• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 3,427 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 5: Shaving

First things done first, of course: What could he handle fastest? Making the beds was trivial, but he wanted to give the eggs time to warm up out of the fridge for breakfast, so... Food preparation. Eggs out and on the counter, chives too. Parmesan (from the pantry) and cheddar (fridge) came out, some spices from the rack, two pots went down on the stove: Milk and butter. He could leave all of this for a few minutes, which was more than enough time to take care of upstairs chores.

See, Twilight wasn't exactly an absent-minded professor stereotype, but it got close some days, and so Spike had gotten very used to doing the chores and cooking whenever possible. Especially over the last two years, she had relied on him more and more until eventually he barred her from the laundry room entirely: Organization was neat (heh) and all, but socks did not need filing. The nice thing was that today wasn't a laundry day, so all he'd have to do was the beds... And they were already done by the time his thoughts caught up to his claws. It helped quite a bit that neither of them was a nervous move-around-all-the-time sleeper (anymore).

In the back of his head, he could feel rather than see the sensation of one of his objectives being marked off. There was no reward to go with it, but that was to be expected: The simplest items on the list were probably just parts of a whole, instead of having any real impact on their own. A lot of the missions in games like Unicorn Alley worked that way, with the payoff being at each big step.

> Make beds

Beds taken care of, dishes not dirtied yet, too little time to do the boxes... Although there was enough time for him to mutter a quick "Observe" at each one of the containers, practicing his whispering and his skill at the same time. According to the skill readouts, it looked like they were all low-cost (but decent quality) copies of magic-related textbooks, split up into a box each for the three pony races and then a fourth 'general' box. That would be for Twilight's new education wing, then. He could take care of that after breakfast, get everything done at the library in one swoop, and then head out into Ponyville for the rest of the day.

Back in the kitchen, Spike stopped and took a deep breath. This was, if not his favorite place in the Library, definitely in the top three. Despite catching flak for it sometimes, he enjoyed cooking and every related thing. There was something very cool and kinda awesome, about making things everypony relied on to get by each day. With that in mind, he continued his original plan: A super-duper cheesy breakfast souffle! A little extravagant, sure, but he could afford to spend some time on it, especially since he was multitasking. With a little fake Prench accent, he began narrating his own cooking to a nonexistent audience, spamming his lone active skill all the while.

"Observe as I take this spare butter and use it to grease up a nice one-serving dish. Then I'll Observe with care to coat all that butter in delicious parmesan without letting any spill. Off that goes to the... Yes, the freezer! Very Observeant of you. And you can Observe that I've already heated the butter and the milk, and I can start adding the spices to the butter. Soon we'll Observe the milk and butter getting combined, but first I'll beat the egg yolks, get them nice and smooth... There we go!"

It was a contrived way to do things, but he had fun trying to mix the term in to every step of the process. Eventually he hit a point, somewhere between tempering the yolks and whipping the whites, where he had to start just saying "Observe" over and over until he sounded like a broken record. But that only lasted a minute or so, because then he was folding the whites in, filling the souffle dish, and scooting it all into the oven.

"Let's see here..."
He went to clear his view of the various pop-ups that had appeared while he was working. Level up boxes for Observe, a good four or five of those (its growth had started to slow down even as he used it more), and... Oh wow, he had wondered what that flurry of smaller boxes had been...

By [Cooking] without the skill, your Mastery increases by 10%
By [Cooking] without the skill, your Mastery increases by 10%
By [Cooking] without the skill, your Mastery increases by 10%

And on and on like that, until he hit 100%, gained the Cooking skill, and then a solid three levels in it to boot. Apparently starting off with such a hoity-toity recipe had been worth it, speeding up the process of creating... A skill for Cooking. Spike was already pretty confident in his food game, but had a feeling it was going to be a lot more literal in the future, not to mention even better. One day his muffins would induce fear and respect among all who witnessed their buttery glory.

"Heh, I slay me. OK, that takes like half an hour to bake, and the quest didn't update, so I guess the food has to be finished for it to count? Or eaten. Either way, I can go manage those books."
Snipping open the tape with his claws was easy: They may not have looked it, but the tips were wicked-sharp. Made some things a lot harder, but it was nice to have his own tools. Actually... Tools, or weapons? Or both? Whatever they counted as, maybe he could get a skill for them.

"...OK books, you're going to have to wait. I've got a date with some leftover gems. Ooooh man, come to think of it, shaved citrine would be fantastic on my breakfast! Two birds one stone, heh."

A trip over to his gem stash, and then a brief shrug before he tipped the entire thing into his Inventory. The gems automatically sorted themselves out into separate stacks by grade and color, which was cool... Unfortunately, it also made it a bit of a mess, since these were mostly castoff gems that weren't worth keeping or giving to Rarity. A little searching for crisp orange-yellow led to him finally finding the main stack of citrines and withdrawing one. Problems or not, at least his inventory made it easy to split stacks up like that.

Now for the hard part. Letting the tip of his tongue dangle out one corner of his mouth, he squinted at the gem in deep concentration. Before he carved, he should see what he could learn with his newly-levelled skill.

A quartz variant with a brilliant yellow luster. Like all Equestrian gemstones, it comes straight out of the ground in a simple cut and polish (in this case, radiant cut with a clean finish). This stone in specific is of decent quality, not good enough for jewelry yet bearing very few major flaws.

After the description, there was a brief list of what he guessed were chemicals or elements in the stone, and a vague summary of where the biggest single flaw was. That would be useful if he wanted to destroy it, he guessed, but his goal was a little more controlled.

Gripping the gem in one clutched claw, Spike slowly rotated it against one edge of his other claw. He did this a lot when Rarity needed specific cuts or thin little scraps of gem to make some of her more flexible outfits, and whenever he wanted a good snack. That was casual, however: Now he was focusing hard on the action, trying to clearly see if this could get him a skill.

It was slow going, since he was making an effort to think about the process instead of just doing it by rote. By the time the entire gem was whittled into a few dozen pieces of varying thickness, he hadn't gotten anything... But the biggest chunk of it contained what his Observation told him was the gem's most significant flaw, and now it was very close to the surface.

"Here goes nothing..."

Author's Note:

Early publish of the next chapter to celebrate the ol' frontpage reappearance. :V

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