For hours and hours on end, the Imp continued to follow the three things that had captured him, and considering that the Imp was somewhat able to keep its anger under control lately, it was able to properly take a look at what they were doing and what they were like.
After all, they were his enemies, so it was best to know something about them, at least that was the conclusion the Imp came to.
The main things that it noticed were the roles of the different things. First, the black thing, James, usually went on ahead if something seemed off, and usually was the one that tried to distract some of the monsters while Avalin and Thomas took care of the rest.
Avalin herself, for the most part, stayed in the back and shot arrows at the monsters, although she also chose to go into close-combat when necessary sometimes, using a small dagger by her side. She was also using a lot of magic, and sometimes shot fire-arrows at monsters!
And at last, Thomas. He was the one that the Imp deemed most dangerous, albeit least aggressive. While James and Avalin ended up being quite loud pretty often, Thomas just stayed out of everything for the most part and tried to get the others to keep walking instead of yelling at each other. But when monsters entered his sight, he basically changed instantly.
Within a few moments, the monsters in front of him were shredded to pieces with his sword. The Imp didn't even understand why he had that shield beyond hammering onto it to grab the monsters' attention sometimes, because none of them even managed to land a hit on him.
Especially in the fight that the Imp was currently watching, Thomas was once more taking care of most of the monsters, but the Imp himself noticed something that none of the others did, not even James, the lookout.
On one of the trees behind the group, a monster was lying in wait, eyeing Avalin the whole time. It seemed to just ignore the Imp because it had no interest in him, which he was rather glad about. If that MonsterMonster managed to hurt, maybe even kill, any of them, it would make it possible for him to escape a lot earlier than he would have thought!
At least that was in the Imp's mind for a while, until what he had hoped for actually happened. The MonsterMonster jumped off the tree and grabbed onto Avalin's back, and the Imp ended up grinning broadly in response to seeing the red-haired thing flail around so much trying to get it off of her.
Thomas and James were pretty far away, and because the MonsterMonster was holding Avalin's mouth shut with two of its four arms while the others began to scratch at her neck, neither of them noticed that anything was even going on.
But then, something that immediately changed the Imp's mind happened. A red box appeared in front of him.
[Your Owner is currently taking damage. If your Owner dies, so will you]
The Imp was smart, maybe not as smart as it thought it was just yesterday, but it was smart enough to figure out that red boxes were the worst of them all. The blue ones seemed to actually help him, so maybe they weren't all bad, but the red boxes only appeared when something really, really bad was happening.
And the moment that the Imp saw the color of the box, his body was filled with fear, a fear that he had never felt before. A fear that he didn't want to feel, but had to due to being captured by Avalin.
The Imp actually felt scared for something else's sake. It was for something that the Imp hated from the deepest pore of his body, but it was fear nonetheless. He was probably feeling it because it also influenced him, but for some reason, this felt different. For just a split moment, it felt as if the Imp didn't hate Avalin all that much, because he knew what she was feeling right now. And then a few new boxes appeared, and the Imp ended up just sprinting forward.
[You have felt Empathy for the first time!]
[Intelligence 1][Wisdom 1][Willpower 1][Perception 1]
As fast as he could, with all the speed that he had gained while running from the boxes before, the Imp now chose to engage something instead of running away from it, despite being utterly terrified. For some reason, it just wanted to continue on forward.
[You fought against fear. Willpower 1]
Avalin seemed to have tried to grab the small blade from her side to fight the MonsterMonster off, but it had slammed it out of her hand, making the dagger lay in the Imp's path. It wasn't exactly sure how to use it, but it had watched Avalin do so a few times, and even then, instinct may be enough to let the Imp push through.
It grabbed the dagger at the not-sharp part, and without thinking about it, just pushed it against the Monster's back as hard as it could. But just then, it realized that it had never gained strength before.
[Bug-Ape, -1 Health]
[You have dealt damage for the first time! Strength Stat unlocked!]
[Beginner Dagger Mastery Skill Learned]
Immediately after the Imp hit the dagger against the Monster's back, the MonsterMonster turned its head around and began to screech. Of course that pulled James' and Thomas' attention, but at that point, Avalin was able to use the distraction that the Imp caused to overwhelm the MonsterMonster and then threw it to the ground, before pulling on the Imp's hand, which was still holding the dagger, and made him stab the dagger through the Monster's chest.
[Bug-Ape, -298 Health]
[You have dealt damage improbable for your strength. Strength 3]
[Beginner Dagger Mastery Leveled up!]
[Beginner Dagger Mastery Leveled up!]
[Beginner Dagger Mastery Leveled up!]
Confused and surprised, the Imp stepped backward and let go of the dagger, letting Avalin grab it instead before she swiftly continued stabbing the MonsterMonster repeatedly before it completely stopped moving.
And then, all of a sudden, more boxes appeared in front of the Imp.
[You leveled up!]
[You leveled up!]
[You leveled up!]
After the notifications stopped appearing, there seemed to be about as many as the Imp had fingers, another last one appeared.
