Fizzy no longer wanted to feel. Such things had brought her nothing but misery ever since she had been imprisoned. It had only gotten worse ever since she was raped, to the point where she was sure she’d end her own life someday unless she did something about it.
But what could someone like her hope to accomplish?
Take revenge on Boxxy, the one who abused and violated her? No, that would be pointless. Much like an avalanche, the Mimic had only acted the way it did because it was set off by a certain someone. Blaming it for those actions was like being angry at the clouds for dropping rain on her picnic. Not to mention the sheer impossibility of actually going against it. She honestly felt like she could maybe even get along with the monster, like things could be much better between herself and Boxxy.
If only it wasn’t for her worthless flesh - this stupid, disgusting, vile sack of meat that seemed determined to mess everything up. Not only was it causing trouble for the Mimic, but it also assaulted her with sensations she wanted no part of. The main reason her tortured mind drifted to thoughts suicide was because that was the only way she saw of freeing herself from this damnable prison.
But another answer had appeared right before her very eyes. A way that might allow her to regain control of her sorry life. A method to re-forge herself into someone different, stronger. And she would take a page out of Boxxy’s book and greedily latched onto the thing she desired. The thing she needed.
This is how she was able to unhesitantly answer the Mimic’s question.
“Because I want this.”
“You’re not afraid of the curse?” asked Boxxy.
The gnome took a deep breath. The fact it was asking questions likely meant it wouldn’t deny her outright. This meant she had a chance. And if there’s one thing that God of Chaos was right about, it was that chances existed to be taken.
“Curse? This shield-gauntlet bears no curse. It holds my salvation! I need this if I’m ever going to find a way to stop life from fucking me up the ass whenever it feels like it. No, I want more than that! I want to grab life by the balls, rip them off and then ram them down its fucking throat!”
Fizzy panted heavily as she finished her outburst. She had surprised even herself at how forceful her voice was. Like that side of her was there all along, desperately clawing for a way out.
“Heh. Hehehehe. Hahahahahahaha!”
The Mimic broke out into a menacing laugh.
“SHAAAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH! SHAAAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH SHAH!”
Somewhere along the way it stopped laughing with the imitation Xera head it used to communicate and let out a deep, guttural laugh with its actual mouth. And yet the gnome did not waver a single bit in her determination.
“That’s it!” exclaimed the Mimic once it calmed down somewhat. “There’s the monster I wanted to see! A thing that chases after what is tasty without holding back!”
That was it. This right here was exactly what it was talking about almost a month ago when it told the gnome it would teach her to fight like a monster. But it couldn’t reach this point until now. No matter how much it pushed her, no matter how much it abused her, this strangely stubborn creature called Cornie Fizzlesprocket refused to let go of her gnomish sensibility. Boxxy saw it in her body language, in every little movement she made when the Mimic was around. She still had that tiny bit of hesitation in her subconscious that caused her muscles to move awkwardly and stiffly. Being forced to fight monsters to the death had eased it somewhat, but she was still lacking, still incomplete.
But the Fizzy right now had none of that. She stood firmly, unwilling to simply give up and let go of her goals, showing no hesitation in the face of this objectively more powerful being she was talking to. Her body was in a completely relaxed and natural state, ready to spring into action the instant its owner ordered it to. It was as if she had already prepared herself to fight to the death should Boxxy deny her. Perhaps this cursed item was the last thing she needed to let go of that dreadfully civilized part of her.
“Okay. You want the shiny glove. But what will you give me in return?”
However, the greedy creature would not be swayed so easily. Nothing in this world was free and even ‘salvation’ could have a price tag. It highly doubted this gnome had anything left that it hadn’t taken, so it would have probably given it to her pro-bono anyway, but it asked her just in case. Its days spent working for the Mercenary Guild taught it that one should always make sure to profit as much as possible, and that the largest gains arose from someone else’s misfortune.
The gnome had more or less expected this query. The monster known as Boxxy T. Morningwood was a pragmatic yet simple creature. It would accept anything as long as there were enough merits to itself. And even a weak, homeless and enslaved gnome like Fizzy had something she could offer.
“I offer you my complete loyalty and total obedience. I have nothing else to give.”
Boxxy briefly considered her words. It was true that she wouldn’t be as easy to control if she lost her fear of pain and abuse. That had been a central part of her 'upbringing,' so it was entirely possible she might do something stupid like rebel in due time. But Cornie Fizzlesprocket was no idiot. She was quick-witted and crafty, so it was likely her offer was not just mere words.
“Okay, let’s say I accept. How will you give me such things?”
The tiny Paladin gently set the gauntlet down on the ground. She went down on one knee and placed her wrench between herself and the Mimic. She then bowed deeply to it by lowering her head and upper body and pressing her tiny fists against the ground.
“I, Cornie Fizzlesprocket, Champion of Chaos and Paladin of the Order of the Gilded Chest, hereby pledge myself into the service of Boxxy T. Morningwood, chosen Hero of the Goddess of Probability.”
A soft yellow-green light started pouring out of the kneeling gnome.
“Your words shall be my law. Your wishes shall be my goals. Your choices shall be my creed.”
Countless motes of light started swirling around her as he spoke.
“I vow to serve you completely in both body and soul, with my God as my witness. Let us teach this world the true meaning of chaos!”
The motes of light surrounding her suddenly gathered just above the gnome and shot up into the sky while leaving behind a trail of light. They exploded somewhere far above her, painting the air with a literal sign from heaven.
👍 I got you, fam! 👌
The group stared up at the glowing yellow letters that hung around in the sky for about 15 seconds, at which point they faded away into nothingness.
“What was that?” asked the slightly flabbergasted Mimic.
“I just made the Pledge of Arms before the watchful eye of Salad, the God of Randomness,” explained Fizzy. “It’s a ceremony I learned from the Holy Scripture Skill.”
The gnome then stood up and pointed up at the sky.
“And it looks like the big guy not only heard me, but also supports it. That means I’ll be getting some divine retribution if I betray or abandon you.”
The first step towards regaining control of her life was to accept the things that she could not change. She was a Paladin aligned with Chaos and also Boxxy’s... posession. This was her lot in life and rejecting either of those things was futile. She had therefore made the rather drastic decision to stop begrudgingly following the Mimic and actively support it. So what if it raped her, hurt her and tortured her? She was confident that she could overcome such trifling matters if she just let go of her useless body.
Which led her to the second step in regaining control of her life - to change the things she could. And the thing that had to change the most was herself. Her selfish desire to abandon her worthless past and focus on her future had let her to this outcome.
This one, singular moment in time.
“Okay,” said the Mimic approvingly. “You can have the shiny glove.”
Fizzy showed her first real, full-faced smile ever since her life went to shit. She was about to let go of that sorry existence once and for all, so there’s no way she wasn’t overjoyed. Without further ado, she eagerly thrust her tiny arm into the cursed gauntlet. The item groaned and screeched as it shrunk to an even smaller size than before. Matching Fizzy’s small build should have been well beyond the transformative enchantment it bore, yet something drove it to push beyond its limits.
It wrapped snugly around her hand and forearm, forming a perfect fit. The curse activated in the next instant and rapidly spread over the gnome’s body, much faster than it had done with the succubus. After all, while Xera instinctively rejected it, Fizzy welcomed it with open arms, both figuratively and literally. The curse took only a few seconds to completely envelop her and invade the very core of her being.
It was on this day, almost at this very moment, that the last vestiges of the gnome known as Cornie Fizzlesprocket quietly passed away into obscurity.
You have been afflicted by the Curse of the Steelshaper.
Your willingness to embrace the curse has amplified its effect.
Your species has become Metal Golem (Steel).
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Divine Beast.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 1 Metal Golem! STR +3. END +3. AGI +2. FTH +1.
