• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 3,440 Views, 741 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."

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Chapter 19: Correction

"Oh good, it worked!"

There would be a time for parsing that eventually. That time was not now. At this point Spike was just scrambling to clear his head and find a mirror, ideally in that order. It seemed like no matter how harsh the sudden changes had been, Gamer's Body was dulling (removing?) the pain faster than could ever be natural... Which was nice. Less nice was the fact that most of the mirrors in the Boutique currently seemed too short for him to use. He was looking over their tops... it felt weird. Helplessly unsure of what to do, he stood very still to avoid damaging anything.
"A, uh, a little help please?"

Rarity tilted one of the tall dressing mirrors to face him, quickly pulling two more to the sides to give him a roundabout view of his new situation. He stood so tall that he quickly dropped to all fours out of some kind of vertiginous instinct. He was soon shocked to realize that even in that pony-like pose, he basically struck Celestia's own figure. He was massive, towering over Rarity like a full-grown stallion over a filly, or an alicorn over their subjects... Standing on his hind limbs like usual would easily put him at six feet if not seven at the head, not to say anything of his spikes and spines, or his tail (which twitched and roiled behind him impatiently), or...

His train of thought was cut off by the sensation of a light shiver at his side, like an insect or some other random brush against his scales. He quickly swatted it away with one claw, leaving Rarity to pout at the shredded length of measuring tape floating in her magic. He gaped and stumbled to apologize, but she just shook her head, tossing the tape unceremoniously into a basket of cut ends nearby.
"Nono, that's quite alright: I used a cheap one on purpose, darling."

He nodded without thinking, and then paused. Thought back over the last few minutes...
"Speaking of on purpose... You said 'it worked' when this... this-ed. Please tell me you didn't."

"Well, it would be very misleading to say I had no idea going into it. And just look at the results!"

She did. She'd just... done this. Again. On purpose. Deep breaths. Just... explain things. His head was awash with a lot of different feelings right now, but at the core of it there was a kind of annoyed heat he wasn't used to. He tried to push that to the back of his mind as Rarity looked on, but even still, his voice dripped with unfamiliar venom.
"Yeah, look at them. I mean, hay, I'm as big as Celestia right now!"

"I daresay you are, although I don't have her measurements on hoof..."

"Yup, just like her! And hay, She only knows how easy it is to use doors made for regular ponies."

"Ah, I-"

"Not to mention sitting down, using tables, basically every piece of furniture come to think of it... Oh, beds! You know, I have a bed. Had a bed, past tense, considering what would happen if I tried to take a nap in it right now!"

"Admittedly that could-"

"And of course I blew that outfit into tatters, so that was a nice waste of time for both of us. Sure, you did it for me as a favor and I'm grateful, but you could have warned me if you thought this might happen."

"Yes, I-"

"Speaking of warnings, did you stop and think that this might be permanent? I can't turn passive skills off! It's possible you just got me stuck like this forever."

That left her grasping for a reply, and him out of steam. He wasn't... he didn't feel any differently about her after that explosion, and he wasn't so angry as to try and make this into an extended argument. It just felt like he had to let off some pressure, because Gamer's Mind or not? This was unsettling. He was too big, unable to adjust to the space around him, and it was already coming across in his attitude and actions. Ever since he saw his reflection he'd been staying very still, doing his absolute best not to break more things than he already had. Between the outfit and the measuring tape he had caused more damage in three minutes than he had all day before this.

He just felt... off. Even though he should be a lot angrier at the idea of being permanently stuck as a monster among ponies (moreso than before), he mostly said it... Simply because it was true, without any serious anger or investment behind it. Was it because he didn't think that permanence was likely? Or did it come down to the Gamer's Mind stilling his reactions? Either way, he had to know...

[Dragon's Hoard] (Active and Passive) Lv 1 EXP: 0.00% MP: Varies
One of the greatest weaknesses and strengths of the draconic race is their growth. Tied not to biology but instead to their dominion, their ownership, their hoard... They can grow nearly without limit, but they do not grow at all without acquiring new things, and to lose their holdings is to lose, in a very serious way, a part of themselves.

