The Mimic opened its maw and extended two red tongue-tentacles, each gripping one of its favorite mithril daggers. The blades flashed ominously as it unhesitantly thrust them into the right side of its rectangular body and carved into its own flesh. It stifled a painful hiss as its viscous yellow blood splattered all over the place. The Mend Flesh Skill kicked in immediately and started healing the large wound with the daggers still stuck inside it. Even more intense pain assaulted the Mimic as its body failed to close the wound due to the metal blades in the way.
This sudden and inexplicable action sent all of its minions into a panic. From their perspective, the Mimic had been sitting still ever since it said it would give Fizzy’s idea a try about 10 minutes ago. They had assumed that it was simply busy doing its shapeshifting thing, so the monster suddenly stabbing itself like that made them all flip out and lose their shit.
“Be quiet and don’t touch me!” howled Boxxy, and the four women immediately froze in response. “I’m working here!” it added.
Once it had recovered about half of its lost HP, it disabled the Mend Flesh Skill, steeled its nerve and ripped its side open even deeper. It then turned Mend Flesh back on for a second or two before gouging out its own flesh for the third time.
The others could do little but watch over it with a mixture of shock, horror and awe.
Holy fuck! thought Kora. As expected of the boss! No mercy even towards itself!
The four-armed demon was no stranger to pain. It wasn’t as if she didn’t feel it, but had merely grown accustomed to it. She’d be a failure as a fiend if she was scared of something mundane like being hurt. Not even losing a limb or being cut in half would stop her from trying to smash her target to bits. Even if she was reduced to nothing but a head, she’d still try to bite off someone’s ankles and then rip out their throat. So seeing her master fearlessly go through the pain of gouging out its own insides only made her opinion of it rise even higher. Kora suddenly found herself thinking that the Mimic not having genitals was a good thing.
Otherwise it would surely have trouble concealing its house-sized balls.
“So this is how it got out of those restraints…” mumbled Fizzy.
She had always wondered how it broke loose from those mana-suppressing cuffs that were literally bolted into its flesh, but she never even considered the option that it gouged them out with a knife until now. The former gnome had to admit that she would not be brave enough to do such a thing if she were in its place. Even now that she no longer felt pain, the mere thought of harming her flawlessly perfect body was like sacrilege. She looked down at her shining steel hands and gripped her fists, silently chastising herself for still being so naive. If Boxxy was not beyond mangling its own body in order to survive, then she needed to find the courage to do so as well should the time come.
She would need to be capable of at least this much conviction if she wanted to stand by its side rather than grovel in its shadow.
“Ah, Master…” whispered Xera. “Why must you do this to yourself when I’m right here…”
The succubus was able to somehow grasp what her Master was trying to do. She wanted to help, to offer herself up in order to be of use to her beloved. Her past self would probably mock her for wanting to support this heartless, unfeeling monster that would never return her feelings. Indeed, some of her best work involved making men foolishly destroy themselves for her sake even though they had nothing to gain from it. The Xera in the past was nothing but a devious woman that only sought pleasure and entertainment.
Well, that part of her hadn’t really changed. It’s just that, due to various reasons, she wished she was the one her Master was gouging out right now.
Valeria watched on in total silence, her mind trying to process what was currently going on. She had been on good terms with the Mimic for only a few days, so there was no way she’d be able to grasp its personality that easily. If anything, this creature only proved more and more mysterious with each passing day. It was an enigma wrapped in a shroud of mystery and locked away behind a wall of the unknown. In fact, the only thing she could say about it was that it was the best lay she had ever had. And in some ways, that was all the lich needed to know about it right now. The undead woman was certain the two of them would get much better acquainted in the very near future.
And her wish just might just be sooner rather than later.
“Nasty, come here!”
“Of course, darling ~♡!” cooed the lich as she floated next to it. “What can your future bride do for you? Or… to you ~♡?”
Boxxy had stopped the self-mutilation once the huge, bleeding gash on its right side was about 20 centimeters deep and 6 centimeters wide. It had splendidly carved out a hole in its flesh, using Mend Flesh sparingly to make sure its HP didn’t suffer too much, all while preventing the incision from closing up completely by prying it open with its weapons.
The first part of Boxxy’s impromptu self-surgery was complete.
“Frostbolt the wound!” it ordered.
