There isn't much time and I still want to work on myself as much as possible. I have skills I need to grow and a whole heck of mutations I need to purchase to get myself in fighting shape.
I don't want to take my superiority for granted anymore. After losing half of my commercial district to a hostile takeover by the child of Garralosh, I know I need to wise up and get as strong as I can, as fast as I can. My family needs to protected until it can grow large enough and strong enough that it can take care of itself.
At that point I can sit back and relax and let the colony take care of me for a change. Maybe take a holiday. How does an ant take a holiday? I'll work something out. Do some digging for fun or something.
Vibrant and her posse are already in the Dungeon somewhere, farming their little hearts out, so I let the Queen know that I'm heading to the Dungeon for a day and make my way to the shortcut. As we make our way out of the anthill and towards the shortcut I can see the activity in the village, feverish as always. They have so many projects on the go I can't understand how they get the energy. They're working on the wall, still putting up buildings and somehow there are more people doing weapons training than there were before.
Apparently there's another Dungeon entrance out there somewhere that Morrelia knows about and she's going to start taking her crew down on short expeditions. Apparently having had the first twenty combat classed individuals powered through the first levels is enough and now they can handle some short delves and power level their own people. With Morrelia and her people helping, I'm sure they'll be fine.
The shortcut is still spawning plant monsters and the odd beast. We smash our way through these freshly spawned beasts, barely stopping to eat until we reach the bottom and make our way into the expanse.
The scene here is very different to what I remember. The sound of vicious combat and the roars and growls of monsters on the hunt echoes throughout the space. Very different to the eerie lack of activity that occurred under the suppression of the Croc.
Needless to say I like it a lot more now.
Without the newly spawned monsters being sucked in by the oppressive aura and send out in marauding waves the expanse is suddenly flush with life, the enhanced spawn speed of the wave contributing to the vibrant atmosphere.
Perfect hunting ground!
Twelve hours later, Tiny, Crinis and I crawl out of the expanse towards the shortcut.
Why, why is it always so filthy!?
Once again I'm covered in a fragrant mix of dirt, ichor and swamp water. Tiny also looks quite ridiculous, his fur matted and wet, stuck to his body and covered in muck. Only Crinis is unaffected, a spherical blob of darkness, unsullied by anything unwanted.
How the heck does she do it?
The expanse had been full of activity, plants versus turtle hippos and various other monsters crawling out of the woodwork to battle. I checked in on the aphid population only to find them still relaxing, unchallenged on top of the foliage. It seems even in the aggression filled Dungeon, monsters won't bother killing a creature that will happily feed them so long as they leave it alone.
I also made sure to secure one Tiny armload of the mana infused wood that we found the last time we were here. I'd love to know if there is anything interesting we can do with it.
More to the point, if there IS something interesting that can be done with this kind of material, I wonder if the village can teach the colony what to do with it. I suspect that the more intelligent monsters, such as the Sophos, can make use of the materials they find in the Dungeon and if the colony is going to reign supreme, *cough*, I mean live independently then we need to harness every advantage we can.
Once more we ascend, crushing our way up the shortcut and I take a few moments to take stock of my own gains over the last hunt.
First up the 160 Biomass I gained is the most immediately relevant thing. That brings me to 246, enough for some serious upgrades. I was also able to grind some levels over the duration, naturally I didn't miss such an opportunity.
Mind magic affinity gained three levels. I used this nonstop during our stay in the expanse. Taking the skill gave me a slew of new mental spells I can use, most of which are variations of or more advanced techniques with, the mind bridge. I mean, it makes sense right? To effect another creature's mind, you need to make some sort of connection to give you access to their thoughts, ergo, the mind bridge forms the basis of almost all mind magic.
The trick I spent most of my time on was misdirection in battle, using the mind bridge to feed foes incorrect stimulus for a brief second during combat. The monsters would think they'd been attacked from behind, or think they saw a flash of movement in the corner of their eye, or hear the sound of a thumping foot next to them, all of which didn't exist in reality. At first it hadn't been as effective as I'd expected but with a bit of practice I was able to become more convincing and my timing improved so I had monsters leaping to dodge attacks that weren't there or putting their guard up in exactly the places I didn't want to attack.
This sort of mind control feels kind of evil but I can't say I don't like it…
Naturally when using magic to this extent, my other magic related skills go up as well. Two levels in Mana Scrooge, one in transformation, three in Deep Meditation and two in advanced cerebral endurance. I felt like I was able to gain levels in these skills faster using mind magic than I was with water and ice, perhaps because the magic itself is more advanced? Might have to ask about that.
The other added benefit of using mind magic to distract and harass my foes was that I was able to simultaneously train my bite skills, so I was able to reap a small harvest there as well.
Two levels in Shredding bite allowed me to advance it to Tearing Bite, two more levels in Shattering Bite and three in Splintering Chomp. Now that Tearing Bite has reached the third rank, the goal of having all of my bite skills at rank four is suddenly within sight. Once I get them there I'll attempt the skill fusion and see what sort of skill comes out. I'm looking forward to it!
I haven't checked in with Tiny and Crinis yet, I'm sure they were able to make gains similar to my own. I'm too tired to battle Crinis and make her spend all of her points right now, I'll save that for later. I'm sure Tiny hasn't spent his points, just because he's too lazy to do so. If I had to guess I would assume he is still sitting on all of the points we earned for fighting the giant Croca.
Weary but satisfied, we crawl down into our little chamber beneath the nest and settle in. I'll have to spend my Biomass and perhaps clean my carapace, have time for a nap and then we will go into high alert, depth con five. The pupae should be ready to hatch!