4. Magic Attack
Up until now, all of the mindless, lumbering Demons I had seen were alone. It was odd; the only time I had encountered a group of Demons had been shortly— relatively speaking— after I was born.
So based on this single observation, I came to the broad conclusion that only others like me would clump up together. And while applying that general rule too hastily might seem like a bad idea in retrospect, the logic made sense to me when I decided to approach the four Demons traveling next to each other.
Well, I knew better now.
I skittered around the large boulder as the remaining three Demons chased after me. They had caught me by surprise by attacking me when I had thought they were friendly, but I still managed to take one out.
The Demons weren’t as fast as me, although they still managed to keep up with my speed. They followed after me, whirling around the corner—
And I was not there. The Demons paused, confused at my sudden disappearance. They cast their gazes around, scanning the landscape for any signs of me to no avail. Slowly but surely, the three began to spread out, slightly further away from each other.
From atop the boulder, I leapt down at the closest Demon. I wriggled below my feet as I struck it twice with my forefront limbs. The other two Demons noticed this and tried to rush me. I pushed myself off the first Demon as something bright went off right at its antennae.
Circling around them, I easily put distance between us as they tried to tackle me. Instead, I swung my entire body around, knocking one of them back, before charging the second. The Demon struggled as I jabbed all my limbs into it, forcing its black blood out of its body. I brought my head down on it once, twice—
Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 3]!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy half your level!
Once I received the words in my head, I quickly pried myself off the Demon and just barely evaded a strike from its companion. Pushing it back with my limbs, I was just about to do the same thing to it when I felt a sharp shock run through my body.
I spun around and backed away as fast as I could from the Demon I had dropped on. That was… electricity? Light was flashing between its antennae, sparks dangerously dancing off the side like the splash of blood that came from being crushed. It hurts!
I warily regarded the last two Demons as they approached me. There was no coordination between them. They had no thought behind their actions. So when they charged me again, one after the other, I shoved the first one back to the other.
It did not matter which came first. What ended up happening either ways was the Demon using magic shocking the other. And in that moment where the non-magic Demon was incapacitated, I threw everything I had at the magic Demon, wrapping my body around it and crushed it.
Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 5]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Then it was just me and the last remaining Demon. It got back up, and I waited for it to charge me. I would have expected it to continue foolishly attacking me like it had before— as others like it had always done. But instead, it spun around and ran away.
For a moment— just a brief moment— I was left stunned. Not because I had been zapped or anything. But because it was running.
Why was it running? They never ran!
I was puzzled by this. That had never happened before; it was another thing that went against the norm established by observations I made in the past. By the time I thought to chase after it, it was already long gone.
I felt my entire body vibrate, slightly annoyed that I didn’t get the experience from defeating it. It wasn’t as high leveled as the magic Demon, but when I evaluated my status, something told me it might have given me enough experience to level up again.
Species: [Infant Demon]
Subspecies: [Demon Larva] - Lvl. 6
[Identification] - Lvl. 3
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Basic Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 1
[Available Stat Points: 0]
[Available Skill Points: 5]
[Unused Skill Slot] x5
Ever since I had decided to focus on leveling myself up, I had only gained a single level, going from Level 5 to Level 6. It wasn’t easy leveling up when everything I fought was lower leveled than me.
It didn’t bother me too much— I was still making steady progress. It was visible both in my Status as well as on my physical body: as my [Agility] increased, some of my limbs grew longer. In fact, I would have been wholly satisfied coming off this encounter in spite of letting one escape, had I not realized that one of those ‘mindless’ Demons was capable of using magic and I still was not.
That frustrated me. Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough? Sure, I was focusing more on fighting now than trying to do magic. But the periods of reprieve in between were all spent with my frontal limbs pointed up to the red sky, trying to touch the intangible lines of mana all around me.
I was lacking something. Every single time I raised my [Wisdom], I knew something was changing within me. However there was a component of magic that I just wasn’t grasping right.