“Wha?! Th-that’s not what I-”
Why the hell was this woman stalling?! Just because Boxxy was in no danger of dying didn’t mean this little stunt didn’t hurt like hell!
“F-Frostbolt!” chanted the flabbergasted Valeria.
Her bright blue projectile flew into the wound and splattered all over the Mimic’s insides, freezing them in an instant. It felt momentarily dazed as the always-on magical perception was disabled for the second time in its life. The daggers then moved once more as Boxxy broke something off from inside itself. It then very slowly and carefully coiled a free tentacle around the frozen, apple-sized MLG it had just cut out of itself and dragged it into the open. It reactivated its Mend Flesh Skill and waited patiently for it to patch up the massive, self-inflicted wound. A brand new, fully functioning MLG grew back where the old one was a few seconds later, as if it was never gone to begin with.
This was the solution Boxxy had come up with. Cutting away the organ in question and allowing Mend Flesh to grow a new one would allow it to, essentially, have two of them. The main reason it had to resort to this method was because there were some parts of it that it was unable to shapeshift, and the area around this organ was one of them. Otherwise it could have easily willed it outside its shell or grown an eye inside its body to observe it.
The Frostbolt was because a shapeshifter’s flesh was unstable. Any severed limbs would turn to nondescript piles of mush the instant they lost contact with the main body. And although Boxxy wasn’t sure whether this applied to its unchangeable insides, it wasn’t about to take chances. It really didn’t want to have to go through this procedure more than once. That’s where Valeria’s Permafrost magic came into play. Freezing the organ solid meant it should retain its shape even after it was technically dead.
And now that the ever-useful magical perception had kicked back in, it started feeding Boxxy all kinds of information regarding the frozen lump of flesh. The Mimic committed as much of it as it could to its memory before the lump thawed out and started falling apart. Looks like freezing it with magic was the right move. Granted, observing it in that state wasn’t ideal, but it was a good start.
It then began trying to replicate what it had seen inside its mouth cavity. The Mana Locator Gland it possessed was a strange hourglass shape that appeared to be two 7-centimeter wide balls connected by a slim stretch of flesh. The bulbous parts of the gland actually seemed to be made up of dozens of layers of membranes upon muscles upon membranes upon muscles, all the way down to the dense nerve cluster at their center.
The Mimic’s groupies were able to somewhat recover from the shock from earlier. Boxxy had healed its wound and gone silent, indicating that the sudden act of self-mutilation had served its purpose, and the four women gathered around it had calmed down significantly as a result. They then silently agreed to give the animate chest some space, lest they distracted it from… whatever it was doing, and moved to a spot some 15 meters away.
“Uuuu,” whimpered Valeria. “I hope darling doesn’t stop liking me because of this…”
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” said Xera reassuringly.
“Do you really mean that?!”
“Of course. Master has never liked you in the first place.”
“As if! You’re just jealous!”
“Sure, keep telling yourself that, Nasty.”
“Humpf! At least I’m not something meaningless like a Snack!”
“Indeed, woe is me. Forever destined to receive my Master’s attention and provide it with joy. To be devoured over and over and, hmmm, over…”
“W-well, that’s only because of your supposed flavour,” insisted Valeria. “I’m sure darling can easily overlook something superficial like that!”
“I doubt that.”
The two demons instantly denied her delusions.
“Actually, Boxxy also cares about shiny things,” said Fizzy with a slightly smug look on her face.
“I suppose that’s true,” said Xera, “although you’re not nearly shiny enough to satisfy it.”
“Of course not. Steel just doesn’t have the same luster as gold.”
“Hmm, that’s a good point. Perhaps I should look into finding some metal polish.”
“Could always try using vinegar,” suggested Kora. “One of my brothers said it’s a great way to get the blood and guts off his spear. Also something about how it made stroking the shaft a lot of fun.”
Fizzy flashed the four-armed demon a suspicious look.
“Was he talking about his weapon or his penis?”
“... Now that you mention it, I’m not really sure. Could be either, or both.”
“Ugh, should have known,” groaned Fizzy.
“Are all demons like this?” asked Valeria with a curious face. The fact that every other word out of Kora’s throat was a double entendre did not escape her notice.
