The hateful steel grate was rocked by the most violent of Boxxy’s Spells. The metal creaked and groaned, but it survived with barely a dent. The stone brick doorway it was bolted to was equally unfazed.
It tried again, but it didn’t fare any better. It didn’t seem like the grate was withstanding the force of those shockwaves, but more like the magic itself wasn’t exerting as much power as it normally would. It would be common sense that in a world of magic and monsters, military fortifications such as this one would have some form of enchantment against enemy magic. This outpost was definitely magically fortified at some point in time. And while the magic has waned and lost effectiveness on the wall outside, this part of the tower was not as ravaged by time and still retained some of its strength.
Not that a particular Mimic had any idea about any of this.
“Huh?” exclaimed Xera. She was still a bit stupefied when she realized the big bad ‘enemy’ her master was so wary of was an inanimate object. The angry face and hate-filled shouting her albino imitation made was also a first. So she was slow to react when said master flared up with the really dangerous Power Overwhelming.
“Master! If you-”
Aimed at right in the middle of that infuriating grate, the extra-strength Dark Explosion finally did the trick. It overwhelmed the anti-magic enchantment on the steel and the surrounding stone, blowing them apart. The nearby wall of the tower itself also got caught up in the Spell, setting off a chain reaction that collapsed the entire thing on top of Boxxy and Xera and burying them in debris.
A few minutes later, the sentient chest crawled out from under the rubble. The pseudo-Xera sticking out of it had been pierced clean through the chest by one metal rod, and a second, smaller one was stuck into the Mimic’s main body. It would seem that the extra-powerful Spell had turned the metal rods the grating was assembled from into spear-sized shrapnel.
“FUUUCK!” it cursed, using Xera’s actual mouth. “That stupid grate, how dare it try to kill me again!”
“Master, that was entirely your own fault,” came a voice from nearby.
The real Xera was currently digging herself out of the rubble. It seems the metal shrapnel missed her entirely and the falling stones weren’t enough to finish her off.
“No it wasn’t,” insisted Boxxy. “That thing is just really evil.”
It refused to admit that it inadvertently hurt itself again. Especially since it should know what would happen if it went for the Big Bang in an enclosed space. It’s just that, in the heat of the moment, that little fact slipped its still developing mind.
“Haah,” sighed Xera. The cluelessness of this monster that annihilated an entire city for kicks calling a lump of metal 'evil' was too much for her to handle. “Whatever you say, Master. What now?”
Boxxy took a few moments to calm down a bit. That was a good question, wasn’t it? Why did they come in here to begin with?
Oh right, checking out the place. The Mimic pulled out the metal rods from its body and went back to its more compact spider-chest form. It went over to double-check on the passageway it blew away, but it was completely inaccessible. The narrow, steep staircase entrance was covered with rubble. The passage beyond it was probably collapsed as well. Clearing the way would take substantial effort, not to mention the basement it led to might have caved in anyway.
The Mimic’s little magically-empowered tantrum had pretty much put the nail in the coffin for this old ruin, after all. Therefore, there was only one possible course of action - give up on it.
“We go back to where Arms is.”
Well, technically it was possible to use Storage to excavate the place and explore what was downstairs, but Boxxy had more pressing matters to attend to. Like those 20+ corpses waiting for it back at the massacred caravan. It had gotten a lucky streak of successes with its Cadaver Absorption recently and wanted to see if that would continue.
And so Boxxy and Xera left the former fort and current pile of rubble behind and made their way back to where Kora currently was. The sky had already gone dark and the stars peered down from between gaps in the forest’s canopy. While this forest was never particularly hospitable during the day, it was much, much worse during the night. Most nocturnal monsters were far more vicious than their daylight-loving counterparts. The janther was a prime example of this. And this area was home to one of those self-proclaimed kings. An individual that was currently investigating the scent of a challenger that had entered his domain.
At least that’s what it seemed like at first. The simple beast was more than a little confused when it found out this ‘challenger’ was a box with legs, rather than one of its own kind. It observed this curious creature from a distance, not sure what to do with it. That wooden shell and stringy-looking legs didn’t look particularly appetizing. On the other hand, this thing certainly carried the faint scent of another male’s urine and was brazenly walking around its territory. It was pretty much an insult, one this janther would not forgive. So it gave up on stalking its target from a distance and naturally crept closer, using its Stealth Skill to make sure it wasn’t discovered.
And it worked perfectly until it got to about 10 meters away from it. That’s when the hunter felt an odd tingling in its whiskers.
Followed immediately by an intense burning sensation from within its very core.
And another one in its face. The beast roared and charged forward in a blind rage, but it was no opponent for the Level 57 chest. With the difference of magic and Status, it was a total massacre.
