Earlier today, I asked if anyone knew which of the characters in the Hidden Institute was originally born in the school. I’d left clues, but I was apparently too subtle, because no one guessed the answer. Rather than spelling out all the clues, I’ll tell you a bit of the backstory. If you’re still interested, you can go back and look up the clues in the book, once you know a bit about the characters.
A long time ago, easily fifty years in the future, there was a young woman named Daisy. Born to a powerful and noble house, she was hired as a scullery maid in service to the Queen. She showed incredible skill and attentiveness at her work, and rose quickly to cook’s helper, then waitstaff. The king himself remarked that he’d never seen such a young servant in the dining room, which sent the kitchen in a tizzy.
The cook barred her from the dining room, afraid that the King might be displeased by such inexperience. Daisy, however, slipped free of her duties before the evening meal, and appeared at the elbow of the Queen, helping her in defiance of the cook’s wishes.
The cook was outraged, and demanded of the butler that he back her in dismissing the upstart. The two of them approached the royal presence and were astonished to see that Daisy was continuing her service outside of the dining room.
When the servants protested and announced her dismissal, the Queen refused, deciding to keep the child as her lady’s maid.
The years rushed past for Daisy as she was raised to prominence over her peers. Though they sniped and bickered, the young woman would not listen to them. She instead turned her attention to the Queen, learning how the woman walked, how she spoke, and how she acted. Very often, Daisy would answer the Queen’s needs before her Grace had even recognized them.
One night, the Queen raised her up to nobility in her own right, announcing that the crown wished to recognize her efforts through gifts of land and title. Daisy attended the ball in a blur, laughing, dancing, and drinking toasts to her success. She danced with one boy in particular, a young nobleman of a lesser house who wished to insinuate his family in the royal attention. Daisy cared nothing for politics, and spent the evening basking in the attention and joy of the moment.
That evening, she inadvertently started a new life. Not for herself, but for the son she would treasure for the rest of her life.
The Queen wanted to be understanding. She wanted to stand by Daisy. But the King had no preference for Daisy, and had no interest in letting the young woman stain the reputation of his house. The King dismissed her, ensuring that she could never find a home in the nobility. However, the Queen left her the lands and money.
For the first time, Daisy was completely alone. The young father refused to acknowledge her or their actions, as she could no longer benefit his family.
Daisy had money enough to be comfortable, but had no skill at being a commoner. She had no business interests, and had no experience in being a landowner. In the end, she sold everything and ran from the world. It was while traveling through India, looking for a place to take root, that she met a young major.
Their meeting was not an accident. As the bullet train took them past scenes of devastation, starvation, and war, he sympathized with her plight. He told her that he knew what it was like to be removed from the royal presence. He mentioned the existence of a place where common folk, like themselves, could be taught to be noble.
It was a school of deceit, to be sure, but it was based on the noblest of goals. Helping people become the best they could be.
Daisy remembered those days as a child, working and listening and training herself to be the kind of noble lady that she saw every day. The major turned to her and said, “You have a remarkable insight into the nobility. You know them as you do your own family. If you should ever want to teach that, contact us.”
He pressed a card into her hand which read, “Major Pickering.”
Two weeks later, Daisy Simmons joined the Malcom Rutherford Holden School of Regentrification. She spent the rest of her life teaching commoners how to act like the people she had grown up with.
Her child was born in the Institute, and grew to manhood within those walls. He learned swordsmanship along with his letters. He practiced coloring and cooking. He trained in politics and profits. And his mother made sure that he was the most regal child the school had ever trained.
So when Wheylan Simmons left the school, he left as a Lord, more capable and believable than any graduate. His adopted father, Col. Pickering said that the boy was spotless, and would always stand as a beacon of sober fidelity and nobility, bringing honor to their ranks.