Chapter 9: Dish Sucks
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Double-checking that the bar of soap is still in the basin—shockingly it is—I search for a better route up than I’d come down. A stack of plates seems fairly suitable. I head up slowly, testing each step before I shift my weight, determined to avoid another Humpty Dumpty situation.

With little else to do, I talk to Echo while I climb. Can I put anything I’m touching in my inventory? I ask.

[Organic matter is incompatible with the nature of the pocket dimension,] Echo says.

Fair enough. I doubt there’s any air in there. But I hadn’t really planned on sticking people—or cockroach corpses—in my inventory, anyway. When I take an item out of my inventory, can I choose where it appears? I ask.

[The summoning location is dependent upon the summoner range and available space,] Echo says.

That makes sense: Can’t summon a glass in the middle of a wall. What’s my range?

[A three-inch radius originating at your center of mass.]

Three inches doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but that’s about my same width in either direction. Not the worst.

Can I summon it in any orientation?

[Affirmative.]

Now we’re getting somewhere.

I make it out of the basin without another comedy of errors, my glass footsteps making tiny musical tinklings as I step back onto the granite.

Moment of truth. Alright, Echo. Can you take the pitcher of water out of my inventory? But on its side. Like this. I picture the orientation I want it to manifest. Got it?

[Affirmative,] Echo says. [Item removed from inventory.]

The pitcher appears an inch above the counter, whereupon it immediately crashes down, slips over the lip, and into the pile of dishes. I cringe as I hear something shatter. An impressive geyser of water spills into the basin, but a good amount also splashes out onto the kitchen floor beyond. Oops. More to clean up later, I guess.

I also hadn’t meant to break anything. But hey—are those pieces of glass I see down there? If the shoe fits…

A light turns on in Trenevalt’s room. Shit. I guess I wasn’t being particularly subtle, was I? No time to clean up my mess, I dart behind a clutter of cups just as Trenevalt emerges from his room.

“Who’s there?” he grumbles. “What’s going on out here?”

I remain motionless, just enough of my glass poking out from behind a mug that I can keep an eye on him. A tiny glowing ball of light hovers above his fingertips, which he raises as he slowly surveys the room.

Light shimmers off the spilled water and empty pitcher.

“Ahh,” he says, frowning at the scene. He stares at it a moment, his look of suspicion turning into confusion. “Now how did that…”

A shadow skitters across the floor. Trenevalt turns in time for his light to flash off the limbs of a tiny brass octopus as it vanishes into the living room.

“Ah, yes,” he grumbles. “The aberrant vessel causing trouble again. Must be malfunctioning.” He scratches at his beard in a very wizardly way. “A result of the imperfect summoning, perhaps. I’ll have to release its energy back Between when I can catch it.” He glances over to the water basin with a sigh. “I’ve had quite enough of this mischief, thank you.”

Noli is getting blamed for my antics once again; I’ll have to make it up to her later. For now, my limbs are itching to move, the need to clean building in my soul like some inner monster struggling to burst out. (The fanfic of which my show followers would have devoured each other to read, no doubt.) Trenevalt is still looking in my direction, just one second-glance away from catching me in the act. Uninterested in being pegged as the “Imperfect summoning” that I am and released back into the waiting jaws of the predator, I remain motionless.

Rubbing his eyes, Trenevalt yawns, turns, and hobbles back into his bedroom. The door thunks quietly shut.

Whew.

No time to count my lucky stars, I jump into action. There’s water and soap in the basin, but those dishes won’t clean themselves.

I pause at the lip. Hey Echo, what’s the range of my Attuned glass?

[At level 2, the range of Attuned objects increases to a radius of six inches.]

Double the un-attuned objects, at least, but still not far enough for me to avoid a sudsy fate. Back in the basin it is.

The plates are slick now, making my journey even more precarious than before, but I make it to the water level without incident. Here I hesitate, dipping one of my shards into the surface. It’s so strange. I can feel it like I’m touching it myself, but it’s nothing like the experience of physical sensations in a human body. I can distantly tell it’s cool, but it doesn’t chill me. I can sense its density, but it doesn’t hinder my movement. I edge further in, knowing what must come next.

As I lower myself into the water, I feel my buoyancy take over, and I gently let my legs float away. Half of my vision is under the water while half of it is above—more than a little disorienting, I’ll admit. I try to just focus my attention on what’s below.

I send my limbs to the bottom of the basin, where they skewer the bar of soap that’s sitting there. I don’t have enough strength to lift it, but I can at least start nudging it around—and that appears to be the right move, as it results in a lessening of the Command pressure. My Sanity Level slowly ticks back up.

As I nudge the soap around, I bump into something that scrapes faintly across the bottom of the basin. It’s hard to see through the dark waters, but a glint of light catches faintly on something. Ah! The broken glass.

Probably best to cover up the evidence of my misadventures—and stock up on some more Attunement ammo while I’m at it.

Echo, can you add these pieces to my inventory as well? I ask.

[Negative,] Echo says. [The targets must be in physical contact to add to the inventory.]

Right. I should have thought to do that when I was down here the first time. Well, can you add each one as I touch them? So I don’t have to ask you each time.

[The user does not need to ask for permission from this unit to activate spells or access their inventory,] Echo says. [This unit merely reports on the status of the actions the user takes.]

