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8. Lesser Demon

It was a while before either the Demon with black and yellow spots or I dared to move; we had seen those new Demons headed by the Demon with crooked horns force other Infant Demons— those just like us— to follow them. Neither of us knew where they were being herded to, but we did not want to follow them.

Because they were dangerous.

They slaughtered the other Infant Demons that tried to escape. Wherever they were being led to, I did not think they wanted to go there. And knowing that, I decided that I did not want to go there either.

I had been tense after having watched what happened, but after those Demons left, my companion and I were able to [Rest]. So we had recovered our health and were ready to leave. However, I glanced one last time back at the valley where the wild Demons and Infant Demons were killed, resolving not to end up like them—

What’s that?

I spotted an object amidst the corpses and black blood. It stood out even amongst the colorful bodies because of what it was— glowing.

It was… a spear!

It was the spear the Demon with crooked horns created out of fire and threw!

How did he do that? I wasn’t entirely sure how he did that— probably a Skill— but I was still curious about it. Why did he use it? Was it more effective than simply swinging his hands at his enemies like I did with my limbs?

I wanted to know. So I glanced surreptitiously down either side of the valley; I saw no Demons on either side, and decided that it was safe. I wanted to know more about the spear. And maybe, if it was really special, I wanted to use it for myself.

I started forward down the hill. The Demon with black and yellow spots gave me a look— a warning look— but did not stop me; he followed me apprehensively down the side of the valley, as we struggled to crawl down the steep incline.

We were halfway down the slope when part of the ground gave way below my companion. He was too large to take the same path as me apparently, and neither of us considered that. He rolled the rest of the way, taking bits of white rocks with him before he crashed to the bottom. I had gotten out of the way just in time, but quickly scuttled over to him to check if he was fine.

He was already getting up when I reached him; I looked him once over, seeing no obvious cuts of scratches on his body. I nodded at him for confirmation that he hadn’t taken damage and he nodded back.

Having been reassured, I decided to leave him to check on the spear. It was still protruding from the rock wall, where it had skewered the Demon with the feelers. I stopped right before the body, looking it over to investigate it momentarily before I came to a conclusion.

He’s dead, I made the diagnosis.

I confirmed it with a quick use of [Identification]. It told me that it was a body. And while it did not specify whether he was dead or alive, I was fairly certain that I was right in my observation. So I turned my attention to why I had come down here— the spear.

I inspected it carefully, noting every detail I could. It was almost as if it were made of fire, except solid; specks of embers flaked off it as if it would be snuffed out over time, but after a moment of staring at it, I saw that it had not diminished in size at all. Finally, I decided to use [Identification] on it.

And for the first time, the results of the Skill surprised me.

[Spear of Flames: Medium Grade - ???]

...

What?

What was ‘???’ supposed to mean? That told me nothing!

I stared at the Spear of Flames, mildly annoyed. What secret are you hiding? I reached out to touch it, only to realize too late that I might get burnt—

And nothing happened. I wrapped one limb around the spear carefully, afraid that it might suddenly burn me despite not having done so thus far. But again, I did not feel the searing pain of fire on my limb. Realizing that I would be fine with trying to use it, I pulled at the spear to dislodge it from the wall.

My limb slipped right off.

...huh?

I wrapped two limbs around the spear and pulled at the spear again, and again, it slid right through my limbs. I… couldn’t get a proper grip on it!

I was no longer irritated now. I was confused. Perplexed. I wrapped more limbs around the spear and failed once more. I glanced up at it, peeved at my inability to use the spear. Was it somehow related to me being unable to identify it?

I eyed the spear again. Maybe if I used [Identification] again, this time it would not hide information from me.

[Identification]!

[Spear of Flames: Medium Grade - ???]

It didn’t work. But I tried again.

[Spear of Flames: Medium Grade - ???]

Again!

[Spear of Flames: Medium Grade - ???]

It should be working! Maybe if I did it one more time—

 

General Skill [Identification] Level Up!

[Identification - Lvl. 3] -> [Identification - Lvl. 4]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

I jerked as those words registered in my head, followed by results from the spear.

