“Ooooh, guys, come over and look at this, one of the first ones is finally popping up.”
“Seriously? I thought they were supposed to be appearing a week ago.”
“Oh, shut it already, just be happy there’s finally enough mana to play around with.”
Huddled around a large 3D projector were a few of the various Caracatia who had initially came to Earth. While normally calm, if somewhat eccentric, right now they were anything but normal. There was a constant buzz of arguments and conversation with each other as one stepped out from the group to address the others.
“Brothers, I’m glad to finally announce the unveiling of one of my sibling’s side projects.” The bipedal octopus-like creature bowed slightly as a deep sense of satisfaction washed over the group. This was Clarota, one of the most prominent leaders of the alien race who chose to come to Earth.
“So, what exactly is this one supposed to be? From what I heard, the various magical systems that the humans came up with are about as varied as you can get.” One of them spoke up, much to the other’s agreement. While the life and death battles on the Earth were deeply entertaining, variety was what they were truly after. This included the various beasts they were continuing to work to create as well as the systems of magic that were viable.
Clarota smiled as only a species with a face full of tentacles could, before chuckling in a deep tone. “While the main system of magic is generic, it was needed. Most humans simply don’t have the necessary foresight or power to work towards other systems in the beginning, thus such a progression was needed from the beginning.”
“As for the particular system that is being newly implemented, I’m sure all of you are aware of the problems we are having with the monster cores.” Clarota said with a sense of foreboding.
There was another murmur of agreement from the group, as they all seemed increasingly exasperated as they thought about the subject. Currently, the humans had been relying on the monster cores to trade with them directly, offering the sources of mana inside the cores for pieces of gear, using them as catalysts in spells to increase their power temporarily, or simply as a new, desired piece of currency. As it was however, it was entirely too much work for the species who came to this planet to have fun themselves.
“Well, Althari and I found one particular system of magic in the myriad of stories that might be the perfect solution to such a problem. One which will take care of our problem, as well as give the humans a reliable use for the cores which they seem to love so much.” With a short chuckle, Clarota showed a somewhat peculiar system of mana, which was quickly met with murmurs of approval and some applause.
“And so, this new system will be deposited at the various shrines across the world. Those who make it to the shrines will be able to embrace and augment their own system of mana with it, although please be assured, we do intend to make it a challenge. It wouldn’t do to simply give away such a prize, now would it?” A deep, throaty chuckle emerged as he continued.
“To celebrate, my brother and I will be establishing a stream to all these shrines as the humans discover and explore them. I do hope that you find it satisfactory.” He ended with a short bow, as the many aliens looked to each other, with a single resonating thought echoing across the group.
“This will be so much fun.”
Drake and Yami were slowly making their way along the street, doing their best to track the extremely faint signatures of the Envy mana. While it annoyed him somewhat that there seemed to be no real way to tell the direction of its source, he could only hope that the density increased as he got closer. As it was now, even a wave of his hand could dissipate such a weak cloud of mana.
“Do you think there’s actually anything here? It could just be some kind of leftover material, like my own mana crystals give off.” Drake muttered to Yami, as he continued to walk along the dreary street.
“No, you are somewhat unique in that regard. Even before you became a Lord, you were able to make a solid crystal due to the properties of your Pride mana. Only Lords can actually solidify their mana reliably, and even then, the concentration from such a simple crystal would leave a much stronger trace than this.” Yami rattled off the information with an informative look on her face, before quickly smirking in place.
“You seem like you’re enjoying yourself, hunting this demon and all, but are you sure you don’t want me to track it? Honestly, the mana signal is right here, tracing it to its source would be child’s play for me.” Yami looked to Drake with a questioning expression.
It was true, for Yami who had an advanced form of tracking magic, one that had been continually improved by Drake’s own increasing capabilities, tracking such a signal would require but a snap of her finger. The increasing frustration that Drake felt over his inability however, led Yami to wait and see.
Drake merely shook his head, a look of increasing irritation appearing on his face.
“No, let me be the one to find it this time around.” Drake said with sense of confidence. “Always relying on you would be a mistake if there’s ever a time when we both need to be searching.” This time, it would be Drake who found the demon without her help, he would make sure of that.
The entire time that Drake had been inside of the city, he hadn’t made even a motion to conjure up his own form of mana. Unlike other kinds of mana that were put out, it was easily visible, which was again due to his own unique type of Pride mana. It was likely that the Draconian loathed to hide the power in any aspect, including his own form of mana.
Now however, Drake let out the faintest mist around himself, trying his best to imitate the faint, ethereal nature of the Envy mana that pervaded the air around him. But, stubborn as always, the crimson mana he let out seemed to reject this notion at its very core, attempting to convert and grow in power with every second, becoming more and more noticeable every second as he tried.
