Avatar of TheMushroomLord

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Recent Statuses

7 days ago
Current Replace my bones with rats. I must writhe.
1 like
22 days ago
You either die a hero or live and do something else.
1 like
1 mo ago
All fish dream of the stars.
2 mos ago
You cannot fathom my desire to install additional hinges in my bones.
1 like
2 mos ago
People are always saying that murder is bad, but you know who never gets asked? The victims. I have no idea whether murder is okay or not, but I certainly know who we should be asking about it.
2 likes

Bio

I am me... I hope.

Most Recent Posts

Also got a bit swamped on my end between uni assessments and immediately falling sick afterwards – turns out pulling a triple all-nighter isn’t great for my health, who’d have thought? Now that I’m not so much of a zombie, I think I should be able to finish my sheet at some point tomorrow.
Neir Slums — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
Catgirl? Leg? Guard Station? Petra was probably more confused after reading Down’s message than she had been beforehand.

From what she was able to gather, the gist of things was that someone had tried to pick a fight with Down – or at least they’d somehow gotten involved in one – and at some point in the resulting scuffle, the instigator had gotten their leg cut off by a third party that may or may not have been some kind of cat person? Petra decided that it probably made more sense to anyone that saw what happened, and that she shouldn’t think too hard about the details.

More importantly, apparently the person that’d gotten the impromptu amputation was expected to survive the wound. That was certainly interesting, since as far as Petra knew, you couldn’t just survive a wound like that – not without receiving immediate treatment at least – so either Down had greatly exaggerated the severity of the injury, the inhabitants of this world had different biology to humans back on Earth, or the guy had received some kind of magical healing. Petra suspected the latter.

Whatever the case, wasn’t cutting a guy’s leg off way too extreme a response to a fight? Petra was certain she was missing more than a little context, but even so, the outcome made her more than a little nervous. Even ignoring the fact that cutting someone's leg off should’ve been far too difficult to casually do, it seemed like far too brutal a response to any crime, which spoke to a world far more violent than Earth.

In hindsight, perhaps Petra should have already expected that kind of thing from this world – swords were weapons, and most depictions of magic back on Earth were at least somewhat violent, so of course a Sword and Sorcery world wouldn’t be soft and fluffy. Then again, maybe she was judging this world unfairly. Was Earth really all that much better? Now that she thought about it, you didn’t need to go all that far back in time for brutality to be the norm, and even in the modern day it wasn’t like war and suffering didn’t exist, she just hadn’t had to personally see it.

Petra pushed the thoughts away and instead focused back on the Down’s message, trying to pointedly ignore the suggestion that she eat a person’s leg. Admittedly, it was probably a legitimate suggestion; she had after all mentioned she could steal cells from things she ate. Not that that was much of a reason to eat the leg in this case – aside from being cannibalism(?), being composed mostly of muscle and bone, a human leg wouldn’t exactly have any particularly useful materials for her. If it’d been the attacker's eyes that’d been gouged out, on the other hand… wait no, that would have been even more violent.

Contacts: "Down"
The catgirl said her name was Meira, and if what Cassius said about her being an adventurer holds up, it's probably safe for me to do as she said. I'm gonna try and get info from the guards. But while I'm gone, you should try to hide, okay?

I dunno if you've already figured out how to move or not, but maybe imagine yourself as like...a train? Saw a video once about how Japanese metros were like slime molds, moving efficiently between food nodes/cities. Maybe make a bunch of cilia like treads underneath you?
Down
Petra was just about to shoot off a reply, when Down’s second message came through, and a moment later she was alone.

Move like a train, huh? Petra thought Down might be confusing that study where slime moulds were able to organise themselves into a layout similar to the Tokyo metro with them somehow moving like a train, but that did still give her an idea for how to move more efficiently.

Forming a pseudopod – a task she’d gotten pretty good at by now – Petra laid out the appendage along the path she wanted to travel in a manner she imagined as being similar to a rail and then with some trial and error, managed to shift her mass along the appendage, reabsorbing it as she went. The movement wasn’t exactly fast – maybe equivalent to a slow walk for a human – but compared to her earlier attempt at locomotion, the difference was night and day. Petra still had to adjustment her program whenever she wanted to change her direction or speed, but doing so was relatively easy, and after making a couple of modifications to more easily aim her pseudopods and to start forming the next set before fully absorbing the last, Petra found herself moving about the small shack almost confidently.

After maybe a minute of enjoying her newfound mobility, Petra’s attention was drawn once again to the severed leg – its ‘scent’ tickling at her smell-touch – and she was finally forced to confront one of the many realities she’d been trying to wilfully ignore. Petra had stopped her body from single-mindedly consuming anything organic it touched, and that wasn’t a decision she had any intentions of changing any time soon – not when she neither wanted to discover whether slimes could get food poisoning nor spend all her time slowly feeding off filth – but as she’d already observed, brains were hungry organs and slimes had surprisingly developed brains.

Off the top of her head, Petra could recall that the human brain took up something like 20% of the calories a person consumed just to power itself. Obviously, what passed for a slime’s brain was nowhere near as developed as a human’s and in fact probably wouldn’t be able to think at all where it not for whatever magic that held Petra’s consciousness here, but the fact remained that slimes apparently had unreasonably developed brains for creatures that didn’t seem to be built to perform any task more complex than what a slime mould might.

