The climb is nearly impossible, but I make it to the top, exhausted with bleeding hands; the cold wind chills me almost instantly but I press on regardless of the protesting of my body. Theo’s house is over a few hills, the door off of its hinges and a snow drift invading the small hut. There is no sign of Theo but I enter quietly, the fire has long been out, the chair he was fastened to is now empty with the rope laying in a pile at the feet. I waste no time with stealth now that I know he’s gone. I ransack the house, finding spare wires, tubing, small containers of oil and the green-yellow coolant; I find a bag, fill it, and snag the rope before dragging it to the hole a few hills away. I tie the rope to the handles and begin to lower it down, its considerable weight fighting me the whole way, I reach the end of the rope and drop it, hoping it didn’t fall far. I quickly and clumsily climb down to find only a few bottles had burst open, I drag what I need to where Avlii rests, the sun is setting and the fire is dying.
I quickly add more fuel to the fire before forcefully pushing Alvii onto its stomach. I can see the arrow shaft inside the narrow bore hole made by the point, I can’t pry it out with my bare hands and the looming darkness is not helping. Stupid Alvii, stupid, stupid… me. I sigh and pull away, Alvii will have to wait till tomorrow when it is light. I don’t want to leave it at that, but I can’t help when I can’t see. I reluctantly crawl into my tent and lay back on the cold stone, my thin bedroll doing little to keep me warm. Its hours before my eyes finally close and even then it feels like moments before I open them again to find it it light. I quickly crawl out and set to work on Alvii.
The arrow is lodge in its back, I can’t get it out without tools so instead I look for a way to remove the whole back plate, it comes apart fairly easy when I find the screws holding it in place and a rock that can fit in the slots. I pull it off and set it aside, the remaining arrow shaft is perfectly placed for me to grab it. With a gentle tug the shaft dislodges and pulls out, I toss it aside while looking at the damage. Wires are cut, tubes sliced opened, it doesn’t look good. I work on the wires first, using the same rock that unscrewed the plate to strip away the insulation on the severed pieces and short lengths of new wire. I use the new to connect the old, causing a soft hum to start up a- hopefully- good sign. Next is the tubing, I take smaller pieces and wedge them into the tubing one side at a time, carefully pouring oil into the ones leaking the dark liquid and the coolant into the other before forcing the ends together. The humming grows louder as I hastily put the back plate on and turned Alvii over. Its eyes don’t light up, I wait for half the day but nothing happens.
I give up and begin packing, intent on leaving as soon as I can to reach home before they think I’ve died. I leave the tent up and stoke the fire, ready for another night in the darkness. I wake the next day, the hum has stopped but Alvii is still lifeless. I silently pack my tent and shoulder it before crossing to the stone wall and beginning my climb up to the surface. I’ve never felt like such a failure.