Dammit! Drake scowled, as he battled against what seemed to be the very nature of his own Pride mana. It was simply swallowing up the weak Envy mana around him, without leaving a single trace of it behind.
I just need it to be discreet, if I can mix my own mana in with this Envy mana, maybe I could trace it back that way. Drake thought to himself. I just need it to be more… subtle.
With a flash of inspiration, Drake instantly withdrew all of the mana that he had let out, feeling the brief influx of power as the returned mana entered his body.
His innate mana was stubborn. Stubborn to a fault. Throughout the entire time he had used it, it always attempted to change the environment, to grow in power, or overpower his own feelings with the domineering nature of its own. But he didn’t have to use his own natural mana, did he?
Drake looked deep inside himself, to the crimson castle in his mind where the Draconian was locked up. As if sensing the intrusion on the space, he could see the Draconian look up with an obvious sneer, before quickly returning to a somewhat melancholy state, allowing Drake to quickly focus on the object of his interest in the castle. The opaque mana core he created himself from the opposing Lord’s mana.
I’ve been going about this the wrong way this entire time. Drake shook his head, as he tenderly connected himself to the gem inside his castle.
Truthfully, he had only ever tried to use the gem to imitate the doppelganger’s ability. It certainly worked well, but the drain it had on him as he stayed in that mist-like form was immense.
Compared to his other abilities, which fueled themselves with the mana in the air, that particular gem of mana worked very much like a battery. The longer he stayed in that form, especially after injuring himself so severely in battle, the worse he would end up, which was what resulted him being stuck entirely in his new semi-draconic form, at least until he was able to eat some of the wyvern’s meat.
At the same time, it was a form of mana that entirely different. It didn’t have the intense absorptive effects of his normal mana, and was much more suited to stealth due to the source of mana it emanated from originally. This is what gave him the idea to use it instead.
Drake took a moment to breathe in deeply, before slowly releasing the mana that was built up in the gem. As he released it, he noticed with a pleased smile that it was indeed of a different type altogether concerning the visibility of the mana. It mixed in with the ethereal nature of the Envy mana almost entirely, before continuing to spread out in a wave.
Good. Now, find it! With a thought, the mana began to flow out from Drake, slowly combining itself with the trail of Envy mana in the street, as it was intermingling and mixing with what was the very basis for the weak mana source to begin with.
With this method, Drake finally had a solution to one of his problems. His use of his mana, even if somewhat limited, was able to be used without hesitation in places with more humanoids due to the more ethereal nature of the secondary source of mana.
As the mana mixed in, Drake was soon aware of a few particular signals as his mana spread further and further throughout the small area of the city he was located in. There were actually quite a few more people who were under the influence of the Envy mana than he was initially expecting. Almost twenty in all, although they were all of poor quality in his opinion, no better than the five men who he incapacitated in a short moment.
They’re just weaklings, who are to be ignored. Now just where is the source of all this mana coming from? Drake began to focus on the direction of the ethereal mana even more, and soon he found his answer. Almost 500 meters away, through a series of winding alleyways and streets, was a small, but not insignificant amount of Envy mana emanating from what looked to be some kind of underground basement. No doubt the headquarters for the supposed ‘ruler’ of all the weaklings in this section of the city.
Truly, Drake had no idea just what the people running this town thought of this area. He hadn’t heard anyone speak of it, in fact, those who seemed to reject its influence still avoided this area altogether. Could the faint traces of mana be able to repel those who it can’t outright control?
He shook his head at the thought, before resuming a slow, meandering walk towards the source. He would find out soon enough anyway.
As Drake walked forward, a rising sense of joy and pride welled up in Yami, as she watched at how Drake masterfully fused his own mana with a completely foreign type at a mere thought.
He’s truly my other half. She thought with an immense sense of satisfaction. Yami looked to Drake, as if to tell him an important detail, before settling back down on his head in silence. I shouldn’t tell him just yet. This city wouldn’t be the place, anyway.
With his own source of mana intertwined with the surrounding source of Envy mana, Drake walked slowly and carefully to the source of Envy mana that he had located. As he did, he soon found himself in front of an impressive building, that even rivaled the Guild Hall in the main parts of the city. In fact… it seemed that this building had been made to mimic the guild hall.
The buildings from around this part the city, they were indeed made to be uniform, but bits and pieces were broken off to add to this building.
Truly envious after all. Drake thought with a discreet smile.
As Drake walked forward, he could feel a sudden shift in his mana as two figures appeared from the shadows in the doorway of the building. It was a testament to their abilities that he was only able to feel them out once they started moving. Although, they still weren’t much more powerful than the average person who ventured outside the walls from the looks of it.
