May 11, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie smiled and nodded and note-took her way through class, not letting herself look at her teammates for too long. In the glances she took, she could see that Taikie was pale and worried-looking; Saydrie looked bitter, a surprising and unpleasant look on his face.
Instructor Kaasmasik, she couldn’t help but notice, looked smug. She could imagine she might look smug in that situation, too. At the moment, he had gotten away with cheating in the most prestigious school in the world.
For the moment.
“Lady Enerenarie,” he called, as she was about to leave. “Don’t forget to get the paper on aether use in domestic animals to me by the end of the week.”
He hadn’t assigned any such paper, and neither had Instructor Rezhtareza. She looked him right in the eye and smiled. “Of course not, Instructor. Three pages, was it?”
She noticed him struggling with himself. “Four pages. And at least two references. That shouldn’t be too hard for a bright student like you.”
“Of course not. By the end of the week.” She smiled as if she were on the most sensitive Diplomatic mission, and didn’t stop smiling until they’d turned a corner and were out of earshot.
Even then, she didn’t indulge in swearing. She looked at her teammates. “Today at lunch. It’s the only option at this point.”
“We could…” Taikie started, and shook her head. “No.”
“Do you think it will truly change anything?” Saydrie frowned.
Enrie raised her chin. “I think it would change me, and not for the better, to let it go.”
That elicited a small smile from him. “Then we’ll try. It’s better to have laid down a bridge than to complain about the flooding.”
“Heh.” That made her smile, if only a little. “All right. She might —”
“She might do a lot of things,” Saydrie agreed. “Many things here might end up with us falling off of bridges, as it were.” He set his jaw.
Enrie worried her lip. She didn’t want Saydrie to get in trouble, but she couldn’t make his decisions for him. “All right,” she agreed slowly. “Lunch. And then — well, then we have to hope that staff does something. Something useful,” she clarified. The staff did plenty, but it seemed mostly to sweep problems under the rug.
The classes until lunch seemed to alternately drag and speed by. Enrie rehearsed what she wanted to say, changed it, rehearsed it again. She thought, again and again, about what might happen to her — less important; the school could expel her but not declare her not a noble; there were other ways to earn your vowel than in earning a prefix — to Taikie, who would be crushed, to Saydrie, who could be…
They did not always execute people for treason, but when there was a case that needed to be made an example of, the punishments could run from horrible to gruesome. But Saydrie was a Bitrani in History House. He knew this already.
Of course, pointing out cheaters was neither against the rules nor treason. But…
“This is the problem.” They were walking towards the dining hall. They were nearly there. “If Olisama — whose family is so barely royal they may be wearing the vowel like false braids — could pull enough strings to get Kasmaasik reinstated, what can Ulunumani’s family do? We may be paddling on stone.”