I tried once again grabbing at the mana in my surroundings, but nothing happened. I pushed at it, pulled at it, and even tried chasing after it. Still, I wasn’t able to do magic. After I had expended my Stat Points into [Wisdom], it wasn’t working. I… stopped caring after a moment.
It was infuriating, sure. But I was close to a level up! So instead of wasting my time lying here and accomplishing nothing, I decided to mull over it as I scurried in search of a potential enemy.
It didn’t take long. At least, compared to how much time passed before I met the first group of Demons. It seemed that wherever I was was more populated than where I had been born.
When I spotted the Demon from a distance, I had almost assumed it was only a single one. Great! It was more likely to be one that would attack me, rather than approach me out of interest. And yet, when I got closer and closer to it, I soon realized it wasn’t a single Demon— but two wrapped together in a battle.
I stopped a ways away from the fight, choosing first to survey what was going on. Of course, the first thing I did was use [Identification]— which required me to get to a certain distance from the target of the Skill.
[Demon Larva - Lvl. 4]
[Demon Larva - Lvl. 6]
The higher leveled Demon was, as expected, winning the fight. It had pinned the other Demon to the ground, and was smashing its head onto… him? I paused, noting the distinction. He was certainly not an ‘it’, but a ‘him’, like how I was a ‘her’.
That was a peculiar observation. What exactly about him made him a ‘him’? I had met other ‘hims’ and ‘hers’ before, however only at the beginning, and ever since then all the other Demons I had met were ‘its’. What made the other Demons ‘its’?
It was fascinating. It was something for me to ponder about.The implications of which I had to take time to absorb and parse. And as I was busy with this revelation, the Demon continued smashing him on the head.
Was it because they were incapable of thought?
Certainly not. The most recent Demon I had encountered thought to run away instead of fighting me once it realized it was outmatched, and it was an ‘it’.
Smash. Smash. Smash.
So clearly it could think, but an instinctual drive—
You’re too loud! I can’t think! Can you stop?
I snapped. I had enough of this. The other Demon had a lot of health. He probably had raised his [Vitality] incredibly high so he could take a lot of hits. He was struggling, landing a few of his own on hits back on it. But it was winning, and it was making a lot of noise.
So I finally decided to intervene. I threw it off of him, tackling it to the ground and striking it with my own limbs. I aimed for its weak spots— where it had already visibly taken damage from fighting the other Demon. And yet, it wasn’t falling.
It flailed back at me, thrashing its entire body about, before managing to pry me off it. It charged me with its head, knocking me into a daze as I staggered back away from it. That’s hard! It had a hard head— possibly having a high [Vitality] too? Whatever the case was, I was angry.
It managed to land a hit on me! No one had been able to hit me before— by themselves. Sure, it was because I decided to carelessly attack it, and sure, it was the highest leveled Demon I have seen since the large Demon. But still, it hit me!
I backed up as the Demon whiffed two swings with its body, before it tried rushing me with its head again. I went around it, going for its back and landed a quick strike on it. Once again, my limbs barely left a dent on its tough skin, less so than before since I hadn’t aimed for a bruised spot.
I could hurt it. Just barely hurt it. I couldn’t wrap my body around it and squeeze it since it was about my size, it would easily be able to throw me off it. So there was no quick way for me to defeat it. All I could do now was whittle it down with multiple strikes, until I won. Perhaps if I had a higher attack…
I dodged another charge, just barely this time, as I realized that I actually did have a way to hurt it. That was the reason I had been raising my [Wisdom]. A magical attack.
But I didn’t know how to do one. I had been trying to figure it out, but it was difficult. It was like I was paying attention to the wrong thing. To the magic around me?
That seemed wrong, didn’t it? There was no magic in the empty space filled with mana. The mana was just there, but it wasn’t magic. Instead, the magical attack created by the Demon from earlier came from within it, did it not?
I tried to think back to my previous fight; it was an intense moment, but I did pay attention to how the magic Demon created the electric shock. I saw the magic— the mana around it moving, like strings manipulated by it. And yet, it wasn’t actually coming from around it. It was coming from inside the magic Demon.
