195. Pot and Kettle
Saffron Merryster (Lady)
Species: [Vampire - Human]
Class: [Evocation Elementalist] - Lvl. 54
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 3
[Identification] - Lvl. 8
[Racial Skill: Bloodlust] - Lvl. 4
[Racial Skill: Vampiric Essence] - Lvl. 7
[Rest] - Lvl. 4
Saffron Merryster was, for her age, considered to be rather high-leveled. She was only nineteen years old, and she was already Level 54 in her Class. That was talent. Even for a noble. Even for a Vampire like her.
Sure, Valda was even younger than Saffron. But the fifteen-year-old girl was even more of a genius, which was fair. There were varying levels of talent, but Saffron was undoubtedly on the upper end.
Yet, the young noble had never truly been in a real fight. She’d been trained in the art of dueling, yes. However, in a life-and-death situation where her opponent was stronger than her and more than ready to kill her? It never happened before. So, she froze up. Her body tensed. She couldn’t react, struck by an unrelenting anxiety that halted all her senses for a moment.
She had been completely overpowered. Everything she learned— all the sparring and classes she had taken— gone to waste in the first face of adversity. The worst part was it happened before. When her carriage had been assailed by [Rancor Mites] on the way to Mavos Academy. And just like the last time around, Salvos had been here to save her.
The words echoed throughout the open chamber. It forced the [Cultists] to drop to their knees, quaking and quivering helplessly. It was a Skill that struck fear into their hearts. One that, just for a brief moment, snapped them out of reality as their eyes glazed over stupidly.
Saffron wasn’t sure what kind of magic resulted in that effect. Normally, she’d be more analytical— try and parse what Salvos was using. But she was too seized with terror to be able to even begin deconstructing it.
That feeling was only worsened a moment later when Salvos chomped off Mikel’s head with a single bite. The Demon drew her head back, arching her back as she chewed the man’s skull, relishing the taste. Then she spat it out.
It was a nonchalant voice that left her mouth, betraying the terrible appearance she wore. It almost reassured Saffron. It gave the young noble a modicum of relief, even in this situation, surrounded by hundreds of [Cultists].
The Demon’s golden eyes darted over the crowd of faces. A cruel grin twisted its way up her skull-like face.
“Huh. You guys are still alive. Didn’t expect you guys to be so incompetent. Here, let me help you.”
She bared her teeth, and the [Cultists] screamed. They unleashed magic on her. She leapt over the waves of fire and ice and stone and lightning, twirling almost gracefully for someone dressed in such a wicked form.
A bloodbath ensued as Salvos slaughtered them. The floor and the walls were stained with the crimson color of blood, and [Cultists] screamed in terror and horror as they tried to fend her off. But none of them had been over Level 100. The highest-leveled individual here had been Mikel. He was Level 93, but he had been killed in an instant, when his guard was down due to Saffron.
Saffron’s nose wrinkled. The stench of blood permeated the air. It was… sweet. Almost intoxicating. Younger Vampires had a stronger sense of smell than adults, and while Saffron was a young adult, she still had some of the residual ability to discern the quality of blood by levels. The higher-leveled someone was, the sweeter their blood smelled. The only exceptions came with the blood of Spirits and Demons. Those, regardless of level, smelled intensely sweet.
Her head went light as she glanced up, trying to gather herself to her feet. Her knees were weak. She couldn’t get up. She tried to stumble forward, but her senses were overwhelmed by fear and the tasty scent of blood. She tripped on something, falling face first before a body. Mikel’s headless body.
Blood pooled out of his neck, still fresh, having happened just moments ago. Her eyes widened, and her gaze sharpened as something drew her forward.
[Racial Skill: Bloodlust].
She bit into it, her eyes glowing red.
I had fought hordes and hordes of Skeletons. I had faced down a wave of Zombies, and slaughtered hundreds of them at once. I even flew against an army of mindless monsters, killing thousands before I was forced to retreat. These [Cultists] were far harder to kill than any of them. But it was not because of their abilities. Most of them were Silver Rank, with a rather inordinately substantial amount of them being Gold Rank. There were even a few Platinum Ranked equivalents mixed into the crowd.
But they were only minor hindrances. The biggest problem lay in the fact that they kept running!
