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
1264 Chs

Fame and Fortune Final (1060)

"Finally," Rillik grunted.

"This was far more effort than I expected," Lacos agreed, fatigue breaking through his normally indefatigable visage.

"If you don't mind," Elly said through gritted teeth, "would you hurry up and finish the job? I'm the one who has to bind them."

"Right, sorry."

The crew leader stepped forward, blade in hand, and sized up the two ants they had, after much difficulty, managed to separate from the pack and capture. Restrained for the moment, they thrashed and struggled under the influence of Elly's magic as he tried to find the best angle to approach for a clean kill.

The gaps in the carapace were the best approach, but the damn creatures were intelligent and shifted themselves every time he approached.

"Elly, can you bind them a little tighter? I don't want to ruin the carapace if I can help it."

It looked heavily mutated and might be worth as much as the core if they could bring it all back.

"No, I can't," she ground out, "they're tougher than they look. Get it done quick, I can't hold them forever."

Hunting intelligent monsters was always such a pain. Rillik much preferred stronger, stupid targets than creatures like these. They'd had to rely heavily on Lacos' powers of diversion and illusion to lure these two away from the rest, but they wouldn't have long until they were swarmed.

"Fine, I'll just grab the cores," he said.

Such a waste, but circumstances were what they were. Better to get out with something than nothing at all. These two cores would almost cover the cost of the trip, though not for recruiting and training up a new member.

That idiot, Drake. Why is it so hard to find people who are patient?

He pulled back his arm and the blade began to shine, but then something happened that stilled his hand. First, the ants went still, no longer trying to break free. Instead, they turned to look behind them. Second, he felt a vast presence at the edge of his awareness suddenly reveal itself.

"What's wrong?" Elly demanded. "Hurry up and get it done!"

Rillik's hand fell to his side and he sighed heavily.

"Let them go," he said.

"WHAT? Are you out of your mind?!"

The big golgari turned to look at her, letting the fear in his eyes convince her.

"It's our only hope," he said quietly. "Let them go."

A moment later, she sensed it for herself, going pale as a ghost when that powerful aura washed over her senses. As quickly as she could, she unwove the nets that bound the ants to the ground, and the monsters stood, but didn't move. They knew they were perfectly safe.

"Can we run?" Lacos asked, his voice tight with tension. "I can swim deep, try and get help from my people."

"Don't bother," Rillik said, and he sat down, placing his blade flat on the ground by his side. "This is a mythic monster, there's nowhere we can run. If we had an hour, we still couldn't get away."

He was proud that his voice didn't tremble as he spoke, despite the unsettling terror that he felt and his own imminent demise. The formerly captured ants hadn't leapt on them and chewed them to bits, which was a good sign. There was no reason for the creature to spare them, but he had to seize whatever chance he could, for the sake of his crew.

Or what was left of it. With the monster awake, the chance of Drake surviving had gone to zero.

After a moment, Elly and Lacos sat down next to him to await their fate. It was almost surreal, sitting alongside two monsters, waiting to see if another would spare them.

"Sorry I led you into this," Rillik said. "I knew it was a risk, but I decided to come anyway."

"This has always been a possibility," Lacos said. "I do not blame you in the slightest."

"We knew what we were getting into, boss," Elly agreed. "It was us that brought the job to you."

They settled into silence, each waiting with their hearts pounding in their chests as that oppressive presence drew closer and closer.

When it finally came into view, Rillik couldn't help but sigh in awe. It was the first time he had laid eyes on a mythic monster, and it did not disappoint.

Huge, the ant was a dominating physical presence. Fifteen metres long, at least, it towered over them, its eyes sitting five metres off the ground. The weight of its aura was suffocating, pressing down on them to the point it became hard to breathe.

Covered in a dark carapace that glittered with purple light, the ant looked magical, mysterious, and deadly. It would have been an incredible prize to bring home had someone managed it, but hunting monsters of this calibre was nothing but a dream to Rillik. Only the most elite delvers would attempt such a feat, and even they would likely avoid it if their target was surrounded by a hundred thousand support monsters.

Only the Legion, or a powerful nation, would be able to take this monster down.

The creature gazed down at them sitting on the ground as it approached. It was unreadable, giving Rillik no clue as to what it would do to them. Depending on mercy from a monster was the last resort for any delver, and also their final one. Monsters weren't known for their mercy. Not that he blamed them, he hunted and killed them for a living, so why would he expect them to show him something he had never shown them?

He drew a long shuddering breath, then raised his hands in the air. Even if it was hypocrisy, he would do anything to give Elly and Lacos a chance to survive.

"We surrender," he said.

The antennae swayed slowly in front of him before a thought pushed its way into his mind.

[If you want to communicate with monsters, use mind magic. I mean, what do you want me to do, chat back with my mouth?]

The ant lifted its head to reveal its horrific mouth set underneath the spot its mandibles joined its head. Thankfully, it lowered its head back down to hide them.

[Can't exactly say that ants have the gift of the gab, you know what I mean?]

Rillik stared up at the majestic creature as its voice rang in his mind. Despite everything, the monster sounded… surprisingly young. Not at all what he'd expected.

[Ah. It's generally considered dangerous to engage in mind magic with monsters unless you have specific training and protections. The mind of a monster is… alien, and hazardous.]

The giant ant clacked its mandibles thoughtfully.

[That makes sense, actually. Garralosh's mind was… holy moly, where do I even start? No need to panic, I'm not going to bite your head off or drive you insane or anything.]

A pause as if the ant was listening to something else. Rillik thought he saw something extend from the shadow beneath the giant monster, then retreat back into the ground.

[... And nobody else is going to drive you insane, either,] the monster clarified, worryingly. Then it gazed at them for a moment.

[You're going to be fine,] it said finally, and Rillik's heart froze in his chest as hope almost choked him. This meeting hadn't gone anything like what he'd expected, but the monster was going to spare them. [It was close, but you didn't harm any members of the family, so we can let you go. I don't know if that means you're worse at your job, or smarter than the others, but hey, it worked out for you.]

Smarter. Definitely smarter.

[Anyways, you guys are professional monster hunters, right? You delve into the Dungeon to hunt and kill creatures?]

The golgari warrior hesitated a moment before he nodded. There was no point denying what he was at this point. Oddly, the ant seemed pleased.

[Great, that's just what we need. Look, I can't stay here long, I've got places to be, but I wanted to give you some work real quick.]

Another ant stepped forward and dropped a glittering monster corpse on the ground. Rillik, Elly and Lacos stared down at it.

[This… is a diamond centipede,] the ant said with clear distaste. [For every one you kill and bring to the Colony, we'll pay double the value in cores.]

… It wanted… to give them a job?

[You want us to hunt these things?] Rillik asked carefully. [And you'll pay us?]

[Absolutely,] the mythic monster confirmed, its aura boiling and stirring the blood in the golgari's chest. [There's no limit on this request. I don't care if they get hunted to extinction. In fact, that's the point. Just don't go hunting in the Colony's territory, we can handle that part. Good luck. I gotta go.]

With that, a smaller ant flickered into existence, landed on the giant monster's back, then they both flickered and disappeared, leaving a gobsmacked Rillik and crew staring up at where it had been.

"Am I dreaming?" he mumbled.