Underground Quest 24: Like You Were Dying
The veil of night covered the land, and thousands of stars shone with glory. By his side, though, only a small campfire burned, and that was all the light he had. Morionem took another bite of his meal, and watched motionless as Donald did the same. He was glad ducks could eat meat, thus he didn’t have to look for fruits or seeds or something else for Donald to eat. Well, he knew for sure that Donald ate meat - as long as it wasn’t bird meat -, he didn’t know about other ducks. Maybe other ducks liked other foods, just like people.
A sharp howling cut short his mental monologue. There were wolves in these woods, wolves that hunt at night and weren’t as picky with their meals as Donald was. When it came to sleeping in the comfort of a tent, Morionem would always keep his sword by his side, in case nocturnal bandits showed up. Whom was he trying to kid, even when it came to sleeping in a cave or in a hollow trunk he’d always keep his weapon with him.
He took another bite of the toasted rabbit, while Donald avidly devoured his own piece. Being no cook, all he had to eat and drink were toasted rabbit and water. Maybe he should get himself a fancy dinner when he went back to the town. The food at the ball was really good. “What do you say, Don? Would you enjoy a feast when we get back?” The duck stood focused on his meal. He seemed to be enjoying it thoroughly, besides the simplicity.
Another howl cut through the night. Morionem took the final bite of a rabbit’s leg and stood up. Wherever that wolf was, it couldn’t be too far from the swordsman’s camp. While Donald finished his dinner, the man peeked inside his tent, to see only his sleeping bag already prepared for a good night of rest and his backpack, with everything else inside it. Above the backpack there was a small notebook he was using to write down whatever he could find. Some landmarks and anything he thought would be interesting to take back to his guild as information from the floors he’d visit - Even if there were high chances someone else had already took said information to the guilds and the City Guard.
Morionem put the notebook inside. He’d have time to write down something when he returned to the camp. Leaving the tent, he told Donald to finish off his meal. The duck promptly gobbled the remaining piece down his throat, and the swordsman had already broke a branch off a tree and lit it ablaze. Morionem left the campfire burning so he could easily find the way back. He didn’t care if someone were to steal his tent and sleeping bag. All of his important things were in his backpack, and he had a torch to light his way, his free hand holding the hilt of his sword and a winged companion helping him scout the forest. He’d be fine.
They advanced through flat terrain and tall pines. Grass and bushes covered the ground, while moss grew on rocks and long dead stumps. ”Usually when one wolf howls the pack howls together. I guess this must be the lone kind of wolf then.” The man smirked and looked back. In the darkness, his footsteps were invisible even to the keenest of eyes. At least he could still see the campfire from where he was.
“Any clues where we should head to?” Donald nodded negatively. “Fine then. Let’s circle the camp until we hear that wolf again. That way we won’t go too far and risk getting lost for nothing.” He emitted a low quack as response and walked alongside Morionem. Fortunately, they had barely walked past a quarter of a circle when they heard the howl again, and it was a steep, rocky hill away.
With a sigh, the swordsman started walking uphill, while the bird easily flapped his wings and flew up. Once there, Donald disguised himself among the leaves of a lone tree and scanned the situation. The wolf sat down besides a deformed shape, maybe a large stone. Morionem’s torchlight almost reached the top of the hill, where the wolf was, but he suddenly halted his movement. The man glanced up to where he saw Donald fly, and back to the top of the hill. He built a simple attack plan in his mind, and decided to go for it.
The torch went flying uphill, and Morionem rapidly charged after it, drawing both his sword and shield. The wolf spun and jolted fearlessly towards the unknown foe, and in the last second before the fire died out, Morionem saw vicious claws and blood hungry fangs. Before the beast could strike, electricity surged around his sword. The lightning that roared into life brought caution to the wolf’s assault, creating an opening that Donald took to make his own attack.
An aerial charge from the side was enough to create an even bigger opening for the swordsman to strike. It was almost too easy. A single trust slashed where a leg connected to the body, and the wolf yelped of pain. “I guess a wild animal is a wild animal after all.” He thought, unsure if disappointed at the enemy or surprised at himself. ”At least Donald’s one of a kind.”
The wound made the wolf fall over when it tried to attack again. Morionem raised his sword, aiming for a quick and clean ending. He thought he had heard a faint muttering sound when his blade was at its peak. But he was sure he had heard a “Leave it alone!” when it came down.
