Chapter 31 - Alone

At some point, although the Imp didn't really know how long it's been since then, the Imp woke back up with pain all over his body.

He pushed himself off of the floor of the carriage as it was rumbling around. The Imp's mind was incredibly hazy, he just wasn't sure what happened yesterday. He could barely remember what happened after he started feeling all of that pain, but he didn't remember any of what happened after the pain stopped no matter how hard he tried to remember.

As the Imp was pulling himself up on one of the boxes standing against the wall of the carriage, he noticed that they were a bit smaller than he remembered. Not by much, but he was sure he wasn't able to look on top of them just yesterday, and now he was able to see it without an issue.

But the thing that annoyed the Imp the most was that his head felt incredibly heavy and was hurting far too much right now, and when he thought about that, he remembered being hit by that green monster yesterday. Trying to see if that wound was alright at this point, the Imp raised his hand to the top of his head, although there was something else that troubled the Imp far more now.

There was a small, hard growth on his forehead, two of them actually! They weren't there before, so of course the Imp was pretty worried about it and tried to find something to take a look at himself, although he noticed another thing then.

His hands were a little different. The Imp's skin was the same red that it was before, even if it seemed a bit smoother and definitely not as crumbly and dry as it was before, but the thing that worried the Imp was that he basically didn't have proper claws anymore now!

He knew that they were never as awesome as his brothers', but that didn't mean that he had to have them taken away from him! The Imp still had slight claws, but they really weren't anything much to speak of... For the most part, his hands now seemed like a person's instead of a Monster's, ignoring the color.

"Hmm...?" A quiet voice muttered out from behind the Imp, and when he turned around, he recognized itssource to be Clementine, the young yellow haired girl, and next to her was Rudy, still sleeping. Quickly, she hit the wall behind her a few times, "Arc! He woke up!" She exclaimed, and nearly immediately, the carriage seemed to come to a stop before two people jumped off the front of it and ran over toward the door to open it up, revealing a bright glimmer of sunlight coming from a red and orange sky.

In the doorway stood Arc and Sammy, the latter holding the male tiny child Leon in her arms. The basket with the Imp's tiny child was here in the carriage as well, he already made sure of that, but before he could even react at all and ask about what was going on, Arc already began to smile brightly.

"Mister Imp!" Arc said happily and waved his hand to signal the Imp to step outside, which he swiftly did with shaky legs after grabbing the basket standing next to him.

"Wow, you look really different now..." Sammy said with a slight frown, seemingly still pretty hesitant about the Imp, but overall a lot more open to the idea of having him around.

The Imp was pretty confused at what she meant, although he immediately remembered when he finally noticed the notification floating in the corner of his sight.

[Congratulations! You Evolved and became a Unique Species! You are now a Scholar Imp!]

With a slight frown, the Imp looked at the notification and then turned toward Arc and Sammy to ask them about it. "What is... a Scholar..?" The Imp asked them, before Arc raised his eyebrows in pleasant surprise.

"You're not speaking in such a broken way anymore either!" He exclaimed, before actually thinking about the Imp's question, "Erm, a Scholar is like a... researcher or something. Just someone super smart."

Slowly, the Imp turned to stare at the notification and then back at the children in front of him, while the two who were still in the carriage, Clementine and Rudy, stepped outside to them as well.

"I... Evolved. I now am... a Scholar... Imp." The Monster explained, his voice a lot clearer than it was before, as if he was actually supposed to be able to speak now. It was pretty hard to get used to this new feeling in his throat, but other than that, the Imp didn't mind the way it was right now at all. But he was still confused about all that happened, so Arc, the smartest and most mature of the children here, once more took the initiative to speak.

"So that's an evolution, huh...? The biggest change are those horns though, right?" Arc asked as he turned toward the other children, and Clementine nodded her head with a pout. "Mhm, and even though he seemed to be in pain when they were growing, I wasn't even able to eat it..." She huffed, before Rudy looked at her with a wry smile and shook his head.

"I think it's better that way, you probably would have grown horns as well." The boy replied, and the Imp looked at him as he was speaking before looking around at the other children.

He remembered now, it was the same yesterday. This weird feeling that he had then, even if he couldn't explain it, he felt like he wanted these children to be alright no matter what. The Imp was aware that he was a lot smarter right now all of a sudden, so he could also see that there were apparently different reasons for that, although he only had a rough idea about just one of them.

There was a lot that the Imp didn't know yet, so he would surely be able to find those reasons out if he properly spoke to them. But once more, first he wanted to know what exactly happened.

"Before... I fell asleep... What happened?" The Imp asked the boy in front of him, the only one that was with him at the time, and Arc just interlocked his fingers behind his back and began to explain.

