A Car in a Tree

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The tiny car gave out a tiny buzz as it sped down the hallway. Elves gasped. Some jumped out of the way, while others froze as the alien contraption zipped effortlessly around their legs.

Shelarya let out her chittering giggle as the car slowed to a stop in front of her.

“It’s fascinating, David,” she said. “And you control it all yourself?”

“It’s just a toy,” David said. Pretty much every elf there was staring at him. He was starting to think getting this stuff sent over was a bad idea. The elves of T’reshaddi’s halls (T’reshaddi was the name of the tree) had finally started to get used to him. Five minutes with the RC car, and he’d probably spent the next few weeks getting as many stares as he did when he first arrived.

In for a penny, he thought to himself, and he pushed the remote control car back into action.

It hadn’t gotten far when a booted foot slammed down right in front of it. The small car’s back wheels lifted off the ground from the impact.

“What is this nonsense?” Vennesul said. David had problems identifying genders of the Perresi most of the time, but Vennesul was definitely male. He was well over eight feet tall, and broad-shouldered, for an elf. He probably weighed more than David did, which for an elf, put him squarely in the heavy-weight division.

David slammed back on the control, but Vennesul’s hand snatched the toy before it could escape. Its wheel’s spun impotently in the air.

“It’s a toy, harrasi,” Shelarya told him. David was still trying to get the nuances of ‘harrasi‘ down. It sort of meant ‘clansmen.’ Shelarya and Vennesul came from the same tree, Shalruun. But there was more to it than that. Hundreds of elves lived in that tree, but they weren’t all harrasi to each other.He was pretty sure you had to be born within the three years (twenty months, by Earth standards) of each other to be harassi. Harrasi were charged with looking after each other, almost like brothers and sisters.

And like brothers and sisters, just because two elves were harrasi that didn’t mean they had to like each other.

He examined the car. “It’s ugly,” he declared.

“It’s cute,” Shelarya insisted.

“It has too many straight lines. It’s a bad talisman.” Peresi magic was quite strict any magical symbol or device could have no more than three straight lines involved. More than that would apparently call out to bad spirits. As a result, Peresi avoided straight lines, even when magic wasn’t involved.

“It’s not a talisman,” David told him. “It doesn’t matter how many straight lines it has.”

“’A monkey may speak, but it does not understand,’” Vennesul said. It was a Peresi phrase, although it didn’t actually say monkey. The word was ‘lorura‘, but since a lorura was pretty much a chimpanzee that could parrot back phrases it heard, David mentally translated it as ‘monkey’. Vennesul liked to compare David to loruras whenever he could.

“You dishonor my lira,” Shelarya snapped.

“He is not your lira.”

“We have shared food and knowledge. I have given him the name of my home-tree and he’s given me his. We are lira.”

“He wasn’t born in a tree. He cannot be lira

David cleared his throat, cutting off Shelarya’s response. She had tried to argue that a human town was effectively the same as a elven tree many times before. Vennesul wasn’t going to budge, since accepting David as Shelarya’s lira would mean he’d have to be polite.

“It’s not a talisman, because it’s not run by magic,” David explained, in as patronizing a tone as he could manage.

“I find that hard to believe. How can it run? How does it listen to your commands?”

“The levers send electric signals in the remote control that are converted to radio waves. The antenna on the car receives the radio waves, which cause electric signals in the car to activate different parts of the motor, spinning the wheels and making them turn.”

Vennesul stared in confusion. He wasn’t alone. Shelarya was just as bewildered, as was every elf listening in on the conversation. He’d had to use quite a few English words, since Peresi didn’t have words for “radio waves” and things like that.

“Mo-tor?” Vennesul repeated. David was strongly tempted to echo the line about monkeys, but he held his tongue. To openly insult Shelarya’s harrasi could either be construed as an insult to her, or an admission that he didn’t qualify as her lira.

“Watch,” he said, and he handed the remote control to Shelarya. “You try.”

“But I don’t understand how it works,” she protested.

“And if it was a magic device, that would be a problem,” he grinned. “Just push the levers there. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.”

She frowned, but she pushed forward on one of the levers. The RC car’s wheels suddenly spun, and Vennesul dropped it in surprise. It bounced and landed on its side, but a nearby elf nudged it back on to its wheels.

It jerked forward in small bursts. Shelarya seemed surprised every time the car actually moved forward, but she was smiling. The rest of the elves stared in amazement.

David threw a wicked grin at Vennesul. “So who speaks, but does not understand?”

Prompt: RC Cars

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This week’s prompt is remote control cars (or planes, or boats, or whatever you prefer).

Good luck and good writing!