The object lying in the clearing was made of some sort of metal, though only close observation told Selene that. The plush, springy moss that covered the thing was inches deep in spots. Obviously it had been lying here, undisturbed for decades, at least.
The slender, nearly limbless trees towered above the priestess. She moved quietly through the green-filtered sunlight. Her slippered feet were noiseless and her thin cotton robes only swished pleasantly with her steps.
The synthetic familiar bequeathed to all higher-ranking priestesses floated behind her, at head height. Its glowing red eye roamed over the forest and its peculiar relic. Never more than two steps behind its master, it recorded everything she found and everything she did.
Circling the enormous object, Selene gasped when she saw what looked like eyes peering at her from the opposite side. They were large and round, much like the glowing red socket on her familiar. She moved closer, running her roughened hands along the edges of the eyes.
Moving her hands further out, she found a nose. Inside the nostrils, her fingers probed a fine mesh of metallic strands. In wonderment, she paused.
Selene cocked her head to the side, her mind going back over the history of the world. Her order knew much of the lore from the world, more than most, but even they were lacking in some areas. Nothing in her memory would explain this disembodied head.
She turned away from the thing, moving further into the forest, looking for more parts of the artificial being.
As she passed through the first ring of trees beyond the clearing, the eyes of the monstrous metallic head lit up, glowing a deep orange. The sensory devices implanted deep inside the head calculated Selene’s most probable path, her height and weight, her species, and innumerable other things about her, the forest, and her familiar.
All the information was projected in an invisible beam to a hovering ship, high above the atmosphere. The calculations were entered into a database, providing the keepers with more knowledge of their charges.
Selene, unaware of the machinations of the alien beings, moved further away from the head. She began speaking to her companion.
“Basch, it appears that another strange apparatus has appeared in the forest. Make sure the children are kept close. Alert the high priestess. It may be time for another cleansing.”