Iron had already cut one centimeter into the wolf’s flesh when Morionem stopped. The wolf left out a small yelp and tried to stand up. The man lept to the side and spun around, searching for the source of the voice. “Who’s there?”
“Just leave the warg alone.” The voice was hoarse and faint, but with a demanding tone. The beast growled and tried to stand up again.
“Tell it to stay put then, and I won’t cause it any more harm.”
“Úlfr, stay put.” The voice said, audibly taking a deep breath. The wolf barked stubbornly. “Stay.” It growled, annoyed, and carefully curled around itself to lick its own wounds. Morionem walked to the torch, that now was simply embers fighting to stay ablaze and picked it up, putting back his shield. Arcs of light encircled it, and one second later it was burning again - though not as strong as before. Even with the crackling of the torch, the night seemed to fall silent as Morionem and Donald saw the being they were talking to.
A large humanoid, twice as tall as Morionem in the least, certainly not human. His clothes were shredded, but they still were at a better state than their wearer. A myriad of wounds marked his body, all slowly dripping fresh blood that formed a pool on the ground. It was scarily large.
“W-What happened!?” Asked Morionem.
The humanoid took a few moments to breathe, and then answered. “Nothing. But if I were you, I’d get out of this forest as fast as possible.”
“Why?” He asked, then realized the answer. “Who did this to you? Or what?”
“A bear, but you don’t need to worry with it anymore. Just with a few of those grey dogs, an eagle and that bastard…” The humanoid breathed. “... Of a lizard.”
Morionem approached him with slow steps, and in turn the large humanoid tried to raise a hand between himself and the swordsman, but was too weak and returned his arm to the bloody ground. Donald simply watched from a short distance. Sheathing his sword, Morionem brought the dying torch closer to the wounded being, who squinted his eyes at the approaching light.
Upon a closer inspection, the wounds looked as bad as they did from afar, if not worse. They smelled like dry sweat, blood and, perhaps not too out of place, wolf. Deep gashes marked both the creature’s clothes clothes and right shoulder flesh, as if something had tried to take an arm off with a bite. Smaller yet equally worrying bite and claw wounds bled on the humanoid’s legs and feet, and a toe seemed to be missing. A few other wounds laid all over his torso and arms, with a worryingly trio of parallel cuts on starting on a cheek that barely missed an eye.
Besides the damage, Morionem couldn’t help but observe the being’s other features. Besides its massive size, its face also was something that’d call one’s attention. It sported a snout, not a nose, and the mouth had an extra row of teeth on both jaws, the outer row bearing a slight resemblance to those of dog, while the inner was more humanlike. The arms ended in thick but short fingers, and Morionem couldn’t tell if he had claws or just overgrown nails. In the half-light, his skin also looked green.
“Just… Keep lying down. I’ll make a campfire then I’ll start bandaging you.” The human turned around and started searching for dry branches he could use. There was a moment of silence as the torch snapped in half, and fell to the ground, dying. Morionem quickly produced a spare one out of a tick, that’d do for good five minutes or so.
“Why… Why would you help me?”
Continuing his task, he answered. “Well… I don’t know you.”
The injured humanoid was struck with silence. “E-Exactly. Why would you help me, then?”
“As I said, I don’t know you. You could be… I don’t know. A father of two children or a hermit that failed to kill his prey. Or simply a traveler who found some criminals and got assaulted.” Donald quacked to show Morionem he had found some fallen branches that’d be useful. Afterwards, there was silence, that only broke when the human created a thunderbolt to lit the fire.
Once it was burning strong, Morionem approached the large being again, but the wolf stood on all three legs - with the fourth kneeling a little - and growled, showing off its angry fangs. “Uhh… Could you please tell him I’m not going to hurt you?”
“Her. Úlfr, stay. Stay.” The wolf growled of frustration and laid down again.
Morionem opened his backpack, and started taking outside anything he knew would be useful. He certainly didn’t have enough healing salve, so he’d have to keep it for the worse-looking wounds. At least he knew healing magic, and had an extra bottle of water he could use. Hoping he’d have enough bandages, he took another look at the materials available and started doing the best he could.
The creature suppressed a moan, noticeably warping its face into a monstrous grimace in the process. “So, uh… Morionem. You?”
