How boring routine became alive with a new co-worker.
Arrows flashed past him. The crushers were chasing him. He leaned forwards, not daring to look back even at the inhuman howls and grunts they were making. He finally reached the river, which swirled further away from them; rushing away in a torrent. He jumped into the small boat that he had left there, pushing it away from the bank. He looked back as the boat carried him away from them. The crushers stood twisting and howling.
At the first dawn of light, when he had been on the river for several hours, he guided himself towards the bank. He used his knife to stab several small holes into the bottom of the boat. He got out and pushed the boat back out into the swirling river. It would sink, but not directly where he had landed. Then making sure to cover his landing and his tracks, shouldering his pack he made his way back into the forest.
He had been running for several hours when he felt the ground give way beneath him, he landed with a thud at the bottom of a large dark hole. His head hit the ground and he lay unconscious and twisted. For a second all was dark and then the cave was filled with a red pulsating light emanating from the stone.
A long way away, Matilda suddenly sat up straight in bed. For a second all she could see was a pulsating red ruby light. Then her vision cleared and she stared at the tent around her bathed in the morning light. She knew that Leo was in trouble. She felt it right down to her bones. She had to go to him. She went to find Jacobs.
"Matilda, I know you care for him, and he cares for you too, and of course you're going to worry, maybe even have bad dreams, but that's no reason for you to go haring off to find him, you don't even know where he is! You can't help him!" Jacobs was looking at her like she was crazy. This was not going well.
"Jacobs please! He needs us!" She pleaded.
He looked at her "Like I said Matilda,I'm sorry, I get it, I worry about him too, but I can't just send men off based on your sudden feelings, and not even know where they're going. Leo knows what he's doing, if anyone can do this, he can."
"I can find him Jacobs."
"No Matilda, this is madness."
Nothing she could say would persuade him, she could see that now. He did not believe her. She nodded as if agreeing with him. "Yes Jacobs, I see now."
When she left him, she immediately went about gathering her supplies, and then she found the small horse that Leo had left for her use and made her way out of the camp. For a moment she stood undecided. She told Jacobs she would know where to find Leo, was that true? She closed her eyes for a moment, seeing the strange ruby pulsating glow. Then she knew, she guided her horse and set off.
She didn't reach him for two days. Every time she hesitated she would see the strange ruby glow and she would know which way to go. Then finally she stumbled off her horse, and knew that she had found him, she could sense him nearby.
"Leo!" she called.
She heard a loud groan and found him at the bottom of a large hole. There was at least 20 foot sheer drop. No hand or foot holds at all. He stood at the bottom, looking dirty and angry, with blood on the side of his face. He had clearly not been awake long.
"Leo" she called, delighted to see him.
"Matilda? What the bloody hell do you think you're doing here?"
"I came to save you! I knew you were in trouble, I just knew it. I told Jacobs that"
"Jacobs let you come here!" he interrupted "where is he? I'll bloody kill him."
"He's not here, he didn't exactly know I was coming, he wouldn't listen to me, I came alone."
He stared up at her "Matilda what were you thinking! You could have been killed! We're in crusher territory! I'm going to bloody kill you! Of all the stupid things"
"Will you stop shouting at me? I'm going to let you up, I've got some rope."
She got the rope and secured it to a tree trunk and then tossed it into the hole.
He began to climb up it.
"I told you no heroics" he said through gritted teeth.
"Leo, I knew you were in trouble, I don't know