Tracer ventured at length, “So, what do we do now? We’re supposed to go back and…um…you know. Rescue her. Somehow.”
They nodded. Falcon scratched his head. “Ow!” he started.
“You okay?” asked Kael.
“Forgot about the sore up there. I’m fine.” He wiped his stained fingernails off on his already filthy pants and sat with his arms lying over his crossed legs. “But about that. Obviously we have to get back somehow. Or find a shortcut.”
“But there are Watchers everywhere! How are we supposed to get all the way across the city floor without being caught?” challenged Wayk.
“Well, maybe there’s a cave network we can find. There’ve been rumors of tunnels going back behind waterfalls, but people have nearly drowned trying to find out,” said Gator, stroking his chin.
“You dumbsicle! Everyone knows the only waterfalls around here are right next to the Temple! That’s where they’ll be concentrating the most. They don’t want us running in and yelling, ‘Hey-ey, look at us! We found this giant conspiracy and we’re gonna tell you all about it before they shoot us down as Traitors!’” Kael scoffed, waving his arms about dramatically.
“You got a better idea, dipstick?” growled Tracer, leaning forward.
“Yeah, shove your head down a rabbit hole, and get your face eaten off!”
“Shut your face, pinhead! You don’t know anything!”
“Wanna bet?” Kael jumped off the ground, knuckles popping. Everyone else but Raven pushed and pulled themselves onto their numb feet, all protesting and arguing and threatening each other all at once, not listening and growing louder and louder. Fingers pointed inches from faces, and they pushed at each other, some trying to break others apart, and others ending up right in the middle by accident. Punches readied.
Everyone froze. Hands remained clenching shirts as the boys turned and stared at Raven. He stood on top of a log, Emmaline’s staff in his hand, huffing and puffing as if it were him and not them who had been in the middle of the scuffle.
“Stop it,” he said again. “If anything around here is going to happen, then we gotta shut up and think.” He glared at each of them, enough to make Tracer look away at the ground.
Raven pointed back to where the very top of Skyglass could still be seen. “Emmaline’s just spent the whole night and half a day somewhere in the mine. We dunno what they’ve been doing to her, but they want her alive. That helps us.” He hopped down from the log and walked to the center of their flop circle. “Last time we were in there, we got lost and trapped. We can’t have that happen this time. If we’re going to get Emma out, we hafta get in the main entrance. That’s where they’ll have the controls.” He drew in the soft dirt with the staff.
“Now listen carefully, ’cause this is what I can remember.”
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