*Author’s Note* Sorry for being a bit late, Christmas time is a bit busy around here, and I wasn’t able to get it out like I wanted. Glad to see you guys are enjoying the series. The views on each chapter have been going up steadily, so I at least have some readers who come back regularly. Hope you guys enjoy the new chapter!!
“Well, he lasted longer than expected, that’s for certain.”
Absalom sat on his throne, tapping it in an annoyed fashion. Of course, he hadn’t actually expected the small Scamp to make it very far, but it always annoyed him whenever his servants died. That small tinge of power, disappearing altogether, leaving him slightly weaker. It bothered him, but, all of them had their own uses, and the Scamps he owned were practically made for the messenger role.
He sighed for a moment, still tapping on his throne furiously.
“Did he arrive with his message, or did the little fool die before he managed? Or was he killed exactly because of his message, as a way of challenging me…” Absalom stared into empty space, judging whether or not the Lord he had sent a message to was truly a threat.
Staring off into the distance, he pondered to himself for only a moment before making his decision. With a wave of his hand, an ephemeral, dark sphere appeared in front of him. A runic circle quickly formed underneath, and the sphere soon began to spin slowly before disappearing in place.
Within moments, three figures of smoke materialized in front of him, before quickly forming into their natural forms. All three would seemed human at first glance, if it weren’t for their unnaturally pale skin. Their long silver hair was tied up into a ponytail that descended from one side of their heads, with deep purple pupils filled with an absolutely reverent look.
“Our lord, how may we serve you?”
Their voices answered in unison, a faint hollow sound ringing within their voices, as if they weren’t used to speaking in their form.
Absalom smiled. These three were nothing more than doppelgangers, but the utility of their forms made them ideal assassins. He had arranged them together shortly after he met them, forming the ultimate force for subterfuge and ensuring that he had the perfect candidates for missions such as this.
“One of the bugs I sent out to make contact with a new Lord died. I need you to trace his path, discover what he was killed by and how. Then, if it is unlikely that the new Lord was directly responsible, contact them and tell them this. Submit to me, and you shall live. If he refuses, kill him. I have no need for a new Lord so close to my domain.”
All three bowed in unison, before swiftly disappearing into smoke. He could feel them quickly leave the bounds of his domain, tracing the path the Scamp made. They should arrive within half a day at the least. It should be child’s play to find a Lord’s magic from there.
He smiled, his sharp teeth shining in the dark castle.
“I wonder what their answer will be?”
In the open plain near Gwyn’s small hut, Drake and Yami were about to begin training.
Standing across from one another, they each took a position, with Drake in a fairly carefree stance, and with Yami focusing on the contract sigil in the center of her chest.
[Alright Drake, from what I understand, the method of focusing your mana into solid shards or different weapons, while useful, drastically reduces the versatility of your power.]
Yami took a long breath, and slowly drew out a long, wispy layer of mana. She attempted to focus it together, keeping it malleable, but strong. She snaked it around her small form, much in the same way that she saw it always seemed to surround Drake, but her brows were furrowed in frustration.
The mana she controlled certainly was similar to Drake’s. The tendency to engulf the surrounding mana and convert it to its own type was the same, but she could tell that it simply wasn’t the same. All she could do was imitate what she saw when Drake’s mana manipulated itself and attacked Gwyn. At least then, maybe it would give him an idea of how to control it.
She sighed, and thought to herself, something isn’t right. This isn’t how the mana wyrm used Drake’s magic.
She released her concentration, letting the small amount of mana disappear into the air, and looked to Drake.
[So that’s how it works. Letting the mana become almost solid, allowing it to block attacks while at the same time going on the offensive. It’s a very unique way of using your mana, and it’s likely why your aura tends to go wild when you’re in battle. You are subconsciously attempting to use that style of attack.]
Now let’s just hope he can do what I can’t, she thought.
As Drake watched Yami control the small stream of mana back and forth, something about it immediately struck him as wrong. At a glance, he could tell that she was attempting to partially solidify the mana itself, which was very similar to the process Drake used to form his shards. It would result in being able to slow down attacks certainly, but to completely stop the powerful attacks Gwyn was using? He had attempted to do that with his solidified mana only to be defeated.
Whenever he fought the humans and even some of the new monsters, his mana reacted and moved very differently. How his aura reacted to incoming attacks wasn’t at all how Yami was attempting to imitate the process. It was as if… the mana itself was trying to drain and block the attack.
