“Wait, where did this come from? Why are going to try to kill me?!” Drake yelled.
Backing away from the horned beauty, Drake took a defensive position the best he could. He had never seen the witch use any real form of magic, and was worried how this had all spiraled out of his understanding.
Smirking to herself in a very self-satisfied way, she lowered her hands to her sides in an aggressive stance, the mana in the air beginning to funnel itself aggressively through her horn and into her body, improving her power immensely.
“The basis of all our magic is instinctive. Yes, there are techniques and skills to improve your flow of magic, but you don’t even understand the basis of your own magic. That’s why you are so weak, Drake.” Gwyn said, as she smiled slightly.
As she was giving her explanation, Drake began to see the mana in the air begin to tremble with power, with her horn seeming to glow with more and more energy as the seconds passed.
Drake shook his head hesitantly before focusing himself. He planned to end this fight quickly.
Running his mana through his body, he launched himself at Yami; dark red aura flowing through his arm intensely as he grew closer. Getting within arm’s reach, he ruthlessly slammed his arm against her, planning to instantly knock her out in one blow.
Just before Drake’s attack landed, Gwyn smiled smugly, waving her hand. Drake saw a small shimmer of mana and he rammed into an invisible wall that seemed to cover her entire body, completely blocking her from any physical form of attack that he could make.
Growling viciously, he leaped back out of range of any potential counter attack. “Dammit Gwyn, is this why you brought me here?!”
Gwyn smiled in a playful manner, spreading her arms out to indicate the surrounding area. “Well my little Lord, the center of my barrier certainly is the ideal place for a battle, don’t you agree? You’re going to be forced into a corner unless you actually fight, and I will learn a tantalizing piece of information about you, it works quite well for the both of us.”
Drake began to curse at himself for letting him be pulled into a sick game like this.
“In that case, let’s see how you like this!” Drake looked inside himself to his half-formed mana core, and began to force the mana out of his body. In a rush of dark red aura, a few large shards of mana formed quickly and were fired at Gwyn.
As they reach the shield, Drake’s mana shards began to eat away at the outer layer before brilliantly shattering into pieces.
“Still too soft.” She said smugly.
After she blocked the shards with her shield, the horn on her forehead began to glow a piercing blue. Gwyn extended her hand and in a flash of light, let out a piercing blast of lightning, shocking Drake severely.
“I guess the increased mana capability doesn’t include resistance to attacks, that’s a shame. I would have thought your race would at least help a bit,” Gwyn said, seeing Drake drop to the ground on one knee. His vision blurry, he struggled to stand up. He swayed for a moment as he got onto his feet, before looking back at Gwyn, the scales on his body blackened and burnt from the impact.
“Gwyn, please… I don’t want to fight you.” He muttered slowly.
She glared at the Draconian, shaking her head in dismay.
“This isn’t a request, Drake. Do you even think about why I’m doing this? It hurts me to see someone as powerful as you struggle so easily at the first sign of trouble. And do you know why you are so weak?”
She paused for a moment, staring at Drake with a barely disguised pity. “It’s because you used to be human. We monsters have to struggle to survive. If I didn’t know how to protect myself with all of my spells and my barrier, I wouldn’t make it. But you…”
She began to walk around Drake, circling him as she did. “You’re privileged in comparison, and you don’t even know why. The world you lived in for so long was too soft, too forgiving. You need to learn to embrace the power inside of you, Drake, or it’ll be too late, and the little one will lose the only friend she has.”
As Drake listened to the beautiful witch, he could only shake in place, the pain from the lightning strike still burning away in his body. He looked up at her, saying, “You may be right, but what does that matter if I have to fight friends.”
Gwyn’s eyes narrowed in anger, her horn beginning to glow a bright blue again. She raised her hand, and again, a large flash of light began to build around her hand, ready to strike out at Drake.
His vision blurry, he saw Gwyn raise her hand to begin another attack, and held his hand up, the aura building around his hand.
Shakily, he yelled “Dammit Gwyn!” Concentrating a giant, 4-foot long spear of mana, he launched it mercilessly towards Gwyn.
