Boxxy stared inquisitively at the slightly hyperactive Minic. The little guy had no idea who or what was going on, and seemed genuinely excited about its new owner’s current chesty disposition. It was frankly a miracle nothing strange happened to it from the after-effects of the Transfamiliar Spell. Stranger still was the notion that the Spell in question could be used to transport multiple living things at the same time. Who knows? It may prove useful in the future, so it was definitely good to know.
There was another worrying aspect, though. Boxxy genuinely failed to realize its presence at first. Perhaps it was the scenario where people would ignore the ants underfoot? No, come to think of it, the dryad seemed strangely okay with this intruder, didn’t she?
“Ambrosia,” it called out, “why didn’t you react to this creature?”
“What doth thy mean, milord?” asked the dumbfounded dryad. “‘Tis one of thy servants, is it not?”
“Well, it is, but shouldn’t you be more concerned with a new intruder?”
“... Hmm, thou makes a good point. ‘Tis most bizarre now that I think of it. While this creature is undoubtedly an invader, I find myself unwilling to harm it. Almost as if- No, I am certain. This creature was definitely carved from mine timber.”
That would certainly explain things. A dungeon core’s idle compulsion would not be enough to overwrite the most basic of instincts - that of self-preservation. It may be able to do that on a mindless creature, but this dryad was anything but. Meaning that if she saw Minic as a part of her body, then she would avoid harming it unless absolutely necessary. This realization also brought to light the fact that this thing was made out of actual, living wood rather than malleable shapeshifter flesh. Almost as if it were a golem or treant. The material was just so natural that Boxxy didn’t even give it a second thought. Perhaps this mini-mimic had some sort of Skill or ability that let it escape one’s notice? It certainly seemed easy to ignore.
Actually, this was a good opportunity. The dungeon core’s Surveillance Net could perform an Invader Analysis - something halfway between a Basic Appraisal and a full one. Though it wouldn’t reveal Skills or Perks, it was still enough to gauge a living being’s strength. The Mimic hurriedly brought up the relevant screens and menus, and activated the function in question. Minic seemed to sense something was going on, as it jumped a bit in surprise with a high-pitched “Yip!” but didn’t do much beyond that. Mere seconds later, Boxxy was given a bizarre Status screen.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Owner||Household of Tol-Saroth||END||50|
One thing was abundantly clear - this creature was clearly one of the original House Mimics made by Tol-Saroth. Judging from this Status, it had been created through some sort of fusion between a Doppelganger and a demon, and was quite a bit tougher than it appeared. However, the lack of INT and WIS and that truly outrageous LCK Attribute hinted at an untellable tale of hardship. The fact this creature had survived 4 and a half centuries while working off nothing more than instincts and dumb luck alone was... incredible, to say the least. It also put into question exactly how much of a lifespan mimics and doppelgangers actually had, though this creature’s longevity was most likely due to the demonic influence it carried.
Another thing that was obvious was that Minic truly lacked the capacity of comprehending its surroundings as anything more complex than ‘tasty things’ and ‘safe things.’ Meaning it was probably safe to keep looking after it. Even if it somehow understood Keira and Boxxy’s secret, it completely lacked the ability to actually communicate such a thing. It was quite literally physically incapable of spilling the beans. Also, it was still quite shiny.
“Ambrosia, can you keep Minic here company for a while?”
“It would be mine pleasure, milord.”
She bent down and picked up the animate jewelry box, which immediately nuzzled itself between her breasts. Come to think of it, it did that a lot with Rowana and Lia, but not so much with Keira. Well, it would be hard for Boxxy to fault it for a love of chests, but that was clearly the wrong type of chest it had in mind. Still, at least it wouldn’t get in the way of what was to come.
Using Nexus Access, Boxxy was instantly transported to the highest point of the dungeon. It was still within the tree, so it used Terrain Sculpting to make its way out of it, much like before. It broke through the bark, and found itself standing in the lush canopy of the Hylt tree. The outrageously sized branches and leaves blocked out the view of the night sky, and an unobstructed line of sight to all three moons was a necessary component of the ritual. It therefore started climbing upward, until it reached a suitable place where there were no leaves overhead, and a relatively flat branch was underfoot. The world’s three moons - Yoitis, Laopra and Tascuna - were all visible in the night sky, making the monster’s surroundings nearly as bright as daylight.
“Boss, I’m done with the termites,” came Kora’s timely report. “I’m on my way to- Ah, you’re out of the dungeon! I can’t get to you with Nexus Access!”
“That’s okay, I’ll just re-summon you.”
