The Mimic awaited patiently for its prey. It sat there, completely unmoving. Although part of it wanted to ‘get up and go’ in the end it followed its hunting instinct and stood still. The ground in this area of the dungeon was fairly flat, but it was far from being smooth. Of particular concern was that one nasty bump that seemed to dig into the creature’s underside, causing it to remain slightly tilted to the side.
This was more than a little uncomfortable. Physically, there was no pain, but standing slightly lopsided felt wrong. Unnatural. The fact that a chest could even feel discomfort in the first place was already unnatural enough to begin with, so it really had no room to complain. It could reposition itself to be more comfortable, but it was unwilling. At least, not right now. It was a very bad idea to be doing something like that with those heavy footsteps steadily approaching it.
Five humans turned a corner and proceeded down the straight section of tunnel that the disguised monster was in. This particular stretch of cave was roomier than your average dungeon passage. It was 8 meters wide and just over 4 meters tall. It had plenty of space to let two big parties of adventurers pass by each other without worry. However, these five were definitely different from the newbies that frequent this part of the dungeon. Their equipment clearly set them apart.
The one in front was a grizzled middle-aged man. His torso was protected by a solid steel cuirass that glistened the light from the lantern in his hand. His other hand was gripping a sturdy looking wooden spear with a steel tip. Iron plates protected his shins and forearms. A simple iron helmet encompassed his scalp, with chainmail hanging from its rim like a curtain, covering the sides and rear of his head. It rattled obnoxiously with each step, but it was something this man had long gotten used to.
He was a guard, just like the four identically equipped people behind him. Although adventurers were common, they were still but a fraction of this world’s population. Not everyone wished to go off and die in some hellhole while chasing some misguided thirst for adventure, gold and glory. Many were content with simply accepting a weekly wage for mundane hard work, living out relatively peaceful lives while protected by sturdy walls.
So why were these five peacekeepers in a dungeon where they clearly did not belong? Because they got word of strange noises coming from the direction of the sealed-off portion of the Green Zone. The mayor was a notorious cheapskate, so nobody in this armed detail was surprised he sent them rather than qualified adventurers to look after the bloody thing. Granted, all of these men were between Level 10 and 12, so it’s not like something in here was a real threat to them. But they still had to waste valuable time on something that was clearly just greenhorns getting scared at things that go bump in the dark.
This was the third time this week they had to walk down this dank and musty cave just because some greenhorn raised a fuss. It would just be another giant rat that got stuck while trying to fit through the metal grate’s gaps. After all, nothing in there could break that enchanted steel with brute force. The artisans that made it assured the mayor it would need to be attacked by something that was at least Level 30. Anything weaker than a certain threshold wouldn’t even leave a scratch on it. Therefore, this entire patrol was a pointless endeavor that the mayor ordered just so he can save face. The recent string of disappearances was more than enough to make people question his so-called leadership, so something like putting on a pointless show of force came natural.
But still, these five got paid to follow orders, so they kept on marching.
The Mimic they were rapidly approaching was, simply put, scared shitless. The loose group of guards walking silently down the stone corridor gave off an extremely intimidating air. Running away was not an option - it would be immediately spotted and killed. Fighting was an even worse idea. Hiding had very little chance of success, but it was a chance nonetheless.
So it hid. It remained looking like a perfectly unassuming and completely ordinary wooden chest, in some vague hope that it would be overlooked. The armed patrol approached the monster, unaware of what it was. The man in front gave the out-of-place box a sidelong glance before moving on. The next pair of guards did the same. The fourth one had a different idea. He mercilessly thrust his spear into it. It pierced the faux-wood shell and drove deep into the monster.
You have suffered a devastating blow. HP -53.
It died instantly, without even getting a chance to scream in pain. Its killer withdrew his spear all at once, causing yellow blood to splatter all over the floor.
“Hey, come on man!” complained the man behind him. “Why’d you do that?! Now I have monster blood all over my trousers! My wife’s gonna kill me!”
“Again, Roger?” let out the man at the very front. He was peeking back at Roger over his shoulder. “You know full well killing that thing wasn’t worth the trouble, right?”
“Yeah, I know my Job won’t go up much from these Level 1s and 2s, but at least my Spear Mastery is growing steadily.” explained Roger. He wasn’t wrong. While Jobs would progress very little if one picked on opponents much weaker than them, Skill Proficiency was another story. As long as one met certain conditions, their Skills would steadily climb in power. Granted, it took more and more work to attain the higher Levels, but Mastery Skills were easy to train. As long as one dealt damage to a living thing with the appropriate weapon or school of magic, the relevant Mastery Skill would go up. A difference in Levels didn’t matter in this scenario.