As the spear of mana approached, Gwyn sneered, and let out the large bolt of lightning from her hand. Striking the crystalline bolt, it snapped into pieces, weakening the attack severely and breaking the rest into small, harmless pieces. The pieces continued to strike towards the witch, but were quickly stopped by the same, invisible shield surrounding Gwyn, shattering the remaining crystal in midair and leaving her with an unsatisfied look on her face.
“You suppress your instincts when you are in battle just because you’re fighting me? You’re a disgrace to every member of your race!” She spat.
In a quick movement, a burst of blinding light came streaming out of Gwyn’s hand, burning the air as it passed. As it approached Drake, the dark red aura that surrounded him seemed to attempt to block the blast, greedily attempting to absorb a portion of it, but quickly burned away, leaving nothing its path.
Utterly unprepared for the quick offensive magic, Drake looked on in fear as the blast hit him squarely in the chest, catapulting him through the air. He landed on the ground with a sickening thud, the slight sound of burning flesh wavering through the air.
As she watched Drake fall to the ground, Yami turned to the witch, glaring at the woman with a fierce look. She was utterly angered by the blinding pain she felt through their link.
[Gwyndolyn, you said you were only going to test him, to unlock his potential but you never mentioned… this! How could you?!]
Turning to the small imp, a look of sadness crossed her face before disappearing instantly, leaving Yami wondering if it was ever there in the first place.
“I’m sorry, little friend.”
Waving her hand, a soft blue cage appeared around Yami, trapping her in place.
[Gwyndolyn, please, stop this!]
Shutting herself off from the mental connection, Gwyndolyn turned back to the scorched body of Drake, still listless on the ground.
“He wouldn’t take me seriously until the very end. I’ll have to try a different method.” She turned away from him, a faint sadness in her eyes.
“The little one mentioned that he had fought against a Dire Bear before, and he managed to beat it fairly easily. Was that really just a fluke, or the result of his magic?”
She shook her head, renewing her resolve. “In any case, hopefully that blast will have knocked some sense into him at least. There’s no need for a predecessor who can’t even protect himself or those important to him.”
With Drake unconscious, Gwyn had completely let her guard down. She had begun to ponder how she could unlock Drake’s potential, when she suddenly felt an intense pressure began to weigh down on her. She looked around, feeling the sense of bloodlust from the pressure beginning to grow. She looked back at Drake, and felt that something was off. “Drake…?”
As she watched the still smoking body of Drake begin to twitch on the ground, she noticed immediately that the aura coming from him had begun to change, and was the source of the increasing amounts of fear she was feeling.
She watched in disbelief as Drake begin to stand up, and immediately readied herself against any sudden attacks, but saw that something was wrong. The blank stare that was plastered across his face told her right away, it was just as if he was staring at nothing. His movements especially seemed wrong, it wasn’t smooth like a normal being, it was as if he was a puppet being picked up after his strings were cut.
She reinforced her shield, and immediately sent out a long bolt of darkness, this time meaning to incapacitate him into unconsciousness. She would force him into sleep, and figure out what had happened when he had gone unconscious. Whatever had happened during that last attack had left him too dangerous to continue fighting.
As the attack closed in, the aura around Drake reacted in response, reaching out and grabbing the bolt in mid-air. After a brief moment, the bolt seemed to shatter like broken glass, and was quickly absorbed by the growing mass of mana.
Gwyn said shakily, “You’re kidding…”
The aura began to circle around Drake viciously. As it did, it began to warp the aura around Drake to fuel itself, growing thicker and larger as it did. As she watched in horror, Gwyn noticed that the dark-red mana began to form into a recognizable shape. As it twisted around him, it began to solidify into a serpent-like form, forming a clear, Draconian face that stared into Gwyn’s eyes with an almost sadistic grin.
Feeling a chill down to her very core, she began to funnel as much mana through her horn as she could manage, before activating her final trump card.
In a wave of oppressive gravity, Drake’s form and the mana surrounding him began to be pressured against the ground, restraining Drake completely. Under the intense pressure, you could hear the cracking of the earth as Drake was pushed further and further into the ground. Only partially affected, the mass of mana shrugged off the strong gravitational force, giving the witch a hate-filled stare.
It looked down at the target of all that pressure. The mass of serpentine mana stared at the fallen form of Drake with disgust, before quickly turning to face against the witch.
