The sand had barely settled around the group before Spen started coughing and waving her arms about in exasperation. "Well, that is just great now is it not?" the anger in her voice was palpable "What the hell were you thinking, Ma'groth!" she turned her anger onto her dark bodied companion. This warranted a grunt from the older male Belemoid as he slowly picked himself up off the sand covered but rocky floor.
"What? And you were standing so far away from the ledge too, huh?" he growled back, in no mood to be scolded by a youngling when covered by the Issiq sands that had followed them down into the cavern.
His retort caused Spen to shut her mouth abruptly. He was not wrong in suggesting that she had also approached a bit too close to the edge, aiding in causing the landslide which landed them inside the cavern they were investigating from above. "Yeah, well.."
"Spen, please." Sahara cut her off, resting a paw on her friend. "There is no use in squabbling down here."
"The Belemoid are correct." chimed in Flame as he attempted to observe their surroundings - using his considerable height to his advantage. "We appear to have two options, explore the caverns we were investigating, or find a way to get back to the surface." Sahara did not appreciate being cut off, despite her doing the same to Spen moment earlier. However she also conceded that this was indeed the best course of action.
"Well I certainly vote we explore." Ma'groth's eyes were wide and keen as he finally took in their surroundings, now having a better look from inside the cavern rather than outside. "And who knows, we may even find some fun treasures to take back with us!" his excitement earned him a chuckle from Sahara, but a groan from Spen.
"I would be keen to check out this place too" agreed Sahara. "What about you Spen? Would that be alright with you?"
Spen glared at Ma'groth for a while before sighing in resignation. "Fine. There is no point in me trying to get out by myself. May as well make the most of our situation."
"That is the spirit!" Sahara nudged her shoulder against Spen's playfully. "We came to explore anyway!"
Flame adjusted his bag, having picked it up from where it fell in the sand slide and donned it once more. "Sounds like we have a consensus. We should get moving then, before it gets too dark that is."
"What about Siv?" Sahara asked regarding leaving their last companion behind.
"Good point" Ma'groth started, furrowing his brow as he thought. "We should leave her a note letting her know where we have gone. Then, should she also venture into the cavern, she can join us later." He had already begun scrawling a note on his spare parchment as he thought out loud before placing it gently on a prominent rock. "There, now can we please get going? I am so excited for this place!" He gestured in a wide arc into the cavern before them. As their eyes adjusted, the more intricate structures could be seen beneath the rocky outcrop above, earning a wondered gasp from most of the group.
"That is just... so beautiful. I wonder what happened?" Spen thought out loud.
Before the group, the ground sloped gently away from them as it went deeper into the cavern until it met with large and ancient looking ruins. The sandstone structures appeared to have once been magnificent and intricate, but for now sections had fallen into rubble and it appeared even from the distance that they stood that there would be massive sections of the sprawling city which would be unable to be traversed due to collapse of both structure and the rocks above.
After what felt like simultaneously minutes and mere seconds, Flame cleared his throat to snap his Belemoid companions out of their trance of wonderment. "Ahem. Excuse my intrusion but we really must be going. We do not know what perils we may face, nor how long it may take us to find an exit. Our rations will only last so long..."
"Yes yes thank you Flame." Ma'groth dismissed the Tsabhua with a wave of his claws "Ever so logical you are. Alright gang! Let us move out!"
Led by Ma'groth, the group started down the path towards the ruins, excitement coursing through their veins as they got ever closer to the unknown destination. As they went, Spen, Sahara and Ma'groth each wandered around and off the path, investigating different curiosities or looking behind rocks to get a better view and scout the area. Flame merely walked along at a slow but steady pace, sketching roughly in his notebook the sights and angles of the ruins as they approached and things became clearer. Spen picked up various stones and pocketed them to investigate more thoroughly later - many looked like duds but some may hide valuable gems inside and she was very eager to find out which was which.
Eventually the ruins were imminently before the group, the sheer size was quite baffling just as the sandstone pillars displayed a magnitude of intricate carvings and glyphs. A low hum seemed to fill the air, or perhaps it was merely the electric excitement barely contained by each and every one of the members of the group. This could indeed be a discovery of a lifetime and each anticipated the treasures, knowledge and adventure which laid before them.
"I.. I am almost too nervous to go in. What if it is a disappointment?" Sahara questioned, putting words to everyones pause.
"Well even so, we may not find anything of value inside, surely the knowledge would be enough to mark the expedition a success, no?" Flame offered, his own excitement rising in his voice.
"Well yeah but.. I am a miner at heart, you know this. I cannot leave empty handed!" Ma'groth asserted, determination in his eyes.
This caused Spen to laugh "Oh come on now, we will pick you up a shiny rock on the way out." her tone patronised him like a child distracted by meaningless trinkets. Ma'groth offered up only a growl to her in response.
"Well you all can dawdle out here as much as you want!" Sahara squared up, as if ready to push open a large heavy door of which there was none before them. "I am going in!" she walked off with purpose and gusto between the welcoming pillars. Though no one would admit it, each waited for her to cross the threshold with held breaths in case there was a hidden danger. But once she was past the threshold each leapt forward, eager to join her as they called for her to wait for them.
This fact, of course, Sahara would use to tease them all throughout the journey.
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