A Lost boy somehow gets even more lost.
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Compared to the hodgepodge or worn out nature of everything he's seen on long-term Hedge inhabitants, so much of it is so similar that it has to be the result of civilization. Maybe in this part of the Hedge, there is a human town...?

"Hello?" he tries.

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They look at each other, and not like that was an expected thing for him to say. Somebody goes and fetches a younger person, who looks like maybe a really gangly fourteen year old, and try repeating 'hello' to him. He frowns and shakes his head.

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"Uh... Hola? Bonjour, shalom... miftik...?" He can't actually speak any other languages, but if he's lucky at least one person here is from his world or a similar one. Or, if they recognize that last one, conclusively not from his world, given he learned it from someone whose described home was very different from his.

The thought makes his pulse quicken, sets off an irregular cascade of subtle ones just above his conscious awareness but too indistinct to focus on right now.

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They try a few words of their own, but no successful communication appears in the offing. They let him on the sailboat anyway.

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Okay. No problem. People get along without knowing the same language all the time. He just has to... do what they do, and not do anything they don't, and hopefully he won't drastically offend anyone enough that they leave him to float out here again.

Assuming he's not set to be enslaved or something, in which case his alternative is floating in not-space and hoping they leave him alone to try and find safety on his own. All while hoping no one worse comes along.

He keeps looking around, still marveling at the presence of other humans around him. He tries to get a sense of their personalities or culture from the way they're interacting. Is there ongoing conversation between them, implying they do share a language rather than getting by on basic shared phrases? Do they seem stressed out? Suspicious of him? Eyeing his valuables?

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The interior of the ship is about what you would expect if for some reason you spent a lot of time imagining a ship intended to operate in zero gravity without having to be pressurized at all. Lots of ways to tie things down and latch cupboards shut, plenty of storage on all sides of the passageways, some open doors as they usher him inside revealing hammocks and shelf-nest-things with roll-down nets to keep one inside, lots of spare rope and water barrels and so on. (They're sealing some of the water barrels they just filled in the cloud they were passing through and everyone doing this task is getting wet.)

They're not only talking to each other, they're singing. In a high register that mostly doesn't interfere with low conversation or booming long distance shouts, they are all singing a song. It's not a simple call and response sea-shanty, either. They all have good voices, they are all participating, and they all seem to have this - six-part? - chorale memorized. They are happy and bemused about him and do not appear inclined to theft nor expect him to knife them in the back.

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At first he almost doesn't realize what's happening because he's so distracted by all the newness around him, and by getting used to moving around the inside of the ship by floating from one handhold to the next. He frowns slightly as the singing starts, a little irritated by the way they're slightly missing the keys they should be singing in, or botching the timing and emphasis of each chorale...

What comes to mind are memories of being taken to football games by his uncle a few times. Before every game, someone would sing the Star Spangled Banner. It's a pretty good song, for a national anthem, with some pretty popular and iconic renditions out there.

And the singers that would come out for each game, they were usually pretty talented. But none of the ones he heard sing it at the games ever gave a straightforward rendition. They all put their own flourishes, sang it to their own timing, some extra emphasis here, a prolonged pause there, and something about the combination of the song being so memorable and the occasional jarring off notes always made it more annoying than enjoyable, to him.

That's what listening to this not-sea-shanty is like. Objectively he can tell they have good singing voices, pleasant to listen to, but as a whole, somehow what he feels is dissatisfied, bordering on uncomfortable.

At first he chalks it up to the unfamiliar and stressful situation he's in, but after the third chorale he becomes more consciously aware of the feeling, and his frown deepens.

Why would he feel that way about a song he's never even heard before?

Wait... are they singing in English?

No, definitely not, but somehow he can still understand them!

"What the hell," he whispers, then shuts up so he can pay more attention to each verse.

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Most of the song is actually just pretty oo-ing and aa-ing, but the chorus goes, "Sing of our fortune, to be here today! To look at the sky and to sail it! Sing of our fortune to eat bread and sing, to love one another and dream!" - it rhymes in the original.

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He hurries away from any of the people singing and toward two people speaking in a corner careful not to get tangled in any of the ropes tied around things to keep them in place.

...Nope, he can't suddenly understand their language. He thinks it's the same one, the structure and sounds are similar enough, but...

Wait, one of them just said "eat." He recognizes it from the song, it's the same word... there must be some magic at work here, some magic of this part of the Hedge or maybe even the boat that makes their music legible...

The background thoughts are taking up more space as more and more thoughts cascade and bump against each other, the tiny confusions fusing into a growing lump with a constant pull on his attention that becomes impossible to ignore, and suddenly, between one blink and the next, the world seems to shift around him as he sees everything with fresh eyes.

The crew have no Hedge scars.

They have some scars, their hands are rough from their labor, there are regular scars here and there, signs of accidental injuries, or maybe even combat...

But...

He floats in a daze over to one of the shirtless men, gaze on the dark skin of his muscular arm. It's practically pristine, with none of the white scratches he's seen on everyone in the Hedge. The newest person he ever met in the Hedge had only been there for a few days, and they already had a couple lines on their cheeks and the backs of their hands.

