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A note from Exterminatus
What-If War Golem Jen concept, by dmaxcustom

“What do you mean ‘no?’” Boxxy protested.

“Exactly what I said,” Rupert replied jovially. “It’s not one of those words that have a bunch of different meanings or anything like that.”

“Alright, fine. Why not?”

“Ah, see, now that is a question worth asking. I would’ve thought the answer was rather obvious to a clever box like yourself, but apparently not, so allow me to explain.”

The Goddess of Misfortune coughed a few times on the other end of the interdimensional call, presumably to clear her bobcat before proceeding.

“Let’s go down the sequence of events, shall we? First, you find some reference to some buried treasure at the bottom of the ocean in the four-hundred year old notes of a dead elf. Then, you being you, you go to dig it up. In the process you unleashed a slumbering army of war golems that attacked the local civilization. You then ‘fixed’ this issue by sicking a town-sized sea monster on them, and are now requesting I give you yet another divine favour despite you not having spent the first one. That sum everything up?”

“Uh… More or less, yeah.”

“Right. Okay. See, I’m not going to pay you because you resolved a problem you created by yourself.”

“But it was Old God stuff, right? Like with that Eren guy?”

“Oh, no, this and that are completely different. See, you didn’t crush the divine avatar of a rogue deity. What you actually did was randomly come across a bunch of leftovers. Leftovers, that I might add, which have remained dormant for millennia, and would have most likely remained that way for millennia still if you hadn’t butted in.”

Indeed, while that submerged and buried facility was unquestionably something left behind by Udar, the Old God of Weaponry, the big man himself was nowhere to be found. It was possible he might have returned if his creations were given enough time to multiply and revive his religion, but that would never have happened, regardless of Boxxy’s interference. And the reason Timothy was so sure of that was because he had personally made arrangements to prevent that.

“Not to mention that it wasn’t really you that stopped them, not really,” he continued. “It was Big Smoke. And considering that I’m the one who both taught him to hate divinity and tricked him into living there, I’d say the credit should go mostly to myself.”

“Oh…”

Boxxy felt like it should’ve somehow guessed that already, as it made perfect sense in retrospect. Milton most likely knew there were a bunch of war golems holed up down there somewhere, just not their exact location. Gods were neither omniscient nor omnipotent, after all, so this sort of autonomous insurance net became necessary. Frankly speaking, Big Smoke would have probably shown up even without Boxxy trying to get its attention. All things considered, the shapeshifter truly was in no position to ask for any sort of compensation or reward.

That said, there was one matter that had been bothering it ever since then.

“Well, can you at least tell me what the leviathan said?”

“Why are you asking me? It’s not like I was there to hear him-”

“Don’t act like you don’t know.”

“… Yeah, fine. He complained that you forgot to put cheese on one of his number forty-fives.”

“Uhhh…”

“Have I mentioned he’s very senile? Look, I know it sounds stupid, but you can ask Xera if you don’t believe me. Pretty sure Deep Speech is one of the exotic languages her Versatile Tongue is capable of translating.”

“Yeah, about that, if you didn’t want anyone waking up a bunch of mechanized zealots, why the flying fuck can succubi read their language?” Boxxy asked pointedly.

“Hey, it’s not like I personally design a demon’s Skills.”

“Then who does?”

“Nobody. They just sort of… happen, you know? Anyway, I really have better things to do, so I’ll be going now.”

*Click*

Boxxy would call that conversation enlightening, but it was more disappointing than anything else. Then again, perhaps it had become a bit too entitled as of late. After all the XP and shinies it had gotten out of that underwater adventure, asking for even more free shit was just the height of arrogance. It also didn’t cost anything more than a bit of time, though, so the shapeshifter just brushed the conversation off and went back to dealing with what was important.

Namely, its freshly acquired Ultimate Skill. Now that it was back in its dungeon lair, it could really put this Essence Shift ability through its paces. It had toyed with it a little, of course, but wanted to be somewhere truly safe and private before it began stress-testing it. It was rather intensive on the MP consumption, too, so the dungeon’s mana-rich environment would also help lessen the downtime between trials.

So far Boxxy had been able to determine exactly what the Skill meant when it mentioned ‘Attribute Groups.’ It would appear that the Skill classified the twelve different Attributes that could appear on one’s Status as either physical, mental, or personal. STR, DEX, AGI, and END made up the first type, INT, WIS, MNT, and PER belonged to the second, and CHR, FTH, AFF, and LCK comprised the third. The last group was the most troublesome, as the shapeshifter didn’t have much of those Attributes to begin with. The upside was that it could at least easily put FTH back up to above zero should it venture into Taboo territory again.

Incidentally, it didn’t seem as though it was possible to drain an Attribute to a value below 1. Boxxy also found out that it was possible to lose its Legendary Perks if it wasn’t careful with Essence Shift. This could potentially be disastrous as the Skill required that four of those Perks be active, and would most likely cease to function should that no longer be the case. And since the effects of Essence Shift seemed to last indefinitely, Boxxy could theoretically find itself locked out of using its own Ultimate.

