Grus ex Bjornaer stood at the lectern in her sancta, her lanky form hunched over a set of papers pinned to the top. She had just turned to make a notation on the tablet when she heard a loud pounding on her door. She lifted her eyes heavenward and ran a hand through her red hair as she sighed deeply.
“Come in, Cygna,” she called out.
Her former apprentice opened the door and slammed it behind her, waving a parchment in her hand. “I've just received a letter from the Provençal Tribunal!”
Grus couldn't tell if Cygna was angry or excited about having received the letter...but having known the newly-gauntleted maga practically her whole life, she was leaning toward the former. “Indeed. I take it that it's good?”
“They want me to explore and re-establish a covenant that's fallen into Winter, see if any of the magi there still live, and keep it from being claimed by the Normandy tribunal!” Cygna tossed the letter onto a table, within arm's reach of her mater. “You wouldn't happen to know anything about this invitation, would you?”
Grus smiled almost to herself. “It's possible that word may have gotten out that we have a new maga that may be interested in becoming established in another covenant. Provençal may have gotten wind and thought that you may be particularly suited for that particular endeavor. And,” Grus held up a hand to forestall Cygna's objection. “And I would be inclined to agree with them.”
“But, I was to continue my residence here at Riversedge, continue my studies and...”
“Were you?” Grus interrupted. “Or had you simply assumed that? Or believed that, because that was what you thought you wished, that it would be so?”
“Look about you, my child. Look at the other magi of the Council here. Of all the magi here, only I was even gauntleted in Stonehenge. We come from all over the Order, from Novgorod and Rome, and Hibernia and...Transylvania.”
“But Riversedge is the only home that I've ever known!” Cygna said. “How can you expect me to just pull up roots and move to a new covenant where I know nobody, where I have no friends or family?”
“Cygna, if you are being asked to re-establish a Winter covenant, I sincerely doubt that you will be the only one there who has been uprooted. It will be good for you. And I think you will find that being in a place where you did not grow up will be good for you, that you will be able to grow faster than you would here, where you won't always be Vucar's niece, or Alexander and Ilyana's little girl.”
“You think I should go, then.”
“I think you should think about it. You are a maga of the Order of Hermes, now, and free to make your own decision regarding your future. And yet, you are still but a probationary member of the Covenant of Riversedge, with no guarantee that you will be permitted to stay beyond that time.
“I am not making a threat, my child,” Grus said when she saw the look on Cygna's face. “I am simply remind you that it is foolish to make assumptions, particularly where others are concerned. You do not have to go to Provençal if you do not wish to. I only ask that you do not decide rashly. Think about it, pray about it if you will, and let them and us know what your decision will be. The redcap will only be here another couple of days, but I'm certain that we can locate him if we need to get a letter to him after he is gone.
“Now, if you would be so kind as to show yourself out, I really must return to my studies while there is still light.”
Three nights later, Cygna sat next to Grus at the High Table during dinner. Grus looked up at her filia in surprise. “Not eating dinner with your family tonight, Cygna?”
“I will be, shortly. I just wanted to ask to address the Council at their next meeting, and as a probationary member, I must go through a full member.”
“I see.” Grus paused to take a sip of her wine. “May I ask the topic of your discussion?”
“I have sent a letter to Provençal Tribunal, informing them that I will accept their invitation in regards to the Phoenix Covenant. I am to be at a church in Narbonne by the end of January, which means that I should leave no later than year's-end if I am to have any hope of making it in time. I would prefer to leave before Christmas.”
“That only gives you a few weeks to prepare, Cygna. Do you think you will be ready?”
“I will have to be ready, won't I, mater? Luckily I don't have much in the way of my own belongings to take, so perhaps I will be able to pass as a pilgrim.”
Grus said nothing with regards to her filia's plan, or lack thereof. “I do believe that you have made the right decision, Cygna. And I believe the others will agree that you will take our best wishes with you, and hope that you keep in contact with us.”
Cygna simply nodded and asked her mater's leave to dine with her family as was her custom, then left the Great Hall briskly, for what would be one of the last times.