June 20, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“And now, you know what we’re going to do, don’t you?”
The voice was deep, ominous, coming from somewhere behind her. Enrie didn’t answer. There was no point in answering, and the blade at her throat suggested it would be a bad idea anyway.
“We’ll erase everything you’ve ever done and everything you might have become. Every hope and every dream — all gone. The girl named Nerenarie never existed.”
She screamed, and the blade bit into her throat. From the sidelines, Gianci watched impassively; Taikie and Saydrie had turned their backs and refused to see.
Enrie woke with a yelp. In front of her was the ceiling, since she’d taken the top of the three bunks. She stared at the ancient wood beams and the cleverly-shaped tin, wishing her heart would stop pounding quite so loudly.
Kotke and Leydrie were still breathing regularly and evenly; she hadn’t woken either of them, then. Enrie thanked the gods for small miracles and closed her eyes again, hoping to find sleep one more time.
The memory of the strange voice was almost too much. She could see the way Saydrie’s shoulders were tightened, the fact that Taikie had braided her hair in one simple braid, denying the situation and all its implications.
Enrie opened her eyes again, staring at the wooden beam, the tin pressed in a pattern popular 200 years ago. She was kicking at the foundations of institutions that had been standing for centuries, like this building, for over a millennium. She was small and insignificant in terms of all that weight. It was going to crush her long before she could make it tumble down.
She swallowed and shook her head. Everything was already moving. If she backed out now, she really would be useless and forgettable.
But the treaty, if it it had been buried on purpose… some might call it treason to bring it up again… Enrie pinched herself. This was getting nothing done, when there was so much to be done.
So much… she’d forgotten about Pelnyen’s paper! And Kaasmasik’s! Aether use in domestic animals… by the end of the week. Which was the day after tomorrow. And then something on the dangers of teamwork — they’d have to work on that together, just after classes, but she could start an outline now.
The sun wasn’t up yet; the moons were still high in the sky. But Enrie had a feeling she wasn’t getting back to sleep. She slid out of bed quietly, trying not to wake her roommates, grabbed her bag off the hook and her notes off of her desk just as quietly, and snuck out into the common room.
She already had piles of notes on aether in animals, after that… prank.. they’d pulled on Instructor Pelnyen. Cougars, goats… weasels.
Domestic weasels living in close proximity with humans have exhibited the following traits…
There was something soothing about doing basic homework, even if it had been assigned on a grudge. Nothing was going to get knocked down because she did a paper detailing the least weasel’s aether-channelling. Nobody — except maybe Pelnyen — was going to get angry.
By the time the sun came up, Enrie had almost convinced herself everything would be okay.