[You have 9 unused Stat Points Available]
Annoyed, the Imp waved his hands around to make the notifications disappear, because it was more worried about something else at the moment. And the thing that the Imp was worrying about took the shape of James, currently running at the Imp before kicking it into the stomach, pushing it a few meters away.
[Warning, you are low on Health]
[You took a high-damage attack. Resistance 1]
"Avalin! Did this **er try to hurt you!" James yelled out as he looked over at Avalin, but the young woman held her throat and shook her head immediately, while the Imp just held its hand to its stomach.
"...N-No... It... Helped..!" She responded in a painful voice, and James began to grind his teeth as he looked at the Imp with a short sword pointed at it. "It was holding a dagger toward you. Of course, it was trying to hurt you!" He exclaimed, and the Imp's vision slowly turned darker as he noticed that Avalin was drinking some red liquid before the blood from her throat stopped flowing.
For some reason, the Imp somehow felt relieved after seeing this. Another emotion that he had never felt before, which filled him with utter discontent. But after Avalin twisted her face and held her hand against her mouth for a few moments, seemingly trying to hold something back out of disgust, she slowly stood up and walked over toward James and held her hand up.
"I... Said that it helped...!" Avalin told James, and before the latter managed to get a word in, she continued, "It tried to stab the Bug-Ape! It wasn't trying to hurt me, really!" She yelled at James, who simply clicked his tongue and turned around while putting his sword back into its sheath before Avalin herself kneeled down and took a look at the Imp.
"Are you okay Do you need a potion as well" She asked, holding forward a bottle with the red liquid she gulped down before, although the Imp just tilted his head to the side while trying to sniff the bottle suspiciously.
"It's a Potion. Poh-Shen." Avalin explained, first trying to get the Imp to know the word, so that it wasn't a complete 'Unknown' to him, and soon he tried to repeat what she said. After all, he already managed to learn whenever she wanted him to repeat something, and his mouth was used to making sounds like that a little!
"Potion..." The Imp exclaimed smugly, and Avalin nodded her head with a smile. "Yup, exactly! A Potion. If you get hurt and bleed, it makes you feel better again." Avalin explained, pointing at the blood still on her throat before smiling brightly.
"Better!" Once more, the Imp repeated a word it heard while pointing at the bottle, and Avalin nodded once more.
"Mhm, good. Well, you seem to be healthy enough." The red thing said with a sigh before rubbing her hand over the front of her neck a few more times and then turned over toward the other things. "There was another small river near here, right I'd like to wash this off, if possible." Avalin explained as she turned toward Thomas, who just replied with a shrug.
"I think so. Let's just keep going for a while, and if we don't find anything, we'll try to figure out something else." He replied before Thomas looked over toward James, who seemed to be fiddling around with the monsters that they were fighting before. "Did you find any" He asked, but James just shook his head before rubbing the blood off his hands with a towel.
"Tough luck again. But really, the monsters in the area are mostly really weak... The most extraordinary one we found is the one that's currently stuffing a Bug-Ape's foot in its mouth, and it's only level..." James started as he looked over at the Imp, who was trying to have a nice little meal.
"Actually... What is its level" James asked as he stepped forward toward the other things, and the three of them looked at each other for a moment before both James and Thomas turned exclusively to Avalin.
"You didn't check yet" Thomas inquired, but Avalin just kept trying to get some more of the blood off her throat while shaking her head. "Nope. As I said, it's not taming. Taming would let me check its stats, level, skills, and so on, but the Ownership basically just makes it so that it has to follow our commands and can't attack us. And my Beginner Inspection doesn't let me see beyond its race." She explained, so Thomas began to scratch his cheek for a little while, before opening his eyes wide in realization of something important.
"Wait, you started teaching it how to speak, right Can you teach it how to read and write as well If you can make it write down its Status for us, we won't need to Inspect it." Thomas suggested, and Avalin shook her head with a sigh.
"Beginner Language Comprehension doesn't support reading and writing, that comes at Apprentice, and it obviously only has the Beginner one. I mean, it's not impossible to learn it without the skill support, and it might actually be easier than I think because of the Skill Boost, but... It's going to take a while. I'll try my best, though." She replied, but James just sighed lightly.
"Do we really need to teach that all to an Imp We're selling it in a few days anyway." The black thing complained, but Thomas lightly hit his shoulder with a smirk. "That's exactly why. The higher its stats and skills are while it stays an Imp, the more it's going to be worth. It probably got a little bit of experience just now because it hit the Bug-Ape, but it shouldn't have been enough to get it to evolve." He pointed out before pointing at the Imp himself.
"Just think about it... We managed to confirm it's a 'Lesser Imp'. A Lesser. Imp. They're classified as High Peasant Monsters at most, dude. What do you think a Peasant Monster with the intelligence of a High Commoner, or even a low Noble would be worth" Thomas explained with a smirk on his face, and James could only follow in part.
"A **ton" The black thing asked, and the blue thing nodded its head. "A **ton.." It replied, and even though the Imp wasn't sure what was going on, he knew that something was off, considering the happy grin of the two dumb things compared to the sad expression of the nice thing.