On the other hand, this also meant that, by carefully redistributing its Attributes, the shapeshifter would be able to qualify for at least one or two more of those tasty Legendary Perks. Which was precisely what it proceeded to do. Since it already had seven of the bloody things, that meant it was left with five potential options - WIS, LCK, CHR, FTH, and AFF. And of these, the most attractive target was, of course, LCK, while the least desirable was CHR. Thus, after spending a few moments to recollect itself, the monster initiated its Ultimate.

Your personality shifts. CHR -50. LCK +50.
Your personality shifts. CHR -50. LCK +50.
Your personality shifts. CHR -50. LCK +50.
Your personality shifts. CHR -50. LCK +50.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Legendary Luck.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Legendary Overachiever.
All Attributes +35. AFF +30. MNT +5.

“… Wait, what?” it blurted out.

Legendary Overachiever
Description: A peerless existence beyond all comprehension.
Requirements: Any 8 Legendary Attribute Perks.
Effects: The effects of all other Perks are doubled where applicable.

It took several moments for this sudden discovery to fully sink in. If all Perk effects were doubled, then the sudden burst of Attributes was because of the monster’s various Attribute-boosting Perks. More importantly, however, it meant that all of the Legendary ones also had their already juicy effects amplified. The shapeshifter had others, of course, but it was only natural those would be the most impactful.

Legendary Strength
Description: A being whose raw physical might is the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Strength (STR).
Effects: Increases base muscle strength by 10%.
Melee physical damage ignores 20% of the target’s defenses.
Legendary Dexterity
Description: A being whose finesse and precise movements are the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Dexterity (DEX).
Effects: Increases base flexibility and range of motion of all joints by 20%.
Ranged physical damage ignores 20% of the target’s defenses.
Legendary Endurance
Description: A being whose vitality and constitution are the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Endurance (END).
Effects: Increases poison and disease resistance by 75%.
Increases stamina recovery rate by 50%.
Legendary Agility
Description: A being whose speed and flexibility are the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Agility (AGI).
Effects: Increases physical damage dealt by up to 25% based on speed and momentum.
Reduces physical damage taken by up to 25% based on speed and momentum.
Legendary Intelligence
Description: A being whose capacity for knowledge and understanding are the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Intelligence (INT).
Effects: Increases total magic damage caused by Skills by 50%.
Can recall events experienced in the last 48 hours with extreme clarity and detail.
Legendary Mentality
Description: A being whose power of will is the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 750 Mental Fortitude (MNT).
Effects: Spells and Skills that affect the mind can be used on Golems, Demons, and Undead at 30% effectiveness.
Reduces the duration of hostile mind control effects by 80%.
Legendary Perception
Description: A being whose senses are the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 500 Perception (PER).
Effects: Reduces the effects of sensory overload by 60%.
Can perceive ambient magical energies.

Taken altogether, it meant that Boxxy was no longer just highly resistant, but outright immune to poison, disease, mind control, and sensory overload. Not only that, but it had become much, much deadlier as a whole. Of course, that wasn’t even counting the addition to the Status that made all of this possible:

Legendary Luck
Description: A being whose uncanny good fortune is the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 500 Luck (LCK).
Effects: Increases the likelihood of randomly gaining LCK.
Grants a chance that incoming ranged attacks will fail.

This right here was the source of Minic’s reality-bending good fortune. If there was ever a Perk that personified the saying ‘the rich get richer,’ it was this one. Of course, LCK being the most difficult Attribute to increase, it was highly probable that very few beings actually managed to meet its requirements. Hence why information on it was practically non-existent. The only reason Boxxy knew of its details in advance was because it had asked Jen to perform a Full Appraisal on Minic.

But Legendary Overachiever? It was hard to imagine that any but the most anomalous of existences could meet its frankly ludicrous requirements. Most things would just die of power creep long before they’d even gotten close. Wait… did Arisha have this? It was certainly possible, at least in theory. Having Ranked Up twice, that self-styled Bloody Baroness most likely had a power creep tolerance level that surpassed even Boxxy’s.

“Ah, crap.”

Speaking of which, the shapeshifter realized it had gained about seven hundred Attribute points over the last few days, what with all the Perks and Levels that had fallen into its proverbial lap.

“Status.”

General Information Attributes Job Information
Name Boxxy T. Morningwood Name Value Name Value Name Level Progress Name Level Progress
Species Creeper (Hylt) (+) STR 1205 LCK 582 Doppelganger 50 MAX Wizard 50 MAX
Sex N/A DEX 1159 MNT 819 Mimic 50 MAX Alchemist 34 64%
Age 3 years AGI 1129 CHR 179 Warlock 88 5%      
Guild Hidden Arrow END 1715 PER 695 Flamespitter Artificer 50 78%      
HP 11970/11970 (+42.8/sec) INT 1444 FTH 118 Ranger 75 MAX      
MP 8303/8303 (+13.7/sec) WIS 860 AFF 365 Blade Dancer 75 MAX      

This was bad. The total sum of its Attributes had surpassed ten thousand. This was definitely beyond its current body’s limits, and it would surely start feeling the symptoms of power creep in a day or two. It wouldn’t be enough to cause any lasting damage, but the monster wasn’t looking forward to the constant aches and pains that were about to follow. They would surely make life annoying and suck the fun out of its newly acquired power spike, but it wasn’t all bad.

After all, Boxxy was one mental twitch away from fixing that problem once and for all.

