Worry had just begun to gnaw at me when I felt the thin silver chain wrapped around my fingers twitch. In what I thought looked like an ancient river bed, I paused, swinging the pendulum hanging from my hand back and forth. Slowly, slowly. At the bottom end of the chain hung a smooth orb of iolite, tinged a dusky purple. It spun a little, but remained vertical. Not a good sign. Maybe I had imagined it.
There had been so many directions to choose from, so full of possibility, and only one the right choice. I chewed my lip, looking around myself again. It was the way big, smooth rocks poked out of the dirt here, as if worn away by constant water flow. But it wasn’t like underground rivers had to follow their old routes exactly. This one could have looped miles away, leaving me here, with vulnerable friends counting on my help.
The pendulum chain twitched again. I paused, squinting at the dangling orb in the failing light. It spun and spun as I swung it around myself. But then, when I had walked several hundred feet to my left, the chain at last leapt away from the ground, hanging at an angle almost horizontal.
I grinned. This was it.
I ran almost a mile back the way I had come and clambered over a huge limestone deposit. At the top, I shouted down to the forest of tall, spindly trees below. “Northwest!”
As one, the trees shook to life, digging roots through leaf loam and dry dirt as they shifted northwest, edging around the limestone that had blocked their path along their river.
The tree passing me ran a cluster of twigs through my hair. “Well done, Wanderer,” it whispered with rustling leaves. “Thank you.”
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