The Council had Geraldine chasing fairy tales and urban legends.
There were two things Geraldine knew without a doubt about the High Council of the Shenera Endraee.
The first was that they were immensely slow to change, change happening more often because a Council member had been overthrown (which occurred perhaps twice a millennium) than because they’d agreed to it as a group.
The second was that they were very, very attached to their regulations.
(The third thing she never even allowed herself to think out loud, which was: they had no authority to do what they did, but they did it anyway.)
And yet, the Returned Gods had been back on Earth – returned, as it were – for less than a year, and the Council was already changing its mind on some very old policies.
Thus, instead of chasing down Ellehemaei who had made themselves too well known, Geraldine was looking for those who were whispered about. Instead of chiding these fae and telling them that they couldn’t risk being worshiped, she was going to ask them if they could use their power for a little while to help fend off the Returned Gods.
Of course, at some later date, when they’d won the war against the Returned, she was probably going to have to go back to them and tell them “sorry, now you can’t be a god anymore, everything’s back to normal”, and everyone probably knew that, deep in their hearts.
But that was later. Right now, she was seeking the rumor of a small city that had been doing very well for itself in an otherwise depressed area. She had followed the rumors to a place in Arkansas, after tracking for several weeks and a half-dozen states.
The Council needs one of those mythical Finders, she thought, as just as quickly thought No. The Council with a Finder would be unstoppable.
But here, in a city of less than fifty thousand people, Geraldine thought she’d located her not-quite-a-god. She walked up to a very unimpressive house – clean, well-maintained, but nothing showy – in a middle-class neighborhood and knocked on the door, noticing as she did that the neighbors across the street, the ones two doors down, the ones kitty-corner, and several others had suddenly needed to be on their porches or on their front lawns.
Well, then. So people looked after their own.
A young lady opened the door, no older than fifteen. “Hello?”
“Hello. My name is Geraldine, and I believe I am here to talk to Dorthy Ainsbury.”
“You believe… oh. One of those. Wait here.”
The door slammed in her face.
The Council, Geraldine mused, was not only slow to change, they were bad at it. And, by extension, she ended up looking bad.
She waited, the eyes of a godlet’s congregation, her back itching, her temper held very carefully in check, and wondered if the change and the humiliation, the flailing attempts and all the rest, would do one iota of good against the flood.