• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 3,433 Views, 736 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 18: Expansion

"OK yeah, looks like the fire is gonna disappear when I release it. Just give me a second."

Rarity turned her camera on the table and got a cleanly squared shot of the tableau before he could dismiss all of the information. He could remember it all now, but it would probably be nice for her to have a reference... Plus, the assorted gems and metals were pretty beautiful like this, caught in the light of flickering flame from dozens of angles.

"Good, good. I will admit the light and heat is quite pleasant, but it's nerve-wracking when I see the tabletop 'smoldering'. Gives me flashbacks to the last time I let Sweetie Belle make breakfast."

"She can't possibly be that bad."

The look she shot him was withering.
"Remember those 'delicious' charcoal snacks I 'found' for you last fall?"

"Oh yeah, those were great! They had this great aftertaste of hay bacooooooh."

"Yes, quite."

Spike was thankful for the clothes, since it gave him a sleeve to pick awkwardly at during the lull in the conversation. The good thing was, maybe he could ask Sweetie for some food, given his own tastes in terms of burnt and ruined food... Or would she mess up at messing up and make him a totally normal plate? Either way, once he was done feeling sorry for Sweetie (and anypony she tried to feed), he still had to clean up after himself. The skill said it just had command words, and if it was anything like his menus then all it should take was to concentrate on the word...

One by one, the flames began to wink out, snuffed from full roar to total absence without so much as ash. He went methodically around, removing all of the lettering before pausing. Rarity noticed the pattern of circles he had left behind, nodded to him happily and took another picture. Next he cleared the dividing lines, until eventually only the actual contents of the Hopeless Case remained.
"There we go! I think that was pretty enlightening across the board, huh?"

"Certainly. Now, you may notice I already took away the case itself."

"Yeah, are you going to put this all away on your own time? Because I'd be glad to clean it up!"

"No, that wasn't my intention Spike. I'd like you to have these."

He choked on his response, looking at the table again. Sure, it had all been things Rarity rejected due to being unusable in fashion, but giving it to him? There were hundreds of pieces, and most of them probably had value for other purposes. And with the things he had Observed she could even reclaim most of them, finally make them work... And she was just going to give it all to him?
"I... really?"

"Really. I wrote these all off as losses long ago, and you have always been able to put gems to better use than I. A dazzling dress is beautiful and selling them can put food on my table. But it doesn't feed a pony the same way that it can for you."

Spike could have said something, maybe tried to argue in favor of her work and its value, but he was just too overwhelmed by the gesture. He nodded silently (afraid his voice would crack if he said anything) and took the pieces into his Inventory. It would have been faster to just sweep it in as one mass, but he wanted to take it one piece at a time, show proper gratitude to his friend for what she was doing. Coincidentally, doing it that way actually sorted them in his inventory as well, applying the 'tags' he had defined with his sorting to the description of each piece. Finally, he swept the last piece in, the one that had been outside all of the other circles.

He hadn't been able to identify it properly, this stone. Metal? Gem? He couldn't tell, and that was probably a big part of why Rarity had never worked on it. He could tell it was hard, maybe indestructible even. At first he had just categorized it with the other incredibly-tough samples. But Observe, even with its levels in the 20s, couldn't tell him anything about it, other than what he could see with mundane vision: It was grey leaning green and slightly translucent, metallic yet gemlike at the same time, with a weird clarity for something so cloudy. It was full of contradictions, and that was intriguing him more than it was worrying him.

"Rarity... Thank you. Sincerely, this is so... I don't really have words."

"Think nothing of it, Spike. I daresay this might be the real purpose of me keeping this little collection, even if I only realized it just now."

He took another look at the strange final piece, rolling it between his claws. Observe failed again, producing only a vague blurry nameplate with no textbox. It wasn't the same as it failing normally... Not that it had ever failed before, but he had a feeling this wouldn't be the way that looked: That would probably look more like his earlier attempt to use the Languages menu, just a bespoke error message pop-up. He decided that would have to wait for later as he slipped the gem up into his Inventory: Maybe he could study it back at the library, or even in Twilight's lab. The stone entered the strange pocket-space effortlessly...

After which, there was nothing but darkness and pain.

A leaden heavy booming THUD as loud as Canterlot's tower bells crushed up and around him, waves of pressure coursing through his body, then another, and a third. There was a sense of floating suspended by razors, his own weight pressing against the sharp edges harder and further with each passing instant. The pressure grew and evolved into something different, worse. Creaking-slithering-shaking-cracking as his forehead hit the floor, claws failing to find purchase even on the Boutique's carpet. He was probably crying.

He heard-and-felt the sounds of something being shredded and torn almost explosively, it crackled in his ears above the dull pulse of his blood. He couldn't see, the only things he could hear were those around and inside him, and his entire body ached worse than he could ever remember. It felt for all the world like his bones were molten, flowing in his body like a liquid. There was a moment of extreme biological uncertainty...

...Then it passed, and he was left uncertainly stable.

Panicking and with no real idea what had just happened, Spike looked around and saw that Rarity was safe. Relieved of that fear, he croaked out the word 'Status' and looked at the screen. His HP was missing a giant chunk... No, wait; the smaller number was the same. The bar was just a lot bigger than it had been a minute ago, some six hundred HP refilling at a steady clip. Yet his stats hadn't changed, so how...


The sound of his own voice was louder and deeper than he expected. As his vision cleared, a few things were apparent. Four things all told, each more concerning than the last. One, Rarity's expression was pleased rather than horrified. Two, his new outfit lay in tatters at his feet. Three, his feet were a lot further away. Finally, there was a line of text floating between his eyes and said feet.

A skill has been created through a special action! Through the continuous accumulation of priceless treasure, a skill to expand your heritage, [Dragon's Hoard], has been created!

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