42. Journey Back
I sat just behind Edithe on the back of Betty, the Level 13 [Traveler Horse], as we rode to Hazelbury. I felt the wind blowing at my face— my now longer hair flowing with the wind. I was in my Human form now. I had evolved and become a Greater Demon. My Subspecies was now a [Midday Changeling]. I had chosen it because it was the best Subspecies to help me blend in and survive while I was stuck here in the Mortal Realm.
Everything felt different. This body felt different. It was bigger than my previous, yet it was somehow more lithe. I slowly glanced down at myself, clenching my fist as I took in this new feeling. I softly closed my eyes, curling my lips while leaning back. This body, this new form—
I hate it! It sucks! I feel so weak!
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon] (Mortal Form - Human)
Subspecies: [Midday Changeling] - Lvl. 40
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 1
[Identification] - Lvl. 4
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 1
[Rest] - Lvl. 2
[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 1
[Available Stat Points: 10]
[Vitality]: 40 (+5) (-7)
[Strength]: 27 (+5) (-7)
[Endurance]: 53 (+5) (-7)
[Wisdom]: 63 (+5) (-2)
[Agility]: 79 (+5) (-7)
[Available Skill Points: 15]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 1
[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Flame Coat] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Scorching Wave] - Lvl. 1
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 1
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 1
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 1
[Unused Skill Slot] x2
I had so many new Skills. My Status was almost completely different now, with a Title that provided me with additional Stats and even a General Skill. However, I was stuck in this Human form which severely inhibited me!
Not only did it just take away most of the benefits I got from my Title, I didn’t even have claws anymore! What am I supposed to do now? Punch people?! That’s stupid!
I sighed and slumped over onto Edithe’s back. The Human woman turned back slightly and raised an eyebrow.
“Is something wrong, Salvos?”
“I don’t want to be a Human anymore…”
I murmured under my breath. Daniel looked over at me from his horse before quickly darting his eyes away. He hesitated.
“Wh— why not?”
“Because it sucks. Everything about it sucks. I don’t have my claws, I don’t have my horns. I don’t even look like myself anymore. And... why do I even have these things on me?”
The Human man immediately averted his gaze as I gestured down. Edithe laughed, shaking her head.
“Salvos, you have to understand it’s necessary for your own protection. Demons are treated as… monsters, I guess. Sure, not everyone will immediately attack you if they see you as a Demon, especially if you’re higher leveled than them, but still, what happens if they do?”
I scoffed, replying simply.
“I’ll fight back and kill them, of course.”
“Then you’ll get in trouble with the authorities. And there’ll be a lot of complications because of that. Trust me, it’s better for you to stay like this, at least while in the cities.”
I narrowed my eyes hopped off Betty, landing on the dirt road as the two continued on for a moment longer. They whirled around, giving me a confused look.
“What are you doing, Salvos?”
“We aren’t in one of your Human cities anymore, right? I’m going to change back.”
I ignored the two as they protested. I focused on the General Skill [Racial Skill: Mortal Form] and deactivated it. Immediately, I felt my body growing and turning whiter. The ground suddenly shrunk below me as I felt my clothes tighten around my body— except for my chest, it actually became looser there. My hair didn’t recede, instead growing even longer than before.
There was a cracking sound, like that of rocks being broken on each other, as one last ripple went through my now lanky body. Two horns sprouted from my head— and they weren’t just small protrusions peeking out of my hair. These were long, crooked horns. Almost like the one that Demon who made the Spear of Flames had back in the Netherworld.
My arms were much longer now too, nearly falling down to my knees when standing upright. Which was harder to do now; my body felt like it didn’t want to be straight. I looked down at my clawed hands— my white hands— and smiled. Sharp. Sharper than as an [Imp]. I turned to Daniel who I was now taller than even, and shot him a thumbs up.
“See? I feel much better already.”
[Available Stat Points: 10]
[Vitality]: 40 (+5)
[Strength]: 27 (+5)
[Endurance]: 53 (+5)
[Wisdom]: 63 (+5)
[Agility]: 79 (+5)
No more of those… debuffs. I felt satisfied at that. However, I noticed that both Daniel and Edithe visibly paled. I folded my arms.
“What’s wrong? Are you two really scared by this? Come on, I’m still Salvos! You weren’t afraid of me back when I was a [Zelus Imp]!”
The Human man swallowed, exchanging a look with Edithe.
“We know, uh, that. But this is just a bit… much.”
“You weren’t scared of Lucerna.”
“Lucerna wasn’t as terrifying as you.”
He muttered, facing away from me again. I brightened at that.
“Really? You think so?”
“That’s… not a good thing, Salvos.”
Edithe pointed out with a sigh.
“Not for you Humans, maybe. But I like it. I’m sure even those [Hellhounds] would think twice about messing with me!”
I paused, looking up. If they can even think at all, I added in my head. I spun around, feeling my cloak get swept up by the wind as I spread my clawed hands out wide.
“This is who I am. Maybe being a Human is better for whatever reason, but it’s not me. I don’t like it—”
I turned to a stop and stared. A family of three stared back at me. A Human man, a Human woman, and a Human child. They stood on the dirt path coming from Hazelbury, eyes wide open in shock. I hesitated, then waved a clawed hand.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Demon! Another Demon is attacking our country!”
The woman screamed and the man shouted. The child cried as her parents picked her up and ran away. I grinned nervously, turning back to my two Human companions.
