THE DRY WELL 13

Raðenn, forcing himself to move slowly and carefully, scrambled on his knees to the far side of the flagstone, and began to force his bleeding fingers down into the crack between the stones.  Impacted and solid filth had accrued here too, and he was forced to pull it away with no tool but his agonised hands.  The stone was thick and the crack deep, yet after a long time he had worked all the grime out of the crack, and could feel the rounded edge of the stone, worked to fit into the floor like any other, but never mortared.  Raðenn lay back onto the cold stone and stretched his aching legs, tucking his sore hands into his armpits in the hope of warming them.  He must lift the stone, he told himself, even if it led only into a yet deeper dungeon.  He must try.  For
encouragement, he rolled over and took between his own hands the chill limp hand of his fellow prisoner.  ‘I will raise it, Mal-Den, I promise you,’ he whispered.  Then he rolled back toward the stone he had cleared, and pulled himself up onto his knees again.  He flexed his aching fingers, muttered a prayer to the Lady of the west wind, and forced his fingertips down into the crack.

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