The user's size category and physical maturity are based on the size of their Hoard.
The user may selectively change the composition of their Hoard from a suite of options.
The user may selectively ignore some of their Hoard in order to take on a more manageable form.
At low skill levels, adjusting size is slow and can lead to pain, loss of health, and status effects.

This skill will grow with LUK and skill levels, gaining new features over time.

Current Hoard: Precious Stones and Metals
Current Control: Within 10% of maximum value (6'3"-5'8" claw to crown, for current hoard)

Rarity's hoof scuffed across the carpet as she spoke, refusing to make eye contact.
"Spike... I admit that I may have been rash, even deceptive, in how I behaved. I hadn't thought about the consequences and for that, I certainly apologize. I suppose it was just... an appealing idea, to help you make progress! Twilight has mentioned to me that you seemed, especially in this last year... dissatisfied with your, ah, growth."

He winced, thinking back to all the times he had complained about his height or his perceived maturity. Owlowiscious had to handle all of the high shelves unless he felt like breaking out the ladder, Twilight's levitation often made even that moot, he couldn't haul back most of the gems he helped Rarity find... There had been plenty of signs that he wanted to be bigger and better, he'd said as much more than once. 'If only I weren't so small!' or 'When am I going to get to grow up?' and such. One time he’d even been talking with Shining after a long night of gaming, and asked 'Why isn't my body catching up to my brain?'

"I'm... I'm sorry too. I snapped at you pretty hard, and while this might be an inconvenience for a while, it turns out I can control it... At least, I can control it enough. I got angry without making sure the anger was really justified. So I guess we're even?"

She looked back to him with a weak smile.
"Completely, dear."

"Alright. Good. Good! Now I can just figure this new skill out, and see how close I can get back to my original size. Then I can work upwards from there and hit somewhere comfortable... Think of this as an opportunity."

Flipping open his Status revealed that he had a new section up with his HP and MP, describing his size and age as well as their impact on his stats. Apparently the 'rules' treated it as an intrinsic enhancement, separate from his base stats and from any other buffs. Being this large was granting significant bonuses to his strength, vitality, and health... at the cost of movement speed, manual dexterity, and reaction time. It made sense: After all, right now he was pushing past eight feet from tail to tip, and standing like he usually did put him over six feet. Getting back down to his original size of three-and-a-bit would require figuring out this new menu...

Which should be pretty easy, a realization that came with a simultaneous sigh of relief. He had been worried about all the games with weird methods of adjusting inventories and categories, thinking about games like Bandit and Gridslash with their arcane keyboard controls the size of an entire cabinet's front shelf... But his option here was just a clean drop-down list, fitting the ultra-modern aesthetic of all of his other menus. It even listed his potential height range next to each option, an extra layer of convenience. Right now, getting back to where he wanted to be would take...

His claw hovered over one option in particular. It was more than his original height even at the lowest end of the range, but he did want to express some growth now that he had the chance. More importantly it was a good kind of hoard. It was one that he didn't adjust too often, one that had nothing to do with greed. If anything, it was the very opposite! Without debate he clicked the option and gritted his teeth against the (lesser, but still significant) heated pain of shrinking and warping back down into a smaller form. Adjusting was going to be difficult and he'd have to explain his growth spurt to others, but this was... good.

Current Hoard: Friends and Loved Ones (4'2"-3'9" claw to crown)

He could have been annoyed at the power valuing his friends so much lower than a pile of rocks, but the truth was? It felt more like his friends were coming through for him when he really needed it. None of his other options came close to hitting the right height range, and with a little training he could get the skill to put him back the way he was using this hoard... If he wanted to. Sure, he'd yelled about the inconveniences of height with Rarity, but that was talking about absurd measurements, when he was as tall as a Princess. Right now he was just... a bit taller, and a bit slimmer. If somepony didn't know any better it would just look like he was taking up a new posture, or that he'd had a growth spurt since the last time they met... Which wasn't wrong. No, he could get used to this.

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