When Ikaris came out of his ravenous trance, he was covered in blood from head to toe. In front of him lay a huge carcass, eaten to the bone. His hunger was not gone, but he felt like himself again.
Strangely, he felt neither horror nor surprise. Just a deep feeling of cold apathy. But this fullness lasted only a moment.
A few seconds later, he found himself prostrate on all fours, his golden eyes gleaming in the twilight darkness. At that very moment, he finally saw the appearance of his arms and he was stunned.
His slender hands were mortifyingly pale, but his once frail forearms were now toned and muscular. He was so shredded, you could almost see the veins winding like long earthworms on his surface. At the end of his hands long black claws had replaced his nails.
Unsure of where this assurance came from, he turned his focus to his claws and sought to retract them with his mind. Soon after, his long claws peeled off like fake fingernails, revealing ordinary short nails, but still black as ink.
"System." Ikaris croaked in a hoarse voice as he rubbed his temples.
[Bloodline(s): Human Crawling-Thrall.]
[Age: 15 years old.]
[Magic Power: 0.003 points.]
[Stamina: 6.6>17.9 points.]
[Strength: 1.7>4.8 points.]
[Agility: 2.2>4.4 points.]
[Constitution: 1.9>4.5 points.]
[Vitality: 11.3>31.3 points.]
[Soul Strength: 100>101 points.]
[System lvl2: 1.32>1.46 points. Passive Effect: The System can now be accessed subconsciously at the cost of immense concentration]
[Appraisal lvl2: 1.03>1.06 points. Passive Effect 1: It is now possible to roughly Appraise the targets of your choice]
[Black Veil lvl1: 0.26>0.39 points]
[Self-Healing lvl1: 0.02 points]
[Heart-Puncturing: 0.005>0.01 points]
[See-Through Vision: 0.005>0.01 points]
To make his Status more concise, he had swapped Sparks for the more relatable term Skill. All it took was one thought for him to switch to the old mode.
The first thing that struck him upon discovering his new attributes was not the drastic increase in his stats, but his growth spurt and monumental weight gain. He had grown 8cm and gained over 20kgs in a few hours...
His Soul Strength, which hadn't moved one iota since his arrival in this world, had also gained one point, which made him realize that increasing his Soul Strength was surely not as trivial as he had hoped.
Then there were his stats. From a puny, weakened boy, he had acquired a fitness level that not even the best athletes of his former life could hope to achieve.
A weightlifter could aspire to surpass his strength, but that would fatally come at the expense of his agility. Such balanced stats were most definitely unattainable.
His newfound Vitality and Stamina made him almost tireless, but the trade-off was that his metabolism required copious amounts of meat to sustain its frantic pace.
One scratch from a Crawler had changed his fate.
Ikaris should have been satisfied with this transformation, but the unbearable urges that constantly threatened to consume his mind were pure torture. Right now, he could barely think. Especially this gnawing hunger and the urge to destroy everything was sapping his willpower.
Intuitively, he could feel that if he gave in to it completely, the irreversible consequences would push him over the edge for good, sounding the death knell for the upright, sensible Ikaris.
lightsnοvεlFearing the worst, he shifted his attention to his new Human Crawling Thrall bloodline.
[Human Crawling Thrall:]
[Crawling Physique (defective): Night Vision, Perfect Digestion, Attributes+3, Vitality+30, Can sense the presence and communicate telepathically with other Crawlings.]
The "defective" tag surely referred to the fact that he was not a true Crawling. In the end, his body remained primarily that of a human. He didn't know what the consequences would be.
The adverse effects had not changed, but they had reached their maximum intensity. However, as he finished reading the line indicating that the other Crawlers... Or rather Crawlings were able to sense his presence, beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
'Fuck, I have to get out of here.'
When Ikaris stood up, he saw that it was almost dark, but for him it was as bright as day. A conflicted look twisted his face at that moment.
If he returned to the village, he would have to explain his changes. On the other hand, if he stayed outside, he would have to survive the multitude of Crawlings crossing the Great Wall every night.