“Rank Up!”

Rank Up - Creeper (Hylt)
Requirements: Level 50 Doppelganger Job

The Requirements have been met. You may now Rank Up by using one of the following options:

Choose Hylt Treant
Choose Ancient Sporelord
Choose Shadow Wendigo
Choose Rock Wendigo
Choose Greater Barghest
Choose Stygian Shambler
Choose Spirit Flayer
Choose Divine Abomination
Choose Eldritch Abomination
Choose Titanic Abomination
Choose Shoggoth Queen Slime
Choose Rift Queen Slime
Choose Abyssal Hivemind
Cancel Rank Up

 

“… Let’s put those away for now.”

Boxxy may have gotten a bit carried away, but it still couldn’t quite face that damned list. It was far too long, to the point where the monster was afraid of making a choice. One of those thirteen species was sure to be an invincible creature that the world would simply have no answer for. There were certainly some promising-sounding names in there. Unfortunately, Boxxy was sorely lacking in information regarding the scope and breadth of these options.

Which wasn’t to say it was completely ignorant. It knew that wendigos, for instance, had been a species of bestial shapeshifting mammals that had once been a huge problem for the giants of Percepeia, right up until the Boneshaper showed up and ‘extincted’ them. Treants were not all that impressive, if the one Boxxy had met during the Collapse investigation was any indication. Abominations were giant mounds of sentient flesh that supposedly never stopped growing, and queen slimes were also a known quantity.

That was all general knowledge, however. At present, the shapeshifter had no idea which of the multiple variants it had been offered were better than the others. Nor did it know what a barghest, sporelord, abyssal hivemind, or spirit flayer even were. The most it could gather was that they were different degrees of shapeshifters, but that was hardly helpful to its dilemma.

“Bah!” Boxxy suddenly shouted, erupting from its chest-bound form. “I’m doing it again! Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

It was overthinking things again. This Rank Up clearly demanded an educated decision, which, in turn, required an actual education regarding the subject at hand. The ex-mimic clearly had a lot of studying to do, so it collected its thoughts, made a mental checklist of the things to look up, and set off into the city of Azurvale as Keira. While no longer necessary for XP gain, its Facade still had its uses. The connections of Boxxy’s public persona were quite formidable, so it was sure it could obtain the rare and obscure knowledge it needed through them.

There was one small caveat, though. Namely the fact that Rowana and Keira were supposed to be getting married in just three weeks, saddling Boxxy with a bunch of social obligations it suddenly didn’t need. Unfortunately, there was no telling how long it would take to get the details related to all those exotic and rare monster species, so it was stuck acting the part. The upside was that it had three whole weeks to prepare for its Rank Up. If not for its premature Level Up, it would’ve learned of its Rank Up options a mere five days before the Dragon Festival was poised to begin.

Of course, the thought of ‘Do I really need to Rank Up?’ had crossed the creature’s mind. Reggie, for instance, had lived a quiet and stable life for many decades while remaining a doppelganger. He was admittedly brainwashed into doing that, but Boxxy could definitely see the appeal. The problem was that the Hero of Chaos had always been, at its core, a mimic. It was a far more monstrous monster than the average doppelganger. Frankly speaking, it had been a small miracle that its Facade had lasted for almost three years given all the violent and murderous impulses it had to deal with on a daily basis.

Thankfully it had had its fill of carnage after that whole war golem debacle, so it would have no trouble keeping its monstrous instincts in check for a few weeks.

*SLAM*

“Honey, I’m hooome!”

Keira announced her return in her usual manner, which was to say that she kicked the front door open and shouted at the top of her lungs. There seemed to be no reply, though. Well, not from Rowana, at least. A sentient mannequin in a white apron and outrageously purple hat walked out of the living room and bowed deeply, welcoming the wayward beastkin.

“Manny? Where’s Rowie?”

The wooden doll got a small notebook out of his apron’s pocket and quickly scribbled down his answer for Keira to see.

“Flower shopping?” she raised an eyebrow. “Why would she- Oh, crap! The flower arrangements for the wedding! I was supposed to take care of those two weeks ago! You think she’ll be mad?”

Manny tilted his head, then wordlessly took a step back.

“There you are!” the elf in question shouted from behind. “Do you have any idea how embarrassed you made me today?!”

Keira turned around just in time to see a furious Rowana take a swing at her with her purse, though the experienced Ranger effortlessly dodged it.

“Don’t avoid it!” the elf screamed as she made another attempt. “Accept your punishment for being so irresponsible!”

“Look, what’s done is done!” Keira argued while dodging and weaving. “Hitting me won’t solve anything!”

“It’ll make me feel better!”

“Yeah? Well, so will this!”

The redhead then stepped in and kissed her wife to be out of the blue. Rowana’s eyes widened in surprise, but she melted into her lover’s arms immediately. By the time their lips parted, her cheeks were red with something that was quite different from frustration.

“It’s not fair. You’ve gotten far too good at this,” she cooed.

“I’ve had a good teacher,” Keira smirked. “And look, I’m sorry I forgot. I just had my hands full with all the stuff that was going on, and-”

“It’s okay, really. I just got a bit excited to see you back safe and sound. Did you take care of your business?”

