The familiar was very excited about something in the floor, though Nerius couldn't see what it was from where he was sitting. He didn't quite feel like getting back up and going over there either. It wasn't like Ice would let him forget whatever she was finding, and he left the familiar alone to take a drink of water from his canteen.
He really should get to checking over the rocks, there was a lot on them, and it might take a while. It was a much lighter task than digging them up, at least, and took out his chisel before scooping a few stones over. The pile was right next to where Nerius was sitting, so at least he didn't have to get up to reach them. The tricky part would be angling the flashlight to get a good look, he'd seen some miners with lights built into their helmets, and was missing that feature right now.
After a bit of fiddling, Nerius finally managed to prop his flashlight up with his backpack, halfway zipping it into place. It was a little awkward, but it would work for now. Next time he should remember to bring some tape, and attach his light to his helmet if needed. The first few rocks he picked up and checked over were a disappointment, nothing but dull grey stone. He debated tossing them back in the pool, but instead decided to create a second pile, if only to save someone else the trouble of digging them all up out of the water, only to have all the good ones removed. At least, he hoped he'd find all the good ones.
Ice was making good progress on her vein of mineral, she hadn't started removing it yet, but had dug away large chunks of rock from around it, leaving it fully exposed. It was decently sized, and she still had a way to go.
The next several stones Nerius looked over were all more of the same, more dull grey stone, even if they were smoother than usual, rounded out by their trip down the waterway. It didn't make them any more valuable though, and more and more were added to the reject pile. Then, for a second, Nerius thought he spotted something sparkly, but closer inspection showed it was only water. The rocks were wet, and could be deceptively shiny. Nerius sighed, and tossed the not actually shiny stone into the reject pile with a bit more energy than usual. He'd made quite the dent in the pile now, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing, as he hadn't found anything yet.
At least Ice was finding something, and she chirped every so often, looking over at Nerius to check to see he was paying attention. Yes, he knew she had something, but he had his own rock pile to deal with.
At least this part wasn't hard, looking at small rocks was much easier than digging up rocks. They may have been small, but they were heavy in a group, and Nerius was sure his arms were going to be killing him tomorrow. Honestly, he wouldn't be surprised if every muscle in his body would wind up hating him for this trip, but considering he'd already found a magical crystal, it was already worth it. His lamenting of a lack of muscle strength was interrupted by the sight of something shiny in the rock pile. There was a glimmer of color as well, so that meant it probably wasn't just water shine. He reached for this stone, pulling it closer for a better look.
Ice was still digging away at the vein of whatever she'd found, there was a lot, but most of it likely wasn't jewelry quality. She was perfectly fine with that, that meant snacks for the gem dragon.
It wasn't a dramatic color, but a better look revealed the stone was more yellow than the usual river rocks. In spots, at least, it had a rippling pattern, an agate most likely. It wasn't the most striking stone, but it was something, and Nerius put it away, before turning back to the dwindling pile, with somewhat better cheer. That made it at least somewhat worth digging up, it was a muted enough stone that he was sure he wouldn't have seen it under the water.
It was ore that the mining familiar had found, though Nerius hadn't checked on either it or the gem dragon, and Ice had managed to almost completely excavate it. It would leave a tripping hazard once the ore was removed, but that didn't even occur to Ice, and wouldn't have bothered her if it had. Nerius was still busy, and while she knew he'd want the ore, he wasn't looking, so a little nibble wouldn't hurt.
Nerius had been about to toss the rock he'd been holding, but, was it shinier than usual? It was hard to tell in the dimly lit cavern, but he was pretty sure he'd found a stone that was... something. The mottled brown stone was looked just a bit different than the other rocks, though he couldn't be sure. He'd keep in just in case, and look it over again once he got home. It was small and light, and it didn't hurt to take it. He just had a few stones left in the pile, and none of them stuck out even as questionable. Well, at least he'd found the two.
Had Ice found anything, he wondered? He'd heard the gem dragon digging away, and when he looked over to check on her, Nerius saw that she was eating something she'd dug up. He couldn't even be mad, if left unattended with a pan of brownies, he'd do the same thing.
"What did you find?" he asked, though he knew she couldn't answer, as he walked over to the gem dragon. Ice looked up, startled to be spotted, and stared back with no shame. He still couldn't be mad. Whatever it was, there clearly was a lot, as the familiar had dug a long trench across the floor. Ore, Nerius realized, although it was, oddly, pink? Rose gold had a reddish tint, but he'd never seen a metal this properly pink. Ah well, it was hardly the strangest thing in the mines, and if he'd not seen it before, maybe that meant it was rare, and valuable.
Now, how was he supposed to get it out? The gem dragon had done the heavy lifting, so to speak, but he still had to literally lift it out of the ground. The shovel, or maybe the pickaxe, would be best. It looked like she'd dug away most the surrounding rock, so he might be able to pry it up with the pick.
