The stone glowed a brilliant green. Kyle just stared at it for a second, really shocked. There it was, the egg-sized stone he had grabbed from the stream, covered in the strange writing, glowing like a light bulb. It almost hurt his eyes a little to look at it. He held it out in front of him, palm up, and his fingers cast shadows on the walls.
He looked at Pocahontas – er, Llara. He could see her quite clearly now in the bright light from the stone. Her pale skin was green in the light, and she looked almost as shocked as he felt.
Then he felt it. The tingle of something in his palm, like a tiny, gentle spark of electricity between his hand and the stone. His memory flashed back to what had happened last time he held the stone, and he dropped it.
He was surprised to find that he actually managed to let go this time.
The stone hit the sandy floor with a gentle thud, and the light went out.
Kyle stared into the dark as his eyes adjusted to the dim-again cave. What the fuck was that?
“Let me see that.” Llara was holding out her hand and looking at him in puzzlement.
“Fuck that shit. Get it yourself. I’m not touching it again.”
She just looked at him.
“It started to do that tingly thing in my hand again. Last time that happened, I blacked out and woke up on a floating bridge in the middle of a tornado, then ended up here gettin’ spears thrown at me. So fuck that shit. Get it yourself.”
“Fine.” She reached down and picked it up. It did not glow.
Llara studied the stone, turning it around in her hand. “Can you read this writing?”
“It looks a little like Dwarven, which is odd.”
Kyle started laughing. Right, that was odd. Sure.
“Why are you laughing?”
He laughed harder, then started coughing. Still recovering from the run. He drank some more water.
“Sorry. Dwarven. Right. That’s odd. As opposed to everything else that’s happened. As opposed to sitting in a cave, hiding from orcs, with a girl who can apparently recognize dwarven writing. Because I’m in middle earth and dwarves exist here.”
She was looking at him, saying nothing. He looked back at her. “What?”
“At first, I thought that you were from some city in the south, and you had no knowledge of orcs because you don’t have them there. And you dressed so strange because you were a noble. Now I think I was wrong. You are from much farther away than that. I think you may be from another world. That, or you’re crazy.”
“I’m startin’ to wonder that myself.”
“For now, I’ll assume you are not insane. And not lying.” She put the stone back on the sandy floor. “Tell me exactly what happened when you first picked up this stone.”