“… Business?” the beastkin raised an eyebrow.

“You know, the FIB thing you were called away for?”

“Oh. Right, that. Yeah, that was easy, but I got a bit distracted with other stuff that came up… I’m here now, though, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

“Really? Not even upstairs, in our bedroom?”

“… Okay, almost nowhere else.”

The two women chuckled lightly and took their flirting inside, shutting the door behind them. Probably a wise idea, given how public that display of affection had been. Though not all of the couple’s neighbors had returned to their homes after the Collapse scare, the branch-top street was nevertheless fairly busy on this lazy summer afternoon. Over a dozen people had been made to witness the soon-to-be-wed pair flaunt their romance shamelessly.

There was one of these onlookers, however, who was not there by accident. A lanky elf in his mid-thirties, with short and oily ginger hair, attentive green eyes, and pale skin that clearly didn’t see much of the sun on a daily basis. This stranger, dressed in a heavy coat and wide-brimmed hat despite the summer heat, was currently sitting calmly on a street bench, just opposite the Morgana residence. He had his legs crossed, gaze lowered, and hands busy taking notes. His spindly fingers rapidly scribbled sentence after sentence in a small, black, leather-bound notebook.

After a few more minutes of this, he put the small book inside his coat and replaced it with a much bigger and thicker one, which he proceeded to pretend to read, much like he had been doing earlier. He spent a few hours staking the house out like this before he saw activity again. Keira and Rowana left through the front door, all dressed and dolled up in formal wear. The stranger couldn’t hear them, but by reading their lips he gathered they were heading out for an impromptu date of some kind. He remained perfectly still as they walked almost right past him, and for a solid half hour afterwards. Only then did he allow himself to stand up and walk off in the opposite direction.

By the time he made it back to his office, the elf was positively drenched in sweat. Not the muggy perspiration of walking around in heavy clothes during summer, but the cold sweat of a man at his wits’ end. He threw his coat and hat onto a nearby chair, sat behind his desk, and buried his face in his palms.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” he chastised himself. “You’re Daylor Varic, damn it! You know better than to get so close to your subject! This isn’t amateur hour, dumbass!”

Investigating a Ranger without being found out was already hard enough, but a famous Hero like Keira Morgana? It was a miracle that she seemed too distracted to realize he had been sitting out there the entire damn day. Granted, he had no idea when she’d actually return from wherever it was she disappeared to, but that sort of near-encounter couldn’t happen again. If word got out he was stalking Azurvale’s sweetheart without good reason, he’d probably be lynched and kicked out of town.

No, that wasn’t right. He had ample reason to suspect there was something wrong with that woman. Her track record read like something out of a bad power fantasy novel. When he’d first heard of her, she was already being hailed as a war hero and one of the gods’ chosen. Even got a bloody parade and everything. She then moved on to become a respected adventurer, explorer, innovator, and teacher. And as if that hadn’t been enough, she was hailed as the person who single-handedly made same-sex marriage legal for the first time in elven history.

Now, Daylor may have been a born cynic who always believed the worst in people, but that was simply the nature of this filthy world. Monsters, demons, illusions, curses, and all manner of other foul trickery seemed to ooze out of the very soil. He had been suspicious of Keira Morgana since he first heard of her, but had never bothered to look into her private affairs before. This was partly because there was always some other big scoop to chase after, but mostly due to the fact that, while questionable, her feats at least seemed plausible.

But, as a professional investigative reporter, Daylor could no longer turn a blind eye to that red-headed freak and her ludicrous exploits. The tipping point for him had been the fairly recent Great Collapse and the news that the Hero of Chaos had single-handedly discovered and detained the mastermind behind it. Sure, parts of that story were likely exaggerated, but it was an undeniable fact that she had been the one to bring in the man that the Republic courts found guilty of the terrible act.

That was the core of what the elven reporter took issue with. To say that the Collapse was orchestrated by the remnants of the fabled Gilded Hand as some kind of revenge plot was ludicrous, and the FIB were idiots for believing that even for a second. But Daylor knew better. He knew the late Spymaster Edward Allen personally. That merciless man would have enacted that sort of attack years ago if his people had been capable of it. More importantly, none of his agents were stupid enough to go off on some pointless act of vengeance. The Gilded Hand as a whole was far too pragmatic for that sort of frivolous thing.

Which, of course, raised the question - if the Empire’s top-notch spy ring weren’t responsible for the Great Collapse, then who was? Was Ms. Morgana in on it? Was the FIB part of some kind of cover-up or conspiracy? What about this mysterious Foundation Daylor had heard about in hushed whispers? Many possibilities to be sure, but the one that stood at the middle of it all was none other than the Hero of Chaos.

Granted, it was possible the elf’s gut feeling was wrong, but he severely doubted that.

After all, he wouldn’t have lasted this long as a Gilded Hand informant if his insight was anything but top-notch.

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About the author

Exterminatus

  • Chestiest Chest That Ever Chested

Bio: I'm a programmer, a mythical creature that survives completely on beer and cynicism. We skulk in the dark, secretly cursing and despising everyone else. Especially other programmers.

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redria7 @redria7 ago

Tasty.

