In the next moment, that fleeting feeling had passed, which left Drake slightly dumbstruck at the powerful emotion of dominance that had overcome him.
Just what the hell was that? He scowled to himself.
That sort of powerful emotion… he had come across it before, but only when he was in contact with a large gathering of his own mana. Although, when he first came upon Ella’s village he felt something similar. An innate distaste for concealing his own power. Back then, he had chalked it up to being nothing more than a vestige of the Draconian’s emotions that were left over in his body, but now, the situation was entirely different.
Back when I first transformed, I had an intense feeling of triumph and power when I first killed a griffin. I hadn’t used my demonic mana at all, which had been the only way for the Draconian to gain any semblance of control over me. Drake began to ponder to himself.
This body, even if I’ve changed the exterior, really is different than a normal human’s emotions. This if the first time that I’ve really noticed it though. He came upon a conclusion quite quickly.
Although Drake didn’t know himself, his transformation into a Draconian had caused him much the same problem as it had the vast majority of others. An innate imbalance in emotions, caused by the transformation from the simple choice given to those around the globe. Of course, given his beast-like nature, the Draconian had taken this imbalance and given it form. After sealing it away, he had only had the faintest of feelings, but the enormity of such emotions still leaked out to him occasionally.
“Um… mister…” The woman in front of Drake tentatively called out to him, who seemed to be deep in thought.
“Yes?” Drake snapped back to reality instantly, and gave the woman a small smile. “What is it?”
“As for the recommendation my manager wanted to give you, if you would return here this evening, there is an expedition out of the city to research a new ruin that has appeared suddenly. Also, while I’m unable to give you the location of where to find the Goliath you’re looking for, their name certainly wouldn’t be too much trouble, as long as you finish up the expedition for us.”
The woman gave a brief, conciliatory smile as she bowed slightly. The meaning was obvious to Drake. Scratch our back and we’ll scratch yours. As for the small expedition they wanted to send him on, it was likely that they wanted to learn just how strong he was, and if he might be a good addition to their city. The benefits from the little expedition would likely not be small either, although the nature of such a thing was still unclear to him.
“What exactly do you mean by a new ruin?” Drake asked. “Like the city ruins?”
The woman responded. “No, unfortunately, we’re still unsure of just what it is exactly. Several of those who’ve seen it have said that there are groupings of what look like marble pillars that are slowly rising out of the ground. It certainly isn’t something that humans would have made, and given how the mages surrounding the structure have an easier time casting spells, it likely has to do with how the world has changed as a whole.”
Marble pillars? Drake was mystified as he listened to the small explanation. If she was right, then such a place would likely be just as beneficial to him as it was to the other humanoid mages, maybe even more so if he could understand just what the structure was.
While Drake’s face was solemn, and hidden mostly under the hood of his cloak, he was clearly having a hard time keeping a grin off of his face. Having an information structure truly was much more useful than wandering out in the wilderness at random. His chances of stumbling across such structure would be incredibly low given how he tended to stay away from other people. In comparison to that, this truly was an opportunity.
“Count me in. It certainly sounds interesting.” Drake replied enthusiastically, as he scrounged up the cores she offered from the table and placed them in his bag.
“Thank you, sir. Also, just what is your name and race? For documentation, you see.”
“Hm? Oh, my race.” Drake thought it over. “I’m a Dragonkin, and my name is Drake. Drake
Once Drake had left, the silence that had come over the Guild Hall quickly stopped, as there was a sudden bustle of chatter.
“That guy is definitely tougher than he looks. Lamario isn’t one to back down so easy, after all, he goes out to train all the time!”
“Argh, I can’t believe there’s another guy whose already so strong. When do they even have the time?
“Honestly though, you got that feeling too though, right? It felt like I was staring down at the maw of some monster.”
The conversations were a bustle of warning, intrigue, and even some small parts of wonder.
Unless you know the strength of your opponent, stay back and watch from afar, that was an almost basic rule in a world where magic had become real. For a typical adventurer, walking in the Guild Hall with all bundled up in a cloak was more than likely to get you a few curious eyes and ears. Most people were quick to show off the gear they received, as it kept away those who otherwise might cause trouble.
Of course, this could also attract that same sort of negative attention, but those who had such advanced weapons and armor were almost exclusively the sort who were able to actually hunt for it. Bothering such people would be the very definition of asking for trouble.
Everyone who was inside the Guild hall was friendly with one another, of course, but they were also rivals. A new guy showed up, one who hadn’t been seen in town at all, so it was natural there would be prying eyes on who they were. Actually, a few in particular were planning to get… better acquainted with Drake after he left, but the small display he made changed their minds quickly.
