Apotheosis Of A Demon - A Monster Evolution Story - novelonlinefull.com
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I watched Blobsy hop off after the bandits.
…my request was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. Would she be fine? Too late for takebacks now, anyway. I floated off after the merchant's carriage.
I didn't think I could lose track of them, considering we were all on the same road, but I had to wonder how fast a human running – my top speed – could be comparing to a horse carriage. With the existence of railway technology, I feared carriages might have gotten some measure of improvements, too.
If they could manage to get inside a village – it didn't even need to be a town – before I caught up, I'd lose. The strange barrier would hold me off. There was likely no way for me to get in.
I wasn't so delusional as to believe that I was doing this for justice, that this was fitting judgement for the kind of person who treated their slaves' lives as a game and then vented his anger on the deceased after he lost.
I just wanted to avenge them. To at least lessen their regrets.
Luck was with me. A few minutes later, I found the carriage parked by the wayside. The irritated merchant and his driver was checking their losses.
"Come on, boss, it's good enough we got out of it safe and sound. It's just some food and slaves we bought from the village, isn't it?"
"And the horse and carriage! Those weren't just slaves, fool, they're expensive ones! d.a.m.n demihumans got a lot sneakier these days, you can't legally buy any new ones on the official markets! Scamming b.a.s.t.a.r.d f.u.c.king lied to me. They weren't 'combat-capable', they were wastes of air, that's what!"
I was… pretty sure the merchant was an exception, not the rule to this world's humanity… right?
The inspection seemed to be over. The merchant urged the driver to hurry, and the two set off. The trader was sitting next to his driver, instead of his usual spot inside the carriage.
"Boss, you should get back in. It's dangerous here."
"Shut your trap. It's your fault you didn't notice the bandits early enough. I can't trust your eyes."
The driver didn't bother hiding his distaste at the insult.
Right. How do I want to do this?
Originally, my plan of only aiming for the outlaws was to avoid having soldiers and beta testers sent after me. In that case… would an accident work?
I took off the cloak, released my humanoid form, dispersed just enough to blend into the scenery, then moved in front of the wagon.
The two still hadn't noticed anything wrong. But the horse did sense my attention, and fear began to permeate into its steps. The wagon started to swerve left and right.
"H-Hey, what's wrong? Calm down!" The driver was nearly panicking.
"Do something already!" The merchant screamed, desperately holding onto his seat.
Walking and playing with Blobsy weren't the only things I did these last few days. I'd been experimenting with [Reroll] too, and I now had confirmation of the skill's success rate when used on others.
It had a high possibility of failing if the target was focused. Which also meant that if they were surprised or agitated, it'd work most of the time.
That first time with the beta tester, I could chalk it up to chance. The second time I succeeded against the slave hunters, even I started to think it was too convenient.
And after a few tests, I'd determined that my chances would go up if the target saw me. My supposition was that using the skill was easier on targets under the effect of the [Fear] demon racial skill.
Well, those tests were with weak monsters, though. This would be the first time I tried it on humans.
Despite the horse's fear and the swerving, the carriage was still somehow avoiding the rocks littering the road, but the horse didn't notice the Identification Crystal I dropped. The wagon lurched.
The nearly obese trader lost his balance. He scrabbled, trying to grab onto the edge of his seat. I used the skill while throwing my presence at him.
Terror flashed on his face for a moment, and his hand grasped only air. He fell gracelessly on his head.
"Boss!?" The driver noticed, but too late. The moment his scream rang out, the merchant's neck was already broken.[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] [Magic Points: 256/335] 5↑ [Total Combat Power: 289/368] 5↑
My, that was a very unlucky fall. Also, apparently the more difficult the check, the lower the consumed magic cost.
And it turned out I still receive experience from an accidental death… I was a bit too far away, though. I got his lifeforce, but couldn't recover any magic. I'd have to write the crystal off as a loss, too. Well, it only had three uses left anyway.
I felt Blobsy stop moving. She must have found the bandits' lair. I hurried to her, the merchant and his driver no longer in my thoughts.
My mind was whirring with thoughts even as I flew.
That scene back then, when I used [Reroll]… I'd seen something like it before.
Ever since I was a little kid, the people who bullied me, with deeds or with words, had always met with constant misfortune. Mysteriously.
