October 24, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Their head of school might being blackmailed, but Enrie found herself worrying more about what to pack. “I don’t have anything,” she complained to her roommates, who were sleepy and not inclined to help. “I didn’t bring anything…” She was being very vague about where she was going, not because she didn’t trust them, but because she didn’t trust anyone else.
“The dress, you brought one, for the graduation and the other fancy-dress ceremonies?” Kotke suggested through a yawn. “Take that, and then something for riding, as carriages are dirty, and something for inns. The dress you came in, yes, that one was very pretty.”
“You’re a blessing from the Three.” Enrie packed quickly, everything that Kotke had suggested and a few extra notes, and then she hurried out to meet up with her team and their allies. They were all coming along. It seemed safer than any other option.
Saydrie had given in to the hat, and Gianci, too, was wearing a heavy woolen contraption of a hat with fur-lined ear flaps. Kekla was in a rainbow-colored tunic over even brighter-hued pants, while Riensin and Tesdes had settled for tri-colored outfits that looked much more workmanlike and Tairiekie was in slim pants and a slim-buttoned long-vest that flattered her quite nicely and looked quite efficient.
“Climbing clothes,” she explained nervously. “It seemed more likely to blend in than anything else I owned.”
“Good idea.” Enrie bit back her own yawn. It had been a long day already, and it seemed it would go on forever.
School head Wiltemika was not there to see them off, but she hadn’t really expected her to be. Stable-Master Korten and House Monitor Libkazaarie were, both dressed in simple clothing in two- and three-color patterns. Korten had a large carriage – almost more of a wagon; it was enclosed, but had very little decoration and seemed like it was meant for carrying supplies, not people – ready, its team of goats stamping impatiently in the late-evening chill.
“Everybody in. It’s better than it looks, but it’s certainly not going to be His Majesty’s Carriage sort of comfort. Quite a group, aren’t you? I’m going to have to clear out another stall soon.”
“Stall?” Gianci pulled himself into the wagon and offered Enrie a hand. She accepted the help and let him swing her up into the enclosed cart-back.
“The three of us study in one of Stable-Master Korten’s empty box stalls. We couldn’t find a place where we could be left alone and where it was actually quiet, and then, well, it’s comfortable. And warm, even in winter.”
“A little smelly, though, wouldn’t it be?”
“City boy,” she teased him. “It doesn’t smell any worse than anything else a goat does, and they do that no matter where you are.”
“I wonder if I could make an engine to deal with the waste,” Taikie considered. “It would only need to…” she trailed off, clearly running figures in her head. Enrie leaned against Gianci’s wide shoulder. For a moment, at least, she could enjoy the peace.