 

Ooh. A transformation list! We’ve been waiting for this for how long now? The biggest question now is whether Boxxy goes for one of these options (spirit flayer sounds hype) or if he unlocks another obviously better choice before he chooses. 

    KnightOfXentar @KnightOfXentar ago

    Well, almost nobody knows what stats/skills/achievements are required to unlock specific monster Rank Up options. So unlocking something can be only matter of luck... haha, yeah, I realise the irony =)

      Narrator George @Narrator George ago

      Luckily we have the LIAR for that. I wouldn't bet on anything currently on the list, the divine favor will be called in for info or as a delay if the LIAR doesn't give him the answer in time to stop the power creep.

       

      I'd bet Dragon or "Golden Box" as his rank up

      Krom Morningwood @Krom Morningwood ago

      And since LIAR can Only be used by the hero of magic, how exactly will boxy ask him to look it up? "hey dude, can you please ask LIAR for an explanation of all the rank up options for hylt creepers and how to unlock each one? Yes I know its awfully specific, I'm asking on behalf of a friend. Oh yes, it's well worth paying 10 enlightened lives for the info... "

      Jotun R @Jotun R ago

      Only 10?

      That's a very good prize, Boxxy would pay that prize, i'll be worth every soul.

DannyDanny @DannyDanny ago

thanks for the chapter!

Naoggeddon @Naoggeddon ago

Lurk

 

Edit: I'm pretty interested in the possibilities of the abyssal hive mind mixed with essense shift + his clone ability

    Tommyjl7 @Tommyjl7 ago

    Oooooo that sounds potentially extra broken hive mind permanent clones and each clone shifter for a specific purpose I love the idea

    fanobody @fanobody ago

    Stygian Shambler for me because: Stygian = River Styx of the underworld Hades in Greek mythology so maybe ability of Spirit Flayer to beat undeath + Shambler is a monster hoarder from darkest dungeon that becaume more powerfull as the fight go. Boxy is a hoarder. The most likely choice to upgrade shapeshifting after Shoggoth and Abomination. + LV with fight.

    Abyssal Hivemind second because Hivemind and Abyssal.

    Wendigo, Treant and Treant are not option because they are common or beaten by bonelord.

    Spirit Flayer no body upgrade maybe good for soulshifting.

    Greater Barghest is a dog and Greater mean it is a common upgrade of a Barghest.

    Abomination are know but they could be good for frontal beat them all, but is no playstyle of Boxy.

    Shoggoth Queen Slime ALL ARE CRAZY even Boxy but could use bill to seal MADNESS AHAHAAHAAAHHHH.

    Rift Queen Slime good hoarder and transport, maybe pocket dimmention but would still take the Shoggoth than a weaker one.

      Tommyjl7 @Tommyjl7 ago

      Hey y’all don’t think authors delay these choices on purpose just to see what the readers think and come up with some good ideas right......

      TPotShax @TPotShax ago

      I honestly can't be mad. Discussing and theorycrafting the options(or reading other people do the same) is quite fun!

      Tommyjl7 @Tommyjl7 ago

      I’m not mad at all I’m almost sure a few of the authors I have do that and I’m totally fine with it to be honest smart plan and they are still doing all the heavy lifting and their story was why I was even making those theories anyways haha 😂

      pcck @pcck ago

      A HYLT treant is not common. That sounds extremely rare.

      Wendigos are supposed to be monstrous human cannibals, but "bestial shapeshifting mammals" doesn't sound too impressive.

      If Boxxy hasn't even heard of a Barghest before - doesn't that strike you as something rare and potentially powerful? It could work really well with his Warlock theme.

      Boxxy already has demon familiars, dryads, and a golem. I don't think he needs Abyssal Hivemind, that sounds like a pain to write about.

      With Boxxy's current abilities, he COULD be an Abomination and reduce his mass. He's a shapeshifter.

      On one hand, I think the author is gonna keep true to Boxxy's origins as a shapeshifting mimic, like Queen Slime (though I can't imagine Boxxy as a Queen Slime). But honestly, Boxxy has all the shapeshifting powers it needs. I think the most likely are Stygian Shambler, Ancient Sporelord, or Spirit Flayer.

      Naoggeddon @Naoggeddon ago

      While the hylt variant could be interesting I find it's much like how you view wendigos.

      Barghest may be slightly rare to find but they are honestly quite underwhelming if anything I find that evolution closer to going backwards in terms of evolution.

      Unlike fizzys split people in her head tho a hive mind would all be boxxy all the time, would maybe allow for better self group casting like it's reality slash or divine gate. Could focus more on each of its different classes more and make even better use of time. Would also potentially allow for a bit more safety with keeping a part of the hive mind near one of the dungeons in case of evacuation/emergencys as a sort of get out jail free card and letting any body's that are in danger fight alot more violently.

      The abominations would be an interesting twist tho that much mass could be annoying to deal with. Sure it allows for more freedom of manipulation but can probably only compress it so much.

      ArmmaH @ArmmaH ago

      The rank up options are definitely very interesting, and although I have read the whole comment section, noone mentioned the DIVINE abonimation. If this means what I think it means, this might be by far the most overpowered option available to Boxxy. Imagine him getting knowledge of the diving language, gaining some kind of affinity or boost and being able to use it without any drowbacks. Also do not forget that the angels in their divine natur and being so close to gods could even see through the diving skill given by gods that lets the heros change their statuses. In this world divine is on whole another level, and judging from what we know and what has been mentioned so far the best shapeshifters are the abonimations, so it might be the strongest creature in the list.

