storm glass - Page 92

“I sent him here to observe the workers after Kade told me the location. And I can see the rope.” She pointed down.

In the surprisingly clear depths, the end of a rope had been tied to a metal rung. The rope followed the bottom of the pool and disappeared under a rock.

“I’ll go first and see where it leads.” She kicked off her boots and her bat hunched down, taking a firmer grip on her shirt.

“Do you want a bubble of air around you?” Kade asked her.

She considered. “I think it would make it difficult for me to get to the bottom. I’d be too buoyant. How about just around my nose?”

“Too hard to create for these conditions. If we were outside in the daylight, I probably could.”

“I’ll manage. If I get stuck, though—bubble me.”

“How will we know you’re stuck?” I asked.

Yelena stared at Kade.

“Yes, I hear you fine,” the Stormdancer said.

I realized she had mentally communicated with him and I suppressed the pinch of longing. The dream voice flared to life. It promised me the power to read minds if I set him free. A strong compulsion to hunt for the voice pressed between my shoulder blades.

Find me. Find me. Set me free. The scratchy voice clung to my thoughts, and dominated my senses. No longer just a murmur in my mind, but almost a physical force.

I struggled to concentrate on Yelena, wondering if bats could swim as she jumped into the pool. Water splashed on us. Leif muttered oaths under his breath. He held his torch over the water. The silt on the bottom of the pool stirred into milky white clouds when she reached the rope. Soon she disappeared from our sight.

“You know what I’d like to know?” Leif asked.

Set me free.

“How to swim?” I guessed.

Powerful magic will be yours.

“Real funny. I’d like to know who was the crazy son of a bitch who reached this spot and said, ‘Gee, I wonder where this pool goes?’ Any other reasonable person would have looked around and declared this room a dead end.”

Find me. Find me.

As we waited, I tried to push the voice away. Concentrated on the type of person who would dive into a pool just to see what was there. An adventurer? An explorer? If someone didn’t take a chance or try an experiment, then certain discoveries would never have been made.

Find me. Set me free and I’ll reward you with unlimited power.

I staggered, but steadied myself against the wall before Leif or Kade noticed.

“Finally,” Leif said as Yelena broke the surface. “Well?”

“The water’s cold.”

“I knew I should have let Ulrick come along. He’s serious. And with no sense of humor, he would counter your wise-cracks perfectly.”

“Leif, that’s enough,” Yelena said. “Don’t listen to him, Opal. He tends to babble when he’s nervous. I want you to follow me back over. Swim down to the rope and pull yourself through the tunnel to the next pool. When you get to the other rung, let go and float up to the surface. You do know how to swim. Right?”

Kade snorted.

I shot him a nasty look. “Yes. I do.” I pulled my cloak off and hung it from a stalagmite, then tossed my boots next to Yelena’s.

“Kade, stay here and keep watch. Leif, follow Opal,” she said.

“Why can’t I keep watch?” Leif pouted.

“Lighting torches, remember?”

“Oh, joy.”

Hesitating on the edge, I braced myself for the cold. When I entered the water, the shock tore threw me, robbing my lungs of air for a moment. The voice in my mind was stunned into silence.

“Deep breath,” Yelena said. She swam to the bottom.

Drawing in a shaky, clattery breath, I ducked under the surface and followed her. She had made it sound so easy, but the cloudy water obscured the rope. In a panic, I searched with my hands, making it worse. I would have given up, but my tingling fingers finally brushed the rough threads.

Hand over hand, I pulled. With each stroke, the light faded until I moved through liquid darkness. My lungs protested as air bubbled from my lips. I didn’t know how much longer I could hold my breath. Just about to panic, I touched a knot of rope tied to another metal rung. I released my hold and floated to the surface, gasping for air.

“Here.” Yelena grabbed my hand and pulled me from the water. “Once Leif gets here, we’ll have light. I found a couple of torches.”

I lay on the hard floor, sucking in breaths. Soon a loud splash and coughing sounded beside me.

“Next time,” Leif puffed. “Next time…I’m staying…home….”

“And miss all the fun?” Yelena asked.

“Come here, so…I can strangle…you.”

“You’ll have to catch me first. Light these.”

Wood thumped against wet skin.

“Ow!”

“Sorry.”

Leif muttered about buying his sister flint before fire ignited on the torches. The light caused a chain reaction throughout the cavern. Leif never did strangle his sister, and I forgot all about the cold numbing my bones. We were too captivated by the spectacle around us.

Every surface in the room sparkled as if alive. The yellow firelight raced through and reflected from a million facets. Crystals of every shape and size lined the walls, grew on the rocks and hung from the ceiling. Gressa’s glass chandelier was dull and ordinary in comparison. My dream images a poor copy at best.