Chapter Nine: Sick, Stubborn Scholar!
Mercari Vintner looked at his best friend and groaned. Arthis Dusane was on one of his focused flares; weakness, nausea, and lightheadedness weren’t going to stop him from exploring.
“Arty, please sit down till Nomi comes back,” he said. “You’re going to fall over if you’re not careful.”
“Don’t worry, I promised Nomi that I wouldn’t fall on the pottery.”
Merc shook his head, and watched as Arty touched the wall to steady his swaying.
Nomi Paskan had gone to get provisions, cover the path she’d made getting them to this cave like space. Merc felt a sense of shame knowing that she’d rescued them. He was worried for her, he had to admit, going into that camp where he and Arty had been attacked so easily. He was also infuriated that she’d been onto Arty the whole time. They’d worked so hard to keep their plans a secret!
He wasn’t sure if he ought to be more worried for his friend, who was taking the time away from his dig site remarkably well.
Merc still felt ill. His whole body hurt from whatever the natives had given him… villagers. Arty would be shocked if he said that out loud. It wasn’t as if he was in some backwater New World country. He wanted to vomit and craved the fresh water Nomi had put in the jar, with such a sense of greed, he didn’t mind taking an extra bowl of it, without telling Arty.
Arty had to be reminded to drink water. He kept getting distracted with the room, and its contents, and making copious notes in his head to write down when Nomi got back with his journal.
She arrived much more quickly than he expected.
“You’ll never believe this. We’re just on the other side of the mountain from the dig site.”
“Really?” Merc said.
“Yeah. Apparently they dragged you guys the long way around. Just far enough away to cause you problems, or something.”
“What’s their deal, do you think?” he asked.
“I don’t know, but something in Arty’s drawings got to them, I think.”
“Let’s see them,” he said.
She rummaged through her pack, and handed him some dried meat and the drawings. He knew that look on her face: that the drawings would mean far less to him than the food. And she was right. Arty was the brains of the operation. Merc knew that Arty would forget to eat in his continued focus on the room they were in He also knew how to get Arty to come over and eat.
“Hey Art!” he said, “Why do you think your drawings bothered them?”
Art turned to look at them, as he was touching a part of the wall, under the archway.
Suddenly it fell away, dropping onto the tiles of the floor, breaking them. Suddenly Arty was screaming.
Merc and Nomi both moved, and moved fast to the open maw of the floor. There was nothing to see. It was pitch black and there was no sign of their friend.
(If you liked this second chapter of the adventure, please feel free to donate to Charity: Water, the fundraiser Mab Writes for Water. Also, feel free to write me via my FB page and tell me what you like about it, and what you don’t–these are the roughest “pages” I’ve ever presented, because I want them to be organic. I want the readers to be part of the story).