Born March 3rd 1986 (30yrs old)
Current Story line date 2016
NOTE: Words in parentheses are placeholders for specific langue words that still needs to be crafted.
"Testing is complete, Elders." Mariska words were succinct and her tone clipped. The clipboard in her hand tilted down as her eyes turned to view the gathering of Elders who stood in her kitchen.
Three men and three women, whose ages ranged from early 40's to late 60's, were dressed in business casual, sipped at their glasses of red wine, and gazed at the nine initiates at Mariska's feet. The teenage initiates knelt, blindfolded and dressed in thin white robes, on the floor of Mariska's home at her feet. Their backs toward the Elders, they faced the fire place in her living room. All of them shifted uncomfortably and stirred the soft scent of freshly washed hair into the air. The soft lavender and mint smells tickled Mariska's nose. It took a wealth of willpower not to twitch or rub it, instead she brushed her long, straight, loose black hair behind her right ear with the pen she held. With a short jab she stuck the pen behind her ear and trapped the errant locks in place.
Mariska's wary gaze flicked from face to face, as she judged the individual Elders' reactions as she continued to speak.
"These nine have the right genetics. The Elder of our (healer caste) sent me the reports two nights ago. They Harmonize with the Songs of their family lines very well." Mariska noticed the Elders all seemed very please with this. Her own confidence in this selection of youths bloomed ever more. If the Elders were pleased, that would bring Clan Harmony. Harmony within the Clan brought better results during the Bonding.
"Although," she continued unabated, "Lynda's Song melds with several Choirs, and the spirits have an intense interest in her."
There it was, a subtle stirring. Three of the Elders, including Lynda's Great Aunt, looked concerned. The other three seemed shocked, as if they thought this young teen wouldn't amount to much. Lynda was sickly, and always seemed in poor health. It was a miracle she survived to puberty. Mariska raised her chin, tilted her head slightly sideways, and looked down her nose at the initiates. The clipboard lifted once more and she flipped through the pages attached under it's clip with deft fingers.
"Four of them know some of our ways." Even as the Elders murmured in discontent at this news, Mariska continued as if she heard nothing. Instead she filed away which of the voices were strongest and more angry.
"This is a breach of etiquette, of course, in keeping (the Silence). However," Mariska paused and looked for the owner of the one voice that spoke the loudest. She made sure their eyes met and held so her next point was understood. Elder or not, these nine held the most promise and she didn't want to see their families unnecessarily punished. If the initiates were able to Bond, those particular bloodlines needed to stay intact.
"It seems this was due to an innate and powerful curiosity on their part." Again she paused with her eyes still fixed in a locked stare with the Elder. With a faked a deep sigh to let that fact sink in, then looked back to her clipboard. "I do not recommend punishment for their families."
As much power as the Elders carried, Mariska was the Clan's current (spirit speaker) in this city. These teenagers were from this city's packs, and she knew the city's Song the best. Her words carried almost as much weight as theirs. Still, she maneuvered carefully as she could be replaced if she caused too much Disharmony by acting above her status.
"Instead," she continued, again as if she didn't hear the mutterings, "the children should be sent for formal training as spies. They carry a mark of (shadow and secrets) within their Songs."
More stirrings and muttered angry whispers.
"We have three hawks, a dog, a bear, and four wolf songs among these nine." The murmurs stilled in shocked surprise at Mariska's announcement.
"Are you sure?" Mariska looked up to identify the speaker. It was Madeline, Lynda's Great Aunt.
"Yes. Their Songs were clear and precise. I am pleased to say this batch were well bred." The compliment was purposefully timed, and the looks on the Elder's face was perfect. They preened, calmed and were now less agitated. It was due to the Elders efforts inf plotting the bloodline pairings that allowed this to happen. As much as she personally hated the match making process, and didn't want to bother with children of her own, she knew it would be her time soon enough. With current forays into the Sepirot, she wasn't the best candidate for matching. There was too much of a chance of an unborn child absorbing too much Flux. The demands of her position due to the current unrest within the (spirit wilds/Flux pathways/Flux) left her un-match-able. She was glad of it.
"I have one request, though. I would take Lynda on as my apprentice, if it would please the Elders."
The Elders all scowled. Mariska knew it was a stretch to even ask, but she sensed such potential in Lynda. Normally such assignments were not given until after the Bonding ritual. Sometimes bad things happened during the ritual and the Bond wasn't made. Worse, sometimes the initiate went (Wild).
"You're out of order Mariska'el." Dirk Reinhart narrowed his eyes as he spoke. "You know castes are not a given, until the moon waxes full. Only then are their signs known."
Mariska bowed towards the Elder, "Of Course, Elder. But while I waited for the genetic tests, the moon did wax full. Look out the window, then come and see their foreheads if you do not believe me."
All the Elders startled then, as Dirk spun towards her kitchen window and gazed out at the full moon. There was a rush, as all of the Elders quickly approached the initiates to look at their brows. Each of the initiates foreheads were marked by a softly glowing sigil. Around their necks hung a moonstone with an animal silhouette on it. Mariska walked around behind them, so the Elder could see unimpeded. As she then walked down the line of teenagers, Mariska gave voice to them given names.
"Duncan, John, Dimtru," Mariska named the three boys with hawks on their moonstones. They were marked as (warrior caste). With fair skin and a range of blond haired, they seemed light boned and rangy.
"Marilynn," was the next named. Her moonstone displayed a bear and her forehead sigil marked her as a guardian.
The next teen's moonstone showed the mark of the dog and no his forehead was the sigil for healer. Marisk smirked as she gave his name, "Shawn. He's an extra sneaky one."
Mariska then moved behind the last four youths whose moonstones were marked with wolves. She named each in turn, "Lynda, Faith, Justin, David." Lynda's forehead was marked with the sigil for (spirit-speaker caste). Faith and Justin both had the sigils for (warrior caste). David's sigil made the gathered Elders gasp. He held the (assassin caste) sigil, which was rare and not well received.
"David has already lived up to his caste. He tried to poison me yesterday while making lunch." Mariska said this with a wry grin as David chuckled. "He forgot the most important lesson of the (spirit speaker caste)'s abilities. I can hear the songs in things."
"But the sigils... they aren't supposed to show unless..." Madeline looked shocked, her eyes searched Mariska's face for answers. She was also (spirit speaker caste), but knew far more then Mariska did. Where the older Elders looked on in dismay and confusion, Madeline's face carried a deep worry.
"They aren't supposed to show until after the bonding, yes I know. However, as you can see they are showing." Mariska trailed off as Madeline's breath hitched.
"Heralds? Of what?" Madeline's question floated in the air unanswered. The other Elders were suddenly tense and stared at the elder (spirit speaker).
"I do not know, Elder. But, I do know I received word from three other cities. They have Heralds as well."
"What is this... Herald?" Dirk looked perplexed as he spoke.
Madeline turned towards the others and explained. Her words wavered as she spoke. "Heralds were the spirits way of warning the physical realm of something big. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. For example, Heralds were seen in Germany before the rise of Hitler. It was later discovered they were there to protect the bloodlines. Others were seen before the second coming of the Scions. Those Heralds were seen world-wide but not all of them were of age."
"What do you mean... not of age?" Dirk was more agitated now.
"What she means, Elder," Mariska interjected softly, "Is that during the second coming of the Scions, the spirits didn't have time to warn us properly. So they marked infants, unborn children, as well as new initiates."