Boy was I glad to sense Tiny had managed to arrive on schedule! My biggest worry had been the big moron would get confused or lost somehow.
[You managed to find me ok big guy?]
[It was hard? What happened?!]
[You got stuck behind walls?]
[How did get through?]
I wonder how many walls the Queen is going to have to replace…
Thinking of the Queen I could only shake my head internally. Are humans in this world penalised on Cunning or something? From the moment I captured her she had demonstrated her dislike of monsters at almost every opportunity. To think that such a person would actually hold to an agreement with one? I hadn't believed it from the beginning!
I mean, the Queen can't be entirely blamed for being outwitted. How could she have known that I was not just an unusually intelligent monster but an actual human reborn? Of course I know about treasuries, betrayal and have the unfair advantage of being able to understand human mannerisms or tone. It was simplicity itself to have the colony tunnel under the castle and poke about until we located the sweet, sweet, wealth.
Being the noble and upstanding ant that I am, I wanted to uphold my end of the deal as much as possible, so I was went along and fought hard to restore the Queen to her throne. To be honest, it would have been pretty embarrassing had the Queen not actually turned on me at the end. At that point we had already connected the castle to several prepared Dungeon tunnels and emptied out her supply of cores!
Thankfully we managed to avoid that awkward scenario…
Tiny and I are currently racing down a separate tunnel we had prepared that hadn't been connected to the Dungeon itself so we are blessedly unobstructed by monsters as we run. I collapsed the entrance behind us so I doubt the humans will be able to locate us, they should be busy handling a flood of monsters right about now!
The perfect crime Anthony, you genius you!
The best part of all? The sweet, gravelly tones of Gandalf that are still ringing in my ears!
[You have reached level 20, one skill point awarded]
[You have reached max level for your current evolution, would you like to access the evolution menu?]
[Monster core has reached capacity for your current stage of evolution].
[Piercing chomp has reached level 10, advancement available]
[Advanced Exo-skeleton defence has reached level 5]
[Pet communication has reached level 3]
[Shattering Bite has reached level 4]
By the bushy, bristling facial hair of the bearded one! SO GOOD!
The notifications fell like rain in my ears during the final battle! Max level! Thanks to stealing the cores from all of the lamps I have maxed out my core at 100 mp! If I can take in a special core I'll be ready to evolve once more! My POWAH! It Grows!
Combined with this sack full of monster cores we swiped, the future is looking exceptionally bright! The skills I'll be able to train, the special evolutions I'll be able to secure for my pets and the colony!
We really hit the jackpot this time!
The unfortunate part is that we have to move the colony, quickly. The Queen is perfectly aware of where we are presently situated so we can't sit still. Only by relocating somewhere out of her reach will we be able to avoid retaliation. Thankfully such a place isn't too far away! To the south of these lands the wild and untamed monster infested lands are vast! It'll be easy for our colony to get lost in there, giving us plenty of time to develop and grow.
The only tricky part is making sure we have some form of Dungeon access since the Queen isn't able to sustain herself on the surface. We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. If everything goes according to plan then we will be able to build a kingdom of our own. For ant kind!
Hold on there Anthony, don't get ahead of yourself! For the moment you still need to focus on fleeing the country! You are the fugitive!
Even if I want to evolve reeaaaallly bad!
It's addictive, evolving. Go to sleep and wake up as a better and more powerful you. There's an intoxicating quality to it. I must firm my will and resist. You can't evolve when you're dead!
Tiny and I continue to run through our emergency escape route as I chuckle gleefully to myself the entire way. There is a very real danger of me becoming conceited if I continue to celebrate my own success so enthusiastically.
When we finally burst out of the tunnel we find ourselves once more beneath the shady foliage of the forest. I breathe deep of the fresh forest air. Delicious! Freedom! I stretch my legs wide to embrace the trees.
This is the feeling of freedom, of liberty, of successful, guilt free theft!
Tiny looks at me as if I'm completely stupid.
Pah! You don't have the intelligence to appreciate the subtle nuances of this moment. You don't even realise that with that sack over shoulder you look like a mutated, evil Santa!
It takes another twenty minutes to make our way back to the ant hill. Seeing the large dirt structure, with its ever attentive guards, warms my heart. Home with the family once more!
Time to uproot and move them all again!
Skirting around the anthill I make my way straight to the farm, leaving Tiny to rest after his long haul. He might have power but stamina seems to be slight weakness of the big guy. Crawling down into the farm I see a familiar sight. The workers have continued to build a living layer of armour around their beloved Queen, essentially burying her beneath several layers of workers.
Once again I have to climb in and push my way through until the Queen's face emerges from the clutter right in front of my face.
"Mother! Hello! Have you been able to heal yourself?" I exclaim.
The Queen smiles, her antennae waving about until she manages to free one and give me a tap on my own, the ant high five.
"I am well child. I have healed myself".
"How does your core feel?" I ask.
Flipping on my mana sense momentarily I can see that once again her core is blazing with light. The density of mana in her core seems to have recovered to its maximum capacity.
"I feel fine" she responds.
This is great news! The Queen has made a full recovery. This means we can move immediately without endangering the most important individual in the colony.
"Hi-Hi!" a voice calls.
I look at the Queen quizzically and she stares back at me calmly.
Was that…. Who was that?
"Where did you go Senior?! You took so long!" the voice comes again.
The voice seems somewhat high pitched, squeaky almost. If it isn't the Queen then who the hell is talking to me in here?! I turn around and cast about with my antennae until I finally come face to face with a small worker carrying a conspicuously large black lump on its back.
"Vibrant?!" I exclaim.
"Hi-Hi!" she says, "I learned to talk, Senior! I have sooo many questions!"