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9. Evolution

Salvos

Species: [Infant Demon]

Subspecies: [Demon Larva] - Lvl. 11

General Skills:

[Basic Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 3

[Identification] - Lvl. 4

[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1

[Rest] - Lvl. 1

Stats:

[Available Stat Points: 10]

[Vitality]: 11

[Strength]: 8

[Endurance]: 11

[Wisdom]: 13

[Agility]: 22

Skills:

[Available Skill Points: 6]

[Basic Fire Conjuration] - Lvl. 2

[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 4

[Unused Skill Slot] x3

 

I lay next to the Demon with black and yellow spots as we both restored our health slowly with [Rest]. He was healing faster than me— probably because he had gotten the General Skill before me and had already leveled it.

But that didn't matter to me. All that mattered to me was the additional option available in my mind now. The option for me to evolve.

 

[Evolution Available]

 

I sidled up to my companion before I decided to see what the option would provide me with; I didn’t want to be distracted and snuck up on when I was investigating this new intriguing thing. I had an idea as to what it would do— I was an Infant Demon now, and the [Hellhound] I had just killed was a Lesser Demon. Considering that I was now past Level 10, I assumed I now had the chance to become a Lesser Demon too.

I couldn’t wait any further— I trusted my companion to guard me as I focused on the words. Then it expanded.

 

Species Evolution:

[Infant Demon] -> [Lesser Demon]

Requirements for five Subspecies evolutions have been met!

 

It seemed that I only had a static option for my Species; I could only go from an Infant Demon to a Lesser Demon, and nothing else. However my Subspecies had various distinct evolution paths to go.

A list of options made itself available to me and I carefully studied each one.

 

Subspecies Evolution:

[Fiend]

A [Fiend] is a Subspecies of Demon that comes in many different forms and has a diverse set of abilities. Mostly well rounded, a [Fiend] would be able fight most foes without a significant disadvantage.

+2 to [Vitality]

+2 to [Strength]

+2 to [Endurance]

+2 to [Wisdom]

+2 to [Agility]

 

That was an enticing evolution for me to pick. Although it kept vague the kind of form I would take— I wondered what I would become if I picked this?

I almost chose it right away, but held back as it didn’t feel like it was describing me. It was advantageous, but there was a dissonance between the Subspecies and me. So I decided to see the other options available to me first.

 

[Fire Fiend]

A [Fire Fiend] is a specialized Demon Subspecies form of a [Fiend] that focuses on fire magic. A [Fire Fiend] departs from the traditional [Fiend] early on, but has the advantage of being specialized with only a minor disadvantage in other areas.

+5 to [Wisdom]

+3 to [Endurance]

+1 to [Vitality]

+1 to [Strength]

+1 to [Agility]

 

So this was a [Fiend], but just more suited for magic? This evolution appeared better than the last at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it didn’t suit me even more. Magic was one of my main modes of combat, but I felt that this Subspecies would overemphasize it.

I moved on to the next.

 

[Hellhound]

A [Hellhound] is a Demon subspecies that is fast and has a ferocious way of fighting. A pack fighter, a [Hellhound] makes up for their overspecialization by relying on a group.

+5 to [Agility]

+3 to [Strength]

Bonus: 20% of [Wisdom] Stat is permanently removed and added to [Strength]

 

Absolutely not!

Losing my [Wisdom]? Relying on others? Sure, I had the Demon with black and yellow spots as my companion, but I did not want to be dependent on him for my survival. If I was ever separated from him, I would like to be able to be perfectly capable of defending myself.

Also, I had just beaten a Level 15 [Hellhound]. It did not seem too impressive to me. So I mentally placed aside this option as a ‘never’, and checked the next.

 

[Imp]

An [Imp] is a Subspecies of Demon that is mischievous and has a natural affinity to fire. Small and weak due to its nature as a Lesser Demon, an [Imp]’s greatest strength is their magic.

+5 to [Endurance]

+5 to [Wisdom]

 

I found myself feeling the same way about this as I did for the [Fire Fiend]. First of all, I did not want to only cast magic to fight. Even against the [Hellhound], my magic attack wasn’t what defeated it. It was only because I had investigated the spear earlier, did I know to use it against the wild Demon.

So far, only the [Fiend] really interested me, and even then, I was not fully convinced it was the best one for me.

