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“Hit?” Junior asked him, its blue jelly protegee resting on its sword lure.

“With one of your natural Perks,” Victor explained, resting on an armchair in his manor’s hall, next to the fireplace. He kept his new scythe, and the bazooka, on each side. “Nothing too painful, after I prepare myself mentally—”

The blue jelly nodded at each of his words.

Then it jumped and hit him in the eye through his helmet’s chinks!

Victor let out a scream of surprise and pain, as the critter bounced off his face and landed again on Junior’s back.

[Troll Regeneration] activated! You gained the [Regen] Status.

Congratulations! You learned the [Slime-Slam] Personal Perk!

[Slime-Slam]: Technique. You can jump up to ten times your size and launch yourself at an opponent, inflicting weak physical damage.

“Hurt?” Junior asked, sounding concerned. Over time, the mimic had grown almost as loyal as a cat to its food source.

“What the BLEEP does it look like!?” Victor replied, although his eye had already recovered thanks to his regeneration.

You have recovered all of your HP.

Petting Junior’s back with one hand, the mimic purring in response, Victor glanced through the windows, where the sun had slowly vanished beyond the mountains. Night would fall soon; the perfect time for another attack.

His priests had set wards around the mansion, to prevent new undead—outside of the staff and some members of the Raptor Rangers— from getting in. While Lavere might disable them, she would have to activate an alarm. The cult of the Moon Man had taken upon itself to protect his house, forming a formidable defense.

Finally, he had an army of cultists worthy of his spooky mansion.

Speaking of armies, Kia chose this time to walk into the hall with company.

“Tadaa!” the Paladin said, as she presented him the new and improved raptor rangers; each of them now wore light, dwarf-made armor, swords, and whips. “Here’s your new Vampire Hunter squad!”

“Only the dead can know the true power of dooooooom,” Yellow said with his guttural voice.

“With the [Monster Squire] level we received from the chief, we finally found our toku-theme,” Red said, gleeful. “Vampire Knights!”

“The Knights of Vainqueur!” Pink added tears of joy in her eyes.

“Good, but give me just a sec,” Victor said while rising out of his chair, before using [Monster Insight] on Kia.

Kia Bekele

Angel-Blessed Human (Humanoid/Angel)

Weak against: alcohol, depression, boredom.

Strong against: everything else (epic level, duh!).

The most dangerous game in the world, a two-legged predator from the alien, unforgiving world of Earth. What this fearsome mammal lacks in strength, it more than makes up in fiendish intelligence, ruthlessness, and numbers; and their body is made of carbon. Carbon! Like diamonds!

Left to themselves, these bloodthirsty primates can conquer entire worlds with the power of SCIENCE, devastate ecosystems, and kill anything that crosses their path. You don’t BLEEP them; they BLEEP you. Then they make wallets out of your skin!

In short, it’s a human woman. Also, angel-blessed.

No Doppelgangers. Good. He checked every member of the Kobold Rangers, sighing in relief.

“Wait, have you just used your scanning Perk on us?” Kia said, putting her armored hands on her hips. “That’s racial profiling!”

“You did it the first time we met!” Victor complained back. “The Nightblades have Doppelgangers, they could slip in assassins among you.”

“I stopped karma scanning people after you pointed out its implications,” Kia replied. “And I have the [Eye of Mithras] Perk. While it won’t detect any physical change, I can see through invisibility and illusions. Like the invisible bat over here.”

As she said these words, Victor heard a sound in a corner of the room. Kia pointed a finger, firing a small dagger of light from it, which impaled an invisible creature and nailed it to the wall. The Vizier watched, amazed, as a monstrous bat materialized before his eyes, impaled like a hunting trophy.

“How long was it in the room?” he asked, Junior growling at the beast.

“Too long,” Kia replied. “It’s a Vampire Familiar. Nothing on its own, but it can slip into almost everywhere.”

The fact the Nightblades had slipped a spy in his home didn’t surprise Victor, but it certainly disturbed him. “If you could check the rest of the mansion afterward, that would be great. Have you sent the message I asked for?”

