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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
1257 Chs

Digging In

The battle frenzy of the Colony was an ephemeral thing. Once the termites were gone, their Biomass consumed and scent wiped away, my siblings and I were able to return to a more normal state of mind and begin to tackle the numerous problems at hand.

"The mana down here is absurdly thick. I feel like my core is on fire. We should adjust our spell rotations to account for the additional energy," Propellant mused.

"Any idea what the dominant affinity of the stratum is?"

"Life, mainly. There's more, but in small amounts, and it's an affinity that none of the mages have come across before, something advanced, that's for sure."

"Much like ash in the third, and death in the second."

"It does seem like they have a dominant, more common mana paired with a more powerful and subtler force. Perhaps we can expect more of the same in the stratum below. Something to think about, in the meantime I've pushed every earth capable mage into the build teams to help fortify our position."

"What can you tell us so far, Cobalt?"

"Not much. The roots of the Mother Tree are going to make our job a nightmare, I can already see that. They cover a huge amount of ground before they vanish into wherever the heck they go and all of them are potential targets for the termites. Our fortifications will likely have to build quite a ways forward from this position, but we can't rely on them completely, since the termites can dig just as well as we can. It's going to be a difficult defence."

"The termites are bigger and stronger than us," I advise the group, "and it's likely that they outnumber us, given we only have ten thousand here. So we have to utilise our strengths to the maximum. That means using your heads and milking our defensive position for all its worth. Having said that, we can't do much without more information. Burke, how do things stand on the scouting front?"

"Tunnel maps are getting filled as we speak, though it'll be hours before we get a more complete picture. As Cobalt told us, the roots are huge and spread over an absurd amount of territory, the Mother Tree seems to have buried this entire mountain to support her trunk. Once we traced the termites' trails back far enough, we can start planning where to construct our choke points and try to funnel the enemy."

"We need to move fast on that," I warn them, "we're vulnerable to being overwhelmed until we get dug in. Not usually a problem we need to worry about."

Each of the ants clacks their mandibles in amusement as they consider the unusual issue of being outnumbered by a single foe.

"Trust me, Eldest. We couldn't be moving faster on the scouting if we tried," Burke assures me.

Which means Vibrant and her group are doing it.

"We have to be hyper careful when facing this enemy," I warn everyone, "their ability to feed on souls is disturbing to say the least. I want everyone to be as careful as possible as we proceed. I'm going to move with the Grove Keeper and head to the hotspots. There are still ongoing raids from the termites as we speak."

"Will you be alright on your own, Eldest?"

Advant is clearly concerned.

"I'm never really alone, you know that. Plus Sarah is here. She's strong."

"I still think we should try and bring some humans here. With their aid we'll be much stronger."

I shake my antennae.

"The mana is too thick. The humans are willing to come, but won't be able to until they've adapted to the higher concentration of energy. It could take weeks before they can stay down here for any length of time."

"I'm just worried," she frets, "we need every advantage here."

"I agree. They'll be here, just not yet, alright? Until then we just need to hold on for as long as possible."

"Fine."

"By the way, has anyone seen Brilliant?"

"Uh, no? Did she come through?"

"Yes, she did. Give me a second."

Damn that ant, where the heck is she this time? Scanning through the Vestibule takes me a little while but I eventually find a small group of ants digging their way down alongside the roots of the tree. Luckily they'd only made it a hundred metres before I found them.

"Brilliant," I declare as I snatch up the little ant in my mandibles, "trying to get yourself killed again I see."

She wiggles and thrashes in my jaws but it's hopeless, she's sacked her physical stats to the point she'll never be able to contest me one I get a grip on her.

"I want to see the point where the roots vanish," she cries as she continues her hopeless struggle for freedom, "I need to see, I need to see, I need to see! Let gooooooo!"

THWACK!

"Nope. We have no idea where the termites might be tunneling so get your butt back to the safe zone until we've locked it all down."

"Noooooooooooo!"

"And you lot, don't encourage her!"

"Sorry, Eldest."

It's amazing how quickly these champions can attract others to their cause. Already she's got a few willing helpers who'll listen to her crackpot schemes. After delivering the little mad scientist back to the main concentration of the Colony I meet up with Sarah and we begin a tour through the tunnel network that winds around the Mother Tree's roots. The system is vast, covering kilometers of ground, and there are signs of termite activity all over the place. Nibbled roots here, a trace of scent there, it's enough to get my mandibles twitching all over again.

[Hey Sarah, how're you finding the fourth stratum?]

The giant bear twitches in surprise and turns towards me.

[Ah? Fine, I suppose. I'm kind of intimidated to be honest, I never expected to be down here, especially not so soon.]

[I agree with you. I'm kind of worried about it actually. The Colony has taken on a lot this time, especially when we still haven't even started to expand in the third.]

[It'll be fine,] she tries to cheer me up. [they're smart, they know what they can and can't do. I'm just glad to get away from it all, I was driving myself crazy up there.]

[Still worried about Jim?]

The giant bear grows silent for a moment as we walk side by side through the tunnels. Then she nods.

[I'm worried what he'll do next. I feel like he's got a grudge against the Colony and he's doing whatever he can to damage us.]

Heh. You think I didn't notice you say 'us'? Think again!

[You know my view. He wanted you to depend on him, but you came to rely on the Colony instead. In his eyes, the ants need to be removed, then you will be forced to run back to him for support.]

[But I wouldn't!] she protests. [After everything he's done?!]

[Hey, I know that, and you know that, but Jim? He's crazy. Not that I can blame him too much, according to the Dungeon, we're all crazy.]

The big bear head sinks to face the ground.

[That's true.]