Closed Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Richard and Thaloyss chase down a ghost and manage to land themselves in a spot of trouble. Again.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Thaloyss on May 24th, 2015, 2:10 am

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88th of Spring
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Thaloyss lay on her belly at Richard's house. Tascha had become a sort of permanent addition to her person and was kneading her back at the moment, looking quite pleased with herself. The kitten had managed to catch a lizard sunning itself outside.

The ghostwrangling duo were a bit more in-tune with each other than they had been at the start, though they still had some ways to go. It was difficult to practice working together when ghosts weren't the most common of creatures.

"Richard," the Dhani said, reaching around to take Tascha from her back, "I feel we sshould go hunting today. I have heard of a ghosst by a mine sshaft. Perhapss we sshould go do ssomething about it?"

She'd relocated Tascha to her chest, now lying face-up and petting the kitten. She seemed to enjoy head scratches, especially around her ears. "What do you think?"
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Richard Blow on May 24th, 2015, 2:54 am

The Spiritist sighed from his supine position on the bed, pausing in his task of making Safe Zone rope out of his hair. "That's not what a Spiritist does, Loyss." With a push of his foot, he shifted so he could tilt his head over the edge of the bed and look at the Dhani. "I only hunt problem ghosts. Chill ghost's got as much a right to traipse about as we do. He ain't hurtin' anyone. He wants to loiter 'round a mine shaft, let 'em! Why should we bug 'em?"

As if on cue, a miner burst into the house. "Richy! Lo-is! Ghost's burning people outside a mineshaft!"

Richard stared at him blankly, shifted his gaze to Thaloyss, back to the miner, then back to Thaloyss. "Okay. Good reason. Let's bug this petcher."
With that, he rolled over, threw the folded Safe Zone around his neck, popped some trail mix and blood into his mouth, and set off.

The ghost in question was a man in strange dress and a mining helmet too advanced for modern Sunberth. He seemed to be flickering between states of solidness and translucence, solidifying to slap one of the several homeless Sunberthans gathered around the shaft, one of whom was unsuccessfully trying to fight it with a torch. The ghost was shouting incomprehensibly in a dialect that seemed familiar but Richard couldn't quite place. The slaps didn't impart any real force, but instead appeared to afflict the tramps with mild injuries reminiscent of frost burn. Richard rubbed Soulmist into his hands as he watched the scene, chewing another glob into existence while doing so. After a dozen ticks, he spit the gel onto his hand and held it out for Thaloyss. "Strange... Guess he really likes that shaft for some reason." he said with a frown. Something about this ghost was strange to him. Maybe it was just the accent.

Richard shrugged and unfolded the Safe Zone around his neck, throwing it down before calling the harried tramps into it. The ghost tried to follow them, but slammed against an invisible wall matching the position of the rope. It was now that Richard stepped forward. "Oi! What's this noise about? These deadbeats disturbin' your favorite place?"
The ghost responded by fleeing down the mineshaft.

Richard sighed and motioned for the tramps to leave the circle. "Mind if I borrow the torch?" he said as he gathered up the Safe Zone back into a faux-necklace and hung it around his neck again. The tramp with the torch responded by sticking it out in Richard's direction. "Gonna take that as a yes." the Spiritist said sleepily as he took the torch. "A'ight Loyss. Guess we are going hunting."
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Thaloyss on May 24th, 2015, 4:49 am

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A grin slid across Thaloyss' face. She hadn't exactly told him all of what she knew. It would come to them in time, that's how the job worked. Whispers on the street always made their way to them as long as they involved some sort of troublesome ghost. She put Tascha on her shoulder and set off after Richard.

The Dhani frowned at the ghost. Sure, she was expecting a miner (it was the mine shafts, for Siku's sake), but the way he manifested was wrong. His clothes, his equipment, even his speech. It was all so different. She couldn't place the accent, let alone the dialect. It didn't sound like any language she'd ever come in contact with. Just how old was this ghost?

