Chapter 2:

Isn't that just opening up a new can of worms!

Nol and Voyd: A Quiet Fantasy Life Isn't So Quiet After All!

Tiny voices screamed early in the morning with shouts such as:

"I can't feel my legs!"

"Sister, no!"

"Go on without me! Save yourself!"

"I don't want to die!"

Really, why were these worms so noisy? I just wanted a quiet breakfast. I considered generating a silencing potion, but given that I had no idea what the side effects were, I decided to not waste energy.

With a quick hop to my feet, I decided to continue checking out the area around me. A nice, quiet grove of trees. Not quite certain what kind they were, but they seemed... what was the word? Coniferous? No, that wasn't right, coniferous trees have needle leaves. Deciduous? That sounds sort of right. Either way, these were sort of like syrup trees? You know the trees that make pancake syrup? Those. I wasn't about to check though. They were kind enough to recommend me a good spot to sleep, so I didn't want to return their kindness with harm.

Oh, the wolves there totally cowered in front of me and begged for their lives. No idea why. It wasn't like I planned to skin them for their hide, cut off their legs for their meat, then heal them with healing potions so that I could repeat the process for food. That would be kind of practical, I guess. I wonder, maybe if I tried that with the worms...

I asked and they all seemed pretty horrified for some reason. I thought it was pretty practical. I mean, they'd survive being eaten and I'd have a constant supply of food. They would get to rest all day long except when I was hungry, then they'd have to work a little, but they'd be able to just lounge around for the rest of the time. They protested quite a bit against it though for some reason. Don't get why.

 I shelved the idea for the time being, but decided to bring it up again when there were fewer worms. I mean, with an effectively limitless supply of food, I would not need to carry as many. For the time being, I wanted to figure out how far this road led. Normally, there are towns and stops near a road every so often, but I couldn't see any of the giant ground cities. I didn't see any of the floating ones either, so I suspected that either I was on another planet altogether or something. It still hurt my head to try to recall any details, but it seemed that even without access to memories, I still retained my knowledge. No idea how that worked, but that was just a tad too dangerous for me to try to experiment with.

Well, even without any visible cities, the fact that there was clearly a road suggested that I'd find some sort of inhabited area if I followed the road. Of course, the road could lead to a dead end or some abandoned location, but some of the tracks seemed relatively fresh. I wasn't a tracker, but analyzing the road in detail did provide information that suggested such. Of course, it also delayed the trip by a day when I fainted from exhaustion. Maybe going as far as analyzing even specks of dust was a bad idea.

My suspicions were that this road was mainly used by merchants traveling from one city to another. Of course, I later asked the birds and they did confirm that there was a gathering of creatures with strange structures. From the sounds of it, it seemed as if it was a relatively small city, maybe just a town or village. If so, I was definitely not in the same world anymore, just in case I had any delusions remaining of such.

Now my goal seemed simple enough - go on a rampage and destroy the city to terrorize them into submission - as if! Did I look like some sort of demon lord or hero? I planned to go and observe the city for a while to gauge their willingness to deal with non-human entities. This meant that once I ended up closer to the city, I would need to move in the cover of darkness, but despite being a tentacle monster with the ability to enter shadows, I lacked any real night vision beyond that of a normal human.

Why not make a potion that grants me night vision? Well... maybe because the description mentions taking damage from light? Yeah. Giving myself night vision would also mean taking damage from light. Definitely not worth the tradeoff. I poured it on the road earlier and a worm that popped up quickly vaporized while screaming something that sounded like, "The light, it burns!"

Yeah, let us not use that. I made a grave for the worm since I kind of felt bad. I thought I picked a fairly safe spot. There wasn't really a body left to bury, but even so. Best of luck on your next life, little worm!

