Tiny and I continue to retreat back towards the nest as fast as we can. As we run I continuously attempt to draw out and shape mana, frequently stuffing it up and tangling my legs as we run.
This is so damn difficult Gandalf! How did you perform so much magic on the back of the horse?!
I'm not sure if this will help anyone in anyway but I'm feeling desperate to get stronger. With only a day or two left until impending Armageddon I want to improve at something!
The entire conversation I had with Formo keeps running through my mind. So much new information to drop on a person! I feel like it'll take ages for me to be able to come through of all the gems my chatty new friend dropped in our brief exchange.
Tiny and I make it back to the open space of the forest without incident, although I do trip a few times.
Even with my sub-brain assisting to draw the mana out of my core and direct it, to actually manage that process, seize the prepared mana before shaping it into the one of the many patterns that the skill inserted knowledge is telling me to use is exceedingly difficult.
However, I must practice!
Back to the nest Tiny! With all speed!
The forest is just as chaotic as it was when we left it a few hours ago, but we don't waste time trying to sneak through now. As we encounter creatures we simple continue running straight past them, leaving a trail of bewildered and confused beasts in our wake.
However, some give chase, bellowing out their challenge as they crash through the brush, snapping branches and crushing the undergrowth beneath their feet.
If I'd not been distracted with mana shaping I might have anticipated this, but there is no stopping now...
Stop chasing us you idiots! There's a thousand other monsters you could fight, why don't you just leave us alone? Can't you see we aren't interested? Nobody likes a desperate monster!
It's no use however.
With their blood up, every monster is seeing red pretty much constantly right now and is isn't long before the one or two creatures tailing along behind us have attracted the attention of other nearby monsters.
Gradually more beasts emerge from the trees, chasing the tails of the monsters who are chasing Tiny and myself.
Of course, the increased ruckus only manages to draw yet more monsters out from between the trees and giant mushrooms. Soon a conga line of Bears, chimps, giant rabbits centipedes and other monsters I'd not yet seen has formed behind us.
Are you serious Gandalf!?
How stupid are you monsters?! I don't have time for this!
By the time we reach the ant hill there must be more than a hundred monsters that I can see behind us, all hurtling forward, ignoring the cavalcade of ravenous beasts behind, solely focused on the target in front of them.
I'm actually speechless.
Just how dumb can these beasts get?
All I wanted to do was get back quickly!
[Mana shaping has reached level 4]
Not now dammit!
As Tiny and I begin our sprint up the ant hill the guards take a look and the train of monsters behind us and immediately prepare to fight, one of them ducks into the nest, clearly going to summon reinforcements to deal with the threat.
These guys couldn't just run away for once?
I'd been hoping we could just duck into the nest and leave these stupid monsters to battle it out amongst themselves whilst I tried to devise a save the colony from the deadly wave plan.
Alas, it is not to be.
Clacking my mandibles in irritation I turn to face the oncoming beast conga once I reach the top of the hill. Tiny, tired of running and eager for battle, takes his cue from me and gleefully turns to fight, electricity already beginning to spark off his body.
After all the effort I went through to avoid this very situation, one run through the forest and here we are. A massive brawl right on top of the ant hill!
As I turn I can see the full train of monsters, suddenly stop as the creature in front of them stops.
There is a pause.
The beast immediately in front of me is a heavily mutated Wolf-Dragon. Any monster that can survive in the forest these days is going to amass levels and Biomass at a pretty furious rate after all.
The monster paws at the ground, baring its teeth in a menacing snarl, its powerful tail swinging and curling behind it.
Look you stupid monster, you chased along behind me and brought this enormous trail of villains here to threaten my nest? Do you know who I am? Do you know what I do here?
I guess I only have one question left for you Wolf…
Do you want to dance?
Perhaps sensing my change in my mood Tiny hoots in delight and starts beating his chest with his fists. Those fists and that chest are still getting larger by the day. I would estimate Tiny has achieved half of his previous size and he is certainly growing stronger. Judging by his bristling fur and thick, meaty fists I'm starting to suspect he has already achieved a mutation advancement or two…
Unable to contain himself anymore, the ape bounds forward and with one swing of his arm delivers a stunning uppercut to the chin of the Dragon-Wolf. The poor beast is shattered by the blow and cartwheels backwards, smacking directly into the monster behind it.
I never saw you doing push ups Tiny?! You certainly never went for a run? Where did this strength come from?
Like a starting gun, Tiny's aggression seems to have been the signal to all of the attending combatants to begin the festivities.
With a mighty roar the second major battle to be conducted next to this ant hill has begun!
Filled with rage I begin to channel my mana into my infused mandibles and then, almost as an after-thought, I try to channel mana from my gravitational energy gland instead of my core.
To my surprise, it instantly works, the deep purple energy flowing out from my body and along those familiar lines through my head, pouring into my mandibles and dyeing them with the energies' colour.
Holy moly! Gravity mandibles?! What the heck do these do?
As the mana continues to build up I vaguely feel as if I could reach out with it, as if it wanted to take hold of something, with more mana flooding into the mandibles every moment the feeling only grows stronger.
I start to charge towards the melee and spot my target, an adult centipede is slipping towards the frontlines of the battle from the flank, already raising its tail for a sneaky poison attack.
You never lose your cheap tactics, do you centipedes?
Without entirely knowing how, I extending the gravitational energy from my mandibles towards the centipede and like a rope it twists through the air with blinding speed, almost as if I'd fired a grappling hook through the air.
A strange sensation of latching on reverbs through the coil of mana and into my mandibles, and gain, without really knowing how, I pull on the rope.
With spectacular effect.
As if kicked by an invisible giant the centipede is suddenly yanked into the air directly towards me! The movement seems to defy all the laws of physics as I manage to pull this far heavier creature towards me without actually moving a muscle!
I doubt the poor centipede has absolutely no clue what is going on as it is very suddenly airborne, flying in a straight line towards the waiting jaws of a particularly menacing ant