“What?” The human rubbed the salve on the humanoid’s shoulder, and seeped curative energy into the wound in the meantime.
“I mean, that’s my name. What’s yours?”
“Interesting name.” The human commented, trivially. For the rest of the night, none of them spoke a single word. Morionem didn’t notice when the moanings stopped and Brádach fell asleep.
When Brádach woke up again, he was thoroughly bandaged and had wooden splints tied to his left leg. Slowly, he used his hand to cover his eyes from midday sun. His head hurt as if it were a stump an axe had split in two. Brádach finally tried to change his position - he had laid still for over a day now, by his math. He failed once, and then twice. After a quarter of an hour had passed, Brádach managed to sit supporting his weight with of his weapon, albeit not without moaning loud enough to wake up Morionem.
“Oh, uh, good morning. Don’t try to stand up right now, y’know.” The swordsman was tired. Last time he ever felt this tired he was helping to keep up a city-wide force shield. Opposite to the advice he gave the other humanoid, Morionem stood up and stretched all of his muscles. “Did you see Don? I mean, Donald.” Brádach blinked confused. “Oh, he’s my duck.”
The larger humanoid glanced over to his sleeping wolf, but a familiar, if muffled, quack killed any possible worry. Donald descended from the sky with a fish in his beak, that he gladly swallowed whole after landing at the hilltop.
There was a moment of awkward silence, that Morionem rushed to break. “I didn’t even try to take care of your wolf.” Brádach frowned. “I feared he-she, she would attack me. I also ran out of bandages and healing salve, and I think I’m out of energy, but I could still make him a stilt. Just like... yours.”
“Uh… Sure. But it’s Úlfr, not wolf.” He said with his hoarse voice.
“Huh? Isn’t it… A dire wolf?” Morionem had only seen timber wolves, but by the size of the animal he judged it to be a dire wolf.
Brádach frowned, confused. “Dire wolf?” He tried to understand and scratched his nearly bald head. “I named her Úlfr, which is an ancient form of warg because… Well, she’s a warg. Wargs are like, big dogs. Really big.”
Morionem was being stared at as either a stupid person or a strange being. Most probably both, as he suspected. “Wait, I think I got it. In your dialect wolves are wargs. And in mine wargs are wolves. Right?”
Brádach hummed something in agreement. “Úlfr.” The wolf sprung awake at the call, but as she forgot her injured leg she fell to the side with a yelp. “Stay put. He’s friendly.” After the ball dropped, Morionem rushed to pick rope from his backpack and two short branches. The man approached the warg, who showed her teeth but otherwise didn’t move to attack. “Sorry for that,” he muttered.
The swordsman took a step back and admired his work. It was crude, but Úlfr managed to stand on all fours. “Never thought I’d see a wolf using a walking cane.” The sight of a predator the size of a small horse with stilts was amusing, if not any less scary.
The hilltop fell into silence. Morionem glanced back at Brádach, and noticed the tool he was using to sustain himself. From where he was he couldn’t tell what it was, just that it was larger than anything he could carry.
“So… I’ll try to find my tent and pack it, also get water and food. You lay down and rest. Is that okay with you?” Brádach hummed in response. Morionem nodded, and wandered downhill, with Donald flying up to get an aerial view.
”Die! Die! Just die already you bastard!”
Brádach blinked awake and tried to stand up in a jolt, but his injuries were still there. He groaned of pain and looked around, slowly raising himself with his weapon to sit normally. The air smelled like cooked meat, for Morionem was indeed roasting something in a new campfire. “You came back.”
“I told you I’d be, didn’t I?” He didn’t take the eyes out of the fire.
The larger humanoid fell into a sheepish silence. “What are you cooking?”
“A young deer, and four rabbits. Figured out you and your wolf you’d be really hungry, so I tried to get as much meat as I could carry.” He paused, and rubbed some sweat off his forehead. “Never thought catching rabbits would be harder than catching deers, but man… Those things were fast.”
Glancing over to Úlfr, Brádach saw the warg’s fixed stare at the fire.
“Even with the stilts she still couldn’t run very well. Luckily Don caught a squirrel for her, so she ate that as has been lying irritated ever since.”
He glanced over to Donald. “The duck?”
“Yeah. He’s like that.”
