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This tickles me in all the right places.
@Ruler Inc Imagery-wise, we using realistic ones or we go weebo?

Nvm. Found my answer. Props to the world-building, but real isn't my cup of tea. I think I'm out man. Thanks though! Good luck!
👀
Xiao Mei


Although surprised, Mei was pleased with the response given by their Mother. Even if she was unable to converse with them, it was clear that she was capable of understanding her offspring's intentions. Whether it was through gestures, uttered words, or just purely instinctual, Mei wasn't certain, but for now, her plans for their Mother to learn how to speak still existed.

With lizards in tow and their mother leading the way, they proceeded to return to their den. Mei felt relatively secure knowing that with them was probably one of the cave's more experienced creatures. With that in mind, instead of paying attention to the growing strain on her neck from carrying what would be their meal later on, Mei couldn't help but notice their Mother's battered and bruised physique. She wanted to get to know her more; maybe with some observation and analysis, Mei could get come to some informative conclusions.

She was clearly larger than both Mei and Asteria by what what looked to be more than twice their size. "So far, we've only had lizards and eggs. If her size was due to some special diet, she would have been searching for it instead of lizard nests. Her size might be typical for rats given they survive long enough."

Her claws and fangs, despite still being sharp and pointed, possessed a more noticable coat of yellow in comparison to theirs that still appeared whitish in color; this served as another possible sign of her age.

Mei's attention then turned to the scars scattered and exposed around her body. They varied in contour, some appearing more linear, while others were either small and confined or large and with erratic borders. These were clear indications of the number of skirmishes she's been involved in. "Mother was quick on her feet and was by far the most agile creature we've seen so far. It was unlikely that most of those wounds were sustained in a single fight. She's obviously been through a lot."

Directing her head and body sidewards, dragging the dead lizard grasped by her fangs and forcing Asteria to do the same, Mei caught a glimpse of their mother's foreleg. It was the area bitten by the mother lizard they had faced before. She could see the puncture wounds that were left; they had already stopped bleeding for quite a while now. Squinting her eyes, Mei noticed that the bite wound wasn't as deep or large as she thought. It was surprising to her since the lizard that was responsible for it was a large one.

"It wasn't obvious due to her fur, but mother's skin and muscles might be tougher than it looks." Mei continued to contemplate such thoughts in silence. Until they had finally reache their home.

Joining her sister, Mei released the tension across her body allowed the fatigue to take over as she drifted away into what would be a good night's sleep.



Full of vigor and a day's worth of energy, Mei awoke to Asteria swinging around...a sharpened bone? "She just made a weapon, didn't she?" The young dire rat asked herself in disbelief but before she could address this, rumbling sounds had echoed from her bowels. Approaching one of the lizard carcasses, Mei found her ravenous appetite and tolerance for rancid, foul-smelling odors, incredibly strange. This was definitely associated to her race, but whether she appreaciated this or not was still questionable.

As she picked through reptilian meat, Mei recalled their ability to produce poisons. Given the dead body in front of her, it was the best time to actually pick it appart and see up close the physical characteristics of the fanged lizard. The things that come to Mei's mind were where the scaliest and softer parts were along with the location of their poison-producing glands. Hopefully she'd be able to identify these and gain more incidental information than what he sought for.



@SilverPaw
Xiao Mei


Despite declining her offer, Mei noticed the absence of any negative emotion from her sister's tone; it seemed Asteria had forgiven her, or at least set aside her displeasure towards Mei's previous actions.

Apart from appearing timid and meek, Mei wanted to limit her words for now. Why though? Well, it was a habit of Mei's; she just believed that less talking just made situations less complicated.

Continuously taking mouthfuls of lizard meat, some obviously being pocketed within her cheeks, Mei simply smiled, mumbled, and noded in response to Asteria's plans.

"Decisive, flexible, and pragmatic. Definitely traits of a leader." Mei unconsciously chuckled at her thoughts while she enjoyed her dinner. However, it was still too early though for whatever it was Mei was planning.

