Rather than being discouraged at how unreliable Cadaver Absorption was proving to be, the Mimic quickly reminded itself it wouldn’t even have the Warlock Job or either of its deeply useful familiars without it. The Skill provided it with the occasional Attribute boost and it even lifted Shield Mastery off a dead adventurer, not to mention that time it acquired Dagger Mastery. Indeed, the Skill was undeniably potent. Unreliable and random, but potent. Besides, tonight was still a pretty good night. It gained 2 Levels, the immensely delicious Mend Flesh Skill and earned itself 1,000 GP for completing both Quests. Therefore, the fact that Cadaver Absorption once again failed to gain anything from a powerful creature was really nothing to worry about.
Yep. It was fine. It didn’t bother the Mimic.
It bothered it. It bothered it a lot actually, but it was too late to gripe about it now. Then it remembered all those explosives and potions that it had to go through during the fight and its mood got even worse. Was tonight really that much of a profit? It decided that yes, yes it was. Maybe not so much on the monetary side of things, but it kept telling itself that life would be much easier from now on.
“Hey Boss,” called out Kora. “You okay?”
“Fine,” answered Boxxy.
That was actually the truth. Now that both the thrill of victory and the disappointment of losing a gamble were gone, it was actually left quite… serene. Peaceful, even. Almost like-
The Mimic quickly shook itself vigorously. That was close. It was so tired that it almost fell asleep right then and there. This place was far too dangerous to do that sort of thing, not to mention exposed. Deciding it had better get a move on, Boxxy briskly walked out of the gigantic pile of black ash - the remains of the Murk Dweller Queen - and started checking the bodies of the lesser Murk Dwellers. A good bunch of them were turned to goop thanks to that explosion, but there were still quite a few of them left lying around that were mostly intact. It then started systematically using Cadaver Absorption on them, one after the other.
And was met, as expected, with a string of failures. Its fickle mood quickly started turning sour once more. It still kept using the Skill on one corpse after the other though, wouldn’t want them to go to waste. Some small part of it considered whether it should store some of these bodies for breakfast, but quickly decided against it. Objectively speaking, their meat was pretty bad. Something in their green blood made it taste considerably foul. It wasn’t poisonous, just… disgusting. Without the ‘taste of victory’ around to smooth things over, it really didn’t want to-
Your Cadaver Absorption was a moderate success!
16% of the target’s highest Skill Proficiency has been added to your own.
The body’s deteriorated condition has weakened this effect by 20%.
Proficiency level increased. Aci◻ Spray is now Level 3. END +9. INT +9.
“Oh!” exclaimed Boxxy.
A brand new Skill popped up out of the second-to-last corpse. It actually pulled through in the end, didn’t it? Wait, something was off about that window just now. And what was this… odd sensation it felt when it absorbed it? The Mimic quickly double-checked the Skill.
Description: 3͢Er̸ф̀гj͠fЯo͡fR҉ ͢ ͢P#́f̨l̸B̀>̴taQg̷ ;;;
Activation Time: 1 second
Cost: 80 MP/sec
Range: 7.999999999999994 meters
Effects: Emit a spray of co̶rŗo̴s̶isi͠s͘ísi̸ve͘ aci◻.
Increases the volume and potency of the released aci◻ by 10% per Level of this $ḱil̢l̵.̷
This was new.
Actually no, it wasn’t entirely new. The Mimic had already seen this sort of incomprehensible gibberish and weird squiggles once before. Back when it had summoned Nagnamor using Xera as a host, to be more precise. Attempting to view that Archfiend’s Status gave it a list of garbled nonsense that seemed quite similar to this one. Perhaps it was somehow related? It had better double-check just to be sure.
*Beep ... Beep … Bee-*
“Hello,” answered the familiar, raspy voice. “You have reached Demons ‘R’ Us, my name is Carl and I’ll be your liaison for today.”
“Hey Carl. It’s Boxxy.”
“Oh! Good to hear from you, buddy! What can I do for you today?”
“I got this weird Skill and I need some help.”
