Chapter 41
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I can't believe I have to say this but after receiving some pretty viscious reactions I need to be clear here.

Red-caps are not an allusion to anything related to American politics. I'm not even American. They're classic fantasy monsters that are an offshoot of goblins. Google it. I strive to keep any and all politics out of my writing, so please do your best to do the same. Thanks!

In surprise I pull back my body an inch as I see the unmoving figure sitting cross legged on the bottom of the pond. Her eyes are closed and no motion stems from her body, save for the lazy drifting of her hair and clothes in the water. The fairy of the fountain. I suppose she’s the last thing I expected to see here. If only I had a coin, damn. Popping my head out of the water I take a deep breath in and out and resubmerge myself into the roaring ambient sound beneath the surface. There is no way this pond should be this loud, but here it is.

  The fairy of the fountain. I remember her from my mimic life. She was nice, but a bit awkward to talk to. Very… stiff in her conversations. Hmm. Walking forward a few steps along the surface of the pond I grab her shoulder and shake her, trying to wake her up. But she doesn’t stir. Her body shakes vaguely back and forth beneath my grasp until it gradually returns back to its upright sitting position. Her face is unchanged and still soft and locked in sleep. I guess I need a coin to wake her up… I look down at the blue gem in her hand.

  For a second, a little voice in me wants me to take it. To just snatch it from her sleeping grasp and keep it for myself. The left-over whispers of the drake I was just only… well for me, only an hour or two ago I suppose? It liked things like this, treasures. Stones and jewels. But I shake my head. I don’t steal from other trash-mobs if I can help it. Part of my dungeon code of conduct. Though I suppose she’s a step above us on the hierarchy being a rare-spawn. But apart from that what would I even do with it? Jewels are just as useless as gold for me down here.

   Slowly I back up out of the water, there are no secret-stairs here. I wish I could talk to her though, but the dungeon-rules say she doesn’t ‘activate’ until she gets a coin apparently. Hmm. I guess she can spawn in any small body of water? Maybe? I guess ‘fairy of the fountain’ is a better name than ‘fairy of bodies of water smaller than a lake’. As my head rises out of the cool wet I look around to check that the coast is clear; I understand now what that saying means, looking at an actual coast. A small one. But a coast. I guess? Hmm. Yeah, sure. Carefully I look that there aren’t any beady, little eyes staring out at me from the underbrush. There aren’t. Satisfied I leave the water entirely, backing out of it my giant spider half first.

  My long hair, now soaked, sticks down against my back; the leather bag on my chest sticking to my bare skin in an equally uncomfortable manner. My spider half has no larger issues with being wet apparently. I wonder wh- woah.

  My body feels light. The sudden shift in temperature from beneath the cold water to above the surface where the rays of the evening sun touch my skin send a surge of blood through my body. Haha. It feels weird. I feel weird. I look at my hands, one still clutching the wooden spear. My dripping, pale skin is flush and slightly red. Raising them to my cheeks I feel a warmth radiating from my damp face. Is this the potion? Haha. This is nice. I feel nice, guy. I shiver. Thanks dungeon-master! I guess it’s some kind of… mood elation potion? I guess it’s odd that we have something like that, but I’m happy to have it, tell you what! Opening the bag I shake the wet off the bottle before popping out the cork and taking a long glug of the liquid. Looking back to the pond I pour some out into the water for her. See you next time maybe I hope silently, feeling just a little lonely now again.

   A little melancholic and happy at the same time, I begin walking towards the direction I remember the entrance stairs being in. I don’t think the secret-stairs will be there this time. But it’s just nice to walk while we talk, you know? I take another sip from the bottle that is more than half empty now. It’s kind of gross but it’s really growing on me in a way. Uf. Why is it so warm? I shake my whole body, getting some of the wet off of me.

  Wait. Shouldn’t I be using the tree-tops? I groan. I shooould. It’s safer. I don’t want to get red-capped. I hate red-caps I think as I spit on the ground, if only to emphasize that statement to myself. No, focus. Stairs. Stairs. Think. They can only be someplace where the hero-party can’t find them, right? So… big forest. Ponds. Stone walls with some towers. Towers? I look around trying to see one, but the forest is too thick. But I know that there are some collapsed and half-ruined stone towers along the segments of wall that remain here and there on this floor. Hmm, no. Well, maybe? Ah… no. No. I don’t think so. They’re all accessible to the adventurers as far as I know.

  Walking further, still grounded, I hum some nonsensical tune to myself and spin my spear around like a baton before me. Haha! I’m pretty good at this! I must be a natural talent! What a strange feeling I think to myself, noticing my body is starting to sway as I walk, my legs skittering in all directions trying to keep my considerable mass balanced upright; my upper-torso bobbing from left to right, water still dripping off of me occasionally. Ugh, I hate the feeling of my hair sticking to my neck. Why is it so warm? Man, I wish I had a coin. I really feel like talking to someone now.

  Oh no. I suddenly realize something. I could have actually talked to her this time, I actually have a body that can. Um. That can make… you know? Uh. Words. Words and… stuff. I hold my forehead for a moment, I feel pretty dizzy all of a sudden. Woah. Ugh. Something rustles behind me and I quickly spin myself around, weapon at the ready. My vision seems to trail behind my motion for a fraction of a second and as I come to a stop I feel like my eyes keep going for another second past where I wanted them to look. Why is everything so wobbly? Haha. No, focus.

  There is nothing there. I think? No. No I don’t see anything. Gripping my spear tighter in my hand and clutching the damp bag close to my bare chest I back off from the source of the noise. Maybe it was just some forest ambiance? Yeah. Yeah… I decide to play it smart and head back up the nearest tree. Climbing is hard like this, my legs slip and slide as I rise up the bark as if I had lost all co- Cord? Coord. Cordna- Coordnination! Ugh. I should go home and sleep. Home? Oh. Right. I have a web. Spiders, right? Ugh. But it’s so faaaar. No. No, I don’t have time to go ‘home’. I shake my head and slap my face to bring blood to it, I feel a painful thunk and wince. I hit myself on the head with my own spear.

  Rubbing the fresh bump, my skull more intact than my pride, I rise up to the crown of the tree and brace myself against it for a second. I don’t feel so good. What’s in this potion? I mean, I like it. But I don’t like it. It. It. I hold my head repeating the word. As I stand on the stable branch and look down at the forest floor so far beneath me I notice that it’s… spinning. Oh boy. I feel sick. Why is the world spinning? I hold onto the tree and I notice that its swaying wildly as if the earth was shaking beneath me. No. No. It’s me. It’s my legs, my body that is swaying. I press myself against the wood and hug the tree tightly, pressing my face and front-body against it trying to keep things straight. A violent urge comes to me and for the second time in recent memory, I purge, spewing a stream of pale purple and red down onto the wavy world below. Dungeon-master, I don’t feel so goo-  

I vomit again, my stomach clenching together pumping out anything and everything inside of it. I feel something trickle through my nose, burning every single lining on my insides. Standing there I let it all out and once I have, I feel a little better actually. Still really bad. Really spinny. Ugh. Stooop. My body clenches again, a cold dewy sweat contrasting the warmth I radiate and I prepare for a second wave of nausea to overwhelm me. Something beeps and I look up towards it.

I vomit again at the sight.