Anthony has been reborn! Placed into the remarkable game-like world of Pangera. However, something seems a little off. What's with these skills? Bite? Dig? Wait.... I've been reborn as a WHAT?! Follow Anthony as he attempts to adjust to his new life, to survive and grow in his new Dungeon home!

RinoZ · Fantasy
Not enough ratings
1239 Chs

Chapter 1138 - Worm Dreams

Granin paced up and down in his chambers, mind buzzing. He'd thought that after centuries of living, nothing would surprise him anymore, yet here he was. Something glinted in the corner of his eye, and he caught himself in the mirror.

His second skin was as rough as ever, granite, plain and solid, covering his huge frame as it always had, though he thought he may have detected some crumbling in places. A closer inspection confirmed it was all in his mind.

"Not that old yet," he rumbled to himself.

At least he hadn't completely lost the vibrancy of youth. As he took in his own expression, he couldn't deny the glittering excitement in his eyes. An Ancient in the making, his latest prospect, Anthony, had proven to be so much greater than he had believed possible. Despite being so against it himself, Anthony radiated with power and potential, and he would only get stronger from here on out.

His ant species had been such a detriment to him as he'd started, but now it was proving to be a powerful boost. The first tier seven ant in the history of the Dungeon was unimaginably more powerful than he'd thought possible. What about the first tier eight ant? Or tier nine?

Now that Anthony had completed his three part evolution, what would come to him next? Perhaps the Vestibule-Nave-Altar trio would be built on even more, further enhancing the Will he was able to draw from the Colony and how he could spend it? Or something else entirely?

The Gravity Mana that Anthony could control was incredibly deadly, though somewhat cumbersome. Perhaps his next evolution would lead him down that path, improving the mastery he had over that one, strange branch of mana.

Without realising it, Granin had begun to pace in his room, his stony brow furrowed. It wasn't all smooth sailing for the proto-Ancient. His Skills were lacking, for one thing. Generally speaking, the accepted progression rate for Skills was for them to keep pace with evolution tier. That wasn't obtainable for all Skills, of course, not for young monsters, anyway, so at the least a few core abilities should raise their ranks in pace with evolutions. Anthony didn't reach that benchmark, not even close. He had so many Skills that needed to be raised, since he'd made himself such a generalist, that it was impossible to bring up everything he had to work on.

Perhaps Granin should work on a priority list for the big ant? Anthony would hate that sort of meddling. In fact, he seemed to hate organisation of any sort, but it may still be worth it. Gravity Mana specialisation was the most important by far, followed by Void Chomp and perhaps Dash. At least the Altar compensated by boosting the power of Skills, but if the effect only brought Anthony up to where he should be, it wasn't working at its full potential. The sooner he had rank seven Skills and the ability to demonstrate the power of a rank eight, the better.

The golgari caught himself and chuckled wryly. If he kept pacing like this, he was going to wear a hole in the carpet, which would have been a shame. Intricately woven and embroidered, it was a work of art that he was trampling over with his stone covered feet. In fact, wasn't that Anthony woven into the corners?

Obsessing over every little thing wouldn't help, and if kept it up, he'd make a bad example for Torrina and Corun. The two of them had been frothing at the mouth since their last talk with Anthony, working themselves to death poring over documents and workshopping ideas. At least a little of that manic energy had come from Granin, he knew that, but being as close as they were to witnessing the birth of the 20th Ancient, who could blame them?

Feeling a yawn build in the back of his throat, he let it take over, opening his mouth wide and stretching. The rock coating his lower back ground and cracked, causing him to wince. Sleep beckoned, and he decided to go to bed. The Colony was right about a lot of things, and not working without proper sleep was a good one. If he turned up to the meeting in the morning refreshed and alert, he could scold his two apprentices for pushing themselves too hard with proper authority.

Once again, he had to thank the Colony for their dedication to hospitality. True golgari beds weren't easy to find outside of the Empire of Stone, given the size and weight of his stone-covered people. He eased back into the soft mattress with a sigh. Trying to push the buzzing thoughts of Ancients and ants to the back of his mind, Granin grew drowsy and eventually slipped into sleep.

Then he began to dream.

