After they deposited the remains of the bear at his home, Yami flew excitedly through the forest, with Drake following close behind. With Yami directing Drake, they made their way back through the forest and came upon a large, open plain. In the distance, Drake could see what looked like a small hut, with a mixed variety of different colors of smoke coming up from it.
[Um, Yami, where exactly are you leading me? It looks like someone lives over there.]
Sitting on Drake’s shoulder, Yami smiled mischievously before flying up and leading Drake towards the hut.
[Don’t worry, there’s someone who I want you to meet. Ever since I was born, I knew there was one nearby, but normally we imps only go to them when we’re in trouble.]
Upon closer inspection, Drake could see what looked like a woman, walking back and forth through the small hut, and as they approached, he could see the figure come outside and waited for the pair.
[Yami, what exactly are we meeting, even from this distance, I can tell it isn’t human. There are mana waves coming from that direction constantly.]
She turned to him, and smiled an all too innocent smile.
[It’s a witch, of course.]
As they arrived, Drake saw a short flash of light come from the witch, and felt a strange energy come over him. Not feeling anything innately wrong, he gave Yami a worrying look and continued to walk forward.
“Well, well, well, an Imp and a Draconian, this certainly is a novel sight.”
Hearing the enchanting voice, Drake was finally close enough to see what kind of creature this witch was. Roughly five and a half feet tall, Drake could see that she was the perfect, princess-like beauty, with long black hair, coupled with a long, flowing robe that accented her figure very well. Just at a glance he could tell she had a very voluptuous chest, which she seemed very proud of with how she kept propping them up, coupled with a single white horn that tapered off to a red tip on her forehead.
Yami quickly flew over to the witch, and Drake could see that Yami seemed to be talking with her for a moment before the witch nodded to Yami and began walking over to Drake.
“My, my, so you really aren’t what you seem, are you? Seeing how you passed through my field so easily, I have to say, I was honestly expecting to be eating you later this evening.”
As she finished that terrifying sentence with an impossibly innocent smile, Drake felt a chill come over him before he looked over to Yami.
[Hey, Yami, what exactly am I supposed to do here? I can’t talk with her. I’m not even sure if what I say is a language or not.] He looked back at the Witch worryingly.
Yami winked at Drake, before saying, [Just speak silly, I wouldn’t have brought you here otherwise.]
Looking up to the hauntingly beautiful woman, Drake tried not to lose his composure and just smiled.
“Um, hi there”, he said nervously.
Smiling to herself, she began to slowly walk over to Drake, her hips swaying ever so slightly from side to side. “Hello there, my reptilian friend. So, do you mind telling me why one of your race actually decided to make a contract with my little friend here. Keep in mind that I do hope you won’t lie.”
The witch approached Drake and took out a small amount of liquid that was hidden inconspicuously somewhere in her robe and began to slowly trace Drake’s chest with her finger, leaving the smallest amount left on Drake’s chest. As she continued to grin, Drake noticed another small wave of energy come over him, and the witch finally turned to him, seeming to wait for his explanation.
“Well, um, what do you want to know, it was just a mixture of us knowing each other a bit, and me wanting to help her, that’s all,” he replied in an anxious manner.
Narrowing her eyes, the witch seemed to drop her facade for a moment, revealing an intense look, before bringing it back up in a flash.
“Well, why would you want to save an imp? For a race like yourself, they can’t do anything for you, in fact, it would probably benefit you greatly to trade her for a favor,” she said nonchalantly.
Feeling the weight behind her gaze, Drake tried to answer truthfully.
“Miss… witch. I-”
“It’s Gwyndolyn, Draconian,” her voice full of spite.
Hearing the hostility behind her words, Drake continued.
“Right.. Gwyndolyn, honestly, I could never hurt Yami. She has never tried to threaten me, and she’s become someone quite important to me. And..”
Summoning up courage, Drake looked her in the eyes, which suddenly flashed with an arcane light. An intense flash of heat made its way through himself, and the core inside of himself reacted violently, emboldening Drake immensely as he felt his mana course through him.
“If anyone suggests that I trade her life for something as trivial as a favor again, then I would probably try to kill them myself,” Drake snapped.
Feeling the tension between Gwyndolyn and Drake, Yami looked between the two frantically, not sure how everything had gone in this direction.
The witch’s gaze seemed to harden, and for a moment, Drake could see the mana in the air begin to draw itself to the witch, empowering her just as Drake’s innate mana did.
