"Mom." She looked up from her work and wiped her brow, leaving behind a smear of ink. She peered at her son across the workshop cluttered with blueprints, inkpots, quills, and stone samples. "Why the long face?" she asked.
"We have a big job," he said. His voice was flat, and he stared at the ground. "The duke."
"That's great," she said, but her voice was wary. She put down her quill. "But what's wrong?"
"It's for his next dungeon," John said, looking up at his mother with red-rimmed eyes.
"Oh, God." She ran to him and hugged him tight. "Have you told your father?"
"No, um. Not yet."
"We should tell him," she said. "He deserves to know. Is..." She looked at him. "Is there anyone you want to say goodbye to? I mean, we have some time before the duke buries us alive to preserve his secrets, but still."
"Well, there's this one girl..."
"That's fantastic. You go spend time with her." He turned to go. "And John? It might be our last project, but it's also going to be the most interesting we've ever done. Let's enjoy it."
He gave her a teary smile, and he left.