On exactly the twenty-four hour mark after the Stalker Queen’s Kiss was invoked, the ice encasing Boxxy and Kora began to crack like glass. A few moments later, it exploded into hundreds of jagged pieces that evaporated before they had the chance to hit the ground. Having been awoken from its stasis, the shapeshifter looked around frantically in order to get its bearings. It instantly recognized the sandy sky-dome as belonging to the Sage of the Sands, and was barely able to confirm the owner’s ever-smiling presence before Xera called out to it.
“Master! You need to perform a Malefic Union with Arms and let me put you to sleep afterwards!”
The monster obviously had no idea what its Snack was planning, but it had assumed something like this would happen when it gave her its orders. That was why it wasted no time and activated the Skill, absorbing what was left of Kora’s body into its own. Her damaged soul got dragged along with the flesh, of course, but it didn’t just get booted into the Beyond this time around. As per Xera’s request, Lucius had placed a special dimensional lock on his domain, one that prevented demon souls from crossing the boundaries between realms. The result was that both contractor and contractee were now bound to the same body and struggling for control, which left Boxxy writhing around on the ground in pain as its shapeshifting flesh went haywire.
The djinn’s magic crashed against the writhing creature’s consciousness. Boxxy naturally resisted its effects at first, having momentarily forgotten Snack’s directions due to the searing pain now pouring out of its head.
“Master! Please!” she pleaded.
“DO IT!” it howled at her.
The second time was the charm, it would seem, as the shapeshifter’s inflated body finally came to a rest. Xera wasted no time and grabbed hold of its head, invoking her Dreamweaver Skill for the first time in a long while. Through it, she was able to peer into her Master’s mindscape, much like she had done back when Nasty had tried to possess it. It was, at its base level, still the same box-shaped cavern made up of countless gray cubes that it was back when she first attempted this.
Unlike before, however, the sheer scale of it was significantly larger in direct proportion to its massively expanded intellectual capacity. The building blocks floating around, on the other hand, were much smaller and more granular, almost like square particles of sand. The golden treasure chest that once represented Boxxy’s ego had also evolved, becoming a castle-sized gem-studded mithril container. It was covered top-to-bottom in various carvings representing the various personalities that the shapeshifter had assumed over its long career. The heads of both Keira and the Sandman were the most prominent and intricately detailed, but there were dozens if not hundreds of other, much smaller characters.
And there, buried halfway into the side of this mental construct, was Kora’s massive upper body. Only her head and bust were visible, the former of which was lacking her long, sharp horns. Her essence appeared to slowly be infecting Boxxy’s ego, as the pure white metal was steadily being overtaken by a mix of crimson and black splotches. Xera feared something like this would happen, but there was no other way to get the two of them in this position.
“Wake up, dicks-for-brains!”
The djinn’s nagging voice echoed throughout the mindscape, prompting Kora to lift her head and look around.
“Slutmeister?” she asked in a confused manner. “Where are you? Where am I, for that matter?”
“Just shut up and pay attention.”
Sifting through Boxxy’s oldest memories, Xera dug up its recollection of the very first time the simple mimic saw gold coins. The mindscape played out the scene for Kora’s benefit, flooding her with a sense of wonder, excitement and fulfillment as the sentient box discovered the glory of shiny things. The sheer purity and intensity with which those feelings crashed into her consciousness caught Kora completely off guard and left her speechless with her mouth agape.
Xera didn’t even give the fiend a chance to ask questions before queueing up the next shiny memory, that of Boxxy playing with the pair of freshly acquired mithril daggers. What followed was the mimic’s first encounter with a golden treasure chest after having just defeated the first boss of the Spire of the Jade King. That was only the start, as many, many, many more events assaulted Kora’s consciousness. Turning a homeless person’s skeleton to gold, rolling around in a hoard of sparkling jewels, obtaining that mithril chest from Goroth’s ice dungeon and lovingly polishing Fizzy’s frame to name a few.
Back on the outside, Lucius watched intently as Xera remained hunched over her Master and held its head against her exceptionally plump bosom as if to give it a boob-pillow. Boxxy’s body kept undulating and pulsing in bizarre ways the entire time, almost as if it didn’t know what to do with itself. The effects of its Malefic Union eventually came to an abrupt end, signified by the creature’s bloated flesh beginning to melt. The excess mass turned into a foul black sludge and seeped into the sand below, leaving behind a naked and unconscious hylt creeper in its true form.
Lucius took this as his cue to release the seal around his domain, allowing Kora’s soul to be drawn into the Beyond.
“Hack! Koff! Hurk!”
Boxxy woke up immediately afterwards, violently coughing and vomiting up the last remnants of the fusion all over Xera’s breasts. It looked disgusting to say the least, though the demoness herself didn’t seem to mind.