“Well then, lizard, I only have one thing to say. Thank you.” As she finished speaking, her face softened.
Drake began to notice the mana in the air dissipate, and the young witch seemed to relax her guard for the first time, giving Drake a small wink and the first genuine smile since he arrived.
“Honestly, you Draconians are so quick to fight, it’s like having to deal with those demons all over again. But…”
Gwyn looked over to Yami, and watched the small imp floated over to Drake and nestle against him for the first time since they arrived, trying to hug him the best that her little body would allow.
“I’m glad that at least one of the little ones has found a friend. So many have such a sad fate, that I was reluctant to let another one be tricked into happiness only to have it dashed later on.”
Drake relaxed his guard, and began to look at the horned beauty in a new light. While she certainly seemed to be deadly, she genuinely cared for the imps, to the extent of fighting someone for a stranger she just met.
“So, Gwyndolyn, what exactly are you anyway, your body looks like a human, except for that strange horn of yours,” he asked curiously.
Letting out a petite laugh, she gave Drake a long look, and walked over to him. Tracing her finger over his shoulders, she circled him slowly before standing in front of him, exposing her cleavage dangerously.
“Ohhh, how naughty. You normally don’t ask a girl about her body when you first meet her. It’s typically bad manners,” she said seductively, a faint smile across her lips.
Drake froze up almost instantly, and he could feel his face begin to burn intensely as he thought about the meaning behind that. Seeing the horned beauty laugh to herself, he realized quickly that she seemed to enjoy toying with him.
This woman is entirely too playful for her own good, she is getting a kick out of messing with me.
Laughing, she relaxed against the small hut, her light voice tinged with a playful attitude. “Well, Draconian, what do you want to know about this body of mine? I assure you, it’s perfectly normal besides a few minor touches. For one, this horn is something that amplifies my magic ability, and much like all the others, I also have a core inside of me.”
Looking over at Drake seductively, she licked her lips before continuing.
“Heyyy, are you interested in wanting to know where it’s at?”
Drake shook his head slowly, sighing as he did. “Can you stop with the games Gwyn, I know what you’re doing.”
She brought her arms up to her chest, and Drake could see that she quickly began to pout, seeing that she wasn’t able to play him anymore.
“Giving me a nickname and insulting me in the same sentence, honestly, what am I going to do with you..”
She gave him a quick wink, and she turned to go back inside of her hut.
Looking back she said, “Well, are you going to follow me or not? I assume that’s why Yami brought you here in the first place.”
Drake looked at Yami nervously, saying, [Brought me here? I thought you just wanted to show me something interesting, but here I am having an argument with this damn woman because of you.]
Sticking out her tongue, Yami just squinted her eyes and smirked at Drake.
[Sorry. Honestly, I didn’t know she’d be quite this… eccentric. I knew there was a creature that had interactions with our race and the other demons occasionally, but I didn’t know she was like this. Honestly, the real reason I brought you was so she could help you.]
[What do you..], he asked hesitantly.
“Hey, are you coming or not?”, she called out.
Drake frowned a little bit as he looked over to the hut, and sighed.
“Yea, yea, I’m coming. Wait up!”, he answered.
Drake walked inside of the small building, and at a glance he could see a wide variety of multi-colored flasks covering the walls, along with a variety of other strange apparatuses. Off to the left, he could also see a small straw bed, next to an open window.
“So uh.. Gwyn, how are you planning to help me,” he asked.
Sitting down on a small chair, she crossed her legs before looking at Drake coyly.
“Hm.. how am I planning to help you. While you certainly are an intriguing Draconian, in all things in life, there needs to be a give and take. So, what can you give me in return?”
As Drake looked at the horned witch, the only emotion Drake could feel was shock. He was expecting to go hunting for a rare monster, or find something that only Yami was able to find, but now he was expected to trade something to this witch. After pondering for a moment to himself, an idea crossed his mind.
“What if.. I protect you.” he said shakily.
Gwyn’s eyes widened for a moment, and she began to smile before laughing heavily. “Wha- Pfft, hahahaha. That was the first thing you thought of? What, you see a beautiful girl such as myself, and you want to protect her, is that it? You really are too priceless.”
He began to visibly blush. After seeing her exaggerated reaction, Drake could only respond with silence.
