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‘Your mentor did the best she could in the situation, as did you.’
Kind, protective Enora. Only one thing I’ve learned today comforts me. ‘So Enora,’ I say slowly, ‘was reabsorbed.’
‘Part of her was,’ Loricel says.
Some part of her escaped. This makes me smile.
‘Adelice,’ Loricel says, breaking into my thoughts, ‘did she say anything to you before she . . .’
‘No.’ I focus on the memory of our last meeting, combing through the conversation in my head. ‘She was acting strangely though. I knew something was different.’
‘Cormac is obsessed with why she did it,’ Loricel confides. ‘He cannot confirm whether her suicide was prompted by the procedure or by her guilt over her relationship with Valery.’
‘Is that why Valery was ripped?’
‘He was angry,’ she says. ‘The remap should have reprogrammed Enora, but Valery reached out to her. He blamed her for Enora’s confusion, but he can’t be sure what caused Enora to act.’
‘Then Pryana tattled.’ It’s the only way Cormac could have known that Valery had approached Enora after her remap. I should have known from the smug look on her face at dinner. ‘I guess a vendetta outweighs someone’s life.’
‘Do not discount the power of paranoia either. If this girl was raised to be an ideal Eligible, she probably bought into all the nonsense the Guild sells its citizens,’ Loricel advises.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ I say. ‘Pryana, Valery – they were just pawns in Cormac’s and Maela’s games. They did this to Enora.’ And they’re going to pay, I add silently.
Loricel leans forward and takes my hand. ‘There’s no way to know for sure what happened, because we haven’t found any evidence. No note. No diary. Not a thing.’
‘Are you saying someone else—’
‘No,’ she says. ‘Enora took her own life, but her initial map showed she was conflicted. Her thoughts were unbalanced, but none of her answers indicated that she was suicidal.’
‘Of course,’ I say, dropping Loricel’s hand. ‘She was living a lie.’
‘Perhaps, but, unfortunately, she left nothing behind. We cannot question Valery. If she said nothing to you –’ Loricel pauses meaningfully, as though she’s waiting for me to contradict this – ‘then we will never know.’
Even though I’m telling her the truth, Loricel’s gaze is so penetrating that I start to feel guilty. Shifting back on the divan, I press my lips together, trying to think of a way to change topics. ‘So are you going to train me?’ I ask.
‘You do not need training,’ she says.
‘But you said—’
‘I am buying you time.’ Her piercing look gives way to one of exasperation.
It only makes me feel worse. Loricel’s given everything for Arras, but I’m so selfish that she doesn’t expect me to sacrifice myself. All I can think to say is thank you.
‘Now go use it,’ she says, shooing me out of the studio.
I slip out of the tower and past the guard. He looks at me closely, the way men regard a weakling. The last thing I need is for him to send for an escort.
‘Loricel sent me for something in the lower studios,’ I lie.
I’m certain he doesn’t believe me from the way his eyes squint together, but he lets me go.
I rush back toward my quarters before anyone can reach me. Loricel might not believe Cormac is responsible for Enora’s death, but I saw what he did to her. Even if she felt trapped here, she wasn’t desperate. She seemed happy obsessively picking each outfit I wore, right down to the shoes. And she was so protective of me. She cared too much about me to just abandon me. She’d even gone to all the trouble of getting me a digifile when I had to travel around Arras, and she had warned me about Erik.
The digifile!
Suddenly the lift seems to slow down and the buttons light up for each floor in slow motion. Five more left. Four. I hate living so high up! As soon as the doors open I dash out. The digifile is resting safely under my pillow, and I snatch it up.
Sliding my fingers across the screen, I frantically open folders and programs. There are games. Catalogues. An application that patches me into the daily weather programming for each sector. Nothing. It was only a gift. It’s stupid to be so disappointed. Loricel’s pushing had me believing Enora cared enough to – I don’t know – tell me why, or at least say goodbye or something.
‘It can’t be,’ I mutter. Erik and Jost were so surprised to see me carrying the device on that trip – it must mean something. I wish I could go to Jost now and ask why they acted that way, but that would draw attention to him.
I pick the digifile back up and start combing through the programs more slowly. A weather program. I think back to the first time I met Enora, when she caught me weaving a thunderstorm. Scanning through the weather application, I find a file labelled Precipitation. The rest of the program is organised by date and month. I press down on the file and wait for it to load, my heart pounding at the possibility of answers or information. Even a simple farewell.
Inside there’s another file, marked Thunder. I open it and a dozen smaller files appear. The first reads, To Adelice.
I pull out every tailored suit in my wardrobe and hang them on my bathroom door. The digifile slips into most of the tiny pockets on each jacket, but I have to rip the basting stitches out of some. No matter what, I’m keeping the small pad with me from now on. I’ve renamed Enora’s note for added safety. At least now I know where to start, even if not much else is clear.