Haru set the lander down in a wide clearing and ran a quick atmosphere check. There was a larger than normal amount of smoke in the air. There was a slight haze, but nothing that could cause permanent damage to her lungs. She had also made sure that she landed in a different forest from the one that was burning.
“Computer, observation: it is currently summer in the northern hemisphere and in the heat a forest fire has started.”
The computer responded instantly. “OBSERVATION RECORDED, BUT WEATHER AND FIRE ARE ALREADY RECORDED ON THE SATELLITES. THE GOVERNMENT IS ASKING FOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE LOCALS.”
“Understood.” Haru rolled her eyes and opened the hatch. She practically jumped out of her skin when she saw a four armed amphibian in a robe standing at the edge of the clearing. Then she noticed a human with pointed ears doing an intricate dance. He stopped abruptly and spread his arms wide. Haru was about to ask what the dance was about when a white sphere spread out from the man and enveloped the three of them before dissipating.
“Well, you should be able to understand us both now. I’m Ahlev, a civilized salaman, and my elf apprentice here is named Dohner. May we have your name?” Ahlev bowed slightly.
“My name is Haru.” She turned to look at Dohner. “Are you a Warlocke? I’ve never seen a ritual cast like that before.”
“Warlock? I’ve never broken a magical oath. Plus, I’m a bard not a mage so I technically wouldn’t be a warlock.” He pulled out a quill, an inkwell, and a sheet of rough paper. “Say forest for me please.”
“Good idea. Start a dictionary now so we can work on communicating without the spell!”
“Forest.” Haru grabbed a recorder from a shelf on the lander and added it to her pack.
Dohner leaped to his feet with excitement written on his face. “She’s speaking ancient human! I studied it in my free time!” Ahlev gave him a skeptical look. “I had hopes it would come in handy at the next star fall.” He explained. There was a short pause before he added, “apparently I wasn’t wrong.”
The recorder was in Haru’s hand again, recording the conversation so the computer could attempt to make sense of the language they must be speaking to each other. “So,” she finally interrupted, “I assume you were planning on taking me somewhere?”
Ahlev cleared his throat, it almost sounded like a croak. “I know you want to talk more, but she has a point. We need to go. The Tinkerer’s Templar will show up soon. I doubt that she has blueprints that she would hipatishto clopta shem.“
“The spell wore of,” Dohner said in a suddenly thick accent. “If you can send your flyer away and be able to call it back you should do so then hide your tech. The Tinkerer’s Templar will want to take it from you.”
Haru nodded, pulled a crystal connected to a small electronic from a pocket and pressed a button on the bottom of it. The flyer slowly took off to return to orbit. “There, let’s go.”
The elf, human, and salaman made turned away from the clearing and followed a narrow path into the forest.
Shortly after they left two humans entered the clearing from a wider path that cut through. One of them had a set of mechanical objects on his left arm. He spoke to the other one. “The thing is still close enough for me to learn from.” He lifted his right arm and pointed at the flyer while his left arm glowed a soft green. “So,” he asked when he finished, “did you learn anything about her wishes?”
“She wishes for peace in the stars.” The other man answered. “What did you sense about her.” He said this without turning to look at the female human behind them, but she knew it was directed to her.
A slight smile appeared on her lips as she said, “her fate is to return Nevre to the stars from whence the human race came.” She paused for a moment as that sunk in, then spoke to the first man. “It would not be kind to your unwanted followers to discover whose company you keep these days. The four of us should be off.”
“Three of us?” The second man asked. “When did he show up?”
“Later and yet now. She’s right though, they’re approaching now.” A third man appeared from the woods opposite them. “You delayed too long the first time. Move.”
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