*Authors Note* Sorry, I was a day late. School has been difficult, and I just lost track of time. Here’s the newest chapter. Hope you guys enjoy it!
As Drake walked back through the forest, he kept feeling a strange heat flow through his body, pulsing and then condensing, then disappearing. He couldn’t quite tell what it was, but he felt… different somehow. It felt like the process of Gwyn testing his mana had changed some innate part of himself, something that before, had gone completely unnoticed.
He quickly shook off the feeling, and looked up at Yami, who had taken a much favored position between his horns.
[So, did that go like you wanted? She was a bit scarier than I was expecting from someone who is supposed to help your species.]
Peering over into the edge of Drake’s eyesight, he could see the small imp stick her tongue out playfully before returning to her spot.
[She was scary at first. I thought you two were going to fight at one point, but I’m just glad that everything turned out well.]
Drake was about to respond when Yami flew out in front of him suddenly, an anxious expression clear on her face. Her wings fluttered erratically, and she quickly flew up higher, as if she was trying to locate something.
[Drake, get ready. Something is coming this way, and fast.]
He looked at Yami, a curious but carefree look sketched across his face. [Really? Can you tell what it is?]
Closing her eyes, Yami glowed faintly before returning to normal.
[It’s… some kind of mix. I can’t tell what species it is. It’s almost here.]
As soon as Yami finished her sentence, Drake could hear something crashing through the underbrush, rushing over to the duo quickly. He could see a large, seemingly demonic creature running towards them. As it grew closer, he could tell that it was slightly taller as him, and had large, goat-like horns, with red skin and fur covering its body.
Yami’s eyes narrowed before relaxing, and she slowly lowered herself to Drake’s side.
[Drake, it’s a Satyr. It doesn’t seem like it wants to fight either.]
As it approached, it slowed down considerably, and looked at the two strangely. It began speaking in a strange, hollow voice. After a brief second of hesitance, Yami responded, and the two began to talk between each other, with the Satyr speaking very emphatically, even to Drake’s limited understanding. After roughly a minute, Yami looked to Drake very hesitantly, fighting between pity and sadness.
[Um, Drake, I know you don’t have any reason to listen, but hear me out.]
Looking between the Satyr and Yami, Drake nodded.
[Alright. Go ahead.]
After a moment of conversation, Yami turned back to Drake, a mixed look on her face.
[He says he wants to serve you.]
Drake began to feel a deep welling of sadness inside of himself, he looked to Yami and began to understand, at least somewhat.
[Yami, what happened?]
The small imp lowered herself onto Drake’s shoulder, a downcast look clear on her face. [All of his family was killed. He wants power, and he says he raced towards the closest source of demonic magic, only to find us. He assumes that I’m your servant, and that you’re likely a demon of Envy in disguise. It’s very unlikely that he realizes what we actually are.]
Drake paused for a moment, and said, [And if he does realize?]
Looking at Yami, Drake could see that she seemed to be fighting with herself about something. He could tell at a glance that she was very worried about something. After a moment, she looked back at the Satyr, and after confirming something to herself, looked back with confidence.
[He’s willing to take a contract. Unlike ours, you’ll be able to pick and choose what power he receives, so he won’t be gaining our unique ability. I suggest giving him the Sin of Greed’s ability. He’s already well suited to physical combat, and we’ll gain a portion of power in return when he uses it.]
Drake glanced at the Satyr. It had bowed to him once it believed Drake could help him, clearly desperate for power. Taking a moment to think, he responded.
[How would I do that? And can we trust him?]
Looking back confidently, she seemed to smirk slightly to herself, before letting out a reluctant laugh.
[That’s how it is with contracts Drake. You don’t need to trust him. He won’t be able to disobey any commands that you give him. As long as you don’t tell him to hurt himself in some way, he’ll obey any command you give him. He basically becomes a slave.]
Uncomfortable, Drake just looked up at the small imp, trying to gauge her reaction as best he could.
[Is this alright? He won’t be able to be free anymore.]
Looking back, Yami just smiled a small smile.
[That’s how demons work Drake. Power for freedom. For imps, yes it’s certainly unfair, we have so little power to begin with. But other demonic species do so willingly. You don’t need to feel bad about the process.]
