“Don’t you remember? I was born in that dragon’s labyrinth.”
“You mean Veil’s mountain dungeon? You were a monster born there?”
“That’s where I was defeated by your brutal wolves and orcs!”
I’m starting to remember something.
Was it when Veil remodeled her dungeon and we all went to see how it looked?
If I recall, the modified dungeon was divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter areas, and each of them had their own unique monsters that attacked us.
“I think there was a mushroom-shaped monster in one of those areas…”
In the Autumn Area, was it?
“Are you the mushroom from that time?!”
“You finally remembered. That’s right. And my name is…”
It pauses for a moment, and…
“I don’t care about that.”
It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten all about it.
Why bother showing up now?
“But I’ve been here all along.”
“You even brought my body back here.”
We once brought back and examined the remains of the mushroom monsters we killed in the Autumn Area, thinking they were edible.
However, we ended up disposing them because they looked unappetizing and unhealthy.
“But I wasn’t destroyed. I am each and every one of the mycelia that make up this body you see now. The spores from the previous body you brought back scattered through the air, so I continued to exist.”
“Ever since the time we conquered the remodeled dungeon?!”
I want to disinfect my house right this instant!!!
“Ah, don’t worry. They’re not harmful to the human body.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Besides, I have a different goal in mind.”
“Goal? And what’s that?”
Does that have something to do with the fact that you’re visible now?
“I was humiliated…”
“You judged and branded me as useless. The dogs and tortoises were useful in their own way, but not me. How infuriating!”
But it’s not like you’re edible, nor we can process any part of you into tools.
The tortoise shell was helpful as a shield, but how am I supposed to use a mushroom stalk?
“That’s why I waited for my chance! I repeatedly split and evolved while drifting through the air as a spore!”
Were mushrooms always like that?
Wait, no, let’s just dismiss this as another fantasy event.
“I also acquired the ability to talk through my evolution! This time, I will be of use to you!”
“Why are you so devoted?”
The giant mushroom is in high spirits.
On the other hand, I’m in low spirits because my excitement for shiitake mushrooms is ruined.
I’m just passively listening to whatever the giant mushroom is saying and still dead set on burning it later.
Though I guess I can amuse it a little longer.
“So? What can you do now?”
You said you’ve evolved, right?
Besides being able to talk, do you have any other new abilities?
“I’m glad you asked. Look at this!!!”
The giant mushroom suddenly starts gathering its strength.
Then, as if in response to the giant mushroom’s exertion, something happened.
On the log, something white started to grow here and there, with brown caps opening, forming the shape of a mushroom.
Their shape… Their cap’s color…
Sure, they’re mushrooms, but these ones are definitely shiitakes!
Apart from the giant mushroom, more mushrooms are growing from the log!!!
“Isn’t this the kind of mushroom you’re looking for?”
“Yes! Yes, it is!”
But why? How?!
I thought they lost in the natural selection process, thanks to you!
“The mycelium you planted is not dead. It’s fused with me.”
“I can remember the fused mycelia and reproduce them at any time. And this is what grew!”
If I’m not dreaming, this is amazing.
The speed at which the shiitake mushrooms grew is nowhere near comparable to its regular rate.
It was as if I watched a time-lapse video.
If we can produce shiitake mushrooms this fast, it would be a huge help. Still…
“Come on, give it a try! It tastes just as good as it looks!”
I pick one of the shiitakes straight from the log as per the giant mushroom’s urging.
Their dark caps make them look appetizing. But…
I look up at the blue sky.
It’s a beautiful day.
Then, I saw a black dot—a crow.
Spiteful vermin that snatch away our crops every single day.
“Heeeey, crow, come here!” I say, holding up the shiitake. “I got some food for you! It might be poisonous, though.”
Our poison-taster gobbles up the mushroom and flies away in high spirits.
“…At least its effect isn’t immediate.”
“There’s no poison in it! I evolved for you, so please have some faith in meeeeeeeee!” weeps the mushroom.
But aren’t these originally part of your body?
I feel like I need to muster the courage to even take a bite.
I’m scared of being poisoned by wild mushrooms, so I decided to cultivate them myself. But if I also get afraid of being poisoned by the cultivated mushrooms, what’s the point?
The giant mushroom is asking me so sincerely that I’d feel like a savage if I refused.
I gave in to the pressure.
“Well, I guess its cells will die if I cook this…”
First, I’m going to wash them with water…
Though I don’t have to worry about pests because they were freshly picked right after they grew.
I built a fire nearby and slowly roasted a shiitake mushroom on a skewer until all that giant mushroom’s cells were burned to death.
“Um… Aren’t you roasting it too much? It’s getting burnt.”
“A little more…”
I need to be as sure as sure can be.
Okay, it’s completely charred.
All its cells should be dead now.
The outside is burnt and crispy, but the inside is…
The inside is pretty chewy, exactly like a shiitake mushroom!
I drizzle a little soy sauce on the cap…
“This is delicious!”
“Yay! All my hard work has finally paid off!”
I, who was able to eat shiitake, and the giant mushroom, who saw me eat it, are equally pleased.