As Drake entered the Tower, he and Yami looked to one another, marveling at the sheer density of the mana inside. If this really was the location of the Draconian in his unconscious, he began to understand why he was having so much trouble controlling himself. The interior itself was rather plain, and it could be summed up as simply being a location of power in his unconsciousness.
Drake’s gaze hardened, and he yelled out, “Hey! Draconian, come here!”
Yami’s small light form suddenly dimmed and hurriedly moved behind Drake’s shoulder. Then, with a low pitched hiss, two burning yellow eyes began to glow menacingly, appearing out of thin air. The mana in the tower began to circle and concentrate, and within moments, a blurry, mana based version of his Draconian form appeared in front of him, filled with a hateful and mocking stare.
“Just who are you to intrude here, human?” The Draconian’s voice echoed with condescension, his burning eyes sparking dangerously as he spoke.
“We need to talk,” said Drake coldly, “or are you so haughty that you believed I would never make it here.”
You…” The form’s eyes shifted to the small ball of light next to Drake’s shoulder, and an eerie smile started to build.
“If that’s the bug… then you’re the fool, aren’t you?”
Small wisps of red mist flowed around the Draconian’s form, his smile only growing by the second.
“To believe that you would make it here. It must have been that witch, meddling in my affairs again. I should have killed her when I had the chance.” Hissed the Draconian.
Drake took a step forward, with Yami staying closely behind him, her small light warming Drake as he spoke.
“Tell me, why are you trying to control me as I fight? This is my body, and it has been since I transformed.”
The Draconian sneered at Drake’s question. “So the little human has the gall to ask me such a question. Listen, you fool…” The Draconian’s pitch dropped, becoming more snake-like. “This is my body. You are merely the one controlling it. And you think I could just leave a pathetic human in control of me, as I watch on?”
The light in the Draconian’s eyes hardened, its voice only growing in intensity. “You believe that I would let such insignificant bugs talk down to me? ME?! Those damn humanoids, they threatened to kill, me! Those insignificant whelps, those doppelgangers, actually dared to order, me!”
“Be blessed that I couldn’t take you over entirely, whelp!” Snarled the Draconian. “When I was born, I was weak… Oh, so weak. I felt that I was trapped, utterly unable to move my own body, imagine that!”
The Draconian continued, “Then, as my body begins to move, think of my horror, when I am not the one in control. Think of me, as I watch a damned human, move my body so poorly, that he is taken by surprise at almost every turn. That he lets himself, and by extension me, come so close to death! How could I not attempt to take control?!”
The Draconian’s form wavered, the intensity of his emotions interfering with his ability to maintain a solid form in Drake’s unconscious.
Drake, in complete contrast with what he initially came here for, let the Draconian finish speaking. Truthfully, he was curious about the being that had caused him so much trouble recently, even if he was here to get rid of it.
Just a few weeks ago, he had lived a normal life, and although he looked the same in his unconscious, he had lived a different life entirely since then. This sort of change should have made his life much more difficult. However, even though he was facing a completely different environment, one that he hadn’t even attempted to live in his entire life, he had lived with relative ease.
In the end, it seems that my current way of life, and that I’ve been able to live so easily is thanks to him, at least a part of it. But…
Drake’s eyes locked onto the Draconian. His voice getting stronger, more vicious with each word. “Even if that’s all true, and that you’ve been trapped, I can’t just let you control me!”
Drake continued. “Now, let’s look at it from my point of view. I was forced to live a completely different life, intentional or not, on the whims of some damn aliens who just sit in the sky and laugh at what they’ve done.”
“Then, when I finally do change, I realize I feel different. It’s slight.” Drake thought it over for a moment, remembering the past. “I get overexcited when I fight, and although I become outright cruel sometimes, it’s only after I win. After all, it’s not really normal for an average guy to be perfectly fine with digging through corpses.” He gave a half-hearted laugh, then paused.
“I start to completely lose myself in fights though. I almost kill a few humans, and then you manage to control me completely when I get knocked out. Then you almost kill my friend, and you threaten Yami!” Drake’s face began to twist in anger, with the small beacon of light on his shoulder slightly brightening as he finished speaking.
“I won’t just let you get away with messing with my mind!”
The Draconian was watching Drake intently, his hostile stance only growing more dark as Drake continued to speak.
“And you dare to think that you, a mere human, will be able to stop me?” The voice echoed with power and pride. Clearly, he saw Drake as more of an inconvenience to himself than any real threat.
