Chapter 7: Posters Part2; or Alice’s Wondrous Cooking
Not since her final year in study had Chloe done so much in a single day. Talking with Finch, meeting the Djeb woman, Senica, encountering Alexandre, making posters, and then the assassination. Assassination attempt. She was so drained that she barely made it home. She reached the city gates, exited, and then re-entered the castle.
“Chloe!” It was her mother.
Gwenhime could tell by face that, even though she had good news, it would be best received in the morning.
Chloe fell face down on the bed. She craned her neck to face the window above her, and then her eyes pacified.
Alexandre… Alexandre and who? I wonder if that Djeb woman would come. What does she study? I should not have brushed her off. She is from the south, she said. How strange. What is in the south? I wonder if anyone will look at the posters. I should… add a time and place to them… so people know, so I know when to meet.
Vision returned and she took a few notes, and then slept.
In the morning Chloe, forgetting that her mother had a message for her, left the castle early and headed to Alice and Finch’s house. Finch was still asleep when she arrived.
Alice was cooking with fire. Chloe had witnessed this before; the younger woman would take the cover off of her stove, light the wood within it, and cook over the open hole.
“We mostly have eggs, because they’re cheap. And moose too!” Alice said.
She had already cracked seven of them into her little pan, so Chloe wasn’t sure why it was being brought up, especially in a manner that implied she had any other options.
“Can you hold?”
Chloe took the pan. “You know that I burn things, so, ah, whatever you’re doing, do it fast.”
Alice laughed, stated that eggs could not be burned, and then returned from the indoor cellar with vegetables and a block of white cheese. She cut them into small bits and, even though the pan was well past maximum capacity, added it all in.
She took over again and said, “Crush me some salt and pepper, yes?”
Chloe found their salt stones and peppercorn, and threw them into the mortar and pestle on the kitchen counter and mashed.
“Ah, I want to add a location and time to all the posters we made.”
“Yes! When do you leave then?”
“The third. So, the day after tomorrow. That’s a guess, but it rides on the assumption that Lilllith would like to rest at least one night before leaving again.
Alice nodded, and then yelled as a piece of something went into the fire.
“You should have used a bigger pan.”
“This is the bigger pan!”
Finch woke up around the time that food was ready.
“Usually I cook, you know.” He made sure to inform them.
“I know, and you cook like a normal person too, with the stove elements in the stove, and coals for heat.”
They finished—it was very well made—and updated the posters. Chloe decided that the date they used would be the day of Lilllith’s arrival, at noon.
They hit the university right as it opened, and had enough materials for each building. The cafeteria was their last stop, as it generally was not in use until lunch time. It was not empty when they got there. Senica was present, as well as a dark-haired person sleeping in the far corner. They put up a poster, and then a second after a few excited urgings from Alice, since it seemed they had extras. When Alice and Chloe finished putting up both ads, they turned back and saw Finch talking with the Djeb woman.
“Yeah,” he said, “my morning class doesn’t start for another hour or so. I definitely have time. Why don’t we sit?”
“Sure,” Senica replied.
“Me too!” Alice jumped in.
Chloe sat with them for a while. Senica, it seemed, was an anthropologist, which explained why she had lived in the south: for study.
“So, I am conducting a few surveys. I have talked to the university, and I’ve set up this booth here.” She handed them clipboards. “Do you all have pens?”
“No!” Alice said with glee.
“Okay, you can use mine.” Senica turned to Chloe, “Hello again, what was your name?”
“The name is Chloe.” She paused, then added, “Chloe Rhye.”
“Wonderful, would you add your data?”
“No thank you.”
During the short survey, Finch managed to fish out some information from Senica; she was born and educated in the Djeb, that anthropology seemed far more developed there than in the Solune kingdom—he even got her to admit that she was engaged.
“No ring?” Finch flashed his own.
“Oh, that is not customary in the Djeb, so no. Maybe after the marriage.”
Chloe asked, “How long are you staying in the kingdom?”
“Not very long. Conducting studies doesn’t actually pay very well, so I just go wherever he does. For now, we are here.”
“What does he do, to have enough to support both of you?”
“Ah!” Alice jumped up, “Work!”
“Well—” Senica stopped to watch Alice. The Plainkind woman tripped out of the room, waking up the sleeping individual on her way out.
Chloe looked to see, and they locked eyes. She recognized her from last night—the dark haired girl in the corner was the failed assassin! She gave Chloe a cheery smile, watched Alice leave, and then went back to sleep. The girl, Ammelia was her name, seemed to fit in with the university very well, looking like a typical sleep-deprived student, asleep in the cafeteria.
“When does she work?” Senica asked.
“Still has an hour probably,” Finch replied, “she just likes to be early. She’s likely to be Captain soon you know, what with Natasha Rhye ascending to Captain Commander.”
“Really? Well, thanks for participating. We’ll compile this for the university before we go. You should grab a copy of the journal!”
“Did you talk to her?” Chloe motioned to the person in the corner.
“No. She’s actually not a student here. She looks quite sickly too.”
“And did you see her leg? I saw when I got here. It’s bandaged and pink.”
“Blood pink.” Senica had the uncanny look of maternity, “Although I don’t think it’s still bleeding, it must have been pretty bad when it was, to go through all that expensive cloth.”
“And you said she was here when you arrived?”
“Yes—and I got here quite early! Likely she came some time last night. This building is always open, you know? For the students.”
I believe I have an idea of when she arrived…
“Well, if your husband is interested,” She gave Senica one of the extra posters, “Feel free to join the Lussa expedition. In fact, if you do, I will answer your list of questions.”
Senica read it over. “You’re working for royalty?”
“I am the royalty.”
Senica’s eyes widened.
They spoke for a while longer, and then Finch left for class. Senica folded the poster and followed him out to meet her fiancé. Chloe was left behind, but not alone. She stood and moved to sit across from her Lussa visitor. She intended to wait, but eventually she lost focus and her mind wavered.
Senica the anthropologist, Alexandre the Kemist, and who… me the historian? That might make a decent team, but if feels like we are missing a leg from this table. I wonder…
She wondered herself to sleep.