I shuffle the imps off into a nearby alleyway, making sure to put some distance in earshot between us and any possible wandering eyes and ears.
“Is Maou… angry?”
“Did we do something wrong?”
Mak and Kay ask with sad and guilty expressions. After that puff of smoke, they reverted to their previous forms, leaving me looking at two familiar faces that seem to be on the verge of tears.
“Of course not. Just… what happened? Why did you look so different?” I ask as I try to take a deep breath and think
“We got… bigger?”
“Big and strong!” They answer
Well, that tells me nothing. Did they rank up or not? If so why do they look like they always have?
I decide to check their status in my party menu.
I still can never help but wonder why these two are always so identical to one another. Leaving that aside though, it does seem like they ranked up. So I guess that puff of smoke and them going back to their old appearances was due to this “Transform” skill.
“I think I understand what is going on now. I’m sure Kera will be happy to fill in the gaps.” I say as I close down my menu and motion for the imps to follow me
“Wow! Maou so smart!”
“Maou is awesome!”
Mak and Kay let out in amazement as they begin to follow
As we walk, I can’t help but wonder about their new species. Instead of becoming “Imps” like Bik, they became “Lesser Demons”. Bik grew to look more human, while they grew to look more monstrous. Does one’s personality influence what they become when the rank up? If so that may pose problems in the future.
When I looked through the archive of things I could create, I didn’t see anything about ranking up. What happens if something I created takes an unexpected trait when it ranks up? What if I made something with a hazardous trait like poison? Would it rank up into something that would start or spread plagues? With these kinds of dangers present, I’m glad I didn’t keep making monsters like Gero suggested. I could have accidentally started some serious disasters.
“Hey hey! I have good idea!”
Mak says suddenly breaking me out of my daze, but when I turn to look at him he is lunging at my face.
“WHA!” Is all I get out before he is latched onto my head and the world begins to churn
I feel nauseated and fall to the ground, which is significantly more grassy than I recall.
“Princess?” I hear from a short ways in front of me in Kera’s voice
As I peel my surprise imp mask off my head spins one more time as I’m greeted by the sight of a forest rather than the city. Standing in front of me are Kera, Kiel, and Bik who are all standing in front of a rather large scaled beast.
“No fair! I wanted to move Maou!” Kay pouts as he appears out of thin air
“Before you say anything ju-” Kiel starts but I throw up my hand to stop him
“Just give me a sec, sensory overload.” I say as I close my eyes for a second and let the world stop spinning
sigh “That’s a bit better.” I say as my nausea fades
I motion for Mak to come closer with my hand, and he obediently comes forward.
“Do NOT do that again,” I say as I get back on my feet
I give Kay a glare to make sure he knows to do the same, and his look of swift fear lets me believe he understands. Mak hobbles over to Kays side holding his head.
“Now onto the next issue, why is there a giant lizard creature dead behind you?” I ask as I turn back to the principle offenders
“We… Killed it?” Kiel answers nervously
“Why?” I respond without anger in my voice
“Money?” Kera answers quickly
“Why?” I repeat in the same tone
“WHY ONLY ME?!” Kera yells out as she rolls on the floor nursing her new bump
“Nuh uh! Me too!” Mak pouts
Don’t be proud that I hit you.
I focus my attention back onto Kiel and wait for his answer.
He has been keeping something secret for a while now, and I think it’s about time I was let in on it. Seems like just about everybody else was.
“Um… I was…or rather we were training.” He finally answers after things grow silent
sigh “So that’s what it was. No wonder the Imps ranked up.” I say as I look at the giant lizard
Back in the goblin village, I saw them fighting a boar half this things size and struggle, but this thing looks like it went down without so much as a fight. They must have been getting really strong behind my back.
“I didn’t know that would happen! Kera told me it wouldn’t!” Kiel defends himself, mercilessly throwing Kera under the bus
“Of course I did! That should be common sense! Those two were nearly half the maturity of Bik! Even with your usual nonsense, it should have taken them at least a few years to rank up!” Kera lets out in frustration
If what she is saying is right, then I’m going to have to accept ranking up quickly as a fact of life. Others might not be so lucky as to have the transformation skill though… what should I do?
“So… you’re not angry?” Kiel ask breaking focus
“Hm? Why would I be? I never said that you guys couldn’t train.” I answer trying to understand the question
Maybe I hit Kera too much, I seem to be getting the reputation of someone who explodes about everything. Honestly, it’s kind of cathartic at this point, but maybe she could do without the extra brain damage.
“Well… we did it behind your back, and the Imps even ranked up! Isn’t that going to make things more difficult?” Kiel ask, searching my face for signs of disapproval
“You were trying to get stronger. That’s all there was to it. Right now is rather peaceful, but things are going to start getting hectic before long. I was so focused on my own training, that I forgot about making sure the rest of you were prepared for that danger as well. It seems Mak and Kay can do something about their appearance for now so we won’t worry about it, but it might be best for you guys to stop hunting until we can come up with a solution for Bik.” I explain as I start to ponder solutions again
Aside from Kiri who isn’t around often enough to worry about, we need something that can work for Bik and Kurobe. After the tournament ended I was considering going back into the dungeon to prepare to explore the previous Maou’s castle. If we don’t have a solution then it might be a bit risky to go.
“Since everybody has ranked up once already, should we be safe for a while? I imagine ranking up a second time should take longer than the first right?” I ask Kera
sigh “Yup, though it hardly ever happens cause of how long it takes. Even monsters with long lives that are passed down in a family or clan hardly ever live long enough to see a second rank. I would like to tell you that it was impossible for short-lived creatures like the ones you have, but you seem to love breaking common sense. A second rank imp is unheard of, so I can’t even give you an idea of what to expect.” Kera explains with an odd expression
If that’s the case then I’m going to be drawing countless eyes if anybody ranks up again. Maybe there is a spell that can change one’s appearance like the skill the imps have… If so I would like to have it myself. The stuff Kera smeared on my horns helps people not see them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They get caught on things constantly cause I keep forgetting they are there, and I have to check every morning to make sure they haven’t grown anymore.
“Maybe if I…” I mumble to myself
“Give it up Kiel, she’s in her own little world now.”
sigh “I’m not even entirely sure why I was worried anymore.”
I hear some chatter behind me, but I choose to ignore it. I’ve got more important things to work out.