As Drake fell deeply unconscious, Yami was left with a bewildered look as Drake immediately passed out upon drinking the potion.
Yami immediately turned to Gwyn, who only had a fairly uninterested expression on her face, as if this was somewhat within her expectations.
“Yes, little one?” She said in a toying manner.
“You, why did you give him something that would cause him to go unconscious like that?! Look at him, he’s just slumped over!” Yami waved her arms about, and flitted around dangerously, clearly upset.
“Oh stop with all your worrying, he’ll be fine.” Gwyn waved off her concerns, only waving her hand as she turned to go back to studying the various samples brought back by Drake.
“Hey! Don’t just ignore me! At least turn around and do something, what if he doesn’t wake up? What if he stays like this because of some stupid potion you gave him?!” Yami was clearly furious, even to the extent that small traces of red aura were started to seep out of her body.
Seeing the traces of mana, Gwyn sighed, and turned around to face the small imp. She leaned against a small desk before looking Yami straight in the eyes.
“Listen.” She said in a serious manner. “You don’t need to worry so much. This potion was meant to simply enhance his own potential. Given Drake’s powers, and the sheer intensity of his mana compared to the small sample in the potion, you really have nothing to worry about. The opposing Lord’s mana was suppressed, even allowing someone like me to drink such a potion if I had more time to refine such a thing. The sample I gave him simply was more of a shock to his system than I expected.” She took on an inquisitive look for a moment before shaking her head. “In any case, don’t worry. He will be fine.”
She finished her last sentence with heavy emphasis on each word, before turning around to tinker with the various remains of the doppelgangers, a faint smile on her face. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really have other work to attend to.”
“You… You… Ahhh!” Yami thrusted her arms down to her side angrily, before quickly making her way over to Drake.
She landed on his chest, closing her eyes and focusing on the little connection she had with him. She could feel that something was off. It was the same as when Drake went to went into his unconsciousness to seal the Draconian in. While he was inside, strange and outright giddy emotions swept through her, and it was likely that he was playing with her other self.
The part of her that she split off was almost entirely based off her emotional self, and had little to do with any real semblance of thought. That’s what caused so many problems, as she imagined that given her… feelings for Drake, she had caused that other side of her to be absolutely ecstatic whenever it had the opportunity to interact with him.
The real problem however, was now that she felt that same connection growing weaker. The part of her soul that made them Kindred simply wasn’t made to interact with others, and with Drake’s intervention with the Draconian had weakened her other part immensely. It was likely that she had tried to help Drake in whatever way she could, and even now she could feel her other half trying to find Drake again.
Why am I so stupid… Yami smiled sadly to herself. Touching her chest slightly, the circular contract with Drake lit up momentarily.
The least I can do is try to help my other half… She thought.
Slowly flying up from Drake’s chest, she located Drake’s bonding point. It was roughly in the center of his head, and as she found it, she touched it lightly, a faint golden light entered the center of the contract point and disappeared. If she was going to help Drake, she needed to empower her other part, if even only for a small moment. Hopefully, that would be enough.
She ran her hand along the side of Drake’s face, before quickly hugging his neck tightly.
“Just please, be safe for me.” She muttered quietly.
Drake slowly woke up after completing his absorption of the Lord’s mana, only to find Gwyn completely in her own world, happily tinkering with the tall crystal the doppelganger was trapped in.
As he sat up, a sudden throbbing rushed through his head, causing him to almost fall back down.
“Ahhhggg..” He said as he clutched his head. “God, my head hurts.”
“I’m glad to see you back up.” Yami whispered off to his side, a relieved tone clear in her voice.
He looked to his side, and saw the small imp, a smile on her face. Smirking to himself, he steadily stroked her hair, leaving her with an embarrassed look on her face for a moment, before she flew up to meet his face.
“So, did it turn out alright? You managed to absorb it, right?” The worry in her voice was clear. “Yea, I did. Thanks Yami.” Drake said as he touched her forehead with his nose, eliciting a short gasp from Yami from his slightly cold nose.
“On a more important note… Gwyn!” Drake yelled out.
