“Don’t eat that, it’s a rock!” Riku shouted while laughing at his Malii. As they walked through the mine, Riku kept having to remind his Fire Malii that fire is not the same as lava. He doesn’t have to eat rocks to stay alive, in fact they could cause digestive issues!
The Malii sure was eating a lot ever since he gave it that regrowth potion...first it shrunk, then it started to grow...and grow! Soon enough he’d be all grown up again and spitting fire. Yikes! The last (first?) time he grew to that stage he was very much untamed. He didn’t bother to notice Riku much when he visited the Malii Sanctuary. In fact, he hadn’t even met Riku until he was brought there, fully grown.
“Don’t encourage him....” Riku laughed again as his mining familiar curiously handed rock after rock to his digestively-curious furry friend. Axel was also newer to Riku, but felt closer to him than the Malii did. They had had an adventure or two already.
Riku pulled the cart they had behind him by its handles and continued into the mine that they were exploring.
The human and the Malii followed the mining familiar. It seemed to know where it was going, and Riku had trusted it before with much success. Very much...! The little critter had saved his life in an unexpected way the last time he had been there.
Corona let out a funny growl as he walked behind the glowing glider. It was too high off the ground for him to swat at, but he wanted to paw at it...such pretty colors! They made him curious.
Riku slid his hand down the Fire Malii’s back from the base of its neck as they walks side by side. It pulled away from him a bit. It wasn’t that Corona dislikes him as much as he simply didn’t know him yet. At least not enough to want to be touched so often...Riku was too affectionate for his nature.
This was why he brought him along. The creature had so much potential, yet would probably never see the pit. There was no point in keeping him for battles or colors if he’d never be trained or bred. He knew that it was satisfied in the sanctuary, but part of the experience of having a human was bonding. So...here they were.
“Chiiiiimmme...!” Axel cooed with a bluish green aura as his attention fixed to part of the nearby wall. He glided towards it and began to dig with some enthusiasm.
“Well, looks like we’re stopping here for a while.” Riku said to his Malii, who looked up at him without understanding. He set he buggy aside and pulled his pickax out, along with the shovel just in case, leaning it on the cart. Pulling out a bag, he grabbed the sealed container inside of it and filled the area with an almost vinegary odor.
The familiar didn’t seem to notice, and kept digging with its sharp claws. Corona, however, definitely smelled it and was very excited. He knew that scent! That beautiful, wonderful, delicate aroma! His tails swished side to side gently in unison and his tongue licked his lips.
Riku pulled a chunk of raw fish he had thawed out overnight and cut that morning and gave it to the Malii. “Okay, boy, take this and go lie down.”
Corona hungrily snatched it out of his hands - oblivious to whether his teeth were grabbing fish or fingers - and quickly took it behind the light of the buggy to devour.
The human began to clunk away at the wall. Fortunately, it was a softer rock and thick and dry mud, so it didn’t make too much sound to echo through the halls of the mine. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking for, gem wise, as he didn't have any talent or care to use them for anything other than trades - especially in the shops that only accepted them. He had his eye on a set of enchanted daggers they had in stock...or maybe he had his mind’s eye on them, since he had never seen them himself. The one time he had entered the place he didn’t take much time to look around, and only got some basic armor....of which he still hasn’t used. Better safe than sorry, right?
Corona licked his lips again after finishing his treat. He inspected his paws to see if he had left any bits or juices between his toes. Licking them, he got a bit of mud in his mouth....but it was dirt mixed with fish juice! That was much better than the plain rocks he had chewed on earlier.
Axel continued to dig into the wall. Riku wasn’t sure if he somehow sensed something there, or he was just curious. Perhaps he hd somehow buried it there himself before, he didn't put it past him.
Riku sighed to himself as he caught his breath. “I...I will be a mage again.” He mumbled. His head was down and hair loose in his face as he let his lungs catch up to the work his arms were doing. “I will be a master mage.” He confirmed.
His thoughts trailed off to about ten years ago, before....before he moved to the lab’s city. He remembered his mentor and teacher - his best friend - who was also his protector and an incredible Arch-mage. Riku knew he was magically inclined. He had a gift! He just...he needed to focus his energy into making that gift available. It was like.....like a diamond stuck behind a wall of rock! Once he got through to it, the worth of the ‘diamond’ would be released and he could make use of it.