While her body literally didn’t have a sense for hunger, to her biomancy that fact meant very little, and a quick peek at her biology was enough to confirm Petra’s suspicions. It probably hadn’t even been an hour since she’d stopped her body from constantly eating and yet already Petra could already see her body struggling to compensate for the halted caloric intake, various metabolic pathways switching as her body switched into starvation mode.

In other words, as far as Petra could think of, if she wanted to avoid slowly starving to death, she more or less had two options. She could give in and spend almost all of her time, passively scraping the floor for any filth she might be able to consume, risking whatever diseases that lifestyle might entail, or she could do like early humans did and turn to more energy dense sources of food to fuel her brain… put like that, and it wasn’t really much of a choice.

Apprehensively Petra approached the severed limb, discarded on the floor after its owner was taken to jail, then after several minutes of hesitating, she finally bit the bullet, or more accurately engulfed the leg, and started digesting her meal.

Almost disappointingly, as difficult as the decision to eat a part of a person had been, the actual process of doing so turned out to be very much anticlimactic. It wasn’t like Petra had eyes with which to see what she was doing, and to her ‘organic vision’ the process hardly looked different from when she’d digested the bugs or detritus. She could sort of taste it, but even then, while her touch-smell filled the role of taste, it wasn’t like she experienced the sense as anything like it. In other words, as long as Petra didn’t think too hard about what exactly she was doing, it wasn’t exactly hard for her to ignore it entirely, and it was shockingly easy for her to think about literally anything else.

Deciding that now was as good a time as any, Petra set about working on fixing her senses.

To start with, Petra checked up on the photoreceptors she’d sequestered from the insect she’d eaten, finding that it’d replicated nicely, the single cell already having divided into dozens upon dozens of copies of itself. While that was somewhat impressive, it still wasn’t nearly enough for her to do anything useful with, and in any case, even if she had an endless number of the cells she still wouldn’t be able to produce anything like a proper eye with them. That being the case, Petra turned her attention instead to her hearing.

She examined the receptors that facilitated her sense of touch and hearing – elongated things that responded to any change in their conformation. Tentatively, Petra tried moving some of the cells closer to her outer membrane, and found promising results.

It wasn’t exactly a great result, and probably wouldn’t be enough even if she moved all the cells to her outer membrane, but it certainly seemed as though the cells closer to her surface fired off more frequently than those located deeper in her body. That result wasn’t exactly surprising, considering the cells were picking up vibrations in her environment, though she discovered that moving the receptors resulted in a corresponding loss of her proprioception, which in hindsight, she probably should have also predicted. Considering proprioception was vital for her ability to control her body, that wasn’t an acceptable cost.

On the one hand, Petra could just increase the number of receptors in her body, but at the same time the increased sensory load would only serve to increase the amount of energy she’d need to spend processing it, which was one of the problems she was trying to avoid, and that wasn’t before even considering that she was already planning on massively increase that load by adding sight to the mix. She supposed she could always try compensating by reducing the number of chemoreceptors throughout her body, since she wasn’t exactly reliant on that sense, but even then, that approach would only take her so far.

Petra considered the rudimentary ‘ears’ she’d created to assist her in hearing earlier. The attempt had been clumsy and awkward at best, and in all honesty, it hadn’t worked all that well, but she still felt the basic principle had some merit. What she needed was some kind of structure to help her channel sounds towards the receptors, making the process more efficient without necessarily requiring her to add additional cells. Obviously being stuck as an amorphous blob for the foreseeable future made having any large external structures difficult, which ruled out creating a more permanent set of ears, but perhaps she could go smaller?

Focusing on her outermost membrane, Petra willed her magic into forcing it to change, painstakingly moulding tiny projections to sit atop it like microscopic hairs. Her first attempts were all failures, and it took her a while to realise that the cells that made up her membrane simply lacked the structural properties to do what she wanted them to.

Unwilling to give up so easily, Petra diverted her attention towards the pieces of human flesh slowly being dragged into her body for digestion, searching for any parts that might assist her with her current project. As it turned out, her earlier assessment that a human leg wouldn’t have anything she wanted might have been a little premature – it might not have any functional components she particularly wanted, but it was a veritable treasure trove of structural components.

Selecting several of these components – Petra suspected were mostly hair and cartilage and perhaps some other connective tissues, though she didn’t check what exactly – Petra set about her second attempt at creating the tiny hairs, tinkering with their design until she finally had one she was somewhat happy with. After that, it was just a matter of connecting the hairs to the mechanoreceptors she’d moved to her outer membrane and spreading the structures across her entire surface.

The entire process what quite time-consuming and required her to stop and rest her magic several times, but by the end, Petra was quite pleased with the result. She found her creation functioned more or less exactly as intended, the miniscule hairs amplifying and transmitting vibrations from the air to the receptors in her membrane, feeding her a constant ‘hum’ of background ‘noise’. Petra thought the final product might be somewhat analogous to the stereocilia used in vertebrate hearing, though she was pretty certain stereocilia were organelles rather than separate attached structures.

Admittedly, the result was somewhat less useful than it could have been, since the actual experience was still nothing like human hearing, and thus, Petra still couldn’t make sense of the sounds she was hearing, but with any luck she’d be able to adjust to that sooner or later, and more importantly, with this she should be able to hear well enough for the translation function to work.

