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Chapter 38B: Sometimes You Just Have to Dance


August 3, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

Gianci cleared his throat and took a step backwards.  Enrie stood up and took a step downwards, closer to him.

“So…” he offered uncertainly.  “So you would have… gone down to the, that is, gone to the races with me, if you hadn’t been… otherwise occupied, um, planning to be charged with treason?”

“When you put it like that…”  It sounded mad. Enrie smiled up at him uncertainly.  “Yes.  I would have gone to the races with you.  And I would, if you asked again and I wasn’t elbow-deep in ancient manuscripts, ominous unknown royals who forsake their vowels—”

“Lirnilalie?” he whispered.  “You’re going up against Lirnilalie?

“Well, to be fair, we didn’t know it was her when we started…”

“Lirnilalie.”  He shook his head.  “You’re going to need all the help you can get.”

“That’s what everyone is telling me.  That’s why we were looking for Kekla.  She got worried when we found out who we were against.”

“You didn’t know?”  He raised his eyebrows at her.

Enrie hunched her shoulders up.  “Well, there was Lady Ilonilarrona, but she really didn’t seem like that much of a threat.  And there was her friend we never saw, but frankly, he didn’t seem all that bright, either.  So whoever this Lirnilalie is, her taste in employees is not all that good.”

“I don’t think she cares,” Gianci mused.  “At least, not from what I’ve seen.  My parents did business with her a couple times,” he added.  “I’ve never met her, but I’ve heard about her.”  He looked down at Enrie again.  “I must say, Lady Enerenarie, you’re even braver than I thought, or you’ve as much sense as an Akaizen House Engineer climbing up buildings.  Possibly both.  But I like it.”

“I’m glad you approve,” she answered, not quite managing to soften it with a smile; instead, her expression came out a bit like a grimace.  “It’s what’s got to get done, and if I don’t, people like Lirnilalie will bury it all, and there’ll be another story about the royals of Calenta that nobody tells.”

“Say the royal,” he teased.  “Don’t you worry that this will cause an upheaval?”

“I think…” She’d thought about it, of course.  It would have been ridiculous not to.  “I think that if I can cause that much trouble, one girl in her first year of school — and her friends — well, then it’s like Taikie’s humanic-aether tea engine.   If we can shake things up that badly, then the theory they were standing on—”

“Humanic-aether tea engine?”

“Pelnyen really should know how to handle Engineers.  They like proof.”  Enrie shrugged.  “Anyway… I don’t think I’ll overthrow anything except, well, maybe my life.  But it’s like getting Olisama and Ulunumani  in trouble for cheating—”

“I’d love to see how your mind works.  It sounds like a house-weasel that’s been chewing cubed sugar.”

“Well… you’d have to talk to me more before it makes sense, I suppose,” Enrie admitted.  “Much of it is, well, contextual.  And right now… our context…”

“…Is standing in a closet because we were fighting.”  He raised his eyebrows and smirked.  “Because, it seems, we both had an interest in the other.”

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