“Come on, put your back into it! This rock won’t hollow itself out!”
The workers grunted in acknowledgement before sinking their pickaxes into the stone. It was a day like any other at the Pond, the safe haven of the Kintsugese Osyatao. It lay in a valley made hundreds of years ago with the Shattering. It became a place to hide from the dark elves, and soon a bustling town. The bustling market place was filled with exotic goods, from various meats to refined metal wares. A large lake sat in the center of the valley; it was occupied by swimming teenagers, playing the day away. A new home was being dug out for a newlywed couple, and it had a long way to go. First, the spot in the mountain had to be carved from the stone and proper support had to be set in place to prevent collapse. The house would be built from the inside out.
The setting sun cast streaking highlights into the valley. The builders headed to their own homes, chatting and celebrating a job well done. One of them split off from the group; an Osyaba named Jampa. She headed down a flight of stairs dug out from the ground, through a small tunnel, deeper and deeper until it opened up into a spacious grotto. The lanterns hanging from the rocky ceiling cast a warm yellow glow to the rippling water below. Below the surface of the underground lagoon swam hundreds of small Osyatao fry, too young to leave the safety of the pools but old enough to play with each other, chasing one another round and round. Jampa knelt by the shore and carefully stuck the tips of her fingers in the water and wiggled them around. Attracted by the movement, the fry approached her hand but soon left as they realized she was not their mother. Three of them remained, poking their heads out of the water and calling out for her.
“Hello, my darlings…” she cooed, gently caressing their heads. “Have you behaved today? Didn’t cause your caretakers any trouble?” The fry simply giggled at the sound of her voice; they were too young to talk. “Just a few more days and you’ll be coming home! I know you’ll love it.” She gave them one last pet before getting up. With a wave to the pool caretaker, she headed back up the long corridor.
The sun had dipped below the horizon, the only light now coming from the windows of the mountain houses. Smoke poured out from the chimneys carved into the cliffs, the smells of various meats filling the air. The lake reflected the scene in its still waters. All was well in the Pond.