Contacts: "Up, Down"
Good news! I’ve figured out hearing… sorta. Can’t really make heads or tails of the information yet, but give me time and I might be able to figure out how to parse it. At least a human brain would be able to adjust to it, so depending on what parts of me are running on human logic, I might be able to. Either way, I think this should be good enough for the translation function to work, so if you need me to eavesdrop on anyone or anything like that I should be able to now.
Me
Was trying to finish this today, but I'm sick, somehow it's already almost 5 am, and I'm barely holding awake, so that's not happening. Since it won't be done until I wake up I guess I'll jump on board the WIP CS bandwagon for now, though mine might be just a little (read very) more WIP than the others. Have a half-baked hedge mage/utility caster.

Also, it has also occurred to me that I've made a couple of assumptions, particularly regarding how magic might work in this setting, and/or used terms that might not be setting accurate, so correct me if I've messed anything up or you have any details to share.

Definitely interested.
Neir Slums — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
Petra felt a little frustrated as she lay as a puddle on the floor of the shack. Not that there was much else she could have been doing, but doing nothing when there was so much she needed to ‘see’ and discover, didn’t exactly feel great. In hindsight, she probably should have been a little more conservative with her mana – or whatever it was this world's magic ran off – as without it, she was more or less immobile.

Hmm… Perhaps she could set up a program to move herself more effectively, rather than modifying her preexisting one every time she wanted to move or stop moving? Except, so far as she’d been able to manage thus far, her programs were restricted to responding to her senses or else constantly doing their thing without outside input. What she needed were programs that could respond dynamically to her thoughts, except how was she supposed to set something like that up, when, at least as far as she could tell, her thought processes and physical brain were now entirely separate things?

On that note, Petra also knew she’d have to figure out what the limitations to her ‘mana’ were, which was a whole other challenge in its own right. Was there some threshold she would cripple herself or die if she went past? It wasn’t like there was an easy way to test it, and it wasn’t like she could just look up the answer. Maybe she could ask someone – or more likely get one of her companions to ask for her – but how common were spell casters? They were usually pretty rare in fantasy stories, right? Would a layman be able to answer her questions?

And that wasn’t even covering the physical side effects of using magic – though that topic at least would probably be a lot easier for Petra to test herself. Down had said they’d gotten a nosebleed after they’d used magic themselves, so unless they’d banged their head or something, there was almost certainly some kind of physical side effect, the question was what? Was the damage to specific parts of the body or more spread out? Did using magic cause the body to start heating up? Was it ionising? Did it cause cell lyse?

Petra hadn’t noticed any cellular damage to her own body while she was messing with the insect’s photoreceptors, but at the same time, she had been fully focused on the task at the time, and from what she’d observed of her biology, any cells that were damaged would likely have been consumed soon afterwards.

If the side effects of spell casting was something like generating heat, that would probably be manageable, but if it were more along the lines of random cellular damage, then that might be more of an issue. Maybe not for Petra herself – she was pretty sure her current body would fare pretty well against that kind of damage and, perhaps somewhat ironically, her magic could likely deal with any biological side effects it produced – but for any human spell casters it might be an issue.

Petra was just about to send Down a message warning them to avoid casting magic until they could figure out whether it caused cancer or something when everything went to chaos. Well, ‘chaos’ might’ve been putting it a bit strongly – whatever happened only lasted a couple of seconds – but still, it was enough for Petra to realise something was up, even with her limited senses. One moment, she’d felt Down stomping across the shack, and the next there had been a loud noise that wasn’t words and what Petra though might be some kind of scuffle, followed shortly by a new voice – at least Petra assumed it was someone new speaking.

“Oi, you… shack. One… <Name: Up> acquaintances? Could you bring… bastard… at gate? … <Name: Newcomer>… bring him in for questioning… ask.”

Wait, was Down being asked to bring Up to the gate or was it the ‘bastard’ someone else? Had Up done something to get themself in trouble? Petra thought about it for a second, then gave up on the matter; trying to piece together what was going one when she’d probably only heard half the words said at best, would be a waste of her time, especially when she couldn’t see what was going on.

More importantly, Petra had observed another interesting phenomena; the translation function struggled with names. Sure Petra could understand exactly who was being talked about when she heard the name, in fact, she was pretty sure as long as it was being translated she’d know exactly who was being talked about even if two people shared the same name, but the fact remained that despite having understood the names meanings, she still didn’t know the names. Was that a clue as to how the translation function worked?

Realising she was getting distracted, Petra mentally made a mental note to think about the phenomena further later, along with all the other crazy things she’d need to contemplate.

Contacts: "Down"
What happened? Is everything okay? Did Up do something?
Me

… Well, it wasn’t really important, but, compared to all the other things she needed to test it would be pretty trivial, and more importantly, wouldn’t require any magic, so…

Contacts: "Down"
Also, assuming you can read the language, if you see any signs for shops or things like that could you read them to me aloud and then send me their names? Trying to figure out the translation function. I need both things with names that have other meanings and those that don’t.
Me
??? — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
For the most part, Petra just patiently waited for her magic to recover, while her companion experimented with their own. Even blind as she was, Petra didn’t fail to notice when the other mage finally got their own magic to work, her gelatinous body immediately picking up on the sudden influx of information transmitted via vibrations through the air and floor, with each spell.