Expanding itself upward, it looked towards the witch before speaking in a prideful, mocking voice, the voice itself seeming to echo with power.
“The little faker dares to try to suppress me when she can barely control herself, how pitiable.”
As she stared at the serpentine figure, Gwyn froze in place, furious at the implications behind those words.
Laughing to itself at the witch’s reaction, the mass of mana seemed to only embolden itself as it spoke.
“While the fool may not understand, I am no fool. I understand how hard you’ve worked… Kehehehehe…” The mass of aura smiled cynically, before cackling to itself.
After it laughed, it began to snake its way towards Gwyn. Gwyn quickly fired a bolt of magic from her hands in a panic, but it just ignored the dark bolt of magic, just letting the bolt hit its body. The bolt of magic only lasted for a second before it broke into pieces like the one before. The dark figure laughed, absorbing the mana within a second before quickly wrapping itself around the shield, trapping Gwyn inside.
It began to speak, slowly constricting on the young witch with every word.
“Your species is… weak. I watched, and waited, and I knew. You brought him to the source of your power, because it is the only place… where you can fight. And for what… to allow even a weakling like yourself to cause him to fall… Kehehehee… How sad.”
Her bright red horn shining in response. Gwyn forced herself to absorb more mana to strengthen the shield, trying her hardest to avoid the corruption that was slowly infecting the surrounding area around the strange serpent.
Staring into the glowing yellow eyes of the figure, she spoke defiantly. “He is important. While he is untrained he is certainly weak, but he is special. He just needs to learn control. He needs to learn what his power is.”
The large serpent stopped, and only looked into the eyes of the young witch, before laughing hatefully in response, sneering back at the witch.
“You say… he needs to learn control, that he needs to learn of his power. Little witch… I am his power! The power that he stole… I was meant to have. All of it!”
The large figure, looked over to Yami, still trapped in the glowing, blue cage, the serpent’s face hardening for the first time.
“That the little whelp actually dared to share my power with such an… insect. It still infuriates me… so… so… much.”
It extended a portion of itself over to the small cage, still staring at the small imp’s shivering form before shaking his head slowly.
“Unfortunately, the little gnat is smarter than she looks. The contract she made with the fool is unique, even among contracts. He didn’t even know the scope of what he was getting into.” It withdrew the portion of mana around Yami, and began to look at the trapped witch with glee.
The figure smiled in a very sinister fashion at Gwyn before saying, “But, my little witch, that doesn’t prevent me from draining you dry once I’m done with this annoying toy surrounding you.”
As he finished speaking, the serpentine figure began to slowly constrict onto Gwyn again, causing small cracks to appear on the circular shield. Gwyn struggled against the large figure, ignoring the increasing pressure put on the shield.
As the serpent attempted to crush Gwyn, Yami was still continually trying to contact her. Utterly locked out by her at the end of the fight with Drake, Yami was left to sit in the small cage that the witch had conjured up and watch in horror at what unfolded.
The sight of Drake being struck down. The horrific sight of Drake’s body being possessed by his own mana. The Draconic being that emerged from the mana and taunted Gwyndolyn. And most of all, the murderous stare in the eyes that looked at her. That was what she was always afraid of seeing in Drake. The utter contempt and the feeling that she was nothing more than an insect in his eyes. From the moment she met him, that look was never there. She was treated like everyone else he talked to. He had helped her so much, and now, it was her time to repay the favor.
When she first made the contract with Drake, she felt the flow of power from the mana. The ever so-slight feeling of disgust flowed within the mana itself whenever she conjured it. It made her hesitant to use the power. But not now. Not anymore.
Looking at the mass of mana that continued to coil around Gwyndolyn, Yami could quickly see she was running out of power. Without a proper contract with Drake, she was unable to use demonic mana, it would only sicken her, or at worst, corrupt her. If she started to draw in the corrupted mana surrounding her, the shield would break quickly under the strain, leaving her helpless against the thing attacking her.
Yami poked at the cage of mana surrounding her. Just at a touch, she could feel it had weakened greatly, allowing her to easily break out with just a little push of energy.
Breaking free, Yami glanced over at Gwyn before quickly flying over to Drake’s collapsed form, she began to do what she could to help him, taking the mana she gained from their bond and pouring it back into Drake. As the seconds passed, the large wound on Drake’s chest from Gwyn’s strange light attack, and the blackened scales from the lightning blasts began to heal, very similarly to the healing caused from eating a core.
Sitting on his chest, she poured whatever mana she could generate from their contract into him, muttering, [Please Drake… you need to wake up. I need you to be safe!]
As the mana wyrm continued to constrict onto Gwyn, a sudden shock ran through its form. Feeling that something was wrong, the large mana wyrm looked around to see the small imp sitting on Drake’s chest, pouring in large amounts of mana and healing him at a rapid rate.
Infuriated, his eyes narrowed in anger, and he rushed over to Drake and Yami, leaving a very exhausted Gwyn to collapse on the ground, utterly drained of mana. Glaring at the two, he circled them, surrounding them with himself.
Bellowing out in a voice full of power, he said, “Insect… what do you think you’re doing? Even if you help him, you know that I am the true master of our magic. This fool will always rely on my power.”
Yami glanced up at the large mass of mana, before quickly turning back to Drake, ignoring the pointed words and poured more mana into Drake, focusing fully on the healing process.
Angry, it lashed out at Yami. As it did, a large, crystalline shield appeared, covering herself and Drake within it, fully protecting them from any potential attack.
Looking up at the mass of angry mana, Yami could only smile to herself. “You know, I was originally scared of you. I was afraid that you would control Drake, and take him away from me. But…” Touching her chest, the runic symbols that made up their contract began to glow momentarily before fading. “I know now that I’m the one person you’re helpless against.”
Looking down at Drake, she smiled sadly and brushed her hands against his face. The large burn mark left from Gwyn’s attack had finally healed, leaving Drake with a serene look on his face, despite the situation.
Happy with what she had done so far, she flew up, and looked into the burning yellow eyes of the mana wyrm, smirking to herself.
“Understand this, wyrm, Drake is my one and only friend. And no one, not even you, will be able to hurt him!”
Glaring, the mass of mana ruthlessly struck out at Yami, only to meet the same, crystalline shield that covered her and Drake originally. The large mass of mana looked back at Drake for a moment, and sighed, clearly unhappy with how things turned out.
“Little insect, you may be correct… but if you truly hate me, tell the whelp to be more careful. And tell that witch to watch her back… I won’t allow anyone to damage my body so much while the whelp is using it.”
Dissipating, portions of mana began to break off the mana wyrm, returning to Drake piece by piece. Laughing to itself, it looked between Yami and Drake, seeming to smile in the mass of dark-red mana that was remaining.
“Also, tell the fool that he is using my power wrong. The witch should be able to piece it together anyway from my little bit of payback this evening, kehehee…”
With a last laugh, the serpent disappeared into Drake, not leaving a trace of corrupted mana left.
Exhausted, Yami dropped to the ground, drained from pouring all her mana from the contract into Drake. It took all she had to stand up to the strange mana wyrm, even if their contract severely weakened any actions it might have tried to take against her. It was along the same line of thought as if the mana belonged to her. Drake’s mana couldn’t harm himself, and so it had an extremely hard time wounding Yami in any way.
Struggling to fly into the air, Yami slowly made her way over to Gwyn, worried about how well she was doing after using up so much mana at once.
As she landed at her side, she could see that Gwyn seemed incredibly exhausted from over using her mana, but aside from that, she seemed fine. The shield was able to hold out for long enough against the mana wyrm to prevent any serious damage.
Yami began to laugh pitifully to herself, and began to shake Gwyndolyn awake. It would take a while to make up a story to explain all of what happened while he was unconscious.
**** Four Hours Later ****
As Drake finally began to wake up from his deep sleep, he sat up and looked around uncertainly, eyes still blurry and body still aching horribly from the earlier fight. As his eyes began to focus, he saw a faint, recognizable gray figure move in the corner of his vision and began to fly over.
Excited to see Drake awake, Yami flew over to check on him, flitting around rapidly in the air above him, before settling down and landing on his lap.
[So you’re finally awake? Are you feeling alright? Still hurting anywhere?]
The small imp settled down on his body and began to look over him, carefully feeling out where Drake was still in pain through their bond. With his eyesight finally clearing up, he noticed the little imp sitting on his lap, worried as always.
