Time always appeared to pass by quickly across the colony, its members growing in number until today, where they stood 30 strong. They had to expand quite a bit, the village branching out to the edges of the mushroom’s stump they’d settled on. Eventually, they even gained the skill of mining and smithing, though they didn’t have the materials for it yet. Elcarus had discovered a nearby mine a few days ago, of which he’d alerted the colony to. Ainar and Vasiliki wished to go and explore this new discovery with him, their interest growing every minute that the elders, Salus, Luben and Gentle Ashes, discussed about them allowing the group of three to head towards it. In the end, the group agreed, Lian the scientist allowing this to happen with a quiet sigh.
“I can’t believe it, we’re actually going to see it!” Vasiliki was always a strange individual, but kept her arms and heart open to adventure, especially after having grown up within the tight protection of the village she’d known for most of her life. Elcarus, for one, had become a protective member of the village, despite his love for adventure, as he loved almost everyone within the area. ...Well, except for Noctur. That fellow had an odd aura to him. His brother was okay for the most part. Ainar was the one to snap him out of his thoughts and back to the current situation. “So, where was that cavern you discovered exactly?” “Oh, right!” Elcarus turned towards the south-east, “It would be to the south, near the large mountains.” “And one of the engulfing mud, right…?” Vasiliki said, tilting her head lightly. Ainar flinched at that, ears pinning back slightly, “...I… didn’t know that part.” Elcarus noted his tension, and pat his side lightly with a reassuring smile, “Don’t worry, we’ll be just fine together.” “You’re right…” Ainar collected himself, though his ears remained pinned, betraying his sentiment of stress that remained, “We’re at least a bit stronger in numbers…”
The journey to the mines was quite a challenge, the forest becoming thicker with roots, bushes and the occasional tree as they headed forth. The wild mushrooms puffed under the steps of the Tsabhuas, releasing their spores to the air in hopes that they settle elsewhere and create their own colony. Vasiliki giggled at this, running after a few, though she nearly tripped over a few of the roots while doing so. Elcarus cleared his throat, and Vasiliki gave a sheepish chuckle, before righting herself once more, and moved along. She was supposed to be a guard after all, or at least, she wanted to train to become one. Being goofy like that would only lead to some trouble… though maybe she could change to be a harvester or a hunter? The fishers appeared to have a few moments of fun out in the swamp, so… “Vasiliki… are you alright?” Ainar asked, as he suddenly stopped her from stepping into the engulfing mud pit. “She’s in her own head, as usual.” Elcarus shook his own as he headed for the entrance of the dark cavern. “Yes Ainar…” Vasiliki responded softly after collecting herself, “I’m okay. Sorry for worrying you…” “It’s fine! Come on, I wanna see the glowing ore that Elcarus spoke to us about!”
The group headed quietly into the cavernous entrance, looking around as it slowly grew darker. Elcarus took up a torch for himself, guiding the group through the tunnels that shrunk and grew at random intervals, or split off into serpentine shards like a river of darkness. Vasiliki was a bit on edge as the tunnels grew tight around her at some point, Ainar helping her through before they entered a large, dome-like room. “This is it… the area where I found it.” Elcarus muttered, looking around, “I’ll have to close the torch through. You guys have the flint to light it again?” “Yep!” Ainar held up the black stone, and Elcarus gave a nod. “Alright… Here's to hoping.” “Wait!” Vasiliki suddenly spoke, “...I think we won’t need to close it…!” Vasiliki walked over, to investigate if what she saw was right. Squinting, she picked up one of the stones, which appeared to be of a different color than its counterparts. “...It looks like…” “Silver.” A fourth voice echoed through the cavern, leading to the Tsabs squeaking in surprise, followed by a hiss of the group. “Easy, it’s just me.” Lian, the scientist, had followed the group over with proper equipment. Despite their knowledge of the land, she didn’t want them to get lost underground. After all, two of the three had never been quite outside the village to fully experience things. “Lian? I thought you were staying in the village…” Elcarus said, tilting his head. “I worry about you guys, alright? Everyone’s one big family, and we need to look out after one another.” She sighed, before walking over, “...From the depth we’re at, and the look of the sheen on that stone, you guys found a silver ore vein. At least, I think that’s what it is.” She kneeled down, looking with Vasiliki.
“But we thought that the ore didn’t glow…?” Ainar asked, growing a bit fidgety with his hands as he looked around the cavern. “It’s not.” Lian explained, Elcarus frowning slightly but, still interested in what the scientist had for an explanation for the glow of things. “It’s the mushroom spores from outside.” “They can’t reach down here.” Elcarus spoke after Lian told her statement, “We’re too deep for that.” “Actually… it's barely noticeable, but there is a breeze around us…” Ainar spoke, Vasiliki lifting her head, “...There is…!” “They’re naturally bioluminescent.” Lian continued, “I’m not sure why, but that’s just how things went with nature here. Still…” She hummed to herself, scratching her chin. Elcarus tilted his head as to what she could be pondering, “Well, speak up Lian. You know I hate being left guessing as to what you have on your mind.” “Alright, alright, fine!” She huffed, “Maybe we should start mining out this area, or digging into it at least… we should bring some of the already fallen shards back to show the others.”
With that, the group began to collect up some of the fallen ore, and placed it in Lian’s bag, though they made sure not to make it too heavy as the fire of the torch flickered to a dimmer state, the fuel that the flame used running out and leaving them in the dark. Elcarus groaned in anger, while Ainar squeaked in surprise, and Vasiliki felt around for them. “Everyone okay?” “Yep!” “All good here!” After everyone was confirmed to be alright, Lian lit up her lamp-torch she carried around, illuminating the cavern once more, and revealed a string that led to the outside, “Come on, let’s head home.” The group nodded, and all followed to the safety of the outdoors, bathing in the warmth of the sun and the freshness of the air. Maybe they’d discover the glowing crystals that laid deeper within the mine… but that’s a story for another day, isn’t it? To home it was, with a warm meal awaiting them.
Elcarus discovered a strange cavern within the earth with a strange glowing ore within it not too far from the colony. He, Vasiliki and Ainar go to explore it. Is there a mystery to that ore, or is it something explainable? Read to find out...!
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