Chapter 265: Alcrem unites as one, and the Demon King returns
The requirement for a Mimic Human to steal Skills was to assimilate and absorb their target… in other words, consume them.
That did not simply mean eating them. The target had to be alive, even if they were within an inch from death… and the soul had to be residing inside their body. Of course, even if the target was alive, it was useless to consume a body part that had been separated from the target long enough that their soul didn’t reside in it anymore.
Mimicking a target’s appearance and voice needed nothing more than simple observation, but stealing Skills required the above conditions to be met.
The amount of a target’s body that was needed to be consumed to steal one Skill depended on the number of Skills they had, as well as their Levels and what kind of Skills they were.
In summary, the body’s size was divided into portions equivalent to the number of Skills the target possessed, and the size of the portions required to steal a Skill depended on what kind of Skill it was and its Level.
For example, if the target was a boy who was smaller than average and possessed a large number of Skills, eating half an arm would be enough to steal a Passive Skill and a Unique Skill.
Goldie, who had stopped his mimicry of Baldiria and returned to his original form of the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains,’ let out an angry shout as he leapt out of the deformation in the ground that had been made by his own body.
At the same time, his partner managed to get out of the danger he was in by cutting through Vandalieu’s ‘Mana Bullet’ with the treasured sword that Goldie had lent him.
“I-impossible!” both of them shouted in unison as they glared at Vandalieu.
Vandalieu ignored them. He produced a ‘Mana Bullet’ in his palm and extinguished it again, over and over, creating black Mana that lingered in the air around him as his brain worked furiously at considering what to do.
Of all of the people whose Skills that the Mimic Humans had stolen up until now, all of the ones who had survived a part of their own bodies being consumed had been extremely shaken and discomposed.
They would either forget that a part of their body had been eaten and charge recklessly in a desperate attempt to get their Skills back, or try to make a shameful retreat. Some of them had simply broken into tears and begged for their Skills to be returned.
Vandalieu was the only one who had shown no discomposure beyond a little surprise and made a serious attempt to kill them.
Even now, he was checking his body’s condition and conversing with the Ghosts around him.
“Hmm… Even though some of my Skills have been stolen, it seems that there hasn’t been any particular change to my mind or body. Skills are apparently things that are engraved on the soul, so I was prepared for the possibility that I might have lost some memories as well, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Vandalieu said.
“How is your magic?” asked Princess Levia.
“I can use no-attribute magic, but death-attribute magic will be difficult, it seems. I do have death-attribute Mana, but I can’t keep it gathered together in one place.”
He wasn’t even able to cast the very basic ‘Sterilization’ spell as well as he could before. However, he could still use death-attribute magic. It was difficult, as he would need to expend multiple hundred times the amount of Mana that spells normally cost to ensure that he could control the Mana without it dispersing, but it was still possible.
“It’s not that I can’t use it, but I think I would fail to cast my more difficult spells,” Vandalieu concluded.
“It would probably be best not to try casting ‘Death Bullet,’ then. It would be a disaster if one of them were to burst in mid-air,” said Princess Levia.
Indeed, it would be a disaster if ‘Death Bullet,’ a spell that drained the Vitality of anyone it touched, were to explode and scatter around like a shotgun shell. Even a small piece of the projectile would likely cause instant death for an ordinary person, and even those with multiple combat-related Jobs would be in grave danger.
“However, it isn’t like I can’t use any death-attribute spells, so I’m sure I’ll manage,” said Vandalieu.
By commanding spirits, he could quickly create small Golems with ‘Golem Creation,’ and the fact that he could still speak to the Ghosts meant that he would probably be able to use ‘God Spirit Magic.’
“What about the fragments of the Demon King? Are they alright?” asked Orbia.
Vandalieu directed several of his numerous consciousnesses to his inner self, but even though he had lost the ‘Demon King’ Skill, the fragments of the Demon King showed no signs of wanting to abandon him and join Goldie.
However, Vandalieu could feel that they were extremely confused.
“Main body? We are the main body? I am the main body?”
“We are me? I am us?”
At this rate, it was possible that something could trigger them to try and leave Vandalieu’s body or take over it to rampage out of control.
