September 25, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie looked at her notes. She’d written it down, the writing sloppy but her meaning clear. “The Coffee Treaty, signed in Arran City Federent. Year 25 of Empress Azhnatarennezha’s reign.”
She looked back at the document, ancient and brush-written, the edges crumbling. She’d been reading a section around the Arran Accords, a series of treaties negotiated over the years in the Arran cities. Those cities, down the coast from Edally by about a two-day carriage ride, had been the ultimate neutral ground, until—
— well, if Enrie was remembering her history correctly, until about 25 years into Empress Azhnatarennezha’s reign, when Bithrain and Calenta had put aside their differences to plow over the Arran cities and divide them amongst themselves. It had been bloody, quick, and strange. It was muttered around in history books and whispered about in history thesis, the Oathbreaker War, the…
…the Coffee War. That’s what her mother called it. Enrie had to look up the Coffee War. There was something about it in Empress Otyeriotanerio’s final robe of state, wasn’t there? One of the layers of robe had involved an homage to the battles fought, won and lost.
The Coffee War. Enrie blinked, and looked back again at the document. It seemed harder to read than the last time, the letters blurring, the notes in the margins looking less and less coherent and more like juvenile doodles. She blinked, forcing her eyes to focus. Somewhere in this document, under the section of Arran Accords…
There. It was hard to read, hard not to look away from, but there was a single line on the Treaty of Coffee, which had been signed in the days before the Oathbreaker War.
She wrote without looking away from the paper, quoting it as verbatim as she could. It was because she was squinting, staring at the lines, that she noticed that there was a second color of ink behind the black. It was as if someone had written something and then written the words about the Coffee Treaty over it in another color.
It was making her head hurt. She would have to look at it another time.
She made a note of the document she was reading, the page she’d found the line about the Coffee Treaty on, and the date of the document. Maybe she could find something useful in another paper somewhere.
Enrie blinked until her eyes were no longer bleary and turned back to her paper on the robes of state. Empress Otyeriotanerio had been paying homage to the Coffee War. Enrie could upend two boats with one rock and focus on that particular layer of the robes. There had to be a reason they were still paying homage to that war, small and awful as it was.
“—we can’t just leave her down here, Professor. We came in together and we’ll leave together.”
Saydrie sounded so reasonable. Enrie shuffled her papers until all of her fashion history paperwork was on the top.
“I’m sure she could walk back to her room just fine on her own. It is not as if she will encounter mountain lions… or rampaging goats… while en route.” Pelnyen sounded, if anything, even more cranky than he had when they headed upstairs.
That was her cue. Enrie began packing up her paperwork. “It’s always more pleasant to walk home with friends, Instructor Pelnyen.” She slid the notes into her bag and stood. If she walked forward now, he’d have no reason to look at the table. “And I’m all set with my homework for now. Shall we?”
Pelnyen followed them out of the Library, as if fearing they’d double back and work together, and followed them all the way to Akaizen Tower, Taikie’s dorm. “I’ll see you in class tomorrow.”
He made it sound like a threat.