Chapter 53: Devil’s Pitcher
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Chris hung by his feet, but he didn’t know how long the adhesive of the plant would last—not long, judging by the withering filaments of sticky plant hairs around his feet. He felt his arm indicating the presence of a Skill Gem within the cat monster beneath him, which had just moments ago met a particularly gristly end to the carnivorous flora’s acid.

He suspected that his arm possessed a degree of acid resistance, but he doubted that would extend to the rest of his body. Best not to test it. The Skill Gems he’d found within the monsters up until now had been overly niche. Useful in their own rights, but not really functional beyond a few very particular functions. Surviving off consuming potions had been the first, but then there was other types of Class Skills. Tincture applications to the eyes having more effect—too lengthy; accelerated metabolism when using potions to decrease warmup time—too costly in terms of ingredients as the active time was also shortened without being intensified; apply potions through bite—he didn’t have sharp teeth and he didn’t want to give monsters hickeys.

In short, all had been lacking in utility for him—it also seemed to be predicated on alchemical specialties. He hadn’t found anything pertaining to Slime.

All in all, going after the Skill Gem was not worth it, so he pulled his extensible pole from his backpack, then rocked toward the hole in the plant that his attacks had left. He shoved his hand through, then lengthened the pole.

Chris fell back moments later, but his work was done. The pole in his hand braced against the relatively solid back of the carnivorous plant’s jaws and now he had a more stable base to ascend from. He grabbed at his hammer, yanking at it until the degrading adhesive released it, then swung his body upward through the hole.

Sticky hairs clung to him as he brushed past, but, weakened as they were, they were unable to get much purchase. He was home free mostly. His legs were the most entangled, but after a few tugs they too escaped the prison of the carnivorous vegetation.

Stinking and sodden, he slithered out of the green deathtrap and looked around.

There. On the ground, in a small divot beside the plant’s closed jaw, he saw a pulsing, starfish-shaped organ of plant flesh. It was a bruised purple color with an internal orange hue. Bingo. He moved closer and saw a thick cord that continuously bulged and jerked. He peered back into the pitcher-like trap, yep, the acid levels were rising slowly.

Switching his hammer to his shield hand, he resummoned his Beastblade and severed the vibrant organ from the rest of the plant in one stroke.

He didn’t expect the starfish-shaped organ to suddenly screech and uproot itself, scuttling across the path and into a nearby cluster of bushes. It was too slow—not meant for traversing the forest floor with any degree of rapidity.

Chris pinned it like a fish beneath a harpoon’s point, letting the limbs of the starfish curl up around the blade of his weapon. He reached down, grabbed a limb, and tore it apart with a quick tug.

Honestly, he should have been more prepared for a trap or a creature that acted like one. Hell, he even had an extensible pole precisely for that purpose. He’d just been taken off guard by the jungle, put at ease by an obvious lack of mechanical traps that could be placed within a living jungle. Lessons learned.

He felt his arm vibrate, and with excitement, he looked down to see the Skill Gem sitting at the center of the rent asunder creature. He raised it to eye level.

Class Skill Gem

Name: Carnivorous Pharmacopeia

That was interesting. It felt stronger than the other Skill Gems, it also felt more in line with the nature of the monster. The other ones felts like trash Gems meant to be allocated to trash creatures—cats absolutely being trash creatures. This felt as if it shared more of the monster’s nature. A ravening hunger for life, a wish to consume and consume and consume, picking the right prey to sweep into its earth-bound stomach. It had failed that last goal.

Of course it wasn’t purely that. The Skill Gems all seemed to have some relation to artifice with them—often alchemical in nature. Carnivorous Pharmacopeia was no different. Consuming flora and fauna would give him the ability to tell what a certain plant’s properties were. It was an Identify type skill activated by eating stuff—generally, that might be a problem, but he had what was basically a living stomach with poison resistance attached at the shoulder and flowing through his veins.

The skill wasn’t bad. In fact, it was pretty good. However, Chris was almost certain that something similar existed in the Skill Vendor back at his settlement. It wasn’t worth filling a Class Skill slot for. So, hesitantly, and scared of making a mistake, he fed it to his arm. And, finally, after a long series of failures, he had a success.

Trait Assimilated!

Carnivorous Pharmacopeia (Devil’s Pitcher)

Excited, he reached down, tore off a single arm of the starfish organ of the plant and fed it to his arm. As acid began to dissolve it, knowledge flooded his mind about the Devil’s Pitcher. The irony of using its own skill on it was not lost to him.

The plant was an ambush predator, obviously. However, what he hadn’t known was that the Devil’s Pitcher started as a scavenger. After feeding on a corpse that the mobile starfish organ encountered, it would begin producing a sack-like pouch that would eventually become the pitcher. That pitcher lacked major alchemical properties of its own, but was capable of burrowing down to become the pitfall. The star itself had properties useful for adhesives and acid intensifiers, it had uses in potions that he sensed he wasn’t strong enough to be able to make out—maybe due to his Slime body rank, if he leveled that up, he might get more info. Still, that was two things that he knew for sure, even if they were easily guessable.

He stared at the remaining parts of the plant organ on the ground. Three choices. Eat, store, leave.

An adhesive might come in handy, it had nearly incapacitated him, but its effectiveness was in part due to the plant’s soft, squishy inner body that thwarted struggling even from high strength enemies—since doing so would often result in more of their body becoming ensnared and further preventing movement.

Not wanting to waste too much time—he wanted to get a few more Class Skills, then get out—he shoved the Devil Pitcher organ into his pack. As long as he kept it, he choose one of his other two options at any time as circumstances permitted.

Then he was on his way. What he really wanted right now was a way to wash off the cat piss without absorbing it into himself and learning what its alchemical properties were—probably stink bombs or some nasty, grimy shit like that. Honestly though, he didn’t have time.

He jogged forward, his hammer transferred to his right hand and his pole in his shield hand—probing the ground ahead.

When the next cat monster jumped from the trees, he did not hesitate, swatting it mid-leap with extreme prejudice. He check its Skill Gem. More trash. Into the Slime it went. Nothing.

Several more cats went down—none of them yielding anything useful—before Chris found the next Devil’s Pitcher. This time he was ready, as the adhesive hairs tried to latch onto the pole he jerked away, knelt down, and lobbed a loose rock onto the revealed ruby jaw.

The Pitcher closed around it and the two jaws’ undersides seemed to meld once more into the dirt color of the jungle path. Did the plants have a camouflage ability? Interesting, he might get a Skill Gem with something similar—although he didn’t know how. Or maybe it was a reagent for a potion that would give him chameleon skin without making him become a table napkin like the Thaumic Strata had.

Interesting, interesting. He reached down to rip the Devil Pitcher’s starfish shaped organ free, suddenly hearing something sharp scrape against his gauntlets. Some sort of attack? Poison probably, the attack didn’t feel particularly strong—or maybe the Pitcher just wasn’t specialized for melee. A sudden shock of pain might give it an opportunity to escape, even if it lacked poison.

He continued onward after tearing it to pieces and shoving it into his pack—no Skill Gem; his pace and heartbeat quickened as he spotted ruins up ahead.