163. Proudly Awake
It seemed like it took a day for me to regrow my wings after it was shattered by the Lich. Considering that this was a Skill that produced magical wings, it made sense that it could just regenerate with enough time. My real limbs, on the other hand, couldn’t just grow back.
I sighed as I took a look at myself. My body was transformed, [Demonic Essence] taking effect hours ago when the sun rose, making me larger, with more arms, a more terrifying appearance all throughout. However, something was missing. The arm I had ripped out and thrown at the Lich was gone. Even after I applied some healing potion on it. Even after I waited a day to transform back.
“It won’t regrow, Salvos. That’s not how transformations work. If it did, you can recover from any wound you take in your transformed state just by reverting to your normal self.”
“But my wings—”
“Are made of magic and blood.”
Edithe gestured at the black ooze dripping from my bone-like wings. I grimaced.
“At least I have [Faux Limbs] now, right? Although…”
I focused on the Skill, activating its effects. It could only create up to two limbs at its current level, and they only lasted for about an hour.
Flexing the flaming clawed arm replacing my missing limb, I hesitated.
“It feels a bit weird. Like it’s not at full strength yet.”
“That’ll probably only happen when you maxed the Skill. Come on, let’s go already.”
Edithe grabbed hold of one of my arms, and I nodded. I held a hand out for Daniel too, but he scratched the back of his head.
“Uh, are we sure this is safe?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
I cocked my head. He murmured something.
“Well, you see, uh, if something happens— like, if we… you know, drop…?”
“You’ll live. You have like 200 [Vitality], don’t you?”
“Just about, yeah. But—”
“And you’ve got a second Class now, too! Stop whining and hurry up already!”
I rolled my eyes, emphatically waving my four free arms at him. He sighed, edging forward.
“If I die…”
Daniel was cut off as I yanked him up into the air. With a single beat of my wings, we were off, the fallen castle disappearing rapidly behind us. I soared over the clouds of blight, laughing as the Human man screamed, begging me to slow down.
I did not. My companions wanted to return back to the Human lands as soon as possible, so I would ensure it happened.
I wasn’t sure how long the trip would take. I caught sight of the blight flower fields, the ruined villages once home to so many people, and the undead lurking far beneath me. They scoured the barren earth, a relentless hunger driving them, insatiable, in search for something they would never find.
I almost pitied them. They were wild creatures. No thoughts beyond the barest instincts that drove them. Worse than rocks.
It was a long trip. A whole adventure. But finally, it was time for us to leave the Plaguelands, returning stronger than ever.
“Uh, oh. I spot people.”
In the distance, a group of adventurers were entering the Plaguelands. I wasn’t sure if they caught sight of me. But I hurriedly dipped down, hiding behind a blanket of blight before landing.
Daniel fell to the ground, practically hugging it like he was Zacharius and the earth was Lilian.
I scrambled to put on my clothes. My blue jacket, my pants, my shoes— my everything— as I transformed back from [Demonic Essence] into my regular form. I tossed the hood over my head, and it got caught by my horns.
“Umm, we have to avoid those adventurers!”
They were just up ahead. We had to go around them. I frantically gestured to our right, trying to get my companions to move.
“What’s wrong, Salvos?”
Edithe blinked as I yanked the fighting Daniel to his feet. He was trying to equip my Necklace of Obfuscation. I pointed.
“Can’t you just transform?”
An unfamiliar voice called out. I instantly spun around, hiding behind Edithe as panic settled in. Oh no, if they see me like this—
“We saw your summon fall from the sky! We just wanted to check if everything was alright?”
A group of four approached us. They wore uniforms— I recognized these uniforms from somewhere. Were they a part of a company?
The one who spoke was the leader of the group, a rather burly woman with an axe on her back.
“Is everything… alright?”
I couldn’t see them, but I was pretty sure she was looking at me. I took a deep breath, and stepped out.
“Y-yes, everything is f-fine.”
I barely managed to speak. They exchanged a glance. Edithe and Daniel looked over at me. I was a Human now. There was no sound, no slow transformation that alerted others that something was happening. [Partial Mortality] allowed for rapid shapeshifting, unlike [Mortal Form].
Its only downside was—
I stumbled forward, grasping at Edithe’s shoulder. The red-haired woman steadied me, and the adventurers frowned.
“Are you alright?”
The adventurers— they were around Level 105— had looks of concerns on their faces. I was about to fall asleep right there, the drowsiness taking over me, clouding my vision. They seemed to identify each of us, and one of them, a young man, snickered.
“These idiots are too low leveled for the Plaguelands. Of course they’re having a hard time dealing with the blight.”
I snapped awake.
“I’m completely fine!”
That was a lie. I was doing my best to not fall asleep there and then. But it wasn’t because of the stupid blight—
“Go home, little girl. This isn’t the place for someone at your level.”
I narrowed my eyes. The man wore a smug look on his face. He was only a level above me, the lowest of his group. But he adjusted his badge as if it was something important, only for the burly woman to snarl.
“Cody, shut up!”
“Yeah, shut up!”
I echoed her sentiment, stepping forward on wobbly feet. I was too angry to fall asleep right now.
