Chapter 6. Blink Backs
The next morning, Ian rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he waited for the other caretakers to join him at the base of his mountain. Last night the music and dancing and celebrations had lasted for hours. Today, he knew, there would be many questions from the caretakers.
He waited until the sun was directly overhead before going to look for them. He found them at the observation tower, staring half-heartedly through telescopes at their empty mountains.
"What in the world are you doing?" Ian asked. "I've been waiting at the foot of the mountain for hours. The workers were ready to return with you to your mountains. What happened?"
They turned to face him, but no one answered.
And then it hit him. They simply didn't know what to do next.
"Listen. Come with me." He looked at their worried faces. "Trust me," he said, then turned to lead the way to Sakas Mountain.
As luck would have it, the first Wurc-Ur they met there was Tup—one of the truly committed. He was emptying a bag of rubies gently into a chest at the foot of the mountain. The caretakers stared.
"How is the new pulley system working?" asked Ian, glancing at the ropes overhead.
Tup gave him a thumbs-up.
Ian turned to the caretakers and said, "It's a new method. Been running just a couple of days. Tup was the one who suggested installing it. This way, Wurc-Urs can focus on collecting jewels—and not waste so much time on trips up and down. They get up on the mountain in the morning and stay there until ...