tagNonHumanWit'cha Ch. 02

Wit'cha Ch. 02


1798, Somewhere North of London

“I need your help.”

Morgana stopped halfway to her chair and stared. Last night still lingered in the foremost region of her brain but she hadn’t expected much to have changed in the day-to-day way Aidan dealt with her. To say he had dealt with her as little as possible was a gross understatement. Before this morning they had never breakfasted together, in fact never shared a meal. When he was home he closeted himself in his study with his steward or other business associates and never gave his direction before he left. The only time he spoke with her was when she begged for his attention and then their meetings were kept curt.

After last night she had expected a certain amount of consideration, if not respect. In the moments before he’d left her Aidan had noticeably thawed but that didn’t change the fact that in his life no one represented Wit’cha more than Morgana. Aidan had refused to restock his estates with servants trained in Wit’cha upon learning of his heritage, even going so far as to distance himself from his family, which left Morgana as the only one available on whom he could unleash his anger. Only Aidan’s anger wasn’t hot rage, it was icy distain.

Morgana wondered if Aidan would ever understand how hard it had been for her to bear his distance this past year. But if he was to understand he would first need to learn about the bond between a donia and her warlock. It was just one of the things she hoped to teach him.

A donia bonded with her warlock upon their first joining but it was a tenuous bond, at best. They were linked in such a way that she could sense Aidan and he her, but only when in close proximity to one another. But as time went by, and a warlock used his donia more and more, that bond grew. The bond became something more, something hard to explain. The sense they had of each other would grow stronger, more sensitive until they were able to understand how each other was feeling, no matter the distance between them. If one of them hurt, physically or emotionally, the other would know; thoughts would be transmitted and a kind of communication could take place.

But none of that was possible if a warlock kept his donia at a distance.

For a donia, for Morgana, that connection was as necessary to her as breathing. Oh, she wouldn’t die without it, but neither would she truly live. And having lived without it this past year, always knowing that the potential for it was there, had hurt her more than anything Aidan could understand.

So, with that in mind, she wasn’t about to deny him anything. Taking her seat, she asked, “What can I do?”

Aidan sat at the head of the table, his breakfast untouched except for his coffee and an unfolded newspaper at his elbow. Morgana sat halfway down the table to his left. The morning room was situated at the back of the house overlooking the gardens and was considered informal when compared to the dining room. However, the table still sat eighteen and there was considerable distance between them. Upon entering the room that morning, Morgana had considered seating herself directly across the table. There was nothing inappropriate about it, as the highest ranking female in the room it was her right. Only, one day that place would be occupied by Aidan’s wife and Morgana never wanted to feel displaced. So instead she decided to establish herself somewhere in between, in a place that once her’s no one would be able to usurp.

Aidan made no comment, not that he didn’t notice. He understood the implications, had she sat across from him it would have implied something more of their relationship, an expectation of recognition later on. The places to his immediate left or right were reserved for the highest ranking nobles, when none were present or the affair was informal those most trusted or closest to him would take those places. Clearly Morgana had the potential to one day take her place next to him as a member of the latter category, but not yet.

“The members of Wit’cha meet in five days, I would like you to accompany me.”

Carefully, Morgana set down her fork, took a sip of her coffee and dabbed at the corners of her mouth with her napkin before replying. Wit’cha was made of up the five families in England to which a warlock had been born. There were other such families and organizations around the world but only those in England went by the name Wit’cha. It was an uneasy alliance between the families, born out of necessity to protect both themselves and their territories from outside invasion. Warlocks were powerful men and with such power often times came ambition. Ambition could lead to destruction, or worse, discovery. Wit’cha met annually to coordinate or when there was a problem, from within or without.

As Aidan’s donia it was Morgana’s right and responsibility to accompany him, to watch and listen and advise based on what she saw. Aidan had already attended this year’s annual meeting, alone, as well as an emergency meeting called when a warlock in France was assassinated. Both times Aidan had outright refused to allow Morgana to accompany him, no matter how she had begged and pleaded. Morgana had been humiliated. What’s worse, Aidan didn’t understand that attending alone indicated discord and was a sign of weakness. It had pained her to let him go but there was nothing she could do.