Well, it’s not all bad I suppose. She’s certainly cute when she’s like this.
Tussling her hair, Drake managed a half-hearted laugh before coughing fiercely, bent over from a severe piercing pain that shocked his entire body
“I wouldn’t move around too much if I were you. You’ve been through quite a lot.”
Entering the room, Drake saw Gwyn walking up to him slowly, regret painted on her face.
Drake saw that Gwyn clearly seemed to be suffering from something, the bags under her eyes and the faint shuffle in her footsteps told him that she seemed to be drained of mana. Attempting to lighten the mood, he said, “You mind telling me what happened Gwyn, you don’t look so good yourself hehe-” *cough* *cough*
The young witch looked at Drake uncertainly, and sighed. She avoided looking him in the eyes, she slowly eased over and sat down in a nearby chair.
She said, “After the.. blast that you were hit with, your mana acted to defend you. It’s certainly unique, that much I can tell.”
Putting on a half-hearted smile, Gwyndolyn did her best to ease any suspicions that Drake may have carried. It certainly wasn’t normal for your attacker to be put in such a drained condition after knocking out their opponent so easily.
Confused, Drake answered, “My mana defended me? It can do that?”
With a pained look on her face, Gwyndolyn continued, “While I initially wanted to put you in a state of shock to force your true capability to show, it seems I went too far in the matter. Your case as a predecessor may have something to do with it, but I was handily defeated soon after you were knocked unconscious. I apologize, Drake. I went too far.”
Gwyn slowly made her way out of the chair and bowed in an apologetic fashion. Sensing Drake’s discomfort, Yami flew up from his lap, and slowly eased onto Drake’s shoulder, nestling against his head.
Yami, attempting to distract him, said, [What she isn’t saying, is that we may have discovered your mana’s true form. With our crystal style of magic, it seems that we’re able to turn normally intangible mana into a hard, flexible weapon for attack and defense. The attacks she used to defend herself were physically broken and absorbed into the mass of mana, strengthening it while still continually used for offense. I… may be able to help show you how it works.]
She finished her sentence in an uncertain way, the faintest sense of fear transmitting through their link.
Strange, she’s normally very straightforward in what she thinks she is able to do.
Rocking uncomfortably from one side to the other, Yami picked up on Drake’s uncertainty and flew down in front of him, smiling widely.
[Don’t worry, I can handle it. It’s… just a new technique is all. I should be able to handle it.]
As if she sensed something important, Yami flew off towards Gwyn, and sat on her shoulder for a moment, speaking with her for a few seconds before flying back to Drake.
Yami flew circles around him in a distracting, upbeat manner, before attempting to pull him up from the bed. [Come on Drake, let’s head outside. Gwyndolyn needs some time to rest, the fight drained her pretty badly. Stay just outside the house for a bit, I just need to handle something and I’ll be right back.]
Looking uncertainly at Yami, Drake seemed to shake his head for a moment before waving his feeling that something was off away.
He nodded to Yami, saying, [Yea, sure, do what you need to. I’ll be waiting just outside. Just don’t keep me waiting for too long.]
Yami helped Drake off the bed, and they made their way slowly to the outside the house, where Drake slowly leaned against the exterior, his entire body still in full protest of any extra movement. They both waved to one another, smiling for a moment. Then, flying off outside of the barrier, Yami flew out of sight, leaving Drake by himself.
Drake scowled to himself, thinking back to how Gwyn wouldn’t even look him in the eyes. He wasn’t experienced with frightening others, but even at a glance he could tell she seemed to be afraid of him.
Something just… seems off with those two. They’re acting differently. Gwyn is certainly hiding something from me, she is afraid of something that happened with me. And Yami.. I can feel that she is hiding something from me, but it’s to protect me, strangely enough. What could be so important?
The little imp had never hidden anything from him before, and their bond made it almost impossible to hide any true emotions from the other. It seemed important to her, so he’d just let her keep quiet until she felt comfortable enough to tell him.
Drake looked up at the sky, watching as he saw the faintest of figures fly high up in the atmosphere.
He laughed, thinking about just how much the world had changed in the last couple of weeks. “Ahh.. I wonder how long she’ll take.” Drake leaned back against the house, closing his eyes to get a little bit more rest in preparation for when Yami returned.