I had one last evolution available which I had not yet seen; I hoped it would be a good one as I focused on it.

 

[Zelus Imp]

A [Zelus Imp] is a Demon Subspecies form of an [Imp], carrying the same affinity to fire, but with a greater resourcefulness due to their intelligence. Still small and weak, a [Zelus Imp] replaces their mischievousness with a zeal that drives them above situations with unlikely odds.

+5 to [Endurance]

+5 to [Wisdom]

+3 to [Agility]

 

That… actually described me! At least, somewhat. I did not think I was small or weak! But I was certainly capable of overcoming more powerful Demons than me— as evinced by the dead [Hellhound] lying just ahead of me.

I considered each evolution path I had once again: [Fiend], [Fire Fiend], [Hellhound], [Imp], and [Zelus Imp]. None of them seemed more suitable for me than [Zelus Imp]. And it offered me the most Stats too. So I made my decision.

I concentrated hard on the option for [Zelus Imp], then suddenly I felt my head going light. My body went numb as I slumped over on the ground, limp. I tried to get up, but all my senses were so far away from me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.

I was not sure how long I lay there as I grappled to get control of myself once again. Before finally, I got hold of something and pushed myself up. I bore through the invisible barrier separating me from my body, tearing my way back to consciousness.

 

Evolution Complete!

Species [Infant Demon] evolved to [Lesser Demon]!

Subspecies [Demon Larva] has evolved to [Zelus Imp]!

Gained 5 Stat Points!

[Endurance] +5

[Wisdom] +5

[Agility] +3

Gained 2 Skill Slots!

Gained 3 Skill Points!

Skill [Basic Fire Conjuration - Lvl. 2] becomes [Basic Fire Creation - Lvl. 1]!

Skill [Double Step] is now available.

Skill [Fire Blast] is now available.

Skill [Passive - General Tool Proficiency] is now available.

 

I stood up, blinking away the black liquid partially obscuring my vision; I looked down at the puddle in the silver skin I had shed, oozing with the same black liquid that was dripping off my body. Slowly, I lifted a short clawed hand up and inspected it.

I was an [Imp] now. A [Zelus Imp]. I had become something else while inside of my old body, before breaking out of it to attain this new form. This form with four limbs, that only needed two of them to stand.

I was almost like one of the Demons in the procession I had seen earlier— except much smaller. And yet, I was still bigger than I had been as a [Demon Larva]. I patted my body down, feeling the much rougher skin I now had.

I was a Lesser Demon! I finally evolved! I threw myself up in the air, pushing off the ground with my brand new feet. I hopped around excitedly, accustoming myself to my new body at the same time. I paused as I realized my companion was just staring at me.

He looked confused— almost shocked to see that I had changed. He glanced down at my old body, poking it a few times, before turning back to me. Did he… did he think that I was just killed? No, no, no, no. I waved my hand at him, pointing back at myself.

“I’m your—”

I jerked, surprising myself as I spoke for the first time. I glanced down at myself, feeling my mouth open and close, touching the side of my cheeks as I moved it. I could speak! I could now communicate with my companion with more than just gestures!

My companion backed up as I approached him, offering a hand out. I spoke slowly, trying to coax him forward to me.

“It’s me. Your companion! I'm... Salvos.

I savored the word as I nodded at him; the Demon with black and yellow spots mimicked the movement we had learned together, and I did it once again for him to see. He stopped cowering as we nodded at each other a few more times, before he finally crawled towards me.

“See? Companion!”

He nodded one last time, finally at ease around me; I felt my lips curling up, satisfied that I hadn’t scared him off, before remembering the other words that were now hanging in the back of my head.

I had three new Skills available for me— I didn’t just obtain them, like the ones I had gotten the last time I obtained a Skill. Instead, it was just waiting for me to choose whether I wanted to actually have them or not.

Not only that, my 15 available Stat Points were just waiting for me to spend them. Very quickly, I distributed 4 to [Strength], 4 to [Vitality], 4 to [Agility], and 3 to [Wisdom]. I was content with my [Endurance] for now, and decided to focus on the other Stats which I was currently lacking in just a bit.

Then I went back to the Skills that I had available. I considered each of them carefully: [Double Step], [Fire Blast], and [Passive - General Tool Proficiency]. I could kind of infer what the first and third Skills did— [Double Step] was probably a similar Skill to what the [Hellhound] I fought used, while [Passive - General Tool Proficiency] would help me use tools better. But [Fire Blast] was… vague.