“Ugh… did it work?” the doppelganger asked her after regaining its composure.
“I wish I could say, Master,” she meekly answered. “I did what I could, but I have no idea if it was enough.”
Xera had done everything in her power to make Kora experience three years’ worth of insatiable greed in the five minutes that Malefic Union lasted for. Demons were made from the sinful thoughts of mortals, so the hope was that this avalanche of avarice would be enough to fill in the gaps caused by her Demonbane exposure. It seemed to be working, too. Back inside the mindscape, Xera could see Kora’s avatar take on the mithril luster of the chest she was temporarily fused to. The red and black ‘stains’ she left behind were still there, however, meaning that it was possible that Boxxy’s mind might’ve suffered some… permanent consequences.
Still, it would all have been worth it if the gamble paid off, but neither Xera nor Boxxy genuinely had any idea what had become of Kora. Neither did Drea nor Lucius, the latter of whom appeared to be growing impatient.
“Well?” the old fox asked. “Aren’t you going to call Demons ‘R’ Us and check on your familiar? I am quite curious to find out if this hack-job of a procedure worked!”
“I could,” the doppelganger nodded. “I won’t. But I could.”
“Heh, cheeky little runt until the end, aren’t we?”
“I’m just dreading that conversation. I imagine they’ll get in touch with me anyway.”
“Oh, the waiting game, is it? Fine by me,” Lucius smirked. “Unlike you, I have all the time in the world.”
That said, they barely even had to wait a minute before the call came.
“Yes?” Boxxy answered after a moment of hesitation.
“Alright, I’ll cut straight to the chase,” Carl said in an unusually annoyed tone of voice. “You need to get this loudmouth out of my office. Like, right now!”
“Uh… What? Who?”
“Your fiend familiar! I don’t know what you did or how you did it, but it’s made her even more insufferable than before! I’m begging you, Boxxy, you have to make her leave before she wrecks the place!”
“And how do you expect me to-”
“Just summon her already!”
Having gotten the good news that its familiar was apparently feeling well enough to be obnoxious, Boxxy wasted no time and began channeling its Summon Familiar Skill. The other demons waited eagerly as the concentric circles of light went through their sequence, culminating in a flash of light as Kora was brought back to the material realm. She still had her six-armed muscular build, bright red skin, pointy teeth and vibrant green hair and eyes, yet Boxxy couldn’t help but notice a few… differences.
“Boss! Boss!” she shouted excitedly while flexing in a show-offish manner. “Check this shit out!”
The first and most obvious one was her armor, which no longer consisted of a battle-dress, gauntlets, boots, and a shoulder pad. She still had those things, but she now also had a form-fitting cuirass protecting the entirety of her torso. The material had also changed from demonic steel with a reddish hue to a shiny black metal with a radiant golden trim. It even had a pair of green cross-shaped jewels decorating her collar and abdominal regions. As for her gauntlets, boots and left shoulder pad, those had grown significantly bulkier and heavier. The fists in particular had gilded knuckles that were, in all honesty, some of the fanciest punching implements Boxxy had ever seen.
The other major difference between the old and new Kora was, unsurprisingly, the horns. Unlike the trio of curved spikes she once had, the former archfiend’s head was now surrounded by a group of five metallic objects. They had an alluring golden luster and an unnatural three-pronged shape that made it seem like Kora was wearing a crown of some kind. Curiously enough, they didn’t seem to be attached to her skull through physical means but instead floated around it, yet they stiffly followed her every movement anyway.
And last but not least were Kora’s skirt flaps. The three pieces of fabric dangling from her hip had survived her transformation and taken on a solid black color like the rest of her armor. The one at the front bore a peculiar insignia that looked like the letter ‘U’ with a squiggly plus sign in the middle of it. Something that Boxxy was able to immediately recognize as the Divine letters ‘cupi’ and ‘tas,’ which together spelled out the word for ‘greed’ in the language of the gods.
“Fucking epic, isn’t it?!” Kora squealed like an overstimulated child. “And look, I can now make one of these, too!”
She waved one of her massive hands around, causing a Storage-like portal to open in front of her. It was nearly identical to the one Boxxy had, which a cursory glance at Arms’s Status revealed was called Vault. It was just one of a number of brand new Skills that the shapeshifter had never seen before. She still had her Berserker and Fiend Jobs along with all of their related Skills and her Attribute distribution was now subtly different. She had a bit more AGI and DEX in exchange for lowered END, not to mention the presence of LCK.