Corona came up and licked Riku’s fingers, snapping him out of his funk. He turned to the Malii and smiled. “Thanks, Corona.” The Malii sat down and pawed gently at the human. He just wanted fish...
Axel had dug so far into his hole in the wall that he could now fit almost half his body inside. He slipped into the shadow of the hole and then came out from underneath the cart next to Riku.
The familiar chimed, also pawing at Riku’s pant leg with one hand. Looking down at him, Riku saw he was holding up a diamond in the other paw. Stunned, Riku accepted the gift and put it in his pocket.
“Why thank you, Axel!” He said with enthusiasm and a giant smile. What that just a coincidence, of had the creature somehow sense what he was thinking? Was that what he was looking for where he was digging? Such an interesting specimen.
Corona pawed again at Riku, with an adorable “Baow...” to get his attention. Yes, he had officially resorted to begging, however no other Malii was around to see it and he considered it more of a manipulation (if it worked) than giving in to the gentle nature.
“THAT WAS SO CUTE!!!” He squealed, cauing the Malii to cringe a bit. “Haha, Sorry...” he followed due to animal’s reaction to his volume and tone.
“Baow.” Corona said again.
“Aww...do you want something?”
“Baow.” He replied, looking away and swishing his tails once in mild annoyance.
“What do you want?” Riku said, bending over closer to his face.
“Baow!” He insisted, lifting a paw and putting it on Riku’s thigh. The cute factor was old now.
Of course Riku knew what he wanted, and that the Malii seemed like it felt teased, so he took the sealed container out of the cart again and gave him another piece of fish. “Good boy, there you go!” He said in a sickeningly sweet voice.
Corona took the fish with a grown, snatching it out of Riku’s hand. His breath was hot and the piece of meat began to sizzle as soon as the Malii’s teeth sunk into it. A few embers and flares were visibly spilling out of his mouth as he savagely ate the fish in a hungry frenzy. Cooked tuna filled the halls of the mine as Riku and Axel continued to search for gems.
Axel had hopped away from Riku after handing him the diamond. He went over to the Malii, who was still eating, and poked his side. No response. Another poke and a cold shoulder later, the familiar jumped onto the fiery critter’s back. Naturally, this had a negative response. Corona jumped up, throwing the familiar off of him, and spun around with a shred of flesh still in his mouth. With a loud growl that echoed through the hall, he readied his claws for action.
......but there was no one there to claw. He looked around, confused, and spun around again to see if Axel was behind him. He wasn’t. There was a low, annoyed growl as he kept his eyes peeled for the brat.
“Chiiimme!” The familiar seemed to laugh, glowing a lightly purplish pink. Clearly, he was mocking the creature - and Corona wouldn’t have it!
He let out a “Bwrrrrowr!” As he lunged for the familiar who was a few feet in the air...but, of course, the glowing mine guide was ready for such a reaction. He flung himself into the shadowy ceiling of the area and disappeared again into the darkness. His teasing laughter still able to be heard in the distance...
Riku laughed at the two of them, glad to be amused and kept company. And he thought they wouldn’t get along! (Truly he didn’t understand the situation.) Using a chisel and brush, he examined the looser dirt and large rocks he had chipped out of the wall for anything valuable. It wasn’t a sure thing, but he didn’t want to be this close to finding something and miss the chance just because he wasn’t thorough.
Then again, if he didn’t check he wouldn’t ever know for he missed it, would he? But...then again (again), it would haunt him for sure later. In his mind, Murphy’s law was the law. (Who’s Murphey, anyway...?) So therefore, the gems existed until proven otherwise. He would much rather be disappointed than sell himself short.
“Brroooooawarrrrrr..r!” The Malii whined loudly with a bellowing voice. He was clearly pissed off. Boundaries were crossed. That...thing..wouldn’t have messed with him if he were still bigger! Now he would pay!
The buggy began to rock a bit, even though it was closed, catching the cautious attention of both Riku and his Malii - though, of course, Corona figured what it was, and launched himself at the cart. Claws out, he dug them into the side.
