It seemed like a bad idea to take a baby Felusine into the mines, but Leafy had done it often enough and nothing bad had happened to any of the offspring yet. Naieth was experienced enough to protect them from anything unusual. Adder was a bit of a special case. She had no experience with a Felusine with the ability to speak her own language. Of course, she was still a baby and would not be able to have a proper conversation for a long time. For now, Leafy would do her best to try and teach the baby the words that the girl knew. Which should be a lot of words. Leafy had been speaking the common language her entire life so she figured she knew it well enough to teach.
“We are going mining!” Leafy declared, trying her best to speak out loud for once.
Adder blinked up at her from the safety of the girl’s arms. There was suspicious about their surroundings, but the little Felusine was not experienced enough to even start to identify what that was. Leafy wondered if the Felusine was simply nervous about being underground for the first time. It would take a while before she was comfortable.
Naieth traveled ahead of them, knowing that it would be critical for her to keep an eye out for danger. Adder was quiet as she watched her surroundings intently. Leafy wondered if she would be better off trying to bond with the baby Felusine, but she figured that Adder would be perfectly content to simply be carried around everywhere.
“It might be dark in the mines, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary,” the girl commented.
It was a bit strange to say things out loud. Her and Naieth had been mining partners for so long that most of their work was done in comfortable silence. Leafy always felt weird when she spoke to something that couldn’t technically speak back. Often she liked to guess what her pet’s responses would be and since there was no way to contradict them, she treated these responses like they had actually happened.
Leafy wondered if she should be trying to teach the small Felusine some words. The girl snapped her fingers to catch the baby’s attention. She then pointed to herself.
“Leafy!” she exclaimed as she gestured to herself.
Adder looked at her, only half paying attention. She knew that it would take a while before Adder even began to learn what words were.
For now, Leafy decided that maybe it would be best if she referred to herself in the first person. It might make it a little easier for Adder to learn the girl’s name at the very least. Naeith appeared almost amused at their interaction. Leafy was unsure that the mining familiar actually felt much in the way of emotion however. Adder seemed to be growing more used to the mines with each step. The Felusine did have a lot of abilities and moves centered around darkness. Leafy figured that was also serving to help with the adjustment.
“We won’t be doing much in the way of actual mine work. I don’t think I can handle all that much while carrying a baby Felusine everywhere.”
Naieth nodded to show that she understood the girl and set off a little further ahead. Leafy trusted the mining critter to find the best suited path for them. Adder squirmed a little as the trio turned around a corner. She angled herself so that she had a clear view of the path ahead.
“We are in a cave right now,” Leafy gestured around them. “Cave. This is a cave.” She tried to enunciate the word as best as she could.
Naieth began to turn down a path that Leafy was already familiar. It would certainly make it easier on the girl to watch Adder if she already knew where they were. Naieth was certainly smart like that. Adder was watching their surroundings intently now, trying to figure out what everything was. Leafy figured that she ought to help the tiny creature out by naming the things they saw.
“We are walking through the cave,” she said. She wondered if the little Felusine would even understand what walking was when the creature was not actually walking herself.
Perhaps it would be helpful if Leafy could find something like a gem that would actually be interesting to the Felusine. For now, she would continue to point out the things that she could actually see. Most of which was limited to dirt and rocks. She kicked one of the larger rocks and watched it roll against the ground.
“That’s a rock!” Leafy stated as she pointed at the object.
Naieth glanced back briefly, checking to make sure Leafy had only kicked a rock and not a gem by accident. When the mining familiar was certain it was a simple rock, she allowed Leafy to continue to play with it.
The light in the tunnels gradually began to diminish. Leafy twisted her neck around so she could unzip the backpack that was slung across her shoulders. She felt around the inside of the fabric until her fingers closed around the cool metal of the flashlight. It was a little awkward to hold onto both the flashlight and Adder, but Leafy figured she would be able to make it work.
“This is a flashlight!” Leafy made sure she told Adder what it was she was holding.
It was certainly a lot different teaching Adder words than it was to teach them to her other pets. Naieth had sort of figured out what everything was by observation. She and Leafy had worked together for so long that it was almost natural for her to figure out Leafy’s language. Naieth was also incredibly smart. She figured that Adder must have been smart too since she was able to learn how to talk.
“You are Adder,” Leafy said after remembering that she should probably at least teach Adder what she was called.
They walked like that for a little longer with Leafy babbling words and Adder sleepily listening to her. All while Naieth led them further into the tunnels.
There was certainly something calming about exploring a cavern that she had already been in before. Perhaps it was the familiarity that put her at ease. Naieth seemed a lot more relaxed as well. She wasn’t checking every nook and cranny for some treasure. Instead she was simply enjoying the stroll.
“Did you know that there are other creatures that live in the mines?” Leafy asked Adder despite knowing that the Felusine wouldn’t respond to the question. “In fact, I know that some of them even eat the gems that they find here.”
Adder tilted her up at the sound of Leafy’s voice. The girl wondered if her words were starting to make sense to the small creature or if she was simply responding to the noise. She didn’t mind if Adder simply liked the sound of her speaking. But it would be nice if the creature was actually learning to understand her. But Leafy wasn’t about to put money down on it.
“Have you even tried to make a sound? I don’t think I’ve heard you even yip or bark. Are you even going to do that or will you just end up speaking words?” Leafy was certainly curious about her companion.
Adder didn’t respond as per usual, but Leafy was already used to that fact. Naieth’s glowing body was a sight that Leafy relied on to lead her through the tunnels. Even though Leafy was vaguely familiar with her surroundings, she knew that Naieth had each twist and turn memorized.
“That is Naieth over there,” Leafy pointed at the mining familiar as she spoke.
She wondered if Adder could even grasp the concept of a name yet. She knew they would need to get that established if she was going to move onto other words. After all, most words were just names for things. Maybe even all words were.
“If you listen closely you can hear water,” Leafy remarked after a few minutes of walking.
Leafy knew from past trips that there was an underground stream that ran behind the tunnel walls. She had looked for the source of it before, but had yet to find it. Perhaps that would be a good goal for them for now.
“Naieth do you think you could lead us to that stream?”
The mining familiar considered her words for a moment before nodding in affirmation. Of course it might take a bit of hard work from the girl.
Leafy knew that if the stream didn’t have a direct access point she would be the one that would need to make one. She one of her hands drew up towards her shoulder and felt for the shovel that was slung across it. She hoped it would suffice. She didn’t feel much like using the pick today. Using a shovel was at least manageable in terms of workload. Of course, the ideal situation would be if she didn’t need to use it at all.
“Let’s hope the stream is at least interesting,” she commented.
Naieth dipped her head in agreement. Leafy wondered if the mining familiar found fun in their expeditions or if she was more concerned with satisfying some type of inner curiosity. Adder she knew was simply along for the ride. Adder squirmed in her arms and for a moment Leafy was wondering if she should put the baby Felusine on the ground. When the squirming didn’t stop, that’s exactly what Leafy did.
“Now don’t wander away from me,” Leafy warned.
The Felusine stumbled slightly as she stood up. Naieth fluttered her wings as she watched. Leafy wondered what her thoughts were at that very moment. Did she feel like a babysitter?
Leafy knew that Naieth was really limited in the type of emotions she felt. And by that she meant that she was fairly certain that the creature didn’t feel emotions at all. It made her an excellent mining partner since she was logical and would not quake with fear at the first sign of danger.
“You would probably run away,” she murmured to Adder.
She liked to think that Naieth actually loved her, but she could only say for certain that the creature saw something of value in her. Adder she knew would grow to love her, but mining familiars were mostly pure logical creatures. It would be something she could never understand. After all, she could hardly imagine living without her emotions. Adder was growing steadier on her feet and Leafy figured it would be fine if she started walking forward as well.
“I bet we’re going to turn left up ahead,” Leafy whispered to Adder, trying to ensure that Naieth didn’t hear her.
Leafy knew her ears were more sensitive than most people’s and she prided herself on this fact. This also meant she could say with some certainty where the source of the water was. Naieth would know better than she did however.
Finding water could be an extremely difficult task as well. Leafy was glad she wasn’t relying on it for her survival in that particular moment. Then the pressure would have been really on. Adder stuck her nose in the air and inhaled deeply. The girl wondered if the Felusine could smell moisture in the air.
“We are looking for the stream.”
She wondered if it helped Adder understand what was going on if she voiced everything out loud. At the very least it made Leafy feel more confident in her own actions. Naieth fluttered her wings as though she was deep in thought. They turned around another bend in the tunnel and began to head back in the direction they had already come. It was still an entirely new tunnel however.
“I haven’t actually been here before,” she said to Adder.
Maybe this meant that there was a direct way to access the stream they were looking for. Leafy paused for a moment and listened. The sound of the stream was certainly louder. Adder flicked her tail back and forth as she tried to concentrate on the noise. Naieth was the first to start walking again and Leafy herded Adder forward to follow.
Leafy felt almost odd as she traversed the usual entrance to the mineshaft she had decided as her own. It was the first time in forever since she had decided to mine without her faithful companion Naieth. She felt almost as though she was betraying her trusted friend. Instead, she had opted to take along a brand-new companion for some mining experience. Snap was a crossbreed descended from Naieth’s very own DNA. Snap was nestled in her arms as the girl carried him through the entrance. His head was lifted in interest and his ears were pricked forward in a dog-like fashion. There was little doubt that he would be at home on their expedition. Snap wiggled slightly as he contemplated whether he wanted down or not. He was still a bit too wary to fully want down, but Leafy was convinced that the moment they came across some gems he would be much more comfortable with the entire ordeal.
The tunnel she turned down first was much darker than the rest of them. Between Snap’s bioluminescence and her own flashlight, the darkness shouldn’t have been an issue at all. Of course, that sort of logic also required Leafy to be adept enough to watch her own footing in the limited light. She resolved to be careful enough to not trip over any loose rocks. She kept her gaze fixed firmly on the ground, making sure to lift her feet high enough that the terrain had little effect on her balance. She knew she was leaving herself open to an aerial attack, but in the limited space she had doubts that something could sneak up on her from above. At worst she might have a stray spider land on her head. Not ideal but she didn’t think spiders were that dangerous. Snap at the very least could probably fight a spider.
Snap finally had enough of being carried and squirmed free from Leafy’s grasp. The girl felt a sense of loss as the soft creature landed on the ground. She had liked the feeling of Snap’s soft fur against her skin. The girl gripped her flashlight tighter as she tried to focus on other sensations to ease the sudden coldness that chilled her body. Snap appeared at ease in the new environment. He was silent as he moved as though he knew the exact areas to place his feet to make the least amount of noise. It was impressive since two of his toes on each foot was comprised of crystals. Whenever Leafy placed crystals in her backpack they clanked and crashed very loudly. Snap lifted his tail to keep it from brushing up against any rocks accidentally. Leafy felt almost like she was the student and Snap was teaching her the proper way to move.