The ice fell all during the night, crashing and cracking in the darkness. I took out the sleeping furs and wrapped them around us, trying to stay warm. Mhorik shivered against me, but we survived until the light broke the next morning. When I could see, I climbed out from under the outcropping. The ground was covered in ice, and I could still see my breath in front of my face. The way down would be dangerous, but the way up was impossible.

Mhorik finally spoke up. “We must go back and travel along the foothills. There is another pass, an easier one, but it will take us longer to get there.”

We gathered up our gear and climbed down, carefully, painfully. What took us part of a day going up took us the entire day coming back down. A few times I slipped and fell, but luckily Mhorik kept his feet the entire day. At the base, we made camp at the same place we had the night before.

“I’m sorry, you were right, I should have listened to….” I started in a rush of words.

I was interrupted by Mhorik’s sharp laugh. He shook his head. “No, I was a fool. I should have known better. Riversdepth is clever, and she could weave a spell that would wait until we were on the mountain.”

I let out an exasperated sigh. “But how?”

Mhorik just shook his head again. “I’m not sure. I’ve heard that some people are able to make magic wait, to observe like a living thing. But, that is beyond my ability.”

Frustration grew inside of me, and I gave a small growl. I would get my revenge one day.

Then I heard snoring coming from Mhorik’s direction. At least he was able to get some sleep. I set watch, catching sleep in small pieces when my mind wasn’t racing with worry.

In the morning, we set out along the foothills. We wound our way through the valleys, out of sight of any that might look from a distance. Mhorik said he didn’t smell anything. We traveled, we ate, we slept, and we traveled some more. Mhorik seemed in good spirits, but I wasn’t certain that his health was improving at all. I said nothing, and kept my worries to myself.

We found the pass in the middle of the day, with the sun’s heat full upon us. As Mhorik had described, the pass was much lower, and the slope much easier than the first pass. Again, I convinced Mhorik to wait, to rest up before we tried the climb, but this time he agreed.

The night passed quietly. Again, I couldn’t sleep because of a mix of worry for my master, and the strange sounds. Several times that night I heard rocks fall off the mountain and tumble into the hills below. This didn’t make me feel confident about the trip up the mountain. I inhaled deeply many times that night, letting the cool air of the night calm my nerves as much as I could.

The travel the next day was easier than I had hoped. The gentle slope was easier for both of us, and Mhorik kept up a good pace. We were half way up the side when suddenly my breath turned to a white cloud in front of my face.

“Not again!” I yelled in frustration. I looked to the sky, and saw the clouds forming quickly. I looked around and spied a cave in the mountainside, just a bit ahead of us. I slid my arm under Mhorik and lifted him up, running as fast as I could toward the cave. We got inside just as the thumps of ice sounded outside. I put Mhorik down and caught my breath.

“You certainly move fast when you want.”

I shrugged and smiled. “I saw safety and went for it.”

“Well, a bit more room here than our last hiding place.”

I conjured a spark of light and looked around the cave. To my surprise, it extended down into the earth, past the range of my spell.

“Do you want to see what’s down there?” Mhorik asked. I looked at him, it seemed a bit out of character for him.

“We don’t have anything better to do right now.”

He conjured his own spark, and we walked further into the cave. It lead down at a gentle slope, enough to feel it but with stable footing. The cave was wide and tall, and neither of us had to stoop as we made our way deeper into the earth.

The temperature dropped a bit, and I pulled out the sleeping furs for us to wear as cloaks. The floor evened out so that the slope was either less noticeable or entirely gone. I lost track of time and I’m not sure how far we walked, but it felt like a long distance.

But, all thoughts of going back vanished when we caught a glimpse of the grand chamber ahead. The glow of various colors caught our eye. Mhorik lead the way, moving faster than I had seen him since we left the grove.

When we reached the great chamber, it took our breaths away. The huge chamber was covered in large, glowing crystals, showing every color possible in nature. Reds, greens, oranges, blues, the whole chamber was a dazzling. Mhorik had an expression of sheer joy on his face. We stood for a while, bathing in the beauty around us.

“Oh, look at this.” I had found a strange statue of a small man hidden in an alcove of the chamber. Mhorik tore his eyes away from the crystals and walked over to where I was.

“I’ve never seen anything…,” he started to say when the eyes of the statue opened and stared right at us.

“It seems,” said a rumbling voice that I felt as much as I heard, “that we have visitors.”


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