Sheesh, no need be so snippy. I mean, I’d already figured out she isn’t needed for me to do spells, but it just gets a bit lonely being locked in my own head. Just humor me, alright?

I bob around the tub of water, beginning to magically Swiffer up all the shards of glass. I probably won’t find every tiny sliver, but the big pieces are easy enough to bump into—or discover with my underwater scrubbing. After a few minutes go by since the last inventoried piece, Echo says, [39 glass shards added to inventory.]

Oof. I think I felt that. Like I’m slightly heavier now. Which is strange since I hadn’t noticed anything when I’d picked up the pitcher of water. Maybe it has to do with how full the inventory is rather than the actual weight?

I muse on this as I continue to clean, the water gradually becoming oily and lathered as I move the soap around the soaking dishes. I try not to think about the bits of food that begin to loosen from plates and rise to the surface—along with the corpse of the cockroach.

A tapping sound comes from the counter above me.

“Kanin!” Noli appears. “There you are. That was a close one, huh?”

On the one hand, the company is welcome, given I don’t even have thumbs to twiddle as I go about this mind-numbing chore. But the exchange is somewhat dampened given my inability to sign back—and embarrassment over having someone else witness my predicament. I suppose there’s nothing for it, though.

I let go of the soap with one of my limbs so I can wave back at Noil, who returns the gesture with near child-like enthusiasm. I’d chuckle if I could. I’m not sure her cheery disposition will ever stop surprising me.

“I don’t know if I can teach you many signs with just that one piece,” Noli signs. “Can’t do much with a thin rod.”

I don’t have any other limbs to spare from the dishes. I could Attune more of the glass in my inventory, but that would take hours, something that will need to wait until after this cleaning Command is fulfilled.

But I have another trick up my sleeve, don’t I?

I cast Sculpt on my piece of glass.

Slowly, I bend the glass into a semicircle. It only takes about ten seconds or so—nowhere near the full two minutes. But it still feels agonizingly slow for the simple shapes I want to make.

Noli catches on pretty quick. “Oh! That’s brilliant, Kanin.”

Yeah, I have my moments.

“Still a far cry from fingers,” she muses. “And it really would help to have at least two pieces you could use…”

Hey, I’m trying my best.

“...But we can work with this! Let’s see, let’s see, what’s something simple…” Noli moves through a series of signs that aren’t even translated for me—maybe because there’s no intention behind the movements. “Okay, let’s try this one,” she finally decides. “It’s one-handed. Where.” She pauses the sign, letting me try to replicate the shape. “No, your top part isn’t pointed right. Like this, see?” I edit my shape. “There you go! And now you do this motion. Good. Okay, what’s next… Oh! Here’s another one that’s useful: Cat…”

I copy another two or three signs before my timer runs out, then I activated another Sculpt. At this rate, I’ll run out of mana in twenty or so minutes, but that’s twenty minutes of mental stimulation that’s otherwise difficult to come by. And I… kinda enjoy this? It’s nice. Noli’s good company, despite our circumstances.

Eventually, the mind-static subsides as my Sanity Level reaches 100% once more. I wait another moment, just in case it’s going to come back, then cautiously make my way back toward the edge of the now-sudsy sink.

[Cleaning skill: level up!] Echo abruptly announces.

[Sculpt spell: level up! At level 3, mana cost is reduced by 20% and spell duration is increased by 20%.]

[Foreign language skill: obtained!]

Well that’s nice, I guess. I still don’t feel like the skills are actually doing anything for me, but the spell level up at least comes with the mana reduction and bonus duration. I’ll take it.

Noli laughs as I finally drag myself out of the sink. “You’re absolutely filthy!”

She doesn’t need to tell me. Water is dripping down my surface, distorting my vision, while bubbles and bits of food stuff obscure patches of my sight completely.

“Here,” Noli signs, hurrying down the counter. “I saw a dish towel around here somewhere… Aha!”

She reels a rag up over the edge of the counter from where it must have been hanging on some rack. Noli brings it over, hesitating before patting me down.

“Maybe don’t be standing on those legs,” she suggests. “Still a bit clumsy with these arms. Don’t want to knock you over.”

Her concern is appreciated, even with 20% fall damage resistance. I flatten myself on the counter and let Noli dry me off. I find myself faintly self-conscious to be so prostrate and pampered—although perhaps it’s a little ridiculous to feel bashful when I don’t even have a body to be embarrassed of. I’d just have to avoid a repeat of this in the future. Develop a longer range for my glass, somehow. Maybe with more leveling ups.

Ugh. I miss being human.

“There,” Noli signs, stepping back. “All dry!”

My glass is a little bit streaky, but I’ll manage.

“Hm,” Noli considers as I climb back to my feet. “You look different somehow.”

Different? Was it the Level Up? Did I get bigger?

[Negative,] Echo says, uninvited.

Psh, I didn’t want to be bigger anyway.

“Can’t put my finger on it,” Noli signs, tipping her head to the side.

I shift uncomfortably under her scrutinizing look. I’m still figuring out this body, and I don’t like the idea of there being some element to it I don’t understand.

But I don’t intend to live like this forever. And now that I have more glass to work with, it’s about time I start putting my Get Back to My Smoking Hot Bod plan into motion.

7