A note from spacespeck

Sorry for the late chapter! I moved my PC to a better room, and that involved rearranging and going thrugh the attic to reroute an internet cable.

Robin held up a palm, grinning sardonically at May. “I think you are right about the Venom Immunity ability. I am going to build it up for now. Thank you for the extraction offer, though.” It will also be useful for determining how the Ysari System quantifies the blood of the Tweaker Mages.


“It seems like it would be foolhardy to attempt an attack on their base. We know nothing about it, how many there are, or what their defenses, if any, are.”


Robin took a quick breath and continued, surprised at how confident he sounded.


“We should stay here and set traps, I think.”


And there it goes.


“I have a few Motes,” he paused, seeing her lifted eyebrow. “My class lets me take aspects of things I defeat… or kill, and make new class abilities out of them.”


“Wow! Dude, that is amazing. I bet you have all kinds of useful abilities! That ability breakdown is definitely going to happen, now.” May was visibly excited, almost jumping in place as she stared at Robin. “Maybe you could learn to fly if we kill some birds! What’s your STR score? If you’ve reached the Peak Human limit at the very least carrying me shouldn’t be an issue!”


“Eh… Sorry, May. I not have that many class abilities. It seems like you have a lot more class abilities than I do.” He looked away from her face as it deflated.


“I do not know if I can learn to fly. I have some control over the abilities I get, but only in that I can choose the Motes that go into it. I do not have that many now, but I was considering combining them into a new ability before the Tweaker Mages get here.”


May nodded emphatically. “That would be a good idea. We’ll need every advantage we can get. I usually ran, when I could, before, but… I don’t know if you could keep up with me. No offense.”


Robin was fully confident she was correct in that regard.


“Okay, if you can cover me for a moment, I will do that now.” May nodded as he sat down, crossing his legs beneath him. Might as well make a smaller profile…


Robin pulled up his Motes.
















When did I get those? I guess the speed Mote came from the Tweaker-Baby that Opal killed, but the camouflage, chitin, and web Motes…? Did Opal kill something...some things in the trees? He glanced nervously at the dense leaves and branches stretching over him. Trees, after the Ysari System hit, seemed to him to have gotten slightly bigger.


Or maybe I’m just not used to being in the woods at night.


Robin decided to combine his Chitin, Dragonfire, and Speed Motes, willing them to fuse.


Your class abilites Lesser Armor of the Beetle and Ironclad Elytra have fused into Ironclad Armor of the Beetle.

Ironclad Armor of the Beetle

You may trigger a growth of exoskeletal chitinous armor. The armor is strong as well-made iron chainmail. The armor provides eight PHYSDEF and five ENERDEF (5 ENERDEF). The Ironclad Armor of the Beetle may be infused with MANA to trigger different effects, transformations, or abilities. The Armor remains until dismissed.

Aspect of the Dragonfly

Your armor takes on the essence of a dragonfly, enhancing your senses, reflexes, and stealth capabilities. While using this aspect, the wearer may unleash a gout of dragonfire at a cost of fifty MANA (50 MANA).

Aspect of the Blue Desert Locust

When in the presence of unattended materials infused with MANA, your armor may absorb the materials, MANA, or both, adding the properties to the Ironclad Armor of the Beetle, either as aspects or permanent changes. This ability does not cost MANA to activate, but the process can drain PHYSTAM for particularly tough or magical materials. In particularly stressful situations the aspect may trigger sans command.


Robin felt like he might earn a “Pedantic” title just for noticing, but…


Is it weird that the Ysari System descriptions use the word “sans”? It is looking more and more like the information I can receive is based on what I am capable of understanding. It might even be drawn from my own memories and vocabulary. So I will never be able to learn a new word or concept from the menus, but I will always be able to understand them. I guess this is useless information, but it is good to know as much as you can… right?


Robin nodded to himself decisively, prompting a raised eyebrow from May, who was currently failing at hiding her impatience. Her question came out as a flow of words, but her hushed tone reminded Robin of the Tweaker Mages that were surely heading their way.


“Didya get a neat power?”


“It is pretty good, I think… though, it does have significant issues. I can absorb MANA from magical materials, but it can happen involuntarily if I am stressed. That one is also a bit of a downgrade, because it could previously absorb anything and hold it for a while. Overall this is still better, though. Assuming I can find MANA-rich materials. I can also use my MANA to take on ‘the essence of a dragonfly’, whatever that means. It says it enhances my senses, reflexes, and stealth. It also allows me to use a blast of dragonfire, although the cost is not insignificant.”