       

      Although as the author has hinted so many times, it doesnt matter how many strong and all over the place powers you have, what really makes you special in this world is the possible synergies between all the skills and affinities that you have, which we can see in the example of Fizzy. She is nowhere near Jen or Boxxy in terms of levels or attributes, but she has the most synergy meaning that instead of doing a lot of things well she does one thing so fucking good that its overpowered. Having said that it might be possible that there is an option in the long list, that might bring all of the Boxxys strong points into one and make him an unchallangable existence.

       

      I would out the slime queens, wendigos, the other two abonimations (because titanic sounds like a huge sludge of flesh and the eldritch should be just a peak spellsinger shapeshifter both of which do not sound all that impressive) and barghest from get go.

      Ancient Sporelord, Stygian Shambler, Spirit Flayer and Abyssal Hivemend sound very enigmatic and we just lack the information about them. Although just from the name I would consider the ancient sporelord and abyssal hivemend to be the strongest two and the most in-sync with the hylt creeper in question.

       

      So my 3 favorites are, in order - Divine Abonimation, Ancient Sporelord and Abyssal Hivemend. Provided that no other options pop up, I think Boxxy will rank up in one of those three. I would also be excited to see Boxxy use the I.O.U. token to get info on all of its options (and find new options that could be even better).

      fanobody @fanobody ago

      Yes, i assumed Abonimation is like Big Smoke and to big to hide and can't use Flamespitter Artificer, Ranger and Alchemist skill because non-humanoid/too big. Also they are know from normal populace so know method to fight them.

      Divine Abonimation is because of hero of chaos so random skill that could be positif or negatif and he have low faith. Also would be nice if he folow his own path not of his god.

      Eldritch Abonimation in what world is there an Eldritch that is also an Abonimation is it because the Eldritch themself consider it so?

      Ancient Sporelord is my third favorite and could have army of spore that infect people and transform them in mushman but it is one with an army so he is a cible to kill when Abyssal Hivemind is you are the army. Could develop his Phytokinesis power and Ancient 3 year old would be funy.

      There is also a Shambler in Call of Cthulhu that trap someone in a dimention? But the more i think about it the more it is similar to a mimic.

      Lynnsgard @Lynnsgard ago

      Boxxy become hylt because hes drugged, so no

      Boxxy hate being breeder, so no to Ancient Sporelord..

      Abonimation and slime sound mass product..

      and wedigos have spesific element, so say no

      a dog? I thinks Barghest just on list because recent popularity of dog story

      Body love his identity and if you didnt have body you cannot gets joy of Greed 

      so im choose ... Shambler than hivemind

      Warning, not count randomness of Luck follower

       

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      Exterminatus has hinted that the next rank up will be into a giant creature with tentacles. Sounds like a Shoggoth or abomination to me.

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      If it’s a Lovecraftian shambler, it doesn’t really seem like Boxxy’s style. It’s mostly spatial magic and mind magic.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Dont buy it. One of Boxxy's most useful traits these last few arcs has always been it's ability to change forms. Be it walking around town as a humanoid, or avoiding recognition due to using multiple monstrous forms, not to mention the fact that better then half it's combat style is based on it's shifting abilities. So while it having a monstrous form is always likely going to be the norm, at some point it will want use shapeshifting to visit towns and not have to either sneak around or just flat out eat everyone just to be there.

      ArmmaH @ArmmaH ago

      I agree that he would never willingly give the ability to pass as an englightened, even if he reaches the level of the elder dragon. Which of the given options seems most appropriate for his goals and gives him this flexibility though? (Obviously slimes do not count)

      HyperionAndZero @HyperionAndZero ago

      he will probably still have the ability to transform except that if he picks one of the larger creatures he will need a much more powerful spatial magic to control his weight.

    blrbly @blrbly ago

    Yeah i'm with you, it should choose abyssal hivemind. It fits with it's style of manipulating people.

Barakiel @Barakiel ago

Thanks for the chapter! This discord warning sure is useful now i dont need to keep refreshing until a chapter comes e.e

    Mikko Halonen @Mikko Halonen ago

    I'm particular to the email warning myself.

      Crywolfseven
      Premium

      Crywolfseven @Crywolfseven ago

      I used to use that but then i started following more and more stories and it got to the point I removed all the email notifications and just refresh the bookmark page and see Igbo any new stories have come in since my last check. I mean at this point I usually have at least one new story every 5 hours so it was filling up my inbox. It was great though when I only followed like five stories as it would ding and I would get excited lol

Hezvolog @Hezvolog ago

YAY! My day is now awesome! Thanks!

marvokan @marvokan ago

Judging by the title I'd guess that Boxxy will be finally revealed in these chapters! I'm excited to see what will happen!!!

    Catz @Catz ago

    Unless something is really wrong, Boxxy should already have Claws following this person. After all, just being in front of its house would be suspicious and with the perfect memory, it would be very noticable. Boxxy may be revealed but it likely would not be from this guy.

