November 1, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie leaned forward, resisting the urge to snatch the papers out of Taikie’s hands. “What is it?”
“Well, I’m still working on it – wait, Enrie, you speak seven languages, right? You said you knew some of the obscure dialects?”
“Here.” She positioned herself so she could look over Taikie’s shoulder. “It if’s a Calenyen or Bitrani dialect I have a chance. Saydrie will probably do better if it’s in any sort of strange Bitrani, though.” She spared a glance for Saydrie, who was shifting uncomfortably, his hands tensing and releasing, and Riensin, who was watching the hall. Was the latter regretting his choices? Well, perhaps he should stop doing things because he wanted to attract a girl. Especially a girl who had no interest in being attracted.
That was a problem for later, though, and she really should have a little talk with Taikie. Engineers could be distractible, Enrie knew, but… anyway. She looked down at the documents.
“Well, this part,” she squinted. “This is in an old dialect of Calenyen. It’s a lot harder on the consonants and the calligraphy has a lot sharper edges. So see here, that’s an e, and that, that’s the Arran Cities… but this part is in Bitrani, I think. It’s not Calenyen calligraphy but I’m not sure about these letters, either.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we all used the same alphabet?” Riensin joked.
Enrie rolled her eyes at him and went back to the document. “Saydrie? Give me a hand with this? The Calenyen part, I think it’s saying something about ‘On this day, in the Arran city of Federent, we, Emperor Ekelekan of Calenta and King Zhedemor of Bithrain … oh.”
“Oh.” Saydrie’s voice was suddenly on Enrie’s left, on the other side of Taikie and looking over her shoulder. “This part down here is the same thing, I think, but in Bitrani. “…we are here to reconcile our differences and end the war between our people once and for all. The next bit is, ah, legal mumbo-jumbo, I think.”
Enrie tracked over the corresponding Calenyen phrases. “The same here. Binding treaty once signed and sealed, to be considered binding by their heirs in perpetuity. There’s the standard new-dynasty line here that says that it’s binding as long as the nations remain.”
“Well, only one of the nations remain, so it’s moot now, isn’t it?” Riensin sounded impatient. Enrie glanced at him; now he was shifting his weight and he’d stopped smiling.
“…Not entirely, you know. That’s not how the war ended. The actual war.”
Suddenly, they were all looking at Saydrie. He blushed hotly and looked away. “That’s what I’d heard, at least. It’s what they say. In the enclaves, I mean. The treaty that ended the war, it didn’t get rid of Bithrain…”
“That’s not in any history book I’ve read.” Enrie frowned. “But…” She swallowed. “It wouldn’t be, would it?”
“Guys, I just heard a door. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to go now.” Riensin insisted.
Enrie flipped to the next page of the folio. “…blast, this is a Bitrani love poem. Something about the flowers in the swamp.”
“Guys? Guys we have to go now. Guys!” Riensin’s panic was reading hysterical proportions.
Taikie slid the papers back into the middle of a pile. “We can come back. Pelnyen will get angry again.” She smiled sideways at Enrie. “Let’s go.”