Chapter Six, Tombs and Princes

Djaren stayed up quite late cleaning up after the party. He owed it to Missus Craderly, he thought. He felt fortunate that no one had thrown up their ill-advised food combinations within the apartments. Outside was another matter and, happily, someone else’s jurisdiction.

Kara had taken over his bed by the time he stumbled back to his room, so he rolled out the bedroll he kept about in case of adventure, and woke up late the next morning with light already streaming in. “Lecture,” he said, blinking.

Kara, perched on his bed in his clothes and eating leftovers, threw a clean shirt at him. “In about five minutes, if the big clock out there is right.”

“You were going to let me sleep through it?”

“I didn’t. I threw your socks at you and you woke up.”

Djaren found his socks beside his head, and nodded. That was fair. “Can you eat in the common room, then, so I can get dressed?”

She nodded. “I’ll show you a shortcut to your lecture and everything. We’ll take a way that detective can’t follow.”

“And can you make sure everyone else is up and gets to class?”

“Is Shandor prepared for a war with the Tembelakan islands, ambassador?” Kara asked drily, and shut the door behind her.

Djaren was dressed and out the window with Kara in three minutes. From the roof, they could see the islanders splitting up to dash to their lectures with other tardy students.

“Over here,” Kara said. “We slide down this pipe to that roof, and then climb over there. We’re taking the easy way.”

“What’s the hard way?”

“It involves sewer tunnels, a trip through a crypt, and a long climb.”

“Can we try that one later?”

“Just keep up.”

“Always,” Djaren grinned. He was going to destroy his clothes doing this and he didn’t care.

“So how are we going to get Lory and his friends into Abbeyrose?” Kara asked, after making a jump from one roof to another.

“You said you had an idea,” Djaren said, making the jump too, and shimming up a drain pipe after her.

“Yes, but it involves sewers, catacacombs with bones in them, and breaking some old chains. We’ll also have to jump over fast-moving water channels. And there are going to be some tough spots for the chubby ones, like that prince, Lory. They won’t like it.”

“I think you’re wrong,” Djaren said, looking down at the new view of the university grounds this roof offered, and patting the head of a companionable gargoyle. “Don’t you know yet that every prince half wants to be you?”

“Only the stupid ones.”

“They’re all afraid they’re just names given them by great men and women who came before, acknowledged only because of their parents’ resources. They want to prove they can survive and excel on their own, be brave in adversity, go anywhere, dare anything.”

“And here I thought you were in denial about your motivations.” Kara crossed her arms and tapped her foot on the roof. “Your window is right under us now. Drop down and swing to the ledge. The window isn’t locked, but it squeaks. Head west down the hall and you’ll recognize where you are.”

“I already do,” Djaren said ruefully. “I’m a not a prince, though, really.”

“Right. Is there a better term for the son of whatever your father is? Prince sounds less pretentious than demi-god.”

Djaren flushed. “I’m just like you.”

“You think that because you want to be me, I heard that from someone.”

“Kara—”

“You’re going to be late. If you aren’t there to memorize the lecture, you’re doomed, aren’t you? Go.”

“I’ll see you later,” he said, pausing as he hung over the side of the roof.

“That always seems to happen,” she agreed. “Stop trying to have the last word.”

Djaren landed without falling off the thin windowsill, and opened the window without falling out of it either. He fell in, instead, and got to his lecture at the same time as Professor Winterforth, who looked bemusedly past him at the window he’d left open at the end of the hall.

“Are you studying acrobatics as well now, Master Blackfeather? I hope that it does not in future make you late for your other studies.”

“No, sir, yes, sir,” Djaren muttered, and sidled into an empty seat.

He was very distracted through the whole lecture, so it was lucky that he would be able to review the memories later to find out what had been said.

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