The Council of the Shenera Endraae had just convened its Vernal Equinox session when Morgan arrived.
The three elders of the Council sat at their curved table, a head above the council's junior agents; with Morgan, five of the nine agents were in attendance. The guards shut the doors with a resounding thud as Morgan passed her report to the secretary, a nervous, collared young Daeva who was probably Elder Light in the Dark's newest pet.
"What do you have for us, jæ'Behold The Sprawl?" Elder Stone Princess asked, her voice, unsurprisingly, cold.
Morgan bowed, refusing to be baited by the diminutive. Only these three people had the right to call her so, and only Stone Princess generally saw fit to do so.
"I have discovered an… interesting enclave in the central United States, a grouping of primarily half-blooded Shenera Endraae that bears observation and study."
"Interesting?" The Daeva Elder Light in the Dark raised one perfect eyebrow. "Do tell."
Morgan was unsurprised. The half-breeds had come up with any number of "interesting" things over the last few centuries, many of them headache-inducing for the Council. They seemed determined to avoid easy categorization; even their Changes often made no sense at all.
"The Grigori Regine, Lady of the Waters, has set up what appears to be a well-warded underground bunker as a school of sorts. I am uncertain as of yet exactly where she is getting her students, but they are almost entirely half-breeds, the exception being one solitary young Daeva."
She paused for dramatic effect, and to irritate Stone Princess. "This Daeva Student has developed, on its own, use of the Word Frodeleikr."
Behind her, other members of the Council gasped. In front of her, all three elders leaned forward.
"It can use Frodeleikr?" Light in the Dark's pronunciation was no clearer than Morgan's, but its interest was entirely obvious. "That hasn't been seen nor heard of in…"
"Nearly a millennia," Stone Princess completed. "Well, Morgan, this qualifies as 'interesting.' What else did you learn of this school?"
"Lady of the Waters and her team have created a magical effect which duplicates for Students and Children the effects of being an Adult - that is, they have their own Sanctity, they are bound by oaths, and they can Keep and be Kept." Morgan frowned faintly. "The percentage of young women and hermaphrodites who were pregnant was far above that currently common for students of their age - the equivalent of late high school and early college-age in modern terms. I was asked not to tour their nursery facility, but the children I saw there seemed to suggest that such production rates have been going on for several years."
She pursed her lips together in a frown. She had seen such things before, although not in the last century. "Taking these facts together, I cannot help but surmise that Lady of the Waters and her team are in fact running a breeding program."
"To what ends?" Elder Straight Arrow spoke for the first time, leaning forward with his wings spread as if he would pounce on her. "If she is producing Daeva, it is unlikely that she is doing what we saw in England in 1607."
"Two of her team-mates are also pure-bloods," Morgan clarified, "Hunting Hawk, the Mara, and Linden-Blossom, the Daeva."
The elder sat back in his chair. "Hawk is known to me," he rumbled. "This is unlikely to be a similar situation."
"I agree," Morgan inserted smoothly. "I believe that, although Linden-Blossom's genome is clear in a number of the offspring, Lady of the Waters is attempting something quite different than those projects we have seen before."
"You believe?" Stone Princess frowned. "She did not tell you?"
"I was there without the seal of the Council," Morgan reminded them. "She was not obligated to answer any questions at all."
"Well, then," the insufferable woman smirked. "What is it, jæ'Behold The Sprawl, that you believe she is doing?"
"Well," Morgan answered coolly, "I believe that the manifestation of Frodeleikr was not an accident. I believe that the vast array of Changes displayed by the students - and by her teaching staff - is also not accidental."
She paused again, arranging her thoughts. "As the science and Working of genetic mapping becomes better understood, there are those-" younger Ellehemaei, not those that the Council would yet heed "-who believe that we can understand the flaw in our genetic structure that leads to throwing half-breed children. My studies reveal that all three pure-bloods helping to run this school are among the number who are unable to throw pure-bloods."
She leaned back against the podium, smiling. "I believe Regine, Lady of the Waters, is attempting to understand Ellehemaei genetics through direct study."
The Elders pursed their lips. This was not directly forbidden by Law or tradition, but it did bear watching.
"And your recommendation?" Straight Arrow asked.
She had been thinking about this since she first discovered Addergoole. "In five years, she has re-discovered Frodeleikr. I would send an official Council observer each year for a week, but make no decisions for at least another four years."
Stone Princess frowned. "You want to see what else she can come up with," she accused.
"Given what she's done already," Morgan countered happily, "given the problems the Council faces now, can we afford not to?"
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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