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6. Red Fire

My body was aching; I had just been attacked, and it hurt a lot. Black liquid— blood— was pouring from the cut running down the side of my face to my body— I had been injured before, but not this badly. And worst of all, I was being attacked by Demons like me.

Why did they attack me? Was it an accident—

There was a loud thud. The Demon with black and yellow spots was knocked back by the three Demons that were next to him. This was no accident; this was done with intent. But I could not understand why they were doing this. And I didn’t even have time to try and understand it.

The horned Demon rushed at me, all of its spiky limbs lashing out at once. I evaded it, pushing myself off the ground and back with all my strength. He pressed forward, continuing slicing out in all directions as I kept my distance between him.

I was faster than him, but the way he was moving, I couldn’t get close. And I almost didn’t want to want to get close. I didn’t want to fight him! I didn’t want to fight them! I was just giving them a new companion— did they not like the Demon with black and yellow spots either?

Perhaps they knew he stole experience from others. Maybe that was why they were angry and attacking me now. But I was not like that!

I tried to get the horned Demon’s attention; I waved my limbs up and down like had done earlier, frantically nodding my head to him. He did not let up.

He swung and missed me by just a tiny bit. I was only barely able to keep him away from me. Why isn’t it working? I dodged another attack, and from the side, I saw something white flying towards me at high speeds.

A rock struck me on the face, where I had been wounded, and I recoiled. More blood spurted out, as I defensively covered the injury with my limbs. As I did, the horned Demon closed the distance and sliced at me.

I couldn’t dodge it in time, but I wasn’t completely unprepared like earlier. I managed to react by bringing one of my limbs to block the attack, and instead of being cut on my body, the limb was lopped off. I stared in horror as more blood oozed out of that nub where my limb once was.

Reflexively, I struck out. [Fire Strike]! I managed to land a hit back at the horned Demon before he could follow through with his next attack. He staggered for a moment, before recovering himself and charging at me with more vigor. Instead of using his limbs however, he lowered his head, pointing his horns in my direction, and rushed forward.

I drew myself to the side and he missed me. But another rock struck me to the side, and I turned to face where it came from. Next to where the three Demons were fighting with my companion, I saw the last Demon in their group pointing his antennae at me.

The antennae swayed, then glowed. A rock twice the size of my eyes flew up and shot out at me. This time, having seen it, I managed to evade the attack. I whirled back to the horned Demon, expecting him to follow up from this attack, but only saw him glaring at the magic Demon.

He swung one limb down, stabbing the ground, and pointed another at her. She flinched, nodded, then turned to help the other two Demons in their group fight the Demon with black and yellow spots. I looked at this, confused.

He was… ordering her to not help him? But why would he do that? He wasn’t able to hit me without her help! If he wanted to kill me so badly, he’d have her pelt me with rocks as he engaged me up close. That was unless…

He wanted the experience from defeating me all for himself.

I glanced between the horned Demon and his group. They were attacking us for experience. They weren’t mindless like the wild Demons, nor were they angry at us. They did not care that we were like them, and only saw us as an opportunity to level themselves. That— that— was ridiculous!

I felt a flash of anger burn within me. Here I was thinking they were like me, but they were not. They only cared to level. I wanted to level, but I didn’t attack them! We were different— we weren’t the same after all.

The horned Demon slashed at me, and I went under the attack. I landed a [Fire Strike] to his side, before backing away from his follow up swing. It nicked me, leaving a small cut where it touched. I wasn’t able to completely dodge it; my missing limb made me significantly slower than before.

I had come to these Demons, seeking to help them. I mean, sure, I was trying to get rid of an unwanted companion, but I had no intentions to harm them. But they saw me, and they thought only of the experience. If that was how they were going to think of me, then I was going to do the same to them!

I skittered away from the horned Demon’s subsequent attacks, glancing back at the group fighting away from us. I saw the Demon with black and yellow spots struggling as they held him down and struck him. He had a high [Vitality], but I did not think he would be able to hold out much longer.

