Dreamweaver chapter 82

Trapped! We’re really trapped down here!
My mind began to race. The battle with the water serpent has made me see how humongous the danger of crossing the water tunnel is. I’d before also underestimated how big the water tunnel was. Now there might be more than one of those things down there, since serpents would like the same climates and they’d need a partner in order to mate.
I’m trying to meditate to calm myself but it’s not working well because there’s been so much stress lately. I have alarm bells going off in my head thinking about it. I hadn’t killed it but just driven it off earlier. It must have also been pretty hungry to go after intelligent people instead of animals. If the dwarves try to cross with it still in there, it will just pick them off one by one.  
I have to have a plan for dealing with it. If it’s still there while any rescue is in progress it might just end up causing a decision maker on that other side of the tunnel to cancel trying to work further in this tunnel.
But what can I do? Underwater fighting is extremely stressful because of the lack of being able to produce air. There’s also the feeling of claustrophobia that grows in small degrees because of it. I also can’t hold my breath very long and that last time when it attacked me almost killed me. Fighting underwater is much, much harder than above land too.
I will have to probably borrow that energy sword again, or get a breathing apparatus. But that’s a problem too because by the time there is a breathing apparatus available they will want to leave immediately. We don’t know if we’ll have enough time to visit the dream state again before they will want to leave.
At the very least, while using my light spell I have been working on spreading more distance behind me and practice with extending weapons for a few seconds at a time through telekinesis.
I’ve been able to work out the distance now to seven feet away for the light, and now I’m trying to also stick it on gear. Really small distances or hand held I can do that already but not while the weapon is being held by others or held aloft through telekinesis.
I’ve spent the morning trying to figure out answers to our problems. The dwarves sometimes have arguments still. It’s different people sometimes, as they are trying to master their self control in the face of despair. Although to be fair some of the fights are outright despair, but others are people just venting their frustration that return back to normal right after. But I don’t think they are normally that dour, it’s just the bad situation around us. I can’t blame them, but when I’m tempted to feel pity for them a few of them look like they might stab me in the back.
I can’t tell everything they are saying, but it sounds like some of them want to abandon the water tunnel idea and instead go over to the area where the original cave in was and dig out there. Again they were drawing out some kind of plan with each other. It seems like dwarves really like blueprints and that’s why they draw a lot. There’s also another faction of them that is trying to ping signals off echoing hammer strikes on some of the big rock formations in the cavern. Naturally nothing answers back and we can’t really tell that anything is coming out of it, or what they ended up deciding.
But those two ideas are completely useless. There’s nothing there at all. The rock cave in was so heavy there is literally tons and tons of rock there cementing the whole place in. By the time we would get out by either of those two methods we’d have been out of food and cannibalizing each other’s bones, which I really don’t want to do.
Their distrust of water is more than I expected.
One of them wants to challenge Hrogin for leadership it seems. It looks like its very quickly more than an argument. The guy wanting to challenge him has come to do so with two of his buddies. Right away that makes it look much uglier than normal and like a gang mentality.
“Wait a minute is this a mutiny?” Rina asked me while we’re standing at the outer edge of the gathering of dwarves.
“I…I don’t know,” I said. I’m disappointed. I thought the dwarves would be like less likely to slip away from their courage. Our fears just grew a shit load. If they also can be like humans…how bad can it get?
“I didn’t think dwarves would mutiny against each other,” I said admitting my thoughts.
“Right they are usually so orderly and like structure,” Rina said.
Asakura stands in front of me protectively, since we don’t know if things will get violent.
This is really weird. I hadn’t thought they would act like this.
 I can’t catch all the details but he’s shouting at Hrogin non-stop for like twenty minutes, trying to goad him into getting mad. Hrogin stays pretty calm but does punch him out after the guy won’t shut up after a half hour of noise pollution. I dislike loud noises and arguments so whether or not who was right or wrong I’m glad Hrogin shut him up.