One had a broken arm just from tripping. One slipped on the stairs. One cut her fingers multiple times with the kitchen knife. Were those all my fault?
Strangely, [Reroll] always felt like the most natural thing in the world to me, even from the very first time I used it. Was it because I had always had it, ever since I was born?
When I arrived, it was already dark. Blobsy bounced out of the field of tall gra.s.s and cuddled up to me. Cuuuute…
Oh, whoops, I forgot the cloak…ah well. I commanded her to lie down – since she no longer has the safehouse that was my cloak's pocket – and she splatted into a disc, completely hiding herself inside the gra.s.s… whoa. She's a very skillful blob.
I didn't need her to show me where they were. Some distance away was a hole leading into what looked like an exploratory mine. A man wearing grungy clothes was on watch, looking bored.
I was going to attack their base. That thought sent shivers through me.
Not the kind of shivers a.s.sociated with that Disconnect with reality. If anything, it felt like excitement. As if I only just came to myself, my true self, in that moment. I moved, my body feeling more natural than ever.
I approached as mist. For a moment, the watchman frowned at seeing a white mist under the moonlit, cloudless night. His expression quickly turned to [Fear] at the sight of me.
He was about to scream. I immediately rushed into his mouth before he could, then apply a bit of [Humanoid Form] to fill up his lungs and stifle his voice.
…it actually worked. I thought it might, yet I still surprised myself.
He went blue in scant seconds, his face set in a rictus. Once his lifeforce was drained, I wafted through the cracks in the worn-out, rickety-looking door.
I saw light leaking out from my side just after entering the abandoned mine. I peeked through the hole and saw two men, looking like the quintessential bandits, gambling over a card game. Probably the other lookout personnel waiting for their shift.[Bandit x2] [Magic Points: 20/20] [Hit Points: 60/60] [Total Combat Power: 48]
Weaksauce. But, well, if they had the strength of mind to train themselves, they wouldn't be serving as bandit underlings like this.
The only light source I could see was a single candle-looking thing. I shot out two copper coins I'd been storing inside me.
One coin missed even with the skill, but the other hit. It snuffed out only the fire, leaving the candle perfectly intact.
"Huh, what happened to the light?"
"Did you drop a coin? I heard something like it."
The men were startled, but not alarmed. They started to fumble around in the dark for matches. I snuck up to them and choke them out the same way. Their lifeforce was taken without trouble.
This was so much easier than doing combat absorption. Well, the idea might seem ingenious – even I almost thought so, at first – but in hindsight, if I could invade their mouths like this, I might as well stab them in the neck. Simpler that way.[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] [Magic Points: 245/353] 18↑ [Total Combat Power: 280/388] 20↑
A quick magical ping revealed around twenty other signals inside the mine. Some of them must be the slaves. I wonder how many were bandits? Around six of of the signals were immobile, so I headed there first.
In the darkness, I saw a large wooden cage. The bars were logs, around as big as a human adult arm. Inside were beastman slaves, lifelessly sitting on the ground. Two of them were kids.
I felt my heart harden upon seeing the bruise marks on those two.
I couldn't release them right this moment. They still had their chokers. I couldn't be sure what they'd do.
The other ten signals, most likely the bandits, were all in one room. I was considering how to take them down when two of them started to move this way.
I rose to the ceiling. The two of them, red-faced and stinking of alcohol, entered a side path and headed towards a barred, dilapidated-looking room. Seemed like a storeroom this time, not a prison. They opened the padlock and brought out a wooden crate, full of bottles of some kind of alcohol.
They were about as strong as the underlings before, so I ambushed them from behind. And just like before, I choked them before they could scream. They started to thrash around upon realizing they were being attacked. Their faces gradually turned blue from the lack of oxygen.
The crate of bottles met the hard ground. Surprisingly loud.
I hurried to absorb their lifeforce as fast as I could. Another bandit showed up, probably due to the noise.
"You two, what were you…"
The middle-aged bandit looked at the two with exasperation, perhaps thinking they were only up to some drunken hijinks. Then he saw their discolored faces, and he shouted.
I rushed forward to mute him, but too late. A group of bandits arrived, and the first thing they saw was a white mist desiccating their comrade.
"It's a monster!"
One versus seven. Balance would be subjected to further changes depending on who had how much magic and enchanted weapons.