    Almarna @Almarna ago

    well if exterminatus follows the trend of 8-12 chapter long brakets, then boxxy should be reveled in chapter 7 or 8 possibly 9

    Artantos @Artantos ago

    It's a trap. This is ELLC after all. It is not Boxxy's mask that will fall. Or maybe Exterminatus knows that we know it is a trap so it is boxxy's mask after all. Or maybe he took into consideration that we know that he knows that we know so it is a double trap and it is boxxy who will be unmasked. Oooor it is a layered trap and there is multiple masks coming off in this chapter. But wait-there is the sandman. Oh the possibilities. My brain hurts.

    YuffieK @YuffieK ago

    Obviously Boxxy will get outed at the moment it would cause MAXIMUM chaos, so probably at: 'I do.' And then... things probably get eaten.

    Misery's End @Misery's End ago

    Honestly I would be a little disappointed if Boxxy was revealed this guy, that easily. With Boxxy walking so close to him, it got a good look at fated deadman's every nook and cranny. So likely noted all sorts of fear responses as the couple walked by. Hell I bet Kekra even without the extra sensory MLG would have pegged this guy.

     

    The only question is, is how exterminatus is going to twist this plot device into an unexpected direction all the while showing us exactly what we expect to happen, happens, only to fall face first when it does in a totally unexpected way. (Yes it's a twisted and convoluted statement, but then again, so is this author's mind...)

    CashireCat @CashireCat ago

    Boxxy cannot be revealed.

    There was an chapter one or two years ago with those child dryads in the far future.

    The city around them was named after Morgana so, I would assume that Keira was never revealed (in the public).

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Or its revealed in such a way that they dont care any longer about her origins. She is their hero and that's just where she's going to stay. Otoh, I agree. Too many plot devices have made make it very improbable and nearly nigh impossible for it's doppelganger self to be revealed.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Then again, exterminatus is one of those authors that can twist an impossible plot line into a completely logical improbable conclusion.

      YuffieK @YuffieK ago

      One, that chapter was set centuries in the future. Memories of the (few, if any) survivors who managed to see Boxxy getting outed probably wouldn't be accurate. Heck, it might be recorded as the day The Sandman assassinated the beloved Hero of Chaos, Kiera Morgana in the middle of her wedding. (because enough money will buy anything)

      Some say though Kiera's ghost still haunts Azurevale, the Bloody Bride eternally seeking vengance. But those are just old wive's tales... right?

      Nnelg @Nnelg ago

      The city around them was named after Morgana so, I would assume that Keira was never revealed (in the public).

      Dead men tell no tales.

    jackalope @jackalope ago

    One possibility is that Boxxy isn't revealed, instead Keira Morgana 'dies' in some fashion that makes Boxxy either unwilling or unable to take up the role again. 'Mask Falls' would literally translate as 'Keira dies'.

      yellingbrian2 @yellingbrian2 ago

      It's most likly that Boxy will be outed to everyone in charge during the weding for maximum chaos. But they won't have 'the heart'(or willingness to look like fools) and tell the public, so they would just make up a story on how she 'died'.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      You do realize Keira's wedding was supposed to be a national level event (with foreign dignitaries and all) and the chances of being able to hide her being revealed as a monster of any kind would be next to impossible to hide.

      So our possible choices are

      • Things go off without a hitch and everything goes down afterwards
      • being outed and accepted
      • being outed and killed(death faked) before the wedding as a coverup
      • Mr investigator reporter gets outed as a spy as he tried to out Boxxy for the monster it is
      • Nothing at all
      • Humpfart goddess of the travelling statistics gets indigestion and mistakes the pink stuff with a laxative potion and manages to wipe out half the wedding when all the attending agents of chaos release the resulting faecal flood.

      Catz @Catz ago

      You forgot that one of the people close to Keira could learn of it (like Rowana) and have to let it go, be killed, be blackmailed into silence, or get outed for smearing Keira's good name.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Nah, important people to boxxy's facade just get a mind cleansing courtesy of Stain or Snack.

      Catz @Catz ago

      Probably, but with the large loss of charisma those around Boxxy might notice something.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Easy fix, just change charisma too AFF. Tbh I'm actually surprised. While I know charisma has few uses in combat, it's something that will heavily impact its facade. While AFF can easily be sacrificed because ultimately is a stat it can replenish by just sucking a little big tit.

      MuteWilly @MuteWilly ago

      You're all ignoring one possibility. Boxxy gets outed as the doppelganger who "killed and replaced" the beloved Hero. Keira is mourned, and later immortalized by having a town named after her. Boxxy is "driven out" of the Elven lands.

      harkaled @harkaled ago

      You're all ignor the fact that Boxxy had just learned about death insurance, keira probably going to die in the dragon festival or something similar..

      Tokata @Tokata ago

      • being outed and accepted

      Would be hillarious - the reporter busting the wedding, electroshocking keira, revealing her true identity before the whole word, boxxy is about to go on a murder rampage... and then he realizes everyone there knew it was a monster and has a "so what?" attire Very Happy FIB might have known it due to connections with the foundation, and that could have lead to the information beeing spread to the high-off's. In that case Keiras Identity has been a "open secret" amongst the nobility for some time now.