All of which, punctuated by the new value of the ‘Species’ field on her Status, made it abundantly clear that Kora had become an entirely new type of demonic being.
|General Information||Attributes||Job Information|
|Name||Koralenteprix Khusuuszun Caonthioxxaa||Name||Value||Name||Value||Name||Level||Progress|
|Demonic Armaments||10.MAX||Vault||5.28||Bloodlust||10.MAX||Idiotic Strength||10.MAX|
|Second Wind||10.MAX||Hand of Avarice||3.74||Brutal Fervor||10.MAX||Trophy Case||4.10|
|Demonic Carapace||10.MAX||Sense Treasure||2.60||Face Smasher||10.MAX||Earth Affinity||4.10|
|Demonic Leap||10.MAX||Golden Touch||1.14||Berserker Rage||10.MAX||Brawling Mastery||14.52|
|Violent Meditation||10.MAX||Eye For An Eye||7.15||Projectile Mastery||10.MAX|
|Combat Reflexes||7.15||Unchained Anger||3.74|
|Forceful Persuasion||5.28||Rabble Rouser||2.60|
|Embodiment of Wrath||3.74|
More specifically, a ‘trophy hoarder’ demon.
Something that confused Boxxy to no end, as it had no idea what had transpired while it was on ice. At least not until Xera got it caught up to speed on the events of the last twenty four hours while Kora kept playing around with her new Skills and abilities. She pushed her luck a little too far, however, making her Master snap at her to be quiet. It then coldly informed her she’d be on the receiving end of some severe punishment after putting them both in danger with her idiocy.
“Well, now that that’s settled,” Lucius spoke up, “can I bother you fine folks to kindly get off my property? I do believe I’ve had enough excitement for one night.”
“Right, of course,” Boxxy bowed its head. “I appreciate the assist.”
“If you truly mean that, then you will repay me for my services posthaste, yes?” he asked with a cold smile.
“Name your price, then.”
“Those three girls over there, the ‘nephilim’ I believe they are called?”
“Leave them with me for two weeks.”
Kora immediately wanted to protest, but couldn’t since she was under orders to ‘keep her mouth-hole shut.’ However, Boxxy somewhat agreed with her on the matter. Those sisters were one of the reasons it was in this mess to begin with, but it still had a deal with the Gods to look after them. Then again, it did not want to piss off a millenia-old demon after he helped it narrowly avoid eternal damnation, so it couldn’t exactly say ‘no,’ either.
“… I will get them back in one piece, right?” it asked.
“Of course! If I wanted to hurt them I would’ve done so already.”
‘And there wouldn’t have been a single thing you could do to stop me’ were the words he left unsaid.
“What will you do with them, then?”
“I wish to have them act as my maids for a while. Nothing promiscuous I assure you. I just want to enjoy the feeling of ordering Teresa’s children around and having them do pointless chores from dawn till dusk for my own amusement.”
Truth be told, Boxxy felt like those brats could stand to learn what it meant to be worked to the bone, so it could definitely get behind this idea.
“Deal. I’ll be back in two weeks to pick them up.”
The shapeshifter then loaded the triplets off of the cart, bid its goodbyes and left the old djinn’s domain with its familiars in tow. Thankfully getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and since it was still night out it could cover a lot of ground with its Darkflight Skill.
“Master?” Drea called out to it through the thought-link.
“What is it, Claws?”
“Was it wise to leave those children in that shady guy’s care?”
“Yeah!” Kora chimed in. “You can’t seriously believe he’s just gonna have them do chores!”
“That’s not what I heard him say,” Boxxy rebuked her. “Isn’t that right, Snack?”
“Indeed, Master. I do believe Lucius’s words were ‘I’ll look after these kids for a while so you can go hunt down the bastards who did this to you.’ Or something along those lines.”
The sloth demon’s domain was impossible to find without magical assistance like Xera’s Guiding Light or Nao’s LIAR. That was part of the reason why Boxxy opted to imprison itself with Liusolra’s Artifact instead of relegating that duty to the djinn. That trait alone made it one of the most secure locations in the entire world. On top of that, it was home to one of the oldest, wisest and most powerful demons to ever exist. It was the perfect place to hide those girls while Boxxy tracked down and eviscerated the cult that attacked them.
Or at least that’s why the shapeshifter assumed Lucius offered to look after them. Nothing was ever simple and straightforward with that guy and trying to discern his true motives based on his words was a waste of time. On the upside, Lucius was surprisingly mellow for a demon of his age and origins. Sure, he liked to play pranks on people to pass the time, but they were nowhere near as malicious as the stuff other djinns liked to do. It was, frankly speaking, as fortuitous an arrangement as it could’ve hoped for, so Boxxy decided not to look a treasure chest in the hinges.
“Claws, are those cultist prisoners still alive?”
“Yes, Master. I checked in with Lavender a few hours ago and they appear to have regained consciousness.”
After all, it had spines to shatter and necks to sever.
Right after it made some final preparations in regards to the secret Artifact auction being held in the Imperial capital eight days from now.