November 7, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The wagon rattled along the bridge. Kekdela had her head on her knees, one hand in Riensin’s and the other in Tesdes’. Enrie clutched the bag holding her copies of the treaty carefully to herself. What would her mother do in this situation? Her father?
First, her mother would say, act the part you’re portraying. If you’re going to be the Representative of the Crown, be the representative with everything they can see, hear, taste. If you’re a poor trader, be the poor trader right down to your sore feet and your sore bottom.
Well, she was going to have to do some quick changing, then. They had just scant minutes until they got to the end of the bridge. She stripped off her workman-like clothes quickly and pulled on the outfit Kotke had suggested she bring. It did look sufficiently regal, especially with the gold-embroidered vest peeking out under the jacket. She felt like a bit of a pretender, the angle of the buttons across her tunic saying she was more qualified than she really was – but that was the point of this exercise, anyway.
“You don’t have time to fix your hair.” Gianci was beside her as she finished buttoning her jacket. “But if I pin these two up like this, and these two like that, it looks a lot fancier than it really is. Will that work? And then…” He gestured at himself. Somewhere, somehow, he’d changed his vest into something solemn and yet rich-looking. “With me standing behind you, and Calenyena-natives tend to think I’m older than I really am…”
“You look like a bodyguard. Do you like… Is that…”
“It’s fine. It was my idea, after all.” He kissed her cheek as the wagon pulled to a halt. “Ready?”
“Never. But I can do it.” She slunk to the front of the wagon, glad it had stopped moving from side to side. They were just off the bridge, faced with the cart full of constables.
Enrie pulled herself together. She slipped out into the driver’s area and stood up, pulling herself to her full height. She could feel Gianci behind her, standing tall and silent; she could see the constables take in his stance as well as her own.
“Constables.” She bowed politely to all of them. They were not fancily-dressed, but the one clearly in charge had three extra layers of vest and tunic. “There’s not a problem, is there? I was hoping on visiting my cousin Elalekorra in the palace.”
“Your cousin?” The chief stepped forward. “Who might you be?”
“Enerenarie, student of the Edaledalende Academy at Ileltedez, daughter of Diplomats Azhnarrenzha-Oozet and Oozhoonoozet-Azhna.” She bowed again, more deeply this time. “I am quite pleased to make your acquaintance.”
The wagon with what had to be Lirnilalie’s people was getting closer and closer. Enrie kept as carefully formal an expression on her face as she could manage and hoped it would be enough.