A squad of 20 armed guards marched steadily down the city street. The rhythmic, clanking noise their plate armor made with every step gave off the impression of a stampede of steel. A female gnome with pink pigtails that went by Fizzy was accompanying them.
“I swear to Teresa, pipsqueak,” complained the squad leader, “if I find you’re messing with us and-”
“I. Am not. Messing with you!” insisted the gnome. “I really did capture a mimic in my store!”
“Right, right, so you say,” said the old soldier while readjusting his steel helmet. Looking down at that gnome any longer was going to give him a crick in his neck.
“Hey sarge,” called out one of the guards, “do we really have to do this?”
“Yes, we do, moron. A citizen demanded our help, so we’re helping. Whether there’s any credibility to these claims of hers is another thing entirely.”
He tossed a dubious look at the citizen in question.
“I already told you I’m telling the truth!”
“We’ll see about that,” said the sergeant without even trying to hide the doubt in his voice. “This the place?”
“Yeah, that’s it. It should be locked up inside.”
The fully armed squad of soldiers stood in front of the store the little gnome had led them to. Perfectly quiet and completely ordinary aside from the strangely flashy sign that read ‘Fizzy’s Fidgety Widgets.’ The squad leader pointed out to three of his men and ordered them to enter the store and check it out. The slightly undisciplined guards idly walked over to the door and opened it. Peering inside, the man at the front saw a dirty counter and a pair of gray metal fists flying towards his face.
Kora’s powerful twinned punches sent him flying into the other two men that were with him, knocking them all down to the ground. The fiend then made a small jump and put her heels, combined with her entire body weight, right onto that man’s broken face. His head splattered against the cobblestone road as if it were an overripe tomato.
“To arms!” shouted the sergeant, doing his best to rally his men. “Rogue demon on the loose! Prepare to subdue it.”
“Urah!” replied the guards in unison, drawing their weapons and assuming a formation.
The gnome screamed and ran for cover. The other civilians followed her example. They all scattered and started running for their lives the instant they saw the grotesque scene of a man having his head crushed. As for the perpetrator, she didn’t even skip a beat. Kora crouched down, grabbed the other two men at her feet and tossed them into the rest of the armored platoon. They crashed into their squadmates, nearly knocking them over.
Something flew out of the door’s dusty window. Something wooden, rectangular, and multi-legged.
It let out an unearthly sound, somewhere between a hiss, a growl and a scream.
“Reform the ranks!” shouted the sergeant.
The guards in front quickly formed a shield wall while those in the back prepared to cast magic or pulled back their bowstrings. And while their attention was focused on the new threat, Kora threw a Mass Panic Spell Crystal towards their front line. It shattered open, and magic-induced fear gripped all the soldiers caught in its effect.
One of the backliners, a Priest, quickly chanted a Spell to combat this effect. A blue wave spread out from his position, dispelling the Mass Panic from his squadmates.
The rest of the rearguard unleashed various ranged attacks and magic on the rapidly approaching Mimic.
Kora leapt in front of her master and activated her defensive Skill. Gray metallic scales instantly covered her red skin, mitigating a significant chunk of that barrage. Boxxy jumped onto her back and wrapped its legs around her waist, shoulders and chest, firmly attaching itself to her like an oversized backpack. Now that it no longer had to worry about its footing, the Mimic could focus on other things for the moment.
“OOORRRRRRAAAH!” roared Kora as the power of the (slightly misspoken) Dark Infusion Spell surged through her once more, filling her with a temporary burst of strength and speed. She ran forward, crashed into the guards' disorganized front line and went on a rampage.
“This isn’t happening,” mumbled Fizzy.
The gnome had ducked into a small alley between two buildings during her panic earlier. However, rather than doing the wise thing and running, she simply stood there and stared in horror at the scene some 20 meters away from her.
A towering four armed demon was fighting a bunch of guards. Her heavy fists dented their plate armor and crumpled their shields. The metal scales that protected her body had fallen off and she received multiple wounds from those in front of her. But rather than following common sense and growing sluggish, her movements actually became sharper. Faster. Deadlier.