“...maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”
“Did I mention I can only change my form every hour?”
Edithe sighed and Daniel just smacked his forehead.
We waited out until I could transform to a Human again by hiding deep in the forest, away from any Human life. Edithe chastised me for a moment, mulling over having to deal with any possible repercussions from this. I didn’t see why it mattered— this wasn’t the first time I had been seen by Humans. As far as Silvergrove and Hazelbury knew, a wild [Imp] was still running around somewhere in Falisfield, plotting something completely and totally evil.
And perhaps they were right. I might be planning something evil. However, I wasn’t an [Imp] anymore, so actually they’d still be wrong.
During this hour wait, I decided to finally spend my available Stat and Skill Points, while figuring out what my evolution entailed. The first thing I did was distribute 5 Stat Points to [Agility], because it couldn’t hurt to be even faster than I already was. Then I spent 2 on [Endurance], 2 on [Vitality], and the remaining 1 on [Strength].
For now, I neglected my [Wisdom]. My Subspecies evolution had given me quite a nice boost to it, and it being in my Mortal Form didn’t decrease it as much as the rest.
As for my Skills, I had to figure out what each did. [Advanced Fire Creation] seemed rather self explanatory, so I just dumped 4 Skill Points straight into it. The new Skill I gained while fighting Lucerna— [Passive - Blue Flames]— seemed to drastically increase the damage of my fire magic, while only draining a little bit more mana than usual.
I raised a hand, watching the bright blue wisps coalesce, forming a fire the shape of a raindrop on the palm of my hand. It did not flow with the wind like my regular flames had— instead, it seemed to almost hold still, like a solid rock bracing against a strong force pushing it. I grinned, thinking of how powerful this new Skill was, and added 4 Skill Points to it. That left me with 7 more to spend.
I moved on to see [Passive - Weapon Mastery] would do. I turned the blue flame into a deadly fire longsword. It no longer took all my focus to create a weapon longer than a dagger now— I held up the glowing blade in one hand and swung it around. I frowned as I realized this was hardly different to [Passive - General Tool Proficiency]. Sure, I could swing the weapon better than before, but… not that good.
I only gave it no Skill Points.
After that disappointment, I didn’t really have high expectations for my remaining two newly changed Skills. And sure enough, [Scorching Wave] didn’t seem any different from [Fire Blast]. The only difference between the former and the latter being how I could change the intensity of the attack depending on the mana I poured into it, and how the flames came out as a wave and not a quick blast that lasted only a few moments. Decent, I thought. A better use of mana than doing the same with [Advanced Fire Creation].
I left [Scorching Wave] at Level 2 for now, seeing no reason to spend more on it. Next up was [Self Haste]. I activated the Skill without expecting much from it, and was surprised to immediately feel it take over me. It was as if the world suddenly became slower.
I slowly lifted a clawed finger up, only for it to snap straight into position in an instant. I glanced around, realizing how much slower Daniel and Edithe were moving. The two spoke with slurred speech, like they had a few days ago after we defeated Lucerna and they drank a lot of that ‘alcohol’ liquid.
I walked up to them at a casual pace, however they jumped when I suddenly appeared by their side.
“Salvos! Don’t run at us like that.”
“Is there a problem?”
The two looked at me and I grinned.
“Woah, slow down there. Could you repeat what you said?”
The Human woman narrowed her eyes as I nodded eagerly.
“I don’t understand what she’s saying at all. Do you?”
“Not a word.”
I frowned, annoyed. I waved a clawed hand at them and pointed at myself.
I dashed forward, running as fast as I could to a nearby tree. I whirled around, talking excitedly as wind blew at my face while my feet carried me forward, closing half the distance to my target in an instant.
I stumbled to a halt.
“It ran out.”
Daniel just stared at me in shock.
“Wha… what was that?”
He sputtered, turning to Edithe. She looked at me for a moment, then shut her eyes.
“It’s a [Haste] Skill. Very rare. Even rarer than the potions and spells that can imitate its effects.”
The Human woman shook her head as I walked back up to them, arms widespread.
“Did you see? That was amazing right?!”
“Yes, Salvos. That’s actually amazing.”
She nodded, and I felt my lips curling up. I turned to Daniel who averted his gaze.
“Uh, can you not smile at me like that? It’s terrifying.”
I crossed my arms and glared at him. It only made him look away from me more. I sighed, deciding to do him a favor as I felt enough time had finally passed for me to use [Racial Skill: Mortal Form] again.
A ripple ran through my body, and a few moments later, I appeared Human again.
“It was not as much of a speed boost as with [Double Step]. But it seems to last longer than it— and also affects more than just my running speed. I like it.”
I quickly spent 2 Skill Points on it, saving the rest for my two potential new Skills. I was about to choose the Skills I had available to obtain, when Edithe smiled.
“Well, it seems like you had your fun. And you’ve managed to test out a few new Skills. Now it’s time for us to actually go back to Hazelbury.”
“Why the rush? Can’t we stay here for a bit longer?”
I turned to the Human woman, giving her what I recognized was a childish pout. I had seen Human children use this to convince their parents to give them what they wanted. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.
“Well, other than the fact that it’s getting dark and I don’t want to camp out in the woods when we can easily sleep in a nice inn—”
She looked me over once, then glanced over at Daniel. The Human man nodded and he faced me.
“Salvos, we’ve been discussing it with each other for a few days, but... what do you think of becoming an adventurer?”