“Come back here!”
I sent a plume of flames forward, incinerating the [Cultists] making a break for it down a stairway. I couldn’t let any of them flee. That would be problematic.
But the [Cultists] were scattering everywhere. They must have had a thousand different escape routes prepared if the mountain was ever besieged. And it made hunting them down very annoying.
It was harder to kill a hundred people who only wanted to run, than to kill a hundred people standing and fighting. The [Cultists] knew they were completely outmatched. So, they ran.
I leapt in front of a group led by a Level 86 cultist. He was a cultist, not a [Cultist], considering his [Mage] Class. I swiped for his head, and he created a barrier.
He screamed as I ripped the magical aura apart with my flaming claws. It lasted longer than I would’ve wanted. But once the barrier was down, he was helpless against me. He pointed at me, and a blue blast shot out. It was pure magical energy. One that actually damaged my aura of Greater Protection.
An interesting kind of spellcasting I rarely saw before. That didn’t stop me from tearing through his protective armor and killing him.
Defeated [Master of the Arcane Arts - Lvl 86]!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy 20 levels below you!
“Hm. Maybe I should be using more of my Class.”
I ran forward as I activated [Mystical Projection]. I grabbed a pair of [Cultists] before I even reached them with the invisible protruding arms, and dragged them towards me. I sunk my real claws into their chest, quickly dealing with them.
This turned out to be quite effective, with me pulling two [Cultists] at a time back to me, before I finished them off, even as I ran forward.
Defeated [Cultist - Lvl 45]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Defeated [Cultist - Lvl 61]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Perhaps it was because of a combination of using my Class and my Subspecies, but the simple message that popped up per kill was the fact that experience was awarded, rather than less or more depending on their level.
I narrowed my eyes as I watched a [Cultist] run for a metal doorway smeared with blood. It was old blood, and I was pretty sure there were people locked inside on the other side. She tried to pry it open as I finished off another [Cultist], and I simply pointed at her.
Her movements slowed. The key clinked as it turned. But I was already next to her. She couldn’t even turn around in surprise before I ripped her apart.
I turned around, annoyed that I was caught in my own bubble of slowed time. It let the [Cultists] beyond move faster, even if it only made a minute difference. But tiny little changes to a battlefield often bore great implications.
I stepped out of my [Temporal Distortion] field just in time to see a man grab Saffron by the back of her head, placing a crooked knife to her throat. I paused. My eyes widened.
I called out to her, but the [Cultist] yelled.
“Stay back! I will kill her!”
I gritted my teeth, seeing him holding my friend hostage. He was a higher level than her. He was around Level 70, and Saffron didn’t look like she was in any condition to fight back.
“Let her go.”
I took a step forward, and he tightened the blade around her neck. My mind raced with all the options I had. [Haste] wouldn’t help me here. But there was another Skill I had. [Recall Skill] and [Zealous Call]. I was just about to use that combination, when the man screamed.
Saffron bit into his hand. He cried out in pain, and she spun around, striking his neck with her fingers. Her nails grew outwardly, sharp like knives in each finger. It severed his head right off. She tore into his body, biting off his flesh, like a hungry, rabid dog.
I stared at her as she continued to ravage the man. I hesitated. Then I walked up to her.
The Vampire paused. She looked up at me, her eyes glowing red. There was a hiss— and she froze, coming back to her senses.
I patted her on the shoulder.
She blinked, and I ran off to deal with the remaining [Cultists]. There weren’t many left now. I managed to finish off the rest before they could escape. Saffron actually helped me, bounding around the open chamber and killing a handful of them herself. Although she seemed to protectively guard the door that probably held prisoners behind it.
And we killed the last of the [Cultists].
Class [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] Level Up!
[Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 36] -> [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 37]
Gained 2 Secondary Skill Points!
Class [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] Level Up!
[Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 37] -> [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 38]
Gained 2 Secondary Skill Points!
I walked up to Saffron, my [Demonic Essence] transformation ending as I returned to my regular self. I met the noble woman’s gaze. She tried to look away, wiping the blood off her mouth with the edge of her sleeve. Actually, it was my sleeve, considering that it was my blue jacket.
“What was that?”
