Twenty-one days of borrowed time left.
I didn’t see anyone else on my way to the underground Magic Routing Control room that was supplying power to the hall.
I was prepared to eliminate anyone who saw me, but that didn’t mean I would happily carry out an indiscriminate mass murder. Still… all the same, I felt like human countries really just weren’t for me.
…I wondered if this distaste came from the discrimination of appearance that I’d been experiencing since forever. It was likely.
Nothing would change with just the words of one person. Every humans, down to their children, only ever saw demihumans as their livestock, as useful beasts. There was no scorn nor disdain to be had here. They were just animals, after all, not people.
The kindness the humans showed to demihumans slaves was no different from the care a cowboy showed to his horse.
To the humans here, killing ‘cattles’ was nothing to feel guilty about.
I had always wondered why things were this way. The reason for it all lay here.
“…the Magic Routing Control room.”
Mana overflowing from the World Tree’s Saplings that were sustaining the world was gathered and sent everywhere. Including this place.
Magic powered the trains and lit up the nights. A resource so vast no one even bothered to turn off the lights. It was just as vital to human convenience as electricity to modern Earth.
No. 01… Hans… he had left the following words in his will.
The human race, individually weak yet with high reproductive ability, had managed to conquer the whole world by leeching on the Saplings.
Doubtlessly, the other races with power had seen their weakness, and so they had allowed the humans to cling to the Saplings in pity.
Yet the humans had discovered a way to utilize the mana. With their newfound power, they had driven all the other races away from the Saplings and took them as slaves.
And with the knowledge coming from another world – from modern Earth – their power had only grown.
This building was constructed with the premise that its magical lights would never be off. So I expected that once the auction hall plunged into darkness after losing its magic power supply, everyone inside would be bewildered.
Just candles alone wouldn’t be enough light for the people here to fight in. It should be the moment right before No. 17’s magic stone would be brought on stage. About fifteen minutes after the afternoon auction began.
After taking out the lights, I would head right toward the stage, kill only the people blocking my way, grab the stone, then make my getaway.
…this was the most harebrained scheme ever, even if I say so myself. However, I didn’t have the time for careful planning, my clock was counting down, my lack of experience would just create a plan full of holes anyway, and most importantly, I’d never even done this sort of strategic thinking before.
I was playing this thing by ear. I couldn’t afford any delays; it would just put me on the back foot.
Alright, let’s roll.
I dispersed my arm to unlock the control room. With my claws and weapons, I began to turn everything inside into junk.
“Just what is that fool of a girl doing in the washroom?” Tiz muttered in incredulity.
The afternoon auction had begun for a while, yet Shedy still wasn’t back. Tiz took a sip of spirits.
“Shall I search for her?”
“Nah, just leave her. She’ll come back sooner or later.”
Tiz looked to be fond of the girl, yet he still showed no concern.
He thought the impudent attitude was novel. She might still be a kid, but cute enough to have great prospects later on. Rarely was there someone as white as her, and combined with her red pupils, she looked just like a rabbit. That delighted him.
Yet in the end, to him, it was nothing more than a rarely-seen coloring. Discovering her was no different from discovering a surprisingly nice knife in a bazaar.
Tiz’s attachment to her was only the possessiveness of a man who didn’t want his thing to run away.
People in positions of power like Tiz weren’t ones to have a partner out of love in the first place.
Appearance and ancestry decided the woman standing beside him, while bloodlines decided the woman who would carry his children. These women might be important people, but he wouldn’t obsess over them.
Tiz only had two fixations: the magical blade he acquired as a child, and the position he achieved by defeating his father. An exotic-looking girl with an impudent attitude and a bit of beauty wasn’t enough to earn his infatuation.
Just as the first item of the afternoon auction, a piece of jewelry, found its owner and the Yellow Magic Stone was being brought on stage, the light shining on the stage suddenly vanished.
“Just a bit of theatrics… right?”
The auction originally began in a dark hall with only candle lights in the first place, so the attendees weren’t thinking too much. Just a bit of chatter, at most. They were yet to aware that this was an incident.
The moment I destroyed the equipment, shutting off the light, I thought I heard a voice.
But this wasn’t the time for hallucinations. I turned myself quasi-mist and rushed through the dark corridors at top speed.
Blobsy bounced at me as we regrouped, cheerfully diving into my satchel. Once she was secure, I dashed upstairs. There, I saw some staff members panicking from the sudden blackout.
The main doors and windows were letting in more light near the hall entrance, and naturally people gathered there. The staff members were frantically trying to stop the attendees’ bodyguards from coming in, saying it was dangerous.
I promptly returned to the dark hallway leading further in. Those two guards standing watch were leaving the doors ajar, peeking inside to check on the situation.
Their eyes weren’t used to the dark yet. I returned to [Humanoid Form] again, kicked the ground for a boost, and slipped through between the guards.
