August 23, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie didn’t wait until Gianci and Taiki were gone before she started searching the shelves. She’d been over many of these books before, but with Gianci’s new lullaby, they had a new direction to go in.
Saydrie was muttering to himself as he flipped through books. After a minute, he asked, “Did I offend Gianci?”
Enrie considered it for a moment. The book she was scanning was thick with Bitrani slang from three hundred years ago, which made her twist up her lips as she figured it out.
“No,” she remembered to answer after a moment. “I think he’s getting used to being talked to like a Bitrani since he came to school. Lannamer doesn’t have that many Bitrani, after all.” She put the book aside and moved on to another. “Not like Edally does, at least.”
“They like us being up here, the authorities.” Saydrie had his back to Enrie, his face firmly pointed at the book. “And we like remembering home, so… Hunh.”
“Hunh?” She crossed the small nook to look at the book he was holding. It was a small volume, hand-written, the text crabbed. “…The Coffee War was the long nightmare?”
“It… hunh.” He flipped the page carefully. “It looks like it. I wonder if it was repurposed as a term later? So like ‘the long journey’, Bitrani use it to mean ‘going to Lannamer,’ or sometimes, um, ‘defecting’, but it used to mean, ah, ‘coming to Reiassan.’”
“So ‘the long nightmare’ started out as what turned out to be a relatively short war, in the scheme of things, and it ended up meaning… the conquest?”
“Perspective changes?” Saydrie offered. “Bitrani… We tend to look at every conflict as the worst it could ever be, and we just grit our teeth and wait for — or look for, sometimes — the road back to the norass, the place of honor.”
“It makes for useful code, too.” She flipped another page, and then paused, peeking at Saydrie. “Getting back to norass?”
“There’s something they say to the students going off to school.” Saydrie put his book down. “‘You can take the, um…” he faltered, “jenorasso—”
“Honorable one,” Enrie translated. “Err, ‘person who exists in honor?’”
Saydrie nodded, not meeting Enrie’s gaze. “—from the norass, the honor-place, but you cannot take them from their noro, their honor.”
Enrie considered that. The notes in this book were angry now, the scribe’s hand getting shaky. “Even now?”
“My mother said it to me when I left for school,” he confirmed.
She found her lips quirking. “I read up on noro. I mean, I read books on it, when we were stationed down south. There’s an entire course on it in the Diplomacy curriculum — not until my last year here, though.” She read another paragraph of the angry notes. “And this guy, he thought the Bitrani had been taken from their noro back then? But why the Bitrani? Why not the Calenyen? If we hid the treaty, if we covered it up…”