Danny's own body has accumulated dozens of white lines over the years, so dense and numerous that they practically form sleeves along his arms and shoulders. Most of the thorns and brambles in the Hedge won't cut deep enough to bleed, but every bush you rub against will prick you at least once, and from what he heard of other parts of the Hedge that's universal. It's inherent to what the Hedge is, a fundamental property of its... manifestation of... something, he forgot the exact words the Lost had used to describe it.

Which must mean...

His arms feel weak, and he angles himself so that his back finds a wall for him to slide down to the floor, out of everyone's way. His bow hangs to the side and arrows digging uncomfortably into his lower back.

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He's not in the Hedge. Somehow, maybe even mid-fall... he made it out.

He's escaped.

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He attracted some attention when he suddenly rushed over to the people having the conversation but when he doesn't do anything weird and seems calm everybody goes back to what they were doing. A middle-aged lady beckons him in a direction.

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Danny tries to discreetly wipe his face, takes a deep breath, then swallows and takes another, less watery one. He shouldn't jump to conclusions. This could all still be a trick or... maybe what he heard before was wrong, or maybe these people spend all their time in flying boats...

Still, he feels light as a feather when he lifts himself up to follow the woman, and it's not because of the lack of gravity.

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Walking doesn't work super well; he should probably imitate her in grabbing handholds and throwing himself down the hall.

She shows him to a room with hammocks. Would he like this hammock? Or at least that's one plausible understanding of her gestures.

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Yeah, he's been mostly imitating whatever he sees other people doing as best he can, though they're clearly more adept at doing it without bumping into things. 

He looks at the hammock, still feeling emotionally wobbly. This would be... for him? He could just sleep here. Without having to worry about... anything?

He wipes at his eyes again, and nods to the woman, hoping that translates. He considers trying to communicate with her through some of the words he's somehow learned... Fortune, love dream? But he's pretty sure that would just confuse her, so he just unstrings his bow, then ties it and his quiver to the hammock before tentatively lying in it so that its ropes surround and keep him in place.

He's pretty sure he won't be able to sleep. He's still amped up from the leafdew, and he's surrounded by strangers, and the muffled singing continues to mildly grate on him, and the floaty sensations are hard to get used to.

Plus, despite everything, he can't quite trust that this is all going to end well for him.

But it's been a long day, his body has gone through many different emotions in the past hour, and at the very least, closing his eyes with one hand wrapped around his dagger handle lets him doze.

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He will be obliged to sleep through crew members who are using the same room, but they just go in, sleep, and leave; they politely have all their wild orgies in other rooms.

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He wakes every time someone else enters or leaves, but only glances around, clutching his knife, before relaxing again as he confirms that nothing is threatening him.

He also wakes randomly on his own, from dreams of finding himself back in the Hedge.

Sometimes there's a bird singing in his dreams, and the song is beautiful, the melody similar to the song the sailors are singing, but with better timing and in all the proper notes. He wakes from these dreams slightly more irritated with the singing each time, and wishes he could plug his ears with something.

Each time he wakes, his hands move to his lucky rocks and arrows and bow, assuring himself they're still there.

Each time he dozes, his hand loosens around his knife handle, but doesn't move away.

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They'll let him sleep as long as he seems to want to. People on all sleep shifts use these hammocks.

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Eventually wakes and doesn't drift back into half-consciousness for a while. He hears creaking wood as the boat subtly shifts, and muted footsteps and conversation from other parts of the ship, the breaths of others sleeping around him.

There's something... nostalgic about it. Deep memories of being a kid and lying in bed and hearing people still up elsewhere in the house. Hearing people around, period, feels strange, and makes his chest ache as he breathes in.

The day started so normally. It's hard to know what to do next, what he should be feeling, given how much has changed.

Eventually he gets restless at the thought of continuing to lie there in ignorance of what comes next, and he carefully eases his way out of the hammock, then back the way he came, moving toward the upper decks. Toward the open sky, if no one stops him, so he can grab a rope to tie back around himself and see where the ship is headed.

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His emergence causes a bit of a hubbub!

Not too long after he begins causing this hubbub, a redheaded girl - thirteen? Maybe fifteen? - bursts forth from the crowd, beaming at him. "Good morning! I'm Chesabit, I'm new - so where are you from, what's your name?"

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He did his best to understand if the hubbub was an indication that he should go back down, but there's nothing that seems threatening in it, and the restless part of him stuck its chin up at the idea of staying shut in any longer.

Until the sudden surprise, and relief, of someone else speaking English shocks him into a smile.

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"Hey, good morning." Is it? Or is she just saying it because he woke up? "Man, it's a relief to hear someone else speaking English. I was wondering how far I ended up from home." A brief surge of something in his chest, something that hitches his breath. He'll think about that later, when he can ask more questions. "Nice to meet you, Chesabit. I'm Danny, from New York. Do you know New York? America?" His gaze drops from her face to her hands, and a note of confusion threads through him again.

He doesn't see any Hedge scars on her either.

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She is completely scar-free. Her complexion is as perfect as a baby's.

"No, I've never heard of it, the captain just made me knowing your languages. And six weeks early but they worked out the math and it'll all shake out all right. You're not far from Ivory. How'd you get here?"

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His heart sinks, and then he blinks, wondering if he missed a word, or if she's speaking some dialect that has different grammar than he's used to. "I came from the Hedge... sorry, hang on, the captain made you... learn my language? While I was sleeping? How does that work?"

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