There is so much information contained within this core. It's hard to describe exactly how my mind perceives it. I feel as if there is a massive filing cabinet full of data, numbers and values under my antennae, but I can't open all of the drawers.
I can sense that there are things I don't have access to, things beneath the surface that my current level of skill won't allow me to influence, but this is a big development! Using this skill, it would possible to custom design your own monsters! Tweaking every body part and stat, potentially even their behaviour!
Eagerly I give it a try. I'll do something simple to start with… I'll take the instructions regarding the statistics and I'll shift them slightly, swapping points from might to toughness. Simple.
How hard can this be? Let's try it!
Are you kidding me!?
As soon as I attempt to exert my mind and change the instructions I can feel powerful resistance against my will. The information recorded in the core does NOT want to change. Only by a supreme effort of mind was I able to shift it ever so slightly and then grip the change tight in my mind, refusing to let it return back to what it was before.
After holding my change in place for a few seconds it gradually settled and became stable, the new normal for this monster core.
Holy munching mandibles that was difficult!
To be honest, if I handed upgraded my will and cunning I'm not even sure that I would have been able to do it at all. Clearly the path of core manipulation is just as draining as that of magic, requiring extremely potent mental resources in order to use these skills effectively.
I see a tremendous amount of potential in this skill. I'm not exactly sure what I want to do with it, but levelling it up and hopefully upgrading it at level five will reveal more secrets and uses for me. Besides, it would be a waste not to try and make use of my new mental faculties. If I have the juice, I should put it to use!
Oh hello! It seems some prey has decided to drop in! Dashing towards the source of the noise I see that there are several workers already ahead of me, rushing towards the scent of prey. The hatchling workers look even smaller to me now after my size increase, little adorable things that can scuttle about under my legs.
To think I was one of them not that long ago, desperately trying to scrape xp and Biomass for myself out of the hostile caves by myself.
Not to worry little guys! Together we shall overcome!
The prey turns out to be just another large centipede which is quickly covered in acid and carved up for transport. More and more workers appear once the message gets out and there is a solid crowd of them chomping on the Biomass before long. I manage to snag a chunk and give it to Tiny before returning to the rabbit core and burying it in the wall again. I want to see if I can keep making changes to the same core in order to grind out Xp for the skill.
No sooner have I finished burying the core when I am disturbed by yet another crashing sound. Another trap has been triggered!
This particular prey is sensationally unlucky, falling into the pitfall at a time when the traps are swarming with workers, many of them working over the centipede and others just milling about, attracted by the pheromone trails left behind by the traffic.
Rushing over I can see that our new guest is a wolf-dragon, writhing and rolling at the bottom of the pit, attempting to release itself from all of the vines and branches. I wince as many of them are snapped by the creature's struggle. I'm going to have to replace all of those you mutt!
Behold the fury of the insect!
Workers are already launching acid and are preparing to swarm the beast, I simply join in the tide and land a few pleasing chomps before the monster is put out of its misery. For some reason the traps seem quite popular at the moment. Before the ants can start their messy work of transporting the Biomass I quickly activate mana detection skill to see if there is a core in the body. Sadly not.
I manage to secure another slice of Biomass for Tiny and sneak a few mouthfuls myself. I don't gain any points from it but it's enough to abate my hunger a little.
Tiny fed, I crawl up my pitfall traps and start to reset them, covering over the opening with layers of branches vines and vegetation until they blend fairly well with the forest floor.
I manage to pick up on something almost as soon as I crawl out of the dirt and into the open. There is a freaking ton of monsters about. Like, a lot.
The sounds of prowling beasts are everywhere around me, their low growls rumbling through the air and the snarling, furious impacts of battle can be heard in almost every direction. Where the hell are all of these guys coming from?!
Several times I have to pause my work and descend into my pitfalls and out of sight when groups of monsters or particularly large individuals pass through. With so many enemies in the area I feel it's even more important that the colony keep a low profile. Even if they are enormous for ants and even if there are hundreds of them, the colony does not have the strength to fight off a never ending horde of much larger and stronger beasts.
The pitfall trap plan is working well for the moment, no need to change course.
In fact, the pitfall trap is working even better than I'd anticipated. With a steady stream of workers scrabbling around the trap network, attracted by the calls to battle and food trails, I'm not really needed to help them win the individual battles against their surprised and incapacitated victims.
With the traps set I can trust that the workers will be able to handle the situation on their own. The only problem I can imagine is if the workers start to climb out of the pitfalls and explore the forest above, potentially attracting monsters that will start a loud fight.
To try and prevent this from happening I do several laps around the upper edge of every pitfall, laying a thick pheromone message of "dangerous! Don't come here!".
Claws crossed the workers will comprehend the message and won't climb out of the pitfalls. I can't really think of anything else I can do, hopefully the workers will be able to take care of the prey that drops into the network whenever I'm absent.
When I finished my work on the traps I've managed to regenerate a bit of mana which I immediately put to use practicing my shaping skills. The difference in difficulty to before is like night and day, putting a smile on my ant dial even as I continue to draw the mana out of my core and bend it to my will.
[Mana Shaping has reached level 3].
Yes! Already the sub brain is paying dividends!
As an added bonus I'm not even particularly tired after emptying my core for practice. What a refreshing feeling!
I find Tiny sleeping after he finishing off his snack and I rudely poke him awake with one foot. C'mon you ape! Let's go exploring!
I've been cooped up in the trap network for a while now, I want to head up to the top of the ant hill and see what is happening in the forest up there.
Eventually Tiny grumblingly complies with my repeated prodding and we head towards the nest and then up the tunnel to the ant hill. My little ape friend is getting less and less little with every passing meal. The tunnel is going to get a bit cramped for him soon! I might have to make a few modifications in order to ensure my ape companion can fit…
After a bit of climbing we emerge out of the top of the ant hill and survey the forest around us. Time to go scouting!