I fought to prevent the hunters from reaching the elven village, and now the villagers were pointing their arrows at me. They likely found out about the battle from all the fire magic and the shouting. And it seemed like they realized the men were slave hunters, judging from the arrow through the goon’s chest.
Three men. Likely, they were all the fighting force the settlement could muster.
[Adult Elf x3] [Race: Elf♂] [Hunter] [Magic Points (MP): 50/50] [Hit Points (HP): 60/60] [Total Combat Power: 63]
The women had to stay back for their kids. Against 9 slavers, the settlement would’ve had no hope..
And now they had to contend with a single monster who wiped the floor with those slavers.
Yes, hello, it’s me. No wonder they were on guard. The bow-wielding elves weren’t so much wary as they were terrified. Likely, it was the reason why they didn’t shoot me directly – instead of risking my anger with a hit, they were warning me that they had their eyes on me, that I’d better go somewhere else. No, not a warning. A plea.
I drifted off, as non-confrontational as possible. The elves still had their bows trained on me, but relief was clear on their faces. I continued moving deeper into the forest. Once they disappeared from my sight, I hurried upwards to the canopy of a nearby tree and let loose a sigh of relief of my own.
God, I thought I almost had a heart attack… Well, my body was in cold sleep, but still.
I barely had any magic left. If their bows were magically enchanted, a volley could have killed me.
[NO NAME] [Race: Ghast] [Low Demon (Low-Rank)] ・A low demon made of dust and gases. A fragile spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 24/238] [Total Combat Power: 47/262] [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Terrible)] [Rank-up Available]
I practically had one foot in the grave already.
Now, this Rank-up thing. I understood that it was different from an evolution. Did it mean becoming a stronger kind of Ghast, then? I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the result would be.
Well, let’s try some [Identification].
[Rank-up Available] ・Transform into a higher-ranking race.
Exactly what it said on the tin, then.
I supposed ranking up would make me immobile again? This probably wasn’t going to be as large a change as evolving, so I might as well try…
Just as well that my magic was near empty, then. If ranking up put my magic back to 1 again, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. And I should be getting as strong as I can, in preparations for any more unforeseen battles.
I started the process.
Morning of the next day. My magic was back to full. He should be out helping his family around this time, so I headed towards where we promised to meet.
The rank-up worked, nothing particularly noteworthy happened. Didn’t have to recover my magic back from 1, and my body didn’t change much, either. At most, the gas just looked a little thicker. I moved somewhat better in [Humanoid Form] now, so that was good.
After last night, perhaps the elven boy wouldn’t even show up.
On the way, I detoured to where the fight happened to recover my cloak. It was still there, for some reason, but the corpses were gone. Perhaps the elves buried them, perhaps just throwing the corpses somewhere far away, or perhaps like most other games, corpses disappeared after a certain amount of time. At any rate, it had been a whole night. The elves should have gone back home.
I arrived, peeking into the meeting spot from behind a tree. The boy was standing there, alone, a few fruits stuffed in his pockets.
Hey now, that’s very dangerous. A little kid all alone in the forest. What if there were monsters?
I turned humanoid, wore the cloak, and moved towards him. He flashed a smile the moment he saw me.
“Hey. You’re here.”
Yes, I am.
I ceased my sluggish steps and waved. He didn’t get any closer. Good, seemed like he remembered our talk yesterday, as one-sided as it was. He looked relieved, but at the same time, grimaced slightly.
Hmm, what’s this? He looked… somewhat different? Ah, right, no basket on his back today. Why?
“Umm… So, uh… We’ll be leaving this place soon…” The boy said, forcing the words.
What? I asked him with a head-tilt.
“Some scary humans came yesterday. They were slave hunters. The grown-ups said we’d ran away from them once, when I was younger, but they found us again.”
Yeah, but I dealt with them, though?
“And then this ‘white monster’ killed them all. It’s dangerous to live here now, so we’re leaving.”
I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised. No slavers could be as scary as a monster.
“H-Hey,” the boy interrupted my thoughts, his voice resolute, “You killed those bad people, right? You must be this forest’s guardian spirit, I knew you were!”
“I told the grown-ups so, but they didn’t believe me. They said you were a scary monster. But I know that’s not true, I know you’re a good spirit!”
No no no, I was worse than monsters. I was a demon.
“Sorry, I have to go soon… Ah, can you tell me your name?”
I thought you knew I couldn’t speak?
I tried to pantomime my muteness, pointing fingers towards my mouth and shaking my head with jerky movements, like a puppet on strings. Realization dawned on the boy’s face.
“I see! You don’t have a name yet! Alright, I’ll name you then!”
…no, seriously, what?
“Let’s see… Right, there was this elven legend about spirits living on cold mountains called shedim1. And you’re like the white snow, too! So I’ll call you Shedy! It’s perfect!”
Hey, no, wait, what about my opinion…
The naming seemed to have satisfied him. He gave a few vigorous wipes of his face with the shirt’s sleeves, hiding tearful eyes, and before I could do anything, ran off towards the hamlet.
“I’ll see you again, Shedy! I’ll come find you once I get older! I promise!” he turned around and spoke to me for the last time.
I gave a wordless cry.
The elven boy, born and raised in the forest, disappeared in scant moments. He hadn’t even told me his name.
I wasn’t an actual spirit, nor was I bound to this forest. I could follow him, but after that farewell full of emotions, it’d be awkward as all hell if I just show up in front of him again so soon.
He was an elf in the first place. How many years would it take for him to grow up? Time passed at the same rate both within and without the game, right?
Such a pity. I finally found a spot of solace in the kid, and now he’s leaving.
Well, whatever… I got more information, and the rank-up strengthened me. That was good enough.
[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] ・A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 300/300] 62↑ [Total Combat Power: 330/330] 68↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Crude)]
…I suddenly had a craving for canned white asparagus. So weird. And I had a name, now…
Managed to dropped one of the ‘low’ in my rank, plus the ‘fragile’ in my description… was this the actual starting point for monsters?
New racial skill, more magic, more strength, and I think I could move faster now. The ‘Terrible’ in my shapeshifting skill turned into ‘Crude’. That’s… better, right? So I guessed it really wasn’t the rank of the skill, but an evaluation of my own design skill.
I tested it out. Driving my humanoid body used to feel like moving iron sand with magnets; now it felt like pulling puppet strings instead. I still only looked like a human if you squint really hard, though.
Before, I could only barely hold my form into a melting wax statue. Now, the melting had stopped, and I felt like I had actual joints. Still wasn’t good enough to appear in front of other people without my cloak.
But I had a more important problem – that wasn’t to say that my waxy look wasn’t a problem, mind you.
For some reason, my bipedal form now had long, droopy ears.
I had had bullies picking on me since a long time ago, and one of their nicknames for me had been ‘Rabbit’, for my white hair and red eyes. Yes, okay, sure, but that was not a good reason for me to be growing rabbit ears.
“…In Nahmanides’ opinion the demons (shedim) are to be found in waste (shedudim), ruined, and cold places such as in the North. They were not created out of the four elements but only out of fire and air. They have subtle bodies, imperceptible by the human senses, and these subtle bodies allow them to fly through fire and air. Because they are composed of different elements, they come under the laws of creation and decay and they die like human beings. Their sustenance is derived from water and fire, from odors and saps; hence necromancers burned incense to demons. Despite the element of subtle fire which they contain, they are surrounded by a coldness that frightens off the exorcisers (this detail is singled out only in later sources)…”