The old man was curled like a fist. His ironwood staff looked more yielding than the hand that held it.
“You’ll have truly learned,” he said in a winter voice, knodding towards the staff, “when you can take this twig from me.”
The boy nodded and, with a lazy speed, he threw the knife.
There was a gust, and the old man burst like leaves. A susurrus, a bug’s leg patter, chased the boy in a circle, and he spun.
“Good,” said the old man, from behind. “Keep making mistakes. I won’t have to put up with you for long.”