Chapter 28: What a Stroke of Luck

Chapter 28: What a Stroke of Luck

A Chapter by Sairek Ceareste

 

 

 

Sairek lead the way deeper into Dandoran's mines, going deeper as he held his staff out as if it was a giant torch to illuminate the way forward. Nayleen still didn't look pleased by Sairek's decision, as the boy glanced behind him to look at the other two. Nayleen still had an annoyed look on her face, with her arms cross as she walked. Cyial who walked just behind Nayleen, glanced at her for a split second before looking directly at Sairek and giving a small silent shrug.

 

Sairek looked back ahead of him and sighed. Nayleen didn't seem to like her opinions being rejected by him, but she at least seemed to understand the reasonings as to why. She just didn't necessarily show it, other than being rather silent. Sairek believed she was perhaps being a bit too prideful. Or maybe she was annoyed because he didn't necessarily discuss it? Then again she did the same thing to him with the water and he didn't get angry...

 

He shook the thoughts out of his mind. There was really no point to dwell on such things now. Sairek focused his vision to be ahead of him and peered through the darkness ahead.

 

"The supports on the walls are disappearing..." He heard Cyial mutter from behind him. Sairek glanced back at him before looking back into the darkness ahead.

 

"You mean up ahead?" He asked.

 

"Yes. It looks like they haven't put the supports up into this area yet." the Acolyte answered.

 

Nayleen uncrossed her arms, only to interlace her hands behind her head as the trio continued to walk forwards. "Do you think they decided to begin mining another tunnel closer to the entrance? This passage way does seem to go quite a ways. Unless it's leading us somewhere.

 

"Might be." Sairek answered. "The map I saw didn't even have this turn, that I know for a fact. This is certainly a newer addition to the mines here than the rest its body. I don't see any reason for them to not put supports in this area. I suppose it looks stable as it is but the supports are just a precaution in case anything does happen. They do use explosives some times too. The supports help the caves stay in tact from those as well."

 

"It looks like it's taking a sharp turn ahead to the right." Cyial pointed out. It seemed the Demon was able to see through the darkness, Sairek noted to himself. Evident by the fact he had been reading his story earlier in the morning in the dark. Cyial was correct as when they reached the end of the long hallway of rather jagged stone, that it took a sharp turn right, but what greeted them when they all turned around was just another wall, with a mere chair and desk. A red-brown leather book sat on the table with a nearly dead candle, the flame on it just a small speck. An ink bottle with a quill sat on the table as well.

 

Nayleen stepped forward as the other two watched her. She grabbed the bottle of ink. She shook it a little as she peered inside the glass.

 

"There isn't much ink inside of here, but it's still sort of wet. This was left here rather recently..." she said, as she set the ink bottle down and glanced at the candle. "And this is a cheap candle. These candles don't last very long, so this is even newer than the ink... this couldn't have been left here for more than a few hours ago...!"

 

Cyial himself came over to the table, picking up the book. Sairek held the light for him as he quickly flipped through the pages, taking brief glances at them.

 

"What's in the book?" he soon heard Nayleen ask as she came over to Cyial's other side to take a look.

 

"It looks like a diary." Cyial answered, but then frowned. "But the writing is ridiculously sloppy. I can't even read most of this..." he muttered.

 

"Most of the citizens here are poor. And there is no school here. It's not uncommon for people in Dandoran to not really know how to write. And even if they do know how, it's not like they get much practice on their writing." Sairek said with a sigh.

 

Cyial tucked his own book inside his robes as he kept looking at the diary, but after a moment he shook his head. "I'm going to need some time to know what's being written here Sairek. But I can try that while we are walking our way through the mines. I can see the book well enough in the darkness."

 

"Is that really okay though?" Nayleen asked. "Maybe there's nothing wrong in these mines at all. I mean, judging from how the candle was, this place was used rather recently. We are taking someone's diary, you know."

 

"I thought you of all people wouldn't care about this, considering when we first was going to leave you suggested that we steal the supplies we need..." Sairek mumbled to her, but soon shrugged. "Worst case scenario, we give the diary back if we find whoever it belongs to. It may explain what's going on in this town..." he muttered as he stood up straight away from the book Cyial was still flipping pages through, as he glanced at the bottle of ink and the dimming candle. "For a town that's in a drought like this though, I am surprised they even have ink, empty books to write in. The candle doesn't surprise me though, knowing they tend to have lots of torches and stuff to light the areas they work in."

