I'm no longer human, I get that, but coming from my world, I understand things like the sanctity of life. Even those soldiers that were killed by Tiny, justified as I felt ordering their deaths due to the massacre of my family, my stomach still twists thinking about whether those soldiers had families themselves, children, wives, parents.
Mindless killing serves no purpose. These villagers may be misled, or just incredibly dumb, but I don't especially feel the need to massacre them because of it. They aren't a threat after all, I could probably fight a village full of farmers by myself.
Almost as if they could sense my thoughts, Enid and the Queen immediately turn to me to plead for the life of their associates.
[These villagers are misguided, monster, there is nothing to gain from their deaths. Won't you spare them?]
Well, I have no intention of killing them, but that statement isn't technically correct.
[The colony would gain Biomass and experience. Hundreds of workers have died recently, our numbers need to be replenished] I point out.
It's not like we would gain nothing, right?
The Queen's face falls and so does Enid's when my words are relayed to her. Enid looks even more despondent when she questions the Queen and her ruler has to reply, I think she's explaining just how my colony ended up losing hundreds of members. More specifically, how I lost hundreds of my siblings.
Feeling crushed, the old lady falls to her knees and pleads with me, tears beginning to fall from her eyes. The Queen looks deeply moved and also kneels to plead with me.
[Enid begs you to spare the townspeople, they are ignorant but not malicious. She offers you her own flesh as payment, I too am prepared to offer my life in exchange. It is the duty of a ruler after all!]
Yikes, these two sure are keen on saving a pack of morons.
Still having humans bow down before my magnificence is refreshing, empowering even! Royalty, forced to beg me for favour is something I couldn't have dreamed of happening in my last life. What is the feeling swelling from within?! Superiority? Power?! Yes you puny humans, kneel, beg! If you wish for this great one to spare your pitiful friends then you must grovel!
Wait! These are the words of Dark Anthony! Down, Dark Anthony! Down, you fiend! Back to the void from which you came!
I mentally shake myself free of the influence of the dark one. I mustn't allow myself to fall down the black path, I'll end up being some cartoonish supervillain who'll no doubt be killed whilst scheming for world domination or some such.
I have no intention off massacring these villagers but if I can extract maximum value from the Queen and protect the colony at the same time…. I totally will!
[There is no failing greater than ignorance. If you wish for me to spare these people, as well as to assist you in reclaiming your city, then you will need to be prepared to make fair exchange].
Yes, I'm preparing to try and make a deal here. If I can keep the colony out of it and only expose myself to the risk then I'm prepared to take it on in order to get those cores. With so many of the precious gems in my mandibles I'll be able to strengthen my entourage to the point where we will be invincible in the top layer of the Dungeon. We could secure the colony for ages as well as accelerate the timetable for my most ambitious core modification project.
The Queen seems to sense that I'm leaning towards making an agreement. Her eyes narrow as her expression turns thoughtful. To spare the townspeople she will need to turn their fervour to a less suicidal cause. These people are afire with religious zealotry, simply saying 'no' won't be sufficient to turn them from their cause. She also needs to somehow return to the city and secure her throne.
We two start discussing ideas and eventually we hash out a plan. I'm not particularly a great fan of it, but I think it will work.
Just … Why do I always have to get hit right in the dignity…
Two days later the preparations are nearly complete. The true Queen has almost fully recovered from her wounds and continues to rest inside the farm, defended by her loyal workers. Myself and a small taskforce have spent the majority of our time working towards the success of our plan whilst Tiny has been mostly sitting on the Queens guard captain and eating. The Queen herself spends her time with Enid, hashing out the details of what will happen in the town and then after that.
When everything is in readiness I finalise my plans, leaving behind Vibrant and Crinis, making sure they have clear instructions to stick with Tiny and not get into trouble, before collecting the Queen, then Enida and departing towards the town of Malgate.
When we finally arrive we are treated to a surprising sight. The town has become flooded with angry looking farmers, the crowd leading up the small hill to the church doors is easily ten times the size it was the last time I was here. There must be hundreds of these morons! Maybe over a thousand?! Where did they find all of this stupid?!
The pyre is still burning, even now in the early morning light. The charred remains of various monsters are scattered around the base of the roaring flames, causing me to wince. Such a waste! The priest is still there, standing before the energetic throng, his frenzied voice rising above the buzz of the people and reaching us even from the edge of the woods. This guy has some serious pipes on him. Good to know he has skills that don't rely on having two arms. Since… you know.
Mentally bracing myself, I step forward, leaving the shelter of the tree line and crossing the fields, drawing ever closer to the town. I make no attempt to hide myself this time, sneaking up isn't part of the plan. Thanks to our setup the crowd shouldn't attack me, but if they do I'm prepared to make like a tree and leave at a moments' notice! This ant knows not to overstay his welcome!
As we draw closer the tension in my chest grows tighter. Being this close to so many humans, totally exposed is super nerve wracking!
When the first person turns and notices us I physically flinch. A bearded man towards the rear of the crowd, brandishing a pitchfork in one hand, catches a glimpse of us and turns, his jaw falling completely slack at what he sees.
After a few moments he musters enough awareness to call out and point towards us. Gradually more and more people turn, disregarding the soaring voice of the priest to witness the incredible sight approaching openly and unhurriedly across the fields.
Like a ripple through a pond the whispers and calls spread through the crowd until, when I'm only ten metres away from the nearest person the entire crowd has turned its eyes towards me. People at the far side have stood on rocks and gone on their toes to try and catch a glimpse of the remarkable sight.
Eventually even the priest notices that his faithful have turned their attention elsewhere and his voice falters and fades until he too notices the focus of the crowd, then he fall completely silent, his voice stuck in his throat and eyes boggling at the sight.
My heart is pounding in my chest at this point and I watch the crowd through every one of my compound eyes but I see nobody moving. Their attention doesn't seem to be on me really, not even on Enid, their fellow townsperson walking by my side, they seem more interested in what is on my back.
Before the stunned crowd of her subjects, the human Queen rises to her feet, standing on my glittering diamond carapace and spreads her arms towards the crowd before declaring with a sonorous voice, ["Loyal and blessed people of Liria! There is evil stalking our nation, threatening our peace and committing foul deeds within the Dungeon, stirring it against us! We have been chosen, you and I, by the System itself! Graced by the presence of its holy messenger from below, to restore the balance!"]
The Queens powerful voice and imperious manner puts even the priest to shame. The people are visibly impacted by the force of her person.
Just in case, I brace my feet to run. This had better work!