January 27, 2017 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie’s heart was pounding so loudly she was certain his guards could hear it. Her throat was dry and her palms were sweaty. And the Emperor — who was, in a way, technically her grand-uncle, although she was fairly certain the tree was not nearly that direct — was smiling at her.
“They have been very interesting tales.” Emperor Edemietridem smiled widely at her. “Far more interesting than the usual bureaucracy of running an Empire, I must say. For instance, there is an Associate Governor and a Reeve who believe you should be expelled for unstudent-like behavior.”
Enrie could hear Taikie squeak behind her. For her part, she was doing her best not to retort.
“And the woman Lirnilalie has told me that you are a supremely good liar, although as I see from your uniform you’re in Temdyordor House—” He paused as Elelakorra whispered in his ear. “—ah, pardon an old man his memory. It’s Estiessyaa House now, isn’t it? She was something, too. Ahem. As I see you’re in Estiessyaa House, I can’t see how being a very good liar is a bad thing.”
He leaned forward as if to share a secret. Enrie took a small step forward. This was the Emperor. She didn’t want to get all that close, or his guards might skewer her, and with good reason.
“Oh, come closer. You don’t look to me to be the assassinating type. If you wanted me dead,” the Emperor punctuated this with a very wide smile “— I imagine I’d never see it coming until the nation overtoppled. Lirnilalie was right to distrust you, you know.”
What was she supposed to say to all that? Enrie stepped forward, because she’d been ordered to, and, because he was rather grandfatherly up close, she knelt down by his feet, the way she’d sat at her own grandfather’s feet when he was telling a story.
He smiled benevolently down at her. “You outsmarted her. You outsmarted an Associate Governor, too, but I’m afraid that’s not that much of an accomplishment when it comes to Ilonilarrona or her pet Reeve. So, grand-niece Enerenarie. You’ve brought us quite an interesting piece of paper, you and your team.”
“Yes, your majesty?” Enrie swallowed. “That is, I found it very interesting myself.”
“I should hope so,” he teased. The Emperor was teasing her! “After all, you went to a great deal of trouble to get it and get it to me. So, tell me, do you think the missing pages are somewhere in this library?”
“I believe they might be, your majesty, but it might take a book-by-book search of every book in every related topic. And,” she ducked her head, “we were still concentrating on passing our classes, of course.”
“It is important to have priorities.” His eyes sparkled despite his solemn tone. “Now. This is what we are going to do in this matter. I have five of the best historians in the empire studying the treaty. They will let you know everything they can find from the copies before we ask for the originals. I will send seven underworked imperial bureaucrats here to begin the search of the library – but they will consult with you and inform you of their movements. I do not yet know what this will mean for our Empire — but I expect that you and your friends here will be some of the first to discover that.”
Enrie worked her mouth, soundless. After a moment, she managed to find words. “Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty, thank you.” She bowed as deeply as she could.
“Grand-niece. You have done a good thing today. Hold your head high.” The Emperor stood. “I look forward to seeing what you and your friends get up to next.”