I sat down on a tree stump as I waited for Tim. I pawed through the satchel I had packed: swimsuit, mittens, flashlight, a towel, a water bottle, and a peanut butter sandwich. That should cover just about everything. Short of dragons. I patted the pocket where I had stashed the dragon horn chunk and the red gem from yesterday. Yep, still there.
Tim arrived, bringing the pendant. Within moments he had locked onto the world where, presumably, the special metal was located. As we walked toward the signal, I noted, “Hey, isn’t this the way to that world with the volcano? Remember? The one with the . . .” My voice trailed off as we walked through the passage. It was all there, just as I had remembered it. The road. The ash heaps. The wreckage. And the ominous volcano in the distance.
“We were so distracted last time, we didn’t even notice...”
I roused myself from my thoughts and looked where Tim was pointing. There in the dust was a plaque similar to the one we had found near the secret lab. This one read “Crushed World #37”. I shuddered. How many worlds had the Crusher destroyed?
“Let’s get the metal we need and get out of here.” I finally said. “No use in lingering. It’s too depressing. Let’s focus on saving Renolia.”
The pendant pointed down the road, so we started walking. The volcano, which had been fairly close before, now dominated the landscape. The road wound around the side of the volcano, partially obliterated by boulders and debris. The pendant eventually pointed us to a cave just off the road. We picked our way through the gravel toward the opening.
“Look!” I pointed at a nearby wreckage heap. “This must have been a mine.”
Tim was already at the mouth of the mine. I climbed up to him and peered into the blackness. “Um, I don’t think we should go in. I mean, I brought my flashlight, but I’d still rather not fall into an uncovered mine shaft.” I looked back at Tim. “Besides, there’s probably just ore in here. We need the refined metal, don’t we?”
“I’m not sure there’s anything left in town that could qualify as refined. The amulet pointed us here; we should at least check it out.”
I shrugged and pulled out my flashlight. “Alright, I’ll go first with the flashlight and you bring the pendant. As soon as we find enough metal, we’re getting out of here.”
I started making my way into the shaft, keeping one hand on the wall to keep myself oriented. Tim followed with the pendant, which had started beeping. My flashlight beam glinted off of something shiny. I pointed it out to Tim. “Mine cart tracks?”
“Looks like it. Let’s see where they lead.”
“I think there’s something on the tracks ahead.” I moved closer to illuminate the shadowy bulk. It was a minecart. I pointed my flashlight in and was surprised to find it about two thirds full of what looked like taconite pellets. Except bigger. The size of golf balls.
Tim brought the pendant over. The thing was beeping like crazy now. We picked through the cargo until we found the one that the pendant had targeted on.
“That enough?” I asked. “It doesn’t seem like much.”
“It’ll be plenty, assuming it works. I just want to check to be sure.” Tim took the piece and held it with two hands. After a moment, he shivered and looked up. “Okay, it definitely conducts magic. Now we just need to check electricity. Are you particularly attached to that flashlight?”
“I am until we’re back in daylight.” I had no intention of being left in the dark in a mine in a crushed world.
“You’ll survive. Hand it over.”
“You won’t be able to see what you’re doing if you take the light. Let’s go back to the mouth of the mine and you can have it.” I turned and started walking, taking the flashlight with me.
“Fine, be all practical.” Tim muttered.
At the mouth of the mine, I handed the flashlight over. Tim tore it apart, piece by piece, until it was almost unrecognizable. He placed one end of the battery so that it was touching the metal and put wires on both ends. Then he reconnected the wires to the light, and it turned on. “It works! It’s doubly conducive!”
“Great!” I smiled for the first time that morning. “Let’s finish that contraption!”