p data-p-id="10d4231bc8de3f9a0c358cbf864d3d73""No, no," protested Soluna, fiddling with a pen. "Say it again!"/p
p data-p-id="0dceb1620dfdb0be3f8ef7e9a0efadeb""Chah poe-tone," I repeated for what may as well have been the hundredth time./p
p data-p-id="9311f7929bc9eed1af0bc14d89535564""emAh/emcha, emah/emcha," she repeated. "You need the emah /emsound at the beginning."/p
p data-p-id="aa1b0f46c8919b11342b4d472e1e3c1f""Why?" I asked. "I don't get it, you told me emcha/em meant emyou/em and empote /emmeant emto understand./em"/p
p data-p-id="e26212ba022aa5ccc2a38d59ac8e7b6f"Soluna sighed, looking up at me from her chair beside mine. Even though I felt like I should be annoying her with my failed efforts, she didn't seem to mind./p
p data-p-id="1dbcfb397121da58f01d323c971f481b""You need the emah/em," she continued, "because emcha/em is what you understand. Thus emcha/em becomes emacha/em."/p
p data-p-id="e69104800106d4367b2034f3e06e8f66""emAh-chah poe-tone/em," I reiterated. "How's that?"/p
p data-p-id="bd1e208a37d267d303ef89d79d49a6f1""It's good," she smiled. "But it's not wholly accurate, since I suppose you can't really understand me!"/p
p data-p-id="12891279167c9109b25ff77aa4345960"She let out a heartfelt laugh and inched closer to the desk, scrawling down some writing that I couldn't read. The translator in my ear only worked with the spoken word apparently, and even that was limited as the other person needed their own translation device./p
p data-p-id="b3eaeb098dbc53a4d9f88a0116dc4d42"Earlier she explained to me: "The translation devices read your thought patterns and learn to associate different signals with different ways of speaking. It used to take a while to start up, but now it's mostly instantaneous. Once it learns which brain signal evokes a certain word or phrase, it transmits those signals locally to other translators, like mine." She pointed to her neck. "Mine is a bit more advanced than yours, yours can only handle a few languages."/p
p data-p-id="7bc5627b851ba93de7dad20b2b741556""Anyways, once that information is sent, my translator then knows how to translate those brain signals into the words of my language. And like that, I can understand you!"/p
p data-p-id="a5e33885313f2e30195c1c724e512304"Soluna always had this happy, excited demeanor about her, which trickled into her manner of speech. Her explanations were bubbly and succinct, but not to where the information was obfuscated by reduction. Even while teaching me the basics of her language, I couldn't help but feel as though she viewed it as a joyful experience rather than an arduous task./p
p data-p-id="a6cae07c070751983be84121157af5aa""Well, what if I want to say 'you understand'?" I asked./p
p data-p-id="3817486fceb8e0d3cd0f428b5e36b542""Then you wouldn't have the emah/em sound," she answered, before adding: "Also, you probably wouldn't have the emcha/em either. Most people would just say empotisse/em, unless you were trying to emphasis the person who was understanding."/p
p data-p-id="8b629e7301de6a4f22fc08a72a7ad823""I'm going to be honest, this is awfully confusing." It wasn't as if I had something familiar to cling to./p
p data-p-id="762d3abdfe159ef3a9d43aa358a563dd""It's okay!" She leaned closer to me, grinning. "Once you get the basics, you'll be speaking fluently in no time!"/p
p data-p-id="b7d0dec3aedd706e2a547b7fa8bf6b0c"Soluna then re-positioned herself in her seat./p
p data-p-id="e9fbb7bb279379f6e311680f65808757""Now, again, go over the pronouns!"/p
p data-p-id="7306d5d66250b029f86891bf83162e13"We continued the lessons for a good hour, going over various parts of speech, conjugation, and otherwise alien inflections that I struggled to even enunciate. The session was cut short in the end by a hesitant rapping across the room's door./p
p data-p-id="3493eabf58277520affdde2c65cad3aa"It opened to reveal Minursa flanked by a new character, one of shorter build than the viceroy and much more rotund./p
p data-p-id="df654f5327d2a2a6f6de032d7970524f""Soluna, mind I ask what you're doing?" The Viceroy questioned, looking straight towards the two of us./p
p data-p-id="e9df8dfe3b1d8fc59bca6112383a8614"She jumped up almost instinctively./p
p data-p-id="16a0436c9043687b9893c2eda36c6b1c""I was just teaching him a bit of our language," she detailed. "It seemed like a good idea, since he may be here for a little while."/p
p data-p-id="7bc66b4538b15ae3ee076e76b552d63e"He said nothing in response, but motioned for us to follow him into the hallway. I was introduced to the newest acquaintance, a local doctor who worked almost exclusively for the Viceroy and his family. His name was Gulpa, and was the most well-trained doctor on the planet (or so Minursa said). The revelation of my blood's color had inspired a closer examination and this was the man called in to do the job./p
