Swamped Chapter 48 Page 27

You can’t help but notice that you have two arms again. But then, this is a dream, so maybe it’s not that odd.

The strange markings on the arm you were missing, on the other hand, seem out-of-place even for a dream.

“The markings are just old runes used to indicate high ether concentrations,” the oracle says. “Seems your magic has decided to focus itself on where your arm used to be. I don’t think that should actually make a difference in how it works, but it might be harder to train yourself to focus on a limb you don’t have any more.”

Well. Magic’s not really something you want to concern yourself with right now. You can probably learn just as much about it from Captain Long or Dominique when you get back. So you opt to focus on where you just came from.

You suppose the next thing on your mind is, well, where that is. Who lives there, and why? What’s the language they speak?

“A lot of it’s complicated,” says the oracle. Your surroundings shift to a small village. “And not the sort of thing we’re allowed to talk to outsiders about. So let’s keep this simple. There’s a small group in our village who… well, I suppose it would be easiest if I call them Guardians.”

You see them step out of a hut, and immediately recognize their cloaks. You didn’t get much of a look at the Dune Wanderers, but that’s clearly them.

“Hmm. You’ve seen them. Well, I can’t go into too many details on their mission. But they’re pretty much the core of the village. The Elders give them orders, and the rest of us are just here to make the village function. Though a lot of us didn’t come here by choice.”

Not by choice?

“If a village is just the same few families, over a few generations you get problems. The Guardians’ solution to this is essentially to kidnap people who get lost in the desert. They take care of you, or rather give you what you need to take care of yourself – but they don’t let anyone off the mountain. If I hadn’t gotten you out, that would have been your new life. Pretty sure you didn’t want that.”

What about the language?

“It’s the language of the Guardians, as far as I can tell. They forcibly teach it to new arrivals, and punish them severely for talking in any other tongue. Not that people don’t – they just make sure there aren’t any Guardians in earshot. Of course, the Guardians have had a few encounters with hostiles in the past, so there’s a handful of loanwords based on things they heard the enemy saying. Stuff like ‘militara’ and ‘arraship’, since those are on your mind. I don’t know exactly what the latter one is, it probably came up in the fight.”

Somewhere in there, you shifted back to the empty field. You didn’t really notice.

“Anyhow. There isn’t that much time left, but I think we covered the main points. If there’s anything else you want to ask before the dream ends, think about it now.”

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what is your race/village etc called anyhow

What is *your* role in the community, grandmother?

Author’s Note:

This marks the end of the second year of Swamped. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the last 731 pages as much as I enjoyed writing them.