If he was correct, what Yami was trying to explain is that his mana takes away what gives magic its power at its very base. It wasn’t any conscious process of trying to solidify the mana, that would only result in a partial failure. It would certainly have some effect, but certainly not how Yami was describing it.
What it needs is…
Drake breathed out deeply, focusing himself. His aura always radiated out from him in extremely dense amounts when he fought. So…
“Haaa!” Drake yelled.
In a rush of red mana, the area surrounding him suddenly became tinted with a red hue, becoming darker with each passing second as the concentration increased. The mana surrounding him suddenly began to be transformed as it touched Drake’s own aura, and he continued to force the mana within him out. Trying to imitate how he felt when he was in danger was much more difficult than he first expected. It was as if something was attempting to stop him.
“I need more…” He strained.
Looking within himself, he looked to his mana core. Still only half formed, it was spinning at a rapid rate, attempting to convert and put out as much mana as possible. It certainly was potent, but he seemed to have hit a limit that he felt he couldn’t force himself past. He cut himself off from his mana core and looked to Yami.
[Hey Yami, do you know anything about mana cores?]
Yami gave Drake a curious look, as he was still fully surrounded by his aura. The effects of it were apparent, as the surrounding mana was continually being drawn to the various strands of red mana as the remnants of his aura dissipated.
[Well, I know that some types of humanoids have them. Typically, just the more magically gifted races have them, although some of the more mixed monsters have them as well, given how human-like they can be. Of course, demons do as well, although for them it’s normally just influenced by how powerful the monster cores they eat are.]
Drake laughed for a bit before turning to the outside. Demonic magic was so based around defeating others and absorbing their cores that he was happy he had gotten as far as he had.
[So demons need more cores, huh? Guess that shouldn’t really surprise me. I guess I’ll have to go out and get some then.]
He sighed to himself, and began to make his way outside of the barrier. If he was going to put out enough mana to cover himself and willingly use his power, he’d need a more powerful core, at least according to his theory. Yami turned to Drake and quickly flew over to him, hovering at his side as he walked.
[You don’t need to go out and hunt for any, honest. I already have it taken care of. I was worried about your physical condition, so I sent our servant to take care of some errands for you.]
Drake looked at Yami for a moment before it hit him.
[Oh right, the Satyr.] Drake scratched the back of his head in an irritated fashion. He wanted to finish this up quickly.
[Well, do you know how long he’s going to take? It looks like I will need them to be able to make the technique you showed me work.]
Wide-eyed, Yami stared at Drake, admiration building in her heart.
[You mean you figured out how to make it work? It didn’t look like you managed it though.]
He waved his hand dismissively, a smile on his face.
[It’s more of a matter that I can’t make it work right now, I believe. I just need to finish my own mana core, and it should work. It feels like I’m just hitting a brick wall, and that’s the only real reason I can think of.]
She smiled and gave him a starry-eyed gaze at Drake, before rushing over to Drake and wrapping her arms around Drake’s neck.
[You’re fantastic, Drake! Gwyn said that she had trouble analyzing just how your mana was capable of it. She said you’d need to feel things out for a while before you had any real ideas, but it only took you a moment to find the solution.]
Smiling cheerfully, he detached Yami from his neck and placed her in-between his horns.
[Don’t be too happy, I still need the cores to make sure that’s the issue. Are you able to get in touch with the Satyr at all? I’m still kinda new at this whole Lord thing.]
Drake heard a small gasp above his head, and heard her begin to laugh depreciatively. It looked like she didn’t know either.
[Well… we can search for him easy enough. After all, he has your mana after all.]
As she spoke, her head peeked into the edge of his vision and Yami stuck out her tongue playfully. Drake laughed for a moment.
Well, that’s certainly one way to find him. I wonder what he is like anyway.
[So, are you able to track him similar to how you found Gwyn? I’m still not sure how that little trick works.]
She laughed quite haughtily, sticking her small chest out proudly.
[It’s amazing right. My ability, that is. If I know who I’m looking for, I can find them better than any tracker.]
She obviously was attempting to impress Drake. It seems she was starting to feel outmatched by him in pure strength and was using her other abilities to compensate.
[Yes, yes. Good job Yami. I can always count on you.]
Drake placed his hand on her head and rubbed back and forth, watching the small imp squirm in place as she enjoyed the process.