Proficiency level increased. Metallopathy is now Level 1. INT +2. WIS +2.
Fizzy had welcomed that which the succubus instinctively rejected. Her new steel body no longer felt cold, hungry or tired. She couldn’t feel the shoes on her feet nor the wind in her hair, which had now become a hollow lump of metal. The former gnome revelled at the lack of sensation as her sinful flesh was cast away, as if it were a defect that needed to be purged.
Or at least, that’s how it should have been, right? No bothersome sensations to plague her troubled mind? That was what she was after, yeah? So then-
“How?” she muttered.
Her voice had become several octaves deeper. She spoke with a heavy groan, almost like her voice was produced by two anvils grinding against each other.
Almost exactly like that, actually.
One would think the newly reborn golem would be surprised at her voice, but she had other, more important things to worry about.
“How come it itches?!” she screamed.
Fizzy clawed at her chest furiously, desperate to get rid of that incredibly bothersome sensation she no longer wanted. Her metal fingers viciously ripped off the chainmail that had been protecting her upper body and threw it to the ground, an act that seemed to do the trick.
“Well, it’s official. She’s finally gone fucking nuts,” commented Kora.
“Completely off her rocker,” added Valeria.
“Yup. Her tiny mind no longer clings to sanity,” agreed Xera.
The rest of the monster girls had been silently watching the exchange until now. Their seemingly pitying attitude changed to oddly jovial in the next instant.
“That’s the spirit! Congratulations on finally growing a pair, pipsqueak!” cheered Kora.
“Indeed,” said Xera with a smug look. “You’ve become a fine monster. I knew my Master made the right decision in sparing your worthless life.”
“One less rival…” mumbled Valeria. “I mean, you’ve made a wise decision this day, I’m sure of it!”
The sudden influx of compliments, sincere or otherwise, calmed the erratic golem down somewhat. She steadied her breath as she once again let the nothingness wash over her. A feeling of absolute peace and spiritual bliss welled up inside her. This was it, this was just how she imagined it. This unfeeling body was not a prison - it was her sanctuary. Her fortress. It took her a while to realize that, much to her delight, she didn’t actually need to breathe, either. The only reason her small chest moved up and down was simply out of habit.
“Uhm, Boxxy,” she spoke up. “Do you still happen to have that ‘bargain bin’ lying around inside your Storage?”
Having been named, the Mimic broke out of its thought process and regarded its newest servant’s request. The ‘bargain bin’ Fizzy was referring to was a wooden crate that was filled with various miscellaneous items the monster had little-to-no use for, the kind of stuff that people normally throw away. The only reason Boxxy still carried it around was that it had room inside its Storage.
“I do,” it answered.
“Can you bring it out please?”
The Mimic opened its maw wide and a wooden box that was 60 centimeters on all sides emerged from it and landed on the ground with a soft thud. Fizzy immediately tipped it over and started rooting through the junk inside. She was looking for clothes since her little hissy fit earlier had left her almost completely naked. Her modest breasts were completely exposed and the filthy pair of soiled underwear covering her lower half was plainly visible.
The golem silently ridiculed herself for still clinging to silly things like clothes, but it couldn’t be helped. Letting go of habits she had built up over the 21 years of her life as a person wasn’t something that could be accomplished so easily. Besides, if Boxxy was planning on visiting civilized society, then the least she could do is maintain her dignity as its Champion.
She found a small beige tunic, probably meant for a child. She ripped out the area around the left shoulder, sleeve and collar included. Well, her trademark pigtails had turned to solid steel and she now had a shield permanently affixed to her left forearm, so she needed to do at least that much in order to put it on.
However, oddly enough, she didn’t feel the need to completely cover herself. In fact, knowing that so much of her was left exposed made her feel oddly empowered. Fizzy had always felt a little envious at how that lich and succubus could unabashedly strut around while wearing practically nothing. They were obviously proud of their bodies and wanted to show them off. A thought that this newly created body could sympathize with. She wanted to be that sort of confident woman who was not ashamed of her appearance, although perhaps not quite as shameless as those two.
