• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 3,451 Views, 750 Comments

Spike of All Trades - Ariamaki

"Wouldn't it be great if life were like a game?", some people ask. Spike can definitively answer... "Maybe."

  • ...

Chapter 10: Acquisitions

When Spike finished tracing the routes of his nerves, veins, muscles and other systems, the air was filled with a faint cacophony of dinging and a thick miasma of delicious odors. The slightly bitter caramel tang of golden-hot onions, the earthy blast of peppers exposed directly to flame, the mellow butter of deep browned garlic, all of it flew around and knit itself into a scent of perfection. That seemed right, to his calm and centered mind. That was good. That...
"That smells really freakin' awesome! What... Wait, what did... Oh crap Pinkie, I didn't mean to zone out like that!"

"No worries Spike! You seemed super busy making all of those boxes come out, so I just left you to it and started on the veggies!"

"I still... Boxes? OH GEEZ BOXES."

A skill has been created through a special action! Through precise self-observation, a skill to know the inner world, [Omphaloskepsis], has been created!

A skill has been created through a special action! Through knowing your own self to be true, a skill to embody your heritage, [Dragon's Heart], has been created!

A skill has been created through a special action! Through absorbing the lessons of a mental master, a skill to remember everything, [Eidetic Memory], has been created!

A skill has been created through a special action! Through acquiring flawless recall, a skill to learn your heritage, [Dragon's Mind], has been created!
This has consumed [Eidetic Memory]

> Work on Observe
Reward: You gain a level of Observe without raising its XP requirements

> Talk to Pinkie about The Gamer
Reward: Being exposed to {ERROR} has led to the acquisition of a special reward!
Unlocker x?, Late Bloomer's Ticket x1

On top of that shocking mess, he saw a good twenty or so level-up boxes and notifications across all of those skills, and Observe for good measure. Spike was stunned back into stillness, eyes trying to draw it all in at once, until eventually he just hammered his attention against the "close" buttons on every single window, deciding to figure all of that out later. He had just wasted a bunch of his friend's time staring into space and worrying about his own problems... Not cool.

"Awww, no more boxes."

"Yeah, we can look at the boxes later. Late... Oh man, how long was I out for?"

"Hour-ish! And a half-ish. And seven minutes-ish. And-"

Spike quickly waved his claws, trying to take in his surroundings beyond the confusion.
"No, I get it, that makes sense. Well, it doesn't, but I'm just trying not to like, hyperventilate here."

The kitchen looked totally fine, and Pinkie had clearly been working around him as she prepared pan after pot after large casserole full of various lightly-seared and deeply roasted vegetables. The light from outside was coming in at a bit of a higher angle than before, and the clock agreed with Pinkie: So did his 'system' time, which cinched it. He really had just... turbo-slept? Power-meditated? Explosively napped? Blown through ninety-seven minutes standing in a kitchen... Not even his kitchen!

...Yes, his kitchen: after an exhausting month of arguments, Twilight had ceded that section of the place entirely to Spike, citing his insistence on making so much spicy food. He had a feeling it was actually all the quesadillas and the quatro-queso dip. In return for that conciliatory gesture, he had to forfeit his section of basement so she could convert it into more lab. Long run? Totally worth it.

Digressions aside, that still left him down on time, up on confusion, and kinda neutral on the 'friends helped' index. At least one of those he could fix right now.
"Pinkie, is there anything I can do other than stand here? I kinda feel bad about conking out."

"No sweat! Although I could use somepony to sweat these onions. So... some sweat, please?"

"On it!"

Spike moved over to the pan and went to it, while Pinkie went back to the dough they had formed earlier and began turning it out onto a massive blanket of those thick banana leaves. Their work continued in a peaceful silence for a few minutes until Pinkie wound up at his end of the leaves. He kept working over the onions as she approached, only stopping when she tapped his scales gently with one hoof.
"You doing alright?"

"Yeah, they're not quite caramelizing yet so I think I'm in the clear. Heh, clear, sweating onions, good one me. Just another minute or-"

Pinkie's voice took on an unexpectedly serious tone.
"Spiike, that's not what I meant and you know it. Are you doing alright with... Everything you've told me? Because if it just started this morning, you must have been running yourself ragged thinking about it all."

