April 18, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Lady Enerenarie. Can I bother you for a moment?”
Enrie was just a few feet from the Library, but she stopped at Gianci’s voice coming up behind her.
“You don’t have to call me Lady, you know.” She turned around slowly. What could he want? From the sounds of things, he didn’t need any help with homework.
She surprised an uncertain look on his face that was rapidly replaced with a smile. “Ah, but I like it. Besides, someone ought to. Look… I think that you’re going to do some interesting things this year. Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t already.”
“I’ve been busy figuring out which interesting thing to do and dealing with my teammate getting assaulted.”
“I know they were kind of rough on Saydrie, but I didn’t think anyone assaulted him,” Gianci protested.
Enrie smirked at him, feeling on almost-even footing for the first time in a while. “You did say ‘the year.’ It’s been a busy one so far for our team.”
“I guess it had been. Someone got assaulted earlier, then?”
“Oh, you didn’t hear?” Enrie supposed that it probably wasn’t common knowledge outside of Engineering House. “Earlier in the year, Taikie found a professor who’d died, and she got herself hit in the head in the process.” She winced, thinking about the wound. “But they caught the person who did it, at least.”
“You three aren’t having a fun year, are you?”
Enrie gave it some thought. She wanted to agree, if only to encourage the sympathetic look on Gianci’s face. And yet… “I don’t know. Parts of it have been great.”
“The goat, for example?”
Enrie let a smile sneak over her face. “The goat, for example,” she agreed. “Teamwork. I like my team.”
“It seems your team likes other teams as well…?”
“Well, we can’t end up just talking to ourselves. And Riensin is fond of Tairiekie, so they do tend to spend a lot of time with us.” Enrie could guess that Gianci was getting at something, but she had no idea what.
“Mmm.” He leaned against the wall. If Enrie hadn’t been studying his face, she might not have noticed the way he glanced both ways down the hallway before he continued. “You were asking Lovdyo about the missing treaty, a few while ago.”
That had not been what she’d been expecting. “Yes,” she answered slowly, “I was. But he clearly didn’t want to talk about it, and there’s —” she chose her words carefully. She didn’t want to lie to Gianci, and yet she had no interest in spilling the whole story. “—there’s nothing about any missing treaty in the history section of the Library. Besides, then we got all messed up in the Cevati Bitrani being angry at Saydrie and the problems with the other royal-children.”
“And your explorations in Bitrani Folklore were just an interest in your teammate’s culture?”
Enrie managed to cover over the urge to look guilty by rolling her eyes at Gianci. “It’s fascinating stuff and I come from a Diplomatic family.”
“I can tell.” He smirked, clearly unfooled. Then the smile went away. “Listen, please. Things are reaching a crisis point among the Cevati Bitrani. They won’t have told Saydrie anything, because they think that he’s gone, uh, traitor, gone to ‘following around a Calenni princess,’ to quote.”
Enrie winced but didn’t argue. It wasn’t nearly as surprising as she wanted it to be. “But they’ll tell you?” she asked instead.
“Sometimes they forget. Most people forget.” He shrugged. “I look Bitrani, after all. So as long as I don’t open my mouth… sometimes I hear things.”
Enrie raised her eyebrows. “That’s got to get awkward.”
“Well, mostly,” he shifted his weight back onto his heels as if thinking of running away. Him? Nervous around her? Enrie tried her best not to squirm. “But what I meant to say was — there are people who are looking for just about any cause to start a fight, or better yet, a revolution. I’d watch out if I were you.”