Kael made her way carefully back towards her Tower. She had imbibed more than she’d intended to, and the world was even more different than it had seemed upon waking. Louder, for one.
She had Gemma’s “number.” She was pretty sure that she could figure out what to do with it, but she was also fairly sure that she would end up back at the museum where Gemma worked, trying to figure out the mysteries that made no sense.
Where was Joaon? He had to know what was going on. Where had the potions go? Where were all the potion-masters, all the knowledge that she had so carefully studied and documented? Where was everything she had worked so hard for?
Had she abandoned the world and left it without knowledge? It couldn’t be – she tripped over a bar that seemed to be put in the middle of the sidewalk just to annoy her and caught herself with a curse word that was definitely no longer in the local tongue.
She needed to get back to the Tower, and she needed to do so without bringing any attention to herself. She shook herself, brought herself into a standing position, and started walking again. She could see her Tower – even though there were now buildings that were taller (a thought that offended some part of her mind, but she wasn’t in a position yet to increase the height of her Tower, certainly not by enough to outstrip these monstrosities, and she was fairly certain that dissolving other people’s buildings was still frowned upon). She walked towards it, keeping her feet on the “side walk.” (Which all things considered was a very descriptive if bland term: one walked alongside the louder traffic.)
She shook her head again. Now was not the time to be considering linguistics.
“Ah, miss, hello there. Do you need some help?”
She turned to look at the man who was talking to her. He looked – he looked as if he needed a bath, she decided; he looked Hoeraija, or possibly one of the southern nations, and he looked concerned.
She shook her head mutely. Who knew what would come out of her mouth right now?
The next words that came out of his mouth confirmed her fears; they weren’t in any language she understood. He followed them with another language, and then repeated himself. The last time, she recognized the tongue – one she had learned “the hard way,” before she had learned how to brew translation potions.
This time, she knew he was asking her if she needed help. She cleared her throat and pointed to the tower. “I just need to get there,” she tried, although she was fairly sure her accent was horrendous.
“Oh good. We do have a language in common. I was beginning to worry.” His smile was crooked and his accent, too, was an interesting one. “Sometimes, the ones that come from beyond the mesa that way,” he gestured to where there was – or, it seemed, had once been – a massive cliff and canyon – “they don’t know the local language or any of the local customs. Coupe of my friends were in that situation when they got here.”
“I,” she tried slowly, “find myself in a similar situation, but I am serving as the Kael in the local museum to Kaelingrade Torrent-Step…” She hesitated. She had been beloved by the Hoija when she went to sleep, but she had not always been looked kindly on by some of the other tribes, and she didn’t know how the Hoija thought of her now.
“That’s a good museum.” He seemed to guess at something similar to her concern. “Are you just play-acting, or…?”
“I know a thing or two about potions. But…” She flushed as she realized what had gone wrong. “I forgot about how they can interact with some spirits.”
He looked askance at her. “That is either a very novice mistake.” His voice was very gentle. “Or you were distracted.”
“There was, ah.” She looked away. She did not know how this nation, this time, dealt with such things. Every tribe had been different, and some of those had swung their opinions from one direction to another within her lifetime – her awake pre-sleep life time. “There was someone.”
“That would do it. A new place, if I am correct, a new someone, perhaps, and then the wisest potion-mistress becomes a little fuddled. A lot fuddled, I’m thinking. You’re serving as the Kael. But you don’t speak Lambardesh? How does that – oh.” A smile grew over his face. “Translation potion?”
“Exactly.” She nodded, letting her chagrin show on her face. “And then there were drinks…”
“I see, I see. Yes. I don’t do potions, but I have done things along the same line. Well, let’s get you to the Tower, miss Kael, and hopefully you can sleep this head off before you need to make any more potions, mmm?”
“Sleep…” She wrinkled her nose. “Don’t want to sleep.”
“Oh, I’ve been there, believe me, more than once. But you can’t stay up forever. It’s not good for you, it’s worse for your potions, and think about what happens if you end up drifting off while brewing a potion. Come on, miss. We’ll get you into bed and then you can let the alcohol take its way and knock you out.”Want more?