Would he do so for a magical crystal? Yes. But if he could avoid it, that would be for the better. Nerius headed in the crystal's direction, taking a slight detour to pick up his pack and tools, there was no telling how deep the crystal was buried. It didn't feel like it was above him, at least, so he wouldn't have to awkwardly climb up any more ledges. It was in the wall though, and he couldn't see it, though the stone was almost entirely covered in glowing moss. Likely a side effect of the earth crystal, he realized. He'd have to scrape some of the moss off to actually reach the crystal too, and he focused again, trying to locate the crystal as precisely as he could.
Ice wasn't paying any attention to Nerius or his crystal hunting, and was busy digging up the agate. It wasn't buried too deeply, and Nerius was still searching as she finished digging.
It was a little more to the left, and Nerius had to step around a large stalagmite pillar. With a little more searching, he was able to pinpoint it to an area of a few square feet. That was probably as good as it was going to get, for something of the magic level of a crystal. Now he just needed to scrape away the moss until he could see it, assuming it wasn't buried in the rock. He didn't have anything that for moss removal, something like a putty knife would be ideal, but he figured the chisel should would decently well. The moss liked to come off in clumps, and once he was able to scrape into it, it came off pretty easily.
The familiar, having dug up her stone already, picked up the agate in her mouth, and set it on the large mound of dripped rock that Nerius had struggled to climb earlier. She didn't have pockets, but she could stack all her finds in one place.
It didn't take long for a faint green light to be visible, peeking through the moss. Nerius grinned, acquiring a crystal was always exciting, and not having to dig though several feet of rock for it was also a bonus. He scraped off the rest of the moss, and pried it out from where it was loosely stuck in the wall. It was obviously a crystal, but he gave it a visual inspection (or was that admiration) anyway. It looked to be in perfect condition, the light wasn't flickering or dim, and there were no cracks or chips to be seen. He hadn't really expected to find anything wrong with it, but it was worth a check.
Having set down the agate, Ice went back to searching for gems. She was more interested in the stalagmites than the floor, at the moment, likely because she had found her last gem half buried inside one.
Satisfied with his examination of the crystal, Nerius put it away in one of the carry pouches he'd brought, not the one he'd been using before, but one specifically for more special finds. It was worth searching for more, though he didn't sense any at the moment, but first he needed to clean the moss off his chisel. It was pretty gross, but maybe he could wash it off in the pool.
The 'shore' was a gentle slope, and it wasn't hard for him to get down to the water. He swirled the chisel around in the pool, brushing off the stubborn bits with his hands. It was cold, but he'd expected it to be, and just served to further convince him he didn't want to go for a swim. Ice didn't like the idea of going for a swim either, and made an upset screech as she saw Nerius by the water. Why would he want to go close to that stuff?
Nerius glanced up at the noise the gem dragon was making, he'd thought maybe she'd found something important or interesting, but she just seemed unhappy he was near the water, and was making more agitated sounds. He still didn't understand why she hated it so much, but he was done cleaning the chisel anyway, and walked over to the familiar, and away from the pool.
Unfortunately, he didn't have anything to dry it with, Nerius hadn't thought that a towel would be useful for a mining trip. He decided to dry it on the side of his pants leg, not ideal, but it wasn't like his clothes weren't already damp thanks to crawling around on that ledge. He wasn't sure the chisel would air dry either, there was so much moisture in the air, and on the stone. Besides, he might forget it, and he much preferred to put it back in his pack.
Tools dealt with, Nerius decided to go back to searching the cavern. As much as Ice may have hated the water, he did want to check the shoreline, it was very possible that the water had eroded the softer rock that made up the walls and floors, and exposed harder, more valuable minerals. He expected Ice to start freaking out again, but she was back to searching as well, and it looked like she'd picked up the scent of something good. Or at least decent.
Nerius hadn't spotted anything yet, though it would have been easier with better lighting. The glowing moss gave everything an odd color, and the flashlight cast dramatic shadows over any little bump or dip. Still, he'd found things before, bad lighting or not, and he continued to search. At least there weren't a lot of stalagmites, and the shore was easy enough to navigate, even if it was a little slippery thanks to being so close to the water.
Finally, something did catch his eye, a sparkle of color that was a deeper blue than even the rest of the underwater rock. Nerius couldn't tell what it was from the shore, between the water, and being half buried in rock. It had been a bit silly to worry about drying the chisel, he realized, as he'd just have to stick it back in the water to dig up the stone. At least the stone could be reached from the shore, though he did have to roll up his sleeves so they wouldn't get soaked. The water was just as cold as it had been before, but the stone at least looked easy to remove.
While Nerius was focused on her own gem hunt, and after a bit of sniffing around, started digging into a stalagmite. It was soft stone, and her strong claws made made quick work of the stone, and it didn't take long until the sparkle of something could be seen inside.
