“How will these potions change everything?” I asked cautiously as I continued to finger the potion in my hands.
“You said it yourself,” Mary replied. “There are not enough people to feed on. There is a reason we live out here, in the far north. We face harsh winters and sparse summers, sitting in a no man’s land bordered between the humans and demons. We can only take those that are near death, feed for a few years, and then remove the evidence. Our population is small, there are only 63 of us at the moment.”
“S-sixty!” I voiced the words out in surprise. “That’s all?”
Given the amount of fear that humans displayed when writing about Succubi, I had assumed they were a strong presence, but they were basically an endangered species. Upon reflection, the small raggedy village couldn’t possibly support much more than a five or six dozen anyway. A part of me had thought it was an outer town, with the inner city hidden from view. Now, I suspected that what I had just seen made up the majority of what the Succubi… no, the Cambions were made of.
Mary nodded sadly. “Our ways are often feared and hated, even by the demons. Especially by the demons… Whenever we’ve attempted to expand our borders, we get attacked. If the population exceeds a few hundred, a force comes in and exterminates us. Only a few dozen survive each time, allowing us to rebuild. The last extermination was only three years ago.”
“I… don’t know what to say…”
“It’s the people. The larger the population, the more food we need. Once we start taking people, we draw the notice of the humans or the demons. As is, we can live off of scraps and they ignore us. We can never grow a large enough population to protect ourselves because our growth always comes at a cost. The cost of living.”
“Life… in a bottle.” I read the description one more time.
“That source of life, the humans and demons would never be able to predict it. We could grow while hiding our numbers. Cambions breed quickly, within a decade we could have a population large enough where we’d be able to defend ourselves.”
“Just ten years!” I respond in surprise.
“Don’t worry, my dear, when the population reaches that point, we’ll no longer need to depend on your potions. We could conquer entire cities. Perhaps create feeding farms. We could sustain ourselves and repel enemy armies. With your help, the Cambion race can become a dominant species in this world once again.”
After Mary’s passionate speech, I found myself a bit speechless. This was no small thing they were asking for. They were asking me to betray the entire human race. There might have been a time where this would have caused me great concern. However, that was before seeing what the humanity of this world offered. Rapists, perverts, monsters, and mobs have all given me a jaded view of what humanity brought to this world. I felt more sympathy for the suppressed Cambions. Why did they have less of a reason to exist than humans or demons? The decision turned out to not be that difficult, but I was still curious as to why Mary would be so frank with me.
“I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised you’re willing to tell me all this,” I speak slowly and deliberately.
“Dishonesty would only cause trouble down the road. Given the reputation of Cambions, we’ve found humans already struggle to trust anything we say. As a result, we tend to lean on truth by nature.” Mary explained. “Of course, I’m also looking for your reaction. If you looked at my words with hatred and disgust, I would know my answer.”
With my abilities, she likely couldn’t read any of my facial expressions unless Cambions had some supernatural ability beyond my own. I did pick up on the subtle unsaid threat behind her words. I was in a position where I could join the Cambions and help, or be made to help. Even if they couldn’t make me create potions, I could still function as a battery. Of course, she didn’t have to worry that much.
I merely nodded. “I’ll need human semen. A lot of it.”
Mary seemed to break into a relieved smile, and it was only at that point that I realized she had been stressed in anticipation for my answer. I supposed it really would be better for the Cambions if I followed their desires.
“That can be arranged with ease.”
“I’d like other things as well. Many ingredients. Anything you can get. I’d like semen from demons, demi-humans, monsters, even the incubus.”
Mary wore a concentrated expression as she nodded. “I will see what I can do. Can you make a list?”
I gave her a nod and to my surprise, a person, an attractive man I had yet to meet, brought in the paper and pen in an instant as if they had been waiting for this. I immediately started writing down the list, making sure to mark essential ingredients, but also including ingredients I had only heard of and was interested in playing around with. As Reinhart learned alchemy on the Demon continent, he was used to ingredients other than those he used on the human continent. As a result, I had a broad range of understanding on various ingredients from both continents, but there were many I’d never personally seen or used from the demon continent which Reinhart often complained were superior in certain recipes.
Once the equipment and ingredients I could think of were written down, Mary took the sheet and left the tent. In an instant, I was alone. There were two men at the entrance flaps into this somewhat hot tent, so I was still under guard. However, things seemed to have gone better than I possibly could have imagined.
It took asking the men waiting outside before realizing that this tent Mary had taken me to wasn’t intended simply as a place to expose my skills, but would be my living quarters for the immediate future. Behind the small table that held the chemistry supplies was a small roll of furs that likely functioned as bedding. Considering the prison cells actually had a makeshift bed, this actually felt a bit like a downgrade to me.
I dropped down on the bedding anyway and gave a sigh as I stared up at the canvas overhead. The Cambions would be my new home. Perhaps, if I put work into them, my lifestyle could improve as well. Working on chemistry, being safe, food, shelter… these are the things I wanted, right?
Yet, a part of me felt like I was quitting. It was the part of me I had been refusing to listen to for the last few weeks. It was the part of me that Min had put herself inside and it was the part I tried to cut out. I wasn’t fit for being a hero. However, was I any more fit for being some kind of village person? This world had so many game mechanics, you might as well call me an NPC now. Being transferred to another world, only to settle in someplace, this felt fundamentally wrong to me, like I was skipping out on some kind of destiny.
I growled, running my hands through my hair until they fell and hit the bedding with a quiet thud. “I can do this.”
It wasn’t exactly sure what I was telling myself I could do. Have the strength to stay put? To not fuck this up? To lay low?
Perhaps, if I called on Jenai, she could be someone to talk to. For that matter, I wasn’t really sure how good of a state Jenai was in since she had been forcefully dispelled last time. I had kept myself from summoning her because it felt like my trump card while in prison. Even now, I feared that once I used her, I’d be giving up something to the Cambions. With the two standing guard, I saw no way now of conjuring her without revealing her presence, so I staved my hand once again.
That’s when another woman’s face flashed in my mind. That’s right. Min was dead. Min was dead and it was the fault of this colony. Could I just let it go? Could I pretend they didn’t do that and just move on with my life? However, I didn’t know for certain. I didn’t know the truth of it.
You can’t let go if you don’t know for certain.
That was the reasoning that my mind came up with at that moment. It didn’t specifically matter if Min was dead or not. That sounded cruel, and it wasn’t as if I didn’t care if Min was alive or dead. I might feel contentment if she was alive and unhappiness if she was dead. Rather, what I meant was that my future was going to move on without her either way. Unfortunately, before I could move on with this new path, what I needed was closure.
The funny thing was that getting closure was easy. Earlier, I had forced it aside to worry more about my own safety and escape. However, I still had the Stalker ability, and could have easily answered the question that plagued my mind at any second. I really shouldn’t be delaying things out any longer. Therefore, I closed my eyes and activated my abilities.
After a few brief moments, I shut the ability off again. I bite my lip hard for a moment as a single tear ran down my face. Then, I removed Min from the target for my Fuck Buddy skill. While I was at it, I set Beautification to Cambion. I had my answer. It was time to move on.