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Stories from the Verse
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Chapter 37: Hastings 198
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Previous chapter: Beam 67
When Tiras returned he sent his companions to eat the leftovers saved for them for dinner, and convened the rest of the group.
“After careful examination of the crevice from top to bottom,” he began somewhat formally, “we have decided that the way we want to proceed is through an exit from the bottom, heading northeast and down. The problem is that it is easily a hundred yards to the bottom from here, and no obvious trail leading down. Between now and tomorrow morning, each of you must consider how you would safely reach the bottom, and whether you have any abilities or equipment that would help the others do so, and particularly our draft animals.
“Meanwhile, get some sleep.”
That seemed to be the end of the meeting, as Tiras himself went to scrounge dinner from what remained.
Lauren pondered the problem. She, of course, could fly to the bottom. Also, she had the telekinetic rods, and on one occasion she had flown while holding Arnie the Ghoul with one of them. She had never used it to capture something as large as a mule, but then she had used it to capture those minidragons on the spaceship, and although their bodies and legs were not as big they did have long tails.
She wondered, though, whether the group had another solution. She imagined them building a block and tackle with a harness to lower the beasts, but on consideration there were no building materials strong enough here to support the creatures. Similarly they might build a stairway, perhaps carved into the side of the wall. Indeed, she could help with such an effort using her psionic drill--but it would be a major undertaking; she could not imagine it being finished even in several days, unless the magicians in this group were more powerful than she imagined.
It also occurred to her that the party was going to have to return to the surface after the mission was complete, and would logically retrace its steps if no one offered an alternative. However they got down, they would need eventually to get back up.
That, though, was not the problem at hand. She could help them get down. If she is still with them when they return, she can help them get back up. She shouldn’t suggest it too soon, though, because she couldn’t take everyone down safely (remembering that the more often you do a thing, the higher the chance of a mistake) and it was likely that at least some of her companions would rather be carried than risk whatever alternate means of descent they might have.
The morning would bring answers.
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 #365: Characters Travel. 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: