Snap suddenly darted to the left and stood still with his tail waving wildly up and down. Leafy paused, realizing that the creature was trying to tell her something. She approached him carefully, wondering briefly if he had encountered some wild creature. She recognized quickly that Snap had instead found some gems.
“Wow you’ve done a great job today!” she praised.
She leaned down to pick up the two gems that Snap had found. He regarded her curiously as she opened her backpack and placed them carefully inside. Her backpack was beginning to become heavy, but it would be a while before Leafy had difficulty carrying it.
“We should be good to go now,” she told Snap.
Snap turned away from her, disinterested in the girl now that the gems had been hidden away. They both began to walk forward, keeping a steady pace. Snap must have realized that they were in for the long haul.
As they walked further through the tunnel, the air began to grow more frigid. It felt almost like they were walking through the inside of a mountain. Snap was lucky to be comprised of soft felt. Leafy only had her clothes to keep her warm and she hadn’t worn anything heavy enough to endure winter weather. She had on a simple hoody and a pair of leggings. Perfectly fine for coolish weather, but the second it started snowing she would likely catch a nasty case of frostbite. Snap paused for a moment as he checked their surroundings. His ears swiveled around his head as he listened for any sign of danger. Leafy stopped as well to make sure that the sound of her footsteps didn’t interfere with Snap’s scouting. After a few seconds had passed, Snap began to walk forward once again. He liked to move at the pace of a slow jog.
Snap was steadfast in his adventuring. It seemed almost methodical the way he would walk for about five minutes and then stop to check his surroundings for danger. Leafy was not nearly that diligent in her scouting. She kept her ears open and her eyes scanning for danger, but she seldom stopped moving. She would need some time to adjust to her companion’s different strategies. The walls of the tunnel soon turned into jagged stone. It was harder on her feet to walk over rough stone, but often there was chunks of precious ore hidden within stone. For now, she couldn’t see anything of value. The walls appeared to be comprised of granite and whatever types of stone that was common within the mines. Leafy hadn’t taken the time to educate herself on identifying rocks that were not valuable. She much preferred to research the different types of gems and what they sold for.
Leafy ran her fingertips across the smooth stone that crafted the walls of the tunnels. Snap’s footsteps remained silent on the hard stone, but Leafy’s boots stomped noisily across the ground. Leafy felt slightly self-conscious over the fact, but noise could help to scare away any nefarious beings that may wish her harm. On the flipside, noise could also attract those very same creatures. Snap stuck his head within a small opening of the rocks. He drew back moments later without anything to show for the exploration. It was a good habit to pick up since often there was gems hidden within the crevices. The more Snap checked them, the more likely they would be to find something valuable.
“Better luck next time,” Leafy whispered to her pet.
If Snap was eager to be silent, Leafy would do her best to do the same. She tried to keep the noise of her footsteps to a minimum as they walked.
It didn’t take them long before they hit a dead end. Leafy moved to backtrack, but Snap seemed eager to stay in the area. He looked up at her as though waiting for the girl to do something. She wondered what he expected of her. Clearly it had something to do with the surrounding area, but it would be up to the girl to figure out what that was. Perhaps it had something to do with the dead end.
“Do you want me to try and break the wall?” The girl questioned her halfbreed friend.
Snap didn’t dignify her with an answer. Instead he continued to stare blankly at the girl. Sometimes the halfbreed reminded her more of a robot than he did a living, breathing creature. She grabbed her shovel and began to tap it against the stone wall in front of her. If she could find a patch of loose rocks, perhaps she could bring it down.
Leafy jumped slightly as something fell from the wall. She thought that it was a mere rock, but Snap seemed awfully interested in it. The girl decided it must have not been an ordinary rock if Snap was obsessed with it. He pawed at it, watching as the rock skidded across the ground. It was then that Leafy realized that the rock was moving on its own. Leafy leaned down and picked up the rock before it could wander too far away. It was then that she realized that it was a pocketpet that was quite similar to a hermit crab. She stuffed it in her backpack as well, figuring that it would probably be at home among the gems that she was carrying. Snap seemed confused that she had placed a filthy, wild creature with their precious gems, but he didn’t protest the action. Instead with the creature out of sight, he returned his interest to the wall.
