232/366 – The Mimic

Day 90 of 100 word prompts: Chest


“Don’t go near it,” Gabriella said, stopping Lyle from walking forward.

“What are you talking about? We came all the way down here, killed every monster around, and then we find this thing, which is probably full of treasure, and you tell me not to go near it?” Lyle said, wiping the goblin blood off his sword. “I’m going to open it.”

“Lyle, stop for a second and use your head. There were goblins down here, right? Why wouldn’t any of them be in this room? Why would they all be a room or more away from this thing?” Gabriella asked.

“I don’t know. They were goblins. They could have any number of reasons for not being in here. You know how they can get. They aren’t the brightest creatures on the plane on top of that. Maybe they had a disagreement on who got to keep it,” Lyle suggested as he pushed her arm out of the way. “Much like what we’re having right now.”

“Alright, maybe you’re right about the goblins, but what about other adventurers? You know that we aren’t in short supply around here. You think anyone would just leave behind a chest of treasure?” Gabriella said, shaking her head.

“Listen, you can stand over there in the corner at the ready if it’ll make you feel better. You can call on your god’s power to come save me if something happens, okay?” Lyle said, pointing at the chest, “but I’m going over there and opening that, whether you want me to or not.”

“It’s your life,” Gabriella muttered as she took a step back, sighed, and motioned for him to continue.

“Thank you,” Lyle said, giving her a slight bow.

Lyle stepped forward, sheathing his sword. He bent forward and opened the latch on the chest. In a gut-wrenching moment, the chest seemed to bend, becoming something more fleshlike than made of wood. A wet, sloshing sound emanated from within the thing as the lid sprang open, revealing sharp teeth lining the top and bottom of the opening. Between the teeth, a long tongue dripping with saliva extended out, wrapping itself around Lyle quicker than he could get out of the way.

“Help!” Lyle screamed as the chest tilted forward, pulling him headfirst inside it.

Gabriella watched the lid snap shut, and the latch resecure itself as two boards on the cover moved, revealing two eyes, dark and searching. She could still hear Lyle screaming inside the thing as it jostled an inch from side to side while he struggled.

Reaching for the divine symbol hanging from the chain around her neck, Gabriella shook her head and muttered a prayer of vengeance as she stepped forward, pointing at the creature with her other hand. White, radiant energy filled her vision as power surged through her and down her arm before slamming into the monster, knocking it back a foot.

The creature hissed at her and lumbered forward, snapping its lid at her arm but, seeing it coming, Gabriella moved out of the way just in time to avoid the attack. Though she did notice that Lyle had grown quieter inside the thing, even when the lid cracked.

Gabriella reached for the divine power bestowed upon her once more, this time letting the energy pool in her throat where she needed it.

“Release my friend,” she commanded, letting the magic ride on her words. The chest of a creature shuddered at the command, attempting to resist it. “By the power of Helm! Release my friend!”

The final words took hold on the creature, and the lid sprang open. As the creature leaned forward, Lyle rolled out of it, coughing and sputtering as he scrambled for the exit.

Gabriella didn’t want to wait around for the thing to decide to pursue them, so she followed Lyle out of the room, through the next three and into the entryway. Lyle came to a stop at the base of the stairs leading out and bent, trying to catch his breath.

“I told you not to-” Gabriella started, but fell short when Lyle put up a finger and emptied his stomach onto the floor. “Sorry.”

Lyle heaved a few more times, not producing anything before he was entirely in command of his body once again. He turned and looked at her, still covered in some sort of digestive fluid from the creature with a dissatisfied look on his face.

“I deserved that,” he said nodding.

“No, you didn’t,” Gabriella said. “Did you see that thing? What the hell was that?”

“I read about them once. That,” he paused, pointing back through the room, was a mimic.  It’s a creature that takes on the appearance of a common item that lures people into getting close to it. I thought they’d be more common, but that’s the first I’ve seen.”

“You knew those things existed, and you still wanted to go near that?” Gabriella asked.

“It’s been a while since we had a real win, you know? I was hoping that the goblins had brought the chest down to try to hide it. Though goblins value many things besides currency, I thought there might be a few coins in it for us,” Lyle explained. “Sorry, I was foolish.”

“I appreciate it, Lyle,” Gabriella said. “I just thought that it would be empty, or worst-case scenario, trapped. I didn’t think it would try to eat you.”

“Yeah, well, we live, and we learn. Next time we come across a chest,” Lyle said, pulling his small hand crossbow from his side for effect, “I’m firing a bolt from this into it to see if it reacts.”

“That sounds like a much better plan,” Gabriella agreed before a thought struck her. “What if it isn’t a chest next time we see one? What if it’s a chair, or a couch, or something like that?”

Lyle paused for a moment shaking his head. “I think we might know that it’s a mimic if we find a random couch in a dark hole like this. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go first out of here so I can get to the stream we saw a few dozen feet away. I think this fluid is beginning to eat into my armor.”

Gabriella shook her head and smiled as she motioned for him to lead the way. She gave a quick prayer of thanks to Helm for the power to free Lyle from the mimic as she followed her friend up the stairs. Behind them, deeper into the hole, the mimic made short work of scooping the goblin bodies into its maw before resuming the stance of an ordinary chest.

 

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