“Where is she?!” shouted Fizzy.
“Hey, squirt,” answered Kora
The four-armed fiend had been ordered to keep watch over this particular plot of land just outside of the dungeon’s territory, which was the reason she was currently sitting idly on a large boulder. This was the designated meeting spot where Valeria or Fizzy should come if they wanted to get in touch with Boxxy, although it would seem the gnome-shaped golem was looking for someone else entirely.
“Nice tits by the way,” commented Kora. “Bit small but the shape is just right.”
“I know, right?” answered Fizzy.
Her angry expression was replaced with a playfully cheerful one for an instant. Just for an instant, though.
“They’re so- Oh, damn it!”
The steel golem quickly lowered her rolled up tunic in a fluster, covering her shapely breasts once more.
“Where is that worthless slut!?” she screamed at the fiend. “I’ll fucking kill her!”
“Gonna have to be more specific.”
“Pfft! *Cough* Uhm, she’s with the boss right now. I wouldn’t go there if I were you, though. They’re currently… practicing shapeshifting.”
An imaginary chill ran down Fizzy’s spine. Try as she might, she hadn’t quite yet gotten over her traumatic first time. Getting near that writhing mass of tentacles while they were busy violating someone was not on the list of things she wanted to do.
“So they’ll be busy for a while.”
“Yep,” nodded Kora.
“Guess I’ll just wait here, then.”
Fizzy walked over to the red-skinned demoness, climbed onto the big gray rock and sat down next to her. She made herself comfortable and stood perfectly still like a statue. Or at least, that was her intention.
“Any particular reason you’re taking your pants off?” asked the fiend with a puzzled look.
“Again?! For fuck’s sake!”
Fizzy stopped her rebellious hands and hurriedly fixed her clothing once more.
“Alright, I’ll bite. What the hell’s wrong with you?” asked Kora. “I mean, other than the obvious.”
“It’s that winged bitch! She probably messed with my head to make me strip involuntarily!”
“Hah. Hahaha! How the fuck do you manage strip involuntarily?! Ahahaha!”
“I don’t know, it just happens! I’ll be walking along and then all of a sudden trip over my own feet because my hand undid the buckle on my shoulder without me noticing it!”
“Oh man, that is priceless! I really wanna see that now!”
Surprisingly enough, that statement did not make Fizzy angry. Surely it should have, right?
“So,” continued Kora once she calmed down a little, “what makes you think that succubus did anything to you?”
“Who else is there?! This sort of thing is right up that bitch’s alley!”
The incident where Xera tampered with Fizzy’s memory in order to make the gnome think her own name was ‘Cornhole Jizzbucket’ was still fresh in her mind.
“Normally I’d agree with you, but I don’t think the Slutmeister’s responsible for this one.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re addicted to her ass!”
“That’s not true,” denied Kora. “I mean, I do love sticking it in her butthole since she’s got an ass that just won’t quit. But this and that are completely unrelated!”
“Yeah, right,” scoffed Fizzy. “And a dragon’s fire breath is just a giant reverse fart.”
“Really?! That would explain so much!”
The golem’s metal palm made contact with her shiny face. This fiend didn’t honestly think she was being serious, right?
“Anyway! You’re a golem now, right?”
“So... mindfuck-y magic doesn’t work on golems. Like, at all. It’s the same for me and those two sluts. Well, technically speaking us demons aren’t immune, we’re just really good at fighting it off, but you get my point.”
The tiny golem was momentarily lost in thought. She was absolutely sure her current situation was that mischievous succubus’s doing, but Kora was right. There’s no way a golem’s magically-fortified core would be affected by magic that was designed to target an organic brain. The only way a golem’s nucleus could be influenced was if a specially designed control rod was inserted into it. That was the same method people used to control artificially-made golems and make them into loyal servants.
“I think you’re doing it again,” noted Kora.
Fizzy looked down at herself and sighed dejectedly. She fixed her top for the upteempth and resorted to literally sitting on her hands in order to keep them from acting up. This sort of thing had been going on for almost 2 hours now and she was more than a little sick of it. Her body seemed to be completely under control whenever she was fighting, but being lost in idle thought led to her arms moving around without her being conscious of them.