Despite her confusion she couldn't help but chuckle at the slapping the ghost was doing. It was amusing, at least until she noticed the frostburn. Ghosts normally didn't do that. Well, the ones they'd encountered. That meant that this ghost was probably both old and powerful.

The mercenary took the Soulmist from Richard's hand and absentmindedly rubbed it into her hands, arms and shirt. She put a bit on her knees as well. Kneeing a person in the stomach was fun, surely it would be the same deal with ghosts. She joined the homeless Sunberthans in the Safe Zone her partner had laid down and finished applying the Soulmist.

"You sshould teach me how to make Ssoulmisst," she said as she strode after the ghost. It had headed into what would eventually become a dead end, so there was really no need to rush. The only downside is that there were no doubt many branches of the mines to explore.

"Aha! There it iss, Richard. Follow me." Thaloyss started jogging after the ghost, not wanted to wear herself out when the time came for handling it. For about a chime she went after it, but once she poked her head around a corner she found that it had disappeared. It couldn't be that far, could it?

She grabbed the torch from the Spiritist's hand and waved it slowly in a circle. Where had it gone? Her brow furrowed and she squinted into the darkness. A hesitant step forwards became a hesitant step backwards and she turned to Richard. Tascha had been walking across her shoulders the whole time, but now the kitten was sitting unusually still with her head cocked and her ears swiveling.

"I- Did you ssee it go down here? It went down here," she muttered, chewing on her bottom lip. No, something was off. Ghosts didn't just disappear after making that much trouble. Well, she thought they didn't. She took another look around, but the ghost was nowhere in sight.

It was after a good five chimes a thought came to the Dhani, one that chilled her to the bone as if the ghost itself had touched her. No, they couldn't be lost... Could they? It was a maze of tunnels down in the mines, so it wasn't impossible. She had a better sense of direction than that, right? Of course she did. This was just a minor setback.

However, minor setbacks could easily turn into major ones. This one did, panic settling itself comfortably in the pit of her stomach. She didn't want to say anything to Richard, though the look on her face illuminated by the torch expressed her fear far more easily than words.
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Richard Blow on May 24th, 2015, 5:15 am

"I'unno, Loyss..." Richard said uncertainly as they jogged into the mines. "Spiritism's always been sort of a family thing for me n' mine. I mean, my great grandpa stayed a ghost just so I could learn with a safe one. My grandpa's going to do the same for my kid. Not sure if it's something I feel comfortable just giving away. I mean, I do like you, but..."

He fell silent momentarily as Dhani tried to get her bearings. "They can phase through walls, Thaloyss." he deadpanned, taking a quick sniff of the air and frowning. "Petching tunnels are always so twisty..." he thought irritably to himself. As time went on, another thought floated into his mind: he had no idea which direction "back" was. The Spiritist swallowed tensely, and a glance at his partner told him they were both aware of the situation. For both their sakes, however, he couldn't afford to lose his head. With that in mind Richard took a deep breath, picked a tunnel at random, and started walking down it in the most convicted way he could think of (which, admittedly, looked awfully fake unless one desperately wanted to be fooled). "Ghost went this way." he said flatly, though the tension in his voice betrayed his true feelings. "Gotta be strong, Richard..." the Spiritist said to himself. "Gotta keep a handle on things."

"So why the sudden interest in Soulmist?" the wizard asked casually, trying to keep the Dhani's mind off how lost they were. "Watchin' me bleed myself can't make it look that fun, can it?" he said with a playful wink and elbow.
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Thaloyss on May 24th, 2015, 5:38 am

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Well, at least Richard seemed to know where they were going. Thaloyss couldn't do much other than follow him. He was the Spiritist, after all, and he knew far more about ghosts than she did. He was most likely tracking the ghost, right? No?