To be asked now was an indication that Aidan was ready to accept her presence and her counsel. There was nothing left but to accept. “Of course, to what purpose has the counsel been called?”

“To elect a new Man’urn.”

Morgana nearly dropped her coffee. “Tobias is stepping down?”

Aidan shook his head, not in answer to her question but at himself. Why had he resisted so long? Everything Morgana had done up to this point, from dealing with him to which chair she chose, indicated a strong, intelligent mind, one she was more than ready to use to his benefit. Her acceptance of him and what he was was, and always had been, unconditional. To that she brought the same level of dedication as she did her own role and responsibility. And he knew, despite her thoughts otherwise, that as his donia she would forever be loyal, never giving him a moment’s doubt. Even now, after he had shut her out completely for more than a year she willingly stepped up to his side, ready to do whatever was necessary. There was no emotion from her, no tears or accusations about the way he had treated her. No punishment of withholding favors. She simply accepted what he had done and moved on.

The reason why hit him like a sword between the eyes. She had no choice. Morgana was his, she belonged to him the same way this house was his to do with as he saw fit. She was a person and she was property and that along with everything else had bothered him. At first it had been what she represented, everything he’d lost in his life upon learning what he was. But after a time he’d come to accept it but the feelings of resentment never went away. Every time he saw her Aidan felt a ball of ice form in his gut, something uncomfortable twisting inside until he would do anything to avoid that feeling, including shutting her out.

Oh, he’d know how much it hurt her. His father, upon presenting him with Morgana, had explained the relationship between a warlock and a donia, never coming right out and saying what one really was. She was a slave.

The thought of owning another person, of using her to take care of his needs, was repulsive. But at the same time Aidan knew it was necessary, knew it every time he went to her. But it wasn’t until last night, when he’d unleashed on her, that Aidan realized that Morgana was something more. He still didn’t understand what went on in the Mountain or the training she received. But he understood that she’d made a choice, and in choosing what she was retained her power. Surprised that it had taken him so long to understand, Aidan pushed the thought to the back of his mind and tried to concentrate on the business at hand. “I don’t know if Tobias is stepping down or if he’s been ousted, we won’t know until we get there.”

“Do you know who might replace him?” Morgana frowned, already she knew that there was no way to know. All five families, including Tobias’ would want to see one of their own raised to Man’urn. It was a position of power, if a difficult one. The Man’urn led the five families and acted as ambassador but his biggest responsibility was to monitor the business of Wit’cha. It was a complex web of business and politics, one that could get violent.

Aidan shook his head, “I don’t know, but I feel sorry for the poor bastard.”

Morgana gave a small smile and allowed Aidan to help her to her feet. Together they walked to his study where a warm fire blazed in the hearth. Aidan took his place behind his desk while Morgana arranged herself across from him. She gave a small start to see her writing table as well as her basket of knitting on the floor beside her chair.

Aidan followed her eyes and gave an embarrassed smile. “I thought you might like to work in here today…with me.”

Morgana picked up the portable table and placed in on her lap. “I’d like that,” she didn’t know what else to say. “If you don’t mind, I thought I might write a few letters, see if I can’t get a better idea of what to expect at this meeting.”

Aidan frowned, “Who do you know that you can write?”

Morgana flushed, “I’d rather not say,” she rushed on, “It isn’t that I don’t trust you, it’s just that…well…” Morgana bit her lower lip.

Aidan was intrigued. He’d never seen Morgana flustered, and that’s what she was, not even when he’d reduced her to begging. “What?”

“Well, there are many ways for a donia to look out for and protect her warlock.” Aidan had never thought of her as doing that. “And information can be useful. Most of us have a network of people we trust, in various places, who pass on information. Most of it is rumor or gossip but if I’m careful, and I always am when it comes to you, then I can sort out fact from fiction, at least enough to get a good idea about what’s going on.”

Speechless, Aidan simply stared until Morgana began to fidget. “You think to protect me?” He asked.

