Holding the Lamia firmly in his grasp with his mana, he nodded to himself. Whatever happened to this girl, she seemed traumatized. Even now, she could only look at him with a sense of dread.
Although now that I think about it… I would be terrified of myself as well… Ah…
Sensing his feelings, Yami flew off his shoulder, looking questioningly at the young girl.
[Drake, be careful. We don’t know if she’s dangerous.]
He glanced over to his side, and chuckled. [She’s just a little girl, don’t worry.]
Looking back to the young Lamia, he said, “I’m going to let you go, so don’t run… alright?” Drake motioned to her cautiously.
Ella slowly nodded, not taking her eyes off Drake for a moment. Although given the situation, he could understand.
“Alright…” Drake slowly lowered his hand, and with it, his control over her.
Feeling an intense pressure cover him, Drake suddenly flew back, hurtling against the burnt-out wall of the small shack she was hidden in.
Just as soon as Drake began to fly forward, Ella began to run… or rather, slither away as quickly as she could. She was surprisingly quick, and was even faster than most humans before they were given the chance to transform. Yami quickly followed her as Drake grimaced to himself.
“Ahh.. dammit.” Drake stood up from the small bundle of boards and debris, and raced back outside the door.
“No…No… please… mom…”
In his haste to find any survivors, he had left the poor Satyr on the cliff. It seemed that he had made his way down at his own pace, and had been coming towards Drake when the Ella burst out of the shack. He swiftly grabbed her, and had the poor girl in what looked to be a death grip around her head.
“Shall I kill her, master?” Therion looked up to Drake and asked the terrifyingly simple question.
“No!” He yelled out, throwing his hands up quickly. “I mean… No, I still need her.” He attempted to recover halfway, but it likely wasn’t very convincing. Nevertheless, Therion still released his grip, and left the girl traumatized as she just slowly sank down into coils on the ground, hiding her head deep within her tail.
[That little.. How dare she! Why didn’t you let Therion take care of her? She deserves it!]
Yami angrily buzzed around Drake, shouting as she did. Honestly, he would have rather she just yelled at him. Her voice just sounding off in his mind was severely uncomfortable.
He raised his hand, trying to calm her down.
“She’s just a kid Yami. She’s not like you or Therion, she seems more like a human child.”
“Human?” She spoke out of shock. “What does her acting like a human change anything? She tried to hurt you. She should pay.” Her face was frighteningly cold, with her red eyes glowing in anger.
Drake gazed at Yami before deriding himself for not thinking from their point of view. Where Yami was extremely guarding of Drake, to the point of outright hostility towards others she didn’t know, Therion was also similar in a way. Unlike Yami however, he was much more to the point, often acting right away. Still…
These two are just too protective. I understand Yami, but even Therion was upset. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have imagined he would have kept her alive long enough for me to stop him. Given how I’ve seen him act, he likely kept her alive so I could interrogate the poor girl. He wanted to see me act out some revenge, and learn what happened.
He sighed, and looked to Yami and Therion. Breathing in deeply, he absorbed the mana he had released into the village, feeling himself swell with mana he had expended. Then, he turned to them. “Listen, you two. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while, but unless you are in danger, I would rather you not kill intelligent creatures. Especially those who don’t fight back.” He motioned to Ella with his head, which resulted in a slight snarl from Therion.
“Master, you don’t intend for us to handicap ourselves, do you? Especially for such a creature.” He looked down at Ella with disgust.
Yami joined in. “He’s completely right, Drake. She tried to hurt you, she-”
“Stop.” Drake interrupted.
Maybe I’ve been going about this the wrong way…
“Therion, I would rather this just be me asking you. I don’t want to order you to do anything.” Drake said. He put emphasis on the word order.
Therion’s eyes widened, and he smiled before bowing slightly. “Of course, my Lord. Forgive me.”
“And Yami, remember what I said about Therion? Just treat those like Ella the same way you are towards him. Please… for me.” He softened his gaze, and gave Yami a pleading look.
“You… you… ah..” She sighed in midair, before quickly shaking her head and ruffling her hair in frustration. “You big dummy. Fine, you win Drake.”
