August 29, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
They took all of their bits and pieces to a quiet lab in the back of the Philosophy classroom building. There, in a room lit with the new safety lamps, they laid out everything they’d found so far, pages and notes. Saydrie pulled out some fresh paper and a pen and began transcribing everything; after a moment, Taikie imitated him.
Enrie took everything that they weren’t handling and began to organize it as best she could. There were her notes. There were the two sections from the Bitrani folklore and the one from the history section.
Once they laid them all out, they were missing one page from the middle and the page with the signatures. All three pages of the treaty showed not just the holes where they had been sewn into their hiding-places, but the tears and original binding-holes where they had been pulled apart.
“If there were three folded sheets,” Gianci pointed out, “then we’re missing something else, too. Maybe a header? Do you think that’s what your ‘friends’ found?”
“A header would be the only part that would be useful on its own,” Enrie considered. “If it looked like the treaties in the library in Estyaa House, it would have a summary of the matters covered in the treaty, and the dates.”
“That would be the part they’d want to be certain to have, then,” Gianci opined. “Finding one page of a treaty… you might not know what you were looking at. Finding the abstract, you’d know you were missing something.”
“That’s why they took all those books on treaty history, too.” Taikie glared at the pages of the treaty as if they’d offended her. “Urgh, all their letters are pointed and cramped up together.”
Enrie peered over her shoulder. “Oh, yeah. That’s the era when they were trying to imitate Bitrani text.”
“Hey!” Saydrie wrinkled his nose at them. “It’s not that hard to read,” he added quietly.
“That’s because you grew up reading Bitrani, Saydrie.” Enrie offered him a playful grin. “Of course Bitrani-looking Calenyen wouldn’t be hard for you.”
“Bitrani-looking Calenyen, isn’t that…” He stopped and colored, looking down at his notes.
“Me,” Gianci finished. He sounded far too quiet. “That’s me, yeah.”
“I didn’t mean…” Saydrie winced.
“I know you didn’t.” He sat down with a thump. “I mean, I didn’t know you didn’t until you looked like that about it. Blast it, Saydrie…!”
Taikie opened her mouth and closed it again.
Enrie sat down next to her and looked at the piece she was copying. They really had it. Looking at the sheets they’d already found all put together, it was nearly the complete thing. And all this because Lovdyo had said something at the wrong moment.
“You’re Bitrani,” Saydrie said quietly and formally. “There is no doubting that.”
Gianci seemed to be considering that. After a moment, he nodded. A sad smile crossed his lips. “But I’m Calenyen, too.”