Anyhow, I wanted to hurry on to civilization so that I might find some tools for research. Anything relatively small, I could just generate, but anything larger, I'd need to buy. I also needed to figure out what sort of currency they used or if they used trade goods or some form of credits. If possible, I'd like to sell some wares, but I'd need some funds to set up a stall or store. Even if the government somehow waived fees for setting up a shop, the stall or store itself would require money.

I had Voyd pop out and take me for a ride so that I could work on testing my abilities some more. As a result, by the time night fell, I now knew a little more about my abilities. For example, I now knew that in addition to minor adjustments, I could make bigger adjustments at the cost of additional energy. I could also pull up a menu that showed my overall stats, though I have no idea how the stats worked.

I mean, logically, no matter how much HP you had, if you lost your head, you'd die anyways, right? Conversely, even if I ran out of EP, I wouldn't actually be out of energy, I'd just be exhausted to the point of fainting. Perhaps rather than your actual stats, it showed the amount you had available for use. Sort of like no matter how big a dam might be, only so much water could be safely released at a time.

More importantly, by using extra energy, I could suppress the damaging effect of the antidotes, so I suspected that I could do the same for other potions with side effects. Of course, that didn't quite make it practical due to the extra energy cost, but it was worth considering.

One way or another, I managed to reach a good resting point. More trees, of course. I went and introduced myself to the trees, but these seemed to be sleeping. I guess we ended up traveling a bit late, but I made my way into one of the trees to rest for the night.

The next morning, I woke to a falling sensation - I was literally falling! I felt and heard a bunch of snapping as I crashed through the tree. After a few moments of tumbling, I hit the ground hard. Definitely heard something snap. Even ignoring my new status as a pincushion, I found myself in quite the sum of pain. Of course, I wasn't the only one as the tree screamed in agony and Voyd came rushing out with holes all over it and what seemed to be a heavily injured tentacle. 

Well, I needed to take care of the issue, so I generated a few potions in my mouth and drank them down. I quickly healed a bit, then I set my broken arm and drank more healing potions to heal that. After that, I removed the branches stuck in me. Of course, without my potions, that could have killed me. I mean, removing the branches meant my blood started pouring out of the wounds instead of being plugged, but with my potions, those wounds quickly closed up.

Strangely, Voyd also healed at the same time. I guess we were a lot more connected than I realized. I suppose we sort of mirrored each other? Either way, after healing myself, I quickly healed the tree, apologizing for the pain I caused it. I fainted from making the potion it wanted, but woke up fine a few hours later. After giving the tree the potion, I asked the trees for a good spot to sleep this time. It was too late now to keep traveling. This time, I added railings to my bed.

The next morning, I set off again while wishing the tree best of luck. I guess romance issues existed even for trees. Well, if it wanted to relocate, who was I to deny it that? It just wanted to be closer to the one it liked, so no harm, no foul.

I did come up with a bit of a crazy idea to speed up our journey, but decided to scrap it after Voyd crashed into a rock at extremely high speeds. I mean, it seemed like it would work and it sort of did. Voyd was floating, so I figured that we could sort of attach some containers and spam ExP[l]otions in those containers to push us along faster, but in exchange for that speed, we lost control and spent more time recovering than we saved.

I tried making a grappling gun, but the mechanism kept getting caught, so that ended up being a waste of time. Just not reliable enough for the effort. I considered making some armor to protect us from impacts, but that affected Voyd's flight so we scrapped that as well.

In the end, we just continued to travel peacefully. I was still experimenting with improved defensive gear, of course. Above all else, we needed to guarantee our safety. I had all sort of tools, such as harpoon launchers that fired on impact with harpoons that split in stages with ExP[l]otion boosters falling off. Those were a bit less accurate though, so I tried fitting just the spearheads with explosive, but that ended up shattering the spearheads. Definitely powerful, but not what I was aiming for.

I eventually settled on a design that fired the spearhead out with a multilayered explosive design to punch through any defenses. I also made a bracer with a slingshot attached to fire my potions further and made some containers designed to be slung. While I couldn't say I was perfectly prepared, I definitely managed to make many preparations.

