A trio of trolls were rushing through the forest. These creatures were roughly 2 meters tall and somewhat resembled apes due to their thick necks, short legs and powerful arms that were almost as long as they were tall. A troll’s skin was a thick, brown hide that looked like it could take quite a lot of punishment, and the numerous scars these three individuals had suggested that they put this to the test on a regular basis. Short, brown fur could be seen covering their backs, shoulders and forearms, giving off a rather pungent smell. Their faces were truly ugly, with massive foreheads, beady pitch-black eyes, large flat noses and massive underbites that made their yellow, sharp teeth visible to all.
These three monsters, however, were not rushing towards some prey they caught a whiff of, but running for their very lives. Swinging from branches, charging through bushes and jumping over rocks, all while practically foaming at the mouth from fear. The agility with which they moved seemed to belie their thick, hulking frames. After all, nothing motivates the body like the imminent threat death. Only it would seem that mere motivation was not enough to escape the reaper.
“Mind Blast ~♪” came an oddly melodic voice from above. A light blue flash enveloped the head of one of the ape-like creatures.
You have been stunned for 7 seconds.
It let out a pathetic yelp and then fell down on the ground as if it had momentarily forgotten how limbs worked. A rectangular shadow then leapt down onto it and stuck two shining daggers into either side of its skull, killing it instantly.
The other two trolls kept running without missing a beat. So what if one of their kin was just killed? Stopping to fight that thing was suicide. They should know, some of the others had already tried and failed horribly. The one to fall just now was the 10th victim and the two running were the last survivors.
A few minutes and a couple of Mind Blasts later, the last of the trolls were wiped out. No matter how much their fear aided in their escape, the smaller, lighter and more versatile Mimic had the clear advantage in this obstacle-ridden terrain. Also, its AGI Attribute was much higher than its quarry, which was a big contributor towards its speed advantage. It chucked the two corpses into its Storage and went back to the shallow cave these monsters had been inhabiting until recently.
Trolls were a species of monster that was extremely common throughout the world. It had many variants that depended on their environment. Subspecies such as Cave Trolls, Forest Trolls, Magma Trolls, Ice Trolls, Zombie Trolls and even Bridge Trolls all had their own unique characteristics and varied wildly in strength. However, three things held true among all trolls.
The first two traits they shared were their tough hides that resisted physical blows and the high-speed regeneration that could heal wounds many times faster than other creatures. Indeed, trading blows with a troll that was of equal or higher Level was tantamount to suicide. The best way to kill one was to exploit their universal weakness - magic. Fire or acid were particularly effective, but taking advantage of this weakness would often leave very little of the creatures behind. That was simply bad business. After all, troll hides could be fashioned into sturdy, albeit heavy, leather armor and their blood was a substance with many arcane and alchemical uses.
In fact, that same blood was the whole reason for this little detour.
Boxxy came across a monster dragging the bloodied carcass of what appeared to be a wild boar while traveling along the road. Xera immediately identified it as a troll, which wasn’t particularly impressive considering their appearance was general knowledge to any civilized being above the age of 5. Which was a good thing, too, because that denomination did not include the 3 month old Mimic. The animate chest and its two minions then chased after their target until it led them to its den - a shallow cave it shared with 11 of its kin.
So, all things said and done, Boxxy now had 12 mostly intact troll corpses it could harvest for blood. Since its goal wasn’t to just kill and eat them, it had to avoid riddling them with wounds like it usually did to its targets.
Well, statistically speaking, that statement wasn’t quite right. The vast majority of this monster’s victims were vaporized by a dungeon core going through critical meltdown, but ‘riddled with wounds’ was definitely second place on that list, followed closely by ‘ripped apart’ and ‘torn asunder.’ All of those methods would cause massive blood loss, however, which would be counterproductive considering its goal. In the end it had to settle for disabling them with magic and piercing their skulls, minimizing the holes through which they could bleed out. Surprisingly, it ended up having to use Mind Blast rather than Shadowbind to do so.
Requirements: Level 22 Warlock, INT 100, MNT 100
Cost: 200 MP
Range: 40 meters
Effects: Assaults the target’s consciousness directly, stunning it for 5 seconds.
Has no effect on Undead, Demons and Golems.
Requirements: Level 20 Warlock, INT 120
Range: 25 meters
Effects: Chains of darkness wrap around the target, restricting movement for up to 10 seconds.
Grows in power in dark places or at night, gaining up to 50% additional effectiveness depending on the environment.
The latter seemed to be more powerful at a glance. It had a lower MP cost and a longer effective duration, at least on paper. The problem was that these chains were more fragile than the Mimic thought, seeing as how those Trolls broke free of the physical restraints within a few seconds. Using Power Overwhelming or taking advantage of the darkness would be needed if it planned to restrain such physically strong monsters with this Spell. However, the former would consume too much MP and the latter was out of the question in this daylight. Even then it might not be enough to tie down these trolls. Mental attacks, on the other hand, were incredibly effective. Those monsters may have been powerful in body, but they were pathetic when it came to mental fortitude. Or defending against magic in general.
