The sounds of their voices pulled me out of my exhausted sleep. By my estimate, I’d run for only an hour yesterday, but my legs felt like jello and a blistering headache pulsed in my skull.
I sat up, this time without any pain, and tried to focus on the Captain and the girl.
The blonde threw her hands up in exasperation, “I’m just….what do we do….wanderer can be…”
The Captain nodded his head and replied in a soft voice, “You know what our….is. We take all who need us. We’ll not be like those who call themselves heroes.”
Rosetta Stone: Activated
95% “common” language processed.
“I know” she said in her baritone voice. Honestly, anyone could mistake her for a man just by that voice, it wasn’t just me. “I think…he’s….to”.
The bearded man walked over to me and sat on a stool right next to the bed. He looked worn out, with slumped shoulders and wrinkles plastered to his forehead. He was also absolutely massive. In my world, he’d be an amazing basketball player just for his height. Who wants to try to shoot against someone with arms as long as another man’s entire body.
“Hello young man, I believe I stated before that you would have a story to tell us. Why don’t you start….and we’ll see….after that.”
Rosetta Stone: Activated
98% “common” language processed.
I had no idea how to speak in his language. Understanding what they’re saying and speaking the language were two different things. I was hoping my ability would give me a breakdown, but so far I’ve received no help. Then again, I also hadn’t reached 100% yet. Instead of answering, I just gave my third thumbs up of the day to the blonde girl.
The gloriously bearded one sighed, “Perhaps he’s touched in the…”
The blonde girl looked me up and down before saying, “No, I don’t think so. Not with how he was looking at my…”
Rosetta Stone: Activated
100% “common” language processed.
Congratulations! You’ve acquired your first language through your ability, Rosetta Stone. As such, you may now speak the language, “common”. To activate this language, please look at your new languages tab and activate the language, “common”.
I glanced at my tabs, which appeared just below abilities. I looked at languages, said “open” out loud, confusing the two nice people who’ve helped me since I fell out of the forest, and perused my MTS. I wonder what my face looked like while I was doing this? Probably insane and only helping the man’s idea that I was mentally gone.
Inside there were already five different languages with differing percentages.
“Local Pidgin” 3%
“Language of the Sanguines” 2%
I looked at the activation key next to common and said the same word, “Activate”. The key dissolved and quickly I felt my mouth begin to tingle, particularly my tongue. A notification popped up.
Look at you acquiring new languages, and on your first day in the wide world! Now that you’ve activated a language, it’ll appear in the top right of your Modified True Sight ability. Should you choose to alter it any point to another activated language, just look at the chosen language and change it from there. Good luck you little linguist!
Was my MTS getting a bit weird with the text? I hadn’t really noticed before, but sometimes it’s very formal, and other times it’s like it has its own personality. Did that come from me or from The Watcher?
I looked at them both and said, “I’m sorry about that, there was something funny going on with my uhh, tongue. It was making it difficult to speak.”
Initially the man looked taken aback by me speaking to him at all, but then frown lines appeared on his forehead and he asked a worrying question, “I healed you. There was nothing wrong with your tongue, though I do find your body rather strange.”
“Ohhh haha” I said, trying to play it off. “Yeah, I must’ve bit my tongue when I woke up, uhh I guess.” Smooth, “What do you mean my body is strange?”
He leaned back a bit and looked at me with a concerned expression, “Your heart is in the wrong location. Everyone’s hearts are centered to their chest but close to the right side, while yours is on the left. It’s rather strange and I’ve never seen it before.” He scratched his cheek a moment in thought, “I’m thinking of writing to my chapter and asking if they’d seen something like this before. Perhaps there’s a way to fix you? There should at least be something in the center’s historical records, although it may require more power than what I currently have.”
So in this world, like a mirror, their organs were swapped with ours. That must be an easy way to identify people from my world. Wait more power? Like magical power? I stared at him for a moment as I tried to get my MTS to activate. I didn’t want them to continue to think I was crazy, or they may never let me leave this place. I mentally strained and pressed my MTS onto the bearded man.
Ufff, I was being rude. “Pardon me, but could I have your names?”
He smiled and looked at the girl whose face didn’t change a bit.
“I’m Alard Mender, and this here is my daughter Aliand. I believe you’ve learned we’re the local healers here. Pleased to meet you. If I’m not presuming, can I ask your name as well?”
“Hello Alard, I just go by Fern.”
His smile turned lopsided as he scratched his cheek again, “Hello Fern, what would be your choice name by chance?”