For a second, he was tempted to return to the clearing to enjoy the protection of the Demonic Bisons, but given the Alpha's enmity toward him, that was probably a bad idea.
Dejected, he decided to try his luck in the village anyway. After all, although it was not his original intention, he had covered Grallu and Malia's escape when he pelted the Alpha Bison with arrows.
A few minutes later he arrived at the village as the setting sun vanished over the horizon. When he entered the village, a chilling atmosphere greeted him.
Most of the villagers were in their tents, with the three prisoners outside wondering what would happen to them. So far... nothing unusual.
But barring his way, stood four people: Malia, Grallu, Asselin and finally Krold who had two black eyes like a panda and was covered in bruises as if he had been beaten up by someone.
"Sorry Ikaris. Malia and Grallu made me spill the beans." The warrior grunted as he spat out a broken tooth. Turning to Malia, he spat angrily, "Next time, I'll think twice before running to save you, you ungrateful bitch!"
The young woman, unharmed, blinked at him.
"Do you want to get beaten up again? She threatened him, drawing her sword. "You get what you deserve for not killing that Crawling-Thrall as soon as you found out. Not only did you not report his existence, you followed him around all day and did nothing!"
A deathly silence settled over the village, then Malia concluded grimly like an executioner,
"And now... I have to finish the dirty work in your stead."
At that moment, Malia's irises turned crimson red and in eight almost instantaneous steps she shortened the distance between them. Ikaris' pupils dilated and he lurched his torso backwards, narrowly dodging a deadly decapitation.
He was shocked by Malia's superhuman speed. During the day she had shown nothing so impressive against the Alpha Bison. Now, while her attributes had been greatly enhanced, she was slightly faster than he was.
Now, if Ikaris was surprised, then the young woman was completely dumbfounded.
'He-He dodged it?!'
A little further away, Grallu, Asselin and Krold were wide-eyed, their jaws hanging ajar in amazement. None of them had foreseen this scenario.
Retreating in a few swift steps, Ikaris followed up with an acrobatic somersault and hung himself from the branches of a tree using his legs, scowling at his opponent.
"Why are you attacking me? I'm still the same Ikaris." He hollered in a hoarse, slightly indignant voice.
"You're lying." Malia firmly refuted. "No Thrall, whether they be Vampires, Ghouls or Crawlers can control themselves. Except when their master orders them to, they are but pitiful, insatiable creatures slaves to their instincts."
"And yet, I am still me." He stated calmly. "Even if I won't hide from you that I have an appetite a little bigger than before..."
Malia, who was planning to just ignore him and get it over with, froze when she heard his composed voice. It did not sound like the behavior of a Crawling-Thrall.
"How do I know you're not lying?" She asked with a sense of urgency.
Night had fallen and she could already hear the Crawlers approaching. The three prisoners didn't realize how lucky they were. When Grallu freed Krold and gave him back his weapon, they finally understood that something was going on.
The bruised barbarian grunted an insincere thank you and rushed back to his tent. Unlike the others present, he was totally blind in this dark night.
The thin crescent moon would not be enough to make a difference.
Reassured that Krold was safe, Ikaris answered with murderous intent,
"Tonight, I will kill the Crawler who turned me."
Malia, Asselin and Grallu were shocked by his words. A Thrall could never attack or disobey its master. This was an absolute rule in all Cursed Races.
Among the Crawlers it went even further. Without a direct order from one of their masters, they never fought each other.
Asselin, who was about to help Malia kill him, considered for the first time giving him a chance.
"In that case, prove it to us. Fight the Crawlers with us... But not here. Leave the village." He accepted the deal on Malia's behalf as he drew his sword. "You are a Thrall now. The Crawlers sense your presence. By staying here you doom us all. "
Alas, it was already too late. The bushes and shrubs at the edge of the jungle began to rustle and a split second later dozens of monstrous creatures burst out of the jungle.
A pack of Crawlers.