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Chapter 45: Æowyn

39

July 31, 2013 by Lyn

July 23, 2004

“I know, Mom. I’ll be home as soon as I can.  But I can’t really take Pandra on a plane.”  Æowyn had the phone balanced between her ear and her shoulder, said Pandra in a carrier against her chest, while she tried to pack everything they would need into to suitcases.

“Pandra?”  Her mother’s – foster-mother, but the woman who had raised her, at any rate.  “Who’s Pandra and why can’t they come on a plane?”

Æowyn sighed.  It wasn’t as if her mother could be ignorant about what Addergoole was about.  She’d raised Æowyn; she’d sent her to this place; she’d lied about the whole thing, telling her it was some sort of high-education private prep school for bright, up-and-coming young students. “Pandra, Mom, is my daughter.  She was born in early June; she’s got my blue eyes and her father’s nose, and she’s absolutely adorable. And before you ask, her name means ‘chief dragon.’  Her fath… sire thought it was amusing.”  She could get away with a little less for herself, maybe fourteen changes of clothes, but Pandra made messes in clothes like it was her job. Which, she supposed, it was.

“Dragon, hrrm?  Your birth mother was – is, probably – a snake-sort.”  If anything, Æowyn’s mother sounded thoughtful.  “I assume it’s spelled with all English letters, at least?”

Æowyn smiled. She’d asked the same thing. “All English letters, and not an accent or a tilde to be seen.  Spelled the way it sounds, even, and sounds the way it looks.  She’ll do fine in school.”

“Did you negotiate that with the young man in question?  I assume he’s a young man, of course, and not one of the teachers?”

“He’s… young, and male, yes.  Not one of the teachers.  Mom!”  Æowyn shook her head at the phone, making the phone shake and Pandra burble.

“Well, it has been known to happen, now, hasn’t it?”  Her mother made it sound so reasonable.  Æowyn sighed again.

“Well… yeah.  Yeah, Lemon just had twins by the Literature professor, and, from the sounds of things, it’s not the first time he’s gotten a student pregnant.  But with Professor VanderLinden-”

“Mike?  How is Mike doing? Or is it Michelle right now?”

“…Mom?”  Mike.  Hunh.

“Oh, honey, just because I didn’t get pregnant doesn’t mean I didn’t spend time around the school and the project.  Now, are you coming home with little Pandra, and, if so, are you bringing the young man who fathered her?”

“I’m getting on a train tonight with Pandra, yes, Mom.  I’m packing as we speak.”  She bounced a little to get a coo out of the baby.  “I’ll call you when I get to the station, or I can take a cab.”

“Don’t be silly, you can call me.  You are not taking my first grandbaby on a cab ride before she’s a year old.”

Her mother could be a little ridiculous sometimes.  “Okay, Mom.  I’ll call.”

“And the young man?”

“He and I… aren’t exactly speaking right now.”  She rubbed her bare neck, and wondered how much she wanted to tell her mom – how much she wanted to say on the phone, how much she wanted to save for later, in person, how much she never wanted to say to anyone.  “It wasn’t a great year for us.”

“Æowyn, do not allow your personal feelings to get in the way of your child having a father.”

“Mom, I have three more years.  I can do what Dad did, and pick a reasonable second parent for both kids.”

“Æowyn, that is unfair, and you know it.  Besides, you might end up having a decent relationship with this young man after a while.”

“Mom, I don’t think Dr. Avonmorea really likes us having two kids with the same dad, for one. For another, he’s a year older than me, so there’s at least the last year of my school where he won’t be around.  For another, he’s a controlling asshole who doesn’t have any idea how to have an actual relationship that doesn’t involve a collar.”  She rubbed the back of her neck again, and resisted the urge to pop her jaw.

“A collar.”  Her mother’s voice shifted immediately.  “Oh.  Well, in that case, dear, you’re probably better off finding someone else.  He sounds a bit like your biological mother.”

“My bio mom is a controlling asshole?”  She made kissy faces at Pandra, who was too young to really appreciate it, and sighed at her mom.  “Do you think I can get away with three weeks’ of changes of clothes for the baby?”  She was having trouble getting more than that stuffed in the suitcase, as tiny as Pandra’s clothes are.

“Honey, if you tell me what size she’s in, by the time you get home, I will have another three weeks of clothes for her, a crib, and anything else you need for the summer.”

“Mom, you don’t have to…”

“Do not be silly, Æowyn.  I might not have to, but I am going to enjoy the heck out of it. It’s a grandmother’s right.”

“All right, all right.  I’m all packed then.  I should be home tomorrow night around eight; I’ll call when we get close.”

“Are you going to want your friends to know that you’re home?”

“Hunh.”  She looked down at the baby, then over to the mirror, where her unMasked face showed fangs.  “I’m not sure yet, Mom.  It’s been a sort of crazy year.”

“I can understand that, dear.  Well, I’ll hold off, then. I’ll tell your father when to expect you, and I’ll go over to [town] to do some shopping.  That way, I don’t have to worry about any gossip getting around.”

“Mom, you’re the best.  I’m sorry I forgot Mother’s Day.”  Now so much forgot as had been fighting with Fafnir a lot, but the two were close enough.

“And Father’s Day, dear, but you’re forgiven.  I know that your first year away from school can be hard under normal circumstances, and it doesn’t sound as if you had remotely normal circumstances.”

“Ha.  No.”  She tucked the last onesie away.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, then, Mom?”

“I look forward to it.  Travel safely, dear.”

“I’ll try.”

Friday, July 23, 2004 – several hours later.

“All right, kiddo.  Ready to go?”  Pandra was tucked into her carrier/car seat, all the luggage was as compactly packed as Æowyn could manage, and the rest of the room had been rearranged for the fifth time.   She wasn’t sure if it was some nesting instinct or something else, but she kept having the urge to change the way things looked to be more comfortable.  Even though she wouldn’t be back for a  month or more.

Pandra made gurgling noises, and then a squeaking sound as a knock thudded on the door.

“That can’t be Luke.  I told him I could make my own way to the Jeep.”  She pulled the door open.  “I told you I could… Fafnir.”  She shifted her body to put herself between him and the baby.  “What are you doing here?”

He looked uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable like he often looked when talking to Cynara.  She hadn’t expected that.  Of course, she hadn’t expected him to knock on her door, either.  They’d had that talk after he’d named Pandra.

“I heard you’re taking the train home.”

She’d kick whoever had passed that along.  “Yeah.  In like twenty minutes.”

“Let me come with you?  Please?”

“I’m not taking you to meet my parents.  I have no desire to have you trying to make a relationship with my family or with me.”  She rubbed the back of her neck, knowing it made her argument seem weaker. “I don’t want you tricking me into a collar again, Fafnir.  Or a gag.”

“I haven’t put the gag on you in months.”

“Because Cynara threatened you.  And she’s gone now, and so is Howard.”  She reached for the door.

“Æo, please.  I promise you, I won’t Keep you again while we’re in school.  I don’t want to do this because I’m trying to hook up with you.  I know you’re probably really mad at me, and I probably deserve a little bit of it.  But the train can be dangerous.”

That, she hadn’t been expecting.  “You’re worried about my safety?”

“Is that so hard to believe?”

“Well… yeah.  Yes, it is kind of hard to believe.  You weren’t exactly the most affectionate Keeper, Fafnir.”

“No.  I was possessive, controlling, and protective, but not affectionate.”  He shrugged.  “I’m not good at affection.  But I didn’t rape you, I didn’t beat you, I didn’t order your emotions or your thoughts, and I let you keep your friends.  I’m not saying that that was being a good Keeper or anything, but I am saying that I can be concerned about your safety – and our kid’s safety.”