Perhaps my preparations would go to waste, but if anything, I'd rather be overprepared and have nothing happen than be unprepared and be in danger. I had shattering head harpoons, explosive punch type harpoons, standard harpoons, antidote coated harpoons, something like superhot pepper coated harpoons, and more. For that last one, I tried to make a potion with a similar effect to concentrated pepper extract. Basically, it was like pure capsicum. I figured that I should have a few less lethal weapons in case I wanted to capture the enemy instead of killing them.

For my slingshot, I had pop rounds, armor penetrating rounds, standard explosive rounds, scatter rounds, salt rounds with vinegar and baking soda, and menthol rounds. The pop rounds were penetrative rounds designed to activate on impact. Once activated, if friction caused the two halves to grind against each other, it would pop. In other words, if the vict-enemy moved, it would explode inside them. I also had thousands of little marbles coated with slimy potions and explosive marbles.

I did consider some more potent potions like one that would melt the skin off of the enemy, one that would turn their muscles into mush, and one that would bind any calcium in the body together, as well as one that would that would cause the enemy bones to become super brittle. Unfortunately, such potions would be extremely dangerous and would definitely be unpleasant to get on me even to say the least. Oh, and it would probably be considered quite inhumane, which would get me a bad reputation. I did want to get along with the locals if possible.

I considered gifts, but without any information, I didn't know what gifts might offend someone. I figured I'd be able to figure out what someone might want and make it there. On another note, the worms were now in health solution. They sometimes wriggled to the top of the solution while gasping about air, but I mean, with the health solution, they seemed fine even without air.  The birds definitely appreciated the gifts of worms and the worms healed right back up so I could keep reusing them.

Like that, several more days passed peacefully. From my nice chats with the birds, we were perhaps a day or so away. Well, not like I actually needed to rush or anything, but I was kind of excited about my first town in this world. Nothing like the nice peaceful life.

We would manage to reach the town without any major incidents - or so I thought before some wolves shouted to me about some dangerous humans approaching. I thanked them with some worms, but they didn't seem very interested for some reason. I don't get why. Well, for now, I had Voyd hide in my shadow. No need to antagonize them if I could avoid it.

Well, a bunch of guys jumped out from the nearby woods shouting about easy prey and selling some girl off. Wait, were they talking about me? These guys must be criminals then. That or they are part of some evil empire or something. I wonder if this is a world where you can capture criminals for money. That would be pretty convenient. Even if not, I could probably sell some of the stuff these guys had.

Best of all? Justified self-defense. No matter how badly I injured them, nobody could complain since they attacked first. I smiled innocently as I ran away. I half sang a nice song as I did so.

Little men came to play,
A world of pain they'd see today.
A thousand blasts and soon they'd lay.
Like little dolls made of clay.

"What the heck is that kid saying? Weird gibber-"

And right on queue, the potions I left on the ground exploded. That took care of most of the criminals. A few were looking back in shock. I guess I made the timers too long on those ones. Well, I should still probably get further back because... yep, those criminals went flying and back down they flopped. That looked pretty painful. There was a bunch of criminals all lying on the ground moaning. Good thing I planned ahead and added health potions to the mix. Now I had a bunch of living criminals to bring to town.

I wanted to approach them and capture them, but safety first. I made sure to splash them all with the hottest 'just like concentrated capsicum' potions I could. They screamed a lot and writhed around. A few hours later though, they were all nice and subdued, so I made some rope and tied them all in a chain. By their necks, of course. I also bound their hands behind them and attached the ends of those to their feet.

I interrogated them of course. Somewhat separately. One of them tried to bite my ear off, but after I dosed him both outside and inside with my capsicum potion, the rest became very obedient. I learned that they used coins of varying sorts as currency and I needed some sort of identification to enter town. One of them happened to have such an identification so I took that for the time being. With that, I marched them - with me riding on Voyd, of course - towards town.

