Brine was the first one to hear the call.
It was a subtle thing. An itch in the back of his head. An impulse that throbbed like a wound. A burning, consuming curiosity that was only inflamed when he followed its beckonings, slipping into a hole in the ground barely wide enough for his body. And he fell into a dark, deep vein of the earth, with clean water tricking under his feet and only a pale shaft of sunlight to fill the space. The humidity was palpable, the pressure in his ears deafening, the smell earthy and musty, stirring something up in him. For the untouched air and the smoothed rock and the crunch of gravel under his feet sang a song into his heart, into his mind, and when he resurfaced, all he could manage was a breathless demand to Mivis to start building cities underground.
It's hard not to look back on those simpler times with rose-tinted nostalgia. Back then, the divide between the surfacers and cavers - Brine being the first of the latter - was not quite so wide, and the pressure to find and mine augmetia not so stifling, and the idea of Beta invading their Timeline couldn't even be fathomed. Back then, he spent his days exploring and mapping Gamma's gargantuan underground complex, tunnels into crevices into rivers into crystals, and he was one with the strata and grottoes. Now, he still lurks in those caverns - but only the tamed ones, filled with civilization and paperwork. Paperwork that he is responsible for filling out, managing Gamma's underground world, reporting to Mivis and Ophyeo, getting reports from the cavers under him. And though he misses the allure of an unmapped network, his sense of duty to his Timeline outweighs his personal longing. The best he has... is to live vicariously through those working under him, and find excuses here or there to investigate dangerous paths himself.
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Yeah, well, he doesn't hold any grudges against Mivis. How was he supposed to know what Beta was planning? It wasn't like they hadn't brokered deals for their augmetia before. Mivis works hard, probably harder than any of the rest of them. A guy forged under pressure, not broken by it. And, yes. He's attractive for a surfacer. The pale colors don't appeal, still - they all kind of look sickly to Brine - but Mivis' tiny little smiles are just... very pretty.
God. Get off his ass. What else is there to say about Ophyeo? Get off his ass. It's not like Brine wants things to stop running smoothly. And he's doing his best to clean shit up when it falls apart. So get. off. his. ass!!!
The kind of guy that makes you a little jealous of his energy. They used to go out exploring together, just them, and Eryie would almost turn it into a race to see who could chart the most, or find the most interesting air pockets. He doesn't really miss the races... but he misses being in those depths with people who knew them as well as he did, and could engage with them as deeply as he did. At least Eryie's still happy.
Yrviing's cute. He's very hyper-focused and he doesn't work well in teams; the best way to handle him is to hand off some charts and maps and wait about a month. He's one of those savant genius types when it comes to caves, the kind that should be left alone to work their magic however they need. He's never late, never complains, takes his assignments with a curt nod and a dive into the water. It's hard not to be endeared to him.
Relationship: Boss (Derogatory)
It's been long enough that any anger Brine once had is mostly gone. It's just cold irritation and a roll of the eyes now. Life is all about swallowing those annoying pills, y'know? Aite's just another one of them - another hurdle to jump over, another plate to spin. Maybe he'd have more thoughts on the guy if they had to interact directly more often... a reason to be thankful for Ophyeo. What a funny sentence.
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A good guy. He's busy, so he's hard to get ahold of to just chat or hang out - but then again, so is Brine, so he can't hold it against Nale. Sometimes he has fantasies about giving up his position as - whatever Ophyeo calls it, 'ambassador caver' or whatever - and dumping it on Nale's plate so he can run off and be an explorer again. But... Nale doesn't need more shit to deal with, haha. He could probably handle it. But he doesn't need it.
He's bursting at the seams with caver stories to share. It's a delight, even if it tugs at his envy, especially knowing that Pomona isn't the most... reliable Fragment as a result of that. But hey - Brine would go insane, too, if he couldn't shimmy into a crack in the earth every now and again. Pomona's threshold just seems a whole lot smaller than most of the cavers'. Who is he to deny his people their culture?
He's somehow worked past the agoraphobia that plagues cavers who spend too much time aboveground. Visits other Timelines, too. Brine doesn't like to think of a fellow caver in this way, but... sometimes he wonders if Aneurin really is one of them. Of course, he spent his early years deep in the mines with the rest, but then he shed all of that to offer augmetia to other Timelines, and... well, it's just a strange, stark shift. Did something happen to him...?
Bear with him, he's about to drop a spicy opinion. Surfacers don't get it. ...Okay, fine. Petyl's not a bad person, but he's under the impression that there's no real difference between cavers and surfacers except where they live. That's objectively false, and you can tell it's a surfacer opinion, because no caver would agree. There's a certain - calling that Gamma's tunnels sing to her chosen explorers. It can't be explained, and it won't be rectified. Do they really need to waste so much energy on 'reconciliation'?
He can't believe Sairset is back - the only caver they ever lost. Brine didn't really blame himself (it's not like he's their keeper! He's just a manager!) but there was still some residual guilt over... well... losing anyone. If only it wasn't so awkward to have him around... maybe it'll get better when Sairset integrates more, gets more comfortable with living in Gamma again. And they find him an actual job to do.
- Would hold Gamma's records for deepest cave dive, but Fragments don't need to breathe and their bodies are parlor tricks with no real organs, so it doesn't really count, does it?
- Despite not needing safety gear for himself, he's very stringent about it for mortals, and very stern when training new divers.
- Most of the cave diving work he does involves line laying or exploration of squeezes that are too tight for mortals to fit while the other caver Frags are busy. Sometimes he deliberately sends the other cavers away if he knows a risky new expedition is going to begin soon.
- Tends to wear sunglasses when surfacebound to speak to Aite or Mivis as he's used to the lower-light environment of Gamma's underground.
- Used to get jokingly called "wolf-whisperer" as packs of deepwolves were always calmed by his presence when his team found them. Likes the idea of keeping one as a pet but knows they're not really pets.
- Sleeps on a waterbed. If he can't have a waterbed, demands a hammock.
- Mildly interested in practical magery because of its use in preventing siltouts during dives and clearing new paths in caves, but has never really gotten into it himself.
- Personally disgusted by augmetia and finds its "growth" state when exposed to sunlight revolting. Good at hiding this.
Click the reference image to the right for fullsize.
- Pink jacket has fluffy teal "feathers" on some edges, but not all.
- Note that he has purple splotching over some parts of his left side. It's not symmetrical, and not exact - the left hand is blue, for example.
- Eyelashes are same color as eyes, as is his halo.
- Usually looking irritated or pensive.
- Feel free to draw him swimming or in caves.
Generic Anatomy Notes
- Muzzles are small and boxy, and they don't have a kitty or dog nose.
- Eyes can be stylized as you'd normally draw.
- Please note that they have four fingers and three toes.
- If the character has glasses, don't omit them!