Lylandros never wanted much out of life. Just to become really famous and get all the ladies. A simple, straightforward dream. But as an elf born in the human-dominated Lodrak Empire, his prospects were bleak. Practically non existent, actually. He was so low on the social ladder that even the worms in the dirt seemed to be above him in the pecking order. All because of some big war over 300 years ago that people are still salty about.
Well, it didn’t help that the elves used horrific and underhanded means to fight that war. They were basically terrorists. And then they lost. Even if it was a long time ago, those random attacks on uninvolved civilians caused some pretty deep scars. It was to the point where there wasn’t a single human in the Empire who hadn’t suffered at their hands. So the humans despised the elves. They taught their children to hate them, and those children passed that on. It had gotten a bit better for the elves with time, but the discrimination was still pretty widespread. At least they weren’t chained and enslaved on sight anymore, so there’s definitely progress, right?
And then you have this young elven street urchin who wants to make it big. What was he supposed to do? Join an adventurer’s guild, of course. Unlike the general populace, most adventurers did not discriminate against elves. Or at least, not openly. As a result, many elves were forced to take up the dangerous work of an adventurer.
At least 25% of adventurers were elves, second only to humans who made up about 40% of the total. Dwarves came in 3rd with a share of about 15%. Those short and bearded humanoids weren’t discriminated against though. It’s just that most of them preferred to become artisans and artists, a much better use of their dextrous fingers and deeper reserves of stamina. Also their short legs made traveling long distances on foot a pain in the ass.
And so, Lylandros became an adventurer. That was about a month ago. He was steadily climbing up to becoming a Level 20 Ranger along with his team. They were all former street rats like him, so they shared a certain bond beyond mere colleagues. Since their moralities and values lined up, they became fast friends and their teamwork was top-notch. Something like taking down a janther was not a big deal - they had already killed one of the beasts a week ago. Admittedly it was a younger one at only Level 24, but the method to fight it did not change. They made a decent amount of money from that kill. And then they noticed there was a tempting bounty on this particular janther worth 500 Gold Pieces (GP), so it was only natural they would go for it.
Admittedly, the traps he placed proved to be useless. It seemed that, unlike the younger one, this adult would not recklessly chase them down. Still, that just meant the hunt would take longer. They still considered this a low-risk high-reward job. The risk seemed to disappear as they verified the janther was actually weaker than they expected. It was practically already dead and Raela still had a decent amount of MP left. So then, why did her head have to suddenly explode just now?
Lylandros was this close to getting inside her pants, too! Such a shame. He would have to find someone else to help him graduate from being a virgin by the look of things. But before that, he had one important matter to take care of.
He had to throw up. He keeled over and went “Urk.. Urp! UGHRAHRAHRAHRA!” as the contents of his stomach came out the wrong end. It’s not like the poor lad could help it - he was still young and inexperienced. He was also right next to Raela when he saw her head was suddenly enveloped in a black mist. He opened his mouth to scream, but in the next instant that pretty face had turned into soup. And then he got a mouthful of bloodied brain tissue. He also briefly felt the presence of a tooth on his tongue that wasn’t his own.
So he threw up. He vomited uncontrollably because his heart was gripped by a combination of fear, panic, disgust and general what-the-fuck-ery. Brom and Krom didn’t seem to realize what had just happened. The horrifying noise of their comrade’s head bursting into a red mist was drowned out by janther’s roars. But even the sound reached them, it’s unlikely they would hear it. These muscle-headed sworn brothers were so focused on their target that they didn’t notice anything else.
But Lylandros did. How could he not? He saw that sinister spell flying at Raela, but he couldn’t stop it. He didn’t know who launched it, but he saw the direction. And so, while his comrades were in the middle of trading blows with an enemy they were highly unlikely to defeat, he looked aside. And then he saw… it.