The gnome had no way of knowing this, but these were simply the effects of the demon’s Side Job. As a Level 14 Berserker, Kora had two of the Job’s Skills available to her - Level 5 Bloodlust and Level 3 Brutal Fervor.
Description: A Berserker’s thirst for battle knows no end
Requirements: Level 5 Berserker, STR 20, END 20
Activation Time: N/A
Effects: Killing a target with a melee attack increases all damage dealt by 5% for 1 minute.
This effect stacks up to a maximum of 10% per Level of this Skill.
Description: Nothing gets the blood flowing like an open wound
Requirements: Level 10 Berserker, END 50
Activation Time: N/A
Effects: Increases the effectiveness of the AGI and DEX Attributes by 5% for every 2% of max HP missing.
This effect stacks up to a maximum of 15% per Level of this Skill.
Berserkers thrived on battle. Hungered for it. These personifications of bloodshed and violence fought without regard for their own safety until either they or their enemies were dead. It was a truly reckless Job with a high mortality rate. Very few of the people who took on the role of a Berserker actually lived long enough to fully develop it. Kora was no exception, either. Her reckless behavior got her killed with rather frightening regularity. However, unlike the fleeting existence of mortals, she was a demon. A being that could be brought back to life as many times as her master wished. And she took full advantage of that fact by embracing what it meant to be a Berserker. She stood covered in wounds and neck-deep in enemies, but not showing a single sign of backing down.
“This isn’t happening,” repeated Fizzy.
Something far more dangerous, far more terrible was clinging to the back of that incarnation of violence. A chest-shaped monster with three red tentacles growing out of it, gripping a bloodied longsword in each one. Anyone who dared approach the fiend from the rear got sprayed with acid and then slashed up. Anyone who dared to attack it from range simply saw the fiend abruptly turn around and take the hits for it.
It was plainly obvious that, rather than covering the demon’s back, the Mimic was simply using her like a shield.
“This. Isn’t. Happening!”
The overwhelming shock of seeing the terror from her dreams lay waste to a squad of fully armed guards gripped the gnome’s heart in terror.
“Oh, but it is.”
Then came the cold, emotionless female voice directly above her. Frozen in fear, she could not even look up, too afraid to confront what was undoubtedly another of that thing’s minions. She felt the oddly familiar sensation of a slender hand being placed on her head.
It took about 2 minutes for Boxxy and Kora to completely dismantle the guards. Even if they were around Level 35, their actual combat abilities were closer to Level 25 - an unfortunate downside of power leveling. Still, killing even one of them seemed to take a while, at least until Xera joined in halfway through the battle. She rained red-hot flames and molten magma on the ground-based troops. Granted, she almost died from getting hit by one Spell, but her firepower was still a great help, even if it only served as a diversion and deterrant.
“What now, Master?” asked the succubus while holding the gaping hole in her stomach.
“Where is Fizzy?” replied Boxxy telepathically.
“Over in the alley.”
“We’re bringing her with us.”
“... We are?”
“Yes. I want her Artificer training.”
Even now it still wanted to continue its training. It wasn’t sure when, or even if, it would be able to find another suitable Artificer.
“... Understood, Master.”
Xera limped off towards the alley where she stashed the comatose gnome while Boxxy surveyed the empty streets. The civilians had already abandoned the area and the street was deathly quiet, at least for the moment. That would likely not last though, as more guards were sure to be on their way.
“Here she is, Master.”
The succubus returned less than a minute later, holding the person that was unfortunate enough to catch her Master’s attention. The Mimic wasn’t sure whether it was even possible to convince her to teach it again even though its cover was magnificently blown. Snack’s sleepy-time magic tricks seemed to have failed and allowed the gnome to regain her memmories, just like the succubus had cautioned it. Well, bringing the small, pink-haired woman was still worth it. She had more value alive rather than dead, but the Mimic could just kill her and attempt Cadaver Absorption on her if she refused to... cooperate.
