Either way, it would be something of a long walk to explore in length, and that was assuming it was even walk-able. As the gravel cascade finally subsided, only occasionally interrupted by a few loose stones here and there when the sphinx shuffled her way into the tunnel, the light finally reached it. Ras didn’t have any issues seeing, but his general impression of the place was largely made up of shapes and dimensions.
The light revealed a whole other layer of vision, with colours, reflections and textures becoming apparent as soon as the crystal torch was brought in. The walls were a mixture of smooth worn stone, years upon years of erosion by water. The floor was rough-looking but glistening in smooth granite pebbles mixed with all manner of other tones stones, making up a wide range of tone between yellow to red, to grey and even some greenish looking ones.
None of them precious stones, as such, but still a sight on their own when piled so densely together on the floor.
The ceiling was a mishmash of crags and smaller stalactites - Remnants of when the tunnel once held water and condensation, causing their own little geological footprints. But that was then and this was now, as the air was dry as a bone. Something to be grateful for, certainly, since the last thing she’d wish to encounter was a sudden tidal wave inbound towards them down a deep and impossibly long tunnel..
“Good job, Ras,” the sphinx smiled, fixing the torch into a crack in the wall where the tunnel bends, so light showed through on both sides. “This should keep us occupied for a while.”
Well, a while and some time on top, since first things first would be to get the entry gap sorted. Can’t exactly go exploring further in with the mining cart still stuck above in the previous tunnel. So, she instructed the gargoyle to start digging out the sides of the gravel tunnel, while she worked on the hole above. It was still a bit too narrow to wiggle the mining cart through, even if it was more comfortable for a person now.
With the harder stone layering the top of the hole, it took some time to chisel out the edges wide enough for the cart to reach the gravel bedding. By contrast, the gargoyle had managed to dig out the sides of the gravel wall considerably faster, leaving a nice wide berth and even making the bottom of it deeper so she didn't have to stoop as much under the ceiling.
Some time and a lot of effort later, she was finally able to wiggle the cart through into the cavern with relative ease. It still bumped into the edges and corners of the uneven hole, but fortunately most of them glanced off without too much issue - After all, the cart was made to withstand some tossing about, given the rocky nature of the mines.
Now within the cavern proper, the sphinx stretches and looks around once more, the light of the cart adding to the combined light of the crystal torch and flash-light.
The bottom of the cavern was as likely a place to begin with as any other, since the old riverbed could have left some stones stuck among the others. She doubted the walls would hold as much in terms of unnatural deposits - Which is to say, something carried down by the river and left in cracks and crevices, eventually buried by sediment and lime similar to the shelf of calcite in the cavern above - but there could still be natural deposits anywhere.
For better or for worse, it didn't seem as though the mountain was very particular about geological order. Things could suddenly pop up anywhere, although she supposed it could have also been a side-effect of the sheer concentration of magic in the Labs area as a whole. (Or perhaps some draconic magic, left over from the canyons? They did seem rather attracted to crystals and gems of all kinds).
With the flash-light guiding her sight, she instructed the gargoyle to do a broad sweep of the floor on one end, while she tackled the other side.
A lot of the stones were certainly pretty - Run smooth by the once-river which flowed through the tunnel - but otherwise still made from the more plainer materials. In essence, not too different to the gravel which covered the wall behind them from floor to ceiling, except rounder from being tossed around the current for countless years. She thought to have spotted a few clear stones, thinking them forms of quartz, only to find them to be just paler versions of granite once she picked them up.
Ras, in the meantime, had slightly better luck. The gargoyle didn't need to rely on sight nearly as much, given the inherent attachment to earth and rocks, so his head hovered just a few inches above the floor as he pattered his way along, head turning and sensing the stones around him. It wasn't long before he suddenly stopped, jerked the head towards a specific spot and, after a short bit of digging, came running over to the sphinx with a smooth stone in beak.
"What did you find?" she turned towards him once she heard the clattering of stony feet running. The gargoyle was nearly beaming with pride as he dropped the stone into her out-held palm. Bringing it up to the light, it looked green and speckled, almost like jasper at first, but on closer inspection there was a faint clearness to the surface. Eventually, she managed to recognise it as an aventurine, something they've found prior as well, although generally in more raw form than the almost-ready-made polish that this stone was in.
"Good job, Ras!" she smiled to the gargoyle, and motioned back towards the other side of the cavern, "See if you can find any others."
As the gargoyle pattered off again, she returned to the cart and pulled out one of the cloth rags from within, carefully wrapping up the stone before putting it into the cart with the others. Generally it wasn't that bad to mix raw stones with other raw stones, but given the polished nature of this one, seemed almost a shame to scratch it so soon.
The scouring of the floor took some time, especially since the tunnel itself kept going further and further into the darkness, but the sphinx didn't want to explore too far away from the entrance just yet. The gargoyle wasn't able to fin any other stones in the meantime, although the sphinx herself managed to locate another smoothly polished version of a labradorite towards one of the edges of the floor, where old riverbed met the smooth wall.
She packed it away in another cloth wrap, same as the aventurine before it, and called the gargoyle off his own search as well. Certainly, there's likely to be more stones scattered around, but they could hardly spend all day searching the floor alone - There was much of the tunnel left and only so many hours in the day.
The floor wasn't going to be the most stable of grounds the cart ever rolled across, but it was built to withstand it. It would just be a little more noisier than usual.