“Is it directly related to your summoning contract, bound familiars, the Beyond and/or eldritch abominations of terrible power?”
“Then that means our company doesn’t support it. Sorry, buddy, you’re on your own.”
“But I saw the same weird thing back when I had Punchy!”
“Punchy? Oh right, High Overlord Nagnamor. You… didn’t summon him again, did you?”
The Mimic was quite confident it would know if it accidentally summoned a towering fire-breathing demon hell-bent on destruction and carnage.
“Then how it is related?”
“The Skill, it’s all weird. Just like Punchy’s Status back then.”
“Is it? Hmm…I think I need to consult my manager, please hold.”
Ah, there it was again, that oddly soothing music. Boxxy’s fascination with these tasty sounds was the reason it made so many music boxes for Artificer practice. It couldn’t quite get the sound to be this good, though. At least, they sold moderately well, to the point where the Mimic could make a decent profit on them. Not to mention that it felt oddly happy to be making something chest-shaped for once, even if it was just a toy.
“Sorry for the delay, Boxxy. Send me your Status and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Got it. And which Skill seems to be the issue?”
“It’s the Aci-square Spray.”
“... What? Do you mean Acid Spray?”
“Uh-huh… One moment, please.”
*Tak-a-taktak tak taktaktak*
“Oh, I think I see the issue. That sort of thing happens when you see a Job or a Skill that’s outside of your understanding.”
“So… it’s normal?”
“Well, I don’t know how normal it is for a Mimic to have a Skill from outside its species, but Monster Jobs aren’t too far apart so it’s probably fine. You still understand most of it, yeah?”
“Then I’d say you’re good. The Skill’s description and whatnot should clear up later, so don’t worry about it.”
“I see. Thanks Carl.”
“Hey, no problem. Glad you actually had a simple problem for once. Anything else I can do for you today?”
“N- Actually yes. Can I speak with Snack like I do with you?”
“... Oh, right, the succubus. Well, it’s possible, but she’d have to give you her soul number. And don’t order her to tell you her soul number, okay? That could be grounds for contract termination. Especially with succubi, they’re quite touchy when it comes to that sort of thing.”
“Why do you need to speak to her anyway?”
“Just curious if I could.”
That was it, nothing more, nothing less. After all, it was personally acquainted with only four demons. One of them was Carl and he was easy to reach through Demons ‘R’ Us. Snack or Arms could just be summoned if they were banished, or contacted telepathically if they were present. As for Punchy, well, Boxxy had already made a deal to stay away from that guy. And it really didn’t want to break off a deal with a demon.
“Thanks, Carl. You were a big help.”
“That’s what I’m here for, buddy. Buh-bye.”
The Mimc double-checked its Skill List and it noticed that ‘Aci◻ Spray’ was now properly called ‘Acid Spray.’ It would seem those squiggles really were just a problem with its perception of the Skill. The contents of the Skill’s window were still a bit messed up, but Boxxy had all the relevant information it needed to spit acid just like those overgrown lobsters.
Ah, but it could actually do one better. Being a shapeshifter allowed it to instantly grow the relevant acid-producing gland wherever it pleased. It could shoot jets of that nasty stuff out of its mouth, its tongue, or even the tips of its arachnid feet. The liquid refused to fly further than 8 meters, though. The corrosive spray seemed to evaporate into thin air the instant it went beyond that threshold. It also seemed like only one acid gland could actually spit the stuff out at any given time, so growing a lot of those at once turned out to be a disappointingly wasted effort.
Still that acid was quite devastating - something the shapeshifter had experienced first hand. Being able to use non-physical means of attack without resorting to chanting magic was quite useful in and of itself, although Boxxy needed to be careful not to get splashed by its own juices. Unlike Murk Dwellers, the Mimic’s chest-y shell was not acid resistant. Ah, but even if it did injure itself, it would heal in seconds thanks to Mend Flesh, so it probably wasn’t that big a deal.