“We are me, and I am us. A part of me is me, and we and I are one and the same. Return to me,” Vandalieu said to them.
“We are me, and I am us. A part of me is me, and we and I are one and the same,” the fragments repeated. “We shall return to me.”
That had probably done the trick. The fragments quietened down once more.
I was surprised at my Skills being stolen, but other than the loss of the Skills, there hasn’t been any other effects on me. The fragments quietened down right away, too. Although, I guess my memories being intact might be because of ‘Perfect Record Technique,’ Vandalieu thought.
Satisfied with this conclusion, Vandalieu turned towards Duke Takkard Alcrem. The duke was frozen on the spot, unable to keep up with or comprehend these new developments, and the knights were trying to protect him.
“Ralmeya, do you know what Skills he used when he ate my left arm?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yes! He was using Skills such as ‘Mimic: Living Creature,’ ‘Absorption and Assimilation,’ ‘Monstrous Strength,’ and ‘Transcend Limits!’” Ralmeya answered.
“I see. It seems that ‘Absorption and Assimilation’ is the Skill that steals Skills. If that’s the case, eating my arm was the condition that was required for the Skill to trigger,” said Vandalieu. “Everyone, please be careful to not let them eat any part of your body.”
“Well, I mean, yeah, I’ll be more careful than usual, I guess,” Kachia said with a small, uncertain nod.
Not allowing a part of one’s body to be torn off and eaten during battle was something that everyone would be careful of even without Vandalieu’s warning.
In that regard, it was fortunate for Vandalieu and his companions that Mimic Humans needed to consume parts of their targets’ bodies in order to steal their Skills.
If the condition for stealing Skills was more easily met, such as making eye contact, being wounded, or responding in conversation a certain way such as answering questions or nodding three times, the battle would be significantly more difficult.
Being able to steal Skills by consuming their victims while they were still alive was the strength of Mimic Humans. However, once their surprise attacks ended in failure and the nature of their ability became known to their enemies, it would be more difficult to make use of that strength.
“Ralmeya! You bastard, why are you providing the Dhampir with information… Gah, for now, disposing of these enemies and protecting His Excellency is our top priority!” said Bravatiyu.
Unfortunately for Goldie, Bravatiyu’s sword was now unhesitatingly pointed at him and his partner rather than the Dhampir whom he had shown so much hostility and distrust.
“Knights, spies, protect His Excellency and retreat! Start evacuating the citizens!” Bravatiyu said, barking orders at his subordinates. “Serjio, come out and join the battle already, will you!”
“Bravatiyu?! What are you saying?! I-isn’t that Goldie?!” shouted the duke, still confused.
Bravatiyu firmly shook his head. “Your Excellency! That is not Goldie!”
“That is a monster, perhaps a servant of an evil god or Vampire, who has stolen Goldie’s appearance… In any case, there is no doubt that it is an imposter! Baldiria likely discovered the fact that it was disguising itself as Goldie, so it tried to kill her and steal her appearance as well!”
“Are you serious?!” the duke and Goldie’s partner shouted simultaneously.
The duke was in sheer disbelief of Bravatiyu’s theory, while Goldie’s partner was in disbelief of the fact that Bravatiyu really believed in such a convenient explanation.
“But what you are saying… it makes sense, doesn’t it?!” the duke realized.
Given Goldie and his partner changing the appearance of their bodies right before his eyes, and Goldie behaving in a way that was unthinkable given his usual behavior, Bravatiyu’s incorrect theory sounded convincing.
It was easier for the duke to believe this theory than concluding that one of the Five Knights of Alcrem, whom he had trusted, had been a monster with the appearance of a human all along.
“I’m sure you are right! There is no doubt about it!” said Juliana, supporting that theory.
After all, it was more convenient for Vandalieu and his companions if the duke believed Bravatiyu’s theory rather than try to protect Goldie in confusion at the situation.
“Shit, I don’t know what the hell’s going on!” muttered the ‘Knight of Distant Thunder’ Serjio, jumping out from behind one of the garden’s trees and pointing his spear towards Goldie. “Lord Duke, I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but it’s clear that the Goldie over there isn’t human, and is the one who wounded Baldiria!”