Were they shooting projectiles of some kind? Controlling the wind? Perhaps just producing raw force? Once again, Petra found no small part of her longing to have her human vision back, if only so she could get a good look at the actual spell casting process. It was magic! Just think of all the things she could learn just by watching it!

Mentally sighing to herself, Petra turned thoughts away from the nearby spell caster and to the broader nature of magic itself. Just what was magic, exactly? Obviously Petra knew she wasn’t even remotely qualified to ask that question – certainly not when she knew so little about the subject – but qualified or not, the question burned at her mind regardless. Some tiny part of Petra’s mind immediately motioned to dismiss the question – to simply label the phenomenon 'supernatural' and leave it at that – but the rest of her mind called that part traitor and smothered it down.

Supernatural was a term used to describe things that were beyond understanding; things that fundamentally didn’t follow the rules of the universe. Strange as everything she’d seen was, Petra didn’t yet feel ready to accept the idea that there were things that couldn’t be understood. In fact, that was one of the few ideas she probably wouldn’t ever be able to accept. Sure, the universe might follow a different set of rules to the ones she’d thought they did just a few hours ago, and sure, she was almost certainly, a long, long, ways off from even beginning to be able to understand these new rules, but even so, everything had rules, and anything that had rules could eventually be understood. All she needed was enough time and the right questions.

The only problem was Petra wasn’t quite sure what exactly the right questions were. She’d already cast magic, several times even, which should have given her plenty of questions, and it had, but most of those questions were surface level; important to answer, certainly, but insignificant or impossible to answer without prerequisite knowledge she didn’t yet possess. What she needed was something deeper. Something foundational.

Petra thought about it for a bit, trying to focus on the ways she was sure magic violated the laws of the universe as she knew it. She felt almost certain there was something to this particular line of reasoning. She continued to mull over it for a while, and then it hit her; obviously there were all sorts of ways magic appeared to violate the rules of reality she was familiar with, but one stood out above the others; ontology. Magic had a concept of ontology.

Her own magic, [Biomancy], worked on biological systems, except biology didn't really exist except as a human construct. Sure, things that are biological exist, at least in the sense that people can describe them as being such, but that's an illusion – one of the neat little boxes we group things into for our own convenience of understanding. In reality, biology is nothing more than an emergent phenomenon of chemistry and physics – a runaway chemical reaction that started self-perpetuating almost four billion years ago. People know what life is, but the universe shouldn’t; not any more than it recognises an aeroplane or a fairy tale.

And yet the universe does seem to recognise it. And that’s weird. Really weird. Possibly even weirder than the universe producing handy little status screens with which to categorise us – which is in itself something that couldn’t be pulled off without some way of recognising what things are and categorising them.

Does that mean that the universe is aware or that there’s some god like driving force behind it? Not necessarily, but certainly a possibility. It’s also possible the recognition comes from somewhere further down the chain; say for example if magic isn’t fundamental to the universe itself but was created by conscious agents, sufficiently advanced technology and all that… or maybe magic draws its understanding from its users or something like a collective consciousness?

Petra’s mind spins as she thinks about that. That’s already a lot of different possibilities – each of which would require a completely different approach to dissecting and analysing the field of magic – and even now she’s still thinking of more, not to mention all the countless possibilities that’ll no doubt never even occur to her.

Before Petra’s thoughts can spiral into total madness, she’s pulled out of them by a notification. Oh, right, the other guy.

Contacts: "Down"
Gud news: Magic work. Can Jedi push stuff and shoot swords. Bad: Nose bleed, head hurts. If I hav aneurysm plz w8 48 hrs b4 eating me. Thx.
Down

Eat them? Petra’s almost insulted by the idea she might do such a thing. Even if she’s inhabiting the body of a slime now, she definitely wouldn’t consider eating someone unless she was really desperate… then again, examining a human corpse would probably help a lot in her mission to build herself a proper body, and how much progress would she make if she were able to steal human organs wholesale… wait no, bad thoughts.

Moving swiftly on, Petra focuses her attention on the important details of the message. Her companion seemed to have some kind of force magic – though the term, “Jedi push stuff and shoot swords” left the details frustratingly vague – and they’d also pushed their magic far enough to see side effects, but no far enough to be particularly worrying.

Before Petra could consider the matter further, her thoughts are interrupted yet again, by another message. For the briefest of moments, she's hopeful that it might be a more detailed breakdown of Down’s experiments with magic, but then she realises the message is from Up – not that it isn't detailed, just somewhat less interesting than magic, if important nonetheless.

Contacts: "Up, Down"
The Adventurer’s Guild exists, and Meira, the woman I left with, is part of them. Slimes are categorized as monsters, but are thought of as useful for cleaning up corpses. The city’s name is Neir, the country’s name is Cethaim. King Selm is the top of the hierarchy, and nobles manage territories beneath him. There are no ongoing wars of note. A convenient excuse for our appearance here is a ‘teleportation’ spell. You can make money as a treasure hunter in ‘dungeons’ here or pick up odd jobs as an adventurer, but if both of you finished school, you would likely be able to get a job inside the city.
Up

She was classified as a monster? Petra wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. On the one hand, the idea of worrying about what labels people decided to apply to her while she was stuck in this body felt more than a little silly to her, but at the same time, she really hopped that wouldn’t make things difficult for her. The “useful for cleaning up corpses” addition gave her hope that she wouldn’t be attacked on sight at least.

