Dungeon Diver: Stealing A Monster's Power - C.275


My eyes dart around the small room looking for any possible ways to break free, or even narrow down where I've been taken.

Nothing appears after minutes of searching. I'm really just stuck in a bland empty room.

One thing I know for sure, once I get out here I'm not going back to the Association with open arms. This is all their fault. Withholding information and giving constant orders for worthless store credits was what I needed to do to get access to more powerful dungeons and learn more about the world.

Now, getting involved with these organizations has proven to be much more trouble than good.

I've grown exponentially, have teleportation access to the Vice City labyrinth, and wield more than enough skills to blend in wherever I need to.

Whether it's finding a home in Solara, or venturing out to one of the other regions other than Vice, they all seem much more pleasing than working like a blind slave moving forward.

I take in a deep breath and talk to myself again.

"No more following orders... and no more helping the weak... someone always takes advantage of my kindness."

Sometimes I forget why I started all of this.

I just wanted to get stronger and have fun doing it. This isn't to help people, I'm here to help myself. I only got involved with the Association because I had to. Look what that's led me to. Handcuffed in the basement of some rival organization's lair.

Or even worse, this could be the Association's doing. There's definitely of chance I was betrayed by that grey-haired regional director.

Whatever the truth is, I'll figure it out in time. Now, all signs point to getting the hell out of here and not looking back.

"But how...?"

Sitting in silence, I try to activate my magic again. I scroll down every skill on my list and not a single one activates. Each time I try, not even a hint of magic is produced. My natural mana stores have been drained to 0 and these cuffs are blocking off any ability to wield or gather in more from around me.

It feels like an invisible veil has been cast over my skin, blocking me from sensing or using mana.

"Breaking out with magic is not going to be an easy option..."

Next on my possibilities list is just sitting here and taking the beating for 14 days until my real body heals itself and wakes up. That woman says she'll kill me if I don't cooperate, but she wouldn't have gone through all this trouble to keep me alive and give me time to think if that was the case.

Little does she know, killing me is my most sought-after option. I shrug.

"I guess I'll wait."

That's exactly what I do.

An hour passes, and nothing happens at all. The room stays silent, and my mind keeps wandering to try and piece together where that woman could possibly be from.

None of the clues given so far make any sense, and thinking about it more is just making my head hurt.

Another hour goes by.

The pain from the knives in my hands hurts, but the fact that this flesh is a meaningless clone mentally dulls the pain.

Two more long hours slowly pass.

Footsteps come by my door, but trail away as fast as they came, leaving me in silence again.

"Looks like she really meant it. I'll be alone here for quite a while."

I'll have to do something productive to pass my time. There must be something I can work on that won't waste these 14 days of waiting. I let out a sigh.

"There's only one skill I haven't tried yet."

The reasoning behind this is that it backfired horribly the last time I tried.

Demonic Energy Manipulation.

There isn't a drop of magic running through my veins, so if there was ever a time to practice, it'd be now...

I take a deep breath and then activate the skill. Instantly my vision goes black and white, just like it did back in the Boss Room. Back then, I could see and sense particles of black energy floating around the air very clearly. Now, I don't sense any at all.

The only things perceivable to me while using this skill are my two Demon's Cores, and the thin pathways leading from my fingertips through my arms and to my chest. The same paths leave my chest and are used to distribute this energy to my brain, back to my arms, and down my legs.

These are the same pathways used for mana manipulation, but I don't often think about it much. Wielding magic is easier to use instinctually than focusing on the exact position of the individual particles.

Maybe learning how these pathways work would help me improve in the future.

"Or right now..."

I get the faint sensation of Demonic Energy far up above me. It's difficult to picture the exact distance, but it seems to be over 500 meters away up and to my left side.

It's the only hint of energy I can sense, so I latch onto it and pull it closer.

At first, my weak pull hardly moves it, but the closer it gets the faster I'm able to reel it in. The tiny wisp of black energy is minuscule compared to the amount I was wielding in the boss room. It'd take a few thousand of these strands to stack up to that energy I was handling earlier.

It makes sense. I'm not even in a dungeon. There's hardly any natural mana out in the real world, so I'm lucky to have found any Demonic Energy at all.

Its origins and exact properties are still a mystery to me, but I assume this must be some residue from the collapse. Or possibly just natural demonic energy floating in the world.

Either way, I'll absorb it soon.

