks in the pub and even if they do not say anything about it, Old Man Gabbel will be telling everyone the story of how you told your story. So we can be certain Reverend-Monk Fideles and his followers will hear what you did."
"They will just know that I told a story, that's all."
"But it's the story they think you swore you'd never tell. Even if you've changed a few of the details, it's closer to the truth than you should be able to say. Mollie did take that oath and she couldn't tell me anything at all about what happened. And you used magic to tell it, which you shouldn't be able to do either."
"You think the monks will believe I'm a warlock?"
"As far as they know, you took an oath and then you broke it. How else will they explain that? Besides, anyone who thinks they're the Holy Warriors of Vale Lora shouldn't have any trouble believing in warlocks."
"So the monks will take that story as a warning directed towards them. That was really a very clever plan, Mistress-Vendor Herberta."
"I must get that cleverness from Grandma. From what I know of Reverend-monk Fideles, that warning will be enough to keep him from trying anything like this again. My grandmother is going to be a more difficult problem." They had reached her family's house, but Herberta stood outside the door for a while, staring at the wizard. "Give me a week, Mister-Patron Wilfort. I think I might have a solution by then."
It was a week later when Wilfort returned to the medicine shop. Mollie came too, walking along side of him now since she was a cat again. Herberta smiled when she saw them come in.
"Greetings, Mister-Patron Wilfort, Mollie. Did the medicine Grandma made for you work?"
"It was very effective, Mistress-Vendor Herberta. Madam-Patron Mazille is now completely cured. Her lungs are as healthy as any I've encountered."
Mollie leaped up to the top of the counter, to let Herberta rub her behind her ears. As Herberta did, she asked, "Did the medicine have any other affect on Madam-Patron Mazille?"
"No, it cured her feeble-lung without causing her any kind of trouble."
"Good, I will mark that in our records." She paused and stroked Mollie thoughtfully. "I've had a long talk with my grandmother, Mister-Patron Wilfort."
"What was the outcome of your conversation, Mistress-Vendor Herberta?"
"Let me ask you a question first. How would you feel about a partnership?"
Wilfort said nothing for a moment, then asked, "What sort of partnership do you mean?"
"A business partnership. There are diseases medicine can not cure, there are problems magic can not solve, but together we can help more people than either of us could separately."
"The idea is very appealing, Mistress-Vendor Herberta."
"Then you probably should start addressing me as your partner."
"Of course...Mistress-Partner Herberta. Your grandmother has agreed to this?"
"She was completely against it at first, but then I explained all the advantages to her. Our share of the profits from the partnership should be much more than the medicine is making alone. Of course, that means your share will less than you earn now, but I'm sure you won't mind."
"I suppose that would only be fair. A third for each us, your grandmother, you and me."
"I was thinking half for Grandma and me and half for you, but if you want thirds, that's what we'll do. Anyway, I also told her this would give her a chance to work on her cause-searching again."
"What is cause-searching, Mistress-Partner Herberta? I have never heard of that."
"I think it's something Grandma thought of herself. Remember I said she keeps records of which medicines work and which don't. She tried doing something like that to find out why some people get sick and other people stay healthy. Did you ever wonder about that, Mister-Partner Wilfort?"
"Yes, I have wondered, Mistress-Partner Herberta, and I have wondered why diseases like feeble-lung are so common now when they once were rare. But that is the will of the One or the Many and we can not expect to understand it. We can only hope we are able to cure the people who do become sick."
"Grandma thinks we can know why, or at least we can look for patterns and see what is different about the people who become sick and the people who stay healthy. Think what we could do if we knew that, Mister-Partner Wilfort. It would be like curing people before they even became sick."
"It would be incredible, but if your grandmother knew how to do this cause-searching, why did she stop working on it?"
"She needs to have a large number of people to find a pattern and we had hardly any customers. But if she can keep records on all the people you cure with magic, I'm certain she'll have enough."
"So that is what convinced your grandmother to accept the partnership?"
"No, even after I told her all that, she still did not want to have anything to do with a wizard."
"Then how did you get her to agree to it?"
Herberta looked at Wilfort with an impish grin. "I told her Destiny has brought us together and I was determined to keep you a part of my life one way or another. So, if she would not let us be business partners, I was going to marry you."
Mollie purred merrily when she heard this, but Wilfort just stared blankly at Herberta. Finally, he managed to say, "Uh, I am very glad we can be partners, but you really should not make false threats to your grandmother, Mistress-Partner Herberta."
Herberta laughed, "I would never do that, Mister-Partner Wilfort. That threat was not the least bit false."