And thus the Mimic learned an important lesson. Mind Blast was effective against opponents that relied on brawn, and Shadowbind looked to be more useful against Caster-type enemies that typically had weaker bodies. Well, even if someone who was proficient in both might and magic showed up, then they would just have to be sliced up the old fashioned way.
Thankfully, these opponents could be taken down without spilling much of their blood, though it took some time. Kora’s blunt force attacks were particularly useful since they didn’t cause any external bleeding, but it still took her a lot of effort to overwhelm their defenses. That is, at least until Boxxy started using Dark Infusion on her.
Requirements: Level 17 Warlock, INT 60, MNT 80
Cost: 75 MP
Range: 10 Meters
Effect: Increases your target’s STR, AGI, DEX and INT Attributes by 20% for 30 seconds.
Your target will be stunned for 5 seconds once the effect expires or is dispelled.
The stun component of this Spell has no effect on Undead, Demons and Golems.
This Spell actually boosted those four Attributes by 28% thanks to the effects of the Domination Mastery Skill, which was currently at Level 4. The duration of the power-up was still 30 seconds, so it would be safe to assume the stun that followed it was equally unaffected by the related Mastery. Well, having it become more powerful rather than lasting longer or being more efficient was in-line with other Warlock Spells and Skills. The upshot in physical ability Kora displayed made Boxxy extremely curious as to just how powerful it would get if it were to use Dark Infusion on itself.
However, that seemed to be impossible. Domination Spells, Dark Infusion included, had no effect on the caster. After all, that entire school of magic is centered around forcing the caster’s will onto others, so something like affecting one’s own mind was just impossible. Still, even using it on just Kora proved to be more than effective. Especially when one considered her other Skills.
Description: Fiends are by nature demons with more brawn than brains, but this trait is noticeably more pronounced in Pit Fiends.
Requirements: Be born as a Pit Fiend
Activation Time: N/A
Effect: Increases the effects of the STR Attribute by 3% per Level of this Skill.
Reduces the effects of the INT Attribute by 3% per Level of this Skill.
Although this seemed like an underwhelming Skill, it was well suited to someone like Kora. She was a demon who fought entirely with physical means and didn’t really need to spend MP in order to pummel something into dust. Therefore, the already tiny MP pool becoming even tinier was a moot point. Even her active Skills didn’t care she had under 150 MP at Level 29.
Description: Fiends are by nature too stubborn to die.
Requirements: Level 10 Fiend
Activation Time: Instant
Cost: 0 MP
Effects: Instantly recovers 25% of missing HP.
Increases the HP recovered by this Skill by 20% per Level of this Skill.
This Skill may not be activated more than once every 24 hours.
Description: Fiends are by nature incredibly thick-skinned.
Requirements: Level 15 Fiend
Activation Time: Instant
Cost: 50% of max MP
Effects: Reduces all incoming damage by 30% for 10 seconds.
Increases the duration of this Skill by 10% per Level of this Skill.
Second Wind was an enviable Skill, one the Mimic badly wanted for itself. However, it would seem to be impossible for anyone other than a fiend to use. Curiously enough, it was possible to bypass the 24 hour usage restriction on it if Kora died and was re-summoned. This was most likely because Skills were bound to the body and giving the demoness a new body would also give her a fresh, unused copy of this Skill.
Demonic Carapace on the other hand was a Skill that appeared after the dungeon core meltdown caused the Mimic’s Level to skyrocket. Activating this Skill caused Kora’s entire body to temporarily become covered in gray metal scales that glistened with an unnatural red sheen. The material appeared to be the same substance used by her Demonic Armaments Skill.
Description: Fiends are capable of manifesting physical arms and armor during a summoning.
Requirements: Level 5 Fiend
Activation Time: N/A
Effects: Conjures Devil Steel weapons and armor when summoned to the physical realm.
Increases the performance of items created by this Skill with each Level of this Skill.
This was the source of Kora’s gauntlets and sabatons. Things like her clothes or Xera’s outfit and staff served no practical purpose other than decoration. Indeed, the succubus’s ‘weapon’ was completely unnecessary for her Spell casting and she would be just as deadly without it. The only reason she even bothered with it was simply force of habit. It also served as a fake-out since most people believed her magic would wane if the staff was destroyed and waste time and energy breaking it in half. As expected of a conniving, backstabbing succubus - even her ‘weapon’ was a lie.
Truthfully, it was entirely possible for familiars to wield equipment made by and for mortals, but very few Warlocks saw the need to do something silly like giving additional gear to their demons. While it would make them more effective, it would also mean that those items would most likely be lost when the demon was slain in combat. Which happened a lot. Especially fiends that excelled at close combat. Correction - they had no other method of attack except close combat. Which is probably why all of them came equipped with their own arms and armor..
Boxxy returned to the former troll den while reviewing what it knew about its minions. Even if it lacked common sense, the Mimic’s battle sense was rapidly developing. It had to be well versed in the strengths and weakness of all participants in a fight if it wanted to secure victory, so analyzing its familiars was something it did quite a lot during the downtime when they were traveling. Kora, one of the minions in question, was currently busy handling the 9 troll corpses the Mimic left behind, relieving them of their blood. Well, it’s not like those trolls were going to need it anymore.