"Even if I weren't, I think I'd be OK: Remember, I told you I started out with some skills? The 'Gamer's Mind' means I'm totally immune to mental effects. I don't know if that counts, like, normal worry or stress or whatever, but it really seems like it. I still feel them, but they don't affect me."

"...Alright. I'll take your word for it. But I bet you didn't come to me just for delicious food, cooking experience, and a shoulder to vent on, did ya Spike?"

He whistled nonchalantly as he stirred the onions around the pan, keeping them moving.
"Well, I wouldn't mind having a friend to give me advice on the stranger side of all this. But even if I want that, what pony could possibly wrap her head around all this, take it at face value, and love games at least as much as me? Turns out I knew just the mare, and so here I am."

She slung one hoof around his shoulder and squeezed him in a somewhat-lingering hug.
"It means a lot that you came to me first, Spike. And of course I'll help you. In fact, I had a great idea while you were birthing all those boxes!"

"I oppose that concept and regret having that mental image. Deeply regret."

"That was the plaaan~! But seriously: Do what I'm doing!"

"Make some kind of enormous mockery of the concept of the tamale?"

"Hey! The zacahuil is a classic Minotauri dish, and I worked very hard to learn the recipe. I had to mix it up a bit for pony palates, but still. It's tradition."

"Really? Fair, in that case. OK, what else are you doing... Be almost comically neon pink?"

"It would look good on you, but no."

He pulled the onions off the heat and turned, theatrically scritching his claws along his chin.
"Well, I'm stumped."

Pinkie whipped a sheet of paper out from (mumble) and flourished it proudly.
"My character!"

"...The one for Shining's game?"


"The one you never showed me or told me about until now?"

A small bead of sweat dripped down her forehead as she glanced around nervously.

"For a campaign that hasn't even happened yet, so there's not a chance anypony else told me either?"

"...Aw, dangit. I thought I had been really clever there, but that was just one of those dumb puzzles where you can't see the answer. Sorry about that Spike."

"Eh, no worries: It was still a funny setup. So, what is your character idea?"

She tilted the sheet in his direction, preferring to speak with actions instead of words this time. Spike Observe'd it out of habit and then read it properly, ignoring the skill popup entirely: It was more for the experience than the info right now. A moderate score in all stats across the board, a gigantic spread of random skills, a passel of utility powers and buffing abilities... It didn't look like this character would be able to do anything. He turned back to Pinkie in confusion.
"I still don't think I get it."

"I help! And that's it. I'm just a big ol' walking Assist Other bonus slapped onto some health and a little pool of spells. I even took a bardic instrument that's made up of every other instrument in the book strapped together with Adventurer's Adhesive so that I always have the right tune on hoof!"

He was still a bit skeptical, although the character idea definitely suited her.
"And you think that's what I should do?"

"Well, it doesn't have to be that exactly! But think about it: Everypony has a special talent, and everypony has something they're really good at. But it doesn't look like you have any kind of limit on what you're doing. I bet you could do pretty well at everything."

"Heh. Be a Spike of all trades, sort of thing?"

Pinkie whipped around and looked up and off into the distance, eyes disconcertingly wide.
"Oooh, title drop! That's sneaky."



He caught himself before being totally lost in thought, but the idea was pretty appealing.
"It does make a lot of sense... It's not like I could go toe-to-hoof with most ponies in their special talent even if my power let me do some crazy things and I spent a lot of time practicing. So why not just take advantage of it turning everything into a skill and letting me level anything with XP, and run with it? Thanks, Pinkie: that actually helps a lot!"

Her smile was brilliant and a bit goofy as she trotted closer to him.
"Think nothing of it, Spike! Here, help me dump all this squash in. To celebrate!"

All of the various browned and glazed and burnt vegetables had gone into creating sauces, glazes and seasonings for these cubes and chunks of butternut squash: He could practically feel the fantastic barbecue-esque scent rolling off of them as they poured pan after pan into the tamale. That was followed up with pan-loads of fresh onions and peppers, as well as the occasional clove of garlic dotted along the pony-length of red corn dough.
"Huzzah! Now we just need to finish wrapping it up, seal it real good, and then get it into my new oven out back!"

"You have a new oven?"

The look she shot him could probably have cooked a meal with its sheer sarcasm.
"Does anything in this kitchen look like it could hold or cook a tamale the size of my body?"


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