Leafy figured that there had to be something behind this wall. She pressed her ear up against its surface, trying to see if she could hear anything. Snap waited for her patiently to finish. The girl couldn’t hear anything in particular, but that didn’t mean there weren’t gems hidden within the wall. She grabbed her shovel once more and began to apply more pressure to the wall. Once she was confident that the wall wouldn’t fall so easily, she began to look for the weaker parts that she could chip away at. Snap stood close to one section of the wall and Leafy figured that would be the best place to start. As she drew the shovel closer, Snap backed away from the wall. Leafy figured that meant that he wanted her to investigate that area. She tapped the shovel lightly against the jagged stone before hitting it harder against the wall.
Leafy began to adjust the shovel against the stone. The shovel was a bit difficult to maneuver, but she managed to leverage it between two stone that felt loose enough to move. Snap watched intently as the girl began to yank down on her shovel. She could feel the rocks shift slightly beneath the movement, but it would require further strength for them to break free. Leafy inhaled deeply before tensing her muscles and yanking harder on her shovel handle. She could feel the rocks moving further. She dug her heels into the ground and pushed the shovel down even further. She nearly fell over when the shovel tore the two rocks free from the tunnel wall. Snap dodged out of the way as one of the rocks fell uncomfortably close to him. Leafy glanced over to make sure he was okay first before she returned her attention back to the task at hand.
Leafy began to check the wall carefully with her hands. She needed to find if there were any loose stone that she was unaware about. She didn’t want them to break loose and crush her and Snap beneath them. Snap had returned to watch her once more, deciding that the rocks that had landed near him were of little value.
“I wonder what you’re hiding,” Leafy questioned the wall.
When she came across another loosened stone, she raised her shovel once more and began to drive it through the space between the stone and the wall. She pushed the shovel up this time, sending that the weak point in the rock was closest to the bottom of it. She flung her body weight forward, nearly smacking into the tunnel wall as she felt the stone break from the wall. It landed with a loud thud and brought down a cluster of small stone alongside it.
Leafy covered her nose and mouth with the sleeve of her shirt as dust clouds swirled around them. Snap seemed unaffected by the sudden shower of dirt and it only served to get him slightly dirtier than before. Even through the sleeve of her sweatshirt, Leafy could feel the dust tickle the inside of her nose and the back of her throat.
“This is a lot of work. This had better be worth it,” Leafy told Snap.
The halfbreed remained stoic as per usual and merely shifted his body closer to the wall. He appeared to be searching for something, but Leafy could only see ordinary stone in the tunnel wall. She took her flashlight and used it to scan up and down the wall for a moment. Leafy knew her eyesight wouldn’t match that of a mining familiar in the darkness of the tunnel, but perhaps there was something she had missed before.
Another rock broke free from the wall as Leafy once more raised her shovel and struck it against the stones in front of her. This time the rock seemed to hold Snap’s interest and he carefully guarded it while Leafy finished clearing away the dirt that had rained down alongside it. Leafy wiped her brow as sweat dripped into her eyes. When that was done, she had time to walk over towards Snap and investigate what he had found.
“Looks like we’ve found some type of red ore. I’ll put it in the backpack along with everything else,” Leafy commented.
Snap stepped away to allow the girl easier access to the ore. She placed the backpack on the ground while she unzipped it and placed the ore carefully inside. It would be easier to leave it on the ground while she worked, but Leafy did not trust it to stay safe there.
The wall still loomed in front of them. It would take further effort before it became even slightly dented. For now, Leafy would be content with her progress. The wall had yielded its first treasure and she was certain there would be more to come. She traded her shovel in favour of her pick. The tool would help her chip away at the wall with less effort. She flexed her fingers before gripping the handle of the pick. It was lighter than her shovel had been and would be easier to maneuver. Snap sniffed warily at the shovel that she had placed on the ground. He settled down next to it as though he was guarding the tool. Leafy appreciated the effort, but her mining tools broke often enough and it wasn’t a huge hassle to replace them. She was glad that Snap had at least some attachment to her things.
She started by tracing the edge of the pick up the stone wall, searching for any gaps that she could widen further. The pick caught on the edge of a larger rock. This one would take quite a bit more effort than the last one had. She positioned the pick so that it was hooked into the gap she had found. Snap moved backwards, his ears pinned to his head as he anticipated the path the rock would take as it fell.
“Yeah it’s probably a good idea to stand back,” Leafy commented.
She studied the wall carefully for a moment, making sure that the removal of the one rock wouldn’t result in the collapse of the entire tunnel. Snap might be okay if there was a cave-in since he was tiny enough to contort his body between rocks, but Leafy did not have such an advantage. She needed to be careful here.