They all quickly rid their minds of the mysterious man as they continued to talk and plan about their plans for the day.
“What?” Drake laughed under his breathe at Yami’s scoffing. “I think it sounds rather cool.”
[I’m sure you do.] The condescension in her voice was clear.
“Are you sure you want to be complaining about my naming sense?” Slowly, a sly smile appeared on his face, as he glanced towards Yami. “I gave you a name as well, you know?”
[Meh… Touché.] She replied begrudgingly, before shrugging as if it wasn’t a big deal Drake couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at her attitude. Ever the mercurial imp, the conversations they had together was always endlessly amusing for him.
Pushing open the doors of the guild hall, and back into the streets, Drake quickly began to scout out the remainder of the city. Although the overall city was quite small in comparison to his old life, he still spent a few hours slowly surveying the town. He even went so far as to drop by the ‘Dwarven Flagon’ that was recommended to him by his carriage driver. Although, whenever he arrived he discovered that it was little more than an inn, complete with a place to sleep and some decent food. Undoubtedly a good place for a person that was brand new to the town, but he wasn’t one to stay in this town for very long.
As for his newly constructed body, he soon realized the limitations of this form after eating more of the wyvern meat, and fully regaining his strength. His physical abilities were indeed weakened, although he wouldn’t know the real extent until he tested himself. Still, he was undoubtedly stronger than most of the other humanoid races, besides the few that focused exclusively on strength, like the Goliath race he was searching for.
Drake’s strength in his Draconian body, and the sheer speed and power of that form couldn’t be matched by normal means. It has to be said that even when he was first battling against normal humans, that he easily dominated all of them, disregarding the spare few whose physical abilities almost matched his own.
Still, comparing the abilities between the two was a somewhat useless endeavor overall. His current form was weaker, but it allowed him to speak with others, and walk along the city streets like any other person. It worked well for what he needed it to, nothing more. Besides, pointlessly staying in a city where he wasn’t able to fight at full strength would be a disadvantage in the long term.
“So, what’s your plan now?” A small voice piped up next to Drake’s ear.
Drake looked at the small imp and smiled. Truthfully, there wasn’t all that much to do in this town. Just from its construction alone, it was clear to him that it was mainly a place to hide away from the dangers outside, although there were other professions people had taken up here or there. None which he was interested in, however.
“Just hang around town until it’s time to leave, I suppose,” answered Drake. “We’re really here for Therion, after all.”
“Boring…” A sustained sigh escaped from the imp’s lips, and Drake reluctantly agreed.
Trying to pass the time, he walked through town, occasionally coming across a stray shop that had been set up on the edge of the walls. It was interesting, as one or two seemed to cause the same kind of strangely colored smoke that Gwyn often created, but he quickly passed by.
Interestingly, he also came across large groups of people training with fake weapons among one another, but at a glance, he could tell that they were all were completely new at it. Oftentimes, they just swang wildly at each other, and at other times just missed completely due to overextending themselves. Still, nothing that was worth his close attention.
Despite all this however, while he was walking along the streets, he noticed a distinct pattern. Those who passed him very rarely looked into his eyes, often giving the tall, cloaked figure who gave off a frightening presence a wide berth as he passed. Of course, it was somewhat natural to avoid someone who looked suspicious, but he noticed it was especially prevalent whenever he attempted to put out his presence.
Therion, Yami, even Ella and Aleria, none of them said that he had any sort of presence at all in this form. In comparison to them, the humanoids who he came across would practically leap out of his way whenever he attempted it. It wasn’t just the pedestrians either. One particular group he passed by seemed to be fairly experienced. They were adorned with a variety of exotic gear that most of the average people in the town simply couldn’t afford or get themselves, and even they gave him a wide berth to pass by.
It seemed that those who were of the humanoid set of species had their own ways of judging power. As a Draconian, he could feel out those monsters who were more powerful, even going so far as to track them if he really needed to. As he was now however, the reaction from others was much more subdued, but it was still there. An undeniable feeling from others that the other person is dangerous and to be avoided.
It was certainly a useful skill when dealing with your own kind, to be sure. No monster would intentionally go towards human settlements unless they meant to, and the humanoids that went out were meant to track and kill them in order to become increasingly powerful. However, when dealing with others from either the monsters or humanoids own ‘set’ of races, it was better to know when it was correct to stay away, to avoid unnecessary conflict. After all, having the transformed humans and the newly formed monsters slaughtering the others of their own side certainly would be missing the point.
