It was a little like how you could start to make out details within the shape of what you saw at a distance, once you got right up to it, except he wasn’t ‘seeing’ with his eyes in this case. It was more a sense of… what was. He wanted to say that it was like a sensation--- and in this case, it really was, since the element was fire, and the sensation was ‘hot’. But he didn’t feel it with anything of his corporeal body, and when the crystal was prismatic or hollow, describing the sense of it was a lot less straightforward.
Whether the gargoyle knew what sort of crystal they would find, Aster couldn’t tell, but it certainly no longer needed his help in locating it. Shortly, it was going to come up with it, and then they would both be able to see what it was.
Fire… It was a pity, Aster had been hoping to collect those for a second node. It was true that he had Summer, and she had a little in the way of fire-related magic, but her supply wasn’t inexhaustible, and there was always room to augment his own power.
Though in truth, with that argument, any element would do. More wind wouldn’t have been amiss either, and he had seriously considered the option. But something about fire spoke to him too, and somehow it felt right that it would be his second… or perhaps he was simply guided by nostalgia, by tradition, for all that he had tried to sever ties to the place of his birth.
He frowned at the thought, and chased it away, in favor of focusing on what was happening before him now. The gargoyle did produce the crystal, and it hadn’t taken long at all to dig it out once it knew where to do so.
Aster admired the gentle glow of it in the relatively dim light of the caverns--- and what light there was was contributed entirely by his tools.
But the gargoyle, curiously enough, seemed… disappointed. Aster thought he was imagining it, but no, the more he watched, the more he felt that it was true. There was no overt sign of enthusiasm, no proclamation, and very little activity altogether from the gargoyle. And it hadn’t exactly been reticent in making itself understood before. It didn’t, in fact, strike Aster as a particularly stoic creature, even though they had only really been acquainted for a short time.
It could have been shock and reverence that had it all frozen up like that, but somehow, Aster doubted it.
“Do you… not like it?” he ventured. At the sound of his voice, whatever thoughts or trance that the gargoyle might previously have been under was broken.
It visibly startled, then turned to look at him, with an expression that might almost have been guilty… No, Aster was sure he must have been imagining that part.
But still, this look only seemed to further confirm what he had suspected. The gargoyle didn’t exactly answer his question, which he might not have been able to due to a lack of comprehension in the language, but at length he motioned to the crystal and, clearly with an air of great pain, shook his head.
Aster rubbed at the back of his neck. Okay, so it had turned out like he thought it would, but… That begged the question of what they would do now. They had a crystal. To that end, the bargain had been upheld on his part, in full. Aster had even helped them in finding it, so he didn’t feel as though the gargoyle had done all the work, and he had just been along as a free rider either.
But if the gargoyle didn’t want it… then what were they supposed to do?
Well, if the gargoyle didn’t want it, Aster certainly wouldn’t turn up his nose at a free fire crystal. He pointed to it, then to himself. The gargoyle looked up at his gesture, then back at the crystal, and Aster didn’t need to see all that well to guess that it was feeling conflicted.
“Look,” Aster said, “we can keep going until you find one you like.” He doubted it would understand, but he wished it would. This was a little more difficult to express with pantomime or doodling.
Still, in the interest of getting that crystal, he did try, at least. Crouching down where he could find a bit of dirt, he grabbed one of his smaller tools and drew in it with the handle so not as to blunt the business end of it.
The gargoyle watched him, apparently curious in spite of its distress. Aster felt somehow more uncomfortable under the scrutiny, but reminded himself that his artistic skills hardly need be anything noteworthy, so long as they managed to communicate his point.
… Though considering what his drawing skills actually were, he wasn’t confident of even that much. Well, it was worth an attempt, at least.
He drew a crystal shape similar to what the gargoyle itself had done previously, then drew some lines around it that he hoped looked near enough to fire. He pointed to the crystal in the gargoyle’s claws. Thus far, the gargoyle seemed to follow, and nodded once in acknowledgement of it.