“Mmm.”  Æowyn pursed her lips, considering. “No ulterior motives?”

“Wellll…” Fafnir’s shoulder-roll said it all.  “I mean.  I’m watching Keepers with their former Kept, and everyone’s a mess.  And I can barely talk to Cya, and shit.  But when we trained together, fighting, we worked out pretty well, yeah?”

“Yeah.”  It was unwilling but it was true.  She popped her jaw, thinking about the times they hadn’t worked out so well.  Possessive controlling, and protective.  He didn’t say it like he was proud of it, but he said it like it was okay, like he accepted that about himself entirely.  Well, maybe he had.  It was certainly an accurate assessment.  “We fought together pretty well.  Once you learned to cover your side.”

“Yeah, well.”  He shrugged.  “Look, I’m not trying to make things be the way they were, and I’m not trying to get in your pants right now, but maybe, I dunno, friends?  Crew?”

“I do not want to be crew with Margherita.”  The rest of the crew she could stand, but not that one.  “She’s horrid.”

“She’s a mess, yeah.  But she came with Jaelie.”  He shrugged.  “All right, not crew.  Friends, maybe?”

“I’ll think about it.  You really want to ride halfway across the country with me just to be sure Pandra and I are safe?”  It seemed too good – or bad – to be true.

“And to get a chance to talk to you like normal people, out in the world and not dealing with collars.  Yeah.”

“I’m still not bringing you home to meet my parents.”

“And that’s fine.  I promise, that’s fine.  I can do without that.”  His smirk looked more like the Fafnir she was used to.  “I’m not really all that domestic.  But…”  He reached out a hand, stopping at the edge of her threshold.  “She Belongs to you; that’s the way the Law works.  But Pandra is my daughter, too.”

“Mm.  You don’t strike me as the paternal sort.”  She wasn’t going to invite him in.  That way led to trouble.  But she was considering giving in.  It was a train ride.  There was only so much trouble he could cause her on a train.  She hoped.

“You don’t strike me as the maternal sort.  But Addergoole does that to us.”

She thought about it for a moment.  “Cynara didn’t have your child, did she?”

“No.”  Now the smirk got a little bit biter.  The expression he often got when he was talking about Cynara.  “No, she didn’t.  She had Cabal’s.  And Leofric’s.  Not mine or Kheper’s.”

“Ouch.”  She winced in sympathy.  “I don’t know whether to feel worse for you or Kheper.”  The mink had been showing, by the end of the year.  “Either way – Pandra’s your first kid, too, isn’t she?”

“Yeah.”  Fafnir’s whole body was leaning towards the door.  “Let me come, Æo?  I promise I’ll do whatever you say during the trip, if you do.”

“You’re serious.”  She had to take a step backwards to really look at him.

“Like a heart attack.”  He had his toes and his nose up to the edge of her Sanctity.

“Why?  Are you that worried?”

“I’m…” He swallowed.  “I’m a little worried I’m never going to see Pandra again.  And that bugs me more than I thought it would, Æo.  It bugs me a lot.”

She’d never seen him like this.  She wanted to enjoy the power she had over him, but…  She reached across her threshold to touch his hair.  “Fafnir, I won’t keep Pandra from you, if it means that much to you.  If you promise… and you did.  Yes.  You can come with us on the train.”  She smirked faintly, amused at herself as much as at him. “But you’re carrying the suitcase.”

“I can carry more than one suitcase.”

“I know you can.  But that’s what I need you to carry.”  She grabbed the heavier suitcase and pushed it through her threshold at him.

“So that’s how it’s going to be?”

“You agreed to do things my way.  You want to protect me.  Fine.”  She shrugged, and turned her back on him to pick up Pandra and the other suitcase.  “I don’t mind the protection, truth be told.  The world is a lot darker out than it used to seem, and I have this tiny little thing here to take care of.  Having someone to watch my back is nice.”  She turned back to him, unsurprised to find that he hadn’t moved.  “So, yeah, I’ll take the support and the company.  But I’m not sure about the rest, yet.”

“The rest?”  He picked up his suitcase as if he was on badly-controlled puppet strings, every move shaky and jerky.

“I’m not sure I want to be your friend.  I’m not sure I want to fight battles with you – if we end up having more battles to fight together, which I’m really hoping we don’t, at least not in school.  I’m not sure about the whole crew thing, even if it didn’t involve Margherita.  I’ll let you be in Pandra’s life.  That’s all I’m sure of so far.”

“I’ll take it.”  He tilted his head down the hall.  “The Jeep bay?”

“Yeah.  Luke’s waiting for me.”  She sounded like she had when she was Kept, she realized: there’s an adult who wants something.  They’ll be upset if you stop me or keep me from doing whatever it is I’m trying to do.

Fafnir’s lips quirked upwards.  “That’s what I did, when I was Kept.  I made it all about someone else.  Some adult.  Cynara was big on not upsetting the adults, but by then, the staff had started getting worried about Boom.”  He voiced her thoughts far too accurately, even now.  Especially now.

“I can’t imagine why.”  She had watched Boom take down monsters without even flinching, and they were fourth-year students.  She could – barely – imagine what they’d be like after a decade out in the world.  “Sometimes I wonder if they want us to have kids just to slow us down for a few years.  They teach us so much in four years here, if Boom is any indication-”

“I don’t think Boom is really any indication of anything except themselves.  They’re… something else.”

Æowyn coughed out a laugh.  “Yeah.  Yeah, that’s a good word for them.”  She shifted the weight of Pandra.  The baby herself didn’t weigh much, but the carrier and all the accoutrements tripled the load.

“I can carry her.”  He stepped towards her, and stopped, looking hesitant.  She found she disliked him looking hesitant even more than she disliked him being smug.

“Be careful.  Okay?”  She passed over the carrier.  He took it with exaggerated caution, shifting the suitcase to his off hand.

“I saw her through her Naming night, you know.  I can handle carrying her in a car seat.”

“I know.  But I’m allowed to worry.  She’s my responsibility.”

“Responsibility.  Ha.”  He snorted.  Before Æowyn could take offense, he turned a smile on her.  A real smile, the sort she hadn’t seen since he first put a collar around her throat.  “I think this school raises the most responsible teenagers the world has ever seen.  Kids.  Keeping.  Education.”

“Drugs.  Slavery.  Massive powers.”  She flapped her free hand.  “Keeping.”

“You said that already.”

“I know.  Same general idea.”  She opened the door to the Jeep bay for Fafnir.  “Did you do your promises?”

“‘I swear not to reveal the secrets, yadda yadda? Yeah, I did the Boy Scout promise last year.  I mean, they don’t let you leave, otherwise.”

“Imagine if you never did it?  Like maybe the basementers?”

“Staying here forever?  I heard there was a Fifth Cohort still here – Channing – but I didn’t see her all year.”

“Was her power being invisible?”

“Ha, no.  She’s a blowfish.  But Cynara said there was a First Cohort who lasted until her – Cynara’s – first year, too.  But I think both of those were grad requirement issues.”

“Ouch.  ‘No, seriously, I’m not going to have another kid?’”

“It’s not recommended.”  Luke’s voice preceded him out of the shadows.  “In Juniper’s case – the First Cohort – she had a strong reason for not wanting another child.  It was a shitty, horrible situation which will not happen again.  Channing just made the mistake of Keeping Curry.”

“The tree boy that…”  Æowyn had only heard rumors.  “Self-fertilizes or something?”