Looks like I didn't need the telescope after all, but I did have Voyd hide again as I marched to the gates. Very nice for my first town to have proper walls. Now if I sealed their gates, nobody could escape - rather, I'm certain that these walls would keep me safe.

The gate guard seemed very confused as to why all these criminals were just lined up politely behind me, but I explained that I was just a little mountain girl whose family disappeared. The guard mentioned never seeing a half breed of my kind before, but after some questioning, gave me a nice payment for the criminals. Such a nice world to give bounties for criminals.

Of course, he still needed to question me about my identity. After he took me into a small room, it went something like:

"So, you say you came from a mountain, but your family disappeared. Which one was the human?"

"I think it was my mother. I'm not certain who was my father."

"Well, cheer up kid, that sort of thing happens. Do you know about where you lived?"

"I think I lived somewhere about 23 days up the road?"

"Almost to Nuhaven then. I'll have to prick your finger and get some blood on this sheet to verify you aren't some criminal and then we can issue you a temporary pass. You can pick up your permanent identification after about 10 days."

"I don't particularly like needles, so could I just like slash open my palm or something?"

"Wouldn't that hurt more?"

"Eh? Probably, but it is fine."

With that, I went ahead and slashed my palm against my teeth before the guard could protest. They were surprisingly sharp! As blood dripped down my arm and splattered on the table, I tilted my head slightly to ask the guard what he wanted me to do next.

The guard's eyes almost bulged out as he hurriedly pushed a paper under my arm and then rushed off only to return shortly after with a bunch of bandages.

"You need to stop the bleeding! I'll wrap you up, so hold still!"

"Was this enough blood? Or maybe it was too much?"

The paper was completely soaked through and floating in a pool of red. Yeah, it looked to me that there had to be enough blood there, so I quickly drank a health potion. This, oddly, caused the guard's eyes to pop open even further. What a weird reaction.

I mean, health potions were pretty basic, right? Sure, I could generate them with energy instead of making them, but any alchemist, excluding those still apprenticed or otherwise in training, can make a health potion of some degree. Or perhaps alchemists didn't exist in this world and I was totally making a mistake.

"Ummm... are healing potions not normal here?"

"That is a healing potion? I thought you were from the mountains! Are you actually rich?"

<Oh, so they do exist, but they are expensive?>

"Ummm... Actually, I was hoping to open up a stall or shop for selling potions. I can compound them."

"A little girl like you? You are a magical apothecary?"

"Ummm... maybe? I'm probably something similar?"

I mean, I probably am. I don't think I lied anyways. Magic is the conversion of energy to cause a reaction within the world without the aid of technological support systems and I didn't need a device to help control my energy conversion, so it was probably something similar.

"Well, I can check it out once I get this parchment inspected."

Oh, it was parchment and not paper. Well, they aren't that different aside from the source. With a bit of shaking in his hand, the guard grabbed the parchment by a corner and rushed off, leaving me surprisingly alone in the room. Well, nothing to it but to explore a little while I waited. 

On the desk, I looked through several stacks of papers and noticed a few mistakes so I decided to write down corrections on some wood containers. Just a little thank you and apology for looking through the room. I smiled as I finished up the corrections and started to take a look at some of the other things in the room. A little fireplace seemed somewhat low on wood so I generated some wood to keep the fireplace going.

I found at the chairs and found they were falling apart somewhat so I decided to patch those up with some wood that I mashed up and some sticky paste to bind the wood together. Looked just as good as new except the chairs now had spots of new wood. That didn't quite look right, so I ended up coating the entire chairs in new wood paste. I let them sit to dry while I continued exploring.

It certainly was taking them a while to inspect that parchment. I guess I really used too much blood there. It wasn't so bad that a few worms wouldn't fix things, so I decided to eat a quick snack while I looked around some more. Unfortunately, with how small the room was, I quickly ran out of things to examine, so I decided to start polishing and waxing the floor. I mean, I could get splinters and such with how poor quality the floor was. Some time passed and the floor was nice and smooth and shiny!

