Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Page 1395 -- CXLIX.


Now this was a problem.

He had to be careful here. He couldn’t just add iron to the box in a blind panic. If he did, then its weight would also increase, making it more likely to lose its already tenuous grip on the wall.

But he couldn’t very well just not do anything, either. There was a good chance the box was going to fall on its own soon, anyway. And of course, the worm was still stomping around up there.

Where is the worm?’ he asked Garovel.

At your ten o’clock, roughly.

How far? Can you tell?

Only about six or seven meters,’ said Garovel.

Agh, that was too close. He didn’t want to just launch everyone up and out of the hole at once, not when the worm could turn on a moment’s notice and snatch someone out of the air.

So he went to work on a trio of iron ladders, instead, hooking them over the top of the hole in order to avoid adding any unnecessary weight to the box. Then he motioned through the dimness and said, “Up we go. Hurry.”

Hesitant, the company men did as they were told. Robert Sheridan waited with Hector while his three companions went first.

A man’s poorly lit face appeared over the edge of the cliff above. “Need some help down there?!” said the voice of Horatio Blackburn, who didn’t bother waiting for a reply as he helped the three climbers up, carrying them with an apparent materialization ability.

“Thanks!” Hector shouted up at him, then motioned for Mr. Sheridan to follow.

But before the man could reach a ladder, the worm came crashing down in quaking fury. The impact sundered the hole, and the iron box snapped off the crumbling wall and started to fall.

Hector spiked his iron out in all directions, hoping in blind desperation that it would catch onto something--anything. The box’s descent slowed but didn’t stop, until it abruptly caught on something. In the increasing darkness, Hector couldn’t tell what, but for an instant, when he looked up, he saw another silhouette at the top of the hole and thought he heard Zeff’s voice shouting something.

Then the rocks gave way all around them, and the iron box started plummeting again.

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Nine: ‘O, gathering Deep...’
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He had to slow them down. Whatever it took. More iron. Everywhere. If he projected it far enough, it would find something to latch onto. More. Farther. Nothing else mattered. This guy next to him was going to fall to his death if he didn’t do this. Right now.

The box shifted and shook, then began to slow. Gradually. But it didn’t stop, even as Hector kept envisioning and adding to the gigantic network of iron spikes and hooks and spears and nets that must have been surrounding the box by now.

The bumpiness came and went as the descent continued for quite a while. Robert Sheridan tried to speak, but with the grinding and groaning of metal in all directions, Hector couldn’t hear him--nor did he try to, until finally, after what felt like an hour, the box came to a stop.

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