Cunning: 3 Average Top Speed: Dog Special Requirements: This creature grows loyalty at 2x the normal rate. Stamina: 1 Strength: 0 Resistance: 0 Dexterity: 2 Mentality: 2 Special Abilities: None Moves: Nip
Gem drakes were small, stubby-legged, and as far as she could tell, made of literal crystal. For all of that, Haix found herself sprinting to keep up with the her as he waddled furiously uphill until he came across a mid-sized cave entrance, nearly bent double as she tried to keep a hold of her bundle of supplies and not lose sight of the amethyst gem drake. Yelling at him to stop as his tail almost seemed to wave before disappearing into the shadows, she arrived at the cave entrance a few seconds later, stopping at the threshold to readjustment her bundle and catch her breath.
He was there, waiting as she finished fussing around with the bundle, retying it after checking its contents to be sure nothing had fallen out. Losing supplies, even the scraps of food she intended to make a meal of later, would be far too costly with how few credits she had to her name. Especially considering that this trip was supposed to make credits, not lose them.
The contest had seemed like a good idea at the time, all the way up to the discovery of how few credits she actually had on hand. She had plenty of time to find something worth selling for the twenty-five credits that were being offered though, which meant there would be no problem. Assuming she managed to find anything valuable, but that was what the gem drake was there for. And who knew, maybe she'd find her own creature to enter, perhaps the only one entered, and she would get to keep the credits.
Regardless of that thought, she still had to make the credits first. She waved Walker on with a chirp, and he moved much more in line with his name as they moved away from the circle of light at the cave mouth. With the flashlight on, she kept up with him easily, ducking at first beneath overhanging clumps of roots, then stone as they left the surface of the hill behind.
It was doubtful there would be anything of particular interest hiding beneath the earth, at least not so deep that the only real food source was living rocks like Walker. She had heard rumors of other things that lurked under the ground, and having never encountered any herself as far as she knew, she hoped that her little contest might prove that there were things worth hunting in the dark. Not that Walker would be too useful if such creatures happened to find them first, but she neither planned to delve too deep that nor start screaming challenges to the shadows beyond her light on this trip. Credits came first this day.
With that thought, she flicked down the light to Walker, almost disappointed that he had yet to stop and investigate any promising patches of dirt. With his earlier excitement, she had half-expected to make the twenty-five credits the second she turned the first bend. Instead, there was nothing but stone and dirt, not even a glint of moisture to get her hopes up.
When Walker did stop, it was only for a moment where the tunnel split in two. Of the two, one was roughly half the size of the other, a comfortable height for a creature such as him. The tip of his beak-like mouth pointed one way, then the other, almost as if he was sniffing the air for gems like a vulticus might sniff out meat, then he proceeded down the smaller of the two tunnels without a glance back at his larger companion, tail swaying behind him.
Clenching her jaw, she removed the sack from her back, cradling its' bulky shape in her arms as she tried to keep the flashlight pointed down the new tunnel. She moved after the gem drake in a half-crouch, back bent to avoid scraping her spikes against the low ceiling. That evolved into a full crouch, then Haix was reduced to simple shoving the bundle along the rocky floor as she crawled after him.
Crawl and shove, then press part the bundle down to flash the beam of light to ensure Walker was still there, then crawl and shove again. The tools caught on the walls of the tunnel several times, Haix barking for Walker to stop as she would pull the pick-ax back an inch to free the pick portion, or shift the shovel so that the thick burlap fabric would nor catch and tear where it pinched it between itself and some chunk of rock. Other than the supplies being reluctant to move, she found it surprisingly easy to worm her way through the tunnel, twisting and pushing her way through and hoping she would not have to leave the same way.
It was when the tunnel began to widen, when she was able to crawl again rather than attempt to slither on rough stone, that the sack caught once more, and this time, no amount of shoving and pulling would make it move.
The sack of supplies blocked her from moving forward, wedged in so tight that no amount of pushing could shift it, and the knot that held it closed was on the side of the gem drake. She could not turn herself around in the confines of the tunnel to go back, nor did she wish to attempt the crawl backwards any more than she would want to leave Walker and the supplies behind. Switching off the flashlight and laying it down in front of the bag, she began to run her claws over the outside of it, lightly testing for a rip or seam to hook her claws into.
While she did that, she belatedly called out to Walker, then promptly forgot about him as she failed to find any damage in the fabric to exploit. She would just have to keep tearing at it then, and hope enough of it was intact to carry the tools out.
Right before she could begin tearing at her sack of supplies, there came a scratching noise of claws on rock. Not of claws lightly tapping the surface of the stone that she had become so familiar with as she dragged herself after her familiar, but the sound of rock being chipped and broken, of it being torn apart as she planned to do to her bag. The sound was muffled, coming from the other side of the stuck bag, which led her to believe Walker had either finally found the perfect place to dig, or he was potentially being ground up by another familiar for the gems of his body.
