Pacing Time

Kisertet paced back and forth from one cave wall to the other. He was walking so steady and repetitively he wasn't really paying attention anymore. He would walk in one direction for the exact number of steps he needed to cross the distance and automatically turn back. An observer might have been surprised at just how close he'd come to hitting each wall before he'd turn away. It didn't matter to him at all anymore. He just did it. He knew that his pacing was a bad habit that eventually got on everyone's nerves. Even she had gotten a bit tired of it but had never said anything. He remembered, back in his later teen years, trying to break himself of the habit, but by his mid-twenties, he had just accepted it as part of him and kept on pacing. It was a good way to pass the time and he had plenty of time to pass.
The entrance to this branch of the tunnel system was so far away it was just a blur of light; but even at this distance he could see by the directions of the distant shadows that the sun would soon be setting outside. He didn't worry about it and rarely bothered to look because he preferred to stay far enough in to the system that there was very little difference between day and night. He had spent so much time inside the tunnels, studying the supposed dragon burial grounds, that, even before his greatest discovery, he hadn't seen the sun in years. He continued pacing and found some comfort in the fact that the sun going down meant she would be returning soon.
After several more laps of pacing, or it could have been a hundred and twelve, he saw a flash of orange light reflect from the moisture covered rocks. He stopped, but didn't go forward, stood with his arms crossed and stared straight towards the entrance.
After a few more minutes the shadows jumped briefly as the source of the orange light, a naturally burning torch, was brought in carried by Millenum. She was a tall woman with long blond hair, a broad smile, and wild blue eyes. She was in her mid-thirties but had the energy and curiosity of someone twenty years younger. Some said she also had the sense and temperament of that age as well. She was dressed in black leather armor and wore two short swords sheathed on each side of her waist. In one hand was the torch and the other was a new bag of supplies. As she approached she dropped the bag near the cot she occasionally slept on.
"Did you find out what it was?" Kisertet asked.
"Yes," she said and looked away. She took several deep breaths, wobbled slightly on her heals, and then said plainly, "Starpoint Mountain has fallen."
He gasped, wanting to say that she was wrong, but he knew inside that what she had to be telling the truth. They had been deep inside the caves when the tremors had started that morning. So deep that they knew there had to have been some terrible catastrophe outside to have caused it and she had left immediately. In the hours he had paced and waited for her to return he had made several guesses as to the true story. The fall of Starpoint Mountain was the only possible explanation he could come up with. As unbelievable as it was, even for him, to imagine.
"I made it to a small town on the very southern tip of the Rainbow Mountains," she said without looking at him. "The people I spoke with said there was a giant cloud spreading across the land, they couldn't see the horizon, but there was no longer a mountain above it. Two splinters, twin towers, remained but the mountain itself was gone."
"I wonder how many thousands were lost," Kisertet said.
"I can't even guess," Millenum said.
"We were brought up near the mountain. Every morning father would take us outside and tell us stories about mountain adventures. Now, like my father, it's gone. Before I came in here I saw the mountain every day of my life."
"I know," she nodded. "We all believed it would be there forever."
"Oh, my," he gasped. "How? How did it fall?"
"I don't think anyone knows yet. It's only happened this morning. Everyone is sending representatives to Summer Down or Spring Gate to offer assistance and get information from the giants."
"Yes," Kisertet said with a laugh. "I'd almost forgotten about the Giant Lords."
"Why is that funny?"
"I never had much faith in them. I know that was an odd thought in our land, but they were always just too good and honorable to be true."
Millenum held her comments and thought of her own feelings about the Giant Lords. Though she was never one to put too much faith in authority she had never thought of actively criticizing them.
"I always thought they relied too much on the power of the mountain to get their support," he said and laughed again. "There will be plenty for them to worry about now."
"Maybe that blasted girl will save them again," Millenum pondered.
Kisertet looked at her sideways for a few seconds and then quickly nodded. "Oh, yes, I forgot all about her. Haven't heard any stories about her for a while, have you?"
"A few," she said regretfully. "I don't think any of it is true anymore. Just excited gossip in a sleepy land."
"Wonder what happened to her."
"Who knows?" Millenum asked as she finally sat down on an old blanket and got ready for the night. "It seems like she just disappeared."