《Drip-Fed》The metal fairy 1
The slime was feeling quite good about itself since it had figured out that it was pretty safe in this environment. As long as it kept its fleshy bits to itself, it was uninteresting to its surroundings. Not that it currently had any fleshy bits in the first place, having outgrown its latest pair of legs.
It had spent days searching around and a lot of new experiences had been made. First and foremost, that of the day-cycle itself. It had spent the first night in fear, hiding in a hole between roots. The reason for it being afraid being that, even though it couldn’t exactly see a lot, it very much felt the cold.
As it found out in that first night, it was a cold-blooded creature. Well, it was a cold-slimed monster, but the point was that it needed external help to regulate its temperature. While its highly water based being made it a good heat battery, the continued cold of the night made it feel just sluggish in comparison to its day-version.
When the first night happened, it assumed the world was coming to an end. Not entirely unjustified, as the slime didn’t even know that the sun and the moon were a pair of gods in a race whose rules mortal minds could barely comprehend yet.
Some misguided scholars said they were celestial bodies, but they could be corrected through some pretty easy magical calculations. That was something the slime, again, had no idea of. It just knew there was a sudden darkness.
The second time night rolled around it still hid under the same tree, by the third time it dared to venture around its base. Eventually, it just got used to the cycle and appreciated having some way to tell the time by that wasn’t as inaccurate as clam digestion.
After growing as much as it could by feeding off grass and trees, putting it at the size of a guinea pig, the slime designated a certain tree as its den and rested there during the day, slowly eating away at it. At first it devoured leaves and small branches, then the thick ones, then, when basically only the trunk was left, it began eating it from the inside, slowly making its way down. That was actually easier said than done.
Because the slime needed things to be past its outer membrane to digest them and a trunk was much too big to do so, it needed to instead resolve to slowly chip away at the wood and eat it in, well, chips of wood. It used tiny insect mandibles for this effort, which was its nightly activity. Needless to say, it was boring as all hells.
The reason why it ate the tree top-down was twofold. One was that sticking onto the inner side of the trunk as it ate upwards was thoroughly uncomfortable. It had tried in that first tree that already had a cavity underneath it. With that experience, it had deemed it would rather eat downwards and let gravity do its work for it. The other reason was that it could feel the sunrays when the day began. All it had to do to that end was devour the bark down to a sensible level.
The eventual end product of the procedure was a very smooth, bowl-shaped cavity topping off a shaved down tree trunk, reduced to a mere half-metre in height. The slime had stopped there, not wanting to ruin its den by completely eating it, and was now spending its time sitting there with tree branches sticking out of its liquid body, waiting for the day to start, while planning out what it would do.
The routine went as follows. Once its body had warmed up enough and photosynthesis had given the slime enough energy for a prolonged period, the slime began its search for water. Being what it was, the slime needed to absorb new fluid regularly, the waterier the better. Blood would do the job, but it was not a long-term solution.
The two go to sources it had for this were the morning dew that hung on blades of grass and hollowed out stones in the surrounding areas, which gathered rainwater. If it rained, the slime simply slurped up everything that landed in its resting place.
At that stage, it would have pulled the tree branches back into its body. Plant parts, like animal parts, were limited in size, albeit for a different reason. The slime could only grow versions of the branches it had eaten. That was a large and often unimportant difference from the animal parts where it grew standardized versions.
It had yet to find a reason to grow giant branches regardless. They couldn’t really be used as weapons, seeing how they had no way to move and weighed too much. Maybe if it found some living plant that could actually use them as clubs? The slime liked to theorize that everything existed out there, seeing as there were these cheating things that could fly, commonly called birds.
Anyhow, with a cup of sunlight, stronger than any coffee, and a lot of water refreshing its system, the slime started exploring. The only thing it had actively grown during its trips was usually an Attribute, namely chloroplasts from grass. That turned its appearance from a translucent, slightly blue tinged slime, a tinge that got stronger the bigger it became, to a green-tinged slime.
