January 11, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Enrie!” Taikie was outraged, but even still she managed to keep her anger to a loud whisper. “Enrie, we’re not supposed to be looking into any of that stuff!”
“I wasn’t! I was just looking up Emperor Ipaagtyentaag, and then it turned out he was too close to… to it, so I grabbed another book and then she turned out to be mixed up in it, and it turns out, well,” Enrie sighed, “almost every book in the library is tied in with it in some way. Which I would say was pretty weird for something that nobody teaches about…”
“But you just said the empire just fuzzes over stuff that they don’t want to think about. Like ignoring when your aunt gets an awful new haircut or your uncle shows up in seventeen shades of brown for the winter festival.” Taikie wrinkled her nose. “But a lot more serious.”
“It is. Why do you think it shows up in the Library, then?”
“Well,” Saydrie answered carefully, “You haven’t found much of anything in the common sections, have you? Off in the back of History, hiding in the Bitrani culture section, sitting in an Instructor’s office…” He dropped his voice to a quiet murmur.
“Ipaagtyentaag was in history, but on a bottom shelf in the back, yeah. It’s still in the library, though, where anyone can access it.”
“Well, this school, its library is an archive. I’m sure there are copies of important stuff at the palace, too, but the three biggest academies all have a lot of space dedicated to archiving old stuff, too,” Taikie pointed out. “What?” she asked, to Enrie’s look. “It’s in the introductory pamphlet.’”
“I didn’t read it,” she admitted. “So. They…”
“It seems like they took anything really important and made certain there were at least four copies of it. By hand, too, back in the old days, and then they stored it at the major academy libraries. There are a lot of back rooms in the Library and a lot of places where you really have to either be lost or looking for something specific —”
“—like Bitrani folk songs,” Saydrie murmured.
“—like Bitrani folk songs or the burial garment of a specific Empress, yeah. That’s probably why, uh, the thing we’re not discussing is in the Library, or was. Because some Palace archivist thought it was important.”
“The Palace has been burnt down twice,” Enrie mused. “Or was it three times?”
“Either way, it makes sense that —”
“Planning on burning down the Palace, are you?” Instructor Pelnyen was suddenly there behind them, leaning over Tairiekie’s shoulder. “What would you do, climb to the top of the building and pour liquid fire down the sides?”
“What?” Taikie looked at the Instructor as if he had grown a second head. “No, of course not. That’s treason. We were just talking about history.”
“You might worry less about history and more about the future, specifically your next exam. I don’t know how you think you’re ever going to graduate from here, spending all your time talking.”
Enrie couldn’t help it. It was so petty and so perfect after all of the frustration of the last few days. “Teamwork, Instructor Pelnyen, and lovely teachers like you.”
“Well you’d better hope for the hand of the gods, then,” he harrumphed.
He looked, like a confused pigeon, Enrie thought, when all three of them started laughing at him.