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
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1256 Chs

Chapter 1336 - Anthony On Tour - A Wizard is Never Late, But They Do Yap Too Much

No problem. Not even a worry. Just play it cool.

[W-w-w-w-w-w-w-why w-w-w-w-w-would you s-s-s-s-s-say that?!]

Smooth. Rathwyn holds up both palms to show he comes in peace.

[There are a few tells. First of all, you are the only ant I've connected minds to who has a male mental voice.] He brings up a hand to point at his own temple. [Our mental voice is essentially the same as the voice we 'think' in. Every member of your family is female, and they all have female mental voices. I've exchanged words with a dozen of them at this market, but I'm willing to bet I won't find another who sounds anything like you. Am I right?]

[W-w-w-w-wh-w-w-w-who can s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sa-say?]

Nice. Rathwyn goes on, despite my master level deception.

[There are simply too many aspects of the Colony that don't make sense from the outside. Let's assume a monster, born in the Dungeon, same as any other, found themselves in the unique position you did, able to manipulate the Queen's core and having the Skills to do so. What do you think that theoretical monster would do?]

He waits for an answer patiently, and I try to unscramble my brain to give an unrevealing answer.

[Probably… make… smart ants? It seems… smart?]

I'm like a buttered snail. Too damn smooth!

[I disagree,] he states with a smile. [Monsters prioritise speed and strength, almost always. It's only the more intelligent creatures that understand just how powerful an intellect can be. A regular ant, with regular evolutions, would never be smart enough to realise this. Now, a former human, born as an ant, with elevated intelligence compared to a regular monster? That's a different matter entirely.

[Then, I only need to consider what the Colony is doing now.]

[W-w-w-what are w-w-w-we d-d-d-doing now?]

[You're making furniture. Monsters almost never trade, but when they do, they trade things they don't value but tend to come across naturally. Things they produce as a by-product of their existence, or raw materials that fall inside their territory. They do not, as a rule, develop their own flavours of tea.] He gives a slight shrug as if to say 'what the heck am I supposed to think?' and smiles up at me.

I need to approach this situation carefully.

[Is it… a problem, if I was a human in a past life?]

[What do you mean?]

[Are there other mages monitoring this conversation, waiting to throw me in a cage?]

[You don't have any reason to believe me, but no. Scholars in the tower, and I don't doubt elsewhere, have suspected your origins, but it's hard to be definitive without meeting you in person.]

He looks altogether too interested as he looks up at me, as if I'm a rare sample he's waited decades to get his hands on.

[Now, we aren't going to stick you in a cage and study you, but I would love to ask some questions. We've known about people from outside Pangera being born into this world as monsters for millennia, but it's almost impossible to find one that can hold a conversation.]

[You'd probably have to get to us pretty quick,] I agree. [Every former human I've met has been… a little off balance, to put it mildly. Without intervention, I think all of them would have gone crazy.]

Sarah would have, for sure. Lost to the rage and killed, without a doubt. Jim was saved by the golgari, but he survived by hiding himself away. The isolation had already done a number on him by the time he was captured. Garralosh…. Better not to think of Garralosh. She was barely there from the moment she arrived.

[I notice you don't include yourself in that list,] Rathwyn observes. [Is there a reason for that?]

[Me? Go crazy? No, I'd have been fine.]


[What do you mean?]

[I mean… why wouldn't you have lost your mind, as you say everyone else would have?]

[I'm not sure I understand the question.]

Why even compare us? Everyone else was dropped into a horrible situation, alone and frightened, forced to fight for their lives in a body they hated. My situation is completely different from theirs. Being alone, scraping by, trying to keep myself alive with only ants for company. That was life as a human as well as an ant. Not that much has changed, really.

Personally, I think Gandalf chose me by mistake, but I'm not going to complain about it.

[If you want my perspective on the Ancients,] I say, moving the conversation forward, [I think I'm going to ensure that they remain independent from outside influence. The Colony is my family now, and I refuse to accept that they'll become mindless warmachines in the service of some old monster.]

[Not many would describe those creatures as 'some old monster',] Rathwyn observes wryly.

I look at him sideways (and from many other directions).

[You aren't in a cult, are you?]

[Me? By the Gold, no. Though, I shouldn't be surprised that they've been in touch with you. Look, I can see you aren't willing to spill too many of your secrets, which is fine. Though, I would love it if you could shed any light on one issue. Why is it that people like you are brought here? Nobody knows the answer to that question, though we have been thinking on it for many, many years.]

I mean… how much can I reasonably share here? How much should I share? I'm in a fairly unique position in that I've spoken to the one person who probably could give an answer, not that they want to.

[I suspect,] I begin slowly, [that there is a good reason for it, related to the function of the System itself. I just don't know enough about what that function is to explain how it's related.]

Rathwyn sighs.

[That means you're pretty much in the same boat as the rest of us. If you happen to come up with any answers, do try and let me know.]

[I'm not likely to swing past the Golden City any time in the near… or distant future.]

[You are right,] he says, stroking his beard again, [I may need to get in contact with you. I will leave it here then, Anthony. A pleasure to speak with you again.]

Just like that, he breaks off the contact, gives a friendly wave, and then wanders off, towards the tea stalls, I note.

What an odd person.