Hrogin has his own lieutenants to block the two guards of the other guy so that they don’t swarm but it looks like at any minute things could change for the rworse. But it worries me that they can be tempted by a direction that is clearly not feasible.
Somehow he diffused the situation by saying something to them. In the end they decide not to kill each other it seems. It’s over by some kind of argument.
After that everything is fine. Hrogin gave them some kind of peaceful and heroic pep talk, but I can only tell by the sound of his voice and how it resembles how a coach might talk to his players. Amazingly they seemed to make up afterwards. Even though I don’t speak dwarvish, the signals for apologizing do look pretty similar across the universe.
I wish I could understand it. Will this be a temporary fix or something that will really keep them solidly together? We’re lucky Hrogin is so wise, or else it would have gone differently too.
They go back to blacksmithing the breathing apparatuses again.
Towards afternoon, the dwarves are excited again.
They have a working prototype for an underwater air bubble helmet several hours later. They had melted together sand and basically just did glass shaping except they’d done it in the shape of a giant bubble helmet. They did it similar to how in the 17th century on Earth glass blowers would heat and melt the sand and then blow it through a long tube forcing it into a bubble shape out the other end. But because it’s not something they do every day and because of the need for other parts to go with it, that’s why it’s taken so long. It’s not pretty, but at least they’ve done something useful.  
It’s also sized so it can be used on both humans and dwarves.
Hmm. But will it work? How do I keep it from wanting to pull loose off my head and running away from me?  
The biggest problem too is who is going to pay the risk of testing it out? The rule of thumb with a dangerous invention is that the testers have the first chance to get hurt. That reminded me of how many astronauts in the early space race were killed in rockets from bad designs. My fears mount realizing how if modern era human scientists on Earth can screw up then surely medieval dwarves can screw up too. I also was aware of how many divers on Earth lost their lives while people were still figuring out how the technology had to work and be improved. We don’t know how well it will work yet.
I’m hopeful however, because it might be weeks or months for me to create some kind of magic spell to cross the water tunnel.
They end up with two of the bubble helmets to start. They want us to test it out first, which I don’t like the idea of.
When they asked for volunteers, everyone took a step back. It seems the inventor dwarf doesn’t have a good reputation. It doesn’t help either, that both Rina and Asakura look at me, and without realizing it subliminally the dwarves start to do the same. Now the dwarves are looking at me too.
I don’t want to test their crappy medieval inventions. I think my face has an expression of horror upon it. But it’s too late. The damage has been done. The dwarves see my reaction to their odd contraptions. I have my arms folded over my chest and I’m giving them a really stern look in return.
The dwarves are patting me on the back forgetting that I still haven’t agreed to anything yet and somehow one of the bulky helmets with leather straps around the lip edge is thrust into my hands before I can protest.
“No!” I wailed in protest.
I get a few looks of pity. They also are looking at me like, who else can we ask but you?  
I looked to Hrogin hoping for a way out, but somehow he’s saluting me with a strange sort of adoration. I can’t let that weaken my resolve, since having him look up to me is a bit tempting since he’s obviously heroic himself.
Ahh crap, he fell for it too.
They gave one of the young looking dwarves a helmet too. He looks like a younger fellow because of not having very much in the way of whiskers and having a baby face. Was he picked because he was more gullible I wonder? I’m not looking forward to this at all, and not just because of how cold the water is.
I’m about to protest but then see some of the dwarves are looking at Asakura…
Crap. The alternative is that they will ask her, just so that they can watch her strip down. That worries me more than going myself…
In the end, it has to be me huh? I sighed audibly, shaking my head as I’m getting ready. I instruct Rina and Asakura to stay here and keep a warm fire ready for when I need to warm up after coming back.
I stripped down to my boxers…why do people make a big deal out of boxers anyway? They look almost just like normal shorts don’t they? It seems silly that people would make a big deal out of them when seeing them. I don’t think boxers look much different than shorts really.