[Spear of Flames: Medium Grade Weapon - A spear made of magical flames that allows the wielder to inflict additional damage.]

Wait, what? I leveled my [Identification]! I hadn’t done that in a while, so I was completely caught off guard by it! And wait, I was— yes, I knew now what the spear did!

So my [Identification] wasn’t at the needed level to learn about its abilities; that was interesting. If I had to guess, it had something to do with the ‘Medium Grade’ label on the spear. Nevertheless, now that I knew the spear’s information, I would be able to pull it off the wall, right?

Wrong.

I failed once more to pry the spear of the wall. Why wasn’t it working? I saw the Demon swing the spear around without a problem! All he did was hold it with… his… hands.

I stared down at the nubby protrusions that were my limbs. Then I slid it along the spear’s body, feeling how little resistance my limbs were met with. I was simply unable to grasp the spear, which was why I couldn’t pull it out.

I backed away from the spear, unsure of what to do. My companion came up to me, and when I turned to him for some help, he didn’t seem like he even understood what the problem was. Well, that wasn’t any help.

I carefully considered this problem: I couldn’t pry the spear out of the wall because I couldn’t get a grip on it. So the solution would be to find a way to do so without gripping it.

Then, from where I was, I saw a way to do it. If I could push the edge of the spear that was sticking out down, I could swing its tip upwards, forcing it out of the wall!

That would work. I was certain that would work— that was simply how swinging things worked. It was using the fulcrum to pivot it upwards. So I would do it. In fact, I was just about to do it when I heard thud behind me.

My companion and I whirled around, looking in alert at what had made the sound. I didn’t see anything come from either side of the valley! How did something get here?

And my question was immediately answered as I heard another thud. And another. And another. Before finally, I saw the figure rise up from the ground— from amongst the pile of bodies and black blood.

A Demon had survived the battle— one of the wild Lesser Demons. It had stayed hidden as the other wild Demons were killed, healing up by itself. It emerged from the corpses, standing up on all four of its feet, baring hundreds of sharp teeth at us as its dark red body flared wide open threateningly.

It howled and charged us.

My first instinct was to stand my ground and fight, but my second instinct immediately called my first instinct out for its stupidity and tossed the first instinct aside.

I knew my companion wouldn’t be able to move out of the way in time, so I threw myself at him, shoving him and myself away from the Lesser Demon’s path. We just barely dodged out of the way of its attack, its sharp claws missing its mark as it sped past us.

I whirled around as it stopped itself, readying for another charge. I quickly gathered myself, using [Identification] on it as I did. The results of the Skill, however, was not something I wanted to know.

[Hellhound - Lvl. 15]

It was Level 15! The largest numerical gap between myself and an opposing Demon so far!

Sure, it wasn’t three times my level, as the first wild Demon I encountered had been. But this wasn’t even an Infant Demon anymore— it was a Lesser Demon! Somehow, I was able to intuit that that meant it was a superior kind of Demon to myself or my companion, making the gap between our levels even more wide than it appeared to be.

The [Hellhound] growled as it pawed the ground once, then came bounding at me once again. This time, I couldn’t even push my companion out of the way. It was suddenly fast. Even faster than I was now.

It struck out with its two front claws— the attack turning to a blur, moving far more quickly than it should have— barely grazing me while sinking its sharp talons into the skin of my companion. I backed up warily, reading a [Fire Strike] as I prepared for it to press me further. It, however, had other plans.

It decided that my companion who was staggering back from it was an easier target, so it lashed out at him as he tried to strike back. He landed a few hits in as the [Hellhound] as it tried to ravage his body, managing to keep it from closing its mouth on him. But it was still digging its claws into him.

Black blood sprayed all around him, even as I came rushing to his side to attack the [Hellhound] from behind. I repeatedly swung at it with [Fire Strike] before suddenly, it produced a fifth limb— a… tail— and whipped me flying back to a pile of bodies behind.

