So caught up in the strange energy of the moment it takes a moment before I even realise what it is I've done.
I mean, he hit me on the head with his stupid mace! What exactly did he think was going to happen?! I've been living a violent life in the Dungeon, some things are just becoming instinct you know? If you whack me on the head with your stupid mace then you can't really blame me for retaliating right? It's self-defence!
The priest seems to also take a moment to process these events. He looks down at his now severed limb before a new expression gradually takes over his face. He falls backwards clutching at his arm and screams loudly in horror!
This triggers the stunned crowd, who had been locked in place with shock to erupt with fear, people climbing over each other as they attempt to run for the door!
This is not what I intended! Why the hell did we have to dig up into a freakin' human building anyway?!
Did they think the Dungeon had delivered some free xp to them as offering or something? You expected me to just stand there and get killed?! Even if I were to let you bash my head in with that ornate mace for half an hour it wouldn't have been able to damage my diamond carapace in the first place! All I'd get is a headache!
Since it has come to this I have to try and limit the damage, my plan was to have the colony hide somewhere on the surface so we could ride out the worst of the wave in relative safety. If we manage to draw a human army down on our heads then we may as well go back down into the Dungeon and try our luck! If these humans run away and bring back soldiers we'll be in a real pickle!
Think Anthony! You have to fix this!
Out of desperation I do the only think I can think of to stop the people from running away.
I channel my gravitational magic and form the gravity domain.
I mean, it would stop them moving right?
With my increasing skill and familiarity with the spell I can form it much more quickly than before, in only a matter of seconds the powerful energy erupts from me, encompassing the church building. Thankfully I had enough presence of mind to dial back the strength of the gravity.
The moment the spell erupts the humans find themselves unable to keep their feet, the younger children immediately fall to the floor, completely unable to resist the force pulling them down. The adults are better able to cope but even they find themselves without the capacity to walk.
The priest himself is too busy shrieking and gripping his arm, holding it before his disbelieving face, he doesn't even seem to notice that he has been forced onto the floor by my spell.
In some ways I'm impressed.
I only leave the domain in place for a few seconds before I shut it off. In those few seconds the frantic escape of the congregation has been halted, almost everyone has been forced to the floor, unmoving.
I try my best to stare them down a little. It isn't easy to communicate "don't move or I'll turn it back on again!" with an ant stare but I do my best.
They seem to get it to some extent. Fear twists their faces as they have now realised that this isn't some religious experience but the enemy of their kind, monsters from the Dungeon, emerging when they least expected it in possibly the last place they expected.
Seeing the terror and tears on the faces of the children is quite a blow to me. It wasn't that long ago I was a human myself! I'm not that scary am I?
I mean….. A giant ant that can apparently control the force of gravity would be pretty damn scary when I think about it.
With the crowd subdued for the moment I decide to try and work out exactly where we are. I need to know a little more about this situation before I decide to bring the colony up to the surface or retreat down and come up with another plan.
Moving down the aisle towards the large double doors at the rear of the church I hesitate a moment before pushing them open with my mandibles and taking in the surface of this world for the first time.
A brilliant sunset is the first thing that meets my eyes, the alien sky dyed with intense reds and pinks. Lovely. Not much scenery to appreciate in the tunnel after all, causing this sight to hit perhaps a little harder than I would have thought.
Focus! No time to get caught up in a sunset! Shaking myself slightly I turn to take a look at the surroundings. The church appears to be situated on a hill, a cobbled path leading directly up to the doors. Spread before me looks to be a sleepy town, smoke curling from chimneys that poke proudly out of slatted roofs. In the distance I can see farming fields spread like a carpet that press up against a walled city.
Checking my tunnel map quickly I estimate the previous Dungeon entrance I had located seems like it would be smack bang in the middle of that city.
So… things could have been worse, I suppose.
In fact, if I focus my eyes carefully I think there is a fire in that city? Against the darkening skies I'm fairly sure a plume of black smoke is rising from somewhere inside the walls. Some sort of situation happening over there? I don't especially want to wish harm on anyone over there but this could be a chance for the colony to slip away without notice!
After turning back to eyeball the congregation again I scurry around the side of the church and take a peek around the corner. The church doesn't seem to be as large as I had originally thought it was, a sturdy stone building with a high vaulted ceiling to be sure, but it isn't exactly a cathedral.
It seems to have been constructed on the edge of this town, high on the hill overlooking the more simple homes of the people, many of whom possibly work farming the surrounding fields. On the rear side of the church, down the hill and over a few open paddocks a lush wood is spread, thick foliage creating a beckoning darkness across the forest floor.
Just the sort of place a colony could go and get lost in!
I might be able to salvage this after all!
I turn and head back inside where many members of the congregation have begun to offer prayers of a much different sort to the statue, hoping for salvation and survival rather than whatever the heck they had thought was coming their way before.
The priest is still clutching his arm, almost completely inert. I think the shock has hit him pretty bad. Poor guy. I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt, I mean, I did bite his arm off…
I head back to the hole in the floor stick my back zone through so I can talk to the Queen.
It's a little weird the pheromone conversation. We 'listen' with our antennae but we 'talk' with our pheromone gland which is positioned in the rear zone.
"Could you come up here and heal a person? I injured him, but I think it would be bad for us if he died".
I can tell the Queen is a little surprised but she quickly agrees with my suggestion and begins to chomp and push her way up through the floor, buckling the flat stones and forcing the wooden pews to scrape and scratch on the floor as she forces her bulk through.
If I'd thought the humans were fervently wishing for salvation before their efforts are redoubles with the emergence of the Queen. She fills the room with her majesty and abdomen, forcing the people to push themselves back against the walls, openly weeping in terror and this manifestation of the Dungeons evil.
The Queen doesn't seem much fussed. She channels mana through her antennae for a moment and then touches the priest on the arm. The light flares as it passes into his flesh and the wound rapidly closes over, the bleeding slowing to almost nothing in a matter of seconds.
I think with this his life will be preserved, at the very least he won't bleed to death.
With no way to communicate to reassure the people I decide its best just to hustle the colony out of there. Giving instructions to the Queen and the workers we gather up the larvae and pupae before marching out of the church towards the forest.
The eyes of the congregation are almost popping out of their head as rows of monsters ants pour out of this hole in the center of their church, marching past whilst totally ignoring them. I myself head down into the escape tunnel to help move and I'm shocked when a fat grub wiggles towards me, flopping about on the ground with glee.
Are you that energetic grub I saved from the brood chamber?! I shouldn't be shocked you survived I suppose, you do seem to have an unusual amount of spunk.
With that, Tiny, the colony and myself carry everything we belong and walk out, past the disbelieving and hopeful faces of the colony, out the front of the church, across the field and then beneath into the welcoming arms of the forest.
All the while the burning gaze of the priest follows me as I walk.