“Corona, no!” Riku yelped. The buggy was a prize he’d won in a contest and he really liked the device. It was useful! He rushed over to pull him off, but of course had difficulty. Even though he was a regrown, the Malii was already almost fully grown again. “‘Rona....!” Riku whimpered aa the Malii’s teeth began to flare again. “Not the buggy....!”
“Chime.” The familiar cooed to them from a few feet away, glowing a softer blue. He was on the floor instead of gliding loosely in the air, and he had his hands up. Gesturing to them quickly - before the Malii could get to him - he offered them each a present...er, peace offering.
To Corona he held out a piece of fish...which he must have gotten out of the buggy when he was in there. (So it was him after all...?) And to Riku he help out a blue stone, which clearly hadn’t cone out of the buggy. It wasn’t already his.
The Malii was already rushing at the familiar, instinctively, when he caught wind of the fish. His nose detected it before his eyes did, but they quickly found it as well. And so did his tongue! He quickly wrapped his entire mouth around the familiar’s hand - who pulled it out in shock, now without the fish. Corona mulled over to the corner behind the (slightly smoking) buggy with his piece of meat and chomped on it with grumbles and embers.
Laughing at the sight of his critter’s interaction, Riku got down on his knee and accepted the gift with a smile. “Thank you, Axel!” He warmly said.
The eyes of the thing were physically expressionless, but the shapes and colors inside said all that he needed to know. This gem wasn’t as unique as the last - but it was much better than dirt. The little guy was proving to be an excellent mining buddy!
Axel suddenly let out a curious “Chi..”, looking away. He gently glided into the air and moved to a spot in the ground about ten feet away. “Chii!” He insisted.
Corona grumbled at the noises, also annoyed that his light source was moving away. Fortunately, the bits of fire spewing out of his mouth as he enjoyed his burning treat lit up the area near his paws that were clumsily used to hold it in place.
Riku followed the familiar, curiously, and said “Axel...? What is it little g-“ pausing mid sentence to cock his own head to the right and examine that...feeling?
What was that? That...vibration, er, buzzing in his head? Almost like a frequency - but he knew it wasn’t exactly being heard. An echo..? A voice? Almost.
He looked down at the ground between him and the mining critter and got down on his knees again. Palms on the floor, he could feel the vibration coming from just below it - but again, it wasn’t a conventional feeling in his fingertips. But rather, in his...mind.
He could feel (hear?) something calling out to him. Like their will and very existence simply being a fact in his head. Like, by some sheer force, he just knew...it almost scared him - it being an unfamiliar experience and all - but he could also tell (probably because it wanted him to) that it wasn’t malevolent. It wasn’t benevilent either! Just sort of....evolent. It just had a mind of its own and only wished to be appreciated and made use of for that quality. It wanted to be found and made into something greater than it ever could be on its own.
It didn’t care that it was Riku who found it. It didn’t care what it would be doing. It was just sick of being buried in the dirt. Who knew how long it had been down there...other than it..but it didn’t share that information.
Axel cooed again at the human, wondering if he was going to help the thing. Riku wondered if the familiar had encountered other items like this before, and if he had personally freed them of their prisons.
The Malii, of course, was oblivious to the mysterious object. His own magic was dormant until he was at his fullest stage....not referring to his belly, of course. Though....he could always go for seconds. (Er, fourths?)
Corona got up and snuck over to the front of the cart. Sniffing at it’s handle, he saw that it wasn’t open....oh, but it wasn’t fully closed either! He casually peeked his head over at his human who w- wait, ew....’his’ human? No.....! What was happening to him!? He was the cool loner. He didn’t need a human. Not that Riku wasn’t a nice human to have..if he were to have a human - which he doesn’t - but....he just. No. No human. (But Riku’s cool, whatever. Shut up.)
Riku was to distracted to notice the happenings of his confused Malii. He and Axel gave each other a look of decisiveness, and began to work together to dig out whatever it was calling to them. Riku didn’t even think to grab the shovel. The growing vibrations wouldn’t even let him. He needed to get the source of it out of the ground more than he needed to scratch an itch or even blink. The point was, this compulsion taught regular compulsiveness what it meant to be compulsive!
His fingernails were now packed full of dirty, but he didn’t care. He was only grateful for the familiar who was more skillful at digging than he was...otherwise he’d probably be bleeding by the time he was done.