“I don’t get it,” said the confused golem. “Then how come this started all of a sudden.”
“Well, to be fair it’s not ‘all of a sudden.’ You’ve been sorta playing with that outfit since the moment you put it on, you know.”
“What? I have?”
“Oh yeah. You kept pulling your loose pants a little lower or idly stroked your exposed belly in a slightly provocative way.”
“You could’ve said something!”
“What, and ruin the fun?!”
She let out a small chuckle, clearly enjoying the tiny woman’s misfortune.
“You wanna get your face smashed in?” growled Fizzy.
“Do you?” returned Kora with a sharp glare.
The two stared daggers at each other for a short moment, before the fiend burst into laughter once again.
“Hahahaha! That’s the spirit! I’m really starting to like you, pipsqueak!”
Seeing that same little scaredy-cat refusing to pussy out of a staring contest was quite amusing to the fiend. She was eagerly anticipating the day where she would finally challenge her to a brawl.
“Whatever. Just keep it in your pants,” warned Fizzy.
“Oh, believe me, I have every intention of doing that.”
“What?! I’m too ugly for you?!”
“I never said anything like that. I mean, you’re pretty fuckable if I do say so myself. Your face is cute and you got all the right curves, even if you’re a bit tiny. But like, sticking my dick inside a living mass of steel? I’m a violent rapist, not crazy.”
“O-Oh. Right. Sorry,” said Fizzy with an oddly flabbergasted attitude. “I don’t know what came over me just now.”
“I think I do, though. It’s the monster inside you begging to be let out. That’s probably why you keep stripping, too.”
“I mean, you remember how the boss slobbered all over that treasure back in the dungeon?”
“What?! How in the fuck is that the same thing?!”
“Well, the boss is only 4 months old, right? It’s still got all these weird instincts that catch it off guard at times because it’s still immature. The body reacts before the mind can stop it, you know?”
Kora was no exception. Even if she was over 300 years old, she still had very limited experience inhabiting a physical body. Which was probably why she sometimes got these awkward boners that she just couldn’t explain.
“There’s no way a 3-day old monster like you can help herself,” she added. “That’s what I think.”
“So what, I’m going through some sort of puberty and strip myself instinctively?!”
“I dunno. I guess?”
“How does that make any sense!?”
“It does, though. Have you ever seen any golems that wear clothes?”
“Sure I have. It’s common for nobles to dress their golem servants up in uniforms, you know. That way you know who they belong to when they walk around the city.”
“Nah, I don’t mean those mindless puppets,” said Kora while waving her hand dismissively. “I’m talking about real monsters, the kind we’ve been smashing up lately.”
“Ah… I see your point.”
Artificially-made golems that had a control rod installed in them were completely passive. They took no action whatsoever unless ordered to and any thought processes they might have otherwise had were completely suppressed. They were much closer to Valeria’s undead than to a sentient being like Fizzy.
“I guess you have a point there,” she admitted. “What about that Jade King, though? He was wearing a fancy-looking outfit! Ah, but then again that part of his body was sculpted, so he was technically naked, wasn’t he?”
A monster wearing clothes made no sense, now that she thought about it. Especially well-sculpted ones like these Stone Soldiers. Fizzy may not have had much of an eye for art, but even she could tell they were somewhat aesthetically pleasing. They couldn’t even hope to compare to her own glorious form, though. Now that she thought about it, wasn’t she the absolute best looking-
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed as the realization hit her.
The truth of the matter was that all golems were vain and narcissistic to the extreme. Those of them that manage to develop sentience might consider wearing clothes and/or armor, but they would ultimately refuse to do so. There’s no way they’d ever allow filthy cloth or unsightly forged metal to obscure their flawless beauty. Of course, this was simply their own inborn opinion of themselves, which didn’t necessarily reflect reality.
The former gnome realized she had been having such egotistical and prideful thoughts ever since she abandoned her flesh 3 days ago. Her infatuation with herself had gone way beyond the simple joy of no longer being a filthy meatbag. She also realized that she may have gotten just a little bit too happy when Kora off-handedly praised her looks just now, despite the fiend using some rather vulgar words. Therefore, it was highly likely this sudden urge to do away with the trappings of civilization was simply a part of what she had become.
