As I ate the mana cloud beneath me grew more intense, radiating a blinding glow that forced me to turn my head away to avert my eyes.
Curse my lack of eyelids! Sometimes an entity just has to blink!
There is a bright flash and then the intensity of the light fades, allowing me to turn back and observe what the heck just took place.
The mana cloud is still there, lazily swirling as the glowing energy leeches out of the walls, but there is also a centipede! A brand new claw centipede uncurls itself and upon seeing me staring down at it, immediately opens its claws and charges!
[You have defeated level 1 claw centipede]
[You have gained experience]
That was one short life…
Holy bushiness of the grey one! This is a spawn point?!
I hadn't had confirmation of this point yet, I had no idea how all of these monsters were being created. I hadn't seen any monsters procreating, giving birth or any such thing, but that didn't mean that it didn't or couldn't happen. Here though I have proof! Evidence! Monsters are spawned from concentrated mana points in the ground, possibly also in caves!
But why? And how?! Is the creation mana I saw in the menu? If so, who is doing the creating? Is this simply a natural phenomenon in this world, a by-product of mana? It seems ridiculous to suggest that in any place the strange energy form that is mana exists, monsters will begin to spontaneously pop out of the ground!
Just what is going on in this place?
This doesn't explain the behaviour of the centipedes however , it makes so much sense. Of course the centipedes would construct a mound around a spawn point, reinforcements would literally pop out of thin air and begin to work with the rest of them.
Perhaps in each mound a noble can also be found? Is it the noble centipede that gathers its followers together, creating the mound around a spawn point? Or do the centipedes perform this action themselves?
Of course, the other aspect of this discovery is what it could mean for the colony…
A spawn point is essentially a creature manufacturing location. Looking down the mana cloud is already beginning to recover its intensity, growing brighter with each passing second. It is entirely possible this location will spit out a new centipede every hour! Free food for the colony! An endless supply of weak individual monsters to plump up those larvae and swell our numbers!
The only problem is.. How to connect it to the nest without drawing too much attention. We aren't too far from the ant hill here, it should be possible, if tedious to dig a tunnel that will connect this location to the nest. Such an endeavor would probably take a full day of digging, even with the excavation skill.
Once connected how will I manage this location? I would probably need to put down a pheromone trail to bring workers here so they are in position the moment the centipede spawns.
It doesn't seem worth it to create such a long tunnel and divert the workforce just for one centipede an hour… but securing such a safe and reliable food supply is also important!
With a sinking feeling I gradually realize what I should do.
It makes a lot of sense to connect this spawn point to the colony underground, so the tunnel will be constructed. To make the investment of workers worth the time and effort, I should also create another pitfall network here, so that a number of workers could remain in this location and still be efficient in food gathering.
This will increase the amount of work I need to do in terms of trap resetting but once a day should still be sufficient for both networks.
The only problem I have, is this is going to be a whole lotta digging…
Time to embrace the zen of ants! Dig Anthony! Dig with your very soul!
In the end it takes me almost two days of non-stop work.
Tiny amuses himself by immediately smashing the spawned centipedes and consuming the Biomass, then napping until the next one spawns, roughly an hour later. I'm starting to notice a few changes to my ape companion, his hands seem larger, his fur thicker and even his eyes appear to be sharper than before. I can't be certain but I think he might be starting to spend the Biomass he is gaining. Perhaps he couldn't before since he wasn't sufficiently grown?
In any case, if he is getting stronger then it's all for the best.
I lost myself to the timeless mantra of the ant, digging, carrying dirt and rock to the surface, only to return and dig again. I'm once again grateful for my improved stats since I was able to power through the work better than I could before.
I was also able to level the excavation skill another two times, raising it to level 6.
Through sheer minded, mandible grippingly bloody mindedness I complete this project.
Five new pitfall traps, fully completed, covered and baited with fresh centipede await their first guests. I took the time to lay down my warning message to try and keep the workers from climbing out of the traps before laying another trail, a 'food this way' message, back to the colony.
After connecting the main tunnel I visited the first network to see how things were getting on. Four of the traps needed to be reset, which was pleasing to see. Judging by the number of workers scurrying about they'd been quite successful at grabbing food from this location and were keen for more.
I re-lay the food trail a few times until I manage to lure a couple of workers from the ant hill shaft across to the new trap network. When they get there I manage to shoo Tiny away from the spawn point long enough for the new workers to find a freshly created claw centipede and quickly dispatch it, rushing back to the colony with the Biomass and sure laying down more pheromones to recruit further workers to this location.
I hold down the fort for a little while until the number of ants in this network has risen to a suitable level. I while away the time by practicing my mana shaping and taking care of the one Croca-Beast who dropped into a pitfall.
Once again I fed the Biomass to Tiny and let the colony take another portion. The Croca, despite still being fearsome beasts, are unevolved after all. If I were to eat them I'd end up with a full stomach and little else. Rather than waste so many points of Biomass, let Tiny and colony gain the full benefit.
Finally, as the number of workers increases I feel comfortable enough to take a well-deserved nap. Which is to say torpor.
After shaking myself awake it's pleasing to see that the second network has become reasonably populated with workers, enough that I feel comfortable leaving the area to them and moving on. After one last sweep to reset the traps at both networks I kick tiny awake and we are once again ready to depart and explore!
Hopefully the colony is able to benefit fully from all of this work I've done!