Slowly turning to their Mother, making sure not to startle her in any way, Mei tried to get her attention and relay her sister's plans of returning back home. With her nose, she pointed at the bodies of the dead lizards then gestured to pick them up with their mouths before swinging her head towards the direction of the underground nest they had came from. All the while, Mei simultaneously snuck in instructions in between her actions to somehow aid her in explaining.

"WE. GET. LIZARDS?" and "THEN. WE GO BACK HOME?" were the phrases Mei continued to repeat. Hopefully, her efforts wouldn't be wasted. Normally, she wouldn't bother but after receiving the system messages, she wondered if other creatures, specifically those were native from this world, could also gain skills like them. If so, their mother being able to learn their language might have been possible.



@SilverPaw@Zeroth
@SilverPaw Edited my post at the last part to include some interaction with Asteria.
Xiao Mei


It was difficult for Mei to determine on who was more formidable between the mother lizard they had previously faced and the pair that who were on the receiving end of their fangs and claws. One thing she was certain of though, was the efficiency of hunting as a group. If made to tackle the same situations on her own, Mei wouldn't have been as violent and reckless; that just would've gotten her killed. What they had right now wasn't a simple group of random creatures. As cliché as it might've sound, they were a family. Mei could've done without such a dynamic, but the innate familial instincts of protectiveness and lingering compassion for each other had been working to her advantage so far. Coupled with the natural speed and agility of the dire rat, the pseudo synchronicity they displayed during their attacks also impressed Mei. For the time being, she knew that sticking together was the best option presented to her.


After her encounter with the wisp and fanged lizards, Mei couldn't help feel her hunger creeping out once again. It could have been something usual for their kind or was just due to Mei overexerting herself. Either way, she decided to address her body's needs and helped herself to the bountiful meal that was in front of her. What she would've thought of as disgusting and savage, was actually calming and nostalgic. The fresh, bloodsoaked reptilian meat was iron-like in taste, but it reminded Mei of zhū zá tāng; a warm, spicy blood and organ soup that she frequently had as a child. While living on the streets of Chaozhou, it was the cheapest and heartiest meal she could afford, but eventually grew to love.

As Mei was enjoying her meal, from out of nowhere and without warning, an abrupt...update had appeared? Or was it more accurate to call it a notification? Regardless, it had caught her off guard, but her surprise most likely went unnoticed. Mei briefly choked on the lizard meat, but it was probably just seen as her eating too hurriedly.

The terms presented to her, such as leveling up and skill points, undeniably piqued Mei's interest. It was as if they were in a game? If this was true, it wasn't apparent given the way she's been reacting to the world around her; it did not feel artificial in anyway, but that was probably what characters in games felt as well. Trying to figure everything out with what little information was available, was a futile attempt and Mei was well aware of this. At least it was a problem she didn't need to focus on for now. Learning how to go about this supposed pre-existing system was something she had to go about gradually. If she didn't take it in as bits and pieces, the chances of her just being overwhelmed was high.

"Five points to spend, huh?" Mei pondered while she resumed her meal, pretending as if nothing had happened aside from her swallowing mishap.

"Beast Sense and Deception." Mei found these words so familiar, as if she had heard them not long ago. Memories of just before her rebirth came flooding back, catching her by surprise yet again. And like before, causing her to choke on her meal. Honestly, she was starting to feel embarrassed. As she cleared her throat though, Mei continued to review the information she had just received. She was, most of the time, logical and practical. However, when games were involved, Mei had the habit of taking risks. She was what most would call, a gambler.

With that train of thought, she knew where she'd invest her skill points. Everything into Deception. Mei found no reason not to do so; that was her bread and butter. Lying, confusing, misleading, to misinform, and the like were second nature for her.



