he man, a Cousin Jack, lost his left hand in the explosion and bled to death before they could raise him to the surface. Niklas was working further down the drift when the accident occurred. He heard the percussive rumble of the blast, and his mood lifted in anticipation: the blast meant his shift was nearly over. They blasted at the end of each shift to loosen rock for the next crew. Niklas straightened, his back a hard knot of pain, and for a moment the mine seemed almost beautiful: particles of ore shimmered through the candlelight. Then Niklas heard the pop of a lone powder charge. A hoarse shout. More shouts, and Niklas let his sledge fall and stared up the drift toward where the shouts were echoing.