“I’m back,” called out Fizzy as she walked into the shallow cave.
“‘Sup squirt?” answered Kora. “Got a big one this time, huh?”
The small golem was dragging the body of an exceptionally large twin-tailed wolf by its fluffy tails into the shallow cave.
“Yeah. Think this one’s the alpha,” she said. “What’s Snack doing?”
The form of Boxxy’s other familiar could be seen sitting next to the dormant chest some 10 meters away, right at the back of the cave. She was staring intently at her slumbering master while keeping both hands on the chest’s lid.
“She’s checking on the Boss’s mind since she’s worried that undead bitch might be up to something.”
“But she should be gone, right? We smashed the thing that held her rotten soul and everything.”
Xera had evacuated the ex-lich’s phylactery from her bowels the instant Valeria had started her pitiful attempt at possessing Boxxy. The image of a succubus laying a golden egg was something neither Fizzy nor Kora expected to see that day. Or at all, actually. Once that particular spectacle was over with, though, she went to her Master’s aid with her Dreamweaver Skill. It didn’t violate the contract since, as she had stated at the time, she was only looking.
Still, that monster’s mindscape was completely different when it was unconscious compared to when it was simply asleep. Xera didn’t think there would be much going on inside, but even in its sleep that place was a turbulent, ever-changing maelstrom of fragmented thoughts and images. She almost vomited after the first time she tried that, even though her conjured body wasn’t capable of such a thing. It caused the succubus to shudder at the thought of what was actually going on in there while the monster was active.
That’s why the seemingly unnatural calmness she saw when she rushed to her Master’s aid took her by surprise at first, though it made sense considering the Mimic’s condition. After all, being unconscious was slightly different from merely being asleep. Having one’s consciousness completely shut off naturally made them more prone to, as Kora put it, ‘mindfuck-y magic.’ Xera had to give that lich some credit for picking the most opportune time to strike. Honestly speaking, Valeria would have been ripped to shreds if she had attempted to invade it at any other time.
However, the most surprising thing Xera saw when actually peered inside that mindscape was that the lich’s mental projection was so… tiny. The mindspace that normally looked big enough to fit a castle or two probably seemed ludicrously big from the lich’s perspective. What’s more, her size reflected just how powerless she actually was, much to Xera’s relief. There was simply no way that pitiable creature would be able to chain down and dominate Boxxy’s ego. It was like an ant trying to topple a mountain.
As for the reason why Valeria had been reduced to such a state, it was because her opponent was bad. That Mimic had amassed a deceptively high MNT Attribute of around 200, although it still couldn’t compare to Xera’s. Even if it did, the succubus was a demon who was naturally adept at mental combat. She was able to peer into pretty much everyone’s mind as long as they were asleep, even her Master’s.
However, Valeria’s own MNT Attribute was pitiably low in comparison, not to mention her relatively weak-willed nature that made her ill-suited to such tasks. On the other hand, Boxxy’s stubborn nature and simplistic, almost primal way of thinking had made its mind surprisingly durable. The difference in mental fortitude was so extreme, that even its subconscious was enough to completely suppress the lich’s pitiable attempts at possession.
So after confirming the would-be invader was actually powerless, the succubus probed the Mimic’s mind in order to replay a few memories and toy with her a little. The fact that Boxxy’s remembered pain was seeping into the lich’s mental projection proved that it was her will that was being dominated, not the other way around. Xera of course also felt it flow into her, although that was only because she allowed it.
Well, she could have outright killed the lich, but that would be too easy. Too boring. Watching her suffer for a bit was quite entertaining. Sharing in her Master’s tortured past had proven to be a treat on its own, although it had a rather bittersweet aftertaste. It was, after all, not ‘real’ pain. Once she was done having her fun, the succubus returned to the waking world and told Kora to smash the phylactery to smithereens. Something the fiend did with great pleasure.
“I even used Consecrate on the debris for good measure,” continued Fizzy.
