June 22, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Previous to Chapter 34A…
Kekdela and Tesdes were waiting just inside the entrance to the library when Enrie, Saydrie, and Taikie got there. Kekla looked as if she was about ready to bounce out of her uniform, while Tesdes looked — well, the same as Tesdes normally looked, which was reservedly nervous.
Enrie didn’t blame him; she felt much the same. Once they’d told people outside of their little team, it was too late to turn back.
Lovdyo had made that decision for her, in some ways. She cleared her throat and gestured their friends into the library. “We’re going to go into the treaty section,” she told them. The place where everything had already been ransacked seemed like the safest place to talk about it. “Downstairs, near the section on Philosophy.”
“We’re not going to get ambushed by Instructor Pelnyen, are we?” Kekla joked.
“That only happened once,” Taikie reassured her, “and that was during the ‘work individually’ project.”
“I’m… not sure I’m reassured,” Kekla admitted. “But I’m too curious to turn back now.”
“Tesdes?” Enrie offered.
He shook his head. “I want to know, too,” he insisted. “Riensin couldn’t make it — he’s got punishment-homework — so we’ll have to learn it all for him.”
Enrie couldn’t shake the feeling that she was forgetting something, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She’d have to figure it out later. “This way, then. The back stairs are less populated.”
“This is starting to sound like a spy serial in the Lannamer Daily,” Kekla giggled. “‘Come back next time to find out whether Inspector Azhdeeraz lives or dies!’”
“Hopefully, Inspector Enerenarie has no such cliffhangers,” Enrie muttered.
“Are you thinking of a career change?” Kekla teased.
Enrie smiled, but her answer was more than halfway serious. “I’m always thinking about a career change. After we deal with this particular issue.” She wound her way through the back archives, glancing thoughtfully at the fashion history section before leading them into the treaties niche.
It had been tidied up, books and old scrolls moved around until you could no longer see where the gaps were, but the shelves were emptier than they had been, that was clear. Enrie looked where she’d found the book mentioning the Coffee Treaty… and was surprised to find it still there.
“Oh.” She blinked at the book. “That, I wasn’t expecting. So.” She flipped to the correct page and handed it to the rest of the group. “Read, look away, look back.”
They passed it around, squinting at it and muttering under their breaths. When it returned to Kekla a second time, she ran her finger lightly over the page.
“There’s a watermark in here, and I think they wove some of the aether right into the page itself. Pressed it in, I suppose. That’s a nice trick.”
“Do you think…” Taikie’s voice dropped to a whisper. “…do you think she and her friend just couldn’t see it?”
“Well, they were in a bit of a hurry,” Enrie allowed. “There’s more than that, too, but this — and Lovdyo whispering on the other side of the common room — that’s how it started.”
Tesdes, however, had latched onto something else. “Wait. Lady Ilonilarrona has a friend?”