November 10, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Saydrie swallowed. His eyes seemed to skim over both of them, settling on the mountains out over their shoulders.
“The Bitrani folk song. The piece about Bithrain still being a nation. All of that is part of a set of lore that we’re supposed to have forgotten. It was actually part of the deal made when the Cevati Bitrani were allowed to form the enclaves. We move on, we become part of Calenta, we forget the nation that we used to be.” He looked first at Taikie and then at Enrie, meeting her eyes. “We were supposed to let go of all of that.”
“But you didn’t.” It sounded so simple, and it felt like not nearly a big enough sentence for the concept.
“But we didn’t.” He shook his head. “And there are some – like Darnio – who are trying to…” He gestured vaguely. “They want to bring back that-which-was, but what they have is only a story, some idea of what was that their mothers have fed them. And the thing is, all our mother and grandmothers and fathers – every adult in the enclaves and a lot of those who live in normal Calenta cities but still like to think they’re Cevati Bitrani back in the back of their minds, they all have stories they want to feed us. About the Lost King of the Bitrani and the Splendor that was and all that stuff.” He wrinkled his nose. “Sometimes it’s nice to listen to, but only if you look at it like nursery tales, the sort of things that kids believe, not adults.”
At fourteen, they were still mostly children, but Enrie knew what he meant and did not argue. “It… it makes sense,” she offered cautiously. It could lead to war, too.
“It makes sense when it’s grannies and toothless grandfathers by the fire. But the problem is, someone fed Darnio and his friends too much of it. And they’re beginning to talk about stuff they’ve heard from older students, too.”
“…Stuff…” Enrie prompted. This was getting into dangerous territory, or perhaps they’d been in the mountains for quite some time and she was only just now noticing.
“About removing the quotas, for one. About the far north or the islands, or about boats…” He shifted his weight from side to side and muttered under his breath in Bitrani. It was a prayer, Enrie thought. Or maybe it was a motto of sedition disguised as a prayer. She found herself questioning everything Bitrani, and felt uncharitable and unkind because of it.
“Islands. Boats… Do you mean secession?”
“They would say – they would say that it’s not really secession if we, if Bithrain has always been its own country. And that’s the problem, Enerenarie. That’s why I’m worried.” He closed his eyes. He didn’t open them as he spoke, but Enrie got the feeling he was looking at something nonetheless.
“There are rumors of a treaty that the Cālenyena ‘lost’ on purpose, back in the time of the Coffee War, the Oonezhoonet Era. There’s supposed to be something in that treat that, taken together with the things in the terms of surrender, means that – well, lots of things. Lots of things that happen now are illegal.”
Enrie chewed on his lip. “I see why you’re worried. We really need to find the rest of that treaty.”
“I might be able to figure something out. But Enrie, Taikie… this could change everything.”
Enrie swallowed hard. “I know. But we still have to know.”