OK, I'm late.. :-> We did discuss the story at the fiction writing workshop at work. The food idea led to some interesting possibilities. There could be stiff penalties for stealing food. (So much for the apple scene, and the pantry would have to be better controlled.) And mages might try other techniques, such as growing food in secret -- or even cannibalism. No, I don't want to go there. They liked the idea of collars (though I prefer an armlet) that could send the mage's spell back at him if he tried to cast certain types of spell. Someone pointed out that in that case, even if they didn't like Gorok, they could ask him to take off the devices because he's not a mage -- but I supposed the devices would be boobytrapped. (Otherwise, there would be a risk that they would bribe a guard or one of the other works.) They weren't as convinced by the idea of Gorok being allowed to keep the snowcat. Gorok is a wildcard, and he would already be an unpredictable element, someone who would not be affected by some of the features that keep the mages in control. So why allow another wildcard? But I think there are ways around that, ranging from a magical collar that detects if Koura is trying to attack and freezes her (poor Koura could be struck helpless when trying to defend Gorok) to Gorok agreeing that if Koura does anything wrong, he will have to be punished in her place.