An excerpt from… Children of the Moon (cont.)
By L.M. Brickwood
They did not have to walk far, before a boy, perhaps thirteen or older came into view. He carried a wicker basket and collected pine nuts from cones under some trees. Deeply in thought, he jumped to his feet, dropping the basket as the three children approached.
Should they turn around and make a run for it? Or activate the virtual invisibility capes?
"Shelanti, Greetings, good people, you startled me!" The prehistoric boy said.
It was too late to turn invisible.
The boy gestured a graceful greeting with his right hand, touching his heart and then his forehead. 'Shelanti' they learned later, meant 'I wish you everything I wish for myself'. A formal greeting used throughout the Known World.
His hair was of an unusual light brown colour and he was quite tanned, which made his grey eyes appear very bright. He wore a pastel blue tunic with side slits and pockets over long trousers in the same colour. A turquoise line along the hems was the only bright colour. They noticed that he was tall for his age.
What were these children doing on the hill in broad daylight? Alun thought. Weren't they supposed to be at school? Alun himself had been excused from the usual lessons, to help with his brother's wedding preparation. The wedding was in three days' time.
Trevor gaped at the boy "What did he say?" he whispered.
"I don't know, I guess hello or something." Chryseis replied in the same voice.
Katherine stabbed an annoying finger into Trevor's back.
"Close your mouth!" She hissed.
"Let's greet him back, then" Chryseis suggested.
They copied the gesture they had seen the boy make, smiled and said hello.
"Elloh? Where are you from, children? Are you currently visiting the citadel school? Have you met the Lady?"
Chryseis thought she heard something like the Latin word for school and started nodding. She hoped she didn't agree to marry him or something like that.
"He wants to know, if we are going to school - I think." She took a shot at translating courageously, what she thought the boy had said. They were all nodding now, not knowing what else to do.
"You seem not familiar with our language, dear visitors. You are not from Alesia then, I take it?" The boy said. Trevor grimaced and signaled in what he reckoned was a universally understandable language. He said in slow English that they did not know where they were. It was the best he could do.
"Oh, you lost your way?" the boy seemed to understand some of the gestures. A good sign. They nodded again, just in case he had understood Trevor's little charade.
"Mirá, Vallé Cydonia!" The boy said proudly and swept his arm in the general direction of the valley "…Southern suburb of the great city of Cydonia. Capital in the country of Alesia. Welcome." He bowed slightly.
"Is that right. Alesia?" Trevor repeated. What on earth did 'Alesia' mean?
They all nodded again, and felt silly for it.
"I think the name of this place is Valley Cydonia." Katherine's head hurt with all the concentration. "The rest I did not understand."
What if she made a mistake?
"Valley Cydonia?" She asked the boy, waving an arm at the valley.
He nodded delightedly. So these children did speak a language of the Known World. Very remotely, obviously. This struck him as being odd.
Chryseis tried to analyze the pronunciation, but it sounded really strange. Sometimes it was easier to understand than other times. If you could call it understanding. This Cydonian boy thankfully wasn't hostile and didn't mind speaking to females. Another good sign.