However, Fizzy was not always a golem. Her 2 decades of experience living as a sensible person clashed with these new, unfamiliar urges. This internal conflict was what led to her current predicament where she had this subconscious need to be seen and appreciated by others, yet the conscious desire to maintain her dignity as a person. Her newfound penchant for violence was unrelated, though. Wanting to inflict pain on others was just her way of relieving the stress she had built up over the past month.
“I’m the weird one for wanting to dress up, aren’t I?!” concluded Fizzy.
“Seems like it.”
“... I’ll get better, though. Right?”
“Dunno,” shrugged Kora. “What do you mean by ‘get better?’”
“That… is a very good question, actually.”
It really wasn’t as simple an answer as Fizzy thought. Should she embrace her new self and do away with clothes for good? She felt she’d certainly enjoy life a lot more if she let go of her sensibilities and exposed herself to everyone with a pair of eyes. Just the thought of walking around a city with hundreds of people appreciating her naked body as she strutted down the street made her giddy.
However, doing such a thing would interfere with the goals she set out to accomplish. Fizzy had three things she wanted to accomplish. First of all, she wanted to resume mastering her Artificer’s craft. Second of all, she wanted to advance her Paladin Job and faithfully carry out her duties as Champion of Chaos. Churchill was her savior and benefactor, so this was the least she could do in return. And last, but certainly not least, was her Pledge of Arms to Boxxy. If it was planning on infiltrating a human city, then she wanted to be right there with it, supporting it as best she could.
She had even come up with two different plans to get past any nosy guards that might question her about her appearance. The first plan was to simply tell them a modified version of the truth - how she was a gnome paladin that turned into a golem due to a ‘powerful curse’ and was currently looking for a way to change back. Such fantastical stories weren’t all that uncommon, so she was sure it would fly. If not, then she could just pretend to be the Mimic’s loyal servant golem, which was more or less the case, anyway.
But such machinations were highly unlikely to succeed if she ran around naked. One had to wear clothes if they wished to be respected in a civilized society. Which meant she would have to find a way to contain her stripping impulses. Or rather, she was confident she could do it, now that she realized their source.
Therefore, the question wasn’t whether she could avoid stripping, but whether she should.
“Could always try and ask the Boss, you know,” suggested Kora when she noticed Fizzy’s hesitation. “It’s strangely clever, even if it’s just a box with teeth.”
“Well, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, right? Alright then. Any idea when Boxxy will be back?”
“Hold on, I’ll ask.”
The fiend stared off into the distance and sent a telepathic communication to her master.
“Hey Boss, are you two, uh, still busy?”
“Yes,” came the immediate answer.
“How long will you be? The little one wants to ask you something.”
Boxxy quickly checked its status. It had 73% of the XP needed before reaching Level 50 of its Mimic Job, and its Shapeshift Skill was at 65% Proficiency of Level 9. The former was relatively easy to get since it just involved killing things, but the latter was proving to be quite difficult, even with all the practice. Still, it had been going for 3 hours straight, so it decided it was a good opportunity to take a break. Even if the Rank Up was so close it could practically taste it, that didn’t mean it should overdo things again.
“Okay. Bring her here.”
“Whatever you say, Boss.”
The Mimic released Xera from its tendrils and waited patiently for those two to arrive. The succubus it was practicing its shapeshifting on was a little out of it for the moment, though. Having received Boxxy’s undivided attention for so long had left her as little more than a soggy, unthinking pile of fuck. Especially since the Mimic had taken to experimenting on her with bondage and torture methods while it was at it.
Boxxy considered using Valeria as an additional practice partner but decided against it. It just couldn’t get over how absolutely foul she tasted, whereas Snack was as tasty and sweet as ever. It therefore sent the lich off to make herself useful by raising her Level. Valeria claimed she was much better at fighting beings of flesh and blood rather than golems, so the Mimic allowed her to do her own thing outside the dungeon.
It did mean that the undead being was nowhere in sight, but Boxxy felt confident it could handle any schemes she could come up with. The domineering chest was in possession of her all-important phylactery, meaning any signs of rebellion would be met with overwhelming force. Therefore, it saw no issue with letting her run wild for a bit, just so long as she diligently raised her Levels.