“Of course, and Kevin is already working on it. Has your training progressed?”

“It did.” Victor looked at the list of Perks he gathered over the last two days.

[Dragonfire (Wyrmling)], [Brain Blast], [Slime Armor], [Venom Fang], [Ghoul Fever], [Hundred Needles], [Dark Thorns], [Shock], [Bullet Fist], [Raptor Burst], [Angel Heart], [Ghost Grudge], [Troll Regeneration], [WAZZAAA!], [Slime-Slam].

 

Truth to be told, he could scarcely remember what half of them did. This was going to be a nightmare to manage, especially with the Necromancy buffs he learned to practice. “[Brain Blast] inflicts weak psychic damage, [Hundred Needles] weak plant damage, [Bullet Fist] weak physical damage, [Shock] weak lightning…”

“So a variety of weak, forgettable attacks?” Kia didn’t sound impressed. At all.

Unfortunately, she had a point. Most of the Perks also lacked in strength, since none of the monsters in Murmurin could rival the likes of Furibon in power.

Monster Knight was truly the swiss army knife of classes though. He wondered how many Perks he could learn...

Congratulations! For learning over 15 Monster Perks through a grueling training method, you have earned the [Perk Forge] Personal Perk!

[Perk Forge]: You can fuse various monster Perks into a single, stronger one; however, you will permanently lose access to the Perk components and cannot relearn them.

The more he learned, the more Victor had grown convinced the System somehow encouraged specialization. “Hey, I can fuse Monster Perks now.”

“How many of them at once?” Kia asked, curious, while Junior moved to chew the bat in a corner.

“I dunno, it isn’t mentioned.”

“Why not all of them then?” Kia proposed. “You could end up with either the most overpowered ability ever… or a fusion accident.”

Since he lost the components permanently, Victor couldn’t risk sacrificing highly powerful abilities like [Black Curse]. He could try Kia’s idea, but he would first test this Perk by using components with good synergy.

Well then, Victor decided to combine [Channel Hellfire (Minor)] with [Dragonfire (Wyrmling)], since he had absolutely no intention of going through Vainqueur’s breath again. Dragonfire hurt a lot more than normal flames, and even Victor had his limits.

Choice registered. You combined [Channel Hellfire (Minor)] and [Dragonbreath (Wyrmling)] into [Blackfyre].

[Blackfyre]: Technique, 1 SP per second. You can unleash a shadowy, infernal fire from your hands, feet, or mouth; half of the damage is [Dragon] type, and the other [Unholy]. This technique will thus bypass [Fire] resistance. When you would deal fire damage through a spell or a technique, it will now inflict an additional 20 percent [Unholy] damage.

Nice, but not game-changing. The fact it cost less than both its component techniques meant Victor should not run out of SP in the middle of a battle like he did against the adventurers.

Alright, time to test Kia’s hypothesis. He decided to sacrifice most of the weaker perks, keeping only the truly useful [Troll Regeneration] and [Black Curse].

Choice registered. You combined [Silverfang], [Brain Blast], [Slime Armor], [Venom Fang], [Ghoul Fever], [Hundred Needles], [Dark Thorns], [Shock], [Bullet Fist], [Raptor Burst], [Angel Heart], [Ghost Grudge], [WAZZAAA!], and [Slime-Slam] into: [Darwinist].

[Darwinist]: When targeted by a creature type-dependent effect (such as [Undead] or [Dragon]), you always count as the most advantageous type or type-combination for the purpose of resolving that effect; your species will not change, but the system will temporarily register you as a different type. Elements affected by this Perk include Weapons, Perks, Spells, Field Effects...

“Wait, that is all?” Victor asked, disappointed. It could definitely have its use, but he had expected something more visually impressive. “More than ten perks for this?”

“Fusion accident it is.”

Charisma check successful!

 

Huh?

Someone knocked on the hall’s door. “Enter,” Victor said, allowing Chocolatine and Allison to enter.

