Daemons really are remarkable creatures. Humans had studied them for millennia and were still making new discoveries. Their abilities and skills were varied and infinite and they were constantly developing more as they adapted to their ways of life and environments. It was they and their emulation that formed the basis of all humankind had developed.
Humans alone had innumerable languages and yet all daemons could communicate with each other, across species and with others who originated from distant unfamiliar lands, something impossible for humans.
Using their daemonic true essence, they could communicate with each other by conveying messages, feelings sights, sounds, smells and images straight to the minds of others. This was how Sela and many other beasts conversed with their fellows and with Valerian. But not all daemons relied on this.
There were some that could mimic human speech just like parrots and such as well as others who did not care for this form communication. Furthermore, the transmission of thoughts, senses and feelings wasn’t exactly comfortable or easily decipherable for most humans. Valerian was different. He grew up in a home with many daemons and thus was used to it. It was not so for others.
That didn’t matter though. Powerful beasts like Gulsalma and Pan did not have to communicate that way. They could actually speak. Though it wasn’t really speech so much as it was a manipulation of essence to vocalise words. This was better and in fact, it was even a practice adopted by humans for both long-range communication and private messaging.
By filling their energies with whatever it was they wanted to say and then transmitting directly to a recipient they could exchange messages both privately and publicly. For long-distance communication, they could use special talismans like the one which Avery used to receive the call from the rescue patrol to boost the range of transmission.
This was just one application of daemonic true essence. It is both physical and spiritual and the full implications of that are not fully understood. That notwithstanding, there was one thing clear. Daemons did not only rely on instinct. Unlike normal beasts who gained all their knowledge from instinct and personal experience, daemons had something much better.
The spiritual nature of their essence allowed them to pass information and skills down to their descendants. Daemonic essence contains not just life force, but also memories and soul. This allowed them to pass down their memories and experiences in addition to their blood legacies.
Valerian was neither beast nor daemon but he was particularly sensitive to essence due in part because he was an arcanist but also due to his strange physique. It was not limited to eyesight, smell and hearing. If it was he would never have detected the peculiarities of the essence in the dragon’s valley. He had not needed to actively search for it to find it.
Thus, in absorbing the dragon’s true essence as he did Valerian also got a heady dose of its memories and feelings. Its last moments of life especially were particularly piquant and featured. It was enthralling. Valerian found himself sinking into them. It was like a daydream. A dream where he was the dragon, seeing what it saw and feeling what it felt.
His name was Gleamscales. His mother had named him such because his scales had gleamed the brightest among all his clutch mates. He was a Dire Daemon, a figure of unmatched power amongst all the daemons on this side of the mountain. Despite this, he did not form a horde.
He loved his peace and solitude and saw no need to surround himself with daemons weaker than himself. He did not care for the influence or power. He was a dragon, a paragon of power and might. Gleamscales needed no one else.
Valerian’s mind swum in the mix of feeling and memory. The dragon’s pride and arrogance were potent. They were ingrained in its very being. For an instant, he wondered if all dragons were walking masses of pride and power like this one was.
Then again, Gleamscales knew his worth. He was a wyrm, a wingless dragon, descended from a Yazi. He was a class of daemon that stood heads and shoulders above others. He was born with an innate metal attribute, scales stronger than actual steel, claws, teeth and essence too powerful for many to resist.
He was wealthy beyond compare, lord of an idyllic little vale that was his and his alone. To add to this, he was not far from becoming a Profound Daemon. That was what the other room was for. Once he made that final breakthrough he would have his choice of mates as well as the land and space to raise his own clutch.
Sadly, Gleamscales was too ambitious. He had everything he needed but he still wanted more. Not content with merely breaking through to the Profound tier he decided to try for a daemonic metamorphosis.
This was a special ability unique to daemons. Humans had their special cultivation methods that could make them more powerful but daemons primarily relied on themselves and their bloodlines for most of their power.
However, besides rising through the tiers they could also attempt to directly raise their class and innate abilities using this dangerous method. By forcefully upgrading their blood and essence they could become a higher class of daemon. This was what Gleamscales intended to do.
He gathered the necessary requirements; the cores of other metal attributed dragons and daemons, piles of high-grade mystic herbs, essence stones and essence imbued minerals.
Had he succeeded he would at the very least become a much more powerful daemon and there was the possibility that he could become more like his Yazi ancestor. His cultivation tier might not rise but his innate abilities would soar.
Dragons were already more powerful than other daemons and humans in their tier. In becoming a higher class of dragon he would increase this factor of strength by many times. Unfortunately, he failed. In spite of all his preparations and efforts, his body was unable to handle the influx of energy and his own essence didn’t adapt to the change.
Gleamscales was forced to experience first-hand what it was like to have one’s body warp and tear itself apart, and thanks to the true essence wafting around, Valerian could too.
He could feel the dragon’s rage, despair and anguish as its blood boiled. He could feel the mounting fear as the essence it had been gathering begun to rumble in its meridians, ripping them to shreds as it sought to escape.
He felt second-hand the feeling that came when your core shuddered and shook in the face of a storm of essence, nearly cracking in the process. And worst of all, he felt the explosion that followed when it all came to a head.
Gleamscales blood vessels broke and his meridians burst whilst he was still alive and unable to do anything about it. Even when his body rent itself apart and his lifeblood flowed out onto the cave floor Gleamscales did not die immediately. His own vitality and cultivation were too high for that to happen. Alas, that did not stop him from dying in the end.
All he had left was his despair and anger.
‘Why?’ he questioned.
He couldn’t help the anger he felt towards the heavens and their unfairness. This was supposed to be his moment of triumph. He was a dragon. A creature that stood at the apex of daemonkind. This was supposed to be a metamorphosis that would start his personal legend and it was all for naught.