The materials necessary to put together various Artificer gadgets and gizmos would not be a problem, ethier. Boxxy had already taken the liberty of cramming as many bits and pieces from the gnome’s workshop as would fit into its Storage.
“Get her over to the south wall without drawing attention,” it commanded.
“At once, Master.”
Not three seconds later and the succubus had assumed a variant of her village girl disguise. Her hair was a mess, her clothes were dirty and the skirt had been ripped. The gnome in her hands had been wrapped by a thick blanket to conceal her shape, completing the image of a distraught mother carrying her sickly, slightly big-headed child to safety.
“I will be off, Master.”
Xera bowed slightly and trotted off towards the south.
“What about me, boss?” asked Kora.
Boxxy quickly confirmed she only had 240 HP remaining out of 1,512.
“Did you use Second Wind?” it asked.
As expected. There’s no way this reckless demon survived that many wounds without tapping into her only means of HP recovery.
Description: Fiends are by nature too stubborn to die
Requirements: Level 10 Fiend
Activation Time: Instant
Cost: 0 MP
Effects: Instantly recovers 25% of missing HP.
Increases the HP recovered by this Skill by 20% per Level of this Skill.
This Skill may not be activated more than once every 24 hours.
This was not good. It wanted to use her as a diversion to draw attention away from itself and Snack while they made it over the wall. And she wouldn’t make much of a diversion if she got killed in 5 seconds.
Thankfully, it could easily solve this problem. First it chugged two of its newly brought mana potions to replenish most of its missing MP. It then dismissed Kora and started re-summoning her. Doing this would not only restore her back to full HP, but bypass the cooldown period on Second Wind.
“Over there!” came a shout from the north.
It would seem guard reinforcements had just arrived from one of the adjacent streets. And the first thing they saw after turning the corner was a brightly glowing chest.
“By the Goddess!”
And then they realized that it was standing in the middle of the 25 or so bloodied, charred, pummeled, mangled, melted, decapitated or otherwise completely decimated bodies of their colleagues.
Followed immediately by the appearance of a four-armed, red skinned demon.
“T-to arms, men!” screamed the person who appeared to be in charge. The guards responded by drawing all of their blades, much like the first group of them.
“Attack them, then draw them north,” ordered Boxxy.
“Hehehe! You got it, boss!”
Kora ran off towards the guard while screaming her lungs out. The men and women in her way immediately turned their attention toward the rapidly approaching threat and seemed to completely forget about the glowing box.
Your familiar has been banished.
Xera had just been killed.
Someone must have seen through her disguise, but surely she would have reported if that were the case, right? Or did she get taken out in a single hit? It wanted to ask her the details, but it couldn’t summon her under these circumstances. It would surely draw attention to itself, not to mention that it would lack the MP to do so in the first place, even if it did drink both of its remaining mana potions. If only there was a way to speak to her without-
The soul number thing Carl mentioned! That would have been immensely useful right now, but Boxxy completely neglected to ask her about it!
Silently cursing its own complacency it quickly assessed the situation. One of its familiars got taken out and another was currently engaged in combat. The south wall was the closest one from its position, but had some unknown enemy in its way. Guards would be pouring in primarily from the north since the city’s keep was located in that direction. All things said and done, east seemed like the monster’s best chance of getting out of the city of Erosa.
So the monster abandoned all pretense of being a chest, sprouted spider legs and scuttled off into the alleyway, making a beeline for the edge of the city. Some of the guards saw it move, but that was of little concern since Kora would block them. Boxxy checked on her HP and determined she should be able to buy it at least a minute, plenty of time to get some ground between it and-
Your familiar has been banished.
-her remaining 1,132 HP disappeared in an instant.
Now was the time to panic.
