>Compound integration complete. ⟨ Advanced Toxicology ⟩ Rank Ⅴ → Ⅵ.
>New compound synthesis available.
〔 Compound Synthesis 〕
〔 Venom Synthesis 〕
↳ Psychoactive Venom.
‘Ah the mushroom analysis completed… I’m noticing a trend here. More weird… things… I eat the better I get.
Alicia was begrudgingly picking up firewood once again.
‘You don’t usually go around picking poisonous mushrooms and eating them but…’
>Sample integration complete.
>Unknown skill entry detected. Heuristics analysis underway…
>Generating entry ID…
>Generating effect approximation…
>Ready for use.
‘That might actually be what I need not to get mindlessly attacked by some oversized wild… whatever that lives in this world. I don’t actually have to whisper right…?’
As soon as she exited the forest on her way to the campsite, one of the wolves she assigned to keep watch came to receive her.
- ‘Seems everything’s in order… aren’t you eager. I haven’t forgotten my end of the deal, here.’
Besides the bundle wood carried on her back she hauled along a ‘treat’ for the wolves. Though the familiars directly under her required no sustenance, - for example Rufus - thanks to the bond shared which bequeathed some of her spiritual nature to them in addition to her skills, one of which is the superfluous need for nourishment from material consumables, the same could not be said for their followers who technically were the kindred of their respective ‘leaders’. Although after trickling down the hierarchy they do enjoy some benefits of it such as decreased appetite.
- ‘Dragging a cockatrice this far was a bit annoying but I think you guys will like it. Also what are you doing this far out?’
Officially the Calcatrix1New latin translation meaning ‘She who Hates/Condemns/Despises’. P.S it’s pronounced Kal-kei-triks or if you prefer IPA: /kɑlkeɪtrɪks/. I forgot /eɪ/ diphthong existed in the IPA alphabet and was confused as to why /ə/ was sounding so different., with a head closely resembling that of a rooster, highly venomous and flightless relative of the wyvern is often called ‘The King of Serpents’2Basilisk, or basilicos for its intense venom or more colloquially a Cocatris. In place of down and feather it had scales of varying sizes, with digitigrade talons it inherited from its draconic forebears. Topped off with the vestigial remains of a long serpentine tail that aided in flight it was now incapable of. They were much smaller than an adult wyvern too, however in return for these sacrifices they possessed potent toxins able to not just paralyze but to kill a person hundred times over instantly with miniscule doses and terrifying speed on land.
Of course they only work if they find a way into one’s body and fortunately their offensive and defensive capabilities other than their venom were laughably trivial. Their power came from their reputation and fear of their venom. Not many would dare contest with a cockatrice for there was no room for error, a single nick and your life was at forfeit. Ranged engagement is an obvious choice but in nature it is rare and in case of it being available, anything less than an either immobilization or an outright kill is again a death sentence should you fail to escape or hide. But if one is able to successfully sneak up on one during its slumber…
Besides showing obvious signs of delight for the treat, it pretended not to have heard her question and stood at attention, even though her earlier question was through telepathy where inaudibility and misunderstanding were a nonfactor.
- “Not trouble but something else you wouldn’t want… interesting. What…? Stop sniffing me… oh these are the eggs I found in the Cockatrice nest I don’t think they’re all fertile.”
The time she took dealing with the Mare, gathering wood again combined with her digressing to fetch a suitable treat she promised to the wolves meant that when she returned, the fire was nothing more than a smoldering ashes.
｢ Fire Aspect ｣
After piling on fresh fuel, with a little help from magic the lingering embers vigorously started to burn once more. Light from the fire illuminated Faenas had gotten hold of something furry, embracing it with her whole body as if it was some sort of hug pillow. Coloration of the fur, approximate size, body rising up in down with breath and the low pitiful whine coming from it in response to her presence…
- ‘I see… I was wondering where the other one went. How did you end up like that?’
- ‘… …… …’
- ‘Started with your tail huh. I guess that’s why the other one fled that far out. Sorry bud, can’t help you, just bear with it til morning. Dawn ain’t that far now.’
