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In the small greenfield of Bertran’s Ford near Icehome, a certain teahouse is filled with chatting and gossiping elderly women for most of the day. These women are the directors and operational board of the Ears of the North, and they report what the Ears learn to the Oligarchs. Guild agents and Realm spies both find the notion bizarre. Why trust your spy network to a bunch of old women? It can’t possibly be true.

And yet, it is. The number of the Grandmothers is unclear, even to their own membership. Some days, there are 30 old gossips in the teahouse; other days, there are only 4-5. Each has lost both a child and grandchild in service to the League and was invited to join by the existing membership. Their ages range from early 60s to high 90s, and they come from all the tribes and territories of the Haslanti. There is not one senescent mind among them and at least one member since the League’s founding was a No-Moon Lunar. The present Lunar, Keen-Eyed Snowcat, is 86 (though her aged appearance is due to her shapeshifting skill and not her years). Her main responsibility is not to dominate the Grandmothers, but to hide them from the North’s many prying eyes and ears. So far, she has been successful.

The five subordinate branches of the Ears report to the Grandmothers through various channels, and the Grandmothers report to the Twelfth Oligarch and whomever else the Twelfth pleases. The Grandmothers sometimes speak with contempt of the New Shoot, or the Sixth Branch, which is their name for Elias Tremalion. Even as they mock him for being so hastily and unconstitutionally grafted to the Haslanti system, they respect his growing abilities and regard him with cautious optimism as a tool to ensure the League’s continued safety in troubled times. As yet, they have not met him, for he seems too concerned with luxuries and his own comforts.

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