The sun began to set as they pulled up heavy bags full of the minerals into the mouth of the cave.
"Well, looks like the sun's settin'. I guess we better set camp here, near the cave entrance. Mikey-boy, there should be some nice tinder for the night in that bag over there. Set up the camp fire for us, would'ya?" Syrup walked outside of the cavern to grab something she seemed to have obtained while Mike and Opal were busy.
Mike set the campfire, and laid out three blankets as well among the stony floor.
Opal slithered up to the newly-made campfire, and coiled up into a pile of herself in order to fend off the dip in temperature. As she warmed up and got comfortable, she turned to Mike. "Um, Michael, thanks for protecting me and all back then. But... I'm worried."
"Hmmm? Oh, that was nothing. I protect others all the time back at Tao Village. But you don't have to worry about that ghost! I think I could take him down too, I just couldn't even get a chance to try..."
"No, it's not that... I'm more worried about your mother's flatulence. Didn't she say it would be dangerous around you? I don't think it'd be safe for her to sleep around at night..."
"Uh... oh, that! Actually--"
"That was just a plain fib. I always pass gas around Mikey-boy when we're at home. Heck, it can be real funny sometimes. Wanna see?!" Syrup arrived at the right moment to grace the two with her presence as she sat down near the campfire.
"Th-that's quite alright, ma'am." Opal made sure for the moment to not let her tongue escape from her mouth.
"Alright, another time then. Heck, I don't even need Mikey-boy to do my class act! Khaw haw haw!"
Mike's face turned to a brighter than red tone in which the reader has been familiarized with; the color of embarrassment. He couldn't believe his mother chose to be herself more than ever around Opal.
"Alright alright, I bet you all are pretty starved from all that hard work, so I caught us some dinner." Syrup leaned back to pull a rope that was right behind her. The end of the rope was tied to a rag that carried a dozen of... weird bug like Pokemon. "While I was out an' about, these guys all swarmed me, thinkin' they could make a meal outta me, so let's make a meal outta them!"
"Oh my! Those... poor Vibrava!" Opal was stunned at the sight of them.
"Oh is that what they're called? Well they sure don't look poor to me, in fact, they look mighty plump! I'd take these over jerky anyday! Here, Mikey-boy, dig in, you earned it." Syrup tossed one of them towards Mike, and it limply landed right next to his feet.
"U-um... thanks, mom." This was new to him. Even if he did eat other Pokemon like Tauros before, he didn't really eat them in a state such as this. He would like to pass up the opportunity, but his stomach growled in favor of just eating it.
"Hey Opal, heads up!" Syrup tossed another one towards her.
"A-ah... I don't know if I should, I've sworn to be peaceful..."
"Aw shuckles, jus' eat it! It's dead already, so what good'll come from gripin'?"
"Well! If you say so!" Opal started positioning the Vibrava to be inserted into her jaws headfirst.
"U-uh.." was all Mike could utter from that. "Sheesh, you're sure quick to change, huh?"
Mike lifted up the quarry to begin eating from it, but paused mid-way. "Hey... mom, did you know that ghost?"
"Mmph, slurp... MMph?" Syrup was progressively ripping flesh from her meal until she paused in order to swallow whatever she had in her mouth that wasn't permitting her to speak. "Well, that fart... I suppose I did get to know
. His name was Guld, an' when I first saddled into Gambitville, he was nothin' but a terrible bandit. That's why I thought of killin' him and turnin' his body in fer his bounty!"
"MMphrgle?!" Opal had the entire Vibrava halfway down her throat when she heard those words. She hurried to have it go down her gullet faster than usual. "Ulp..! Y-you were the one who killed my father?!"
"Yup! I killed him and had a stew outta him, too! That's how I got to know him personally! Khaw-haw-haw!"
Mike swallowed a piece of half-chewed meat reflexively to his mother's words and choked on an unfortunately overlooked piece of cartilage. "Guh... kheh! Why'd mom have to put it like that?! Now Opal's gonna think we're monsters or something!"
Mike turned to look at Opal, and his heart sank as he noticed tears rolling down her scaly face.
"Ah, I see... sniff..." Opal raised her head to look up to Syrup. "He must've tasted so good!"
Mike's heart skipped a beat from her words as he couldn't believe what she said.
"Khaw haw haw! Yer a funny one! An' yeah, he was damn tasty too! I'd love to have another Seviper stew outta you, but I think Mike would actually take offense to that, seein' as he's smitten with ya!"
Mike's heart exploded... or at least it felt similar to exploding. "Wh-what the kheh?!"
"Ah! Why... thanks for the compliment. I must say, there's more to Mike than simply being cute..." Opal blushed as she confirmed Mike's feelings in another way.
"Good, good! I'm glad, I hope the two of ya git to grandchildren-makin' soon! Havin' lotsa little wrigglers sound cute to me!"
"Ahaha..! Maybe, I don't know about that
yet, but I wouldn't mind giving him a few hugs
right now! If it weren't for him, my father could've... done something terrible to me. I'm entirely grateful to Mike for protecting me... and you too, ma'am, for slaying my terrible father. If only he didn't arise from the grave to curse me..."
"Ah, yeah. That whole legend 'bout the dead comin' back to us as ghosts. I know it sometimes happens anywhere, but it seems to happen more offen in Gambitville.. Well then, Mikey-boy, did ya ask where she's from?""Oh... right, I never really did do that... or even learn more about her, kheh! I'm so dumb!"
"Oh, well... I'm actually from a tribe of Seviper that live near the Humming Oasis... We're peaceful, and we even lack the bloodlust against Zangoose, so we don't actually wish to harm them. However, most Zangoose don't understand this and fight against us anyways. In order to distance away from them, we set out towards the Sandsong Desert more than a century ago. My father and myself are the only ones who left the tribe. He was the sort of black Mareep that actually preferred violence. I swear, I didn't want to follow him outside the tribe just to cause harm... but, I felt trapped in there. I wanted to be free! So, I left for Gambitville, but even after death, my father caused trouble. Nobody wanted to hire a Seviper, nor believe that I'm a pacifist... It took so much pleading to actually get a job at Agave Sundries and to even get a room at the saloon with such little pay! But... thanks to you two, I should have more than enough gems here to sell for an actual stable income! Thanks so much!" Opal leaned over and licked Mike's cheek with her long serpent tongue.
"W-wow, it's... nothing, really Opal!" "Although that DID tickle... wait, I can't feel anything there now?"
"Khaw haw haw! Look at you, Mikey-boy! I think that's the biggest flame I ever did see you sport!"
The three of them continued to eat their dinner and then slumbered until the next day.
Part 14 of "Reprieve" by