January 6, 2017 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Lirnilalie stared at Enrie blankly for a minute. “You’re telling me that Ilonilarrona had me chasing after a copy? A modern copy, at that? All of this talk about the Treaty and what it could do, and it’s nothing but a copy? Nobody would believe anything based on this, nobody with a shred of sense. And yet you came all the way here?”
Liar. Maybe she was. It was easy enough to keep telling the truth and let the lie remain implied. “I’d never heard of the Coffee Treaty. We’re studying a lot of treaties, and this one is in the era where we track every tick and turn of the diplomacy, because so much of the history of the nation hinges on it. And I’d never heard of it. I remember Honored Voice Elelakorra from a trip with my parents, and, since I can’t make it to where my parents are right now—” She noticed that Lirnilalie looked startled at that. Did she know where Enrie’s parents were, or was she making an assumption that they were in some sort of under-cover operation?
Either way, it was an interesting question for later. Enrie continued. “—I came here, because I thought maybe my Honored Cousin could advise me.” The thing was, most of that was even the truth. “It may not be the real thing, I agree — it did look a little shiny to me, and the ‘e’ formation was strange — but even the idea of it seemed to have the Associate Governor Ilonilarrona very distressed, and if someone so high-ranked is trying to destroy something, I thought maybe the Voice might want to know.”
“Enerenarie is a good child, and I know her parents well.” Elelakorra smiled warmly at Enrie; it was so genuine-looking Enrie had trouble remembering that it was as much a part of the lies as Enrie’s suggestions. “But you’re right, Lyirnilalie, this is just a copy. In and of itself, it’s not important at all.” She gave the older woman a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry you wasted all that time. If you go with the guards now, I’ll make sure to put in a good word to your father and mother when I mention to the Emperor that you barged in and attacked my guard.”
Much to Enrie’s surprise, Lirnilalie bowed deeply and, it seemed, sincerely. “I don’t believe there’s any chance that you will not mention this at all — as the visit came to nothing?”
“You’re correct. I take my position and my job very seriously. And,” some small smidgen of what appeared to be genuine warmth snuck out of Elelakorra’s voice, “I remember my aunt fondly.” The warmth was gone as quickly as it had appeared, replaced by something icy and hard. “I don’t appreciate this stranger with her face.”
Stranger and stranger. Enrie felt as if she had walked into someone else’s story, with only hints as to what had come before. Perhaps she would look into it — some time when she was not with her two favorite Bitrani. They were looking far too pale around Lirnilalie for her to prolong the time they spent around the woman.
Lirnilalie bowed again. “Thank you.” She allowed the guards to take her away, while Elelakorra and everyone else in the room watched.
The door shut firmly behind the procession. Elelakorra turned to Enrie. “So, cousin. Where were we?”