He sighed, and looked over at the Satyr, watching as the large beast continued to bow with all its might. Upon closer look, he could see it shaking slightly, although whether it was out of fear or excitement it was hard to tell.
If he wants power, he has to give something in return, huh? Guess this is how things work now. It’s not like I can’t use him to protect us if something goes wrong.
[Yami, how do I put in just the Greed portion of my power?]
Yami flew off his shoulder and clapped her hands together, the faint glow of her contract circle clear on her petite chest.
[Don’t worry, I’ll help. This is a bit too soon, since I was hoping the witch would be able to help teach you control your mana, but I can act as a conduit for you.]
Unsteady, Drake took her at her word, and said, [Alright.. I’ll depend on you then. Tell him to walk over here, and don’t do anything stupid.]
After a moment of conversation with Yami, the Satyr nodded, and began to slowly walk towards Drake. He stopped within four feet of Drake, and swiftly kneeled in front of him again, an eager look on his face.
Frowning slightly, Drake said, [So now what? I’m not good for this kind of thing. You’re the one who did the contract before.]
Yami responded, [We each have a part of each other Drake. We’re Kindred. Just think about what you want, and I’ll show you what to do.]
Concentrating, Drake thought of the contract Yami was referring to. At first, there was nothing. Then as the seconds passed, the information came to him faster and faster, and after only ten seconds, he knew the entire formula for the contract.
He nodded to Yami to confirm it worked, he turned to the Satyr.
[Tell him not to move. If he does, I’ll kill him.]
After Yami told the Satyr, Drake walked over and placed his hand on the Satyr’s head. Thinking of the process behind the contract, a layer of blood-red runes began to slowly circle the Satyr. As they circled, more runes appeared, overlapping with the others. They slowly closed in, almost as if they meant to trap the Satyr within.
After a moment, the runes seemed to lock in place. Recognizing this as the final step, Yami jumped in beside Drake and took his hand. After a moment, Drake recognized what was the Greed portion of his mana being funneled through him into Satyr. Still unsure how she was managing it, he just let Yami finish the process.
The runes that circled the Satyr began to uncurl, and flow into Drake’s hand. He felt a slight burning in his hand as the runes flowed in, and he noticed the Satyr seemed to be struggling to keep a straight face as Drake heard a soft sizzling sound from the Satyr’s chest.
[Alright Drake, it’s done.]
Backing away, Drake could see a strange marking had burned itself onto the Satyr’s chest. It reminded him of his draconic face, with strange, demonic looking wings on either side.
Hovering over to the Satyr, Yami looked at the mark on his chest, and began to giggle to herself.
[Well, it looks like this won’t ever be mistaken for another Demon’s mark. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.]
[Drake, are you alright?]
As Drake looked at the mark, a violent sensation came over his body. He felt a searing pain across his back, and an intense burning across his entire body. Drake collapsed to the ground in agony, the last thing in his sight being a hellish dragon-like mark.
Flying around his collapsed form, Yami looked at her friend worryingly. She felt that he was experiencing an immense amount of pain before he fell to the ground, and now he wasn’t responding to her at all.
“Ahhh.. what should I do.” While Drake occasionally went through moments where he worried her, this was the first time seeing him in genuine pain. He had always shrugged anything off with a smile before, something that while it did bother her, she had come to enjoy his laid back attitude.
“Hm, master passed out the moment he made the contract. How convenient.”
Looking up at the Satyr towering over her and Drake, she glared at him hatefully.
“What do you mean by that, aren’t you going to help him?”
Looking down at the small imp, he just smirked and began to walk off.
“It’s certainly a shame, but I haven’t been given any orders yet. How regretful.” Stopping, he turned back to Yami. “I took the contract to fulfill a debt to the bastards who killed my brothers. I’m going to repay that debt now. Master can wait.”
Panicking, she quickly flew in front of the Satyr, trying to stop him.
“Wait, you have to help Drake, he’s in trouble, I know it. You need to take him to the Witch. She’ll know what’s going on with him.”
Hearing a low, gurgling sound, they both turned towards Drake to see his mana begin to envelop his body, with Drake still grimacing to himself in pain.
Yami turned to the Satyr panicked, and began to push against him. “Please, stop, turn around and help. He needs it!”