Of course, this only mattered if he was intentionally letting his presence show. The suppressing of such an invisible force was also possible, as Therion and Yami had proved to him before. If keeping that invisible force radiating outward from you was a way to stave off trouble, then suppressing it would be an equally good source of bait towards those who had ill intentions.
From Drake’s perspective, all he was doing was killing time anyway, so it wouldn’t bother him at all to have a bit of fun with the locals.
Drake quickly felt the cold, empty feeling in his chest rise up as he suppressed the frightening presence that seemed to scare away even the experienced adventurers in the city, before continuing to travel forward.
The cloaked Drake surveyed the street in front of him. The foot traffic from the main street had died down quite a bit as he wandered around the city, which was both good and bad at the same time. Good, because it meant he could finally relax and let Yami out for a bit, and bad, because there usually was a good reason for such a place. Although, all things said and done, he didn’t feel that he had anything to worry about.
Drake nudged Yami with his head before murmuring to her. “Go on ahead. Come out.”
“Fuhaaa!” Yami took a deep breath as she emerged from the hood of his cloak, quickly taking in the sights and sounds as she did. “Finally!”
“Hmph, you let me out, and you choose a dreary place like this?” She began to pout slightly as she looked around. She then crossed her arms with a slight sense of disappointment as she fluttered around.
“Don’t be like that, it would be trouble if I just let you waltz around on my shoulder or on my head. I haven’t seen anyone else that has another imp with them so far, so it certainly isn’t normal.”
“Of course they wouldn’t.” She responded confidently. “The way these people avoid you at all cost, it’s rather amusing, isn’t it?” She sneered. “Do you really think such weaklings would be able to catch any of my kind?” A rather hateful tone emerged as the subject turned towards the other humanoids. It was clear she didn’t think highly of them.
“Of course not, Yami.” He replied with a smirk.
“Still though… why did you let me out in such a beaten down part of town? I for one, wished that you stopped by the center of town. They had built a rather exquisite fountain, and I’m sure it would have been fun to play in.”
“Again, it’s dangerous for too many people to see you. You’re far too pretty.” He said it in a serious manner, catching her off guard.
“Hmmm…” That particular comment brought down Yami’s gaze hard on Drake, as she was examining his feelings through their link, trying to figure out if he was just joking with her.
As if seeming to confirm something, she looked up quickly, with her face all in a blush.
“It’s not good to play with a girl’s feelings like that, you know?” She replied whimsically. Her fingers began to play with the ends of her hair as she did.
Drake quickly held up a hand in apology, an impish grin clear on his face. “My deepest apologies, fair lady.” Drake couldn’t help but give a little mock bow as he talked.
“You…!” Yami covered her eyes in embarrassment, and pointed at him before she quickly fluttered towards him. “Now I don’t even feel like flying around anymore. Carry me.” With a short commanding tone, she quickly landed in his hair before taking up a comfortable position. “And leave your hood off, so I can relax and actually get some fresh air.”
“Right~” Drake responded with a smug grin. “Whatever you want.” He had spent the last few days worrying for, and taking revenge for Ella, that he had forgotten just how much he enjoyed teasing the small imp. She may seem haughty at times, but just under that was the same girl he met on the very first day. It just took a bit of coaxing at times.
As he walked forward, he came upon a certain section of the city which looked to be of considerably poorer quality than the rest. While the buildings next to the two gates, and throughout all the main, and well-traveled parts of the city were almost pristine, these buildings looked to have been chiseled away by something or someone.
However, as he looked further, he noticed something that caught his interest almost immediately. The magic that humanoids used, it worked off an entirely different basis than the types that monsters did. Even in this fake humanoid body, his own magic radiated outward from him, that much hadn’t changed in the least.
Those who were actually humanoid however, differed drastically. Drake had the privilege of seeing them use their spells once or twice in passing. They sucked in the surrounding natural mana in the air like a sponge, before using it to power their own spells. Simply put, they relied heavily on the mana density in the air, and as such, they were very particular about keeping their own spells neat and contained, even if they seemed to lack the ability to directly see it like himself.
What caught Drake’s interest as he looked down the downtrodden street was the faintest stream of a pale, orange mana that was flowing through it and towards him as it slowly spread out.
Slightly perturbed, he turned to Yami. [You’re seeing this too, right? What is this?]
Yami immediately took notice of it as well, with an equally curious look on her face.
[I believe it’s demonic mana, Drake. It’s weak however, almost to the point of non-existence. If I had to guess, it would have to be Envy Demons. They would be the only ones capable of surviving in a city full of humanoids and not get caught.] She said in a rather official manner.
