February 5, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
House Monitor Libkazaari had left the three of them alone in her office. For once, Enrie had no interest in snooping and it seemed that Taikie didn’t, either.
“Sometimes,” Saydrie said slowly, “I worry that the things I grew up hearing about the Calenyena are true.”
“Sometimes,” Enrie answered, very nearly as slowly, “I worry the same thing. We’re getting comfortable, I think. Never get too soft or too fat to sit on your smallest goat.”
“Do you think Calenta is fat?” Taikie pursed her lips. “It’s complicated and big, but is it bloated?”
“When we’re looking at people like Olisama, I think so.” She peeked over at Saydrie. “What do you think?”
“I wouldn’t have thought about it that way,” he admitted. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. This is just a few bad apples, like you said, on a tree that’s gotten heavy. Not a whole nation that’s dragging around rotting apples like chains and boulders.”
“This metaphor is getting stranger and stranger.” Taikie smiled sidelong. “Like a political cartoon, with Old Calenta as the man with the beard to his knees, dragging around boulders that look like Olisama and…” She fell quiet as the door opened.
Head Wiltemika walked in ahead of Libkazaari. She was smiling, but it looked like a sad smile, her eyebrows furrowed. “Enerenarie. Tairiekie. Saydrie. Your team seems very good at ferreting out trouble.”
“Trouble likes to walk up and hit us in the nose,” Taikie countered. “It’s not like we go…”
“…creating elaborate plans to annoy your Philosophy Instructor?” The Head of School’s smile grew.
“That,” Enrie pointed out, “was Riensin’s idea and most of it was his implementation. It just so happened that he did it because of trouble Tairiekie’s been having with Instructor Pelnyen.”
“Of course. And now you, Enerenarie, are having trouble with Instructor Kaasmasik?”
She made it sound like they were doing it on purpose. Enrie raised her chin and thought of how her mother or father might answer.
“I noticed something that might be a problem. I though House Monitor Libkazaari might be interested in it, since we’re told to bring problems to her.”
Wiltemika smiled. “You are in Diplomacy House, aren’t you? So, tell me, what is the problem?”
“Instr – I believe Instructor Kaasmasik is encouraging me to cheat. From things other… people with a vowel at the beginning of their name… have said, I believe this is an endemic problem, not one Instructor being overzealous in helping a slow student.”
“You’re not slow, Enrie! Head Wiltemika, she’s not slow! This is ridiculous!” Taikie rose half out of her chair.
The head of House gestured her downwards. “Easy, Tairiekie. I know that your teammate is not slow. She was admitted to this Academy, after all. Enerenarie, I’m going to assume you don’t have proof?”
“No.” There was a sinking feeling in Enrie’s stomach. “No, I have what certain people said, but nobody left anything in writing.”
“There was,” Saydrie spoke slowly, “the way that he allowed everyone to take their tests back for corrections, after they had opened their books.”
Wiltemika raised her eyebrows. “Well, that’s something I can corroborate, at least. Thank you, all three of you, for your time.”
They were clearly dismissed. Enrie stood up slowly. It felt like she’d climbed a mountain to find the top looked just like the bottom.