Making their way out of the kitchen's back exit a minute later (tamale carefully balanced between them), Spike saw exactly what she was talking about: A new shed had been built in the yard, and its doors were wide open to reveal an enormous clay oven, and not much else.
"I've been experimenting with so much foreign food that the Cakes decided I should have a place to do it in! So I saved up the proceeds and they kicked in some as my birthday present, and now I've got my own little mad food-science lab!"
"That shouldn't be as scary as it is, but you are the pony who brought Equestria the concept of a fifth-dimensional sugar sculpture."
"The fifth dimension was flavor!"
A moment after that they slid the leaf-wrapped beast into the oven, and Spike thanked his lucky scales that said scales were, well, lucky: Also heat-proof. That oven was scorching, and if Pinkie noticed she didn't say anything. Instead she just dusted her hooves off, turned, and offered one hoof in his direction. Spike shook it with a smile, honestly glad to have helped and even happier, if a bit selfishly, that he had gotten useful advice. Not to mention new skills, and...
[Legendary Recipe: Zacahuil]
This meter-long shell of flavorful blood-red nixtamalized corn dough surrounds the maker's choice of fillings, providing the normal benefits of all of its contents as well as being able to fully satiate up to 100 citizens of one community, regardless of their hunger or the size of their portions.
Cannot Learn: Insufficient Cooking (30+), Intelligence (15+), and Luck (25+)
Recipe has been saved and will be registered when requirements are met.
And that, apparently. It made sense that his Cooking skill would be able to help him track recipes, and Pinkie had said it was a classical, traditional dish. He wasn't quite sure about the "legendary" bit, but if it really could feed, oh say, a hundred ponies as hungry as Big Mac after a day at work on the Apple farm? It was a fitting title. Even apart from the special properties, his mouth was watering over the idea of taking a big slice of that home later...
"Hey, how long does something this big even take to cook?"
"Oh, I think it's like... Probably eight hours? Could be closer to ten."
"Woof. Good thing I'm going to be busy through the day then. I guess I'll come back and pick some up towards the end of the day?"
"Absolutely! If you make it in time, you'll even get the honor of cutting the first slice!"
"Sweeet. And hey, speaking of slice... This is totally one of those pizza ovens like they have in Canterlot, isn't it?"
Pinkie grinned as she stepped aside to give him a better view of the clay behemoth.
"Abso-dupely! Got it for a song off of a shop that was shutting down so they could move back home: Shame, he was a pretty nice pony, but this is a very nice oven, so it worked out!"
It was an extremely nice oven indeed: Old red clay, solid as a brick (in a very literal sense), stained in some places with soot and age. This thing had character, and given that he lived in a library surrounded with some seriously old books? Spike appreciated character.
"I like it! Maybe pizza next time, huh?"
"Oooh, or popovers!"
Well, if they were suggesting unusual food ideas...
"You know most ponies don't like fish. I kinda do, though. Buuut I thought we were making oven plans! White bean chili?"
"That's not very oven-friendly either."
"Darn. Um, pecan blondie?"
That piqued his interest.
Spike's mouth was watering, so he had to concede now or he'd end up with a second breakfast.
"Throw some ice cream on there and you've got yourself a date. Deal! You've got yourself a deal."
Pinkie fell back in a giggling fit at that, just barely avoiding the oven mere inches behind her. He helped her up despite the blush on his cheeks, both glad and a little annoyed that Gamer's Mind didn't seem to be keeping him from tripping over his words. When the laughter subsided she looked back at him with bright eyes and a faint wry smile.
"Aww Spike, I know what you meant. After all, well..."
Her smile just now was off, and it left a pang in his chest that he didn't quite understand.
"I... OK. Hey, do you mind if I spend some more time with you before I get back to work? I wanted to look over some of the things that I got earlier."
Rather than a verbal reply, Pinkie stepped away from the oven and slid down to the ground, curling herself up in a corner and inviting him to sit nearby. He happily followed, leaning against her (shame there wasn't any furniture out here yet, it was nice and warm by the oven, or maybe that was mostly Pinkie) as he pulled up his Inventory and Skills. It made sense to check on all of this while he was still here with Pinkie, in case he wanted to get any advice on it all. Plus, this was a lot more comfortable than trying to check it all while on the move.