The Mimic scuttled along the alleyways even more desperately than before. No, walking was too slow, it needed to get away from whatever was picking off its minions. And it needed to do so right. Fucking. Now! It quickly transformed its eight spider-feet into a set of four organic wheels and propelled itself down the tight spaces between the buildings. It used its flexible body to make twists and turns that would be impossible otherwise, bouncing off walls to round corners and jumping over debris and garbage that stood in its way.
It then broke out onto another of the city’s main roads and turned south. Whoever or whatever was behind the deaths of its minions was no longer in that direction, meaning the Mimic had a clear shot at making it beyond that wall.
“Mom can I ride it?!”
“Holy crap, what?!”
It rolled through onlookers and pedestrians who probably had no idea why or how a treasure chest was rolling down the street. And they were in its way. The monster managed to avoid colliding into most of them by ducking and weaving, sometimes jumping over them without slowing down. However, it couldn’t avoid all of them. After all, it was rolling around at a speed comparable to that of a horse in full gallop, albeit at a much smaller stature. Some collisions were inevitable.
Your target has suffered blunt force trauma. Target HP -103.
It ran over an old woman who didn’t get away in time.
Your target has suffered blunt force trauma. Target HP -96.
It rolled over a puppy crossing the road, crushing it to death.
Your target has suffered blunt force trauma. Target HP -56.
It smashed into a random adventurer’s knee before he could react.
Regardless, none of those things could drastically slow it down. It was moving at high speeds and had a mass of nearly 100 KG. It was quite heavy considering its relatively small size, meaning it could smash through any civilians who got in its way with ease. And of course it kept two eyes wide open all the while. One in the front to watch out for obstacles and one in the rear to check for anyone that might have been following it.
The rear was clear, but there was trouble brewing at the front.
“Stop that thing!”
A row of guards stood in its way, and it could make out the tall stone wall just beyond them. It just had to get past these guys and it would be out of the city, at which point it could keep rolling down the imperial highway going east until it was truly out of sight. But first it had to clear the way since those humans had formed a shield wall in its path.
It momentarily slowed its speed, and popped open its lid. The albino Xera-on-wheels made her first ever public appearance. Every single person on that street stared slack-jawed at the bizarre sight of a naked, large-breasted albino lady rolling down the street while holding a staff. Well, they stared at the sight of those outrageous breasts, at least. Every man, woman and child had their eyes drawn to those pale mountains of flesh.
“Dark Explosion ~♪!”
Boxxy didn’t care though. It simply used its magic to force open the way. The shockwave that erupted in the middle of the guard’s line knocked them on their asses, allowing the Mimic to roll through them unhindered. It quickly retracted Xera’s upper body and sped up towards the base of the city’s walls. All that was left now was to-
A black boot kicked the Mimic from the side, sending it flying off-course and smashing into nearby building. The monster smashed clean through someone’s living room and flew out of the street on the other side.
You have suffered major blunt force trauma. HP -1,142.
You have been stunned for 5 seconds.
Proficiency level increased. Natural Armor is now Level 7. END +6.
It crashed into a nearby vegetable stall, sending plant matter and splinters everywhere, much to the distress of the stall’s vendor. The man immediately gave up on screaming about his cabbages and made the very wise decision to run away immediately.
“Kreh! Kphogh! Skraktktkt!”
The badly injured Mimic let out a series of guttural noises. Having been kicked through a building, it was understandably in an extremely sorry state. What was once a faux-wood chest with wheels was now a mangled mess of flesh. Its shell had been splintered, its wheels torn off and its yellow blood oozed forth from multiple wounds.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +95.
And there went the last of its MP. The almighty Mend Flesh Skill that gave it so much trouble in the past was simply not able to do much for its owner given the current situation.
“Hoooh, still alive?”
Boxxy heard a man’s voice, directly from above itself. It sounded very close, as if the person was leaning over the creature. However, its magical perception was not picking anything or anyone.
“Good,” it said, “I was afraid I overdid things with that little love tap.”
It was a calm, collected voice. Oddly soothing and terrifying at the same time.
You are no longer stunned.