Choice name? Must be something to do with the culture out here. “My family goes by Jones”.
“I don’t think I know what a Jones is”, he frowned at the roof before looking at his daughter, “Have you heard of a Jones daughter?”.
She shook her head in denial and looked at me quizzically. I was beginning to sense a problem here. They seemed to really go in for surnames and I’ve just thrown them a curveball.
“Uhhh, I’m from out of tuh-town.” I stuttered, cursing myself for not being a quick thinker. “The Joneses are well established where I’m from. We’ve uh, we’ve been there for a long time”
The bearded man sat up straight on the stool and set his shoulders while assuming a neutral cast, “Ah, would you be from the nobility sir?” He asked with a different voice. Before, he’d sounded congenial and friendly, but now the tone he used for one simple question seemed to split the air and create a divide between us. I felt that my answer here could spell a lot of trouble if I don’t get it right
I wondered if nobility was a bad thing to villagers. My only experience with it was watching them on tv and seeing the prince and princess appear on magazine covers. I hope she’s happy with her choice.
This reminded me of playing a video game right at the start, where different choices would take you down different lanes. Maybe later I could alter what I’m doing, or a choice I’ve made, but I was pretty sure that my choice here would stay with the village. There seemed to be only two options.
On the one hand, I’m just another person. Commoner. Peasant. Whatever. I don’t know what doors that might close, but I’m sure there are more of these in the world than nobility. I could blend in better and maybe survive another day.
On the other hand, I’m a noble from a noble house. What were the inherent negatives? Would there be challenges to my house? The house of Jones does have a nice ring to it. How did people even become nobility in the first place? Money? I imagine many noble houses began with one powerful person who killed their way to the top while stating their blood was the most pure.
I don’t think I have a choice. Not really. There’d be all kinds of different background knowledge I’d have to know to pass it off. Commoners can be just that, common. Besides, remembering what I’d seen from Rosetta, the fact that they have their own language didn’t spell well for how they viewed the world. Anyone that needs to exclude others from understanding them certainly had some shady things going on. Wait, how long had I been thinking this over.
Alard was still looking at me expectantly as I told my truth, “No I’m not nobility. Common as beef stew, the Joneses.”
He visibly relaxed with a smile, patting me on the shoulder before looking at his daughter. “Well Aliand, I don’t think we need to be charging him, now do you?” He arched an eyebrow, seeming to test something within the blonde woman.
She stamped a tiny foot and uncrossed her arms into two fists at her sides, “Father, you’re too nice to travelers. If we don’t provide the tithe, you know we could lose our sponsorship and be forced back into the fields.” A red stain smoothed its way across her features. “You remember what that was like? All those men saying when we could eat. When we could rest. When we could use the latrine? I’ll not go back to that. Not to save this boy’s pocket change.”
Alard sighed and stood up before saying, “Calm daughter”. He stepped forward and took her in his arms, connecting his fingers behind her back. “Our patron wouldn’t abandon us so quickly, nor so pettily. We make do. That’s all we’ve ever needed, since before your mother passed and onward to now.”
“We do father” she agreed, stepping out of his embrace. “But I’ll never gain my choice if we don’t find a means to it. I’ll not be a mender without a higher tithe, and I never want to be a hand again. You know the terrible things that happen to female hands. There are all kinds of stories my friends across the village have said and heard. ” She finished, a brighter splash of red pouring into her cheeks. Her speech sounded prepared, as if she’d been practicing.
I interrupted as casually as I could, “Hey, what’s a hand?”
They again stopped to look at me. I needed to find a guide who wouldn’t mind explaining like….the whole world to me. Stupid watcher.
The sun seemed to grow brighter for a moment before settling back down.
Ok, maybe I shouldn’t speak that way about my amazing patron who saved my life and has the best bones this side of the planet.
Aliand squinted at me with a suspicious cast, “How do you not recognize the world’s most common human job Wanderer Fern?”
“Ohh” I responded, “We uh, don’t talk about our choices openly where I’m from. It’s considered a private thing you know.”
She took a step towards me before a loud bell began ringing out from nearby. It clangd twice, paused, then again three more times.
“What’s that” I asked plaintively, needing just a little bit of information.”
“Two bursts means attack, the three that followed were the direction, meaning the south”.
“What’s in the south?”
Alard turned his head to look out a window before saying in a dead voice, “The forest”.
Categories: Grey- Serial
I'm a high school English teacher in Texas. I also hold degrees in radiography and radio and television broadcasting. Though I obtained certain knowledge and skills from my prior degrees, I do not currently use them.