Drake smiled slightly, and he pointed to the Draconian.
“Who said I was alone?”
Several hours earlier…
“So uh… What is this supposed to do anyway, Gwyn?”
Standing inside a carefully constructed runic circle, Drake had been forced to sit inside while Gwyn worked on an alternating pattern of runes. She gave him a smug look, and continued to write out the runes, explaining as she did.
“Drake, your problem isn’t your mana, your aura, or even your abilities, it’s the being that is inside of you. So…” Pointing to the first set of runes, she smiled mischievously. “This set is to give us a little privacy. It may be a bit uncomfortable for you, but it’s necessary.” Pointing to the intersecting set of runes she was writing out, she said, “Next, is the set I’m working on now. I don’t have the ability to help you directly, but this magic should be uniquely suited to your problem, as long as you can find it.”
Drake cocked his head to the side. Would it really be that simple?
“Gwyn, what happens if I can find it?”
As Drake asked the question, Gwyn raised her hand, and pointed straight at him.
“You capture it.”
Holding his hand out towards the shifting form of the Draconian, an array of twisted, runic chains exploded forth, completely surrounding the creature after only a short moment. The Draconian was completely trapped, layered in the mystical chains.
The process itself was quite simple. The moment Drake enabled the spell, the runes that were located just outside of his physical body activated. The whole basis of these particular runes were based around mind magic, and while experimental, were meant to activate the moment the caster found the memories they wanted to seal off. Given that Drake was acting as the main personality, the Draconian neatly fit into the “memories”.
“You… YOU DARE!” The Draconian roared out in rage, desperately struggling against the chains.
The Draconian glared at Drake, his hazy, mana-filled form fully solidified into Drake’s own Draconian body. The chains had fully sealed in his powers, and he was helpless here, powerless in a tower of his own creation.
The Draconian’s feral growl only intensified, the crystal structure shaking faintly with the echoes of his voice. “You ignorant human! I will kill everyone you care for! The little imp, the witch, and even that damned Satyr! Everyone, if you don’t free me!” The Draconian continued to struggle against the ethereal chains, only becoming more furious by the second.
Drake looked back at Yami’s small form. She had fully hidden behind him, as if she was trying to block out the horrible screams by cuddling next to Drake. He glanced at the Draconian. It’s almost funny. He looks so much like the new me but…
Drake frowned slightly. The sheer, irreplaceable hate coming from the Draconian’s eyes was the only real indicator that he wasn’t looking into a mirror of his new body.
Feeling a faint glow well up in him, he heard Yami’s voice come through, a clear pleading tone evident. “Drake. Please leave…”
Her sudden prompt shook Drake out of his daze. He was almost interested in what the Draconian, the creature who had caused him so much trouble, would try. So far, it had seemed that it was almost unstoppable, single handedly killing enemies he would have likely had much more trouble with but… it simply wasn’t worth the drawbacks.
Shaking slightly, Drake gazed down to his hand for a moment, before looking up at the trapped Draconian. His lips curled slightly, realizing that for now at least, his problems were finally over.
“I’ve finally done it.” Drake said in a light whisper. He could barely contain himself, almost outright laughing with glee.
The Draconian would stay here, trapped and unable to influence him at all. He was finally free.
As Drake turned and was about to walk out of the tower, the Draconian yelled out one last, desperate plea. “The knowledge I have, you need it! Our abilities, you could become so much more powerful, you could rule over all these insects, but only if you have me! I have everything from the Creators!”
The Draconian’s eyes had turned from hateful to desperate, the clear want to be free obvious in the sudden change in behavior.
Drake had underestimated just how much the Draconian’s behavior stemmed from simply wanting the same thing as him: control over his own body. In his eyes, he was born to rule, and the powers he was given was only a symbol that it was meant to be true.
Drake couldn’t help but smile at the Draconian’s words. He would say anything to be free if he was in that position as well, but for now at least, it was time to leave.
“Come on Yami, let’s go.” Drake said as he turned to leave the tower. He felt a small flash of warmth go through him as Yami happily popped up from behind his shoulder and bobbed excitedly in front of him, flashing as she did.
The Draconian’s eyes widened with fear, and he yelled out. “I’ll give you power! There’s so much you haven’t learned, and I will tell you, all of it, just let me free!”