Whilst all this only took place mentally. The experiences that Valerian’s body was going through were not any less significant. He had long since lost feeling and control over his physical form and being embroiled in the dragon’s experiences made it such that he had no presence of mind to tell what was happening.
His eyes were blank and unseeing. His body driven by instinct.
However, Valerian was not the only one in the chamber. The ever faithful and watchful Avery was still there and the transformation taking place was happening before his horrified eyes. He was finding it hard to keep himself from rushing over. Unfortunately, he had already made his choice and his master was now too far gone. Stopping him now would be the opposite of helping. As such, he could only watch.
Before entering the cavern, Valerian was in the meridian opening stage. He had succeeded in opening three of his eight meridians. Yet at this moment he had five open. Right before Avery’s eyes, his qi levels had risen dramatically and as if self-aware forced open two more meridians.
The whole things was shocking and painful to watch. There was no bracing for it. No method to help the process along. Just brute force. Even a normal cultivator would have to space the process out.
Opening the meridians was a risky endeavour if it went wrong they could be damaged and that will greatly affect future cultivation. In addition to this, they needed time to recover before they could be used again. Right after opening they would be sore and tender.
It had taken two years for Valerian to open the three he had. His was more violent and harmful and the time needed to recover was proportionately longer. But he did not have that chance now. His body did not pause. With each opening, it would shudder and then continue with the process.
More and more essence flowed into his body transforming into qi to begin the next attempt. Strangely, he did not scream or cry in pain. Avery had no idea of knowing that Valerian wasn’t present in the mental sense. That his mind was far away.
All Avery could sense were the ever-increasing levels of qi and the numerous breakthroughs that his charge was having. He could only look on as Valerian’s power continued to rise. Eventually, the sixth meridian opened, then the seventh and then finally the eighth.
In front of him, viscous, golden qi begun to rise from Valerian’s body. It formed a haze of energy and power around him. He had broken through to the qi manifestation stage. Qi could finally leave his body and be used for external skills. This seemed to excite him. A golden glimmer could be seen on his body, nourishing his flesh and strengthening it.
Valerian flexed his legs and pulsed his qi, leaping high into the air. Avery watched with astonished eyes as his master landed right next to the dragon but what happened afterwards nearly had his jaw falling so low and hard it would have entrenched itself in the rocky floor.
Valerian’s golden qi covered his hands shaping itself such that they looked large and taloned. Using these enhanced limbs it reached into one of the gashes in the dragon’s flank and tore out a long strip of flesh. Holding the bloody thing in his hands he brought it to his mouth.
Before Avery could come to his senses, He consumed it and then reached out to tear off more.
Daemon meat was a great source of essence. Valerian had been eating it for years. However, he had only been eating the meat of low-level daemons or beasts with daemonic lineages. Even that meat had to be specially prepared before eating.
You couldn’t just go and eat raw daemon meat. It could kill you. Ignoring poisons, parasites and diseases, daemon meat was tough and charged with power. It had to be prepared with herbs and ingredients to lessen its potency and make it more palatable for humans. Also, the more powerful the tier or class of daemon the greater the essence and the danger in its meat.
Dragons being powerful daemons would, of course, be high on the list. And yet his master was busy shoving its flesh into his mouth.
Forget its cultivation, it was a Steel Armoured Wyrm. A daemon known for its defensive abilities, and physical strength. Its flesh should be thick, muscly and tough. Valerian didn’t seem to know that though. He just kept ripping out chunks and eating it with his bare hands.
The effects of that begun to show. The amount of qi in Valerian’s body began to skyrocket even further. Apparently, whatever was going on hadn’t ended. Splattered with bodily fluids, Valerian’s qi pool just continued to expand till the word pool became too inadequate a name. It was a veritable sea of qi. A quick comparison told Avery that it was at least twice his.
Mercifully, it soon reached its limit and stopped growing. However, Valerian kept eating and the vortex around him had not ceased its motion. He continued eating his way into its abdomen, taking in more and more of the dragon’s true essence. The faint haze of qi around his body flicked and began to grow less translucent.
This was a sign that he was now in the qi condensation stage. He was getting ready to form his own core crystal. Once that happened he would be a true tellurian practitioner. Oddly, Avery couldn’t help but have conflicting feelings about what was happening.
He wanted to be happy. Valerian’s progress down the tellurian path had been full of so many troubles. He had suffered ridicule as well as hurt just to get where he was. They had been reliant on his mysterious maternal legacy this whole time and that was not without its costs. From the start, when he noticed Valerian’s qi rising he recognised its work.
That was the only reason he allowed it to continue. But seeing what it was doing to the boy was gut-wrenching. Who knew what issues would come from this? It was always stressed that quick progress was shallow and unsteady. This was so quick it was nearly instant. Still, Valerian’s tellurian skills were always going to be sub-par anyway.
Be that as it may, Avery knew he was trying to allay his own fears. He was deliberately ignoring the fact that his charge had just gone through what was sure to be an extremely painful process. He had just guzzled the equivalent of lamp oil in an attempt to light a twig. The effects it was having on his insides were anyone’s guess.
The boy was in a weird maddened state, splattered with blood and other fluids and still chewing on meat that should kill him. Even so, Avery did not stop him. He doubted he could at this point. All he did was take out every bit of healing, recovery or support artefact and medicine he had on his person and place it within easy reach. He would be ready for anything.
– The Yaxi is one of the nine sons of the great dragon. He is the one depicted on weapons, military banners and pretty much anything to do with war and battles which are his domain. He is also one of the few who actually looks the part of a dragon.