November 28, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
They stared at the treaty, at the blank signature line that made this entire thing so much stranger. “But…” Taikie wrinkled her brow. “Why would they go to all this effort to hide a treaty that wasn’t signed? I mean, a little of it here, a little of it –”
“Shhh,” Saydrie hissed. Taikie fell silent, looking as if her feelings were hurt. Enrie strained her ears. Ah. A footstep. And another.
Saydrie shelved the book and grabbed another one at random, flopping it open on his lap. The footsteps were coming closer. Enrie glanced down at the book in front of her.
Weaving patterns. Of course. She leaned closer as if studying the patterns, then began actually studying the patterns as something in the design caught her attention. The double-lozenge at the center of the page looked familiar….
The footsteps were nearly on top of them. “Oh! Saydrie. I didn’t expect to find you here.”
Enrie knew that voice. She looked up, startled. “Gianci?”
She surprised a smile on his face that quickly vanished. “Enerenarie. And then this is your other teammate, right? The one with the goat? Tairiekie?”
“I am never going to live that down,” Taikie muttered, although Enrie thought she might look a little pleased to be recognized.
Gianci seemed to have the same thought. He smiled broadly down at Taikie. “That wasn’t the point? You should have gone with something smaller if you wanted to be easily forgettable.”
Taikie ducked her head, color coming to her cheeks. Saydrie cleared his throat. “Are we in your way, Gianci?”
“No.” He sat down cross-legged, mirroring Saydrie’s position and leaning up against another bookshelf. “Since I came looking for you, it’d be hard for you to be in my way.”
“Should we go?” Enrie asked politely.
“The three of you probably don’t have many secrets, do you? I wish I was that close with my team, but they don’t really like me that much.” Gianci shrugged.
“Teams are supposed to get along, to work together.” Taikie leaned forward, frowning. “That’s why they set us up this way. It’s in the rules.”
“So I’ve heard. But everyone doesn’t feel as strongly about it as you do.” He nodded his head in a shallow bow. “What I’m trying to say is, we might as well save Saydrie the trouble of telling you everything later. I don’t mind if you stay.”
“Oh, I don’t speak Bitrani, I won’t be able to follow any of it,” Taikie admitted. She was looking at Gianci in a way that Enrie found strange and out-of-character for her. This from the girl who’d spent all year ignoring Riensin’s not-at-all-subtle suggestions?
“Neither do I.” Gianci grinned at her. “I was born in Lannamer.”
“Oh. Oh!” She looked away. “…oh.”
“Oh,” he agreed. He was smiling even wider, as if he found the whole thing far too amusing. Enrie cleared her throat, but found she didn’t have anything to say.
Gianci didn’t even notice. “I need to talk to you about Darnio, Saydrie. I know he’s your friend. But he’s going to get into a lot of trouble soon, and I don’t want you to get caught up in it.”