Ice wasn't particularly thrilled by her find, there were bugs in it, and the gem dragon, like most people, didn't appreciate bugs in her food. But she kept digging, maybe there was some clean pieces further in.
After a bit of work, Nerius was able to pry the stone he was working at out of the surrounding rock, and nearly dropped the smooth stone. But the slipperiness didn't keep him from retrieving the stone; another piece of lapis, he realized. He'd found another piece earlier, and it was possible there was an actual vein of it that had run through here at one point. It was a decent find, but not enough that he was disappointed about people or creatures having dug up most the rest of it already. It wouldn't have been recently, while the surrounding stone had old damage, there was nothing too fresh, and most of it had been half covered with more dripped minerals.
Not seeing anything else in the immediate vicinity, Nerius stood back up, and continued his search. The pool took up about half the room, and shoreline was uneven, and wrapped around large pillars of dripped rock. It still looked like icing to Nerius, but that was beside the point. What was important was that the shoreline appeared to end, running into a massive stalactite pillar, and the wall. Or did it? Nerius could hear the sound of running water, and he was too far from the entrance for it to be that.
While he was searching around, Ice had been continuing to dig. She successfully excavated the buggy amber, which was now sitting on the floor, but hadn't found any she actually wanted to eat. Eh, maybe Nerius would want it, he didn't seem to care if they were edible (by gem familiar standard) or not, so Ice picked up the amber in her mouth, and headed over.
That running water was coming from somewhere, and at first Nerius couldn't find where, until he checked around the other side of the large pillar. It didn't run right up against the wall, and there was a pathway behind it, and he could see water sparkling at the end. He was about to start down the narrow path, when the gem dragon caught up to him, setting the stone on the floor and making a chirp to get his attention. He wouldn't turn down the gem, and it saved him the trouble of retrieving her before exploring.
He was almost surprised she'd learned to do this, he'd never trained the gem dragon specifically to retrieve gems for him. They had been mining together quite a lot, and gem dragons were rather intelligent, so wasn't that amazing that she'd figured out he wanted the shiny. That might be something to consider in the future, but for now he picked up the gem, and gave Ice an affectionate pet.
Now for the path. The distance between the pillar and the wall wasn't a lot, but it was enough for Nerius and the gem dragon to walk threw. It wasn't far, either, and they quickly reached a stream flowing away from the pool. The path appeared to end, at first glance, but made a sharp right, about a ninety degree angle, and followed along parallel with the stream.
Ice wasn't thrilled at having to be that close to the water, the path was rather narrow, and gave Nerius a dirty look and made an unhappy noise as Nerius started off down the tunnel. "I'm not asking you to get in the water, come here!" her aversion to water was a little ridiculous, especially since he didn't think gem dragons actually needed to breathe. Still, she grudgingly followed him, sticking as close as she could to the wall, occasionally giving the water the evil eye.
To be fair, the path was rather narrow, and only got more so the further it went, and made Nerius a bit concerned it might vanish entirely. Eventually, it got so narrow that he would have to walk sideways along it. He considered turning around, and probably would have if it continued like that, but after fifteen feet or so, the path widened back out. Another option was to go swimming, but Nerius hadn't brought a towel, and was hoping to avoid that. Which for now at least, he could, and he took off his backpack, holding it with one hand, and turned so his back was against the wall.
He was making his awkward, side step journey, when he realized Ice wasn't following, and was just standing there staring grumpily at him. Gem dragons were rather large, for mining familiars, and she didn't quite fit on the ledge, and couldn't exactly turn sideways the way Nerius had.
He wasn't quite sure what to do about that, but gem dragons could fly, even if their small wings didn't imply so. He'd try to coax her over once the path widened back out, and hopefully that would work, or he'd have to turn back around. For now though, Nerius continued to slowly side step along the narrow part of the path.
The rest of the trip didn't really take that long, but he was still happy when the path widened out again. Now to get Ice over here. He backed up far enough so she'd have room to land, and tried to call her over, "Ice, come here." She made an unhappy little scree, and didn't move. "Come here," he repeated, but the gem dragon still didn't move. "You have wings you silly thing!" He was getting a little frustrated, but it was partially his fault for never training Ice that particular command.
"Come here," he called again, not really sure what to do at this point if she didn't, but finally the gem dragon decided to cooperate. She took to the air, flying the short distance along the narrow part of the path, landing in front of Nerius. "Thank you," he patted the gem dragon, who grudgingly accepted it.
Now to keep going; Nerius put the backpack back on, and continued down the path. It didn't widen out further past this, but at least didn't seem to narrow again. Ice was thankfully willing to follow after him now, and he hoped he wouldn't run into another narrow spot and have to repeat this. He'd have to either way, on the way back, but would rather not double the process. Though, if she'd figured it out once, maybe she'd be more willing to just fly over the spots she didn't want to, or wasn't able to, in the future.