Death Cap – Thirteen – Dusting Off After a Partial Victory
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Death Cap - Thirteen - Dusting Off After a Partial Victory

If I was actually a nearly-seven year old, then I’d probably throw a fit about my failure. It was frustrating, and things hadn’t worked out the way I wanted them to at all.

But I wasn’t. I still had the mind of an adult scientist. An angry, anarchistic one, but still... anyway. I took solace in the little bit of success I had as I left the area around the dungeon and made my way back home and to my farm.

The advantage of hitting the dungeon so early was that it wasn’t noon yet by the time I got back home. I slid my mask off, then checked the filters with a wince. They were filled with spores. Better the filters than my lungs though. I set them aside carefully. I’d clean them later. My clothes too, for that matter, I had a smattering of dust on me that was probably slightly lethal.

I got myself a bucket of water, then washed off my hands and face. Just over an hour spent in the dungeon and I was a sweaty, dirty mess. There was webbing on my boots and a couple new holes in my overalls.

Once I was cleaned off as best as I could manage, I cleared one of my workbenches and laid out the rewards for all of my hard work. Other than the experience I’d gained from checking the dungeon out, of course.

First, the two types of fungi I’d picked up in that one water room. The [Blackbottle] I had was a smaller specimen, but it nonetheless had water in it already. I gave it a light shake and watched the liquid within splash around.

There was a lot of potential there. I wasn’t sure what it would be wisest to combine that with, but I’d figure it out. On its own, it was maybe useful as a source of water, though I did have access to some water already.

Did the mushroom leach the water from the air? If so it might be a clever way to control the humidity in a small area.

The [Blur Glow Lichen] had proven useful already. The dungeon--the parts that weren’t illuminated by the delvers already--was a dark and foreboding place. I needed a constant source of light. Having one I could control with my magic would be great, but I’d also need something that didn’t use magic. A lamp of some sort, maybe?

I shifted the two aside and looked at the third mushroom that I’d grabbed. This was the one I’d swiped on the way out. It looked... like a pretty normal mushroom. The cap was slightly wavy, with a deep purple top and a beige-white belly. The stem was squat and fat, with purple stripes running down it until they reached the skirt.

The most interesting parts were the little warts on the cap. They were silvery and, if I wasn’t mistaken, were glowing faintly. Magic?

I focused my [Druid Sight] on the mushroom, eager to learn more about it.

[Purple Capped Night Watcher] - Rare
This rare mushroom is only found in areas with a particular kind of predatory animal, notably creatures who stalk and predate on others using magical means in unlit environments. While very mildly poisonous, this mushroom allows those who eat it to see in the dark, amplifying natural night vision. Used in several alchemical concoctions.

I set the mushroom down, then, with a firm grip on my self-control, danced a little jig. Magical mushrooms! A rare one at that! Night vision! Magic night vision! I giggled to myself. It wasn’t the magic bullet I dreamed of finding, but there was no way this wouldn’t come in handy!

Oh, I couldn’t wait to combine this with every other kind of mushroom I had. What if I discovered something even more potent?

Once I’d calmed down a little, I set to work, grabbing some old tweezers and vials so that I could carefully extract the spores from the samples I’d taken and place them into some vials I’d purchased.

I fed the result some magic with my [Aura of Growth]. It would take a week or two to get everything growing enough that I could harvest new samples. Then another couple of weeks to try and combine those samples into something new.

Still, it would be worth it.

Which begged the question... should I return to the dungeon?

I’d used up most of the [Dead Man’s Cough] I had, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t even cleared that one room.

I wasn’t nearly as ready as I hoped to be, but... well, maybe that was to be expected. I had come out alive and with a few decent rewards, I couldn’t be too disappointed in my day.

Still, I could do better, and maybe the next time I went down I’d make sure to use every advantage I had. There were two general skill slots still empty, and I had a heap of skills to pick from.

[You have unlocked the following Skills!]
Acrobat - Common
Adapt - Common
Agriculture - Common
Aiming - Common
Argumenter - Common
Baking - Common
Basic Small Blades Proficiency - Common
Basic Dungeoneering - Common
Begging - Common
Betting - Common
Biting - Common
Biomancy - Uncommon
Broadcasting - Uncommon
Building - Common
Calculator - Uncommon
Catching - Common
Chopping - Common
Cleaning - Common
Cleric Craft - Uncommon
Communication Specialist - Uncommon
Colouring - Common
Combat Novice - Common
Cooking - Common
Crawling - Common
Critical Thinking - Rare
Crying - Common

And that was just the first three letters of the alphabet. The list went on for a while. I’d grown used to ignoring it when a new skill pop-up showed up in my periphery.

Interestingly enough, I’d notice some skills disappearing over time. I had [Basic Trap Making] at one time, but now it was gone and replaced with just [Trap Making] at one level of rarity higher.

Was that the path to upgrading skills? I’d need to ask someone more knowledgeable about it before I purposefully kneecapped myself.

I had to create more of a shortlist. The first part of that wasn’t too hard, most of the skills I’d gathered were trash and frankly kind of useless. I didn’t need [Crawling] taking up one of my precious skill slots.

I pulled out pen and paper and made a proper list of the skills that actually interested me.

  • Critical Thinking - Rare
  • Druidcraft - Rare
  • Mana Manipulation - Common
  • Pathfinding - Uncommon
  • Poison Handling Expertise - Rare
  • Social Manipulation - Uncommon
  • Stealth - Uncommon
  • Tenacity - Uncommon
  • Trap Making - Uncommon

I glared at the page. That was too many options. If my goal was only working with the dungeon, then the choices were obvious. [Trap Making] would let me lock up parts of the dungeon and kill enemies without direct combat, and [Stealth] would allow me to get around.

But my life wasn’t all about sneaking into the dungeon, and I didn’t think that the lower floors would be easy enough that I could just sneak past whatever challenges they had.

I reluctantly crossed out [Trap Making]. I could learn how to do that the old-fashioned way. Skills made things easier, but not having a skill didn’t mean that I couldn’t do something.

[Critical Thinking] was tempting. A skill that might directly make me smarter? That would be invaluable in the planning stages. I was, unfortunately, unsurprised that it was a rare skill.

The other skill that I was really tempted by was [Social Manipulation]. It wasn’t a skill that would help directly in a fight, but... well, there were people in the dungeon that I had to get past. Being able to lie, mislead, and trick them with less effort and more skill would be invaluable. Also, it was a skill that I could very easily use in my day-to-day. I was dealing with people which meant that I needed to be able to handle them.

It went on my short-short list.

After a bit more hesitation, I crossed out two more skills.

[Stealth] was handy, but it was mostly something I could learn to do myself. I was light on my feet already. Maybe all I needed was to not wear white into the dungeon and learn to move slower.

[Pathfinding] I’d added because it just seemed useful to have, especially if I was going to be navigating without a map, but... well, I did have a map for now. Other skills were more useful.

I stared at [Mana Manipulation] for a long while.

wanted that skill.

It was such a cool thing, a gateway to magic, to greater power and potential. But... but magic, I’d learned, required education and resources that I didn’t have. Maybe if I wasn’t born in the slums, maybe if I had a life with more opportunities, but that wasn’t the case, and I didn’t have that kind of luck.

Magic would have to wait.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have my own particular brand of magic to work with anyway.

I wrote my new shortlist and nodded. Now, to pick more carefully.


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