Rescue by Wher

Continues from Underground Exploration


Xanadu Weyr - Ruins South Tunnel
Ancient smoothly-cut stone walls here drip with moisture, the scent that rises to your nostrils is of damp stone, plant decay and musty long-unused space. Underfoot the flooring is smooth, polished stone and might be a touch slippery due to the wet dripping from tendrils of roots that have managed to work their way between the stones lining the space overhead. Though dark, this corridor was obviously meant to be lit as there are ornate niches inset into the walls on both sides of the tunnel at regular intervals.

In one direction the tunnel ends in a stone-arched exit, while in the other the darkness of the long corridor presses heavily save for the distant and faint light filtering in from the sinkhole.

Who knew a sevenday could eke by so slowly? With dawn to dusk being the same, ever-present darkness in the tunnel, even a short trek to those unique stairs and that glass ceiling to catch a glimpse of dimly-seen sunshine (or moonshine depending on when they've gone) has done little to break the monotony. The Iernian has lapsed from sleep to querulous wakefulness to unconsciousness, a routine that causes the Healers waiting to examine him grave concern. It is little Dersk, popping in and out with food and water that brings the most cheer, unless Xe'ter has some amusing tricks up his sleeve. Thea? Not much she can do to entertain them but share bits and pieces of her life or tell one of the old stories handed down by word of mouth from her mountain folk.

Presently, A'dmar is out cold, whether from the last fellis dose he's received or from his head injury, it's hard to say. Thea, having paced up and down the corridor for exercise or to relieve sheer boredom, is just settling down on the folded blanket that is her makeshift chair when she's not sleeping on it. With a sigh, she rests her forehead on her knees and mutters dully, "It can't take much longer…"

Xe'ter has run a gamut of emotions himself…from guilt to defiant anger of sorts to a certain sort of cheerful optimism one might not have expected out of him. He's been friendly with Dersk, when the wher allowed, and has had to wrestle with Romth to let D'had do his job…the young bronze is taking turns between watching over his mate and their clutch of eight eggs and trying to tell the blueriding Weyrsecond what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. But mostly, he's had plans. He's explored a bit more than Thea…and now he has Ideas. Grand ones…and between relaying his own family stories and personal history (short as it is…Thea now knows more about the customs of other backwater Holds better than most…)…he's been dreaming up ideas of what to DO with the newfound ruins. "It won't be," he reassures, his voice cheerful enough still. "Dersk's working hard, and they're digging on the other side…besides, everything's alright up there." He's got Romth's reassurance on it.

Dersk has, indeed, been working hard, only stopping long enough to rest when he gets tired or his handler calls him back to the other side. The blue fellow is just trying to do his job, and he has gotten closer and closer to digging an escape for the fine folk down here. As a matter of fact, the sounds of the pickaxes on the other side are getting louder and louder, so you know they're making some sort of progress.

Thea has been happy to offer Dersk scritches and lavish praise on the wher for his efforts, truly grateful for both the food and water he's brought as well as his efforts to help dig them all out. It's likely that some of the other whers have worked in shifts alongside him. The usually pacific Seryth is fretful, but it has more to do with her eggs rather than the fact that her lifemate is buried underground. She's fussed over those eggs more than is her norm, turning and re-positioning them more than need-be. If it weren't for Romth's companionship and a visit now and then to one of the ledges from Siebith… "Yeah," it's muffled from where the Weyrwoman speaks, head still down. She can hear those pickaxes, will likely hear them for weeks in her sleep after they're out. Time just… creeps… It's likely she's seen that glint of ambition in Xe'ter's eyes, for finally she asks, idle curiosity in her voice, "What do you suppose we should do about this place?"

Xe'ter is quiet a few moments, before he notes, "Romth says if Seryth doesn't stop turning the eggs so much, the hatchlings are going to have their heads where their tails will be." But he lets it hang, before he answers, "I say we clean it up…I mean. Lots of people go to Landing, just to be able to see what the Ancients built. I think they'd come here too…and it'd be nicer than some of the weyrbarns.."

