Death Cap – Twenty – Further Developments in the World of Lethal Fungal Bodies
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Death Cap - Twenty - Further Developments in the World of Lethal Fungal Bodies

The next pair of mushrooms weren’t mushrooms at all.

The only thing my lichen had successfully paired with was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a sample of mould I had to retrieve from the cemetery where I was growing it.

The combination here was... interesting. Lichen aren’t a singular body. They’re symbiotic matter composed of multiple forms of fungi or algae working together. Lichen is probably one of the most interesting living things someone could run into. At least, on Earth. This world had magic, so who was I to point to this one thing and say it was the most interesting?

It was hard to classify a lichen at the best of times because of the nature of the stuff. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to grow much more of the [Blur Glow Lichen] I had initially. The fungal body part of it died without the... what I suspected was an algae?

I needed to get a microscope at some point. And maybe a reference manual or five.

[Green Spirit Mould] was a kind of mould that reacted to spiritual energy by glowing green. It was mossy and thin and rather fragile, and I had no real use for it. The Farm made the moss glow very, very faintly. It reminded me of those glow-in-the-dark stickers that were all the rage in the early 2000s back on Earth. That wasn’t enough light to see by.

The [Blur Glow Lichen] had a stronger glow, but only when there was mana around for it to absorb.

Combined, the two created a new form of lichen.

[Green Burn Lichen] - Epic
A form of lichen which spreads rapidly and which glows brightly in the presence of mana. Too much mana though, and it will set itself alight, spreading the spores of its fungal form around. It will also ignite on contact with spirits with a spiritual flame that is harmless to flesh but dangerous to spiritual bodies.

I didn’t know what to think of that. It was strong... but against a single type of adversary I had never encountered and which I gathered was very rare.

My first ever {Epic} rarity item and it was kind of useless.

I grabbed a chunk of the lichen, which tore up a bit like paper, and pushed some mana into it. Then I flinched back. It was like staring into a powerful flashlight. I think I even saw through my hand from the glow. Then it lit on fire and burst apart. Like lighting paper on fire, but faster.

In his cage, my badger growled in protest. “Yeah, sorry,” I said.

So, it glowed really bright. That was something to keep in mind. It was glowing just sitting on the tray, I assumed from the ambient mana in the room.

At the very least I could use it as a passive light-source in the dungeon. Maybe... maybe as an ignition source too?

On a whim, I found a small metal bowl and set it on the floor, then with my face turned away, I sent some mana at it from a distance. I started to increase the amount of mana I was pumping into the lichen bit by bit. The glow filled the room with bright green light that went brighter and brighter until there was a hiss and the light dimmed

The bowl had a tiny fire in it, green flames which petered out after a moment.

I tossed some cloth over it and put the bowl away. Interesting.

Maybe I could combine this with some of the more explosive mushrooms I’d discovered? The [Bottle Pop] seemed dangerous now, but if I could combine them with some of this lichen which would allow me to set off the explosion on command... and from afar? Or better yet, from behind cover?

Oh yeah, I liked the idea.

Growing the new lichen might be tricky, but I’d see what I could do. I didn’t need much for my purposes. Enough to fill a couple of vials that I could use as lights and some more for other uses.

The next few mushrooms to look at were the combinations with the [Purple Capped Night Watcher]

The first was a hybrid of the aforementioned and my trustworthy [Beige Puffball]. It resulted in a purple mushroom not dissimilar to the original [Beige Puffball] in size and shape.

[Purple Starball] - Uncommon
This magical mushroom unleashes clouds of glowing spores that, if inhaled, will cause a mammal’s low-light vision to improve considerably, to the point where even faint sources of light will blind them temporarily.

Not terribly useful, that. Also a downgrade in rarity. But hey! Maybe I could use this on myself to progress my poison resistance. It didn’t sound too harmful, and I could use it to disable someone non-lethally, or at least confuse and disorient.

It had a niche use, but then so did most of my mushrooms. I was collecting a lot of niche-use samples.

The hybrid of [Purple Capped Night Watcher] and [Horse Head] produced a [Purple Horse Head]. It looked like the [Horse Head] but with purple gills beneath the cap.

[Purple Horse Head] - Uncommon
An edible mushroom which gives the eater a slightly improved ability to see in low light conditions. Otherwise nutritious.