The rest of the information gathered also seems important and Petra makes sure to commit it to memory as well as she can – just in case her message log automatically deletes itself after some predefined period or something like that - though she isn't sure how applicable it’ll actually be to her, given her slime situation. Were normal slimes even sapient? She was, obviously, but she also clearly didn’t have the neural architecture for it.

Contacts: "Down"
What’s the plan? If your magic is something you can defend yourself with, or your too physically taxed from using it, I think it’d be best to wait for you to recover a bit before we do anything.
Me
Also, if you’re planning on going anywhere, do you think you could carry me around in something? I can’t move very fast like I am right now.

Also if I’m concidered a monster, even a relatively safe one, maybe it’d be best to keep me hidden? Otherwise you might be able to tell people I’m a summon or familiar or something like that, but without knowing much about magic, that might be ill advised. For all we know summoning magic isn't a thing or entails additional details.
Me
??? — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth
The other person in the shack though her method of eating was cool, and Petra couldn’t help but mentally grin to herself at that. It was cool; really, really cool.

Contacts: "Down"
Nice! And, if you were able to digest the dirt, you could potentially dig tunnels to hide or get around unseen if need be. If something bad happens, the bug-hole I dug is...uh...to your left?

If you wanna rest, I'm gonna practice my own magic. Once I feel like I could conceivably defend myself I'll try to find us some water and a way to filter it. Bound to be a well around here but I'm sure it's filthy.
Down

Could she dig? Petra supposed there was no reason she wouldn’t be able to, unless perhaps the ground was too compacted or something like that. Then again, would she be able to eat indefinitely? Probably not, but surely, this body had a way of disposing of waste.

Against her better judgement, Petra peaked back at her internals. She didn’t have to search for long until she found what she was looking for in the form of the numerous cells dedicated to waste disposal. Several different kinds of cell carrying off the indigestible remnants of her arthropod meals, as well as various other kinds of waste, both that from the insects and the waste her body itself was producing throughout its normal activity, transporting the waste to her outer membrane where it’s promptly pushed out of her body and into the unknown.

From her observations of the process, Petra fells pretty confident that she’ll be able to dig, if in all likelihood very slowly, in fact she can probably even dig through things she can’t actually digest – things like sand and gravel – just by engulfing and expelling the material. Of course, given the lingering effects of her last attempt at magic, Petra isn’t exactly eager to try the process out just yet… actually that was a lie; she is very eager, just not quite eager enough yet for her curiosity to out way her sense of self-preservation.

As for the water problem, contamination, as Down mentioned, is an obvious concern, especially assuming a medieval context. But since her thoughts were already on it, wouldn’t it be possible for her to filter water in a similar fashion to her hypothesised digging method? Petra certainly didn’t feel as though there was any reason she wouldn’t be able to simply engulf some water, digest or separate any contaminants, and then expel the purified fluid – at least not once she’d recovered her magic a bit.

Contacts: "Down"
If you need to filter water, I think it should be possible for me to do it. I’m pretty confident this body can digest anything organic in the water and I think I could seperate out any inoragnic contamination. At the very least, if I can’t I should be able to identify if the water’s contaminated. Might be a bit gross to drink water that’s come out of me though, but it’s not like everything we drink hasn’t been piss or sewerage at some point, right?
Me
Also, good luck with your magic.
Me
??? — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
Petra stared at the message box, partially because it was the only thing she could see and partially because there was a fair bit of information for her to dissect there.

Firstly, ‘universal translation’ supposedly being common in fantasy stories – at least in whatever stories Down had read – was yet another big point in favour of the fantasy logic hypothesis, even if it still wasn’t nearly enough to count as conclusive evidence. What could she do to get more concrete evidence? How exactly does one imperially test whether or not the world follows formal logic? She needed something testable. Perhaps she could think up a list of fantasy tropes and then try to verify whether they applied or not? Petra wasn’t sure.

Pushing the matter aside, Petra turned to Down’s next observation, one that was far more immediately useful; they were in a shantytown – or at the very least something that appeared to be one. Petra supposed that if this world truly was running of some foreign logic, it was entirely possible that shantytowns were somehow natural formations here, but at that point she’d have to start throwing out basic assumptions, so for the time being she decided to go with the far more reasonable assumption; this world had intelligent life in it – beyond her companions and her, that was – and moreover, whatever that life was, it was probably at least somewhat human-like.

Even more interesting than Down’s observations on their surrounding, though, were their comments on magic and their own Skill. It seemed as though their Skill was also one pertaining to magic, and while they didn’t say specifically what it was Petra was certainly very interested to find out. Did the third person that’d come with them also have a magic Skill? Petra wondered how Down’s Skill would compare to her own. Two examples obviously wouldn’t be enough for her to establish a pattern as to how magic worked, but it’d at least be a boon in helping her make guesses, certainly a lot better than just one.