“I know, but she’s getting rather paranoid,” said Kora dejectedly. “She thinks a fragment of that lich might have stuck to the boss’s mind and interfering with the Rank Up.”
“Well, it has been almost 5 days now. That’s considerably more than the 2 or 3 days she said it would take.”
“Just because the boss is taking a while doesn’t mean something’s wrong. Maybe it’s a normal thing.”
“Hmm, maybe,” said Fizzy while tossing the dead wolf she was dragging onto a pile of corpses.
“By the way, aren’t you gonna toss away some of the older bodies in there?”
The fiend and the succubus would be more than enough to repel anything that might wander by, so having all three of them around was overkill, to say the least. That’s why Boxxy had ordered Fizzy to prepare ‘breakfast’ for when the Mimic woke up after its Rank Up. It remembered how abnormally starved it felt after the first time it went through it, so it commanded that a feast be prepared in advance. Which is why the pint-sized Paladin had go off into the woods, pummel every living thing she ran across into mush and then drag it back to the cave and pile it up in the corner. Admittedly the golem had gone slightly overboard and gathered the corpses of well over 30 creatures, but it wasn’t all bad since she managed to raise her Metal Golem Job to Level 18 in the process.
The main problem Kora had with that, is that the gnome had started hunting 3 days ago.
“This place is starting to smell worse than that dead bitch,” she complained with a grimace.
“That so? Wonder why that happened,” said Fizzy with mock wonderment.
“Living things rot, you know!”
“Ah, there was something like that. I see, I see, so that’s how it was. Sounds really bothersome.”
“Stop nodding to yourself and fucking do something about it!”
“Why should I? I’m not the one with a problem here.”
“I can’t carry them far enough away from the cave because I have to stand by the boss’s side!”
“Still failing to see how this is any of my concern.”
“Why you little-!”
“Will you two stop flirting?!” came Xera’s voice from behind Kora.
“Who the hell’s flirting?!” they answered in unison.
“Just shut up and get over here! I think the Master’s waking up!”
Kora and Fizzy immediately dropped their bickering and went over to the presumably former Mimic. However, looking at the state of that wooden chest made the gnome realize why the succubus suddenly got worried. It was looking fine until she left for her hunting trip a few hours ago, but it had suddenly become quite rotted, for lack of a better word. The polished wooden surface had become splintery and pitch black, not to mention it looked like it was crumbling apart. It was almost as if the monster had contracted leprosy or some other, equally unpleasant disease.
A series of loud snapping noises came out from the wooden chest in rapid succession. Xera jerked slightly in surprise and backed away from it slightly. The rotting faux-wood surface then quickly fell apart and collapsed into a pile of formless, dead flesh. Inside it was a small blob of viscous, pitch-black jel. A pair of round yellow eyes showed up on its surface, reflecting the sparse light pouring in from the outside. They stared at Xera, then Kora, then Fizzy.
“Master?” asked the succubus meekly.
The monster responded to Xera’s words by staring directly at the succubus with vicious intent, as if a predator sizing up its next meal. It would appear the creature was hungry, just as expected. Those yellow orbs then noticed the pile of wolves, bears, deer, goats and other assorted dead bodies. In the next instant, the pitch-black glob of slime exploded as something smaller than even Fizzy leapt out of it and buried itself into that mountain of decaying flesh.
*HROMP CRUMP HRUMF MUNCH SQUISH*
A cacophony of thoroughly disgusting noises came out of the 4-meter tall mound of flesh, bone and fur, which was rapidly decreasing in volume.
“Holy shit! Look at it go!” cheered Kora.
“I knew Boxxy was a big eater, but that’s something else…”
Fizzy had honestly expected the prey she’d gathered to last for several days at the least. However, the sheer speed at which the former Mimic was devouring it made her doubt whether it would actually be enough.
“Uuu, Master! No fair! You should’ve eaten me first!”
A trio of dark-colored tendrils shot out from somewhere in the disfigured body pile and wrapped around Xera before pulling her into it. She screamed and wailed a few times before going utterly silent.