“Yes, my little Draconian?” Gwyn responded in quite a teasing manner, only looking over her shoulder for a moment before turning back to the large crystal.
“What the hell did you put in there? I feel like my head’s gonna split open any moment.” Drake closed one eye as a wave of pain passed over him. He felt like his head was hit with a sledgehammer.
“Oh, just a bit of this and that. So, how is it?” She turned her head again, a glint of curiosity this time clear in her eyes.
“You…” Drake managed to say with a fair degree of irritation. His fingers itched to reach over and throttle her.
“Oh please, you both act like it’s such a large transgression against you, but everything comes with a price, doesn’t it? Although…” She giggled to herself in a cute manner, something that contrasted completely with the way that she tended to act lately. “I think the price this time came more from those you killed to get this power.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Drake raised his hand up for a moment, closing his hand and then opening it slowly. Much like when he first discovered the more permanent, crystal state of his mana, he could feel another presence deep within his own mana pool. It was much smaller certainly, but still definitely different than what he was used to.
In any case, it seemed that absorption of that dark substance in his inner mind was the catalyst for his transformation, even if it came at considerable risk. Even now, he could remember the feeling as he began to control the massive amount of mana in the castle. It was intoxicating, and he likely would have been much worse off if he hadn’t been knocked out of that state by Yami’s small light form.
“Well whatever you did Gwyn, it seems like it worked, although I’m still not sure how to activate it. It’s not the same as just bringing out a shard of mana unfortunately.” Drake said.
Upon feeling the presence of another force in his mana pool, he had immediately tried to use it, to no effect. If it was in any way similar to the strange, smoke form the doppelgangers had used, he would likely have to adapt to such an ability.
“Oh, really? Hmm…” Gwyn immediately sunk into deep thought, turning away from Drake entirely as she paced.
“Well, first things first.” Drake fumbled around and grabbed the small sack of monster cores. It had been quite a while since he retrieved them from the Satyr, but he never had the chance to really absorb them properly. From dealing with the Draconian, to drinking Gwyn’s deadly elixir, he’d been too busy.
[Yami, I’m gonna try to meditate like I did when I first formed my mana core. I feel like it may help, so if I stop responding to anything, just leave me alone, alright?]
Drake understood his situation. If worst came to worst, he would be out for who knows how long. With no one around him when he first formed his mana core, all he really knew was he was out for at least a few days, long enough for all of the new creatures to start spawning at least.
[Right.] She said.
“Gwyn, I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your house for a bit, you can just think of it as payback for making me drink that awful elixir.”
“Hmph.” Gwyn turned her head up slightly, and feigned being upset. She then quickly winked at Drake before turning around to the dark mass of mana in her small containment field of glyphs.
“Go ahead. It may be too soon though.” She said as almost an afterthought.
Too soon? Does she know something I don’t? Drake thought to himself.
Whatever. He dumped the cores out of the bag, and examined them one by one. Taking a closer look at several all together, he could actually tell a difference between them. Interestingly, some seemed to be more vibrant than the others, with the exception of one which resembled the same strange darkness that made up the potion he just drank.
Weird… Drake attempted to extend a line of mana to the core. It was just a hunch, but it seemed all too familiar. As he linked himself to the core, he was struck with the same feeling as before. Darkness. Hunger. It was certainly from the same Lord. Didn’t the Satyr mention about fighting something from that stray Lord before?
I wonder just what he fought to get this. Hmm…
[Yami, do you have the same new ability as I do?] Drake attempted to keep as straight a face as he could. She was connected to him, and seemed to absorb all the abilities he had through their link. There was no real reason to believe that she wouldn’t gain this one as well.
[Hm? You mean the one through the potion? I mean, maybe. Just like you, I haven’t tried anything. You may have to help me to learn to use it to be perfectly honest. I can use the rudimentary forms of your mana, but you seem to have much more finesse than I do.]
[So, you should have it, right?] Drake questioned again.
She responded, a slight hesitation in her response. [Yea… I should. Why are you asking so much about it?
Drake smirked. [Because I just found something interesting. Watch.]