 

"They do? I would have guess they didn't with this place being pitch black. and having no lightning at all. The only other light we had other than your staff is this candle, here." Nayleen pointed out. "In fact, this almost looks like a make-shift office."

 

"It probably is one. But I suspect that since the miners work here, they know this place like the back of their hand." Sairek suggested. "They probably go through here like we are doing now. To be honest they probably need to save as many torches as they get. I'm not surprised this place is lit. But enough of that for now, we'll see if Cyial manages to figure out what is in that book. For now though, let's go the other way. This way is a dead end."

 

Heeding Sairek's suggestion, the other two followed him as he took the lead and they began to walk back. Sticking to their left against the wall as was Sairek's plan. Cyial continued to look into the book as they walked. Occasionally glancing up to make sure he wasn't following behind. Sometimes he was beginning to but he would walk faster to catch back up.

 

When they returned to the intersection, they again took to their left. It didn't get them far, as after a very short hallway they reached yet another intersection which mimiced the previous one, with only being able to take a left or go straight on ahead. Again, sticking to Sairek's plan, they took the left turn. Sairek the entire time was trying to keep track of their sense of direction. He was sure that this was taking them East. And then the corridor lead to yet another left turn. He was now sure they were heading North.

 

This particular corridor was different than the rest, being twice, maybe even three times as wide as the other corridors.

 

 

"It feels kind of gloomy down here..." Cyial muttered while still staring at the book he held open. His eyes were staring intently at words, reading them slowly. His lips moved as if trying to sound out the words.

 

"Did you make any headway on the book?" Sairek heard Nayleen asked the Acolyte.

 

"Well... no, not too mu-- AHH!!"

 

Cyial suddenly seemed to sink into the floor. Sairek himself and Nayleen both jumped at his sudden movement, but relaxed. Cyial merely tripped and fell by stepping into a pot-hole in the floor. The poor Demon was sprawled on the ground, the leather book he had been reading had slid a couple feet away.

 

"Are you alright?" Nayleen asked the Demon. She knelt down infront of Cyial and began to pull him up. Sairek knelt down too, and holding his staff in his left hand to keep the light alive, using his right to help Cyial up onto his foot. Sairek noticed he was only putting weight to his left foot, towards his direction. He saw Cyial wince as well.

 

"Ugh... I think I twisted my right ankle a little bit..." Cyial muttered through an exhaled breath of pain.

 

"Let's get him to the wall." Sairek suggested to Nayleen who nodded in agreement. Holding Cyial up, who hopped a little bit on his left foot, they got him over to the left side of the wall and laid him sitting against it. Cyial looked a little bit relieved afterwards, as Sairek walked over to where the book had slid to. He picked it up with his hand and glanced at it front and back, as if making sure the book was okay too, before walking back over to them.

 

"I think I will be okay in a few minutes..." Cyial mumbled. "I just need to let the pain surpass a bit..."

 

"It's okay." Sairek said. "I think we all could do a with a little rest. One night of sleep didn't completely recover us all. We should take it easy and pace ourselves a bit."

 

"I suppose so..." Cyial muttered. He almost seemed embarrassed that he had tripped and fell like he did. But he shook his head a bit as he looked both at Sairek and Nayleen who sat on either side of him. "Anyways, I did manage to make out a few sentences inside the book..." he began. "...But I'm not sure if the information is even really important."

 

"What is it of?" Nayleen questioned him.

 

"About when the relief group had arrived in Dandoran." He responded.

 

"The relief group...?" Sairek questioned more to himself. He stared at the other wall ahead of them, before he glanced back towards Cyial. "Does it say when they arrived?"

 

Cyial was silent for a moment, one of his gloved fingers scratched behind his ear. "I um... can't read it..." he admitted in an almost ashamed way. "I'm sorry Sairek, but the writing is just terribly sloppy... I can only make out a few words and then I have to try and fill it out on my own... sometimes I can only gets a word or two at most every sentence -- which its even hard to tell when they start and a new one begins -- there's not even any punctuation. Except for exclamation marks anyways."

 

Sairek quirked a raised eyebrow. As if to see if Cyial was telling the truth, he opened the book with his right hand while holding the light with his staff closer with his left.