Congratulations, you are now a level 25 Warlock! INT +2. MNT +2. END +2.
You have learned a new Spell: Singularity
Correction, Level 58.
“Status,” chanted Boxxy.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
Well, the maximum Job Level being 25 wasn’t a surprise. Those seemed to go up in multiples of 25. However, the total and complete lack of a (+) sign anywhere on this Status screen was most unsettling. Boxxy tried to ask its font of knowledge, the succubus Xera, but she wasn’t particularly useful. Her Status worked in a completely different way, after all. The only thing she knew about it that the Mimic didn’t was the Rank Up chant, and that was only because one of her previous masters was obsessing over it constantly and she overheard it by chance. It would seem that Boxxy needed to enter a city and extract the relevant information from a library or guild. Using Xera as a proxy, of course.
Well, it wasn’t going to be getting any new Skills for the moment, but at least it got a brand new Spell for its troubles, right?
Requirements: Level 25 Warlock, INT 200, MNT 100
Type: Area Effect
Cost: 500 MP
Range: 40 meters
Effects: Creates a gravity well at the target location for 15 seconds.
Requires a focusing crystal.
Okay, maybe not. It was still a bit short of the 200 INT requirement, but that could be solved with a few more Levels. The real problem was that ‘focusing crystal.’ Yet another thing Boxxy didn’t know about. Inspecting the words didn’t offer any new insight, either. The knowledge of the Spell seemed to indicate it would an apple-sized crystal bauble and that it would be consumed to invoke the Spell, but that was it. More useful data like what it was made of, where to get it or what it actually looked like was not available. And, most important of all, the Mimic had no idea if a focusing crystal was tasty or not. It sounded rather tasty, if it had to be honest.
“Oh, Master! You’re back!” said Kora when she saw the two of them step out of the treeline. “Thank fuck! I was getting so bored that I-”
“I don’t care. Did you finish retrieving the bodies?” asked Boxxy, completely shoving aside her complaints.
“... Yeah, they’re over there in a pile.”
The fiend pointed behind her towards a deep crater in the cobblestone road, the site of Xera’s butt-bombing. All the dead bandits were there, as well as what was left of the adventurers the mutilated corpses and miscellaneous body parts were piled up in a way that resembled an extremely disgusting salad. Which, considering the circumstances, was oddly fitting. The Mimic went over to the corpse pile and started processing them using Cadaver Absorption.
“Urk!” exclaimed Kora. “Is it… drinking those people?!”
“Oh yeah,” said Xera. “This is your first time seeing this, isn’t it?”
“What the fuck?! It does this regularly? Why?!”
“It’s some weird Skill the Master uses to permanently upgrade its Status. I’m not sure on the details, but I think that’s how it got the Warlock Job without visiting a trainer in the first place. Seems to be quite convenient.”
“That’s an understatement! Considering the body count that thing has racked up in just a day, I’d say it’s almost too convenient!”
“Maybe,” shrugged the succubus. “It’s not a bad thing, though. Honestly, I don’t mind having that box as a Master. It may be a moron, but it’s certainly more entertaining than my previous contractors.”
“Hmm, you do have a point. I mean it’s only been my first day yet I got to smash 68 different things! Certainly way better than my previous jobs. Though to be honest, this is only my third time being bound to a mortal, so I don’t know if that statement counts for much.”
“What, really?” blurted out Xera, eyes wide. “Only three contracts? Aren’t you like 400 years old?!”
A demon gets contracted on average once every 80 years, so cases like Kora’s were quite rare. Succubi like Xera in particular tend to have turnover rates almost three times higher than other demons.
“Well, my last master was a dwarf who kept me in his service for 124 years before he died of old age. The worst part of it was he only summoned me thrice in that entire time. And all three times were to help him move furniture!”
“Wow, that sounds terrible. No wonder you jumped on this thing’s fiend contract so eagerly!”
“If anyone here’s the eager one, it’s you, isn’t it?!”
The two demons kept making small talk for a while before it inevitably descended into their favorite pastime: hate-fucking. It really was no surprise that the two of them seemed unable to keep their hands off each other, almost as if they were newlyweds on a honeymoon. After all, the pleasures of the flesh were impossible to experience in a place like the Beyond, so they indulged themselves at every opportunity while in the physical realm.
Boxxy ignored the flesh-on-flesh slapping noises coming from behind and continued processing the corpses. It absorbed 13 mostly intact bodies, 7 that had a few missing body parts and 3 that were basically a head and torso. None of them yielded a success, however. It would seem that the Mimic’s lucky streak had run out after all. As for the leftover limbs, it simply gobbled them up as a snack.
Having concluded its desecration of the dead, Boxxy climbed out of the crater and went to investigate the 2 cargo wagons and the overturned stagecoach.