She grabbed hold of a random pair of scissors with the intent of altering her tunic, but froze before she even began. Holding the slightly rusted metal tool helped her realize exactly what that strange, itchy sensation from earlier was about. Or to be more precise, it dawned on her that it was the chainmail shirt itself that felt itchy, rather than her own skin.
Now that she thought about it, that piece of armor had been badly maintained. A lot of it had started rusting from all the blood and water that splashed on it regularly. She looked around the bargain bin and spotted a rusty iron pipe of some sort. She grabbed it and focused her attention on it. Sure enough, the rusty parts started itching. It was like this piece of scrap had become an extension of her own arm. She could even accurately gauge exactly how far the corrosion had spread by simply focusing her attention on it.
Proficiency level increased. Metallopathy is now Level 2. INT +2. WIS +2.
That’s right, she got a new Skill just after her transformation, didn’t she? Fizzy hurriedly checked her Status, something she really should have done right away, but got a bit sidetracked.
Description: All golems share a unique link with compatible materials
Requirements: Be born as a Metal Golem variant
Activation Time: N/A
Range: 5 Meters
Effects: Allows the exchange of sensory data with any metal object through skin contact.
Increases the variety and amount of sensory input that can be processed with every Level of this Skill.
So that’s what this was. Those sensations that coursed through her were the ‘feelings’ of the lump of iron in her hand. Actually, wouldn’t this be extremely useful to an Artificer like her? Wait, hold on! Would the former gnome would even be capable of handling that Job anymore? This was something that had completely slipped her mind. Fizzy let go of the objects she was holding and carefully stared at her open-palmed hands with a scrutinizing look.
No matter how good an Artificer was, no matter how much DEX or experience they had, it was an inevitable fact of life that their hands would shake ever so slightly when held up in the air like this. It was something that was intrinsic to all living beings. The act of breathing and the pulsing of a heart both meant that a living body was never completely at rest. Those tiny, involuntary movements were one of the main causes of defects that appeared in an artisan or artist’s work.
But a golem had no such worries. Fizzy’s limbs might have been heavier than ever, but they were completely stable. Those shiny digits did not move a single millimeter out of position and stood perfectly still, as if she were a statue. She wiggled them around and made some odd motions with them. She was air-artificing, practicing the movements crucial to assembly and construction that were an Artificer’s bread and butter.
They felt a bit clumsy and clunky due to their weight and the stiffness of the joints, but this wasn’t necessarily permanent. If she could learn to move with the same precision and finesse as those Stone Soldiers and combined that with her newly acquired Metallopathy Skill, then she was certain she could become a great Artificer. Perhaps even the greatest Artificer that ever walked this continent. No, this world!
The former gnome tightened her fists with newfound determination. This curse had given her so much more than she ever wanted out of it. It was well beyond a blessing in disguise at this point. Speaking of blessings, there was also the matter of that Perk she gained.
Descriptions: A title formally given to creatures that have sworn themselves in service to the Gods.
Requirements: Become a Paladin, Priest or Monk as a non-enlightened species.
Effects: Gain an additional +1 FTH every time your Monster Job(s) Level up.
So she was a Divine Beast of Chaos, was she? The order of acquisition was a bit out of whack, but she didn’t really care about that. She was simply grateful she had stumbled into it. After all, the Faith (FTH) Attribute was very important for a Paladin like her, so getting more of it for free was undoubtedly a good thing. This Perk was, as Boxxy would probably say, quite tasty.
Having once again reaffirmed herself that she made the right decision in accepting this ‘curse,’ Fizzy moved onto scrounging through the rest of the bargain bin.
“Hey Boxxy!” she called out, “I can use anything in this crate, right?!”
“Yes,” came the simplistic answer.
The Mimic was pretty sure there was nothing of actual value in there, so if the gnome- golem?