Which reminded her that she was indeed stuck in a small tunnel, unable to defend her tail anymore than she could conjure twenty-five credits out of the air. With a hiss, she shoved at the bag again and again, wedging her body in place as firmly as she could. If Walker had found a gem, she would want it. And if he was being ground up between another familiar's jaws, she intended to snag at least a small piece of gemstone from his remains.
The bag came free with a rasp of metal on stone, falling upon a very startled Walker. He had heard the call, tried to make his way back, only to find it blocked by a wall of whatever the stuff was. He had tried to dig under it rather go through it, and, as he had carved out a small hollow around a shiny bit of metal, the entire thing came crashing down on him, shoving him a foot back. With a rumble of annoyance, he struggled out from under it and sullenly glared at it.
Which he was still doing, ready to snap at it should it attack him once more, when a beam of light poked out from the side of it, accompanied by a chirp. He turned his back on it and continued his walk, picking up the pace as he glanced over his shoulder time to time to see that the thing kept it's distance.
From that point on, the tunnel only grew taller and a little wider, so that eventually Haix was able to sling the bag of supplies over her shoulder and walk upright once more. She made a mental note to never wander down such a narrow tunnel again, annoyed at how helpless she might have been should something have decided she was prey. She called a halt to stretch out her limbs and look over the tools for any damage the journey might have caused, but they all looked satisfactory under the light of the flashlight. She also took a swig of water, unaware of just how thirsty she had been until the water hit her dust-covered tongue.
She did not linger there too long, wanting to find whatever it was that Walker was walking to and get her credits. With one last gulp of water, she bundled back up her supplies and retied the bag and continued after the gem drake.
She heard the sounds before they reached the final bend, gurgling and light sloshing as if they were approaching the belly of some giant beast. The thought of the hill being some great beast that she was to tear apart from within, to steal from its flesh some small bauble that would pain it as she tore it free, amused her to the point that she did not immediately notice the other two tunnel mouths leading into the small cave she had just stepped into. While Walker avoided the stream that twisted its way through the cave, swirling around jagged teeth of the earth before disappearing beneath a wall, Haix lay down the bundle in a relatively dry spot, and went to investigate the the two tunnel mouths.
Neither had much that could be seen of them from withing the cave, even with the beam of light probing at them, but Haix could almost swear she felt a breeze coming from the larger of the two.
There was a brief moment that she held the beam of light on Walker, his body glittering as though the light was trapped within him rather than being shone on him, and she stared as he settled down with his back to her, claws scratching away at a glistening wall. Haix investigated the room for a little bit, going so far as to jab her shovel into the stream to determine that it was only a few feet deep, though it moved swiftly enough to nearly jerk the shovel free of her grasp.
Laying the shovel to rest against one of the walls to dry off, she crouched down next to the rest of the tools. It took he but a moment to snatch up a length of coarse rope, similar to the one that she used to tie the bag shut, make a few loops and knots so that it dangled like a noose from the way she had come in, albeit much closer to the ground than one would expect a noose to be useful. She doubted anything would emerge from that tunnel, much less be caught by such a simple snare, but it made her feel a little less bored by the prospect of what she was about to do.
Unlike Haix, who was looking between her pickax and shovel as if they were conspiring against her, Walker had been busy from the moment they had stepped foot in the cave. There was something here, some sort of draw, which usually meant some delicious gems would be found at some point beneath his claws. Even when Haix joined in the excavation with the ringing of metal and shattering of stone, he did not look away from his dig. It had been a long day so far, and many longer ones before it where he had not even been underground. He would not waste his chance to get something shiny and wonderful, and perhaps he would get to even eat it.
Haix on the other had had to force herself to keep her attention on the wall, to ignore the snare hanging forlornly in the tunnel. Swinging the pickax was hard enough even when she gave it her full attention, her swings sometimes glancing off with a tortured screech of metal.
One very good reason for a pickaxe to make a screech would be due to a very hard metal vein being hit; those screeches could definitely be heard to be different from the ones the pickaxe was making just a second ago. Elsewhere, a mineral could be located.
It took a few more swings of the pickax before Haix paused her assault the the wall, her arms numb from the impacts. She had never realized just how strong the stone walls of the mines were, or how little strength she must have left in her arms that the gouges she had at first torn easily into the walls had grown shallower. Dropping her pickax , and with a quick look to confirm that the snare still hung in place, she crouched down by the rest of her tools to look them over. She pondered over her selection a little longer than necessary, rubbing feeling back into her sore hands before reaching for the mallet and pick.
Walker had began to slow his digging in response to some sense unknown to the lizard, carefully breaking the tough stone of his small pit before sweeping the debris away with his claws. There was something there, not something particularly wonderful, but something none the less.