"Let's see here. I got four skills, some quests done, and an item from that quest reward. So..."
[Omphaloskepsis] (Active) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00%
Ever since they gained self-awareness, living things have sought to look inwards for answers to questions, within and without. The answer they found, through great effort, was themselves. To some this would seem self-evident, but so is this skill: The art of self-contemplative meditation.
Increases HP recovery per minute by your WIS while meditating.
Increases MP recovery per minute by your WIS while meditating.
Increases Stamina recovery per minute by your WIS while meditating.
Meditating acts to directly train your HP, MP, Stamina and 'Dragon's' skills.
This one made perfect sense: It was just like Twilight had taught him, explaining that meditation was the act of purifying and centering yourself in the world, and the world in yourself. Practicing it was the same as practicing magic or exercising, only deeper and more personal. She hadn't put it in game terms like this description did, but he was getting used to how his power behaved.
[Dragon's Heart] (Active and Passive) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00% MP: Varies
As a dragon of Equestria, you are just as much magic as flesh. Your nature as a truly magical creature, even in a magical world, enables you to bridge gaps that others cannot. With age and experience, this skill will blur the lines between mundane and mystic even further.
Passively increases STR, DEX, VIT, INT, WIS and LUK by 10%
You may expend MP to further boost your STR, DEX, VIT and HP regeneration.
Precise benefits depend on MP spent.
Meditation can train your HP and Stamina in addition to MP.
This skill will grow with VIT and skill levels, gaining new features over time.
This skill wasn't surprising either. The research and hunting they'd done over the years to try and figure out just what kind of dragon he was had led them to lots and lots of individual dead ends, since even two dragons from the same family could be wildly different. This explanation made it even clearer to Spike, who had never quite grasped the reason before today... Dragons are magic itself, like a pony's Cutie Mark. And if that was the case, they were probably just as unique. Hay, even this Gamer ability might turn out to just be "his" nature as a dragon. He'd have to write that down at some point: It felt like a solid lead.
[Dragon's Mind] (Active and Passive) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00% MP: Varies
The dragons of the Equestrian plane are primal forces, as old as the world itself. Some would even say they are older, predating all other things. Regardless of which is correct, the true age of a dragon lies not in time, but in the mind: Something unique and eternal, tied intrinsically to magic.
You can study and learn the magic of all species, in addition to your natural magic.
You can expend MP to perceive magic and attempt to learn the spells you see.
Meditation can train your 'Dragon's' skills in addition to MP.
This skill will grow with INT and skill levels, gaining new features over time.
Merged Skills: Eidetic Memory
You have true eidetic memory and cannot forget or be caused to forget anything.
Despite the incredible power of meditation, or the insane potential stat bonuses of the Dragon's Heart, it was probably this skill that had the most impact on Spike as he read it. Growing up for literally your whole life around Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle didn't leave you ignorant of how magic worked to say the least... And a lot of it was very complicated on a biological level. Unicorns used their horns to channel power into the world around them, Pegasi guided their magic into the air through limbs and wings, and Earth Ponies were solid loops of self-improving magic that could lash out into nature with a moment's notice, affecting plants and animals alike.
To be able to actually learn those processes, despite not having the body to match? To see them with his eyes, beyond just seeing the magical aura? That was... He couldn't even think of the words. 'Completely bonkers' was one option, as was 'So freaking cool', but they didn't quite have the gravity he needed. Speaking of gravity, he had managed to sink back a little into Pinkie Pie as he read, leaving him much more comfortable. It seemed like she didn't mind, so Spike stayed in that position as he flipped over to his inventory screen to see what that quest reward had been.
[Late Bloomer's Ticket]
Rank: Mythic Consumable
This special pass allows for those with a slow-growing power to surpass their boundaries one time, and one time only, creating a skill, item, or other mark on the world beyond their current potential.
It may only be used once, but the creation born from it is permanent.