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Reaver’s Claim: Chapter Three

Ryven

Ripping my eyes away from the stranger took an unreasonable amount of will.

Despite the richer tones of her skin and the lush curls of her hair, it was clear that this was one of Sarra’s women, one of her lost clan.

But unlike Sarra, this one’s words were a mystery to me.

With sudden urgency I realized that every other project in my workshop paled in importance.

The woman who stood before me had my full attention.

She could not understand me, nor I her.

But we must begin somewhere.

I tapped my chest.

“Ryven,” I said and repeated myself.

I pointed to her and waited.

She frowned, delicate lines marring her brow. “Esthatyourname?”

I mimicked the sounds faithfully, but apparently had misunderstood.

“Nononno.” She shook her head, curls flying.

She reached out towards me, hand stopping well short of touching me.

“Ryven?”

I repeated my name again to confirm it.

“Kyla,” she answered as she touched the center of her chest.

“Kyla,” I echoed, the sound soft in my mouth.

I pointed to myself again, feeling the fool, but not particularly caring.

“Ryven.”

“Kyla.”

I pointed at the table before her. “Table.”

She stumbled over the words, but it was clear she was intelligent, understood what I was doing.

Despite that, this would take an eternity.

I ground my teeth in frustration.

There was another way. Or would have been, if I’d been cleverer.

One of the un-finished projects at the back of the workshop mocked me.

A teaching chamber of the Makers that had ceased to function longer than anyone in the Fort remembered.

Three more were left to train the cubs from the generator and no one had cared when I had pulled this one away.

A broken hulk of machinery only took space.

I’d been confident I could fix it, wrest its secrets from the maze of parts inside, but after seasons of effort, I’d come no closer to a solution, and had abandoned the project, like too many others.

“I will take you to Sarra,” I said, but she only shook her head as frustration rose through me.

Without Sarra here to translate, there was no way to explain that I needed to take Kyla anywhere.

The puzzle weighed on me, as heavy as Kyla’s expectant gaze.

Except, something of Sarra’s was here. Perhaps that would do.

“Come, I will show you something.”

I beckoned towards the workshop but she made no move to follow me.

“Come,” I said softly, then reached out my hand.

She stared at it, considering, then hesitantly placed hers in mine.

For a moment it was all I could do to not simply stare in wonder.

The soft skin of her tiny hand, so strange against my hardened scales, the touch like fire through my blood.

Gently I wrapped my fingers around her palm and gave a light tug to bring her to her feet.

“Come with me,” I repeated. “I have something to show you.”

“Ihopeyourenottakingmetoyourleader,” she said, doubt clear in her tone, no matter that I did not understand the words..

She paused at her pod, then tapped at the heavy silver cuff that wrapped around her left wrist. “Hello?

“Helo?” I repeated back to her.

She turned and flashed a half smile.

“Sorryjustwonderingwhythisthingisntworking.”

I pushed aside the curtain that separated my workshop from the living space, searching my mind to try and remember where I had put the strange box from Sarra.

Somewhere safe, I was sure.

Before I took another step, Kyla rushed past me.

“Someonelseishere? Whereisshe?

She circled the first pod I had found, her face was bright with expectation.

Feeling like the worst villain, I knew I had to crush it.

“It was empty,” I told her.

With a sigh I turned to my workbench, found two of the small chests I had fashioned in an attempt to create some order back here.

I lifted the contents out from one of them, then turned back to face Kyla.

Holding the chest that still contained a jumble of small metal pieces I pointed to the pod I had freed her from.

“You were inside that one,” I said, then opened the chest, showing her the contents.

Her gaze flicked back and forth between the chest of my hand and the pod, obviously not understanding.

I showed her the other chest, pointed to the pod that had given her such hope.

“This was empty,” I told her, showing that nothing lay in the chest, turning it upside down and shaking it to prove the point.

“Empty.”

It was clear the moment comprehension struck.

She crouched on the floor, head in her hands in despair.

I knelt next to her, spurred on by some wild need to comfort her, but having no idea how to do so.

“I’m sorry.”

The silence stretched around us until she tilted her head back up to stare blankly at the ceiling. “Okicanhandlethis.”

Taking two deep breaths she climbed to her feet, turning to survey the rest of the room.

“Whatsthat?”

She pointed towards the broken teaching chamber and I racked my brain for a way to explain it.

Gracefully she wove through the piles of debris I’d let accumulate, then crouched down to examine the side from which I had removed a long strip of the metal casing.

“Howonearthdidthisgethere?”

I wondered what she had asked in that soft voice.

Rising back up from the teaching pod, she examined the rest of the room.

Shame burned through me as I looked at my ‘burrow’ through fresh eyes.

Too much tinkering, not enough completed work.

Just the blundering attempts of an amateur.

“Let me look for the token from your friend,” I said, checking one corner of my bench, then the other.

It had been here, I was sure of it.

A rustling noise wrenched my attention back to her as Kyla opened and closed boxes, worrying at her lip.

“Noneofthismakessense.”

Then she reached for a low covered box and before I could stop her opened the lid.

In a blur of bristling orange fur, Tili sprang out hissing, bright blue eyes narrowed and paws outstretched for the attack.

“No!” I shouted, the thought of what those razor-sharp claws would do to Kyla’s unprotected skin sending ice through my veins.

But before I could move Kyla had whirled, plucking Tali from mid air with one firm hand grasping the loose skin at the back of the kit’s neck.

“Idontthinkso,” Kyla told the startled orkin.

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