Whatever she’d been expecting that wasn’t it. Morgana frowned, “Of course! It’s what I do, I may not be able to take up arms and protect you or even Spin the elements strong enough on my own against most warlocks, but I can make sure you have everything you need before walking into any situation.” Looking slightly offended, Morgana sat up straight. “And, in case you don’t know, I can do the same for you in business matters. I was trained in both.”

Both being human and warlock matters, each had to be approached differently. “I’m sorry, I meant no offense. It’s just that…” Aidan ran a hand through his hair and wondered where to go from there. “I just thought that it was my job to protect you.”

Morgana threw her head back and laughed, the soft, sultry sound surprising Aidan. “Oh, my.” Morgana put and hand to her breast, drawing Aidan’s eye to her more than ample bosom, and sighed. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed.” Catching her breath, Morgana looked at him and suddenly grew serious. “Our relationship is fluid, it has to be for us to survive everything we’ll go through and all the changes that will come. Taking care of each other is only a part of that.”

Aidan smiled ruefully, “I’m glad you’re amused.” Turning serious himself, he said, “It seems that there is a lot for me to learn, I shouldn’t have shut you out before.”

Morgana shook her head. “There is no ‘shouldn’t’ with us. What happened, happened and brought us to this point. Perhaps it will prove to be useful later on, though I don’t see how.”

Aidan left it at that, he’d apologized and she’d accepted, there was nothing left but to move on. “Well, write to whom ever you see fit and find out as much as you can, I’m sure whatever you learn will be useful. I’ll trust your judgment.”

Morgana felt pride at hearing those words, it was about time, and set down to her writing. When she finished she conjured a small box inlaid with jade and sent her correspondences, each with a different weave.

Within the next twenty-four hours she’d received responses to all her letters. Morgana had sent four letters and received four responses. Her absence at the previous two meetings prevented her from writing directly to the donia of the four other Wit’cha families. There was a hierarchy of the donia and while she was one of the strongest when it came to Spinning it wasn’t the only criteria used in determining rank.

Each donia had a staff of her own, except Morgana, usually consisting of an assistant, a lady’s maid, and a Guard. Aidan had forbidden Morgana her a staff and she’d been forced to leave them behind. Ancient donia law demanded it but she hadn’t wanted to press the issue, until now.

Morgana had written to all four donia’s assistants and the prompt response was encouraging. While they didn’t respond in their own writing, the quick response recognized that Morgana was nearly an equal, her presence at the next meeting a mere formality in making it so.

None of the letters spoke directly to the issue or of confidences shared with their warlocks. However, every single one of them spoke of a “flurry of activity,” “days spent in preparation,” “multiple trips abroad,” and “underlying excitement.” All of which amount to something big in the works. The fact that all four families were involved meant that no single one stood out, it was encouraging as well as frustrating.

But the donia weren’t her only source of information. A favored student while at the Mountain, Morgana kept in close contact with her former teachers and mentors, auspiciously to ask their help in dealing with Aidan. There was no keeping secrets from the Mountain yet everyone expected her to put her best face on her troubles. Being straight forward was a preemptive move, one that surprised most people, usually into revealing more than they would have otherwise.

But this time the Mountain was silent. Oh, she received responses to her inquiries, only nothing useful. Most of her teachers acknowledged the upcoming meeting but none of them offered any speculation. It wasn’t unusual, the Mountain involved itself when and where it wanted to. Silence on this issue indicated that they weren’t ready to become involved but eventually the Mountain would have to come out in support of someone for the position of Man’urn.

Man’urn wasn’t an elected position, it was a position achieved with strength. Strength in Wit’cha was a measure of a warlock’s power and his ability to Spin the elements as well as the kind of support he could line up behind him. There were two large entities within Wit’cha that a warlock needed behind him if he wished to stand as Man’urn. One was the Mountain, an organization of female witches who have dedicated their lives to teaching others. All women had ties to the Mountain whether she studied there as a witch or as a donia. But anyone thinking them simple educators was seriously mistaken. They were more, much, much more. Under the guise of guiding the women once in their care, the Mountain observed and counseled, often times to their benefit.

