There was a change. A ripple. A discontinuity. A singularity.
None of those words were exactly right, but there were no words for the profound sensation of difference that rippled through me.
I blinked, and too many eyes blinked together. I tried to breathe, and found that I not only couldn’t, I didn’t need to. And strangest of all, superimposed on the confusing shatter of images, but completely independent of any of them, I could see Day 1.
It was just too much. It wasn’t so much panic, or fear, as just too much different, and the mind simply refused for a time.
Eventually, slowly, I managed to put the absurd lot of visual input into good order. It seemed I had many eyes this time, not just the usual two, and I was able to puzzle out something of the situation I was in.
There was an outside. A wooded slope down, with details obscured by branches and leaves. A steep rock face up, reaching to towering, snow-capped peaks, immensely far away. And a rough cave entrance, to an inside.
The inside seemed to be worked, the walls smooth, and the floor clear. But this was not entirely accurate, because proprioception still functioned, to some extent, and some of those walls were me, not just passages cut into rock. The sense of self was fuzzy, but eventually led to one of the few rooms, where there was a grey crystal growing from the floor. That seemed to be the most me, and was one of the vision sources.
And there was a red crystal next to it, the pieces freshly broken where it had been shattered, which I didn’t like at all. If I was one, had someone else just died there? If died was the word. I wasn’t fully certain what had happened, with my memory muddled like that. Just that what I was now was...a thing in a cave.
I spotted my eyes, eventually, camouflaged as whorls of stone. So that was one thing. But there was also the overlay, which was not from any of my eyes. So, Day 2. That meant I’d lost an entire day to some sort of fugue, which was the least of my worries, but I also had some sort of external entity broadcasting into my head, or closest equivalent, which was maybe high up on the list.
I didn’t have any hands, or anything, and it was fortunate my new body didn’t seem to have panic hormones because that would have been an issue, but I could focus. So focus I did, trying to discern anything I could from the overlay. Which changed.
Dungeon Level 0
Core HP 1/1
Well. That was different. That was a statblock, my statblock, since I’d already counted the eyes, though not for any game I was familiar with. I didn’t have a good explanation for it, but after considering it for a minute or three, decided an explanation wasn’t important. It existed, and that one hitpoint concerned me greatly.
As did the shattered crystal next to me.
The far wall of the chamber I was in had been destroyed, the rubble attested to that much, so I could invent very easily a scenario where someone came looking, knocked in a wall, and broke the crystal. And now that the wall was destroyed, there was a clear path all the way to the outdoors if someone else came looking. And not much I could do about it. Possibly.
I switched back to the overlay, examining it with mental pokes and prods. And a few bits of extra information revealed themselves.
Eyes provided vision, that much was clear. According to the overlay, roots dissolved stone, providing the stone resource and expanding usable area. Some tests and internal assessment located them at the rear of my chamber. And most importantly of all, I found a way to shift the overlay into a build/reclaim menu.
Okay. Now I had some tiny idea of things, though not much of one. No whys answered, or hows, or whats. But I could at least manipulate my environment a bit.
Architecture, Traps, Bait, Features, Breeding.
The last one was so strange it seemed out of place, and I skipped to that one first. It only had one entry, a breeding station, costing a hundred biomass, and only stating that it was for breeding monsters. That was weird and uncomfortable and something I’d rather put off. But I did want to block off my crystal, and as I’d figured I found it under Architecture. Browsing the other tabs, under Features I found eyes, roots, and digesters, and Traps had simply sticky and spike traps. Not much on offer, but it was a start.
First came a bunch of roots under the crystal chamber, depleting my biomass stocks. I wished I could move that crystal, because I would like nothing better than to put it on a different level than the initial one, just in case. I didn’t know what exactly inspired that paranoia other than the broken pieces of maybe-something-like-me, but it was there nonetheless. I could feel them emerge from the ‘stone’ of the chamber into genuine rock. Then I bought a wall, which I watched grow in place with some bemusement, until it was firmly and flawlessly flush with the previous one. Which, from the outside, meant now that there was just an L-shaped corridor, leading nowhere.
Then, logically, there were bait, traps, and digesters. Bait itself came in fruit and meat varieties, fruit costing a single biomass and meat costing five times that. I eyed my corridor and decided that, what the hell, see if the logic worked. Placing bait was a matter of deciding where and then, of its own accord, a pitch-black tendril sprouted from the stone, growing fat before peeling away to reveal a pile of berries. The tendril itself vanished to nothing.
In front of the bait I put a sticky trap on the floor, and spike traps on the walls. Those, I was pleased to see, did not look like much. Faint softening of the floor’s stone, faint tracery of lines in the walls. And then I was down to all of three biomass, enough for a digester, and nothing to do with the stone I had. Nothing to do but wait.