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Interlude: Backstage

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October 25, 2018 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

The thing about Her Ladyship was that she was immensely, ridiculously convincing – when you were listening to her.  When you were looking at her, talking to her, more importantly, hearing her, everything she said made perfect sense.

It was just when you stopped listening, when you went home and stared at the wall and thought about everything she’d said, then you started to wonder.  You started to have questions like, so how exactly is that going to work? or so what about all the OTHER people that live there? or sometimes even why should it be her?  After all, they measured their ability to rule with a vowel, and she’d had hers stripped away.

Nobody with a shred of self-preservation was ever going to ask Her Ladyship that last one.  As for the rest of them, they often started to seem less important once you got in front of Her Ladyship, or sometimes you started to ask one and she derailed the conversation.

This time, this time, he’d managed to ask what happens when they catch us? There was no contingency in the plan for not-getting caught, after all.  He was pretty sure that Her Ladyship fully intended to be captured. Which might be fine for her – they hadn’t executed a member of the royal family for treason in centuries – but for him?  Not so good. He had no royal relatives, nothing at all to shield him from the hell that would come down on them. On him.

She had just smiled.  “You let me worry about that.”

The thing was, well, that had sounded very reassuring when he was next to her, but now that he was back in his office, staring out the window at the stone wall not all that far away, he didn’t find it reassuring at all.  Because he was pretty sure that Her Ladyship had no plan at all, and well, that really was a worry.

He slipped out of his office.  Maybe he should talk to the Head of the School.  Maybe if he explained everything to her, maybe she would find a way to protect him.

The whole plan had seemed like such a good idea.  After all, everyone knew that the Empire was stagnating.  Everyone knew the problems that were roiling, simmering just under the surface, and that the treatment of the Birtrani was untenable and, in the end, a symptom of the greater problems.

He stopped on the stairway.  They knew, right? The Head of School was a brilliant woman. She’d know what was really going on in the world, the way the aging Emperor with his crab-grip on the Empire simply led to more and more problems.

Right?

He turned back up the stairs and headed back to his office.

The Head of School was a smart woman, sure. But maybe he didn’t want to challenge her thinking quite that much.

He was going to have to figure out how to avoid execution in his own.


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