“Ow!” Paign cried. “Svarte! Why can’t I see my hand when I just hit myself with it?” The sound of his voice was odd, like it had been bellowed into his pillow.
Still, all that registered in Paign’s view was the pale orange glittering. By now, Paign was fully worked up and agitated. He struggled to move his feet, but they seemed to be bound, or stuck. Of course, he could no more see them than he could the hand he’d just given himself a bloody nose with. At least he assumed the warm, moist sensation dribbling down his upper lip was blood. Furious now, Paign pushed down with his left foot as hard as he could, while pulling up with his right leg. Not seeing what bound him in this bizarre, glistening place angered him all the more. But, straining as he did, even mustering more energy than he thought possible, Paign still was unable to break free from his hidden bondage. However, he could tell that if he tried much more, he would do serious harm to himself. Something had already popped in his left ankle, which was now throbbing.
“Aaaygh!” he screamed. “What is this place?”
A cracking sound startled Paign. It instantly reminded him of when deep winter’s expanding ice sometimes caused the granite to crack near his home, nestled near the base of Ruar’s Ridge. It was a rare event but always one that commanded attention because splitting stone often came just before an avalanche. Instinctively, Paign clenched his fists together. He wasn’t home, so the cracking wasn’t due to ice. In fact, he had a bad feeling about the noise.
The second round of cracking sounded less like rock on rock and more like the longshoremen back home when a ship came into port. Many of them would shout at the same time to each other along the pier or up at the sailors leaning over the gunnels of incoming ships. Paign had observed this many times, always amazed the dockmen could understand anything over the enormous racket of so many voices shouting. But, of course, by now Paign knew that the cracking sounds were coming from a voice, not from stone.
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