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Very soon after we entered the caverns, we had our first obstacle. There was a large growth of fungi on the floor of the cavern. It was a weird orangey color and smelled like a human had slept in a pile of wet rotting leaves. The smell made it hard to concentrate. Hekari suggested that me lead our horse along the narrow strip of open floor. The maid Shasuki offered to lead the Princess’ horse for her. I’m pretty good with animals, too but between my pony and my dog, I had enough. Hekari quickly traveled the pathway. Tatsuoh went next. It was difficult to see and the footing was slippery and uneven, so it wasn’t until Gami-Gami, Mir’Itus and I were almost even with him did we realize that he was in trouble. He had obviously lost his footing and slid into the fungus.
There were tendrils waving in the air and as I watched, one started to wrap around his neck. Gami flicked out with her blade and the tendril dropped at Tatsuoh’s feet in two pieces. “Perhaps we can help, yes, oh Lion man Tat-swoll?” I tried to smile. “Oh, no no. I am fine Mistress Rat. Thank you. Just a few mushrooms….”
And he swung his blade down at the tendrils twitching at his feet. “You sure there, man? Me — I — see blood. Smell blood of you and thinking we can helps.” I stood there and watched him fight for a few seconds. He did not respond. I shrugged and moved on. Gami stayed and sliced a few more tendrils and then she had to move on to make room for the others. We gathered at the arch of the next room — it was blessedly fungus free.
It wasn’t until Nya came along, at the end of the line, that he would accept help. She threw a rope and tried to pull him free. It wasn’t until me, Gami-Gami and the others lent a hand that Tatsuoh broke free of the fungus. “You are, honored Tat-swoll, hurt. I can heal, yes.” I bowed very low to the ground. And although he was being held up by Nya, he refused! Humans.
We moved into the next room — the one with the nook. It also had a healing stone. I had never seen one before although I have read about them. Hekari showed him how to use the stone. The look of relief on his face was difficult to see. Here’s a man with serious wounds and he would rather suffer than have my paws on him. I do not understand, but I should not be surprised. Nya has refused my help, too. Only the Princess has truly made me welcome. Although as I think on it, I do not think that I have touched the Princess either. Trying to heal humans….. I did not know it would be so hard. What if, when the time comes, I cannot help the humans? What will Grandpa say then?
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