October 14, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie swallowed around a dry throat and watched the scene unfold. Libkazaari stood up, watching Lirnilalie levelly.
The woman, in turn, raised one eyebrow in clear doubt. “I’ve never heard of a school project that led to students hiding, running away from adults and stealing things from rooms.”
“Well as I said, these aren’t your papers. This one, for instance,” Libkazaari gestured vaguely, “this one is in Enerenarie’s handwriting. If it was in your room, it was clearly by mistake. As for the rest: if you haven’t, you’ve clearly not heard of the way things go at this Academy. This one’s parents, for instance, scaled two of the towers here in their day. And that was considered a normal second- or third-year prank at the time.”
“Oh, well, decades ago,” Lirnilalie flapped her hand. “These days, students are much better behaved.”
“These days,” Libkazaari answered dryly, “I find myself expelling more cheaters, for one. These are good students, Associate Governor, …Lirnilalie. I’m sorry if you’ve mistaken them for someone who’s been causing you trouble, but I know these children.”
“Because they spend the whole year in your office!” Ilonilarrona put in.
“And where better for them to be guided?”
Instructor Davenpor cleared his throat. He had been standing in the doorway, looking as if he wanted to be invisible. Now he stepped forward. “When you asked for these three, it never occurred to me that you thought they might have done something wrong.” He shook his head, braids clattering. “They’re good kids, very good children. This one here is very, very clever, and risked her own life to find out what had happened to my dear Talmizhaab. If you are having troubles, it is not them.” He straightened, seeming to get taller and more imposing as the lines of his clothing fell the way they were intended. “If you are having trouble and it is them, I might suggest that you have chosen the wrong side.”
Lirnilalie raised her eyebrows. “I beg your pardon?”
“These are good students. They are wise for their years, they know how to find trouble, and they are quite good at getting out of it. In the few months that they have been here, every time there has been an issue, they have been found to be on the right side of it – even when being suspended for fighting. Thus, ma’am, you are bucking trend and tradition, and you are doing it with a minion who outranks you by several degrees and yet even you do not respect. You don’t look in the right here. And trust me, looks matter.” The diminutive Textiles instructor offered one well-embroidered sleeve as a demonstration. “Of course, as my dear Talmizhaab would have said, the underpinnings matter as well, since if you look nice but all you do is blow steam, it’s unlikely anyone will trust you to carry their load.”
“Are you quite done?”
“Done? Hardly. But I am done with you and yours.” Davenpor bowed to Enrie, to Libkazaari, to Saydrie and Taikie. “Have a lovely day, all of you. Continue to find all those things that we’ve missed, please do, in Talmizhaab’s memory.” He left, closing the door firmly behind him.
“Well,” Enrie coughed. How could they say no to that?