Did it mean I just sent a blast of fire out in all directions? Or was it a concentration of flames that would blast out when it came into contact with something? I wasn’t entirely sure, but considering that I had more than enough Unused Skill Slots for all these Skills, I decided to obtain them all anyway and figure it out myself.

 

Skill [Double Step] Obtained!

 

Skill [Fire Blast] Obtained!

 

Skill [Passive - General Tool Proficiency] Obtained!

 

I didn’t feel any immediate changes overcome me. It wasn’t like an evolution— or even leveling up as a [Demon Larva]. But I knew that the effects of these Skills would be made apparent later on.

I was just about to start testing out the abilities of each Skill, before I distributed my Skill Points out, when I heard the sound of moving rocks from behind me. I whirled around, facing past the body of the dead [Hellhound], to the end of the valley.

I heard a light growling noise as a figure made itself visible, entering the valley slowly, one paw after the other.

[Hellhound - Lvl. 13]

It was another one. A live one. I wasn’t sure why it was here, but I saw this as the perfect opportunity for me. I could test my Skills out on a proper opponent to determine which is the best.

I raised a hand up, indicating to my companion to stay back and continue his [Rest], as I picked up the Spear of Flames twice as tall as I was with my other hand. I stepped forward, swinging the spear around and accustoming myself to it— the Passive Skill I got really did work!

I was just about to use [Double Step] to rush at the [Hellhound], when I heard more growling. Another [Hellhound] stepped forward from behind the first, baring its teeth at me as well. Then another. And another. And another.

[Hellhound - Lvl. 10]

[Hellhound - Lvl. 11]

[Hellhound - Lvl. 10]

[Hellhound - Lvl. 12]

Why weren’t they stopping?!

More and more [Hellhounds] appeared from behind the first. All of them were around my level, and none as high leveled as the first. But where did they come from? This was an entire pack of them!

I stopped, glancing down at the dead [Hellhound]. The Level 15 [Striker Hellhound]. When it attacked us, it came alone despite supposedly being a Demon that relied on numbers. But what if it wasn’t alone— what if it came first by itself, and alerted its pack to come to it with a howl?

I realized that now, too late to do anything about it. The [Striker Hellhound] had called its pack to it, and we should have left before they arrived. But we didn’t.

The first [Hellhound] bounded forward at me, slashing its claws as they glowed red. I backed up, swinging the spear as I did and knocking it aside. More came forward, and in the heat of the moment, I used [Fire Blast] in hopes that it would do something to help.

And it did do something.

An arc of fire burst out at where I had pointed, knocking three of the charging [Hellhounds] back. It had repelled the first line of them, but did little else. I did not think they were heavily injured— they had just been stunned momentarily.

The first [Hellhound] gathered itself and leapt at me. Its claws sank into my shoulder, inflicting some damage. I swung back at it with my left claw, using [Fire Strike] as I did. It reeled from the hit, allowing me to follow up with a second attack.

I used [Fire Strike] on instinct as I stabbed the spear forward, and suddenly the already flaming spear was engulfed in even more flames. The tip of the weapon plunged straight through the [Hellhound], far deeper than it did before.

 

Defeated [Spiked Hellhound - Lvl. 13]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

 

I blinked, surprised at how easy that was; the spear had allowed me to inflict more damage than I would be able to alone, and combined with my Skill, it finished off the [Hellhound] quickly.

Once again, my lips curled up into a grin, as I prepared for the next attack. I swatted a [Hellhound] away with a [Fire Strike] from my spear, and ran through another one. It did not die instantly, but it was injured enough for me to finish it off with a regular hit. Before I could land the blow, however, two more [Hellhounds] pounced at me from the side.

I kicked the first one off of me, but struggled to get the second one as it bit at my spear. I pointed at it, unleashing a [Fire Blast] that knocked it away, but was then clawed from behind by another [Hellhound].

I backed up as the pack of wild Demons pressed me. I swung my spear, keeping them back and used [Fire Blast] on those that dared jump in. It seemed like the perfect way to win this fight, until I realized how much damage I had already taken in such a short amount of time.

 

Defeated [Hellhound - Lvl. 10]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

 

Subspecies [Zelus Imp] Level Up!