Drake looked between the two, and began to ponder to himself.
It’s like I thought. They’ll do it for me, but if I try to bring up someone else, they immediately attack. They don’t care about others one bit.
Monsters, on an instinctual level, typically don’t care for others outside of their own species. They are combative, almost to a fault, except for those who they respect or fear. Or in Yami’s case, love. As Drake was formed from a human, he never experienced this, and could never truly understand the inbred hostility.
Even with the small lamia, she feared Drake, but only to the point where she would attempt to run at the first sign she was given the chance. She certainly had more human-like traits, her simple cries for her mother told Drake that much, but she still undeniably had monster-like traits, which included whatever strange power she used against him. Once he understood this, Drake began to see that he may have approached this the wrong way. Even with such an innocent looking girl, he needed to be domineering, at least for now.
He chuckled to himself before adopting an intimidating demeanor. He turned to the small Lamia who only flinched and lowered herself closer to the ground as he approached.
Seeing her reaction, he scolded himself. Dammit… what was I thinking, she’s just a girl.
She might be a monster, but she was probably horrified by what had happened to her. If it wasn’t for everything that had happened, he wouldn’t have gotten attacked. In any case, she didn’t hurt him at all. There was no reason to try to treat her like some common monster.
He sat on the ground next to her and slowly put his hand on her black tail. She flinched again as she felt his hand, but after a moment, she slowly turned around to meet his gaze.
“Hey Ella, you don’t need to be afraid of me, or of these two here. I promise, they were just a bit angry is all.” Drake said in a comforting manner. He then nodded to Yami and Therion knowingly, which only resulted in a passive Therion and a slightly annoyed Yami.
“W-who are you…” Ella said timidly. Her head was cast low to the ground, as she occasionally peeked up at him.
Drake smiled and responded slowly. “My name is Drake. The small imp is Yami, and the big guy is Therion. I promise he’s not as scary as he looks.”
Drake tried to reassure her a bit. The upside of her race was the complete inability to understand just what exactly they had said. Therion and Yami were both apart of the demonic races, and so shared the same language from the beginning. Drake simply connecting them so he could talk freely had more to do with him being able to understand them.
Ella on the other hand was the opposite. The only one she could understand was him, at least that’s how Gwyn told him the magic worked. And, it would be best for now if it stayed this way, since he wasn’t sure of just how friendly they would be to her.
“Just what happened here? This village is completely destroyed.” He motioned to his surroundings with his hand.
Her eyes began to slowly tear up, and she spoke in a shaky voice. “M-mom said I had to hide. I… I heard screaming, and crying… and then everything just started falling down around me. After that, everything was quiet…”
She stopped speaking, slowly sinking into a solemn silence and she began to tear up again, with her tiny form slowly beginning to shake as she did.
Cutting in, Drake said, “Hey… you’re safe now. But this is important.”
Ella looked up slowly, tears beginning to build in her violet eyes.
“I need you to tell me who you think did this. The little imp here,” He rubbed against Yami with his horn, “is able to track others, much better than either one of us can. If you know who did this, I could help you, maybe even find someone you know.”
Yami had shown that as long as she knew what she was looking for, she could track them. Asking her to find a specific species was a long-shot, but he was confident he could find the group who did this if he really had to. The path of destruction they left, not to mention the numerous tracks should be enough, but he wasn’t sure if it would lead to someone the girl knew.
Whoever did this, even if it was the newly transformed humans, certainly deserved death. But even with his limited experience with them, he still felt like he needed some evidence. If he came upon just some random people, he would rather not make unnecessary enemies and kill them outright. That would cause a lot more problems than it would solve.
“I.. I don’t know.” She paused for a moment in thought. “I didn’t see anyone… but I heard them talking… They kept talking about cages… so I think they took someone.” She stopped talking completely, only solemnly looking down at the ground.
So that’s the way it is.
They must have attacked the village to trap and take some of the monsters away, probably to use them for something. The real question is why would humans attack a random village? It didn’t look like there was any other species besides the Lamia here, and while almost all the bodies were stripped clean, he couldn’t tell if it was intentional or simply a result of some type of magic. Were they clearing out the nearby regions? If so, it would certainly explain the environment around here. The entire walk to this village was almost in complete silence, and it seemed like everything had been abandoned.
He slowly stood up from the small girl, and looked to Yami and Therion.
“Yami, Therion, we’re going to go on a small hunt, interested in joining me?” Drake said with a sarcastic smile.
Therion seemed happy. “If we find my prey master, would you allow me to hunt them down? My power has grown significantly thanks to you, and I feel that I am able to take my revenge.” He showed a genuine bloodlust as he finished speaking, and the glow of Drake’s mana began to accumulate in his hands.
It had been almost a week since he first met Therion, given that he had been passed out for a while thanks to the contract turning him into a Lord. This certainly seemed like the best time to help him.
“Alright, if we find the humans who killed your brothers, tell me. We’ll try to corner them so you can take your revenge.”
Therion only nodded in confirmation. Seeing the opportunity to finally avenge his brothers, it seemed that he was almost bursting with energy at the chance.
[What are going to do about her?] Yami cut in suddenly, with a clear sense of annoyance in her voice.
Drake looked down at Ella, and smiled slightly. [Her? We’re going to take her with us of course. I can’t exactly just leave a little girl here.]
[She’s going to be a nuisance. You know that.]
Drake sighed and ruffled Yami’s hair, which left her satisfied but still unhappy with the prospect of traveling with the young Lamia. However, leaving a little girl like Ella in a place like this would be nothing but a death sentence. He would love to try to find another solution, but there were only skeletons left behind in this village.
He crouched down next to Ella and tried to speak as low and soft and possible.
“Ella, I’m going to take you with us. Alright?”
“Where are you taking me…?” Looking up from her coiled body, se slowly looked up to stare at Drake. The apprehension in her voice was obvious.
Drake smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t force you to go anywhere. But it’s not safe here, and who knows when someone else will come along. So, I need you to come with us.” Drake pushed the issue of just where they were going aside. Truthfully, not accounting for Gwyn’s small home, there wasn’t a true place for them to stay. And given that night was soon approaching, he wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. Staying in the village where everyone she knew was killed couldn’t be good for her sanity. That’s how it would be for him at least.
“O-ok.” She stared at him with wide eyes, the brilliant violet hue of her eyes striking him again. As he stared he picked up on a few cues. It seemed she was afraid to meet his gaze. She was consistent, and wouldn’t look at him for more than a few seconds at a time. As for the reason why, he couldn’t say.
Drake smiled, and said. “Here, grab onto my back. I’ll carry you out of here.” Drake hunched over and held his hands out behind his back towards the young girl. “There’s a lot of debris, and it’d probably hurt if it got caught in your scales.”
“Unn.” She said in confirmation, nodded her head.
Climbing onto Drake’s back, she wrapped her tail around his torso, almost wrapping his entire chest in her shimmering black tail. At a distance, it would almost look comical. A small girl peeking from out behind a multicolored Draconian, only for them to realize that his black chest was actually her tail.
[Draaakkee. What about my spot?] Yami called out in annoyance. Truthfully, Ella wouldn’t get in Yami’s way at all. However, the young Lamia was too close for comfort for the Imp. Something about her rubbed Yami the wrong way, and laying only a foot away from her was almost repulsive to her.
Focusing on Yami, he said, [Just climb onto my head like usual. It won’t be too cramped.]
[Arggh… Stupid.] Flying quickly over to Drake, she clambered onto his head very quickly, and seemed very deliberant in the way that she turned away from the young Lamia who was only a few feet away.
Smiling, Drake only shook his head before turning to Therion.
“Therion, how well do you think you could follow these tracks? There’s only an hour or two before it gets dark, and this path is probably the easiest way out.” Not to mention it should show the way towards the ones responsible.. but that was best left unsaid.
“It should be simple, master.” Adopting his more serious demeanor again, Therion took to leading the small group out of the desolate and burnt out camp.
The way out was fairly simple. The village itself was surrounded by a semi-circular ring of cliffs, with only one real way out of the encampment. Once out of the village however, it quickly opened up to more desolate forest, which spread out in all directions. To Drake, it all just looked like sparse forest, but Therion somehow managed to pick his way through the underbrush and follow through on a path.
