• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 3,360 Views, 721 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 13: Correspond

The sun was still high in the sky as Spike found himself back on the main streets of Ponyville. A few hours had passed and he'd gotten a lot done in that time, but there was still plenty on his plate... At this rate today would be the busiest he'd been in months, and that was including a very hectic Winter Wrap Up. He'd gotten years of experience with checklists in that single week, that was for sure... Speaking of lists, it wouldn't be the worst idea to double-check his lists.

> Sort new book shipment (boxes 1-4 in the foyer)
> Serve overdue fines (see List F7)
> Lunch (Hayburg's Hayburgers or Sugar Cube Corner)
> Dinner (wherever I didn't have lunch, I guess)
> Snacks (for Me and Twilight)
> Look at Ponies (titles? levels?)
Free Time
> Visit Rarity (<3)
> Visit Cheerilee + CMC (before class lets out)
> Visit Other Ponies (as needed)
> Hit the Arcade, Look at RPGs (research!)

So out of 19 subquests, Spike had knocked out 9 in the first few hours of his day... mostly the smaller ones. He was nearly done with the "Game" section, which left him hopeful that he'd get a significant reward for doing that whole bundle. As for how to do it, that was another question: He was looking at every pony that passed already, so that one? He'd just have to accept on faith that it would complete eventually. The others he'd already figured out more or less. At this point it was more of a waiting game than something he needed to put more thought into, making it a far cry from his new handful of skills. And speaking of his skills...

There was a pattern to the 'Dragon's' skills, one he had suspected from the first and then all but confirmed with the newest ones. One keyed off of Dexterity, one from Vitality, one from Intelligence. If the pattern held then there were also skills for Strength, Wisdom, and Luck... Plus maybe one or two more overarching it all, come to think of it: A lot of games had bonuses for completing "sets" of items or skills. That would hold up so long as he didn’t get a pattern-breaking skill that wasn’t associated with a statistic or the overall set. At that point? All bets would be off.

So far he had the Claws, the Heart, and the Mind. If he thought about what "normal" dragons had that made them, well, dragons... Scales, definitely. And fire breath: He hadn't even used his today, so that could easily be a skill waiting to happen: It seemed like he only got skills upon using them enough, even if he had a lot of prior practice before this morning. Tail could be another option. Wings maybe, and a weak maybe at that: Even during the 'incident' with his growth spurts he didn't get wings... But he did have a hoard. That made thematic sense for Luck actually, especially if it affected item drops or bit-finding, things that wouldn’t normally exist in real life but fit perfectly to the game logic of his power.

So that would leave Strength and Wisdom... Wisdom made sense for fire breath if you squinted a little... At least for Spike specifically: His breath involved communication. And Strength could be wings, tail, scales, or something else entirely. Bones? He'd heard some chatter about dragon bones being powerful in terms of magic, but they were so rare as to make the conversation moot.

Also they were kind of inside him, which didn't help.

So was his heart though, so that didn't rule bones out as being the skill... But he wasn't exactly excited about what getting that skill would involve. All of those Strength options aside, there was a 0% chance that his breath wasn't going to yield a skill somehow, whether it was part of the cycle or just... Wait. What would it even do?

"Eh, only one way to find out, and I've been meaning to do this anyways."

Halfway between Sugar Cube Corner and his next destination for collecting fines (which was, according to his map, the house of D. Whooves and D. Hooves), Spike took a quick detour and planted himself beneath a sizable tree. Nestling into the shade, he silently withdrew a quill, ink, and some loose parchment from his Inventory and began to draw up a letter to Princess Celestia.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I'm going to skip the usual opening today, since this is kind of a special occasion. I've been experiencing some very strange phenom... things since this morning, and while Twilight was not able to give it any attention (apparently she had business in Canterlot?), it's pretty serious. I can tell you more about it later, but for now I had three questions:

- Can I send you a few random letters and objects from now on? I want to test how this 'thing' is messing with my fire, if it is at all.
- Have you ever seen or heard of a dragon developing a strange power when they got older? It's my pet theory as to 'why this' and 'why now'.
- Do the words 'The Gamer' mean anything to you?

