Book II - Chapter 6

 

Chapter 6 

Snake Report:

 

It’s been about a day, here at Tiny Snake Camp [Dust Bowl].

The sun set, weather took a turn for the really chilly. Then, it eventually it rose again… and got really hot.

From one extreme, to the other.

Nothing in between.

As neither really cold or really hot are much good for us, we haven’t done much with our time here.

Remarkably unproductive, gotta say.

Compared to my normal routine with a new Tiny Snake Camp, this is almost embarrassing.

All we’ve been doing, is hanging out under the tree.

The bar has been set, and it is LOW.

I wish I said I got some sleep, but I can’t.

Nope.

Settled down for a few minutes last night, only to wake up from a god-awful nightmare. Magnified how my headache from earlier tenfold.

I was almost completely sure that I saw some sort of [Notification] too, but by the time I tried to grab it, the thing was gone.

So, I’ve really just been sitting here.

Sitting here at [Camp Dustbowl] and wondering what the heck we’re going to do.

Sss…

Yeah.

Anyways, this started out well-enough.

I crawled under, then Imra decided she was done talking to the tree for a bit and needed shelter too. So, she followed and started moving some dirt out of our way by hand.

Of course, she abruptly found out we weren’t the first living things to try and make this place our residence- and we both got attacked by a giant scorpion.

It was terrifying.

The usual.

Luckily, Imra destroyed it.

No… that’s not quite right.

*Decimated* it.

Physically…

Emotionally…

Pretty much a thorough as something can be ruined, that’s basically what she did.

Tried to sting her? Ha.

She caught the fucking stinger mid strike, broke it off.

Tried to clamp her? Same story. Broke both its claws off with her foot.

Then she picked the poor thing by its stump, hauled it out, and hurled the sucker a solid fifty slithers off into yonder dusty horizon.

It didn’t move after that.

Well, until a lizard showed up and started eating it, upon which, Imra then dispatched with a rock.

Again, from fifty slithers.

Bit terrifying, but I’d rather eat lizard than scorpion.

Actually, I’d rather eat nothing, than scorpion.

I tried my best on improv cooking.

Barbeque turned out more like… charcoal-que.

Even fine-tuned, [Leviathan Breath] tends to lean past crispy, and into “burnt” territory. Not quite as good as I was hoping for.

If I had Earth magic operational, I could have just made an oven.

And a real cave, instead of a hole in the ground.

And a well.

And everything we would ever need to make this the best Tiny Snake Camp ever.

But I’m not bitter, or anything.

Not me.

Anyways: scorpion, lizard, Imra’s Elven capacity for sudden acts of terrible efficient violence... each of those are good reasons to keep things peaceful.

Strong motivators to just let Imra simmer a bit longer.

Nice and calm.

No stress.

No big revelations.

Just try to keep my thoughts to myself and let her talk to the tree.

Everybody is totally cool.

Totally calm.

I mean, yes… at some point, somehow, it might be good to clear the air.

Tell Imra that she’s not crazy.

That the voice that keeps talking to her is just me.

Then, maybe ask her if she knows why our brains are a bit scrambled like that, because it’s weird.

General stuff.

After that, though…

Well, maybe we might have to have a chat about the whole “Great One” business.

I am pretty great, am I really “Great One” great?

Could I have, possible, a little bit, exaggerated for the sake of convenience? Elevated my status, ever so slightly? Enough so, that maybe the over-reaction from her tribe might almost- from some perspectives, have been justified?

It’s possible.

Then again, Imra sure is efficient in the way she’s taking that lizard apart with her bare hands.

Piece by piece.

Bone by bone…

And, isn’t the truth subjective?

Yeah.

Maybe I’ll take my time.

Start small.

That’ll come, sooner or later.

I’ll tell her.

No yet.

Of course.

I’ll tell her.

Eventually.

Sss…

I guess there have been some slight improvements to Tiny Snake Camp [Dust Bowl] in the past couple of hours.

After evicting the previous tenant, Imra dug out what she could.

I supervised.

For reasons currently unknown to me, Earth magic still won’t cooperate, but luckily the soil here is mostly sand. Easy enough to move around by hand, so Imra’s expansion wasn’t too troublesome.

