Stalker was not happy. It had been obedient, staying in place as the lizard had commanded it, not moving from the spot even as she approached the angry gold lizard. It had wanted to. It had seen the way the smaller lizard had tried to attack her, had tried to protect her, and had been rewarded by being dragged through the dirt. Now she was feeding the other lizard something, the sounds of the little one’s squeaks replaced by that of tearing and chewing. It could not ‘see’ exactly what was happening, but the image the echoes formed was enough for it to be certain either lizard was ripping into the other. But why would the lizard prefer the small lizard over it? The lizard had attacked her in here while it had only tried to help. Was it because it was not a lizard as they both were? It scratched at the ground.
Unaware of the crisis the crossbreed was going through, the hatchling was practically choking down the last of the meat, his throat feeling as if the food was ripping its way down his gullet. Haix slowly stood, releasing the pressure on his back and neck. She stared at him as he made a hacking cough, but the hatchling made no move to attack her. 79
She had fed both of them before their journey into the mines, but clearly she had underestimated how quickly the sarane would return to his near-starving state. Stalker had been satisfied with the handful of meat she had thrown to him, but the sarane hatchling had chewed his way through a massive chunk of dried, likely tasteless meat without even a moment of hesitation. It was a good thing then that she had brought plenty of extra food, wedged and crushed between the tools in the sack as well as chosen to last throughout the day rather than to be particularly tasty, but it would do to keep the sarane hatchling fed until they left. Letting the hatchling get hungry enough that it would try to make a meal of the crossbreed would not end well for it. And she was hopeful it would not be dumb enough to try to make a meal out of her.
Thinking again of the supplies, she left the sarane nosing at the dirt to pull out the water-skin and bowl. She carefully poured the water into the bowl until it almost overflowed, then called to Stalker. The crossbreed all but ran over, and she drank her own fill from the water-skin as it dipped its beak in the bowl. 80 ((Haix-177))
The crossbreed did not drink water as most of her creatures did. Instead, it pecked its beak into the water and flung its head back a second later, gulping down the water. It finished the bowl in less than a minute, but remained near her as she refilled the bowl. Stalker glanced down at the water with a click, only to look away and start clicking. Haix followed the direction it faced with the flashlight, not surprised that the crossbreed stopped clicking only when it had clicked at the young drake that was waddling towards them. The hatchling’s stomach almost seemed to drag on the floor as he drew closer.
A barked command at Stalker was enough to make it stop, glaring back at her with a nearly resentful look as she took up the bowl and strolled over to the hatchling. He gave a half-hearted hiss as she set the bowl down in front of him. He took one last step to reach the bowl, glaring at Haix and only looking down at the bowl after she turned back to check on the crossbreed. He could not see the water beyond a faint reflection of light now that the flashlight was pointed away. 81
A sniff brought him to the conclusion that it was water, and his first taste of it convinced him that he was dying of thirst. His darting tongue sent nearly as much of the water to the floor as it did his mouth, the splashing sounds accompanying his drinking much louder than that of the crossbreed’s turn. He was so intent on drinking the water that he gave no reaction to the light being turned back on him beyond splashing the water out of the bowl at a quicker rate. Once he had to stop, body freezing except for a shudder that racked his body many times as he made a sound that was part snort, part cough. The odd behavior passed on within a minute, and the sarane went back to gulping down the remaining water.
Haix was just pulling the bowl away when the hatchling flopped to the floor, opened his jaws in a wide yawn, then closed his eyes. Taking the bowl away from where it sat inches away did not wake him, and his only response to the bowl tapping his side was to curl his body away from it. The light showed the crossbreed felt no such tiredness. 82
It was pawing at the ground, brushing away the loose dirt and gravel with the same ease she had seen Walker dig into rock. Haix shouted at it, not earning so much as a twitch from the sarane but the crossbreed nearly leapt into the air. It stayed on the spot though it no longer dug, eyes glancing side to side as Haix approached it. She waved it off the spot, watching the crossbreed dart a few yards away before stopping to stare at her. She crouched next to the spot, brushing away the dirt with one hand to reveal the unyielding stone beneath it. So she had not buried one of the bodies there, which meant the mining crossbreed might have been acting on the instincts of whatever mine-dwelling parent it had been made with.
The sarane began to snore, a rasping sound that was comparable in volume to the shrill squeaks he had been making all day. Haix ignored him, and went back to her sack, stashing away the waterskin and bowl before dragging the entire sack to a side that had a tunnel just out of her reach. From the sack she removed the pickaxe and shovel, throwing on her head the floral print hard hat just in case she needed to throw something at either of the two pets while she dug. 83 ((Stalker-29.0 Gala-6.0))
She carried the tools back to the spot Stalker had been digging at, dropping the shovel to one side of the chosen digging spot. Brushing aside more of the dirt with her foot, she cheerfully admitted the wide open space of the pit made a nice change from the narrower tunnels that Walker and her usually mined in. Rearing back with the pickaxe as she had done earlier, she smashed the sharpened point into the ground repeatedly, wondering if Stalker really had any hope of finding gems. It looked more like a karzik than any of the gemstone mining creatures, the one insect-like bird, or was it bird-like insect, that she encountered had shown the same tendency to hoard gemstones that Walker did. Hopper had never been taken back into the mines to check how well she could find gemstones that were not already in plain sight, so seeing if Stalker could find anything of value would work to resolve that. Gaining gems would not be a bad bonus to the trap trip. A few more gems would allow her to pick up even more weaponry from the crafter-smith in the city.
The sarane ignored the repeated impacts of the pickaxe, snoring louder as if to compete. 84
Stalker sat just inside the light of the beam, its eyes sparkling in the light the clearest thing she could see of it. If it vanished, sliding down into the shadows like an unsuspecting galabex might sink into quicksand, or the darkness behind it swallowed it whole, she would only be able to hope it would stay nearby. And there was the matter of what it might do to the hatchling if it did.
That thought threw off her rhythm, the pickaxe striking the ground at an angle to scrape along the ground with a screech of metal. She released it as she spun to prevent her momentum from toppling her to the ground. The flashlight was picked up a second later, guiding her steps as she walked over to the still-snoring sarane. She scooped up the bloated hatchling as if he would have awoken to anything less than the firmest shaking, and carried the rag dolled sarane closer to where she had been hitting the ground. He was laid onto a pile of dirt and gravel, wings askew as he continued his symphony of snoring. The flashlight was moved around that spot, different angles examined and rejected, until she found one that left the sarane bathed in light and his shadow disconnected from the rest of the mine’s darkness. 85
While the crossbreed did click a few times as she moved the light around to find the best possible angle, it behaved itself. Content to linger at the fringe of the light, it made no move to approach the hatching and make it dead to more than just the world. It entered the light completely only once, clawing at the spot Haix had been carving a hole into. But whether it was its blunt claws lacked the strength to bore through stone or it did not know how to properly dig, Stalker soon gave up to watch Haix move the light around the cavern. It did not understand why the light was being moved, though it liked being able to see with both its eyes and ears. It was more curious about the hole Haix had begun to dig.
The hatchling’s snores soon were competing with the hard sounds of metal on stone, of stone shattering and the echoes of all the original sounds. He was just far enough away to avoid the worst of the shrapnel launched by the pickaxe, and the shadow that briefly moved over him as Haix changed positions did not merit even a twitch. It was a good time to mine. 86
The sarane made small movements as he slept, a curling of a clawed foot, a shrugging of his shoulders to move his wings into a position his sleeping self found more comfortable. His wings would settle and hold in their new position until gravity had its way and saw them droop and brush against the ground once more. The snores were the only sound he made, the only response Haix got whenever she took a break from hacking at the stone floor to check on him. There was some mild disappointment that the sarane was not running around the pit floor, whether to make sure any hatchling that had fallen in could not escape or just to make it smell like him. With the hatchling sleeping, Stalker and herself were the two moving around the pit as they dug at different spots, picking up interesting rocks that might have been something valuable and therefore the ones who were leaving a stronger scent in the pit.
She had decided to wake him up as she approached yet another spot that Stalker was pawing at, the crossbreed having quickly taken to picking spots for her to smash the pickaxe into. The crossbreed sometimes would dig through the rubble when she took a break from swinging. 87 ((Stalker-30.0 Gala-7.0))
The digging had proved nothing of whether or not the crossbreed could sense gems as her amethyst gem drake seemed able, the stones she looked over showing no signs of shininess that would hint at it having value. For the most part, the stones were just jagged fragments of the ground that had not crumbled into gravel after several hits of the pickaxe. Running a hand through the bits of rocks she had broken did not reveal any broken bits of gems for her to groan over accidentally destroying either. Looking in the direction of the crossbreed, it was already pawing at a new spot, pausing to meet her eyes, then returning to the spot with renewed intensity. It was only then that it occurred to her that Stalker might have thought they were playing some manner of game.
She stared at it a few more seconds, watching it jerk its head upwards just enough to see her without looking directly at her, and she could not help but start chuckling. Leaning heavily on the pickaxe as she stood, she quieted herself and instead began grabbing the largest chunks of rubble, one that she was forced to lift the twitching tail of the hatchling to reach. 88
It might have been nothing more than a game for the crossbreed, but there was always the chance one of the stones might contain something good inside of them. Only a handful of rocks looked remotely promising, and these were stored in the sack alongside the rest of the supplies, the space left open by the partially deflated water skin more than enough. The tools were put away next, the metal of the shovel and pickaxe checked for any cracks or damage that went beyond cosmetic, the wood checked for any sign of splitting, and then they were slid into the sack as well. The hat was not remembered, its weight negligible, so Haix was even more surprised by the amount of room left in the sack. Despite that, she had no intention of mining any more that day, her limbs tired and her scales caked in dust that dulled her colors and fell in a small cloud when she flared and shook her frills.
The meat alone that she had left in there had proven not to be enough of an enticement to any of the scavengers of the mines. So she would wake the sarane, force him to run around the pit floor a little more, and then leave to see if anything came. She was already telling the crossbreed to stay put where it was scratching at the ground as she tightened the bag and gave it an experimental shake. 89
The tools shifted slightly in place, and there was a metallic ring as rocks bounced against the metal bowl in the sack, but nothing fell out. Satisfied that there would be no issue with it later, she picked up the loose rope that had held the sarane hatchling during their entrance, and coiled most of it around her arm. A length of about two hands dangled out from the coil, and she tied a simple noose. There was no way the sarane would willingly follow her out of the mines and back to the kennel without the rope, and she did not want to waste time chasing him through the soft-skin hive at his first sight of something small enough for him to take down and eat. The crossbreed, waiting patiently near one of the walls as the flashlight picked it out of the shadows again, was obedient enough not to do any such thing without a command from her. It would be allowed to leave the same way it had entered.
As she approached the hatchling, she noted that he was moving more in his sleep now, with random flaps of his wings and his legs stretching out and pulling back in mimicry of a run. 90
His legs kicked out all at once as he squeaked so loudly that he jerked back into consciousness, his eyelids snapped open to reveal pupils so dilated that they appeared to be round. The sarane squeaked in pain as the light hit his eyes, and he twisted his head away from the light as his legs scrambled to push him into a position better suited to running. Haix watched him flail and then take off into the darkness with her teeth bared, annoyed by the sudden cowardliness he had displayed. And to such a thing as a harmless bit of light. She sent the light after him, watching as his attempts to flee gradually slowed, then stopped altogether. The sarane stood in place, no longer so much as blinking at the light she shone on him. She would have to train that panicked wake up out of him if it was not just a one time thing. Having a beast that outweighed her as significantly as he would panic at being woken up would only end poorly.
The crossbreed watched, its amusement equal to Haix’s annoyance. It hoped that perhaps now it would be allowed to attack and eat the squeaky thing. 91
Stalker did not consider itself too picky when it came to food. It would consume nearly any of the treats the green lizard threw to it, though its favorite was between the slimy little fish and the still-warm grubbles it was allowed to catch on the occasions that it found one. The small blue-gold lizard would probably not be half as tasty as the fish, but that it would be fresh and warm would go a fair way in making that up. The green lizard had warned it off however, and it did not wish to risk annoying her and losing out on other potential treats. So it waited to be called upon, watching the big lizard approach the small one. The big green one, the one it actually liked and would prefer not to kill, was in between the small one and itself, and neither of them were doing anything. Stalker yawned and began to pace around the pit floor, testing patches of gravel with its paws to find a spot that was softer and less sharp than the others. After sifting yet another pawful of round pebbles and gravel through its hands, it paced in a small circle, and laid down to stare at the two lizards. 92
The two lizards that it stared at were in turn staring at one another, Haix holding the flashlight in one hand and a noose in the other as she wondered if the hatchling was going to charge her as he had done before or flee. The hatchling did neither, instead having dug his claws into the gravel below his claws, tail swishing behind him. Haix aimed the flashlight at the gravel he kneaded, the down at her side, the light radiating from it just enough to still make out the hatchling. No longer forced to face bright lights, his eyes opened wider and his stance sagged a little as he folded his wings.
Stalker was disappointed by the calm reaction of the sarane, its own claws working at the dirt as it idly pulled free a shard of stone, clicked once at it, then tossed it to the side. If the two lizards were not going to fight, and the green one did not need its help, then it would just rest. It was tired after all the digging and running it had done, its paws numb from scraping at the rock. With a yawn, Stalker curled its tail towards its body, preparing for a well deserved nap. 93 ((Stalker-31.0 Gala-8.0))
Renathan: *purrumbles* Thankies for the fluffy birbdergs, Yang. :3
Sept 5, 2021 1:16:51 GMT -6
Yang: If any1 is curious, Sky is The Stat Master, so all notes about Crossbreeds (their cunning/power/etc) will all go through her before being posted :Bc it might! be a hot minute, as life is hella busy with her new job
Sept 4, 2021 14:57:15 GMT -6
Yang: thamk,thamk; streams are great for those designs that can be hashed out right quick 👈🕶️👈
Aug 31, 2021 19:18:51 GMT -6
Renathan: The Ohou extras look great! I enjoyed the stream from yesterday, as well.
Aug 31, 2021 15:23:49 GMT -6
Yang: Shout out to those on TBBs orders list! Apologies for the delay with cash-orders, been working on Ohou extra-circulars and getting them figured out xVc Ya'll should be seeing PMs in the next couple of days; big thamk for the patience!!
Aug 31, 2021 13:46:47 GMT -6
Yang: its all in the wrist
Aug 26, 2021 12:19:07 GMT -6
Renathan: They have Beauty and the Beast 'Beast' vibes- they're lovely!
Aug 26, 2021 4:08:21 GMT -6