[Former Mercenary?] [Race: Human ♂] [Guardsman] [Magic Point (MP): 84/85] [Hit Points (HP): 150/150] [Total Combat Power: 306]
“Something just came in!”
“It’s a person!”
Right at that moment, someone inside summoned a magical light, covering the room in a faint glow. See? My plan was so full of holes.
“Stop them!” The guard shouted. One of the staff charged at me with just his fists. I stepped on his head and flew over.
“What the hell are you doing!?”
Another man right next to my side swung a crowbar. I blocked it with the dagger in my right hand, while the claws on my left hand sliced at him, crowbar and all. Whoa, my claws actually cut metal…
But I didn’t even have the time to be surprising myself. I parried the spear stabbing toward me from the front with my dagger, and tore apart the guard’s throat with my claws.
“Hahh!” A spear lunged at me from behind.
I just barely dodged it and instantly responded with a kick. It broke his neck.
Damn it, why the hell is this turning into a messy melee!?
Luckily, my opponents were still unused to the dark. Dodging their attacks wasn’t all that difficult, and I managed to win.
I knew it, detailed plans just weren’t my thing. Some of the staff members were running away. I should head to the stage before this mess got any bigger. But then, a voice called at me from the darkness.
Eh? Was there still someone left? I turned toward the voice, holding up my dagger. There, I saw two kids being bound inside a cage.
They looked about the same age as the body I currently had. A boy and a girl. They looked like each other, both having light-blond hair and very fair features.
They were only wearing what amounted to sheets with holes cut in for heads, so thin the fabric looked nearly transparent. Their hands were bound in cuffs. Desperate blue eyes looked at me.
“Yes! Please, let us out of here!” “We hadn’t done anything to humans!”
“Hold on, tell me what’s going on first…”
I didn’t have time, so I told them to just give me the cliff notes. Apparently, they used to live in a relatively large elven settlement. The settlement had been enjoying a comparatively peaceful relationship with this country by selling traditional handicrafts.
However, at some point, the king of this country began to demand a few slaves each year. The settlement could not comply, and diplomatic ties were cut. One day, they were suddenly attacked by soldiers. The men were killed, the treasures taken, the women and children captured.
“They said they were ‘pacifying a revolution’.”
“Eh? But your village wasn’t even a part of this country, right?”
You sure they didn’t just want pets to play with?
“Do you have anywhere to run to?”
“A few of us managed to scatter and ran off. If we could just escape to the forest depths…” “…we might be able to find our friends again one day… Ah, sorry. You’re a human, you don’t really need to hear this…”
I let my ears slipped out a bit from my hood. Their eyes widened.
“Don’t mind me. The most I can do is letting you go… move away.”
My claws sliced apart the lock and their handcuffs. I also handed them some spare robes and daggers, plus a few silver coins.
“This is it. I can’t help you any further here.”
I turned to leave. The girl called after me, her voice choked in tears.
“One day… one day, we’ll repay you! We swear!”
The boy still kept silent, his head bowed low. He didn’t move even after I’d left their sight.
I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to abandon someone I’d talked to… And I still had my own urgent problems to deal with, at that. In front of my eyes or not, I should leave the slaves alone next time.
Alright… let’s sow some more chaos on my way to the magic stone.
A staff member asked, seeing me dashing out of the dark and into the faint magical light. Looked like they were still unaware of what had happened. Wait, was that the Elven Treasure that was supposed to come out next after the magic stone?
Seeing that I still wasn’t stopping, the guardsmen immediately crowded around the treasure. They stabbed their spears toward me without a single warning… Security was honestly annoyingly strict.
My combat power was good. My offensive versatility, less so. I was at a disadvantage every time I fought against multiple opponents. Still, high combat power meant higher speed and lower damage received from attacks.
With my wish of a combat-capable human form granted, the reflexes and instantaneous power I had when shapeshifted had risen by leaps and bounds. I could even see my opponents’ attacks happening, as if in slow motion.
I dodged the spears, letting them graze against my shoulder, and leaped right into the face of one of them. My dagger tore his throat apart.
“We have a professional here! Be careful!”
The guardsmen swung their weapons without hesitation, even against someone who only looked like a kid. A few of them scratched me. I continued parrying with my dagger and slicing throats with my claws.
I was still keeping my inhuman nature hidden, and so they were also only using unenchanted, mortal-killing weapons. They still hurt, of course, but the damage was negligible. And I didn’t have vital organs like humans in the first place.
Snap. My final bandit dagger broke. I’d been handling them… well, not exactly carefully. One of them took the chance to pierce my stomach with a spear from behind me.
“Here’s our chance! Finish ‘em off!”
Two guardsmen dropped their spears and unsheathed their swords. The dagger slipped from my fingers. Seeing me impaled, the two men approached without as much care as they should have. I drove two new daggers into their throats.