“We’re not low leveled! I’ll have you know, we just came back from killing the Lich of the Plaguelands!”
Edithe and Daniel stared at me. The red-haired woman hesitated.
“Salvos, maybe we shouldn’t…”
I ignored her. Instead, I emphatically stamped a foot on the ground and crossed my arms.
“That’s right! We just killed [The Remnants of Zacharius (Quisling of Fate)]! I’ll have you know, he probably could kill all four of you with the snap of his bony fingers!”
Cody, the jerk who mocked me, paused. He looked back at his companions. Then he burst out laughing.
“This girl is actually delusional— ha, good one.”
Even their leader seemed to be slightly amused. She tried to stymie her team’s laughter, but a grin crept across her face betraying her words.
“What’s so funny?”
“Look, I’m sorry Miss, while I respect any adventurer willing to take a risk out here in the Plaguelands, what you’ve said is just, well, ridiculous.”
She shook her head, wiping a tear from her eye. I glared at her with a single open eye. The other one was shut, the bags underneath my eyes weighing my eyelids down.
“It’s the truth.”
“Do you have any proof?”
I didn’t think of taking anything. I always created my own weapons, and everything else was provided by my companions. I had nothing to show.
I pursed my lips, trying to think of anything I could show them to prove I was better than them. Maybe if I challenged them to a duel—
“Actually, I recovered this.”
A voice came from behind me.
Daniel produced an object in his hand. It flashed into existence, the magic of his Dimensional Storage Unit conjuring it out of nothing. It was a skull. But not just any ordinary skull. It had a pair of dim green flames glowing in the center of its eye sockets.
I blinked as I realized what that was.
[Skull of Zacharius the Quisling: Unique Grade Item - It is the skull of Zacharius the Quisling. Having been turned into a Lich at the moment of his death, the former [Hero] Zacharius haunted the Plaguelands for many millennia before being vanquished in battle.]
The burly woman’s eyes grew wide. Cody stepped back, his jaw hanging open.
“T-this has to be a trick!”
Another man spoke. He adjusted his glasses, his voice steady.
“The magic emanating from that… it cannot be a fake.”
“See? I told you.”
I smirked. The burly woman bit her lower lip. Then she took a deep breath, bowing as Cody sputtered.
“I apologize for our disrespect, truly. We were just skeptical because the Lich has existed for thousands of years. The idea that it would just perish never crossed our minds.”
“You are forgiven.”
Edithe glared at me as I spoke in a haughty voice. The burly woman proffered me a hand.
“I’m Katie, the leader of our group. It is an honor to meet you, Miss…?”
I raised my chin as my eyes closed.
“I’m Salvos, the Liberator of the Plaguelands.”
She shook my hand as I felt satisfied with myself. Now that that was settled and I proved my point...
General Skill [Racial Skill: Partial Mortality] has leveled up!
[Racial Skill: Partial Mortality - Lvl. 1] -> [Racial Skill: Partial Mortality - Lvl. 2]!
Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!
The words resounded and I cocked my head. Then I collapsed, snoring.
When I woke up, I no longer smelled the blight and death. The putrid stench of the Plaguelands was nothing but a memory in my nostrils, something that seemed like from a time long ago. I sat up abruptly, rubbing my head.
“Ow, ow, ow. Why does waking up feel so painful? Did I travel through time?”
“You fell asleep, idiot.”
Daniel stared at me. I frowned.
“Sorry, it sounded funnier in my head.”
I glanced around at the room we were in. It was a rather large room with a desk and three beds. The floor was carpeted. The drapes were a colorful red, hung over the windows. It seemed like the kind of place Saffron would stay in. By that, I meant rich.
“Where are we?”
“We’re in the Crystal Palace, the most expensive inn in Huthwaite.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“Wait, you have money?”
“Katie is paying for us. And we will have money once we collect our reward.”
“Reward for what?”
“For killing the Lich. The Adventurers Guild and various other companies, including the Forsaken Company, have a bounty on the Lich’s head. Literally. And since you decided to make a scene earlier— Edithe’s collecting that reward now.”
Daniel didn’t look away from me. I felt like he was glaring.
“You better not ruin this. If you get us in trouble so we have to pay a thousand platinum fine—”
“I won’t, I won’t.”
I snorted, getting to my feet. I dusted myself down— my clothes were especially dirty juxtaposed to the fancy carpeted floor.
“How did I get here?”
“I had to carry you all the way here. You were pretty heavy, you know?”
He rubbed his shoulders as he made the comment. I didn’t react.
“Of course you wouldn’t care about that.”
I stumbled forward, heading for the doorway. Daniel watched me go.
“Where are you going?”
I gritted my teeth, not feeling like answering him. But my silence was betrayed by the sound that came from my stomach. I glanced back at him, apprehensively speaking, not meeting his gaze.
“I, um, feel hungry.”
And Daniel laughed.
“So, Salvos, are you ready to have some delicious Human food?”
For some reason, Daniel was the one with a hungry look on his face. I raised a hand slowly.
“Maybe I don’t feel so hungry anymore?”
My stomach growled.