[So, let’s get to work. Once you locate him, grab onto me and I’ll rush over. No point in wasting any time.]
She nodded, and quickly glyphs began to build around her. They quickly circled her, locking into place before disappearing in a faint flash of light. Turning to Drake, she pointed towards the exterior of the forest, near the city.
[It seems that the Satyr is on the move. He’s moving quickly through the forest. Come on, I’ll track him.]
Wrapping herself around Drake’s neck, they both bolted off towards the forest.
“Just one more and I’ll be finished with this damn task.”
So far, he had almost finished the job that damned imp had given him. He had managed to pick up a decent meal for himself in the form of a small, horned creature, and had already collected all the cores he needed besides one. The meal he picked up looked very similar to a fennec fox, but with a small red horn in the middle of its forehead. It gave him quite a bit of trouble for its size surprisingly. It relied on hit and run tactics, climbing the various trees around the forest and firing off beams of light before leaping to the next tree and repeating the process.
While the small thing certainly did no real damage, getting hit with beams of light that burned away at his skin with every blast was certainly unpleasant, and so he was forced to play the creatures own game and climb the trees after it. He quickly caught it soon afterwards, and killed it, leaving the corpse fresh to eat.
He was currently sprinting on the outskirts of the forest, on the lookout for any potential creatures. While the strange fox-like creature was certainly weaker, the other two cores he had obtained so far he had gotten through luck.
While he was walking through the forest, he stumbled across a troll near the river and quickly overpowered it with his new ability. Draining it dry completely counteracted the normal regeneration ability that made them so troublesome to deal with. Luckily, he noticed a river nymph who was watching him. It was a mistake for her not to dive and swim away, as she was quickly killed as well, although he tried to make it quick. He still remembered how it was in his past life, however brief. He wouldn’t subject it to his master’s powers to torture it so needlessly.
He certainly had an easy time initially but now, irritation was written all over his face. He had been searching for quite a long time now but…
“The real issue is that nothing is around here anymore!” He yelled.
It was a simple truth. Once the surrounding creatures discovered that there was a powerful demon killing others on sight, any semi-intelligent creature would try to hide right away. Only the small fox creature had been brave enough to harass him, and even that resulted in its death.
Frustrated, he stopped running, looking around closely at the surrounding environment. There had to be something nearby, he just had to look hard enough.
A strange feeling came over the Satyr, and he turned towards the interior of the forest. Something powerful was moving towards him and fast. It felt familiar, but he couldn’t be sure.
Tensing up, he instinctively braced himself for whatever was racing towards him.
After anticipating a powerful opponent, what appeared in front of him was strangely his master.
“Why wasn’t he still within the barrier training with…”
Looking to the small imp, his eyes narrowed with hate.
Drake took a moment to stretch a bit after his run. It seems that he still should have been taking it a bit easier after his battle with Gwyn. His muscles were still aching, and all the extra strain from moving around so much was starting to take its toll.
[So this is my servant, right Yami?]
She nodded steadily, returning the hateful glare of the Satyr with a rather righteous look of her own, sitting smugly on Drake’s shoulder.
[Yep, that’s him alright. He should have the cores you need. If he’s as good as he says he is.]
Drake stared at the Satyr for a moment. Since his transformation into a Lord, it was actually taller than him now, yet surprisingly, he didn’t feel any pressure coming from the creature at all.
If I had to guess, my instincts probably help determine whether something is actually dangerous or not. Although I’m not sure how trustworthy it is, considering it’s only been a little while since I’ve had this body.
Shrugging off the thought, Drake thought back to his conversation with Gwyn before their small battle.
He muttered to himself, saying, “So I need to make a connection…”
He looked to the Satyr, and extended his scaled hand towards the creature. Ever so steadily, a faint stream of mana flowed out of his hands and towards the Satyr’s chest. The Satyr tilted his head curiously, obviously not understanding what his master was attempting.
As the mana reached the Satyr, it began to flow into him, changing from a faint stream and solidifying into a faint red line connecting them together. After a brief moment, it disappeared, leaving them looking at each other.
“So… did that work?”
“Did what work, master?” The Satyr asked inquisitively.
Hearing the deep, beastly voice coming from the Satyr without any issues, Drake smiled widely.
“Yo! Nice to finally talk to you.” Drake lifted his hand up in greeting, leaving the Satyr slightly unsettled.
“A-ah, yes. It’s good to speak with you as well, master.” He answered in return.
