The walls glow with molten light as the dragon's breath fades and we rocket through the narrow space. I can hear Tiny growling behind me as his hands and fur get singed by the rocks but we don't have time to deal with it.
He thinks he has it rough. I'm the one at the front, shoving the still boiling Biomass out of the way and trudging through flaming carapaces, breaking them underfoot. This is nasty! Fortunately the tunnel isn't that long, I can already see the next wave of termites rushing in to reinforce.
Well we can't have that!
My brains spin at incredible speed and mana churns inside me and in the air around. I'm pulling in a lot of juice right now, and have been for a while. I need to get my claws back into some regular tunnel so I can tap the mana veins there; don't want my core to be even approaching low on power.
Bolts of pure kinetic force fly forward like the fists of a truly angry ant and slam into the leading termites, knocking them off balance. They emit an angry chitter and try to rush forward again, only to meet with another barrage, then another.
We're coming through!
The force mana flies as I literally pummel the insects backwards while I continue to run toward them, the rest of the gang following up behind me. When I get close enough I initiate a charge, dropping my head and digging in my claws for traction.
I can hear them sizzle as I do so, which is far from ideal, but I rocket forward like a magnificent, sparkling missile.
I slam into the growing wall of termites with all the momentum I can summon, sending tons of monstrous insect flying backwards. The impact sends a tremendous jolt through my entire body, to the point I can almost feel my carapace crackling like wrapping paper. A moment later I'm dropping down into the tunnel proper and I have to say, it's not a welcome sight.
The entire thing is filled with the enemy. Completely.
The walls are covered. The floor is covered. The entire ceiling is covered in termites! The narrow opening I launched through was half way up the wall on the right side and right now I'm suspended in mid-air with gnashing mandibles literally surrounding me.
Fortunately, this doesn't come as a surprise.
Look out below!
I tuck my legs in the traditional cannonball position and drop like a stone, but not before unleashing another blast of Dragon Breath. The flame rockets out as if fired from a jet engine, pure, hot and unbelievably loud. In the brief time it takes for me to land, I clear a small zone before I crash down into the now smoking hot rocks.
I unfold my legs at the last second and bury them into the tunnel floor, immediately absorbing a jolt of mana. Gimme that juice! I push my brains to the limit, even the main mind pitching in to draw and shape as much mana as I possibly can. The omni-elemental construct spins and whirls as I supercharge it, pumping in all the raw energy I can, a myriad of elements coming out the other end.
Moments later the others fall into the tunnel around me, Tiny crashing down with his surprising grace. Crinis, a dark mass of tentacles with no centre, squirms out of the small opening and drops down to land beside me, quickly followed by Invidia's slow descent and Sarah dropping like a boulder.
[I need a little time,] I tell the others, [Tiny, unleash the lightning. Crinis, help Invidia keep them away for a few seconds!]
[Got it!] they reply, except for Tiny who's too busy whooping with joy as writhing bolts of lightning ignite all over his body.
His fur begins to rise and his wings unfurl as the ribbons of electricity flash faster and faster all over his body and down towards his arms. As his hands begin to glow with unbearably bright light, he thrusts one in each direction and bathes the termite horde in sizzling bolts of energy.
Shortly after, detonations begin to ring out and shields pop into place as Invidia follows up on his elder's good work. With more room to work in, the two are able to deploy their devastating area-effect abilities to inflict maximal damage. Sarah and Crinis circle in close, making sure that no stray bugs slip through the cracks as I push my brains into overdrive.
I intend to unleash a barrage of spells unlike anything I've produced before, pushing my new skills and the combined power of my brains to their limits.
My head is on fire, the collection of brains housed inside are working overtime and I can feel the load wearing away at them. We're in a slightly better spot now than when the roof fell down, but unless I find a way to get some separation between us at the termites so we can regroup, we aren't going to be able to last as long as I'd like.
That means dumping everything I have into one glorious burst of power.
[I'm ready!] I shout to the others. [Get in close!]
They immediately break off their offensive and rush to my side, then my work begins.
The moment the lightning and explosions stop, the termites rush forward, near-blind eyes filled with hate. Fortunately, I won't have to look at them for long. I weave magic deftly and a burst of mud erupts above my head, firing upwards and outwards before raining down, shielding us from view.
With a supreme effort of will, I finish shaping my second spell and unleash it with perfect timing. The mana flies out of me and soaks into the still flowing mud, flash hardening it in an instant. Hopefully I made it thick enough…
I grit my mandibles, my brains screaming in pain as I pour every last drop of mana I have into the construct, taking the threads of elemental energy as they pass out the side. Every mind exerts pressure to shape the final spell as best I can whilst the first termites reach my rock hard mud dome and begin chomping on it.
The last thread falls into place and I immediately unleash the spell, directing it through the narrow gap above our heads and outwards. Scorching hot winds erupt above us as a storm of fire bursts into life, the flames licking down amongst us until Invidia quickly slaps a shield across the opening.
The flash hardened mud around us heats up quickly, the air inside becomes stiflingly hot as the five of us huddle together whilst the spell rages outside. The tornadoes twist in opposite directions, heading down the tunnel igniting everything in their path whilst I collapse inside the dome.
I don't even pay attention to the stream of System announcements flowing into my mind. Instead, I sink down into myself, allowing the meditation skill to wall my emotions away as I concentrate on recovering.