He wondered why it hadn’t noticed him stepping in what he could only assume was its skin. Or maybe it’s a slime trail like a slug’s?
There wasn’t much room in the dark, narrow space to maneuver around the thing but as Hal closed the distance, the Goblinbane poised to strike, he was certain that the prey of this particular creature was a box.
Not just a box but a treasure chest. And a shabby one at that. Its lid rattled in fear and Hal felt a pang of sympathy for the creature. For just a moment he paused, watching the slow progress of the Gibberer toward what he could guess was a relatively weak Mimic.
He knew that this was a dance played over and over again throughout time and across many different lands. The Mimic was a thing of Arcana. Magically created and imbued. It was unnatural. So, too, was the Gibberer. Except the Gibberer, being an aberration, was also unnatural but on an entirely different side of the spectrum.
Their hatred for each other was limitless. Instinct told him that the two would forever fight and kill until none of their hated enemies were left.
A part of him felt connected to this cycle of hatred and death. But a greater whole was above it. A predatory sensation that told him he was above all of the squabblings between monsters.
He could use the distraction of the Mimic to pounce on the Gibberer and then he could claim the smaller creature’s life as well. It was more than a desire for more Essence, which Hal felt keenly, it was the instinctual need to assert his predatory and bloodthirsty dominance.
Two words Hal had never once thought of in such close proximity before.
As much as the predator inside him wanted to wait until the battle began to pick them both off, Hal couldn’t stand to see the cowering Mimic so terrified.
It tugged at his heart and before he knew it he was descending on the Gibberer, summoning the swift, brutal strikes of Rending Steel.
The Goblinbane swung around in an arc, slicing through two mouths and silencing them as they sagged into the doughy mass and were reabsorbed. The backswing of the blade bit into another pair of mouths. In the wound he’d just created, Hal dove the blade in deeper and twisted with savage force.
A gout of black, foul-smelling, ichor spurted out of the wound, splattering against the wall and sliding down to puddle against its own doughy flesh.
You use Rending Steel on the [Gibberer].
The [Gibberer] takes 37 points of damage.
The [Gibberer] is afflicted with Bleed.
The wobbling creature whipped about, launching itself at Hal with surprising speed. His free hand came up, summoning Bloodrake and the chains sprang away from the walls, biting and chaining the beast in its place.
In short order, Hal hacked and ripped the creature apart. It was almost disturbing how fast the creature fell.
You defeat the [Gibberer].
You gain 600 Experience Points.
You absorb 10 Aberration Essence.
- 1 [Vial of Slime Juice]
- 1 [Acid-Eaten Key]
- 60 [Sparks]
The body exploded into puffs of purple smoke that stung his nostrils. A glowing diamond of dark energy floated where the creature once was. Hal felt the Mimic watching, though it had no eyes he could see. It held itself completely still as if poised to strike.
Hal’s hand shot out, grasping the glowing diamond and sating the bloodthirsty thing that had come so close to taking control.
Appeased, it receded into the shadows of his mind, content to watch and offering no further instinctual urges that would stop him from reading the prompt before him.
You unlock Beast Magic (Level 0).
A unique form of magic known only to Chimera Knights and Beastborne, Beast Magic allows the wielder to tap into the ferocious power of fell monstrous magics previously exclusive to monsters. Wielding Beast Magic comes with a price, however, non-monster bodies were not meant to wield such devastating magic and will experience hazardous side-effects if the wielder is not careful.
You gain 10 Beast Points.
Beast Points are used to allocate Beast Magic spells. Each spell has a specific Beast Point cost (BP) that is incurred upon setting the spell. There is a delay between setting a spell and when it becomes available. The body can only withstand so much foreign magic before it begins to corrupt it. As your Beastborne powers grow, so too will your capacity to withstand the corrupting influence of such terrible magic. While it is possible to allocate more spells than your current capacity permits, doing so will inflict Strain, hastening your corruption.
You learn Blinding Spit.
Eject a gob of chemically unstable ooze that explodes into a blinding flash upon impact.
Additional Effects: Blind, Enmity Up
Cost: 50MP | 2 BP
Hal immediately set the spell.
Materializing right next to his HP, SP, and MP, however, was a new bar aptly named: Strain. At the moment it was empty but a quick glance at the empty bar told Hal it had a meager capacity of 25 points. Though he didn’t yet have any reference to how much that truly was.
His new Beast Magic spell didn’t elaborate as to how much Strain it inflicted, if any.
Hal turned his attention back to the Mimic. He lowered himself to the cavern floor, the Gibberer’s doughy flesh no longer carpeting the stone, and he walked slowly toward the beat-up treasure chest.
Once again, he felt more than saw how the creature observed him. Becoming a Beastborne had heightened his senses and given him an uncanny ability to discern mood and temperament of monsters.
