keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 34: Hastings 197
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 66
The passage that took them out of the dragon’s cavern was similar to the one through which they had entered. It occurred to Lauren that it was probably so large because the dragon needed the extra size to accommodate it, whether it hollowed it itself or induced other creatures to do the work for it. They moved through it fairly swiftly and smoothly, and she then realized that it was likely no other creatures would use this because few if any would want to face a dragon, although possibly there would be monsters down here that would not realize (as she had not) that these tunnels led to such a fate.
After perhaps an hour and a half they took a left fork, the corridors still large enough to accommodate the beast they left behind. Tiras slowed the pace a bit, apparently satisfied with the distance they had put behind them and not wanting to tire the group completely. They continued on this order for some time, and then came to an abrupt halt.
Being in the rear, Lauren could tell little more than that the passage had opened into a large cavern. That Tiras had stopped them while they were still backed up in the hallway suggested there was something different about this cave, but she could not tell what. Then it seemed that squad one was setting up lights, and once these were in place everyone was brought forward onto what proved to be a very wide ledge above a very deep drop. The roof of the cavern was also high above them, creating the sort of ledge or plateau on the wall of a cavern one sometimes saw in adventure movies. Lauren wondered if there was a bridge somewhere, or whether they were going to have to build a bridge, or what they would do about crossing the chasm before them.
Before she had done more than brought in her gear and the animals, Tiras was addressing them.
“We will make camp here for the night. Sheegoka is in charge while I take Lurt, Nightstalker, and Anneth into this chasm to determine which way we need to go from here. Otherwise, regular duty roster, I expect to find food and shelter when I return. Lurt? Nightstalker? Bring whatever you might need.”
“Well,” Nightstalker joked, “it’s been nice knowing you.”
“Hey,” Lauren teased, “what was that about Tiras having gone into the Blood Hills and brought out more people than he took in? Nothing to worry about, right?”
“Right. It sounds good when you weren’t there. Somehow it’s different when you are.” He smiled perhaps sardonically, and headed over to join Tiras. Lurt was already there, and after a few words she couldn’t hear, the trio leapt into the air and winged their way down the side of the cliff, Anneth close behind them.
Gojo soon had them pitching tents for themselves, the leaders, and the squads on other duties. She noticed that the squad charged with cooking was collecting fibrous growths from the walls to use for a fire, but decided not to interfere this time. She thought if they wanted her help with the food or the fire someone would ask, and regardless she didn’t see any loose stones in this part of the cave, nor indeed in the passages cleared for the dragon.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #364: Characters Learn. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: