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The Finer Points of Jadon's Proposal

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“It is true that Lisandro will most likely target our more gifted youth to conscript to his army,” Qasim said slowly. He was a senior member of the council, outranked only by the two leaders and by Renatus. “That would be to his liking – leading gifted, talented, impressionable puppets. They should know how to defend themselves. Unstable times lie ahead of us.”

“I’m not sure I like this idea of forming a White Elm task force of children,” Susannah said, frowning.

“Young adults, Susannah,” Glen corrected, looking considerate. “It is, after all, very difficult to train older sorcerers new magic. Older sorcerers are also more likely to hold grudges against this council for past mistakes, and hence less likely to follow instructions from us. We must focus on the youth. Sixteen-to-twenty-year-olds, I think. They will be of age, but younger than our youngest members.”

“I won’t support anything where children – young adults – could become endangered,” Susannah said firmly.

“These young adults would be safe,” Glen consoled her. “They would be instructed, supervised and supported by us. Nobody here would allow a minor to be put in immediate danger.”

Susannah still looked unconvinced but now said nothing.

“What will these students need to learn?” Aubrey asked, subconsciously running his fingers through his shiny hair. 

“Magical defence, divination arts, rudimentary magic for any non-witch students,” Anouk said, counting the topics off on her fingers as she read from Jadon’s proposal, which had just been passed to her. “Advanced magics such as Displacement, healing and scrying, eventually.”

"Not necessarily eventually," Qasim countered, "if they're able. There could be natural Healers, Displacers and Crafters among them. Scriers. People who shouldn't be held back by a curriculum designed for the slowest student."

“Understandable,” Lady Miranda said, nodding. “That answers ‘who’ and ‘what’, but I still need to know ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how do we keep this away from mortal eyes’?”

“As for when, we know it must be done soon,” Elijah said.

“Within the year, we must act,” Qasim added. “Lisandro has been quiet for so long – he’s patient and clever but he won’t force us to wait much longer.”

“And when this happens, how do we hide it from the mortal public?” Lady Miranda asked. She adjusted the way she was sitting and rubbed her eyes as she continued, tiredly. “And our own public, for that matter? They need to be safe while we are educating their children.”

“Lisandro despises mortals, but I don’t think he will not allow them to become involved,” Lord Gawain answered before anyone else could think of a response. “He would much prefer to avoid them altogether. Their ignorance annoys him too much. He would not be able to stand mortals investigating him.”

Emmanuelle added, “I believe we must be on our guard to defend the mortals if the need arises, but I do not expect that their existence even factors into his plans. Lisandro’s plan is for us, and our people. There will be no visible battles for the mortal public to see, anyway. We will not let this reach that point. This will be a war of deception and secrecy; at both we know Lisandro is a master.” She turned her gaze to the rain outside, and they knew she was thinking about Peter. “This has already become a disastrous political problem; none of us want an open conflict.”