Just above where she was snoring away, Crypt weaver had set up home. Gently plucking at the silken construct with the tip of her nails in a familiar rhythm she let it know she returned.
The plucking was in imitation of the tune of the lullaby she sang to the twins once. Apparently her Familiars took a liking to it as they made it their secret password of sorts based on the lyrics. Often used when entering and exiting the large perimeter of web surround Dryssia’s grove as when someone had to enter or exit they would invariably send vibrations throughout the web alerting every spider on it that intruder or something had ran into their net. With the use of this ‘password’ they would know to whom it was coming and going, intercepting only those who disturbed the web without it. Looking at the number of cocoons of varying sizes hung on it, she could guess the weaver had a busy night too.
‘Bringing these guys along for a sleeping outdoors is great… especially since the mosquito looking bloodsuckers here are way bigger than any one should ever be…’
The weaver came into her view with some reptilian stuck to its fangs and from the occasional twitch still alive to greet her.
- ‘You know what, you seem occupied, you don’t have to come all the way down.’
- ‘…… ………’
- ‘Don’t call me that, that’s just weird.’
- ‘… ……’
- ‘That’s not better!’
The darkest hours of night were right before the break of dawn.
｢ Lithokinesis ｣ ｢ Liquorgenesis ｣
On a flat slab of stone she pulled out of the ground and thoroughly washed with water before letting sit on the charcoal and the flame to sterilize it.
｢ Flame ｣
She cracked open the cockatrice egg that filled up the entirety of her hands after candling it to see if it developed an embryo, though the thick shell didn’t allow for much to see so instead she shook it vigorously to listen for the liquids inside to slosh around. The Algae green yolk of the egg emitted an odd fermented smell as soon as it was exposed.
‘This looks like what the word lethal injection would look like as a food… I’m not sure if it's edible… I wouldn’t even try this if I didn’t have something against poison…’
The sizzling clear whites of the yolk turned dull gray before turning white, and as the yolk was heated the unusual smell faded away.
‘The egg kind of has the appearance of a regular egg - if it was about four times the size and the yolk looked like it was a large mould colony. I’m going to overcook this, rather I don’t think this thing can get cooked enough… I wonder if there’s a potato or a wild yam around these parts…’
Only after the edges had curled up with black char did she cut off a piece with an arrowhead to taste.
‘Actually… I don’t know what I expected… it’s just a really fat egg. The yolk is too runny, rather the whites cook too fast compared to the yolk so this one tastes like rubber and burnt egg white. Okay I think I can work with this… A spatula would have been nice… and a pan but we’re not exactly living in luxury. I need something to kill this odor… Now where did I see that flower…’
Piquant odor of herbs and mountain delicacies stimulated her nostrils. The hissing sounds of something being fried and the warm glow of sunlight shining on her eyelids slowly pulled her out of her placid drowse.
- “…of all the things……… Oh you’re up. Good morning.”
Sluggishly wiping away the rheum in her eyes, she had a lengthy yawn scratching all over her body. With how she kept stuffing her head against the fur of the wolf she ‘captured’, static electricity had built up in her hair giving her the comical look of a cartoon character after having an incident with an overhead power line.
- “Good… morning…”
As soon as she released her iron grip, the incarcerated wolf quickly bolted away fully rousing her.
- “Tell the others and be careful out there!”
Alicia shouted at the quickly fleeing wolf, heading back to the Great oak. Look of confusion was visible on her face as she found herself on a bedroll, complete with blanket and pillow for the first time, picking off tufts of fur out of her head.
- “Had a good night’s sleep?”
- “Uh… Yeah…”
‘I had to kill your nightmares last night. So I know you had a good night.’
- “What happened last night…? What’s that?”
- “Scrambled mushroom omelette wrapped in edible leaves, want some? I couldn’t find salt but the mushrooms are flavorful enough. Don’t worry I ‘properly’ checked for poison this time.”
- “What do you mean ‘properly’?”