Thank you again!

Ever your faithful subject,
Spike T. Dragon

He ended his half-joking signature with a little caricature of his face with its tongue stuck out, just for emphasis. As far as anypony who actually knew him was concerned, he was just Spike, and that was good enough for him. It was only when official documents and boring medical papers had to get filled out that they ever added anything else, and even then it was usually just "Dragon" as a last name. Having his middle name be "The" was a running joke between him, the Sparkle family, and Celestia after a royal announcer introduced him when he stumbled into the Day Court after a nap. It wasn't like most ponies even used family names like that, but there were expectations when you came from Canterlot or had a reputation: The Sparkles, the Belles, the Pies, the Apples, etc.

After puffing a wave of fire across the letter, Spike kicked back and settled in against the tree... quickly lamenting how it wasn't as comfortable as Pinkie. Still, it was nice to take a break while he waited on a reply. He could relax in the shade, feel the cool spring air, finish off that (fantastic) muffin... Belch up a little green fire and have Celestia's letter already? Yeah, that seemed reasonable. Well no it didn't, but it was what was actually happening. As he spit out the flaming scroll, he felt a thrill up his spine and heard the faint ding of success, but reading the reply was more important than checking the skill.

Dear Spike,

I will dispense with formality myself, although I do hope you are well. Your situation, if I grasp it well enough from what little I could infer, is indeed unique and strange. Twilight is coming soon, so I will speak to her then, but in the meantime here are your answers:

~ Yes, go ahead. I will arrange my reception magic so that everything you send me is set aside until I can view it properly, or dismiss and return it if it seems to be arbitrary practice material.
~ I have indeed noticed that some dragons, maybe even most, come into a unique power as they age. The common theory had been that they were passed down lineally by some rite or ritual, but if you are correct and it is biological, that alone would be a breakthrough.
~ Unless we are referring to my sister by way of her latest obsession-level hobby, I am afraid not.

I wish you the best of luck, Spike, although I must go now. Business awaits, and so I shall get busy.

Your (Princess-Mother-Egg guard-Friend-Confidant-Etc.),
Princess Celestia Invictus

Spike was excited on a few different levels. Celestia had heard of dragons with weird powers, so that was a point in favor of his idea. She didn't know about The Gamer, which was a shame in one way, but at the same time it meant he was probably truly unique. And... back up. 'Twilight is coming soon', she said. That definitely implied that Twilight was going to Celestia's today, but Twilight herself hadn't said anything about it. Weird weird weird... Oh well, he could bring it up when she got home later. And now, with Celestia's permission, he could practice this.

A skill has been created through a special action! Through exuding the flames of dragon-kind, a skill to communicate your heritage, [Dragon's Breath], has been created!

[Dragon's Breath] (Active and Passive) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00% MP: Varies
The breath from a dragon's maw is infused with their magical nature, and this manifests as flame. The color and power of the flame varies from dragon to dragon, but it is said that those who dare can learn to harness colors beyond their nature. Dragonfire of any color represents solutions spoken and answers enacted: It is the embodiment of wise decision-making.

Allows the user to breathe fire. Damage, range, spread, and duration vary based on MP spent.
Allows the user to expose themselves to certain conditions in order to learn new colors of flame.
Allows the user to breathe 'things that are not fire' based on their elemental affinities.

This skill will grow with WIS and skill levels, gaining new features over time.
Known Colors: Pure Orange Flame, Green Sending-Fire

[Green Sending-Fire] (Subskill) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00% MP: Varies
The fire associated with the ancient elder Vorvadoss, lord and master of dimensional spaces. This flame "sends" away that which it burns, acting as everything from communication to transportation to an incredible defense. To those with an innate tie to the Green, their fire may even act as an exit portal for items sent by other kinds of magic.

Items burnt by your green fire may be sent to any destination within 100 yards.
Items burnt by your green fire may be sent to any registered target. (Current Max: 1)
Those who know the proper spells or abilities can attempt to send green fire to you in return.
You may access the MAIL subsystem to deliver, receive, and manage letters and packages.

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