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Stories from the Verse
Con Verse Lea
Chapter 21: Hastings 238
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 127
With two of her scouting teams having returned during the night with nothing particularly useful to tell, Lauren was both concerned about the third team and doubtful it would do better. Still, she waited through the day sitting by the warehouse door where they had been camped.
Around midday Tommy brought her some beans and a bit of water.
“Do you think they’re all right?” she asked.
Lauren shrugged. “It’s obvious that these people don’t have sufficient understanding of the world up here to know what actually is dangerous, so they could have been injured or killed. I think, though, that the fact they have not yet returned is a good sign, because it means nothing has frightened them yet.
The girl nodded. Lauren remembered that she was not much older than she looked, and despite being fairly well equipped for camping hadn’t really done much before. Still, she would have been better able to lead a scouting mission than the others. She hadn’t sent her, she had thought, because she would need her here, but now she wondered whether she was just being protective. Her own children were not quite as old as Tommy when she left them, and it was a bit like having a teenaged daughter. One worried.
She stared down the road in the direction in which she had sent them, and nibbled inattentively at the green beans.
“These would be better boiled,” she said. Tommy laughed.
After some silence Lauren asked, “How’s your training going?”
“Well enough,” Tommy shrugged. “I’m getting better control over the kawanaga, and I have been working on my rolls.”
Lauren nodded. She should probably take some time to spar with her student, but at the moment she was just preoccupied with concern for the third scouting team. They continued to wait.
“What do we do,” Tommy asked, “if the third team doesn’t have any better information?”
Lauren thought a moment. There wasn’t much she could do—but wait, maybe there was. Magic in this world didn’t work the way you expected, but it did work. She had used her direction spell to find Tommy and to find Beam. Underground, it had worked by turning on the lights in the corridors ahead. That wasn’t how it usually worked; in the past it had always given her a feeling of which way to go. She could try it again and see what it did.
Premature, she told herself. This other group—Tennan Boronir’s group—might return with valuable information. She should wait.
“We have options,” she said. “Let’s first find out whether we need them.”
They continued waiting. At one point Tommy rose and walked a short distance away, then started working with the kawanaga. Lauren continued to sit, usually staring down the road. Tommy returned to sit with her.
It was late in the afternoon that Lauren saw them. At first it was only a distant movement, not unlike the several trucks she had seen during the day. Yet it was different, and gradually she became certain that it was people approaching. She stood. The wait still seemed interminable, but she waited patiently. Finally the foursome reached her.
“What news?” she asked.
Looking somewhat dejected, Boronir replied, “Not good. We came to a wall.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #463: Characters Unsettled. 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: