Leafy was meant to be teaching Snap but it felt like the small creature already knew everything there was to know about the mines. Perhaps his familiar instinct was innate within him. Mining felt as natural to him as breathing was to her. Hopefully this meant that he would be able to find gems with ease. Leafy wasn’t going to pretend that the pretty gemstones weren’t the entire purpose of mining. Spending time with her pets was nice and all, but money was a great incentive to do so. Snap scuttled his way over the uneven surface of the ground. Compared to him, Leafy had a lot more trouble navigating the rocky ground. Her hiking boots felt heavy and she wished she could take them off and move silently like Snap could. She knew though that doing so would open herself up to injury. Her toes weren’t made of crystals after all.
Snap stopped suddenly, with his head pressed close to the ground. Was he smelling for something? Leafy wasn’t even sure if he could smell. She was pretty sure he didn’t eat which made her even less certain about what biological components he was comprised of. As far as she could tell, he appeared to be living fur. Almost like a smart stuffed animal. She wanted to lean down and run her fingers through his fur, but it seemed like it would be a mistake to break his concentration. After all she did want him to become well acquainted with the mines. Perhaps she should help him. She took her flashlight and began to shine it up and down the crevices in the tunnel walls. If there was anything hidden within them her light would surely catch it. She listened closely for any rustling that would indicate the presence of wild animals hiding in the tunnel.
Leafy’s flashlight caught the reflection of a gemstone. She grinned as she approached the crevice the reflection had come from. Snap followed her, suddenly interested in what the girl had discovered. He took initiative as he crawled up close to the tunnel wall. He hesitated for just a moment which made Leafy feel slightly better that he wasn’t an all-knowing mining familiar. She waited for him to get comfortable at the prospect of exploring an unknown crevice within the wall. Snap gathered up his courage and pressed forward, his head disappearing as he went to investigate what had caught the girl’s attention. It didn’t take him long to drag back a green gemstone back into sight. He dropped it in front of Leafy, waiting for her to do something with his find.
“Wow that’s serpentine, what a great find!” The girl praised her halfbreed companion.
Snap looked as delighted as a creature made from fur could appear to be.
The serpentine was cool to touch, and it made Leafy shudder as she her hand made contact with it. Snap watched intently as the girl rubbed the gem against the fabric of her shirt and then placed it carefully into her backpack.
“It should be safe in here. It’s easier to keep an eye on our finds when they’re kept in a single place,” Leafy commented.
Snap appeared to settle as he accepted that Leafy had chosen a safe place to store the precious gem. Leafy knew mining familiars could be quite protective over treasure found in the mines and she was glad that Snap appeared to trust her judgement over what to do with the stone. He took one last glance at her backpack before treading forward, intent on finding some more gems. He was eager to explore and Leafy was glad she could embark on this first trip with him.
The tunnel was gradually growing wider as they continued. Snap seemed slightly uneased with the widening area. She figured he would probably be more at ease in areas that had more places for him to hide. Leafy knew that the wider caverns could be daunting even for her. Snap stuck close to her legs as they walked. He made sure to brush his soft fur against her every few steps, ensuring that she had not abandoned him within the mines.
“Open spaces can be good for us to explore as well. Sometimes the creatures in the mines like to leave their hordes of gems out in the open. I’m pretty certain some of them think that no creature would challenge them for their gems. And if they are challenged, the wild mining familiars are arrogant enough to believe that they will win.”
Snap raised his head at the sound of her voice, taking some comfort in her soft-spoken words.
Snap stopped frequently as they walked forward. Leafy knew he was still figuring out the best way to traverse around sketchy footing and remain safe. He would learn all of the basics to mining with experience, but he seemed like a natural at it already.
“It’s okay if you fall sometimes. I’ll be here to make sure you’re safe. I’m sure you’ll do the same for me as well!” She smiled sweetly at the small familiar.
It was important to build trust with new mining companions. She didn’t want Snap to get frightened away from her. It would be very difficult to find him if he disappeared in the large space. She could only hope that he felt enough of a desire to return to her. She wondered if Snap felt any sense of loyalty to Naieth. She was technically one of his parents even if she hadn’t really raised him.
Snap’s bioluminescence certainly made it easier to see the terrain around them. Of course the tradeoff for this was that the two of them were easily seen. It was a double-edged sword, but Leafy was confident enough in her own abilities to keep them safe. Relying on Snap to fight would be very foolhardy. He was a small creature with no proper training. They would need to rely on Leafy’s wits to get them through any fights they might find themselves in.
“We could try digging, but I don’t really have the stamina to keep it up for very long. Maybe for now it’s best if we keep moving and trying to find any gems that might be laying out in the open. Sometimes creatures drop them.”
Snap paused to listen to her words and took the time to scour the dirt for anything of interest. Leafy was pleased with how quickly he was learning.
Scattered in the middle of the cave floor was a small stash of gemstones. Leafy saw them first as her flashlight caught their reflection. She gestured towards them, trying to draw Snap’s attention over to the small gem pile.
“Let’s see what we have here!” The girl exclaimed.
She allowed Snap to approach the gems first, hoping that he would get accustomed to what they looked like. The girl could recognize the small multi-coloured stones as multigems since she was well acquainted with them. The other orange gemstone she had a little more difficulty identifying. She eventually settled on jasper.
“Now I’ll just clean the dirt off of them and then put them in the backpack with the other gem,” she commented to Snap.
The small halfbreed watched her curiously as the girl diligently rubbed the gems on the fabric of the shirt. The motion was almost like a treasure finding ritual now.
After placing the gems in her backpack, Leafy zipped it closed and slung it back over her shoulder. She always liked having the backpack with her since it made carrying treasure a lot easier. Most of the wild creatures in the mines had to stash their gems in strange places to prevent them from being taken. That did little to prevent Leafy from stealing all the stashed gems that she could find.
“I suppose it only helps them hide from each other,” she mused aloud.
Snap perked up at the sound of her voice. He was still skittish in the unfamiliar area and Leafy noted that her voice made him feel a lot more at ease. Leafy drew closer to the center of the cavern, trying to see all of the branching tunnels that they could choose from. She didn’t want to pick anything too dangerous. After all, Snap was still inexperienced.
There were three promising tunnels that all felt equally viable to Leafy. There were no telltale signs of danger that wouldn’t normally bother Leafy, but with Snap tagging along she knew she needed to be wary of them.
“Is there a tunnel you would like to go through?” Leafy questioned the small halfbreed.
He didn’t appear to understand her question. Which was reasonable considering they hadn’t been mining partners for very long. These things took a lot of time to establish. It was a little bit frustrating to be the experienced one in the mines since she could usually rely on Naieth to help her out. Leafy wasn’t going to complain too much. It was a little exciting to explore the mines with a new pet. Snap decided to take initiative like Leafy had asked even if he was doing it of his own accord. He approached the tunnel that was closest and darted through.
Leafy hurried up after Snap, not trusting him to explore on his own quite yet. He was a quick mover when he had more confidence and Leafy found herself out of breath as she tried to keep up with him. She hoped he would come across something to distract him and stop him in his tracks, but for now Leafy was stuck moving at an awkward jogging pace.
“You might want to slow down there, Snap.”
Her voice seemed to serve as the distraction she needed, and the creature thankfully slowed down just long enough to accommodate her. She wondered briefly if Snap’s species was a more solitary type, but he seemed to like her well enough. If her presence really did bother him, he would have left her in the dust long ago. He was just a little over-eager right now. Besides, she was the one carrying all of the cool treasures they had found.
The tunnel that Leafy and Snap found themselves in appeared to be very standard. It was a little smaller than typical, but Leafy didn’t feel particularly bothered by small spaces. Snap was also tiny enough that the tunnel probably appeared quite large to him.
“Keep your eyes peeled for anything interesting,” the girl remarked.
Snap’s gaze followed hers as the two of them scanned the tunnel walls for treasure. Her flashlight failed to catch anything of value and the two headed forward instead. It would be pointless to stay in an area that didn’t have treasure. Leafy used her hiking boots to spread dirt around as they walked. If there was anything hidden beneath their feet, she was certain her strategy would be bound to find it! Her strategy relied on things being buried only shallowly. It would be pure madness to dig any deeper with just the heavy boots on her feet.
It would be quite easy to trip over the hunk of silver sticking out of the floor of the cave not far off if one wasn't too careful. Very close to it, a deep blue gem gleams brightly; just waiting to be found.