Brádach blinked, and then left the sound of crackling flames took over the environment for a while. “So… Are you one of those hoomans?”
“I’m human, yes.” Morionem shifted the meat around to make sure it didn’t burn. “You?”
“I’m an orc. You’re the first human I’ve ever seen.”
“And you, the first orc I have.”
There was a long moment of near absolute silence, that was only broken by words when the mean was ready. They decided Morionem and Donald would have a rabbit each, Úlfr the remaining two and Brádach could have the deer all for himself, also that each bottle of water would go for pair of owner and pet.
When Morionem was almost finishing his late lunch, he noticed the orc had shifted his tool from one hand to another, probably to lean to the left instead of the right for a while. It was a long club, entirely made out of metal, and a surface full of spikes. Morionem was scared at the idea it could be bigger than himself.
“Your weapon, does it have a name?” He commented.
Brádach swallowed a deer thigh. “Yes. It’s a kanabō.”
“Interesting. What does it mean?”
“Uh… It means kanabō.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t ask what it was, I asked the name.”
The orc frowned visibly. “Naming a weapon? Why?”
“Well, a weapon is not only a tool. After using it for a long time it… Becomes a part of you, but only if it chooses you as your owner. That’s when it tells you it’s real name.” Morionem rapidly took another bite off his meal. Donald had finished his already and was staring at the human, but Morionem knew if he started to beg that he’d given up and hand the duck the remaining.
Brádach thought a little before answering. “If that’s what you believe in, who am I to judge?” Then he started eating another deer tight.
“And what do you believe in?”
“Well… My father was a priest, and he told me orcs were made out of earth and divine blood, and humans like you were made out of hay.”
“Wait what? I’m only made out of hay!?” He said in a fake angry tone. Brádach shived the leg he was eating in his mouth, and then slowly pulled a lone bone that he discarded. After swallowing, he repeated the story his father had told him.
“Back to the beginning of the world, or rather, some time when it was still very young, the god Draupbog had enemies, strong enemies, and he realized a warrior fighting by his side would be very useful. But he wanted someone he could trust, someone who’d be not only a friend, but a brother. So, he took earth and then mixed it with his own blood, for he had made a cut on his hand with his own knife from where the blood dripped. From the resulting clay, he sculpted Orgrael. Orc, meaning earth, ground, world, and grael, meaning blood. In the ancient language, that is.”
“Oooohhhh…” Morionem solely focused on Brádach, and Donald on Morionem’s rabbit.
“But that’s not how the orcs were born. Draupbog and Orgrael fought side by side against their enemies, shared salt and bread with each other, slept under the starry night together for years. Until came the day that… Long battle short, Orgrael was fatally wounded and died in Draupbog’s arms. In his memory, Draupbog gave life to the crumbles and boom, orcs.”
“But you left out the best part! The part where someone fights!”
“Too late, now’s time for human creation story. So, this goddess, they never say specifically who, had a farm, which was huge. There was a mansion there for when she visited, a giant barn, a giant mill, giant fields of crop and giant everything you can find at a farm, I guess. But you see, she had a problem. Her fields were so big that her servants could collect the crops and watch over the stored grains at the same time - they kept them in huge clay pots back at the… Wherever they keep grains. So, if there were servants watching over the grains, the birds would eat the crops left behind. If there weren’t, the birds would eat the grains.”
“Couldn’t they close the pot, or put it inside somewhere?”
“Then the birds would just open the door and take the lid off the pot. Anyways, the oldest servant, even older than the goddess, came up with an idea: by using leftover hay and clothes, he made dolls that seemed living enough to scare the birds away. Flash forward for when the goddess is dying-”
“Why was she dying?”
“Natural causes.” Brádach said with a slightly deeper voice, then coughed. “Erm, that’s what’s implied anyways. She’s dying, so in order to thank the servants for all the years of hard work she told them they were free and that everything they worked with was theirs. The house they kept, the crops they collected, literally everything. Then she probably died and everyone was confused whether they should feel sorrowful or thankful. That’s how I picture it anyways.” He smirked, and Morionem smiled because it was the closest the orc came to an expression of happiness so far.
“Apparently, that old servant from before was also dying because he was older than the goddess herself, so he decided to follow the example and be nice to the dolls he created, gifting them with the grains they guarded and the tools they used in their job. The dolls left the farm and then tried to plant said grains everywhere. That’s the ending, I guess.”
