Fizzy and Boxxy trudged through the woods. It had been 5 days since their escape and subsequent meeting with Reginald, the God of Impossibility. Right now they were mostly wandering around aimlessly, looking for signs of either an undead incursion or some form of civilization that might offer information. The gnome had already been relieved of her prisoner’s rags and had been outfitted with whatever Boxxy had with it.
She held a steel dagger in her right hand and a small round buckler in her left, although they seemed more like a shortsword and a greatshield due to her small stature. A slightly too-large chainmail shirt covered her torso and hung low like a dress. This was even after Boxxy had shortened it for her. Of course the gnome had made the wise decision not to ask whether those dark stains around the neck area were indeed blood. Her undershirt and pants were something she threw together from a bunch of old blue rags, while her feet were protected with makeshift shoes made out of metal plates, leather some nails and a bit of wire.
The seemingly random things Boxxy had inside its Storage were almost like a treasure trove to an Artificer. She was understandably surprised when she learned of the Skill’s existence, but quickly understood its function. High-Level Merchants were said to have access to a similar Skill called Item Box. As for why a Mimic had it, it was simply due to its chesty heritage. Regardless, it had let her throw together some basic clothing. Her creations did little more than protect her modesty, but it was still better than walking around while wearing an old potato sack.
Her weapon and shield were properly Blacksmith forged, at least. As for why the Mimic had given her a dagger and a shield, it was simply the best thing for her after taking her Status into consideration.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Guild||Erosa Craftsman Union||END||84|
|Clockwork Expertise||10||MAX||Champion of Chaos||3||92%|
|Deconstruction||7||33%||Strength of Faith||2||74%|
|Component Forging||6||63%||Shield Mastery||3||62%|
Just like she said, her Artificer Job had left most of her physical Attributes completely undeveloped. Her maximum HP immediately after getting the Paladin Job was a mere 197. It really was no surprise her father and brother got taken out so easily despite being over Level 60. The upside was that her DEX Attribute was reasonably developed, so a piercing weapon like a dagger made perfect sense, at least for the moment. She would probably transition into something more suitable, like swords or maybe maces in the future, but this would suffice for the time being.
As for Shield Mastery, it was to make sure she didn’t accidentally up and die. That wouldn’t be funny at all if it happened. That Skill also had the effect of providing her with END and STR to raise her max HP, which she needed badly. At least acquiring those Skills had proven to be easy, as the two of them had started sparring immediately after their meeting with the God of Luck. Well, ‘sparring’ was perhaps not the right word. It would be better to say the Mimic willingly became the gnome’s punching bag for a while. The gnome looked to be a bit apprehensive at first, but seemed to actually enjoy stabbing the monster somewhat. It allowed her to raise her Dagger Mastery to about Level 2 and a half, but it refused to go higher than that. Still, it was a promising start in Boxxy’s opinion.
As for Shield Mastery, she simply practiced blocking the Mimic’s blows. Boxxy had to hold back immensely so as to avoid killing her outright. It was honestly quite difficult considering the murder train that was Boxxy T. Morningwood had only 2 speeds - walk and kill. At least it learned about controlling its strength, so it also profited somewhat from those session.
But again, the Skill refused to go up above Level 2 and a half, much like Dagger Mastery. It would seem there was a limit to how much one could learn from hitting the same target over and over and that actual combat would be necessary for the Skill to properly grow. That was, of course, going to be tricky since it implied that the gnome would have to fight for her life for real, and the monsters in this neck of the woods were not pushovers.
A hoarse, goat-like bleat rang out around Boxxy and Fizzy, interrupting their aimless wandering.
“Oh no… not again!” lamented the gnome.
That bleat meant two things. That they were about to be attacked, and that the gnome would be put in a ‘safe place.’ Which meant the Mimic promptly restrained her with its tongue tentacles and tossed the clearly apprehensive gnome into its Storage.
Another bleat came out, this one subtly different from the first. It was followed by two more before, barely a second later, four humanoid figures leapt in from all sides, surrounding the half-spider half-box. These monsters had the horned head and hoofed lower body of a ram or goat, with a human-like torso and arms. Their entire bodies were covered with thick, brown fur and had most of their body mass concentrated around their powerful legs. Their unsettling yellow goat eyes sized up the strange creature between them and they pointed their makeshift bone-tipped spears at it in a threatening manner.