“Don’t fuck with me,” spat out squad leader at the front. “I know full well you just like stomping on ants.”
“Ah, ya got me there, chief,” shrugged Roger. It was the truth. The excuse about his Spear Mastery was valid, but it was just that - an excuse. He was just a malicious prick and natural bully.
His squad leader scowled at the insubordinate subordinate. “Whatever. Come on, let’s get this over with,” he ordered. There was a time and place for discipline and this was neither of them. They went on their way, completely forgetting about the dead Mimic.
The other Mimic that was following them, however, would not forget. They had just murdered his kin in cold blood. Cold, tasty, nourishing blood. The half-spider half-chest had been stalking them quietly for the last several minutes, looking for a chance to kill and eat them. At first it was wondering if it could take them, whether it should just let them be. However, it couldn’t quite bring itself to turn around and seek easier prey. But that was then, this is now.
And right now it felt like it absolutely had to murder the shit out of them. Although it didn’t particularly know or care for its dead kin, is there any living being that can stand idle after watching its kind slaughtered? Probably, but it wasn’t this one of them. The monster screwed up its determination and prepared to attack the patrol. Even if there were five of them, it was still a higher Level. If it could still take out a few of them before the rest could respond, then it would surely be able to clench victory.
It opened its mouth and spat out its long, thick tongue. This part of it was extremely dextrous and malleable - perfect for the Shapeshift Skill. The flat mass of flesh split into three separate tongues, connected at the base. It then accessed its Storage and took out three plain swords - one in each tongue-tentacle. It did not want to waste mana gobbling up all that worthless trash it left behind, so the only thing remaining in its pocket dimension was a curious dagger that was especially shiny.
Now armed, the Mimic activated its Stealth Skill and crept up on the patrol. It glided silently towards the still-bickering pair of guards at the very back. Engrossed in their conversation about who’s going to be on armor-scrubbing duty, they failed to realize the threat approaching them. The casual pace of their walk did not help matters much, either, since it allowed their stalker to rapidly gain ground on them. Although the Stealth Skill drained its MP with every step, the monster still had more than enough to fulfil its purpose.
Having gotten about half a meter behind them, the Mimic reared up slightly on its imitation spider legs and raised two of its armed improvised tentacles up into the air. Now that it was this close, it perceived a gap in their armor. A strip of sweat-stained underclothing was visible between the steel cuirass and the iron helmet, exposing the base of their necks and a bit of their shoulder. It angled the blades downwards and, after a momentary pause, thrust them accurately and smoothly into that opening.
The twin blades dug into both guards’ collarbones from above with very little resistance.
Assassination Skill triggered. Your attack has dealt 200% more damage. Target HP -107.
You have slain your target in a single strike. Assassination Proficiency increased.
Assassination Skill triggered. Your attack has dealt 200% more damage. Target HP -82.
You have dealt a devastating blow. Target stunned for 5 seconds.
Ignoring the completely familiar messages and even more familiar screams of pain, the Mimic pulled on the two swords still lodged inside its victims. Continuing the downward stabbing motion, it used the power and momentum of that thrust to throw them both to the ground.
The rest of the squad turned around immediately when they noticed their comrades yell out in pain. The first thing they saw was two armored guards being thrown viciously against the stone ground. Their metal-clad backs made audible thuds as they smashed into the stone floor. In the next instant, a sword fell down on the one on the right - likely Roger - stabbing him clean through the throat. The three men in front stared in mute horror as a trio of bloodied blades were retracted from the bodies of their friends. The weapons almost seemed to dance in the air for a moment. And then they noticed it. A creature like no other.
It had the body of a simple treasure chest. Its lid had been opened to reveal numerous dagger-like teeth. If it was just this, they might assume it was a Mimic. But this was nothing like the monster Roger had slain a minute ago.
The wood-like surface was tattered, cracked and splintered all over. It looked like someone had kicked this particular box down a very long flight of stairs. The various gaps and holes in it revealed a brown mass of slightly pulsating muscle underneath. Anyone who glanced at this appearance would immediately realize it was no simple chest. Well, it was still simple, but that’s besides the point.
Six long, slender legs jutted out from its undersides, completely mismatched with the main body. It’s as if someone had glued a pig-sized spider’s legs onto the monster as a sort of prank. But the way they made very slight, almost automatic adjustments to support its body were natural enough to make one think this monster was born with them.
