December 2, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“I hear I have a cousin out here.”
The voice was smooth, the accent Lannamer, with its long vowels. Enrie looked up, then bowed as elegantly as she could manage. “Voice of the Emperor Elalekorra, cousin.” Her cousin had apparently changed not one bit except as fashion shifted since the last time Enrie had seen her.
“Student Enerenarie, cousin.” Elalekorra bowed shallowly but politely in return. “I’m told you have some interesting information for me.” Her eyes raked the group. “I believe you’ll all fit in my office, but I’m afraid I only have chairs for three.”
“Thank you for seeing us, Revered Voice.” Her cousin — and, unlike Ilonilarrona, Elalekorra actually looked related to Enerenarie; the same skin tone, the same hair tone, the same nose — was wearing something relatively simple by Lannamer Court standards: two skirts, one in stripes of blue and orange and one in a cyan swirl; two tunics in indigo and orange swirls, and a parti-colored vest in orange and blue. Unlike her front-desk man, her vest dipped reasonably down, but the buttons were still nearly as tiny as rice grains.
Enrie, should she have time when she was not chasing after treaties or chasing Taikie chasing aetherists, was going to have to sit down with a Textiles House Student – or maybe Instructor Davenpor – and get some briefing on clothing.
That was entirely not what she should be focusing on right now, however. She bowed again to Elalekorra as they arranged themselves in the Voice’s office. She gestured to her elders, Libkazaari and Korten, to take two of the chairs and leaving the third one unsat in, choosing to stand. Her friends gathered around the edges of the room, Gianci still standing near and just behind her as a bodyguard.
Elalekorra raised her eyebrows, nodded in another small bow, and sat. “What is it that you come to tell me of, cousin?”
Enrie cleared her throat and began from the beginning: “I have reason to believe that, during the Coffee War, a treaty which could have changed the eventual borders of our nations and nullified the Bitrani Surrender centuries later was drafted. I have reason to believe that it was never signed by both parties, although I’m still trying to determine why. And I believe — no, I know — that there are people in today’s world who are very intent on destroying all evidence of that treaty, and they followed us here.” She bowed again, apologetically. “The treaty would have set borders for the Bitrani nation that would have been permanent. I can see that as being a reason why they wouldn’t want to admit it exists.”
Elalekorra had almost no expression, but her voice was very tight. “And why would you think that such a thing should be admitted to?”
Enrie cleared her throat. This was the hard part. “Because when we hide mistakes that the royal family makes — such as the Traitor Emperor — we teach that the nobility is beyond mistakes, that anything anyone with a vowel on their name does is acceptable. You end up with children of nobles cheating because nobody will stop them. And the longer this goes on, the more we are willing to cover up mistakes; the more mistakes we cover up, the less we remember that,” she caught her breath and suddenly forgot everything she’d been going to say.
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