Reag, Sira and crew enjoyed frequent visits with Merin and Vika. Neris too taught at the academy and had her own ménage not far from her parents’ family home and playground of idealists and their ideas. Pera, another former academy student of the group who grew their minds and ideals in Merin’s salon along with Reag and Sira, had moved in with Merin and Vika. Her daughter, Noria, was close to Lukin in age.
In their developing friendship, Lukin and Noria secretly stayed close in mind over distance to share private jokes, consolations, working out together puzzles and curiosities in their lives. It was for them a game and a comfort in a confusing world. No one outside the inner circle knew Noria was in fact Lukin’s aunt, Reag’s half-sister, one result of Merin and Vika’s exploration of polyamory to boost the witchfolk’s possibilities of progeny and future.
Neris and Sebia, lovers since their teen years, not outgrowing their experimental young crush, had taken into their fold another of Reag and Sira’s crowd, Jal, who happily served to father the so far three youngsters of that household. Sebia’s son, Serg was only slightly younger than Noria and Lukin. His half-sisters, Neris’s girls, Safa and Tamis, were one a bit older, one a bit younger, than Tela. Merin was jolly about his pater familias role. Vika, typically, enjoyed the constant high drama and turning it all to farce at the appropriate moments. “The fun never ends while we enjoy the play,” she liked to say. Not the best people to go to for a reality check, they were always happy to argue any proposition, brainstorm up a gale, love and support without reservation, point out the structural flaws of any proposal while offering creative alternatives.
Lesa had been another of the old academy crowd (or would that be young academy crowd, now older?) who had stayed to teach the younger kids coming in. Back in the transitional times, when the confused youngsters who didn’t know what to make of their standard schooling were the prime customers, needing her patient care, Lesa felt fulfilled. She was where she belonged. But where she was was changing. Toriv had been her friend for, well, forever, from their own early academy days. He was somehow now part of Merin’s extended family, and often about visiting the academy. After the miscarriage, he needed consoling. He needed a woman who could give him a child. Lesa needed to be needed. After he left Jenia, Toriv moved in with the Lesa, now the mother of his child to be, and picked up some classes teaching the younger kids at the academy as Lesa did. But the academy was changing. Lesa and Toriv had talked with others of their friends about a community that had been started down in the libertarian farm lands to the south. Looking for something to belong to, a way to make their mark and make a life with meaning, Toriv and Lesa moved south to start a school for children like their own within the still newly forming community of former city misfits.
“You left little sister, but you’re still trying to please great god Merin.” Why had Lesa said this to Toriv? Back in their school days they had called Jenia “little sister.” Reag was Merin’s son, Sira his sidekick. Jenia was Sira’s little sister, along for the ride. Merin was their hero, of course. Yes, he was here in this strange new pioneering way of life because of what he believed Merin was preaching. But she was being ironic, angry, because he did not show the courage of his convictions. He wanted his school, his traditional family. She wanted to join the mainhouse, be part of a brave new world.