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The past couple of days had to be the most confusing experience for Sherene Goldrose. The short-eared strangers were called hoo-mans, in their language from her loop sided conversations with the hoo-man called Ca-ra.

The magical equipment Ca-ra held in her hand was nothing like any magical item she has ever seen before! It can converse with someone else thousands of paces away, show moving or still images and even text! They have no need of scrolls or parchment as all come be writing into that device.

Ca-ra calls this "tek-no-lo-gee" or something and Sherene realizes with each passing hour she spends conversing with Ca-ra, her grasp of to her language gets better and better. How powerful that must be!

Not to mention how humble, polite and efficient their people are. The hoo-mans spend less than a day setting up the tents for her people, providing food and waving off offers of payment with kind smiles.

Ca-ra had tried to explain to her that they are here to help or save them from disaster. She got confused with all the terms the hooman uses. But she has to admit that they hoomans is very dedicated to their work.

The magical wagons which Ca-ra calls as "Jee" and "Haf-tak", regularly ran up and down, bringing supplies and men to help build the city of tents, was nothing short of a miracle.

And they must have seers of some kind, as they could tell when Empire soldiers are attacking, even at nights! And they could even see in the dark, defeating the Empire soldiers three times with their deadly thundersticks with no casualties at all on their side! I wonder how much more secrets they hold.

She smiles as she watches an ongoing game between the hoomans and the children, involving a ball, and the objective seems to be to kick the ball into the middle of two poles set at both ends of the field, Some of the soldiers in the weird color scheme clothing taught the ball game to the children. she hears the laughter of the children playing and the cheers from the accompanying adults and felt truly at ease and safe after all that has happened.

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The Empire's delegation had entered the palace to discuss a treaty of peace, but it was just a farce, the so-called ambassadors plotted with some of Goldrose Kingdom's own ministers and murdered the King, Queen and other members of the Court while hidden agents of the Empire set fire to various parts of the Capital, sowing panic and confusion throughout the Kingdom.

Luckily, she was at the Summer Palace, when Joesph came bearing the grave news. The Empire's army, hidden along the borders, launched a surprise attack, forcing the Kingdom to its knees. Her two elder brothers, lead the Goldrose army against the invading Empire, but they fell one after another.

In just three short weeks, all five major cities, including the Goldrose Capital fell, the refugees from those cities, towns, villages and retreating soldiers gathered to her banner and, holding back her pain, she led them through the goblin-infested forests before arriving at the Sawtooth Mountains.

At the start, she had an initial band of over 11,000 soldiers and refugees. After three weeks of running, getting ambushed by the numerous crafty goblins and hounded to death by the Empire's soldiers while others fell to diseases or illness, some even lost the will to go on, had diminished to less than two thousand people now.

All that remains of her Kingdom are now gathered in a tiny tent city built in the middle of the grass plains.

Today, she dresses in her best finery she has left, an ivory dress with long wide sleeves, trimmed in gold lace, tied with a golden ribbon around her slender waist. Her hair braided up like a crown with the rest cascading down her back and wearing a simple tiara.

With her were Lord General Joesph, bareheaded, in his armor, and sword polished till shiny with a golden cloak draped over his shoulder, stood on her left, while Magister Thorn looking pale but cheerful, holding a blue mana stone topped ironwood staff, and wearing a midnight blue scholar robes trimmed with gold thread stood on her right.

The medical skills of the Hoomans proved to be another marvel. Master Thorn, who himself has given up hope of recovery due to the serious injuries incurred from the Empire soldiers, was healed easily by the Hooman's maa-dis.

While advised by the maa-di to rest and not move around, Magister Thorn strongly felt that he should not be left out as part of the party to visit the Hooman's Captial, to him, nothing short of death shall ever stop him from going.

Several pages, apprentices, and military officers also stood anxiously behind them waiting for the Hoomans arrival. "What do you think of the Hoomans?" Sherene asked the other two next to her.

"Really incredible, their "tek-no-lo-gee" is amazing!" Joesph praised, pointing to the approaching vehicles. "If we had those or even their weapons, we could have saved so much more of our people!"

"Yes, yes. I am really excited to see more of their amazing "tek-no-lo-gee," Thorn agrees. "I don't sense any form of magic from the hoomans nor from their machines, I wonder how do they get these amazing things to work."

The approaching vehicles stopped neatly in a line in front of the elven party, the rear doors opening and a young smart looking hooman, wearing a body fitting light gray coat and pants, festooned with bits of colorful metal above his chest pocket hops down, and saluted.

"I welcome you to come me to the city." He speaks in a barely understandable common tongue and held out his hand towards Sherene.

Sherene found her lips curling up in a smile as she gently covers her mouth with her hands and gave a small laugh."I thank you." She replies in Eng-ish, before accepting his hand and climbing into the rear of the carriage.

As she enters the carriage, she found her self in a very spacious interior lit by soft warm lights, a soft lush carpeted floor, and she does not even have to lower her head to walk inside. Surprised by the number of seats inside, two rows of seating were arranged by the sides next to clear glass windows, which she did not notice from the outside. Glass that clear! How rich are they to put glass in a carriage?

The hooman gestures her to the end of the carriage where seats were arranged to face each other.

She took the seat on the right, feeling the wondrous soft and comfortable seat conforming to her body. She rubs the texture of the seat, feeling the soft and rich fiber and examines the interior of the cabin, trying to understand what and how is it made. She turns to see the rest of party piling in and looking around acting like country pumpkins.

Joesph and Thorn sat down on the opposite seats facing Sherene. Joesph tried to hide his astonishment to the comforts of the seat and the luxurious interior while Thorn happily bounced up and down the seat like a child before settling down with a satisfied smile on his face.

"Ahh, this seat feels better than my feather goose bed back at the Capital. Mind you, I paid quite the lump sum of gold for that. Think I can persuade them to let me have this?" He gave the seat a few more bounces before finding the best position to sit.

Once the rest of the contingent has settled down on their seats, the hooman closed the door at the rear and walks over and sat down next to her, and spoke into a device set on his arm. Almost immediately, a slight quiver could be felt and she found the vehicle moving.

She glances out of the crystal clear window, watching the scenery fly pass them, seemingly faster than dragon wagon or even a carrier wyvern! The expected humps and bumps did not appear nor even the usual creaks and groans of wagons and carriages, even as she watches the vehicle moving up and down the uneven ground, the ride was the smoothest and quietest she ever had.

She turns to find both Joesph and Thorn with their heads glued to the windows, in fact, the whole party has their faces at the windows, watching the scenery fly past. She sees the hooman sitting next to her giving her a smile, "How ride feels good yes?"

She bites back the urge to laugh out, and instead politely smiles and nods. "Very good." Before turning to watch the flowing scenery, her mind racing.

Her smile slowly changes to a frown as she worriedly thought to herself, what can we offer these hoomans, they have such powerful tools and magic, what cards do I have to bring to the negotiation table which can benefit my people!

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