It didn’t plan on wasting MP for that, but it couldn’t be helped. After dismissing and calling back Kora to its side, it started preparing for the long-awaited Unholy Wealth ritual, although with a bit of apprehension. It was still sure to have some catch to it, as most demon-related things did, but the knowledge from Demonology clearly stated that this particular ceremony would call forth an object rather than a creature. How bad could a non-sentient item really be, right?
Boxxy had of course tried asking its familiars if they knew anything about it, but they only shook their heads. Perhaps that Beholder it met weeks ago might know, but it was far too late to go looking for it. Besides, there’s no way it would just cooperate with a mortal unless ordered to, so it was a pointless effort from the get-go.
The Mimic reached into its Storage and started pulling out all of the ingredients and tools necessary for this ceremony. They consisted of a single Elixir of Avarice, an Alchemist's mortar and pestle set that appeared to be made out of white marble, a single 6-centimeter long mithril nail, a small hammer, 5 gold coins, a plain wooden goblet carved out of oak, a Pure Pearl that had been tainted by demonic essence and a Midnight Ruby.
Well, there was one problem, actually. The ‘tainted’ Pure Pearl had returned to its white, clean state over the long months it had sat idly by inside the monster’s Storage, which was why Boxxy needed Kora’s assistance. It handed her the gemstone, and told her to infuse it with her essence. The fiend didn’t quite understand at first, but Boxxy explained she just had to have it in her body and focus her mana on it. The fiend then popped the thing in her mouth and rolled it around a bit on her tongue while thinking really hard about it.
Her master, in the meantime, took the Midnight Ruby and started crushing it using the mortar and pestle. The specially designed tool seemed to have some sort of effect on the gem, seeing as how the monster could crush the red gemstone without any difficulty. It was almost as if the precious stone crumbled on its own with even the slightest push of the white pestle. It still took 15 minutes to reduce it into the right consistency necessary for the ritual. Satisfied with the results, it carefully dumped the sparkling fine powder into the goblet, making sure the shiny dust didn’t scatter too much in the wind.
“Arms, are you done yet?”
“Dunno, lemme shee!”
Kora spit out the once-white Pure Pearl onto her hand to reveal it had been properly dyed black once more.
“This is good,” declared Boxxy while taking it from her.
It briefly thought back on when it first obtained this reagent, wondering exactly why Snack had used her genitals to perform this act. Surely it was unnecessary, right? Well, it was an unimportant distraction, so the monster merely brushed it off as ‘Snack being Snack.’ Now that it had the re-corrupted pearl in its tentacles, it set it down on the wooden branch and pressed the tip of the mithril nail over it. It then gripped the hammer with a third appendage and firmly tapped the nail’s head several times.
The pitch-black pearl was pierced and cracks spread through it. However, rather than fall apart like glass, it actually held itself together quite well. The insides, as it would appear, were actually filled with some gooey, viscous substance and the outer shell was surprisingly thin, almost like a sort of egg rather than a crystal bead. After confirming that everything was going as expected, the Mimic drove the mithril nail clean through the magical gemstone, puncturing it completely and causing an unidentifiable black liquid to drip out of it. Boxxy hurriedly put the skewered pearl into the wooden goblet, where its juices slowly began mixing with the pulverized Midnight Ruby.
The monster then arranged the 5 gold coins into a small pentagram and placed the simple cup right in the middle of it. Finally, it reached over and grabbed the bottle of Elixir of Avarice it had bought off an alchemist back in Erosa. This orange-colored magic potion supposedly allowed its user to literally sniff out any and all gold within 15 meters for a day. Boxxy didn’t need this silly thing for itself since its magical perception was already more than capable of doing that, so it unhesitantly poured the contents of the bottle into the wooden goblet.
The orange-tinted liquid was quickly dyed blood-red by the powdered Midnight Ruby and started hissing ominously. The punctured pearl then floated just beneath the surface of the concoction, despite it being way too heavy to do so under normal circumstances. Boxxy shifted back into its ‘Chester Underwood’ persona for a moment, as the ritual required a humanoid appearance to complete successfully. Well, it could’ve used Keira’s form to do it, but it wanted to avoid tipping someone off on the off chance it was being monitored somehow.
And now that the ritual site was properly set up, it deftly grabbed the mithril nail that was sticking out of the floating pearl and began slowly stirring the mixture with it while chanting.
“Suspendisse vitae maximus augue, eget porta ante. Nulla eget justo facilisis, sagittis massa in, euismod leo.”
The make-believe elf’s voice carried itself clearly through the otherwise quiet night. It was a good thing there was nobody who lived within almost a kilometer of its current position, otherwise someone would definitely notice its antics.
“Curabitur hendrerit libero quis mi finibus, a venenatis neque tincidunt. Pellentesque eleifend efficitur pulvinar.”
The pure-white metal nail and pitch-black pearl both turned a deep crimson as they soaked up part of the liquid they were floating in.
