November 28, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Whatever pursuit there had been had gotten stuck in the dusk and muck or captured by the constabulary. The rest of the group took turns changing into their nicest clothes as Libkazarri and then Korten maneuvered the wagon through the narrow Lannamer streets and around the curves required to get to the Royal Quarter.
When the wagon finally stopped, they all piled out, stretching their legs and pretending they hadn’t all been hidden in a grain wagon. They were in a tradesmen’s section of the Royal Quarter, the wagon parked between what was probably an ale truck and what looked like a paper-wagon .
Enrie looked around, getting her bearings. This wasn’t the entrance they normally came in, but it was an open gate and it suited the wagon they’d come in. “Cousin–that is the Voice of the Emperor Elalekorra’s — office should be just off this way, in that corner of the palace.”
The Imperial Tower was a massive edifice with two large domes at the center, and a series of towers, domes, and boxlike buildings jutting out in all sides. Directly in front of them were three boxes topped by rounded trapezoidal pyramids; Enrie headed towards the central of the three.
The archway into the building echoed the shape of the pyramid on the top and the stone around it had been carved to look like tent flaps; so had the brass door. Enrie let them in; they were in a warren of offices, some barely more than a desk and two walls, some spanning vast expanses of space with expensive wood furniture.
“I haven’t visited cousin Elalekorra since we – my parents and I – came here a few years ago, so we’ll need to ask someone for directions. This is,” she gestured around, “where most of the work of governing takes place, the part that doesn’t take place out in the field with Diplomats.”
“So this really is a school field trip.” Riensin had his hands in his pockets and was looking at everything with a calculating eye. “I wonder if we’re going to have to do a paper on it when we get back?”
“Careful, sonny, or I might make you do it.” Libkazaari smirked at Riensin. “Lead on, Enerenarie. I’m sure we can find this cousin of yours.”
Enrie moved through the offices, following the pattern: smaller offices were further away from the windows; large rooms were filled with clerks too junior to have their own office or with paperwork and old books. She shifted her position so she was between Taikie and the books at one point, just to keep her friend from getting lost in some Imperial filing.
Clerks would look up at them walking through, frown, and go back to their work when it was clear they weren’t here to talk to what looked like a junior file clerk or a young Scribe. Nobody offered them directions or asked what they were doing here, but Gianci had moved back into his position as Enrie’s guard and she didn’t really expect to be stopped by anything short of an actual Palace Constable.
The offices near the back of this building – closer to the palace main – were larger, had their own windows, and had broader, more expensive furniture. Here, bureaucrats and diplomats might glance up from their discussions, their gaze following Enrie and her little entourage, but only one person called out to them and that, it seemed, was because he had mistaken Enrie for someone else.
She found her cousin Elalekorra’s office when they had nearly reached the palace-main; it was larger than the rest, it had two smaller desks in front of the office door, and a handsome young man was looking at Enrie with raised eyebrows as he stood up.