Contacts: "Down"
I think you’ve just got to think about it really hard to use magic and there’ll be a sort of draining feeling once you manage.
Me
Maybe… I’m pretty sure it’s enough to do something at least. There’s probably more to actually doing things properly.
Me

Even more than magic, though, the final part of Down’s message was what interested Petra the most. Shapeshifting and gaining abilities from things she ate? There certainly wasn’t anything like that listed on her status, but neither did universal translation show up, nor did anything governed by her biology, so it might be possible.

Contacts: "Down"
I don’t see anything like that on my status and I was already eating dirt or something when I woke up which didn’t seem to do anything, but I guess it couldn’t hurt to try.
Me

Not long after, Petra was watching her body digest several bugs, along with a not insignificant amount of dirt. At first she’d tried not to think about the fact that she was eating bugs, reasoning to herself that any perceived grossness was only on a superficial level and that is was probably perfectly normal for slime monsters or whatever it was she was.

Her apprehension only lasted a moment after she engulfed the bugs, however, before it gave way to curiosity, and she stared transfixed at her digestive cells peeling apart the dead insects layer by layer, in a manner that was simultaneously both slow and shockingly fast. No, it wasn’t fast so much as it was efficient; her cells dancing to incomprehensible chemical music, swarming towards the feast for just long enough to tear away and engulf their fill before vacating to digest and distribute their nutrient payloads.

Beyond watching her digestive processes, Petra was also looking out for any change that might indicate something had happened. No matter how frequently she checked her status, though, there was never once a change to the sheet, nor was there any miraculous moment where she gained access to one of the insect's senses, or method of moving, or otherwise felt any different at all. She tried willing her body to take the shape of one of the insects she’d digested with all her might, but unsurprisingly, that to failed to work.

Petra mentally sighed to herself. It was about as much as she’d expected, but it was still pretty disappointing. If she’d been able to shapeshift into the things she ate, then it might have been possible to gain a human form… or at least something closer to human than an amorphous blob, since she wasn’t quite yet up for eating people. Hell, if she’d been able to gain a bug's abilities, that might have at least solved her vision and movement problems… Wait.



Petra paused – or at least she imagined herself pausing, considering her body was already more or less as still as it was going to get. She wasn’t so lucky as to gain some mystical ability to steal creatures abilities just by eating them, but she did still have magic. Magic that supposedly operated on biological systems. Could she emulate something similar?

Petra focused her attention on one of the as yet less digested insects within her. She observed the insect as a whole for only a moment, before zooming in on the structure she was interested in; its eye. Petra had a pretty decent idea of how a human eye worked, but unsurprisingly the compound eyes of an insect were quite different, more specifically, they were a hell of a lot more complicated.

Perhaps if the insect were still alive and its eyes hadn’t already been partially digested, Petra might have been able to figure out some of the underlying mechanisms behind its eyes, as it were now though, she figured she had little chance. That was okay though; she wouldn’t need the whole eye for the idea she wanted to test.

Delving deeper into one of the ommatidium that made up the compound eye, Petra closed in on the part she was looking for. While a lot of the insect’s eye was fundamentally different from a human one, Petra was glad to see that at least the most fundamental components were more or less the same. Petra flexed her will once more, uncertainly straining her thoughts until she felt the magic give in – the draining sensation picking up ever so slightly – and with any luck, directing her digestive cells not to consume the rod cells at the back of the insect's eyes.

Petra patiently waited until the rods were free-floating before continuing her work. Somehow the effort of actually moving the rods towards her exterior was far more draining than actually liberating them in the first place and while the draining sensation itself grew no worse with time, Petra began to feel what she could only describe as an aching in some metaphysical part of herself; an ache she was pretty sure was connected to her use of magic. Or perhaps overuse of magic? She refused to stop quite there though.

Identifying one of her own sensory cells – one of the multitude of chemical receptors she was pretty confident was part of her ability to taste and smell – Petra forced the thing to disconnect itself from the nerve it was attached to through sheer force of will, before attempting to implant one of her sequestered rods in its place. Her first attempt at getting the cell to connect failed, or at least it failed to produce a functioning result, as did her second and third attempts. If moving the rods throughout her body had given her a headache, then this task was giving her the beginnings of a migraine.

It didn’t matter though, because on her fourth attempt Petra actually succeeded at getting the cell to attach to the nerve properly and suddenly she could see. Not see in any useful sense of the word – a single rod certainly wouldn’t be enough to do that, nor would completely covering herself in the things for that matter; she’d need to figure out more complex eye structures for anything like that – but it was sight nonetheless. A tiny pinprick of light, visible only for the fact that it encompassed the entirety of Petra’s ability to see, nothing more than a single data point informing her of the presence or absence of light.

Feeling surprisingly emotional at such a tiny change, Petra gave one last push with her magic, commanding her newly minted sensor to start dividing, before finally dropping her magic.

Petra realised that pushing her magic as she had, had been a very stupid thing to do considering her lack of understanding about what exactly she was doing; for all she knew souls were real and she’d just irrevocable damaged hers, or maybe she’d just barely survived and another moment of pushing would have killed her. Even if it were ‘safe’ Petra was certainly feeling the consequences of her actions, an impossible to describe aching sensation in a part of her being that she had not previously been aware of and didn’t particularly want to be now.

