Out of reach

Gonyaul was dry now from his waterfall experience, which was good since the colder region they now found themselves in would have given him the chills if he hadn’t been. As they worked on getting the torch lit again he felt his confidence starting to fade. He had never experienced dark like this before, it felt grave and aggressive; as if it was actively stealing sight from his eyes and filling his heart with its despair.

Tears were silently climbing down his face; however, no one would be able to see them. He was struggling to problem solve his way out of this situation. Continuing with barely any sight would be a death sentence if it continued to have no end, or if it became lethal terrain. If they didn’t start heading back up, they may completely run out of light or other supplies. The latter situation could also end in a death sentence and they would join the other skeletons that decorated these depths.

Gonyaul now had a hand on Alexis in order to know where she was at all times. He whispered, “This way feels doom.”

Alexis would be easily able to pick up on the sadness in the hitch in he voice.

“Go forward very danger risk. Go back, may have enough oil to keep light alive.”

Was he going to give up? “Perhaps go back to room with glow plants and camp? Regain self an try passages up there haven’t taken yet?”

He had an idea on perhaps transplanting glow plants into a satchel and using them to get another light source should their torches run out.

Gonyaul could see that Alexis’ knuckles were white with the force of her death grip around her torch.
She gritted her teeth and punched her other hand into the nearby wall, hard, in a display of utter frustration.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at him.

“You’re right. I hate it, but you’re right.”

They would help no one if they were getting themselves lost, without light and provisions, in the hostile, inscrutable void of this cave system.

Gonyaul hated that he was making sense too with his suggestions. If only he could deliver the impossible.

He took a deep breath after slightly jumping from the outburst from Alexis’s fist. “We do what necessary and then we do impossible after.” He was trying to reassure himself more than just her.

He pulled on her backwards in the dark and they started the tough climb back up. One thing was for certain, they were probably both going to be tired when they arrived back at the area with the carved stone. The plan now was to safely execute their ascent and backtrack to the waterfall room.

It was harder to go up then it was to go down. The two really had to work together. It was a good pairing though. The agile and limber Gonyaul was able to make forward progress while the strong and taller Alexis helped push him into position. Then he would aid in helping her up after him before repeating the process. It was a massive trust exercise and required lots of communication.

As they went he had a thought that added to his idea of creating lanterns out of glowing plants. Were those plants editable?

Finally, with the taxing climb adding to their overall exhaustion, they found themselves back in the waterfall room, the cool and moist air refreshing for their bodies, if not for their state of mind.
Taking stock of their supplies was disillusioning. This had never been meant to be more than a day’s worth of exploration, if even that, and they had next to nothing left.

Alexis looked bitterly at the sorry remains of lighting and provisions.

“There is no way around it. We have to get back to the surface and restock. Maybe get help. We’ll get nowhere with this.”

Especially without even the slightest clue about Voah’s or Tarmen’s whereabouts or means to efficiently navigate a cave system as massive as that one seemed to be.

Glancing at her makeshift map, Alexis settled to risk the southern tunnel in hopes that it would spare them walking through winding tunnels again and lead right back to the big room with the pit.
Which fortunately it did. From there, finding their way back to the surface was a blessedly uneventful affair.
They finally were under the free sky again, the position of the moon indicating it already to be halfway through the night.

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