Feeding itself off of sunlight at any given opportunity reduced the slime’s need to eat solid matter to once every three days, rather than every day, even while it moved around the place. Less time spent hunting meant more time to explore, which it needed with how slow it was.
It would have literally killed for a proper pair of legs. Not that the slime had any remorse over killing, it hadn’t even heard of remorse. It was hungry, it ate. Sucked to be the prey animal in that situation, but that was just that. The only pair of legs around were these large-eared critters jumping around the place. Way too quick for anything but those flying cheats that appeared basically out of nowhere and carried them off. Anytime the slime saw that, it was reminded why it didn't use those legs, lest it be mistaken for a rabbit and have a less lucky landing the second time around. At least the critter's eyes were useful to realize that there were more differences between day and night than light levels. There was a blue sky with one blazing ball and a black sky with one less radiant circle, accompanied by a bunch of smaller dots.
It kept most of its explorations up or sideways from its position. Going down, it had soon decided, was not in its interest for the moment.
The forest got thicker there, basically switching the entire biome. Thicker and more dangerous, with larger and stranger creatures roaming around. After feeling something rip down a tree just by moving around, the slime decided that it rather not go there yet and rapidly fled the scene.
While it hadn’t met anything that ate its acidic self yet, it was just a question of time until it would if it carelessly ran around in clearly more vicious areas of the world.
After all, while it was vaguely aware that it was unique from the way it spawned into existence, it could piece together that there had to be other things similar to itself. Just like there were different kinds of insects and plants, there had to be different kinds of slimes.
And if there was a species, there was a predator. The slime didn’t believe its kind to be at the top of the food chain, otherwise it would have met something like it already. At least that was its logic. There was probably some sort of creature that gulped down acid or lived off the magic dwelling in its nucleus.
It therefore stopped exploring deeper into the forest and kept to the mountainside and above. Prey was pretty scarce, and impossible to catch, but there were more than enough plants to fill its proverbial belly.
This whole thing was also a nice mental exercise for the slime. After a day of exploring, it returned to its den and spent the night reconstructing every piece of the landscape it knew already. It produced a remarkably accurate and detailed mental map, a skill most humans no longer trained due to the benefits of having maps.
And one day, about three weeks after it had set slime onto the mountainside, it slugged its way to a very interesting piece of the landscape. Still without ocular, the reason why it had seeked out this particular place was the feeling of what it had thought to be running water. However, the constant running wasn’t coming from some sort of river or other flowing mass. If it had been, the slime could have drunk it.
Interested, it manifested its short-sighted eye to get some sort of view on the situation.
What it found was that the stones were bleeding. That was the best description it had for what was going on. As if the mountain had an open wound in the shape of a flat, circular depression in the otherwise slanted landscape, the stones were oozing a mixture of white and black liquid.
The slime thought it was stone. Since it hadn’t encountered a metal yet aside from as a part of stone, that was an easy mistake to make. Fact was, the slime could only eat things biological in nature, as such this liquid it had mistaken for water was completely useless to it.
Still, while it was already inside that crater, it might as well look around. It wasn’t too big and the slime was a curious creature for things that didn’t want to eat it. Following the flowing trickles of black and white metals, it reached a gathering pond in the middle.
No matter how much of the metal went there, the amount in that pond didn’t swell. The slime sensed some odd goings-on underground where the liquid was pumped away and back into the walls of the depression, creating an unnatural and endless cycle.
It touched the pond and felt something being gently sucked away from it. No lifeforce, nothing important, just some excess mana it had. It carefully pulled back and the draining stopped immediately. It needed mana to morph around and since its body burned up physical resources to refill it, parting from it made the slime hungry quicker.
However, it had also loaded up on grass recently and whatever this weird place was didn’t give it any hostile feeling. With nothing else to do and nothing exciting having happened in three weeks, the slime decided something that could be easily described as careless, bored and not as something wise people would do and fed the unknown metal some more mana.
If it could have spoken, it would have shrugged and said, “Let’s just see what happens.”
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