“Haah,” sighed Xera. “Please don’t judge the rest of us by this meathead’s standards. While it’s true that all she ever thinks about is fighting and/or fucking, that only applies to fiends.”
“But you don’t seem to be all that different.”
“Of course I am. Unlike that dick-with-legs, I don’t let something like sex dominate my life. I only take part in it because I don’t see a reason to decline doing things that are pleasurable because of petty things like pride, honor or dignity.”
“I see… Still, I feel like I’ve been missing out. I should’ve been a Witch rather than a Necromancer.”
Having a fiend familiar sounded like something the rotten woman would enjoy very much. If she knew more about demons and Warlocks while she was still alive, then she would have made some radically different life choices.
“Hah,” laughed Xera. “You wouldn’t last a week before your familiar got you killed.”
“As if I’d give them a chance. I’d only be using them for their dicks, anyway.”
“That’s exactly why you’d die, honey. A fiend would rip a girl like you in half without even trying.”
“She’s right you know,” said Kora. “It hurts to say this, but mine’s actually on the small side by fiend standards. Even then the only reason this bitch over here can take it is because she’s a shapeshifting demon. Any one of my brothers would shatter your spine on the first thrust if you-”
“Oh my God!” shouted Fizzy. “Are dicks all you meatbags ever think about?!”
“More or less.”
Fizzy put her palms over her face and started walking away.
“Where you off to all of a sudden, squirt?”
“I’m going to sit next to Boxxy where I can quietly be appreciated.”
“Hah! Now whose head is filled with lewd thoughts?!” taunted Xera.
“Bet she’s frustrated because she can’t feel anything down there,” jeered Kora.
“Bite my shiny metal ass!” replied Fizzy. She then gave all of them the finger while walking back to the Mimic’s side.
“How rude!” said Valeria.
“Indeed. I should speak to Master about disciplining that pet more thoroughly.”
“So anyway, tell me more about these brothers of yours, Red!”
“Right, so get this. I have this older brother called Junfirpilak, right? But everyone just calls him 4-head.”
“Let me guess,” said Xera. “It’s because his physical form has two actual heads and two dicks, right?”
“What? No! I mean he does, but that’s not why we call him that. You see he was telling us about this time with a hydra-”
Several hours passed idly by as Kora and Xera relayed tales they heard from their kin during their time in the Beyond. Stories like that were one of the main venues of entertainment for demons, so they often shared interesting experiences among themselves. Kora herself had blabbed incessantly about taking part in the Calamity during the few weeks of ‘vacation’ she had after her contract was forcefully terminated. It had made her quite popular among her peers.
Fizzy on the other hand stood seated and completely unmoving next to Boxxy, basking in the knowledge that the Mimic was keeping an ‘eye’ on her. Even if her golem body didn’t need rest, her gnomish mind still accumulated stress and mental fatigue, so taking a relaxing break like this every now and then was a good thing.
As for Boxxy, it had been silently working on replicating the MLG from memory. The two nerve clusters were quite tricky to replicate, not to mention that hooking it up to its nervous system wasn’t easy either. Once the organ was reconstructed, it then had to try actually turning it ‘on.’ This proved to be quite difficult, as this organ’s function was normally autonomous. It briefly considered gouging out another one, but decided to keep trying as is. After all, painful things were painful, so it wouldn’t subject itself to them unless it was necessary.
And finally, after dozens of failed attempts, the hourglass-shaped mass of flesh that had grown out of its tongue finally started pulsating. It vibrated wildly, at a frequency so high that it gave off the illusion that it was fuzzy, or out of focus. No wonder it had so many layers of springy muscle - this thing would rip itself apart otherwise.
A second magical perception field started feeding information into the Mimic’s mind, nearly overloading its mental capacity. Thankfully, unlike the time with the 20 eyes, it had well developed INT, WIS and MNT Attributes that helped it remain conscious and in control, albeit severely disoriented. Now that both Mana Locator Glands were capable of seeing each other and Boxxy was able to observe the original one work in real time, it was able to fine tune its replicate and fix some flaws it had unwittingly introduced.
It then dissolved the second MLG back into its base components and started reconstructing it from scratch. It was another hour of work before the MLG became operational again. The sun had long set by the time it finished.
Proficiency level increased. Shapeshift is now Level 10. END +2. DEX +1. AGI +1.