      Nnelg @Nnelg ago

      You're all ignor the fact that Boxxy had just learned about death insurance, keira probably going to die in the dragon festival or something similar..

      Death insurance uses the quest system to determine actual death, which as far as we know can't be tricked.

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      plus if a hero dies whatever killed them gets one of their hero only skills

      Kurotsubaki @Kurotsubaki ago

      Only hero got other hero skill. Wardrobzilla didn't get chaotic disposition when it kill boxxy

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      huh i could have sworn the dryad got something when she killed the hero of death and commerce

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      nope it was the dryad who killed the lizard or boxxy would have had both of the hero of D.A.C.s skills

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      Boxxy did not kill Accatau (the original hero), he was kill by seven spears made by Ambrosia. We do not know if she got anything from it but most likely not, she is not an hero so why should she get hero skills. If she did then heros who'd be hunted by every high level individual for their skills.

      Boxxy only killed the new hero, and that is why he do not have the stop regeneration skill.

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      wich was why it briefly considered to murder keade as soon as she heroed

      Nnelg @Nnelg ago

      Heros can only get the "lesser" of another hero's two bonus skills. There is no bonus for killing the same hero multiple times.

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      no you get one of their skills at random

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      If that is true then no hero whod ever wan to kill an hero of chaos as they who'd always get:

      "Casting a Spell or activating a Skill will sometimes produce a random magical effect.
      This Skill may not be triggered more than once every 60 seconds"

      Well not that the alternative is that much better, but it at least gives +10% effectivnes of the luck stat. 

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      and dont forget all of the acquired hero skills is also in that mix

      Kurotsubaki @Kurotsubaki ago

      I Think you can only got the lesser one as the higher skill is the symbol of the deity the hero represent. And exterminarus never said that it can be obtained other than becoming a deity's hero iirc

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      Except that the system considers Keira to be a separate person from Boxxy, so if the persona of Keira dies, it would technically count.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Boxxy and Keira are not considered separate entities. The Keira facade was made and maintained with a fuckton of effort, a number of skills and hidden behind the heroic skill essence concealment. If the system considered them separate, then an angelic scribe wouldnt be able to see through the deception.

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      Are you calling the LIAR a liar?

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      O.o no? Think of it like multiple personality disorder. Each of Boxxy's facades have their own personality, they just happen to inhabit the same body. So while LAIR can twist facts, he is not outright lying. I'm sure the chaotic heroic skills are playing a part in the twisting of those facts as well.

      So because of Boxxy's high skills and commitment to perfection of it's facades(and possible some trickery from Keith God of the mobile decimal point), LAIR can twist things just enough for those facades to be claimed they are seprate entities. System wise, they are all one person though.

      MalcolmR @MalcolmR ago

      Also important is the question that is asked. If someone ask who is Keira they might be informed abaout boxy, but the price may be quite high if they don't know keira is an facade.

    apricotsoda @apricotsoda ago

    Nah if Boxxy's identity was revealed it will contradict the baby dryads waking up chapter

    HyperionAndZero @HyperionAndZero ago

    Wait what about the divine (IOU)

      Nnelg @Nnelg ago

      Boxxy wouldn't waste that on its facade. It doesn't need it for exp any more.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Huh. That's got me thinking now. Since doppelgangers are hunted such as they are, is there another shapeshifting monster race that is while they're not loved, are still accepted amongst the races? If so Boxxy can use the iou, let Keira can be outed as a shapeshifter and not condemned as a doppelganger or other "evil" monstrous race... so win win xD

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      Doppelgangers are accepted in some places. The slitherers under the ocean for example.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Doesn't help Boxxy walk around topside, which would be the whole point.

      Oh well, it is time to move on anyway. We've been with the keira facade for a long time now. I'm sure Boxxy is feeling more and more stifled every day now that it can evolve.

      Almarna @Almarna ago

      the only thing i could see boxxy using his IOU on ATM, is to be a mimic again lvl 51-75 possibly 100

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Not sure how that would work. Boxxy has already received it's ultimate from being level 50 mimic + level 50 doppelganger. I dont really remember it's evolution options when it hit lvl 50 mimic, but unless their is an evolved version, I dont see Boxxy devolving back into his old chest. It might find it comforting, but that form is rather restrictive if it can't change the size or shape of it's chest.

      If Boxxy uses the IOU for its evolution, I can see it doing research on other shapeshifters and using the ticket to force the evolution to the new shapeshifter with a few (seemingly) random variations to choose from.

      Magus Ignis @Magus Ignis ago

      Other evolutions were shadow queen slime, and metal queen slime.

Eladar @Eladar ago

Damn, that's a lot of rank ups xD. And so the Mask Falls. It's too late, though. He's unparalleled now.

    Washishuku @Washishuku ago

    Not quite. There is Arisha, who is an ally, but if he is too disruptive to their lifestyle then any other 2nd rankers would probably come out of the woodwork. Which would be amazing. Boxxy's casual violence while on the top is good, but it is his fights as the underdog that he wins through cunning that make Exterminatus' writing style so compelling.

Yulwei @Yulwei ago

Quality chapter as always and well worth the wait. You answered and dealt with practically all the questions, speculations, assumptions and predictions in a single chapter. If my only complaint is itt could have been longer then it was defintely a blinder.