At some point, Mei came to the realization that if she was going through this sort of experience, it was fair to assume that Asteria was as well. They faced the same challenges and have been with each other for what seemed to be the whole day. With Mei's curiosity overtaking her, she had to find a way to observe her sister without being to obvious. Grabbing the lifeless lizard by the mouth, Mei proceeded to drag it towards Asteria. What she planned to look like a peace offering with some compassion thrown in, was actually Mei just trying to be sly.

@SilverPaw
Xiao Mei


“What did you think you were doing?”

Although discrete, Mei could note th subtle frustration in her sibling's tone. She couldn't blame her though; Asteria's response was appropriate for the situation, but unless she insisted, Mei felt no need to explain her actions in detail.

"I-I d-d-dont know; it st-started to at-t-tack, so I p-p-panaicked." She whimpered in response as she stared at the cavern floor, trying to avoid eye contact.

Her sibling took several deep breaths to calm herself down, but still spoke with a bit of annoyance in her voice. “Whatever. It’s done now. This just cost us two or three potential allies though,”.

Mei was impressed at the level-headedness Asteria displayed; it only added to the reasons on why it was worth staying close to her and their mother.

While Mei was lost in thought, Asteria had suddenly brushed against her, as if comforting or reassuring her. Lowering her head even further, trying to hide her brief surprise, Mei whispered in a mumbling manner "I-I'm s-sorry". Fortunately, her sibling was a compassionate one. Whether this was genuine or instinctual, Mei couldn't say for sure; even with her history of violence, the ferocity she had shown throughout the day was a bit excessive even for her. Nevertheless, Mei still believed that the kindhearted were always the ones who were easier to deceive.

“I don’t know about you, but I want to track Edward down and see if at least some of this mess can be fixed.”

If Mei could've shown her displeasure with a deep and breathy sigh, she would. Unfortunately, she had an image she needed to maintain.


A well timed coincidence or just fate toying with them, Mei couldn't deny how volatile the environment in the cave was.

Wasting little to no time, their mother had pounced, leading the offense and displaying an ample amount of speed and agility as she skillfully weaved through the venomous volley of shots. Making use of her relatively smaller size, Mei ducked and log rolled to the side, doing her best to avoid the incoming attack as well. Seeing how immediate the actions of her fellow rats were, Mei immediately followed up and jumped into the fray, mimicking the movements of her sister. At least she tried to. Mei had noticed for a while now the difference in speed between the three of them. Their mother being faster was easily believable, but for Asteria, who was part of the same litter as her, was something Mei couldn't just accept. She assumed that their first few days of life were generally similar, so why was there a gap? Was she not pushing herself enough? Well, Mei didn't know for sure, but it was a good time to find out. She needed to utilize and get to know the capabilities of her body sooner rather than later.

Exerting as much effort as she could, instead of trailing from behind, Mei veered towards the opposite direction. With both Asteria and Mother up front, Mei hoped that their initial attacks would serve as a distraction while she'd sneak in. As soon as she got close, Mei planned to lunge forward as fast as she could with, aiming towards the trunk of either lizard with arms extended and claws bared.

Despite the lack of coordination, hopefully their makeshift three-pronged approach would create enough confusion for a decicieve blow to land.

@SilverPaw
Xiao Mei


"So they do bleed." Mei thought to herself while scurrying backwards, conveying a look of what she thought was surprise with some worriedness mixed in. "What did I just do?" was the impression she was going for. It were times like this that Mei could fully appreciate her talents in lying and deception.

As blood continued to trickle down the sides of her mouth, Mei swallowed the spongy flesh she had torn off from Lorek, and prepared herself for another attack. Her mother was not a problem, but it was going to be difficult to explain to her sister why she attacked a second time. It was Mei's habit to be meticulous with these sort of things; leaving behind loose ends never did her any good. Well, that was something Mei had to deal with later. Or so she thought.

"Talk about lucky." Mei resisted the urge to let out a smirk as she saw the incoming bombardment from two lizards from afar. As much as she wanted to finish the wisp of herself, Mei couldn't risk getting hit by one of those ozzing globs. She saw what it did to their mother and had no plans of going through what she did.

