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Episode 6 Part 7

By:  Lenady

Tilly was too stunned to move, as were the alien guards, at least initially. A few seconds however into the scuffle between the elder and Sanrook, they too jumped forward and attempted to pry her away from him. Tilly followed suit, more for Sanrook’s sake than the elders. She knew that if Sanrook had wanted to take down the old guy it wouldn’t have taken her this long, especially considering how tired he had looked just a few minutes prior. The scuffle between the two was horribly weak, and almost seemed more an arm wrestling match in a way. She couldn’t see as well, now that Sanrook had been surrounded by a few of the guards, but her movements seemed too controlled to be out of an anger-based attack. A more reasoned attack was possible, but what would she have been doing? The guards had grabbed Sanrook’s arms by then and were attempting to pull her away. Tilly moved forward, the thought crossing her mind to grab one of the guards that was pulling on Sanrook, but as soon as she had walked far enough into the crowd she too was grabbed, then pulled away from the fight.

            Sanrook was only at the elder a few moments longer anyway. The guards pulling seemed to only increase the struggle, until a few seconds later she quit struggling quite so much and stepped a foot or two away from her presumed victim. She was now wearing a triumphant smile.

            “Now you should be able to understand us. Hey! Don’t touch that. I just put it there for a reason,” Sanrook said to the elder. He was noticing the object that Sanrook had put into his ear and for a few moments tried to pull it out, until he stopped suddenly. Tilly realized that he must be going through the same process she had just gone through a few minutes prior with her own translator. A few words in his language had probably came through finally.  

            “Now do you see why I was doing that? Ouch!” Sanrook turned around to look at the guards, who weren’t reacting well to the elder’s changed demeanor. “You can quit pulling so hard. I wasn’t gonna kill the guy or anything.”

            The more that was said in English the quicker the translator was picking it up. Tilly smiled at Sanrook, feeling somewhat embarrassed that she hadn’t figured out what was happening sooner. She felt it would be a good idea to help the translator along somewhat, but she felt speechless and didn’t think that her babbling would help the situation all that much. She looked over at the elder and at his growing expression of shock. She just hoped that the elder being able to understand them would have some effect on the outcome of the situation.

            “You… you…” the elder managed to get out, “We can speak. I mean I can speak. And you can speak. And I know.”

            The crowd around them fidgeted, mumbling and glancing at one another. The guards had only increased their grips on Tilly and Sanrook. To them, what the elder had just said would probably have made little sense. They probably assumed Sanrook had done something to his mind.

            “It’s a translator. It does that. I’m not going to get technical with it, but yes, it lets me understand what you’re saying, and lets you understand me,” Sanrook explained, grimacing a bit. “Could you have your guys loosen up a bit? They’re starting to cut off circulation.”

            “Ah, yes” the elder replied. He addressed the guards loudly. “Release her. She has knowledge of the old ways.”

The guards quickly released Sanrook, a look of shock spreading to their faces now as well. Sanrook stretched her arms out, reaching up, then out, and moved her shoulder in circles, trying to release the kinks that had started to build up. Tilly noted, somewhat annoyed, that she was still being held back as tightly as before. “Um… Sanrook,” Tilly prompted.

            The elder looked in her direction and thought for a moment. “Release her as well,” he ordered. The guards holding her let go, although somewhat more reluctantly than the ones who had held Sanrook, as if they noted their leader’s hesitation and acted upon it. Tilly quickly walked over to Sanrook and stood beside her. The situation still felt rather volatile and Sanrook actually seemed to have impressed the elder.

            “How do you know of the old ways?” the elder asked. The crowd, who had started whispering once again, hushed at the last two words.

            “Well, I can’t really answer that until I know what the old ways are,” Sanrook replied. “We’re not exactly from around here, as you could probably tell.”

            The elder simply looked at her for a moment, then turned to one of the figures beside him. “Bring me a seat. This might take a while.” As the man ran off through the crowd he turned back to Sanrook. “The old ways are...” he paused. “Take this” he continued, pointing at the translator. “This is one of the old ways, or so we think. You see, we only have bits and pieces of the old ways ourselves.”

            By now a stool had been brought to the elder and placed beside him. With the support of two others he slowly sat down on it, giving a sigh of relief to finally be off of his feet. “Now… let’s see here. Where do we start?” He pulled on his beard slightly as he thought, then looked up at them once again. “Sit please. It’s much too troublesome to be having to look up at you the whole time. Everyone sit.” The crowd followed orders and sat on the soft blue sand of the cave floor. The surreal quality of the situation hadn’t escaped Tilly. In just a few moments it had turned from a frightening struggle into something akin to a library’s story hour. 

            The elder, now once again in a place of prominence, looked somewhat more at ease. “We have been here for many, many generations, but this was not our home. We came from a place far away. We came from the sky and fell to earth here, not far from these caves. Unfortunately we were separated from the place which we called home, losing all forms of contact and thus unable to let them know what had happened. And so we stayed here and made our home in these caverns. Initially, we were comfortable, and managed to live very similar lives to what we had led before, as the powers of the old ways were still strong. Slowly though, one after another, those things that relied on the old ways stopped working. The old ways grew weaker and weaker and our knowledge of how to sustain them was quickly lost. After a few generations no one knew how our tools even worked, let alone how to fix them. Oh sure, we knew how to work them, but without the knowledge of the system that made them function we were powerless.”

            The elder pointed off towards the dark area beside the stairs. “One by one we had to leave the pieces there. We had hoped to store them for just a while, until they came and got us. For we knew that they would find us eventually. By now, however, we have given up hope of that happening. So as we die our knowledge dies. As the old ways die our tools die. And thus without our tools we too will die. Even the lights above us,” he said, pointing upward, “which let us see in these caverns, are slowly dying. If you look closely you can see that for every light that is on, another is no longer working. And thus our lives darken. The hope of preserving the old ways has kept us strong, but even that hope has darkened. So we go about our lives, hoping the gods will hear our calls and our prayers. Our sacrifices have been in vain.” He looked down at the sand for a moment, pausing, then looked up again at Sanrook. “Or so we thought. But now I see that the gods are indeed pleased. We were angry that our altar had been desecrated and destroyed. But I realize now that it was done for a reason. The gods have let us know that our prayers have been heard. The altar is no longer needed, for you have the old ways and can once again give us light.”

 

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