“Something like that.   That worked out badly for her.”

“Oof.”  Fafnir sounded sympathetic.  “If I’d known, maybe we could have worked something out.”

“With the Keeper you had last year? Probably not.”

“Hey, man.”

“Are you along to carry the baby, Fafnir?  I can handle that from here.”

“I’m riding along on the train.  Æowyn said it was all right.”

“Æowyn?”  Luke turned to her with his eyebrows raised.

“I did.”  She smirked a bit.  “He promised to behave.  And I won’t mind the company.”  Company sounded a little less weak than protection.

“As long as you’re sure you’re all right.”

“I’m sure.  He knows how to change diapers – or if he doesn’t, I can teach him really quickly.”

“I know.”  Fafnir sighed. “Cynara had Yoshi the year before she Kept me, remember?”

“That’s right.  You’ll do fine with your own kid.”

“Come on, then  We don’t have all day.”  Luke loaded the luggage into the back of the SUV.  “Fafnir, you’re in front with me.  Æowyn, you and Pandra in the back seat.  Now, kids.  We need to get out of here before the train leaves.  This isn’t Grand Central Station here.”

“Yes, sir.”  She buckled Pandra’s seat in, hoping they were doing the right thing.

Saturday, July 24, 2004 –  very early in the morning

The train trundled along the countryside, slowing for the cities and speeding along through the cornfields like a tourist.  Æowyn and Fafnir sat facing each other in a small booth-like set of seat, Pandra buckled in near the window.

Sometimes people would walk by their booth, and glance in, smiling or frowning or otherwise passing judgement, but usually clearly making the assumption they were meant to make.  With their Masks up, Æowyn supposed, they looked like a relatively ordinary (for The Breakfast Club) sort of couple: Æo in her crisp camp shirt and shorts, Fafnir in his Metallica T-shirt and jeans.  They looked young, and Masking that away was a trick Æo hadn’t learned yet.  They were young, and that had to cause both some of the smiles and some of the frowns.  Too young for kids.  Too young for love?  Maybe the latter, but they were proof against the former.

“I think she disapproves.”  Fafnir tilted  his head at the older woman who had just walked down the aisle.

“Sometimes I disapprove.  It doesn’t change anything.”  She straightened Pandra’s blanket to avoid looking at Fafnir’s face.

It didn’t allow her to ignore his sigh, sadly.  “Æo…”

“Fafnir.”

“I was a lousy… boyfriend.  I’m sorry.”  He twitched his shoulders.  “I tried to be good.”

“I know you did.  But your anger ran away with you sometimes, and your baggage ran away with you more often.”

“My baggage.”  He didn’t really make it a question, but she could see, out of the corner of her eye, how his hands twitched, as if trying to make fists. “You mean Cynara.”

“I mean everything.  But yeah, Cynara.  Every time anything happened, every time I had an opinion, I contradicted you… you were hearing her.”  She made herself look at him.  “And that made you angry, which made everything suck.”

“Ouch.  I suppose I deserved that.”  He played with a ring on his right hand, something she’d only seen him do a few times before.  “So I sucked at it.  How do I not suck at it in the future?”

“Well, I don’t think you’re going to have another chance to not suck at being my… boyfriend.”  She put enough emphasis on the word to make it sound not-boyfriend enough.  “And, besides, you promised.”

“But I could try not sucking at being your friend.  Or I might want to be someone else’s… boyfriend.”  He imitated her tone.  In the seat behind Æowyn, someone coughed.

She didn’t blame them.  She raised her eyebrows at Fafnir.  “You want my advice on how to be someone else’s… boyfriend?”

“And on how to be your friend.”

“The one is easier than the other.”  She made a gesture as if flicking water off her fingers – thoughts she didn’t want to deal with, gone.  “The other is more comfortable than the one.”

“Which one is easier?  And more comfortable?”  He leaned forward, elbows on his knees.  She resisted the urge to lean backwards.

“Telling you how to be a better… boyfriend is easier.”

“Really?”  He frowned.  “Because you know that that’s a thing that could happen, hunh?”

“Yeah, in part.  But it’s not really comfortable.  Because that’s someone else’s life I’m talking about, you know.”

“I know.”  He reached out as if to pat her knee, and paused.  “May I?”

“I suppose.”  A little humanoid touch wouldn’t kill her (probably), and she’d been missing that, if nothing else. “I won’t mind it, at least.”

He patted her knee carefully. “Will you try?”

“When I get back to school.  Not here.  Not…”  She gestured, flicking her fingers at the bus with its human passengers and its human ambiance.  “If you will, too.”

“Tell you how to be my friend? Or how to be someone else’s… girlfriend?”

“Both.  Definitely both.”

She felt a little unkind, but it was worth a try.  From the look on his face, Fafnir was feeling as conflicted as she had – which, surprisingly, didn’t make her feel either better or worse.

“I can do that.  Both.  Once you get back?”

“Once I get back.”  She swallowed a yawn.  “Should have had more soda.”

“Why don’t you catch a little sleep?  We’ve got a while to go, don’t we?”

“Quite a while, yeah.”  She snuggled herself more comfortably into the seat.  “I might just do that, thanks.  I think we’re safe, here.”  She draped an arm around Pandra’s carrier, just in case, and whispered a Working that would wake her if the baby or the carrier moved. “We should wake up by the time we get to our stop.”

She woke up from a warm, fuzzy dream involving rabbits and a meadow and things best not shared outside of snake dreams.  Fafnir was shaking her arm, not roughly, but with decided purpose.  “Æo? Æo, wake up.  Æo, shit, wake up.”

“Shit?”  She blinked, suddenly awake.  “What’s wrong? Pandra?”

“Is still asleep, she’s fine, I checked first.  I drifted off…”

The conductor was announcing a stop.  It happened to be three hours past Æowyn’s parents’ hometown.

“…oh.  shit.”  She sighed.  “All right, come on.  Unless you have worse news?”

“I don’t have a lot of cash on me?”  He looked sheepish.  She could handle sheepish, as long as it didn’t turn angry.

“We can work with that.  You can pay me back.”  She smiled wickedly at him; let him sweat a little bit.  “My fault, I should have set an alarm.  Come on.”  She unbuckled Pandra and started towards the exit with the smaller suitcase.  “Grab the luggage.”

“What are we going to do?”

He, she recalled, was from somewhere on the other coast.  She smiled at him, enjoying herself despite the predicament they were in.  “Improvise.”

Garfunkle

Sunday, July 25, 2004

“Come on, Sylvia.  It’ll be good for you.” Gar tugged, very lightly, on Sylvia’s wrist, urging her towards the beach.  She didn’t so much resist as fail to cooperate at all.

“I am uncertain if I like the beach.”

“But you’re not sure you don’t like it, right?”  He shifted his grip to her hand.  “Give it a try, please?”

“Why are you doing this?”  She was wearing a t-shirt over her swimsuit, which didn’t surprise him, her small pregnant bump not Masked, which did surprise him.  “I released you.”

“And then you agreed to come on vacation with me.”

“I have not been on… vacation… before.  I thought it could be educational.”

“Well, and isn’t it?”  Gar couldn’t help a smile. “You’re learning you’re okay cuddling with someone you don’t have, you know, under control.”

“Only when it is you.  And I am not certain ‘okay’ is the right word.”

“It’s an approximation.  Now you can learn if you like the beach.”

“Is this some sort of revenge for the past year?”

“Revenge?”  He took her other hand and looked her in the eyes.  She was serious.  Of course she was serious.  Sylvia didn’t joke.  “No.  No, this is me trying to make sure you have a good time, and that’s all it is. I like you, okay?”

