Death Cap – Eight – Well Shod to Trod a Future Path
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Stray Cat Strut (A cyberpunk system apocalypse!) - Ongoing
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Cinnamon Bun (A wholesome LitRPG!) - Ongoing
The Agartha Loop (A Magical-Girl drama!) - Hiatus
Lever Action (A fantasy western with mecha!) - Volume One Complete!
Heart of Dorkness (A wholesome progression fantasy) - Ongoing
Dead Tired (A comedy about a Lich in a Wuxia world doing Science!) - Hiatus
Sporemageddon (A fantasy story about a mushroom lover exploding the industrial revolution!) - Ongoing

Death Cap - Eight - Well Shod to Trod a Future Path

I had a lot of things to prepare and... honestly, plenty of time to work on most of them.

First and foremost was my initial expedition into the Ditz Dungeon.

My plan was... pretty much to just walk in. I’d prepare some of my more dangerous mushrooms for the trip, of course, and I’d bring along some basic equipment, but from what I understood the first floor of the dungeon was a busy place.

I tallied up my money, then with a small coin purse (filled with cloth so that it wouldn’t jingle and properly tucked under my overalls) I headed over to the open market near the Gutter to buy some essentials.

The market was a busy place in the mornings, especially since the stalls had just finished setting up when I arrived and the sellers were eager to start selling their things.

The first thing I bought was a good waterskin, something small but made of tough leather that I could tuck under my overalls against my side. Then I bought a better satchel, one with dividers on the inside of it where I’d be able to store different sorts of mushrooms with ease.

I found some small, finger-width glass vials for sale at one table and picked up a few of those. I wasn’t going to bring most into the dungeon. I just wanted them for mycelium growth.

As it was, with Feronie’s Blessing providing ambient growth and all of my mushroom-related skills pushing on all cylinders, I could get some of my faster-growing mushrooms to go from mycelium to mushroom in a little under an hour.

That was pretty great, but it wasn’t going to be weaponizable. Not unless I was prepared to lay traps.

And that’s exactly what I intended to do.

If I was to complete the Ritual of Sporemageddon, I needed to get to the heart of the dungeon. At least, that’s what my skill told me. I couldn’t fight the monsters likely lurking in the dungeon, not on my own, and not with the very small amount of power I had.

My [Blight] skill was scary, but I didn’t trust it to kill something before it killed me. My poisonous mushrooms required breathing or ingestion, and those poisons weren’t instant.

My next purchase was a knife.

You needed a permit to buy a weapon, but I didn’t buy a dagger. Just a knife with a blade as long as my hand which came with a leather sheath. It felt nice to be wearing that, though I wore it under the back flap of my overalls at the small of my back.

I picked up a few more things after that. Two little tins of sardines and a small box of crackers. Luxury food for me. I had mushrooms I could eat but these took up less space in my satchel and left more room for the fun sort of mushroom.

Rope was a must, or course, so I found a decent length of that, then a small bundle of string that I negotiated down to a half-penny from the granny selling it. I considered buying a blanket, but then I could just knit something for myself.

I decided to bring my knitting needles too, just in case. I might end up having to wait for a trap to go off or something while below.

Armour and the like was right out. Not only did no one sell anything proper, the one stall that had that kind of thing for sale priced it way above what I could afford. Besides, the armour I saw was made for grownups, not pre-teens.

There were two more things I needed, two items I couldn’t afford to cheap out on.

The first was a mask.

A few stalls sold cloth masks that were meant to be worn over your face when the smog got bad enough. A few of the nicer ones were padded and had multiple layers, and even inserted cloth that could be removed and cleaned.

I needed something a bit more robust, but there wasn’t anything like that in the market. I ended up asking a nicer older lady at one of the stalls, making up some story about wanting to buy a gift for my dad who worked with smokey stuff. She pointed me to a shop a couple of blocks down that sold working equipment.

I found what I was looking for there. A half mask with a filter right in the middle and some straps to keep it affixed to my face. That cut into my savings a little, but I justified it to myself by considering how much I could use it. It would make my experimenting and working with [Dead Man’s Cough] so much safer.