“While it is flattering, I really don’t need protection. I’ve already had a few humanoids try to cause some trouble, but with a little.. convincing, they left rather quickly.” Clapping her hands together, she said, “ How about this, tell me something that I don’t know, knowledge can be a form of payment as well, maybe it’ll be even more interesting.”
As she finished, she leaned down on her knees, eager for whatever Drake may come up with.
Drake sighed for a moment at Gwyn’s display, before saying, “Well first, stop calling me a Draconian, it’s a bit annoying after a while. My name is Drake. Second, I’m not what I look like.”
She cocked her head to the side quizzically, and just gave him a strange look, as if wanting him to continue.
He explained, “I used to be a human, back before all of you were.. born I guess, all of the humans were given the chance to change. The people who were given humanoid races were able to change without changes to their personalities, as far as I know. But from how Yami reacted, it seems that it was meant for all the humans who turned into races like mine, to turn into nothing but monsters.”
As Drake gave his explanation, his face became darker, and angrier with how he was tricked. Yami quickly came over, cuddling with the Drake, and doing her best to cheer him up.
Smiling, he said, [Thanks Yami.]
She returned his smile, rubbing her cheek enthusiastically against him. [Anything for you, Drake.]
Smirking at the small imp, Drake continued.
“No offense, there’s nothing wrong with becoming a monster, but I was almost tricked into giving up my personality. Honestly, I was sort of excited to become something stronger. I was bored with how everything in my whole life was so monotonous, every day was the same. Studying, eating, sleeping, working, every day on repeat. But now…”
With a flash of red light in Drake’s eyes, Drake brought up a small, slender shard of mana, slowly rotating in place. Transforming it through various forms, Drake could feel his mana begin to embolden him again, giving him a rush of energy.
He smiled in an almost reverent manner, staring at the small shard of mana. “I can do all of this, I’ve felt more alive in these past couple of days than I have in my entire life. I can feel myself getting stronger, but recently, I’ve realized that I’m not near strong enough.” His gaze hardened, and he looked at Gwyn. “The monsters and humanoids I’ve fought after everything became saturated with mana are much stronger. I’m fast and strong, but I was given an ability by those damn aliens, and I want to make the best of it.”
Drake smirked to himself and gave Gwyn a crooked smile, as if asking if that was enough.
As Drake explained story and his reasons, Gwyn was initially only vaguely interested. She did indeed know about the fate of the humans, but it was inconsequential to her. Drake being a human at one point was certainly intriguing, but given how he looked at her, and how he reacted, she already knew that he already wasn’t a normal draconian. However, as Drake continued his story, her eyes suddenly widened in shock, and she became extremely excited.
“Drake, you said you were given an ability, what was it,” she asked, her eyes lit up in a fanatical manner.
“Um.. it’s a pretty typical ability. It works well with my race, so I figured that was why I was given it. All it does is give me the ability to absorb mana from other people,” he said nonchalantly.
Gwyn gave Drake an almost hungry look, and rushed over, almost knocking him over in the process.
“Let me see, please. Show me your mana again.”
“Um, alright,” he said hesitantly.
Bringing out a circular sphere of mana, it seemed to crystalize into place. Taking a small vial filled with a faintly glowing blue liquid off of a shelf nearby, she quickly poured half of it on the dark red sphere, watching it closely.
“Um.. what are you-”
“Shhh, just stay still and don’t talk,” she demanded.
Within moments of pouring the liquid, Drake’s mana sphere began to react. Much like it did with all of the mana cores it had been introduced to before, it liquefied and began to try to envelop the liquid. Midway through the absorption, it began to vibrate violently, almost as if the mana itself was fighting the absorption process. Drake felt an immense pull of mana from his mana source, and his eyes narrowed dangerously. After a moment, Drake felt that his mana had undergone a fundamental change from before, and his mana sphere finished absorbing the strange liquid.
Gwyn’s eyes sprang to life, and she began to grin ecstatically.
“Drake, do you know what you are?”
Entirely confused, Drake answered.
“Um, I’m a Draconian.”
She shook her head emphatically, her eyes seeming to glow with excitement.
“No, no, I meant what you are, you’re a predecessor. You are one of the first. I can’t believe this, most of them died. The creators gave them all an order to begin killing all humans nearby whenever the world was set to spawn. I heard from others that a large amount of them were killed by the furious humanoid species, leaving only a few species left with theirs. You are one of them. And judging by what I just saw, it’s almost fate that you met up with Yami.”
