“Oh, before we go!” Sandi said, running back into the alley and producing a little potted plant with long green leaves studded with red filaments that had accumulated a little drop of liquid at the end. It was a sundew, obviously grown by a human caretaker. In her other hand she carried a handful of stringy black, dead dodder with seed pods hanging off. It looked like it had simply been ripped loose from a tree or something
“This is awesome, thank you!” Garth exclaimed as he inspected them. “Where’d you get these?” He had never expected to get so excited about plants, but life takes you to some strange places.
“Someone brought them in while I was going out the door, so I paid for them. The guild had taken your request down and weren’t going to pay them.”
Garth had assumed they’d dropped his request when they’d kicked him out of the guild in favor of the guy who was a literal bandit, but it still stung. Yeah, I’m sure you guys won’t have any problems with him. Garth was still a little sore about that.
Garth poked the sundew with a finger, allowing Beladia’s mana to flow through him. A long, reedlike stalk grew far up out of the plant, growing buds halfway up before blooming in sequence in a wave of pinkish purple. When he pulled his finger away, he felt a slight tug from the plant’s sticky mucus.
“Pretty!” Sandi’s eyes widened in wonder as the flowers bloomed and died in high speed, becoming seed pods.
“Oh, you haven’t seen this trick yet, have you?” Garth snapped off the stalk and tossed the potted plant aside, letting the clay pot shatter in the alley.
“It’s fine, I got what I need.” Garth said, squeezing a seed pod between thumb and forefinger, releasing a handful of dust-grain sized seed onto his palm. The seed size itself was a problem, so for now, he decided to fold the stalk and store the whole thing in his bandolier rather than let them float around and settle into the cracks between the leather.
Garth did the same with the dodder pods. The dodder seed was a little bigger, but still a bit unmanageable. That taken care of, Garth returned his attention to Sandi, whose eyes were fixed on the sundew he’d trashed. She was frowning, looking a little sad.
“Did you like it?”
“It was pretty, and I spent a lot of money on it.” She said finally, looking back at Garth. “I thought I’d be keeping it to remember you by, actually.”
“Don’t be too sad. I could tell just by touching it that the plant was dying. It would have died in a couple days and broke your heart. Once the power went out in its climate-controlled home, it started going downhill. Carnivorous plants are very finicky.”
“Carnivorous?” she asked.
“Yeah, it lures insects in with sweet nectar on the dewdrops, then wraps around them and eats them…”
Sandi’s brows furrowed, her mouth half open in shock.
“Why are you so…Oh, they’re basically the succubi of the plant world, aren’t they?”
“Poor thing,” she said, kneeling down and looking at the shattered pot on the ground. The sticky leaves of the plant were busted and covered in grit from the alley floor. The entire plant was kind of like a living metaphor for Sandi herself, and he’d trashed it.
“Tell you what.” Garth said, considering his next move. He needed an afternoon to study the first couple chapters of his new spellbooks, set up their escape, and make Brian enough banta grass to tide him over for a few months.
“I’ll make you a better one. One that’ll be tough and hardy so you can take care of it. All I need you to do is get me a small pot for it, and while you’re at it, get a really big pot, ‘cuz I’ve got an idea.”
“Okay!” Sandi said cheerfully, turning to run toward the carpenter’s
“Hold up! Is there anything you need to get from your place?” Garth asked, giving her some money for the pots.
She glanced back down the alley. “Nope.”
This is everything? There was no furniture to speak of, and even her bed wasn’t much more than some covers. She seemed more like an animal that made a den than a civilized creature that needed shelter and furniture. Were Succubi trapdoor spiders or what? Garth realized he knew next to nothing about the inhuman creature in front of him, and he couldn’t take anything for granted. He was woefully underinformed.
Still wanna hit that though, he thought, watching Sandi’s hips glide from side to side as she ran toward Higgurth’s lumber yard. She turned the corner and he got a fleeting glimpse of perfect side-boob.
“Meet me at the market!” He called after her.
Garth stood staring for a moment before he shook his head and got to work.
Carnophage Succubi are a subspecies of Succubi that grew to eat meat rather than mana on the mana scarse island of Go’haa on their native planet. Originally less common than True Succubi, their numbers have eclipsed the former species due to their ability to restrain their hunger. While a true succubi will drain their partner with every coupling, A Carnophage can subsist on farmed livestock, and are therefore less of a threat to both their mates and society as a whole.