My companion managed to strike the [Hellhound] one more time, landing it cleanly across the wild Demon’s face, before it snapped its teeth around the limb. It pressed his body down to the ground and pulled with its head, tearing his limb straight off. He struggled as blood poured out of the wound, but his attacks were much weaker now. He was barely wriggling as it raised its claw up at him.

I saw this happening and realized it was about to finish him off. I leapt forward, further than I ever had, closing the distance between myself and the [Hellhound] in an instant as I crashed into it just in time. I used [Fire Strike] once again when we landed, but it struck out at me too.

My attack reached it at the same time as its attack reached me, and while it was only just hurt from my Skill, I went flying back and landed in a shower of my own blood. I was lucky. Its paw came into contact with me first so its claws couldn’t fully shear into my skin— and yet, I was already this badly injured.

I glanced up at the [Hellhound] as it got up. I could barely hurt it. My companion could barely hurt it. Neither of us could do enough damage to it to kill it. But— neither of us had to be able to do that.

I looked back at the spear, still sticking out of the rock wall. I remembered what my [Identification] had told me— it was a Medium Grade Weapon capable of doing more damage. What that meant, I wasn’t entirely certain. However it definitely did mean it would let me hurt this Lesser Demon more than I was currently able to.

But even if I pulled it out, that didn’t mean I would be able to use it. Then, I had a thought. And I realized I didn’t need to use it myself.

The [Hellhound] bounded for me once again, but I dodged to the side. It was keeping pace with me. At its current speed, it was probably as fast as me. And with the physical distance between us, it wouldn’t be able to reach me as long as I wasn’t distracted.

I had noticed earlier that it was able to increase its speed drastically. I recognized it then to be a Skill. Now, I just had to wait for it to use the Skill again.

I positioned myself in front of the spear, waiting for the sign. And I saw it. The [Hellhound] scraped its front right leg against the ground, before speeding up. It charged me. It would reach me before I could even dodge. But I didn’t have to dodge.

I simply backed up, lowering my body below the spear. The wild Demon crashed into the back edge of the spear. It went staggering back from the self inflicted blow, exacerbated by whatever effects the Spear of Flames did.

And the spear didn’t just stay rigid against the wall either. The spear tilted up from the impact, before detaching itself off the wall and flew up above me. I saw it spinning and turning as the [Hellhound] was still reeling from its injury. I took this as my chance.

I hurriedly skittered up the slope of the hill before hurling myself up after the spear. I could have missed, but I didn’t. I caught the Spear of Flames with my entire body, hugging it with all the limbs I had so it would not slip out of my grip. Then as I fell, I aimed for the Lesser Demon that was just getting up.

It looked up, seeing me fall from the sky at it. The [Hellhound] growled, baring its dangerous maw at me. And the spear went through the open mouth, skewing it whole as I fell on it.

I felt myself losing grip of the spear as I landed, rolling on the ground as the [Hellhound] exploded into a pool of black ooze. I got up triumphantly, feeling the victory rush as its defeat was vocalized in my head.

 

Defeated [Striker Hellhound - Lvl. 15]!

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

 

Subspecies [Demon Larva] Level Up!

[Demon Larva - Lvl. 9] -> [Demon Larva - Lvl. 10]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 1 Skill Point!

 

Subspecies [Demon Larva] Level Up!

[Demon Larva - Lvl. 10] -> [Demon Larva - Lvl. 11]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 1 Skill Point!

 

It was less experience, because I had my companion’s help in the fight against it, but I somehow knew it was still a lot more experience than I would have gotten for even defeating a Demon at my level. It showed in how I leveled not just once, but twice from this encounter.

I turned to check on my companion, and saw that he was already up and crawling towards me. I checked his level, as I usually did, and found that he had only leveled once to Level 9. He probably didn’t do enough damage to gain enough experience to level two times. And I also managed to level as much as I did because I was halfway to leveling in the first place.

So as he laid himself down to [Rest], I decided to quickly distribute my Stat Points before I noticed something. It wasn’t too blaring, but there were words hanging in the back of my head, waiting for me to spot it.

And I found myself curiously inspecting it, before I realized what it was.

 

[Evolution Available]

 

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