A puff of white smoke rose into the air. It drifted idly upwards for several seconds before forming into a semi-solid sphere, no bigger than a child’s fist. A pair of bright blue dots peeked out of it, as the disconnected spirit gazed down at its own body and the scale-covered abomination that had pierced its torso with a clawed hand. It felt puzzled for a few moments, but became outraged when it realized it had been killed. This was a completely natural reaction considering how violently its mortal body was dispatched. And judging from how its killer ploughed through the silver-armored city guards and then slinked off into the shadows, the murdering shapeshifter would probably go unpunished, which made the ghost’s rage quickly give way to despair.
Just as it was in the middle of coping with its loss of life, the spirit saw a white spiderweb patterned crack spread through the air in front of it. It burst open into a shining doorway to reveal a floating figure draped in a black, sable robe that looked both luxurious and tattered at the same time. His head was a bleached skull with a slightly pointed chin, and a pair of bright red dots flickered in its eye sockets in lieu of eyes. In his bony hands was a large scythe with mysterious runes engraved along the handle, while the blade itself seemed to have been forged out of pure darkness.
However, rather than be frightened by this entity’s appearance, the spirit felt strangely relieved by it.
“Yo! How’s it hanging?” it spoke in a frighteningly chipper tone. “Congratulations on your death! I’m Mortimer, and I’m here to pick you up.”
The white puff of smoke that no mortal could see seemed strangely excited by this prospect, and it showed this feeling by bouncing around like an excitable puppy.
“Hmm? Oh no, not you,” said the God of Death, as if just noticing the poor soul. “I’m here for that one.”
The confused puff of smoke curiously turned around towards the direction Mortimer’s bony hand was pointing. It saw a swirling black ball with crimson red eyes and pearly white teeth open its mouth as it flew towards it. It was then gobbled up by the larger spirit before it could do anything about it.
Mortimer suddenly slapped the black ghost from behind, prompting it to spit out the smaller white one.
“None of that! What sort of Hero are you, anyway?!” he spoke as if chastising an unruly pet.
“Jukilimo! Yeharan dalaigoh!”
The black spirit responded by uttering what sounded like gibberish to the poor white soul. The utterly bewildered immaterial being tried to raise its voice in protest, only to realize it could not actually speak.
“How does that make any sense?! You can’t even taste things anymore!”
“Quiet you! Hey, listen here, buddy,” said Mortimer to the white spirit. “Sorry about this, but I’m going to have my hands full with this guy. I can’t really deal with you right now, so I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Just keep heading up and to the right and you’ll get there eventually. Off you go, now!”
Mortimer shooed the dearly departed away, who had no choice but to continue drifting upwards in a huff. Getting the cold shoulder like that was quite irksome, but the spirit quickly accepted it as the way things were. Even if he had complaints, it was impossible for a disembodied soul to disobey the words of the God of Death. Besides, there was no way a divine being would deem a random, middle-aged city guard important enough to make a personal appearance, right? Hmm? Then who was that black thing? Something about a Hero? What was a Hero, anyway? A miserable pile of- Oh look, butterflies! Or were they flamingoes? Forming thoughts was becoming rapidly difficult for the former elf the more it ascended. It soon decided trying to think was a bother, so it stopped trying altogether.
Mortimer watched the innocent soul drift off for a few more seconds as the Well of Souls did its thing. He felt a bit bad for brushing the guy off like that, but he simply didn’t have the time to personally deal with each and every dead creature. That was why the Well of Souls existed in the first place - to pull stray souls towards it and then reincarnate them through the Tree of Life. True, some individuals with lingering attachments fell through the gaps and became vengeful undead, but it was a necessary compromise. It was physically impossible for a single being - even a God - to keep up with demand otherwise. Besides, Mortimer had duties other than ferrying the souls of the dead to attend to, such as the rites and rituals he needed to perform on a deceased Hero’s soul. As spirits touched by the divines, it was important to properly tend to them and make sure the borrowed divine power was returned to its source without incident.
“Well then,” he said while turning his attention back to the black smog that was once Boxxy. “Shall we go?”
“Vivamus sollicitudin arcu tempus, sagittis velit ac?”