“You do?”

“It’s been over a month.  I’m fairly sure I really like you.”  He kissed her cheek impetuously; Sylvia did not deal well with public (including hotel hallway) displays of affection.

She accepted this one, maybe because she was feeling insecure.  “This is just for… fun, then?”

“It’s supposed to be fun for both of us.  If you really want to skip the beach, we can put clothes on and go try the boardwalk instead? Or the museums.  You like museums, right?”

“I like museums.”  Having the option seemed to relax her. “Perhaps after the beach?”

“Museum after the beach sounds great.”  Dealing with Sylvia was uncomfortably reminiscent of dealing with his little sister sometimes. “So, you okay with going out?”

“You’ll hold onto my hand?”

“Of course.” He smiled, trying to be sure she knew he was joking. “You won’t be able to get me to let go.”

“That is fine with me.”  Sylvia did not sound as if she was joking at all.

“Awesome.  Right this way.”  He led her down the stairs and out onto the boardwalk.  The Director’s secretary’s magic power had to involve room reservations, because they were just across the street from the beach in one of the best areas of the town.  “Come on, right over here.  We can lay our blanket out and then take a dip.”

“A dip?”  Her hand clenched on his.

“Haven’t you… no.  I know you’ve been swimming; I’ve seen you in the school pool.”

“That is different.”  She twitched her hand at the ocean, stretched out in front of them.  “That is… tame.”

“And, let’s be honest, you’re not.  I know what you’re like, Sylvia.”

“You would not say I’m tame?”

“I wouldn’t say tame is the best word to fit you.”  He picked a spot and dropped the blanket, spreading it out in a place that had a little bit of shade.  Sylvia probably didn’t sunburn.  He, on the other hand, turned into one stupid giant freckle.  “Okay, here we go.” He added his shirt to the pile on the blanket.  “You can leave yours on, if you want.”

“I… yes.” She’d reclaimed his hand as soon as his shirt was off.

“You’re going to be fine.  And, if you’re not, we’ll come right back in.  Come on.”  Gently, he coaxed the otter-girl into the water.


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39 comments »

  1. Rix says:

    Two couples in with a chance of at least being on talking terms in the future. I like it.

    • Kuro_Neko says:

      Æowyn/Fafnir will probably end up on speaking terms. Though I don’t know about friends.

      Sylvia/Gar may very well end up as more then friends.

      • Gudy says:

        I’d love to see Sylvia and Gar ending up as more than friends. I genuinely like them both, even if Sylvia’s limitations made her Keeping suck more than necessary. In fact, I find Sylvia one of the most likeable characters in Year 9. Also, that last sentence? Adorable. 🙂

        Now as for Fafnir? I’m with you all the way, in Æowyn’s position I’d have been nowhere near as… nice and forgiving to him. I mean: “I promise you, I won’t Keep you again while we’re in school.” Oh, now that is assuring! What an asshole.

        Typos:
        “Her mother’s – foster-mother, but the woman who had raised her, at any rate.” Her mother’s what? There’s something missing here.
        “I know that your first year away from school” school -> home surely?
        “Possessive controlling, and protective.” missing comma after Possessive
        “in a small booth-like set of seat” seat -> seats
        “flicking her fingers at the bus” bus? They’re in a train car.
        Also, the biter smile and the unusual if rather generic town name aren’t fixed yet.

  2. guesty says:

    Yep, they’re doing quite well. It helps that while both Fafnir and Sylvia were awful Keepers, they were so more out of stupidity and bad experiences than out of evilness.
    It helps even more that both their former Kept, especially Æowyn, are very mature. I’m impressed by the way she was able to state what she wanted or didn’t want calmly and confidently.

    Typo:
    “No.” Now the smirk got a little bit biter.
    I think that should be bitter?

    • Lyn says:

      Biting smile? /tries hopefully/ No? I’ll fix it.

      I like Æowyn. I think she’s one of my favorites this year.

    • Kuro_Neko says:

      While it’s true that neither of the Keepers were malicious and the problems were mostly baggage, the major difference between them was Sylvia was at least trying to be a good Keeper, and Fafnir really wasn’t, at least not very hard. Both Kept recognize this and which is why Sylvia and Gar have a better post-release relationship then Æowyn and Fafnir do.

      tldr version: Both Keepers had baggage that caused problems, but Fafnir was an asshole, while Sylvia wasn’t a bitch.

  3. Kuro_Neko says:

    “I’ll tell your father when to expect you, and I’ll go over to [town] to do some shopping.”

    That [town] is almost assuredly a placeholder for an actual town name that slipped through final editing.

    “Now so much forgot as had been fighting with Fafnir a lot, but the two were close enough.”

    I’m pretty sure you meant ‘Not so much’ rather then ‘now’.

    Perhaps I’m just not the forgiving sort, or something. But I would be much, much more pissed at my parents then Æowyn is here. I don’t know that I could ever forgive them, even knowing they didn’t have much choice. If I did, it would be a long time coming.

    “But I didn’t rape you”

    Yeah, you keep telling yourself that Fafnir, but no matter how many times you do, it isn’t going to make it true.

    “Friends, maybe?” “I’ll think about it.”

    Perhaps I’m just not a good person, or something. But I wouldn’t even think about it. From what we saw Fafnir wasn’t bad enough that if I was her I’d be planning on hunting him down and killing him or anything, but I’d certainly never want to see him again.

    “Now the smirk got a little bit biter.”

    I think that’s supposed to be ‘bitter’.

    “I promise I’ll do whatever you say during the trip, if you do.”

    Wow.. That’s binding. I gotta say, I’m impressed. If she had any vengeful thoughts he’s just put himself in for a world of hurt.

    “Ouch. ‘No, seriously, I’m not going to have another kid?’”

    I think the ’ belongs before the ?, not after it.

    Out of curiosity, have we learned the circumstances around Juniper’s situation somewhere? And if not, could I ask, in a nutshell, what it was?

    I really like Sylvia. I shouldn’t, she crossed a couple of my moral lines, but I just can’t help it. She and I are very alike. I’m not as… Sylvia as Sylvia is, but we have alot of similar personality traits and a similar temperament.

    I enjoyed this chapter, even if a few of the Æowyn/Fafnir moments were alittle uncomfortable.

    • Wysteria says:

      I think Aeowyn is somewhat brainwashed by Addergoole here when she says she’d consider friendship with Fafnir – she has the examples of the worse keepings and the better keepings in mind, and it doesn’t cost her anything to give a noncommittal answer to someone proven hazardous to her. Fafnir is a jerk, but by Addergoole standards he’s not that bad.

      My understanding of Juniper’s situation: she hid in the library, with Wysteria’s acceptance or possibly assistance. Zita’s first child is technically Juniper and Luke’s.

      • Kuro_Neko says:

        Thanks for the info. I’m not sure how that constitutes “a shitty, horrible situation which will not happen again” though.

        • Lyn says:

          The shitty, horrible situation would be what ended up causing her to hide in the library from the end of her first year on.

          Pardon. From the Monday after Hell Night her first year on. I’d forgotten the details.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            Ok. Is that situation documented anywhere? And if not, could you summarize it for me? Or do you want to save it for it’s own story someday? No worries if that’s the case, I’m just curious.

  4. Lyn says:

    @kuro_neko – I don’t think I’ve written up anywhere but I’m not certain. In short, Barnaby grabbed her on Hell Night, held her over the weekend, did horrible things to her, managed to impregnate her. Then she fled to the Library and never came out.

