Chapter 13 – FIRST FRIEND
One day had passed since the encounter with the probable alpha tester. Leaving the territory of the mad wolf seemed prudent, so I turned my back on the mountain range and walked.
Yes, I walked.
I’d been constantly using and practicing my [Humanoid Form (Crude)] since encountering the wolves. Reason? I just realized, perhaps all too late, that encountering strong monsters out of nowhere was a very real possibility when you live in the mountains, forests, basically anywhere without human presence. So I thought that if I made my living just barely near the border of a human country, I wouldn’t be meeting any monster too terrible.
And I could start hunting humans, too, not just monsters... What, attacking travelers? No way. I’d just get adventurers and beta players after me. I was actually aiming for the bandits attacking those travelers.
...there are bandits, right?
So I wanted to look close enough to humans to fool them. It was why I was cutting up my own mind just for the practice.
...wait a minute, wasn’t this exactly how camouflage predators evolved?
That insane wolf... if they really were an alpha tester like me, then there wasn’t much I could do. I wasn’t remotely mentally healthy enough to try to save someone stronger than me, without even knowing how.
That time with the elven village was different. I had an actual chance of victory back then, the solution was simple, I was sort of fired-up after meeting a little kid – they were all reasons, but perhaps the most important one was that in a way, I felt... excited at the prospect of attacking humans.
Crap, was I turning into a deviant?! My mind didn’t seem to be heading down the insanity route, nor any other route too terrible, but I had a feeling the path it was currently on would lead to some serious trouble down the line.
So yeah, I’d been mentally processing the [Humanoid Form] skill while walking for a whole day and then some. My latest check showed a change.
[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)]
?A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform.
[Magic Points: 325/325] 17↑
[Total Combat Power: 357/357] 19↑
[Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear]
[Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Amateur)]
Surprise! The [Humanoid Form] skill got better... that’s better, right?
So I think that by ranking-up, the quantity and quality of my magic got better, which afforded me the foundations of [Humanoid Form]. ‘Crude’ became ‘Amateur’. To use a cooking analogy, it’d be like I had finally graduated from making charcoals into making something barely edible.
I checked for hostiles nearby. With my privacy confirmed, I dropped the cloak and took a closer look at myself.
I looked better, I think. My skin wasn’t melted wax anymore. Much smoother. No drifting or flowing either, even if behind the skin layer my gaseous body was still circulating.
My body composition finally got good enough so that I could handle it like sculpting clay now, but for some stupid reason, that pair of rabbit ears was impossible to mess with.
I tried to force the ears to shrink, and my eyes jumped out of their sockets. Then, while I was reeling from the sight, the eyes slowly returned to normal, and the ears popped out again.
Being called ‘a rabbit’ due to the albinism was, to me, nothing but an insult, no more. At least, that’s what I thought. I never expected it had actually gotten to me so much...
On the bright side, they weren’t the pointy kind of rabbit ears. They were droopy – lop ears, in other words – which meant that the cloak should hide them just fine.
If I ever managed to fully humanize myself, I’d have to pose as a rabbit girl. And I didn’t even know if that particular beastman race existed.
With the improvement in [Humanoid Form], I could make fingers now. Oh, I’d missed actually picking things up. Wearing the cloak came a lot easier... hey, didn’t it look kinda dirty?
Not surprising, I supposed. It had looked old even when worn by that weird beta player. After the many times it was dropped on the ground from my practice, exposed to the rain and wind for over a week straight, and dragged on the dirt and rocks due to my lack of height when shapeshifted, now the undyed garment was no better than a rag.
I mean, I used to have one like it in real life, but this was a game. No need to keep it dirty. Actually, this was pretty amazing technology. The game was realistic enough to simulate the damage and dirt when you abuse it. I’d known this was cutting-edge technology, but the realism was still astonishing.
I focused all my attention on my hearing. Hmm, nothing here... I moved away, checking from time to time, until I finally found what I’d been looking for.
The splashing of a river.
Yes, I’d been planning on washing the cloak.
It was a rivulet of spring water, trickling through rocks and pebbles, just about 30 centimeters wide.
I made my bipedal body squat down near the stream, which took a surprising amount of effort. Remember when I described the similarities of moving myself to puppetry? Well, I wasn’t sure if it’s because my skill level went up or if I simply got used to it, but it felt like I had more strings to control, now.
‘You couldn’t do this kind of stuff in normal video games! I was just enjoying the true VR experience!’ I thought, trying my best to convince myself that the scene of a demon doing laundry wasn’t the stupidest thing in the world.
I sighed. I’d been sidestepping the stress and irritation by latching onto new thoughts as soon as they came. Apparently, that had the side effect of loosening my personality into something a lot more inane.
I kept on trying – and failing – to wash the stains off. After a while, I saw something in the corner of my vision (well, I had 360 degrees vision, so it wasn’t like there were corners; more like the part of my vision that I didn’t actively pay attention to) moved.
...what was this? It looked like a translucent mass of light-green, about 20 centimeters. It was camouflaged pretty well with the amount of green around me. When I saw it, it was bouncing around about 2 meters downstream from where I was, looking like it was trying to scoop some water.
