September 30, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Are you feeling all right?” Taikie hand brushed over Enrie’s shoulder. “You looked a little spooked in Biological Systems.” It was late in the day and Enrie had gotten through her classes by the skin of her teeth and the set of her jaw.
“Yeah-” Enrie shook herself. She had to give Taikie a polite and honest answer or she’d go off sulking again, and then Enrie would never get to the library. She sorted through answers. “One of my House-mates thinks we’re being silly about the whole – the whole humanic aether idea.” It hadn’t been what he’d said at all, but she’d been drawing herself pictures between the lines he’d given her. “And I think I missed something important in my research the other day.”
“The Library again?” Taikie sounded both sympathetic and worried. “I was thinking I could look into some stuff in the Engineering Library tonight. For… a project.”
“No more goats on the roof, okay?” Enrie managed a smile of sorts.
“No more goats! Well, unless someone else quotes that silly thing at me…” Taikie set her jaw. Pelnyen really had gotten to her.
“Even then, you wouldn’t want to repeat the same prank. One is shocking, twice is overkill, three times is gross.”
“Is that some sort of diplomacy aphorism?”
“It’s what my mother taught me about fart jokes – I was eight or nine.” Now Enrie found herself really smiling. “So no more goats?”
“No more goats, I promise.” Taikie wrinkled her nose. “Or fart jokes. Do you need help in the Library tonight?”
She could tell Taikie about the treaty – but if she couldn’t find it, she didn’t want to tell her friends she’d imagined a passage about a treaty she’d only overheard discussion about. “No, I’ll be fine. That way Pelnyen can’t yell at us, either.”
“You think he’d be done by now.” Taikie sighed. “Have fun at the library.”
Enrie wasn’t sure fun was the right idea, not with the way her head was spinning. She smiled anyway. “I’m sure it’ll be interesting.”
She had been thinking about it all day: about the way Gianci had looked at her, about the way Lovdyo had looked at her. Was Gianci part of what was going on with the Treaty? Was he part of what was going on with Sayrdie’s friend Darnio? Was she seeing ghosts where there were only shadows?
The library, at least, couldn’t talk back. She made her way down to the treaties section, finding it once again empty.
Some sneaky urge made her pick the books she wanted and take them back to fashion history. The same urge made her stack up books on Empress Otyeriotanerio between her seat and the alcove opening, and leave open a page of notes on the Empress’ robes.
Soon, she was immersed in treaty law and the complicated convolutions of the nations that had once filled the continent of Reiassan. Her notes went to paragraphs and then to pages; her calligraphy grew sloppy and her letters smooshed into one another. She found the scantest references to the Coffee Treaty – a note here about treaties signed in Federent, one about those looked over by the Arrans.
Her vision was beginning to blur and her hand to cramp when she heard voices in the treaty alcove. “We’ll just have to pull out anything that could be related.”
“That might be the entire section.”
“Then we’ll hang tapestries and call it a refurbishing.”
She didn’t recognize either voice, but Enrie didn’t need to; she already knew they were trouble.