    • Kuro_Neko says:

      Thank you for the information.

      While that certainly does sound horrible, it also doesn’t sound much different then what a lot of other first year students go through, with the exception that he apparently didn’t force her into a belonging. How is that any different from what Callista or Akaterina or Lee or Bowen went through? Luke’s outrage seems very hypocritical.Does he really think it’s different just because the Kept can’t run away like Juniper did? Does he think that they don’t want to? Or that they aren’t suffering just as much as she did? At least for her it was only a weekend. For the ones I listed and many more, it’s months. In Callista’s case it was years. I’ll stop there before I start ranting again. But I think Luke is the most frustrating staff member. He comes across as an honorable, caring person and yet he sits by while what’s happening in this school happens. It isn’t enough to say he acts when he has evidence, that’s too late, and he misses too much. Caitrin and Mendosa bother me a bit too, but Luke is the most frequently seen staff member, and he’s the one where his observed character differs from his observed actions the most.

      • Koko says:

        While I agree with most of what you’ve said I also can’t stop thinking that probably Luke and the rest of the staff don’t actually know how deep shit is before they act… I seriously doubt it in some cases (Caitrin, Mendosa and Reid for example, I can’t really think of a way they would not notice) but for the rest of the staff? I am an adult now and I still hide so many things from my parents/teachers/coworkers/friends, I hide a lot of shit from them when I was a teenager and they (specially my parents) don’t know even a 20% of the shit I went (and some times I still go) through in my day to day life… so now we have a bunch of teenagers with superpowers and magic… I think we just know one side of the stories, we only know the students, we know they try very hard in hiding their shit and the Kept really don’t have other options…. I still would like to know more of the staffs point of view, and see if I’m mistaken on this or not. So yeah.. some staff members are really frustrating because of this and from some extra stories from year five we can tell that Regine (and probably other members of the staff) overlook a lot of things, but I think a big part of everything is that they really don’t have any idea on how to deal with this kids… even so, that’s not an excuse not to act or, at least, investigate when somethings don’t look very good.

  5. Wysteria says:

    Random note: we don’t really have an in-story example of a healthy adult fae relationship. We can guess at it, but none of the professors share who they go home to, and Regine and Ambrus didn’t quite qualify. The kids not having adult fae role models for relationships goes a ways towards explaining some of their haplessness, too. The cuckoo’s nest problem – how does one learn how to act like a cuckoo?

    Alternatively, all the teachers are social pariahs and have no idea what a healthy adult relationship looks like~

    • Kuro_Neko says:

      The lack of a role model is certainly a part of the problem. Another, and in my opinion larger, part which is closely linked to that, is the lack of boundaries. There are only two official rules in this school: don’t kill anyone, and all students must be in class on time. There needs to be more! I know that adolescence as it is exists now is a relatively new invention, but even when kids were starting families and working jobs at 14 or 15, there were still boundaries and responsibilities. Those kids of the past were also raised and taught with the expectation of that level of responsibility at that age, the kids of today aren’t. That would be bad enough in normal kids, as Lord of the Flies has shown us, but you throw in god-like powers and the ability to control others completely and it gets much, much worse.

      The previous commentator has a point that the kids hide things from the staff, but the victims do it mostly because they don’t believe the staff will do anything about it, that they’re intentionally overlooking it. And in some cases they’re absolutely right. I strongly believe that most if not all cries of sexual assault from Kept would be ignored because of that damnable breeding project. But in most other aspects of abuse it wouldn’t be. That isn’t the students’ fault, it’s the staffs’. They should make much more clear what is and isn’t allowed, which brings us back to boundaries. If the staff would just call a school wide meeting and announce that any abuse, with clear and specific examples, of Kept or otherwise, will be severely punished, after the fact and more severely if the victims are kept quiet, then a lot of this would be cleared up. Why they don’t do that I can’t fathom, other then possibly an unwillingness to admit they’re wrong.

      As much as I don’t like to cut the staff a break, you do have a point about their own socialization. I don’t think it’s so much that they’re social pariahs, but more that the fey don’t have a society. There are so few of them, and they’re intermingled amongst humanity so much, that your average fey likely goes years if not decades without running into another of their kind (that isn’t immediate family), and such run-ins would almost assuredly be in a human setting. So yeah, I think the staff are stumbling around in the dark trying to define what a purely fey community actually is as much as the students are, and that’s going to lead to some inevitable missteps. This doesn’t come close to excusing the fact that they’ve known there are severe problems with their current model for years and have done nothing to change it. The minute they discovered what a bloodbath they’d been complicit in they should have torn down all the mind and emotional control wards that surround the school and rebuilt them with more safeguards in place. Considering the level of sophistication already present in the aforementioned wards, there’s no way there can’t be a way to put in automatic safeguards that notify a staff member whenever a students emotional state gets low enough, or whenever the emotional and/or thought control orders from Keepers get too severe, or possibly even when certain actions, such as sexual assaults, are committed. They were fools not to include such from the beginning, but they’re criminally negligent to not insert them as soon as they saw the need.

      I think that’s enough out of me for now. Anymore and this will descend into a stream of hateful invective directed towards the staff.

      • Wysteria says:

        Part of it is that they’re trying to teach the kids to be adults by giving them adult responsibilities/roles (Keeping) and then adult levels of support (nill). Which is not how young humans learn – humans learn by mimicking adult behavior after seeing it.

        A snippet from one bonus story does seem to indicate that they’re trying to create a new society of halfbreeds – as opposed to halfbreeds being isolated and embarrassing in fullblood society. Perhaps even if they wanted to give these kids fae role models, they couldn’t, because those role models would mostly be fullblooded and think halfbreeds are a sign of race decay or something useless like that.

        I also do wonder if the full blooded adults have a blind spot about how well they treat half breeds because ‘well, I’m not being actively prejudiced against you because I’m that open minded, you should be grateful.’ Racism, in effect. Like doing human genetic/development experiments on races you don’t like, or in poor countries.

        Actually, very like that. That’s disturbing. I wonder if the larger fae society would have interfered in Regine’s school if she’d been doing it with fullbloods.

        • Kuro_Neko says:

          Re: Adult responsibilities – Adult support.

          Agreed. Also, they’re not including adult punishments. If you’re caught doing some of the things these kids do to each other out in the real world as an adult, you’re sent to prison; executed in some places. There are a lot of people where the reason they don’t do certain things is fear of punishment, rather then any moral consideration. In fact, depressingly, they’re likely in the majority.

          Re: Fae role models.

          I’m not sure I can agree with that. The majority of the staff are halfbreeds, they could be role models. If they weren’t all morally bankrupt themselves… never mind. There may simply not be any positive role models in what passes for fey society, at least what we would consider positive.

          Re: Blind spot.

          Yeah, isn’t that exactly what Regine is doing? Though the primarily halfbreed staff are going along with it, so I’m not sure what to say about that.

          Re: Larger fae society interfering.

          Call me naive, but when Observes the Sprawl was first investigating the students on field trip in year five, I was constantly muttering to my screen at the students, “Here’s someone in authority who can put a stop to that hellhole, tell her what’s going on!” Of course later on she gets a chance to observe the school directly and gives it a clean bill of health. I don’t know if was your blind spot racism cropping up or if the staff covered up the worst of it. But that was the point where I lost all faith in fey society. The only reason this sort of school couldn’t exist with full blooded fey, is because at least some parents would object to their children being treated that way, and actually have the power to back it up.