 

"What the flaming lands?" Sairek uttered. He couldn't really make it out when Cyial was holding the book because he hadn't really gotten close. But all he could make out was practically chicken scratch to him. Even the words weren't line up on the page properly. A lot of the letters were really just blobs from the ink from the quill being drowned far too much and pressed far too hard into the paper -- which even had a couple holes here and there.

 

In curiosity, Sairek flipped through several pages in the book, almost to the very end of the apparent writing.

 

"...Well at least this guy seems to get a little better at writing near the end..." Sairek muttered with distaste, as he closed the book. "At least the words aren't falling randomly all over the place."

 

That caused Cyial to let out an almost giddy sounding giggle. After that, they were silent for a moment. Sairek was about to ask if his ankle was feeling better. But before he did, he tried to pull his leg in some and turned his feet to his left slowly. Sairek saw the Acolyte wince in pain. Clearly it still hurt. A few minutes could be twenty or thirty -- maybe even longer.

 

After a few more minutes, of them being quiet, Sairek heard movement and glanced towards Nayleen who soon stood up. Sairek opened his mouth to speak but Nayleen waved him a hand of dismisal.

 

"Relax. I'm just checking what's up ahead at the end of this tunnel. I'll be back in only a couple of minutes."

 

Sairek frowned in disapproval. The place had been empty so far but they didn't know what could be in here. Nonetheless, he knew not to cross Nayleen once she had made up her mind, apparently."

 

"It's Nayleen. She'll be fine, Sairek." He heard Cyial say, which caused him to look towards the Demon.

 

"I suppose that much is true..." Sairek said with a roll of his emerald eyes. As true as it was though, it did not mean that he disagreed. Nonetheless, he looked towards Cyial's ankle. "Does it still hurt, or only when you move it?" Sairek asked.

 

"Well, it is still aching a little bit I suppose... It's more uncomfortable than it is being in pain. When I try to move it though..." Cyial trailed up.

 

"We might have something to help it... but I know absolutely nothing of first aid and healing... all Father forced me to learn was about the country and magic spells..." Sairek muttered as he closed his eyes. "...I don't think he believed I would ever have friends, so he didn't bother..."

 

"It's okay Sairek, really. I just need to let it rest for a while. It doesn't need first-aid attention. Trust me, I know. It is more or less my job, after all..." Cyial replied, as Sairek opened his eyes, just in time to see Cyial close his own crimson ones. "...Besides... aside from bandaging and maybe some ice to stop the swelling, with me being a demon, there isn't too much you could do otherwise... It's not like you could use a spell to heal me..."

 

"You don't need a spell right now. Sometimes Ethereal isn't the best solution to every injury or sickness, Cyial." He replied, before sighing. "...Especially if the illness happens to be immune to Ethereal..."

 

Cyial was quiet for a bit after that. Apparently not knowing what to say in response. Instead what Sairek heard after a short momen was Cyial going "Um..." as he opened his eyes slowly.

 

"Yes?" Sairek asked.

 

"...Do you think that... you have your mothers' illness in you as well?" Cyial finished. He looked frightened to even ask the question.

 

"...Maybe. I mean, my mother gave birth to me while she had it. So I don't see why I shouldn't be infected with it too. I just think no symptoms have shown up yet. Maybe none will ever show up. But I don't know if for a fact it will stay like that, of course. I don't even know if the illness will spread or not onto others... and if so, what's to stop them from getting the results of the sickness later on? For all I know, I might be the cause of a potential epidemic..."

 

"...Sairek... isn't that a little too far to be worrying about...?" Cyial asked in an almost shy manner. As if trying to hint that worry he would cause an epidemic was almost ridiculous."

 

"Perhaps." Sairek admitted. "After all, mother was sick before that and everyone else seemed to be fine. I don't fret over it like that, but... at the tinge of my mind... it's a disease that we know nothing about... anything with it can be possible. Even if not now, then maybe later if it happens to mutate inside of me..."

 

"...Sairek..." Cyial let out in a frown, as if feeling sincerely sorry for him. But his eyes looked up from him and seemed to look past his form. "It looks like Nayleen is coming back..."