“Wha-” The guard impaling me cried out. I dispersed my left hand into a tendril, then solidified just the claws to tear off his throat.
Seeing the guards all dead in bare moments, the other staff members screamed. Too late.
I pull the spear out of my stomach, then picked up the Elven Treasure sitting on top of a fancy-looking service cart.
If only this was the magic stone I was looking for, I could have escaped right there and then. I took too much time with those elven kids…
[Shedy] [Race: Mistral] [Lesser Demon (High-Rank)] ・The demon of bewitching mist that dances upon the northern seas. A canny spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 1095/1310] 210↑ [Total Combat Power: 1226/1441] 231↑ [Unique Skill: <Reroll> <Cyber-Manipulation> ] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Master)] [Specialist Packer]
I had a bit of hope, seeing how the guardsmen were quite strong, but it looked like another evolution was out of the question so soon after ranking up.
Maybe the next evolution would happen at around 1500 or 2000 magic. I’d just have to make do with what I had. My magic dropped, but my base combat power rose, so all in all, my current power hadn’t changed. It’d be fine, probably.
As I hurried to the stage, I saw a shining yellow stone within the darkness, being surrounded by a few guardsmen.
That’s it… The stone I assimilated from No. 01 was telling me it was what I’d been looking for. No. 17’s magic stone.
“Thief! There’s a thief!”
I heard around ten pairs of feet running up behind me. Hearing the warning, the guardsmen on-stage pointed their spears at me. A commotion was starting up among the attendees, who had been left in the dark until now.
…I wondered if those kids made it out.
‘I’m not coming to save you again if you get caught, alright!? I have my own problems here.’
A few guardsmen on the stage charged at me. At the same time, I leaped out from the wings, parrying the spears with a dagger while stabbing the closest guard in the face with another.
“They’re fast! Don’t use spears, use your swords-” one of them shouted, his hands getting ready to switch weapons. His throat got a [Reroll]ed thrown dagger. “-aghk!”
“Eat this! [Sword Slash]!”
One of the men chasing me slashed at my back. Seemed like the attack was magical, as it hurt quite a bit. I pretended to stagger, slicing at the man’s legs with my claws as I was falling down, then stabbing a dagger into his neck the moment I hit the ground.
Ooof… Icicle spikes stabbed into my back. Looked like one of them knew magic.
Two men took the chance to attack. I rolled away from their blades, then dispersed both my arms into clawed tendrils of mist, shredding their throats.
The darkness continued to be my ally. They thought my attacks were just spells.
[Shedy] [Race: Mistral] [Lesser Demon (High-Rank)] [Magic Points: 1080/1385] 75↑ [Total Combat Power: 1218/1523] 82↑
The guards stopped their attacks for a moment, cautious of magic. I took the chance to immediately dash toward the stone that was about to be carried off by a staff member. I kicked them away. The stone was flung into the air… and I swallowed it whole without a moment’s hesitation.
[Shedy] [Race: Mistral] [Lesser Demon (High-Rank)] [Magic Points: 1080/1535] 150↑ [Total Combat Power: 1218/1688] 165↑ [Evolution Available]
The moment one of Tiz’s targets, the Yellow Magic Stone, was brought on the stage, the lighting shut off. As they waited in candlelight for the repairs to be done, a sudden commotion started up on the stage. Seeing his fun being spoiled, Tiz growled.
“What’s going on?!”
“Sir, I’ll go check right away…”
Salia reflexively responded, then upon further thinking, began to vacillate between whether she should prioritize Tiz’s safety or investigate the current incident. Her thoughts were interrupted by someone jumping on stage.
“I see, a thief!” Tiz stood up, his mouth in a savage grin. Then, noticing the lack of weapons on his hips, he scowled.
“Boy, no need to endanger yourself. This is not your country.”
“You don’t need to tell me, gramps.”
But Tiz’s displeasure soon disappeared. Lit by faint magical lights, the sight of the thief running amok on-stage had piqued his fancy.
The shadow was small, almost like they were just a child. Their opponents were ten-plus grown men. A few attacks hit the thief, yet they still fought without the slightest hesitation, dodging only the fatal blows. Tiz thought the sight was beautiful.
He wanted the thief… Still, even if he had no idea what they were after, they surely wouldn’t come out of this safe and sound after breaking into this auction.
Then the kid leaped toward the yellow magic stone, still faintly shining inside the darkness. Tiz thought he saw the thief swallow it. The noisy attendees, agitated by the battle, immediately quieted down as they felt the thief’s presence changing. Almost as if the thief had just transformed into something else.
The next moment, the stage was abruptly awash with a faint mist. The temperature inside the hall dropped sharply. Seeing that the people in contact with the mist were collapsing one after another, Tiz swung his arm at the stage.
A blast of fiery heat washed away the mist on-stage. The wind took off the hood of the thief. Lit by the flames, Tiz saw her face and her drooping, rabbit-like ears.