The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Chapter 9: Lost in Translation

Last time on The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa got invited to a Quorum meeting, and she learned about a religious text that was purposely kept from her. Why was Elisa kept ignorant of this obviously important document? Find out after the cut.

Well, thanks to Elisa’s ignorance, we’re treated to an infodump. You know the drill: I’ll try to put everything into easily-digestible chunks.

Why did the Orovallenos leave Joya d’Arena?
Remember when I said that Elisa’s ancestors left Joya d’Arena to found Orovalle? Well, now we finally learn why.

The Orovallenos are basically fantasy Protestants, except they call themselves Vía-Reformas. They thought that the Joyans weren’t religious enough, so they left and founded their own country. Their religious philosophy also differs from the Joyans: they believe in devoting their lives to studying religious texts and serving God.

Now, the Vía-Reformas love finding hidden meanings in religious texts, especially in the original language. Which leads to:

Why was the Afflatus kept from Elisa?
The Afflatus contains a Generic Fantasy Prophecy:

And God raised up for himself a champion. Yea, once in every four generations He raised him up to bear His mark.
(The champion must not fear.)
But the world did not know him and his worth was hidden away; like the desert oasis of Barea it was concealed. Many sought the champion; from evil intent they sought him.
(The champion must not waver.)
He could not know what awaited at the gates of the enemy, and he was led, like a pig to the slaughter, into the realm of sorcery. But the righteous right hand of God is mighty.
(His mercy extends to His people.)

Unfortunately, there’s a major translation problem in the last part of the prophecy. And it’s going to require some Google Translate-fu to get the point across, so bear with me.

In Lengua Classica, the phrase “could not” can also be translated as “must not”. Nicandro provides an example sentence to prove this: “He who serves must not lose purity of intent.” Here’s the same sentence Google Translated into Portuguese (we don’t know enough about Lengua Classica to fully morph the text):

Aquele que serve não pode perder a pureza de intenções.

And to compare, here’s the part of the prophecy discussing the gates of the enemy, also Google Translated into Portuguese:

Ele não podia saber o que o esperava nos portões do inimigo…

Fun fact: in real Portuguese, the phrase não pode (and its conjugations) can translate as “could not” or “must not”. Or at least, that’s what Google Translate tells me.

Anyway, the Vía-Reformas think that the latter translation is correct, so they believe that the Chosen One can never know about their destiny, and therefore must not learn about the Afflatus.

What’s up with Ximena?
And we finally learn why Ximena can stab people out of nowhere!

Ximena was trained by the local monastery to be Elisa’s guardian. So she learned how to defend Elisa, and hide any evidence of the Generic Fantasy Prophecy.

How many Chosen Ones were there?
The back of Nicandro’s copy of the Afflatus has a list of every Chosen One ever, including Elisa.

Okay, I lied. It doesn’t have every Chosen One listed on it. There are gaps because records were lost, the Chosen One was born far from a monastery, or the Chosen One died before completing their service to God. Nicandro also reveals that not every Chosen One performed an act of service, and those who do usually die horribly violent deaths. So we got either of those fates to look forward to, which is nice.

What happens to a Chosen One when they die?
Well, when a Chosen One dies, their Godstone falls out of their navel. Nicandro has three, one from each of the Chosen Ones overseen by the Monastery-at-Brisadulce. The oldest one in his possession is over 1200 years old.

Nicandro has a crazy theory: Chosen Ones can use the power contained in dead Godstones, since Chosen Ones are the only ones who can use the Godstones in their bodies. To prove this theory, he gives Elisa his Godstones. Will we see if Nicandro’s theory works? Probably.

Now with that infodump is over, Elisa goes to the monastery kitchen for some pomegranate scones. On her way back to her suite, she runs into Ximena, who woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that Elisa wasn’t in her bed. Elisa realizes that Ximena genuinely cares for her, so she gives her a scone as they walk back to their suite.

Once back in her room, Elisa hides her dead Godstones in one of the many potted plants in her room. In case you were wondering, this will be Very Important later on.


Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
We actually learn one phrase in Lengua Classica: “can not” / “must not” translates to “né puder”. I’m going to assume that this is an unconjugated form for now.

It’s Translation Time!
Translations of Spanish (and Spanish-influenced) words in this chapter:

  • Vía-Reforma = Path of Reform (rough translation)

Advanced Translation Time!
Well, we learned one difference between standard Portuguese and Lengua Classica: all instances of [ão] in Portuguese are replaced with [é]. Keep that in mind for later in the book, when we actually run into some Lengua Classica text.

Food Porn!
All the foodstuffs mentioned in this chapter:

  • Pomegranate scones


Next time: A Mayan-influenced dish is made. Cosmé beats a rug. Alejandro’s son says something funny. Elisa pigs out. She soon realizes that was a bad choice.


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