The duke made an uncomfortable noise. “I-I see. In that case…”
“Based on their words and actions so far, their true objective is still unclear, but I believe they are after the Dhampir, not you, Your Excellency. Thus, I believe that it is crucial to work with the Dhampir, minimize the damage to the capital and defeat these imposters,” said Bravatiyu.
“Very well. I shall leave it to you,” said the duke.
“Partner!” shouted Goldie’s partner, looking towards Goldie for new instructions, clearly understanding the danger of this situation.
Bravatiyu and Serjio had turned against them. That itself was not such a problem. They weren’t allies to begin with, and Goldie had only intended to make use of them until he could steal Vandalieu’s Skills, then cut them loose. Even if they were to fight Vandalieu, they would serve as no more than meat shields.
But the current situation was not good. There was nothing hindering Vandalieu and his companions. At this rate, they would be surrounded and exterminated, with no opportunity to escape to Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism and Pillaging, to hand the stolen Skills to him.
Mimic Humans were able to transfer Skills between themselves, but they were not able to ignore physical distance and transfer them telepathically.
Goldie and his partner’s objective was to steal certain Skills from Vandalieu… his magic that used a strange attribute and the Skills that made him the Demon King.
Once they achieved this objective, they were to escape from Vandalieu – who would be unable to use the magic that he was most skilled at and mentally shaken – and deliver the Skills… especially the latter Skill, to their creator, Zerzoregin.
However, despite having his Skills stolen, Vandalieu had been far less weakened and mentally shaken than they had expected, and was now attempting to kill them.
In this situation, it wasn’t possible to have Goldie escape and reach Zerzoregin.
“You cannot use the Skills you stole?!” Goldie’s partner asked.
“I cannot,” Goldie replied. “I expected that I would not be able to use the magic-related Skill, but what is this ‘Demon King’ Skill? Just what kind of effects does it have…?”
Goldie was unable to use ‘Dark King Magic’ because he had no affinity for the death attribute. He was a Mimic Human, so he didn’t know how to use the ‘Demon King’ Skill, either.
“How could this happen? My space-attribute spell won’t work as I expected,” said Goldie’s partner, who found himself unable to cast ‘Teleport’ due to the interference of the space-attribute evil god Gufadgarn. “What shall we do, partner? At this rate, it won’t end with just my death; you’ll die as well.”
“… How unexpected. You’re planning to run? I was sure your plan was to steal more and more of my Skills and finally kill me,” said Vandalieu.
Goldie and his partner had been granted numerous Skills that generations of Mimic Humans had either acquired themselves or taken from others. They were confident that their strength in combat was not inferior to that of S-class adventurers.
But they did not believe that they would be able to defeat Vandalieu. After all, Vandalieu had already slaughtered enemies of S-class strength and evil gods that were even more powerful than that.
“We have no choice but to go with our initial plan after all!” Goldie shouted with desperation in his voice.
“Things have already come to this, huh,” muttered his partner.
Goldie’s arms and back turned into a gray sludge, and he began violently foaming at the mouth as he began transforming.
At the same time, Goldie’s partner opened his cheap Item Box.
“‘Hollow Bullet,’ consecutive fire,” said Vandalieu, repeatedly casting ‘Hollow Bullet’ – a compressed version of ‘Mana Bullet.’
“They’re planning to do something! Attack!” shouted Gizania.
“Us Five Knights will command our knights! Do not speak when not asked!” Bravatiyu shouted back.
“We’re working with them, aren’t we?! Ladies, ignore this stupid old man and give all the orders you need to!” said Serjio.
Gizania and the others followed up with martial skills such as ‘Sky Rend’ and ‘Flying Slash,’ spells such as ‘Spear of Ice,’ and Natania threw in her ‘Rocket Punch,’ expecting that the enemy wouldn’t be able to eat her artificial arm.
Despite Bravatiyu’s unhelpful words, both he and Serjio were unleashing their long-ranged attacks as well.
All of the attacks directed at Goldie and his partner were from range, and this was because everyone had seen Goldie steal Vandalieu’s Skills, and they were wary that he was trying to engulf someone with the gray sludge.
Alas, at the moment everyone expected Goldie and his partner to be destroyed by all of the incoming attacks, an enormous silhouette appeared from where the foaming Goldie’s arm was.
