358 CCCLVIII. The Second Attemp
"We can't let her go like this! Someone or something tried to pull her to the other side and it had a frightening force, we have to save her!" Dag continued, shouting and approaching the hole in the wall, looking up.
"Claaaire! Claaaaire! Answer me!" he yelled, caught in a sense of deep malaise, recalling the last words he had said to that poor girl, whose only fault was to be in love with the wrong person.
He thought of when she joined him at Hevnen and he abandoned her without saying a word, when he confessed her love and he told her that his heart belonged to another woman and she gotta get over it.
Even the day before he had been rude to her, only because once again she had followed him, out of the sheer desire to be close to him, even for a short time, even if she would risk her life.
Dag put his hand to the wall and looked down.
"Why did we let her go... I had to go myself or some of us should, someone able to defend himself in case of aggression! Who could have done it? A Jotunn? A ferocious beast?!" he said, despairing at what had happened.
"Dag, calm down! That's not how we're going to be able to save her... before someone pulled her away, she said she saw something, right? Maybe the tunnel exit! I have a feeling it's as you imagined, and this corridor inside the rock leads somewhere to the surface. Now that we've lost one of us, we've got proof of that! At least let's make sure she didn't make her sacrifice in vain!" Freydis replied, raising her voice and turning Dag forcefully, trying to make him think in a lucid way.
Dag looked at her with distraught and glossy eyes, holding back tears and breathing deeply, trying not to give in to panic.
"You're right. Some of us have to try to follow the same path, to find out where the tunnel leads! Maybe Claire was able to find an exit! I volunteer, who comes with me?" he asked, turning to the warriors nearby, who took a step back at those words, looking away and pretending not to hear.
"You don't really talk about it, Dag. You're crucial for our mission, we can't risk losing you to similar nonsense due to a distraction. As far as we know, the Shieldmaiden volunteering was aware that she was risking her life and may still be alive. Two Berserkrs will repeat her own path, making sure to bring weapons with them. The rope was severed with a blade, probably that of a dagger, so the presence of ferocious beasts or something like that is out of the question" Kjell said, approaching his colleagues and bringing back the order.
"Yes, it's true, look here... no doubt, smells like the work of enemy Clans warriors, it's the Jotunns' fault!" Reidar added, who after analyzing the cut rope in detail, showed it to all his companions.
For a few seconds, the silence fell and no one came forward.
Just as the Masters were about to choose two warriors fit for the mission, a Berserkr and a Shieldmaiden came forward, offering themselves as volunteers.
"Masters, let me go. Claire was much younger than me, yet she chose of her own accord to risk for us all" a woman in her forties said, with short black hair and brown eyes.
"I will join her if you will allow me. I will carry both of my swords with me, which are among the few weapons that can be used in such a tight space. Due to their reduced range, in case of need, I will be able to point them both up and down. With my attention and instinct, we'll be able to follow the path out of this place" a Crows Of Odin Berserkr said, standing next to the Shieldmaiden of the Hammers Of Thor.
"Excellent, that's what I call teamwork! So, we're going to use the rope method with you too... tie it around your waists and then you'll be ready to climb. Those of you who will be in front will hold the torch and the other will hold the sword. That way you shouldn't have any problems" Master Egill added, making himself useful by picking up two of the ropes Kjell and his men used to try to climb the iceberg across the cave.
Once the quick preparations were over, the Shieldmaiden, who despite her muscular build was skinny and athletic, climbed into the hole first, beginning to crawl upwards.
She was followed by the young Berserkr, who before beginning the journey inside the rocky massif wielded one of his two short swords.
The minutes began to flow and this time Dag walked away from there, leaving control to his Masters colleagues, who, as they had done with Claire, tried to stay in touch with their men soldiers the tunnel.
"When you get to a crossroads, you have to turn left, into the narrowest one, not towards where the sound of water comes from!" Sander yelled, remembering Dag's reasoning by heart and emulating it perfectly.
The two ropes continued to slide into the hole when the Berserkr said: "We're here, sir! There is the entrance of a cave before our eyes!"
"A cave? Great! By being very careful, try to figure out if you can get into it!" the Master Of Defense replied, who looked at Dag as he spoke, trying to guess if he was giving the right orders.
Other sharp rock fragments and small pebbles fell from the hole, and the Masters in listening sensed that the path the two soldiers were following was exactly the same as Claire's, as it became more slippery at that point.
"Then? What do you see? Did you make it?!" Sander asked again, having a good feeling.
"Yes!... we are inside the cave! The passage is safe! Pass one at a time and no one will get hurt!" the Berserkr answered from the other side of the tunnel, as his voice echoed through the cave.