These monsters were officially known as satyrs, sometimes called goat-men. They always moved in groups of 3 to 6 and mercilessly attacked everything that wasn’t their own kind. They sometimes even fought and killed each other over simplistic things such as breeding rights. Quite violent for a bunch of herbivores.
As for their Level, Boxxy had guessed it to be somewhere in the 40 to 45 range, based on their HP and how much XP they gave when killed. Its estimate was pretty much right on the mark.
The one with the longest beard let out a short, sharp bleat and all four of the satyrs leapt at the monster at once, clearly intending to skewer it with their weapons. This was their usual hunting pattern that usually brought them victory over their target in an instant. As expected of the dominant species in this region of the Sawblade Mountains.
However, their choice of opponent was bad.
Rather than take their combined attack, Boxxy chose to launch one of its own and jumped into the air, right at the one that seemed to be in charge. The satyr seems to have expected this somewhat and quickly readjusted his spear. The goat and the box collided in mid-air, and the Mimic was pierced clean through its midsection.
You have suffered a deep wound. HP -326.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +140.
Ignoring the wound that would be gone in a few seconds, the Mimic’s steel-coated teeth bit deeply into the satyr’s shoulders and upper torso, trapping his horned head inside its maw. The two entangled monsters fell to the ground like that, with the toothed box refusing to let go of its victim. The other three goat-men approached and attempted to stab the monster, but were forced back with a spray of corrosive acid. They could only look on in horror as their trapped leader’s arms and legs flailed around while Boxxy chewed on him mercilessly.
The sound of metal on metal rang out as the sharp steel teeth lining the Mimic’s jaws closed completely, separating the satyr’s head and part of his torso from the rest of him.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 43 Mimic! All Attributes +2.
Now that the leader was taken care of, the rest of the group were clearly losing their nerve. Being splashed with burning acid didn’t help their morale, either. They didn’t quite turn tail and run, but they were clearly hesitant to approach the Mimic.
Not that it had any intention of letting them go in the first place. These four had already opened the hurt-box, and they would get what’s coming to them.
It let out a guttural half-hiss half-roar to make them shrink back a little more, took out its two mithril daggers and a steel sword, and got busy. The second satyr had his hands sliced off and his heart pierced in rapid succession. The third one had his friend’s spear tossed at him, which hit him accurately in the knee, causing him to fall over from the sudden injury. Boxxy then swooped in and swiftly made several deep wounds in its other leg, crippling the goat-man for good. The Mimic then mercilessly nailed its victim in place by driving its sword through the wounded creature’s stomach and into the soft ground. The satyr struggled and cried, but couldn’t muster the strength to free itself from its position. The last one turned around in order to retreat and fetch more of his friends, but the Mimic had already anticipated this. It threw a huge rock that accurately nailed the back of the satyr’s head, causing it to fall face-down on the ground. Boxxy then leapt on top of his back and grabbed hold of his arms and legs, subduing it completely in the process.
It had taken less than 30 seconds to completely dismantle this failed ambush. Two of the satyrs lie dead, one was bleeding heavily while quite literally nailed to the ground and the last one was pinned under Boxxy’s weight. Thinking this was good enough, the sentient chest opened its maw and spat out Fizzy from inside its Storage. The gnome fell roughly on the ground directly in front of it with a small thud.
“Gaah! Haah, haah, haah, haah, haah!”
She panted heavily, desperate to alleviate the suffering in her chest. The Mimic’s pocket dimension was a horrible, claustrophobic space - completely devoid of light, with practically no gravity and, worst of all, no air circulation. Boxxy had to forcefully fill it with fresh air every time it threw the gnome in there for her own protection, otherwise she’d suffocate. Even then she only had enough air to last her a few minutes at most.
The goat-like bleating from the pinned satyr drew Fizzy’s attention. She looked at the captive monster with a difficult expression, because she knew what would follow. And indeed, just as before, a bald pointy-eared woman’s head formed on the box’s surface and spoke to her in a demanding tone of voice.