The help in this, she harnessed the lead around Ras to have him pull it, since his four-footed stone-clawed footing would be a lot more stable than her own two-legged slipping on the smoother stones. With that done, she picked up the crystal torch from the wall crack acting as a sconce, and they began to trek deeper.
As the gargoyle pulled the cart, it rolled across the stony riverbed with some light clattering, but otherwise without too much issue. The noise reverberated around them and deeper within, failing to echo back in any specific way, making it evident the tunnel continued to keep going past their range of light. Should it branch off to more directions, the sphinx would have to make sure her piece of chalk is at a ready to mark their passing.
Would certainly be an embarrassing sort of situation to call in backup from home just because they got a little turned around, after all.
The tunnel continued in a relatively direct heading, only slightly sloping upwards and to either side from time to time. It had no sharp turned, but it did have sharper spots in the walls and ceiling, where the water's erosion hasn't quite done the same work as on the floor and bottom edges of the sides. Dry as it was, some such sharper spots could leave almost ghastly shadows and silhouettes in the darkness, until the two were able to get closer to make out the true shape of a hollow or a crack.
In some spots there was rougher-looking debris on the floor of the tunnel as well, evident of a crack on the ceiling having caused some of the rocks to crumble under gravity and fall in. Nothing too terrible to give concern for a cave-in, but she and the gargoyle gave such spots a wider berth all the same.
All except one, where something distinctly shaped was visible from among the rubble. A grey-ish lump with a spiral on the surface, which the sphinx was able to recognise as one of the fossils.
Something you simply must understand is that this titanium here belongs to the wyrm. You can look, but you can't touch. It feels you coming close to its rocky hiding spot, and hisses, curling its body tighter around the ore. Hmm. Good luck to you if you want to take it...
The sphinx walked closer to the pile of rocks, kneeling to reach down toward the fossil piece, largely unaware of a pair of eyes watching her from the crack in the side of the wall. Had she known, perhaps she'd have been more cautious, but what the mammalian wasn't able to notice, the gargoyle certainly was quick to respond to. He'd been idling at her side, vaguely uneasy, but unable to place a claw as to why. Admittedly, it didn't take much to make Ras uneasy to begin with..
In this case, the sentiment certainly received vindication, as no sooner did the hiss began to sound that he pushed around the mammalian and placed himself square between the wyrm in the hole and her. Danger! Danger! he clacked his beak and arched his back at the other familiar - The wyrm might have been territorial of the nest, but the gargoyle was definitely territorial of the organic.
Darky blinked, flinching back out of reflex at the sudden combination of sounds and movement happening, but settled once the flashlight shone on the crack in the wall and revealed a pale green form within. "What the..?" Her head tilted as she leaned a little more to the side, peering into the crag from her more distant position behind the now-agitated gargoyle.
Another mining creature! The wyrm hisses extra loud, rattling its gem tail against the rock walls surrounding it. How dare they! Stumbling onto its territory and having the nerve to yell! Its snout is visible poking forwards to make sure the gargoyle gets the message. Leave me alone!
The curiosity is quick to turn to concern, as the sphinx notices the increase in the wyrm's aggression. "Oh, okay, it's best to pull it back a bit, Ras. We're not here to fight, just explore, remember that." as she tried to send forth a sense of calmness toward him. It bumped into the sheer bristly wall of 'protect' the gargoyle was essentially infused with by his very nature, but.. Very begrudgingly, the gargoyle took some steps back. He didn't let up the display any, just in case the wyrm decided to take this retreat as an opportunity to attack, but the message from his side remained the same - Screw territory or rocks or lairs, you lay one claw on this two-legger and it's on sight.
With the gargoyle out of the way, the mammalian breathes a quiet sigh of relief, before settling to crouch in sight of the wyrm, though not getting closer. She keeps her posture calm and as non-challening as possible, even throwing in a smile (Although whether the familiars had a sense of understanding expressions was a subject of much debate among many creature specialists). "It's alright, it's alright," she says, trying to soothe the irritation radiating forth from the small cave, even holding her hands up slow and gently to show she's not a threat, "We're not here to hurt you."
How rude! The wyrm rattles its tail adamantly even as the gargoyle steps away, making sure its annoyance is crystal clear. It's still puffed up by the time you crouch down. You're less offensive to it, but it looks as suspicious as a gem wyrm can. At least it stops hissing to listen to your voice. Far less grating than your companion!
"There we go," the sphinx smiles, "Easy does it, nice and calm.." and gradually sits herself down, now that there isn't an immediate need to have the option to bolt on one's feet (Just in case, you never knew with wildlife encounters). Although the wyrm was settling, it wasn't quite an 'out of the woods' scenario just yet. She tried to think fast, looking at the surroundings in case there was something they had missed - Right, Ras was to the side (grumpy, but safely far enough away), she hadn't disturbed the nest any so the wyrm was still able to cling onto the ore it was clutching, and the pile of rubble looked old, so it wasn't likely as a result of their exploration or any recent mining attempts.
Suddenly, she blinked, realizing something and reached up to the helmet. With a small flick, the switch on the flash light was turned off, leaving the wyrm to no longer be in the proverbial spotlight as it were (Although that, too, was a subject of hot debate among creature specialists, on whether familiars have the ability to 'see' or did they just 'sense' their surroundings. It wasn't easy to tell with something that had no visible eyes, but she was willing to give it a try). The tunnel still had a much softer light emanating from the mining cart some distance away, so it wasn't a complete darkness, but certainly should have added more share for the wyrm's perch.
"Better?" she asked the familiar softly.
Ras Dashen: 102 (3/5) / 102 (3/5)
“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it.”
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