Huisha cleared his throat and looked around nervously. The fifth of the advisors had not yet made an appearance but everyone else seemed to be getting antsy.
“I’ll begin, shall I?” he asked the group at large.
No one protested, so he went straight into his report.
“So far the school is going well in Lady Mor’s capable hooves. There seems to be plenty of interest, and sufficient instructors to make sure everyone is accommodated in their chosen area of study. It’s a bit too soon to say whether the classes themselves are a success or not, but I will update you on that in the next meeting.”
He looked around again, wondering if the healer was going to stroll in late for dramatic effect and interrupt him. Normally Huisha reserved judgement on other fawnlings until he got to know them better, but he didn’t really want to get to know Lord Fenton that well.
“I was hoping for more participation from the princesses… I think perhaps they’ve gotten the impression that lessons are only for fawns. I think we can all agree that light magic is an asset to the herd and we should try to build our magical resources- or at the very least explore them- as much as we can.”
He gave King Drustan a sidelong glance. He wasn’t sure if the business his king had asked him to look into regarding light magic was meant to be council business or simply a personal inquiry. Best to bring it up after the meeting had ended, perhaps.
“Otherwise; progress is being made and there are no significant problems in the area of magic to report. Or if there are significant problems, no one is reporting them to me.”
Huisha was silent, then looked expectantly around the circle for the next speaker. Aytan caught Scarlet’s gaze fleetingly, though when the doe glanced away immediately, Aytan realised it was being left to him to speak to the Council about the plan they had concocted.
“My fellow council-members…” he began hesitantly, stepping forwards slightly to better see everyone around him. “Since we last met, myself and Scarlet have spoken about a possible apprenticeship system within the Guard ranks. While this would attract more stags to defend our border, Scarlet rightfully mentioned that the Commoner stags might not be so willing to volunteer...” He paused to let the words sink in. “Therefore, I will call the Guards together and ask those who are willing to take on Apprentices to step forwards; and then I’ll call for volunteer trainees from the main herd, while the Guards will keep an eye out for those who did not volunteer and would make good Guards during their day-to-day jobs.”
“Obviously I - we - hope that it will be just as successful as Huisha and Lady Mor’s school, though the Guard would be glad for any new blood it can get, at the moment.” He cleared his throat and shook his head. “I hope you approve, Your Highness.”
With a small bow of his head he stepped back towards the tree wall, waiting for the next member to speak.
Lord Marrec nodded at what Huisha had said before looking around at everyone else, he was silently glad that the Healing Advisor Lord Fenton was nowhere to be seen as he knew the old stag got on everyone's nerves a lot especially after what he decided to bring to the attention of The Council at the last meeting.
The dark stag shook his head to himself.He then cleared his throat, his dark eyes surveying the council for a moment before seeing that Captain Aytan had finished talking about a new apprenticeship system, Lord Marrec nodded his approval before he stepped forward from his position on King Drustan's left hand side on the wall.
"My King and fellow Advisor's of The Council as advisor to the royals I would just like to say that it has been good to see the blossoming success of Lady Mor's and Magic Advisor Huisha's school as I know that many members of the herd has signed up to their classes they are offering myself being one.” He paused for a moment nodding once at Huisha before he turned his head back to the center "And I hope for the success of the new apprenticeship system..." the dark lord glanced momentarily over at Scarlet and Captain Aytan "However there is a matter that I have noticed....that of the princess doe's....I believe that they would like to be able to support the herd more by being able to nurture and help their light magic grow....I mean we all have needed the assistance of the light magic of the princess doe's in one way or another and maybe by doing this we can increase everybody's collaboration...." Lord Marrec said calmly looking momentarily at King Drustan and then at Huisha maybe it would be possible to discuss the matter with the Magic Advisor after the meeting?, Lord Marrec would have to wait and see, "I thank you for taking the time to listen to me and I hope this can be taken into consideration but other than that at the moment everything seems to be running as smoothly as it can with the royals and no major problems have currently been brought to my attention" the large dark lord finished then inclining his head to King Drustan and the other Advisor's before he resumed his place on the wall and waited for the next advisor to speak.
She had been in it for months now, yet it was still very strange to stand and be part of the council. Not only to stand there and be the voice of commoners, but also to stand there as the single doe. She would have expected a doe to have the place as of the healer, but apparently the fawnking had found it more wise to toss in some old, grumpy gut of a stag.
It only made the doe happy that the Lord hadn’t made an appearance this day.
Huisha was the first to talk. The school was going well and she had heard nothing else about it either. She had thought about finding a class herself, however she had let the idea pass. She knew what she needed and others most likely had more use of it than her. After all she wasn’t quite good at following the common ways of learning. As he finished she sent the old stag a smile; she held him dear in her heart after all.
Next up was Aytan, who presented the idea they had spoken about last time. It seemed an awful long time ago, but things had happened and she was somewhat satisfied. She had something to add though and things related to it, so when his words drew to a close, she prepared to stand up.
However her way was quickly blocked by the entrance of Lord Marrec.
Rocking her weight back, she fell back into the spot, on which she had stood the whole time. As the lord spoke, she gave a silent huff; had it had sound, it would’ve been clear to anyone that she did not agree with his action. Wouldn’t it have been natural for her voice to follow Aytan’s, when she had, after all, been part of the idea with the apprenticeship? Had she stepped forward just a second before, she would have pushed him aside, no doubt, but not she did nothing this time. He had after all stepped forward before she had perhaps because he had simply not seen her, or maybe he thought his words more important; either way she waited slightly impatiently.