Still need to work on this particular ability, after all. Drake thought with a playful smile.
Both of them were fully covered in a long, black robe that covered their face, fully concealing just what kind of humanoid they actually were. As Drake moved forward, both of them suddenly drew daggers from underneath their clothes, and assumed a defensive posture.
“Who the hell are you, and why are you here?” One of them, a man from the sounds of it, barked out orders to Drake.
“Is that the way to treat a guest?” Drake gave an intimidating smile as he looked to the duo. Strangely though, they didn’t seem affected in the least, in fact, the line of questioning seemed to only embolden one of them, who began to walk forward with the dagger glinting dangerously in the shadows of the building.
“I’ll ask again. Why. The hell. Are you here?” A blatant threat this time, as was made clear by the threatening pose they made with the dagger. The real question though, was why were they unaffected by his presence? He had been perfectly clear on the rules for it were with others throughout the city. It acted exactly the same as his Draconian form.
Drake paused in annoyance as he tried to look deeper into the shadows of the entrance. No good. The other one seemed adamant about not letting him see inside.
With a sigh, he looked to the one closest to him. “I’m just sightseeing is all, if you believe me.” Drake said as he cracked a smile. He shifted his weight to the side, as he waved his arm in a teasing manner.
“Wondering what an Envy demon is doing inside a city like this, although I will say that this is my first time in an actual city.” Drake grinned as he noticed a violent reaction from duo, as they launched backward, both in a defensive posture, as if he might strike at them at any moment.
He cackled for a moment at the sight, before mulling over a thought that crossed his mind. These two, they weren’t acting like they were controlled at all. In fact…
Within three breaths, Drake withdrew all of the mana that he had mixed into the Envy mana, and looked to the two in front of him with a renewed interest. Extending his hand, he began to let out his own mana that he had been so careful of before, which only resulted in the two in front of him dropping their weapons in an instant as they loudly clattered on the ground.
Drake’s smile quickly dropped into an unamused grimace as he looked to the duo. “What, is that all?”
“W-we’re sorry for offending you, Lord, we didn’t recognize someone of your… stature.” They both removed their hoods in an instant, before lowering themselves in a bowing gesture of deep respect. They both looked fairly normal for those inside the city, but as his mana washed over them, the disguises they wore dissipated like it was never there. Such a magic compared to his was only a badly done ruse.
These two were demons, no doubt about it. The unnatural gray skin, and the black hair made them the rather average demon. As a race, they resembled humans quite a lot, but unfortunately for them, no race that was given as a choice to transform to had their unique skin color. Rather ironically, they both had horns very similar to his own ridged horns, although they lacked his characteristic tail. With such a look, any passing stranger would attempt to identify them out of sheer caution, not to mention their complete inability to speak in a normal language once their humanoid disguise was shattered.
But of course, that particular problem wasn’t an issue given that Drake’s mana had surrounded them completely by this point. He had corrected his mistake he had with Aleria, his own core was still in the same place, just in an entirely different form due to his transformation. He just had to compensate for that, and it was the same. They sounded perfectly normal as he connected to their cores in an instant.
[Hehe, look at them groveling like that.] A rather smug imp chimed into his head as she looked down on the two.
As if realizing something, she quickly piped up again, this time with a certain sense of warning in her tone. [I hope I know you well enough that you don’t attempt to make these two your servant by the way.]
[Of course not. Therion was a special case. I don’t plan on making any random demon my servant. This really is just curiosity,] said Drake.
[Curiosity… you big idiot. Who goes looking for demons out of curiosity?] Yami held back her laughter, as if the mere notion was enough to make her laugh. She quickly covered her mouth to keep herself from giggling.
“Lord, d-do you want us to guide you to our leader?” One of the demons looked uncertainly to Drake and Yami, careful to not intrude on the obvious conversation going on in between the two telepathically.
“Hm? Oh no need, I can tell he’s already on his way.” Drake looked to the two with an obviously devious expression, as he looked on inside the makeshift building. Being stealthy about his mana certainly did have a drawback, it drastically reduced exactly what he could do with it. Using his normal mana, it was like night and day in his ability to track someone’s precise movements.
“Ranvar, Azura, why exactly have.. you…” A voice rang out from the darkness before becoming more and more subdued as he looked to the crimson glowing figure standing right outside the doorway.
“A L-lord.” A man quickly rushed out, along with the other two as he quickly adopted the same bowing gesture as the rest.
As for Drake, he was somewhat surprised at the over the top reaction. After meeting no real demons besides Therion and Yami, he had gotten used to the clever, but fully obedient Satyr, and the mischievous but loving imp. These demons on the other hand, seemed to look to him with a feeling of outright terror, or a begrudging respect for fear of the consequences.
