The Mimic and his two familiars were finally going to depart the core chamber. They had spent a bit too long in there and the monster had gotten hungry. There were a few left over wolf corpses in Storage, but those were not enough to completely satiate it. It wanted to go before the debilitating starvation conditions started to set in. They still had that map they looted earlier, so they wouldn’t get lost on their way out at least.
Next would be the matter of the 1 meter wide crystalline dungeon core. The Mimic wanted to bring the shiny thing along, but it wouldn’t fit in its Storage. The swirling portal to the monster’s pocket dimension could only expand to about 60 centimeters in diameter, which was considerably better than the 10 centimeter hole it was at Level 1. It was still far from enough though.
And so the solution would be for Kora to carry it. The core weighed in at about 80 kilograms, which, all things considered, was relatively light. Not that the female fiend had any trouble handling that sort of weight. She hoisted it up with one hand and put it on her shoulder, cradling it between her head and forearm. Even its awkward size was no problem for someone of her stature. If anything, the way she casually handled it would make one think it was just a fancy beach ball rather than the crystallized heart of a dungeon.
“Okay,” said the Mimic after confirming there was nothing of value left in the desolate room. “We’re leaving!”
It headed off towards the chamber’s exit along with its familiars leading the way.
“Master, why are walking?” asked Xera with a bit of annoyance. “Let’s just use Portal Keys to get out!”
“Portal Key? What’s that? Is it tasty?” came the rather predictable response from the chest.
“Can I smash it?” chimed in the fiend with a sharp glint in her eye.
“Haah,” sighed the succubus.
She then began educating the two airheads about the common, albeit slightly expensive, items known as Portal Keys. Crushing one of these would teleport an adventurer to the safety of the dungeon’s Waystone. It was convenient, but came with a few limitations. The user had to stand still when using it, it could only bring out one person at a time due to weight restrictions and the item was lost after a single use and had absolutely no function outside of a dungeon with a Waystone. Not observing any of these rules meant the item would simply fail to activate properly.
“Do we have something like that?” asked the Mimic once the explanation was over.
“We do!” she demanded.”Those white stones we looted earlier, they’re still in your Storage, right?”
“Oh, the dusty things!” exclaimed the Mimic. It had seen a few adventurers using the item, but didn’t quite understand its effects. That is, not until Xera explained them just now. To its infantile mind it just seemed that the other party disappeared. It didn’t want to disappear, so it took extra care to avoid accidentally eating those stones until now. There was just one problem though
“Can we bring the shiny along with us?”
“... Probably not,” said Xera while hanging her head. The very weight restrictions she mentioned earlier would not allow for the extra-heavy dungeon core to be transported.
“Then we walk. Arms, can you fight while holding the shiny?”
“Sure. I still got three spare hands you know.”
She gave them a wave to prove her point. Satisfied, the Mimic ordered them all to make for the exit. They proceeded down the long, spiraling corridor at a brisk pace. The spider-chest actually had to skitter along faster than normal to keep up with Kora’s wide stride. Xera gave up on walking altogether and just glided along behind them on her wings with her staff floating idly by her side. Overall, it was almost a pleasant walk. If only it wasn’t for that one, nagging thing disturbing the Mimic every now and then.
The Litigar Dungeon Complex has recognized you as its rightful ruler.
This offer kept reappearing no matter how many times it declined. It’s been coming up every 5 or so seconds ever since Kora managed to dislodge it from its spot earlier. However, mimics were ultimately creatures of patience. This particular individual was pretty much a specialist at ignoring others, to boot. It would take a lot more than some nagging windows to annoy it into submission.
Just pick [Yes] already! Please?! I’m begging you here!
A weird one popped up by the time they passed the ‘No Entry’ point on the map and got back into the dungeon proper. The Mimic didn’t even pay attention to the stubborn pop up at this point and immediately chose ‘No.’
Okay, I get it! You don’t wanna be a dungeon master. In that case, just leave the core behind, already! It’s not like it’ll be of any use to you, anyway!
It seemed that there was some sort of consciousness inside this dungeon and it was aware of what was going on. Its pleas and attempts to make the monster see reason were quite futile. After all, the selfish box already decided it wanted the shiny. Therefore, it would keep the shiny.
Do you have any idea how long it’ll take to grow a new one?! Look, I promise I’ll make it worth your while if you listen to me and put it down!
This attempt at bribery might have actually worked if it wasn’t worded poorly. If the Mimic had been offered ‘many shiny things’ it would have undoubtedly paid attention, perhaps even accepted the deal on the spot. However, ambiguous phrases like ‘worth your while’ went squarely over its metaphorical head and were summarily ignored. It was a crucial blunder. After all, success or failure in negotiations hinged almost entirely on how well one understood their opponent. Therefore, this entity which did not know a single thing about the monster’s thought process had no chance of persuading it with words.
