Play the song while reading! Comment about what you thought in the comments below the chapter!
“Make sure you hide all your shit before morning or if you hear anybody at your door. They like to confiscate stuff. Good luck with the research!”
I am slightly unhappy as thus far my research screen has only allowed me to research skills related to fecalmancy. Instead of storing my poop in my inventory, I now have a separate pocket dimension for waste. I can do terrifying things to people. I can flood colons, causing them to rupture by briefly opening my pocket dimension inside them, I can track people based off of their colonic key scent, whatever that is, I can send people into my pocket dimension to drown in my poop, and apparently I can breed tapeworms inside my pocket dimension into enormous monsters. Every time I try to research in another magical field, it tells me I must finish all fecalmancy topics before unlocking another research subject. Apparently, this restriction is due to my level being low. Since I can’t raise my level in this cell, my only other option is to master fecalmancy.
I will be the fecalmancer supreme! I will be a terrifying sight on the battlefield, with monstrous tapeworms and floods of poop and probably infectious disease. Yup, I just finished learning the monster tapeworm spells, and am now on controlling infectious bacteria concentrations in feces. Maybe I can eventually learn some spells for controlling microbiomes and magically help people with gut pain.
Nope, after infectious bacteria is forming diverticula, little pockets that can show up in the lining of intestines. Hey, my research speed is getting faster at least, so I guess my research skill is increasing? I could turn my skill-up announcements back on, but I am probably still skilling up that Multi-casting skill. Fuck that thing, it is the worst. Oh, and I am learning how to do a whole host of horrifying things to diverticula. I can make them infected, that one was easy, I can rupture them on their own, I can ulcerate them, it goes on and on.
This spell system had to have been devised by a sadistic gastroenterologist. At some point I am going to learn helpful things, right? Like how to heal diverticula, or cure diseases that like to spread through poop? You know, spells that might make people like me, instead of fearing me? Surely that is not a pipe dream, right?
And that is how the next few nights go. Rhynn visits me, shares some booze and snacks, tells me stories about shards, and sometimes about how these systems work. Most of the people in these shards are non-players. Players are like demigods who can die but quickly come back to life, can travel between shards, which are like different worlds or dimensions, and get treated differently where they go, and apparently fear is a common response to semi-immortal demigods. Rhynn thinks I might be a player, but since the easiest way to test that is to kill me, we both would prefer an alternate way that involves less chance of me dying forever if we’re wrong. The fact that I can see a shard window is positive, but the shardtether flag is less positive.
One night, Rhynn tells me
“The NPs might have a shard window like yours with shardtether flags checked. If that’s the case, that might also be what controls whether or not they respawn. And if they do have those windows, they probably cannot see them. Then the fact that you can see it at all if you are a non-player would be a miracle or a bug.”
Another night, I ask Rhynn if this world is just a video game. He snorts and tells me
“This world is as real as you want to make it. Your senses work, you make memories of events, and can interact with the people here, right? You define reality in a way that allows all that but somehow still fails some litmus test for real, and I’ll be impressed. I’ll also question that litmus test till I’m blue in the face.”
When my memories of that first week are getting to me, I ask him if the non-players are real people. Rhynn laughs at that question, a rather ugly laugh that did not have a lot of cheer.
“That’s a question players war with each other over. You might be a non-player. Are you real?”
Those nights of drinking with Rhynn, sharing all the snacks he brought over, and talking about reality really help me. He is never in my cell for more than an hour, just long enough for a couple drinks, a few snacks, a little bit of conversation, and then he leaves.
My research continues through the days and nights. I finally begin learning healing spells in fecalmancy after a solid week of learning how to terrorize through poop magic. Rhynn jokes about that at one point, telling me
“You’re a literal shitlord! Oh man, that is too much. I’m calling you a shitlord every time you use one of those spells.”
I am not eager to use these spells around him for that reason. I’ve finally started learning how to cure major poop related illnesses, including colon cancer. Finally, my research window tells me I am learning the ultimate spell. I think ultimate in this case means final, and not the best. The ultimate spell of fecalmancy is to summon a giant flaming poop meteor. Unfortunately, it will take a couple of days to research.
I tell Rhynn, and he collapses in laughter.
“You’re a flaming shitlord! Bro! I just can’t anymore. My sides are in orbit around your shitty meteors, bro! Let’s drink good shit to celebrate the ascended shitlord!” Rhynn pulls out a bottle of wine that looks a little fancy.
Rhynn messes with me some, but never really seems mean about it, and usually if he has a good laugh at my expense, he makes up for it with some new booze I haven’t had before.
We pass our time visiting nightly, until finally, I learn that ultimate spell. At Rhynn’s insistence, I rename that spell Great Shitballs of Fire in homage to some song I don’t know.