 

Sairek peeled his eyes away from Cyial and turned around to see Nayleen was indeed walking his way back. She held her arms up in a shrug, indicating she didn't find anything too interesting. A handful of seconds later she made her way back to stand next to them.

 

"It's all clear ahead. I went a little bit further ahead. There's another intersection, and if we are to be sticking to the wall plan, we will just be going straight ahead."

 

Sairek frowned again. "You're crazy feeling your way around like that in the dark...!" I thought you would just peer around the corner!"

 

"Well, if I told you what I was really going to do, you would have said no." Nayleen said defiantly as she crossed her arms in a smug manner.

 

"You barely told me that you was -- lands!" Sairek let out, giving up the argument and just letting Nayleen win. He heard Cyial fail to stiffle another giggle.

 

"Oh yeah, I did notice one thing though." Nayleen suddenly said. "Maybe it's because I was away from that little flame of yours, but it felt like it was getting colder by the time I reached the intersection."

 

"Colder?" Sairek asked. "No random breeze came by?"

 

"Well, a breeze did gust by, but that was like ice cold. The general air up ahead just feels colder. And not the kind of damp cold if you was stuck in a very deep underground cave. It was as if it was wind chill."

 

"Well, it might mean we are closer to the exit than I thought..." Sairek said out in thought. "...Now that I recall it, I do think the exit was actually around here... I think the pathway ahead from here leads out. If I recall correctly, there's a bit of a winding hallway, like the other halls we've been running through. Then a big room like at the entrance, another small hallway and that should be it. After that we will only need to go through a couple of valley cliffs. It should only be an hour or two of walking by that point -- it's not far away."

 

"Cyial is still recovering, I see?" Nayleen said with a sigh as if she was bored.

 

"I might... be able to walk to rest off... if I use the wall for support." Cyial suggested.

 

"I'll just give you a piggy-back ride instead." Nayleen said. "You can't be even half as heavy as Sairek is."

 

Sairek gave Nayleen a dull look. "I told you, most of it is my clothes. I'm not--"

 

"Yeah yeah, whatever." Nayleen said with another wave of dismisal with her hand. Sairek narrowed his eyes in annoyance as a response. "Just help Cyial get on my back, will you?" She added in, as if to stop him from protesting the topic further.

 

Sairek sighed, kneeling down to Cyial and helping him sit up a bit as Nayleen knelt herself down in front of the Demon. Cyial wrapped his arms around Nayleen with his legs. With an energetic "Oomph!" She stood straight up with relative ease as Cyial held on.

 

"See? No problem!" She let out with enthusiasm. This caused Cyial to blush a little.

 

"I'll hold on to the book for now." Sairek said, still having a hold of it in his right hand. Now it was apparently Nayleen's turn to narrow her eyes. "Yeah, I carry Cyial and you carry a book. That's fair."

 

"You volunteered to carry Cyial." Sairek countered with a raised right eyebrow.

 

"Well somebody has to carry him." She countered back.

 

Sairek reached up with his right hand, tapping a finger on his mother's jewel. "Do you want to carry all of this--" he began.

 

"Let's get going!" Nayleen said suddenly, cutting Sairek off mid-sentence and suddenly began jogging on ahead which caused Cyial to let out a surprised yelp at the sudden movement.

 

"What -- Hey!" He suddenly called out to her. "Don't just avoid me!" He mused as he sprinted after her.

 

After their joking around had calmed down some, they had reached the turn which was once again to the left. Sairek's light illuminated the intersection which revealed that there was no left turn like the previous two times. Rather it was either going straight ahead, or go to the right.

 

Sticking to their plan and Sairek's memory, if it did serve indeed correct, they began to walk straight on ahead. If Sairek was recalling correctly, the entire rest of the mines were on the right side. Which they would be completely avoiding.

 

Sairek couldn't help but take note however, that the mines did indeed feel colder as they were soon in the hallway ahead of them. She had glanced his ways a couple of times as if to see his response to it. Cyial however didn't even seem to take notice. Perhaps it was due to the heavy robe he was wearing, or just being a Demon. Sairek himself only felt it due to the contact of the air on his face. Every other article of skin was covered by his clothes. Nayleen was a bit more vulnerable to the air wearing her hunting clothes, since Dandoran had been hot in its drought. Perhaps she would need to put an extra layer of clothes soon. Still, Sairek couldn't understand where the chilly draft was coming from. It was almost as if someone had opened a door when it was winter out and a cold gust of wind blew in. Even if it was the exit, it couldn't be that cold on the other side, surely?