“Hey, Kora? Was that okay?” asked Fizzy.
“Well… I mean she got what she wanted… So, it’s probably fine?”
“I thought Boxxy can’t get nutrition from you guys though.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Doesn’t mean it can’t use is as seasoning though. I doubt the rotten meat tastes very good.”
“By the way, did you get a good look at what the boss looked like?”
“Not really. It just zoomed past my head before I even realized it. I couldn’t track it with my eyes at all.”
“Yeah, same here…”
The remaining two women stared with a mixture of amazement and morbid curiosity as a veritable storm of gnashing, ripping and slurping swept up every last corpse that Fizzy had brought.
Proficiency level increased. Biomass is now Level 10. All Attributes +1.
Your hunger has been sated. Automatic HP and MP recovery will return to normal.
Not even blood was left on the floor by the time Boxxy was finished with it.
“Boxxy?” called out Fizzy.
The small humanoid figure stopped licking up the floor, stood up and turned around to face her. It looked like a rather malnourished child that was 7 or 8 years old. Although it appeared to be shorter than the steel golem when it erupted from the black goop, it had rapidly grown to about 120 centimeters in height. The arms and legs were gangly and seemed incredibly thin and fragile. The feet had no toes and the hands had only four fingers each. Its skin was a wrinkled mass of gray flesh that seemed to crawl and undulate all on its own.
It had a rather elongated head that was freakishly wide at the top, almost like an upside-down pear. The chin was oddly pointed, giving the face a triangular look. Or rather, it would if the monster actually had a face. There was no nose, no mouth, no ears and even the circular eyes seemed like they were glued onto its smooth surface.
“What is it?” it spoke with no apparent mouth. The voice was quiet, almost like a whisper.
“You, uh, missed a spot.”
Fizzy pointed at the leg of boar that had been ejected from the corpse pile during the feeding frenzy and landed several meters away from the carnage. Boxxy looked at it and its eyes seemed to light up a bit. Its featureless face split open vertically, almost as if it was a book, and revealed a large maw with countless needle-like teeth. A long red tongue shot out of it and wrapped itself around the last morsel before gobbling it down in an instant. The monster then let out a satisfied burp at the filling, though not exactly satisfying meal.
“So, Boss. I take it you’re a Doppler Gangster now?”
“Doppelganger,” corrected Boxxy.
Rank up complete.
Congratulations! Your species has become Doppelganger (Juvenile).
All Attributes +10.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 1 Doppelganger! All Attributes +2.
The Doppelganger Job is now your Main Job.
The maximum Level of your Shapeshift Skill has been increased to 15.
The maximum Level of your Biomass Skill has been increased to 15.
This was the first thing Boxxy’s consciousness had seen when it woke up. It had put off dealing with it due to the sheer amount of hunger coursing through it until this very moment. The former Mimic and current Doppelganger had never, ever felt ravenous starvation like that before. It silently praised its past self for having the foresight to arrange for that massive breakfast to be prepared ahead of time.
As for the reason it chose it over the Queen Slime variants, that was rather obvious. It wasn’t sure whether it could coax the Queen Slime’s gelatinous body into the shape of a human. The fact its Mend Flesh Skill might stop functioning did not make it feel any better about those options, either. So in the end it had decided to go with what appeared to be the safest option and picked the species that obviously had the more advanced shapeshifting capability. However, the now-awake Boxxy was already lamenting the loss of its old body due to a couple of immediately apparent problems, the first of which was what Kora was about to point out.
“How come you’re so tiny?”
“Because this body is still young.”
“And uh… Where exactly did you pack away all that?” continued the curious Kora. “I mean, there must’ve been tons of meat in there…”
“It’s right here.”
The newly born Doppelganger patted its narrow chest.
“You packed all of that away inside that tiny body?”
“Because I’m a Doppelganger.”
An extremely versatile shape-shifting monster that is thought to be nearing extinction. A doppelganger’s flesh is incredibly dense and compact when compared to that of most other species, allowing it to gain body mass many times heavier than it would appear to be at first. This concentrated muscle and tissue can be expanded to adopt a shape much bigger than itself.