The last thing I bought blew out my entire budget.

A bell rang above the shop’s door. Inside were a few rows of shelves with boxes neatly stacked on them. The sides of those boxes had a simple image of a shoe printed on them. More images adorned the walls, of happy victorian-dressed women and men in proper suits smiling next to rather tame slogans about different shoe brands.

“Can I help you?” a young man asked. He had an apron on over slacks and a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

“Hi,” I said. “I’d like some shoes, please.”

He looked me up and down, then stared at my feet. I almost fidgetted and hid them, but I resisted the urge.

“I have money,” I said.

The young man frowned. “This is a proper establishment,” he said.

“One that sells shoes, right?” I asked. “Well, I’m a customer. Can you help me or will I need to go elsewhere?

The boy worked his jaw, then he set some tools aside onto the front counter. “Very well, but only because Mister Cobbler would box my ears if he heard I sent a customer off. What do you need?”

“Boots,” I said. “Something tough that’ll keep my toes warm and my feet dry.” I was surprisingly comfortable walking around barefoot all over. And bare feet were cheaper than buying shoes. But the dungeon wasn’t going to be kind to my soles.

“Boots, I think we have something in your size.” He walked across the room to a wall that had smaller boxes. “Come over here, I need to measure your foot-size.”

He had a tape tucked in his pocket. He had me place my foot on a stool, then frowned at it before measuring it quickly. “Wait here,” he said.

I stared at the boxes for a moment. Some had prices scribbled on them, and I winced at the amounts. I could afford it, but it would set me back. My nest-egg back at the farm would be all I had left after today.

The young man returned with a bucket half-full of water and a piece of cloth. “Wash your feet,” he said.

I scowled, but... well, that was only fair.

I did as he asked while he pulled out a few boxes. “Here, these aren’t popular,” he said. The boots he took out were about as plain as could be.

“Then why are you showing me these?” I asked. I slid my foot in. It was a bit loose, but that was probably for the best. I could wear extra socks.

“Because they’re easy to fix,” he said. “And they’re cheap, but are decently well made.”

“Oh,” I said.

I tied the shoe up, somehow the action was still kind of familiar. Then I walked around in a circle. My steps were clunky and loud, and I felt unbalanced. The shoes didn’t have the kind of comfy soles the shoes back in the before had, but it wasn’t too bad. “I guess I’ll take them,” I said.

The boy nodded, then asked that I pay him upfront. I did, taking out coins and paying him with exact change.

Then, to my surprise, he knelt down before me and took my booted foot in his hands. I was going to ask him what he was doing when I felt the boot shift.

He did the same to the other, and after he let go, I tested the boots. They fit perfectly, as if they’d been custom made just for me. I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised. It made sense that cobblers would have cobbler magic of some sort.

Nearly all of my money drained, I walked out of the cobbler’s with my new shoes clunking along under me. Maybe I’d get them shined? That seemed like the thing to do, at least if all the shoeshine boys were anything to go by.

On the way home I stopped by a small street-side stall that sold newspapers and little candies and bought two little chocolate bars and a copy of Delver’s Delight, a periodical that was meant for delvers. The chocolate I’d share with mom, the same way that Dada did with me, sometimes.

The next day would be my first excursion into the Ditz dungeon. For better or worse.

I had a million and one things on my plate, but a ton of them hinged on me being capable enough in the dungeon to hold my own.

How could I light this cesspool of a city on fire if I couldn’t even handle one measly dungeon?

I skipped back home, new boots clack-clapping with every bounce.

And we're back! It was a nice vacation. Most productive week I've had all year!

He's the schedule for... probably the rest of the month? Assuming none of these stories end, in which case... I'll post a new schedule?

Posting      
Monday Heart of Dorkness Fluff Spore
Tuesday Stray Cat Strut Cinnamon Bun  
Wednesday Spore    
Thursday Stray Cat Strut Cinnamon Bun  
Friday Heart of Dorkness Fluff Spore

 
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