“Not even nearly as cool as the orcs. Why are we called humans, then?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the servant’s name was Hu, and you were ‘Hu’s men’.”
It took a while for Morionem to realized that was a joke, and he laughed. Brádach followed with a smile, and Donald with pleading quacking. The human glanced over, and the bird’s pleading eyes asked for meat. He sighed.
“Here, have it.” The cracking of the flames took over the environment. The orc took the remaining piece of his deer - the torso - and gave a bite right in the middle of it. Morionem watched everyone else finish their meals, quiet.
Once that happened, the swordsman spoke again. “I’m gonna go fill the bottles with water. You stay here and rest.” The orc grumbled something inaudible. “Just rest for today. Tomorrow we can try find your... home.”
“Yes, I have a little hut by here, if that’s what you are asking.”
“Oh, good, good. Great, actually. So, just stay here. I’ll be back.”
Brádach awoke, the morning sun shining orange in glory. He laid still for what seemed like hours, until he heard someone wake up. It was the duck.
“Quack.” He said, and then flapped his wings towards a tent. It shook a few times before the human yelled “I’m awake! I’m awake!”
Both exited the tent, first the duck, then Morionem after a minute. He started undoing the tent, and the orc rose to sit. He realized he had slept the rest of the day.
“Well, the sooner we leave, the sooner we’ll arrive there.” Brádach used his club to sustain most of his weight, and tried standing up.
“WaitwaitWAIT!” Morionem stopped and ran to help the orc stand up, before realizing he had no idea how exactly do so. With a lot of strain, Brádach managed to stand, if hunching over his club for support. “Er… Well, wait, nonetheless. We’ll leave together, and walk slowly. Very slowly.” It was hard to try to be imposing against someone twice as big as himself.
Before resuming dismantling the tent, Morionem studied the orc a little more. Greenish brown skin, large ears, simple leather clothes that luckily hadn’t fallen off his body after he was attacked. Not much hair on the head, but plenty on the chest. Morionem wondered which of those features were common to Brádach’s race as a whole.
Half an hour later, they were on the side of the hilltop opposite from where Morionem had originally came from. It wasn’t the exact direction of his house, Brádach said, but Morionem thought this side of the hill was smoother and thus better. The orc found out the silence made him focus too much on his wounds, so he tried to figure out if talking would do him any better.
“You have a sword, a shield, supplies, was walking alone through a forest. I saw you create a thunder.” He said that last sentence warily. ”What do you do for a living anyways?”
The question was harder for Morionem than it should be. “Well… I left home soon after my eighteenth birthday. I was legally an adult, so I decided to… Live my dream, maybe if I put it that way it makes more sense.”
Brádach blinked, then just stared.
“Well, I wanted to… Help other people, you know. But uh… I didn’t feel like the army was the right thing, and the knights and guards of my city refused to let me join their corporation under the grounds of ‘not being capable of combat’. I felt like a career in Medicine wasn’t for me because...” Morionem blushed a light shade of red in shame. “I failed the admission exam for an Academy on Arcane Arts when I was a child. My father and other people always said that I was too young for the admission exam anyways, but when I tried again two years later I failed again. From then on people just told me ‘magic is a gift, only one in a huge number of people have it’ and that ‘just because you are of a lineage of mages that doesn’t mean you will be one’ and many other things. My father… We never touched the subject much afterwards, and it was always...”
“No need to tell.”
“No, no, don’t worry. As you saw, I learned magic, after all. I might not be as good as a natural, and I might not have that, that elemental aura other casters have. I managed electricity, which is basically magic energy itself, or a form of it, and healing, which is focusing magic energy to make your body do what it naturally does.” The orc hummed in agreement. “Back to my adulthood, I… Ran away from home. Started hunting for low-bounty criminals in smaller villages and such. Such was life until I got to this castle.”
“Castle? Huh, never saw it. How far away is it?”
Morionem didn’t know how to answer that. “Wait, how did you get here?” The question confused Brádach, and brought memories he wish he didn’t have. He gave a long sigh.
“If I’m going to die anyways, it’s time I tell my story to someone.”