Fear wouldn't do in this sort of situation. She was a shame to her family, being all terrified. A true Dhani would hold her head up and face the dark, she wouldn't be a snakeling and whine about it. What would her mother say? Probably nothing, though she would give her a stern glare and probably shove her back into the cave. She scratched the top of Tascha's head worriedly.

It wasn't as if she'd lived most of her life in caves. Zinrah was a network of tunnels, but in her defense she was familiar with those. She had a proper guide, not some mousy Spiritist and a ghost that had disappeared.

The mercenary nearly jumped out of her scales -- well, skin -- when Richard spoke again. "No, it doess not look fun. However, if I know how to create Ssoulmisst then you do not have to do it for me. You will bleed lesss. Perhapss it will be more tuned to me than to you and provide better protection when applied to my body. I do not know how these thingss work," she told him, glancing over her shoulder.

She caught a glimpse of an incorporeal foot disappearing into another branch. Without a word she grabbed her partner's hand and dragged him after her as she chased what she thought was the ghost. They could find it and force it to show them the way out of the mines!

Unfortunately it was gone by the time they got there. Thaloyss' grip tightened around both Richard's hand and the torch, feeling the wood give under her fingers. Panic turned to fear and fear turned to anger. There was no way she was dying in these caves. It was an absolutely ridiculous way to go for a Dhani.

Her anger melted back into cold fear. What if she did die in the caves? What would happen to Tascha? She couldn't leave Tascha. A cat couldn't survive down here all by itself, even if there were rats for it to catch. Rats were nasty vermin anyways, and they could easily kill a kitten as young as hers.

"You do not think we are sstuck down here, do you?" she asked, "Do you think we will find the ghosst?"
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Richard Blow on May 24th, 2015, 6:26 am

" 'S complicated." Richard said simply. "Even if y'could make it though, it'd still be worse than mi-" he was cut off again by the Dhani hauling him after what may or may not have been a spectral foot. The Spiritist grit his teeth when Thaloyss' grip on his hand tightened, knuckles screaming in protest. "Thaloyss, that hurts." he hissed pointedly, though his tone and expression softened when he saw the fear on her face. "Yeah, we're pretty stuck, and yeah, we're finding that ghost. Now c'mon," he said with a reassuring smile and squeeze of her hand, "I think I smell the bastard down this fork."

As they ventured deeper, the air grew moister and more sooty, torch sconces whose lights had long moldered to nothing passing their vision. The tunnels were silent as the grave, save for the echoes of pebbles kicked aside and the occasional sniff from Richard. "I gotta wonder..." he said after a time, his voice seeming much louder in the relative quiet of the mines. "Why leave Zinrah for a place like this? I mean, it can't be very close, an' Sunberth ain't known for its high culture. I mean, all we're really known for is..."

The Spiritist stopped. They were looking at a collapsed tunnel. Half-buried carts and tools stuck out at odd angles, and sprawled out on one side was the flaking skeleton of an enormous human. In life, he may have been taller than Thaloyss. As it was, his arm and shin bones were broken, along with his entire left rib cage. "That, basically." Richard mumbled. The wizard had done his best to remain level, but now faced with someone who had clearly failed to leave the mines, he couldn't help but share a touch of Thaloyss' nerves. "How much longer y'think the torch'll last?" he asked absently, still staring at the skeleton.
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Thaloyss on May 25th, 2015, 12:27 am

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Thaloyss began shivering. It was getting wetter in the caves, and that meant it was getting colder. Cold meant she was going to get tired, tired meant Richard and Tascha would be on their own if she fell asleep, and falling asleep meant death in a place such as this.

She envied his ability to smell ghosts. Her pitiful human senses didn't work too well in the damp and dark, even her sight was hindered. Not that it was much better in her Dhani and snake forms either, but the rest of her senses were. If there was more life down in the mines she could've shifted and maybe get out, but as far as she knew nobody else was down here.

