Following the rather inexplicable series of anal explosions and subsequent… implosions… Cecilia, Keira and Fizzy made an iron-clad pact to never again speak of what had transpired. At the very least Kiki’s ‘fix’ for the situation seemed to have also gotten rid of all signs it had ever happened, including the smell or any stains. Which was probably a good thing, but the experience was just way too harrowing for anyone to openly admit it.
Once they had settled down they invited the guard waiting outside the room back in. The man seemed a bit puzzled at how quickly the disturbance had been resolved, but decided it was best to pretend he saw nothing. He really didn’t want to have any of the Chaotic Trio on his ass, so instead of acknowledging the event he respectfully handed the Primus the message he was told to deliver.
Cecilia read the official document once. Then twice. Then rubbed her eyes and read it a third time. Her hands and fingers started trembling nervously as if they were holding a piece of history itself.
“Th… this…” she muttered. “Is this for real?!”
“Yes, ma’am!” confirmed the messenger. “As you can see it is by no means an isolated incident, either!”
“Unbelievable… Does the Legate know about this?!”
“He’s the one who sent me to get you, ma’am! You are to report to him at your earliest convenience!”
“Understood! Wait, what about Kei- Decanus Morgana?”
The guard glanced at the dumbstruck Keira, then shook his head.
“I haven’t been told anything regarding the Hero of Chaos, ma’am.”
“Right. Okay. Thank you. Err- go inform the Legate I will be over to see him within 5 minutes.”
“Right away, ma’am!”
With a final salute, the soldier left to deliver the message while the data analyst started rummaging around her office while murmuring under her breath.
“… no precedent… geopolitical ramifications… civil war… can’t be right… no evidence… or perhaps… new projections…”
“Miss Underwood? What’s going on?”
However, Keira’s understandable question completely fell on deaf ears as the elf’s mind was already churning away at full speed along with her hands. She gathered up her ledgers, notebooks, maps, pens, manifestos and even her Day Of Petals wishlist, then stormed out of the room, leaving the other two in a very confused state. Though perhaps not for the reasons that one might assume.
“I have to ask,” spoke up Fizzy, breaking the awkward silence, “did you really, y’know… soil yourself?”
“No, of course not. I was just playing along with you two.”
“… But why, though?”
“I… read somewhere that sharing embarrassing moments with someone was a good way to get close to them.”
“That’s going a bit too far, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I’m slightly regretting that decision now. At least I used a substitute substance rather than the real thing.”
“Can you even- No, I don’t think I want to know,” declared the golem with a frown on her face.
“What about you? Where did all that rusty iron even come from? … And where did it… go?”
Silence descended upon the room yet again as the two of them stared blankly at the door.
“I say we chalk this up to Dave being Robert and forget all about it,” suggested Fizzy.
“Agreed,” declared Boxxy with a nod.
“So, any idea what that message was all about?”
“No. But I’m about to find out.”
The Mimic whipped out a slightly crumpled piece of paper from its pocket. In all the confusion, it had managed to successfully steal it from Cecilia without the elf noticing. Secretly working on its Pickpocket Skill was really starting to pay off, as it doubted it would’ve been able to pull that off so smoothly otherwise. The monster’s MLG was more or less incapable of reading ink on paper, so it was necessary to look at it directly with its eyes. That gullible elf would probably realize the sensitive document was missing at some point, but Boxxy just had to leave it behind in her office somewhere and she would assume she accidentally left it behind.
So without further ado, it straightened out the piece of paper and started reading it. The more it read, however, the more agitated it became. Because as it would appear, Juliet wasn’t the only deity who was having a busy day.
A Monk who is a Disciple of Justice claimed to have received a divine revelation from Teresa. As of time of writing, 8 other Legionnaires from disparate units and companies have independently reported the same exact message to their superior officers. The revelation in question is as follows:
Faithful of Teresa! A great injustice has been revealed to me!
Following my Hero’s untimely demise, I have spent considerable time in self-reflection and communion with my fellow Gods, and have since come to realize the truth of the Calamity of Monotal! The one responsible for that heinous act was no terrorist, spy or saboteur, but a devious monster that acted independently while motivated by malice, spite and greed. And while this truth should have been known to humanity’s leaders, some among them have chosen to obfuscate and pervert it to suit their own corrupt designs!
On the authority of Teresa, Goddess of Truth and Justice, I hereby demand an immediate cessation of hostilities between the people of the Lodrak Empire and the Ishigar Republic, and call for an Inquisition upon the Lodrak Empire’s Royal Court!
