Chapter Twenty Four – A New Sense
She held me for a long time. I pulled away eventually, wishing for things I couldn’t have: Bugbear with me, growling his little growls, the rest of my lost family with me and able to understand me, Red Thorn stabbed a few dozen times with her thrice-cursed dagger.
“Are you feeling a little better?” Amy asked, when I’d finally calmed down. I wished I understood all these new feelings. I’d never been quite so emotional in my old body. Was that… part of being a player?
I wished Miss Tutorial would show up and explain things to me, but… maybe Amy would be better at that anyway.
“I think so,” I hiccupped. “Sorry. I just… haven’t ever met someone who was kind to me before. I’m still waiting for the dagger to fall, or for you to pull out magic nets and try to lock me in a horn,” I told her, distressed.
“We’re… not going to do that, Gell,” Iron said. “I don’t really know how much we can, but I think Amy will stand by me when I say we’d like to help you.”
Amy turned up to look at Iron with a fond look. “He’s right, Gell. We’d love to help you get on your feet. I would like to know a little more about your paren–!”
“We were actually just about to eat. It’s nothing much but would you like some food?” Iron interrupted, as he plopped down on the grass and pulled out a bag that looked a lot like mine.
There was a short interchange of expressions between them. Amy glared, then Iron cocked his head strangely, and Amy’s glare subsided. I watched all this in fascination. Was it possible to talk without actually talking? What had I just missed between the two?
Iron opened his bag and pulled out two platters of… I could only call them lumps of color. There were white bitlets that were all packed together like little thin pebbles. Green things that looked like miniature trees, and a lump of brown that strange distortions in the air were floating off of. They looked sort of like clear torch-smoke, but dissipated into the air much faster than smoke did. I’d never seen it before, but I realized that it was steam. The lumps smelled heavenly.
I immediately wanted whatever that was.
“Eating in this world is silly sometimes. An indulgence, and the tastes are never quite right, but when you get to be our age, you can’t really enjoy all the steaks and candies and cookies anymore. Fortunately, in-game food is most of the taste with none of those pesky diabetes problems creeping in,” Amy said with a smile towards Iron.
“...huh?” I asked, realizing that my eyes hadn’t once left the plate of lumps, bits, and trees.
“Sorry. I ramble sometimes. You have my plate. You look like you’ve never seen steak and broccoli before!” Amy said with a laugh.
“I… haven’t. Is that what that is? A… A steak-and-broccoli? Why does it smell so good?” I asked, edging closer. “Is it dangerous?”
“Hah, No! It’s food! What, you've never had food before?” Iron laughed.
“I didn’t even have a mouth until yesterday!” I exclaimed, meeting his excited tone with one of my own.
He stared at me, but my focus was entirely on the steak-and-broccoli. I crept closer until I was sitting above the plate, trying to figure out what to do with it.
Amy had crept over to Iron just as surreptitiously as I had advanced on her plate and was now casually snatching the trees off of his meal. He glared at her, then rolled his eyes and turned the plate so the trees were facing her, and she beamed delightedly before snatching another and popping it into her mouth.
I reached down and picked up the green thing. So… I was supposed to eat it?
I put the green thing to my tongue and chomped down on the leafy part, leaving the stem behind. A surge of… of… goodness spread throughout my mouth and down my body into my brain. Everything about this body loved what I’d just given to it.
I… felt a little weird. I’d never even had the capacity for these sensations before. Thus far though, most things about being an invader had been positive. I’d met Amy and Iron. And Miss Tutorial. I’d seen the sky and escaped Dungeon Home. The only thing I should regret was my loss of flight, but even that didn’t compare to this new sensation. Taste!
Should I be rewarded for breaking the rules? Was that really how this world worked? Because it seemed that the world was actually rewarding me for what I’d done to Momma Bossbear. I hated that… but that didn’t stop me from taking another bite.
I moaned, and garbled another. The bitlets and the brown lump remained untouched until I saw Iron waving at me to get my attention.
“Whoa, whoa, slow down! You’ve got to enjoy it a little!” Iron said.
“But it’s…mmmph… so good!” I exclaimed. “Steak-and-Broccoli! What is it? Where did it come from?”
“The market! You can buy all sorts of different foods from markets in the towns or cities. We were actually going to head back to town today. Iron makes money as a carpenter in Variak, a city far to the south of here,” Amy said enthusiastically.
Towns and Cities. Huge gathering places of adventurers that were hubs of living and working people. I knew what they were and immediately wanted to see one.
“Can I… go to one?” I asked.
“You’ve never been to one? New players start out in a city, so you had to have seen one at some point,” Iron said between bites of food.
