Wednesday, September 14, 2011

555 - I was that Petty

I had a positive review from Laurelate Faitzikran… who held not only the one leafy crown of professorship, but three.  I had a grudging second positive from Professor Boreanas.  But I did not get my third.  Professor and multiple Laurelate Jarinidas, the most senior of my reviewers, whom I hoped would appreciate all the new records I’d brought out of the Imperial Archives, was not prepared to give me my first leaf, much less my first three.  Professor Emeritus Tirinas sided with Jarinidas, saying I needed more corroboration from established scholars.  Professor Laureate Mirminar, who held the most Bay leaves -- the beginnings of more studies than anyone else in the University, waffled and then finally came down firmly with the elder two Professors.

I was not to be granted any Laureate leaves at all.  The road to professorship was not going to be mine. I really knew that.  I would not have time.  I had, at best, hoped that my scholarship would grant me the Bay leaf, the Oak Leaf and the Kaf leaf with this paper. I sat back in the chair as the ritual chant was intoned by the clerk, letting my stomach unknot.  I had thought that if I succeeded here I could, perhaps attain the Olive Leaf, the Spasmweed Leaf, and the Salt-Mallow Leaf in the next year… giving me the attempt at Katzar Leaf, the miniature Palm, before I became Imperator.  I truly could never hope to attain both the Frankincense and Arkan-Herb Fronds. The Arkan-Herb Frond was the highest.  I’d been playing.

If I wished to continue in my studies, try again with this line of inquiry… I should let the clerk finish the scroll of critiques and not join the Professors in the Hall of Mutual and and Serene Consideration.  I would be surrendering my anonymity if I did so.  Ailadas and I had talked about it.  I should… give this up.  It was a possible life when I was on the run.  Not now.  It’s a wild self indulgence.

And I would accept no honourary leaves if offered them.  I’d feel that they were false as the sword-mastery pips on my sire’s collar.  If I could not earn them, I did not want them.  I still had a huge lump of disappointment in my throat.

“Here you go, Ser.”  The clerk had not seen me come in, and was just assuming I was of age.  The scroll of critique slid through the slot and lay rocking back and forth a bit, just in front of me.  “Better luck next time.”

Luck?  Luck?  It was my scholarship that was wanting and had nothing to do with luck.  I managed to murmur a ‘thank you’ before he left, because I still had not decided if I was going to break my anonymity.

I should.  It would reassure people that the system worked.  Even raising one’s voice in the reviews would disqualify you.  People would know that I had not bought false leaves.  

And -- to be entirely honest -- I wanted to see the Review Professors’ consternation when they realized who they’d denied, even if I wasn’t going to be nasty about it and they had nothing to fear.  I was petty and vindictive enough to want to see that.

I wavered, sitting in the candidate’s booth a moment longer, the sun now riven into bits and chips of light by the screen in front of my face, shining enough to blind.  It was something I should put down.  I should give up such scholarship, except for my own comfort and satisfaction.  Did I need public recognition?  Really?  However much I longed for it, it wasn’t necessary.  Let some other scholar take my notes and build upon them if they wished.

My sigh in the little booth was short but heartfelt as I struggled up to my feet, using my hands on my raised knees to lever myself up, and stepped out of the door with my critique scroll under my arm.  I could use a cup of kaf and some sweetness, since I hadn’t eaten this morning.  I hadn’t been able to make myself do more than sip the ezethra that Gan insisted I take.

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