He smiled and turned to Yami and began to walk forward.
“That you honestly believe an insect like you could change my mind is laughable at best. Your race is completely useless. Honestly, I’m surprised such a powerful demon made you his first contract.”
He snickered at the small imp, and began to run into a sprint, making his way away from Drake.
“I said, STOP!”
Suddenly stopping mid-sprint, the Satyr looked over the Yami with a mixed look of fear and rage, the brand on his chest glowing with a soft, red light.
“You… will help carry Drake to the Witch. And you will never mention what happens between us to him, now or ever.” Slowly floating towards the Satyr, Yami’s face hardened into a hard stare.
Humiliated, the large demon glared at Yami, eyes full of hate. “How dare you, you little bug. As soon as I get free, I’ll kill you as soon as I get the chance.”
Looking straight into the Satyr’s eyes, she drew upon the strength of her bond with Drake, standing up to the demon that was easily six times larger than her.
“Listen here, Satyr. You may be a slave to Drake, but you are also a slave to me as well. It may be something that I encouraged, but you are a slave, and you WILL listen to us.”
Sneering hatefully, he stared at the little imp. “A bug like you believes you can control me; I’d love to see you try.”
Still staring at the Satyr, a wave of dark, tyrannical mana blasted forth. After only a moment the Satyr collapsed to the ground, still sneering at the little imp.
“I’m going to kill you one day…”
Floating down towards the fallen Satyr, she smiled a sweet smile.
“Satyr, I am your master as well. Now, pick up Drake immediately and follow me.”
In a land nearby, transformed by a strange, dark mana, a lone man sat along a stone throne.
He was about 6 feet tall, and his skin was pale from the lack of sun. His facial features looked to be fairly attractive, his jet-black hair neatly combed to the back. He was dressed in western royal robes, giving him the impression of royalty.
However, his refined appearance was hard-pressed to hide the evil air around him. Two demonic looking horns jutted out from his temples, protruding forward. He was also lined with a shadowy mana that seemed to seep out of his very pores.
“M-master, do you feel it? Another one has been born.” Kneeling on the ground, a small demon looked up to his master.
As the Lord looked down on the small demon, he could only sneer in response. “I don’t need you to tell me that, fool. A new Lord has been born. Even from here, I can tell he is unique. Most of all, he’s still young. Still malleable. And I want you to find him for me.”
Utterly terrified, the demon prostrated himself on the ground.
“M-master please! I’ll die if I meet a stray Lord, won’t you send one of the others?”
Laughing to himself, he stared at the demon. Streams of rope-like shadow emerged from the ground, wrapping around the neck of the demon.
“The better question would be, how painfully will you die if you don’t go look for him for me. I have other underlings who would happily chase down a Lordling for me. If you don’t, others will shortly after your… disposal. Now go. Make contact with him. And tell him I want to speak with him.”
Watching the pitiful demon struggle against the streams of mana, he released the small demon, leaving it gasping for air on the ground.
After the demon recovered, he quickly answered, “Y-yes, my master.”
He smiled to himself, he let the small demon leave his castle, watching it eagerly fly off in search of the new Lord. If the new Lord wouldn’t bow down, then they would be exterminated like the rest. This was the demon Absalom, the man who planned to rule this new world.
[Drake… Drake, can you hear me?! Are you there?]
Drake sat up weakly and opened his eyes to see Yami tearfully attached to his chest, trying to wrap her arms around him as much as her tiny body would allow.
[You know Yami, it seems like this is starting to happen a little too often.”
*Sniff* The pitiful imp looked at Drake, her eyes bloodshot. [It wouldn’t happen as often if you didn’t worry me as much, you idiot!]
[Yea, yea.] Clutching his chest, Drake could feel his entire body revolt against him for trying to move. Looking around, he could see he had changed locations while unconscious. He was in a small, very familiar hut.
“Just now noticing it, my little lizard?”
Hearing a silky voice, Drake turned behind him to see Gwyn standing there, smirking smugly at him.
“I have to admit, you impressed me Drake. You don’t even know what you’ve done yet, do you?”
Drake looked at Yami, still not understanding what Gwyn meant.
[Um.. Yami, what is she talking about?]
She turned away from Drake, a guilty look on her face. [Look at yourself real quick, you’ll see what Gwyndolyn is talking about.]
