She pressed her flattened palms over the soil and felt the forces whirl around this center, pulling her inward. Into the comforting, frightening velvet darkness at the heart of mother earth. A tense fullness poured into her, welling up like the underground spring flowing beneath her, through fissures in the ancient vein of quartz, itself a frozen river of stone. She could see it.
She blinked. It was only common sense telling her, as any island goatherd would know, that beneath this green oasis ran an underground spring. Of course it would find its course along a mineral seam. The instrument readings would verify her hypothesis.
As if mocking logic, her fingers reflexively found the polished crystal of her pendant, though its cool serenity eluded her today. Why do you play this game? some inner voice was accusing. You feel it. You know.
She could feel it, a strange effervescence fizzing along her nerve pathways, something like the energy of the activated mineral water she used for her healing experiments. But this was more intense, ebbing and flowing with jarring eddies. Rising to her feet, she closed her eyes, obeying an impulse to open her arms, sweep her downturned palms in a slow circle as she cut through the shivering waves like a rolling wheel. She had to push against resistance until she was aligned, arms parallel to the flow.
She opened her eyes, saw that her right hand was pointing through the hill, in the direction of the town and sanctuary of the Tioniotissa, where the healing waters of the sacred spring bubbled out of the ground to fill Her sacred well.
Turning abruptly, Ariadne paced down the ravine. The drop above the narrow end of the cove stopped her, as she stared unfocused over the water. A dark glimmer caught her eye, and she leaned out to peer over the cliff, squinting through the reflections of rising sun over stirring sea. To her left, the cliff plunged straight into the cove. Farther, in a narrow cleft she hadn’t noticed from the water, the cliff was undercut, and a cave sucked in and spewed out a swirl of restless waves. Eddies clashed and foamed, fighting the regular beat of the surge, swirling like the waves of pressure assailing Ariadne.
The whirlpool sucks her into its chaotic depths. Blackness spinning inward to a blind tunnel—
She wrenched back from the ledge, turning to face a dazzle of sunlight spilling over the bluff into the ravine. Blinded, she raised a shielding hand. She strode over to the magnetometer to check its analysis, dimensions and orientation playing across the display. The data confirmed a substantial quartz seam, laced with ore veins, its diamagnetic charge aligned as expected in the opposite direction of the predominant ambient field. The seam ran directly beneath her in the exact orientation she had found with her outstretched arms, cutting through the steep hills toward Tinos town on the other side, and behind her toward the cove. Arrowing straight to the submerged black cave entrance and its whirlpool of subterranean forces calling her, pulling her.
Ariadne shivered in the warm sun. She hastily packed up her instruments, hurrying through the red splashes of poppy petals to the trail.
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