June 11, 2019 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The audience hall had erupted into shouting and arm-waving. Taikie stepped forward next to Saydrie and started walking down the stage’s front stairs; the announcer hurried after her, intent on bringing her back onto the stage.
Enrie caught the announcer’s arm. Saydrie stood up to his tallest and raised his voice in the tone that they used when reciting in temple.
“Excuse me.” He lifted both arms. “People of Calenta. Hello.” The arm gestures were the sort of thing the priests of the Three would use. People started to look at him. “The aether of the people is true and real. If you look at yourself, if you look at the things that you have been told you will see that it must be true.”
He had no confidence that it was so, but that was okay. He could work on faith.
“There is aether in everything. You already know that the aether in an aether-rock can be measured; Student Zhailzhie showed you that and you applauded. Anyone who went to school knows that aether exists, and that it can be used to fuel a basic machine.”
More people were quieting down. Enrie followed Taikie into the crowd.
“There is aether in people. In the reign of Emperor Iktallikktal, the scholar Zhintakin and the Emperor declared that this would no longer be spoken of. They did this not because it was against the Three, or because it was a threat to the power of Calenta, but because-“
He opened his history book and flipped it to the proper page. He cleared his throat and read the passage. When people looked at him in a bit of surprise and possibly confusion, Saydrie pointed to the page and looked up at them.
“This must be told,” he read, in his most carrying and solemn voice, “and yet I find myself to be worried of the fears which mine Emperor has lain forth. Princess Urieketturieonie will be Queen, because Emperor Iktallikktal has declared it so. And yet the Emperor has told me — even if he has said it to no other — that he feared that a taint had spread through all the lines of his family, and he was relieved to find that Urieketturieonie was still clean enough to inherit. As for her children and grandchildren, one can only hope and pray that one will come forward who can hold the throne.
“Or-” Saydrie paused, a sense of the dramatic taking over him. The crowd was silent, except a few complainers in the back. He could see Enrie and Taikie, two bright dots in a bright sea, heading around as if they were testing everyone with Taikie’s Device. People started to move away from them, but the crowds pressed them back.
“-Or we must eliminate the thought of ‘tainted sira’ as a barrier to inheriting the throne. We cannot change the law,” Saydrie emphasized, “because it is written into our very charter. Thus, we must change the minds of people so that they no longer think of sira within their Imperial House — within anyone — as something to consider.”
He closed the book. “The annals of the Emperor Iktallikktal, written by Zhintakin, a contemporary of said Emperor and his known confidante. Azepenzepie and Tirtentir, in their Histories of the Imperial Throne, speak at length about Zhintakin and his position as an adviser, sometimes-mentor, and person who handled all of the quiet back-door work for Emperor Iktallikktal and then for his daughter, Empress Urieketturieonie.” He looked around the room.
“Tainted aether exists and is measurable. Tainted aether is, by the very charter of this nation, a reason to bar inheritance of the throne or of any political position. And I ask of you — of all of you — have you met Lirnilalie in person? Have you felt the aether that she carried within herself? Have you spoken to her of her plans and seen the lies in her gaze, or the truth?
“I, we,” he added, “have met Lirnilalie. We have spoken to her. We have survived her.”
He let the room digest that one. There were murmurs and whispers, grumbles and a couple complaints. Enrie and Taikie had reached the very back of the room now. There was some sort of scuffle at the back door. A large Bitrani man stood in front of it, blocking several people from exiting.
Saydrie pulled their attention back to himself.
“Make no mistake: I am not being naive nor exaggerating when I say survived. Lirnilalie would have seen us dead, fallen off a cliff, rather than allow us to reveal that which my teammate, Lady Enerenarie, found. We survived, in great part due to the cleverness and wiseness of the adults of the Empress Edaledalende Academy. If she knew what we were planning today, I don’t doubt that she would have arranged another ‘accident’ for us.”
Again, the silence reigned. A few gasps echoed through the room. Somewhere, someone protested, “but you’re just children!”
“We are.” There was no point in arguing with that. “We are Students. We are good students, I won’t argue that. We work hard, we study everything put before us, and we spend a great deal of time in the library. however, students can discover things — as we did — and thus, I suppose, students can be considered a threat to the balance or safety of one’s plans.”
Taikie and Enrie had three people between themselves and the large man at the door. The man was making a very obvious face. Saydrie could guess: it was something here stinks.
“That, you would have to ask those who were trying to kill us for those plans,” he answered smoothly. This was all find if he pretended that he was just practicing, or acting as a distraction. When he looked at someone asking questions, he had to think about the fact that there were a lot of people here, and all of them were looking at him.
Not all of them. Someone had grabbed Taikie’s arm. Saydrie jumped down off of the stage and rushed towards his friends.
Category Book 3: The Broken Bargain | Tags: