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Chapter 19b: some put in nettles and some put in fish eggs…


January 22, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

Taikie and Saydrie held their tongues until they were all away from Enrie’s relatives, until they’d sat down at their table.  Then, however, as if it had been pressing against her like steam building up behind a valve, Taikie leaned forward and hissed at Enrie.

“What did she mean, you were upsetting Instructor Kaasmasik?  And what were they talking about…?”

“Well, ‘fraternizing with Byitties’ is obvious.”  Saydrie was practically leaking bitterness.  “Your family doesn’t approve of me, Enerenarie.”

“I have a lot of family.”  She spoke slowly, carefully.  “Some of them aren’t very aware of history, and some of them aren’t very aware of what’s at the end of their own nose.”  She touched her own nose.  “They don’t matter.  I meant what I said.  I won’t hear their opinions again.” She looked from one friend to the other.  “If that sounds conceited…”

“It sounds royal.” Riensin flopped down to the other side of Taikie and made an elaborate flourish with one arm.  “You’re not supposed to listen to just anyone’s opinion. My aunt says ‘if you let the whole village make the soup, some will put in nettles and some will put in fish eggs, and both will make the soup inedible.’”

Enrie wrinkled her nose, imagining that soup.  “Your aunt sounds like a wise woman.”

“‘Clever enough at times,’ she’d say, ‘and far too clever at others.’” Riensin grinned widely. “We take after her.  I only caught the tail end of that mess you were getting into.  Are you irritating the whole school today?”

“It seems like it.” Enrie shrugged uncertainly.  “Some of it was on purpose, I suppose…”

“But baiting that goat-hair-braided overdressed cousin of yours, that was just for entertainment?”  Riensin grinned.  “You know, Kekdela asked if she could sketch Olisama, because Kekla wants to paint everyone—”

Almost…  no, that’s accurate.” Kekdela flopped down on the other side of Enrie.  “I’d sketch everyone in the world if they’d hold still long enough.”

“A noble goal.” Enrie let herself smile.   “What did Olisama say?”

“She said she was much too busy to worry about such things, especially from someone like me.” Kekdela wrinkled her nose.  “Talking to people like her, I understand what you mean by ‘just a vowel.’  They let a little extra letter go to their head, don’t they?”

Enrie flinched.  It was one thing to say it, another thing entirely to hear it from someone else.  “I guess they do, yeah.”  She reached for a more honest answer.   “These days, a lot of royals do.  There are so many of us, after all, and there’s only one crown and throne.  So there’s a lot of useless royalty.”

It was a nasty set of words in her mouth, useless royalty.  Her parents were Diplomats.  She could be a Diplomat. She wouldn’t be useless, would she?

“I see.”  Kekdela ran her hands over the air in front of Enrie’s face.  “This, this line here, and this one here.  You worry already.  That’s interesting.”

Enrie looked away.  “It’s just…”  She sighed.  “Yes.  I worry.”



  1. thnidu says:

    Oh, poor Enrie. It’s hard on her, having a conscience and being intelligent and having to deal with all this sort of stuff.

  2. thnidu says:

    Come to think of it, this is the exact opposite of Stone Soup.

  3. Rix Scaedu says:

    I look forward to the day when Enrie is important enough to form a Household or a Court or Something and Olisama…..isn’t.

  4. Marina Brave says:

    Huh, you’d think Oli’d be flattered to ~sit for a painting~.

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