All Succubi fall under the Quispario category. However, Carnophage mates tend to live long enough to impregnate them, while true succubi are much less successful.
By their very natures, they enjoy seducing and eating their prey, and this can lead to some trouble with self-control, which is why most Succubi chose Berserker as their class after they joined the Spheres. It may seem counter-intuitive, as the berserker class is famed for it's loss of control, but the Restraint talent granted by the class is actually intended to help men and women who already had trouble controlling their impulses.
There is still a great deal of ignorance surrounding Carnophage Succubi, as they are feared more than their far more lethal kin on account of their size and the grisly manner in which they feed.
Their social mores regarding sex are nonexistent as a result of their breed, but this does not make them evil. They run the gamut of behavior, but tend to respect law and be highly empathetic. This combination of licentiousness and kindess make for an excellent time, as this author can attest. -Exotic Races of the Inner Spheres.
Forestwalk proficiency has reached 25%!
Design Plants proficiency has reached 8%!
Force Armor proficiency has reached 0.5%!
Create Fire proficiency has reached 2%!
Garth leaned against the obelisk with the outpost’s number and founding date in the center of the market, book in his lap, hands on his aching temple. When he started reading Design Plant, it had basically been a post-graduate genetic engineering lesson with a heavy side helping of biochemistry thrown in. And yet somehow, it was far easier to process than Force armor, which simply said to compress mana into a plane of force around himself before using it to pull apart the space around him, creating a wall of nothing. How the hell was he supposed to do that!?
After a few false starts, he eventually got a flickering field of energy around himself, but it was taxing, and broke when subjected to a pebble thrown off the wall. It did prove he could cast spells other than plant magic. Create fire was a lot easier to grok because he already had a pretty good familiarity with how fire worked.
Force Armor was probably a good indicator of how difficult spells were to learn normally, but Garth had, through several twists and turns, become a savant at plant-based spells.
Oh well, work with what you got, I guess. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it was a diverse and handy class of magic. Something that intrigued Garth was how much more difficult Design Plant was than the other plant spells he’d gotten. The people who learned it without aid were probably up shit creek.
It was no wonder Kinetha said the performance was bad. You’d have to hire an expensive specialist rather than learn it yourself. Garth closed the Forestwalk spellbook, resting his eyes and thinking as the evening sun painted the outpost’s walls red. There wasn’t a lot of time left in the day for studying.
The way Garth understood it, to use a rough D&D comparison, all plant based spells had their spell level reduced by 2-3, which was huge. It meant most beginner and intermediate stuff would be easy as pie, while the truly powerful spells were only moderately difficult.
Garth briefly considered what his life would be like if he’d become an apostle of Hastia before he dismissed the idea. Probably would have starved or died of exposure, or perhaps been enslaved. He’d done far too well to have doubts about his patron now.
Speaking of Beladia, he hadn’t seen her in his dreams in a while.
“Garth!” Sandi interrupted Garth’s musing, running toward him with a hastily assembled giant wooden pot about five feet wide. The pot occluded her entire upper body, leaving only the tightly packed jeans visible as she wove nimbly through the crowd. Garth tilted his head, enjoying the view as she stopped in front of him.
She turned and set the pot down, her back arched, pushing her butt up and out, giving him a great view of every contour of her buttcheeks. The lines of her thong lead his eyes down toward…
“Are you doing that on purpose?” Garth asked, rallying his self-control. There was no way that position was comfortable. At least it wouldn’t be for a human. They’d hurt their back in a flat second.
“Maybe,” she said, leaning an elbow on the enormous pot. “You want me to stop?”
“Hell no, you keep that shit up.” Garth said, standing to check out the pot. She’d even gone through the trouble of filling the massive thing with dirt, something that hadn’t occurred to him. The damn thing must have weighed hundreds of pounds, though.
“Alright. I did a proof of concept with a bit of grass, but here comes the real test.”
Garth took out an acorn and tossed it into the pot. People who’d already been staring at them on account of the huge pot gaped as an oak began to creep out of the pot, reaching toward the sky.