I shook my head. “No. I’ve only ever seen Dungeon Home, but I want to see a city! Actually, that’s something I’ve been hoping to ask for a long time now. What are… En Pee Sees? Someone once told me they were in cities.”
I picked up the utensils and held them as close to how Iron was holding his as I could. It didn’t work though, and I fumbled the knife when the steak slid around out from under it.
“You’ve got to stab into the steak so it’ll stay in place, Gell. Then you can cut it with the knife. Like this, see?” Iron said as he cut the steak easily. “NPCs? Well. They’re… quest-givers. Uhm. People who are part of this world. They don’t leave, like we do.”
“So… I guess that makes me an NPC?” I asked idly.
“Uhm… no you’re…” Amy said, but trailed off as she watched me struggle.
I tried again, this time stabbing the steak with the fork. I managed to cut off a piece of the brown lump and moved to stab the newly cut piece, only to realize I’d picked up the entire remainder of the steak! Uggghhh! This was too complicated!
“Can I just eat it with my tent… er my hands?” I asked, trying to remove the fork from the center of the steak, shaking the thing to get it to fall off and failing.
“You could try but it’s hot. You shouldn’t be able to…”
He trailed off when I picked up the steak chunk I had managed to cut and held it with no problem. I grinned smugly. “I used to hide inside torches! This little heat doesn’t affect me!”
I popped the steak bite into my mouth and melted. The taste was… was…
“This is… so tasty…” I breathed, staring at the plate, feeling guilty about enjoying the perks of my new form so much.
“Gell… where… are you from? Originally?” Amy asked as she watched me puddle myself into the grass in delight, my body cocooned around the plate like a protective barrier. Part of me wanted to put the plate in my bag and keep it forever as one of my precious treasures, while the vast majority of me just wanted to never stop eating.
“I told you that. I’m from Dungeon Home! I’ve lived there for thousands of cycles!” I said proudly as I grabbed a handful of the bitlets, now excited to try the last piece of a Steak-and-Broccoli! “As long as I can remember!”
The two of them blanched at that before turning away to their own conversation. I was fine with that. I could hardly focus on their questions when this food was so good!
I shoved the bitlets into my mouth and was not nearly as blown away by the taste as I had been by the brown lump or the leafy trees, but it was still quite good! Taste itself was amazing!
“Hey there, adventurer!” Miss Tutorial suddenly exclaimed brightly and I blanched as a dialogue box appeared with her words written there. “I see you’ve consumed an edible! Would you like to learn more about the effects of foods?”
I jumped back up and exclaimed happily. “Oh! Tutorial! I wanted to say I’m sorry. Thank you for warning me about the dinosaurs that might eat me. I didn’t mean to get so mad at you. Can you tell me about that inventory thing from earlier?”
Tutorial didn’t say anything.
“Don’t… be like that. I really am sor–!”
“I see you’ve consumed an edible! Would you like to learn more about the effects of foods?” she asked again, more insistently this time.
I sighed. “Well. I guess so.”
I pressed “yes” and was happy to hear Tutorial continue in her usual bright tone.
“Well, adventurer, food can have a wide variety of effects. Almost all of them are positive for you and they usually only last for a certain amount of time. For example, the: “Steak & Greens” meal you just consumed will grant you a temporary boost of: “+7 to Vitality.” All foods have effects of this nature, beyond healing you if you’ve been hurt. Food can grant magical resistances, haste effects, bonuses to stats, bonuses to experience gained, and many more effects!”
Food was amazing! It tasted good and it could help me fight if I needed to? Before I could think further about it, Tutorial continued speaking.
“Be wary though. Poorly cooked foods or foods cooked by inexperienced chefs can actually have detrimental effects! Foods you’ve cooked yourself will have bonus effects! Try many types of foods to learn more!”
With that, she was gone.
“Ugghh! Why won’t Miss Tutorial ever call me by my name?” I screamed in frustration. “I mean… she talks at me, but not to me! Not like you guys…”
I turned and found Amy and Iron both looking at me, both of them ignoring the plate they were sharing as they watched me with bemused expressions.
“Hey! Are you laughing at me again? What did I do this time?” I said, feigning indignance. In truth, I was becoming very fond of the two of them. They were so nice…
I couldn’t help but wonder though. Would they be as nice if they knew I was only an adventurer by accident?
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I'm Materia-Blade. I've been a long time fanfiction writer, and have recently decided to toss my hat into the original fiction arena. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and Lit-RPG's and have read hundreds of books from each genre.
My new story Artificial Jelly has released and is currently being pretty well received! Excited for it to hit trending! Thanks to those who support it, and me, and I hope it continues to impress!
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