The gnome picked herself off the ground and warily approached the two monsters. This pattern was already familiar to her. She knew full well that command was coming, but that didn’t make things any easier. In some ways, it was the anticipation before the act that was the worst part. She screwed up her courage, gripped her dagger with both hands and thrust it into the satyr’s neck with a small yell.
You have inflicted a shallow wound. Target HP -86.
It didn’t pierce very far though. Just enough to cause the goat-like monster to wail in pain and attempt to thrash about, but the Mimic had it completely immobilized.
Fizzy withdrew her weapon and struck the monster again. And then again and again, over and over. Pitch black blood gushed from the wounds and flowed freely. The satyr wailed and bleated desperately as the inept Paladin kept hurting it. It’s not as if she was doing it on purpose, though. The kind gnome fully understood Boxxy’s reasons for doing this, but she still wished to at least end it without suffering. However, her weak body could hardly produce the strength necessary to do that sort of thing. It took almost 2 minutes of abuse before the monster finally died with a final gurgle.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 14 Paladin! STR +2. END +2. INT +2.
“Huff, huff, huff, huff!”
The mostly unwilling executioner breathed heavily with a slightly dazed look in her eye. The Mimic lifted itself off the satyr and went to fetch its still crippled friend. It took out the sword, wrapped its tentacles around the goat-man and dragged him along the ground while ignoring his desperate cries of pain. That poor creature was forced to watch as his kin was tortured to death and was clearly about to suffer the same fate. Realizing this, he started clawing furiously at the ground in an attempt to get away. But it was useless. It was brought before the gnome and pinned down exactly like his dead friend right next to him.
The mentally and physically tired gnome grit her teeth and did as instructed. What followed was, unsurprisingly, a scene much like the first one. At least this one passed away fairly quickly since it was already heavily injured.
Now that all hostiles in the immediate area were dead, Fizzy’s face broke out into a huge smile with wide-open eyes. She raised both her face and her bloodied hands to the cloudy sky and heard her voice barrel out of her throat.
“Victory for chaosss!”
Congratulations, you are now a Level 15 Paladin! STR +2. END +2. INT +2.
Proficiency level increased. Champion of Chaos is now Level 4. FTH +2. LCK +2.
Her mad expression vanished in the next instant, turning back to that tired face she had moments ago. That outburst earlier was something completely beyond her control, a clear sign that the Goddess of Uncertainty had a firm hold over her champion. Granted, Fizzy wasn’t unique in this. Every Paladin started out with the Champion Skill of the deity he or she was sworn to. Paladins of Teresa, for example, would be Champions of Justice. Paladins that served Axel, the patron deity of war and combat, would be Champions of War. Those who worshipped Solus the Sun God would be Champions of Life. A Priest would also have a Skill like this, except in their case they were Apostles rather than Champions.
And, of course, each of these Skill variants came with its own set of effects, but their main function was to keep the faithful servants of a deity from straying too far from their path. Well, that was if one worded it nicely. A more cynical opinion was that the Gods forced their worldviews onto mortals through these Skills. It also kept these people from pledging their allegiance to another God. Neither of those things were normally a problem though. After all, Fizzy was pretty much the only Paladin to have their Job forced on them. The fact that she was strong-armed into serving such a random, ominous and unreliable God did not make things better, either.
As for the Champion of Chaos Skill, she desperately wanted it gone. Hopefully before she became stark raving mad because of it. That passive Skill ever-so-slightly warped her perception of the world around her, sometimes giving her glimpses of things that would happen a second of two from now. Granted, this seemed to be incredibly useful in combat as it allowed her to occasionally predict a monster’s movements well in advance. However, it also had a very large downside. The Skill forced its holder to randomly spout inane phrases like she did just now. At least this one was fairly coherent and wasn’t some inane drivel like ‘Socks for the Sock God!’ or ‘Pickles are Yummy Yummy Yummy in my Tummy!’ She didn’t even like pickles!