"d.a.m.n, a wraith! Rabid thing!"
The bandit leader unsheathed a fancy-looking short sword that was hanging from his waist. The blade shone with a faint magical light.[Bandit Leader] [Magic Points: 40/40] [Hit Points: 90/90] [Total Combat Power: 116] [Middle-Aged Bandit x3] [Magic Points: 30/30] [Hit Points: 75/75] [Total Combat Power: 65] [Underling Bandit x3] [Magic Points: 20/20] [Hit Points: 60/60] [Total Combat Power: 50]
The only ones with enchanted weapons were the leader and the three middle-aged men wielding shortswords as old as they were.
My honest opinion? Those slave hunters were way more powerful. Just the lack of a magician already cut down a lot of danger for me. And now I was even stronger than back then.
I immediately charged towards the three underlings and envelop them. But they weren't to be killed, not just yet.
"Waaagh!" "It's on my head! Help!"
"Stay still, you f.u.c.kers!"
One of the middle-aged bandit swung his sword. I maneuver to hide behind an underling, and the blade bit deep into his shoulder. He screamed.
"It's just a wraith! Stop p.u.s.s.ying around and kill it!"
Another middle-aged bandit charged in and slashed. I didn't try to dodge this time, instead pouring myself into his mouth and suck dry his lifeforce from the inside.
"Poison?!" The leader exclaimed.
Nope. He just drew the wrong conclusion from seeing the man's rapidly paling face. I rushed towards my next target, the leader, and he lost his calm. He started to swing his sword with wild abandon.
"S-Stay away! You lot, do something already!"
A few of his swings. .h.i.t. I endured, holding on and draining his life bit by bit. One of the old bandits seemed to have run out of patience – he charged with a powerful thrust.
"Aaargh! d.a.m.n you…"
I failed at making the stab miss me, but it also cut deeply into the leader's stomach. He held his wound and dropped to his knees.
I see. Even if the [Fear] was affecting them, forcibly failing a focused attack was still difficult.
But, well, the most dangerous threat had been disabled. I gently rose into the air. Their faces contorted in terror.
Right. Time to clean house.
A key clattered inside the cage. The beastman prisoners exclaimed in surprise, swiveling their eyes between me – wearing a baggy robe I 'borrowed' from the storeroom – and the key in incomprehension.
Some distance away, I gestured for them to come to me. A man, perhaps the leader of this group of beastmen, seemed to have realized it was the key to the cage. Yet his suspicions hadn't abated.
"…who are you? What's a kid doing here?"
I shook my head, then beckoned them one more time.
He came to a conclusion some moments later and nodded to his comrades. They unlocked the cage door and got out.
I repeated the gesture. They were tense, but still nodded and followed me. On the way, they saw the dried-out bandits. Some of the women and children gasped and squeaked.
And we arrived.
The bandit leader was lying in a pool of his own blood, a hole in his stomach. Still alive, if barely. Surprise and hatred colored the prisoners' gazes.
I pointed towards the weapons gathered in a corner of the room. The beastmen smiled savagely. The dying man's face warped in despair.
"We give our thanks."
Once they had achieved their vengeance, I showed them the way to the storeroom full of clothing and food. They bowed deeply, then headed off on their own journey.
Apparently this group was a tribe that used to live in the northern forest and gra.s.slands. Human slave hunters found them a few months earlier, and almost the whole tribe was caught. They said most of the humans living in cities only ever saw beastmen as slaves, captured for free labor.
…what the h.e.l.l was this world's humanity?
Couldn't get more information from them, though, considering my muteness. And I didn't want to stay in contact for too long, lest my true nature got revealed.
Well, I didn't quite mind. I'd know, sooner or later.
That aside, I think I could use this mine as a hidden base for a while. The beastmen didn't actually take that much from the storeroom, saying it was supposed to be mine since I was the one who dealt with the bandits, so I think I'd be spending some time auditing.
There were a lot of corpses… but not anymore. Blobsy had a feast. I thought she liked doing laundry, but maybe she was actually aiming for the blood splatter…?
Also, I gained another curious skill out of nowhere.[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] ・A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 216/392] 39↑ [Total Combat Power: 255/431] 43↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Apprentice)] [Skilled Packer]
What is it now…?