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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

I Hate Being in the Spotlight (1019)

I really hate this.

And when I say that, don't think that I'm speaking lightly or any such thing. This isn't one of those times when someone says they hate it when they put their socks on inside out, or they hate it when their food is a little cold.

I mean I hate this.

Currently, I sit, a sullen lump of sparkling carapace, in the centre of a vast formation of ants. There are scouts roaming and looking for threats. There are healers monitoring my condition. There are squads of soldiers and generals patrolling around the clock. There are teams of mages tunnelling beneath me and fortifying the stone.

Even the humans are in on it! I can see Beyn from where I sit, leading the gathered faithful in some sort of ceremony whilst his followers weep and point at me. Some even fall to their knees, raising their hands to the sky as if overcome with emotion.

I'm just evolving! This is what monsters are supposed to do, right?! It happens all the damn time… nothing special is going on over here.

[Do I really have to sit here and wait?] I complain for the hundredth time.

[Yes, Master,] Crinis says happily. [You aren't allowed to move until the fortress is complete.]

I give her the evil eye, which she brushes off easily. The little murder-ball has been way too pleased by this turn of events. Having me under this absurd lock-down protocol seems to have finally relieved her of a deep-seated source of stress.

Namely, me.

She's busy humming to herself and weaving her tentacles into fantastic shapes in order to practise her control, pleased as punch that, for once, I can't get myself into trouble.

[What about you, Tiny?] I cast about for an ally. [You must be bored out of your brain, right? Want to break out and leave?]

My first ally on Pangera opens one eye lazily. Then he yawns.

[Sleepy,] he says, before he closes his eyes and rolls over.

[Traitor,] I grumble.

Invidia is my only hope now. The green eye blazes as he stares down at me from his position on top of Tiny.

[Give your levelssss to meeeee,] he hisses.

Not getting any sympathy there.

If it weren't for the pressing need to maintain my dignity, I'd roll onto my back and kick my legs in frustration.

I want out of here! Let me go! Let me goooooooo!

"Here's the next batch of cores." Protectant appears and dumps another pile on the ground in front of me.

The leader of my imposed bodyguards has never looked so smug as she does in that moment. It's enough to make my blood boil.

"Do you really have to inspect the cores before you bring them to me?" I whine. "What the heck are cores going to do to me? They're cores."

It's not just the spherical gems that are carefully examined before being brought within the Carapace Curtain. Everything is obsessively checked, even the Biomass. It's insane, and what makes me even more exasperated is that I appear to be the only one who realises it.

"During this time, we can't be too careful," Protectant smugly says, her smug face smugging up the air with thick clouds of smug.

"You love this, don't you?" I collapse, filled with bitterness.

"I do," she readily admits. "I wanted to have you under this sort of protection from day one."

"That would have been unwise," Coolant says as she approaches. "The Eldest will only tolerate this for a short time, and only because they believe we are at least partially correct to act as we are."

"For the record, I believe no such thing," I declare wearily. "This is me humouring you to the best of my ability."

I can't really do anything else now, can I? I know the Will of the Colony as it flows into me as clearly as I know my own thoughts. They are determined, obsessed even, with ensuring that I evolve perfectly and safely. It's such an overwhelming outpouring of support and love that I can't exactly spit in their faces and say no. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of ants rummaging through the wreckage of the termite mountain, securing and rebuilding it into a secure location for my evolution.

"We appreciate it," Coolant assures me. "Arrangements are being made as quickly as possible. Granin and his team have been notified and are on their way down. We are doing everything we can to secure the most powerful cores we can find to push your energy as far as it will go. Construction is occurring around the clock, and the bruan'chii have agreed to lend their support in defending us. It won't be long now."

"In the meantime, I just sit here, smush cores together and eat?"

"Yes."

"... Fine."

It's not exactly a bad life, but having all of this focus, attention and effort being put on me makes me feel like I'm covered in crawlies. It almost feels like I'm mutating!

I'm tempted to pull up the evolution options now, just to have a sticky-beak, but I know that's a bad idea. All the advice I've ever had suggests that it's far better to wait until everything is set before exposing oneself to temptation. There's no do-overs when it comes to evolution.

"How are things in the mountain going? Any luck flushing out the last of the termites?" I ask, desperate to keep the conversation going while I have someone here to talk to.

"We are still finding pockets of the enemy in the depths," Coolant replies, an uncharacteristically displeased tilt to her antennae.

"Something wrong?"

The mage ponders for a moment before replying.

"I struggle to believe that the ka'armodo were fully cognizant of what their creations were doing," she replies. "They tunnelled so deep, and expanded their gardens so far, that we believe they may have begun to brush against the edges of the fifth stratum."

I boggle at her words.

"What?! That's insane!"

"I agree. The tunnel complex they created beneath the nest is vast. Despite the numbers we have available, it will take weeks to thoroughly explore it all. By that time, I believe it highly likely that one or perhaps several groups of termites will escape."

That… isn't good.

If monstrous termites are similar enough to regular termites, that means any female worker can become a queen. They may not even need to evolve to start the process! Despite crushing this colony, we may have spawned another three or four smaller ones that will have to be put down later on. A distraction that we can't afford.

"That's going to be a pain in the abdomen," I groan. I flick my antennae at the thousands of ants currently posted to guard me. "Don't you think they have more important things to do then?"

"No," Coolant says, unruffled. "Your successful evolution is the most important priority for the Colony. It will be months before rogue termite nests have grown enough to be any sort of threat."

Dammit. Well, I tried.

"Have we started to come across more interesting fourth stratum monsters at least? I really wanted to see something cool down here, and all I've had to fight so far are termites, more termites, and yet more termites."

Coolant hesitates.

"We did… find something. We weren't sure if we should show it to you or not."

How intriguing….

"And why is that? I'm bored out of my mind over here, I welcome any and all distractions."

I wave my antennae magnanimously.

"Whatever it is, bring it over. I'm keen to take a look."

Coolant twitches a little before she nods in assent.

"Very well. I will have your guards bring it to you. I will come see you… tomorrow, Eldest, I have an important issue to attend to."

And with that, the mage turns and scuttles away with unusual haste. That's curious in and of itself, but I put it out of my mind as I await the arrival of a new morsel.

I wonder what sort of creature they've managed to find? Some sort of jade dragon creature? Or a super cool-looking elemental entity? That's the sort of thing I was expecting to see when I got down here. The tree obviously predates most of the things that spawn on her mountain and the termites took care of everything on this one. Now that the lesser bugs are gone, we can finally start to see something interesting.

Ten minutes later, Protectant arrives with the new creature in her mandibles. It's mostly intact, which is nice, so I can get a good look at it. Whatever it is, it's long and sinuous, and it glitters in the light! Shiny!

Is this actually a jade dragon or something?

When Protectant finally puts it down, I eagerly rush forward to examine it.

Then I freeze.

It's long. And sinuous. It glitters brightly, that is also true. There are a few other aspects that I see as well, things that I recognise. The pinching claws, for one. The sting at the end of the tail is also familiar.

Are you KIDDING me, Gandalf?

This is a diamond centipede!