An imposing structure loomed out of the wall in the side of the cliff face, a series of cliff-side apartments indicating a large city. As the two brothers approached, a half-dozen native warriors came out of the gate. Each stood seven feet tall, and all wore robes of skin fashioned to cover them from their left shoulder to below their knees. Dark-skinned and dark-eyed, the soldiers had grim expressions. Each carried an eight foot spear, all made with shafts of dark wood and bright metal points. Each native also had a long knife strapped to his waist.
The brothers stopped and waited as the natives drew closer.
"Well," said BA, "this is your department. You're the linguist." BA looked at the approaching group. "I suppose I could kill them."
"I suppose you could," replied Vic, pulling notebooks out of his vest pockets.
"A gun might help," said BA.
Vic stopped and stared briefly at BA, who was cleaning his fingernails with a twig. "You don't like guns."
"They can save lives in situations like this."
"I thought you said you could take them out." Vic put one small notebook back and pulled another out as the natives approached.
"It might save their lives. They might be intimidated enough to leave us alone, then I wouldn't need to kill them all."
"They have spears and knives."
"It's always nice when they bring their own toys." The natives stopped a few feet from the two men, the shining points of the spears pointing toward the bright sun above them.
"Let's try diplomacy first. They might be friendly." Vic looked at the pages of a small notebook he pulled from another of his vest pockets. "Right. I have a little Kenyan here and a bit of something else, but I don't recall what language it is." Vic tried a few phrases of what he thought was a local greeting.
The largest native stood looking at the two brothers, a frown on his face.
"I could impress him, probably, with some modern magic," muttered Vic reaching into his vest. From an inner pocket on the left side he pulled a small, battery-operated radio and turned it on. After twisting the dial a station came in, static in the background.
The frown on the leader deepened.
"I don't think he's impressed, Vic," said BA, shifting his feet slightly.
Vic held the radio up, facing the leader. "Big magic!" he announced. The leader shifted his spear to his other hand and shook his head. Vic glared at him. "It might help if I knew what language you gentlemen spoke."
The leader looked down on the two brothers, his face split wide with a smile showing bright white teeth. "Well," he said, in a voice that trembled in the low octaves, "we could do English, I suppose."
Vic, startled, looked up at the man. "Nice accent. English or Australian?"
The smile widened and the big man chuckled. "English. BBC. We love Graham Norton."
"We're more CNN ourselves." BA held out his right hand to shake. "BA. Spelled like it sounds." The big native shook his hand solemnly, left hand still holding the eight-foot spear.
Vic shook hands with the giant also. "Vic von Crapp. We're the von Crapp Brothers, Adventurers. Perhaps you've heard of us?"
"Hmmm. I am not thinking so, but we don't get out much. I am Kobo."
The brothers exchanged a look. "Right," said BA. "We didn't really expect the village or locals, though I suppose we should have, since the rest of the book was correct."
The tall leader frowned. "Haggard." It came out as a curse. "That man causes us no end of grief." Then he grinned. "But we did get radios from other visitors, so we can listen to Graham Norton." He reached his big hand for the radio Vic held. "Double A or nine volt?"
Vic handed the radio over. "Nine volt. The range is somewhat limited."
"We have an antenna that will make it work longer range and a solar charger for the nine volt." He handed the radio to one of the men behind him. "You won't get that back, by the way." He motioned to their backpacks. "Gentlemen, if we may? We'd like to review your possessions."
Two of the guards came forward and rummaged through the backpacks. One pulled a National Geographic magazine from Vic's and held it up, grinning. The other smiled at the package of beef jerky and licorice twists he pulled from BA's pack.
They returned the packs, lightened slightly by their prizes.
Vic smiled. "How accurate was the book, by the way? The People of the Mist?"
"Oh, spot on," replied the giant, still grinning, but he signaled the others to circle the two.
BA casually watched as the five other giant men took up places around him and his brother. "Then the bit about sacrificing?" BA scratched his chin.
"Our favorite part," grinned Kobo as he motioned them toward the cliff-side city.