Doppelgangers can reproduce naturally by mating with an enlightened female that is already pregnant and infecting the fetus with a strip of its parasitic flesh. When the child is born, it has completely bonded with this foreign flesh, which then starts slowly replacing all of the child’s body with replicated doppelganger tissue. The enlightened child is unaware that this is going on and is completely replaced by the encroaching monster by the age of 10 if left untreated, at which point it fully becomes a Juvenile Doppelganger.
Doppelgangers come in two main variants - Juvenile and Adult. A Juvenile is weaker and more limited in its shapeshifting capability when compared to an Adult, although it is still quite formidable when compared to other shapeshifters. Fully fledged adults also have access to a basic form of telekinesis.
This would be the window Boxxy would see if it bothered to inspect its newly acquired species. It didn’t really need to do that though, as knowledge of its new body had been bestowed upon it during the Rank Up process. This was different from Fizzy, who had changed species because of her ‘curse’ and did not even know how her body was put together at first. Boxxy, on the other hand, had been literally reborn as a Doppelganger, so its body already felt completely like its own. That lich Valeria should have gone through something similar when she graduated from being a Banshee.
Speaking of which-
“She tried to betray you,” answered Kora, “so we had to break her stupid egg and kill her. Or is that re-kill her? Un-undead her? Yeah, we un-undeaded her.”
“That’s too bad.”
“What, really?!” spoke up Fizzy. “You actually feel sorry for that contemptuous whore?!”
“No. I wanted to keep the shiny egg.”
“Anything left of it?”
“... No. The fragments of it caught on fire and crumbled to ash when I used Consecrate on them. Snack wanted to be extra careful and I agreed with her.”
“Arms, is this true?”
“Yeah, it is. Bubble-butt’s the one that told us to smash it in the first place.”
“I see. Can’t be helped then. Oh, that’s right!”
Boxxy had just realized it had eaten Xera during its feeding frenzy earlier. Rotting flesh could still provide it with nutrients, but it tasted horrible. The monster ended up almost unthinkingly adding a tasty Snack to its meal in order to season it a bit, as it were. She wasn’t as much as help as Boxxy had thought, though. Regardless, that particular meal was over now, so it proceeded with re-summoning the succubus, who greeted it the moment she appeared.
“Congratulations on your Rank Up, Master,” she said with a wide, blissful smile on her face.
Her beloved Master was alive and healthy and she got to enjoy servicing it in her capacity as a Snack. Therefore, she really had no complaints about the situation. Well, except one.
“Excuse me Master, but are you well?”
“I am. Why?”
“Because you’re curled up on the floor…”
“Yeah,” chimed in Fizzy, “you remind me of my old, worthless self when you do that.”
“... I miss being a chest,” admitted Boxxy.
This was the other major problem it had with its new species. The former Mimic felt strangely exposed and vulnerable now that its faux-wood shell had been taken away from it. Just because it was its own body didn’t automatically mean it felt comfortable in it. Even if it was a completely different species, the 50 Levels of its Mimic Job still showed a good amount of influence on its behavior. It still wanted to eat tasty things and hoard shiny things, just like before. It could be said that Boxxy felt like a sentient treasure chest on every level except physical.
“But… you’re this master shapeshifter or something now, right?” asked Kora
“So… can’t you like, I don’t know, become a chest if you wanted to?”
Of course, why didn’t Boxxy think of this sooner! It grew out a thick slab of flesh from its back, which quickly wrapped itself around the gray skinned child with a misshapen head. It quickly bloated in size and became oddly rectangular, recreating the former Mimic’s original chesty visage in a matter of seconds. An MLG was rapidly grown and placed in the exact same spot the old one was. The lid opened to reveal numerous dagger-like teeth and a long, fleshy tongue, ready to devour unwitting adventurers on the spot. Boxxy even went as far as sprouting the same set of eight spider legs and that one cat-like eye on its front.