"Well, you were doing that thing yesterday, where you seemed like you wanted to breath out so strongly again, but then you suddenly reacted weirdly and hunched over before jumping off the carriage. When you came back, you were covered in blood, reeked like a pig, and were injured... We brought you into the carriage-"

"I brought you into the carriage." Rudy interrupted with a smile, and Arc just chuckled at him and nodded his head, "Yes, Rudy brought you into the carriage. Even if he can't damage anyone, he's actually pretty strong, you know? Anyway, we brought you into the carriage, washed your cloak, and then... kept moving. Without you or the repellant, we had to make sure not to be found by monsters somehow." Arc explained to the Imp, and he slowly nodded his head before looking at the sleeping child in the basket next to him.

"Who... Cared for... it?" The Imp asked them all, and Sammy slowly spoke up. "I did... She wasn't that much trouble though, at least compared to Leon..." She explained, before the Imp nodded his head, still staring down at the child in the basket.

"Thank... you. I need to... bring the child... away." He said, truly grateful that she made sure nothing happened to it. No matter how much he changed, he still had the urge to bring it, far away.

The Imp wasn't sure if it was because of the fear that he felt just thinking about not doing so, but while he was worried for this child for every moment of his thoughts, he felt more comfortable with the idea of staying with these five other children than her, <The Fool>. The Imp just felt colder toward her, even if he didn't necessarily feel all that warm toward these children either.

But soon, Sammy frowned in response to what the Imp told them, rather angrily, "What do you mean you need to bring her away?" She asked, and the Imp slowly turned in the direction that he felt like he was being pulled and extended his hand forward.

"The child... needs to be... there. The child is... the Fool. I was... commanded to by... the King." The young monster explained, even if he didn't really understand the situation himself.

"So you just want to abandon her and bring her to some random king?" Sammy asked angrily for some reason, and the Imp turned back toward her slightly startled at her loud voice, before he nodded his head.

"Yes." He replied quite simply, but instead of continuing this conversation, he had something else to ask. "Why do you... Not run?" The Imp asked the children, remembering back to when hundreds and hundreds of people ran away from a monster. And even the first time they met, Arc dropped to the ground out of fear, letting the Imp unlock his useless 'Charisma' stat.

Slowly, the three children beside Arc looked at each other with unknowing gazes. It seemed like they weren't exactly against being around the Imp, but in the end just went along with what their 'Leader' did. And exactly that leader had a relatively simple reason.

"Because I'm not scared of you anymore." With a clear gaze and a slight smirk, the young boy, who was as tall as the Imp now was, explained, before continuing, "At least not constantly. Without the fear that regular people have of monsters, I can look at you rationally without anything talking to me in the back of my mind. You don't seem to want to hurt us, so I don't mind being around you personally." Arc told him, before the Imp slowly nodded his head.

Even if the other children weren't necessarily happy with Arc's answer, for the Imp it was enough. Staying somewhere where you're safe at least for now always made more sense than going somewhere your life is in Danger. And from the way that Arc was speaking sometimes before, that's what it seemed like was going on, at the very least.

"But now..." Arc started, and the Imp was pulled out of his thoughts again, "Why aren't you killing us? You're a monster, aren't you?" He asked, and for some reason, a slight shudder ran over the Imp's back while the young boy was speaking.

But without hesitation, the Imp nodded his head. "I am... a Monster. I do not... mind killing... anything. As long as they... are dangerous. You are not... dangerous." The Imp replied, and slowly held his hand to his chest where the weird marking still seemed to be, while trying to think about his reasons.

"And... You are... 'Broken'... You are not... normal. You are... anomalies... right?" The young Monster asked them, thinking back at what Avalin so happily told the others about back then when she realized that the Imp was different.

"I am... an anomaly... too... I am Broken. And I... don't like being... alone." The young Monster admitted, and just thought about it for a moment. There were four times in his life that the Monster remembered being alone.

Ever since he was born, he was together with the horde, made up of hundreds or even thousands of monsters, so he was never alone until he was looking for his brothers in the forest, running away from his notifications, before he was found by Avalin, Thomas and James.

Then, after Avalin was eaten by Zaragon, while the world became hazy around the Imp and everything just seemed so distant from him as he was running away from the most fearsome monstrosity he ever actually laid his eyes on, before he found the child in the basket currently next to him.

The third time was when the Imp was attacked by that man, Gard, and had to run away in fear of dying. He felt like he met someone in the water he dropped into, but he really couldn't be sure. But when he returned, he once more found the child in the basket.

And the fourth time was when the Imp was overcome with pure pain all over his body, and once more ran around the area for fear of his life.

Every time the Imp was in a bad situation, he was in fear, in a situation that scared the living crap out of him. Each and every time, the Imp wanted to get away.. So, he would much rather spend time with a bunch of people like them who treated him not too differently to how Avalin treated him than be alone again.

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