“Shit!” cursed Keira, a bit louder than intended. “This sucks!”
“What? Let me see!”
Boxxy handed the document to Fizzy while it contemplated the amount of headaches this was going to lead to. Not being able to profiteer from the war as the Sandman was one thing, but now that the humans knew a monster caused the Calamity, they were bound to start looking for it. Worse still, if the Republic and Empire formed some sort of joint investigation and pooled their resources and knowledge, then they stood a very real chance at tracking down the Mimic. Especially since Punchy was kind enough to shout out its name during the events of Armageddon Day.
“What are you talking about?” asked Fizzy in a surprised manner. “This is great news, isn’t it?!”
“… What do you mean?”
“Oh, right, you probably don’t know what an Inquisition is.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Basically it means those heathens belonging to Teresa’s Church of the Hammer will be taking a very hard look at the Empire’s leadership. They’re going to question, investigate and prosecute the shit out of all of those noble bastards!”
“What, just like that?”
“Hello?! It’s the Goddess of Truth and Justice we’re talking about! If she’s going out of her way to reveal something like this, then of course the populace is going to eat it up! This is going to make huge waves in the Imperial capital! Tsunamis, even!”
“What’s a tsunami? Is it tasty?”
“That’s not the important part here!”
“No, no, I get what you’re saying, but I still fail to see how that’s a good thing. What do I care if some religious fanatics go after their political leaders? I mean I could maybe turn a profit, but-”
“Don’t you see?!” interrupted Fizzy with a manic grin. “They’ll be going after the asshole that imprisoned us, too!”
A light bulb suddenly went off in Boxxy’s mind. Spymaster Edward Allen - arguably the biggest threat to the Mimic’s ongoing existence - was very much so a member of the Lodrak Empire’s Royal Court. More than that - he was probably the person Teresa was unknowingly referring to in her message. That man had clearly identified Boxxy as the culprit, and yet the Empire declared war on the Republic instead of organizing some sort of wide-scale monster hunt.
Actually, the revelation itself said very little of the culprit itself, didn’t it? Boxxy’s name, description, abilities and secret identity were all very well known to Teresa, yet she didn’t reveal anything. Was it because Volair had influenced her somehow? Or maybe she cared a lot more about cleaning up her own house rather than chasing after Boxxy for revenge? Either way, one thing was plainly obvious - Edward would likely find his own people turning on him, perhaps even at that very moment.
And the one who brought this about was none other than Boxxy.
The catgirl suddenly tackle-hugged the smaller golem. Her widely smiling face, her upturned eyes and unceasing giggling all told a tale of boundless joy. A story of happiness and jubilation that was so incredibly delicious that she began drooling uncontrollably. Fizzy was also laughing without restraint, cheering loudly as she imagined the bastard that wanted to wrongfully imprison her for something she didn’t do getting his just deserts.
Revenge, as it would appear, was a dish best served remotely.
“Guys!” shouted Cecilia as she burst through the door. “I totally forgot, but… did you… see… where…”
Her words trailed off as she beheld the sight of Keira and Fizzy aggressively cuddling on the floor while both of them were in a disheveled state. Having been caught in the act of celebrating a bit too enthusiastically, the two girls stared up at her with looks that seemed to say ‘Oh right, she existed.’ The catgirl having the golem’s fingers in her mouth as well as the very obvious traces of saliva over that mithril frame did not exactly help diffuse the situation.
“I’ll, uhm… Nev- Nevermind…”
The elf slowly closed the door with a beet-red face. It was plainly obvious she was misunderstanding the situation, but Boxxy didn’t particularly care. It just continued to shamelessly rub itself all over Fizzy’s frame as it worshipped her shininess, while the golem herself savored the very personal attention she was getting. So what if some nosy elf saw them? They’d clear up the misunderstanding eventually. Besides, right now was the time for celebration, and this Mimic would not let a single second of it go to waste.
And indeed, celebration was the operative word for Keira Morgana from that day onward.
News of the Goddess’s decree swept across both warring nations literally overnight, spreading confusion among the Empire’s populace in particular. They didn’t know whether to be overjoyed their Goddess had spoken to them, outraged that the Emperor might have deceived the whole nation, saddened at the loss of humanity’s Hero or frightened at the prospect of the first Inquisition in over 200 years. Some felt gleeful that ‘those rich pigs’ would be getting what was coming to them, while others felt a deep shame for so readily putting the blame on the elves.