          Though that said, I really can’t understand how we see the school continuing into the second and third generation in the future stories. I know the grads are dealing with the Apocalypse, and perhaps that’s the reason, but I would think they’d act to take down Addergoole before their own children are forced to suffer through the same thing they did. Did suffering through that hellhole make them just as morally bankrupt as the staff? Don’t they love their kids? The parents of the first gen I can see (if not forgive), since they don’t really know what their kids are going through. But that’s not the case for the second and further gens. I know the multi-generational oath forces them to send their kids there. But would that oath still apply if Addergoole was a large crater? If outright destroying the school wasn’t an option due to the oath, then put it under new management. I would expect them to do something!

          Time for me to stop again before I start ranting.

          Somewhat off-topic: one of the arguments the staff use for why the school is the way it is, is because the Laws exist in the real world and the school simulation helps prepare them in a (arguably) safe environment. But the Laws only apply to Adults, not Children or Students. And becoming an Adult isn’t automatic, it’s a deliberate process. Wouldn’t the solution in dealing with those damnable Laws simply to never become an Adult? Are there any disadvantages to remaining a Child except for your mother retaining Ownership of you? Are there any benefits to becoming an Adult that outweigh the risk of getting trapped in Oaths or in an abusive Belonging?

          • Wysteria says:

            I don’t know. I don’t know how much morality I apply to the fae – it’s a bit like trying to apply human morality to other nonhuman predators, like lions or whatever. I don’t know enough about them. I would like to know more – I hope Lyn goes into the larger fae society and its issues and morals someday – but until then I feel like I lack context.

  6. lightdefender says:

    I’ve spent the last few days reading through this, and read the year five series and Wild One’s Blood a few weeks back. I’ve been holding off on commenting since I’m not yet caught up and haven’t read many of the stories on dreamwidth. I’ve tried to hold off on the ones that take place after year nine, but I’ve certainly caught a few references to the Apocalypse.

    But I do want to post a few of my own observations now. I may c/p to the latest chapter as well, once I get there, so that it’s more likely to be seen.

    Regine and others have indicated a desire to mimic adult scenarios in a temporary (“safe”) fashion so that Addergoole students can experience them beforehand. But there’s a scene in Wild One’s Blood where Fenny wonders if Moira’s mother had taught her anything about Oaths. Which indicates it is generally expected for a child’s mother–and most likely a student’s Mentor–to do so, and presumably the rest of the Law as well.

    Regine has deliberately prevented this at Addergoole. I feel that this is her greatest crime, from which all others extend.

    It would be easy to do. The Law at Addergoole is not the true Law, but rather Working(s) designed to mimic it. So why not set it up only to take effect at the start of the second year? (There may be technical reasons that this would be difficult, but I’m sure a work-around could be found if someone with the right Words made an effort.) I would propose that first-year students still be granted Sanctity, but not be subject to Oaths or Belonging.

    The geasa on upperclassmen should expire after the first semester, not the first year. The graduation geas needs to go away. (I don’t quite get that one anyway; it seems as though it can easily be circumvented by raising your children in the village.)

    Most importantly, Mentors need to actively explain the Law and ETHICS concerning it during that first year that students are not subject it. (VanderLinden starts “don’t be evil” lectures to his cy’ree in year five; whatever happened to that? Though I guess they were somewhat half-hearted and only at Luke’s instigation.) Students would then become subject to the rest of the Law at the start of their second year, after they have been taught all this stuff.

    Would that stop all abuses? No. But it would help level the playing field and establish guidelines for what is and is not considered acceptable behavior. Kuro_Neko’s proposed monitoring system to alert the professors to trouble is also a good idea. Nothing like that exists in the real world Addergoole purports to mimic, however; my proposal is intended to bring things more in keeping with the spirit of that purported intent.

    (Incidentally, Observes the Sprawl was kept away from the worst of the abuses and guided toward model students; when she demanded to speak to a Fifth Cohort Kept, Jamian was the one offered. Why s/he went along with keeping things from her I’m not certain, but s/he did.)

    Would this screw up Regine’s breeding program? Perhaps. But I believe someone had previously suggested harvesting sperm and egg from each student instead of requiring two live births. That would actually improve Regine’s breeding program as she could combine them in whatever fashion she likes. She could arrange for suitable host mothers without too much difficulty, if by no other means than paying human women.

    On an unrelated note . . . is it the events of Wild One’s Blood that lead to the Apocalypse? The timing seems about right and Ellehemaei on both sides of the aisle are messing around with the Gates.

    • Lyn says:

      Could Regine have done all these things?

      Yes. But that was not the story I set out to write. I wanted a dystopic setting – and I fully agree that Addergoole as it is is dark and sometimes frustrating.

      I’m glad you’ve been reading (and hopefully enjoying!)

      As for Wild Ones… that’s a really good question.

      • lightdefender says:

        I’m trying to look at internal story logic: Why did Regine do these things? It’s been established that she did not anticipate the abuses that occurred. So why did she create a system so prone to abuse?

        I think I may have part of an answer. Stress is supposed to help trigger the Becoming; that was the original purpose of Hell Night. So dropping students in an environment they don’t understand with rules they have no way of knowing is another stressor, another way of encouraging them to Change. So I can kind of see the point of the graduation geas from that perspective. (This, of course, in no way condones her actions; I’m merely trying to understand her motivations.)

        But what I still don’t understand is why when widespread abuses came to light no systemic changes were made to discourage them. The only thing close to that we’ve seen is a brief “you can always talk to your mentor” statement.

        It’s also been posited that she’s deliberately encouraging rape in order to further her breeding program. I’m not even going to touch that one.

        • Kuro_Neko says:

          I’ve wondered much the same thing, repeatedly. And the answer seems to be because this is how it has to be to create the environment the author wants. The staff can’t be unambiguous monsters since that would turn it into an us vs. them situation, but at the same time the staff also can’t act responsibly because then we wouldn’t have the dystopia it was intended to be. Thus we get a middle ground where the people in authority spout justifications and show sympathetic characterization, but don’t actually do anything to fix the massive abuses being made of the system they set up.

          And as to the “you can always talk to your mentor” statement, no they really can’t. The first thing an abusive Keeper is going to order their Kept, is don’t tell anyone what I do to you. The Mentor bond could probably be used to override the Orders, since the Mentor bond is real and the Keeping bond is only faked, but that requires that the staff be proactive, which excepting what Mike did for Akaterina (way later then he should have) they never have.

          There are a bunch of ways that the system could easily be fixed, from as complicated as redesigning the mind control wards, to as simple as a school wide announcement stating exactly what is considered not allowed and setting some extreme punishments for anyone who does them, and everything in between. But again, that would defeat the dystopian setting.

          There are many aspects of this story and setting that don’t really hold up to a lot of scrutiny without a ton more explanation then we’ve gotten. For my own suspension of disbelief I have to believe that not only the kids, but most of the parents as well have to be under mind control of some sort. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. The staff could also be argued to be under mind control as well, but I’m not sympathetic enough towards them to buy that, I tend to favor that they’re all monsters and any sympathetic characterization they get is just them putting on moral airs to sooth their guilty consciences.

          • lightdefender says:

            I think it might have been implied that a “don’t tell anyone” order from a Keeper doesn’t actually apply to the Kept’s Mentor. Unfortunately, it’s not stated strongly enough for all Kept to realize it (if it is in fact true) and it can’t be made explicit without revealing the nature of Keeping to those who don’t yet know.

            Grr. We can tear our hair out over the implications.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            I think the implication is Mentors can use their own bond to override the Kept Orders, but that has to come from the Mentor, it’s not something the Kept can up and decide to do on their own.

