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Old Feb 18 2006, 05:23 PM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: St. Louis

Default Re: Ghost in the Tunnels (Pern Fanfic)

The light was almost gone from the sky by the time Sarla reached the bottom of the boulder field, and she was very tired. She could see light coming from all the windows and the big main doors of the Hold, and began making her way toward them. She hoped no one had been hurt in the earth shake. She clung to the wooden dragon Tabby had given her; no one could tell her he wasn’t real now. She was so tired… she blinked in surprise as a dragon landed by the main doors – Graith! She began to run, her weariness forgotten in the relief of getting home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dralina was sick with worry. No one had seen Sarla all day, and then the earth shake had caused a rockfall in the very tunnel she had been exploring when she saw… whatever it was that she saw. Several men had begun shifting the rocks, but it appeared that the entire tunnel had collapsed. Dralina had sent Sudina’s fire lizard to the Weyr to inform M’rel; she now waited outside for him to arrive, her face haggard. She could just make out Graith’s dark form circling to land.

M’rel was off of his dragon before his wings were furled. “What’s happened?” M’rel demanded. His face was anxious; Graith’s eyes whirled yellow. “Where is she? Is she all right?”

“There was a rock fall in the tunnel she keeps exploring,” Dralina said, her voice trembling. She would have wept, but her eyes were sore from weeping. “We don’t know that she was in there, but no one’s seen her since this morning, and we haven’t found her yet.” M’rel sagged, leaning back against Graith, his face twisted in anguish and fear for his daughter. Suddenly Graith rumbled in surprise, turning his head to stare along the outer wall of the Hold.

“What is it, Graith?” The faceted eyes were whirling faster than ever. She is coming, he said, sounding surprised. M’rel turned to follow the dragon’s gaze, straining to see through the dusk. “What? Who? Who’s coming?”

Sarla is coming!

“Sarla?!” M’rel gasped. Dralina gasped at him. “Sarla?! SARLA!”

“DRALINA! FATHER!” Now they could see the small figure running toward them. M’rel ran to meet Sarla, scooping her up; Dralina caught up with him and hugged her, laughing and crying and scolding all at once.

“Sarla, where have you been? What are you doing out here? I’ve been so worried about you – there was a rockfall in that tunnel you keep going down – ”

“I know, I know!” Sarla interrupted, still gasping for breath. “The tunnel collapsed and I had to go out through the hole in the wall!”

“What hole? What hole?”

“There was a place where the outside wall was fallen. I think it was from that rockfall that other time… you know…” She hurried on in her excitement. “I had to climb down all the boulders! And then walk all the way back here around the outside!”

“You’ll have to show us sometime,” M’rel said, laughing. “I’m just so glad you’re all right! You really had us scared!”

“Gracious, yes!” exclaimed Dralina. “Sarla, you had me scared to death! Oh, I’m so angry with you – but oh, you’re all right!”

Sarla squirmed out of her father’s grasp and threw her arms around Dralina. “I’m so sorry I scared you! But I was scared myself, too!”

Dralina began hurrying her toward the entrance. “Oh, never mind me, let’s get you inside and get you something to eat! Oof, what’s that you’re digging into me?” Sarla held out the dragon as they reached the light. Dralina stopped to get a better look. “Where in the world did you get this?”

Sarla didn’t know what to say. Dralina stared at her, then pulled her into the kitchen and sat her down in front of the fire. “I’ll just be a moment, Sarla… here, have some klah while I go get the stew.” Sarla obediently began sipping the klah… she suddenly felt very sleepy. Dralina returned with the stew, then left to make sure everyone knew that Sarla had been found. Sudina found her with her head down on the table, fast asleep, clinging tightly to a carved wooden dragon.
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