We feasted on the Croc until there was nothing left. Our stomachs were full to bursting and our wounds gradually closed. In hindsight, it probably wasn't too smart of us to eat until we were completely comatose but oddly enough it turned out fine.
With the Commander and its oppressive aura gone the creatures of the expanse began to slowly regain their former bustle. Around us I could hear their growling and clashing as the normal, frenetic pace of the Dungeon during a wave began to reassert itself. In contrast, the Croca beasts were nowhere to be found. As we ate and then lay about recovering, we didn't see hide nor scale of one.
My theory is that they must have retreated after the aura from their commander faded but some scouting will be necessary to confirm this. After I've digested of course.
Speaking of digestion. The sheer amount of Biomass gained from consuming this creature was absurd. When you consider just how many mutations it must have had, not to mention the complete lack of Biomass intake penalties due to evolutionary tier, perhaps it isn't so surprising that I was able to gain almost 310 Biomass just from my share.
A staggering number. The others must have gained close to the same. I think Crinis and Vibrant will be able to max out their mutations at this point. A situation I'm extremely envious of! This trip will have gone somewhat to relieving that stress though. Combined with the food I've eaten during our assault on the expanse I've managed to pile up close to 400 Biomass!
Not to mention I'm more than half way to my next evolution. Level 40 is creeping closer into sight!
Speaking of evolution…
I roll over onto my stomach and painfully crawl my way towards the remains of the Croca commander. Not a whole lot is left to be honest, not even a complete skeleton. As I drag myself forward I eventually come within range of the gem.
[Compatible Rare core detected. Would you like to reinforce your core or reconstitute a monster?]
A rare core.
The Gem is significantly larger than the special cores that I'd seen before. Sitting amidst the remains of the gigantic Croca, the spherical gems glitters with a red light, the energy within swirling madly.
This is some valuable stuff.
Feeling out myself internally, I feel as though the tightness and pain caused by absorbing the last Special core has almost completely faded by now. I'm not entirely sure if that means I'll be able to carry out of my plan and absorb another special core before evolving, hopefully so. I'm a bit stuck what to do with this thing though.
I'm not sure if I can use it, trying to absorb a core and popping from the inside isn't necessarily the way to go. I'll have to think on the appropriate use of this treasure.
The other aspect to consider here is that I have learned of levels of core beyond the special. This unlocks the possibility that there are even more potent cores, in fact I wouldn't doubt it! I wonder if Garralosh has a rare core or something even more potent?
What comes after rare? Legendary? Super Rare? Completely Rad core?
I have no idea!
Just something else to ponder, along with what possible evolutions would be unlocked with the absorption of a rare care might unlock.
I can dream dammit!
All in all it takes a few hours before the gang is ready to move again. We're still wounded but the worst of the injuries have been recovered. I decide that it will be best if we take our prize core and retreat back to the surface. The expanse is becoming more restless as time passes and we aren't in top shape.
We'll need to come back to do some recon to be sure the Croca beasts have actually left and then wait a bit in order to be sure that the waves of monsters will no longer be heading towards the colony.
Tired but triumphant, Tiny, Crinis, Vibrant and I limp our way back out of the Marsh Expanse towards the shortcut, avoiding combat for the most part. Due to us being careful and not wanting to attract unwanted attention, it takes us about six hours to get out of the Marsh and up the shortcut.
By the time we get there I've been able to activate my regeneration gland once again and the hole in my commercial marketplace has mostly covered up. The carapace is still somewhat thin in places but at the very least my insides are not being fully presented to the outside. All in all a great improvement.
When the anthill finally comes into sight I almost sag into the ground with relief.
I'm tired man!
So damn tired!
We all nearly died in that fight! I need stress relief. Also I need to work on my skills since my spells aren't working out the way I want them too at the moment. I wish there was someone I could talk to in order to get some advice about this stuff. I highly doubt most monsters bother with this stuff, they certainly wouldn't want to have any expertise on the matter. The one time I managed to interrogate a human, I didn't know enough to know what questions I needed to ask, so there are bound to be massive gaps in what I was able to learn.
Perhaps Enid will be able to help me out.
Exhausted in body and mind, I drag myself up the anthill and down the main tunnel, Vibrant and my pets wandering along behind me.
Workers are buzzing about the place, bustling past me, busy with their own tasks. I'm stopped a few times and we exchange the ant high five enthusiastically before going our separate ways.
So nice to be back amongst by people!
I take a moment to pop into checking on the eggs and shock strikes me to my core.
The eggs! They're gone!
In their place are twenty energetic looking little grubs, dedicated workers watching over them, cleaning them and keeping them feed at all times. They hatched!
The new generation has arrived!
Eyes agog, I move into the nursery chamber to give the little grubs a quick tickle with my antennae and can't help but laugh as the little critters wiggle and roll to escape my antennae.
After playing with them for a time, I exit the chamber and head down to the Queen's chamber. She's still resting there, covered in workers and patiently absorbing the ambient mana here, just below the surface.
"Mother! I'm back! I've got something for you!" I call.
Gradually, the Queens face emerges from the shifting mass of workers, her enormous antennae reaching out to contact mine.
"Welcome back child, it is good to see you. What have you brought?"
Suddenly I feel like a little kid bringing a painting they did at school home to show their parents. At least, this is how I assume that would feel, having never experienced it before.
With a thunk I drop a heavy gem onto the ground.
"I have a rare core! How close are you to evolving?"