The little group was quiet at Viviane returned.
“Is… it done?” said Cait suddenly.
Viviane du Lac stared at the Witch of the Velvet Paws for a long moment. “Would I be back here, if it wasn’t?” She glanced around at the assembled Covens. “My little sister, lost to me, and found again, is now facing that… crazy thing, by herself, at your insistence.” Her eyes narrowed on Mother Flint. “I hope you’re all proud of yourselves.”
Melissa Marshtreader nodded. “We most certainly are. It would have been easy to cave before your might--but we stood up for tradition and precedent.” The short Marsh Erl crossed her arms. “House du Lac has gotten entirely too used to getting its own way over the last few centuries. It’s getting downright suffocating. My grandmother always used to say, ‘Descendent of Nimue or not, they need to remember that they’re just mortals like the rest of us.”
“Ah-HA!” declared Grace Greenteeth. “I knew it! I knew the Witches of the Coalo have been harboring sinister ambitions for DECADES--perhaps even CENTURIES!” She turned to Viviane. “Oh, mighty Badb--strip my traitorous cousin of her rank, and have me serve as your sole herald! It is clear now only the Witches of the Ruhr are loyal to your great and noble house.”
Viviane glared at the pair. “Yeah. Talk like that is a good way to get me to revoke BOTH your ranks.” She placed a finger on her chin. “In fact… Elaine!”
“Yes?” said Elaine, who was sitting on a log with Malina on her lap.
“You are now Mommy’s herald,” declared Viviane.
“What?” spat out Grace. “No! You can’t do this, Badb! You can’t!”
“I thought you said I could,” noted Viviane with a sweet smile.
Grace fidgeted nervously. “Well, to Melissa, sure,” she said. “She’s bad. But I am good and ever so loyal.” She gave a broad smile. “Incredibly, notably loyal.”
“Hmmm,” said Viviane. “Let me… no. No, I’ll stick with this. Elaine needs to be part of the family business. And this is a great way to bring her in.”
Malina clapped her hands. “Hurray! Sis got a new job!”
Elaine coughed. “Yeah, maybe not, Malina.” She looked at her mother worryingly. “This sounds distressingly… labor-intensive.”
Viviane gave a dismissive wave. “Nah, you just start the Covens, and occasionally inform people of decisions I make. Really, it’s not much.”
Grace and Melissa both appeared to be offended by this. “Hey, we do much more than that!” declared Melissa. “We issue challenges! And… recite your lineage! And… stuff.”
“Really?” said Viviane. “Well, that’s neat. Why don’t you do it?”
“What?” said Melissa nervously.
“Recite my lineage,” explained the Badb. “It is an important part of your job.”
Melissa coughed. “Umm, right. Viviane, daughter of the Badb Elaine Blanchemains, daughter of the Badb Ygraine the Tempest, daughter of… daughter of…”
Grace stepped in front of her cousin. “Ha! Pretender! I knew you were slacking! Daughter of the Badb Blasine of the Step, daughter of the Badb Arianrhod the Spinner, daughter of the Badb…. Something with a b…”
“Blodeuedd,” said Elaine. “Blodeuedd the Flower. And she wasn’t a Badb, she was a Nemain. Daughter of the Badb Branwen the Child. Daughter of the Nemain Cigfa the Fair, daughter of the Badb Cigfa the Foolish, Daughter of the Badb Luned the Bringer of Woe.” She looked at her mother. “Should I go on?”
Viviane shook her head. “I think you’ve proven my point.”
Grace Greenteeth and Melissa Marshtreader looked at each other and shuddered.