The silhouette let out a roar of pain as it was annihilated by a ‘Hollow Bullet’ a moment later.
Another two silhouettes appeared; they shrieked and shouted as they were slain by the attacks that had been unleashed by Gizania and the others.
“Was that an Ogre and an advanced species of Goblin?” asked Vandalieu.
“They’re monsters that inhabit the Devil’s Nests around the sacred wastelands they protect! Even when they culled monsters there, they never brought them to the Guilds because they would ‘find their own uses for them’… and this was why,” muttered Serjio.
It seemed that despite the name of their race, humans were not the only creatures that Mimic Humans could steal appearances and Skills from.
The severed head of the third silhouette that had been killed rolled towards Vandalieu and his companions.
“This face, it’s a person with a bounty on their head who went missing! I remember spending some time chasing this person during my previous life!” said Juliana.
Mimic Humans had to keep their true nature a secret from the forces of Alda, the God of Law and Fate. Monsters who didn’t worship gods and outlaws who had little faith in the gods were likely the perfect targets to steal Skills from.
“It looks like they’re producing more of themselves with the appearance of people they’ve consumed in order to bolster their numbers,” said Gizania.
“They’re not achieving much with that, though. They’re being defeated not just by Van-kun’s spells, but the knights’ attacks as well,” said Privel.
Indeed, the new Mimic Humans being produced by Goldie were born in one moment and turned into a corpse on the ground in the next.
Goldie was not reabsorbing them like he had done with the partner whose spine Baldiria had stomped and crushed, and this was because he was unable to do so when they were completely dead.
At this rate, it wouldn’t be long before the attacks started reaching Goldie himself.
But at the next moment, Ralmeya shouted in warning: “He’s using a Skill called ‘Demon King!’”
The cornered Goldie began laughing triumphantly. “How wonderful! So this is how the ‘Demon King’ Skill is used! The legendary Demon King created hordes of monsters, and this Skill provides a bonus to creating new monsters and strengthens them!”
The ‘Demon King’ Skill, which Goldie hadn’t known how to use up until now, seemed to consider the splitting of Mimic Humans as the creation of monsters, and he was now experiencing the benefits of its effects that Vandalieu hadn’t even been consciously aware of.
“‘Steel Transformation!’” shouted a man whose face was similar to Goldie’s in appearance, granting his own body the strength of steel and deflecting Natania’s ‘Rocket Punch.’
“‘Flowing Willow!’” said a woman whose hair and eyes were the same color as Serjio’s, using a spear taken from Goldie’s partner’s Item Box and parrying Gizania’s martial skill.
Bravatiyu and Serjio were shocked… because they knew these faces.
“That’s the previous ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains!’ Goldie’s father!” exclaimed Bravatiyu.
“The woman is… There’s a portrait of her in my family’s house,” Serjio muttered. “My great aunt, who was a famous female knight who wielded a spear. She married into Goldie’s family and died of illness before I was born, but…”
“I also knew your great aunt, Jistina. After all, there were talks of having her become my father’s fourth wife at some point,” said the duke, visibly shaken. “But that’s impossible. She was a human. Or did she simply resemble a human? No, the way she handles her spear, it is exactly the same as when I watched her sparring contests when we were children…”
“Lord Duke, I am sure the Jistina you knew was a human,” Vandalieu said quietly.
“Then why?!” the duke exclaimed.
“It is likely that she was consumed by a Mimic Human after she married into Goldie’s family. I don’t know what kind of lifestyle Goldie and his family led, or what kind of environment their sacred wasteland is, but I can’t imagine that humans are allowed to live for long among Mimic Humans.”
Seemingly having heard Vandalieu’s theory, Goldie smiled behind the Mimic Humans with the appearance of Goldie’s father and Jistina.
“It would have been less trouble for us to receive any suitable woman, but there were endless talks of arranging a marriage of convenience,” said Goldie. “We went through a lot of stress whenever there were talks of having brides marry into our family or having one of us marry into another noble family. How troublesome it is that nobility is determined by blood.”
Given that Mimic Humans were mimicking humans, they needed to imitate the passing of generations once every few decades. They could create descendants with their mimicry, but they had the social standing of knights, so it was difficult to pick their spouses from amongst themselves.