Not all of the citizens were conflicted or riled up, however. About a third the Empire’s population simply went about their daily lives, responding to the monumental news with nothing more than a shake of their heads or a disappointed sigh. To many of the common man, this whole war business was far too removed from their reality. Lying politicians, manufactured justifications, massive bloodbaths, millions of GP wasted on a pointless campaign, subversion of the Goddess’s faithful - they couldn’t care less about any of that. The pauper begging on the street corner, the sneak-thief stalking the slums and the villager worried to death about his sick cattle all had their own worries. Procuring clothing, food and shelter was far more important than borders or religion.
Naturally, the same couldn’t be said about the ones at the center of all this. The human nobles immediately began the finger-wagging and ass-covering they were known for, trying their damnedest to not get swept up in the Inquisition that was already gathering at their door. Even the Church of the Hammer was not spared by the political upheaval, as accusations of scandals, schemes and corruption were thrown about like hot potatoes. Even the Emperor himself was feeling the pressure. Though he didn’t know that the information he was given was not entirely accurate, his past eagerness to go to war with ‘those filthy twigs’ was working very much against him.
As for the one he was planning to blame for the whole thing, and indeed the main guilty party in this nation-spanning ruse, he was already making his own preparations.
Over on the Republic’s side, things among the populace were more or less the same as the Empire, albeit with far less of the ruling class imploding in on themselves. After the confusion settled past the first few days, the predominantly elven population began to feel relief that they had been vindicated. For centuries they’ve carried the stigma of saboteurs and terrorists, which was not helped by certain extremist factions clinging to glory long dead. And their government made sure to capitalize on the monumental event in every way possible.
Which was why, five days after Teresa’s intervention, a plaza in Azurvale surrounding one particular Forest Gate was positively bursting with people. There was an undeniable atmosphere of tension and anticipation in the air, as evidenced by the buzzing of the crowd. Dozens of thousands had gathered, many of them coming in from not only the surrounding towns and villages, but from all over the country. They had not only covered the ground, but also occupied the houses, platforms and branches of the nearby Hylt tree.
Their commotion died down significantly when the Forest Gate suddenly flickered to life. It glowed and it hummed and rattled, then threw open a portal that connected it with its newly-reconstructed twin at the center of New Whitehall. There was a tense moment while the spatial distortion stabilized, followed by wild cheers as the first row of victorious Legionaries stepped through it.
Clad in their traditional silver-colored armor, the returning adventurers and soldiers marched through side by side as the crowd’s ovations fell upon them. Some of them waved back to the crowd while others struggled to maintain an air of dignity and pride, but all of them saluted towards the large podium on their left. Upon that stage were various high-ranking military personnel, including the 1st and 3rd Legion’s Legates and their chief advisors, who saluted them back in turn. Among them was also their commander-in-chief and the one holding the highest office of the Republic.
A man known as Exarch Varas Lumys.
He was a wizened elf with short, slicked back hair that was a shade of green dark enough to be mistaken for black. His milky eyes silently regarded the victorious troops while he beamed a smile at them. It was perhaps the first genuine smile he’d shown in months, as the reality of the situation didn’t quite hit him until this victory parade started. It was hardly a premature celebration, either, as an Imperial delegation atop a snowy white gryphon had arrived just yesterday to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty.
Even if there were those in the Empire who wished to keep the war going, they quickly found themselves silenced as their subordinates and serfs rose up as one. They were fools to think they could just do as they pleased without the support of the people, and were very much a minority. And should they try to suppress dissension among the populace by force, they would only invite the rapidly growing Inquisition to come in and put them to justice.
For the Inquisition was not a movement headed by some noble or big-shot clergyman. There were no soldiers, bishops or cardinals to be found. Its members consisted of low-ranking faithful of Teresa, as well as many adventurers, both active and retired, who did not appreciate having their patriotism and faith taken advantage of. And if Imperial tradition was being upheld, all of them would be sworn to carry out their Goddess’s will, or suffer the stigma of Taboo and be judged by their peers in turn.
The Exarch had always respected the idea of the Inquisition. An organization formed of the people, by the people and for the people, united in their common goal to purify their nation from corrupting influences. As someone who wholeheartedly believed in the democratic process, it honestly warmed his heart to see those misguided citizens taking matters into their own hands. The news that the elves were entirely unaffiliated with that Calamity would also go to great lengths to alleviate the worries of their dwarven and gnomish neighbours to the east. It paved the way towards a lasting alliance between the Horkensaft Kingdom and the Ishigar Republic, who would stand unified in their opposition of the militaristic Empire.