Putting the mask on I find the straps can hang down and buckle into a shoulder harness to keep the helmet from coming loose and floating up and away while swimming in the water. It looks like the harness was made from a spare belt and some other scraps tied together.
I test it to make sure it feels secure, particularly the knots of the clothing scraps sewn into the leather. I grudgingly accept this level of quality. I can’t tell if it will hold together or not, at first glance.
The other dwarf and I begin to test it out. Quickly we dive below and begin to check out our surroundings. At first we stay near the surface since we don’t know if it will work. It’s not easy to move with this thing on to, because the added buoyancy is trying to turn me around in different directions from where I want to swim. Learning to counter the buoyancy isn’t easy.
We have to go back up and this time we each carry and attach a sack of rocks to our belt. We had to spend some time with this carefully because of the sack of rocks is too heavy and can’t detach easily it can trap and down us later on.
We lost another half hour figuring this part out.
Then after another five minutes of swimming I almost choked to death because it seems the helmet I’m using has a crack or hole in it somehow. It’s leaking water badly. But we weren’t able to see it right away until I’d already gotten in the cavern a ways.
I’m still confused on why the leak didn’t show up right at the beginning. I’m sure it wasn’t there at the start. Was it hidden away somehow? Was it covered up with glue somehow or some kind of artisan magic if there is such a thing?
I almost drown trying to get back. There’s a puddle of water growing in the helmet that is past my nose and mouth while I’m panicking trying to get out. We’re swimming frantically and then even after I get above the pond I am fighting with the buckles to get the trashy contraption off me.
Drowning is even scarier than fighting monsters now.
The other dwarf also didn’t notice right away that my helmet was having problems. But when he did notice he panicked and first was obsessed with checking his own helmet because he was afraid his would have the same flaw, instead of helping me right away. I guess I can’t fault him for that, since he was volunteered too. So he wasn’t much help, since he only came to help me after he’d already satisfied himself that he wouldn’t drown either.
I choke on a lot of water at the end until finally we get the helmet off. I’m rolling around on all fours on the sandy shoreline of the underground pool.
Air feels so good…
It seems the dwarves ‘skewed’ trust in that inventor dwarf was like that for a reason. Are all dwarf inventors that bad? He’s bowing and…apologizing (?) to me many times.
I think they are fixing it now and reinforcing the glass while I rest. Of course they can’t make the glass too thick either, or I won’t be able to see through it clearly while swimming. It’s already hard enough to see through the water in the deep dark parts of the water tunnel. 
Again like before Asakura’s danger sense had activated somehow, but she’d not had enough time to start getting in the water or stripping down yet since it had activated when we weren’t very far into the tunnel. She’s out of breath from rushing over to the pool area.
Still…we have to use the air bubble contraption.  
The dwarves are going to have us rest while they modify the other helmet and make a few more of them. It seems the other one works fine, and they have approved it for use, despite our protests and fears. Even if it was the non-defective helmet I’m not sure this design is safe yet. The dwarves are now taking turns, getting training with it so they can have enough practice hours in it to be safe, while we rest up.
It takes them a few hours to get the other helmet that needs fixing ready.  
They also have a third helmet by then. But I don’t want to test things anymore. Hrogin was walking over to try to sway me into testing the third one I think. But I was shaking my head negatively before he’d even gotten close with such a look of anger in my eyes that he sighed and walked away.
Unfortunately they want to give Asakura the third helmet again. I firmly make sure they know that’s out of the question. I shouted at them and made a few death threats to make sure that option was out. I’m sure they didn’t understand my words but saw I meant business.
I still also want to get her to ‘remember’ swimming better than she can now.
Did they pick her, hoping they’d see something when she stripped down? They seem to know Rina’s health isn’t good. I’ve given her the treatment three times today already and she’s coughing a lot. I’m worried about how to get her across without giving into hypothermia.
Near evening we’re able to test out the helmets again.
