The black-furred, twin-tailed wolf lunged at its prey with its mouth wide open. The sharp fangs within attempted to bite the small, pink thing in half. It was so tiny that it could probably run between the wolf’s legs while standing completely upright. Actually, there was no ‘probably’ to that assessment, seeing as how that’s exactly what the gnome did. Rather than compete with the wolf in a contest of raw, physical strength, she dove under its ferocious bite and rolled forward. The wolf let out a yelp of pain as it felt something cold and sharp rip through its leg muscles. It jumped to the side in order to put some distance between itself and that tiny thing, landing a good 3-4 meters away from its previous position.
But when it turned around in the next instant, it failed to see the pink-haired gnome. After a moment of confusion, it once again felt the painful sensation of its body being carved up from below. It yelped and leaped away once again, but the same thing happened a second time. After the third, the beast realized that its afternoon snack was somehow able to keep up with it, despite its clearly superior speed. It gave up on trying to leap out of the way and decided to simply flatten it with its body weight. After all, it was a tiny thing that looked like it would snap under the beast’s body mass.
Fizzy rolled out from under the wolf just as it tried to pin her down. Its relatively massive body missed her completely and landed right on top of the dagger she had lodged in the soft dirt. The simple beast once again let out a yell as its own weight drove the steel blade deeper than the gnome could ever do by herself. It was a telling blow, but one that could only be done by disarming herself. That was okay though, she had a backup weapon. No, it would be more accurate to say the dagger was the warm-up weapon. She reached behind her back and gripped the metal handle that was poking from behind it. She gave it a twist and a pull to release it from its holding clamp and brought it to her side, holding it firmly with both hands.
Now that the twin-tailed wolf was brought down to her eye level, she ran around its huge body. The pint-sized Paladin’s eyes and weapon both shone with a bright yellow-green light just moments before she took a batter-like swing. The illuminated mace-like object in her arms smashed against the monster’s head before it could muster enough strength to pull itself up off the ground.
You have inflicted major blunt force trauma. Target HP -246.
Proficiency level increased. Mace Mastery is now Level 4. STR +4.
The wolf once again yelped pathetically. That blow cracked its skull and smashed its jaw.
You have inflicted major blunt force trauma. Target HP -307.
Proficiency level increased. Divine Wrath is now Level 3. FTH +3. STR +1.
The bloodstained hunk of metal was swung downwards a second later, splattering the wolf’s head against the ground with a wet, disgusting noise. Bits of brain and blood splashed onto the gnome’s face and hair, but she didn’t seem to care. In fact, she lifted her weapon above her and took one more swing at the beast’s flattened head, just to make sure it was dead.
The former wolf’s head turned into a bloody pulp. Satisfied, she lifted her improvised weapon and wiped it clean as best she could against the beast’s fur. She waited a while for the glow to fade, then inspected it for any dents or damage.
No matter how one looked at it, the thing in her hands was nothing more than a simple wrench. This lump of steel had, much like the other tools from her shop, been enchanted to preserve its durability. Fizzy had never used this tool for its intended purpose before, though. While a human-sized Artificer would probably find it easy to use, it was much too big for the gnome’s tiny stature. Not to mention it was much too big and clumsy to help with the type of things an Arclight Artificer would be interested in making. An Automata Artificer would probably find it useful, since their projects tended to be much larger and clunkier in scale. The only reason it was even available in Fizzy’s Fidgety Widgets was because it came as part of a tool set.
As for how this thing found itself in her possession, it was because Boxxy had randomly picked it up when it hurriedly looted her shop. Fizzy was, oddly enough, not the least bit upset she had been robbed blind. Some part of her probably thought she deserved that for setting this whole chain of events into motion, but for the most part she was a little bit glad. Her father’s Lightning Thrower didn’t get left behind, and she had actually found a use for this stupid hunk of magical steel. Not to mention that Boxxy had let her assemble a few small gadgets with the random parts inside its Storage.
After noting that the wrench had a tiny new dent on one side of it, she sheathed it behind her back and turned her attention back to the wolf. She walked over to it and, with a bit of effort, rolled it over on its side, then retrieved the steel dagger stuck in its belly. She then proceeded to carve up the meat that would probably serve as her dinner.
Her body moved mechanically and with practiced ease as she cut in the wolf’s flank. The once bright and attentive green eyes now seemed dull and lifeless while her bruised face maintained an emotionless mask. She was already desensitized to the sight of blood and gore, and had already adapted to her new, more violent daily routine.
This was the 16th day since her escape from the Spymaster and also the 16th day since her position as ‘Boxxy’s thing.’
