December 26, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Elelakorra watched Lirnilalie with a steady and unflinching gaze, despite the fact that the latter looked as if she was on fire. “I heard a traitor and an embarrassment speak. It would hardly be the first time, Lyirnilalie.” Elelakorra’s eyes drifted down to the sparking, burning mess of Lirnilalie’s torso and arms before moving casually back up to look her in the face. Enrie took another step backwards. She might not be able to sense any bad aether in this place, but there was definitely something wrong, and she didn’t need the pale, ashen look of both Saydrie and Gianci’s face to tell her that.
“A traitor? That’s ripe. You know why they took my vowel. You know why they stripped my position. You, of all people, you know what I was doing.”
“I do.” Elelakorra stepped forward, while everyone else in the room was stepping backwards. “I am the ears and voice of the Emperor, of course I know. I might have been new to the position back then, but I know. And I know more than that, Lyirnilalie. I know about your schemes. I know everything the Emperor knows about you, both as your liege and as your father.”
“You’re not the voice of my father,” Lirnilalie spat, with surprising vehemence. “You don’t know anything about my family.”
“You know…” Riensin looked a little worried, but his voice sounded every bit as casual as it had throughout this whole affair, “I’m a little confused. First you were saying that you renounced your position, then you said they stripped it. You know what’s best for the nation and you expect the Honored Voice Elelakorra here to know it, too, but yet you don’t expect her to know you or your antecedents. You’re the princess – oh, no, sorry. You were the princess. She is the Voice of the Emperor. Of course she knows about you. Anything else would be just ridiculous. Right?” He smiled brightly at Elelakorra.
Enrie held her breath. Either Riensin was trying something brilliant, or he was being a ridiculous clown. She wasn’t sure which — and she wasn’t sure which direction the Voice would go, either.
Elelakorra raised her eyebrows. “Is he like this all the time?” she asked Enrie.
“To be honest, he’s normally quite a bit more restrained,” she allowed. “Perhaps it’s the trip that’s doing it to him, or…” Enrie found herself much braver and perhaps a bit more ridiculous herself, than she’d imagined she would be. “…perhaps it’s the company?”
“You mean yourself and your teams?” Elelakorra offered. She looked like she was holding back a smile. Enrie hoped that was a good thing.
“Oh, no, he spends most of his days around our teams. I meant the company here.” Banter? She was bantering with the Voice of the Emperor in front of a disgraced former princess. Enrie struggled against an urge to flee.
Elelakorra’s eyes were twinkling. “Oh, so you’re saying that Lyirnilalie here makes him misbehave.” The way she was looking at Enrie kept Enrie’s feet planted.
“Well, Honored Voice, I believe that he has similar opinions to me and, after all, he is not in Diplomacy house.”
“Nope.” Riensin grinned widely. “Not a diplomatic bone in my body.”