webnovel

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
1263 Chs

The Siege pt 28

The massed ranks of my siblings can only watch as the gate bulges and buckles under the immense weight of the pressure the Legion is applying. Exhausted and weary, the last fighting fit ants on this side of the nest stand ready for the final conflict. Once those gates come down, this will be the final stand. If the Legion manages to break through this point, they'll be able to separate into smaller teams in the narrower tunnels where we can't hope to apply the numbers needed to defeat them. They'll destroy the nest one piece at a time until they reach the brood chambers where the golgari are fighting and complete the annihilation of the Queens and young.

Looking around I can see that we've all been pushed to the brink. Almost every ant is carrying wounds but the healers are so tapped out they have to be selective where they apply their ministrations. I'm pretty sure I saw Beyn spitting blood a little while ago, even his legendary vocal endurance unable to go the distance. Tiny's hands have been healed a few times already and I can still see they're raw and broken. Crinis has lost almost all of her reserve flesh and Invidia is suffering the kind of mental exertion migraines I frequently experience after casting too many spells. Even so, we need to front up again. The gate booms and shudders as our enemies batter it down, but each second that passes is a blessed relief. A few moments to recuperate will do wonders for all of us. We're going to need all the energy we can get in a minute.

A strange silence descends amongst the collective ants and humans that remain. We watch the gate as it gradually breaks down, awaiting the foe to come together.

Elsewhere, in the brood chambers.

An Asura Bear was a cursed creature at its core. Truthfully, Sarah couldn't remember even choosing the evolution, so lost in the rage and fear was she at that time that it's possible she hadn't made a choice at all. Yet somehow, the form she had chosen was so devastatingly suited to her that it succeeded in tipping her over a precipice that had taken her a decade to climb back up. She could feel herself teetering on the lip of that cliff now, her psyche balanced on the edge of sanity and that pit of mindless violence in which she had dwelled. The problem was, deep within, it was so hard to care.

Next to her core, in the centre of her massive frame beat the asura heart, the powerful mutation that gave her species its name. It provided incredible strength, but at a cost. The heart fed on her negative emotions, her rage, pain and fear, magnified them, liquified them and send them pumping throughout her body until every inch of her frame was suffused with them. She could feel it now. The pain of betrayal, the anger of broken trust, the fear of losing herself again. She could feel it all echo through every cell of her body until she was drunk with it.

And it made her strong.

She could barely see the golgari in front of her, her vision had long since faded from red to black. There was a chance her wild swipes did just as much damage to the Colony as it did the target of her wrath, but she didn't, couldn't care. Maybe her eyes had been injured, or perhaps she was already so far gone that seeing what she hit just wasn't important to her anymore. Regardless, she could feel the devastation wrought every time she struck out. Flesh was parted, armour split, metal cracked and bones splintered. It was like wine on her tongue. Fresh Biomass between her teeth. She needed more.

There was pain, somewhere. Her entire body ached, but she couldn't tell why. It didn't matter. She could still swing her paws and bite with her muzzle. That was all that mattered.

The Queen watched everything from a distance with worry growing in her heart.

"Will she be alright?" she asked the healer by her side once again.

Frances clacked her mandibles.

"I don't know," the healer was uncharacteristically short, the stress of the situation causing her to constantly rake her antennae through the elbows of her front legs. "Mother, please retreat. We've not been able to fully heal you and this area isn't safe," she pleaded.

"I will not," the Queen replied, her tone sharp. "Cease treating me immediately and go help the others. The bear appears on the verge of collapse, why do you not treat her instead?"

"I cannot reach her, and even if I could, we can't be sure she won't just kill me on the spot. We've already had a number of ants wounded by her in this fight."

"And so?" The Queen demanded. "Is she not lost to her rage as she has been before? Why do we not help her?"

"We aren't strong enough!" Frances was growing exasperated. No matter how she tried, she was unable to persuade her mother to leave this dangerous area and it was making her desperate. "The only one in the Colony who could hope to stand up to friend Sarah is the Eldest and they aren't here!"

"But I am," the Queen stated and pushed herself to standing.

The healer watched her mother rise with growing horror.

"Mother, no!" she cried.

But it was too late, the Queen stepped forward once, twice, then waded into the thick of battle, the rampaging form of the bear firm within her sights.

Outside the nest.

"You won't retreat?" Titus asked.

"We will not," the Grove Keeper replied.

The standoff between the two sides continued as Titus weighed his options, his mind churning furiously. There were only two paths he could take that he could see. He could stand down, order his Legion to retreat, and possibly secure the release of his daughter in the process, or he could fight. He had promised not to take action against the Colony, and he would not, but the bruan'chii were another thing entirely. If they were able to hold off the children of the mad tree here, and the Legionaries succeeded in breaking into the nest, there was a chance they could still accomplish their goal. His grip tightened around the haft of his axe.

"You don't leave me with many choices," Titus ground out, his anger beginning to kindle in his chest as he weighed the lives of his soldiers in his mind.

"That is our intention," came the answer. "The mother will take everything from you that she can. So far from your metal mountain, there is nothing you can do to resist her."

"Is that so?"

Even as they spoke, the number of figures who emerged from behind the Grove Keeper continued to rise as more of his people stepped forward. Fortunately, there was only the one Keeper, the tree wouldn't be able to support more than that this high in the Dungeon.

"Haaaaa. It is so," the Keeper replied.

Titus brought up his axe so that he could hold it in a two handed grip.

"Let's find out then," he said grimly.

Deep in the Dungeon.

A chasm plunged downward, filled with an impenetrable darkness. There was no movement here, no living thing would dare set foot so close to the home of the hungering one. To do so was certain death, this was instinct so ingrained that it seemed as though monsters were now spawned with it. For a hundred years, no monster except those that had the misfortune to be born in the area had existed in this place, and those that were spawned here did not live for long.

From somewhere deeper, though it felt not that far away, an inaudible thump rippled outward, like a silent thunderclap. The wave of invisible pressure swept through the rock and the darkness, swept through the chasm and continued on its way, outwards through the strata.

Silence reigned once more.

For a few moments, it seemed that nothing would happen, but this was merely the calm, the storm was sure to follow. And follow it did. The mana in the area drained away rapidly, thinning to less than half of what it had been only a few moments ago, but then it came roaring back. Like the tide which retreats only to crash back in fury as a tidal wave, the mana flooded outward with a tangible roar, suffusing every rock, every twig with a dizzying amount of power.

Then there came a stir. Slowly at first, then with growing speed, the great chasm began to close. There was a great cracking sound as hundreds of tons of stone shattered into pieces, the two walls finally crunching together with a deafening crescendo. Then, after a moment, they parted once more. Visible here and there now that the dirt and rock had begun to fall away were massive, triangular ridges, each one stained a deep red. If an observer stood far back enough, it would be easy to guess what they were, teeth. Hundreds and hundreds of teeth.

An aura filled with a terrible madness exploded outward, driven by one, insatiable urge.

HUNGER.