“Don’t say th-”
“Shut up.” He said, menacing. Morionem saw the orc’s eyes piercing him from above as he halted. Brádach then stared forwards and walked concentrated. “I lived a normal life in my city. Lived with my mother, my father and my older brother. Mom took care of the house, dad had a store, brother eventually worked alongside him.”
Morionem wondered how his father could be both a priest and a shopkeeper, but didn’t dare to ask. The orc gave a small smirk. “Used to call him ‘Ugly Ape’ because he was hairy all over his body, eventually even more than my father. When I was a kid, mom taught me both the letters and the numbers. When I grew up a little I started helping dad and Ape in the store, and my dad taught me both history and story, and most things I’ve learned.”
Brágard almost tripped, although he disguised it to keep the fierce appearance. “When I was old enough, they told me since my brother would inherit the shop and work there that I should work as something else. They let me pick, and I picked craft.” The idea of the menacing humanoid crafting something seemed amusing for Morionem, but he tried his best to be respectful and not laugh. At least not in a way the orc would notice. “So I learned how to tell a metal apart from the other, how to melt it, how to give it shape. How to make iron, to give it shape, to mix together with leather for a comfortable grip or light armor. That’s where I learned everything else I know.”
There was a short moment of silence. “My father told me stories about berserkers. Those were orcs who not only were immune to the touch of fire, but could actually breathe a stream of it or just set their bodies ablaze out of sheer willpower. They also could grow twice as big, and turn into blood hungry monsters, more beast than orc, that would never stop fighting. He said that people also believed red skinned orcs were more likely to berserker than others. Then he said that was bullshit, and all orcs were equally capable of being a fire mage, or even an earth mage. Also that some orcs knew techniques that allowed them to control fire without using magic, and there were rumours about a similar, although secret, technique for controlling earth. But he also told me that not much is known about orcs that could turn into beasts, if that was true or how true it was.”
“One night, I woke up and the house was on fire. I ran, trying to… I don’t know. Escape. Find my family. I don’t know. I just ran. But then I saw him, laughing like an animal, setting fire to the floor, the walls, the kitchen, the stairs, who damnedly knows how, but he was there, turning my house into an earthly sun. And laughing. Like scorching down people and their house was a petty game. I… I broke. I attacked him with all my strenght. I ordered him to die one hundred times, and called him bastard, fratricide, and a hundred other cursed names. I… I killed him. And then, I woke up, and the house was on fire. I ran. I knew why this time.”
The whole forest seemed to silence and stand still. Human, duck, wolf and orc walked, no word, quack or growl left out.
“Sometimes… Sometimes, killing people is needed. When there’s no other way to prevent them from spreading evil and harming others, that’s when… That’s when it’s fair to kill.”
Brágard stopped, and stared Morionem in the eyes. “Have you ever killed someone?”
“No. I have never killed someone.” The orc hummed, and resumed walking. The forest remaind silent and still, out of respect.
It was the dawn of the following day, and Morionem was about to leave Brádach’s house. For someone with no skills building houses, it was more than a simple hut he had there. It had only a kitchen and a bedroom that shared the same space and ceiling, but it had a fireplace, and outside the house there were a place for necessities and a simple forge.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you for a few more days?”
“The sooner you leave, the sooner you will be back with your ‘medical care’.” Brádach said it hiding his sarcastic undertone. From Morionem, and from himself. Both tried to hide the perspective of oncoming death.
“You’re right. I guess… This is a goodbye then.” Morionem turned to leave and walked to the door.
“... Wait. Go over that table and take those knives. The ones that look newer.” Suspicious, the swordsman walked to the table, but only saw two short swords that looked new. “I made them recently. My old ones were… Well, old. But you helped me. If anything I want you to have them.” He didn’t say it, but he thought ”I may never get the chance to use them anyways.”
“Take them.” Brádach said, with his hoarse voice and demanding tone. Morionem just nodded - since yesterday he was unable to confront Brádach’s serious tone.
“Goodbye. For real, then.”
“For real. Wind haste.” He smirked, and the human smiled, both hopefully, the latter more so than the former.
Both him and the duck exited the house. Looking around, they started looking for a way back among the pine trees and the bushes. The veil of the day covered the land, and a lone eagle came down and sat atop a nearby tree.
Dolphins are some of the smartest animals, yes, but by human standards… Let's say you should praise the god that forces them to stay handless and underwater.