At first, the food cart seemed to be a really good catch, but that judgement quickly changed after the Mimic sampled its contents. The preserved food it carried would definitely fill the monster’s stomach, but Boxxy would be hard-pressed to call it tasty. The fruits and vegetables in particular seemed to have little-to-no flavor, while the salted fish was downright nasty. The various dried meats and jerky were alright, though. After tasting a bit of the merchandise, Boxxy began putting all of it, except for the fish, into its Storage. Food was food, even if it wasn’t particularly tasty. Having another source of nutrition would allow Boxxy to absorb more corpses rather than be forced into eating them in order to sustain itself.
The fish could just fuck off and disappear though. It was almost as un-tasty as the mummified remains left behind by Cadaver Absorption.
Proficiency level increased. Storage is now Level 5. END +1. INT +1. WIS +2.
This was the first time in a long while Boxxy had used the Storage Skill so much, so the new Level wasn’t that big of a surprise. In fact, Boxxy was pretty much counting on it. The higher the Skill Level, the higher the pocket dimension’s capacity. At Level 4 it would have been impossible to fit in all the cargo it wanted to carry around inside, but Level 5 gave it quite a bit more space. It was filled almost to bursting anyway, but still had several cubic meters’ worth of room inside.
The second wagon held a plethora of common items one would find in a general store. It seemed to be slightly more exciting, at least at first. After all, the Mimic had never seen the vast majority of things in here, like kitchen utensils, wooden plates, commoner clothes, string, hammers, nails, paints, farming tools and so on. However, simple curiosity is all the attention they got. Once they were judged as neither shiny nor tasty, they became unworthy of the Mimic’s notice. It still took a bag of glass marbles and a mining pick though. The former looked like it would be fun to play around with, and the latter seemed like it was good at breaking things. Certainly better than slamming its swords or daggers into hard surfaces.
Satisfied, Boxxy left the cargo wagons behind and approached the ruined stagecoach. It would seem Arms had been slacking when it gave her the order to gather all the corpses in one spot. Then again, it only stated to gather the ‘redheads and adventurers.’ It failed to realize there would be people in the wrecked pile of wood at the very front until it was standing right next to it and saw a bloodied hand sticking out from under the mass of planks. It tore through the wreckage, pulling it apart and flinging the debris haphazardly around using its tentacles. It actually found not one, but three corpses inside.
The first was an adult male human. One of the bandits’ Spells had hit him in the side of the head, destroying half of it. He was eaten to become part of the Mimic’s Biomass. Oh that’s right, Biomass only increased in proficiency if Boxxy consumed flesh. Focusing too much on Cadaver Absorption would have a negative impact on this Skill’s development. If it wasn’t for the the additional HP recovery it granted, then the Mimic would have surely died in its encounter with the Fleshmaiden. Regrowing all those lost body parts would be also impossible without the deep reserves of shapeshifting material this Skill provided.
The monster now regretted not chowing down on that janther it killed. Consuming hundreds of kilograms worth of meat and guts like that would have surely helped push Biomass closer to Level 4. Using Cadaver Absorption on it felt like a waste in retrospect. Perhaps, in the future, it would be better to chow down on large and relatively weak creatures like that. Smaller ones could be absorbed in order to raise its Skill proficiency, since the size of the body didn’t seem to actually matter when it came to that particular Skill.
Speaking of which, the second and third corpses were indeed small. They were gnomes, a highly advanced subterranean race that is said to be cousins to the dwarves. Their average height was only about 120 centimeters which, combined with their slightly chubby build and slightly-too-large heads, made them seem like 10 year old human children at first glance. A second glance would reveal the sort of well-trimmed facial hair that only an adult could have.
For Boxxy, this was the first time it encountered such a race. It was able to immediately recognize they were not human based on their anatomy, so it was slightly curious how they would taste. It wrapped its tongue around one’s waist and gobbled it up like a piece of candy. These things were so small, the Mimic could probably fit 3 or 4 of them inside its mouth cavity at once. The taste was nothing special though - they had a flavor that was almost exactly like humans. A trait which was shared among the other civilized races it came across. Eating these would do very little for a hungry monster like itself, so Boxxy decided it would much rather absorb them. So that’s what it did on the last one, although that too was a failure. Still, the Mimic did not care in particular. It’s not like it lost anything other than MP when it ran that sort of gamble, so there was no point in feeling disappointed.
It was just about to move on from this place and continue its aimless journey down the road when it stopped to consider a part of the wrecked stagecoach. A miraculously intact wheel hanging on a less-than-intact axel. Boxxy’s violent digging through the wreckage had disturbed it, causing it to spin around ever so slowly while hanging off that piece of wood.