“So, you’re supposed to have some cores for me, right?” Drake said in an upbeat manner.
The Satyr stared at Drake for a short moment, before blinking awake and hurryingly taking out a small, fur sack of monster cores.
“A-ah… here, master. I haven’t managed to collect all of them yet, but please be assured, I should have the last one the imp requested soon.”
Drake quickly waved his hand in a dismissive motion, saying, “Don’t worry about it, if this is all I need, then it won’t really matter if you had more.”
“R-right…” Satyr answered nervously.
Yami stared at the Satyr disapprovingly, before she began talking to the Satyr in her small, bell-like voice. He noticed curiously that the Satyr seemed to glare incessantly at her whenever she talked, and even Drake could tell that Yami seemed to be scolding him for something.
[What was that about?] He asked.
Yami gave the Satyr one last look before turning to Drake.
[He was so sure he would be able to find the cores that you needed to heal, but he couldn’t even do that. So, I was telling him to not be so confident, because it’d likely get him killed.]
She puffed her cheeks out quite adorably before continuing. [Why’d we get stuck with such a battle hungry race. They’re entirely too prideful and confident, he won’t listen to me.]
Of course, it isn’t entirely because of the Satyr’s disdain for the imp that he wouldn’t listen. Satyr’s are essentially Nymphs who were exposed to too much demonic mana. During the time that Drake was deep in stasis due to his breakthrough, monsters began to spawn. It was purely bad luck that a small group of Nymphs spawned so close to his home. They were affected by the leftover mana from Drake’s crystals, and transformed as a result.
However, ever since the Satyr was transformed from Drake’s rampant mana crystals, he had a fairly simple attitude towards life. Gain power to protect the others who were transformed with him. Since they were killed, he decided he had no reason to live on, and made his way towards the powerful demon who he suspected had a role in changing him and his brothers in the first place.
The initial attitude of the imp explained it all for him, or at least he thought. Overbearing and controlling, he thought it was likely the strange demon he made a contract with was similar, and so was fairly uninterested in helping his master unless he was explicitly ordered to. But now…
Drake turned away from his conversation with Yami, and looked towards him expectantly.
Extending his hand, he held out the bundle of cores towards Drake. “Here are the cores you need. Also, I have a request. Please, follow me to the humanoid’s settlement and help me take revenge.
A sudden burst of chattering came from Drake’s shoulder. Yami was clearly angry with the Satyr, although he wasn’t quite sure why.
[Yami, calm down. We can at least hear him out on just what he wants to do.]
Turning to Drake, she shook her head furiously, her wings beating in a vicious manner.
[Drake, he couldn’t even finish a small task I gave him, and he is already asking you for favors. You need to stand up to him. He is putting us in danger for his own selfish reasons, and there’s no reason for you to help him directly. The contract was power for his freedom. That’s all.]
Yami looked downward, staring at the cold forest floor before looking up, a determined look obvious across her face.
[Drake, I understand what you are wanting to do. You want to help him. And that’s what I love so dearly about you. But…]
She turned to the Satyr, a clear look of disdain across her face.
[Demons will just betray you the first chance they get. They can’t be trusted. None of them.]
As she was talking to Drake, he began to see her eyes begin to sparkle with the faint traces of tears beginning to well up. A deep feeling of distrust and fear was being transmitted across their link as well, and it was clear what Yami was afraid of.
Drake smiled slightly, and placed his hand across the head of the small imp. She looked him in the eyes, and immediately looked away.
[Yami, you’re a demon too, right?]
She nodded slowly, a faint sniffle coming from her as she looked down towards the ground.
[But I would never hurt you Drake… and he would probably do anything.] She responded.
He ruffled her soft hair back and forth, leaving it in disarray as he lifted her out of the air and placed her back on his shoulder.
[Then we need to trust him like you trust me. He hasn’t done anything to suggest he is planning anything, and until then, I’ll treat him just as I would you. Making an enemy out of those who serve me seems like an easy way to do exactly what you’re afraid of, right?]
[Right…] She said, the faintest of responses echoing in Drake’s mind.
Drake chuckled to himself before he turned to the Satyr and began to approach him.
“I’ll help you, but first, I need to rest up and train a bit more, can you wait for that?”
The Satyr smiled for a moment, still unsure of what to make of Drake. Then, he bowed, thankful that for now, he seemed to have a generous master.
“Of course, master.”