The collar that the gargoyle wore, which was very clearly made of metal itself, seemed to blend in with the body. That the two were of similar colors, he could at least be certain, but he couldn’t definitively say whether this actually confirmed that the gargoyle itself was made of metal.
Well, he’d never heard of a shop offering their services in melting these guys down. He was pretty sure that, given how there was a service to dismantle gem beasts, if it was possible with gargoyles, he would have heard about it by now. The gargoyles were certainly rarer, but on the other hand, metals seemed to be in shorter supply in general too. Proportionally, very few of his finds were ores.
He had been staring too long, and the gargoyle was beginning to look genuinely puzzled. Aster was forced to avert his gaze elsewhere, and think of other things.
If the gargoyles were made of metal, then they fit that pattern, but there were those… worms too… and those odd winged bug-like things, both of which were apprently also capable of acting as mining familiars. He’d encountered the worms himself, and they were most certainly flesh and blood, as far as he could tell. It wasn't knowledge that he had set out to earn, but unfortunately, he'd earned it.
As for the bugs, he couldn’t say with certainty, but he was pretty sure they were all just bug goo and chitin, or whatever it is most giant insects were made of. Of course, what use an underground creature had for wings was another question, but he could ask the same of the Sarane that made their homes down here. The wings on the hens were vestigial, but they weren’t any less functional on the drakes than on other colors of the species.
It occurred to Aster that he might garner an interesting reaction from the gargoyle if he endeavored to introduce it to one of his drakes. He didn't mean to have it get up close and personal with one, of course; that would just be cruelty to one or both of them, even if the drakes were trained. But it must have been aware, at least, of their existence if it had spent its life down here. More to the point, since they were intelligent enough to have some sort of society, perhaps they warned each other about them too.
Now he really wished he could speak to the gargoyle, if only to ask after that particular topic. Maybe they had their own ingenious ways to cope with the presence of Sarane in the mines. Aster was pretty sure none of it would impact his own husbandry, but it was still an interesting topic to consider.
It was probably a good thing that the gargoyle was paying attention to where they were going and what they were doing there, because by this point, Aster wasn’t anymore. In his defense, wandering the dark tunnels got old pretty quickly. When he wasn’t being actively made uncomfortable by the particular conditions of the trek, he let his mind wander if he didn’t have to be in charge.
He only stopped when the gargoyle did again. This time, it didn’t take it as long to find what it wanted, and it made a few cursory scratches at the rock as it considered this. However, rather than digging down itself, this time it turned to Aster.
Aster was a little surprised, but not put off, since at least it would give him something to do. He had just been lamenting the lack of anything with which to occupy his time, so he could hardly complain when his circumstances finally changed to remedy that.
“Alright, where do you want me to dig?” he asked, bringing out his pick and hefting it in one hand. He used both hands when he actually swung the thing, but until then, it was easier to just hold it in one.
Seeing that Aster had the tool in hand seemed to be enough to communicate his willingness to the gargoyle, who pointed out an area. That was as good a sign for Aster as any. He held the pick up, then swung down, and was about to do it again when the gargoyle hurriedly got in front of him, shaking its hands and its head at once. It was an obvious gesture for him to stop; it was just that Aster wasn’t expecting it, and almost didn’t manage to stop himself in time. Which would have been an unfortunate way to cement their newfound partnership, if ever there was one.
"Whoa," Aster said, lowering the pick and trying to calm himself. It happened so suddenly, and it was close enough a call that he felt a little unsettled by it. But the gargoyle must have had a reason for doing what it had done. From what little time they had spent together, Asted hadn't figured that a death wish was chief among its desires. Indeed, if it was planning for the future enough to enlist his help in finding the crystal that it wanted to place in its collar, then it must have planned on having a future, right?
… Well, then again… it was possible that the gargoyle wanted it as a gift or favor for someone else, rather than taking it for itself. And it could be lying about wanting one at all, though Aster wouldn't know to what end. It seemed like a funny sort of thing to lie about.
The gargoyle shook its head again. Aster was marginally gratified to see that the gargoyle was also looking a bit rattled. At least he wasn't alone in that respect.
The gargoyle only relaxed after he was certain that Aster had stopped moving. It slumped visibly, then straightened itself up again and pointed to a different place than the one Aster had first struck with his pick. Only then did Aster see why the gargoyle had moved to stop him. Apparently it had a much more detailed plan as to how best to dig for what it had sensed than Aster was used to.
In retrospect maybe he should have expected this. It had enough in common with how the gargoyle dug when it was just using its own claws for the job. It had been very precise back then too, and Aster had the sense that there had been no wasted effort on its part.
Having seen it at work, he had no doubt that this would be the most efficient method, or at least a markedly more efficient one than whatever Aster would have done.
It was just that he wasn't used to it, and hadn't had enough forethought to anticipate it either. Thus, he hadn't managed to register what was happening quickly enough to stop sooner than when he did.
Now he inspected the point that the gargoyle had pointed out. "How many times?" he said, and held up one finger, looking at the gargoyle. It inclined its head, so Aster raised a second finger, and then a third. This was a clear enough signal, and the gargoyle returned his gesture by holding up two of its own fingers. Aster gave it a nod, then set to work. He swung twice, with the same force that he had used when he swung down the first time, or as close to it as he could manage.
It occurred to him that he had no way of asking the gargoyle to specify how hard he had to swing. Now its choice took on a slightly different possibility--- maybe it hadn't tried to specify the number of swings the first time because it wasn't sure how much force he would use for each one. That first swing had been a test, then, of his abilities--- or his restraint.
Well, he couldn't fault it for that, he supposed. Their communication was just going to have to be this kind of work in progress, and Aster was just going to have to be careful about not falling into old habits. Which he would try for, but habits were habits for a reason, and unfortunately they were hard to break.
After he finished those two swings, he looked again to the gargoyle to see what it would have him do. The gargoyle, upon noticing that Aster's attention was on it, pointed to another spot and held up one finger.
Aster swung down, then looked to the gargoyle for instruction again.
In this manner, they dug for a while. It was slow going, but because of the gargoyle's method, it didn't leave Aster very tired. He suspected that they would become faster at it too once they had a better rapport, and then he was sure it would do very well for the both of them.
And for now, well, it wasn't as if Aster was particularly impatient to see the stone, or stones, such as it was. He couldn't feel any evidence of magic here, so it categorically couldn't be a crystal, and anything else… When you've been mining long enough, a lot of it starts to look the same to you. Aster had more or less reached that point. It was true that he hadn't been back down here in a while, but in the meantime it wasn't as if all the stones he had dug up thus far had just vanished into the ether either.
Most of his stones didn't end up for trade, and when he did trade them, he preferred to use the ones he had more of first. The Hara liked looking at them, and Claire in particular was something of a completionist in that regard. She would have noticed if a stone they'd had went missing.
He also hadn't had much occasion to cut any of them for a long time, which was helped, perhaps, by the fact that the workshop seemed to be closed as of late. He didn't know anything about that, but it was what it was. Use of the facilities had been free, so what could he complain about really?
The result was that he had a lot of rocks from the mines for staring at, and the bulk of them ceased to be of very strong interest to him. The patience it lent him came in handy, he was sure, for times like this.
He and the gargoyle actually had something in common--- if he was being honest, Aster spent most of his time down here looking for crystals too. Sure, sometimes a particularly striking or promising stone caught his eye, and occasionally he struck an interesting vein of ore--- there was a strange pink metal here, among other things--- but what he really wants was to find more materials for nodes. Anything less generally failed to excite him these days.
At least he had his magic sense to warn him against disappointment. When the rock finally came away under the gargoyle's guidance and his careful efforts, the rock finally came away to reveal a couple of green flecks among the surrounding rock.
The gargoyle took over from this point onward. It dug quickly around each stone to separate them out from the rock that they were embedded in. The deftness was unparalleled, and it had pulled them both out before Aster had a chance to grow bored with watching.
It presented them to him, not bothering to wait for Aster to ask for them this time around. It had likely anticipated, based on what happened when they had last found a precious stone, what Aster was going to want to do.
That was the nice thing about an intelligent partner. He could tell that they were both making an active effort to learn each other's habits and cues. It was definitely still awkward, and he imagined it would be awkward for some time yet, but even now, there were Improvements to be had.
Aster gave the stones a cursory look. It was a bit hard to differentiate the stones based on appearance alone when his visibility was reduced by the poor lighting, and there were a few different green stones, but he could begin to hazard a guess based on what cues he could pick out from the indicators available to him.
Renathan: I feel ya on that one TC; I thought I had most of mine done but alas. It's a good motivator!
Oct 22, 2021 15:08:00 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: (And this just might give me the kick in the butt I need with updating the images in my kennel and everywhere else to neocities, before starting the registration. X3)
Oct 22, 2021 15:02:46 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: It definitely looks pretty with how you did it Silver~! XD
Oct 22, 2021 15:00:38 GMT -6
Xentus: I suppose I'll share my trick here too for those working on registry/inventory stuff. You can drag and drop images from one thread to a different post if you have the two windowed, side-by-side. The receiving end needs to be previewed
Oct 22, 2021 9:52:11 GMT -6
Silver: I just want people to register stuff in whatever way is easy for them (while still being enough that it's easy for staff to read if we need to). So I hope people aren't too stressed.
Oct 22, 2021 2:43:35 GMT -6
Silver: Ah! Thanks. I try.
Oct 22, 2021 1:49:37 GMT -6
Ashe: Yours is so pretty tho
Oct 22, 2021 1:43:44 GMT -6
Silver: For anyone looking at my inventory - don't worry you don't have to do it like mine, the list is very clear about what you need to register - I've just gone extra with mine!
Oct 22, 2021 1:34:25 GMT -6
Renathan: Heheh-yeah! New registries! :3
Oct 21, 2021 18:53:24 GMT -6
Alma: Same old same old for me. Glad it's going well for you two, hope it reaches decent spook-levels.
Oct 21, 2021 13:55:02 GMT -6
Ashe: Super busy, irl not as spooky as I'd like, but on here it's going great
Oct 21, 2021 13:13:15 GMT -6
Badrani: Really well! What about yours?
Oct 21, 2021 12:56:08 GMT -6