Chapter 702 The Devil You Know
Sunny sighed, then dismissed the runes, feeling the familiar heat igniting deep within his soul, growing stronger and stronger with each breath.
Effie and Kai looked at him, curiosity and concern mixing in their eyes. Cassie silently retrieved the Quiet Dancer and turned away, listening to the dark forest that surrounded them.
A few moments later, the little girl asked:
“So, uh… what exactly happens now?”
Sunny gave her a grim look.
“…Now I will scream and thrash for a while. Forming a new core is probably the third worst pain I have ever experienced… and that was just the Demon core. Damnation.”
Effie blinked a couple of times:
“What are the second and the absolute worst, then?”
He hesitated for a bit, and then said hoarsely:
“Attaining a daemon’s lineage was pretty bad. But the most terrible thing, by far… was catching a glimpse of fate. That one I only survived by accident.”
The gloomy shadow shivered, remembering their past. Sunny, meanwhile, scoffed.
‘Being gutted by the Black Knight did not even make the list, huh… maybe I need to rethink my life choices.’
At that moment, the heat burning within his soul reached a critical point, and the Spell whispered into his ear:
[Your shadow is taking shape…]
A blinding pain exploded in his chest, sending Sunny to his knees. He gritted his teeth and remained silent, refusing to let out a shriek, a wail, or even a growl. This was not his first time experiencing that pain… even though, this time, it was far more intense.
A human soul was not meant to contain many cores…
That was the conclusion Sunny had come to a while back, thinking about how the process of Awakening was pleasant and euphoric, but gaining new cores and a daemon’s lineage was harrowing and torturous. Humans were meant to walk the path of Ascension, but becoming a different type of creature was against their nature.
And Weaver’s lineage was simply against all nature… it was aberrant and forbidden, something that was never meant to exist at all.
The pain grew stronger, and stronger, and then stronger still. Just like before, he felt as though his soul was being torn apart, something rising from its depths and cutting his very being with its sharp edges. However, Sunny was used to this torment. He accepted it, allowed himself to dissipate into it, and endured.
However, then, something entirely unexpected happened.
As his soul was going through a transformation, his body followed suit, as well, catching him by surprise. This time, Sunny failed to suppress a scream, and fell to the ground in convulsions. Effie and Kai stared at him with worry
‘Curse it! What… the hell?!’
It felt as though his bones were breaking, his muscles were tearing, and his skin was on fire. Sunny clawed at the ground, then raised his head and let out a deafening, furious roar.
…As it rolled across the forest, the roar changed, growing lower and more frightening.
Finally, an eternity later, the heat consuming his soul grew cold, and his tortured body was released from the cage of suffering. Sunny exhaled hoarsely, then relaxed and remained laying on the grass, motionless.
The voice of the Spell resounded from the darkness, echoing between the ancient trees:
[…Your shadow is complete.]
And a few moments later, he heard another voice, this one soft and childish:
“Goddamn. He is even bigger now!”
Sunny slowly stood up, intending to take a look at his runes. However, even before that, he noticed that something was different.
The ground… was considerably further down than it had been before.
Effie and Kai were staring at him, forgetting their task of watching out for a potential attack. Luckily, Cassie was still vigilant… Sunny frowned, then glanced down to take a look at his own body, as well.
It seemed that because he was in a body of a creature, the transformation into a Devil changed it, too. The shadow demon… devil… grew even taller, now standing at almost three meters of height. His skin had turned into a darker shade of grey, and his claws seemed as if they were cut out of glossy morion.
Through the eyes of his shadow, Sunny could see that his horns had grown longer and sharper, as well. More than that, there were now four of them… well, three and a half, considering that one had been broken in the ferocious fight with the Ascended War Maiden Hilde.
And his eyes, which had been entirely black previously, now seemed like two pools of eerie darkness.
The shadowspawn had been fearsome before, but now, he was simply terrifying. Even Sunny himself would not have been happy to meet this towering fiend on a moonless night.
Effie shook his head, then looked away.
“…My neck hurts from staring at you. Is this how everyone feels when they’re talking to me?”
Kai hesitated, the smiled slightly.
“Ah… well… that is presuming that they are looking at your face…”
The little girl snorted.
“Wow! Good one! You’ve been hanging out with Sunny way too much, it seems! Or… uh… with me?”
Ignoring her jabs, Sunny curiously looked at the ground.
He had gained a new shadow, after all… what would its personality be?
Two identical shadows of a four-armed devil were there, staring at each other. Nevertheless, to Sunny, they seemed very different.
One was gloomy and glowering, full of bad mood and disdain. The other… was also full of disdain, but of another kind.
The new guy somehow managed to seem noble and gallant despite being the exact copy of the other shadow, looking at it with arrogant contempt. They were of the exact same height, and yet, the haughty shadow somehow made it seem as if it was looking down at the gloomy one… and everyone else, for that matter.
Back when the creepy shadow appeared, it lost the staring contest to the gloomy shadow. The haughty shadow, however, did not seem impressed even a little bit. It was as though the very thought of looking away was beneath it.
So, the two of them just continued to drill holes into each other with disdainful stares, unperturbed.
Sunny groaned, then covered his face with a hand.
‘Oh, gods… there’s two of them now!’
Observing the staring contest, Sunny sighed. He was beginning to miss the happy shadow, that hopeless fool — something that had never thought he would ever feel.
Shaking his head, Sunny looked away from the shadows and summoned the runes.
The familiar symbols shimmered in the air in front of him:
True Name: Lost from Light.
Shadow Cores: [4/7].
Shadow Fragments: [0/4000].
A tired, but satisfied smile appeared on his lips.
With a fourth core, his power would increase significantly… his essence reserves had grown, the range of Shadow Control had expanded, and most importantly, he now had an additional shadow to augment either himself, his Memories, or his Shadows. He could increase his physical prowess fivefold, or send one each to Saint, Serpent, and Nightmare while leaving one for himself.
And that was not all.
The Soul Serpent evolved its Class when Sunny did, so it should have become a Devil, as well. That would make it the most powerful — at least in terms of pure status — Shadow of his.
Not wasting any time, Sunny summoned the Serpent’s runes. Somewhat tense, he read:
Shadow: [Soul Serpent].
Shadow Rank: Ascended.
Shadow Class: Devil.
Shadow Attributes: [Shadow Guide], [Soul Weapon], [Soul Beast].
Sunny was both glad and worried. Glad because his Shadow had attained a new Class, but worried because he did not see any new Attributes. The transformation to a Devil was supposed to gift creatures terrible and unnatural powers… however, the Serpent was a bit strange in that regard. It had received a new Ability out of order when rising to a new Rank… so would it receive anything now?
Luckily, he was wrong to fear. Looking lower, Sunny saw a few new runes among the Serpent’s abilities.
Shadow Abilities: [Serpentine Steel], [Soul Reaver], [Grace of Shadows], [Formless].
The [Formless] one was new.
Sunny concentrated on it and studied the description curiously.
…A moment later, a strange sound escaped from his lips.
The runes read:
[Formless] Ability Description: “When in the Soul Beast form, the Serpent can assume the shape of any shadow contained within its master’s soul, inheriting all powers and abilities. The shadow must be of the same or lower Rank and Class than the Soul Serpent for the transformation to take place, and won’t be consumed in the process.”