The Mimic in question commented from somewhere behind Fizzy. Its sickeningly sweet voice never failed to send chills down her spine. She stopped what she was doing and sheepishly turned around to properly face the monster that could snap her in half at a moment’s notice.
“Ah,” exclaimed Fizzy. “Aaaah!”
Followed by a scream as realization hit her.
“I-I-I wrecked its head! I’m so sorry Boxxy! I di- didn’t mean to! Honest!”
She immediately started apologizing. She knew full well the Mimic needed the head intact to absorb the corpse. How could she not? That murderous box had absorbed nearly 70 corpses right in front of her. She was, understandably, somewhat disturbed to find out this is what Boxxy meant when it said it ‘ate’ her father and brother.
Only somewhat though. Her newly acquired, more pragmatic worldview understood that something would’ve come along and eaten them eventually. She simply took solace in the knowledge that their murderers, as well as the people who failed to protect them, had paid for their respective crimes.
“Please don’t hit me!” she pleaded.
The gnome had become a splendidly dirty fighter in the Mimic’s expert opinion. She mostly attacked from blind spots and used her smaller stature and ability to somewhat predict her opponent’s movements to confuse and befuddle her opponent. This was the first time she had managed to bring down such a large creature without taking a single hit, so the monster was quite pleased with her progress. She might actually be useful in the coming battle if she kept this up.
“Good kill,” it added.
She chanced a weak smile. This was the first bit of actual praise she had gotten in two weeks.
“Any gains?” asked Boxxy.
“Mace Mastery and D-D-Divine Wrath went up.”
This level of growth was quite rapid, but it still felt slow to the Mimic. It wanted to have this gnome reach Level 25 so that she could have the option of teaching it the Paladin Job at any given time.
Boxxy was at first apprehensive as to whether it would be a good idea to get this Job. Its biggest worry was whether it would be able to properly raise it. After all, both Paladins and Mimics seemed to gain Levels by hitting things up close, so it wasn’t clear which Job the XP would go to. It was much simpler to understand with the Warlock Job since there was a huge difference between using Spells and stabbing something to death.
Therefore, at least for the time being, it would hold off on becoming a box-shaped Paladin. If it was about something simple like amassing Attributes, the Cadaver Absorption Skill would supply it with plenty of those. Out of the 73 corpses it had absorbed ever since its escape, it had gotten a total of 4 minor successes, resulting in a combined boost of 39 AGI and 35 END.
However, even if it wasn’t intending on becoming a Paladin right away, it still wanted to have that option available. Right now it wanted to focus on training its Mimic Job, which had reached Level 44, but it definitely wanted to look into the Paladin Job later on. After all, the Skills these non-monster Jobs seemed to grant their holders were extremely tasty. Like for example, the latest addition to Fizzy’s repertoire.
Description: Empowers the Paladin with holy might so that they may bring down God’s judgement on the deserving
Requirements: Level 20 Paladin, Strength of Faith, STR 60
Activation Time: Instant
Cost: 50 MP
Effect: Increases the effectiveness of Holy Spells and melee attacks by 50% for 2 seconds.
Increases the duration of this Skill by 2 seconds per Level of this Skill.
This Skill may not be activated more than once every 2 hours.
A straight up power boost with no drawbacks. Granted, much like Power Overwhelming, this would probably be unusable in conjunction with Stealth and Assassination, but it had absolutely no downside to it. Except for the caveat that was Champion of Chaos. This Skill seemed to have some sort of external impact on the gnome’s behavior. It already had its mind manipulated once by the dungeon it was born in, and it had no desire to let that happen again. Boxxy liked its free will too much to give it up in exchange for power it didn’t necessarily need.
“W-what about the b-body?” asked Fizzy.
The meek, quivering attitude she displayed was a far cry from the calm and collected fighter that stared down an opponent many times larger than herself. It was obvious to anyone who might be watching that she feared the Mimic far more than she feared some oversized puppy with two tails.
And, as it turns out, someone was indeed watching. Boxxy immediately rushed off towards the direction that noise had come from. It leaped into some bushes that were about 20 meters away while Fizzy was still processing what had happened. She heard some rustling and screaming.
Some oddly human screaming.
Boxxy reappeared carrying someone. It was a girl in brown leather armor. She couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 years old. The Mimic had bound her tight using numerous tentacles and was carrying her over its lid like she were a sack of potatoes.
Fizzy steeled herself. This was the first person they’d run into, the first sign of civilization ever since their escape from the Spymaster. And yet the gnome already knew what was about to happen.
