May 4, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The stairs up had never seemed so long and so exposed. Enrie walked up them as quickly as she dared without drawing attention. They didn’t want those people to know what they’d overheard — or that they knew what it meant. They didn’t want to lead them straight to the Coffee Treaty, either.
Enrie made herself meander once they were upstairs, taking a few moments over the Historical Culture section and forcing a few lines of casual conversation. “Ooh, it’s a language of flowers, Taikie. This might come in handy with Riensin.”
Taikie frowned. “Why would I want to send coded messages with him? If anything, I’d be sending them with you two.”
Saydrie coughed and blushed. “I think… I think in the modern age, the flower language is mostly used for romantic intentions? People who want to, ah, be subtle about it or sneaky?”
“Why would anyone be sneaky about love? Isn’t it just… err,” Taikie frowned. “I think we might work well together?”
“Oh, you’re the child of two Engineers, aren’t you?” Enrie was halfway through an amused smile when Taikie’s frown turned dark.
“And why would I want to do anything like that with Riensin? He doesn’t even know which way two pipes go together, I bet!”
Enrie swallowed a comment that would likely not have helped anything at all, regarding pipes and how they generally went together. Saydrie’s darkening blush suggested he might have been thinking something similar. She coughed instead. “Maybe we should go look up…”
“…Some Bitrani recipes?” Saydrie offered. “Remember, I wanted to try cooking something from home?”
If anyone was listening to them, it was as good a reason as any to be in the Bitrani section. “Oh, yes. Do you think they’ll let you use the kitchen?”
“I hope so. I don’t see how home cooking could be revolutionary.” The expression on his face said maybe he could see it, but Enrie didn’t want to talk about revolution right now, even if they were…
They were stopping someone from burning historical records, that’s what they were doing. That wasn’t revolutionary in and of itself, was it?
She wished there was someone she could ask.
She coughed. “You’re not the only one who misses home cooking. Everything here is very west-coastal, it’s a lot different from the things my roommate Kotke – grew up eating, too.”
“Or my roommate Gaikvya,” Taikie pointed out. They meandered slowly towards the Bitrani culture-and-history section. “It’s a big land. A lot of it is different from Lannamer and Ileltedez.” She stepped into the Bitrani section and pulled a cookbook at random from the shelf. “There’s nothing in the rules about eating Lannamer food.”
“Or listening to Lannamer music.” Enrie pulled out a book on Bitrani songs. “Though even the notation is different. How do you read this?”
“Or wearing Lannamer clothes,” Saydrie muttered. He pulled the book on folklore from the shelf. “Or telling Lannamer tales. Is that the cookbook, Taikie? Recipes of Tugia?”
“Um…. no. Here.” Taikie switched out the books, handing Saydrie the cookbook.
“This might be useful, too.” Enrie handed him the book on folk songs. They shared a look and headed for the exit.