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Chrysalis

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
1261 Chs

Chapter 1176 - Sweet Relief

I'm not a huge fan of my insides turning into my outsides, or having my carapace replaced with candy floss, or indeed, of being flattened/expanded into less/more dimensions than I'm comfortable with.

Having said that, the moment when Brilliant drops me into the fourth stratum makes it more than worthwhile. Instantly, I feel a wave of relief wash over me as both my gasping core relaxes, and the insatiable gnawing of the Call fades away.

It's still there, obviously, but no longer is it the maddening, mind-bendingly painful yanking on my soul, merely a comfy nail through the foot.

Nothing I can't handle!

"Thanks, Brilliant," I sigh in relief, "I appreciate the trip."

"Are you feeling well, Eldest?" the little maniac says, prodding me in the side. "This is unlike you."

"Pah. Don't you have something you should be blowing up? Shoo."

"Why yes! I do! If you find yourself in need of my services again, don't hesitate to call my name! BRILLIANT!"

With a pop, she vanishes from sight and I allow myself to slump to the floor in relief.

Bliss.

It doesn't last long, though.

[MASTER!]

Glomp!

From nowhere, an enormous blob of shadow flies from the crevices in the ceiling above me and latches onto my carapace. Crinis wastes no time expanding herself to wrap around my abdomen, poking and prodding as she goes.

[I'm fine. I'm fine. Nice to see you, Crinis. Stop poking! I haven't been gone that long. I didn't even do anything dangerous!]

[Then why did you leave us behind? We could have come too!]

[It's not that easy for Brilliant to haul powerful monsters around. I thought it was better if you three waited for me down here. Did Tiny and Invidia make it alright?]

[They're fine,] she sniffs. [The Mother Tree didn't really want to move us, but she's still in debt to the Colony, so she couldn't refuse.]

[She's already trying to weasel out of the deal? Lousy matchstick! I'll go have a word when I get a chance. In the meantime, stop poking me and say hello to Solant and her crew.]

[Who is Solant?]

[Our new Colony champion. She's an interesting one, tried to poison me.]

[She WHAT?!]

[Hak! You're going to snap my antennae! Let go! Let go!]

[Should I annihilate this FILTH that dared to harm you?]

[Calm breaths. I mean… you don't breathe, do you? It's fine. She tried to poison me with… heh… sugar. It was funny more than anything else. Don't hurt her.]

[... fine.]

[Alright then. Now behave, I've got a few things to do, then I'll chase down the other two and we can debrief.]

With my madness inducing shadow monstrosity mollified for the moment, I turn my attention to the twenty ants before me. They look a little overwhelmed at the dramatic increase in mana concentration compared to where they were before, which is understandable.

Except for Solant. She's studying everything with that restless, analytical mind of hers. I can practically hear the cogs turning in her head, and they ain't turning slow.

"Well, I suppose some congratulations are in order."

"Congratulations?" Solant asks.

"On your early graduation from the Antcademy. Well done! Whoo!"

"We're… finished?" another ant pipes up. "Does that mean we can go serve the Colony?"

"In a sense, yes. In another, more realistic sense, no. You've been enrolled in the Colony's most prestigious and exclusive postgraduate program. You get to learn directly from the greatest and best teacher in the entire family!"

"When are they getting here?"

THWACK!

"I'm talking about me! Sheesh! Where's the respect due to the Eldest? Now, Solant, let's have a quick chat. The rest of you relax for a second."

I pull the general to one side where we can speak privately. Brilliant was kind enough to deposit us inside the chamber I evolved in. Spacious, and, it appears, quite abandoned for the moment, we are very much alone inside, which is nice.

"Recovered from the smashing defeat I inflicted on you yet?"

She glares at me.

"No."

"Good! Nothing like a bit of burning anger to drive you forward. I've got high hopes for you, Solant. I see some qualities in you that are… rare, to say the least, in the Colony. You're going to become a very important member of the family before all is said and done, I'm sure."

She eyes me a little sceptically and I have to remind myself that unlike the previous two champions, this one wasn't raised by me. She's been taught and reared like every other ant, with the love and care of the best monster mums the Dungeon has ever seen: the Brood Tenders! My… unorthodox methods will seem almost cruel by comparison.

"I don't really understand what you mean."

In that moment, I decide I'm going to take an even more unusual approach, the direct approach!

"Are you aware what a Champion monster is?"

"No."

"Think of them as exceptional, unique members of a particular monster type. It happens rarely, but sometimes a monster is simply born better, with an already formed core in some instances. But it's more than just better, also different. In a species like ours, they go from rare to ultra, super, giga-rare. In fact, inside the Colony, there are only three."

"I… see."

Unlike Vibrant and Brilliant, Solant is quick on the uptake. I mean, Vibrant is quick, but not in this sense, and Brilliant is… intelligent… but also extremely dense.

"You just met one of them, just a moment ago. Brilliant is a Mage quite unlike any other, obsessed with uncovering secrets and mysteries. She's turned herself into an unearther of arcane truth without peer. Vibrant is another. Obsessed with speed, she's the fastest ant in the Colony and leader of an independent, hit-and-run style force that rushes all over the Dungeon putting out fires. Without doubt the ant who covers the most ground and helps in the most places."

"And the third… is me?"

"Exactly! Your teachers saw the signs long ago, and even you can name them now. A unique approach and methods, a certain, unexplained magnetism that inspired loyalty in followers, and rare, unusual evolutions. Right?"

The little ant is silent for a long moment, before she nods.

"So, what does it mean for me?"

"I have no doubt that when we are done you will be the greatest battlefield general this family has and likely will ever see. Over time, your broodmates over there will be joined by more and more ants who are inspired to follow in your footsteps, until you have your own army, trained to fight exactly how you want. The most dominant and unbeatable fighting force in the Colony!"

"I had always intended for that to be the case."

"Well, it may not have panned out quite how you wanted. You also intended to go undefeated, right?"

"..."

"Exactly."

I pat her on the carapace.

"But that obsession, that willingness to do things no other ant will do, to pay the price that no one else is willing to pay. I like that. Some might say it's a form of madness, but so what? Would you rather be mad, or let the Colony fail?"

Unlike my two previous students, Solant takes her time to think over my question and consider her answer before she offers it. When she finally replies, I know that she means it with her whole heart.

"I would rather be mad," she says quietly.

"Of course you would! Me too! Never fear. When we're done, you will never lose again."

"Good," she replies, her eyes smouldering.