February 29, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
It had been fun, telling Olisama off; it had been almost more fun being able to find common ground with Falivia. Enrie laughed with Riensin and his teammates and joked with Saydrie and Taikie as they headed off to their final classes, all just a little bit late.
But as they slid in to their seats, enduring a small lecture on the value of punctuality, she found herself growing thoughtful again. Olisama had said Instructors, plural. There were other teachers who were cheating for the royal students. That was a problem.
Piadro had been worried, too. There was definitely something that the Cevati Bitrani were hiding.
Well, that seemed like it was a given. Enrie remembered visiting the enclaves with her parents, and how polite and careful everyone had been. She glanced over at Saydrie, and wondered if the Bitrani were planning a revolution.
If they were, what could she do about it? Certainly, older and more powerful people than her had to know something, didn’t they?
She thought about how Libkazaari had reacted to the news of Instructor Kasmaasik’s cheating. She hadn’t been surprised. Academy Head Wiltemika hadn’t been surprised, either.
There was a hole-in-the-road story her father liked to tell: there was a small town, and in the center of the main street, a hole was growing. At first it was shallow and nobody really minded it; besides, it was the middle of harvest season and nobody had the time to fill it.
Then it grew, as frost filled it and expanded it and rain filled it and expanded it. But by then, people had gotten used to driving around it. Year after year, and people had just driven around it.
Until the census-taker came and his goat nearly stumbled into the hole. The census-taker looked at the hole, and he looked at the people, and he said “why hasn’t anyone done anything about this?”
“It’s always been that way,” said the baker whose shop was nearest the hole on one side.
“I thought it was the baker’s job,” said the tailor whose shop was across the road from the baker’s.
“It’s a feature of the road and nobody can fix it,” said the reeve.
“It’s a hole in the road,” the census taker said. “Somebody bring me a shovel.”
The problem was, she didn’t know what to use for a shovel and she didn’t know what to fill the hole with. Holes. She listened to Instructor Dainanan discuss historical weaving patterns with only half of her mind; the rest was devoted to thinking about holes, and cheating.
“And then there is a decorative technique that has currently fallen out of fashion,” Dainanan continued. “Meant for mending holes in such a way as to make the mended area look more attractive, rather than carefully hiding the hole or replacing the entire panel or garment. When you are done, it is clear that there had been some sort of damage, but that the damaged place has been reinforced and decorated. It’s the equivalent of the scarification techniques still used in some remote parts of Calenta, but for clothing.”
Enrie’s head went up. That was it.