"Or they'll be scrambled and won't hatch at all," notes Thea sagely from under her hair. "I told her that to no avail." Maybe it's the press of gloom, maybe it's the worry about the Iernian lying there or any number of things from being separated from her little ones and weyrmate to listening in to Seryth relay D'had's grumbled commentary echoed verbatim by Siebith with all the Weyrsecond's nuances and emphasis thrown in as he's dealt with things this past seven. She's not cracking up - really! But a sudden spurt of laughter bubbles up as she lifts her head to peer Xe'ter-wards. "Nicer than some of the weyrbarns? So… thinking of making it habitable then?" She digs at some green slime where her hand rests at the junction of floor and wall with a fingernail. "That will take some doing."

Dersk lets out a pleased sound, he can smell the outside air. The blue gets a bit excited and doubles up on the digging. "O'er here!" Perhaps that's Derin's voice calling to the other miners and rescuers travelling through the remaining layer of debris. Now a slight draft begins to flow into the tunnel. And on the draft a voice floats. "H'lo in there? Is all okay?"

Xe'ter looks up at the sound of the voices, and then nods almost absently, "I was…we could do like Ista…make it into an entertainment center…harpers, parties…a chance to live where the Ancients lived…a forgotten Hold, preserved for all time…face it, the Weyr could use the Marks, too…." But then he's sure he heard it right, "Here! We're in here!" Not that Dersk can't tell his handler the same! He rises up from where he's been crouching, and then notes, "The first thing we're gonna need, though, is baths."

Derin is the first through, thanks to Dersk's help. Of course, as soon as he's through, in press the healers, in a hurry to check on A'dmar and the weyrleaders. So much for his victory dance. Ahem, but he's happy to scoot out of the way and over to give Dersk all manners of scritches. "Well done, m'friend." Yes, the wher gets the congrats, at least from his miner.

There's a wistful, almost-sad look to Thea's expression as she considers Xe'ter's idea. "To restore and preserve it so people could come see, yeah. But if people came to live here? They might spoil-" She gets no further for a whoosh of air, the current stronger than what they've gotten coming from the opposite direction, carries the sound of triumphant voices. She scrambles to her feet, her movements stiff and a bit awkward, using a hand to steady herself on the wall. "Hey there! Here we are!" She's jubilant all sudden and if only she could decide who to hug and kiss first. Alas! The healers are all over them and she bats their hands away almost irritably. "I'm fine, see to him. He needs it more." Him being the recumbent from of A'dmar there.

Xe'ter is similarly swarmed, but he's trying to get away, "Shardit, go see the Iernean! I'm fine! I need a bath and that's it! And maybe a sandwich…" But then he's pushed away from the healers, to try and get to Derin, squinting at the lights they've brought, "Derin? That you?" He's got his hand out, "You and Dersk are lifesavers, man! Absolute lifesavers!"

Derin huhs, looking up from his wher. "Is me." He confirms Xe'ter's questioning. He looks over the weyrleader's form. "Glad t'see you in one piece Weyrleader, Sir. My apologies for not getting through sooner, it was a large collapse." He then glances over to Thea, and then the still form of A'dmar. "He gonna be a'right?" The miner queries.

It's almost too much to take, the bustle and the noise that now fills the tunnel. Where once the corridor yawned huge and emptily, it now seems quite crowded. Finally extricating herself from the healers hemming her in, thanking them for their zeal to duty, Thea steps over to where Xe'ter and Derin are. "Thank you so much, Derin. And you too, Dersk," the Weyrwoman says simply but sincerely. "How's your leg, Derin?" Squint. ‘Should you even be here?’ seems to be the appraisal she gives the miner. A'dmar, meanwhile has been loaded onto a stretcher and carried out to be attended to.

Derin's leg is, for the most part, all better, though he still has a bit of a limp, but the cast and everything is gone, young bones heal fast is what the healers said. He manages to shake Xe'ter's hand and then gives Thea a brief smile. "Glad to see you 'gain Weyrwoman." But then Dersk is starting to squirm a bit at all the lights that are being brought into the dark tunnel. Derin shoots both weyrleaders and aologetic glance. "I should get 'im out of here, I don't have his goggles with me."

And so on out they go, flanked by a cadre of Healers who insist on check ups in the Infirmary before baths. Then they are free to clean up and reunite with family and friends, though there’s been a certain bluerider at the dig site for the past few hours trying his best to remain calm but hurry the process nonetheless. In the ruins behind them the miners are bracing the tunnel ceiling nearest the sinkhole with timbers and in the Infirmary? Lies one Iernian, sure to give the Healers a taste of their own imperious commands when he awakes.

Continues in Duel or Do Over?

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