Even as Petra mentally berated herself for her bad decisions, she would have smiled if she could. She’d already told herself she’d fix her hearing, but now she was almost certain that she could, and more than that, that she could fix her whole body. Her understanding wasn’t nearly good enough yet, and if it had taken this much out of her to steal just a single cell she hesitated to think what it’d take to build an entire human body, but even so, with enough time and effort, Petra was sure she could figure it out.

Contacts: "Down"
I can do the stealing thing with Biomancy! I was only able to take a single cell for now, but I can do it! Oh and if you are going to do magic try not to push it too far. This is kinda painful.
Me
??? — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
Guy who picked u up stepped out. Don't worry, won't leave u alone.
Vision, smell, sound, taste, feel, uh...kinesthetics? Y/N to any?
Contact: "Down"

Oh! A message! Her plan to add contacts had worked… or at least it ended up working after the others had verbally added her to their lists – did it require a verbal command to work? It would be annoying if it did, but considering her slap-speak worked just fine for opening her status sheet, that didn’t seem quite right. Perhaps it required mutual agreement then? Whatever the case, she had a proper method of communicating now; not quite as good as the call function she’d been hoping for, but even so, texting beat slap-speak by a long shot.

Contacts: "Down"
All novel senses.
Me
Can’t see or hear, but I have something like proprioception that seems to cover my senses of touch, hearing and kinesthetics. It isn’t very good, though. It’s hard to interpret and I can barely hear through it.
Me
Is magic translation common for this kind of thing? I don’t see anything like that on my status sheet but I don’t think I should be able to understand you with my current senses.
Me
Oh, and I’ve also got something that functions similarly to smell and taste, but with my whole body. Probably not useful for the time being.
Me

Hmm, she had been asked to give a yes no answer, so maybe she should have made her answers a little more concise? Whatever, it wasn’t like she could have answered properly with a Y/N anyway, details were important.

Petra could feel her companion thumping around with something as she messed them, but couldn’t really tell what exactly it was? Were they thumping on the wall for some reason? Well, whatever the reason, they seemed to know what they were doing for the most part, so it was probably fine. Curious as she was, there were other questions that needed to be asked first.

Contacts: "Down"
You said the other guy stepped out? Does that mean we’re in a building or something? Anything I should be aware of? You seem to have a much better idea of how this all works than I do, so let me know if there’s anything I need to know. Okay?
Me

That out of the way, Petra thought about the situation for a moment longer before firing off another message.

Contacts: "Down", "Up"
You mentioned something about special abilities before. My status sheet has a skill called Biomancy on it, so I’m guessing that’s what you were talking about. I suppose in game terms that might make me a healer or something? Do either of you have abilities that might be useful?
Me

Was she actually a healer? Petra wasn’t quite sure.

On the one hand, fantasy worlds, and especially games, loved to box things into neat little archetypes, right? Fighter, healer, tank, and whatnot. So by that logic, she should probably fall into the healer category. And everything she’d done with [Biomancy] thus far matched up with that assessment provided she viewed it through the right lens – her ability to see her anatomy was just a magical diagnostic tool, and the modifications she’d made to her nervous system could be thought of as rehabilitation if she stretched the definitions a little.

But at the same time, it didn’t quite seem to fit. Even if [Biomancy] was a healing ability, was it really that common for fantasy settings to have magic systems that explicitly interacted with a modern scientific understanding of biology? Wasn’t healing magic, usually more along the lines of, ‘holy light closes your wounds, don’t think too hard about how’? Not to mention that the description on Petra’s status sheet, didn’t seem to indicate she’d be limited to healing people. If she tried, would she be able to trigger organ failure or give people cancer with a thought?

In other words, Petra needed to figure out what kind of logic ‘magic’ ran off and what its limits were, not just because [Biomancy] was currently her best bet at resolving her current limitations, but because living in a world that operated purely off fantasy tropes would require a very different approach to living in one that somehow combined ‘real’ and fantasy logic.
??? — Dilapidated Shack
@Zeroth@ERode@PKMNB0Y
As soon as Petra was placed back onto solid ground, her body automatically reformed itself back into its designated shape. Petra couldn’t help but find the fact that her new body acted without her direct input to be somewhat disconcerting, but she tried not to be bothered by it anyway – if she really thought about it, it wasn’t all that different from the way a human body would right itself while standing or walking, even if it was a fair bit less subtle. If anything, it was probably good to see confirmation the ‘instincts’ she’d crafted for her body would continue working even after she stopped focusing on them.

With the imminent risk of falling apart behind her, and her companions seeming to have acknowledged her as a human – or rather, a former human – Petra turned her attention to the people she shared the space with. She was pretty sure there were two of them by now, though she supposed it was possible that there were others nearby that simply hadn’t spoken or moved yet.

Petra wasn’t shy per se, but she was the type to struggle with getting to know people, rarely bothering to interact with people outside of uni or her close friend group. She had no clue how some people were so easily able to form opinions about others; in her experience seemingly nice people could turn out to be shitty once you got to know them, and she knew well enough about fundamental attribution error to realise that judging people on a bad interaction was silly…

Well, she could say all that, but at the same time she certainly didn’t like being picked up so casually, so fallacious or not, her initial opinion of the person that’d done so wasn’t exactly great. As for the one that’d put her back down, she gave them a slightly better judgement – they had suggested that she might be lying, but that was a technically true statement, so whatever. Petra mentally labelled the pair, ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ respectively. Now she just needed to find four more companions to dub Top, Bottom, Charm and Strange, and she’d have a full set…

Personal musings aside, Petra focused on listening to her companions talk. Rather frustratingly, what passed for her current method of hearing wasn’t very good, and Petra found herself unable to parse a lot of what was said, having to painstakingly piece the gaps in what she could make out through context.

