I stared at the fire I held in my hands as it moved. I was manipulating it— shaping it to become what I wanted it to be. The small ball of fire— like a pebble in my hand— shifted. It grew in size as I poured mana into it, feeling it drain from my body like blood flowing out from a large wound.
The magical flames first turned into a spike, then into a dagger. I narrowed my eyes as I reached the limits of what I could do with it. I tried to shape it into a blade— one as long as Daniel’s— but I couldn’t. It would not not accept the mana. Or at least, [Basic Fire Creation] wouldn’t.
So I relaxed; I dismissed the Skill as I tried to maintain the form of the fire weapon I had created. It wiggled at first, losing the stability the Skill gave it. But I knew what the feeling was like— I knew how to keep it from snuffing out in my hands. Then I slowly ran a clawed finger through it.
The tip of my claw dragged across the fire dagger, finally reaching its edge before I pulled my finger away. I watched as the tip of the weapon extended with increasing volatility. I tugged at the strings of mana, manipulating it to remain a solid. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I tried.
And the magically created weapon grew longer and longer, increasing in length until it was about half the size I wanted it to be. I stopped— not because I wanted to— but because my entire body was quivering; I was concentrating only on the spell and nothing else. If I even could stabilize it— I probably wouldn’t have been able to swing it around. But perhaps if I did this, I could level a Skill. Or perhaps I could learn a new Skill—
There was a shriek, and I jerked.
I lost control of the magic holding it together; the short blade of fire plumed out and up, lighting up my surroundings very briefly as it blazed through the air. Then it vanished.
I sighed as I turned to the source of the noise. A large, dark creature came falling from the sky. It nearly crashed into the earth, only spreading its wings open just in time to slow its landing. I stood up, readying for an attack.
The monster turned its crimson eyes to me, still a dozen paces away next to a broken down house. I cocked my head as he bared his sharp fangs, hunching over to reveal thin, long nails on either side of his wings.
[Vurat - Lvl. 16]
I asked him curiously, waiting to see what he would do. Slowly, he turned away from me, before abruptly grabbing a body off the ground and flying away.
I had nothing else to comment about that. I wasn’t sure why he was grabbing the bodies at first, but then I remembered Daniel. He had been eating pieces of dead animals to fill himself with energy, or something. That was probably what the [Vurat] was doing— feeding.
That’s creepy, I thought, grimacing. Eating is creepy. And weird!
Later that night, more [Vurat] came, claiming the bodies of the dead strewn about the village. But none attacked me. So I didn’t attack them either.
The two Humans emerged from the half collapsed house when the sun rose, bringing with it the brightness of day and an upset looking Edithe. The woman held her staff up warily when she saw me, but did not take a swing at me. Why would she? I had nearly clawed her face off when she tried it last night.
The only thing that stopped me from killing her for trying to attack me multiple times was Daniel, who convinced me that she wasn’t trying to kill me. She was shaken— or something. She had just fought Lucerna, so she might have known where he went. More than that too, she could help us defeat him if we did track him down. I needed to find him so he could tell me how to go back to the Netherworld since Daniel and the other Humans weren't able to help me anyway.
So our group of three started out of the destroyed village, heading back down the road to Hazelbury. We walked in silence for a bit as I stared around at the forest coming alive with the morning. A small, green bird with a red stripe on its head flitted down from a tree at me. I cocked my head, lifting a hand out to touch him, but he turned and flew away.
“Aw. I was just trying to say hi.”
I glanced back ahead, seeing Edithe trudging ahead as she occasionally opened her mouth and to take a deep breath.
“Sorry about last night.”
Daniel slowed down, walking beside me. I blinked, facing him as he averted his gaze slightly and spoke softly.
“About what happened with you and Edithe. I know she tried to attack you even though you were trying to help us— but that’s because you’re… a Demon, you know?”
I frowned, looking up at him.
“No, I don’t know. What do you mean?”
“I mean, you don’t really understand how… social interactions work, right?
“I am curious about it, but I don’t care if I can’t understand it. It’s not like I’ll need to know it once I leave the Mortal Realm.”
“I know, it’s just…”
He hesitated, trying to think of what to say. He gave up eventually, and just muttered under his breath.
“I guess I shouldn’t have discriminated against you just because you’re a Demon.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I accepted it. We continued walking for a bit as the sun creeped higher up into the sky. Then I had a thought.
“Why must we go back to Hazelbury? Aren’t we trying to find where Lucerna went?”
“If we track him down now, I don’t think we’d be able to win. Especially since Edithe would barely be able to help us without any summons— she says she knows some spells, but nothing that would be able to harm a Level 50 Greater Demon.”
I paused, considering this. Then I gave him a blank look.
“Oh— like Sakura?”
“Yes. [Summoners] are a type of [Mage] that forms a contract with Spirits to fight for them. Since Spirits, like Demons, are naturally stronger than similar leveled monsters in the Mortal Realm, they would be able to fight enemies 10 levels above them and gain more experience from it. Because of this, most Spirits pair with [Summoners] higher leveled than them, to split the experience they gain from fighting together against stronger enemies.”
I raised a brow.
“Why should a [Summoner] gain any experience if it’s just the Spirits fighting for them?”
“Because [Summoners] have Skills that boost the fighting abilities of their summons. It’s a symbiotic relationship— both sides win from this arrangement.”
“What does a Spirit gain from this? I don’t understand.”
He shrugged, giving a noncommittal answer.
“They’re also given a small amount of mana each day. I don’t really know what they do with it, but it’s similar to Demon summonings, I guess?”
Edithe, who had been walking up ahead the entire time, suddenly whirled around. She snapped at Daniel, pointing a finger at him.
“A Spirit summoning is nothing like a Demon summoning.”
The Human man was taken aback. He raised a hand placatingly at her.
“That’s not what I meant—”
“Yes it is! Comparing our sacred rituals for Spirits who have fought alongside us for thousands of years with a sacrificial Demon summoning? It is nothing alike! What is wrong with you?!”
The woman accused him, her anger visible on her face. Then she directed her fury to me.
“And look at it! How could you be so friendly with that— that— thing! To even get here, it must have eaten a person just to feed its appetite! How can you be so vile to associate yourself with it?”
“Look, I just told her I would help her. She wants to get back to the Netherworld and…”
Daniel backed up, sputtering, unsure of what to say. But I folded my arms.
“I did not eat anyone to get here. That’s disgusting! I would never do that!”
She spoke simply, giving me a glare.
“You would and you did. That’s what all Demons are like. All of you are the same evil creatures that only kill and destroy.”
I narrowed my eyes, looking at her with defiance.
“I am not a Demon. I am Salvos.”
“I don’t care what your name is. To me, you’re just another monster—”
An arrow landed on the ground between us, and I lowered my claws. I blinked, staring at the projectile as it shone.
And it exploded.