He pushed one of the Demons off him then lashed out at the other two twice. Before he could fully right himself, rocks hit him at the side, knocking him back down. They continued beating him as he was down, squirming to get away from them.

I focused on the magic Demon, hurling rocks at the side, then back to the horned Demon. My attacks were barely hurting the horned Demon— I would have to use a lot of mana just to deal with him, let alone the others.But I had noticed something earlier. I had seen all their levels, and I realized something now. A plan quickly formed in my mind.

The horned Demon approached me, but instead of backing away, I raised my limbs. A small ball of red fire was conjured right in front of me. He paused, just for a moment, as the fire grew slightly bigger. I drew my limbs back, and he braced himself. I threw the fire as he tried to dodge to the side.

He stared as the fire limply dropped just in front of me.

I rushed the magic Demon before he could react. She glanced up as I scurried up next to her, and hit her with a [Fire Strike]. She lurched back, and I struck her with the Skill once again. Her skin changed color. It was burned where she had been hurt. But I did not let up.

One thing I had noticed earlier— even before I decided to approach the group— was that she was Level 4. And despite being barely more than half my level, she was capable of using magic. I hadn’t even been able to use magic until I was Level 6. I smashed my head on her.

 

Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 4]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

 

Subspecies [Demon Larva] Level Up!

[Demon Larva - Lvl. 7] -> [Demon Larva - Lvl. 8]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 1 Skill Point!

 

And that meant she had to have used a significant amount of her Stat Points on [Wisdom] instead of [Vitality].

I whirled around, quickly backing up and away from the horned Demon as he swung for me once again. The words I had been waiting for came, and I hurriedly distributed my Stat Points out. I raised my [Agility] by 2, my [Endurance] by 2, and my [Vitality] by 1. Then I spent the single Skill Point I gained on [Fire Strike].

I could’ve used more Skill Points on my [Fire Strike], but I decided against it, since I wasn’t entirely sure how it would affect the Skill. If it made it more powerful, it could’ve used up more mana, and that was something I couldn’t afford to waste right now.

That was why I had raised my [Endurance] instead of my [Vitality]; if I had given myself more health, I was sure some of my injuries would have been healed— perhaps even my missing limb would have grown back. But having more health wouldn’t matter if I couldn’t deal the damage necessary to beat them.

And strangely enough, raising my [Agility] shifted my body to adapt without that missing limb. Some of my limbs grew longer, more sturdy, while the others almost seemed to have sunk back inwards to my body. So even in spite of my injuries, I was able to move faster than before.

The horned Demon swung at me once again, and I managed to counter him with a [Fire Strike] to the face, followed by a regular attack. He drew back and I pressed forward. I landed another of my [Fire Strike] on him, before pulling his body up and closing all of his sharpened limbs on me.

I pulled away just in time to avoid getting caught by him, but still suffered a dozen scratches on my sides from that. If he had caught me with that, I definitely would not have survived. He dealt a lot of damage with each hit, while I was only just hurting him with each of my attacks. I had to whittle him down to beat him. But... I glanced at the fighting happening a small ways away from me. I can’t do it on my own.

I readied myself as the horned Demon prepared for another charge. We repeated the same moves as earlier, with me landing two hits on him. Then when he backed up to bait me in, I turned around and rushed to my companion's aid.

I got there as quick as I could; the three Demons were beating him as he curled up in a defensive position to protect himself. I pushed myself off the ground, landing on the back of the closest Demon I could. Immediately, I jabbed two limbs forward, hitting him with two [Fire Strikes] at once.

I managed to get one last hit in before the other two Demons whirled around to engage with me. I hopped off the Demon I had been on, and backed away as they came at me. The two Demons spread out, trying to prevent me from going around them to the Demon I had injured, and when I turned around to flee, I saw the horned Demon closing in on me too.

