A few buffalo and two of the large and very vicious reptilian predators also rushed by. One each of the buffalo and reptiles were still alive, fighting the current and struggling toward the bank. They were swept out of sight and the twins would never know their fate.
And then over the deep and steady roar of the water they heard cries for help. Their sharp eyes looked upstream and made out the forms of two Riotori thrashing against the current and fighting to simply keep their heads above the water. One was an adult, the other a large child.
The twins neither hesitated or discussed. They had been trained with uncompromising demand to react together and correctly in emergencies. They ran back downstream about fifty yards where the closest decent-sized tree stood a few yards from the bank. They uncoiled their ropes as they ran. When they reached the tree they immediately sloughed off their loads and tied their ropes around the tree and then to themselves leaving an additional length of several yards. Each one broke off a long thick branch and tied it to the end of that extra length. They had little time, and waded without hesitation into the rushing current. The river revealed a depth they had not expected; they were chest-deep in three steps and shoulder-deep in four.
It was only their strength and the powerful claws of their feet that gripped the rocky bottom of the river and kept them from being swept downstream.
The two strangers were almost upon them. Feldspar shouted at them to grab a rope as he and Gypsum hurled the ends of the ropes with the branches in front of the two and as far across the water as possible.
The adult successfully grasped Gypsum's rope and hung on. The child, though, missed her chance. Feldspar reeled in the rope and threw it again, aiming beyond her, but again she missed.
He cursed while releasing himself from the rope and attacking the water as it shoved him roughly downstream. The child continued to struggle against the force of nature. Her struggles slowed her enough that Feldspar was able to catch up.
Meanwhile, Gypsum and the adult forced their way to the shore, aided by the rope, and climbed onto the bank. The adult male was nearly exhausted from his long battle with the river and he collapsed, gasping his gratitude.
Gypsum barely heard as he cut both his rope and Feldspar's from the tree and coiled them around shoulder and elbow as he ran downstream. He could not see his brother when he started, but he soon gained enough to see Feldspar and the child.
She was perched shakily upon his neck and back, her hands clutching the larger horns on his head. Feldspar was trying to push his way to shore while seeking to get a purchase with his feet. But, although he had been able to resist the river's force when standing, the impetus of the water now kept him moving and his feet slipped and skidded along the bottom, unable to dig in.
Gypsum, though nearly at the end of his endurance, broke into a sprint and gained a slight lead while calling to his brother. Then he hurled the end of the rope, still with a branch attached, into the water directly in Feldspar's path. The older twin grasped it and hung on.
Gypsum played the rope out slowly to the current, like playing a fish on the line, and wrapped the rope around his wrists twice as it neared the end. He had slowed to a walk and was moving slower than the water. The life line taut, Feldspar and the child were slowly belayed toward the shore. Gypsum had his feet planted firmly into the sod of the bank, but the weight of the two and the pull of the water threatened to drag him along.
Then the rescued adult, still short of breath, joined him in the struggle, grabbing the rope and pulling away from the shore as Gypsum was then able to do likewise.
Finally, nearly twenty minutes after they had first spotted the need for a rescue attempt, the brothers and their new acquaintances were safely out of the water.
They all sat or lay on the ground, recovering. Three of the four intermittently retched up river water. Feldspar was even too tired to curse.
After a brief time, though, he did look at his brother and laughed sarcastically.
"We still have to cross the damn thing!"
The other three contributed half-hearted laughter of their own, and three drifted quickly into involuntary sleep. Gypsum remained awake, mostly, and tried to keep watch.