“Hi, Vic.” The werewolf waved a hand at him, although less cheerfully than usual.

“The wards are secured,” Allison said, Victor having tasked her with overseeing his home’s security.

“Yeah, well, one bat managed to slip through.” The Grand Vizier pointed at the bloody splat on the wall, Junior having finished chewing it.

“It must have been inside the mansion before I set the protections,” the dryad defended herself. “They may have watched you for longer than I did.”

Yeah… Victor used his [Monster Insight] Perk on both, just in case. This whole misadventure had made him paranoid.

Allison Lys

Dryad (Plant/Fairy).

Strong against: Plant, Water, Fairy, Disease, Life, Insta-Death, Paralysis.

Weak to: Fire, Frost, Flowerslayer, Fairyslayer, Lightning, Poison.

A reincarnated Isekai human from Earth and chosen of Cybele, the goddess of pleasure; which means that you have NO excuses. Chocolatine’s best friend, but would like to do the pastry with the werewolf in the barn, if you see what I mean; unlike you, she’s smart enough to keep things simple. Go for the melting pot salad!

Good to know. He feared to read the new information on Chocolatine but peeked anyway.

Shadowman

Doppelganger Inveigler (Fairy/Humanoid)

Strong against Fairy, Mind-Control, Poison, Illusions, Paralysis, Sleep, and Truth-Detection.

Weak against Manslayer, Cold Iron, and Silver.

Just your natural born killer.

Victor immediately grabbed his scythe. “Doppelganger! Allison, behind me!”

“What?” both the dryad and the werewolf said at the same time. Did the doppelganger hope to mislead him by feigning confusion?

If so, it didn’t deceive his Perk nor his allies. Kia instantly drew her sword and moved with such swiftness, Victor didn’t even see her pull her blade on Chocolatine’s throat. The werewolf let out a squeal of surprise. “Where is the real one?” Kia threatened.

“What is all the racket?” a familiar voice called out of the room, a second Chocolatine stepping through the door. She looked up at her double, exchanged a glance with her, then turned to Victor himself. “Vic, you replaced me?”

Victor and every person in the room blinked, the Vizier immediately used his Perk on her next.

Shadowman

Doppelganger Inveigler (Fairy/Humanoid)

Strong against Fairy, Mind-Control, Poison, Illusions, Paralysis, Sleep, and Truth-Detection.

Weak against Manslayer, Cold Iron, and Silver.

Just your natural born killer.

… damn.

“Stop!” Victor told Kia. “They’re using a spell to reflect false information somehow, I can’t see which one is the real Chocolatine!”

“They’re identical,” Kia muttered to herself, pushing the first Chocolatine against a wall with her free arm, and then threatening the second with her blade. “It’s not an illusion. [Karma Scan]... they both appear as strongly evil too! How could they falsify their karma?”

Victor decided not to comment on how her karma scan hadn’t misled her.

Charisma check successful! Shadowman can’t read your thoughts, and now you know it tried!

Victor eyed both women with suspicion. One, if not both, of them, was definitely an infiltrator. The Nightblades must have sent him because they couldn’t bypass the wards.

“Vic, it’s an impostor!” the first Chocolatine pleaded. “She’s trying to confuse you!”

“Oh, oh, I see!” the second Chocolatine said with disturbing cheerfulness. “It’s a spot the fake moment! I always wanted to encounter one!”

“What do I shout when I use my legendary sword,” Victor asked. Trick question.

“EXCALIBUR!” both shouted at once.

Victor face-palmed. The doppelganger may not be able to detect his own thoughts, it could probably read the minds of others, including Chocolatine herself.

“Oh, I know a way!” Ranger Pink said. “We summon two fiends!”

“Good idea,” Blue nodded. “The one who murders it in the most painful way is obviously the real one!”

“You all think I’m crazy?” the first one asked, dejected.

“Chocolatine may kill, she never does it sadistically,” Allison pointed out. “Only to feed. It’s pretty much in her god’s tenets.”