“Aenean hendrerit dictum maximus.”
Boxxy let go of the skewered jewel, which continued to make circular motions all on its own, and then stood up from its kneeling position.
“Suspendisse potenti Yoitis! Suspendisse potenti Laopra! Suspendisse potenti Tascuna!”
It lifted its head and arms towards the sky while shouting, as if begging each of the moons for a favor in turn.
“Cras eget mauris vulputate, bibendum sem sit amet, elementum felis!”
The five gold coins started vibrating and glowing with a bright yellow light while the skewered Pure Pearl levitated a few centimeters into the air. It had absorbed all of the liquid from the goblet and was glowing with an intense, bright-red light.
“Unc metus ullamcorper libero! Quis bibendum tortor urna nec orci!”
Boxxy felt the hair on its head stand on end along with an odd sense of dread, but the monster yelled out the last two words of the chant before it could process the significance of this peculiar sensation.
A bolt of lightning struck the wooden goblet out of nowhere, causing Boxxy to leap out of the way with all its might while letting out a weird noise. It very nearly fell of the branch it was on, and had to shift back into its spider-legged chesty form in order to cling onto the sides of it.
“Boss, you okay down there?!” shouted Kora from somewhere above.
“Nobody told me there would be lightning involved!” yelled Boxxy. “I’ll die for sure if I get hit by that! What the fuuuuck?! Why do these retarded rituals always try to kill me?!”
The monster let off a rather uncharacteristic string of complaints as it climbed up the side of the branch and back to where it was mere moments ago.
“I think that’s sort of the point, boss,” said Kora with a mocking smile on her face.
Her Master graciously ignored her unflattering tone and pointed its attention towards the place that mystical bolt of lightning had struck. The sturdy Ironbark-covered branch been charred black, a testament to that thunderbolt’s power. The wooden goblet, gold coins and thoroughly expensive mixture had apparently fused together into a solid gold cup that looked shiny beyond belief.
A row of glowing red runes had been etched alongside its rim, while the rest of the vessel was covered in intricate golden carvings. They swirled, swiveled and wrapped around its surface seemingly at random with no beginning or end. A total of 12 black opal-shaped gems were evenly spaced out around its shining surface, while the inside of the goblet was coated by an off-white metal with a slight green hue to it. It held a dark red liquid that was oddly reminiscent of blood in its coloration.
And this item’s name, although unknown to Boxxy at the time, was Profanus Gloria.
The Mimic stared at it intently, feeling a rather ominous aura coming from the object.
“Arms, does that shiny thing look cursed to you?”
Kora took a few steps forward and crouched down to get a better look. Her face twisted in confusion, but ultimately she couldn’t tell.
“No idea. Sorry, boss. This is more that cock-gobbler’s thing.”
However, Boxxy was more or less convinced there was a curse, as the magic oozing from it was foul and thoroughly un-tasty, very similar to how Fizzy’s gauntlet was before she put it on. Although the curse seems to have mostly dissipated from it since then, the sensation it used to give off was almost identical to this goblet.
It was the ‘almost’ part that gave Boxxy pause. Looking at it closer, it would appear that the source of the curse was not the goblet itself, but the strange liquid it held. However, as the Mimic got closer, it found itself overcome with a very peculiar urge to drink the stuff in one go. That was clearly a bad idea, and yet its body yearned, craved for it.
“Uhm, boss?” said Kora while swallowing her saliva. “Can I get a sip of that?”
It would appear the fiend was no less influenced by this thing. Well, this was a good opportunity to test its effects, so the monster would allow her to-
“No! It’s mine!” it shouted suddenly.
The fiend’s face became twisted with rage when she heard them. It’s a good thing the contract was in place, otherwise Boxxy would definitely have been attacked right now. The worst part of this scenario, however, was that those words were not its own.
“This delicious thing is all mine I tell you!”
It was extremely strange. No matter how much it tried, the wrong words kept coming out. Almost as if someone or something else was putting those words into its mouth. It was probably some strange effect of the curse itself, which demanded it be consumed post-haste. Quite the powerful effect considering both Boxxy and Kora had quite formidable MNT Attributes.
Of course, this whole thing was obviously a trap of some sort, so Boxxy had no intention of actually giving into those urges. It wanted Kora to drink up first and serve as a test subject, but it had no idea how to tell her. Ah, perhaps the telepathic link might work?
“Ignore what I said earlier and drink up.”
Looks like it did.
“Don’t mind if I do!” said Kora with a wide smile while licking her lips.
The fiend eagerly picked up the small gilded cup with both hands. It was quite hot to the touch - unsurprising considering this object had been created in a flash of lightning less than a minute ago. She placed the rim of the goblet against her mouth and tilted it so that the blood-like liquid flowed into it.