A mass of wood, teeth and hatred. It was skittering quickly across the grassy ground on black, spider-like legs. It lowered its profile and circled around to the janther’s back, using the six-legged beast’s body as a shield. Krom and Brom had yet to notice it.
This was bad. He didn’t know why or how, but that spider-chest was definitely the culprit that murdered the girl he liked. He couldn’t let it get away with that! He wouldn’t allow that monster to do as it pleased! This time would be different. This time, he would do his job as the eyes and ears of this team and warn them of danger. He opened his mouth and vomited furiously in their direction!
He couldn’t even scream properly. All that was heard was the wet splatter of disgusting bits of partially digested meat against the grass. It’s not like the was quite over what had happened seconds ago. But he tried again! He lifted his gaze to try and warn his surviving comrades. But it was a mistake. What he saw next would undoubtedly give him nightmares for the rest of his life.
The Mimic had made a decision. It would interfere in this fight and test out its new Shadowbolt Spell in the process. The one-hit K.O. against the Druid was unexpected, however. It had no idea Assassination worked with Spells, either. If it did, it would have aimed for somewhere else. After all, without the brain, it couldn’t absorb that corpse. Well, it was still going to eat it, though. Truthfully, it was feeling rather hungry. Its HP and MP recovery weren’t halved due to starvation, but that moment felt like it would come soon.
It had other things to do before chowing down, though. First, it needed to finish the fight. And it would do so by killing off the janther and then moving onto the heavily wounded and tired adventurers. Truly a lose-lose-win scenario that suited it perfectly! It crept around the janther’s back while under the guise of Stealth. It noticed one of the adventurers was watching it, but couldn’t do anything about that. The Stealth Skill only affected sound, so walking around in plain sight like that was bound to get it discovered. It didn’t matter though, as long as its target was unaware.
Once it got into position, the Mimic took out a single sword and gripped it tightly with its tongue. Its sudden burst of INT and WIS seemed to make it realize the janther had an obvious weak spot that was perfect for Assassination. It was a specific organ that was also present on the humans and elves it had already eaten. And its recent tussle with the quintet of guards back in that cave demonstrated that it was undoubtedly a weakness. So, after taking some precautions and matching its timing with the still-fighting janther, it brandished its sword and stabbed at it from behind. Using its magic perception and dextrous tongue, it precisely pierced both of the janther’s testicles.
Assassination Skill triggered. Your attack has dealt 200% more damage. Target HP -54.
The damage dealt was low. That much was expected. It’s not like something that was this outside the body was a vital spot. Well, it may have been necessary to the janther to qualify as a mammal, but the beast had other things on its mind right now. Like a searing, indescribably intense pain. It still had 105 HP remaining, but the agony it was in made it almost want to die.
It yelled with a long, high-pitched scream as it fell on the ground. Krom and Brom stepped back at this weird behavior. Since it didn’t look like the writhing and yelling janther would get up any time soon, they could finally catch their breath. But something was off - where was their damned support? They looked over their shoulders in unison to admonish their teammates for slacking. It was only then that they realized something horrible had happened. Their Ranger was vomiting and their Druid was lying on the ground, covered in blood.
And then the janther screamed again. Krom and Brom turned their focus back to their target. If they turned their backs on it now, it was sure to kill them both. And then, they also saw it. A wooden chest that was latched firmly on the janther’s back.
The Mimic had climbed up on the now grounded prey and driven its teeth deep into it. It stuck to it like a tick. Even if the janther thrashed around it wouldn’t be able to shake it off. The Mimic then put the next step of its attack into action - its six spider legs fused together to become two slightly disfigured black arms. It was its first time growing human limbs, but it had no problems with that. It had eaten so many arms that it could probably create one in its sleep. It’s not like the arachnid limbs that had to be made from sight, or the eye which was a delicate thing. Simple muscle-and-bone could be easily grown in an instant.
