Suddenly, Freida stopped, dropped her backpack on the snow and fished out a rope. Tying it around her waist, she played out about twenty feet and then handed the rest of the rope to Anders. He tied a loop of rope to his waist and then handed the remainder to Paign, so there would be about the same rope distance between them. When he’d also tied into the rope, Freida hoisted her pack and began to climb again. Looking off to his right, Paign could see far below, between the shifting clouds, shreds of sunlight on the valley floor. He walked directly into the back of Anders before realizing the group had stopped walking.
“Hey!” cried a startled Anders, who was knocked over onto his back.
At the same moment, Paign yelled out, “Sorry!”
As Paign reached down to help his friend up, he noticed an odd look on Anders face. Turning his attention in the direction of Anders’s gaze, he saw for a moment a ghostly Freida, shrouded in vaporous snow and cloud. Then, suddenly, she darkened and came into sharp focus as the cloud shredded, leaving only a few swirling flakes around her face, which was engulfed in an enormous, triumphant smile. He heard Anders breathe out a low, long “Whoa!” Paign then saw immediately behind Freida the unmistakable mouth of a cave he’d never seen before.
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