THE LONG STROKE - A Handful Of Units #9
Utter darkness, a momentary pause in momentum, and then falling.
Ronjermy had a sense that he had been thrown from the water into a freefall, could hear Annie's limp wing tissue flapping between the spines of her wings as she fell, and the roar of an unmeasurable amount of water falling, an indescribable bellow below.
His warrior-honed mental reflexes noticed that he had time to notice all this, to be aware of the sensations and sounds, and just as he started to worry about what that amount of time falling signified, he smash landed with a bone grating impact and a splash.
It hurt. A lot.
He was stunned but instinctively fought to right himself and make it to the surface. Once there, he opened his eyes to total darkness. The water seemed choppy but currentless, more like a lake than a river.
He switch gears from one survival mode to another. In the momentary calm, he let himself sink some, still kicking with his legs, and used his hands to remove his breastplate, his gauntlets, and the metal plates on his legs. With great relief he found Mjighty still strapped to his belt.
Kicking again to the surface, he tread water and tried to get his bearings. In the total darkness, the roar from the vast waterfall was everywhere, he could not locate it. In what was essentially a blind guess, he started swimming in a direction that he hoped was perpendicular to the waterfall.
Hopefully he could get far enough away to either get his bearings, or touch land. Hopefully that land was a beach, and not a solid rock face.
There was nothing to do but swim. Swim and hope that there were no hungry monsters beneath him.
He swam alone, imagining Annie sinking slowly into darkness.
For hours, it seemed, Ronjermy kept a steady, energy conserving back stroke. He wasn't a strong swimmer, and he was struggling against the weight of even just his sword.
At some point started pondering the concept of natural luckamancy.
Mostly he alternated between contemplative thought, and fighting off sheer terror. Terror of being alone in the darkness, with no frame of reference of where he was at or what was going on around him. What if something dragged him down from below, or dropped from above, or took a piece out of him. What if that thing, or things, was just feet away right now, watching him.
He couldn't see his wet hand in front of his face. He could hear only the roar of the waterfall and the sloshing of water around him.
On the upside, the water was cold but not ice cold. It was freshwater, and he dared to drink a little without any apparent downside.
Also on the upside, he mused, he was alive. Even though he wasn't sure how much longer he could stay afloat, in the face of the last several hours, survival to this point had to be a major element of luck.
Just as he thought that thought, his head slid onto what felt like dirt and, and after a moment of twisting and convulsing to right himself, Ronjermy found himself on a sandy beach. He crawled on hands and knees completely out of the water, reaching a hand out in front of him feeling the way.
Then he collapsed face first into the coarse sand.
"I am a luckamancer," he declared, sand falling into his mouth as his lips moved. He closed his eyes and let his exhausted body rest, limp on the sand. If he had had to swim farther...
For several minutes he let himself rest.
'Can't end turn,' he thought. Deep in the mountain, he calculated, he had no idea how long it would take him to get out, or if he even could. He needed to make the most of every available moment.'
With all his natural willpower fighting against exhaustion, he got back onto his hands and knees, and started crawling directly away from the water with Mjighty's scabbard tip dragging in the sand. He could only imagine the trail that left, and he wondered if he would ever see light again.
It was slow going. Up a slight incline of coarse sandy beach, and then to rough rock wall that essentially went straight up.
There he stood up on shaky legs and, casting an imaginary luckamancer spell to send him in the best direction, he started to feel his way along the cavern wall to his left.
As he made his way slowly against the rough geography where beach unevenly met rock wall, he tried to map the space. It had been a long swim from the waterfall, it was a river's worth of water entering what had to be a huge cavern lake or sea deep in the mountain range, and the beach was about 30 yards from water to wall.
Ronjermy was also not a mathamancer, but he knew his chances of escape were incredibly low.
He thought of his King Raeptor's fate, of the battles he had survived up to this point, of how he could have faced Chaka's troops and died in battle. He had heard countless warriors express a desire to die in battle as opposed to other means.
Ronjermy noticed his grim satisfaction at having destroyed Chaka, at having deprived he and his king of Mjighty even if it had meant croaking, and even greater pleasure at the fact that he had survived.
That pleasure sat right next to the empty feeling of the loss of Annie. He said a prayer to the Titans, testifying to her ferocity, her prowess, her loyalty, the sacrifice and nobility of her final moments, and he asked that they re-pop her as a queen, with her own side to make powerful.
They responded with an opening in the wall. A minute of investigation showed it to be a smooth rock floor, smooth walls with a ceiling higher than he could reach. "Hey!" he shouted into the corridor, and it echoed into the distance.
His luck was holding. Maybe he could have traveled for days and never found an opening if he had gone the other way. With no other option than to keep moving, he felt his way into the tunnel.
Last edited by OneHugeTuck
on Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.