As Drake left the tower, the pleas continued, slowly fading as Drake drew further away. Eventually, the cries stopped completely, leaving Drake back in the eerie silence he encountered when he first entered this area.
He turned to Yami, and pet the small ball of light, much like he did in reality. It was strange. He had touched her several times, and each time it left a serene feeling as the warmth ran through his fingers and trailed down his body.
Smiling, he turned to the crimson sky. “Well, it’s time to leave.” He raised his hand to the sky, and with a flash of blinding light, he was gone.
Far to the east, in a plain full of smoke and darkness, a high castle jutted forth out of the ground, constructed almost entirely of a dark, stone-like material. Inside, lay Absalom. He was left in disbelief at what he felt through his bond with the doppelgangers, and currently lay on his throne, pondering on what he should do next.
“How could they just die, the power I gave them should have been more than enough, they’re invulnerable to almost all physical attacks. Even magic has minimal effect.”
Revealing his sharp, curved teeth, he released a growl at the memory of what happened. Somehow, one of his doppelgangers were killed, but what happened next is what truly caused problems. He could feel that the magic from the other two hadn’t dissipated entirely, and he even felt a strong bond coming from the last minion, but it wouldn’t respond to any of his commands.
As he recalled his orders to the trio, he scowled, remembering how he had left no room for error with his judgement. The orders should have been carried out exactly, which left only one option.
“That damned Lord can counter my magic somehow. No humanoid should have been capable of intercepting them, and they should have gone straight to the lord after finding the corpse of the Scamp.”
It was too dangerous to send more minions after him now. His powers weren’t dissipating as his minions died, and sending waves against an unknown enemy would only draw backlash if the Lord was so powerful to dispatch three of his best assassins. Right.. he.. he would send scouts. He would spy on the Lord, gather information, try to find any weaknesses. He had come too far to be hasty… he would take his time.
Absalom slowly raised his hand as he focused on a small, smoky sphere. It hovered in the air ever so slightly as he closed his hand down on it, extinguishing it entirely.
He lay motionless for a few moments, before looking out to his domain. “I’ll take my time, so when I have the chance, I can kill them in one strike.”
Hidden on the outskirts of the ruined city, was a small encampment of humanoids consisting of roughly twenty people. It was just an offshoot from the main force, and for the past few days, they had been hard at work collecting some of the more troublesome monsters around the area.
“Please, let me go.” A faint, female voice cried out, filled with a mysterious and alluring tone.
A stocky bearded dwarf approached a shrouded cage covered with a large cloth, and rattled the bars with his longsword, yelling, “Shut up, ya damn snake. You already killed two of us, and I’ll be damned if I let you leave that cage until we get back to the main force.” He laughed with a meaningful menace in his voice, the others murmuring in agreement.
The glow of the night’s fire from their various spells were quickly vanishing as day began to break, and throughout their surroundings, the area would be almost eerily quiet if not for the sounds of begging from the covered cage. There were other cages alongside the alluring voice, also filled with various feral whimpering and growls. Although only one other cage contained an eerily human-like voice, those guarding the cages still had the same haunted look on their faces.
“Brian, you should really get some rest. We’ll keep an eye out on these beasts.” One of the patrols voiced as he sat down beside him.
“Right.” The man replied, looking out towards to ruins of the city. The main encampment was based almost two and half days off. Lugging along to cages to properly capture the monsters proved to be much more difficult than expected, especially given the types that they captured.
“Well I’m gonna get me short nap, make sure they don’t escape, or there’ll be hell to pay.”
“You got it.” The man waved his hand, before leaning back against a stray tree, and watched the sun begin to rise.
Opening his eyes, Drake was met with the sight of an adorable imp, sprawled across the ground at his feet. It was almost dawn, and given how timeless everything seemed while he was in his unconscious, he was slightly surprised that it had only been about half a day since he had gone in.
“Hey, Yami, wake up.” Drake poked at the small imp’s stomach with his finger, eliciting small murmurings of laughter as Yami’s crimson eyes struggled to open. Drake had a mischievous look come over his face, and secretly linked their cores together. It hadn’t been long since he learned this trick from Gwyn, and with their telepathic connection there was no real need, but it’d be fun to finally hear her real voice.
“Hm… wha-“ Yami opened her eyes, and seeing that Drake was awake, immediately jumped up, a visible flush over her gray face.
[Youuu!] Clear embarrassment was ringing from her voice, and it wasn’t long before she was pointlessly hitting Drake’s chest.
