Elania traced the side of her face with her fingers as she stared at her reflection in the quick running stream of water. Her long hair had been braided like she usually kept it, but now was becoming a tangled and split mess, with debris thoroughly mixed with blood. What had put her in her current fugue was her eyes. Her irises glowed back at her, a deep crimson red. That was new, and disturbing.
She tried her best to clean up, but the results were less than ideal without any soap or brush.
‘We have to get used to new normals or go crazy.’
"Right, Mr. Rock?"
The mana shard continued to shine in silence on the rocky stream bank, although she had noticed it had begun to dim slightly since she had taken it from the cultists. She checked her Power for the fourth time since setting it down.
‘I was right.’
When she had finally regained consciousness, her Power had overflowed again, and she had been in a mild panic. It was when she had taken off the tattered bloody robe with the mana shard still in it that she realized the excess began to bleed off.
It was hard to tell the time in the caverns, but she thought it was taking about an hour for one point of Power to drain. That was with her [Demonic Aura Lvl - 4] and [Darkvision Lvl - 3] both active. She also suspected that her [Demonic Self-Sustenance] and [Regeneration] attributes were draining Power as well.
That didn't seem like much, considering the mana shard intended to boil her alive with extra 'Power' whenever she had it on her person. Mana and Power... she wanted to know if they were the same thing, just named differently, and if they were different, why didn't she have a mana stat in her [Status] screen? Where were her hitpoints?
And there was another thing. While she didn’t have the need for any food or water while she had 'Power,' what would happen when she ran out? Elania remembered she had started with zero Power, but she had a gut feeling she wouldn't survive for long like that unless she had food and water.
No, looking at it again she was certain the mana shard was getting dimmer over time as she used it. She needed to find another way to charge her ‘Power,’ or she'd end up having to try and find the cultists and make a deal with them for the mana shards... Not an idea she wanted to entertain.
There were no fish in the stream that she could see, which ruled out catching one and seeing if eating something would help. Even though she wasn't hungry, she still had the desire to try good food, and a picture of a nicely-cooked fish sitting atop a blanket of rice had her craving some sushi.
The sound of a rockslide echoed deeply from somewhere distant and the sound brought her out of her reverie.
‘Right. Keep it together, Elania. We aren't out of danger yet.’
She had thoroughly soaked the robes in the water along with her wraps. All the cloth had been drenched in blood and grime, and while she didn't have any way to get the stains out, she had been able to use her hands to wring and scrub the worst of it off.
The robe she had been wearing when the Bone Demon attacked was a tattered mess, so she would have to figure out something else to use it for. The extra robe she had been using as a blanket was in much better condition, and she decided to wear that one for now.
Still, she needed a place to camp out in and let everything dry. The idea of staying out in the open, exposed, and butt-naked wasn't appealing. After much deliberation, she eventually decided to try the nearby buildings again. She would be out of sight, and she was hopeful that she would somehow be able to rig some sort of line up to hang the clothes.
On the way back, though, she realized there would be a problem—the Bone Demon's corpse.
Elania didn't like the idea of touching it, but she couldn't leave it near the buildings. The thought of it attracting attention and drawing predators or carrion-eaters to her while she was sleeping was enough to strengthen her resolve to drag it away.
She was prepared to drag it by its feet, but a surprising message appeared when she touched a foot.
[Absorb the lingering Power from ???? - Lesser Demon (S Rank Monster) - Level 57's corpse? Y/N]
The question of how common Demonic beings were and if they often cannibalized each other for Power came to Elania. Since she didn't feel any kinship to the thing in front of her though and she decided to give it a go.
The corpse began to disintegrate into dust. Despite the seeming stillness of the air, it blew away in some type of wind as the fragments turned to ether and then disappeared. As the process continued, Elania felt her core warm up again. By the time the corpse was entirely gone, she felt like she was on fire and plagued by the same messages from earlier.
[You have absorbed 115 Power!]
[Your body has reached the limit of its capacity for Power!]
[Find a stronger body or reduce your current Power!]
[Your body has exceeded the limit of its capacity for Power!]
[Your body is experiencing thermal degradation!]
[Your body is slightly adapting.]
[Due to your high Power, [Regeneration] is enhanced!]
It was hotter than before but not as much as the numbers indicated. She idly wondered if that was because of how much her power had exceeded its capacity. Elania wished she knew the exact adverse effects and worried about permanent damage. However, the mention of [Regeneration] being enhanced calmed her a bit.
‘[Regeneration] heals me from the damage of being over my Power limit... then it’s a bit like power leveling. It just makes me a bit… sweaty.’
After returning to the building she had selected, she started to clean out a corner. She used her dagger to cut and tear off several long strips from the ruined robe and tied them into a line to hang the rest of her things on. That let her set them to dry just as she had planned.
Finding a spot in what she now considered her corner, she decided to check her full [Status] and decide what to do next.
Name: Elania Reyes
Race: Lesser Demon (S Class Monster)
[Some functions are disabled due to insufficient requirements.]
[Skills: Elania Reyes]
[Affinities: Demonic, Mana]
[Magical: Demonic Aura Lvl - 6 (Activated), Mana Manipulation Lvl - 7]
[Physical: Unarmed Combat Lvl - 2, Darkvision Lvl - 3 (Activated)]
[Mundane: Identify Lvl - 2, Universal Speech Lvl - 5, Reading Lvl - 4, Writing Lvl - 3, Athletics Lvl - 1, Improvised Crafting Lvl - 1]
[Attributes: Elania Reyes]
Demon Contract (1 Available)
Enhanced Physical Abilities (Strength, Mana Capacity)
Resistance (Poison, Mana)
‘I need to try and practice my [Mana Manipulation] skill... it killed the Bone Demon, but it almost killed me in the process. Really, I need to plan on how I can defend myself. I doubt that demon was the only unfriendly thing I will run into.’
Elania continued to experiment with her skills while camping out in the building. She had avoided exploring or looking for anything farther than the stream, other than one foray to gather some of the [Fungal Wood] she had spotted nearby.
After that short trip, she decided to use the excess 'Power' she had received from the Bone Demon to develop her skills and abilities. The mana shard was kept in the opposite corner of 'her' building. It provided something like a night-light which was comforting to her and useful to her as she practiced.
She passed two days like this, or at least she had slept twice. There wasn’t much distinction without any way to tell time that she could tell. She'd gained a new skill [Athletics] when she had done some pushups and sit-ups to burn some nervous energy. It had been put under the [Mundane] group, so she wasn't sure what it did other than act as a counter for how much work she had put in.
Elania had also made a lot of progress with her [Mana Manipulation], although she quickly realized that it was easily her most 'Power' intensive skill. The costs seemed to go down as it leveled, and she had finally managed to hold a spark above her hand for an indefinite amount of time around the time she reached level 10.
She wasn't exactly sure how useful controlling the spark would be, but she had found other ways to use the energy as well. It was difficult but she could direct the energy to specific parts of her body without setting them on fire, giving her a boost of strength. That was the kind of thing she thought would be really useful in an emergency.
Between practice sessions of her various skills, she had worked on the [Fungal Wood] to make a primitive spear. The wood turned out to be quite flexible, and it was sliced easily by her dagger, so she didn't think it would do well if she had to face someone with actual weapons. It was the best she could manage, though, and she did gain two more levels in [Improvised Crafting], so that was a bonus.
Nothing had prepared her for what happened when she figured out how to deactivate her [Demonic Aura], though.
The once quiet cavern erupted into all kinds of sounds, and Elania was sent scrambling to gather her things before climbing to the roof of the building and looking out at the landscape.