Having concluded its business in the marsh and, after forcefully dismissing Kora for whining about her missing limbs or some such, Boxxy made its way back to the outskirts of Erosa. It went into the city through its secret tunnel, crawled into its hideout, summoned both of its familiars for protection and finally allowed itself to sleep.
When Boxxy woke up, the day had already arrived and was just before noon. The time right now was 11:34 AM according to the Mimic’s own hand- or rather, tentacle-made clock. As usual, its weekly dose of sleep lasted for almost 9 hours, but waking up feeling refreshed and full of energy was in itself pretty tasty. It quickly donned its disguise and set about its day, albeit with a late start. First order of business was to get paid.
It walked the now familiar streets and went inside the Mercenary Guild. The place was practically deserted, unlike at breakfast. In fact, the only ones present here were the dwarven receptionist and what appeared to be a male elf nursing a headache in the corner.
“Ah! If it isn’t the illustrious Mister Morningwood!” called out Grog as the Mimic approached his bar. It replied by simply nodding in response. The dwarf put away the glass he was pretending to clean and turned to properly face his customer.
“What can I do for you today?”
“Hmm, don’t tell me you’re giving up!”
“No. I’m done.”
“Done? You mean you already killed all those crabby bastards?”
The aged dwarf burst into a hearty laugh.
“Hey!” called out the elf in the corner who was still nursing his hangover. “Keep it down, Grog! My head’s about to burst!”
“Ah, sorry Lint. It’s just that mister Morningwood here has just made me a whole lot of gold!”
Boxxy’s eyes shone fiercely at the G-word.
“Oh!” exclaimed Grog. “Now there’s a look I can relate to! Don’t worry, just a friendly wager between me and some of the lads on whether you’d make it back.”
He smiled widely, not surprising considering it was plainly obvious which side of the wager he had bet on. There was more to it than that, though. Grog’s personal opinion of the hard-working Boxxy T. Morningwood had only improved during the past week.
“Let’s make it official, shall we?”
The dwarf reached behind the counter and brought out the Quest Logger, placing the crystal orb on the counter. He then promptly confirmed that Boxxy T. Morning did indeed complete the two Murk Dweller related Quests that were accepted the day before. He excused himself and went into the back room to prepare Boxxy’s payment as per usual and came out with two particularly heavy satchels and two much smaller pouches.
“Here you go, mister Morningwood,” he said while setting them down on the counter. “Please confirm the amount.”
Boxxy nodded and opened up the bags. It quickly confirmed the full 1,100 GP was there and hid the bags underneath its cloak.
“Oh and,” said the bartender, pulling out a 50 GP coin and sliding it across the counter. “This is for being a good sport about the wagers. I made a killing off you, so I felt it was only fair to give you a little something. No hard feelings, ey?”
“Holy shit!” screamed Lint from the corner. He got up from his seat and started running across the restaurant with his hands in the air.
“Grog’s giving away money! A storm is comiiiing!”
He then promptly ran upstairs, likely to hide under his bed covers.
“Storm? It will rain?” asked the Mimic with a hint of worry in its voice. It did not like storms.
“Nah, nevermind him. He’s just being overly dramatic.”
Boxxy gladly pocketed the extra gold and wordlessly left the Mercenary Guild. That Grog was a good sort. The Mimic would make sure to savor him later. But before (or even if) such a time came, it had to restock its supplies. Hmmmm, come to think of it, why was it spending all this money in the first place? Surely it can just take what it wants, right? Now that it had Mend Flesh, couldn’t it take all those crummy guards and loot the city however it pleased?
No, those were dangerous thoughts. Its MP was not bottomless, but it still hurt to get so much tasty gold only to spend it almost immediately. It only had 1,404 GP with today’s payment, which was not a lot. Well, at least it wouldn’t need potions any more, right? No, there were potions that restored MP rather than HP, surely those would be a wise investment, right? Actually those seemed to be slightly cheaper than their healing counterparts. Then there were the enhancement potions called elixirs.
Gah, why was earning money so much more difficult than spending it?