A great job if I do say so myself, but now I had nothing to do again. I couldn't really even move around because of the wax-like potion still drying. Maybe I should have planned that ahead instead of doing it on a whim. Either way, I was stuck until... I decided to use my tentacles as supports to move around the room. Now I could move without touching the floor. Still, not like there was anything left to do, so I decided to take a nap on the desk while everything dried and set.

* * *

I woke up to a very confused guard shaking me and asking what I had done to the room. I explained only to have the guard shout in shock about how a little girl could do math. Like, seriously, what was up with this guard being so surprised about kids being capable? Isn't that normal? I mean, you had mandatory imprints of information at a young age to improve survival rates. Or maybe not. I supposed this was far enough back that perhaps their governments didn't mandate such things.

I also got scolded for touching things without permission. Good thing I waxed the floor or I would've been in even more pain. I did contemplate destroying the town instead of listening, but I wasn't trying to become some sort of superhero. I was surprised though at how much their investigation discovered from my blood.

According to their investigation, I wasn't a criminal and I was human. Well, that wasn't surprising, but it did bring up some questions as to why I had cat ears, nine tails, and 3 right arms. I explained that I woke up one day with them and the guard accepted it. I guess it did mention that I had them growing out of me. It also mentioned that I had some ability to produce potions and containers, though it was rather vague about it.

Despite all the parts that they did not understand, they decided I was harmless enough and gave me a pass. I decided to thank them of course. It went something like:

"Oh, I'd like to thank you for treating me so kindly. Birds and fishes love these, so I'm sure that you will too!"

"What is this metal thing?"

"It is a can! You put stuff inside to make them last longer!"

"Putting stuff in metal makes them last longer, eh? So, how do you open it?"

"It is really easy!" I demonstrated it with the can and the guard seemed completely shocked as his face scrunched up and he backed away rather quickly. Kind of odd, but whatever? He did angrily shout, "Is this supposed to be some kind of joke?", but I don't see why it would seem like a joke.

"No, birds and fishes really do love these. They are really quite tasty too!" 

I scooped up some of the worms and tossed them in, chewing thoroughly to show the guard that they were really good. The guard's expression changed from that of a red pufferfish to one of a puppy whose favorite bone was taken away.

"Ah, I guess if you came from the mountains, then that kind of thing is normal. But people don't really eat those."

"Oh, I see. But they really are good. Would you like me to prepare a new can for you? You can try some later."

"Wouldn't that just be opening a new can of worms?"

I guess he was right. Well, I'm not sure what else I could give as a gift, so I decided to ask them indirectly.

"So, what kind of gift would you like then?"

"Mountain girls sure are direct with their questions. Nothing you could possibly give me. I'm perfectly satisfied with my current life. I'm happy for your consideration, but really, there isn't anything I need."

Well, that certainly makes things tougher if he isn't willing to tell me. I decided to just give him a health potion. He started to speak in a fluster about how he couldn't possibly accept it, but I just set it on his desk and told him to take it if he ever needed it. As for my other inquiry, turns out that he managed to secure a place for me to set up a shop. It even came with a room to sleep in. Well, it was a storage room, but not like I needed to store anything.

Apparently, the city was looking for an apothecary of some sort anyways, so I came at a good time. They wanted me to open as soon as I could and decided to pay for the first month of rent. They did give me some tips on how to price everything so that I wouldn't upset the competition, but as things were, goods were scarce and the other medicine dealers couldn't keep up with the demand, so it was unlikely for me to cause any problems so long as I kept things reasonable.

I didn't intend to cause any problems, so I thanked the guard again and left for my new shop. It was a bit... untended to, but I would take care of that in the morning. For now, I decided to sleep for a bit. To safe and peaceful travels.

Magic Archive
Joe Gold
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