- “Like last night where you got high on psychedelic mushrooms with aphrodisiac content and started to sexually harass me. These won’t make you ‘excited’ again.”
Although she had faint memories, they came rushing back in an instant with Alicia’s remarks. Face and cheek turning cherry red from myriads of emotions.
- “Too late to regret now, here eat up, they're a little bland but still good.
Continuing on in a hushed voice:
There’s no tea but this is practically fine dining compared to my days as a spider… ah how my standards have dropped… Oh! And you can keep the bedroll.”
The Elven girl awkwardly consumed her breakfast in silence. As for Alicia she was thinking about what other plants she could try and use to make tea out of as ‘boiled weed water’ wasn’t exactly matching her definition of a tea.
- “There’s something I want to know.”
After a long while of weltering in her embarrassment she finally got over her feelings, enough to form a sensible question.
- “Sure go on.”
Though the redness on her face didn’t fade a smidgen. Evidence that her mind hadn’t truly overcome the thought.
- “I believe you’ve mentioned these… people called… the trolls. Am I correct?”
- “Yeah what of it?”
- “Do you think they’ll be willing to trade goods?”
Alicia could guess where this was going. Though the Elves have knowledge and the skills to process and output many mid to high grade products yet they lack a sustainable source of raw materials. Even day to day food security is in question. Conversely the trolls lead a minimalistic tribal lifestyle and know how to squeeze something to its bone. Literally as most of them make spears, javelins, sewing needles, blow darts, traps, stakes for pitfalls and much more out of the bones of the games they hunt. However forget furniture, just processing fur into something seems challenging to them. Despite being quite agile, they seem to struggle with tasks requiring dexterity.
‘Question is would they want anything from the Elves…? They recently decided to settle around here permanently from their nomadic lifestyle. Apparently, even with the obvious risks from creatures from this forest’s monstrously huge beasts they still ultimately decided to settle down, very possibly for the good. I doubt they’ll abandon their nomadic descent but the switch to a sedentary way of life… won’t come naturally to them… First they need get a proper ‘lodge’3Tipi or more accurately the Chum of the trolls are sometimes simply called a Lodge. But just the word lodge doesn’t fully describe the tent that is Tipi/Lodge as Alicia’s and by extension the average person’s impression of lodge is massively different from a tribal ‘tent’.. Right this has some feasibility, still I’m not the person to speak for them…’
- “Possibly but you’ll have to meet them first. Besides who calls the shots around in your village.”
- “Well, the Swülde en uys suggested that I consult with you, to then go as a representative.”
- “Uhm, who is that again?”
- “She recently declared that she would now be called Llynbel, it’s strange I never knew she had made a contract with someone before.”
- “Ahh… Right…”
‘I knew Llynbel had some significance to their village but to straight up become the leader? When did she go and consolidated her political power again… And why!? did she send Faenas to me of all people? I’m not a Diplomat!’
- “Alright listen I can only introduce you but I won’t be mediating. That’s on you.”
- “I fully expected that let. Shall we go then?”
- “Sure, but before that I think I need to introduce you to the concept of a hairbrush first…”
As the two were making their way to the troll tribal village…
- “Master! Master-!!”
Loud shouting of the word the ‘master’ over and over again from behind caught the attention of both. Turning around she could make out a buxom girl clutching a large clay jar closed with some sort of cloth covering the top, running after her. Cobnut hair, eyes with the color of tree sap, fair beige skin and insistence on calling Alicia, Master, could only point to a certain tree nymph.
‘I think Alice made the chest a bit too loose… I wonder if she could make a brassiere.’
Dryssia’s new dress, after Alicia decided it was too tight, was loosely designed after the style of clothing she saw the elven women wore in their everyday life. She wore a loose fitting smock under a bodice4See also Dirndl. that Alice made but due to how often she worked with soil and earth tending to the flower garden for the bees, her personal tree grove and her tendency to use the skirt of her dress as a makeshift basket, a waist height apron was later added.
