9.3

“All right,” Riva decided, “now that that’s settled.”

Nilien wasn’t sure anything at all was settled, but she was willing to pretend it was if Riva and the rest wanted to. They weren’t going to get anywhere but deeper into holes, she was pretty sure, if they kept going.

“Now that that’s settled,” Lorque agreed. “What’s next?”

“Agenda,” Riva declared. “We have a meeting, we have a space, we need an agenda.”

“Chairs,” Augustin declared. “We need to sneak some chairs down here.”

This is just fine for me, Ember commented from the shelf.

“Not all of us fit on shelves, Ember.” Nilien had to admit she was a little amused, though. She wrinkled her nose at her familiar.

“Shelved seating would be weird,” Augustin opined. “Like bunk-beds, only stacked really close…”

“We are getting off topic.” Riva paced to the center of the room and looked at all of them in turn. “What do we want to cover in this meeting, and then in our next meeting?”

“Secret clubs?” Lorque offered. “And… a book to be talking about.”

“I bet there’s a book on secret societies in the library.” Riva scribbled a note in her notebook. “That could be fun to start with, even if it’s a little obvious. And maybe books on cryptology.”

“Oh!” Augustin perked up. “We could call it the Secret Book Club then and people would just think we meant books about secrets. Yeah! And then we could have codes-”

“One thing at a time,” Chason offered. He looked about as amused as Nilien felt. “So, if we have a secret club, let’s each bring a book next time and we can pick an order to read them in by vote? And maybe snacks?” He smiled unrepentantly. “We could take turns bringing snacks to the meetings? That might make this place more homey…”

Nilien wanted to defend “her” hidden room, but the truth was, it really did need to be more homey.

“You’re as bad as Benoir,” Lorque tutted. “Snacks, snacks. But I’ll bring them the first week. Nilien, I have to show you what we do about things like that, don’t I?’

“I didn’t know there was a, ah. I didn’t know there was something to show. Is it in a secret passage?” Nilien joked uncomfortably. She’d never brought snacks anywhere except when the family cook had made something. “Do we make them ourselves?”

“I do.” Riva was very proud of herself. “But that’s mostly just me. All right. Lorque, then Chason because it was his idea, then me, then Augustin, then Nilien. That gives Nilien plenty of time to figure everything out. And we’ll all show up with books to suggest reading. Is there anything else?”

“There’s the whole thing about someone trying to kill Nilien,” Augustin pointed out. “I mean, that’s important, right?”

“But it’s not new news?” Lorque countered.

“So? Some meetings have an ‘old news’ section to handle things maybe not everyone knows.”

Nilien huffed. “We’ve told everyone here everything. The necklace, the tree, the assassination attempt – maybe attempts.” The more she talked about it, the less sure she was. “I promise, if anyone else tries to kill me, I’ll tell you all about it at the next meeting, all right?”

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