          • Wysteria says:

            I don’t see what’s so hard to believe about the staff being horrible people, or more usual people told by someone in authority to push the ‘electrocute people’ button. In addition, there’s the prison guard mentality issue – it both attracts unfortunate personalities and encourages teachers to think of students as either angry/acting out, weak/bringing it on themselves, or ‘good kids’ who wouldn’t do bad stuff.

            I dislike the setting as much as anyone, but I don’t think that can be brought back to the author at all. It’s an unpleasant setting with lots of evil. Some settings are unpleasant with lots of evil. A lot of those evil people think they’re the good guys and think they have their reasons. I think that’s far more realistic than people going ‘oh, I am totally a mustache twirling villain, now I shall practice my evil laugh.’

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with that post Wysteria. I’ve never been shy of saying I think all the staff are monsters, and hypocrites as well for pretending they care when they so obviously don’t. I’ll admit I had problems with the staff characterization at first, but I’ve come to grips with that and can now agree that the complex characterization makes them better characters (for certain definitions of better).

            I’m not blaming the author for anything, it’s an extremely well written story. But as the author, everything that happens is ultimately her responsibility. It’s only an unpleasant setting with lots of evil because she made it that way. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s only fiction after all.

            But you can’t argue that there’s many aspects of the setting and characterization that don’t make sense without a lot more explanation then we’ve been given. I’ll give a pass on the actions of the staff, but what about the parents? At first I just thought that they didn’t know what was going on in the school. But recent chapters have shown several facts to be true: a) parents recognize the word collar correctly, without a lot of context; b) parents show no surprise over the fact that their non-Adult children are being collared; c) always assume they were collared against their will; and d) show no surprise over their children being pregnant/fathers-to-be. You put these four facts together and it shows the parents knew their children were going to be enslaved, forcibly bred and very likely sexually assaulted. Four hundred’ish parents, who seem to love their kids, agreed to this? Why? I can’t see Regine telling them about the coming apocalypse. For a chance at immortality for their kids? Maybe, but there are other ways to go about that not requiring such harsh payment. I’m not saying there isn’t an explanation that makes this make sense, but we haven’t been given it yet. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the emotionally cathartic reactions are short-circuited: The Students should hate each other, why don’t they? Mind control. The Students should hate the staff, why don’t they? Mind control. The students should hate their parents, why don’t they? Mind control. That gets frustrating after awhile. Not to mention the lack of consequences. Why? Mind control.

          • Wysteria says:

            I’d argue that the lack of student-on-parent and student-on-mentor hate is a sign of a very effective brainwashing system, not particularly the mind control. The mind control blunts the edges and makes the students not panic – the teachers’ going ‘oh, we’re totally on your side, your parents know what’s going on, you can talk to us about anything, it’s the other /students/ you have to worry about’ – that’s what rubs it in.

            Gotta love unreliable narrators people lie to a lot.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            Good old fashioned brainwashing is definitely a part of it. That’s largely what makes one year’s victims the next year’s predators. But while the upperclassmen are the immediate threat, they’re only so because their victim’s parents sent them there, and the staff do nothing to stop them. It’s been made clear in-story that the Students all assume that the staff know exactly what’s going on and don’t care, that they may even actively want what’s happening to happen. Whether or not those facts are partially or totally true or not is beside the point, the Students believe it. So why wouldn’t they hate the staff? I know I would. And parents, they’re supposed to be the ones that love and protect them and instead they sent them there? I’d be hard pressed to think of a greater betrayal. I would certainly hate the upperclassmen as well, but my parents and Mentor and the other staff would get just as much or more if I was a Student there. Loyalty is far and away my most valued personality trait. If my parents knowingly betrayed me on that level that would be it for any positive relationship between them and me.

          • Wysteria says:

            Well – yes. The school is shown to consist of small packs of kids who band together for survival, trading with other packs and assuming the worst of them. Students will often get along well with their own mentor, but avoid the other teachers – assume the doctor is giving you fertility drugs and the psychiatrist will brain-bend you if you get too far out of line. The students don’t go home for the holidays much, and upperclassmen who go ‘screw my family anyway’ have been shown.

            I guess I’m confused because you’re describing the story as written. o_o

            I’d react terribly to Addergoole too, but most of these kids are not me. They react more or less terribly depending on their individual situations.

          • lightdefender says:

            Whew, lots of discussion since I checked this last night. I’m not going to address every point, but try to give more general thoughts.

            I find the “everyone’s a monster” explanation to be . . . unsatisfying. As Wysteria said, even evil people tend to believe they’re doing good and have their reasons. I want to know what those reasons are.

            It’s been established that the staff did not expect the level of abuse that has occurred. There’s even a bonus story in which Regine admits she was wrong and says she’ll do something about it. That was at the end of year four.

            But . . . she doesn’t seem to? Okay, I can accept that possibly being passed off as an isolated incident.

            By the next year, it’s pretty clear that such incidents are not isolated. Still little is done.

            I could even accept that instead of changing the system so it can’t be abused as easily they want to teach the students not to abuse the system, since the true Law is also prone to abuse. (Though as I pointed out above, there’s one safeguard in the real world that is deliberately lacking in Addergoole, namely that those subject to the Law are supposed to know what it is before becoming subject to it.)

            But they don’t seem to be doing that either? Okay, to be fair, Luke does. It’s been referenced a couple places that none of the worst abusers are cy’Luca.

            So we have two apparently contradictory facts. (1) Based upon what little we’ve seen from their perspective, (most of) the teachers don’t appear to approve of the sort of abuses that have been occurring. (2) Little has been done to curb those abuses. There has to be a reason, and I’m just not seeing it.

  7. Kuro_Neko says:

    @Wysteria:
    It’s just the reactions seem very understated compared to the actions. Mind control again I guess. But either way it’s just unsatisfying.

    Though I would like to see motivations behind how so many supposedly loving parents can agree to basically sell their children into sex slavery, cause that’s kinda hard to swallow. That thirty’ish staff members can be carefully picked for their moral bankruptcy I could buy, even two hundred and twenty-five parents could be found with the same moral bankruptcy. But most of those two hundred and twenty-five married other people bringing the total up to four hundred’ish. Even then I suppose I could buy that they’re all morally bankrupt, but every glimpse we get of them and every second-hand account we get from students seems to indicate that they’ve been loving parents right up to the moment they sent their children to that hellhole. I can’t buy that all four hundred are that good actors for that long. That indicates that they’re probably not all or even mostly all morally bankrupt, so how could they possibly agree to this? I have similar problems when we see second gen future stories. At least at that point the oath is already in place, so the first gen students have less choice, and there’s the brainwashing to consider. But there’s always some choice. Just sitting here for a couple of minutes I thought up several plans of various levels of extremity that I would undertake rather then be forced to send a child I love to that hellhole. Some of them result in the deaths of a rather large number of innocents, virtually all would result in my death if I failed, and a few even if I succeeded, but any child I raised would never forgive me if I just did nothing and let that damn oath force me to send them to that hellhole, so I might as well die trying. Ask any parent worth the title if they’d give their life to spare their child a year of being some monster’s sex slave and the answer will be a universal yes.

    @lightdefender:
    It’s very true that everyone’s the hero of their own story, even villains, even some monsters. I’ve noticed your contradictory facts as well. The only explanation I’ve been able to come up with so far, is that fact one is just them playing lip service to morality but that they don’t really care enough to actually act. I’m sure they have some self-justifying reasonings for why they’re not acting, the apocalypse for those that know about it (I’m not sure if the whole staff knows or not, Mike and Luke certainly do though), a self-delusion that what little they do do isn’t worth risking pissing off Regine and being sent away (that one has actually been outright stated in one of the year five stories) and probably a few others. All bullshit of course. If they actually believed in the morals they spout then they’d act regardless of the consequences (like Kairos, as misguided and poorly planned as her actions where), they wouldn’t be able to not. But of course they don’t.