The second most powerful group in Wit’cha were the Watchers. Men and women charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the rest of the world didn’t find out about Wit’cha. They watched and recorded Wit’cha’s history but they also influenced it. A warlock with either organization firmly behind him stood a good chance of success. A warlock with both could claim Man’urn.

In between getting ready for their departure Morgana passed on the information, apologizing that she couldn’t be more helpful.

“Don’t worry about it.” Morgana sat before the hearth in Aidan’s sitting room while his man Morris finished tying his cravat. “It is actually quiet helpful. Activity with the other four families and silence from both the Mountain and the Watchers tells me that no one warlock has gained favor.”

“If you had to who would you chose?” Morgana couldn’t help but admire the picture Aidan made with his fawn colored breeches, simple white shirt and black coat. She herself was also clothed in a simple day dress, one that hugged her torso gently before falling away at the hips. The bodice was conservative yet it still drew Aidan’s eyes when she entered.

Aidan frowned at Morris’ finished product but let it be. “I can’t say, I haven’t been a member long enough to know. My father taught me as much as he could but never having been very strong in Spinning he never sat at Wit’cha. It’s just another reason why he shouldn’t have kept my heritage from me.”

“He thought he was protecting you.”

Aidan sighed. He’d avoided his father, and the rest of his family as much as possible this past year. Unfortunately, there had been no way to cut them out completely, not that he really wanted to. There was just so much hurt and anger there, so many years spent afraid of what he was and never understanding why he was kept sequestered from the rest of his family. Since learning about what he was, his father had tried to tell him that it had been for Aidan’s sake, a chance for him to have a normal life, that he’d been kept away. But he could never forget that as a boy he had so often thought that it was the family his father was protecting. “I know but he put me and the entire family in a position of weakness. I’m the strongest warlock alive today, and maybe in all of history, yet I don’t understand the basic working of the five families, not even in my own.”

Morgana heard the hurt in his voice and felt for him. “I can help you with some of that. It would have been better if I could have tutored you before the annual meeting this year but…”

“I know and I’m sorry.” Aidan paced in front of the fireplace.

“No need to apologize, that isn’t what I’m after. But the truth of the matter is I could have helped you to at least appear more knowledgeable then you were.” Morgana smoothed her skirts. “You know that appearances are everything and showing up at your first meeting of Wit’cha without me and a full retainer was a sign of weakness. It means that this time we have to make sure they know that despite the…deficiencies in your background you are still the strongest among them. I wonder?” Morgana tilted her head sideways staring off at something unseen.

Aidan stopped pacing and waited, when she didn’t continue he demanded, “What?”

Morgana gave a start. “Oh, what? I’m sorry, I was thinking about something but there’s little chance in that.”

“Dammit! Will you tell me what it was?” Aidan didn’t mean to snap but his patience was wearing thin.

Morgana waved it away with her hand. “Never mind, it was nothing important. What was I saying? Oh, yes, appearances. Everything must be perfect and there are a few things we need to do. First, you entire staff must be Wit’cha trained. I’ve already spoken with the Mistress of the Mountain and requested they be sent over, they arrive this afternoon.”

“And what about my current staff?” Aidan was more than a bit put out. He understood that it was necessary but he didn’t much care for Morgana going about it without talking to him first.

“I’ve found positions for them all; some of them will be going to your other estates while the rest are moving on to serve other families.”

Aidan felt the first stirrings of Spinning. “I’ve had those servants since I was a boy!”

Morgana stood and met his growing anger easily. Already aware of what could happen she started Spinning the combination of Air and Spirit that would protect her and help her to deal with Aidan’s anger. “Yes, I know but you can’t keep ignoring what you are. I’ve also arranged for several instructors to visit, when we return they will begin your lessons, you couldn’t very well expect those servants you grew up with to remain here once they learned what you are. The training will be difficult and you have to have Wit’cha trained servants here to help.”

Report Story

byGojenngo© 1 comments/ 24672 views/ 0 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

2 Pages:12

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar: