Haix heard it too, and decided to solve that problem for him. Checking under the soiled cloth to find the bleeding sluggish, she refolded it so that a part not soaked in blood was pressed against the wound. Then she reached out to the pile of meager supplies she had pulled from the bag, the slight bit of food and water that remained. She had not expected the trip to take more than a few hours, much less the entire day, and the few parcels of food and second waterskin were evidence of that. She would not need to rest too long before she would be able to walk again and reach the kennels, the small climb of the pit likely to reopen the small wound but that would matter little. She unwrapped another piece of jerky, a twin of the one she had fed him earlier, and tossed it over the rubble covered ground to him.
Had not the ground been plain stone?
The crossbreed interrupted her thoughts with a click, and she pulled open another parcel, revealing the smoked fish within. She stole a piece of it for herself to gnaw on and gave it the rest. Chewing on her own piece, she pulled out and filled the bowl, draining the last of the first waterskin after doing so. 109
Watching her creatures drink water ended up being oddly entertaining.
The bowl was filled next to her, the soreness of her arms combined with the wound in her shoulder to convince her that trying to push it further was a bad idea. She doubted either of her creatures would attack her for being near the water, and was certain she would be able to fend them off even in her current state.
The first to approach the bowl was the sarane, the dried jerky a little too much for him after his frantic run and mouthfuls of dirt. The chunk of meat was left behind him, partially chewed, as he would shuffle a few steps towards the bowl and stop to stare at Haix and Stalker in turn. He repeated this several times, with Stalker ignoring him in favor of its own treats and Haix careful to not look directly at it. When he did finally reach the water, be would dip his head down into the bowl for a few splashes, then bob his back as if he expected something to come out of the bowl and grab it. Again and again he repeated it, splashing out more water to soak into the dirt underneath it in his hurried attempts not to be caught off guard. 110
In his hurry not to be surprised, his drinking took much longer than it might have otherwise, and Stalker had finished all of its own meat while the sarane continued his bobbing. Much like the sarane had decided he was thirsty after all the excitement and the bits of meat he had gnawed off, Stalker wanted a drink as well. And as there was only one source of water easily available, it wanted the bowl. At roughly at same time, the sarane had finally abandoned all attempts at keeping watch for anyone trying to hurt him, with Haix doing nothing but grumble as she adjusted the cloth and Stalker too busy with its meal to even look up at him. He plunged his muzzle into the bowl and drank.
Stalker made no secret of its intent, strolling up to the gulping sarane without a hint of stealth, its wings tucked to its sides not in submission but out of planning to keep them safe if the small lizard managed to strike out at it. The crossbreed made it as far as Haix’s outstretched leg before the sarane looked up, tongue poking out of the side of his mouth as he met the eyes of Stalker. 111
A shrill squeak rang out, Haix wincing at the noise, then grunting with pain as the rope again pulled taut and the cloth on her wound slipped. The sarane had kicked himself back, out of immediate range of the crossbreed as it froze, ears flicking back to press against its skull at the painful noise. The sarane did not seem to realize the crossbreed had halted its advance, and hopped and wheezed like a fish being reeled from the water. Haix did not loosen the rope further, certain that giving the sarane any more rope would not lessen his struggles. Instead, silently gritting her teeth against the ache in her arm, she slowly pulled him closer. He struggled even more at that, no longer squeaking as he could not squeak with the pressure around his throat, and she told the crossbreed to move, shooing it away from her.
Once Stalker had sullenly left her side, the sarane’s struggles lessened, and she pulled him within reach so she could loosen the noose and make a few adjustments to the knot. Better that he could pull until he grew tired rather than choke himself into unconsciousness. With that done, she released him. 112
The sarane ran back to the end of his leash again, this time with his legs being pulled out from under him as the rope caught around his neck. He flipped onto his back with a squeak, landing next to the block of meat he had forgotten. Haix snorted at that, this time having braced her arm against the inevitable pull, and looked down at the bowl. The gravel and dirt around it had been soaked, the finer particles turning into a gritty paste that clung to the bowl when she lifted it up.
The light showed only a small amount left in the bottom of the bowl, of which Haix did not know if it was water or drool. Happy enough to be rid of some of the extra weight of the second water skin, she dumped out the suspected drool and refilled it from the second skin, the placed on her side closest to the crossbreed. It did not need a second invitation to rush forward and begin displaying its own odd, bobbing way of drinking. She watched it, willing it to finish all the water in the bowl and then be content to wait a bit longer while she waited for the bleeding to stop. 113 ((Stalker-35.0 Gala-12.0))
The sarane flipped himself upright, still hunched over and swinging his head back and forth as if he expected the crossbreed to teleport and leap out at him from one of the walls. Which, with the way the flashlight was positioned, was something Haix could have seen it doing had she not made it clear to it that she would not tolerate it causing any harm to the hatchling. He was unaware of this, not having been nearby during the time she had trained the crossbreed to use the ability on command, but yet he still looked. As it continued to drink instead of so much as twitching a wing in his direction, he gradually started to droop, his flared wings coming to rest at his sides.
He was still watching both the crossbreed and Haix as he grabbed the chunk of meat between his claws, holding it steady as he ripped at it with his jaws. The sarane was not one for chewing, instead ripping off small chunks then tilting his head back to let them slide down. Upon biting off a chunk that proved too large to swallow in one gulp, he would spit it out and gnaw on one of the edges. 114
The next check on her wound showed no new blood on the cloth, the wound finally having closed. She threw the bloodied cloth into the sack, and, mindful of the wound on her shoulder and aching limbs, she packed away the rest of the supplies. The empty waterskin was folded and slid to the bottom, the unopened parcel of food slipped into the just dumped bowl and placed in there as well. Once it was all in place, she tied the mouth of the bag shut, then turned the tools so they would lay flat when hoisted onto her back. She did not want the pickaxe to bite her a second time.
She waited as she watched the sarane finish the meat chunk she had thrown to him, hopeful that he would prove as drowsy as before. Carrying him would be difficult on top of the rest of the supplies, but the food and water that had been consumed would mean the load was not too heavy. Trying to drag him as he darted in every direction but the one they needed to go to would be even more painful, especially when it came time to climb the walls of the pit. At least the crossbreed would just fly up on its own. 115
The sarane finished the meal quickly, signaling the end of his meal with a burp. He curled up this time, the slack between her and him more than enough now for him to comfortably relax even if she moved, the threat of the crossbreed forgotten in the post-feast daze. He yawned once, then dropped off to sleep with a speed Stalker would envy, out the moment he closed his eyes.
Haix let him fall asleep before beginning to move. It was not a quick process, speed traded for caution as she tried not to twist or tear the newly scabbed wound on her back, and to keep her tired limbs in order. The rest they had while she waited for it to scab had given her a fraction of her usual energy back, but it would be plenty to she them back to the kennels. She would even be able to spare a bit to grind the stupid candle that caused all of this into a flat puddle of wax. The sack was held in both arms as she rose. After a few hesitant steps with it in her arms that the crossbreed copied, she tied the bag to the harness and let it lay against her back. 116
A few more tentative steps were taken to ensure the bag would not shift and rub against the wound, making the bag bloodstained and only good to bait prey with, the bag proved as obedient as Stalker was when she hissed for it to stop following her so closely. She was pretty sure she had not tripped over it, as it should have been limping if she had, and she did not want to do so. She would be able to make it out of the pit easily enough as it was, but if she fell again she would be tempted to just rest in the mines and take them back to the kennel for feeding the next day.
Picking up the sarane, curled up tight as he was, did not prove a problem beyond shuffling the weight on her back as to not tip over. The flashlight was taken, slid into the loops of rope before they were pulled taut, and the sarane was scooped up to be held in her arms. She could have sworn he was heavier than he had been upon entrance to the mines, the weight now cradled in her arms rather than hanging from her shoulders. 117
For while him puking up all the food as he dangled upside down might have made him noticeably lighter, his squeaks and struggles as he demanded more food would be more than mildly irritating in her current state. She would not be able to drug him to keep him still and complacent, the risk of retarding his growth too great. And even had his constant headbutts driven her to the point of not caring if he even grew beyond the size of a formica, she simply did not have the supplies for it on her. Most of her powders and salves were still at the kennels, and, seeing as how simple the trip had supposed to be, she had not bothered bringing so much as a single dried root.
So, no, she would just have to bear his weight until they made it out. She started back down the way they had come, the flashlight picking out the walls and ground. The ground was covered in fallen rocks, some a series of pebbles and others larger than the sarane she carried. Stepping over those was not too easy with the sarane, but the crossbreed showed no signs of distress, climbing over the tallest of rocks with ease. 118 ((Stalker-36.0 Gala-13.0))
She rounded another turn and wondered how she had managed to evade all of the trip hazards when chasing the sarane, still not putting together what the cracks in the walls meant in combination with the debris littering the ground until she could go no further. The flashlight showed her the solid wall of rocks and dirt in the tunnel that should have led to the pit, a loud creak from above all the warning she had before a rock the size of her head slammed down next to her. The crossbreed clicked at that and scooted back a few feet, but Haix stubbornly remained where she was, staring at the wall of rubble in disbelief. There had been no other openings leading from this tunnel as she had walked down it, knew that this was the way they had come. She had caught the sarane at the fork, had she not? Those two tunnels had been distinct from the one she had run through, their ceilings nearly half the height of the main tunnel.
The weight of the sarane was shifted between her arms as she tried to process what to do next. If a cave in had occurred, how long did she have to find her way out? 119
A part of her was tempted to drop the sarane, yell at the crossbreed to start digging even if she had never taught it that command, and claw her own way back into the world above. But there was no way to know how long such an endeavor would take, or even if the weakened ceiling would not dump more down as soon as they cleared out a space to stand in. As if in warning, another chunk of rock dropped down onto the wall, sending a cascade of gravel spilling down to the floor. Still, she hesitated a second longer, lost as to what to do. She did not know if her current tunnel even led anywhere other than a dead end, if there was any way out of this some forgotten mining tunnel that had been abandoned when all the gems had been taken. She did not have enough food to last her even a few days, not with the gluttonous hatchling and even the crossbreed’s comparatively meager appetite would see them starving within a day or two.
Abruptly, she span away from the wall and started marching back. There was no need to worry yet. If worst can to worst, she could eat the hatchling and keep enough of his bones for a revival for when they got out, and the crossbreed should be able to instinctively find something to live on. 120 ((Haix-179))
And if they could not find their way out, trapped to rot beneath the surface without even a karzik to eat, then so be it. But until her scaled hide hung like rags on her dead bones, she was going to keep looking. She would at least find something to feed on her wasted frame other than fungus, and though there may not be an exit, perhaps a tunnel worm would burrow through the ground and allow her a decent death even if her after-death was to be cursed.
So, she walked. The sarane shifted around in her arms randomly, his leg dangling from her grasp she made her way back to the fork. The crossbreed stood maddeningly still at her side, showing no interest in either of the two tunnels. The flashlight also showed nothing unique about either, no tracks or waste from the more organic inhabitants of the mines, no glimmer of stones left in the walls to suggest it had been untouched by others. She stood there for what felt like hours trying to decide which tunnel to explore, which one might lead to somewhere she could find food and water if not a way to the surface. 121
Closing her eyes, she sifted through the stories she knew, looking for, if not a hit of which side she should take, then just a reason to pick one over the other. After about a minute, she opened her eyes and strode to the left tunnel, ducking down beneath its lower roof to fit. The crossbreed followed, clicking occasionally but doing little else beyond walking alongside her. Then behind her as the tunnel began to narrow. Haix was forced to move the sack and have it resting on the uninjured shoulder so she turned her body as sideways as she could with the sarane still sleeping in her arms. The tools caught on the walls, and the first time Haix jerked them free with enough force that some of the stone was torn away with it. The second time she stopped, and pushed back against them to free them. And the third time, the tunnel was so narrow and small that she had been forced to practically crawl, she pushed back and continued going back, ignoring the surprised clicks of the crossbreed. The tunnel had kept narrowing without the slightest hint of a breeze, instead the air seemed to thicken and catch in her throat. 122
Moving backwards along the tunnel was even more difficult that the journey forward had been. First, she had shut off the flashlight, allowing it to hang as dead weight on her arm as she worked her way back in the dark. She could not turn around to look back at the crossbreed or any of the space behind her as she inched along anyways, though it chafed not to be able to know if they were about to walk into a predator’s maw. Moving backwards also caused the tools to catch more often than they had before, the rocky wrinkles that they had scraped against going one way now trapping them at random, forcing Haix to try to ignore the pain in her shoulder as she reached to shift them. The gradual widening of the tunnel was nowhere near as obvious as the narrowing had been, and it was only when Haix thoughtlessly turned her head back to look at the clicking crossbreed that she realized she had the space to turn her head at all.
