The storm seemed to follow me as I ran, a rain of lightning pouring out of the sky and lancing into the earth around me.
Tiny and I, with Crinis on my back, continued to scrabble and run, lurching from side to side as we tried to dodge the lightning strikes. How are you supposed to dodge lightning strikes! It's lightning! This just isn't playing fair! I'll conveniently ignore the fact I've had Tiny roasting monsters with lightning for months now, since it doesn't have any bearing on our current situation.
I think we made the Wizard Lizard a little bit mad.
Yeeouch! That one was close! The thunder roaring in my ears is almost enough to cause mental damage on its own. My ears aren't great but they sure as heck can hear that.
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Another bolt struck the ground where I'd been just a moment before. Even whilst running for my life I was shocked (heh) at how well I was dodging these things. Is this my incredible insect reflexes coming to life? Am I finally one with my six legged people?!
Wait a second.
Another lightning bolt dodged! I'm an idiot, it's my antennae. Moments before the lightning strikes, my antennae light up with the power of the bolt descending. It's a strange but subtle sensation, which is perhaps why I didn't notice it at first, an illusory phantom of real sensation. It isn't as if I 'see' the lightning, it isn't my eyes that detect a moment into the future, it's my antennae. What I get is a feeling, a sensation of sensations to come.
Hah! This is incredible! I can even dodge lightning!
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Spoke too soon!
In an instant my body lit up like a Christmas tree as a bolt from the sky connected with my carapace. The insane electrical energy roasted my body from the inside out as it passed through me and into the ground. I immediately activated my regeneration gland and scrambled to put my feet back underneath me as the cool, healing fluid spread throughout my body.
That seriously hurt!
Oh my god!
[Crinis! Are you ok?!]
[I-I'm alright, Master,] Crinis mumbled from my back, [I can … hold on.]
She didn't sound good. I could barely make her out in my vision, smoke rising from her tentacles. We need to get the heck out of here!
The moment I'd been hit, Tiny had roared and leapt to stand over me. He paid for his dedication with another bolt of lightning ripping through his body. Fortunately he seemed at least somewhat resistant to the electrical damage. As a Dire Lightning Storm Kong should be.
I pushed myself back onto my feet.
[Let's move it Tiny!]
"Come on Senior! Dash!" Vibrant shouted.
She ran back alongside me, close enough that she was able to offer me the speed boost from her aura but far enough she wasn't too threatened by the precision lightning strikes. I was grateful for her bravery, every little bit of speed would help!
The lightning continued to fall like hammers from the sky as the Lizard Wizard continued to display its unrelenting wrath at me for daring to destroy its servant. You're trying to kill my whole family, pal! Try to think from my point of view!
Never mind then!
My HP had been cut in half by that first strike, only to be gradually rebounding now as the regenerative gland did its work. I clacked my mandibles in irritation as we ran. I really needed to work on my magic defence, opponents like this one had me at a severe disadvantage!
Or did they?!
As I focused on running and sensing the lightning with my antennae, I tasked my sub-minds with a new job. They reached out immediately into the surrounding air, using my mana sense skill and began to try and manipulate the mana in an area around me.
There it is! By focusing using my mana sense I was able to detect the mind numbing amount of mana that the storm cloud above my head contained. It appeared to the skill as if a burning ball of fire existed directly overhead! That is an astonishing amount of mana. Is this power of a centuries old giant Lizard?
And right there I can see the mana concentrating toward a single point! Then my antennae begin to tingle and I leapt to the left. Another lightning strike crashed into the ground and once again a hail of dirt clods spattered into me.
We continued to run as fast as we could as the lightning targeted me with unerring precision. How the heck is that lizard able to target me from such long range?! Is it through the scrying magic?! It isn't as if every lightning bolt targets me, but the vast majority do.
With my sub-minds I tried to reach up to the cloud above my head. If I could use the external mana manipulation skill to break apart the spell we'll be able to get the heck out of this hell storm! Sadly, try as I might, I can't extend my mana manipulation to that extent. My sub-minds strained as hard as they could but the furthest away from my body I can manipulate the mana is just shy of the clouds above my head.
I really need to rank up that skill! This is how I'm going to defend myself from magical attacks!
With the help of Vibrant and using the mana sense to predict lightning strikes we ran on for a kilometre before the storm finally abated. It was quite a sight to see the crackling, dark cloud that had been pelting us with deadly lightning simply fade away over the course of a second.
I can only assume that we moved beyond the range of the Lizard. I'd never seen magic on that sort of scale, at that sort of distance before. What rank do the related skills need to get to before you can start to cast that sort of spell?!
I guess after a couple of hundred years I would be able to get a few skills to rank nine or ten at least. They must get incredibly powerful at that level.
[Ha ha! We made it out senior!] Vibrant did a little dance of joy to celebrate.
[Could you talk to the council about pulling back the skirmishers for a time? I'm worried that things are going to get more dangerous from this point on if the Kaarmodo starts to take a more direct hand against all of the colony and not just me.]
[Roger!] Vibrant saluted with one antennae and raced off, accompanied by her gang of fifty ants. I swear her group just keeps getting larger…
Desperate for rest and a bit of healing, my pets and I made our way toward the small Dungeon chamber that the workers had provided for us. Once there we chewed up the creatures who had spawned in order to heal and satisfy our hunger before slipping into sleep or torpor.
After today's excitement we needed a good snooze before tomorrow. That would be the day we abandoned the forward HQ entirely and moved back to the main nest. I hope things have been going well back there…