Phillip took off his eyeglasses and wiped his eyes. He sniffled softly as he replaced the item. Many people would think it unprofessional to cry. He was a member of the Tribunal, after all; a representative of about one third of the mage population of the whole world. He didn’t feel very professional today, however.

The former Lord Elder had been like a second father to him. He’d given so much advice over the past few years. “Penny for your thoughts, Phillip,” Merlain whispered.

“I knew he was sick. He wouldn’t have lived even this long if he’d stayed as Lord Elder. He wanted you to succeed him in that post and me to take his position as representative. I just wish… he didn’t have to die. I wasn’t ready.”

“Oh, if only we could keep those we loved with us until we were ready to let them go, the world would be a place where there would be no crying,” Merlain whispered.

“Some day,” Phillip said. His healer training had been part of an early calling to the church. He knew that Merlain didn’t believe but a small part of him was reminded about a verse in the last book of the Holy Writ. Some day there would be no more grief or crying. “For now, we can be satisfied that he’s waiting for us to follow him when it’s our turn.”

“Right,” Merlain murmured.