The arms then reached into the small opening between the monster jaws and the janther’s bloodied hide and pulled out a sword each. They then began viciously stabbing every bit of janther flesh within reach. The shapeshifter couldn’t put much as power into them as it wanted, but it had all the time in the world. It kept stabbing and carving up the green fur, splattering blood all over the place.
The duo of warriors felt like they had walked into a nightmare. Their elven comrade further back felt like he was already in hell. Even by monster standarts, that horrible wooden box was simply way too vicious, entirely too brutal. It’s like it went out of its way to pick the most horrible way of ripping apart its victims.
Once the janther finally stopped struggling and passed away, the Mimic morphed again. In an instant it turned back into a spider-chest, but this time it had all three of its tongue-tentacles out and ready. Without giving the dumbfounded men any time to relax it charged at them, swinging its blades around in a flurry of death and blood.
Krom and Brom were natural-born Warriors. They were confident in their ability to block and parry a wide range of attacks. Whether they came from monsters, bandits or even other adventurers didn’t matter - they would deflect them all and hold the line. However, they could not keep up with this onslaught. The sheer number of blows raining down on them meant they had no breathing room. Exhausted and disheartened, they desperately tried to hold the monster back while getting covered in scratches. But they still had faith. Faith that, if given enough time, that elf would be able to do something about this nightmarish creature. They believed that from the bottom of their hearts.
But such a thing did not happen. Lylandros was already running away with all his might. His elven nature screamed at him to save himself. His experience growing up in the gutter told him to run for his life. And his fear-addled mind had absolutely no desire to stick around. And so, he ran. Comrades? Lovers? Friends? You can buy plenty of those if you had money! But you couldn’t have any of that if you died in a forest somewhere!
Besides, he had a duty. He had to report the appearance of that terrifying monster to the authorities. The proper subjugation quest needed to be put out and stronger adventurers had to be called in from up north! Dying there would be a disservice to his comrades who were still fighting to buy him time to escape.
At least, that was what he told himself.
Back at that blood-soaked battlefield, Krom and Brom were both inevitably slain. They fought valiantly, but they were in a hopeless position. Wounded, tired and abandoned, they died to a monster’s blade. Slowly, painfully and gripped by despair. Their passing was so dreadful, that it was highly likely they would come back as the undead. Assuming they would leave a corpse behind, that is.
The Mimic danced on their bloodied bodies. Its hastily-made plan resulted in a massive harvest. Since someone else had already heavily wounded the janther before this opportunist showed up and stole the kill, it only got partial credit. Still, that, combined with the other two kills it got, was enough to earn it three Levels for its Mimic Job. The pointy-eared one got away, which was a bit of a shame, but all things considered this was a very profitable engagement.
After it had settled down, it went over to the non-viable corpse and began eating the dead woman. While it was doing that, it also went through its Status. It had earned a lot of things it didn’t have time to double check before, so now was a good time to verify. And just like the Spell List, that new thing it saw should have its own screen. It still had no idea what exactly a Perk was, though.
A special effect that had been made available by fulfilling specific conditions.
You can Inspect individual Perks for more information.
Description: Every assassin worth their salt knows that silence is golden
Requirements: Kill an opponent of equal or higher Level with a single Spell while the Stealth Skill is active
Effects: Spells cast while the Stealth Skill is active will be completely silent
Spells cast while the Stealth Skill is active will cost 25% more MP
Description: A being born of mana is naturally more skilled at manipulating it
Requirements: Obtain any Level 5 Caster Job as a Monster
Effects: All Spells are 5% more effective
So Perks were similar to Skills, except they wouldn’t grow stronger with time. Obtaining them seemed to be mostly at random, too. How was anyone supposed to figure it out outside of blind luck?! The Mimic complained slightly to nobody in particular. Well, not like it had a firm grasp on how to unlock General Skills either.
Truthfully, adventurers could share this information and help each other become that slightly bit stronger. They were all essentially competitors, so they only revealed such things to those they trusted. And nobody was about to trust a monster that was currently busy eating the corpse of a person it murdered in cold blood.