    • Wysteria says:

      My impression is that the sequence getting the parents to sign the correct forms goes something like this: lie/seduce/daeva them into thinking it is a good idea; tell them the truth if lying wouldn’t work; mind-bend them into agreement if telling them the truth doesn’t work, then make them forget the mind-bending. Use a precog to find problem parents who will try suicide missions and turn up at their door with cookies and threats if necessary. Once the kids are old enough for school, lie to the step-parents about what the school is. Prevent the kids from being honest with their parents by a combination of ruining their trust in their parents (they already know, they agreed) and geas.

      I’m using the bleak scenario, but I don’t think I’m being unfair. This is the basic fae handbook for controlling anyone, it’s the way they handle the students and how the upperclassmen handle the lowerclassmen. Lie. Tell the truth if you’re forced, then hold it out as proof that you should be trusted because you /confided/ the truth. Then erase the memory of those you gave too much truth (Ambrus).

      Why does it always go back to the mind control? I suppose because Regine’s main power is the Grigori mind bending. People’s heads aren’t private places to her. If she wants something – if she thinks something Must Be Done For the Good of the (species/world/future of humanity/whatever) – then she can walk in and you have less doubts. Or have Mike do it. Or Ambrus.

      I suppose it comes back to why anyone stays in an abusive situation. They feel they can’t escape. They feel they don’t have power in that situation. They feel like they can’t fight their oppressor, who is probably right anyway and they are just being unreasonable.

      My citations: I do believe parents who didn’t sign up originally (step-parents) are not brought into the loop. They’re told it’s a special school for bright kids/troubled kids/whatever. That’s your 200. The parents who sign up originally are either fae, and consider this a step up from culturally-sanctioned halfblood culling – their kids can get a good education from pureblood teachers, maybe a better magical education than they ever got, with maybe less ingrained prejudice in the education – or they’re faded, which means they get the ‘we want to hire you as a surrogate, would you like to raise the kid or would you like it to go to a foster family?’ talk. Foster families get as little information as step families, I think, though I don’t have a citation there.

      By the second generation, and I don’t think this is spoilers, Addergoole is a haven of electricity and food in a broken world. It will teach you magic and the Law, which will protect you from humans who want to string you up for causing the apocalypse. (And you don’t have a choice anyway, so you might as well justify it to yourself.) I don’t know what Addergoole second-generation parents might have done if the apocalypse hadn’t happened, but the school was planned knowing the apocalypse was coming, so that’s not really an issue. “What do we do when the second generation becomes grumpy?” asked no one, because the answer was, “They’ll be busy trying to survive the apocalypse.”

      Anyway, that’s my long ramble.

      • Kuro_Neko says:

        That’s a good reasonable collection of theories. It’d be nice to see some conformation in-story, but Lyn has never been taken with excessive world-building so we may never. One thing though. Ellehemaei seem to have an almost sacred belief in the bonds of family. And yet everything they’re doing, if your theories are correct, will destroy the Students’ families, not only in the present, but down through the generations. What’s the point? Warm bodies? Cause that’s all they’re getting out of it. Certainly nothing resembling a society. They’ve destroyed the Students’ trust far too thoroughly for any kind of society among them to ever exist. Society of any kind has certain fundamental requirements for it to exist. I’m not talking laws, or politics or even morals; Deeper then that. Those requirements are basically: Is the next person I meet less likely to lie to me then tell the truth; less likely to murder me then not; less likely to steal from me then not; less likely to enslave me then not. If the answer to any of those four questions is no then society can’t exist. And when it comes to the Ellehemaei, at least as represented by Addergoole, the answer to all of them, excepting possibly murder, is no.

        Re: step-parents
        How exactly do they accept their kids all coming back parents? Sure teen pregnancy happens, but not on such a scale, and when it happens parents are notified and consulted. I don’t think any step-parent/foster parents could be bluffed past the initial enrollment, certainly not those of female students. This has got to ruin a lot of marriages, just as many as it ruins relationships between kids and their parents. As you mentioned in a previous post, a lot of students don’t go home for the holidays or outright say screw their parents. I personally think the number should be much, much higher. Æowyn, in the very chapter we’re posting in, seems to be perfectly ok with her mother, despite her mother as much as outright saying she knew all about Addergoole then sent Æowyn there anyway.

        In particular the second-gen parent theory holds water quite well. But the apocalypse isn’t forever. In the future stories we see that the world is recovering as early as thirty years after the the kick-off. Once all the bush fires have been put out, Regine is going to be left with a lot of combat hardened and experienced former students with axes to grind. Shahin’s war-band alone outnumbers the staff of Addergoole, and with the exception of Luke, Doug and maybe two or three others has more combat experience. There are indications in several of the future stories that there are actual organized plots in motion against Regine as well. At the thirty year mark, if even half the total Addergoole grads teamed up, they’d outnumber the entire population of the school (excluding the village) by a considerable margin. Has Regine and the other staff members put any thought into future retribution? Or are they just that arrogant? I suppose the easiest way to stop that would be to put some sort of condition in the grad oath, stopping grads from attacking the school. Be even that won’t save them, it would just make it more complicated to pull off. There are Ellehemaei out there not bound to Regine’s oaths that could be recruited, and then there’s humans. Despite all the mind control and all the oaths, this system isn’t sustainable. It has to collapse eventually, and when it does it’s going to be bloody. Regine is supposed to be so intelligent, how has she not thought of this? Arrogance?

        • Wysteria says:

          Fae society is designed to blend into human society, not form separate enclaves. Most people these fae meet will be human. Not sure about the rest of the social theory, I’ll have to think about that.

          Funny thing about Ellehemaei and sacred beliefs – their relationships to their religion and their gods seems super screwed up, to me. They use their gods as swearwords, they don’t pray to them. The Law is the Law, it isn’t necessarily good or just or anyone’s modern idea of what’s a nice plan, it’s just kinda like fae gravity – it sucks but try not to fall off the cliff. So saying a belief is sacred doesn’t necessarily mean they like it. It might mean they have a love/hate relationship with it.

          If Lyn decides to write the fall of Addergoole, I won’t be surprised, but if she wants to write something else, I’ll completely understand. I have a nice headcanon fall of Addergoole of my own to keep me warm and cozy. >.>

        • Wysteria says:

          PS. And the thought I actually meant to post first and then forgot: It’s entirely possible Regine forsees this leading to her death and the death of most of her friends, but sees it as a necessary sacrifice for the greater good. Regine is all /about/ the necessary sacrifice for the greater good. Kamikaze in slow motion is kinda her style, now I think about it.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            Hmm… I hadn’t really thought about that. Regine always struck me as believing in sacrifice for the greater good only when it’s not her doing the sacrificing. But I suppose your theory could be correct. If it is, I wonder if the rest of the staff is on board with that. Somehow I think not.

          • Wysteria says:

            I thought that too, about Regine, but then found she’d carried at least one child for the program (Agatha) and decided that she was a little more personally invested in it than I’d previously thought.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            Considering how cold Regine is, I’m not sure she’d really classify that as much of a personal sacrifice. She may not have even actually carried Agatha to term herself, just provided the egg. She certainly didn’t do any mothering, or she’d have noticed that Agatha was a monster.

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