356 CCCLVI. Keep Talking
"What's going on in there? Let's go and see" Dag replied, heading for Sander and Egill, standing in front of one of the three tunnels, the largest one, in which Claire had entered.
"Keep talking! Can you hear my voice? Yuhuuu?" Sander yelled inside the tunnel, trying to keep in touch with the brave girl who had entered.
Dag, Reidar, and Freydis approached and tried to look into the big hole, from which nothing could be seen.
"There's a crossroads up here!" Claire's voice screamed from afar.
"A crossroads? Wait, don't move!" Sander replied, immediately turning to Dag, looking for suggestions, while Egill did the same, trying to imagine if there was a logical way to figure out which direction to follow.
"Uhm... wait for a second, let me take your place" Dag said, inviting Sander to move so he could talk to Claire, who was already several feet tall.
"Claire! Do you hear me? Listen to me, can you slowly get down?"
"Yes, I think so! Why would I come down? Don't I have to look for the tunnel exit?"
"Of course you have to, but if there's a crossroads, before we try in a direction, we'll tie a rope around your waist, so if you accidentally get stuck, we can pull you out!" he explained, who once again had a clever idea, which had amazed the other soldiers and the two Masters next to him.
Rock fragments fell from the tunnel as Claire began her descent.
After a few minutes, her feet sprang from the bend and then her backside, on which Dag was enchanted for a few seconds.
"Uhm, stop! Here, take this and tie it around your belt!" he exclaimed, climbing slightly into the hole and passing to Claire a long rope that soldiers had recovered on the ship in the meantime.
She grabbed it and tied it up as Dag told her, then began to climb again, tirelessly.
"Come on Claire, keep it up"
"Go, Claire, we're with you!"
The soldiers who witnessed the scene began to support the girl, who thanks to her courage and with a little luck would let them save some road.
"How is the crossroads made? Describe me briefly what you see!" Dag asked, who, concentrating, tried to hear the noises above his head so he could get a rough idea of the size of the rock tunnel.
"There are two holes! One wider and one narrower! I don't know if I'm going to go into that tight one!"
"Look at the wide one and tell me if you can hear the sound of water!" he continued, who was trying to guide Claire step by step.
"Water? I'm hundreds of meters away, what does the water have to do with it?!"
"Claire, it's an order! Just do it!" he exclaimed in an authoritarian tone, getting her to respect him.
About thirty seconds passed when Claire spoke again: "yes, in the widest one I can hear the sound of water in the distance! It looks like there's some kind of river!"
"That's right, it's pretty much like that! You have to continue in the narrowest tunnel because the widest one could lead you to an underwater lake or a water table... to be clear... you'd end up in the water and rescue you would be impossible!" Dag continued, motivating his choice, which even Egill and Sander were surprised about, even though they knew Dag's decisions were reliable, being the only one of them who understood something about rocks.
"All right! I'll try it!" Claire answered, whose voice became more and more imperceptible as she crawled inside the rock.
"Perhaps we should have been looking for another place to dock. It seems that Krypstorm is completely deserted, in my opinion, there is an area not guarded by enemies where we could leave the boat. It has to exist" Sander said, beginning to regret their choice, after following Kjell's plan to the letter.
"Sander, I think we made the right choice. We couldn't go around the sea aimlessly, someone would certainly have spotted us! The enemies knew about our movements when we were in Okstorm, imagine now that we are so close! By taking refuge in this cave we have gained time because no one suspects our presence. If we can't find a way up it won't be a problem, we can always get back on board the Iron Emerald and look for a better place" Egill said, preceding Dag and giving courage to his old friend, who looked at him with confident eyes.
As the Masters and the warriors next to them discussed about this and that, on the other side of the large cave, Gridd, Kjell, Karl, and other soldiers were trying to get as close as possible to the icebergs, adopting a tactic similar to Dag's, tying ropes around the waist, risking step by step to fall into the sea.
Kjell was the first to rest his first foot on the smooth surface of the ice, using the blades at the end of his chains as grappling hooks to help him climb.
"Kjell, be careful! That stretch seems particularly slippery! There are still about ten meters to reach the rock!" Gridd exclaimed, who before following her colleague, wanted to make sure that the climb was safe and together with other soldiers, held the rope attached to his belt.
The Shieldmaiden, during that phase, slightly looked to the other side of the cave, hoping that Dag and the others would find a better solution, believing that unlike Kjell, not all soldiers would be able to climb that vertical wall, where a misstep would cost them their lives.
"I could place hooks along the wall! If we stick a rope in, we could all get hooked and climb to the top in a row!" Kjell said, who paused for a moment to observe the uneven surface of the rock combined with the ice.
In the meanwhile, in front of Dag and Reidar, who were the closest ones to the tunnel entrance, the rope tied to Claire's waist continued to flow through the passage.