“No, that’s not gonna happen,” answered Mortimer in a stern manner
“Efficitur sollicitudin tellus!”
“How much gold?!” he exclaimed with a rather excited tone. “You’re shitting me, right? There’s no way you have that much!”
“Sit amet! Finibus lacinia!”
“Oh, I gotta see this!”
Mortimer grabbed Boxxy’s soul in one hand and walked back into the glowing doorway he stepped out of. The two of them emerged inside Ambrosia’s trunk, right next to the swimming pool-sized pit of gold that the Mimic was using as external shiny storage. It had been playing with it for a solid three hours last night and had forgotten to close it up, so the huge pile of treasure was allowed to glisten brilliantly in the artificial spotlights.
The God of Death and Commerce let out an appreciative whistle despite having no lips.
“Nice! Quite the cozy little nest egg you got here. For an individual, this is a truly impressive collection.”
“Nahabil roken,” uttered Boxxy.
“Still not enough, though. Even if I was in the habit of taking bribes - which I’m not - you’d still need 300 times this amount before I even consider letting you off.”
“Yeah, well, can’t be helped. Them’s the rules. Come on then, let’s get you… to… Oh for fuck sake!”
The space next to Mortimer ripped open, and a green brick flew out of thin air.
“Hey, Mort,” said Joyce, “how’s it hanging?”
“Damnit, Tom! I’m not letting you revive this guy!”
“Woah! Easy there!” said the fishbowl-shaped God of Chaos. “I’m not here to revive anybody! I’m just here to collect on that guy’s contract.”
“Contract? … Oh right, this guy was a Warlock that made a covenant with a demon, huh?”
“Yup. Three of them, actually,” stated the ham sandwich. “And according to the terms of the contract, this soul belongs to the Beyond.”
“We both know there’s nothing like that in the demonic contract’s terms, Rupert.”
“What are you saying? Of course there is!”
A rolled up parchment materialized itself out of thin air and unfurled to reveal the full terms and conditions of Boxxy’s summoner contract.
“See here, this amendment right here, clause 23-4,” stated the floating tea kettle. “And I quote - ‘Should the mortal Warlock acquire the means through which to affect the immaterium and/or the Aether, their soul will become the rightful property of Overlord Liusolra upon their death.’”
“Let me see that!”
The God of Death snatched the parchment and gave it a once over.
“You just added that in there!” he complained in a displeased tone. “There was nothing like that in the standard contract last time I checked!”
“And when’s the last time you checked, eh?! It’s been in there for at least 1,300 years! You know, ever since that whole ‘Soul Eater’ debacle?!”
Mortimer found himself momentarily at a loss of words as he was reminded of that potentially world-ending entity.
“That’s all in the past!” he argued. “And this clause is in direct conflict with the way we’re supposed to handle Heroes!”
“Mort, look. If you had objections to this amendment, then why didn’t you say anything when I asked you about it?”
“Because you never consulted me on this!”
“Did too! I distinctly remember sending you the proposal via G-mail! You even replied to it and everything!”
“… Hold on.”
Mortimer suddenly fell silent as he searched back through his mental repository of correspondences with the other Gods. Looking back over a millennia ago, he was indeed able to confirm he had received a memo titled ‘Soul Eater Prevention Suggestion’ detailing the exact paragraph Jerry was talking about. One that he had replied to with a simple ‘k.’
“Yeah, alright,” he admitted with a sigh. “You can have the blasted thing.”
He hated giving up another Hero’s soul, but he hardly had a choice in the matter. Even if he was swamped with work in the wake of that nasty business and probably didn’t read the thing as thoroughly as he should have, he still signed off on it. As such, he was really in no position to argue.
“Marvelous!” stated the giant fly with a chipper tone. “Glad to see you’re still such a good sport! Come on, Boxxy, let’s get you- Huh? Where’d the little guy go?”
The black puff of smoke had disappeared somewhere while Mortimer and Kendra were arguing over which one of them would take custody of it.
“… Now that you mention it- Oh, that bastard!” exclaimed the God of Death. “Just how much Taboo does he want?! Right, that’s it! I’m sending my Reaper after him!”