The Dhani was formulating her answer to Richard's question when they came upon the collapsed tunnel. Well, the skeleton certainly didn't make things look any better. Was that even a human skeleton? The thought of one of her fellow constrictors lying dead in such a dark, cold place made her frown.

"The torch?" she repeated, giving it a look. "Another half-bell, at mosst. To ansswer your quesstion... It iss more fun here, I ssupposse. There iss no hierarchy, there are no ruless. Well, other than what the gangss have. I can eat whomever I want, ssort of. There iss jusst more freedom. It wass boring in Zinrah."

She yawned in the middle of saying Zinrah, hugging herself with her free arm. She probably should've brought a coat. "Do we try and get out or hunt down the ghosst?"
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Richard Blow on May 25th, 2015, 1:24 am

"Spoken like a true Sunberthan." said Richard. The Spiritist smiled weakly at Thaloyss as he opened his jacket and wrapped an arm around her. "Guess she's cold blooded." he thought as he pressed his side against the Dhani. He was a bit colder as a result, but it wasn't going to kill him. A pity his being shorter meant it was hard to get the coat around her. Richard chuckled softly to himself at this. "Being honest..." he said as something rumbled in the distance. "Don't think either's happening."

While he wasn't about to curl up into a ball or slash his wrists, Richard was also painfully aware that the odds of them getting out with the time they had and the immeasurable number of wrong turns they could take were faint at best. With the way things were the best thing Richard could do, in his mind, was to make the next half-bell as comfortable for them both as possible. And sure, if by some miracle they found either an exit or the ghost, then fantastic. "D'you want to keep moving?" he asked softly, unsure of what was better for a cold Dhani.
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Thaloyss on May 25th, 2015, 2:09 am

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Thaloyss was grateful for Richard's gesture, but it was an awkward position that needed to be adjusted. She handed the torch to him and moved so she was in front of the Spiritist, crouching slightly. "Get on my back."

When he was safely perched on her back she hooked her elbows under his knees and stood. Having someone who could regulate their body heat as close as her partner was definitely made the chill more bearable. She sighed happily as the warmth seeped through her clothes and into her skin. It was good to have a partner who cared.

The Dhani redirected her thoughts to the problem at hand. How were they going to get out, if it was even possible? "Yess, I want to keep moving," she whispered.

She hiked Richard up further on her back and, on gut instinct, picked a direction. There wasn't much air circulation down where they were, so she couldn't judge their distance from the surface.

"Do you think thiss iss the right way, Richard? And what will we do when the torch goess out?"
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Down the Rabbit Hole -- Er, Mine Hole (Richard Blow)

Postby Richard Blow on May 25th, 2015, 3:51 am

"... What." the Spiritist said flatly, not sure how to take this development. On the one hand, he wouldn't have to walk for a while. On the other hand, he'd be riding on a tall woman's back. Back to the first hand, he could rest his legs for a while.After a tick's consideration, he shrugged and said "Okay."
"Dunno on both counts. Use the walls as a guide, I guess." he conjectured in response to Thaloyss' question, trying to keep his arms from pushing uncomfortably against her throat or awkwardly sitting on her chest. "Hope what kills us is quick about it."

"Y'know, this is probably the most comfortable I've felt riding a woman." Richard said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, after a couple chimes. "Despite your diet, y'really got a way of making a fellow feel at ease. Not sure what it is..."
This got Richard to thinking deeper. What was it? She was a (literally) cold-blooded man-eater with an emphasis on literalism and the ability to kill him with great ease. Though mulling over the literalism, it seemed to be more because her Common was awful than any mental defect. The fact that she bought and cared for a kitten also meant she wasn't particularly heartless either. There was also how the sometimes endearing way she was unfamiliar with most aspects of Sunberth, and the blunt, earnest, nothing-to-hide way she approached everything that made it virtually impossible to suspect her of plotting anyways.

"Yeah..." he said absently, a fond smile on his face. "You're pretty all right..."
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