The sneaky Malii popped his head back from around the corner of the buggy and lifted the latch with his nose. With an evil grin (that probably just looked like a slightly open mouth to a human) he thrust his head upwards, using his hind legs as leverage off the floor, and the cart door opened. Finally! He knew the container of fish was in her somewh-crash! The door came down on bis head again. Not hard enough to actually hurt him, but it threw off his focus.
He used his previous maneuver to get it open again, this time watching to see if it’s stay...but it didn’t. So he settled with letting it rest on top of his while his top half was still i side searching around.
The vibration had become rather intense. It wasn’t painful - and it didn’t truly control the boy - but it was very insisting. Excitement, disbelief, and even confusion and fear were sensed from it. Had it truly been discovered after all this time!? So many before had passed over and not heard its call. Why was this one different? Was the entity saving it kinder than the others? Or just less dense enough to feel its signal of distress.
Axel flung dirty and rock wildly behind him as he dug. A bit of it occasionally hot Riku in the face, even though he was in front of him.
Rock. Rock. Rock. Flashlight. (Though that one didn’t taste that bad. Plastic? Why had he never appreciated the taste if plastic before?) Oh! The container....! And it still smelled and tasted like fish even though it was sealed. How...how would he open it? His paws weren’t as clever as Riku’s weird ones, and his mouth surely wasn't that talented...
Screw it. TEETH! Corona dug them into the top of the container, chewing and shredding until it cracked and broke all the way open. Finally! He reached his muzzle in and grabbed what he had worked so hard to claim.
Rock. Rock. Rock. Flesh!? Oh wait, that was just his other hand under a bit of loose dirt Axel had kicked up. Oh! The vibration become so clear, suddenly, that it could almost be physically heard. He wondered if the less magically inclined could even sense it at all....bug he sure did.
Finally! He reached in with his hands and grabbed what he has worked so hard to claim. Dusting it off, he saw a bright pink ovalish sort of gem.....and it thanked him for being released. There....they had what they came for today.
Though....better be thorough and check all the new loose rocks and rubble for other goodies.
He had met het here, and now he wanted to see what she could do on her own terrain. Gods know she had seen a bunch of his. After she discovered him and followed him home, she got into everything at his house and kennel. The Malii weren’t sure what to make of her - although they seemed to recognize the familiar (yet not so familiar) ethereal she was cloaked in.
Now they were back, and he could get all up in her cabinets looking for who knows what. She....probably didn’t have cabinets, though. Who knows? He couldn’t very well ask her, since he had since found out she didn’t speak Common after all. She just repeated things he said. Like a parrot. A. Very. Smart. Parrot!
Home at last! She had always thought the nines were mazing and endless, and yet once she stepped foot ‘outside’ she learned a truer meaning of the word ‘endless’.
There were less walls! And there was usually only dirt on the ground instead of the ceiling - and sometimes the ground wasn’t even made of dirt! It was a wondrous and magical world!
And she had had enough of it for a while. Her neck began to get tired of looking up and trying to find where the blue ceiling ended. And why did it change colors to resemble her home every so much time? It made her miss the cozy caves she always knew.
She ran ahead of her new friend who had been very patient with her for the last week. He had shown her where he rested and stockpiled, and so she wanted to do the same. The share in their vastly different cultures was such an interesting way to pass the time and bond.
She ran ah- ahead? Where did he go? She ran back the way she came until she fount him, grabbed his hand and hurried the human along.
“Home, home, home!” He cooed, having learned a word while she was away. The boy always used it when they were going back to his designated territory, so she felt like she was using it right. She was grateful he seemed to understand her more than she did him.
“Okay, Echo, I’m coming.” Riku laughed. For such a tiny person, she sure did move swiftly. It’s not like she was light as a feather at her stature. Made of diamond, she weighed almost as much as he did!
He groaned, not wanting to run, but she insisted. If only he didn’t have to lug around the wooden cart. Every now and then it would snag on a rock and jerk backwards while he was rushing forwards, jabbing him in the gut with its bulk. This time he tried to keep at least a foot between it and him. Again, he didn’t like running.
A few more twists and turns, a few openings they didn’t get to explore - and one clearly obvious gold vein (hopefully just fool’s gold) - and they reached a new opening.
“Home.” Echo stated, proudly. She didn’t even seem out of breath. (Did she even breathe?)
Riku squatted down while he caught his, examining the room. It definitely felt like someone’s home. There was running water similar to the soot where he’d met her. Those were always extremely nice. He felt like they were lucky, too! He even noticed a few mushrooms spread out around the room. Fortunately he didn’t bring any hungry Malii. They were probably inedible. They gave the room that extra sense of life, though.
“Home...” he said to her, smiling. He loved it.
“Home!” She darted across the space and skipped in the water. She really was like a child...but clearly very bright. He didn’t want to treat her with condescension.