While hurriedly running towards her fellow rats, Mei realized that given the features of a rat, portraying certain emotions with facial expressions could only go so far. She had to improve if she wanted to convince them. As she drew closer, Mei rushed in even faster, immediately burying herself in between her mother and Asteria. She made her body shiver as best as she could while increasing her rate of breathing, making each breath rapid and shallow.

Turning her head and briefly rubbing it against both rats, Mei gestured that she wanted to get away. Mei didn't know how she was going to deal with the other wisp. It remained motionless and non-aggressive despite what she had done to another wisp; Mei had no basis for attacking it, and honestly, the wisp posed no threat to them. It was best she just leaved it alone. Whether it would do the same or follow them, it didn't matter to Mei.

She was satisfied with everything she had learned and accomplished so far; she was fine with calling it a day.

Given how their mother had responded, it seemed Dire Rats might not have the capabilities of speech. However, given how she just accepted this allowed Mei to conclude that other creatures were probably able to do so. The Fanged Lizard they had encountered earlier failed to utter a single coherent word as well; so that made two species for now. These held no real value, but it was just a habit of Mei to take note of such things.

Her efforts to appear fidgety and distressed may have not been as fruitful as she would have wanted. She garnered no real reaction from the creatures around her, and it had seemed that Mother was gesturing that it was time to call it a day. It was amazing that Mei found it incredibly simple to understand their mother's intentions; it probably was some sort of pack-like link. As much as Mei wanted to stretch out the day a bit further, she didn't want to force the idea too much. Fortunately, as Mei was about to head towards their matriarch, the wisp that introduced itself as Lorek had rushed between their group and turned to the shining blue crystals close to them. This was an interesting opportunity that Mei could make use of.

Worry and surprise were the emotions Mei was trying to convey as she gasped at Lorek who's attention seemed to have been preoccupied by something else. It was strange that he decided to take his attention away from the four dire rats that were simply standing around him. Was he too trusting or just careless? Not wasting any time lingering on such thoughts, Mei's gaze inconspicuously strayed towards where the wisp was staring at, hoping to catch whatever it was he was staring at within her periphery. Mei caught a glimpse of a scurrying creature; from its shape, it was most likely a lizard. Mei wasn't sure what Lorek was trying to do, but given the amount of focus he was directing towards it, it was obvious that the wisp was up to something.

In her previous life, Mei was familiar with such a vibe; although faint, it was similar to what most would call killing intent, or at least intent to harm. This was the perfect chance for Mei to strike, but she was well aware that she still had to remain cautious. The other wisp that had introduced itself as Danny, appeared to have been focused on something else as well.

Trying to exacerbate the facade she was trying keep up, Mei got on all fours and started to feign rapid breathing and jitteriness, as if she was ready to flee. Unfortunately for Lorek, this wasn't the case; Mei was preparing to strike. To be more specific, lunge at the wisp. He had positioned himself in between them, in a spot more accessible to Mei. He had approached the crystals and in doing so, lowered himself to the ground and gave Mei an idea on how fast he capable of moving. He was focused on the lizard running away from them; it was fair to assume that he was preparing for an attack. And lastly, the other wisp was unlikely to come Lorek's aid; he was hiding in the small wall crevice for a reason. The moment Lorek was about to let loose an attack, Mei was prepared to immediately capitalize on that moment and rush towards the wisp, with her fangs and claws ready for some evisceration. To deceive them and hide her intentions, all she needed was one massive "Stttooopppppp!" while she'd leap in.

If things went well, Mei would find out what it felt like to sink her teeth into something that looked so magical.
Mei was prepared for any of the consequences that would follow. If her actions would be questioned, she was ready to lie and just say that she had panicked and was worried that the wisp was about to attack them. If Lorek had allies close by ready to lend him a helping hand, Mei was banking on Mother and her capabilities. Either way, things were surely going to get interesting.

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