December 9, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie did not know her cousin all that well, but she thought the woman sounded faintly amused.
Saydrie’s cheeks went red and blotchy and he bowed again, jerky this time. “No, Honored One. If anything,” he cleared his throat and managed a weak smile, “simply pointing out a specifically Bitrani mindset. I mean,” his smile looked a little more real now, “absolutely no offense.”
Enrie held her breath while trying to appear as if she wasn’t worrying at all. He was throwing the Voice’s words back at her. Would it blow up in their faces like a faulty pipe?
Elalekorra chuckled. “Clever man. Diplomacy?”
“History, Honored One. Perhaps some of the brightness of my teammates is rubbing off on my Bitrani drab?”
“All right.” She leaned forward over her desk, smiling widely. “Let’s see this treaty of yours, since you’ve traveled all this way and spoken so eloquently on the topic.”
Enrie wasn’t sure if she was being made fun of or not, but she wasn’t going to waste an opportunity. She pulled out the copies from her book bag and set them down in front of the Voice. “These are a scribed copy, Honored Voice.”
Elalekorra met her eyes. She was definitely amused. “Clever girl.”
“Thank you, Honored Voice.”
She flapped a hand in response. “Come, cousin, call me Elora and I’ll call you Enrie, and it will be friendly. That way, if there is a problem here, it’s a problem between family-and-friends and not a problem the Voices has to look at.”
“Yes… Elora.” Enrie handed the papers to her cousin and sat down, slowly, in her chair. Gianci folded his hands over the back of her chair, letting Enrie lean into his hands if she chose to.
She leaned back just enough that she could feel his fingers against her back, her eyes on Elalekorra’s expression. Despite her cousin’s kind words, Enrie knew this could still go badly. She’d been too enthusiastic about not hiding problems. She’d been far too firm on the matter, and now, if the Emperor decided this had to be buried — would he give her a chance to be a good subject?
Knowing what she did, would she be a good subject?
And would being a good subject mean doing what the Emperor said, or would it mean being the best kalōkāt she could be?
She chewed on her lip. She wanted to get through this meeting, that was all.
She watched Elelakorra’s expression change, from politely interested to intrigued to worried to slightly relieved to some combination of emotions Enrie couldn’t quite decipher. Elelakorra read through the partial treaty twice, wrote down a few notes, and looked up at Enrie.
“Well, I have to say, this is an–” Her door swung open. “Tevordor, what…”
“Trying, ma’am.” He had two weapons out and was standing in the doorway, struggling against someone on the other side. “They’re quite… insistent.”