I asked, crossing my arms. She hesitated. She didn’t want to meet my gaze. But I pressed her.
“Come on, you’ve got to tell me. That was pretty cool, you know?”
“It’s not cool.”
She sighed, closing her eyes. They still glowed red, even now.
“[Bloodlust]. It is a Skill us Vampires have. Each of us are born with it, and if we consume the blood of someone of a significantly higher level than us, we become stronger. Temporarily, of course. But also more… savage.”
“That was a little bit more than just savage. More monstrous, if I’m being honest.”
I spoke in a flat voice. She pursed her lips. I could see her fangs peeking through her mouth. She now had a pair of sharp incisors that were over an inch long, and claw-like fingers, just like me. I smiled as she shifted uncomfortably.
“But you did a good thing, Saffron.”
“T-that’s… I’ve never even killed… but wait.”
She looked past me, headed for the heavy metal door. With her sudden super strength, she ripped it open without any difficulty despite being a [Mage] at her level.
“Hey! At least wait for me to change—”
I frowned. Saffron stared into the room.
“Just as I thought.”
She shook her head, turning away. The room didn’t hold prisoners as I thought it did. It held within it a summoning circle. Empty cells and manacles. And a pile of corpses.
Saffron started away, a rueful look on her face.
“If only we came a few days earlier… we could’ve…”
She trailed off and sat in the middle of the open chamber, right by Mikel’s body, gazing up at the night sky. I glanced back into the room with the pile of corpses. This wasn’t a pre-ritual setup. The ritual had been completed. A Demon had been summoned.
And the Demon had left. Probably to Elutra or the Inoria Empire or somewhere else. There were a lot of sacrifices here. Enough to summon maybe even an Archdemon. I wasn’t sure how Demon summoning worked, to be honest.
Saffron didn’t look like she was in any rush to leave, so I quickly looked through the room, searching for anything that piqued my interest. Maybe there might be a clue on how to return to the Netherworld— who knew?
There were also vials of blood and tomes regarding banned types of magic. I took them all and stuffed it into my sack. There were some gold and platinum too, but not much compared to how much I owned.
Then I returned to Saffron, and she stood up. She looked at me, speaking softly.
“Let’s go back, Salvos. I’m tired.”
I nodded and spread my wings wide.
I gently flitted my way across the night sky, carrying Saffron in my arms. I asked her about what we should do with the dead [Cultists]— whether it was something we should report. But she just told me that she’d handle it.
Then there was silence. We flew over the misty clouds, slowly, so as to not frighten Saffron. I wasn’t sure what to say. I did as I promised, wiping out the Followers of the Demon King. But Saffron didn’t seem happy. She was upset. Both at herself and at the deaths of all those innocents in the summoning room.
I spoke up, trying to cheer her up.
“Hey, so, um… about your [Bloodlust]—”
She glanced up at me, furrowing her brows. She looked slightly annoyed. Like she wanted the topic. And I definitely wasn’t going to praise her about it again, since she seemed uncomfortable about it.
“I was thinking, since, you know, I’m high-leveled and all, I could maybe share some of my blood with you to keep in case you ever need it?”
Saffron paused. Then she looked away from me.
“Why would you do that?”
“To prove myself to you.”
With a deep breath, I began to explain.
“Look, I know our trip today didn’t go exactly well. But I’m still willing to do anything to make you believe me! I’ll even give you my blood! And I dislike losing my blood! It hurts and stuff!”
She didn’t say anything, and I drew my lips into a thin line. I was told by Daniel that school trips were supposed to be fun and exciting. He must’ve lied to me because this hadn’t been fun at all!
I waited for Saffron to respond. After a minute passed and she still remained silent, I began to deflate. Then finally, she spoke up in a soft voice.
“You already proved yourself to me, you idiot.”
“Of course you did. I was just being stubborn. I was… wrong. About you. We really aren’t that different.”
I narrowed my eyes. I wanted to open my mouth to protest the fact that I was Salvos and she was not Salvos, but she smiled.
“However, if you insist, I will gladly accept your offer of a tribute of your Demon’s blood. It’d aid me greatly in becoming stronger.”
Saffron met my gaze, and I blinked. Then I laughed.
“Yep! I’ll help you out! After all, you’re now my companion!”