This time one of Hrogin’s lieutenants went with us. He is bringing a massive harpoon, and making sure the other dwarf is coming with a weapon too.
They decided that after our game of Pictionary showed them my recent fight with the water serpent thing, whatever it was. That got them pretty excited, because none of us had any idea that there might be water predators in addition to the cave predators.
We still have other problems too. Like how much air is there in these helmets? Because we lack a measuring unit device we can’t tell exactly still. There’s also the illusion of exhaling in the helmet used air is mixing with the fresh air and that can mix up how much air we perceive is there wrongly. All I can basically do is try to guage how long I can hold my breath for before I have to breathe it out again into the bubble and then suck in more slowly holding our breath when we can.
I’m guessing this is only something we can use for like five minutes, with our breath held for every interval of breathing. It’s also probably an issue that after over half the air is gone the air quality will diminish significantly due to the ratio of carbon dioxide being more than the air we’re getting. That would actually be super dangerous.
I want to back out. If someone were thinking of doing this as an experiment it would be stupid and deadly. I have so many worries right now.
But I do decide I’ll do my best. We’re also fighting to live.
We go swim for awhile in the cold water. We’re carrying heated rocks too, in addition to the weights but it isn’t enough. The rocks get cold pretty fast, and seem to end up being more like a placebo against the cold.
Slowly but surely we make our way in. After about five minutes we found a part of the bottom of the darkest part of the tunnel has chewed up goblin body parts.
Unless I’m wrong that is probably where the serpent is lurking. Is it better to finish it off? How do we leave it there, while trying to get sixty dwarves and a few humans across?
The chance of it ambushing us is high, especially if it thinks we can’t fight back. Hrogin’s lieutenant wants to go there, now but we’ve already used most of our air just floating around trying to find its cave. 
He’s upset when I signal for us to go back. The other dwarf looks relieved though. He doesn’t realize we’re coming right back after fresh air is received.
Dwarves don’t swim very well either. It’s obvious that if we fight my magic and I will have to bear most of the attack. Even if he’s good with a harpoon, dwarven swimming looks a simple type of dog paddling. Because their bodies are so thick it’s kind of humorous to watch. They can still use the harpoons to attack well it seems, after they’d gotten used to it.
After warming up for air we try again.
This time I had an idea.
I summoned the starry missile spell and then shot them out towards the dark part of what might be a cave where we think the serpent is laying. After it’s released I hurriedly placed a light globe spell in the air held in front of in a very particular precarious position and then summoned the starry missile darts in just such a way that the light would blend in with the darts as they are forming. Then as they appeared the light spell ended up mixing onto the darts, it’s an amazing discovery that spells can sometimes be blended under some conditions. It doesn’t make them any more damaging or powerful but it may help, so that I can after this round is shot, setup a view area that is moving steadily as I stack up slower moving darts and light spells following in until I’ve zeroed in on the actual target. They will be slower as I shoot them in; slower because they travel differently underwater fighting against heavier water density.
By this time I’ve gotten a bit better with the starry missiles. I can now cast and summon three of the darts at once instead of just the two, which was how weak it was before.
Was I really that weak before? I’m still a bit weaker than I should be now…
I think the mana darts also hit harder than they used to. The lead arrows light up the area and we catch a glimpse of the snake’s head as I’m sending more chain casting of light and starry missile darts together. Yep, sure enough it’s a huge serpent and not another similar serpent. He was hiding in a bed of seaweed of some kind that was adapted for fresh water.  
There’s still no guarantee that there aren’t other huge water serpents similar to this fellow. Maybe he’s actually just a big python? He’s still not dragon size…we can kill him, I hope.
I couldn’t help but notice he was poised in a hidden area that we would have had to go near if we’d tried to cross without dealing with him first. That can’t be a coincidence right?
The light globe goes out as the three darts hit the ground. Because the serpent wasn’t seen yet when I’d set them off, they miss of course. The next ones shouldn’t miss now that I’ve seen the serpent and have an image of its position. I follow up with more of them. This time I’m sure I’ll get it.