Slightly perturbed, Drake asked a question. “Therion, just what are you following? It looks like nothing but sticks and brush.” Being a human in his other life, he had little to no contact with living outdoors. Although, truthfully this had less to do with Drake’s abilities and more about how Therion was simply exceptionally gifted.
Therion was after all, a Wood Nymph before being exposed to Drake’s demonic mana. These abilities weren’t lost in his transformation, and so his aptitude for such things was much higher than Drake’s, or even Yami for that matter.
The Satyr turned back towards Drake for a moment, before crouching towards the ground, his hands outlining a faint track.
“I’m following a small group at the moment.” Raising his hand up from the track, he pointed further through the thicket, indicating to small signs such as a broken branch on a tree, dirt on otherwise clean grass, and other such signs.
“It shouldn’t be more than eight or nine humanoids of various sizes. Although, I believe that we should be finding somewhere to stop soon.” He ended abruptly. Night was approaching, and with it, a multitude of creatures.
Drake’s presence was a barrier, but it was equally a signal. Just as those like Therion enjoyed the taste of combat, others who were of similar status might try to look for Drake to improve themselves. Given their situation, the young Lamia would be too much trouble, and so it required for them to find somewhere to stay for the night.
Drake pondered the thought for a moment and quickly agreed.
“Alright. Could you find somewhere for the night then? We’ll resume in the morning.” Drake said.
“Of course, master.” And so, Therion quickly scouted out a location for the night. It was nothing more than a small, open area within the endless thicket of trees, but it was enough to keep others who may not have been so friendly from approaching.
As the group of various humanoids lay down for the night, various members took up guard again around the small encampment. They had been lugging back the various rewards of their small venture out into the wilderness, but there had been more than a few problems.
“Damned beasts. It wasn’t supposed to take this long. There’s been nothing but trouble ever since we picked up the last two species.” The stocky dwarf said.
He leaned against a small tree, making sure to keep his back against something solid. The first couple of nights they had lost a few men due to sheer carelessness. Simply walking too close to the cages had been enough for a few to get snatched and quickly killed. One man in particular had taken an interest in one of the beasts and had been crushed to death. The fool. He ignored the warning the spotter had given him when they captured the beast.
The identity of the killer? The ever-elusive, Lamia.
Monster identified as a Lamia. Class B- threat. One of the reptilian class species. Prone to appear as beautiful women, those who are enchanted and look too closely into their hypnotic vision often lose their will in the process. Seemingly docile, take care to avoid their territory, as they often attack in groups.
The damned idiot got enchanted by the one that was captured and just walked straight up to the beast. He didn’t last a second once her coils got around him. Thankfully, almost all the ones during the raid didn’t put up much of a fight.
True, those that were torched were able to hold off the attack by some ethereal form of mana, but they didn’t fare well against the fighters of the group. Their cores were retrieved, and the cleaning crew finished the job quick enough. If everything worked well enough, that area should be clear of monsters for quite a while.
Glancing over to a small, makeshift torch, he snapped his fingers and within a second, a small light burned within the flammable mass.
“Finally starting your watch, Brian?” A young elven woman poked her head from behind the tree, surprising the dwarf.
“Damn you Anri, do you always have to do that.” The dwarf coughed to himself before staring out into the darkness again.
“Oh come on, don’t be like that. It gets so boring out here. Just feeding the ground dragons gets boring after a while. They aren’t anything like dogs.” The young woman walked out from behind the tree, showing an ever so slight mischievous grin all the while.
Sighing, he turned to her. “Travis warned you about that, you know. If you keep messing around with all the creatures, eventually you’ll get burned.”
Laughing lightly, she smiled. “Worry wart. There’s no point in coming along on these trips if I don’t get to play some.” Smirking, she turned away, happily walking towards some of the other guards to pester them a bit.
“I’m surrounded by idiots…” Brian muttered in disbelief. “Let’s just hope we can get back soon. We’ll be in trouble if we don’t bring back these beasts in time.”