Robin paused, then smiled ruefully at May. “Sorry, I do not think it lets me fly. That seems like something it probably would have mentioned in the description.”


“Bummer, kid. Are you done? Your pet is staring at me.”


Robin glanced upwards, and sure enough, Opal was hanging upside down, her head barely visible through the leaves. It faintly struck Robin for the thousandth time how odd it was that the bright pink mantis was so capable at hiding.


“Yeah, she does that.” He focused on Opal for a moment, and then informed May “Don’t worry, she feels good about you.” Robin paused for a moment, his mouth still open to start his next sentence.


...huh. I think my bond with her has grown a little deeper, or… maybe it is a function of leveling up, or the Motes I have given her?


Robin cleared his throat. “Hrn… Yeah. She… Uh, she thinks that you are a good hunter.”


May laughed delightedly, her high voice out of place in the dark forest.


May kept giggling slightly as she spoke. “Okay, I like her. Opal, right? Done with Robin, Opal’s my new best bud.”


Robin rolled his eyes slightly and sat back down. “I think I am almost done. I only have a few more-”

A howl interrupted him, much closer than the previous howls had been. It sounded like it was only a few hundred meters away, maybe? The forest muffled and distorted the already unnatural noise, making certainty impossible.


“Oh, before I forget. I have had the Clockwork Horror up in the treetops making webs this entire time. I think they’ll come in handy coming up. You can go make some traps, if you would like. I will finish this, I think it will help us more than my limited ability to make traps under pressure.”


May nodded as she was turning to the west. She looked up at Opal. “Let’s go, Opie.” She leapt into the tree tops in a flash, disappearing from sight immediately. Robin couldn’t hear any further movement from her, not that that was what had his attention at the moment.


Opie? What?


Robin opened his menu, just to see if he had any SP after his encounter with the Tweaker Mages and Opal’s treetop adventures. He was pleasantly surprised to see that he had four SP, and after hesitating for a moment, poured all of them into MANA, bringing his total to 110.


Ugh. I hated having to do that… but the extra MANA might help me stay alive over the next few hours. I have a few Motes left… Which ones now?










I have the Aspect of the Dragonfly that allegedly helps with stealth, so maybe I should focus on improving that. On the other hand, some kind of insanity-inducing web could be useful… Or both. I definitely do not want to waste my Web Motes, though. They have combined well with just about everything. But… I think I might get a better effect if I add more Motes.


Robin chewed his lip actively for a moment, and then a soft noise thud in the distance helped him reach a decision.


Web, camouflage, madness, then. Combine!


Gossamer of Anansi
You may transform any web you touch into the Gossamer of Anansi (UnL) at a cost of five MANA per one meter transformed (5 MANA / 1m). The transformation is permanent.


Interest of the Spider
You have acquired the interest of Kwaku Ananse, for better or worse. All Madness, Web, Intelligence, Knowledge, and Trickery Motes you spend are doubled in strength, potency, and effect. Should you lose the interest of Kwaku Ananse, you will suffer a state of unluck, dependent on the whims of Kwaku Ananse.


...what? That name is… really, really familiar, but I cannot quite put my finger on it. Is he watching us now? Robin looked around him, abruptly paranoid. He glanced up at Opal, only to remember that she had gone with May. He sighed to himself, forcing the breath in and out slowly.


I think… I think I might have a better idea. What would a pure Web Mote do to the Clockwork Horror? For now, it is probably going to primarily be a web-maker for me, so… might as well make it better at that.


Maybe. Guess I will see.


Robin extended his will towards the bundle of mental energy that had been present in his head since he had infused the Clockwork Horror of the Blue Entomage with MANA for the first time.


It was not the same as the energy that connected him to Opal, or was Opal (he was not sure). It was more like… It was like having a Furby and an actual dog. They both reacted to stimuli, but one was purely rote and mechanical.


Mostly. It is weirdly alive at times, too… but people tend to start feeling that way about any machines they regularly interact with, so it might just be me. Come back! Robin focused on the Horror, willing it to return. He waited, observing it mentally for several long moments before it dropped out of the trees directly in front of him. He smirked. Not this time! I was watching you, little buddy.

