It sank in. Using that hand, and then his other in the same fashion, he soon hoisted himself up halfway to the ceiling. And more swiftly still, without another word, he vanished just as the woman had.
I reached out and commanded the Well’s machines to slide around my hand. I expected nothing. They were cold as wet sand. But there was a slight frisson as the machines of the Well and the machines of the Swarm exchanged their information. Then my hand went in, and the wall firmed up. It was in that moment, I believe, that I began to trust Jerem Cozak. I climbed up.
And soon came head and shoulders into another Well, in size much like the one that held the sarcophagus. But it was not empty. It was a mess. Bags of flour lined one wall, several having been slashed crudely open. A shattered wineglass lay upon the floor. It looked the site of some violent conflict. Jerem Cozak turned to face me, his face grim in the darkness.
“Do not linger here,” he said, and turned away again.
A wave of dread swallowed me entirely. I bowed down amidst the clutter, and remembered all that I had done the night my city fell. I added my vomit to the mess.
A sound tickled the inside of my scalp. I knew immediately what it was. I asked its name. It replied in a voice cold and small and folded over itself, the distortion of a dying machine.
“We are the Well of Faith’s Healing.”
I shivered. “How did you come by that name?”
“The man who first woke us gave it to us. When he arrived, he was nearly dead, gored by a smilodon. His prayers awoke our consciousness. We opened to him, and made him whole. He called himself Faith. Later, others we healed claimed he freed the world from tyranny, slavery, and madness. They say there is a city above, named Ariel.”
“It is my city.”