[Really? Envy demons?] Drake had a curious look cross his face for a moment, before turning down the street with an interested look.
As Drake meandered through, a sudden group of men emerged from the small alleyways, and even behind him to block his way. They all had thin, nasty smiles on their faces, and were either smiling at each other, or staring Drake.
Hm, what’s this? Drake looked on passively. These were no doubt normal humans a few weeks ago, as they certainly weren’t the source of the strange mana in the air.
If he had to guess, this place had probably been mined or destroyed in some way due to these guys. If his own demonic magic influenced him, he could only imagine how it influenced someone who wasn’t directly controlling it.
Of course, these people likely weren’t simple innocent bystanders either. The mana here was so weak and pathetic, that it was only a faint influence on them. They were simple people who wasn’t satisfied with their new lot in life, and so they fell prey to the demonic influence, as it ever so slightly corrupted their minds.
Of course, such a mindset wasn’t so uncommon even back in the old world. And even though Drake was actively searching for such people, it was still surprising to him that they would actually allow these guys to even live in this town.
“Leave the imp, and you can go.” A dirty looking dwarf shouted at him.
“Otherwise, we’ll have a bit of fun with you before we take it.” Another joined in beside him, with an equally dirty exterior, although he himself seemed considerably more human than the rest. Glancing around him, Drake could see that they were all in various states of poverty from the looks of it, as the new standard of clothing since the change in the world had left most without a proper attire.
Most of those who transformed in this city also had at least some sort of weapon, a dagger, usually a sword for most, and these men were no exception. Even then however, the actual quality of weapon seemed to differ here also. The various nicks and bends on the weapons they carried made it obvious that it was poorly made.
“See, you’re just too pretty to not be taken advantage of in a place like this.” Drake looked to Yami with a sly smile as she tumbled off his head with an extremely agitated expression.
“These morons…” She shook her head from side to side, as she only began to hover slightly higher, as if to get a better view of the ensuing action.
“H-hey! We were talking to you!” A complaining cry came out of one of the group, who looked to be getting more agitated by the second. “Stop talking and just hand over the imp already!” Another one joined in to give out orders.
“Well, it’s not like it really matters, does it?” Drake looked to the group of thugs with an increasingly predatory look, as a single crystal shard materialized in his hand.
“Let’s just see what we can get out of them, shall we?” With a pointed look, Drake blasted forward.
In the end, they really were nothing but a group of morons.
Needless to say, the small group didn’t put up much of a fight. From Drake’s eyes, they were nothing but a group of thugs that had formed out on the edge of the city, who looked to be trying to ‘claim’ a bit of territory through sheer numbers and a bit of evil intent on those who trespassed.
The actual fight itself was quite laughable, to say the least. The men obviously hadn’t fought in the outside world a day in their lives, choosing instead to waylay and rob anyone who passed through. Given Drake’s intentional suppression of his own power, he looked like an especially prime target, given the small imp that was laying so lazily on his head.
Still though, these guys were nothing but average, or even less than average fighters. These were men who shouldn’t have had any contact with demons, so just where is the source of this mana?
Drake looked around the area, and tried to follow the faint traces of the almost non-existent orange mana, but it was actually quite difficult for him. This area must be right on the edge of what the demon can handle. And as for the men, well, it looked they likely succeeded in robbing at least a few people, judging from the occasional stray mana cores that they had on them.
“So, what, you were planning to kill me or simply maim me after you stole Yami away from me?” Drake was currently sitting on a small crate overlooking the group that he had incapacitated. Truthfully, there was only two that were still awake, as he had gone a bit overboard on the other three. After numerous battles outside, he had forgotten just how much that had influenced him and his mindset.
“W-we wouldn’t go that far, not at all!”
“He’s right, we just wanted to get your imp there as a servant, otherwise we would have never attacked you.” Another joined in, a fearful expression clear on his face.
A servant… Drake had a sour expression on his face.
Whatever was emanating this demonic mana, it was almost certainly the source of the desire to capture any weaker demons.
The Sin of Envy. From Yami’s brief explanation, they were able to disguise themselves in human form, and manipulate those who came into contact with their mana. Certainly, an ability made for a more covert type of demon, but this particular one seemed to have little to no combat expertise, as was evidenced by the weak aura, and quality of those it could manipulate.
“Well, no matter.” With a wave of his hand, Drake let out a layer of mana over the two remaining men, and quickly forced them into unconsciousness. Talking to such people would be a waste of his time after all.
“If they won’t come to me, I’ll go and look for them. I have a bit of time to kill, after all.” Drake’s face slowly twisted into a wicked smile as he looked further down into the decrepit street.
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