Cairifan had learned early in his career that too much pride was a useless hindrance.
Pride in a job well done, yes. Pride in your people, yes. In your land, yes. Pride for pride’s sake would get you killed, sacked, jailed, or all three.
It had been easy enough when he had been Mayor of one of Bithrain’s biggest coastal cities. It had been harder when the Callennan overran the city, but then all he’d needed to focus on was putting out fires and keeping his city intact.
It was harder now. Cairifan bowed low to the Callennan officer overseeing his city. Not his city, anymore, not with the invaders everywhere, but Goulunder was still his home. “Your Ladyship.” He was glad he was not married. He would not want to describe this to a wife.
“Kairipan. You have the reports?” Her accent was clipped and short, making her sound angry even when she wasn’t.
“I have them, your Ladyship.” He set the slate down, the numbers written in Bitrani script and notated with pictured. Cairifan spoke about a hundred words of pidgin-Callenian. That number was increasing daily. Yesterday, he had learned “submit.” Again. He had trouble with that one.
She perused the slate, her finger hovering over the words and numbers. “Why so few goats?”
“Our herds have not been rebuilt yet.” He was not a livestock-herder. His people never had been; in between wars, they had hired Callennans to do that work.
“Tch. I will send someone to help. You will need more goats.”
“I? We?” He swallowed a lump of hope that was as dangerous as pride.
She leveled a look at him that he had no words for. No polite words, at least. From another man, it would have been a challenge. From her, he didn’t know. “You are a clever man, Kairipan. And this place is not my home.”
Her hand on his arm he understood well. He’d had secretaries before; he’d put his hand on their arm like that. Cairifan was very glad he was not married.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/360148.html. You can comment here or there.