As it was saying, it would be a miracle if the gnolem actually found anything of use in that trash pile, so she was more than welcome to it everything in there. Besides, if she was going to be a proper servant rather than a sort of battle slave, then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to make sure she was properly equipped.
So long as it didn’t cost too much, of course.
Boxxy then returned to its quiet introspective, trying to piece together exactly what was happening. It would consult with Fizzy later to get the details on her new body, but right now it was far more concerned with something else. The Mimic had gotten a certain notification the instant the formerly squishy thing became significantly shinier. A message that has some rather interesting implications.
The flows of chaos have returned to their default, causal state.
It would appear that, based on this message, the effects of the Agent of Chaos Skill had just abated. In other words, they had been active this whole time, ever since the gnome was raped. The Mimic theorized that its rather thoughtless action had set her on this path, that it had served as the trigger that changed her fate. The monster's identity as a Hero of Chaos meant that even the tiniest ripple of its actions could turn into massive waves of change. Almost as if it was gambling on the future by using a loaded die to bring about an unlikely outcome.
But not all outcomes were necessarily desirable, no matter their likelihood. Its last conversation with Jeremy had made that much perfectly clear. So while gaining a more useful and loyal minion was by no means a bad thing, that didn’t mean next time would be the same. Indeed, when Agent of Chaos came into play again, it just mind end up setting off a truly terrible chain of events, so it couldn’t just blindly believe good things would always come of it. If the Chaotic Disposition Skill had taught it anything, it was that Lady Luck was a shameless slut who swung both ways. Though perhaps not in as many words.
“All done!” called out Fizzy, causing Boxxy to almost involuntarily take in her new appearance.
The only thing that remained of the old gnome’s visage were those small boots with the iron plates protecting the toes. Her legs were covered by a pair of baggy work pants that were a few sizes too big for her. The garment’s wide trouser legs were wrapped up around her ankles with some bandage-like cloth in order to prevent them from flapping around too much. The left suspender had been securely buckled around the golem’s bare left shoulder while the right one was left to dangle uselessly. The loose-fitting overall-like garment exposed much of her thighs and hips, making it obvious that she was not wearing any panties underneath it all.
As if a golem had need for such filthy things as underwear.
Her upper body was clad in a simple tunic that had its left shoulder, collar and sleeve ripped off. Fizzy had shortened it somewhat so that it exposed the interlocking metal plates that covered her midriff. A pair of small leather belts were tied immediately above and below her breasts in an effort to empathize the hard, perky domes of her modest cleavage. The shirt’s right sleeve had been rolled up and one of Boxxy’s Retractable Blades had been strapped to it, likely to be used as a backup weapon.
The Fizzy right now looked completely different from how she was a half hour ago. The shiny steel skin, metal hair and rather risque clothing were one thing, but this transformation had gone beyond simple appearance. It was her attitude that had undergone the most important change. Her meek, subservient smile was replaced by a wide, toothy grin. The soft look in her eyes that made her seem like a frightened rabbit was gone, permanently replaced by the piercing glare she had shown only once or twice. She had fully changed her mindset from that of a herbivore trying its best to survive to that of a predator that would not hesitate to fight for what it wanted.
The golem walked over to where the relatively oversized wrench had been left lying on the ground and picked it up with one hand. She confidently put it on her shoulder and turned towards Boxxy with a worryingly cheerful attitude.
“Shall we go smash up some golems?” she suggested. “There should be some of those guys left around, right?! It’s okay if I just go smash them to bits, right? Fizzy has a brand new Job to Level Up!”
“Sure,” replied Boxxy in equally high spirits. “Let’s go kill stuff!”
“Yeah, I haven’t hit enough things today!” echoed Kora.
“Fufufufu,” giggled Xera. “I look forward to showing off my intelligence gathering Skills in the maze again.”
“Ah, darling is so wonderful when he’s energetic ~♡!” cooed Valeria.
It was on this day, almost at this very moment, that the golem that would eventually become known as the Rustblood Juggernaut had been unleashed onto this world.