Now he just felt bad for the girl. As tough as she acts she couldn't be older than 17. She'd be thrown into a situation she knew nothing about and was alone with people she couldn't because she didn't know them. She must be terrified, he thought. He coughed once to clear his throat and then decided to start at the beginning. "Ok, I can't help you with the coming here on a whim part but I can explain the Jewels and with a bit more information I can explain the big cat. I can also answer any questions you have about the Hall or anything else in our three realms."
Mercy had so many questions she didn't know where to start. She wanted to ask why her out of so many people. Why was she brought here, why did Jaenelle appear and comfort her, but those were things only Jaenelle herself could truly answer. So she threw out some of the other questions that were on the top of her mind. "What is the big deal with the Jewels everyone keeps talking about? Why does everyone mistake my admitting dominance as a challenge? And I can feel the power within everyone but how do the people here all know who is stronger? I thought that was something only the werewolves knew instinctively." She sighed in frustration as she realized again how little she knew about this place.
"Two of your questions have the same answer. The Jewels are our symbols of power. The darker the Jewels the deeper the reservoir of power they have at their disposal. That's how we all know who is stronger or weaker than us. Either you know what Jewels they wear specifically or you can feel them above you or below you in the power source. As for the mistaking submissive behavior for challenge you'll have to explain to me what you think is submitting."
Mercy's head snapped to attention at the word submissive. "Let's something straight, no matter how strong you are I submit to no one. I can acknowledge and respect power but I am in control of myself and my life. I didn't leave one big bad Alpha's territory just to be stuck at the bottom of another pack. Where I come from, if you can tell someone is stronger than you, then you lower your eyes as a sign of respect. If you get into a staring contest, you are challenging their authority. So, while I don't want to fight with any of you, I lower my eyes but that does not mean I submit!" She all but yelled at the older man.
He chuckled and continued looking at her in bewilderment. He had so much to learn before they could even feel like they were speaking in the same language. "I meant no offense. Perhaps submitting is the wrong phrase. You obviously have had experience with being forced into submission. What do you mean by Alpha? You said werewolves earlier, is that what you are?"
She felt the sting at the wrong assumption. "No, I'm no werewolf. I was raised by them. Close as my mother could find to what I am. I'm what they call a walker. I change into a coyote." Old habits die hard and she wracked her brain how to explain Alphas to him without giving away much about pack structure and werewolf law. They had hurt her but she still loved them. "Alphas are the leaders. The Alpha is the most powerful werewolf in every pack. All below them must obey. That's as much as I can say. You still didn't explain why everyone takes it as a challenge, and I have another question. What do I do with this now?" She held out the deep blue Sapphire.
The only sign of shock was a slight widening in his eyes as Saetan schooled his features to their normal expression, giving away nothing. He reached out for the stone and she pulled back. He could see the reluctance in her eyes. "Ah, so you don't know what it is, or what it means, but you already feel the connection to it. That's good. My daughter was right, you will be a strong witch. You'll fit in with all the others, but you have much to learn. I'll have to set you up with extra lessons to catch up." He didn't miss the excitement thrumming through her as he said she'd fit in. Why were there so many children out there doomed to feel alone? At least some of them had found each other, he mused to himself as he smiled knowing his daughter would never be alone again. "As for the dominance problem, you will have to work on your reaction because here if you drop your eyes it is a sign that you are hiding something. Try to maintain eye contact even if you feel they are stronger than you. A strong backbone and that quick wit of yours will help you as well. People here respect someone who can hold their own and isn't waiting to be protected or taken care of. Don't be mistaken though, if you do become a part of this little group the boyos will take it upon themselves to become your personal bodyguards."
