The last of the stubborn soil crumbled away beneath the rabbit’s paws. Faint blue light shone through the hole. Amber sighed in relief.
She had the hole enlarged in a wink. A gust of new air puffed into her face, carrying with it the faint scent of spirit stones and ancient dirt.
On second whiff, the spirit-stone scent in the new cavern was fainter than it should have been given the intensity of blue glow. Frowning, she slipped off her digging gloves and bent to the hole, peering through.
Empty. Even without a torch, she could tell that. She wiggled her way through the hole until she could stand up.
Blue moss gleamed on the roof of the cavern, looking like a turquoise river of stars. But it was just moss. Not what she was seeking.
But it’s Wyld-touched. Nothing glows that color without the Wyld. I’m getting close!
The cavern had three exits. Amber studied all three, trying to see if any one tunnel held more moss than the others. No luck; they all looked to have the same amount on their ceilings.
Her long ears angled left, right, straight ahead, listening for water. Where there’s Wyld, there’s water.
But there was only silence. She raised up on her toes, nose twitching. Maybe the scent would make a better lead. Instead, her nose caught something else in the air. Cold fear shot through her.
The Rot. Her paw went to her sword. She sniffed again. No, not Rot, but something rotting…
A sound echoed from the middle tunnel. Her ears turned towards it: something scrabbling, barely audible.
The rotting smell was coming from that tunnel, too. It mingled with the scent of the Wyld.
Is someone down here with me? Maybe someone had found the spirit stone before her. Maybe she could trade for it. Or maybe not—a single stone could cure the beginnings of Rot, but if the King were as bad off as the rumor said he was, it would take more than one stone to excise the soul-poison from him.
If this fellow had just contracted the Rot, it’s likely he wouldn’t part with it—and Amber wasn’t in any shape to fight, nor did she have much on-paw to trade. After five days underground, her supplies were running low.
She stepped forward anyway. She had to try.