At some point, as his consciousness swam and blurred through the disjointed imagery of his sleeping mind, Granin found himself in a pitch black room. Although, was it completely black? Overhead, there was a subtle light, a deep brown, like rich soil, it glowed ever so faintly, just enough that he could see his hands in front of his face.

He tried to see the edges of the room, but was it a room? No, it wasn't. As his eyes adjusted, he realised it was a chamber, or cavern. Not a particularly deep one, he stood on the floor and could almost touch the ceiling, but it was long and wide. He peered into the distance as the light edged a touch brighter, emanating from the rock above all around him. He still couldn't see a far wall in any direction. Just how vast was this place? And where was he?

He tried to take a step. The ground below wasn't as rocky as he'd expected it to be; in fact, it was unnaturally smooth, and curved. Frowning, he squatted in place and ran a hand over it, barely able to make out any details in the faint light. Yes, there was a slight slope beneath his feet, running downward. He followed it down, and the incline grew steeper as he went, until it dropped suddenly away into darkness, before rising up again thirty metres distant.

That was odd.

He turned and walked back, cresting a peak only to find the ground sloped down beyond that, ending in the same precipitous drop that rose up again thirty metres beyond.

What was he standing on? Where was this?

Only at this point did Granin realise his dream was oddly lucid, and he felt a hint of danger touch his mind. Something was different. Something was very, very wrong.

Wake up, he told himself, but he didn't.

Humans said that they pinched themselves to try and wake up. He looked at his stone covered arms for a second before he let them drop to his side. Perhaps… he could poke himself in the eye?

The ground beneath his feet began to fall, taking Granin with it. The sensation of dropping rapidly nauseated him, as he felt his guts rise into his chest, but his feet remained in contact with the ground below, if only barely. He cried out, arms spinning as the world around him shifted, grinding and twirling in impossible ways.

Who knew how far he fell, or for how long; it felt like minutes, but could have been seconds. All around him, he glimpsed enormous rivers of stone and earth, twisting around each other in the air, but it was so dark they may as well have been nothing. Was he bound in the roots of the Mother Tree?

What was happening?

When the world stilled around him, the ground settling beneath his feet, Granin slumped on his hands and knees, trembling from head to toe. Total darkness enveloped him now, but he could hear something. The air shifted in the distance, as if a wall of wind were pushed back and forth by a giant.

He shivered, wishing he could wake. Light blasted into his eyes and then faded.

He stood in a vast, open space, the walls an interlocking knot of enormous coils, each unimaginably huge. Except they weren't coils, there were no scales, this was no snake. They were rings, he realised, interlocking rings of flesh. That's what he'd been standing on, one of those rings. The drop had been the gap between one ring and the next.

He was surrounded by a worm.

The worm.

Granin flung himself to his knees and pressed his face into the ground.

Not the ground. This isn't ground.


Granin felt as if the world itself had rumbled in his mind. He lifted his head.

The face of Yarrum was like that of any worm, pointed, eyeless, the rings of flesh grew smaller and smaller until they terminated at one point. The only difference was the size. The Ancient was enormous beyond words, beyond comparison.

"I see you, Ancient Yarrum," Granin stammered, heart hammering in his chest to the point he feared his stone skin would rattle off.

The worm beheld him for a moment before it opened its mouth and Granin felt certain he was about to die, dream or no. The flesh peeled back, widening and widening and widening yet further to reveal a city sized opening, lined with ring after ring of building sized teeth. That maw, and those teeth, seemed to go on forever, each ring flexing and spinning independently of those next to it, as if Yarrum's mouth was a grinder designed to chew mountains apart. Perhaps it was.

[There isn't much time. He MUST succeed.]

The worm lunged forward and Granin snapped alert in his room, falling out of his bed with a shout. He lay on the ground, panting and trembling, as he tried to get his nerves under control.

He was okay. He was safe. He was alive.

The old golgari squeezed his eyes shut, only to snap them open again as the visage of Yarrum filled his mind's eye. From the floor, he checked the time. Only a few hours had passed since he'd laid down.

After thirty minutes had passed, Granin trusted himself to rise from the floor. After another thirty had passed, he sat at his desk, pulled open a book and began to make notes. A vision from the Worm itself, he had to record it for the Cult. Then, he should spend more time working on Anthony's build.

After all, he had to succeed.