He's not happy, as he sketches out the signs and sigils. He generally isn't, these days.
He ran out of better options with the last of the cows.
He finishes the circle.
"You might, I leave pretty obvious tracks. But I'll try not to go too far and I won't take off the ribbons."
She finishes the base of her snowman, then starts on the middle. There aren't any twigs or rocks or anything to embellish it, really, but she can pack the snow hard enough to make arms just out of snow, and she discovers to her delight that if she backs the base up against a cliff, she can scrabble up the cliff, her myriad tentacles easily latching to the tiniest imperfections in its surface, and place the middle piece atop easily.
Only after the head is finished, crudely carved with a face and placed atop the pile of packed snow, does she seek to explore her environs further, and it is only after some significant wandering about that she chances upon the cavern.
It's a deep hole, and dark, sheltered from the wind and the subsequent drifting of snow by some jagged rock formation that also initially hid it from view. As she leans in, curious to see if she can see anything in its umbral depths, she hears some noises which surprise her. The first is a faint piping similar to that produced by the wind, which after some consideration she concludes probably comes from some other opening to the underground cavern, one less sheltered from the elements. The other sound, which she could less readily explain, was what was unmistakably the squawking of what sounded to be an entire rookery of penguins, but yet not quite like the calls of the penguins she had politely observed from a distance earlier.
She hesitates, torn between the desire to investigate and the desire to stay where the fairy can find her, before making up her mind in a compromise of sorts. She carefully piles up snow in the shape of a large arrow pointing towards the opening in the ground, then carefully climbs down into the dark.
She attempts to sneak up on the penguins.
...Their voices seemed to come from weirdly high up. Like, about six feet off the ground. Tall penguins.
She resolves to leave "Operation: Rescue Penguins?" for later, and instead pursues the piping noise. The piping noise leads her downwards, which is a little bit of a surprise, but she supposes there's probably another cliff around somewhere.
The tunnel is very long and twisty. Eventually it starts to lighten, slightly--or is that just her eyes adjusting?
And then the tunnel opens out into a glittering cavern, bioluminescent moss covering patches of it, and shining gelatinous creatures of every color moving around.
The gelatinous creatures appear to be the source of the piping noise, as it increases when they seem to notice her, or at least the ribbons tied around her. The nearest ones surge towards her, and she hesitates, unsure whether to stay or go.
The first one that reaches her slows and stops a few feet away, and probes at the ribbon wrapped around her tentacle, the nearest one to its position. She moves the tentacle to intercept, wrapping around the pseudopod that extended towards her. The creature makes a piping noise that sounds almost surprised, and she lets it go. It pokes at her again, and she pokes back with a tentacle not rendered de facto visible with ribbon. Another creature reaches her and pokes her, and she pokes back. The two creatures pipe at each other.
Probably they're people?
"Hi," Lucy tries.
The jelly-creatures pipe some more.
Lucy considers this, and points at herself with the beribboned tentacle. "Lucy," she says, enunciating clearly.
More piping. Then: "Lucy," the first jelly-creature says in an exact replica of her voice, pointing at itself.
"No, Lucy," Lucy repeats, pointing at herself, then points at the jelly-creature and makes a passable imitation of their piping.
"Lucy," the creature says, and points at her, then points at itself and makes a different piping noise. The second one points at itself and makes a third one.
"Are those your names?" Lucy wonders, then points at the first and makes the second's noise.
"No," the creature says, and trills, then repeats the noise it made.
This is so cool. Lucy is definitely bouncing now.
Lucy and the jelly-creatures manage to exchange several more snippets of language like this, which Lucy soaks up like a sponge. The jelly-creatures attempt to invite her back with them, but Lucy, awkwardly conscious of the time, makes her excuses and crawls back up the extensive rock tunnel, past the penguins, and back out to where the fairy can find her before the five hours are up.
"Hi! I'm ready to go back."
"Cam! Cam! There are jelly people in Antarctica!"
"Yeah--or, I dunno what else to call them, but they're some kind of amorphous translucent solid and can change how they're shaped and they talk like--" and she repeats a snatch of their pretty piping language-- "and I found them in a cave underground."
"Huh. There's really a strangely high density of nonhumans around considering that you and I each casually stumbled across some, we know of more... and yet somehow they are not commonly known."
"Well it's no surprise that nobody knows about the ones in Antarctica."
"I mean, yes, but it is surprising that given the size of Antarctica you'd happen to meet them on a half-day trip. You should dismiss your fairy, looks like he's got all his stuff," Cam adds.
She dismisses the fairy. "I don't know how much of Antarctica they live in."
"Yes, it's less surprising if they've got the lot of it colonized, although by this year..." He looks up some facts. "...humans had got as far as the South Pole..."
"Well, they were underground, maybe there's a lot of underground."
"That could be it. The gorilla folks were known to some neighbors but perhaps not neighbors themselves very cosmopolitan."
"Maybe everything would have been out in the open by 2159 even if you hadn't shown up."
"Maybe. It just seems awfully coincidental."
"I dunno. Maybe there really are just that many hidden people."
"But the more there are, the better they have to tend to be hidden to not be widely known."
"Yeah, I dunno."