October 18, 2018 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
What Causes Bad Aether?
They each had a list. Saydrie thought it was a little strange, but it had made both fo his teammates happy, so he had written it off as a Calenyena trait and taken his third of the list.
The questions were: Why do the Bitrani know about bad aether and the Calenyena don’t?
What causes bad aether?
Why do the Bitrani know about HUMANIC aether and the Calenyena don’t?
What could Lirnilalie be involved in?
How can bad aether be detected?
What are the possible consequences of the treaty?
Tairiekie had taken the question of how bad aether could be detected and why the Bitrani knew about humanic aether.
Enrie had taken the questions of what Lirnilalie might be involved in and what the consequences of the treaty she had found might be.
That left Saydrie the obvious, if impossible questions: why did the Bitrani know about bad aether (and why could they smell it), and what caused it?
Which, in turn, left Saydrie up in the Bitrani section of the library, muttering at the lousy stock of books and wondering where else he could find things.
There had to be some old books, from when Bithrain was actually an enemy and not a client-state, didn’t there? And Edally, as far as he could tell, never got rid of anything.
He left the Bitrani section and its useless books behind and began to explore like he was looking for another route around the school.
The library, like the rest of the buildings in this school, had been added on to whenever someone felt the need. He found a stairway to a basement he wasn’t even sure the current librarians knew existed tucked behind a book shelf – not hidden; the new shelf had just been put up sideways and the space between it and the wall was barely enough to allow someone through of his stature.
As he was sliding through, he caught sight of some multicolored silk coming around the corner towards him.
It could be anyone, he told himself. There was a lot of multicolored clothing around; he was in Calenta. And there was a decent amount of silk among the instructors; most of them wore linen, but some of them liked to be more fancy or more formal, both of which seemed to call for lots of silk.
On the other hand, it could be the woman stalking him, and with the possibility of Lirnilalie (or someone else with bad aether!) in the area, it behooved him to be safe. He hurried down the stairway as quietly as he could.
Down here, the shelves smelled of dust and the smell of old books. There was almost no light save for one small set of windows that had to have been glazed just before the shelves were put up; they still had the very small glass set into large bars of metal that was common in the oldest glass windows.
Saydrie moved among the shelves slowly, running his fingers over the old spines. There was no guarantee that he’d find anything here, of course, but he had always loved old books His mother had jokingly said, when he was young, that she hadn’t so much had to teach him to read as just waved some books near him and the Three did the rest.
Squinting at titles, he found four that looked interesting and brought them over to the windows. There was even an old bench there, the padding in surprisingly good shape. He settled down on the bench and began to read.
Some time later, he noticed that the light had shifted so that he could no longer properly see the words on the page. He picked up his books – did he dare try to check them out? Well, if he just slid them under the bench, he could come back for them tomorrow. He doubted there were any library assistants down here, reshelving, tidying. Not when there weren’t any lamps.
The shadows seemed a little more ominous as he made his way along the shelves. He could take the stairs that had brought him down here, but his urge to explore made him want to find another way out. There was no promise that there was one, of course; when the library built around old areas, they weren’t normally considering how one would get to those old areas. And the books he’d been reading were the sort of thing he thought that many people would rather forget.
He hadn’t found the answers he was looking for yet, but he had found two declarations of war and three descriptions of assassinations – two of Bitrani high-ranking officials and one of a Calenyena noble. There had been a lot of that, back in the day, it seemed.
There would be again, he knew, if this whole thing blew up as badly and as far as it was threatening to.
He slipped through another narrow crack between two bookshelves and found himself in a more known part of the library. There were lamps here, and the brightness of three broad windows; turning around, he could see that one of the bookshelves had been made into the wall, and the crack between the two looked far narrower on this side than it had on the other.
He narrowed his eyes. This was looking far less like an accidental construction artifact and far more like someone wanting to get rid of a whole section of the library without the added troubles of just burning the books or throwing them on the midden heap.
That was a discussion for another time. From the looks of the sun, he was going to miss dinner if he didn’t hurry now. He knew how to get out from here; it was a matter of taking a short set of stairs up towards the main lobby, and then-
-and then he stumbled and stopped dead as he nearly ran into the woman who had been following him.
“Student Saydrie! One of the Librarians thought they had seen you here, but I couldn’t locate you! What good fortune that I find you right here.”
“Ah, Lady, that is,” he bowed. “I am Student Saydrie, yes, although you have the advantage of me?”
Enrie would be so pleased with him. Taikie, on the other hand, might be screaming at him to run away.
“I suppose I do. I am not so well-known as some of my sisters and cousins, and, well, that is a matter for another day.” She bowed very shallowly, but still politely. “I am the Princess Oltyellaobtello. I am here because I need your assistant.”
“Princess?” Saydrie squeaked. “Princess? Oh, by the Three.” He bowed very deeply. He was in trouble now.