It takes nearly 5 minutes, but the small black cloud of twisting matter finally enters the room. It slides through the ceiling without any resistance and seeps right into my fingertips.

I grit my teeth as it feels exactly the same as it did before. The sensation of boiling water makes its way through my veins and slowly flows toward my cores. The last time I tried this, I only had one core, the Greater Demons. This time, I have two.

Although they're technically imitations, they work exactly as they should. The larger Arch Demon's core takes dominance and filters the dark-colored energy. The moment it hits the small black orb in my chest, the cool feeling of fresh natural flowing water pours out the other side.

It starts to spread all throughout my body and I stop to think.

There are still small amounts of residue from the hot raw energy creeping toward the core. The bulk of it is cool and flows easily. The refined energy is much easier to control, It's also what I used to attack the Demon.

If I were to expel this now, the trace amounts of hotter raw residue would definitely still be in my wrists and arms leading up to my chest.

A grin of satisfaction and realization crosses my mind...

If I were to activate my magic in those same pathways while the residue is still present it would create the same chain reaction I witnessed earlier.

"It all makes sense now..."

I focus on the tiny remaining wisps of black energy to filter through my core. Within a few seconds, just over 90% of it is gone.

After a few more minutes, I've squeezed almost every last bit through.

It takes 20 full minutes to double and triple-check that every last particle has made its way through. Now, the only energy that remains in my pathways is the cool and refined version.

I think to myself again.

This energy reacted even more extreme when it hit the Demon's shielding. If my thoughts are correct, having any amount of even this refined Demonic Energy in my system when switching back to magic triggers the reaction.

I decide to release an attack.

Staring forward, I point my right index finger up in the air and let all of the power flow toward it.

Instantly, a thin line of black light flows out and shoots up about a meter into the air. Moments after it leaves my hand, it disperses and loses its tight thin shape then falls to make a miniature puddle on the silver table top in front of me. It swirls around like heavy air.

It wasn't much, and it all happened so fast.

There's no magic for it to react to, so it just sits there for a moment, not doing anything.

I stare forward at the tiny thin palm-sized puddle of spinning black energy.

The puddle starts to shrink.

It begins to evaporate.

I watch with eyes wide open in awe for a moment, then try to pull it back in toward my fingertips again with my manipulation skill/

It doesn't budge.

"So interesting..."

There's still about 10% of the refined residue still flowing around in my pathways. After careful manipulation, referencing the ways I tried to move the raw energy around, releasing the last bits of refined energy through my fingertips only takes a few minutes.

By the time every last drop is released, it all dissolves into thin air.

"I did it."

Ember said it would take extensive training to properly wield Demonic Energy and filter it through a core. He's right, but I have a loophole that will make it much easier. I'll master this new skill.

These magic-dampening cuffs are a blessing in disguise. They may seem like an effective way to trap an elite-level hunter in normal human restraints, but in reality, whoever put me here has given me a perfect training ground to perfect my Demonic Energy Manipulation.

I focus on my surroundings and search for more. Using this skill actually causes me quite a bit of fatigue, but it's combined with the fact that I'm locked to a table in a dark room without food or water.

At this rate, I'm sure I'll be fine for a few more hours of training this new skill.

A few hours pass.

I'm able to find 3 more similar-sided clouds of Demonic Energy all hovering around the same general area. Just over 500 meters away. I've come to the conclusion that I'm about 100 meters underground, and a source just under half a kilometer away leaks out a small amount of energy every 60 to 90 minutes.

I still can't tell what the source is, or why it's only coming from one direction, but that doesn't matter much to me. π˜§π“‡π˜¦π˜¦π”€β„―π˜£π“ƒπ“Έπ“Ώβ„―π˜­.𝑐𝓸𝓂

All that does is I'm now able to filter through all of the raw energy in just 10 minutes and expel pure demonic energy up to about 95% on the first try. Slowly dripping the rest from my fingertips takes under 2 minutes in total on the last attempt.

This is a huge improvement from my first, but there's still a lot of work to do.

Unfortunately, I'm exhausted after a long day of training.

I deactivate my skill and rest my head on the cold hard table between my handcuffed arms.

My stomach growls and my lips are dry, but that doesn't stop me from falling asleep just minutes later.

Everything goes dark.

Time passes.

I'm not sure how many hours exactly, but it feels like almost half a day goes by before the loud sound of banging on a metal door wakes me up.

It's followed by a familiar blond woman's voice.

"Rise and shine Demon Boy! Let's see if you feel like talking today."