Listen here, buddy! You already killed the dungeon master! If you think I’ll let you just walk away with that core then you’ve got another thing coming!
Whoever or whatever was trying to communicate with the Mimic seemed to be getting rather angry. And perhaps a tiny bit desperate if they gave up on diplomacy and resorted to vague threats. The arachno-chest still ignored them with all its might, though. Even trying to contact the other two proved to be completely fruitless.
That was because Xera and Kora were already bound to the walking chest. There’s no way they could be offered a new soul-binding contract while their current one was still in effect. They were therefore completely oblivious to the silent struggle going on inside their master’s mind.
However, it would seem that it would not go on for much longer.
Fine! I didn’t want to do this, but you forced my hand! Don’t say you weren’t warned!
The dull red glow that the core gave off until then suddenly intensified, bathing the surroundings in a bright red light. It then started flashing this light on and off with a steady rhythm, almost like an alarm.
Because that’s exactly what it was.
“Um, Master?” said Xera with a rather accusatory tone. “What did you do to the core?”
“Nothing? Arms is the one holding it.”
It shamelessly deflected the blame. Not that it understood how this was any of its fault, though.
“Hey, don’t look at me! I’m just holding onto it like I was ordered and then it started flashing all on its own!”
“Wait, do you hear that?”
There was a sudden howling and screaming coming in from the passage in front of them. And judging from the increasing volume, it was headed right for the three core thieves.
An extra large group of undead - about 30 skeletons, 7 ghouls and a dozen or so ghosts poured out of the next corner and dashed madly towards them.
“Arms, smash them up. Snack, support from the back.”
The Mimic just calmly gave out orders. It saw no reason to worry. True, the number of enemies was nothing to sneeze at, but it had already faced similar numbers on the way in. Xera by herself was able to take out most of them with her Inferno Spell and what few were left became food for the Mimic’s combat Skills. So now that the two of them had Kora to take point, this fodder stood absolutely no chance of winning.
“Oh yeah! Now this is what I’m talking about!”
The fiend in question seemed to really be looking forward to getting her hands dirty, so much so that she ran out to meet their charge while sporting a wide toothy grin. She smashed into the Skeleton Soldiers at the front with a wide sweeping kick that sent them flying and crashing into the stone wall. Weakness to blunt force trauma was a characteristic trait of skeletons, so most of those monsters shattered into pieces and instantly lost their unlife. Their ‘comrades’ didn’t care though, they just attacked their target. As expected of the mindless undead.
The rusty blades of the other Skeleton Soldiers and the filthy claws of the zombie-like ghouls struck at her. A good number were deflected by the armor on her arms and legs, but over half of the attacks sunk into her flesh.
You have suffered a shallow wound. HP -19.
You have suffered a shallow wound. HP -22.
You have been afflicted with a disease. Max HP reduced by 50.
You have suffered a shallow wound. HP -13.
You have suffered a deep cut. HP -38.
You have been poisoned. HP -9.
Your movements have been dulled by the poison.
You have suffered a shallow wound. HP -23.
You have suffered a shallow wound. HP -18.
Over 100 HP was lost in the blink of an eye. She didn’t just sit there and take it, though. Metal-clad punches rained down on the undead like hail while she yelled out ‘ora ora’ over and over. The storm of heavy blows pounded them into the ground until they were naught but dust and splinters. Well, the skeletons were anyway. The ghouls became more of a bloody smear on the floor and walls.
Xera didn’t sit idle either. She called forth an Inferno to decimate the undead platoon’s backline that consisted of Skeletal Archers, Skeletal Mages and ghosts. They were all wiped out before they could unleash their arrows and magic onto the gigantic red target in front of them. A few well-placed Fireballs picked off any surviving ghosts.
And while the demon girls were busy clearing the way, their master just sort of stood back and kept an eye on things. Well, it didn’t see a need to interfere. Its magic would be as innefective as ever and slicing up undead seemed to make its swords deteriorate much quicker than when it used them on people or animals. It needed to take better care of them until it could learn to maintain them properly. Not to mention it was down to its last 6 weapons. Four of them - two swords and two mithril daggers - were picked up in this dungeon. The remaining two blades - a worn-out sword and that shiny enchanted knife - were leftovers from its newbie-hunting days.
Proficiency level increased. Summon Familiar is now Level 5. INT +2. WIS +1. MNT +1.
Proficiency level increased. Demonology is now Level 2. WIS +2. MNT +2.
So instead of dulling its weapons needlessly, it simply enjoyed the sweet taste of its Skills going up in Level without it actually needing to do anything. However, it noticed that Demonology did not go up as quickly as expected. Usually a new Skill would shoot to Level 3 quite rapidly with a huge engagement like this, but it just barely seemed to reach Level 2. If it was going to be this slow, then getting it all the way to Level 8 would take forever.