There was, of course, a way she could break away from the God of Chaos. All she had to do was to willingly and voluntarily go through the harrowing experience of a Job Removal. This terrifying ceremony was something only Administrative Scribes of Level 60 and above could perform. It was heavily regulated by the government, which was why a certain Spymaster desperately wanted his own, personal Scribe. Some Job Removals had to be kept off the books, after all. The majority of them, however, were performed as punishments for violent-yet-powerful criminals since sentencing someone to a forced Job Removal was often seen as a punishment worse than death. Boxxy had gotten off easy since it only lost a Level 25 and a Level 12 Job, but those that had Jobs of Level 75 or above taken from them either became mad or uncurably depressed, and almost always ended up taking their own lives.
Still, Fizzy was sure that wouldn’t happen to her. In fact, if anything was making her want to kill herself, it was her current daily routine.
“No good,” said Boxxy.
Two words that the gnome really did not want to hear for the rest of her life.
“No good,” it repeated. “Still weak.”
“Haah, haah,” she panted. “I can’t help it! Haah. I’m a gnome you know! Haah. I don’t have a monster’s body like you do! Haah. My people are physically weaker than humans, you know!”
It was a fact that Attributes only improved upon one’s base physical or mental ability. Even if the gnome had 800 STR, she would still be only as strong as a human with about 500 STR.
However, it would appear the Mimic was talking about something else. While it was true that gnomes did not have as much muscle power as humans, they were superior in other ways. Their wits were sharper, their hands faster and their kinetic vision was on a completely different level. Their physical stamina left something to be desired, but that problem would solve itself with enough END. Boxxy’s opinion as an expert in the act of murder was that a gnome was in no way a lesser fighter than a human, as long as it applied itself correctly. And it was that part that the monster took issue with.
“You hesitate. You care. These are un-tasty, stupid things. Unnecessary. They dull the blade and weaken your attacks.”
The sheer unwillingness with which the gnome did things was her biggest problem.
“I can’t help it! I was just a girl working on her gadgets until a week ago! You can’t expect me to do cruel things like you so easily!”
“No. Cruel one is you.”
“You hesitate. You cause prey suffering. Should finish quickly. Not tasty if they struggle.”
Those words really struck a chord with Fizzy. Because they were right. The gnome’s unwillingness to cause pain was, ironically, causing others undue pain. It really wasn’t a question of if these monsters had to die. It was only a matter of how. During these past few days, she had realized that ‘good’ and ‘tasty’ were synonyms in Mimcanese, so she took the monster’s last sentence to mean that it would be easier on everyone involved if she just got the killing over and done with. Something she begrudgingly had to agree with, but had difficulty accepting.
Well, the monster actually meant that last bit literally. It found prey to have the best flavor if it had died instantly, without struggling. It did unintentionally make a very valid point, however.
“Alright! Okay, I’ll do better next ti-”
It slapped her across the face with a spidery limb. No, it would be more accurate to say it kicked her in the head.
“Aargh!” she screamed while stumbling backwards
“Said that yesterday!”
This time it kicked her in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her completely. She fell over forwards, unable to even scream let alone stay on her feet.
“Do better now!”
It hit her on the back with a downward strike that left a faint imprint of her in the moist soil.
“Only good as food!”
It kept hitting and insulting her while she curled up into the fetal position. She lied there, just taking the abuse while quietly whimpering and not even thinking of fighting back. It would be over soon anyway.
It was all part of her new daily routine.
First they’d come across some monsters and Boxxy would instantly make the decision they had to die. Fizzy would either be thrown into that dark and suffocating Storage space or be forced to fend for herself. If the enemy was a Mountain Troll, a 4-meter long Strangling Serpent or a Twin-Tailed Wolf, she had to fight them by herself. Those monsters were in the lower-end of the food chain around here and were only about Level 20, but were still too much for her. Boxxy would have to bail her out, and would then beat her for being incompetent.
If the opponent they came across was something tougher, like a group of satyrs or lizardmen, the Mimic would mop them up and leave one or two alive for her to execute. It was all for the sake of raising her Levels, yet she hesitated to hurt them every single time. And was then beaten.
In fact, beatings seemed to be about half of her day now. The Mimic always seemed to find some excuse to hit her. If she was tired from all the walking and fell behind the monster too much, she would be beaten for trying to escape. If she slept for any period of time over 6 hours a day, she would be beaten for being lazy. If she dared question the Mimic’s methods, she would be beaten for being an ungrateful little worm. Honestly, the only time she wasn’t in danger of being physicall abused was when she was thrown into Storage.