The gap in roots has turned into more of a… sitting area? Enough space for Imra to lie down and push her arms out a bit, with enough headroom so she won’t bonk herself by accident.

HersElf?

Ha! Ha…

… Ah.

I’ll stop.

No, this place isn’t ideal, but it’s better than being roasted alive. Or freezing to death, for that matter. The regional temperature shift is unforgiving, but anything that can buffer it, helps.

Still, despite how it sounds, I haven’t been making Imra do all the work. I’ve had some projects of necessity to work out on my own, and I have managed to confirm a few things.

First, and most important: turns out, my water magic definitely still works.

Yes.

Finally, some good news.

Now, it might not have exactly been my go-to magic even before all this, I’ll admit. Unlike Earth, I didn’t bore my way out of the hell with water magic. Really, I only used it when Miss Paladin was in trouble, or when I was bored. At best, I you could say that I figured out a couple tricks for convenience and I left it alone afterwards, so there’s still some serious need for improvement with it.

But it does work.

Which is good.

Another good thing, is there’s some moisture content in the dirt. Not a lot, and not in the top layer- I mean deep in there, but very much a real presence.

I think this explains why the tree is still alive, despite the odds. It’s positioned right above some sort of “bump” in the water table or something, and if I look deep enough, I’ve got free rein to start pulling it out.

As a bonus, this tree has some large roots, which gave me something of a head start. Headway has been made with this.

After some… still not fully understood communication, Imra dug these out a bit, and we’re currently taking shelter under them as the sun sets.

Working on that.

Slowly.

Not the water thing, the communication thing.

I figure it can’t hurt to poke at it, but it is… uncomfortable.

I don’t quite get how this works yet, but it’s feels similar to how I remember communicating the [Spirit Attendants] for the minor exception that Imra’s not a dumb orb of ghostly fire.

And Imra also talks back, occasionally.

Like, in my head.

By accident, I think. Very least, she doesn’t seem to realize she’s doing it.

Sometimes with words, sometimes with… images?

Yeah.

Something’s going on there, but for now I’m just going to let her talk to the tree.

Baby slithers.

In a nutshell, that’s the day or so. I’d say twenty-four hours, but I’m not entirely convinced that the day and night cycle line up in that manner.

Not like I’ve got a clock to check, either.

Outside the sun’s starting to come down completely, so the cold is coming back.

Neither of us have had anything to eat but some poorly cooked lizard, though Imra and I have at least managed to get water- at an irrationally high mana cost, that’s really all we’ve had to work with.

This isn’t a sustainable lifestyle.

I’m aware of it, and I’m aware the Imra is also aware of it… which again, is weird.

Really weird.

But so be it.

Something is going to have to change soon, or we’re going to end up wasting away under this tree.

I’ve been thinking that maybe, if we can find a way to boil water? Or just find a flat rock I can heat up?

Might be easier to cook.

Prolong things for a bit… I mean, we could keep digging in for water…

I don’t think we should just become hermits in the middle of the wasteland, here, but it’s better than dying. Could buy us some time until we can figure out where the hell we need to go, and what the hell we’re doing here.

Sss…

I don’t know.

Imra’s propped herself up in some sort of meditative pose for the moment. I’ve been keeping watch, but nothing’s happening outside, and the cold is really making me feel tired…

Nightmares or no, I’m going to see if I can sleep for a bit.

Maybe things will make more sense in the morning.

 

[RESTRICTION – LOCK IN PLACE] [!]

 [MENU ACCESS – RESTRICTED]

[NOTIFICATIONS – PENDING]

[STATUS – ACCLIMATING]

[UNIQUE TITLE: GREATER FAMILIAR]

[UNIQUE TRAIT – BOUND BY BLOOD – ACTIVE]

[…]

 [AFFLICTED AILMENT ADVANCED – MADNESS]

[UNIQUE TRAIT – UNSTABLE – RESISTED]

[…]

[RECONFIRMING]

[CONFIRMED] [!]

[RESTRICTION – LOCK IN PLACE] [!]

[CONDITIONS NOT MET] [!]

 [PROGRESS 0/100] [!] [!] [!] [!] [!-