Scent Trail

Finished: June 21, 2020

Kicking sand off his paws, Sophius stared into one of the more interesting cave entrances in recent memory; a shimmering orange mess of rocks tightly clumped by the strength of desert winds. He could probably admire the glistening all day, but he had bigger boulders to crack. After a quick dusting session, he stepped into what would turn out to be a minefield for ones ankles; downsloped, uneven, and rocky terrain covered much of the cave floor and the distracting shine reflecting from his lantern wasn't doing him any favors. Uncomfortable, but not untraversable by the standards of a thylacine whose tripped on rocks and fallen down stairs more times than anyone would bother to count.

Scent isn't something one usually considers when traversing a cave. However, this one had a pleasant citrus aroma seeping from its many cracks and crevices that only grew in power the deeper he went. The smell didn't seem dangerous, but he still pulled his collar closer to his snout in an attempt to block some of the fumes.

After what felt like hours of careful navigation and a trip or two, he finally reached the end of the path. A wall stood before him, messages and symbols adorning its surface. Whatever language it was, it wasn't something he could decipher. He still decided to scribble it down in his notebook just in case. Regardless, his nose drew him to the center of the wall. Something was hidden, waiting for discovery.

Curiously, he started to press gently on various sections of the wall in front of him to see if anything budged and budge it did! A chunk of the cave pushed inward and slowly, the stone separated to reveal a rectangular container made from smoothed down stone. Excited at this development, he was quick to remove it from its dusty prison into his backpack; he didn't realize his mistake until the cave began to shake.

Chunks of orange, large and small, fell from the ceiling as he scrambled over stone and pebble to get back to the entrance. Seeing the light of the evening sun, he leaped out of the cave and rolled onto the desert sand. From the ground, he watched as the citrus cave filled high with fallen rocks and let out a strong sigh, relieved to be alive.

He took a minute to regain his bearings before taking the container out from his backpack. Upon closer inspection, it didn't look as unique as he would've expected given the lengths someone... or something went to hide it. He could probably find similar artifacts being sold by old, dusted furbearers at a local market, though probably without the smell. A lift of its lid however, told a different story. A long, tusk-shaped orange-red colored gemstone was the best way he could describe it. It was roughly shaped, sharp in parts, and he swore he saw a glow emanate from its core.

He hadn't heard any stories of a citrus-scented tusk hidden away in a cave deep in the desert, but remembered seeing a library back in town. Placing it securely back in his trusty pack for safekeeping, he thought about heading back tomorrow to read up on it and maybe ask around if he felt brave enough. For the time being, he was gonna sleep as best as he could, even if it meant picking sand out of his fur into next week.

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