...a ball of jelly? I think it was a slime, but not drippy and gooey like I used to be. This one looked far jigglier and bouncier.
Was this rivulet where the local docile monsters came to drink?
It didn’t show any sign of fear, so perhaps it hadn’t noticed me yet. Let’s keep it that way.
I continued *boing* scrubbing *boing* the cloth... why was the (possible) slime bouncing? Why did it look like it was having fun?
Well, whatever. I had to admit, the cloak just didn’t want to get clean. Maybe some detergent would’ve helped, but it’s not like I could get any.
I held up the soaked cloak and checked my work. Fine. This was good enough. Too much scrubbing would just damage the fabric, and I cleaned off most of the dirt anyway. There were still a few tough black stains...
The (possible) slime was bouncing right below the garment, drinking up the dripping droplets.
Since when?! And it wasn’t afraid of me? Was it actually super powerful?
[Magic Points: 5/5] [Hit Points: 5/5]
[Total Combat Power: 5]
That’s... weak. Even weaker than I was when I started. Perhaps it wasn’t even smart enough to know fear.
Other possibilities included... alpha testers? Nah, no way. I didn’t want to entertain the pitiful idea that there was a human being inside of a monster so stupid as to be happy just from drinking laundry water.
So a real monster, then... such a weird one.
...wait a minute? Maybe it wasn’t playing with the droplets. Maybe it liked the grime in the water?
I moved the soaked cloak closer to it. The (possible) slime hopped in excitement and latched onto the hem of the garment.
I see, so it’s really the grime, then... hey, no! Stop that! Don’t melt my cloth!
I hastily pulled the cloak up. It boing’ed in protest.
...at least, I thought it was protesting. All the bouncing looked the same to me.
I didn’t mind it cleaning the dirt, but this was the only thing I had to wear. It wasn’t allowed to eat it.
I patted the wet cloak a few times while shaking my head, and then I pointed to the dirty part and nodded once. Hopefully it understood my miming. It probably did, since it replied with a few more bounces.
...again, I was just guessing here. I didn’t speak Bouncese.
Once more, I slowly lowered the cloak. This time the (probable) slime latched onto the correct part of the garment. It dissolved only the dirt, while leaving the fabric unharmed. Wow, that is amazing.
I signaled it to stop, pulling the cloak away. It did, jiggling and quivering, somehow looking like an obedient dog. I firmly nodded, then pushed the garment back. It merrily crawled all over the cloth, wiping out the black stains in mere seconds. The cloak now looked just like new if you ignore the tears.
The ball hopped, in what I was assuming to be a moment of pride in its work. I petted it as praise-oh wow this is totally jelly. Super jiggly.
After some struggling, I got back into the half-dried cloak – did it absorb the water too? It saw me dressing, and again it bounced in excitement.
Well, my limbed form only had the height of a five-years old. The cloak was going to get filthy again soon, considering I was dragging it everywhere, but this wasn’t a problem I could solve.
Right, clothes cleaned, plus a cute mascot to relax to. I was feeling good.
Let’s get going. I wanted to bring it along too, but I didn’t think a wild monster would be tamed so easily just by feeding it (if I counted ‘dripping dirty water’ as ‘feeding’). And it was weak as heck. I’d be worried if it tagged along.
I waved goodbye to the jiggly ball and began another session of intense puppetry. It didn’t take long for me to realize, from the corner of my eyes, that the bouncing ball was still following me.
I stopped, questions popping up in my mind. You’re a slime, you’re supposed to be crawling... no, wait, that wasn’t what I should be thinking about. Why was it following me?
‘Hey, I didn’t have any more food for you, you hear me?’
It took the chance to approach my feet and start jiggling, waiting for me.
...god that’s cute.
What was going on with this creature? This (probable) slime... okay, that’s just too verbose of a name.
Alright. I was in a good mood – a rare happening these days – so you’ll be Friend Number Two (Number One being the elven kid). Let’s name you.
It’s a slime, so... hmm... Slimer? Nah, that thing’s ugly, and I didn’t have a proton pack. It’ll be my friend-slash-pet, so Fido... rejected. It wasn’t even a dog. Oh, whatever, it’s a blob, it’s “Blobsy” from now on.
The very moment I made the decision in my thoughts, Blobsy suddenly started to wiggle and hopped in a circle around me, looking overjoyed.
What...? Did something happen to it? I identified Blobsy once more.
[Blobsy] [Race: Jelly Slime] [Kin of Shedy, the Demon]
[Magic Points: 10/10] [Hit Points: 10/10]
[Total Combat Power: 10]
[Special Skill: Laundry]
...more lines in the description. And it was my [Kin] now.
At least I was sure it was no alpha tester, but what?!
AN: She’s got a friendpet now... this novel’s getting a lot more Animal Planet, isn’t it?
It’d lose a lot of a slime’s cuteness if it turns human or talks, so it’s not going to do either even after growing up. Maybe. Who knows? ??
First arc’s about to enter the climax soon.
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