Ah, Meister Gruenewald, that amazing, infuriating, arrogant, brilliant . . . [No, Rodney, I can’t use that adjective on this blog. Or that other thing, either.] Sorcerer of shadow. Scholar of magic and other things. Master teacher. Whose most amazing power might be that of official non-existence. As André tells Art, Meister Gruenewald has no first name and no official existence. As far as the German and other governments know, he’s a pink unicorn. The military knows, but not the official bureaucracy. How he manages that is probably the greatest mystery of all.
M.G. is a sorcerer of shadow. Like André and Lelia (and Dr. Melanchton, and Miranda Reddish, and Kit Wilmington) he specializes in dealing with truly nasty, evil abuses of magic, including blood magic. He is stronger at night, although he likely doesn’t notice the boost anymore. He was a strong sorcerer before the Spell Eruption Event, and banking power is so ingrained that even he probably doesn’t know what his limits are. He’s not going to test them. Why should he? It the problem is that bad, he’ll call in other magic workers to assist, saving his reserves for the truly dire end-of-the-world-if-he-doesn’t-act emergency.
M.G. noticed André when André was first stationed in Germany. The raw power André threw around was, ahem, a bit noticeable, something M.G. fixed on their first lesson. The fix left André with a three-pill headache, but he never did that again. Rodney considered it a win, once his mage quit moaning. M.G. also realized that André was a sponge, and far smarter than he came across. Perhaps this was the student M.G. had been waiting for. So M.G. being M.G., he kept pounding information and magic into his student to see if André could take it. He did. By the time of Learnedly Familiar, M.G. considered André as his only real success as a teacher. He had other students who did well, but only André has come close to his innate potential as a magic user, by M.G.’s standards.
Which was why M.G. persuaded André to accept the duties of being the sorcerer’s heir. André is not Draku’s suflit ficu. The spiritual connection isn’t there. Instead Shadow’s role is closer to that of Arthur and the senior Hunter. Shadow is supposed to take over Draku’s work, lead Draku’s students, dispose of or distribute the books in Draku’s collection, and deal with some other pieces of magically dangerous property. Shadow agreed, in part because he assumed he’d be dead in less than a decade, and so it wouldn’t matter. It kept Draku happy, Ears thought it was a good plan, and Shadow wouldn’t be around to worry about it. Except Shadow didn’t die. He found someone to love, who loved him and accepted him as he was, demons and all*. Alas, poor Shadow, now he does have to worry a little about “what if I outlive the old lizard? I’ve got to deal with his [stuff]. Oh [exquisitely pungent invective]!”
M.G. is a puzzle. His personality is so strong that it overwhelms anyone around unless they are ready for him. He’s the most powerful magic worker the clans have ever produced, and even they don’t know exactly which family he belongs to. He keeps his pedigree to himself. Unless he blurs his features and hands, which M.G. does most of the time out of habit, it’s obvious that he’s physically different from the rest of the population. He stands out, even among the clans. The fixed talons, the oddly scaly skin, his physical strength, and his sheer longevity make him very unusual, to put it mildly. Toss in those too-bright green eyes and it’s easy to see why he ended up with the working name of Draku. And why, from the safety of the other side of the Great Sea, under his breath, André calls him “that old lizard.” Not that Draku gives a flip about what anyone thinks of him.
You see, Draku’s father was a zmaj. Draku’s mother was of the Hunter clans, a beautiful young woman who was the object of much interest and desire among the young men of her generation. She and her parents let their guard down once, and Draku’s father, who happened to be the guardian zmaj of that watershed, carried her off as his bride. When she returned to the family, with a son, everyone knew what had happened. They raised Draku as one of their own, and when he came into the power that all sons of zmaji possess, no one blinked too hard.
By now, that is long lost history. Draku owes a lot of his longevity to his maternal heritage and having been a Hunter when he was younger. However, he is mortal, and he is not getting younger. Thus his increasingly insistent efforts to get Shadow to relocate to the Old Land and take over things. Yet, at the same time, Draku is starting to realize that Europe might not be the best place in the future. Too much governmental control, too many watchful eyes, especially in western Europe. Russia is, of course, out of the question, and in fact Draku has been known to use his private resources to help new magic workers escape Russia before the government catches them. Europe needs workers of shadow, but perhaps not a school such as formed around Draku.
If Draku had seen Shadow after the Terrible Hunt, he would have smiled with glee. The eyes. Draku’s eyes do indeed glow a little. That’s power, raw magic made visible. Draku doesn’t use a medallion or his cane or a knife or ring to store magic like the other sorcerers do. He is his focus. He stores magic inside himself. He discovered the twist a century and more ago, and storing power that way is truly second nature. He doesn’t think about it, or even really remember how he does it. It’s like breathing. It’s scary, actually, because of what it’s done to his body even beyond the legacy of his paternity. After the Terrible Hunt, when Silver observes Shadow’s eyes glowing, it’s for a similar reason. Shadow handled so much power, even with Ears to help buffer it, that it’s changed him.** Remember, Shadow still has some of the basic the wiring of a sorcerer, even though he’s primarily a mage. That makes a difference.
So now Draku wants to train Shadow’s son. Draku has high hopes for Letters, and assumes that of course Shadow will send the boy over, and of course Letters will take up his father’s mantle. Because why wouldn’t he? Draku really is that arrogant and entitled. If he were any less powerful or respected, it would have bitten in the rear by now. Or Chlotilda or one of his other students would have taken a leaf from Silver’s book and have whapped him with a frying pan, rolling pin, or something similar. He probably needs it.
*Lelia is why André returned from that near disaster that happened just before Intensely Familiar. He really should have died at least twice during that [mess].
**That magic is helping André, even though no one realizes it. He ought to have a lot more medical problems than he does. Lelia, not having the wiring or the training, doesn’t get that bonus. Knowing her, she’d run screaming from the possibility if offered. Or just shoot whoever made the offer, and ask her suflit talshu for recommendations on where to dispose of the deceased. He has a list.