Drake stifled a smile and looked down at her small form. “What’s wrong Yami, is something bothering you?”
She backed off and threw her arms to her sides, yelling, [You tell me! I had to go to sleep, otherwise I would have gone crazy! All these weird emotions kept coming over me, and I just see you smiling like an idiot in your sleep. Do you know how creepy that is! You weren’t supposed to mess with my soul in there as well!]
A quick look of confusion came over her face after her outburst, and she gave Drake a strange look before saying, “Wait… did you link our cores?”
Drake snickered mischievously, saying “Who knows.”
The young imp quickly began to pout, a faint blush coming over her face. “Aaahhh… First you just mess around with my other part, and now you’re actually hearing my voice…” She landed on the ground and covered her face, intent on keeping Drake from seeing her face at all.
Drake’s eyes widened as he said, “Oh, so that wasn’t actually you in there?”
Her yelling only intensified, as she covered her face with her hands, the blush covering her entire face, with even her ears turning red. [You big idiot! What did you do?! Ahhhh, this is so embarrassing.]
Drake laughed for a moment, before petting Yami on the head, very similarly to the way he nuzzled the small ball of light in his subconscious. She instinctively leaned into his hand, much to her displeasure.
In a reassuring tone, he said, “Don’t worry too much. You just helped me out a bit is all. Without you, it probably would have taken me much longer to get out of there. That was all thanks to you.”
She looked up at Drake, a clear defiant look on her face. “Yes, and I’m sure you had a lot of fun with me as well, didn’t you.” The accusation in her voice was apparent, and it seemed to Drake that he may have crossed over into a sensitive subject.
He laughed nervously, and turned away from her, murmuring, “Well, you were… quite affectionate.”
This only renewed her embarrassment, as she quickly covered her face again, shaking her head back and forth. Then, just as quickly as it all started, she flew up in the air, attempting to shake off her embarrassment.
“W-well, anyway, I have this for you.” Flying off to Drake’s side, was a small piece of meat. She picked it up with a bit of difficulty before flying over to Drake. Given that it was roughly the size of Yami’s own body, it was quite impressive that she seemed to have managed to get it this far. The only real issue was the strange coloring. Unlike all the types he had happily eaten before, this one seemed to be a weird gray coloring, and it put off Drake quite a bit.
“Umm, am I supposed to eat it?” Drake said with a bit of trepidation. Given the source of meat, Drake knew it was reasonably fresh, and it shouldn’t cause any problems eating it, but that wasn’t the real problem. The gray color resembled the kind of rotted meat that you’d expect to find gray mold on, only if the meat itself was gray.
Yami quickly shoved the piece of meat into his hands before moving away, keeping close attention to not looking Drake straight in the eyes.
[Of course you’re supposed to eat it. Therion didn’t have time to find a proper meal, so this was scavenged from the doppelganger.]
Drake noticed that Yami seemed to be intentionally speaking with her telepathy now. It seems that linking their cores together was something she still wasn’t quite ready for. Although it certainly was adorable, so he really didn’t care all that much.
He smirked to himself, and took the slab of meat. It looked questionable but…
Drake took a large bite, eating almost the entire thing in one swoop. It was strange. It didn’t taste the same as others, in fact it barely had its own taste at all. It was like a strange mixture of beef and chicken, yet somehow it was still appetizing. He chalked it up to it just being meat that contained mana, and so it was suited for his body.
He ate the other portion in one bite, before happily petting Yami on the head.
“A-ahh.. whyy~” Yami murmured to herself, completely caught up in Drake’s own tempo. The small imp was completely stiff, with only her head moving in motion with Drake’s hand.
“Thanks for the food. It seems like forever since I last ate.” He licked his teeth quickly, getting the last scraps of food off. Now that he thought about it, he missed having actual teeth instead of the characteristically carnivorous teeth he had now. At least then, it had allowed him to savor his food a bit.
“Well, well, looks like someone is awake.”
Gwyn, who had been in her hut until just now, apparently heard the commotion from Yami.
Compared to her normal look, she seemed slightly crazed now. Strands of hair were sticking out everywhere, the complete opposite of the cool beauty demeanor she had tried so hard to maintain when they first met. Worst of all, she had the characteristically wild look she had when she first encountered Drake’s particular brand of magic.
“Come with me for a bit, I have something to show you.”