“Who the what now?” asked the confused beer mug.
However, Louey did not get an answer as the outraged God of Death disappeared back to his divine area in a huff, leaving the Goddess of Unlikelihoods quite confused. There was no way a deceased person’s soul could just ‘wander off,’ especially not in Mortimer’s presence, so there was definitely something extraordinary going on. And for once, it wasn’t Jessica’s doing. All she wanted to do was simply collect what was rightfully hers.
While definitely entertaining in its own way, Boxxy’s short-lived tenure as Hero of Chaos had also served as an audition of sorts. The God of Chance had become convinced that the single-minded and uncomplicated Mimic’s soul would serve as the perfect raw material to forge into the fifth demonic Overlord and bring his Seven Deadly Sins project one step closer to fruition. He already had Nagnamor as Wrath, Liusolra as Gluttony, Shridiaphrial the Succubus Queen as Lust and that know-it-all Weaxohn as Pride, but the seats of Sloth, Envy and Greed were still very much open. It went without saying that Boxxy’s twisted soul was without a doubt the perfect fit for the Lord of Avarice - a future that Carmen had made sure would be all but an inevitability.
And yet that Mimic’s spirit had suddenly disappeared right out from the nose of not one, but two deities. So while Merlin’s plans to create both Baalebuorohm of the Gilded Chest and usher in the birth of a whole new species of demons would have to wait, he wasn’t the least bit angry. Just the opposite, in fact.
After all, if there was one thing the God of Unforeseen Consequences loved the most, it was surprises.
The one that was most surprised about the ongoing situation was, understandably, the one who was right in the middle of it. Boxxy’s soul had been suddenly yanked down to earth by force while the two deities were arguing over something it no longer remembered. What initially felt like falling rapidly had at one point transitioned into a sinking sensation, more akin to something pushing the spirit downwards from above rather than being pulled on from below.
When the Mimic’s disembodied consciousness finally came to what felt like a stop, it found itself, for lack of a better word, trapped in a void. It couldn’t move, speak, hear or see anything, almost as if it were an errant thought floating amidst an infinite nothingness. It was more than a little distressing considering it could still see just moments ago. Not to mention the ability to speak, hear and… and…
And… what? It had the distinct impression it had the ability to do things, so how come it suddenly found itself drawing a blank? On second thought who - or for that matter precisely what was ‘it?’ The errant consciousness had suddenly lost all sense of self and any memories it had accumulated up to that point. The murderous box with an unhealthy obsession for tasty and shiny things had momentarily disappeared completely from the world.
In the next instant, that insignificant speck of free will felt the accumulated experiences of its previous life’s 8 months on the mortal realm crash into it. From the first time it beheld its little oddly flat corner of the Litigar Dungeon Complex up to the point where the fateful words ‘You have died’ appeared in its consciousness - it all came flooding back to it.
Boxxy sprang to life with a guttural scream. The gray-skinned Hylt Creeper rose from its back and onto its feet before stumbling forward and falling to the ground while writhing around like a sack of drowning puppies. The soul-crushing pain coursing through its body, coupled with the fact that it had momentarily forgotten how to Doppelganger had caused Boxxy to trip over its own feet.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +200.
An intimately familiar and extremely welcome notification popped into its mind, putting an abrupt halt to the shapeshifter’s dazed confusion. That brief moment of clarity served to jumpstart the rest of Boxxy’s failing mental faculties, and was immediately followed by a series of rather informative notifications.
You are afflicted by Resurrection Sickness. All Attribute effectiveness -50%.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Soulbound.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Hero of Chaos.
Proficiency level increased. Chaotic Disposition is now Level 1.
Proficiency level increased. Agent of Chaos is now Level 1.
Proficiency level increased. Essence Concealment is now Level 1.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Usurper of Justice.
Proficiency level increased. Vengeance is now Level 1.
… I died back there, didn’t I?
It was a harrowing realization that gave rise to many different questions in Boxxy’s mind. Not regarding who killed Boxxy or how it had died - its jumbled brain was able to remember that much. Indeed, the fact that it had actual memories of its own demise was the most jarring thing about this situation. It certainly didn’t come back to life under its own power, and it doubted any of the Gods would’ve interfered considering George’s stance on the matter of resurrection, so the whos and whys surrounding its rebooted existence were quite unknown. Not to mention the revelation that Boxxy’s Hero status had been apparently revoked and then restored.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +200.