With that established, Aster drew a second crystal shape, and this time he left it unmarked. He pointed to the collar that the gargoyle had indicated, and then to the drawn and empty crystal, before handing the tool over to the gargoyle.
It took a moment for the gargoyle to catch his meaning, but it did manage to puzzle this out, and then it moved closer so that it could draw alongside where Aster had placed the empty crystal drawing on the dirt floor of the cavern. To accommodate him, Aster moved away to give him a little more room to move.
He didn’t try to peer too closely at what the gargoyle was drawing over there, though he was in fact fairly curious about it. At first, Aster had suspected that any crystal would do just fine. They were rare enough, and certainly commanded quite a price in the market, such that Aster knew he was better off toiling in the dirt and rock himself than to try and see if he could purchase any.
But upon reflection, he realized he had probably done the poor gargoyle a disservice with that assessment.
As far as he knew, the socketing process for these guys was irreversible, and so it made sense that this one had a more specific goal in mind for that than just any crystal whatsoever. After all, it would be the one living with the consequences of the choice, whenever it managed to succeed in its endeavor.
Still, no sense in trying to guess at the picture before it was complete. Communicating in this manner was already tricky enough without their trying to finish each other’s sentences, so to speak. The gargoyle was still drawing, and it occurred to Aster that it was taking quite a bit of time to do it. Either it wasn’t much of an artist either, or the concept of the crystal was a little more difficult to convey. Or both.
Not one of the elemental ones then, he thought. Those ought to be easy enough.
Fire was, in his opinion, probably still the easiest and most distinctive to draw; and maybe a creature that lived all its life underground had a hard time conceptualizing ‘wind’ or putting it into an image. But as for earth, even holding up a rock would have done just fine.
Aster was just starting to itch for a peek after all when the gargoyle finally stepped back from its work. He peered at it, frowned, then came closer so that he might have a better look at it.
It certainly wasn’t one of the four elemental crystals. That much he knew straight away. There were altogether too many symbols for something so simple as that. But he wasn’t sure, looking at it, that it was one of the types he knew either. There were symbols that made him think light, or perhaps fire after all, but just as many to contradict it
Here was something that resembled what he might have drawn for wind himself, or for water, for example. And there were many symbols he couldn’t begin to hazard a guess at.
The gargoyle was watching him with that same sense of anxious anticipation that had followed its first attempts to communicate its favor with him. Probably it hoped that he would understand, that he would accept and not refuse. Now that Aster had adopted the mindset of understanding how permanent a situation this was to be for it, he could understand why it was so anxious.
Aster wished he could offer the gargoyle something reassuring, but he had yet to figure out the meaning behind the image.
“Well, it’s not fire,” he said. The corner of his mouth pulled a bit tighter, the frown deepening as he thought. He tapped his torch, and looked questioningly at the gargoyle. Could it be light?
The gargoyle shook its head, then made a motion with its claws as if wiping a window… No, that couldn’t be right. There was nothing about windows or the washing thereof that would be relevant here. He thought back to the picture again, and tried to put the two ideas together. A lot of things… All? All the elements, all of them? Was that the answer? Upon re-examination, that gesture did sort of have an all-encompassing sense to it, if you chose to interpret it that way.
“You want a prismatic crystal?” Aster said, not a little incredulous at the audacity of the gargoyle. He was still fairly certain it didn’t actually understand what he was saying, but something in his incredulity must have communicated to it, and while it didn’t nod, it looked at him with renewed hope.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want the gargoyle’s help. Thus far it had been as helpful as anything, and while he did miss the familiarity and dependability of his gem drake, it was also nice to have a mining partner that didn’t look like it was actively disparaging of him. How could a little gem creature level such a withering look? Aster didn’t know, but Cinna managed. And if it took a long time to find what this gargoyle was looking for, then that only meant that he stood to benefit more from the prolonged nature of the contract. The terms seemed to favor him almost exclusively.
The trouble was that he could hardly assure the gargoyle that they would succeed. Aster looked at its face, so full of hope, and felt that the let-down was going to be inevitable. And Aster wasn’t the type who was callous enough to do it without some guilt on his conscience either.