[Zelus Imp - Lvl. 11] -> [Zelus Imp - Lvl. 12]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

One of my [Fire Blasts] actually managed to kill a lower leveled [Hellhound], but that was one out of over a dozen. I was getting overwhelmed from their sheer numbers. And I was already running low on mana.

I was going to lose, even with the level up. I could not win. I glanced back at my companion who was hiding behind me, having listened to me when I told him to stay back. He was still injured— he could not help me here. Our only option now was to flee— flee down the valley, out of the exit at the other side.

But I hesitated. That’s where the Demon procession went! I did not want to go after them, yet I was left with no choice. I sent another [Fire Blast] out as the [Hellhounds] tried to leap at me again, before I spent all my Stat Points on [Agility], whirled around, and ran.

I lowered a clawed hand as I passed my companion, picking him up and throwing him over my shoulders. He had been bigger than me when I was a [Demon Larva], but not anymore. I gripped him tightly with one arm wrapped around him and the other holding the spear, and quickly spoke out.

“Hold on. Don’t let go!”

I placed one foot ahead of me and used [Double Step]. Instantly, I sped up, traveling far faster than I had before. I managed to double the distance between me and the chasing [Hellhounds] by the time the Skill ended.

I felt my stamina drain as I returned to my regular speed, running as fast as I could away from our pursuers. They were slowly catching up, but if I could just get out of this valley, I’d be able to lose them in the hills and mountains on the other side.

But just before I could reach the exit, I saw a figure appear. Another wild Demon entered the valley from this side, blocking my path from escaping. It was big— nearly four times the size of me.

It places its two clawed arms down in front of it, lowering its neck and head as it opened its gaping maw to roar.

[Hellbeast - Lvl. 22]

I stared at this massive wild Demon that suddenly appeared. I was trapped. It began walking slowly forward, blocking my exit completely.

I glanced back at the bounding [Hellhounds], then forward at the lumbering [Hellbeast]. Either side was death. But one side was perhaps slower than the other.

So I pressed forward. I tried to dash past the [Hellbeast] using [Double Step] once again, but it crashed one of its massive claws down onto the ground, sending white rocks flying everywhere. I circled around the attack, but saw it ready another swing. This time, I couldn’t dodge. My Skill’s effect had worn off once more, and I couldn’t use it so soon after using it again.

I brought my spear up to parry the hit once, then twice. Each time the spear came into contact with the [Hellbeast]’s claws, I found myself reeling back, barely keeping myself from flying to the rock wall. The [Hellbeast] raised two of its claws and I helplessly raised my spear. It was going to crush me—

And the [Hellhounds] leapt onto the [Hellbeast]. Four [Hellhounds] jumped straight onto it, and began clawing and biting at it. I stared at this for a moment, almost thinking that they were helping me, before one of the [Hellhounds] bounded at me as well.

Nope, they’re just out to get everyone, I quickly surmised.

I ran the [Hellhound] through with the spear enhanced by [Fire Strike], almost instantly killing it. It tried to claw at me, still stuck on the spear. Before I could finish it off, a red limb struck it across the face, killing it for me.

 

Defeated [Hellhound - Lvl. 11]!

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

 

I looked down at my companion who did that while still on my shoulder. And I watched his body begin to change. He must have leveled up from that— he must have known he was close to leveling up. So he went for what little experience he could get.

He would evolve and help me. But I locked eyes with him.

“No.”

My companion paused, as I knocked back another [Hellhound]. I looked over at the [Hellbeast] which crushed two of the smaller wild Demons easily.

 

Defeated [Hellhound - Lvl. 12]!

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

 

Defeated [Hellhound - Lvl. 10]!

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

 

I was gaining experience from it doing all the work, but only a little bit. It would wipe out this pack of [Hellhounds], and when it was finished, it would kill us too.

“We run. We can’t fight. We will die.”

I made the decision for us. If he chose to evolve now, I would have to put him down— I couldn’t carry him with me anymore. So we had to flee.

 

Defeated [Hellhound - Lvl. 11]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

 

I killed another [Hellhound], as I felt my [Double Step] make itself available for use.

I placed a foot forward, feeling more of my stamina drain as I ran away from the fighting. Some [Hellhounds] chased us, but others stayed back to fight the [Hellbeast]. I was not sure how the battle would go, however all I could focus on was surviving for now.

We ran into more Demons, of course— into more fights. But we survived.

 

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