August 17, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie was bubbling over with excitement the next morning. She’d spent her evening — after finishing her tablet-weaving — reading up on the basics of treaty law, and then she’d spent the night dreaming about finding missing treaties crammed between other books in the library, or hiding in the back of someone’s desk, or shoved up the pipes of Instructor Talmizhaab’s device. She knew she could find it. She could prove poor Lovdyo right.
“I think I have my own…” She swallowed her words, cursing herself, as she noticed that someone else was already at the table, at their table. Sitting in her seat, actually, chatting with Taikie very animatedly.
“And did it really suck up humanic aether?”
“Of course not.” Tairiekie looked as if she was enjoying herself. “There is no such thing as humanic aether.”
“But if it—”
“Is this really conversation for the table?” Saydrie looked a bit yellow, Enrie thought. “Oh! Enerenarie, good morning! Tairiekie’s friend Gamzhai was just asking us about the little problem earlier this semester.”
“Gamzhai, hello.” Enrie executed her little royal-lady bow, the one her mother had hammered into her head and, more importantly, into her spine and her arms. “I believe the teachers all wrote up something about it for the archives?”
“But they weren’t there. And nobody will tell me what the Device did.“
“And that is because nobody wishes for anyone to know.” Taikie sounded as if she were imitating Saydrie on a particularly pious-feeling day. “Gamzhai, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m just a first-year student. I can’t tell you what happened, either.”
“Enerenarie, Lady Enerenarie.” A tap on the shoulder pulled Enrie away from the continued complaints of Gamzhai. “Lady Enerenarie—”
“I’m sorry,” Enrie interrupted, not feeling particularly sorry. “I’m still a student; it’s not ‘Lady’ for quite a few more years.”
“I just wanted to be polite.” The girl, probably another first-year student, was wearing the navy, orange-red, and red of Kyokyoenet House, the war-and-Martial-skills house. She bowed her head, looking very sad, and coincidentally giving Enrie a view of her braids. She’d done them all up in the style of the current royal heir, ribbons in her house colors twining groups of thin braids into buns at the back of her head. “I’m Kagnyaa, from House Kyoket, and Lady- ah. Olimmosamyimosama, also of House Kyoket, wanted to see if you were available to talk.”
Enrie swallowed a rude response and instead smiled politely at Kagnyaa. “I would be pleased to talk to Olimmosamyimosama.” That one was a tongue-twister even by Calenyena royal standards. “Where is she?”
“Oh, right here.” Kagnyaa, who so clearly wanted to be a courtier that the royal-love was dripping off of her, gestured one table over. “Olisama? Is now okay?”
It was clear to see who Olisama was. At the next table there was one girl — probably a third- or fourth-year student — in a perfectly tailored uniform, gold trim peeking out on the edges of her undershirt and breeches (despite it being against the rules; Enrie’s own linens were pushing the rules themselves, with two colors of complicated embroidery on the neckline and simpler patterns everywhere else), her braids in a slightly more simple style than Kagnyaa’s, more like the youngest of the current heirs than the Crown Heir. She raised her chin at Enrie and gave her a patronizing smile.
Enrie did a quick review of the royal family as she knew it. There was an Onzhana, an Ozhrenya… no Olisama, at least not in the parts of the tree within shouting distance of the Emperor. She bowed exactly enough to Olisama and smiled. “Cousin Olimmosamyimosama, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Cousin Enerenarie.” Olisama’s bow was so shallow as to skirt insult. “How is your first year here at the Empress Edaledalende Academy treating you?”
Even Iesovyenyie didn’t go around using the whole name of the school. Enrie smiled her best Diplomat’s smile and invited herself to a chair. Around Olisama, her hangers-on shifted to watch the show. “It’s challenging, of course. It wouldn’t be an Imperial Academy if it wasn’t.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs at the ankle. “And how are you finding it?”
“Oh, the classes are interesting enough, but some of the classmates…” And Olisama was off, complaining about classmates, complaining about Instructors, and all the while nodding at Enrie as if of course she agreed.
Enrie was content to listen, making neutral noises, for quite a few minutes. She was training to be a diplomat, after all; she could diplomatically listen to a minor noble think they were better than everyone else. It was practically the first lesson of diplomacy.
When Olisama began going on about Pelnyen being wonderful, however, Enrie couldn’t help but interject.
“He’s a royal-chaser,” she answered, pitching her voice quietly but making certain Olisama heard her. “That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it doesn’t make him a good teacher.”
“He’s not giving you trouble, is he? He’s been talked to about going hard on the nobility.”
Enrie raised her eyebrows and waited, counting heartbeats, to see if the other girl understood what a stupid thing she’d said. When it became clear, at three heartbeats and then a spare for good measure, that she did not, Enrie shook her head.
She let Olisama change the subject, and waited a few more sentences before making her good-byes. By the time she got back to the table where Taikie and Saydrie were eating, Gamzhai had left, but Riensin, Kekdela, Tesdes had gathered around and were cheerfully gossiping about the search for a new Mechanics and Engineering Instructor.
Enrie picked at her food and tried to follow along with the gossip. Her mystery would have to wait.