A rumble growled down the corridor, Talberth braced himself against the wall beside him. He could feel the vibration that thrummed through the stone. It passed quickly but a faint sound like the blows of hammers echoed faintly from ahead.
"What was that?" asked Talberth. "An oerthquake?"
"No," Ivo shook his head. "That was the fall of stone. Something large and heavy, listen you can still hear the fall of lighter rock."
"If this place is caving in..." Talberth looked toward the ceiling.
"We are safe enough," Ivo patted the wall. "But we need to get back to the others."
"Let's hope that we still have a way out," said Harold.
* * *
The stones had stopped falling, but a patter of dirt and small fragments of rock no bigger than pebbles continued to drop down. Telenstil ended the spell he'd cast with a small sweeping gesture of his hand. Blood dripped from cuts under his eye and along his chin. A small needle of rock had clipped his nose and left a gash across the tip. The wounds bled furiously but none were deep, instead they were long, as if a razor had been drawn back and forth over his skin. Telenstil wiped his face with the back of his hand; it came away wet and red.
"You're hurt," Ghibelline said. He tried to rise but gasped in pain and fell back.
"No, you seem to be," said Telenstil. "This is just a little blood."
"My side..." Ghibelline pushed himself up while Telenstil reached out and helped him to his feet.
* * *
There were clouds and she was floating among them. Below her she could see the hills, the thick woods pressed against them, the mountains growing up toward the west. The mountains were higher than the sky, they blocked the moons and their tops were set afire by the passing sun. Gytha swooped low, the hills came rushing up. There were houses now, a small village set along a plateau, a pool at its center fed by a mountain stream. One house was bigger than the rest, it was nothing more than a large square building of stone, but it was easily four or five times the size of even the next largest home. She smiled; this building was her people's pride, their gift to their deity and the cleric who had brought the faith to them centuries ago.
The roof, tiled with plates of thin, fired clay, parted like mist as she dived lower and passed within. There was a choking smoke that seeped through the shuttered windows; the room was filled with it. There was the smell of burnt wood and burnt flesh, the tang of blood and strongest of all, the smell of fear. The room was filled with the injured, men, women, children, all those from the village and the surrounding lands. Gytha reached out and tried to touch them but her hand passed through as her body had passed the wood and tile of the roof. They seemed real, the cries of pain, the children's fearful whimpering, the coughing as the smoke increased. Fire was all around, in her mind's eye Gytha could see the village as it burned, the huge shapes of giants setting home after home ablaze with torches made from the trunks of trees. The monsters circled the building of stone; it looked small to her now. The thick stone walls and stout doors of oak banded with iron, they seemed no more than straw and children's toy-blocks beside the horrible strength and terrible size of the giants.
She knew what was to come and tried to close her eyes but they would not shut. The people began to wail, her flock, her friends, her kin, this was Gytha's village, or a dream-ghost of what it had been and how it met its end. The walls shook, there was a booming as the giants used clubs against the stone or tore boulders from the fence and threw them at the church. Oak boards shattered as the doors were splintered and sent flying into the villagers. A few men and women armed with spears and axes pushed the others back and faced the giants. One brute reached through the door then pulled back a hand that's finger had been hacked away with a desperate stroke. It put the bleeding joint to its lips and ducked its head and shoulders back outside. Stones rolled in as the giants played a game of ninepins and bowled down the defenders. Gytha could hear the laughter of the monsters as they sent boulders through the church to crush legs and pulp bodies of those who could not avoid the brutal stones. There was a shout and the booming began once more. Gytha held up her hands and screamed as the rafters collapsed and the roof came crashing down.
In an instant she was awake; a violent jolt had thrown her from her bed made of cloaks and packs. Stones bounced down around her and she was living her dream again. This time she did not scream, but Gytha looked wildly about for the villagers she had not helped in life and could not save even in her dreams. There were cold stone pillars all around, a tiled floor scratched a thousand times beneath, and only a small fire to light the dark. Near to where she had lain there was a body, Derue. The memory of the villagers faded, though they would never leave her completely, and the more recent past came back into her mind. What was that booming, she thought? Where are the others?