“Hey Gwyn, catch.” Drake tossed the core over, startling her completely, as she was almost completely caught up in her own world.
“What is…” Gwyn stopped mid-sentence, a sparkle seeming to hit her eyes. “Is this what I think it is?”
“It’s from the same Lord if that’s what you’re asking.” Drake said with a small chuckle. “You said before that you could make another potion, right? Why don’t you make one for yourself?”
Drake recognized something crucial shortly after he found the other core. Yes, while he was certainly a test dummy, that was the only core that was available for such a potion that either of them knew of. If he was put in the same situation, even with the same risk, he would be hard pressed to give it away so easily. The powers of the doppelgangers, their strange ability to completely avoid danger were simply too good to give up. But Gwyn had, either out of some deranged sense of wanting to see the results in action, or of genuinely wanting to pay back him back.
“Where… where did you find such a thing? I thought there was only one that was retrievable?” Gwyn seemed to almost be in shock with the core in her hands.
Drake laughed as he pointed to the cores on the ground. “It turns out that a certain demon had an extra core stashed away from one of the monsters he killed while he was out. So, take it.”
“As for these…” Drake took the rest of the cores and stuffed them in with one bite. Given that there were only three others, each of varying power, he felt no real need take his time.
As the cores entered his mouth, Drake focused the mana in his body to attack the cores, and as the mana touched them, they dissolved into the sweet tasting liquid from before. As he swallowed, a rush of power ran through him, empowering him. For the first time, he noticed waves of mana rushing and circulating through his body. Chills were running through his body, and he could barely keep himself calm as it continued for a full thirty seconds. Slowly, the thrilling feeling of power receded, the waves of energy calming down as the flow of mana steadily settled.
“Hoh….” Drake breathed out deeply, trying to calm himself. Eating so many at once was a bit risky, but it ended up being perfectly fine.
“So, nothing huh?” Gwyn had a feeling Drake couldn’t make it to the next step. While his mana was certainly unique given that he could gain power both over time, and through mana cores thanks to his Draconian and Demonic mixtures, her examination of the mana crystal told her that he was still a fair way off. This was regardless if he was able to absorb just a few more cores.
“If you’re so worried about advancing to the next step for more control, I think you’ll find it unnecessary. You may have even discovered it yourself, but not realized it yet. The Draconian was likely suppressing your ability by a fair amount, at least where it limited your ability to imitate what myself and Yami experienced.” She laughed to herself. “You’d discover that on your own eventually.”
“Really…” Drake was surprised. Sure, he had felt that something was holding him back, but for the Draconian to even be capable of that, it truly had a huge amount of control over him.
Even so, I still can’t advance to the next step then, huh. I’ll need more cores, and I also have other business outside as well…
Drake grimaced as he began to move his body. He hadn’t noticed, but he was stiff as well. Maybe he could just blame it all on the elixir, but given he had just slumped over when he drank it, that was likely the problem. “Anyway, I’m gonna get out of here for a little while. I think being around you too much may be bad for my health.” He slowly made his way up onto his feet.
Gwyn did her best attempt to act hurt, gasping dramatically before turning her head down in shame.
“Oh, how hurtful. After all I’ve done, after all the hard work, I’ve been reduced to a simple burden after you no longer need me…” Gwyn sobbed loudly, keep careful attention to keep her face out of eyesight of Drake, before turning around to him with a wide grin.
“I understand, really I do.” She smiled as she continued. “The stress such things put on you can be fairly harsh for those not suited to it. Even with that specific elixir being practically made for you, the side effects can be painful, so I can understand wanting to leave. Just…” She paused, and the smile slowly faded into a flat expression. “Make sure to drop by some. I’d be sad to see you two just disappear.”
She smiled again, a small laugh escaping from her lips. “After all, what would I do if I ran out of research materials, right? I can’t really leave to go get more. I need you guys for that. So… don’t go too far.” She ended sadly, unable to keep her voice from dropping.