“Drain these too,” it commanded while taking out the 3 troll corpses in its Storage.
“It’s fine if a few extra bits get into the stuff, right?” asked Kora while wringing out a troll’s arm as if it were a wet cloth. The viscous red blood that poured out of the dismembered appendage seemed to have ripped up tissue, hair and bits of bone in it.
“Are these the last ones, then?”
“Thank fuck! This blood-wrangling thing is really fucking dull! Ah, it would go faster if Master buffed me up again! So… can you do that?” she added with a hint of anticipation in her voice.
Boxxy saw no reason to deny her request since its MP was almost back to full and she would be doing all of the work anyway. The knock-off Xera appeared instantly as if she had been hiding inside the chest the whole time.
“Dark Infusion ~♪!” came the unnaturally cheerful voice.
A black mist enveloped Kora in an instant. It seeped itself into her skin, turning it several shades darker. Her already well-defined muscles bulged out even more as her entire body became one size wider, straining the thin fabric of her white top and hotpants. The already skintight clothing dug into her flesh, conforming perfectly to her form. It was at a stage where the shape of her genitals as well as her rock-hard nipples were clearly visible to anyone who so much as glanced in her direction.
“Ohh yeaaaah!” she said while rubbing her hands all over her body. “This stuff makes me feel amazing! Like I can beat the shit out of a steel golem with three arms tied behind my back!”
She then went back to squeezing the blood out of a dead troll with great gusto. The syrupy red liquid (and other miscellaneous bits) that poured out of it was collected inside a wooden barrel. That barrel was originally filled with strawberry jam, but that particular substance was already devoured. Quite thoroughly at that. Boxxy may have actually developed a liking for the stuff seeing as how it literally licked the barrel clean. As for the liquid that replaced it, it was going to be used for performing demonic rituals in order to increase the proficiency Level of Demonology. Getting it all the way to Level 8 seemed like it would take a long time, but it was well worth the investment. Having an extra familiar was going to be a huge boon considering both of its current minions were quite excellent. Just looking at Kora’s Status actually made the Mimic a little bit envious.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Koralenteprix Khusuuszun Caonthioxxaa||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
Especially that high STR Attribute. That was pretty much double what the Mimic had. Even without Dark Infusion she was just under 200 STR. Looking at the Attributes alone left little doubt that Kora would be able to deal more damage than her master, at least at close range. Well, not unless Assassination or Ruin magic came into play, but even then those would only provide a burst of destructive power while Kora could unleash a nearly endless barrage of fists. Comparing itself with Xera, who was a specialized Caster, would yield a similar result of the familiar being more powerful than the master.
“Ah… Master! It ran out! More please!”
Boxxy was steadily starting to feel the downside of splitting its Level and Attributes between martial combat and magic. Using both at the same time was pretty much impossible, after all. Crystallize Magic helped, but that was a temporary solution that lasted only as long as it had Spell Crystals. It was theoretically possible to prepare more of those while in combat, but the Mimic might as well just cast its Spells directly at the enemy to preserve MP. The Assassination Skill was pretty much the opposite - using it continuously in a fight was desirable, but impossible.
In short, Boxxy’s combat effectiveness would deteriorate rapidly as a battle went on. A lot of its damage was front-loaded, after all. While it was true such things weren’t much of a problem right now, that would change rapidly if it came face-to-face with another worthy opponent like that steel grate or the Fleshmaiden. The Mimic was starting to understand it would need to rely on its familiars a lot more than initially anticipated, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both of them could keep fighting for a long time and could easily be used as sacrifices to cover its escape should the need arise. Well, they had to do at least this much considering how much work Boxxy put into training the related Skills. Even this little detour was more or less for the sake of strengthening them anyway.
“Huuu… Master? More?”
“Master, I found some more trolls,” reported Xera through the thought-link. “There’s roughly 6 of them, about 2 kilometers south of where you are.”
The succubus was currently under orders to seek out other potential prey from the sky, although that was mostly an excuse to get her away from the troll den. If she were to use her fire magic, then the only thing left of those trolls would be ash and cinders. Even a 3 month old box knew you couldn’t get blood from those. The question was, did it really need to go all that way?
“Arms, are you done yet?”
“Pretty much, this is the last one,” answered Kora.
Her titular arms were currently twisting and squeezing a troll as if it were a ripe orange. Only with blood and guts rather than juice and pulp. It wasn’t the ideal way to drain a creature of its blood, but it definitely seemed to be effective.
“How much blood?” asked Boxxy.
“Barrel’s almost full.”
That would be nearly 60 liters of troll blood. Admittedly there were a few bones and other miscellaneous bits floating inside, but it was good enough.
“Snack, leave them and come back. I need you for the first ritual.”
The first ritual on the list was a ceremony called ‘An Offering to Nagnamor.’ It was actually pretty straightforward, requiring only some troll blood, a sharp knife and a pure maiden. Boxxy wasn’t quite clear on what a ‘pure’ maiden was supposed to be, but Xera was a woman who wasn’t currently poisoned or diseased, so she should do.
Probably. Possibly. It’ll likely be close enough. Yeah.