From what she was able to gather, Down seemed to be talking about survival strategies, something Petra hadn’t even considered since waking up in her new body. In hindsight, Petra realised that was an incredibly stupid oversight on her part, both in terms of the fact that she’d just been in a plane accident and had no idea where she was, and because she hadn’t yet tried to figure out what she’d need to do to survive in her new body specifically. Beyond survival, Down observed Petra’s difficulties speaking and suggested she try ‘farting’ to communicate; somewhat crude wording aside, that was actually a decent idea – at least assuming she could actually draw safely gas into her body and expel it without popping or something, that might be a more effective means of communicating than repeatedly slapping herself. Petra’s opinion of Down went up a notch.

There was some more conversation that Petra struggled to make much out of beyond, the worlds “plane”, “world”, and something about “America”. Was he trying to confirm that they were all involved in the accident? She really couldn’t tell with how little she’d been able to hear.

Fuck it, losing her sight or hearing would have been bad enough on its own, but losing both at the same time wasn’t something she was prepared or willing to live with. Risks be damned, the moment she got the time, Petra would look for a way to use the strange new power that let her mess with her biology to improve her hearing. It wasn’t like she hadn’t already used it to perform DIY neurosurgery on herself.

Desperate as she was, however, autosurgury something Petra was willing to rush into, so for the time being, Petra settled for cobbling together a ‘hearing program’, slowly extending a pseudopod into the air, before painstakingly trying to force it to mould itself into a shape like a jackrabbits' ear. Just a few seconds of trying and failing to create a shape even remotely convex was all it took for it to become abundantly clear to Petra that doing so was well and truly beyond her current skill level, and she had to settle for simply flattening the pseudopod out as much as she could without collapsing it. Not long after, Petra sported several new, vaguely leaf shaped, ridges atop her body, that while misshapen enough to give a preschooler’s drawings a run for their money, at least let her 'hear' a little better.

"As f-far as we can tell...we're somewhere that isn't home. I found this, earlier: Status!"
"... Can you see this? Or open your own?"

Status? Petra couldn’t see what the guy was talking about, but that wasn’t exactly a surprise since she couldn’t see at all. Tentatively, Petra spoke the word Down had exclaimed – or slapped the word out, rather – and was surprised when a text box appeared within her otherwise empty ‘field of view’.

Despite video games not really being her thing, Petra wasn’t quite so uncultured as not to recognise the gaminess of the status sheet in front of her. Some part of her felt incredulous at the numbers listed on her screen, the idea that a person's capabilities could be abstracted into just a few numbers not sitting right with her. And what the hell was the Luck stat? People could get lucky, sure, but there was a difference between circumstances lining up to make something subjectively good happen and some kind of ontological luckiness trait; if something like that existed, science would have discovered it a long time ago.

Actually, if she thought about it for a moment, Stats were almost certainly something other than straight representations of her physical and ‘metaphysical’ capacity. Luck aside, she couldn’t think of any reasonable way someone would describe her current body as being exactly as dexterous as it was strong or agile. Petra added Stats to the list of things she’d need to figure out, along with levels, and pretty much everything else on her status sheet for that matter.

Thankfully, while Petra felt less than confident with her own knowledge of gaming culture, at least one of her companions seemed to be well versed in the subject. She still wasn’t sure about how much she wanted to believe things ran off video game logic here – the idea of magic, dragons, elves, and whatever other fantasy tropes possibly existing, was discordant with her understanding of the underlying mechanisms of how the universe worked – but, that said, she’d already seen and even performed several things that very much seemed to be supernatual, so she’d have to throw out at least some of her presuppositions regardless.

Speaking of, Down mentioned something about getting a specail ability being normal for the genre? Sure enough, scanning through her status sheet Petra quickly found a section for Skills, empty save for the lone entry of [Biomancy]. Expanding the Skill and reading its description made it immediately clear that this was the ‘magic’ she’d been performing before. That was yet another thing she’d have to do a deep dive into later – but more importantly for the time being, while it was far from conclusive evidence, it certainly lent a degree of credibility to the idea that this world ran on genre tropes and game logic.

If Down’s predictions about dragons, and adventurer guilds, and demon lords, also turn out to be correct, she’d need to seriously evaluate some of her fundamental beliefs about the way the world worked. Either way, for now, he seemed to be her best bet, both for surviving this mess and for testing just what kind of logic this world ran off, so she’d definitely be following him if she could.

Before that though, there was one other thing on her status sheet that had caught her interest – or at least caught it more than everything else – “Contacts”. Did that mean like contacts on a phone? Would she be able to talk through it? Expanding the Contacts list, Petra found it to be just as empty as the 0 next to it had implied, but that was probably fine, she just needed to find a way to add them. Willing it with all her might just as she had with her magic, Petra waited a second as absolutely nothing happened… Damn it!

“Ad̵d… con̴t̸act… ̸a̶dd… D̸ow̸n̵, U̷p̶… ad̸d…”
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