Valiants talons clicked on the hard stone floor as he and thorn walked alongside the rushing water of the central channel. In the small circle of light from Thron's burning torch the surface looking like black glass. sleek and smooth. The illusion only broke when the carefully cut channel was interrupted by debris or the pillars of the small walkways from one side to the other. Each time they approached one of those bridges across the fast flow water, Thorn hoped to find Kali or one of the missing men clinging to one of the support pillars. But there was no such luck. All they found was foaming water and the green slime that seemed to cover everything close to the water edge.
Lifting the touch above his head Thorn tried to illuminate the whole underground river. It was hard. It was at least as wide as valiant was long, tail and all. In fact, the size of the underground, in general, was impressive. Even a gryph could have easily walked around without too much trouble. A smaller tyto or hawk might have even been able to fly down the centre, though the vaulted ceiling was covered in a thick layer of woolly tarantula webs, and neither Thron nor Valiant has any wish to fly blindly into the darkness. Who knew if the tunnels narrowed at any point. It was far too dangerous to attempt. Unless they meet another rhakos, in which case they'd both be willing to put close quarters flying to the test!
Lowing the torch Thorn saw valiant flinch and puff up his feathers in a display of displeasure. Ahead of them thorn something small startled and scurried out of the pool of light. The brief glimpse wasn't enough to tell what it was that had upset the large tyto but it has been small, no bigger than a cat or firedrake. Definitely not rhakos. Still, Valiants reaction alone was enough to make Thorn's hair stand on end. Switching the torch to his other hand Thorn placed his free hand on Valiants neck. He had always been a steadfast dragon but anyone would feel a little jumpy after having an underground battle like the one they had had.
"It's alright boy, just a little friend. nothing to be worried about" His voice echoed eerily into the darkness. The creature could be heard scrabbled about in the darkness before falling quiet. Slowly Valiant feathers smoothed out and he gave a small muffled hooting noise. He wasn't happy but placate enough to move on. Thron smiled slightly and humoured the big pied tyto. "Yeah, I know buddy, come on."
There was more scurrying of small creatures in the darkness as they walked. Each one put Valiant on high alert. He even snapped his beak at some of them. It seemed that a healthy rat population had lead to a healthy population of feral companions too. Thorn counted at least three different types of griff and Valiant has been most upset when he spotted a fat haunted webspinner crawling slowly up the tunnel wall. It had taken a couple of tried to get Valiant to walk past the poisonous looking creature.
Apart from the wildlife, the occasional bridges and a scatter of grated openings letting in light from above the tunnel was pretty featureless. Moss has exploited gaps in the rock here and there and metal bars had been driven into the walls below the grates to form ladders but that was about it. So when a figure appeared from the darkness stood in the middle of the path it made both Thorn and Vlainat jump. A deep hiss resonated from the dragon birds chest as he half spread his wings to look bigger. The guardsman stumbled back with a shout himself.
"wow! wow! Call of da stryx!! it's me Bran!! call 'im off!!" Thorn quickly put a hand to Valiants neck though the voice of the guardsman alone seemed to soften Valiant's hiss. Perhaps he remembered the man's name and voice. Or maybe he was just glad it wasn't another webspinner. Still, it took a moment for Valiant to stop hissing and slowly close his wings.
"That's it, he's a friend remember?..." Valiant gave a small gurgling sound thorn wasn't really sure how to interpret.
Seeing the stryx under control the Bran stepped forward into the light. The young guardsman was soaked from head to toe and had lost the majority of his armour in the water but other than being a bit pail and wet he looked unharmed if fairly unhappy.
"Have you seen any other the others that fell in?" Bran gave a grim look and shook his head. he glanced nervously at Variant. The dragon-bird was still clearly on edge, his feathers puffed up and his neck coiled like a snake ready to strike.
"Ain't seen nothin', so darn dark down 'ere" that wasn't encouraging. "how do we get outta 'ere?"