They streak through the water lighting up the whole area, while I spam more of them. The first set miss again, but I’ve spammed such a big stream of them that there’s like a long line of streaking lights so that now I’m hitting the serpent every time.
It didn’t want to engage us before because it was still wounded from last time we’d hit it. But now it’s forced to attack us. But the dwarves start waving frantically in fear as it starts racing towards us. It swims really fast, faster than I thought it would. It will be here soon, but every set of starry missile bolts is hitting it.
Three, six, nine darts of energy have hit it;…but it’s getting close even while it’s dripping blood clouds or ribbons in foggy clouds in the water as it streaks towards us.
The dwarven lieutenant gets close to me and positions the harpoon to protect me. It’s a glancing hit, and the dwarves are able to cut it pretty good. Its swimming poorly now from so many wounds, but it’s still aggressive and more maneuverable than we are. Now it’s just trying to go around the harpoon with its long body as the dwarves struggle to get their balance again.
It weaved away from me and the lieutenant but instead goes after the third, much younger dwarf who looks the weakest. I got a runic shielding spell up in time to protect him, but because of how fast he was hit and how viciously big its teeth and meaty coils were wrapped around him, the shield is shattered in one hit.  
Holy crap…it’s vastly more powerful down here than I thought it would be.
The serpent forces it back and clamps on the dwarf’s bubble helmet head. Screaming under water can be felt more than heard it seems as we try to make it in time. He’s close enough it’s eerie as we try to protect him. But the bite was too forceful and the glass helmet shatters, with a spray of blood everywhere. The serpent is trying to drag that dwarf back down to its cave, now wrapped up in its tail.
Desperately the lieutenant and I fight like crazy to get him back. I’m spamming dozens of starry missiles to burn the beast. I’m hoping they will soon kill it. My arms are tired from forming the spell glyphs in the air so fast against the water.
The lieutenant is daring and goes forward, even though he knows we don’t have to go on. By the time the lieutenant is about a dozen yards in front of me, I finally got several starry missiles to snuff out the serpent’s life. It’s too bad we can’t loot it. The sea serpent would be much better meat than the goblins would be and probably is safe to eat since it doesn’t look like it’s head shape is showing the shape of a serpent that might have poison sacs. But the body will be too heavy and bulky to drag through the water with such a short air supply.
Some would think we did well, but the truth is I’d used and casted about twenty or so starry missile sets of darts before its skull cracked open and its eyes were burned out. Then the next set of darts after that hit it’s brain. It didn’t die right away but was knocked unconscious too, thus we needed a few extra volleys.
We are now trying to drag the younger dwarf back to shore to try to save him and cast heal spells. I can’t even be sure if he’s still alive as we’re trying to race back in time. Will it work? If his skull is caved in, then even with heal spells it will be too late and too much to deal with. But I can’t examine him to find out about that now.
He’s unconscious. Without a doubt we’ll have to do CPR.
Do the dwarves know about such things?
They are so ugly and have such terrible looking beards I’m somewhat reluctant. If anything I will do the chest pumping and make the other dwarves do the mouth to mouth part. Who knows what kinds of diseases they carry.
Hmm, does thinking that way mean I’m a germaphobe? Or is it just the new environment making me more subconscious?
I decide I will do better. I was wrong to think such things. But when you don’t know people very well it’s easy to slip into this mentality. I remind myself that this is a real person while we’re trying to get back.
It can’t be helped. Nobody wants to do CPR on the ugly little old men. If it were a young girl however, that’s a different story.
We’re hurrying to land, but it’s taken a good two minutes at least to get to shore, and there’s also the head injury to worry about, and we can’t stop to heal him here, since we’re exposed at the moment and we have to get him to fresh air because of the shattered air bubble. If there is anything else down here it will surely smell the blood in the water, from both the young dwarf and the serpent. 
How did the serpent know to smash the air bubble? 

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