Kitin Story - Part One

Deep down in the darkness of the roots, extending below the bark of Atys, many workers were busy mining. They brought valuable amber, tons of it, to the surface and their profession was valued and respected by everyone. Deep down below the desert of the Coriolis Empire, many men worked hard, day and night, to multiply the fame and fill the treasury of the reigning house.

It was a day like any other in the routine of the mines. The men were sweating in the damp air of the deep, and in the light of their torches they lifted amber pieces as big as their heads from the dark wood of the branches. Today they hoped to close a mined-out section of the tunnels, so that the animals and plants down there could recover. In this section of the roots were no aggressive animals, so there were none of the usual guards present. All precautions were taken, and the Matis-trained botanists already had their tools and strange liquids ready to inject into the plants. They wanted to let a few strong rootlets and a bed of moss grow over the entrance to serve as a cover for the tunnel until nature itself had reclaimed the area. Even today nature would claim its right, but in a totally different manner than that which they had anticipated.

Overseer Benodir Nussami looked down on the working homins. With great skill they threw ropes around a strong branch in the ceiling of the cavern, so that they were able to use these as winches. "Careful that the ropes don't slip. If the branch snaps back, it can mean the death of us all!" he yelled down to his subordinates. They briefly turned and nodded back at him. He knew very well that he was getting on their nerves with his constant warnings. The workers had done this a thousand times already and never had anything really bad happen. Still, he thought to himself, it was always better to keep one's eyes open and not succumb to the carelessness of routine. One small moment of inattention could destroy the whole cavern and with it everyone standing in it. As soon as the branch had been connected to the moss and the floor of the cavern, they would no longer need to be careful, but until then, he made his people check everything twice.

Rabur shook his head in anger and flexed his muscles as he pulled with all his strength on the rope which he and his brother Medrik had just thrown over the branch. This Nussami was an overly careful idiot who loved to boss around his workers. He should try installing one of those winches himself. Then he would see what kind of work this really was and that one had to know exactly what he was doing, or the branch would not be your only concern. The Fyros now refocused on his work. While his skilled brother was busy attaching the main rope to the winch, he struggled to hold the tension of the rope that had removed a single branch from the ceiling. Slowly, he pulled it down as far as he could, allowing Medrik to throw the thicker main rope over it. Later, the whole mesh of branches could be pulled down in turn, allowing the botanists to do their work. When they started to inject their strange brew into the roots, these would start to grow wildly. It was a matter of timing, to pull the branches down and connect them to the rampantly growing moss, allowing the gap to close completely. Medrik nodded at him, Rabur pulled one more time, as hard as he could, and his brother threw the roll of thick rope over the branch. There it stuck in place, its end rolling towards the ground. "Let go", Medrik said, and Rabur let the thinner rope glide through his gloves. With a sudden jerk, the thick branch snapped back into the mesh of entwined roots. Now, all the two Fyros had to do was climb up the rope and to attach it, as best as they could, to as many root branches as possible. The brothers grinned at each other; they enjoyed this part of their work.

Those crazy brothers were again holding their climbing contest! Mydix Bedax ran to his colleagues and joined the cheering, which served to drive these two up the ropes even faster.

"10 dappers on Rabur! - 15 on Medrik!" sounded through the torch-lit cavern, and Benodir let his workers enjoy the fun of their bets on these two crazy guys. They tried to gain an advantage over each other when the lower one pulled on the pants of the higher one or by shaking the other's rope, much to the laughter of their colleagues. The fall was not a deep one and both of them had had many of them, so he was not too concerned about the health of his men. Even he had found pleasure in these contests of the brothers, who left no opportunity out to find out who of them was the better and faster climber. It didn't matter to him who won since this all meant that the job would be done much faster. Smiling on the inside, but stony-faced, he watched the spectacle on the brim of a slope. Mydix looked up and cheered on his favourite, Medrik. He liked both brothers, but Medrik wasn't as quiet as his brother and he preferred him. Both brothers were level and there was no telling who would reach the ceiling first, which was still a good 15 meters above them.

Something touched his cheek and he brushed it away. Soon after, something fell down into his eye from above and he ducked instinctively and was cursing. It hurt! Rubbing his watering eye, he looked to the ground until a frightening thought hit him. Ignoring his pain and fighting back the tears, he looked into the twilight of the cavern ceiling. Still there were small particles touching his face. He brushed one of them off his cheek and had a closer look. Dry wood; covered with traced of a grey fluff. Mould! Again, he looked up and through the haze of his watering eye he saw something that made him freeze. He rammed his elbow into his neighbour's side, and when he turned to him in anger, he only shouted: "there!!!" A shimmer of light was showing in the ceiling, small at first, but growing quickly. The wood creaked and cracked and began to break. His straining eyes could just see that it was covered with mould as it slowly broke up under the weight of the two sturdy Fyros, dangling from their tightly-woven ropes.

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