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Chapter 5A: A Watched Pot Never Boils


September 21, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

They had a plan. It was not, in Enrie’s professional opinion, a very good plan – more of an outline of the start of a plan than anything you’d go into a hostile negotiating situation with. But they were, as Kekdela pointed out, first-year students, and it was at the very least an interesting plan.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first step – after a day of whispered consultations with other people who shared a Philosophy class with them – was research. It seemed as if everything they did required research.

Thus, after dinner, instead of heading to the stables as they normally did, the three of them headed to the library, intent on meeting Riensin, Kekdela, and Tesdes there. They stopped briefly at the shrine to the Three just inside the library, each of them murmuring their own prayer to Tienaabaa. They were going to need all the help they could get.

“All right.” Enrie nodded at her team-mates. “We’re going to need to start downstairs—”

“I thought I told you no working together!” Professor Pelnyen stalked up to them,the hems of his trousers tangling around his ankles as he thumped forward. “I was quite specific.”

“You said not to work together on our papers—” Tairikie began. Enrie was about to pick up where her friend had left off when Saydrie did it for her.

“And yesterday, when we wrote our papers, we did it individually. Today we are working on other projects, and thus we are working together.”

Penlyen glared at them. “I don’t believe you. What are you working on?”

Enrie thought fast. “Well, I’ve got to do some research for our Textiles papers.” The history of fashion and clothing section was near the corner where Pelnyen’s books were stored. “That’s why we were headed downstairs.”

“Very good. I’ll escort you.” Pelnyen looked far too pleased with himself.

“That’s really not necessary, Instructor…” Enrie tried.

“Oh, but I insist.”

Enrie sighed. They weren’t going to get rid of him that easily. Luckily, she actually did have research for Textiles. They all trooped downstairs. Pelnyen following behind like a hunting cat stalking them.

The Textiles section was very nice, and it even had a few sample books, donated by late Emperor and Empress’ wardrobe departments and carefully preserved. Enrie’s paper for Textiles was on her great-great-great grandmother Otyeriotanerio’s ceremonial garb the last major festival before her death, something she’d read about a hundred times before. Still, she opened the first book on the subject that came to hand and started reading, while Pelnyen watched her like a hawk.

Saydrie and Taikie spent a few minutes flipping through other books, passing over options to Enrie, while Saydrie tried not to sound horrified. “How many colors?“ 

“Eighty-one. Threefold on threefold. It was a marvel of dyeing for the era.” Enrie brushed her finger over the book. As a child, she had dressed up in all her robes and jackets at once, pretending she was the Empress Otyeriotanerio.

Saydrie coughed. “Well, while you’re looking at this, Tairiekie and I can go upstairs to the southern history section and start looking at notes for that class.”

Enrie glared at him, feeling more than a little betrayed. Leave her down here, alone, with—


You may have noticed that I have missed 4 updates in the past 2 weeks.  I’m so sorry!

As an apology, I will write 4 demifictions (non-fiction written in the fictional world, such as newspaper articles, snippets of book sections), answers to questions, or brief scenes anywhere non-spoilery in this world, one to each of the first 4 prompts I receive on this post. 

Again, I’m sorry!


  1. Rix Scaedu says:

    Pelynen is an ass, but no-one needed me to tell them that!

    May I suggest a copy of the section on Otyeriotanerio’s ceremonial garb for one of your demi-fictions?

  2. thnidu says:

    Pelnyen is rather short-tempered, isn’t he? And extremely snarky about the All-Thought School (“No excuse for stupidity”), though I forget whether he’s pro or con it; pro, isn’t he? That probably led to some extremely rancorous exchanges, maybe back in his student days… some of which might have made the news, or mention in journals or diaries. Possibly even some preserved in that great and famous Library…

  3. thnidu says:

    … Oh, and I meant to add “perhaps even physical”.

  4. Marina Brave says:

    Jeez, dude, don’t you have papers to grade or something else better to do? Where’d you get all this spare time to harass students?

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