The Mimic immediately tried to move the moment its consciousness had stabilized. It grew a set of spider legs in an instant and tried to stand up, but immediately fell to one side.
“Don’t move, beast.”
“Come now, you can do better than that. I saw you grow an entire person just now.”
Taking the hint, Boxxy opened the mangled remains of its upper jaw and formed a human-like head out of its badly wounded tongue, which naturally assumed Xera’s form.
And then, when that head opened its eyes, it finally saw him.
An old man with a leather hood stood mere centimeters from the wrecked Mimic, with arms crossed across his chest. His face held two deep scars - one across his left cheek and the other on the right side of his forehead. His hair had turned gray from age and his skin was heavily wrinkled, yet he seemed to exude a sense of youth and vitality as if he was in the prime of his life.
The armor he wore was a set of thick-looking dark gray leather with a pale blue tabard draped over his chest. A leather sling with several pouches on it was draped over his shoulder and two short weapons - daggers by the look of things - were sheathed on the left side of his waist. The lithe-looking legs ended in a pair of plain-looking black boots. The left one had a smudge of yellow on it.
“Ah, there we go,” he said with an extremely stern expression. “So, you can understand me, right?”
The Mimic stammered. It was afraid. This man was completely and utterly beyond Boxxy’s comprehension. Not only did he nearly kill it in one blow, but he also completely eluded the monster’s magical perception. Only its eyes were able to track him, and even those seemed to want to naturally slide off the man and look elsewhere. But it didn’t dare do such a thing.
“Good. It’s a start. Do you have a name, beast?”
“... And? What is it?”
“Boxxy T. Morningwood.”
The man sighed and put his right palm over his face.
“What’s the T stand for?”
“Of course it does… Well then, Boxxy. I suppose since you gave me your name I will give you mine. I am Edward Allen, Spymaster to his Majesty Emperor Joseph Frederick von Einhart the Third.”
He went down on one knee and stared deeply into the Mimic’s face, which caused the monster to recoil and shiver in fear.
“And I will have you answer some questions regarding that four armed demon.”
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Edward Gordon Allen||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
|Guild||The Gilded Hand||END||757||PER||342|
|Misdirection||10||MAX||Open Hand Technique||10||MAX||Essence Extraction||5||19%|
|Evasion||10||MAX||Sleight of Hand||10||MAX||Serum Expertise||5||94%|
|Illusory Blade Style||10||MAX||Lip Reading||10||MAX||Purification||3||43%|
|Dual Wield||10||MAX||Smoke Cloud||10||MAX||Stealth||10||MAX|
|Blade Finesse||10||MAX||Silver Tongue||10||MAX||Mentor||10||MAX|
|Uncanny Dodge||10||MAX||Silencing Gaze||8||43%||Sense Energy||10||MAX|
|Find Weakness||10||MAX||Disperse Magic||7||76%||Projectile Mastery||25||MAX|
|Turn the Blade||10||MAX||Wiretap||6||53%||Bow Mastery||6||85%|
|Nerves of Steel||10||MAX||Herbalism||10||MAX||Brawling Mastery||10||MAX|
|Cheat Death||10||MAX||Mixology||10||MAX||Sword Mastery||10||MAX|
|Honorable Thief||10||MAX||Potion Expertise||7||32%||Axe Mastery||2||30%|
|Air Step||10||MAX||Poison Expertise||10||MAX||Shield Mastery||5||43%|
|The Eyes of Truth||1||MAX||Alchemical Fortitude||8||13%||Mace Mastery||3||23%|
|Martial Art List|
|Illusory Blade Style||Open Hand Technique|
|Backstab||Thousand Palm Thrust|
|Cheap Shot||Fire Cobra Claw|
|Shadow Clones||Paralyzing Strike|
|Twin Fangs||Shining Finger|
|Phantom Knife||Flow Disruption|
|Hundred Needles||Sky Cleaver|
|Fan of Knives||Wind Thrust|
|Soul Sever||Quivering Palm|