The strange substance seemingly sprang to life the instant it touched her lips, and every last drop of it forced itself down her throat in an instant. She coughed violently at the sudden oral invasion and instinctively grabbed her throat, letting the goblet fall to the ground with a metallic clatter in the process. Her entire consciousness was suddenly enveloped by a searing pain that flared up across her entire body all at once. It overtook her in a flash, snuffing her life out before she even got a chance to scream.
Your familiar has been banished.
Boxxy stared curiously at the body of its familiar that was still standing upright. The fact this cursed liquid appeared to be poisonous was hardly surprising considering the ‘Unholy’ part of the ritual, but it wondered how any of this could be considered ‘Wealth.’ That was when the demon’s flesh started crumbling away, falling off her body in small bits and disappearing into nothingness before it even hit the ground. Several seconds later, Boxxy was made witness to the true effects of this curse.
For when all of Kora’s skin and flesh had fallen off, all that was left of her place was a glittering, golden skeleton. The Mimic stared reverently at the macabre sculpture, captivated by its esoteric beauty. But alas, as something born of mana, the transformed skeleton ended up crumbling into bits and disappearing, leaving behind little more than a memory.
The monster cussed in frustration. It was really starting to get sick of all these disappearing shinies. First there was that wonderful treasure chest and now this strangely alluring golden skeleton. It knew why it had happened, but that didn’t make the event any less unpleasant. Deciding it wanted a permanent golden skeleton, the monster turned its attention to the shiny cup Arms had dropped earlier. Not only did it not roll off the branch, but the cursed object had stood upright all on its own almost immediately after Kora dropped it. Not only that, but it had already refilled itself with the same cursed liquid that killed her.
Boxxy went up to the goblet and carefully picked it up. It felt an even stronger urge to chug the clearly deadly poison substance, but held itself back since it had seen its devastating effects firsthand. This thing turned bones to gold, and Boxxy, as a Doppelganger, did have a skeletal structure of its own. One that could be shifted around to a rather extreme degree, but a skeletal structure nonetheless.
Checking on its Demonology Skill, it realized it was currently at 96% of the way to Level 8. So close, and yet so far. Perhaps, as a product of the Demonology Skill, this cursed cup would provide it with the final bit of needed proficiency? Deciding it was worth the try, the Mimic leapt resolutely off the branch it was standing on and fell like a rock. It realized too late that it was holding a vessel with a liquid in it, but to its surprise the poisonous gunk did not leave the confines of the goblet. It was as if a transparent film was keeping it inside, no matter how much it sloshed around due to the extreme movements of the one holding it. In other words, the only way to drain this liquid from its container, was to drink it.
After falling for a while, Boxxy opened up a quartet of bat-like wings and directed its descent to a specific building on one of the upper branches of the Hylt tree it called home. The structure in question was an old, dilapidated warehouse the Mimic had scouted out earlier. It was the kind of place homeless bums might squat in. Even if the Republic was much better at taking care of the poor and downtrodden than the Empire, some people would eventually fall through the cracks, as it were. And those people would serve as perfect fodder for a certain murderous box’s magical experiments.
The monster landed quietly on the sloped roof and peeked inside through a hole in it. Sure enough, it saw a trio of unfortunate elves that were huddled around a small metal bin that was on fire. Boxxy quickly moved in and relieved two of them of their worthless lives, while holding down the third one under its many-tentacled mass. The male elf struggled and tried to scream, but his protests were expertly restrained and muffled by the experienced man-handler.
The Mimic then brought forth the cursed item and the elf instantly stopped his struggling. His eye shone with a dangerous, almost lustful light as he beheld its glory. As expected, those with a low or non-existent MNT Attribute were even more susceptible to this thing’s influence than Boxxy or Kora. The homeless man in question was proof enough of that, as he was obviously more interested in drinking from the shiny cup rather than preserve his own life. Well, the former was the whole reason Boxxy came down here, so not only did it let him drink - it practically force-fed him the contents of that gilded goblet.
The man let out a gurgled scream and clawed at his chest, then stopped moving entirely. The molten gold tears that poured out of his unmoving eyes and the shining teeth in his mouth revealed that the Unholy Wealth had taken effect. Looking inside his body, Boxxy was also able to confirm his bones had turned into the same metal it coveted so.
Proficiency level increased. Demonology is now Level 8. WIS +2. MNT +2.
Finally! Not only did Boxxy obtain a way to get more shiny things, but it had also-
You have violated the taboo of Goroth and incurred the wrath of the gods!
A special action has been performed. FTH -20.
Proficiency level increased. Taboo is now Level 1.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Blasphemous Hero.
-royally screwed itself.