Next, the Mimic needed to verify its new magic.
Requirements: Level 3 Warlock, INT 20
Cost: 100 MP
Range: 25 Meters
Effects: Engulfs your target’s soul in flames, burning away their body over 6 seconds.
Has no effect on Undead, Demons and Golems.
Requirements: Level 5 Warlock, INT 15, MNT 15
Type: Area Effect
Cost: 50 MP
Range: 5 Meters
Effects: Sends all living things in the immediate area into a magically-induced panic attack.
Has no effect on Undead, Demons and Golems.
Ebonfire seemed to be like a powerful spell, but with limited usage. 100 MP also seemed like a really steep cost. On the upside, it looked like it left the actual body in one piece, which was good. The Mimic didn’t want to invalidate any more corpses if it could help it.
As for Mass Panic, it seemed to be of limited use. It was also of a school of magic different from Ruin.
A school of magic that focuses on influencing the mind.
Domination Spells do not deal physical damage and instead cause debilitating conditions.
Domination Spells will display stronger or weaker effects depending on the difference between the caster’s MNT and the target’s MNT.
So it was something that seemed completely unreliable, at least for hunting. This was the simple truth the Mimic’s noticeably boosted mental abilities realized. Still, the incantation was really short so it might be useful as an escape mechanism. Having finished devouring the Druid, the Mimic then moved onto the janther’s corpse. While it would definitely use Cadaver Absorption on it, the monster first needed to rectify a problem - it couldn’t see in the dark. But this six-legged beast could clearly see it last night.
Therefore, the Mimic wanted those eyes. It had to eat them to copy them properly. Technically, eating a part of the corpse now would reduce the effectiveness of Cadaver Absorption, but some things are more important than Attributes or Skills. And even then, it was only going after that one tiny part of its face. Compared to the rest of the gigantic body, they were so insignificant that it probably wouldn’t make a difference anyway. So the shapeshifter gouged them out slowly with a sword and then put them in its mouth. It rolled them around on its tongue before slowly chewing them up and swallowing them.
The sole human eye on its surface then morphed. Its color changed from a dull brown to a bright yellow. A vertical line ran down the golden iris, giving it the appearance of a cat eye. The Mimic would need to wait until it got dark again to properly calibrate it, but it was a start. Since it had enough MP, it then absorbed the entirety of the janther. What appeared to be thousands of liters of gray sludge disappeared inside its body, leaving behind a pile of skin and bones that crumbled away slowly in the gentle breeze.
Unfortunately, it was a failure and nothing was gained. The Mimic immediately felt a pang of regret. Hundreds of kilograms of delicious fresh meat just went to waste. It might actually mourn for it, if it knew the concept of grief. Still, it had two more usable corpses it could absorb, so it might get lucky anyway. But that would need to wait until its MP recovered some more. Right now it had one more important piece of business with its Status Screen.
“Skill Lisht: Harlock” it chanted. The screen came up as expected, but it seemed it only had one Skill on offer. This was because, simply put, it was missing supporting General Skills. For example, if it had the Taboo Skill, it might unlock Hexcraft. But as it stood, it had to make do with what it got.
Description: The Warlock can call forth demons from the Beyond and bend them to his will
Requirements: Level 5 Warlock, INT 30
Activation Time: 12 seconds
Cost: 50% of max MP
Range: 15 meters
Effect: Summons a demon to serve as the Warlock’s Familiar and obey his orders.
A summoned Familiar will last until it dies or the Warlock dismisses it.
The Familiar’s strength is dependant on the Level of this Skill and the MP used to summon it.
Beware! Demons do not like to be shackled!
Having some company would be good. Not that the Mimic was getting lonely or anything, it just understood the benefits of teamwork. And if that didn’t work, it would at least find out if demons tasted good.
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