Wait, wasn’t this too early?! It was only at 71% proficiency when it started, so what was up with that? Ah, but it worked really hard on this tiny bundle of nerves, so perhaps it made sense in a way. Still, it wasn’t a bad thing. It was quite confident it could replicate the organ perfectly now, so it decided it was time to move on.
It immediately called for everyone to gather and let them know it would be Ranking Up, much to their delight and excitement. However, it would not do so right now. The Rank Up process would likely take several days, and it did not want to spend that time inside a dungeon. Therefore, it led its posse out of the dungeon and over to a small opening in a nearby cliff. It was more of a hole at the bottom of a cliff wall than an actual cave, but it was a far more defendable resting spot than an open field or inside a dungeon. So, after instructing its minions to stand by, it spoke the long awaited two words.
Rank Up - Mimic (Greater)
Requirements: Level 50 Mimic Job, Level 10 Shapeshift, END 200
The Requirements have been met. You may now Rank Up by using one of the following options:
Additional Requirements: Biomass Level 5
Effects: Species will become Doppelganger (K̶̛4͏̕͏f̸̴̀i̢%̵l̵̛e͘̕͜>̕).
The Doppelganger Job will be awarded at Level 1 and will become the Main Job.
The Level Cap on the Biomass Skill will be increased by 5.
The Level Cap on the Shapeshift Skill will be increased by 5.
All Attributes +10.
Queen Metal Slime
Additional Requirements: Metal Mimicry Level 5
Effects: Species will become Queen Slime (Metal).
The Queen Slime Job will be awarded at Level 1 and will become the Main Job.
The Metal Mimicry Skill will no longer consume MP.
The Level Cap on the Metal Mimicry Skill will be increased by 5.
All Attributes +5. STR +10. END +10.
Queen Shadow Slime
Additional Requirements: Ruin Mastery Level 5
Effects: Species will become Queen Slime (Shadow).
The Queen Slime Job will be awarded at Level 1 and will become the Main Job.
The Darkness Absorption Skill will be awarded at Level 1.
The Level Cap on the Ruin Mastery Skill will be increased by 5.
All Attributes +5. INT +10. WIS +10.
Okay. Those were more options than it was expecting, but that was hardly a bad thing. Curiously enough, two of them seemed to be Queen Slime variants. It knew about slimes as it had hunted them as part of its Quests for the Mercenary Guild back in Erosa. They were amorphous blobs of differently colored liquid with a small, black nucleus that served as their brain. As far as their shapeshifting ability went, it was actually quite impressive. They were able to bend their bodies into pretty much any shape and appeared to be a lot more flexible and free-form than the chest-bound Mimic.
A Queen Slime would logically be a tougher, more advanced version of those that should also be capable of reproduction and giving birth to other Slimes. Not like Boxxy had any interest in that particular biological function though. At least, not while it was still a Mimic. The two variants on offer were pretty obvious as to what they would entail, too.
Metallic Slimes would probably possess a body that was some type of liquid metal and would undoubtedly be quite durable, especially against physical attacks. The fact that Metal Mimicry would cost no MP was extremely delicious and quite tempting. Getting that all the way to Level 15 would probably allow Boxxy to morph its body into a wide range of weapons and/or armor, making it an extremely deadly combatant.
Shadow Slimes on the other hand appeared to be more proficient in matters of magic rather than martial combat. It would appear this variant was made available thanks to the Mimic’s rather unique experience as a Warlock. The Darkness Absorption Skill that was listed would allow Boxxy to replenish its MP by feeding on darkness-attuned mana from its environment. It also appeared to be capable of absorbing darkness-attuned Spells like Shadowbolt or Dark Explosion without suffering any damage. This was bound to increase its survival rate, as MP would translate into HP through use of the Mend Flesh Skill.
But would Mend Flesh even work on a body that was almost entirely composed of liquids? That was an extremely dubious point since a Monster Job and its related Skills were was closely tied into the individual’s species.
Ah, but Nasty was a lich that could phase through solid objects. According to the undead, that Skill was a leftover from her old species as a spectral Banshee. She could still use it, although her non-ghost species meant that it rapidly consumed MP in order to function. If Boxxy looked at her case as an example, then it was highly likely that Mend Flesh would suffer some penalty such as increased MP cost or reduced healing speed, but it would still work. There was also a chance that it wouldn’t suffer any loss in effectiveness or efficiency, as a Slime’s liquid body was technically the monster’s flesh.