Well, first things first. It stopped by the same elven apothecary it always visited and bought four blue-tinged potions for 95 GP each. The Alchemist claimed they filled 200 MP per dose, so they would serve very well in an emergency. Boxxy also bought two of those 300 HP potions, just in case. The old elf even gave him a discount on those, at only 175 GP each instead of 190. This put Boxxy in a very amiable mood. Everything was going its way, today!
Next on the shopping list - explosives. Those were very handy to have in a pinch and their non-magical nature made them more reliable than those Spell Crystals, though perhaps not as flexible. Having made up its mind, it idly walked towards Fizzy’s Fidgety Widgets, arriving without much incident. People on the street were giving it frightened and/or curious looks, but that was pretty much an everyday occurrence. One would think they’d get used to seeing it around town by now…
It entered the familiar shop as per usual.
“Ack! Hey B-Boxxy!”
However, Fizzy was actually at the counter instead of working on her projects in the back. She seemed to be fiddling with some wires beneath it.
“You’re here, um, early!”
Her eyes darted between her visitor and the door in the back. Was it really early though? If anything, the Mimic’s actually on the late side.
“Ah well, no time like the present! Wait right there, I have something I want to give you! Just, just sit right there, okay?”
Boxxy nodded, which sent the gnome running into the back room. Well, it’s not like waiting around for a bit was a problem. Normally it had to wait until she came out of the back anyway. She came out from her workshop almost immediately, though. The gnome ran around her counter and clambered up on the small step ladder.
“Here, this is for you!”
She held out a small metal ball. It was about 5 centimeters in diameter and had a deep groove running all around its circumference. Like it was two hemispheres that were bolted together. Well, that was pretty much what it was. There was also a rather large button on the top.
“It’s, uhm, a gift for, uh, for being such a great student! Yeah!”
This was unlike the usual Fizzy. Normally she’s far more precise with her words, but seemed a bit unable to properly form sentences in front of the Mimic. She also seemed to be avoiding eye contact for some reason. Not that Boxxy cared for such things anyway.
It reached out with its left arm and snatched the metal orb from her open hand. The gnome seemed to recoil slightly from the sudden action, but the Mimic was far too enthralled by the shiny object it had been presented with to care about her. No wonder it had such a lustrous sheen, the surface of it was coated with gold. Peering inside the device with its magical perception revealed it appeared to be an Artificer contraption rather than a simple ball. Well, that much would be obvious by the big red button on the side.
“What’s this?” it asked, brimming with curiosity.
“Like I said, it’s a gift! It’s, err, a prototype toy! Yeah! It’s super fun! Just push the button and you’ll see!”
The Mimic then promptly did as instructed and pressed it with its thumb.
Huh? Why did Fizzy duck under the-
Blue arcs of electricity shot out from the device and into Boxxy’s being.
It let out a purely inhuman scream as the current rocket it to its very core.
You have been electrocuted. HP -258.
You have been stunned for 4 seconds.
Your Skills have been disabled for 4 seconds.
Losing control of its body, the 220 centimeter figure fell on the floor. No, it would be more accurate to say it collapsed in on itself. The fake limbs and head dissolved into a sort of red, slightly pulsating meat paste.
“Hah… Hahahaha!” laughed Fizzy. “I knew it! I knew I wasn’t crazy! I kept telling them those dreams were far too real to be just my imagination! Well who’s crazy now, eh?! Hahahaha!”
It would seem she had been subjected to Xera’s mind wipes one too many times. The Mimic didn’t have the luxury of deducing that though. Right now it was barely even conscious, unable to move even a single muscle fiber. Even its magical perception seemed blurry. Fuzzy even.
“Snack!” it called out telepathically. “Come to the gnome shop right away!”
But there was no response. It didn’t feel its wounded body healing, either, despite leaving Mend Flesh toggled to ON. Ah, the window did say something about Skills being disabled.
“Now, you’re mine! And you’ll pay for toying with me! For scheming behind my back!”