Something Yami told him came rushing back to him in this moment as he looked down on the three. Therion traded freedom for power. That was the most natural extension of how demon’s society worked.
Damn. I’m falling into the trap Yami warned me of. Drake looked onto the three with a growing sense of domination. He could take all three under him, and gain what he could do so easily. The duo outside were plain demons, while only the one inside had an inkling of the Sin of Envy, he didn’t have near the power to be considered a Lord.
Overpowering the weak sin that pervaded this area would be so simple… but, it would be a pain to deal with them, and giving away a power that was so uniquely his would best be saved for someone who would be more truly loyal, much like Therion was.
“So, just what are you three doing in this city anyway? I’ve seen what a few of your lackeys can do. They really aren’t good for much.” Drake said with a sly grin.
“A-ah, they’re simply weak minded, Lord. As I’m sure you are well aware, I am not capable of more at the moment.” The demon with the Sin of Envy answered, making sure to avert his eyes at Drake.
Still, was this all really a part of a demon’s culture? It seemed a bit over the top.
“It’s for the cores, right? It’s easy to gather them when you can just steal them outright.” Drake smiled as he saw straight through the demon’s plans. Truthfully, it wasn’t difficult. Even the men he incapacitated had a few cores on them. Still, the cores that were collected were pitifully weak, which was likely the reason behind why a demon like this was still so underpowered as well.
For Demons, they generally despised working together. Working under a more powerful demon was most beneficial for all of them, and these three were the same, although to a much lesser extent. A real Lord could establish a ‘Lair’, saturating the entire area with the mana he could muster, and grow the power of those under him passively. The trio here however, were simply sharing cores, while working under the most powerful one.
It made sense however, at least from Drake’s perspective. The leader of these three was only just starting to understand the Sin of Envy, a phase that Drake had skipped over entirely due to him being one of the first of his species, a ‘predecessor.’ However, even with that tiny bit of knowledge, he was able to share that power with the other two, which was enough for them to hide in plain sight among a city of humans. It was still much easier than out in the wild, at least while there wasn’t more of them to share.
“Y-you knew about the cores.” The demon’s voice dropped, and the ringing of defeat was clear in his tone. Better to live another day than to fight someone more powerful. After all, he wasn’t a Pride demon. “You’re here to take them, aren’t you?” The hidden hostility behind that question was clear to Drake, but he didn’t care.
“No, not at all. I don’t plan to do a thing to you.” Drake answered as he looked to the trio.
“Y-you don’t covet our cores in the least?” For the first time, the leader looked up to Drake unsteadily, but with eyes still shining with the faintest light of hope.
Drake could only laugh at the pathetic demon. His concept of power in this new world was always based around himself, given how few references he truly had. In fact, if any demon had heard that he had defeated a Wyvern single handedly, they might faint out of pure shock. Even a Lord would be cautious around such a creature, and even for Drake, it was only due to his exceptional abilities and a little help from Gwyn that he managed to survive.
The demon in front of him however, was barely even considered a threat in his eyes. If he really wanted to, he had no doubt he could take all three of them on without any problems. Even now, the crimson mana that surrounded them threatened to swallow them up whole, regardless of the trio actually attempting to fight back. This was disregarding even his reduced physical abilities in this form.
“No, I don’t have any intention to. It would do very little for me at this point.” Drake looked onto the trio with a mischievous smile.
While not necessarily true, he had already stowed away quite a few cores for himself in the bag he carried. He had collected a little over two dozen at this point, from selling off the wyvern scales and liberating a few off the men who attacked him, so stealing what little these demons likely had on them wouldn’t do him much good.
“I’m just curious about what a few demons were doing in this city. You seem to be doing fairly well for yourself.” Drake looked on with a disguised sneer.
“A-ah, yes Lord. It is beneficial. I can control quite a few of the weaker men in the city, and they are able to steal the cores for us. It is slow, but much safer than attempting to fight outside.”
“Safer… Is that what you think?” A single piece of crystal appeared in Drake’s hands, as he quickly linked their cores to the crystal. He was able to override their resistance easily, and much like the one he made with Therion and the others, he would be able to track them with ease now.
“L-lord!” They all cried out in fear. They had been extremely courteous to this Lord of Sin, and now that he had used his strange magic, they could feel that a piece of themselves had been linked to the crystal. The concept of what he planned to do with that was terrifying on its own.
“I just want a little insurance on you three is all. I’m sure you understand.” Drake looked to the trio with a devilish glare. “Now, could you tell me again how your magic works, and how you managed to do so much in the city?”