And worst of all, growing out of that tooth-filled abyss that passes for its maw, were three meter-long tentacles. The bright red flesh undulated in a disgusting manner, the tips of each horrific limb gripping tightly onto the handle of a sword. The same weapons that had just robbed two men of their lives before they could even ask for help. They were attacked with no warning and for little reason. Only a monster could be this cruel.
“KEHAAAAAAAAHH!” it yelled. Its putrid breath washed over the stunned humans, enhancing the surreal sight before them. The nightmarish creature began bearing down onto the closest guardsman while brandishing its trio of swords. The simple man that was used to scolding troublemaking kids or chasing pickpockets was frozen in terror. The worst thing he’d ever faced was a duo of armed bandits, but at least those were human. That situation was something he had trained and prepared for. The veritable storm of steel and teeth that was hurtling towards him was so bizarre that he doubted anyone could be prepared for something so absurd. He made a panicked attempt to ready his spear and ward off the assault, but the Mimic was already upon him. The three blades made sharp sounds as they drew wide arcs in the air.
Having to split the muscles of its tongue in three made each of the Mimic’s blows significantly weaker than they would be otherwise. The fact that it was slashing rather than stabbing meant that its DEX attribute was not helping right now, either. However, it was using three weapons instead of one. The sheer number of blows it could make meant it could deal out a steady stream of punishment that whittled down and exhausted its prey without giving it any room to breathe.
The three swords struck the guard simultaneously from all sides. The lower one cut open the man’s thigh, dealing 25 damage to his HP. The middle blow dug into his unarmored bicep, dealing 23 damage. The high blow bounced off the rim of his metal helmet. Although the armor deflected the worst of it, the force of the blow still robbed 9 of his HP due to the blunt trauma. He yelled out in pain, stumbled backwards and fell on his ass. His weapon fell out of his hands and clattered on the rocky ground. He had 44 HP remaining and was bleeding profusely from his leg, but he was still alive.
His two comrades were already rushing to his aid, spears at the ready. They both thrust their two-meter long weapons at the monster. It tried to back off, but was too slow. One of them stabbed it in the side, shaving off 34 of the monster’s HP. It screamed in pain and leapt backwards to avoid further injury. The Mimic had still not recovered from its earlier Storage mishap, so it was in a precarious position. It currently only had about 40% of its HP remaining. It could not afford being wounded again. It had seen the destructive power of those long pointy things earlier, but feeling it first-hand on its own body woke it up. The monster may have bitten of more than it could chew.
It stretched out its tentacles and attempted to strike at the two men, but the difference in reach became instantly apparent. Its sword wings came nowhere near the two guards, while their spears threatened to skewer it at a moment’s notice. If anything, it was being being pushed back, suffering several scratches on its tongues as a result.
The monster had clearly underestimate its opponents. And while those two were keeping it busy, the one on the ground had already taken out a small glass flask with a blood-red liquid. The wounded guard sprinkled half of the healing potion on his wounds and drank the rest. The Mimic recognized this pattern - adventurers it failed to finish off would sometimes do those things and recover miraculously from their injuries. The Mimic then had to suffer numerous wounds as it subdued its target with force.
So, to sum it up, the monster realized one simple fact. It was fucked. The two in front of it were obviously covering for their wounded comrade. When he stood up they would undoubtedly chase down the creature and end it. It had killed their kind, so they would unquestionably seek vengeance. After all, that sort of thing is what more or less started this encounter in the first place.
But the Mimic had a secret weapon. A special move that could fell even that seemingly impossible wall it encountered earlier. It made some more space between itself and its duo of opponents, drawing them a few steps further away from the third one. It then swung one of its tendrils around and haphazardly tossed one of its swords with all the strength it could muster.
From the monster’s perspective, it was that half-assed shield throw that toppled the steel grate. And this time it was using an actual weapon with all its strength, so this move’s destructive power would unquestionably rise. Well, it wasn’t wrong about that last part, but the outcome would still not be what it expected..
The sword spun around itself a few times as it cut through the air. It missed its targets completely, bouncing off the stone ceiling with a clang and falling harmlessly to the side. The result of the monster’s ‘Killer Move’ was that it had, essentially, disarmed itself. There was a brief moment of silence as everyone present processed what just happened.
“Huck,” it cursed.
In some ways, the Mimic was lucky its antics were not considered to be ‘special actions’ that conferred a loss of Attributes. Otherwise its INT and WIS would already be dropping towards 0. Possibly beyond.
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