The creature was apprehensive, frightened of whatever could kill its would-be killer and yet it did not attack as most creatures would. There was a faint thread of kinship.
Reaching into his Essences, Hal relinquished the Aberration Essence and tried to combine Shadow and Doll. Immediately the shadow-limbs fell away into twisting smoke that pooled at his feet and evaporated slowly.
He felt a twisting discomfort in his gut and the Essence he had been holding vanished, leaving him bereft of anything. Okay, can’t use any Essence that’s not 100%. Fair enough.
Focusing on strictly his Shadow Essence, Hal noticed the shadows around him grow longer and thicker despite the Guild badge’s illumination. They shifted and twisted around him, wrapping him in a shade of darkness.
The kinship he felt with the Mimic grew as he channeled the same Arcana-based Essence as its own.
Wrapped up in the same magical nature he could see the Mimic reacting to him differently. Confusion remained its chief emotion but it was also tentatively hopeful. It could sense Hal as an ally rather than a potential threat.
Is that why the Gibberer hadn’t noticed me? He wondered. Was I somehow masking myself by channeling Aberration Essence?
It stood to reason but without thorough testing, Hal couldn’t be sure. Hal made a mental commitment to test the theory out at his earliest chance.
New Quest: Scientific Endeavors
You’ve stumbled upon a sound theory but need further testing. Rigorous testing is the first step toward a valid conclusion. Test your theories and discover the depths of your powers.
- Test the nature of channeling Monster Essence and its effects on monsters of similar nature and those of opposing nature.
- All Attuned Essences +10
That was the first time Hal had seen a prompt that appeared without anybody else around. Was he capable of generating quests for himself simply by committing to a specific action that he couldn’t pursue immediately?
The more I experience these systems the more questions I have.
Hal slid the Goblinbane back into its sheath. “Can you understand me?” he asked the creature.
It perked up – if an iron-bound chest going completely still for a moment counted as perking up – at the sound of his voice but otherwise didn’t seem to respond further.
Once Hal was within ten feet of the thing, hopefully out of striking distance, he stopped and crouched down to the Mimic’s level. He wasn’t sure why he was persisting in this endeavor.
Logic dictated that he should kill it. It was a monster. But his recent changes made him view the creature differently. From what little he knew about fictional mimics from his homeworld, they were typically evil and hungry creatures.
But he took that information with a grain of salt because mimics did not exist in his world. Besides, the thing was small. Barely as wide around as his thigh.
“Are you a runt?” he wondered aloud.
Once more, there was no response beyond the attention it gave to the sudden sound he made. Hal wondered if monsters had their own unique languages. Goblins didn’t, though the way they warped the common tongue was often so vast and strange it seemed like a different language at times.
Crouched down low as he was, Hal tried a different tactic. One he had no idea whether or not it would work.
Concentrating on one emotion, he looked at the Mimic and focused on the word “friend” and all of the feelings he had when he thought of the word. Happiness, camaraderie, community, and cooperation flooded his thoughts.
A tense few moments passed. Hal’s heart thumped heavily in his chest. He knew he was taking a risk being so vulnerable and unarmed in front of what very well might be a deadly creature, but he couldn’t deny his desire to know more.
He had to be sure.
What came back to him wasn’t so much a word, but a series of images and feelings. Much like how Hal had associated “friend” with thoughts and emotions, the Mimic seemed to have its own set of feelings.
It was strange and wondrous all at once. Hal tried to sort out what it was showing him. Strength in unity was one, full bellies was another, warmth. Satisfying common base concerns was the creature’s most used means of communication.
By the time Hal sorted through the imagery, the Mimic had started to inch toward him. It scooted and hopped, propelling its whole body forward bit by bit. One thing rang clear throughout everything else. The Mimic accepted the offer of friendship.
Hal gingerly reached his hand out to the thing. It backed away at the movement and Hal slowed the motion, holding his hand halfway between himself and the creature.
Like a lost pet, it tentatively inched closer. Its lid opened slightly and Hal got the impression it was sensing him in ways he couldn’t quite fathom. Then, with all fears and worries suddenly abandoned, the Mimic rushed up and bumped the rough wooden top of its body into Hal’s hand.
Happy. Friend. This time, Hal could sort out the message from the images and emotions faster. A tiny ball of light floated from the Mimic to Hal’s chest and vanished within.
You absorb 5 Mimic Essence.
Hal’s immediate reaction was to look at the Mimic. A quick visual inspection showed nothing wrong and his fears subsided. The only time he had ever gained any Essence was when he had killed a monster and even then it didn’t happen every time.
Perhaps interacting with monsters was the key to gaining Essence. And his budding friendship with the creature had awarded him a small amount of Mimic Essence.