That was it. Not super impressive, but it wasn’t a complete failure. I could eat one or two before a dungeon run, and if the effects lasted until it was entirely digested, then that was a small boost to my perception that might come in handy.

The next two would be more interesting. They were both hybrids of already-combined mushrooms which had managed to survive the hybridization process. Both of the samples had grown slower than I’d find ideal, and a few of the mushrooms had grown wrong and died off early, but it had worked in the end.

[Faerie Fire Cap] - Epic
An exceptionally uncommon mushroom once cultivated by the fair folk. This mushroom is explosive, and on bursting will release magical spores which will attach themselves to the nearest source of mana and burn with bright purple flames. Once used to prevent invisible intruders from entering sacred groves.

I clapped like a little girl who’d just been shown a magic trick. Mostly because that wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

I didn’t know how the magic fire worked, and it would need some testing, but I was entirely here for it. My second {Epic} mushroom seemed super useful. If it stuck to magical things then was it more powerful against them? Was this going to specifically stick to living things?

That needed investigating. Though without me being the magical thing. Maybe I could get Dregs to help me with magical tests? I was sure we could find some... appropriate volunteers. I needed to know where the magical spores of this mushroom rested on the sprinkler-to-napalm scale.

I had one last mushroom sample to check out. The combination between my most dangerous mushroom and some [Purple Capped Night Watcher].

[Dead Man’s Choker] - Rare
A mushroom filled with toxic magical spores. Inhalation of these spores will cause slight inflammation in the inhaler’s lungs, followed by visual hallucinations.

I frowned, then checked on the description for my normal [Dead Man’s Cough].

[Dead Man’s Cough] - Rare
A mushroom filled with highly toxic spores. Inhalation of these spores will cause immediate inflammation in the inhaler’s lungs, followed by trance-like hallucinations and internal haemorrhaging, possibly leading to death.

The new mushroom, the [Dead Man’s Choker] seemed pretty much worse in every way, except maybe that the effect was magical in nature? I grabbed some cloth, put on my mask, then snuck out of my Farm for a bit. Just long enough to pop into the nearest alleyway and purposefully burst the [Dead Man’s Choker] within the cloth. Then I collected some samples of its spores and brought them back.

My [Poison Handling Expertise] skill would come in handy here. It was meant for just this kind of thing.

[Dead Man’s Choker Spore]
An inhalable spore that irritates the lungs by attaching itself to the victim’s bronchioli where they then secrete psychoactive hallucination-producing neurotoxins. The neurotoxin might, in larger quantities, cause seizures. Spores will germinate in the corpse of the victim, producing more fungi if the victim is magical in nature. Irritation is instant. Hallucinations can last several hours.

I shook my head. The poisonous effect was, in fact, a straight downgrade from my other mushroom’s. I pouted at the loss, but it wasn’t too big a deal. I’d gotten at least three usable mushrooms from this whole thing.

The [Brownbottle] could serve as a new dungeon-ration. The [Blackbottle Night Watcher] I would keep to have some night-vision options. If I could develop some alchemist contacts, then they might be worth something. The [Bottlepop] was literally a shrapnel bomb. There was no way I wasn’t going to use that, if only carefully. The [Green Burn Lichen] could serve as a new light source and anti-spirit weapon, and finally the [Fearie Fire Cap] was, maybe a magic napalm bomb.

Not a bad haul, over all.

I reached over to the [Purple Starball], grabbed some of its spores, then after checking to make sure they wouldn’t harm me too much, I turned off the lights and poisoned myself.

The shit I did for just a bit of improvement.

***

A NOTE FROM RAVENSDAGGER
Announcement
Important News!

Okay, so... I've maybe sold Sporemageddon to someone. I can't divulge many details because of NDAs, but suffice to say that after going back and forth with a certain publisher whose name I'm not sure I can divulge, I was convinced to transfer Sporemageddon onto their platform.

Said platform will be launching soon, and you should be able to keep up with Sporemageddon from here once the platform has launched.

Unfortunately, they're asking for exclusivity, something I'm very much loath to provide, and while I only agreed to because... well, the advance had a lot of zeroes on it.

Sporemageddon's current volume will remain on my patreon for a while, at least until I hand it over to them (at which time the third one will be on my patron instead) so there won't be any breaks for patrons. Those of your reading the story for free though, you're kind of out of luck unless you want to keep following the story on the new, yet-unlaunched, platform.

I'll have more details for everyone soon enough!

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