- “I hear you, I hear you. Stop running, you'll trip.”
- “Do you know her?”
- “She’s a tree nymph of my place I guess…”
- “Wait… why does she call you Master?”
- “Because she can… and she’s bad at remembering names.”
Faenas was a little amazed at her nonchalant explanation. Often in relation to spirits, they referred to their contractor as ‘Master’ in many cases. Only accomplished witches and warlocks could subjugate a spirit to do their bidding and they were rare as a hens’ teeth even before the purge. Faenas collected herself and brushed it off as the dryad’s odd choice of words, Alicia couldn’t possibly be someone who had contract over a spirit. And her belief was true, Alicia didn’t have a contract. She had a - almost forgotten and only being referred to in far fetched tales and epics, dubious scrolls and legends of old - covenant with Dryssia. Of course she didn’t know of this, or that she so happened to have formed two, another one with Llynbel, a de facto lord of the forest of Velauhjart predating Dryssia by a couple hundred years who would be the next in line.
- “Where are you going?”
- “To see the blue bushmen!”5Not to be confused with the African “San” People.
- “Because they like to hide in bushes with their pointy sticks!”
- “Oh the trolls… Really bushmen… kind of more descriptive than just calling them trolls. Oh right before I forget, I brought that poppy flower you wanted, Faenas could you pass those flowers to her?”
Turning to Faenas, she asked her to give the flowers to Dryssia.
- “Toddypops… What was it about not remembering names?”
- “Listen I remember people’s names after I associate it with their faces. I’m not good at just remembering names unless it’s really unique or something.”
While Alicia was making up excuses, Faenas brought out a bundle of the flowers after digging through the mushroom samples she carried which reminded her…
- “Oh you should also give her mushrooms while you’re at it.”
Faenas was too occupied with the thought of Alicia being able to form a contract or not to notice that this was the tree spirit who could possibly develop a method to cultivate the mushrooms they collected.
Disbelief and bewilderment clearly plastered on her face.
- “Toddypops! The buzzers will be happy!”
‘When will she stop giving everything a nickname…’ such a thought crossed Alicia’s mind.
- “Can you grow these too?”
Alicia brought her attention to the few types of fungi leftover. Though there were originally a wide variety of them, after discarding the poisonous ones or ones with unwanted side effects only a few remained. A slight look of displeasure surfaced on the tree spirit.
- “But these only grow on my hurt friends…”
- “Please! Is there any other way?”
Before Alicia could say anything Faenas interjected.
- “Ah… Uhm… Uh…”
Dryssia’s shy and panicky nature surfaced itself after the Ranger captain’s somewhat forceful approach, hiding behind Alicia.
- “Faenas if you mind, she's a little frightened of you right now.”
- “My apologies. That was not my intent.”
- “It’s okay, let me handle this.”
Turning around to face Dryssia
- “Dryssia, they really need to grow these for their food. You don’t have to grow them on weakened trees. But do you know any other ways you can grow them?”
- “I… think they can grow near the roots of trees if the tree helps…”
- “Then could you do that close to a certain place?”
Returning quick nods she answered.
- “Thanks, you don’t have to be afraid of Faenas she was just a little excited, okay? What’s in that jar you’re carrying, I don’t think I have seen it before?”
- “It’s venom!”
Alicia left a jar full of venom for the trolls to use for their hunt as a gift and told that she would fill it up again if it ran low. But since the last time she relegated the venom extraction to a number of her spider familiars as no single one had the reserves to fully fill with up without the assistance of magic. And due to their ‘reactions’ she has had Dryssia deliver it to avoid attention.
- “Ah so they’re out huh… it’s about time now I guess… Damnit I have to go there for ugh…”
Curious at why Alicia turned so disgruntled all of a sudden:
- “Is something wrong?”
- “Not really just… it’s going to be a long day for me… we’re headed in the same direction, let’s go.”
Alicia’s dislike stemmed from the last time she publicly made an appearance, due to the witch doctor’s actions all of the trolls started to ‘pay respects’ to the great Loa.