Anna felt dread when she spotted Shireen - the sea-girl lay unmoving on the tunnel floor, a bloody gash on her forehead. She was covered in dust and debris.
Was she dead?
Anna recalled something the visiting Doctor had shown her back in the village. She knelt down and placed two fingers on Shireen's neck. Thankfully, the girl's pulse had been easy to locate and seemed fairly normal. She was alive.
"Is she OK?" The teakettler appeared at Anna's side. It was the first time Anna had ever seen the dog-creature look concerned or worried.
"She's alive at least."
Anna stood up and surveyed the area. She had been so distracted by the sight of Shireen lying on the floor that she hadn't taken a good look around. "I guess I was wrong."
Teak looked at Anna quizzically, cocking his head slightly to the side. "About what?"
Anna motioned to the pile of rubble that lay a few meters ahead in the tunnel. "About the tunnels. I didn't think they could collapse." Anna turned her attention back to Shireen and quickly changed the subject. "Her head is injured, we need something to bandage it."
"I'm fresh out of bandages," Teak quipped."Got something in that big ol' bag on your back?"
Of course! Anna had completely forgotten about the travel bag that Elma had packed for her. She slipped the straps off and placed the bag on the floor, undoing the clasps. Her sunday dress lay neatly folded on top of the other clothes that Elma had stuffed inside.
It wasn't time to be sentimental. She knelt down next to Shireen and removed the knife that hung from the sea-girl's belt. She then pressed the tip of the knife into the fabric creating a tear, then used her hands to rip off a strip of cloth, estimating the length needed to cover Shireen's wound.
Anna gently wrapped the strip around Shireen's head, covering the gash. She then returned to her dress created several more strips of bandage; they would have to clean the wound and change the bandaging as soon as they got a chance.
Anna was repacked the travel bag, and placed it under Shireen's head to act as a pillow. Shireen groaned a little but remained unconscious. Anna might not have any official medical training yet, but she knew head injuries were could be serious.... at least for humans.
Teak wandered over the pile of rubble that blocked the tunnel and sniffed it for a few moments. "Elma did this."
"You can tell?"
"I know the smell of her magic." The teakettler sniffed some more and cocked his catlike ears in different directions. "This might have slowed the mermaids down, but they are all sorts of routes through this tunnel system. They'll find us eventually. We have to go. "
"Shouldn't we look for Elma?"
"We have to use the time Elma bought us, " Teak paused, looking very sad. "And I'm not sure she's even still alive."
An ear-piercing scream came from the corridor behind them.