That was still in his backpack, the shovel was still sitting next to the water. He should probably move so it couldn't get knocked in on accident, but first he'd get the ore. Ice had done an excellent job, though she made a grumpy sound as Nerius interrupted her snack, and he was able to hook the pick around the dug out ore. It was still a little stuck in places, and part of the chunk moved as he tried to lift the pick, but it didn't come free.
That was what he'd been hoping not to have to deal with, but no such luck. He'd have to try to pry it up, which he did, with only a little success. The ore didn't have that much rock still attached, he just didn't have much in the way of muscle strength, and it was showing. He tried again, pushing on the handle with all his strength.
It moved a little, but still not enough. "I don't suppose you'd dig this the rest of the way out," Nerius glanced at the gem dragon, who just stared back. He'd not ever taught her to dig something specific on command, and she probably thought the ore was well enough dug up. And it would have been.. for someone with decent upper body strength.
For Nerius though, it was quite a bit more work, though after a minute or so of prying, finally managed to remove the ore from the rock. He was breathing harder than normal by the time he held up his prize, but it was worth it. Even if he was sure now that his muscles would hate him tomorrow, probably tonight for that matter. Now, what to do with it? There was too much to go in the small pouches he had, it would have to go in his backpack.
There was room, and after wrapping it in some rags to keep it from crashing against his equipment, Nerius put the ore in his backpack. It made it quite a bit heavier, but he'd known heavy lifting would be part of this trip. Ice had taken advantage of him being done with the trench to go back to picking around in it for remaining ore. It made a good snack for the gem dragon, but wasn't worth his time to dig up, so Nerius let her snack.
Was there anything else in this little cavern? He'd looked it over before, but decided to double check. It was a small chamber, and he suspected they'd found everything by now, there wasn't a lot of spaces for gems to be, that's why he'd started going through the rocks in the water. That had paid off, but he wasn't seeing anything else as he walked around the small cavern.
He was making a last pass on the chamber, when he sensed it. Magic. It was distant, and faint, but it was unmistakable. It was too far to still be in the chamber he was in, besides, Ice hadn't gone for it, and she was still more interested in the remaining ore. But, it couldn't have been buried in solid rock, Nerius doubted he'd be able to sense it through that much stone. So where was it?
Nerius' gaze when to the water, and he groaned. It had to be in the next chamber, through the small, mostly flooded tunnel. He'd have to go swimming, which he'd really been hoping to avoid, even with his amulet. But he wasn't going to leave behind a crystal, no matter how cold the water was likely to be. He was going to have to go completely underwater too, it wouldn't just be a little bit of wading.
He wasn't going to take his pack with him, there was no reason to get it, or most his equipment, sopping wet. He'd take the chisel though, just in case, it would be easy to carry, and easy to dry. The rest, he put with his pack, setting it down a short ways away from the water. He removed his boots as well, soaked footwear was always miserable. Should he take anything else off? He hadn't brought a towel to dry of with, so his cloths were getting wet when he put them back on anyway.
He'd keep them, Nerius decided, just in case he had to squeeze past a narrow bit, it would protect his skin from the rough stone.
Ice hadn't noticed what he was doing yet, still digging up the last bits of ore. She was sure to hate his plan, given how much she disliked water, but she wasn't going to be the one going for a dip.
Nerius decided to take off the hardhat, which would probably fall off in the water, and the gem pouches. He didn't want the latter to open up underwater and spill out. Oh, and the utility belt, he'd almost forgotten about that. It would probably be fine in the water, he just didn't want to have a soaking wet belt.
Once he'd removed everything he didn't want to take for a swim, there wasn't any more putting it off. Nerius poked a toe in the water, he'd removed his socks when he'd removed his boots, and yes, as feared, it was freezing. He had his fire node, of course, but didn't have any spells that would keep him warm under water. Huh, you know, maybe he didn't want his cloths soaked with the freezing water, and no he wasn't trying to put off getting in the water. Ice was still ignoring him, for now, though he was sure the sound of him actually getting in the water would draw her attention.
Nerius removed the rest of his cloths, minus underwear. That was staying, chilly water or not, because the course rock thing. Oww. He'd like to have some protection at least. That was a nice little delay for getting in the cold water, but all too soon, there was nothing else to be done to put it off. He couldn't really jump in, he didn't trust the tunnel enough for that, but a swift entrance might be best?
Nerius wasn't sure, but that's what he went for, and let out a hiss of breath at the sudden coldness of the water. It wasn't terribly deep, at least at the shore, but the water rose to chest height as he walked further in. The sound of his breath, along with the splashing, finally drew Ice's attention. She screeched as she saw Nerius IN the WATER. What was he doing in there? Why was he in there?!