When they took a turn following the tunnel to the right, Sairek was surprised to see no exit, but only longer tunnels. The mine tunnel narrowed enough that Sairek had to walk in front, leading the light while Nayleen carried on right behind him.



"I'm surprised we haven't ran into any trouble down here yet..." Cyial mused.


"Hey, don't jynx it on us Cyial..." Nayleen muttered in a scolding like tone.


"Oh... S-Sorry..." Cyial said in a small voice.


"Nayleen..." Sairek said back to her in a disapproving tone.


"Oh come on, I didn't mean it like that." Nayleen said with a roll of her eyes.


"And neither did Cyial, but he's right -- there hasn't been any trouble down here yet. Don't you think that is weird?" Sairek asked seriously.


"I think it's good so that we shouldn't question our bit of good luck for once and hurry up and get out of here. We aren't looking for trouble especially with Cyial's ankle as it is."



Sairek wondered if she understood what he was trying to get at about it being suspicious rather than just lucky, but she also had a fair point that perhaps they shouldn't question it and just hurry along as much as possible. The more forward they walked, the colder it got. Nayleen was probably pretty cold but wasn't complaining if she was. They turned another corner, and could only make out that a large room seemed to open up ahead of them. Up ahead they could see a right turn in another short tunnel ahead, but there seemed to have been light coming out from the turn, just making the end of the room visible.


"That has to be the exit...! I remember it looking like this." Sairek commented as they continued to walk forwards.


"C'mon, lets hurry it up and get going!" Nayleen urged him, walking right beside him as she visibly shivered. It was rather cold by now, like mid-winter temperature. She probably wanted to hurry along so that she could put on something warmer. Even Sairek felt a little bit cold. His clothes protected him from the cold well, but not cold such as this.


As they got closer, a stronger gust blew. Sairek let out a gasp as he felt the wind chill through the thick fabric of his clothes. The lapse in concentration hissed out Balinzer, but by now they were so close to the source of the light he didn't bother to reignite it. As they exited the large part of the room and into the tunnel to take the turn, all three of them gasped together in astonishment.



"What the...?" Nayleen let out in disbelief.


"That's... impossible...!" Sairek let out, half the words caught at the impossibility of what he was seeing. "It can't be... There is no way! It can't be... snowing!?"



But there was no way to deny the white flakes falling from the ground and the cold temperatures they were experiencing. Layers and layers of snow were filled up and some were even whipping past their face as a strong gust blew that chilled Sairek right to the bone. This was most certainly a blizzard -- and with how much snow was on the ground, it looked like it had been snowing either very hard extraordinarily quickly, or snowing here for quite a long while.


Sairek couldn't help but glance back behind them. Dandoran was only just past the cliffs, yet it was experiencing a drought. Yet only over on the other side of the cliffs and small mountains, it was snowing? How could that be possible?



"This... must be..." Nayleen began in a mutter.


"Must be what?" Sairek asked her, looking at her in an alert manner.


"This must be one of Yggdrasil's symptoms..." Nayleen said through clenched teeth. "...I don't know much about magic, but... the amount of Ethereal Yggdrasil puts out through its roots changes the temperatures and climates of different areas around the world... I wasn't sure for a fact in Dandoran that was the case but after seeing this, I am sure... that we don't have nearly as much time as I thought we had..."



Sairek stared at her alarmed. Not as much that she thought they had? How much time did they have left, then?


"You mean... in the case of Dandoran..." Cyial began, "...is that Yggdrasil was exhaling too much air and heat through the element of fire in Dandoran that it was causing a drought... and here it is exhaling too much air and cold water which makes ice and snow, and so the balance this area would normally have is shifted too much on one side making it a drought in one spot and a blizzard in the other?"


"That is exactly what I mean. Yggdrasil is beginning to lose its sense of balance. I imagine once the disease on it gets even worse that it may refuse to start exerting certain bits of Ethereal and then won't exert any at all to try and keep itself alive." Nayleen said sternly through clenched teeth. "We are running out of time...!"



© 2013 Sairek Ceareste


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Added on March 6, 2013
Last Updated on April 10, 2013