Drake, a bit caught off guard, looked at Gwyn with a new perspective. She may try to hide it, but she truly was lonely here. Whether or not her mad scientist type of personality emerges simply as a result of having others to interact with, or if it’s just a result of truly enjoying the process of gathering knowledge, he was still unsure. But, it would truly be too sad to leave such a girl alone. He would have to find some sort of solution to that problem eventually.
As he turned to the doorway to leave, he looked back at her and smirked. “Don’t worry, we’ll drop by sometime. After all, what would I do without your unique perspective on things.” He motioned to Yami. “Come on, I have a promise to keep.”
Yami nodded, and flew to Drake’s shoulder as he walked out, glancing back at Gwyn for a short moment. Then, Drake quickly turned to the barrier, and rushed towards it. There was no reason to delay any longer.
Therion was currently sitting just outside the barrier as usual. Unfortunately, there was really very little to do while he was waiting. He’d been relegated to mainly snacking on the doppelganger.
“Gah… I wish master wouldn’t take so long.” He picked up a nearby rock and threw it in boredom. Given his master’s disposition whenever he entered the barrier, he was sure that he would likely try to force the witch to assist him. And, given that he hadn’t left the barrier yet, the witch had likely conjured up a plan of some sorts, and they were carrying it out. Although, given how long master tended to stay cooped up in the barrier, it was likely he could be in there for a few more days at least.
“Yo, Therion, you ready to head out?” Drake’s voice suddenly rang out.
Lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t even hear the imp and master cross over the barrier.
“Head to where, master?” Therion managed to blurt out.
“We’re gonna do some scouting, of course. I think I’ve been keeping you waiting for entirely too long, and I think you wanted to avenge your brothers, is that right?” Drake walked forward and grabbed Therion firmly by the shoulder, giving a bloodthirsty smile as he did.
“I’m excited to test out just how strong I am, and I’ve been too passive lately. Between fighting off others, and taking care of my own issues, I sort of shoved your problems to the wayside.” Drake grimaced slightly, before clapping Therion’s shoulders again.
“So let’s take care of that, shall we?”
Therion’s eyes widened with a bit of shock, and smiled faintly.
“Yes, of course master.” Therion said, an almost sad tone to his voice.
Thus, they began to walk towards the city, slowly making their way back through the forest as they did. Drake, still curious about some of his own abilities, looked to Therion and asked a question.
“Hey Therion, you mentioned a while back that you managed to find me by tracking me. Yami even mentioned something similar, but just how do you two even know how to do that? I’ve never felt anything like that.” Drake asked in an attempt to enlighten himself.
Therion stopped walking for a moment, and pondered to himself. Master tended to put out quite a ferocious aura, especially after he left the barrier, so it may simply be that the lack of worthy opponents simply never activated that instinct.
He sighed, saying, “Master, to be fair, it’s hard to say. All monsters are born with the ability, so I can’t think of the reason why a monster such as yourself would lack the ability.”
Drake’s eyes widened for a moment, and he laughed to himself, smirking as he did. Looking over to Yami, he nodded, and she returned the gesture.
“Therion, this may surprise you, but I’m not what you think I am. I used to be human.”
Therion froze, appraising his master again. Now that he mentioned it, it made perfect sense. He certainly didn’t act like the Dragon races were supposed to, and with how he was so gracious, even to a servant like him, what he said looked to be the truth. But… just how would a human end in control.
A thought clicked in his mind, and he looked at his master in a new light. I see. The Draconian master was so worried about was the intended recipient of his powers. Thus, when master was so worried about dealing with it, he was truly attempting to seal away the beast who was meant to be in control.
“I see now.” Therion affirmed. “In that case, imp, how would you suggest to help master?”
Yami sat up suddenly off of Drake’s shoulder, clambering to her feet. “A-ah, um.. well…”
“So you have no real clue as well, hm?” Therion scratched the back of his head in frustration.
“Master, I really only have one true idea, although it will incur some considerable risk.” He said reluctantly. “It would require us to take a detour, and it would be dangerous, even for someone such as yourself.”
Drake, still curious about just how to awaken that set of skills, asked, “And, that would be?”
“We need to find a suitable opponent for you.”