However, rather than dealing with those larger-than-life issues, the Mimic decided to focus on a far more pressing one. Namely its complete and total lack of sight. The featureless face’s yellow eyeballs were forcefully reconstructed and a Greater Mimic MLG was formed within the creature’s chest cavity. Now that it could once again perceive its environment, it realized it was lying face-down in a box of light, a cube with semi-transparent and slightly glowing yellow walls that was about 3 meters in width, height and depth. Pure white symbols and squiggles crawled along its sides in circular patterns, almost as if they were snakes chasing after their own tails.
Your flesh has been mended. HP +200.
The shapeshifter rose to its feet and groggily stepped over to the translucent wall. It placed a hand on it, confirming it gave off the same hard, smooth and warm sensation as the shiny floor it was standing on. The chamber beyond it was a large, dome-like structure that was twice the width and height of the glowing cube. Boxxy’s MLG couldn’t ‘see’ past the borders of its cell, but its eyes could easily make out the large metal plates that lined the floor and ceiling, which appeared to be held in place by a series of large rivets.
“Status,” chanted the Mimic.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Boxxy T. Morningwood||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress||Name||Level||Progress|
|Species||Creeper (Hylt)||STR||698||LCK||248||Doppelganger||34||91%||Blade Dancer||25||MAX|
Everything seemed to be pretty normal on this end, aside from that Resurrection Sickness condition drastically weakening the monster’s body. The various Skills, Spells and Perks it had picked up so far were all accounted for, too. They all seemed to be functioning without a hitch, as evidenced by Mend Flesh continuing to tick along.
However, there was one very noticeable change regarding Boxxy’s body. Not only did it feel somehow foreign and not completely its own - a possible side effect of Resurrection Sickness - but there was also a large red gem embedded in the creature’s back. It was in the shape of an upside-down teardrop that was about 25 centimeters tall and 10 centimeters wide at its thickest point. It had partially fused with the Mimic’s flesh and didn’t feel like a foreign object at all. In fact, it was just the opposite, as that crimson stone felt as if it was Boxxy’s real body, and that the blood, muscle and bone connected to it was just a glove that could easily be discarded. A feeling that was somewhat explained by the details of the Mimic’s newest Perk.
Description: A soul tethered to a mortal shell through a magical catalyst.
Requirements: Be brought back to life through the use of a soulstone.
Effects: Inflicts Resurrection Sickness.
It was a safe bet to assume that the thing on its back was the soulstone that had brought the shapeshifter back to life, and may also be responsible for maintaining it. This was definitely no accident, as someone had obviously brought Boxxy back to life on purpose. And while the monster wasn’t about to start complaining about that, it couldn’t feel too happy about it, either. Whoever or whatever was responsible probably wanted something from it, and this magical prison they had put it in only served to prove they had no intention of playing nice.
Then again, neither did Boxxy.
“Snack, are you there?”
The Mimic called out telepathically in an effort to reach its familiar, but there was no response. Well, that much made sense, really. A summoning contract expired with the Warlock’s death, so it was only a matter of course it couldn’t connect to that succubus. Or summon any of its other familiars, for that matter. The next logical course of action was to call up Demons ‘R’ Us and see about getting its contracts re-established once more.
But again, there was no answer. Whether it was because of the occult item lodged in its back or this mystical cage of light, something was blocking its attempts to reach out into the Beyond. It quickly confirmed it could still access its Storage and cast Spells, so trying to break out of the cage through brute force was possible. However, the Mimic decided the best course of action wasn’t to go on a rampage in its weakened state. It had already died once, and it wasn’t about to try and test this place’s security measures, especially when that Jones fellow was likely skulking around somewhere nearby. Therefore, all Boxxy did was shapeshift itself into a wooden chest, sit its rectangular ass down, and wait patiently for its captor to pay it a visit.
Not to mention that being so thoroughly reminded of its own mortality had given the creature much to think about.