Curious, Drake summoned up his mana into a small, crystal mirror and took a look at himself. What he noticed first was his body had changed again. It seems he had shrunk again, and was barely six feet tall now. His claws were still a solid, black color, but they seemed to have shortened immensely, and all the scales on his body seemed to run together now, leaving him with a leathery skin, unlike before.
The most noticeable change was he had grown a second pair of horns on his head. The second pair grew parallel to the first, almost growing into the first pair.
Drake shook his head, sighing as he did. [Well, I changed again. Although this time it was a lot more painful.]
Sniffling next to him, Yami looked at Drake, the sadness clearly seeping into Drake through their contract. [I’m sorry Drake.. I didn’t know this would happen. I would have never let you make a real contract otherwise… I’m sorry..]
[What do you-]
Interrupting him, Gwyn sat down next to him, tapping one of his newly grown horns. “Do you see what’s happened to you now, Drake? You’ve undergone your first major evolution. Congratulations.”
Turning to Gwyn, he asked, “Evolution? What are you talking about? I’m a Draconian.”
She sighed for a moment and turned to Yami, talking to her for a minute before finally returning to Drake.
“Well, it seems you really don’t know anything. The little one has told you about the differences between you and normal members of your species. You have demonic mana, and that influences what you can do. I can tell you that normal members of your species normally spend centuries building up power. Just what do you think that means?”
Confused, Drake could only answer honestly.
“Um, it means that it takes them a long time to become strong, right? It’s more stable, but it takes forever.”
She shook her head, she turned away from Drake for a moment to gather a few potions. Turning back around, she poured several random assortment of potions into a small pot, and looked at Drake.
“Demons are a lot like potion making. You start out small and gain strength through sheer number or potency. The more cores they eat, and the stronger they are, the better off they become. Even the little one here will gain enough strength through you eventually, and undergo the same process.”
Gwyn sat up and made gestured to the forest in the distance. “Draconians on the other hand, take a long time. It’s obvious that they would, given what most become. What’s the first thing that comes to mind if you think of a draconic evolution?”
Starting to understand, Drake’s gaze began to harden.
She nodded slowly, and said, “Exactly, they are one of the most powerful species, incredibly resilient against magic, they can destroy entire fortresses through sheer force alone. The drawback is time, and of course, they have to survive to that point.”
Wait.. then what am I..
Drake’s eyes hardened, he was starting to understand where she was going with all this.
“Gwyn, with my use of demonic magic. I’m obviously not turning into a dragon. I’ve been getting smaller ever since I first started using it, and the other… obvious changes. What am I right now?”
Smiling widely, she leaned forward, whispering next to Drake’s ear.
“You’re becoming a Lord. A Draconic Lord. The first and most likely only of your kind that can use demonic magic. Isn’t it great?!”
Jumping up and down, Gwyn grabbed Drake’s hand and looked deeply into his eyes.
“You took the step of actually making a contract with a demon, something totally different to your contract with the little one here. You have the abilities of two of the Sin’s, something that most demons have to risk their lives in to just specialize in one. Honestly, with you not being able to control your mana, I wasn’t expecting you to be able to even achieve it. The little one helped you cheat a little there.”
So then.. if I am like this because of my mana, will it all stop if I don’t use it anymore… No, that isn’t an option. I need the power to protect myself and Yami, that’s all I care about.
Drake looked straight into Gwyn’s eyes. “Gwyn, what does becoming a Lord even mean?”
Thinking to herself, she gained a pensive look for a moment.
“Well, more mastery in magic for one. They typically control armies of minions to conquer an area, attune the area to themselves, and gain the ability to gather mana for his minions. With that, the minions can absorb power without having to resort to killing each other. That’s how it works with demons at least.”
Gwyn began to chuckle to herself. “And to think, you started this all because you wanted to help the poor, little Satyr outside.”
She made her way back over to Drake, sitting at his side. “Although, I guess it wasn’t all bad. From what I heard from the little one, your new friend outside helped carry you here. He couldn’t come through the barrier however, so I had to help you the rest of the way inside.”
[Sorry for causing all this Drake…]
Sighing, Drake slowly picked up Yami and pet her on her head.