When Snack mentioned the wagons while she was scouting ahead earlier, she explained them as ‘huge boxes humans use to move stuff around.’ The Mimic had never actually seen it in motion, so it just assumed those horses were sort of dragging it along the floor. After all, the carriages’ round ‘legs’ were clearly lacking feet, knees or any other discernable joints. Because they weren’t legs at all, they were wheels. They spun around instead of moving up and down, allowing the carriage to roll across the relatively flat ground.
Boxxy understood that rolling around was a more efficient form of movement than walking, especially on flat surfaces. That was knowledge it had gleaned during its brief time with handling the gigantic dungeon core. True, it was heavy and looked like it was tricky to control at high speed, but it still moved much, much faster than if Arms were to carry it around on her back. Curious as to how good these wagons would be at that sort of thing, it took a run up and slammed at full force into the side of the mostly empty food wagon. It rocked violently, but didn’t even budge. Realizing its mistake, the Mimic tried again, this time from the back if the carriage.
It moved! How mysterious! Boxxy repeated the process a few more times, using its magical perception to observe the wheels and axles as it slowly nudged the vehicle forward. The purpose of this was simple.
Mimics gotta mimic.
If a giant box could have wheels and axles, then why couldn’t a smaller one? What the monster was doing right now was not simply fooling around, it was observing in detail exactly how the carriage moved. After about 10 minutes of this, the Mimic decided it’d seen enough, stopped playing with studying the wagon and sat down on the ground. Half of its spider legs were retracted completely inside its body, while the remaining four became short, thick and straight.
Now came the difficult part. The Mimic had to form the actual wheels. It did this by pumping its Biomass reserves into those stumpy legs. Eight long, fleshy rods grew out from each of those, growing outwards until they were just under 60 centimeters in length. Then the tips of these organic sticks split in two up to around the halfway point, then stretched outwards to form a bent T shape. The split up tips then met each other to form one long, flawless circle.
Proficiency level increased. Shapeshift is now Level 7. AGI +1. DEX +1. END +2.
All things said and done, it took the Mimic about two minutes to create four spoked faux-wood wheels, just over 30 centimeters in radius. What looked like wood was actually condensed and hardened tissue that became a sort of cartilage - an organic, rubbery substance that was good at absorbing vibrations and withstanding impacts. The wheels were positioned such a way that the chest would have to travel sideways, giving off the impression of a miniature wagon filled with teeth and murderous intent.
Boxxy started hesitatingly moving its newly forged ‘feet’ around. The shape was a bit inconvenient, but couldn’t be helped. After all, the wagon it copied them from was longer than it was wider, so the Mimic would have to assume a similar construction, at least at first. It was confident that, with some trial and error, it would find the right setup to ensure maximum stability. Much like when it first created its favorite spider legs for the first time.
However, such an adjustment period turned out to be unnecessary. After all, a carriage was chest-shaped, but a spider was not. By copying the work of skilled craftsmen, Boxxy actually found very little adjustments that needed to be made. If anything, its imitation product turned out to far surpassed the original. The four wheels stuck to the side of the creature were living things that could be bent and angled in any direction. Feeling rather proud of itself, Boxxy then decided to move around. It flexed the muscles at the base of its axle-legs, forcing the wheels to rotate under their own power.
That’s when it discovered the first major flaw with its brilliant transformation - power management. The overeager box put too much power into the motion, causing a sudden burst of acceleration that launched it sideways faster than expected. It traveled several meters in an instant, which then showed the second flaw with its new ‘invention.’
Your muscles have ripped. HP -87.
You have been dismembered. HP -154.
The very muscles used to begin the rotation gave out. Although they were flexible and malleable, they had a limit as to how many times they could twist around an axle before tearing. With the tissue holding them in place, the freshly grown quartet of wheels and axles detached from the base of the Mimic. They rolled off into the distance or into the air, spraying yellow blood all over the place. Their owner, currently busy hissing and cursing at the sudden pain, slammed into the ground and skid across it for a little bit.
“What the fuck is it doing?!” asked Kora, with a perplexed look on her face.
“Hyehn, heeeeh, aaauuu…” moaned Xera with her tongue sticking out and her eyes rolled up into her head.
“Right, good point.”
The fiend then gave up on worrying about the silly box and resumed pounding the face-down-ass-up succubus’s tight asshole with renewed vigor.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
|Cadaver Absorption||5||42%||Sword Mastery||6||39%|
|Natural Armor||2||45%||Dagger Mastery||4||53%|
|Summon Familiar||7||6%||Ruin Mastery||6||72%|
|Power Overwhelming||4||72%||Domination Mastery||3||86%|
|Dark Explosion||Mind Blast|