Lumys shook his head to chase away thoughts of politics and diplomacy. Today was a day to boost the spirits of his citizens and show to them that their government was there to protect their best interests. A time to honor the fallen and celebrate the living. That was the whole point of this parade to begin with, so allowing himself to get distracted with his inner thoughts was rude to the men and women who fought on behalf of people like him, who could do nothing but sit back and watch. And luckily for him, he had returned his gaze and attention towards the proud procession just in time for the main event.
Just in time to witness the entrance of the rising star that brought about the current situation through her own will and determination.
Standing at about 160 centimeters tall, with fiery crimson hair, a goofy childish smile on her tanned face and waving excitedly with both hands, the Hero of Chaos herself walked through the portal. The crowd went absolutely bananas, shouting and cheering louder than they ever have. And why wouldn’t they? The Republic government had publicized both her appearance and accomplishments, rapidly turning her into a symbol of victory and hope.
Lumys felt more than a little guilty about forcing all of this propaganda stuff on a single girl who was still in her mid-teens, especially when it wasn’t her choice. However, based on what he was told about her, she most definitely had the strength of character to return the crowd’s expectations. Besides, it really was not an exaggeration to say that she was the one who saw the Republic to victory. Her accomplishments both at Fort Yimin and New Whitehall were bound to spread through the populace and turn her into a legend all on their own. All the Exarch’s office did was help accelerate the process.
As for the girl herself, she was obviously having the time of her life, both inwardly and outwardly.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 30 Doppelganger! All Attributes +2.
With a whole damned parade that was more or less in Keira’s honor, it was only natural that Boxxy’s Doppelganger Job would get a massive boost in XP. It was so delicious that it felt it rivaled Ambrosia’s cuisine, but it was sure that estimate would be overturned later that day. As for its steadily growing abilities, it took the opportunity to check out what new Skills could be gained. Well, it wasn’t like grinning like an idiot and waving its hands around was particularly challenging, so it hurriedly assessed its options to find the tastiest one.
Proficiency level increased. Spirit Echo is now Level 1. All Attributes +1. INT +4.
A task that was completed almost instantly.
Description: The doppelganger’s body doubles gain the ability to mimic the original’s magical gifts.
Requirements: Level 30 Doppelganger Job, Caster Job, Mirror Image
Activation Time: N/A
Effects: Mirror Images can communicate telepathically with each other and the original.
Mirror Images can now use Spells at 80% reduced effectiveness.
Reduces the Spell effectiveness penalty of this Skill by 5% per Level of this Skill.
Increases the duration of Mirror Images by an additional 5 seconds per Level of the Shapeshift Skill.
The Mimic hadn’t really had a chance to use the Mirror Image Skill during the war as either Keira or the Sandman, mostly due to its clearly monstrous origins. However, it was a great help when hunting small fry to gain combat XP, which is why it diligently raised the Skill whenever possible. And now that it had this upgrade, said Mirror Images now had considerably more potential in both combat and utility. The added layer of telepathic communication, on the other hand, would allow for a much higher degree of cooperation. They could even be used as highly expendable spies rather than sending the far more costly familiars on recon.
As for the reduced quality of Spells, it was something that was easily overcome by focusing on quantity instead. However, even if Boxxy created hundreds of them, they would all be ‘born’ with 0 MP. This wasn’t a problem until now since none of those things had anything to actually use their MP on, but it meant that Mirror Images would have to be created well in advance if the Mimic wanted to make use of their newfound magic-slinging abilities. Either that or find a reliable way to instantly replenish the MP of a whole group of targets, which was going to be problematic. At the very least they now had plenty of time to recover their empty MP pools, as each one of them would last for over four minutes, provided they didn’t get killed off.
A duration that would go up to 5 minutes at Level 15 of the Shapeshift Skill, or even further if Boxxy also picked up Muscle Echo, the Martial Arts equivalent of Spirit Echo. Unfortunately, the former was far less useful than the latter, as not only did Boxxy have a much wider arsenal of magic than Martial Arts, but Muscle Echo lacked the telepathic aspect of Spirit Echo. Indeed, it might forego the Skill altogether depending on what new options it was given as it approached Level 50 of the Doppelganger Job.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 31 Doppelganger! All Attributes +2.
Which, if things carried on in this way, would not be as far away as initially anticipated.
A few minutes later, as Keira was marching several steps ahead of her victorious unit, she managed to pick out a familiar face in the crowd. It wasn’t by accident, either, as the catgirl had been keeping an eye out for that particular head of silky, silver-like hair. Her gaze locked onto Rowana’s dazzling green eyes that shone like emeralds, her movements slowing down and becoming more subdued as if she had forgotten where she was or what she was doing. The female elf stared back at her lover with a face brimming with pride, happiness and relief while tears of joy were welling up in the corner of her eyes. Desperately trying to keep herself from crying, all she could do was raise a hand and give Keira a small wave.