Was she old for her species? Young? Did she have a family? Was she one of a kind? How did she comes to be - and how did she come to be here? He had so many questions...but he couldn’t properly ask them. He didn’t want to give her a ribbon of telepathy...those were expensive and he already used too many. Besides, she was clearly sentient and could at least mimic some words. She could probably be taught a very basic vocabulary and they could communicate to a degree that was necessary.
He didn’t own her...but he wanted to help her. He wouldn’t force her out of the cave with him...but if she wanted to come ‘home’ again, he’d let her follow. Maybe he could bring her a bed for this place - if she decided she wanted to stay, that is. Was this what she preferred? Or was it all that she could do on her own?
“E-cho! Echooo...!” She sang to herself while she ran around the room. Picking up a dirty.....something old and rotten, she brought it to Riku and shoved in close to his face to admire.
“Wow...” he said politely, not knowing what it was - other than odorous.
“WOW!” She screamed. “Wowowowowow...” She played with the sound as her mouth created it on repeat. “owowowowowowwwwowoWOW!” She laughed to herself, and then flew over to a higher up point on the room.
She sure seemed glad to be back. Maybe she would want to stay here. He wasn’t really sure what she ate - or even if she ate anything at all. He didn’t see her eat while they were at his house. He even offered her a range from fish to berries to gem-treats. Nothing. Maybe she was too curious and anxious with the new outer world to have any sort of appetite.
“Riku!” She called, having learned his name while they were outside. He looked over at her, and soon after she vanished into a shadow.
Laughing, he said “That’s a neat trick!” And he could hear her moving around, though he still could not see her. Behind him, the gravel was shifting...but he let her have the surprise.
“WOW!” She chirped with a little girl’s laughter, stabbing her black diamond hand into his shadow the buggy light had cast.
“Ooooh noo...!” He played, trying to move away.....and falling not so on purpose. “Oof!” That was...odd. He looked back, and her little hand was still holding his shadow in place near his foot, and it seemed to keep his actual foot in place as well. What an interesting ability! “Wow!”
“Wowowowowow!” He laughed again, flying over a few feet away and pointing with her white hand to a mushroom. Apparently she was giving him a demonstration.
“Riku...!” She called again to make sure he was looking.
“Yes, yes, I can see you, Echo.” He smiled, gesturing that he was ready for her to show him what it was she was about to do.
She pointed again at he mushroom with her white diamond hand and her hand began to glow. Suddenly a dart of light shot out of her arm and pierced the shroom! “Wow!” She said again, laughing.
He was truly impressed. “Wow!” He said, laughing with her. She had not been so enthusiastic the entire time he had known her. At first she seemed extremely proud and confident. Cautious, but understandably so since he was new to her. Out of the mines, she lit up and became like an entirely different person. Full of wonder. She finally acted like a child as much as she looked like one in size. But he could easily tell there was more to her than that.
Now he was in her world. He wanted to see how she reacted to other mining creatures. Especially those that were less cunning than she was. Did she fear them? Did they fear her? Was she so...silly with other creatures? With his Malii she seemed curious at first, but once she had examined them to a degree she tried to bounce back to a more dominant attitude. Not that the Malii would be intimidated or hardly impressed by someone so small. They had seen other strange creatures before, large and small.
“This is a very nice place, Echo.” He said. He figured by now she could only repeat back a few words, but he tried to use proper vocal communication skills so she could eventually learn his language - even if she may not ever speak it. “I love your home.”
“Home.” She said, warmly, and then grabbed his hand and said “Riku!” Eagerly gesturing for him to get up and follow her into a different room.
He figured it made sense that they wouldn’t go hacking at the walls of her home for jewels. So he got the cart and followed her a little ways until she seemed satisfied in one spot. She opened the cart herself and pulled out the mallet that had first stolen her attention when they met. She made a questioning sort of sound as she carefully held the heavy piece of wood.
“Mallet.” Riku replied, giving her the word like he had been doing every minute for the last week at his house.
“Mallet.” She said in a deep voice, nodding as if she understood and had mentally jotted it down. She saw him do that once that week and and continued to mimic the behavior because it seemed funny to her. She....definitely wasn’t going to remember most of what she learned yet. There was just too much new stuff!
Riku took the pickax and pierced it into the wall, which was thanking a bit softer so there wasn’t much of a crashing sound wave.
They walked through the cavern side my side. It was a bit wider than the usual tunnel, and Riku appreciated the extra space. Sometimes they had to walk in a line, but this one allowed them to travel side by side, even with the buggy. The dirt was a little bit lighter and looser, and there were spikes in the ground and hanging from the ceiling that signified water at some point. He loved finding water so deep underground...it really peaked his curiosity!
Aslan had his head high as he walked beside his new friend. He approved of the human and felt something quite special about his spirit and demeanor. He wasn't all to aware of the feeling, but it was there. He felt very proud to adventure with him today. He could smell the moisture in the ground and felt a familiar essence around him of different mosses that were discretely growing where they hopefully wouldn't be found by hungry scavengers.