p data-p-id="0c9fb662b11bf7eab7dccfb73ffe856e"We weren't guided into some doctor's office, rather, just another room in the castle with what appeared to be some impromptu medical equipment./p
p data-p-id="22cb4f54f4dd60679f9530d8011dbe6e""Don't worry, kid," the doctor said. "I was called in on short notice, brought what could fit in my automobile, but it'll be enough to see what's going on."/p
p data-p-id="de112f9206e2145340b3a0978f146bc0""Be sure to share what you see with me," I joked. Gulpa didn't respond./p
p data-p-id="c9a94d1d2349f10880d8205974b50cf0""Now, I'm going start by taking a look at the peculiar blood of yours." The doctor leaned me back on a large sofa in the middle of the room. "Hope you're not afraid of needles."/p
p data-p-id="bacbe9dd008548c444253777820aa34d"I looked away as the blood was drawn, shifting my gaze between the suspicious Minursa and the amicable Soluna. Perhaps I should ask where the rest of their family is, the castle is far too big to serve only two people./p
p data-p-id="ff525ddc8136485349db19b14ae384b1""Okay done," declared Gulpa. "And yep, just as red as I was told."/p
p data-p-id="b6c85682b6869fe66290aa35fb8172d0"I turned my head back to the situation at hand, watching as the doctor ejected the blood into a vial of sorts in a case at the center of a glass table./p
p data-p-id="4365fc3c787af2953fb364a9a39e8131""If you don't mind me asking," I began, "what are you planning to do with that sample?"/p
p data-p-id="c43edd63d1aa9e7bb2397c5d12044fbf""I'm going to break it down and investigate the chemical structure," he explained, fetching a strange device from across the table./p
p data-p-id="222fb881cd9047d9c4b86960da9da570"At an opening in the device's top face, he placed in the vial of blood. The hatch closed and made an incredible whirring sound for about a minute before re-opening./p
p data-p-id="857a5fa8905ac049ef38095278fd104c""A little boring, I know," mumbled the doctor, fetching another case off the table. "Science isn't all that flashy."/p
p data-p-id="20d7978f14af17a28d54373b84f8b802"I looked above the couch to find the peering gaze of Soluna, who must've wandered up to the scene for a closer look./p
p data-p-id="69bf9b2f9f2cff420a8c0b132fa920bc""emAkera/em," I mumbled upwards./p
p data-p-id="5002f8246e36780d62f5fe3bc4b91ddd""Yep," responded she with a prideful expression. "It is definitely red."/p
p data-p-id="b467ec78f2d8e8a0460a38cb9f05ebee""Looks like you couldn't help your on curiosity," I laughed./p
p data-p-id="2d545abb5b8f300ef572905f8ed62289"Soluna's cheeks turned red. "I was the one who first saw the red blood, I deserve to know what that means!"/p
p data-p-id="4db84e907f705c728a79e832ac1c48df""No worries," I responded. "I'm just messing around. I'm equally curious myself." Although not in the same way, I thought./p
p data-p-id="5d5aba03682c0de66512653d31f543f3""Lay your curiosities to rest," boomed the voice of Gulpa, looking through some sort of magnification device. "On the other hand, this might raise more questions."/p
p data-p-id="5e1966386230f19c69ef4c8ea41c860e""Is he human?" Asked Soluna, clambering over me. "I'm sorry to ask so bluntly, but we must know!"/p
p data-p-id="aa3b52116f325563b99d4ed09886103c""He's not human, no," responded he. /p
p data-p-id="c813907108bfe9c1be0e35dc1938a490"I would take offense to that statement if I hadn't become accustomed to being the alien. At least from my perspective, I was the only human./p
p data-p-id="f1811f84aca3dc70958069dbcbd001e5""He's blood is strikingly different than ours," continued the doctor. "But I suppose you wish to know where the red color comes from. The cells in his blood are bound by iron ions."/p
p data-p-id="0e75190230045abaf504544f8a8c94dc""Iron? Like the metal?" Soluna's inquisitive look lept to towards the vial of red blood./p
p data-p-id="1f7e4775d274b3947617528d4e006f7b""Iron is an element too," Gulpa muttered. "But that's besides the point. His blood is structurally different than ours. It's not necessarily the iron itself that creates the red color, but the way the elements bound to the iron are structured. Everything from there on is simply fundamentally alien. I'm amazed that he's even alive."/p
p data-p-id="ac01680d8a93084055cb0363448a17fd""Well I'd say the same for you guys!" I snapped, then quickly rescinded my abrupt outburst. "Sorry, I'm still confused about the whole thing."/p