I was surrounded. Trapped by them. If I tried to flee, one of them would surely catch me. Then it would be me against three of them at once, and I couldn’t possibly win. My best option would be to charge either side, to fight as few of them as possible before I had to fight them all. They knew this too, so the horned Demon started forward, making his two minions wait behind me to cut off my escape.

Unfortunately, he forgot about his third minion.

 

Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 6]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

 

The Demon with black and yellow spots crushed the head of the fallen Demon, and immediately his body shifted. Did he get a level up? It was possible— in fact, that was what I had been hoping for.

He grew larger once again, his body more tough and his limbs more hard. I wasn’t sure what he raised, but I had hoped he used his Stat Points on his [Strength]. Because I needed him to take out at least another one of the Demons for us to win this.

While I was staring triumphantly at my companion’s new level and the two minion Demons were caught in surprise, the horned Demon took this as an opportunity to attack me. He charged me with his horns, trying to skewer me.

I backed up to dodge it, but as expected, the two minion Demons intercepted me from behind. I found one of them directly at my back, and the other a little off to the side. The horned Demon reached me—

And I threw myself to the side at the last moment. I landed right next to the other Demon at my flank, and was met with multiple blunt strikes to the face. However, I saw blood pouring out from the Demon that had been behind me as the horned Demon rammed into her with his horns instead.

I fought back with three uses of [Fire Strike], as the horned Demon pulled himself off his minion. I was down half my mana now, having used my Skills so much, and I had meant for that to at least serve as a moment’s distraction to keep him away from me. But he didn’t hesitate. He ignored his injured minion and rushed me.

I was locked in combat with this Demon in front of me. She and I would have probably fought for longer if I didn’t decide there and then to use [Fire Strike] for every single one of my attacks on her. She dropped as I felt my mana rapidly deplete.

 

Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 5]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

 

I was completely exhausted now. I didn’t manage to dodge the horned Demon’s next attack, taking most of it head on to land my own hit on him. I backed up, blood spilling out of another wound just below my face.

I stared into the red eyes of the horned Demon, as he prepared to charge me once again. I was tired. He knew I was tired. This would be his win. If I used my [Fire Strike] again, I would truly be out of mana. And while using up my mana regularly didn’t exactly drain me of my energy— my stamina— it started to take a toll on my body when I used up too much. It made me more sluggish.

He was just about to come forward, when he suddenly stopped. Words appeared— notifications of defeating an enemy came. But it was not for me. It had resounded in his head.

The horned Demon turned slowly, to the corpse of where his last minion had been. The Demon with black and yellow spots— my companion— had finished her off, and he, having injured her, was notified of it. I didn’t receive any experience, because I hadn’t done enough damage to her. But that didn’t matter to me.

Because now, it was just him and the two of us left.

He was still looking at my companion in surprise when I threw myself onto his back. With my now-longer limbs, I was able to leap even further and higher than before. I wrapped my two front limbs around his horns, keeping me from falling off him as he struggled to get me off him. He couldn’t get a proper hit on me with his sharp limbs, although he was able to cut and scratch at me.

I brought my head down on him a few times as we squirmed around on the spot. I wasn’t sure how much damage I was doing to him, but I didn’t have to use mana for this. Then, when he had almost gotten a good grip of me on his back, my companion arrived.

He swung his blunt limbs at the horned Demon’s face twice as I followed up with my continued attacks. The horned Demon tried to fight back against him, but I wrapped enough of my limbs around the base of his to keep him from landing any proper hits. And even if he did, my companion had enough [Vitality] to survive them.

The horned Demon continued to struggle as the two of us laid into him, until finally, he couldn’t move anymore.

 

General Skill [Basic Mana Manipulation] Level Up!

[Basic Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 2] -> [Basic Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 3]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

Defeated [Demon Larva - Lvl. 9]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

 

Subspecies [Demon Larva] Level Up!

[Demon Larva - Lvl. 8] -> [Demon Larva - Lvl. 9]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 1 Skill Point!

 

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