He used Control Plants and Beladia’s mana together to split the oak into eight major branches, bending each of them down while preventing the roots from bursting through the pot. The branches bent downwards as they thickened, creaking with the stress as they lifted the pot off the ground. That accomplished, Garth wove a dozen smaller branches into a large mat that he and Sandi’s true body could presumably sit on. Garth even added a nice bucket seat for himself.
It looked like a fifteen foot tall giant spider with a platform on its back, and bushed branches sticking out every which way.
“Whoah!” Sandi said, gaping up at the construction while shielding her eyes from the evening sun. “What’s that gonna do?”
“Hopefully carry us,” Garth said with a shrug. “If not…I guess we’ll have to hoof it.”
“Do this one now!” Sandi said, jumping up and down with a tiny clay pot held out in front of her, stuffed with a bit of dirt.
“Okay, give me a minute.” Garth said, trying to calm her down. He pulled out a seed pod and crushed it lightly between his fingernails, letting six or so tiny seeds out onto his cupped palm. He closed his eyes and tried to feel which one was the healthiest, pinning that one down with his index finger and letting the others roll off his palm.
Garth felt a little silly staring down at the poppy-seed sized black speck on his palm, but ignored it, focusing on his first casting of Design Plant.
The long and short of Design Plant, was deciding how a plant would spend its limited resources. A plant couldn’t be fertile and tough, and move like a sundew. What he really needed was a potted plant that looked and acted like a sundew, but was essentially immortal, so that Sandi could abuse it as much as she wanted. It’s not like they would have a climate controlled room while they were travelling, after all.
Listen up you, you’re going to be an unkillable badass plant, Garth thought, emphasizing unkillable in his mind. The Design Plant spell didn’t make any mention of a mental pep-talk, but Garth figured it might help. When you’re burned, you’re gonna grow back, when you run out of water, you’re just gonna shrug and say, ‘whatever, I can get it from the air’! You’re gonna be a lean, mean surviving machine! When you’re cut in half, there’s gonna be two of you, you feel me?
When society has collapsed again from whatever new apocalypse, and Sandi and I are dust in the wind, you’re gonna be sitting there, immune to the dust bowl, slowly gaining sentience until one day a tribe of half clothed men and women begin to worship you as a god. And you will be a merciful god, teaching them arithmetic and farming.
Well, the long and short is you’ll be tough, okay? Garth stopped letting his train of thought get carried away and got to work.
The first thing Garth did was turn the fertility way down, instructing the seed to be totally infertile, completely unable to reproduce. That freed more resources to put toward surviving adverse conditions. Then he changed the nutrient intake. Carnivorous plants had adapted to terrible soil, so they grew small and couldn’t handle good soil.
Garth went through dozens of alterations, keeping a mental log of each one as he went. Once he had the nutrient intake turned up, he turned the maximum growth size, a related attribute way down, keeping it the same size despite sucking up nutrients from the soil like crazy.
Where would it spend the extra energy? Split evenly between healing wounds and storing energy for droughts, respectively.
On and on it went, the traits a bit slippery and trying to move around on him. When he would raise one, a connected one lowered, but as Garth got the hang of it, they behaved themselves more, allowing him to create something that coudln't be found in nature.
Design Plants proficiency has reached 12%!
After a good ten minutes of silence, Sandi was starting to look nervous.
“Garth?” She asked.
“Hmm?” Garth looked up, seeing her breasts hanging in front of him as she peered into his eyes.
The Vagaries of mana have caused a Critical Success! The spell has outperformed your expectations!
Design Plants proficiency has reached 15%!
The information from his Status band flooded through his mind as he inspected the tiny speck in his hand. A small, damn near indestructible little Sundew seed. His Plant Analysis was telling him the only way it would ever spread is if someone cut it in half, which was good, because it had come out tougher than the worst weed. Garth had even added a dash of tuber, so it could regrow from the roots.
“Here you go,” Garth said, dropping the seed into the tiny pot. With a little jolt of Beladia’s mana, the sundew unfurled, sending elegant mucous studded tendrils out in a pretty star shape.
Garth watched the plant for a moment longer to be sure it wasn’t going to open an eye and look at him, or try and take over the world or some such. It was his first mad scientist creation, and he didn’t want it blowing up in his face spectacularly. That critical success business made him suspicious.