Thus, they had to take wives and husbands from other families, and they had consumed them to steal their appearances and Skills before their true nature could be revealed. They would then replace the victims, keeping contact with their original families to a minimum to keep them fooled.
“You bastards…! How brazen of you…!” the duke muttered, glaring at Goldie.
He had wanted to continue believing Bravatiyu’s theory, but that was no longer possible.
Bravatiyu was forced to face the fact that he had been betrayed for years by someone he had always considered his comrade, and Serjio’s eyes were showing visible anger at the realization that one of his relatives had met a cruel, miserable end.
Their anger was understandable; even Vandalieu and his companions, who were outsiders in this situation, were disgusted by the fact that the Mimic Humans had carried this deception out for a hundred thousand years.
“I have a question, Duke Takkard Alcrem,” said Vandalieu, no longer referring to the duke as ‘Lord Duke.’ “I am going to kill Goldie and his kind. I will go to the sacred wastelands they guard and wield my full power in order to eradicate them. After that, you will have to make a choice. You can stand on our side and work with us to bring things back under control, or stand in opposition to us while we are forced to silence you. Which would you prefer?”
Because of the shared rage that he and his allies felt towards the enemy, the duke did not feel anger towards Vandalieu’s threatening words, nor humiliation or fear; he instead felt trust in Vandalieu. Even Bravatiyu didn’t say a word in response.
《You have acquired the ‘Demon King’ Skill!》
Maybe I should have pressed him in a more gentleman-like way, Vandalieu thought in regret, though he didn’t even know if his phrasing had anything to do with the notification in his head.
Monster explanation: Mimic Human
These are monsters whose existence is recorded in legends that describe the battle between the army led by the champion Bellwood and the Demon King’s army.
They are able to mimic the appearances and voices of humans almost perfectly. It has also been recorded that they are able to acquire Jobs that monsters would normally never be able to acquire.
However, it has also been recorded that Mimic Humans were utilized for stealthy tasks such as information gathering and assassination, and they were not formidable opponents once their disguises were broken.
They are also capable of disguising themselves as demi-human monsters, as long as they aren’t extremely large, like Colossi.
According to legends, they stole glances of pictures of the families of Zakkart and the other champions that they had left behind in their home world and took on their appearances to cause the champions emotional suffering, but it is said that Bellwood felled them with a single swing of his holy sword without faltering.
It has also been recorded that after this incident, Bellwood told the champions of the resolve they should have in battle, and the animosity Zakkart gained for him due to this led to the events that befell the champions later on.
In addition, the legends state that the Mimic Humans died out when their creator Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism, was sealed away.
However, the truth is as follows.
According to Farmaun, who is on the Demon Continent: “No, that never happened. To begin with, none of us brought photos from our home world into this world, so there was no way the Mimic Humans could disguise themselves as anyone related to us.”
In addition, the Mimic Humans narrowly survived, disguising themselves as a family charged with the duty of protecting the seal on Zerzoregin.
Considering their abilities and exceptional intelligence, their Ranks are low, being Rank 1 or 2 at most. This is possibly a side effect of their ability to acquire Jobs, or because Zerzoregin created them while prioritizing their ability to mimic humans, sacrificing their strength as monsters in the process.
Before long, they gained the ability to steal their victims’ Skills in addition to their appearances, but because this requires them to consume their victims alive, those who face them must deal with them with the same vigilance and caution that they would have while facing any other monster. (Mimic Humans cannot steal Skills through consuming a single finger or a small amount of blood.)
Furthermore, Mimic Humans are only able to steal Skills; their Attribute Values are their own.
Even if a Mimic Human were to consume a large man with great physical strength, steal his ‘Augmented Muscular Strength’ Skill and mimic his appearance, its Attribute Values would remain the same, so it is possible that it would be physically strong only in appearance, even with the effects of the stolen Skill.
There are no known methods of stealing Skills back… because Mimic Humans kill most of those they steal Skills from, and the ones they leave alive are left with at least three limbs or several organs missing.
It was also unknown as to whether victims can relearn Skills that have been stolen, but… Vandalieu has answered this question.