The gnome leaned back behind the counter and pulled a lever, the same one she had been fiddling with just moments ago. A large number of steel rods shot out from the wooden floor, tearing it to pieces in the process and extending upwards all the way into the ceiling. The disabled monster was now surrounded on all sides, trapped inside a circular cage about 3 meters in diameter.
“We’ll see how the city guards deal with you!”
The gnome leapt over the counter and ran out into the street. This was not good. Very not tasty!
You are no longer stunned.
Your Skills are no longer disabled.
“Snack!” it tried again.
“Yes, Master?” came Xera’s reply.
“Come towards the shop and find the gnome!”
“Did you mess up with-”
“Ack! Yes, Master!”
The monster tried standing up, but couldn’t properly control its extremities. Its entire body was numb, like it was not its own anymore. This was the first time it ever felt such a sensation. Or rather, such a lack of sensation.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +120.
Good, that was working again as well. However, this appeared to be the worst case scenario. Therefore, the Mimic made the decision right then and there to run. No matter how weak those city guards looked, there were over 500 of them. Not to mention all the formidable adventurers in town!
Your flesh has been mended. HP +120.
Now that its wounds were healed up it felt its body recover more or less completely. It discarded the cheap clothes it was wearing and stood up properly on its spider-legs. It took a step towards the edge of its prison, but immediately shrank back. Those steel bars had electricity running along their length. Blue arcs jumped between them intermittently, making it painfully obvious that anyone who touched them would be zapped.
Boxxy didn’t want to touch them, didn’t even want to get near them. Its normally quiet instincts were screaming at it not to get shocked. That electricity was bad. Very bad. Just looking at it made the Mimic want to hide in the deepest, darkest hole it could find.
It finally understood. This was its elemental weakness, its vulnerability. Much like how undead would be made brittle and crumble easily when bathed in flames, so too would shapeshifters lose control of their ever-changing bodies when exposed to a strong electric charge. It would seem Fizzy had done her homework and prepared a trap specifically created to capture the Mimic.
But she did not know that it could spit acid.
The chest opened up and a fleshy tongue wiggled free of it. A small opening appeared on its pointed tip and a green liquid sprayed out of it. It clung to the steel pipes and started eating away at them with a steady hissing noise. This would work, but it looked like it would take some time.
“Master, I see the gnome!” reported Xera. “She’s shouting at a group of guards and pointing towards your location!”
Right. This was way beyond salvageable.
“Leave her and come to me.”
Next it forcefully dismissed Kora from the warehouse and started summoning her back while the acid was eating away at its prison. But that’s not all it did. The corrosive liquid leaked down between some cracks on the floor, causing sparks and smoke to come out from there moments later. The Mimic used its magical perception to confirm that some wires under the floor were melted completely through.
It really should have been more suspicious of those when it noticed them earlier, but it had grown complacent.
Kora’s summoning finished several seconds later. Using a big chunk of its MP like this was perhaps not the smartest idea, but it needed all the help it could get right now. Besides, it had just gotten a bunch of potions to help with that should the need arise.
“What was-! Eck!”
The fiend let out a stupid sound when she saw her master in a cage.
“Boss?! What the fuck?”
“Break this thing!”
Her four muscled arms gripped a steel bar each and pulled on them all at once. The metal, already weak from the acid, creaked and groaned and gave way, breaking off completely at their weakest points. Kora flexed her muscles and widened a gap large enough for the chest to exit sideways, which it did with great relish.
This event really wasn’t doing much to help with the Mimic's grate trauma.
Having been released from its prison, it immediately leapt over the counter and started unlocking the metal safe hidden in the floor. It already knew the combination since it spied on Fizzy opening it a few times. Inside were several satchels of gold, a few gems and a weird metal tube-shaped device. It was in a hurry so it quickly tossed everything it could into its Storage without counting it.
“Master! The guards are right outside the shop!”
“Haaaah,” sighed the Mimic. Now it would have to murder God knows how many people until it reached the gate, probably wasting even more of its limited resources along the way. And now that its identity was out in the open, it would probably struggle to recover from those losses.
And today was going so well, too!