The tunnel continued to widen, and Haix was nearly overjoyed when she found herself able to stand once more, no matter how her legs shook underneath her. 123 ((Stalker-37.0 Gala-14.0))
Fiera Ferella: I picked mine because ive always wanted to write an amphadron tbh. :0 I'm eager to see how it'll turn out!
Jul 11, 2020 22:00:43 GMT -6
Riku: Oh, I see what you mean now, Nerius. Dang...that’s a good point. How do we get around it? Naturally we will look at the opponent’s stats - which can’t be done IC. Hm.
Jul 11, 2020 14:30:04 GMT -6
Èdan: Not necessarily, there's stuff that can affect a foe's aim in the same turn
Jul 11, 2020 8:51:23 GMT -6
Nerius: The lack of suspense. I slogged through them all for the points, but it got super tedious to write. (This isn't specific to mosca, just a general 'why I'm eh on this tourny'.)
Jul 11, 2020 6:40:13 GMT -6
Nerius: And it's not about "winning", rather I was referring to the disaster that was my attempt at the petite tournament. And how one glance at the stats made me go 'yep, gonna loose this one', and be proven right in every single round. It's not the loss, but..
Jul 11, 2020 6:39:31 GMT -6
Nerius: Yes, the dreaded auto-hit or auto-miss can strike at any time, but what I mean is the only way a mosca is loosing is if there's a un/lucky dice roll.
Jul 11, 2020 6:36:02 GMT -6
Èdan: Don't forget there's moves and abilities that halve dex or affect the opponent's aim. Not to mention, never underestimate the cruelty of a natural 1
Jul 11, 2020 6:16:47 GMT -6
Riku: High dex can miss. I had an unbroken brown who won like three fights by sheer luck of the enemy missing over and over. Lol Besides, not to be cliche, but...it’s not all about winning. You can come in second place and still get 23 pit points.
Jul 11, 2020 0:48:50 GMT -6
Jack: Don't forget to PM me your intent if you're entering! I need to know before training!
Jul 10, 2020 17:29:29 GMT -6
Fanged: I'll be going with a huntress mosca build I have in mind.
Jul 10, 2020 17:12:28 GMT -6
Xentus: I'm the one who's entering fully intending to utilize the 9 dex flighty mosca. Curious to find what might beat it
Jul 10, 2020 17:07:55 GMT -6
Flare: In opinion, I have a kakum baakir set aside for Flare's usage, but I've never worked with it. It'll be a new species to work with. Just because soemone enters a 9 dex creature doesn't 100% mean they'll win.
Jul 10, 2020 17:04:42 GMT -6
Nerius: Would use one myself, but I don't want to waste a re-growth on something I'll never do anything with outside this tournament, especially since there's no guarantee there will be enough people for it to run.
Jul 10, 2020 15:53:52 GMT -6
Nerius: I was looking at the stats of the creatures that could be entered, when it was first announced. Someone enters a flighty mosca? They're going to win. There's nothing that can move faster, and nothing that can survive a hit from wing buff while in flight
Jul 10, 2020 15:52:37 GMT -6
Nerius: I've considered it, as I do want the pit points, but I dunno. My last attempt at tournament rush training uh, did not go well *coughwhiptailcough*. Plus I suspect someone's going to enter a mosca and basically auto-win.
Jul 10, 2020 15:49:29 GMT -6
Riku: Hopefully more people do. Counting myself, I think there’s only 4 right now. 🤔
Jul 9, 2020 17:21:27 GMT -6
Flare: I'm gonna enter
Jul 9, 2020 14:48:47 GMT -6