Robin held out his palm, placing it on the ground, and the spider skittered onto it without any instructions.


Thank you for proving my point to myself right away, he thought, smiling faintly at the tiny construct.


“Ready, little guy?”


It stared at him, its eight ruby eyes glittering every few moments in the scant starlight that filtered through the trees.


“I will take that as a yes.”


Robin focused on pushing his Web Mote into the Clockwork Horror, and felt it react immediately. It seemed to heat up in his hands, and Robin set it down as carefully and quickly as he could.


It didn’t burst into flames like the anytool did. Instead, it …


Did nothing.


After a moment, it turned around and continued staring at Robin like nothing had happened.

He crouched and looked at it, a little confused and disappointed.


It looks exactly the same… Not as dramatic as I was hoping for, then. I should Identify it again, though. Identify!


Clockwork Horror of the Blue Entomage (Un L)

The Clockwork Horror of the Blue Entomage was created by the first Blue Entomage of Earth under the sway of induced madness. The Clockwork Horror may absorb MANA, holding an amount equal to the total maximum of the owner. The Clockwork Horror may bond with one owner at a time, accomplished through an infusion of MANA. The bond lasts until the death of the owner or the destruction of the Clockwork Horror. The Clockwork Horror is capable of creating webs at will. The Clockwork Horror is capable of absorbing Motes from the owner, up to one per Blue class level of the owner. The Motes may be combined to create different web effects that the Clockwork Horror may use freely afterwards, at a MANA cost of one MANA per meter of web produced (1 MANA / 1m).


On his first readthrough, Robin didn’t notice anything different. When he realized, his eyes lit up, and he looked down at the Clockwork Horror. “You really are my web-maker now! Can you start spooling me out some web, please?”


It stared up at him, and for a moment Robin thought it was ignoring him. Then it moved, however, and Robin saw that it had begun spooling silk underneath itself. He smiled and waited a moment, and then gestured for it to stop, curious if the gesture would work.


To his delight, it did.


Robin reached out and grabbed the tiny spool of silk, immediately willing it to changer into the Gossamer of Anansi. He identified it as soon as he was able, playing with the thread in his hands.


Gossamer of Anansi (Un L)
This web is made from dreams and struggles, woven from the fabric of stories and spun on a loom of good-hearted lies. The Gossamer of Anansi is invisible once laid. The Gossamer of Anansi has a chance to be entirely forgotten by those who struggle with it, but escape, often causing them to become re-entangled. The Gossamer of Anansi will begin to affect friendly individuals, including those who laid the web, one day after the web is laid.


Robin’s eyes widened and he let out a very tiny, pitiful “yay.”


“What’d you get now?”


This time, Robin did not have the benefit of observing a mental bundle of energy get ever-closer, and he let out a small yelp, immediately regretting the actions of his traitorous body.


May was standing a few meters away from him, holding a ...small tree. She grinned when she saw him looking at it, and tossed it to the ground in front of him.


“They’ll be here soon. I set a lot of traps… Your little spider-toy makes it much easier.”


She gestured at the tree she had apparently cut down, and walked over to it.


“So, the traps are designed around protecting this position. Of course, they won’t, but hopefully we can funnel them into the traps by making them chase us… Which brings me to the next part of my plan. Are you done with your leveling or crafting or whatever?”


Robin nodded.


“Good. Help me punch this tree into sawdust, and then lay down on it until the Tweaker Mages are almost here.”




She waved him over impatiently, already hitting the tree with a tiny fist. The tree cracked and shook slightly. “It’s a magical tree. Should have lots of MANA.”


May punched the tree repeatedly while she spoke, her fists cleaving easily through the dense wood.


Robin nodded sardonically and moved over to her to start helping. He couldn't break it quite as easily as she could, but it was easier than he expected it to be.


I knew I’d end up punching trees one day...

A note from spacespeck

Seriously, Orchid Mantises are really, really good at hiding, even when there is no other pink around. They do the mantis version of Scooby Doo-hiding, where Shaggy and Scooby will hide behind a four inch wide tree, or they will find the perfect angle where they can sit but not be seen from the perspective of a viewer outside their tank.


Ghost Mantises, the ones that actually blend in everywhere? Super easy to spot.

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About the author


Bio: Just read my stories and make wild assumptions, it's more fun that way.

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