[It wasn’t your fault. I listened to you, and it’s not like I didn’t have thoughts of being able to use him to help us. Besides, I likely would have gone down a similar path anyway, given how much I’ve been focusing on my mana since I discovered it.]
“Of course, it’s not like there won’t be others, although it will be considerably rare within your race, given the options they otherwise have. And they won’t have your unique advantages. I imagine most will choose to go down one of the various elemental paths that suit themselves.”
Drake sighed before laying back in the bed. [So what do I do now Yami? It’s not like it’s a bad thing. But I need to get stronger and fast.]
[Well, we can always start with why I brought you here, Gwyn can teach you how to control your magic better.]
“And even then, there’s even the chance that one may get especially desperate and try to lengthen their life unnaturally, although an Undead Draconian certainly isn’t something I want to come across and… Hey! Are you even paying attention to me you two!?”
Drake looked at Gwyn, embarrassed. “Ah, sorry Gwyn, I was talking with Yami for a moment.”
Utterly indignant, she began to pout quite adorably, given that she wasn’t being listened to.
“Anyway, Gwyn, you said you wanted to help me yesterday right? Since I’m different now, will that affect it at all?”
She sighed, and sat down, cocking her head at Drake.
“Well, my little Draconic Lordling, given you being so hasty, this may actually help us a little. You’ve become more proficient in magic, so it won’t take quite as long as it would have before. More importantly, I have a question for you. Have you ever wondered why we are able to talk so easily here? I imagine you can’t talk to other races except Yami here, and even that is due to her.”
Drake nodded his head, saying, “Well, I did mention something about it to Yami initially, but she told me to not worry…”
Shaking her head, she stared down at Drake.
“Given what you are now, you’ll need to be able to now more than ever. So, why do you think we are able to?
He pondered to himself for a moment, before stating the obvious. “Um, the answer is magic, right?”
Watching Gwyn laugh hysterically, he could feel the blood begin to rush to his face.
This woman enjoys playing with me entirely too much.
“Well, it certainly is a novel answer. Yes, it is due to magic. Now, did you notice anything strange about this area when you first entered?”
As he thought back, Drake realized he did feel a strange wave of mana come over him when he first arrived. He shrugged it off before, thinking that the witch was merely examining him somehow.
“I did. There was a wave of mana that seemed to come over me. Is that it?”
Gwyn smiled to herself. She seemed pleased that Drake noticed.
“Good, you aren’t utterly hopeless then. While my method is a tad unique, you can copy it easily.”
Standing up, she grabbed Drake by the arm and began dragging him outside.
“H-hey, Gwyn, what are you doing? Where are we going?”
She smiled in a very mischievous way before saying, “Just follow me, silly, you trust me right?”
With how sketchy you act all the time, I trust you a lot less than I should..
As they walked over to a small barren area, Drake began to feel on edge. As he drew closer, the mana density in the air continued to increase, making him feel almost giddy with the concentration of mana.
“Here’s the center of my barrier. You may be able to copy this eventually, but for now, let’s start with the basics. My magic works by connecting me with everything that enters the barrier. I’m able to connect with the core of the little ones, and talk with them easily. You are just a byproduct of this process, since you are in the barrier, your core is connected to me as well. So, what do you think you should do first?”
If this entire area is connected by her magic to others cores then…
“Is it possible to try to connect my core to others without a barrier Gwyn?
Smiling serenely, Gwyn seemed to be pleased by Drake’s question.
“Good, good. Yes, it is possible. It will be unlike your contract with Yami, and it will connect the minds of the participants through the cores themselves, unlike through your.. unique contract. Even if we left the barrier, if I wanted to, we could extend mana links to each other and talk without any issues. Something that will be quite useful for you in the future if you want to be able to talk with any subordinates of yours.”
Clapping her hands together, Gwyn’s eyes seemed to take on a scary look to them again. Turning to Yami, they seemed to have a short conversation, which Yami seemed to agree to hesitantly, before turning back to Drake.
“Now that you know that, it’s time for the next lesson. My dear little Lord, do you know the best way to understand your own magic?”
Drake again answered in an obvious manner. “Um.. training?”
She smiled in her princess-like fashion, and shook her head slowly, as mana began to slowly build around her.
“Drake, I’m going to try to kill you.”