The girl was brought before her and pinned down to the ground. Her mouth was gagged by a fleshy tendril that had wrapped around it. Her short brown hair got sticky with mud and the sheer look of terror on her face was one the gnome was intimately familiar with.
“Kill,” it ordered.
There it was. Exactly as Fizzy had expected. The gnome took out her oversized wrench and gripped it with both hands.
Realizing what was about to happen, the captive girl struggled in vain as tears welled up her brown eyes. She stared pleadingly at the pink-haired gnome in front of her.
‘Please, don’t!’ they seemed to beg.
She shook her head slightly left and right as if trying to say ‘You don’t have to do this!’ without words.
And the gnome did waver. What right did she have to do just murder someone?! This was someone’s daughter. Maybe someone’s sister or even a wife and mother. What sort of monster would spread sadness by taking away other people’s loved ones? Did this girl even do anything to deserve such a cruel fate?
Did Cornie’s own father and brother deserve to have their lives taken from them? And, who was it that took these people away from her? Who was it that wanted to imprison her for no reason other than to exploit her? What did these fucking humans ever do to her and her family besides ridicule them and cause her pain?!
“Don’t b-b-b-blame me,” she stuttered. “You were just in the wrong place at the wrong t-t-time.”
A swing to either side of the head quickly cut off the young girl’s life. The gnome’s face sprouted a twisted smile and wide open look as she let out a yell of “I have the shiniest meat bicycle!”
“Th-there, done,” she whimpered after calming down a bit. “I m-made sure the h-head is st-st-st-still intact.”
Fizzy looked on blankly as the Mimic set about absorbing the human. She had just committed her first act of murder. It was… a lot easier than she expected. The Mimic had already seen to it that any shred of decency or honor had been systematically beaten out of her. It thoroughly believed that silly concepts like that were nothing more than a weakness that needed to be stamped out.
And so, the naive little pink-haired tinkerer was dead. All that was left in her place was a broken murderer that felt not a single shred of sympathy, guilt or remorse for her victim. The only feeling she could muster was, at most, a sense of pity. That woman was already dead once the Mimic had gotten hold of her. All Fizzy could do was make sure her passing was as painless as possible.
As for herself, she vaguely understood her life hung by a thread. Her life would end moment she was no longer of use or was deemed too much of a hassle. There’s no way a ruthless monster like that would ever keep her around unless she had some value. But the fear of death is not the reason she still stuck around. Escape was also very much possible.
Running away from Boxxy was, in theory, a surprisingly simple task. She just had to wait until it took its weekly dose of sleep. The monster would have chained her with the same mana-sealing restraints she had during her time in captivity, but those should be easy enough to get off. All she needed to do was take the small screwdriver out of her pocket and pick the lock on those shackles. As if a simple mechanism like that would stand a chance against an Artificer of her caliber.
And where would she go even she escaped? Her shop and everything left there had probably been seized by that despicable man, not to mention that wanted posters with her face on them were probably plastered all over the city by now. In fact, Boxxy seemed to be the only being on this planet that gave a damn about her. Sure, the monster constantly abused her, but it wasn’t all that bad. It taught her how to defend herself, it made sure she was fed and clothed, and watched over her at night.
One day, her usefulness to this creature would probably run out, at which point she would be eaten. She understood that fact, but didn’t mind it. It was only the natural order of things. All she had to do was keep being useful, show it that she could be trusted and it would keep her around. And if she failed and it decided to simply eat her, then she would be fine with that too. At least her life would have ended due to reasons she understood, and not because of a random twist of fate, a bad roll of the die or an unlucky coin toss.
On that day when her life ran out, she wanted to be able to look back on her past actions and choices and confidently state:
This is why I lived.
This is why I died.
Chaos is more than ‘a thing that happens.’ There are underlying circumstances and factors behind every seemingly random act. Every outcome can be traced back to a singular point of origin, a simple event or decision that set things into motion. Finding, understanding and unraveling these threads of causality is the duty and privilege of all that seek true understanding of this world.
I have high hopes for you, Champion Fizzlesprocket.
P.S. BTW the lich is like, northwest of where you are. Just move along the mountain, look for a lot of dead and/or dying trees and you’ll find her.
P.P.S. You should really dye your armor bright green when you get the chance. You would look totes adorbs in it.
You have received a divine revelation from the God of Gambling. FTH +10.
Well, that ruined her solemn introspective. At least the two of them finally had some direction, and Fizzy had to agree that the God of Coincidences had a point.
She would look pretty good in green.