But while the Mimic knew about slimes, Doppelgangers were another story entirely. Boxxy had not even heard of them, let alone met them. Attempting to inspect the species’ name only gave it a window full of gibberish, which was pretty much as expected. The Status Screen was incapable of displaying information about subjects that were completely outside the individual’s scope of understanding. It already experienced something like this back when it absorbed the Acid Spray Skill from a monster that had very little in common with a shapeshifting box. In fact, this racial gap was also probably the reason why the Doppelganger’s variant was left undisclosed, unlike the Queen Slime variants that Boxxy was somewhat familiar with.
However, there were some things that were readily apparent from the other effects of the Rank Up. For one thing, the Doppelganger species seemed extremely proficient in both Biomass and Shapeshift. This meant they were a type of flesh-based shapeshifting monsters that were of a higher order than Greater Mimics. The potential increase in Shapeshift Level in particular was extremely tasty. Increasing the Level of this Skill beyond 10 would greatly benefit two of its strongest Skills - Cadaver Absorption and Mend Flesh. The former would absorb additional Attributes or Proficiency whenever it succeeded, while the latter would gain a noticeable increase in MP efficiency.
Putting all its thoughts into order, the Mimic was able to summarize each of its choices in a few simple words each. Would it evolve into an even more versatile shapeshifter as a Doppelganger? Or perhaps the close combat specialist that was the Queen Metal Slime. The magically-oriented Queen Shadow Slime could not be easily discounted either.
Each of these options would seem to reinforce a different one of the Mimic’s strengths, but it had to be careful. All of these deductions were based on educated guesses. Even if those guesses were born from experience and knowledge, they were still conjectures that could easily prove to be wrong. And while it was true it was in no particular rush right now, the threat of that man called Edward still loomed over it like a dark cloud. Boxxy would need to choose, and it would have to do sooner rather than later.
The Mimic thought on this long and hard while its minions were waiting for the Rank Up process to start with baited breath. This was the most important decision it has had to make in its life, so it would need to consider many things. Ultimately however, a decision was made, and an option was picked.
“I will be Ranking Up now,” it declared to everyone present. “You are to defend me at all costs!”
“You got it, Boss!”
“Of course, darling ~♡!”
“You can count on me, Boxxy!”
“Arms and Snack - I forbid you from having the sex,” it ordered.
Kora let out a weird scream as her face took on a truly shocked expression. She was clearly looking forward to having nothing but buttsex for the next several days, yet was banned from tapping that sweet succubus ass seemingly out of the blue. It was as if the Mimic had stolen her sweet roll, eaten it, pooped it back out and then smeared that poop all over the new sweet roll she had to get when the first one disappeared. And then stole that one, too!
Xera was much less disappointed than the sex-hungry fiend, to say the least. While it was true she sometimes shirked her guard duty to take it up the ass, this was different. Her beloved Master would be left completely defenseless for days on end, and she had a duty to carry out without fail. To say she was brimming with motivation was an understatement. After all, the succubus’s desire to protect her Master went well beyond things like orders or contracts. It was personal.
Boxxy did a last pre-Rank Up check to make sure everything was in order and then said the last words it would speak as a Mimic.
“Then I leave Snack in charge. See you when I wake up.”
It then accepted its chosen Rank Up and went completely, utterly still.
“Is… did it start?” asked Fizzy while staring at it curiously.
“Gah!” she screamed in shock.
A loud noise like a twig snapping in half came out from the monster that was currently in the shape of a perfectly unassuming wooden chest, possibly for the last time in its life.
“I would think so, yes,” noted Xera with a bemused expression. “Now then, to our posts! We have a Master to defend!”
“Ah hah,” chuckled Valeria. “Good luck with that.”
The lich turned transparent and rushed directly at the currently unconscious Mimic. Her ethereal body glowed a bright green as she disappeared somewhere inside the wooden box like a puff of smoke before either the golem or the two demons could react.
“What… just happened?” asked Fizzy with a puzzled expression.
“I do believe our resident dead girl,” said the succubus with a surprisingly calm tone, “is currently trying to possess our Master.”