August 26, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
They found Gianci and Taikie in the history section, holding an old tome whose bindings had crumbled with age, hidden off behind a pole in a far corner near the books on Empress Otyeriotanerio . The book itself was Bitrani Writings on the Early Wars, but, between two maps of Reiassan showing previous boundary lines and disputes, two more pages of the Coffee Treaty were nestled, sewn in carefully but with thread that was already beginning to rot away.
“We need someplace private to lay this all out,” Enrie mused.
“Maybe one of the secret passages?” Saydrie offered. “Or a workroom in the Philosphy building. They are usually pretty quiet.”
“Doesn’t that risk getting Pelnyen’s attention?” Taikie frowned.
“I think Pelnyen is really a small problem in the greater scheme of things,” Saydrie admitted. “And he might be holding a grudge, but he’s also on a short tether with the House Monitor. He can’t risk getting in trouble for singling us out again.”
“I can’t think of another place that would be as quiet,” Enrie admitted. “I wish… did you guys find Kekdela and company?”
Saydrie shook his head in the negative. “We didn’t go look in her dorm, but they’ll either come find us, I think, or they don’t want to deal with us anymore.”
“You don’t think…” Enrie shut her mouth firmly. It was far too unkind a thing to consider.
Saydrie shook his head again. Taikie and Gianci watched the two of them, frowning. “I don’t think Kekdela would speak to this Lirnilalie for any reason. And I do not think she would betray her friends for any reason.”
“Not Kekla!” Takie exclaimed. “No, she wouldn’t do that!”
“And Lirnilalie is not the sort who would track down someone and…” Gianci trailed off at the expression on Enrie’s face. “What?”
“Lovdyo,” Enrie choked out. “She did just that to Lovdyo. I don’t know how she found out…”
“Lovdyo was whispering to several people about some secret, before he sealed up and stopped talking to anyone at all. Someone probably let this Lirnilalie know,” Gianci opined. “Kekla hasn’t been wandering around telling people she has a secret.”
“No,” Taikie insisted, “she wouldn’t…” She trailed off into a giggle. “If she found the treaty, she’d probably ask to draw it, anyway.”
“Riensin was really useful at distraction earlier. We can track him down… tomorrow, maybe, if Kekla hasn’t talked him out of helping us,” Enrie decided. “Let’s, well, I guess we can try out the Philosophy workshops. I know the Diplomacy ones are going to be full with upperclassmen working on their term papers.”
“You know,” Saydrie mused, as they left the library, their checked-out books stacked between several more innocent tomes, “at this point, it hardly matters if she tells on us or not. We have enough to go with, and we’re planning on telling someone anyway…”
“Well, she could still stop us, ransack our rooms — remember what happened to Taikie? And that was just another student — attack us, I suppose, call on some higher authority to get us in trouble so anything we say looks like we were just lying to get out of trouble…”
“Enough, Okay, I understand.” Saydrie looked at Enrie in horror. “How did you think of all that?”
Enrie shrugged. “I just… I read.” She looked at the stacks of books they were carrying. “I’ve always read a lot. It just usually isn’t this dangerous.”