Unlike Fizzy, that lich’s only value lied in her ability to fight things. So if she ended up slacking in her assigned duties then she would have to be disciplined. There was no point to keeping a servant that did not fulfill their purpose. As for the gnolem, Boxxy was quite pleased with her new self. Her new habit of rushing head-first into battle with that charging Skill of hers would probably need to be corrected, though.
The Mimic quietly contemplated how to best put its minions to work until Arms and Fizzy found it about 10 minutes later. It really wasn’t that difficult to find their way around the hedge maze ever since the core was taken since that auto-repair function was now offline. The golem and the fiend simply had to follow the trail of freshly burned hedge walls until they found Boxxy and its pyromaniac of a familiar.
“Hey Boss, we’re here!” called out Kora.
She then glanced over to where Xera was still wallowing on the ground with an indecent, blissed out look on her face. The succubus’s thoroughly used and abused body was still spasming lightly from the intense sensations she had been going through.
“Can I get sloppy seconds?” she asked, full of expectation.
“Not now,” said Boxxy before turning its attention towards the pint-sized Paladin. “What is it, Fizzy?”
Having been named, the golem tore her curious gaze away from the insensate succubus and started explaining her conundrum. About how she wasn’t sure whether she should selfishly accept her monstrous side or cling to the remnants of her dignity as a person in order to fulfill her duties and her goals. However, her worries were a bit too complicated for the simple-minded Mimic to comprehend correctly. Or rather, it failed to see how there was any dilemma in the first place.
“You need to wear clothes when talking to people, right?” it asked for confirmation.
“Yeah,” answered Fizzy.
“But you think not wearing them is tastier.”
“Uhm. That is one way of putting it, yes.”
Boxxy had to agree with her on that point. Clothes were bothersome things that got in the way of its shapeshifting, so it really disliked the idea of them. And yet it still didn’t see how this was a question.
“So why not do both?”
“Wear clothes when you’re around people. Don’t wear them when you’re not.”
“But… there’s no point if I’m not seen…”
The impulse welling up inside her wasn’t to just ‘be naked.’ It was to ‘show off her naked body.’ And it was impossible to show off without being observed.
“I’m here, and I can see you,” pointed out the Mimic.
“Well yes, but I don’t think that’ll be enough. Something tells me I won’t be satisfied unless... Wait... Hold on a minute!”
Mimics were sightless creatures that lacked eyes of their own. They had to instead rely on a sort of mana sonar that allowed them to perceive everything in a 10-meter radius around them, including sounds. Although this ability had limited range and could be fooled under certain circumstances, it had the advantage of being extremely accurate and was capable of ‘seeing through’ most surfaces. This was partly why Boxxy was so skilled at being an Artificer. In fact, the monster’s PER Attribute boosted the accuracy its magical perception field even further, allowing it to spot even tiny fluctuations of mana in the air.
This is something Fizzy had gradually learned about over the past month. How could she not after spending so much time with the monster? That detail had somehow slipped her mind, what with all the excitement of her being re-born, but had just returned to the forefront of her consciousness.
“You- you can see inside me, can’t you?” she asked with a strangely shaky voice.
“Yes. Actually, it looks different from yesterday. Especially in shoulders, knees, and elbows. Did something happen?”
“Y-yeah. I got a new Skill that upgraded them.”
“How- How much of my body can you see?”
“All of it.”
“Even my c-c-c-core?”
A complicated emotion took hold of Fizzy. The Mimic before her was able to observe her steel frame in its entirety in a way that was well beyond simple nakedness. Every fiber of her entire being right down to her innermost depths had been laid bare before it. And yet she didn’t feel repulsed, disgusted or creeped out by this. In fact, it filled with her an odd sense of confidence and joy.
“What do you think of it?” she asked in a happy, almost giddy voice.
Those two simple words sent a wave of euphoria washing over the steel golem, forcing her entire body to shudder in delight. The deepest, most precious part of her had been seen and praised by someone who was able to appreciate its glory. In that moment she realized she didn’t need some faceless masses or complete strangers to look at her.
No, the only gaze that mattered was that of Boxxy T. Morningwood.