“I knew you would stand by me, Allison!” the second one chirped.

“Eat both,” Junior said hungrily. “Sure.”

“Sure!” the jelly on its back agreed.

“Vic…” Kia trailed off. “You make the call.”

The Grand Vizier examined both women, trying to figure out personal information that could tell the true one apart. If he hadn’t switched ‘mount’ in preparation for the fight with Lavere, then he could have summoned the real one, but now...

Think, Victor. How did they get around his Perk, after it managed to pierce through all their natural immunities? Why risk him telling the right one apart? Unless… unless...

Intelligence check successful.

“None of them are the real one.”

He hadn’t had the time to finish his sentence, that it was over already. Kia cut down both werewolves in the blink of an eye, letting them fall on the ground.

Allison let out a scream of horror and surprise, putting her hands on her mouth. “Vic, what the… what have you...”

Both corpses shifted into solid shadows, before collapsing into nothingness.

“They captured the real one,” Victor explained, while Allison calmed herself. “Psychological warfare.” A ploy based on his innate acceptance of the rules presented before him? Smart, but he had learned from the best.

Then the hall went dark, all light and the fire dying out.

The terrain has been temporarily changed to [Dark Underworld].

Nocturnal creatures, fiends, and undead on the field have their stats increased, and will be harder to turn. All non-nocturnal creatures will suffer from the [Blind] ailment. Monotype, non-undead creatures will be animated as undead if killed on the field.

All stats increased by one stage!

 

“[Light Shield]!” Victor heard Kia shout, a round barrier of solid light forming around the group. A haunting, piper melody echoed across the hall as she did.

“Behind us, chief!” the Kobold Rangers formed a ring around Victor, alongside Junior and his protegee, “Stay back! We have a mimiczord on our side!”

A wail echoed in the darkness in response, as half a dozen, skeletal ghosts crashed against the barrier.

“This mansion…” Kia trailed, as the vengeful spirits bounced off the light barrier, disappearing as soon as they hit it. “How old is it?”

“Older than the town,” Allison replied, “A dark wizard inhabited it when Rolo first began to labor the fields. It is full of grudges and dark spirits.”

“That is odd since the architecture seems… gothic?” Kia struggled to find the right word. “It looks straight from Earth.”

A place full of spirits and dark grudges? “Wait, wait, wait,” Victor said. “Didn’t that magician do experiments in the basement or something?”

The Nightblades knew that he had the map, that killing him might destabilize Murmurin, and that this manor may have served as some nightmarish lab...

Victor searched in one of his armor’s hidden containers with his free hand, drawing out Mot’s map, and reading it by the light of the barrier.

It showed Lavere’s location right next to his own.

His basement.

The ghostly assault halted, a new shape approaching the light barrier; Victor recognized him as Emile Lavere, the vampire whom he fought before. “We only want Dalton and the map,” he announced. “Leave him to us, and we’ll let you go.”

Kia responded by bursting into laughter.

“We may not be able to kill you, Shining Knight, but you can’t protect them all,” the assassin replied, unfazed. “And that’s not even mentioning the civilians we’ll keep killing so long as he lives.”

“Why me?” Victor protested, putting the map back inside his armor. “What have I ever done to you?”

“If you die, this regime collapses,” Emile Lavere pointed out. “The dragon will go crazy, mismanage his troops, and return to his old ways. You’re his emotional anchor, so we’ll take you off the board. Forever.”

Warning: The manor is under a [Soul Trap] effect!

If you die within its radius of effect, your soul will be trapped in its focus point.

“The focus?” Victor pondered, assuming the others had seen the same message.

“The [Solomonari’s Grimoire],” Kia explained, “It will catch your soul and prevent any form of resurrection so long as it exists.”

“No more revival,” Emile unsheathed his daggers, others glittering in the darkness. “No afterlife. No nothing.”

Victor knew his angel insurance was a waste of SP.

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Void Herald

Bio: I'm a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites.

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