Maybe it misunderstood the way it should be using this Skill? It’s true that simply having the second familiar participate in combat increased Proficiency, but the gains were way too small. Now that it thought about it, wouldn’t Demonology go up quicker if it performed some of those rituals? Well, it would have to wait a while before testing that out. Pretty much all of the ceremonies it knew about needed troll blood. It wasn’t even sure what the fuck a troll was!
“Yeeaaaah!” screamed Kora triumphantly while standing ankle-deep in undead bits. “Get smashed, son!”
This odd cheer snapped the Mimic out of its thoughts. It appeared that the two demons were done cleaning up the undead. The one-sided massacre didn’t even last a minute! Checking their Statuses, the Mimic confirmed that Kora had lost about 250 HP while Xera had used up about a third of her MP.
“Arms, why is your max HP so low?” it asked after spotting the oddity in her Status. The value in question was currently listed as 374/515. Wasn’t it over 600 just a few minutes ago?
“Ah, I’m still poisoned and diseased!”
Oh, right. Abnormal statuses like that were common when fighting the undead at close range.
“You just realized this now… ?”
“Snack, shut up and fix her.”
The succubus went up to Kora and put a hand on her chiseled abs. Right over the already festering wound left behind by a ghoul.
“Hey!” exclaimed her ‘patient.’ “What are you doing?!”
“Just following orders, dearie.”
“And how is poking my wound going to-”
Plumes of blue flame shot out of all of the fiend’s open wounds and lit her up like a dangerous christmas tree. They burned away the toxins in her system while cauterizing her wounds, accompanied by a momentary spike of pain.
Your body has been purified by the flames. HP -30.
You are no longer poisoned.
You are no longer diseased.
You are no longer bleeding.
Kora immediately confirmed the feeling in her body was back to normal. Well, she was covered in burns rather than open wounds, but at least she could move properly again.
“Ohh! I can move freely again! Thanks, slut!” she said with a toothy grin.
“I have a name, you nitwit,” retorted Xera while sneering.
“Ahahaha! My bad, my bad. Thanks, Snack.”
“Hohoho, sounds like someone wants their face melted off!”
“Bring it short stuff! I’ll pummel you so hard only your tits will be left behind!”
“Hah! As if a clumsy oaf like you could ever catch the likes of me!”
Sparks seemed to fly between them as the two glared at each other with murderous intent. Simply because they both had the same master didn’t mean they would get along. It actually seemed to have the opposite effect.
After all, one of them was a succubus that thrived on deception and conspiracy. A creature whose manipulative and cunning nature could incite life-long friends to betray each other. Toppling entire kingdoms from within was entirely possible for the winged seductress. Highly unlikely, but possible nonetheless.
And her co-contractor just happened to be a fiend. A demon that wanted nothing less than to crush her enemies, see them driven before her and hear the lamentations of their women. Or men. Or pet dogs. The mountain of muscle didn’t have any prejudices in that regard and would gladly accept all forms of lamentation, regardless of who or what they came from.
In fact, the only thing in common these two species of demons had was how much they hated each other. Kora and Xera were no different and would undoubtedly be trying to kill one another if their summoning contracts weren’t holding them back. From a magical standpoint, a bound demon was more or less an extension of its master. The two of them were completely unable to physically harm one another without their master’s say-so.
A fact which both of them seemed to realize at the same time.
“Master, requesting permission to kill this bitch!” they screamed out in perfect sync.
The answer they got was a stone throw to the face that gave both of them matching black eyes.
“No time for that,” said the Mimic. “More enemies are coming. A lot more.”
“What makes you say that, Master?” asked Xera while rubbing her injured face.
“Look at the shiny.”
Both of them then stared at the still flashing core on Kora’s shoulder. They stared at it but failed to comprehend what was odd about it. Well, other than the obnoxious light, that is.
“What about it?” asked Xera.
“Dunno,” said Kora. “It does seem to feel a little bit heavier, though.”
Unfortunately, neither of the two demons had the means to see what their master was talking about. At least, not with their eyes.
The Mimic’s senses seem to have grown sharper ever since its Rank Up. Its magical perception in particular turned out to be quite sensitive. It was at the point where it was capable of reading the thick flow of mana in the dungeon’s air if it focused hard enough. That’s how it knew that the core was currently pulling a huge amount of that mana into itself. The mystical current was so strong that it seemed to cause the remains of the undead to dissipate much faster than normal due to the loose magical energy being pulled out of them by force. And all that errant mana was being absorbed by the core.
So what was its purpose in doing so? That was a mystery. However, the side effects of that action were obvious to the former resident of this place.
“It’s pulling the dungeon towards us.”
The monsters in a dungeon would follow the flow of mana without fail.
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