“Much better,” came a voice from deep inside the faux-wood box.
To say the monster sounded relieved would be an understatement. For if there was one thing that Boxxy T. Morningwood absolutely loved, it was large chests.
“A shame,” muttered Xera. “I think Master’s childish form was quite adorable. Then again, being devoured by a gray-skinned child doesn’t have the same visceral impact as being ripped limb from limb by a massive set of teeth. Ah, but if only that part was eaten then maybe-”
Fizzy stared wide eyed as the succubus mumbled about how she was looking forward to being devoured in new, exciting ways.
“She really is fucked in the head, isn’t she?” she whispered to Kora.
The golem had become aware of the succubus’s perversions during this short week they spent together, but she had no idea just how deep that rotten rabbit hole went until just now. It was way beyond a simple hobby at this point.
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” answered the fiend. “I mean, I’d tell you to watch out so you don’t become a hopeless pervert like her, but it’s probably too late for that.”
“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“Yes, Boxxy, what is it?”
The golem’s misgivings were instantly forgotten when she realized Boxxy had walked up to her.
“You’re not shiny. Why?”
Her previously spotless steel frame was covered in dried up blood and bile from all those monsters she had been fighting. Her clothes did not fare much better, either.
The splatter was particularly bad on her left, shield-bearing side since she used Armored Charge a bit too much. How was she supposed to know deer were capable of squirting out so much blood at once?! Then again, splattering them against the ground like rotten tomatoes was entirely her own doing.
“I’ve been too busy hunting,” explained Fizzy, “so I didn’t have the chance to wash it all off and now it’s gone all sticky.”
“Shall I clean you?”
“You can do that?! I mean, yes, please!”
The Mimic - or rather the Doppelganger pretending to be a Mimic - opened its maw and coiled its tongue around her. She didn’t even have time to gasp as she was instantly dragged into its mouth. The fact it was able to manhandle the heavy lump of steel so easily already spoke volumes at what those extra-dense muscles were capable of. Boxxy then proceeded to roll Fizzy around inside itself for about 30 seconds, after which it opened its maw and placed her back where she was just moments before.
The gnome panted heavily, and stared down at her drool-covered steel palms, processing what she just experienced. The monster had licked every nook and cranny of her body with dozens of tiny tongue-tentacles. It slobbered all over her fingers, inside her mouth, around her entirely decorative genitals and even between her ass cheeks. Not a single spot of her body was left untouched or unprobed.
And yet, she wasn’t feeling disgusted, violated or even appalled by this obscene act.
“Ohhh! I’m practically sparkling!”
She was ecstatic.
“I think I look better than I did the day I was born! You even managed to scrub most of the blood out of my outfit! Thanks a bunch, Boxxy! I really needed that!”
“You’re welcome,” replied the monster in good humor.
It’s main purpose was to restore the steel golem’s sheen. While it couldn’t be compared with gold, shiny things were still shiny. Besides, the dried up filth stuck to her body turned out to be surprisingly tasty, so it enjoyed the act a bit more than it expected at first.
“I rest my case,” said Kora, more to herself than anyone else. The fiend honestly felt like she was the only one in the group who wasn’t a sexual deviant, despite being a violent rapist herself.
“So what now, Master?” asked Xera once she recovered from her fantasies.
“Now, we head north,” answered Boxxy. “We still have to complete Operation: TASTYCOCK.”
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
|Biomass||10||8%||Crystallize Magic||7||28%||Sword Mastery||7||53%|
|Natural Armor||10||MAX||Clockwork Expertise||4||4%||Projectile Mastery||7||21%|
|Metal Mimicry||8||23%||Explosives Handling||2||10%||Dagger Mastery||10||MAX|
|Mend Flesh||7||64%||Chaotic Disposition||1||MAX||Ruin Mastery||9||42%|
|Adaptive Defense||3||31%||Agent of Chaos||1||MAX||Domination Mastery||6||75%|
|Acid Spray||9||45%||Essence Concealment||1||MAX||Shield Mastery||6||51%|