Her diet consisted of whatever monster had been killed today or any berries she came across. Of course, she had no idea what berries were edible or not and ended up getting food poisoning, which had to be remedied with a healing potion. She was then beaten for wasting the monster’s precious potions like that.
The beatings had become so common that she seemed to have actually grown somewhat accustomed to the pain. They were so severe that her END Attribute had risen by 3 points so far, all through the ‘special action’ of ‘being beaten.’
“... What Level?”
Today, however, seemed to hold a pleasant surprise for her. Boxxy seemed to have cut her beating short in order to question her.
“Huck, huck! Fif-fifteen!” she answered with tear-filled eyes.
“What new Skills?”
“J-just a second, okay? S-s-skill List: P-paladin!”
Just like at Level 5 and Level 10, she got an offer of two Skills. Of course, it was the Mimic who decided which Skills she would take. So far it had ‘advised’ her to pick Toughness and Strength of Faith. The former worked pretty much like the monster’s own Natural Armor, only it improved the performance of any and all armor the Paladin wore rather than fortify her skin. The latter allowed the Paladin’s melee attacks to draw on the power of their FTH Attribute in addition to their STR, especially when fighting the undead. That God of Chance really had picked the right Job to assist Boxxy in the lich-hunting Quest.
However, the Mimic had decided to make Fizzy amass as much FTH as possible for a completely different reason.
Increases the effectiveness of Holy Spells.
Slightly increases the chances of receiving divine guidance.
Divine revelations were mostly useless to it, but those Holy Spells were another matter. Purifications, blessings, exorcisms and healing magic were deemed to be of the highest priority, so it only a matter of course that it forced her to focus on Skills that would assist with that. And this time too, would be no different.
Description: Only those in service to a God may borrow their divine power
Requirements: Level 15 Paladin, INT 40, WIS 20
Activation Time: N/A
Effect: Grants knowledge of a Holy Spell at Level 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10 of this Skill.
Increases the effectiveness of Holy Spells by 2% per Level of this Skill.
This kind of Skill was something the Mimic had heard about before, these so-called ‘spellbook Skills’ that bestowed magic not otherwise available from one’s Job. One could, in theory, study and learn these Spells without the assistance of a Skill. However, doing so would take time, effort and resources that neither Fizzy nor Boxxy were willing to devote.
Proficiency level increased. Holy Scripture is now Level 1. INT +2. FTH +2.
You have learned a new Spell: Holy Light.
“Okay!” whimpered the abused gnome. “I learned Holy Light now!”
“What does it do?”
“It- it heals the living and burns the undead!”
Fizzy stood up and started chanting the Spell she had just learned while focusing it on herself.
A radiant yellow-green glow gushed forth from her and enveloped her bruised and beaten body. The warm light brought her immediate relief and seemed to give her a feeling of comfort, even if only for an instant.
Divine power has healed your wounds. HP +145.
“How was it?” asked the Mimic.
“I f-feel better now.”
“Not you. How much did it do?”
“Hun-hundr… 145 HP…”
“Weak. Did you get Mastery?”
The first few Levels of a Mastery were quite easy to get and would serve as a foundation.
“Then use it again.”
Divine power has healed your wounds. HP +145.
Proficiency level increased. Holy Mastery is now Level 1. FTH +4.
“I- I got Holy Mastery now…”
“Cast it again.”
Divine power has healed your wounds. HP +160.
“... 160 HP.”
“Still too weak,” declared Boxxy. “Must level the Skill. Cast it again.”
“B-but I’m already at full HP!”
It bludgeoned her with just enough strength to injure her for 154 HP.
“Cast. It. Again.”
The gnome whimpered and stood up, preparing to heal herself once more.
It would seem that this tiny paladin’s hardships were just beginning.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
|Cadaver Absorption||6||87%||Sword Mastery||6||69%|
|Natural Armor||7||53%||Dagger Mastery||8||73%|
|Metal Mimicry||5||17%||Ruin Mastery||8||48%|
|Mend Flesh||4||23%||Domination Mastery||6||32%|
|Acid Spray||4||42%||Shield Mastery||4||12%|