"They were trapped underneath the Heartfire chamber?" asked Moonstream, as the mages finally tracked down the location that their students had been trapped in during the earthquake.
"Are trapped. They are trapped under the Heartfire room," said Rosethorn fiercely. "I think my magic can help move this dirt aside-"
"There is coal in this soil. I can help to," put in Frostpine, as they used their power to shift enormous amounts dirt aside.
"I can see their magic, even through the ground!" cried Niko, rallying the others. "And—goodness! I don't know what sort of magic they've done, but it is powerful. They're glowing like a beacon!"
"Look at this! It's amazing!" gasped Rosethorn, staring at what their earth-moving had uncovered. All five adults clustered around the hole they had made. A net of tightly interwoven roots and wire shone bright in their magical vision, hiding a hollow that had formed. Together, not needing to plan, Frostpine and Rosethorn delved into their magic. They gently tried began to unravel the net. At first, it fought them, and they bickered over preserving the still-living roots and wire. Then, voices floated up from beneath the hollow.
"Frostpine?" a familiar voice with a Trader lilt called, before breaking off to cough.
"Rosethorn?" whispered a boy, his rasping voice sounding broken and vulnerable.
The younger mage's grip on their magic faded, and the net unraveled with ease. As the dust settled, they got a better look at the hollow. They realized the weaving was not a net, but a box that completely surrounded their students. After watching intently for a panicky moment, they saw Sandry cough, Daja stretch, Briar blink, and Tris relax. They were alive. All of their precious students were alive. Crumpled together like dolls stuffed in an ill-fitting box, filthy, exhausted, bruised, weeping, coughing, and sore.
Sandry was the first to bolt from their little hole. She ran straight for a window, leaning perilously far out as she took deep, heaving breaths. Her eyes ran with tears of pain as they adjust to the sudden light, but she wouldn't have closed them for anything as Lark went to embrace her student and gently anchor her in the building.
Briar disentangled himself from the others next. He ran straight for Rosethorn's arms, which held his thin shoulders as he wept into her habit. "What happened to you down there, boy?" she asked, stroking his hair and wiping her eyes, which were watering slightly. You know, from the dust.
Daja carefully climbed out of the hollow, groping with her staff as the bright light blinded her. . "Where is everyone? The light is too bright for me to see anyone—where are you?" she asked gravelly. Frostpine hurried forward. "I'm right here, Daja," he murmured, guiding her to a bench to sit down. "I'm right here."
Tris was the last to escape from under the ground. She emerged cautiously, her magic still at ready, looking afraid to stop fighting. "Is it over? Are we safe?" she demanded, her voice hoarse and raspy. She looked heartrendingly terrified. Niko, who wasn't even the touchy-feely sort, surprised everyone by hugging her tightly. "You're safe now," he told her firmly. "It's all over."
This final pronouncement proved to much for the youngest residents of Discipline, and those who were not already in tears began to cry. The four teachers were forced to carry their children down to the infirmary, while Dedicate Moonstream hovered anxiously. By the time they reached the hospital, all four children were asleep. They gently tucked them in.
Lark used her magic to make the sheets cradle Sandry perfectly. She hoped that when Sandry
awoke, the first thing she would feel would be a touch of Lark's homely magic.
Niko fussed over the cleanliness of Tris's sheets, insisting that a new, fresher set be brought. Not that he was so disturbed by the near-loss of his students that he was desperate for something to distract him, or anything.
Frostpine pulled some scraps of wire out of his pocket and twisted them into the shape of well-being runes. He sprinkled them around Daja's bed, hoping they would banish the exhaustion and pain that hurt him so much to see etched in her face.
Rosethorn mopped her eye's with the corner of Briar's sheet as she watched him sleep. Oddly, though the air was no longer dusty, the four teacher's eyes were continuing to water.