December 12, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Honestly, some people…” Elelakorra pulled a dart gun from somewhere in her desk and hopped up onto said desk, nimbly missing the copies of the treaty. She took aim, sighted… and then sighed. “Let her in, Tevordor, and then go get the guard. All of them. Twice.”
“Ma’am?” Tevordor didn’t turn around. Enrie didn’t blame him.
“Let her in. It won’t do all that much good to try to stop her and it’ll just cause trouble. Go!”
Tevordor disengaged in a smooth move Enrie wished she could emulate and vanished out into the building. Through the opening he’d made, Lirnilalie strode, looking and acting as if she’d just been taking a leisurely walk, not gotten into hand-to-hand combat with the guard to the royal Voice.
Enrie wanted to be surprised, but somehow she found she wasn’t, nor was she nearly as worried as she should be. She stood and bowed shallowly.
“Princess Ilirnilalirnlie.” Elelakorra cleared her throat. “Ah, that is ‘Lirnilalie,’ isn’t it? I should not be surprised to find you here — and yet I am. Attacking my reception man, no less.” She jumped down from her desk, and Enrie and the rest of her friends cleared out of her way quickly as she strode towards Lirnilalie.
Lirnilalie, in turn, was scowling. “My name is Lirnilalie, and I have no shame in that.”
“Pity. If you had any shame at all, we wouldn’t be spending nearly as much time cleaning up messes you’d caused.”
Enrie was doing her best not to gape or stare. Princess? Princess Ilirnilalirnlie?
The Emperor had lived a long life and sired quite a few children. They, in turn, had quite a few children. Enrie didn’t have them all memorized, but she was pretty sure she’d never heard of a princess by that name.
“Oh, but I thought that was your job, cleaning up Imperial messes. Elora, the royal shit-shoveller, the royal floor-scrubber and graffiti-washer. The royal painter, right, coloring things the way they need to look? You should be thanking me.”
Enrie was trying hard not to show anything, but she knew she took a step backwards. Had she made exactly the wrong choice? Had she doomed them all?
She glanced back at Gianci. His expression was grim, but he mustered up a small smile for her. Taikie looked like she was about to explode; Kekla like she was about to panic and run from the room. Saydrie and Tesdes had variations on stoic, and Riensin looked amused.
Amused. She narrowed her eyes and considered that expression. He caught her looking and waggled his eyebrows at her.
“Oh, I might thank you eventually. Why are you here, Lirnilalie? It’s quite a long hike from the South all the way up here — but you haven’t been where you’re supposed to be, are you?”
That got a scowl out of Lirnilalie. “I’ve been where I needed to be. I see these little traitors have found you. You’re not listening to their stories, are you? They’re all quite the liars. The little royal one even convinced poor, idiotic Ilonilarrona that she was going up the hillside with that Bitrani boy there.” She gestured at Saydrie. “I’m sure they’ve come up with all sorts of interesting tales for you, and they’ve clearly duped their poor House Monitor. You remember Libri, don’t you? The one that cause you and Father so much trouble…”