April 22, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Saydrie was quiet. Taikie was quiet and frowning. Enrie was holding a book in front of her, quiet, and feeling vaguely embarrassed by the whole thing.
Finally, Saydrie cleared his throat. “That’s… well, I’m not all that surprised, I have to admit. They don’t really like the team system, I mean, a lot of Cevati Bitrani have been complaining about it. It’s — well, it’s obviously designed to put the few Bitrani in with a lot of Calenyena people, to isolate us.”
He took a breath. “It’s the same thing with the room assignments. So if I’m acting as if I don’t mind the team system… which I don’t,” he hurried to add, “it makes me look like I’m not up for change. And they think I’ve just given in to the Calenyena. As if being friends with people and giving in are the same thing!” His voice had risen, just a bit, but it was enough to make him blush pink and drop his voice to a whisper.
“They make me angry,” he muttered, “Darnio and people like him. ‘You’re either with us or you’re against us.’ And never mind that half of what they’re talking about is…” His slowly-rising voice dropped off again. “…might be treason.” It was so quiet that Enrie could barely hear it, but she didn’t have to hear it to understand. “But Gianci,” he added bitterly — but quite quietly — “they just forget that he’s… Calenyena. Even though he dresses and sounds Calenyena. He just stands there, and they accept him.”
Enrie wasn’t sure what to say. From the looks of things, Taikie wasn’t sure, either, although she was frowning tightly. “You’re doing what you’re supposed to,” she insisted quietly. “It’s not fair of them to punish you for that.”
“A lot of things aren’t fair,” Enrie couldn’t help but point out. “And maybe they feel like… well, I’m not sure. Like things the Calenyena do aren’t fair, either?”
“It doesn’t matter anyway.” Saydrie straightened himself up. “I don’t know what will happen when I leave here, when I go back home, but I don’t think it will hinge on what people like Darnio think of me. Except that if they liked me, they could get me in more trouble.” He smiled at them, and although it was a wan smile, Enrie smiled back anyway. “We can’t fix the whole world in a day, isn’t that the saying? So instead we will fix what’s in front of us?”
Enrie swallowed. This wasn’t Saydrie feeling better. This was Saydrie trying to distract them.
“We could…” she began. His abrupt headshake cut her off.
“We can deal with the unfairness we’ve got directly in front of us. You want a plan of attack. Let’s get one.”
“All right.” Enrie took a couple breaths to steady herself. “We can do that. We can come up with a good plan.”
“All right. So you want to talk to Ulunumani. You don’t really think that she’s going to admit to cheating, do you?”
“That’s the thing.” Enrie leaned forward. “She has to, for this to work. I mean, it’s obvious when you talk to Olisama that something is rotten with her, but Ulunumani doesn’t talk that much. And if it just gets swept under the rug again, nothing changes. So I think the first step is talking to House Monitor Libkazaari…”