It was at that moment that the Hero of Chaos broke formation with a piercing scream. With speed and agility befitting that of a mid-Level beastkin Ranger, she ran towards the object of her supposed affections. The crowd surrounding Rowana were startled to see her suddenly run towards them on all fours. She leapt over the first row and just kept moving forward while jumping off of the befuddled spectators’ shoulders and heads.
The female elf in her sights was overcome by a sense of disbelief and started shaking both her head and her hands with a sort of ‘What are you doing?!’ attitude, while Lia, who was further back in the procession, looked on with soft, understanding eyes. However, Keira did not stop her advance, and she was not going to, either. Realizing there was no getting out of this, Rowana decided it was time to change her approach. She widened her stance, threw her hands out in front and put on the most radiant smile she could muster, right in time to receive her lover’s hug-tackle.
She caught and spun the petite catgirl around a few times as they embraced, causing the people around her to take a few steps back and give them some space. Once the catgirl’s feet were firmly planted on the ground, she shared an affectionate glance with the relatively taller elf. Keira then spun around suddenly, dragging the startled Rowana along with her and making her basically fall in the beastkin’s arms. What followed was a deep, passionate kiss that left no question as to their intimate relationship while an uncountable number of people looked on in stunned silence.
It wasn’t until almost a minute later that the two women’s lips finally separated. With their eye levels reversed, Rowana could do little but look up at the face of her one and only love.
“Honey,” muttered Keira with a quivering lip, “I’m home!”
“Khah! Hahah… Wel- *Sniffle* Welcome back, sweetie!” responded the elf as she started tearing up again.
Dimly remembering where she was, Rowana gave the startled faces around them a few fearful looks. She began whimpering and shivering within the catgirl’s embrace, which prompted her girlfriend to tighten her grip on her.
“Shh, it’s okay, Rowie,” she whispered in a soothing manner while stroking the elf’s shiny hair. “Nobody will dare think badly of us ever again.”
Congratulations, you are now a Level 32 Doppelganger! All Attributes +2.
“Trust me on that,” she added with a toothy grin.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress||Name||Level||Progress|
|Species||Creeper (Hylt)||STR||694||LCK||244||Doppelganger||32||1%||Blade Dancer||25||MAX|
|Assassination||10||MAX||Crystallize Magic||8||75%||Chaotic Disposition||1||MAX|
|Storage||10||MAX||Chant Reduction||7||23%||Agent of Chaos||1||MAX|
|Cadaver Absorption||9||46%||Demonic Insight||7||56%||Essence Concealment||1||MAX|
|Natural Armor||10||MAX||Soul Link||5||21%||Shapeshift||13||68%|
|Metal Mimicry||10||MAX||Enslave Demon||1||0%||Phytokinesis||3||42%|
|Mend Flesh||10||MAX||Clockwork Expertise||6||12%||Stealth||10||MAX|
|Adaptive Defense||9||35%||Explosives Handling||6||18%||Lockpick||4||10%|
|Divine Attunement||4||10%||Optics Expertise||1||0%||Meditation||4||55%|
|Ruinous Reach||4||93%||Tracking||6||44%||Sword Mastery||10||MAX|
|Feline Agility||10||MAX||Marksman||8||37%||Projectile Mastery||10||MAX|
|Mirror Image||7||12%||Whisper Wind||7||62%||Dagger Mastery||10||MAX|
|Pheromone Control||8||13%||Fleet Footed||5||38%||Ruin Mastery||13||75%|
|Broken Reflection||4||37%||Hunter's Mark||4||31%||Domination Mastery||8||61%|
|Puppet Parasite||6||49%||Eagle Eye||2||42%||Shield Mastery||10||MAX|
|Spirit Echo||1||0%||Hornet Style||8||12%||Staff Mastery||5||81%|
|Summon Familiar||10||MAX||Adagio Variation||5||77%||Bow Mastery||11||23%|
|Power Overwhelming||10||MAX||Winterlich Waltz||5||53%||Axe Mastery||6||19%|
|Spell List||Martial Arts List|
|Shadowbolt||Mass Panic||Implosion||Power Shot|
|Dark Explosion||Mind Blast||Blast Arrow|
|Singularity||Mind Control||Pinning Shot|
|Massive Rejection||Chain Shot|