Mercy was no stranger to the protection that appearing to be more comfortable provided her. Faking it until she truly believed she was safe had saved her life more than once with the werewolves. Wait, did he say bodyguards? "No, no, no, no! I don't do bodyguards. I'm more of a lone wolf type. I do my own thing and live my own way and generally I like to do it in solitude. I won't have any 'boyos' following me around and messing with my schedule. Which brings me to my next point…lessons, with whom? And the Jewel is mine now? I thought I was just supposed to grab it in that ceremony last night and then return it to whoever had placed it there for me." She couldn't help glancing at the Jewel in her hand; she did feel a connection to it. She wanted to know more, but hoped Jaenelle could explain it without Mercy having to answer too many questions. Jaenelle knew most of Mercy's secrets. She wouldn't have to hide information.
"Yes, lessons. You can join Jaenelle in basic Craft," which reminded him and he sent a message along a Black thread trying to wake his daughter so they could get to Luthvian's on time. "You can also join the rest of them in dancing, art and protocol. You will have basic lessons in weapons and extra lessons in history of the Realms with me. The Jewel is yours. Even if someone were to take it, they could do nothing with it. It is a part of who you are now. You'll learn to use it properly in all of your lessons."
Before Mercy could reply to the schedule overload he'd just piled on her, Jaenelle burst through the door looking disheveled and disturbed. "The boyos were outside my door looking pleasantly smug. Apparently they'd kept everyone from waking me. I'm sorry I'm late, I tried to find Mercy but she wasn't in the room the boyos sent her to. Morton seemed especially upset and is searching for her now. I guess she'll have to start lessons with me tomorrow. Let's go Papa; I don't want Luthvian anymore upset than she's already going to be."
Saetan couldn't help but chuckle. "Did you even breathe during that rant? Witch-Child, look around."
Jaenelle turned abruptly and a smile broke through her distress when her eyes landed on Mercy. "Oh good! You're here. You did get a Sapphire, I knew you would!" Then switching targets, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "I can sense anger in here. Papa, you haven't been giving her a hard time, have you?"
Hiding behind the mask of patriarchal responsibility once again Saetan responded, "I will do anything necessary to keep you safe. I will not apologize. I'm glad to hear the boyos are taking their protection duties just as seriously as I expect them to."
He watched as Jaenelle puffed up. "YOU! You set them on me to act as my babysitters? I'm perfectly safe in the Hall and you all know it." Jaenelle huffed.
Mercy sat back and watched the exchange with amusement in her eyes. Then sadness crept in. She longed for a bond like this. She thought she'd find that, but everywhere she'd been she had been treated like a thorn in their side. She decided to break out of her sudden melancholy and join the discussion. "Didn't you both say we were late somewhere?"
"Oh yes, we should go. Bring your Jewel. We'll get you a necklace and ring to set it in soon. For now keep it with you at all times." Jaenelle raved on and on.
Saetan placed his hands on Jaenelle's shoulders and started guiding her toward the door. "Witch-Child, you must get going. If it was any of your other lessons, I'd cancel for the day, but Luthvian is doing me a favor and she reminds me of it every time. I don't want her to change her mind."
"This Luthvian sounds like a real prize. Why don't you just teach us to use our powers, hot shot?" Mercy spouted towards Saetan. " I can feel your power and I know you have the control necessary from earlier," she said with a wink, "so can't you just teach us and we can cut this woman out of the equation?"
"Oh, Papa, you didn't try intimidating Mercy did you?"
He rubbed his face as he tried to formulate an answer for the both of them and get them on their way quickly. He turned to Mercy first, "I could teach you, but felt you'd be more comfortable being with Jaenelle as much as possible…at least for now." He amended after a slight pause. "And Jaenelle has been learning more quickly with Luthvian than she was with me for the basics." Now the harder task, "Witch-Child, I was not trying to intimidate her, I was concerned. Our cultures seem to be vastly different, so the discussion was tense at first. We can discuss this more later, but as I said earlier, I will not apologize for the measures I take to ensure your safety and the safety of those that have been entrusted into my care."
"Oh, fine but you have nothing to worry about with Mercy. She'd never hurt me." With that pronouncement she turned and swiftly walked out the door, leaving no room for argument on the point.