“Fate? What do you mean, that was just chance. She was lucky to spawn in front of me is all,” he said dismissively.
Her eyes shining with anticipation, Gwyn continued to explain with glee.
“Drake, have you ever wondered how this ability was given to you. I mean, of course the creators were able to create all of us, but they didn’t just make you an ability, they gave you one. That means it came from somewhere, right?”
Beginning to catch on, Drake could only listen as Gwyn continued.
“You have demonic mana in you. I’m sure Yami told you about the demons of Greed, but that’s not all you have. They are fairly tame, considering their habits, but you have Pride demon’s magic in you as well, they’re the only demonic race that has your unique style of magic.” She quickly looked him up and down, smiling as she did. “They were quite generous with you.”
“So, I’m part demon?” He asked uncertainly.
She began to smile in a very mischievous manner, before saying, “Pfft, no, of course not. While you may have their powers, it’s still quite obviously your own, otherwise your mana wouldn’t have been able to hold up earlier. That was an abstract of holy water mixed in with my own mana. It helps me deal with some of the problems that may come nearby, any normal demonic mana would have dissolved under that amount of force. They truly made quite a monster with you.”
Smiling to herself gleefully, she continued to murmur to herself for a moment, going over the possibilities of what she discovered. Shaking her head, she turned back to Drake with that same crazed smile.
“You wanted my help right? You have it, anything you want. Ohhh, this is going to be great. Now you are going to have to let me test it occasionally, but I will teach you to use it correctly the best I can.”
Turning to Yami, they began to whisper together, with Gwyn becoming quite intensive, while Yami seemed to be almost frightened by how excited the witch was. After a moment, she turned back to Drake.
“It seems you’ve only been using your magic in the most basic of levels. While the method you use is certainly unique, given your combination of the two sin’s magic, it’s nothing new really. You are essentially doing the same thing. But..”
A scary light began to float in Gwyn’s eyes as she continued her explanation.
“Once I give you some proper training, it should be truly impressive. Truly impressive indeed. Of course, I want some samples for my own use, but given how far along you are, quite impressive I might add, it shouldn’t cause you any trouble.”
Becoming increasingly overloaded by Gwyn’s explanation, Drake began to feel himself becoming more confused.
How far along I am.. pride demon’s magic.. predecessors.. What did I get myself into with this woman..
Turning to Yami again, she said, “Yami, bring back your friend tomorrow, I need to have some preparation to do this properly. I expect you back early tomorrow. Don’t disappoint me now.”
She has that scary look again too.. I thought we were past all that. In the end though, she seems nice enough. Although, if she is right, I have a lot more to learn.
Drake turned to Yami, and picked her up, placing her in between his horns before walking out, heading back towards the forest and out of the barrier.
Tilting his head slightly up towards her, he asked, [So, how much did you know? I know you must have at least had an idea, otherwise you wouldn’t have been so insistent. I’m guessing it was after the fight, huh?]
Looking down sheepishly, Yami could only nod to herself.
[It was too similar. It made too much sense after seeing all of what you could do. Especially absorbing that monster core. It would kill any normal member of your species. It’s too much.]
Too much? It doesn’t really seem that way.
Shaking his head quizzically, he said, [What do you mean? Sure it gave me a boost after I was done, and it’s fantastic for healing, but it isn’t that strange.]
She popped her head into the edge of his vision before answering. [You don’t understand, most races, especially yours, grow over time. Demons grow by killing and eating other monster’s cores. It gives them a fantastic growth rate, but we easily stagnate in power if we can’t continually find more powerful cores. Your race is made to grow over centuries, slowly growing in power. It’s certainly slower, but it’s much more stable.]
Well that explains why she was so frantic when I ate one right in front of her. She was probably expecting me to die right in front of her. Poor girl.
Picking up Yami off his head, Drake placed her on his shoulder and began to pet her under her chin. While she seemed to be against it at first, seemingly through embarrassment, she seemed to start to enjoy it more and more.
[Hm… a little to the right Drake.. Ahhhh..]
Smiling, he said, [Thanks for looking out for me Yami.]
Sprawled across Drake’s shoulder, she could barely manage a answer in response. [Hmm… where’d that come frommm… ahhh…]
It seems like I’m getting better at this at least. Come back tomorrow huh. Maybe then I’ll finally have better control over myself as well. I need to become stronger.