-1Disclaimer: The Death Gate Cycle and all of the characters who appear here or are mentioned in the story are the creations of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and Ballantine; they are not mine, and are only 'borrowed'.

" Walking Around" by Karen

Shortly after he made his silent declaration to not use his magic Alfred Montbank realized that he would have to make some kind of decision.

After all he certainly indefinitely, trapped the base of a giant copper statue with a hysterical Jarre clutching with desperate strength to his shirt lapels.

And for her benefit, if not his own, they would have to find a way out.

Alfred, did not know whether or not he wanted to go back into the world outside of this temporary sanctuary to the world of heat and noise, and the endless pounding all pervasive clanging of the Kicksey-Winsey.

There are to many unanswered questions. His head is swimming with all of those unanswered questions; such as: what am I doing here? What am I going to do about the Patryn, Haplo? Does he suspect me of being a Sartan? And why ever was I left all alone to deal with these questions! Why me?

He mentally gave himself a kick to jumpstart his meandering thoughts and circling questions like bees buzzing around inside of his head, Alfred squared his shoulders reached up to loosen Jarre's clutch on his shirt lapels, and squinting in the dim light peeping in through hairline cracks in the metal of the statute, and then tried to face Jarre and calm her down. "Don't be afraid, Jarre, or at least don't be afraid of me. No one will harm you here.

"It's the quiet, I can't stand the quiet."

'Now that she mentioned it,' Alfred, thought, 'it is quiet in here, everywhere else in the huge subterranean world of the Low Realm, the endless grinding, pounding, whirring, clicking and wheezing of steam given of by the amazing machine built by the Sartans ages ago, the Kicksey-Winsey, can be heard. It was as much a part of the Gegs-Dwarves' lives as eating and, sleeping, and breathing. But inside the statue of the Manger it could not be heard at all. No wonder she was afraid. He'd learned that death to the Gegs is known as the 'Endless Hear Nothing.'

He discovered, much to his surprise, that he really could not find it in his heart to blame her for her fear. Suddenly a fond, but rather detached responsibility towards Jarre Alfred knew he had to take care of her, as well.

Alfred stood up, all gangly and awkward, made an odd courtly bow that made Jarre giggle, and offered her his hand. "I'll find a way out, Jarre, come with me."

"Are you sure," she asked, getting to her feet as well and accepting the hand that he held out to her. To bolster his own and Jarre's confidence. Alfred lived up to his promise to talk to her, to fill the quiet.

They began walking down, and the darkness gradually lessened as they went farther, until they could see that there were descending steps carved into the rock of the tunnels, small lamps glowing and dimming at their approach. Jarre, walking along, holding the hand of the tall awkward Alfred, whom it seemed, no longer afraid of the silence, and it in its way, it had become oddly comforting.

It was only then that she began to notice features of the tunnels. These were smooth, but certainly not featureless. In fact squiggly shapes that Alfred called runes appeared at regular intervals, and they glowed. Jarre didn't know where they were headed, just that they were looking for a way out.

"They were placed their as markers," Alfred said, gesturing at the glowing runes with his free hand.

Looking up at the lines in the man's face, Jarre realized that he did appear to be frightened of either the silence or the strangeness of their

shared situation, in fact, he looked very sad, as if something wonderful had been lost here that could never be replaced.

'But how could that be, when no one's ever been done here before?' Jarre thought.

Hours of walking, sometime later they came across a chamber branching off the main path, one of several lining the corridor of tunnels one either side. Alfred's slow, steady chatter dropped off in mid-sentence, and he paused before the entrance of the chamber. "In here." was all he said before he let go of her hand and went inside.

Jarre did not know what to expect, but certainly shed could not have anticipated an entire room full of people encased in crystal boxes.

These were not her people. The Gegs tended toward short and stocky, both males and females, these were tall slender people, like Alfred and the other strangers who had crash-landed in the Low Realm. With a great deal of hesitation Jarre crept up to one of the crystal cases and peered inside.

"All sleeping now," Alfred whispered over his shoulder, out of her direct line of sight behind of one the deeper rows. "I was hoping to find my friends, and I must confess, that it was with that intention that I guided our steps in this direction. Thank you for putting up with me, Jarre. I know that it can not have been easy for you."

"These are the friends you told me about?"

"Yes," he replied.