Not that any gems were worth that much now. With diamonds and the like suddenly worth less, she wasn’t sure she would shatter him even if he was made of the magical crystal types. He was worth more at least pretending to be a useable mining familiar. “Not that I think you have lost your touch.” she said, straightening up. “I’m sure there’s at least one shiny little stone hiding away in the wall that the others missed. After all, black saran tails do look like they’re built for smashing stones to bits.”
She walked back to the cart, stepping around the pup locked in his life or death struggle with the squeaky bone. With the constant stream of squeaksqueaksqueak, she was starting to think she might regret having purchased a toy that squeaked for the pup. As she pulled out a pair of earplugs she had meant to wear while bashing things with the pickaxe, she decided it would not be so bad.
She jammed the earplugs into her ears, the squeaking now a sound that she had to focus on to even notice, then plopped the hard hat onto her head. Some protection in the mines would go a long way. 166
She had always been lucky enough to avoid the worst of the dangers of the mines. Sure, there had been a few cave-ins, and more than one person had come after her, but nothing ever came of those misadventures but a story to tell when the night duty was long and the criminals slept. That did not mean she would not wear the pretty floral pattern hat. In fact, despite the rest of her outfit being browns and creams of someone expecting to get covered in dirt, she was rather happy to have the silly little hat. She could be pretty as she worked in the mines, like all those kids in the mining pamphlets seemed to be.
The pickaxe was pulled free of the other tools, and she rested the upper part of polished wood on her shoulder as she looked around the room. The room was small, smaller than her bedroom, but she wanted to pick a spot that was not so near the pup that she risked showering him with stones. And she certainly did not want to cause Walker’s slowly growing tunnel to collapse on him. Or to cause the bubble of stone they all stood in to pop and bury her beneath the mountain. 167
Stepping past the puppy, who was on his back now with one of the rubber bone ends resting on the ground, “Really, Yer gonna lose to the chewbone? You are a special one,” she moved to the wall riddled with holes. Walker had tried to walk into one of them, so they could not have been completely depleted of precious stones, right? She turned back to look at her pets, the puppy answering her with the faint squeak of his red toy bone, Walker continuing his dig as though she had asked nothing. She turned back to the wall with a sigh, considering picking up one of the talking pets the old labs had pushed out, “Something that can at least pretend to hold up the other side of a conversation. Maybe I’ll find a smart mining crossbreed.”
When neither responded to that either, Alma shook her head. When the helmet did not fall off at the motion, she took a step back, and swung at the wall. The head of the pickaxe slid into one of the small tunnels, missing her chosen spot by several inches, and she had just enough strength to stop the wooden handle from doing more than clack loudly against the edge of the tunnel. 168
“Would have been a great way to start the trip, aye pup? Going through all that bouncin’ just to break my tools and have to go back an’ get’m fixed.” She had not noticed the squeaking had stopped until she looked back at the pup, his rope stretched out as far as it could go towards the mouth of the tunnel they entered from. He was shivering, and she could see the whites of his eyes as he pulled against the knot around his neck. She stared at him, confusedly glancing back at the tunnels behind her to see if some beast had slithered out of them while she looked at the pup, but the holes were as empty as before. A glance at Walker showed the gem drake to have none of the reaction the pup had, and it took a few more seconds before she lifted the pickaxe in realization. “Oh. Bit loud for you, pup?” she asked him kindly, but the pup kept as far as he could from her and the pickaxe.
Grumbling a little, as much at the silly pup as for her own stupidity in scaring the poor little guy, she put the pickaxe back into the cart and bent down to retrieve the slobber-covered toy. 169
It squeaked obligingly, and she waved it in the direction of the pup. “Look, it’s the squeaker bone. Don’t you wanna squeaksqueak some more?” She took a few steps closer to the pup before dropping down into a crouch, her knees reminding her that she had been in a very painful cart ride only a little while before. She waved the toy around in the air like it was a fish in a current, squeaking it randomly as she tried to coax the pup to come a little closer. “It’s your favorite, well, only toy. Look, I’m sorry about the noise. Forgot something like a vulticus would not appreciate loud noises anymore than I would. Don’t have any earplugs for you though.” Alma shrugged, and kept moving the toy, now dragging it back and forth across the ground as the houluh’s shakes grew less pronounced, and he began following the toy’s moment with his head. “I’ll use something else. Maybe train you to be okay with the loud, I dunno. Did not bring a ton of treats for training.” Squeaking merrily away, she watched the pup slowly drop his front end to the ground. “That’s right, come on and get your toy. I’ve got my own stuff, and Walker doesn’t care about anything that’s not a crystal.” The gem drake in question looked up at his name, then resumed his digging. 170
The pup still hesitated, butt in air as he tracked the movement of the squeaky bone. “C’mon, you fluff butt,” she wheedled, “just take the toy and have fun with it so I can get back to mining. Quieter mining.” The path of the bone brought it closer to the unmoving pup, then it was dragged back towards Alma. The houluh chose that moment to strike, leaping at the squeaky bone with all the might his body could muster. Said might meant he made an amazingly tiny hop, front paws slapping down onto the sand that was nowhere near the toy.
With a yip that was about as impressive as his hop, he twisted onto his side and began to wiggle and squirm his way to the still moving toy. He snapped at it as it slid near his head once more, and Alma held it in place so that his paws eventually found their way onto the toy. “There. Now enjoy that toy, I gotta figure out a quieter mining style.”
Walker demonstrated his as he raked his claws against the stone, grinding away happily as whatever he sensed grew nearer. It almost did not bother him anymore that his human was not doing her work. 171
Alma looked as the gem drake for inspiration as the pup tumbled over her boots, batting the toy away one second then pouncing on it the next. Ignoring the pup’s antics took a good deal of will, though she was pretty sure it had more to do with him being a puppy than some horrible mind-twisting abomination.
There was not much she could take away from Walker’s scratching at the rock. “Don’ have claws,” she muttered. Looking down at her too-short nails. No, there was no way they could ever be mistaken for claws. Plus she was certain they would just break and tear if she let them grow out just to scratch rock. There was a reason she had to keep them short after all, and if her nails were at risk of being caught in softer things, there was no doubt rocks would hurt even more. “Not going to work, but thanks. Keep up the digging.” Walker did so, not even bothering to look back at her as he did so.
A bit rude of him, but rocks did not care for manners. Alma carefully stepped around the playing pup, and returned to the cart to find something that might work. 172
All of the tools bound and stashed in the barrel-cart were much stronger than her own nails, a fact she had been rather glad for when she had last found herself caught in a cave in. Nothing like a life or death situation to make one appreciate the tools they had bought.
The pickaxe had been her favorite of those tools, and she sadly pushed it to the side. There was nothing like a good pickaxe to quickly break through walls and find tons of treasure, or rocks, but she would not use it yet around the small pup. She looked back at the pup and told him, “Don't blame yah for it, but kinda wish I could have just left you with Tin. Seeing as you’re not trying to eat me, probably could have.” She shrugged, the pup ignoring her in favor of the red bone flipping through the air. “Least you’ve got a toy. Just stay towards the middle, okay?” The pup might have no training, but maybe his supposed patron would see to it that he followed orders.
Walker slowed in his dig, claws tracing the outline of a near circle in the rock. When he started to dig once more, he avoided that one spot, breaking away the stone to the right. 173
Alma turned back to the chest, considering the next largest tool. She looked back down at the sandy ground, and kicked at it, forming a small pile of sand at the front of her boot. A few more swipes created a small valley, revealing the grey stone that hid beneath. She dragged her foot to create a few more little ridges, the solid stone revealed to be beneath the sand in each case. With a sigh, she reached into the cart, and the shovel joined the pickaxe in the pile of ‘useful, but currently useless’ tools. If the sand had only been a little deeper, or the rock a different color from that of the walls. “No use complaining about it. Shovel will have its work cut out for it later if the wall falls.” The red bone was squeaked in what Alma took to be agreement, and she nodded at the pup.
Walker claws were making short work of the wall residing to his right, breaking away chunks that he swept away to either side of him after they fell. The resulting dent in the wall was choppy, the stone rough compared to the tunnels they had seen in the nearby wall. 174
Alma plucked a pair of items from the cart next, holding them gently in her grip. One of the two looked more like a piece of art supplies, the polished wooden hand still gleaming like new in the light of the flashlight, the bristles looking even and straight. The other was a pair of tweezers that was just as clean looking as the other tool. Alma narrowed her eyes at them, glancing up to the wall, then back down at them. With a laugh, she dropped them on top of the shovel and pickaxe. She might want to be quieter for the pup’s sake, but she was not about to start checking the rock for splinters or brushing away bits of dust.
The pup’s squeaking was barely noticed by Walker as he pulled back his claws after completing his small hole in the wall, his senses telling him that the stone he sought did not extend beyond what he had dug. He started to chip away at the bottom of the hole, seeking to carve a curve into the rock of an equal depth. He knew there had to be something there, something that his human would add to his hoard upon their return to the place with no other gem beasts. 175
Walker was looking forward to returning with a hoard, but his current find was all that he was interested in at the moment. Storing his prizes was a thought that would not even exist until he had his gem in his claws, freed of the earth in which it was trapped. He just had to keep digging until it popped free. So he did, lengthening his hole to curve under the circle he had traced earlier, turning back upwards until he was gouging a rough line that was parallel to his first. His tail wagged in excitement as he dug, almost certain he touched his prize at one point while digging.
The pup noticed this as he gnawed on the bone, the space between the squeaks of the bone growing longer and longer until it fell from his mouth to the sand. He rolled into his play position, his butt raising into the air as he watched the gem drake’s tail swing back and forth, it’s earlier animosity forgotten as he yipped at it. The gem drake gave no indication of noticing the pup’s change of interest, and Alma’s back remained to them both as she looked through the chest, debating aloud with herself. 176
“These two are kind of loud together, but useless alone. I mean, who whacks a mallet into a wall and expects anything other than a sore arm? Could scratch around with the chisel like Walker does with his claws, but that’s boring, he’s got more than one chisel to swipe at the wall with.” Alma hefted the two tools in her hands. “Course, using the mallet on the chisel would still be loud, just not as loud. Maybe?” She tapped the head of the mallet against the cylindrical end of the chisel, the noise more felt through her hands than heard through her ear protection.
Houluh were not creatures made for stealth. In fact, most city inhabitants would likely agree that they were good for little more than contests, their small, weak frames and the common breed’s lack of any manner of special moves making them less attractive for those seeking combat. The pup knew none of this, only that there was a thing wiggling around in front of him, a thing that looked like it was begging to be pounced on and played with. His attempt at sneaking towards the tail of the gem drake was little more than walking slowly. 177
Walker, a denzin of the mines and used to the constant risk of something bigger, faster, or just plain luckier sneaking in to attack and steal his gems, did not notice the pup. Whether it was because of his excitement at his find, the outline he had carver around it nearly complete, or his trust that his human would scare away any such predators from him, or perhaps even some manner of failing instincts for the gem creature that now spent the majority of his days in a safe wooden cave that nothing ever dared to steal from, he continued to dig. His tail continued to wag, the pup continued to stalk closer, only pausing when the tail temporarily stopped swaying as the gem drake reared up to dig at the space that separated the line of the circle from itself. Now the tail only made small twitching movements, and the pup scurried as close as he dared, stepping over the rope that trailed behind the gem drake.
With a nod, Alma decided. “Yeah, this ought to be quiet enough for the pup. Else I’ll have to just stick him in the cart for a bit.” She looked over her shoulder at the pair. 178
It had been meant to be a quick glance over at them. She was sure the pup was still playing with the bone, the lack of constant squeaks merely meaning he had accidentally kicked it beyond the range of his rope at worst, or that he had taken to digging like the gem drake. In the case of Walker, she faintly hoped he would have some glint of color by his tail that was not a pinkish purple. What she actually saw made her look a second time, turning her body to face it with the tools held limply in her hands as her grin tugged at her scar. “Oho, didn’t know I’d get some en-ter-tain-ment myself today. Squeaker not enough for you, pup?” She folded her arms across her chest, angling the pointed edge of the chisel away from her body. It was time to see if the pup had some secret to him that he had been hiding from her so far.
The only thing the pup cared about hiding was himself as he dropped his front end as his rear rose, legs tensing as he watched the tail twitch invitingly in front of him. And then he leapt. 179
Walker had not noticed the pup sneaking up on him even when the houluh was within pouncing range of his tail, too absorbed in his work to notice the threat behind him. Alma had failed to notice it too at first, too absorbed with trying to pick out a quieter tool for smashing rocks. And the pup, having his attention firmly locked onto the tail of the gem drake, had failed to notice the rope looped around his neck growing tighter, nor had he paid any attention to the line of pressure that ran from his neck and across his back.
The rope, being a rope, could not notice anything. But it did hold against the pup’s leap. The stake it was tied to not so much as quivering as the pup threw his body at the tail of the gem drake.
He yelped an instant later, his paws waving in the air as he tried to understand why he was on his back. Alma laughed at the pup as he scrambled back to his feet, then started straining against the leash of rope and yipping furiously at the gem drake who stubbornly refused to move into range. Shifting the tools to one hand as she walked, Alma reached the pup’s stake and started to reel him back. 180 [Alma-231.0 Walker-47.1 Brauner-10.0]
Silver: That's okay, things can change a bit. :3
Sept 27, 2021 5:42:43 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Since the Bellafaux are the dumbed down but bigger version of them. Love the fact that they got stats of their own now though! Finally they can be trained! <3
Sept 27, 2021 0:06:11 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Hmm, for some reason it doesn't feel as if the Bellaroxi has the right move set when looking at the old entry of them in text.
Sept 27, 2021 0:05:02 GMT -6
Renathan: -points at the sushi monster- Him go 3 Miles an Hour. Lookit him go.
Sept 26, 2021 21:31:10 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: That just means rl has caught up with you, it can happen. X3
Sept 23, 2021 10:10:22 GMT -6
Renathan: I'm gonna have to get caught up on all the updates, I've let myself fallen behind sooo badly.
Sept 22, 2021 4:47:08 GMT -6