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Chapter 14A: Both or Nothing; the Whole of the Thing or None at All


December 7, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

It should have been easy to put aside the Treaty issue.  Enrie had enough things to concern herself with.  Classes were certainly not getting any easier, for one, and her House was beginning a series of “informal competitions” based around getting their grades up in certain areas.  Most importantly, of course, the stakes were very high for Saydrie.

Enrie understood all of that.  And yet here she was, sitting in the common room of Onano House, attempting to discuss the history of textiles with Govezze and Denedien, and all she could think about was coffee  and treaties named after it.

“I’m doing my paper on Oonezhoonet.”  Govezze leaned forward, flipping open her notebook to show weaving patterns drawn out with a tidy hand.  “And the things they did for dyeing back then are fascinating.  There’s some proof that they used the aether, for one, embedding the cloth with a strand of aether to make a color show up more strongly.”

“I’ve heard about that.” Enrie glanced at her notes.  “Who was – oh, Riensin said he read about it in a class, I think.”

“Ooh, Riensin.”  Denedien grinned.  “Him and his brother, oh, what a picture they make.”

Enrie couldn’t help a warm smile.  “You’re welcome to both of them.  Riensin’s been sniffing after my teammate and I don’t like it.”

“What, Saydrie? He’s pretty good looking himself.  Can’t say I’d be surprised at someone trying to weasel up his pants.”  Denedien chuckled.  “Are you?  You know what they say about teams, don’t you?”

Enrie glanced away, blushing.  “No?  That is, I’m not sure what they say about teams.”

“They say that those who study together get very close indeed.”  Denedien dropped his voice to a whisper.  “You know Aatevaatev downstairs, right? In his fourth year?  He’s managed to keep both of his teammates in school, sometimes by some very questionable methods.  The point is, he does anything he has to – because he spends every waking moment and every sleeping one with them.”

“Some people say that it’s like battle and you should save your romances for other teams, or other years.  I mean, most of the people who say that are people who can’t get along with their team, or whose teammates didn’t make it past their first year.” Govezze chewed on the end of the brush she’d been taking notes with.  “I’m not sure I could imagine wandering off to bed with Donordon, but Levlienna’s nice.  Maybe I should invite her back after class sometime…”

“Both or nothing, that’s what the upperclassmen say,” Denedien opined.  “Which is how I feel about Riensin and Kietsaip.”

Enrie fiddled with her braids.  Gianci was nowhere in the room.  Of course, Gianci did not seem to have a very high opinion of her.  “That’s, uh, not how my team is.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong.  Not every team is.”  Denedien grinned widely.  “Which is fine.  More for me.”

“There’s got to be an end point,” Enrie said, laughing.  Denedien just shrugged.

“It’s like formal robes, right?  When you can’t move anymore for the layers?”

It was only much later, lying in bed thinking about draping people around one like Empress Otyeriotanerio’s formal robes, that Enrie realized she’d stopped thinking about the Coffee Treaty for several hours. Of course, she still hadn’t finished her homework.

A small price to pay.  She just needed Denedien to sit around and talk with her every day, or until Darnio was out of the picture and Saydrie wasn’t at risk.   That would remove any temptation.  And if they flunked her out of Edally, well, then she’d have no worries about temptation at all.


  1. Rix Scaedu says:

    But isn’t knowing all the gossip a very Diplomatic skill?

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