Across the River
The spray rising up from the waters of the tributary obscures the far bank until one is actually standing upon its uneven ground. Great slabs of stone are scattered pell-mell along the rise leading to a vast, natural chamber enclosed by walls of rock. Jagged stalactites dangle in eerie formations from the far distant ceiling, and what scant illumination there is reflects up off the waters and casts shadows on the walls.
To cross back over the river here looks to be dangerous, to put it mildly. The skeletal wrecks of several small, wooden boats tossed on the shore serve as a grim warning. Up ahead, the path divides, both forks leading further downward.
Jana is sitting moodily beside Lanisen, notably not just next to him… this is probably due to the fact that he smells of vomit. She looks thoroughly displeased with the situation, rather like a cat that has just been dumped in a tub full of water.
Lanisen is curled on his side. He does indeed smell of vomit and other fouler things. His face is shiny with sweat and flushed. He appears to be asleep for the moment, a wet rag draped over his forehead.
Zan paces the cavern, casting irritated glares at Lanisen every so often. “The moron is dragging us down,” he mutters irritatedly. “We should just dump him somewhere and forget ’bout him.”
Jana says, “Don’t tell me, I can’t do nothing about it.”
Zan ignores Jana’s protests as he continues pacing and fuming about the situation. After a couple minutes of angry silence, he starts ranting again. “He’ll likely get all o’ us sick. Then where’ll we be?”
Jana rolls her eyes. “Ain’t nothing we can catch. It’s from the river water.”
Lanise opens his eyes and looks accusingly at Jana. He still looks sick and miserable, but more lucid.
Zan says, “That dun mean nothin’. No matter wheres he got it. If he can get it, we can too.”
Jana says, “So you tell Myrd that. I ain’t telling him his plan backfired.”
Zan exclaims, “You can bet I will!”
Jana addresses Lanisen. “You want to bet against me? I could use something to clink in my coinpurse.”
Zan asks, “Wha’ happened to the good ol’ days of robbin’ em blind an’ tossin em in the river?”
Jana says, “Myrd and his high-faluting plans happened.”
Zan stops pacing and glares harshly at Lanisen. “Myrd ain’ the one gettin sick.”
Jana rolls her eyes.
Lanisen glares blearily back, then shoots a glower at Jana.
Jana ignores the boy quite successfully. “So take care of it or quit griping.”
Lanisen looks startled. He pushes himself unsteadily to sit up, drawing up his knees.
Zan says, “I’ll talk sense to him when he comes back. Myrd don’ keep dead weight around.”
Lanisen’s eyes widen. He looks at Jana helplessly.
Jana says, “Kept it around this long.”
Jana says, “Boy’s never been all that useful, that I could see.”
Zan scratches his chin. “Yeh got a point there.”
Jana says, “Good of you to notice.”
Zan says, “Well, ‘fore he got sick, he could carry stuff an be bait.”
Zan says, “Now he’s just… pletely useless.”
Lanisen swallows. “I’m, I’m feelin’ better, I’m better.”
Jana shrugs. “Then Myrd won’t have a problem with it.”
Zan says, “I don’ reckon he will.”
Jana glances at Lanisen. “You got to learn to act better if you want us to believe that.”
Zan asks, “When’d he say he’d be back?”
Lanisen stares back at Jana. He gets carefully to his feet, clenching his jaw and holding his breath, and picks his way gingerly across the cavern. His gait could be referred to as a stalk if it were not so wobbly.
Jana looks somewhat amused. “Well, he makes good entertainment, anyway.”
Jana says, “And Myrd don’t tell me nothing about what he’s up to.”
Zan mutters some more (mostly swears), stalks back over to the cavern wall, and sits back down. “If you’ve been playing sick, boy, I’ll kill you.”
Jana smirks and circles her knees with clasped fingers, settling in to enjoy the
Lanisen makes it a decent distance away from his starting point and sits down abruptly against an outcropping of rock. His eyes squeeze shut and he curls up where he is, ignoring Zan. He doesn’t look like he’s playing sick.
Zan mutters some more, but for lack of anything better to do, leans back against the wall again. “I’m taking a nap!” he declares. “Wake me up when Myrd gets back.”
Jana sighs, her hopes of a good commotion dashed. “I’ll let him do the waking.”
Zan shrugs. “Dun much care who does,” he grunts.