It was like the magic Demon had attached its own strings onto the lines of mana. It exerted the mana inside of it to do magic, and the mana in the surroundings only served as an assisting medium. So instead of tugging at the mana strings there, I pulled the mana from inside of me with my front limbs. And it worked.
Instantly, I felt something leaving my body and a slight exhaustion sink in. However, there was now also a power right where I concentrated the mana into. I could do magic now.
The Demon once again charged me, but this time I did not even pay attention to it. I focused on the mana, trying to shape it into something I wanted. Right now, I was frustrated. I was burning with anger against the annoying Demon as well as burning with excitement now knowing how to cast magic. I also wanted to hurt it— I wanted something with the power to penetrate its strong defenses.
And from that desire, I shaped the magical attack. Fire plumed into existence on my front two limbs, covering it with an intense heat I could feel but did not burn me. The mindless Demon did not even stop to take this in, and continued its attack. Instead of trying to go for a counterattack, I decided to be reckless once again.
I swung my two limbs forward at it as it came at me. I struck first into its head, which normally would have done nothing to stop it. But the fire blazed upon impact, and the Demon recoiled. Again, I brought my two fiery limbs down at it, and again it was hurt from the strikes.
I was actually doing damage to it! This magical attack was doing far more than I possibly could have with just my limbs alone. The Demon recognized this and tried to back up, but I was relentless.
I pressed the Demon with my new magical attack, continuously hitting it until its defenses gave in and black blood finally poured out. At that point, it had failed in trying to escape due to my significantly faster movement, and weakly tried to fight back. I took a few strikes due to how wildly I was attacking it, but it didn’t matter. I won in the end as the words filled my head.
Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 6]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Subspecies [Demon Larva] Level Up!
[Demon Larva - Lvl. 6] -> [Demon Larva - Lvl. 7]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 1 Skill Point!
Skill [Basic Fire Conjuration] Learned!
Experience is awarded for the learning of a Skill!
Skill [Fire Strike] Obtained!
General Skill [Basic Mana Manipulation] Level Up!
[Basic Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 1] -> [Basic Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 2]!
Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!
I gained two Skills and leveled up? That was amazing! Although I didn’t gain any experience from learning the second one, which was odd.
Perhaps it was because I gained the Skill from leveling? That might have been the difference between learning a Skill and obtaining one; so there was no experience to be gained from the latter.
I quickly looked over my Skills and Stats in my Status as I considered what to do next.
[Available Stat Points: 5]
[Available Skill Points: 6]
[Basic Fire Conjuration] - Lvl. 1
[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 1
[Unused Skill Slot] x3
For my Stats, I put 2 Stat Points into [Vitality] and the remaining 3 into [Agility] because I was unhappy with how much damage I took from this fight. I had to be faster, and I had to be able to take more hits. If not— I would die.
I wasn’t able to take blows like that Demon had been able to, nor did I plan to do so. But I would rather not lose because I wasn’t able to survive a single blow. And I could put off raising my [Strength] and [Wisdom] for now, since I just gained these brand new Skills which would significantly alter the way I fought.
I had considered increasing my [Endurance]— I was absolutely exhausted right now, something which I commonly found myself suffering from after a fight, but even more so now that I used magic. But that was something I could raise later. I did not think I would be able to die from exhaustion.
As for my Skill Points...
The Skill names were rather self explanatory, and I had just used them for myself. But I was not exactly sure how much of a difference a Skill Point made. Was a Level 2 [Fire Strike] twice as powerful as a Level 1 [Fire Strike]? And wasn’t it possible for me to gain a more powerful Skill than [Fire Strike] in the future? For now, I simply raised both my new Skills by 1 Skill Point each, choosing to save my Skill Points once I understood my Skills more and had a wider array of them.
Satisfied, I looked back down from where I had been distractedly staring at in the sky while in thought, and found myself jumping as a pair of eyes stared back at me. The other Demon— the one that had been losing the fight prior to my intervention— was just standing in front of me. And he was not moving.
...do I fight you too?