When he did finish, the red doe did her respective nod more because she needed to rather than because she approved of his words. However she did not radiate her slight annoyance, but instead stepped forward with her usual confidence and friendliness… and perhaps just a touch of adult grace.
“Going back to what Aytan said, I wish to add that I will be assisting this effort in any way I can.” For a moment she looked at the large, red stag, checking for any signs of disagreement, but found none and thus moved on. “I’m happy to hear that things are going well all around,” she then said, looking around at the stags. They were such a diverse group if you thought about it.
“I sadly cannot only speak of good things, however I’ll tell those first; no more does have gone missing since our last meeting, at least none have been brought to my attention. I cannot say exactly why, but I believe the school and efforts of the Guard may be the reason behind it.” That was the good part… Clearing her throat lightly, she lifted her head just a tiny bit more; she need the confidence. No faltering, not now. “I sadly have to say that Blackwoods are not our only problems at current times. When I speak about ‘our’, I’m not speaking about every Glenmorian, nor just commoners; I’m speaking about every doe and hind within the kingdom. I believe you all remember the banishment of Alasdair and how he acted against Princess BóAnn. Perhaps some of you know that the king… defended… me earlier this Rut; he did so because a Lord lowered his rack at me, threatened me for denying him.” Letting her words settle, she glanced at the king for a moment, but gave him nothing more than that. “I will not claim that it is common practise for stags to be harsh on does, however I don’t believe we can dismiss it either or ignore it any longer. I will not ask for any action this Rut, as it is already going, however I ask that something has to be done before the next one comes around.” It wouldn’t surprise her if they did not understand or if they blatantly denied her idea. They were all stags after all… they couldn’t possibly fully understand it.
“I, we, ask for nothing more than a way, an official, standing law perhaps, that enables does to deny participating in Rut. Some does gets harassed into it, others threatened. Some simply have no choice…” Flicking her ears back a bit, her expression turned from confidence to something more asking. It wasn’t pleading, she was far above that, but it was sincerely asking for them to hear her words, to listen and think. “I would like for you all to consider it and please have the following in mind when you do: many of the does currently having fawns are not adults. Most are younger than even me and I can only barely call myself a doe.”
With that she simply stepped back, leaving the center open for debate.
At Scarlet’s words, Huisha felt himself stepping forward to speak again quite to his surprise.
“Lady Mor isn’t here today, nor is she an official councilor, but she has discussed similar concerns with me in private and I think they have some merit. A doe certainly is the best suited to decide if she is old enough or healthy enough to carry and properly nurture a fawn on any given year. Is it too much to ask that she be allowed to decide who may or may not be a suitable sire for that fawn as well? Perhaps she wishes the father to be a good noble role model for their son, or a gentle stag who will help her raise the fawn.”
Suddenly it occurred to Huisha that he may have rather overstepped his place. He was hardly qualified to speak on behalf of the does of the herd, after all, and he knew in the herd at large his particular progressive view probably wasn’t a popular one. He took a step back and bowed his head in silent apology for speaking out of turn.
The King stood pensively while his advisors spoke in turn, listening to each of their reports and nodding as he appreciated each point of progress. As the red doe was last to make her piece, the sable stag steeled himself for what was bound to be an opinionated speech, and he was not proved wrong. After Huisha had added his voice on the matter, Drustan stepped forward before any further debate could continue.
“A Glenmorian stag fights for a doe’s favour in rut, and any stag that simply takes or invents said favour answers to the Royal Guard. Honour is what separates us from the marauders to the south, and there should be no need for a law to tell a stag what is right,” he continued before Scarlet could interject, “Aytan’s guards maintain peace and order in the glen, and since they cannot patrol the whole of Glenmore as well as keep the borders safe from raiders, a doe who feels she is being harried can opt to stay in the Glade of the Oak during rut. As you are quite aware, Scarlet, I do not tolerate a stag who does not abide by the Glenmore code of honour. If you know of any stag who does not, they will answer to me, directly.” He added, dipping his antlers for emphasis. While he addressed the doe directly, his expression was impassive. He had not defended her against Rafe only because of his attitude, though any stag acting like that would have provoked him to act just perhaps not with the same blind rage.
“It is not a stag’s business to interfere with the habits of does, but if you’re concerned that fillies and mares are lacking in knowledge regarding such things as...” the stag fairly squirmed talking of things does should be passing on from mother to daughter that should nary trouble a stag who was ill equipped to deal with the mysteries of does, “pregnancy and motherhood... then perhaps you should speak to Lady Mór and start some sort of lesson about it. The health of the herd is paramount, from the youngest fawn to the oldest elder. Lord Marrec raises a fine point about the Princess does, and I will see to it that all eligible descendants of Áillite will attend my Aunt’s school and share their healing knowledge. ”
He dipped his head to Aytan, “Acting Captain Aytan, I’m glad you’ve both come up with a solution - I shall remind the herd myself that taking on the mantle of Guard is a great honour, particularly for a Common stag. Perhaps in the case of Royals who are loathe to give up their titles, you can train and recruit them as volunteers, perhaps. I know of some Royal stags who would take the opportunity to better defend their herd.”
The King glanced around at each advisor in turn, and then to the blissfully quiet space left by Lord Fenton, “It has not escaped my attention that we are missing one of our number tonight. If we do not number six at our next gathering, I would ask you to suggest any suitable replacements.” He added, though he didn’t seem gloomy about the prospect.
“If there is nothing else, then we will adjourn and meet again in Winter.”