[What in the name of all that is good on Pangera, has infected your minds?] I said.

Enid could only grimace next to me before she tried to justify it, dropping her in my esteem a few points.

[People saw what you did during the battle. From our wall we were able to watch the whole fight. Not to mention the healers who appeared during the battle to cure our wounded. There isn't a single person in the village who could say they don't have at least one family member who was directly saved by them.]

[Gratitude I understand. Gratitude would be completely fine! This isn't gratitude! What the heck is this?!]

Enid shrugged helplessly.

[With sentiment running high before the battle took place. It's obviously going to be overflowing now that it's done, considering what happened! These people have lost everything, Anthony, they need something to cling onto. Something to give them hope for the future.]

[I cannot believe you okayed this. Did you fall on your head or something? A monster clock you with a rock? It blows my mind that anyone at all thinks this is a good idea!]

My frustration is starting to bubble over and I can't help stabbing forward with my antennae toward the monstrosity that we are currently discussing.

Enid hesitates before she speaks again, but speak she does.

[You have to admit that you aren't much like a normal monster. Or... Anything like a normal monster. Are you sure there wasn't anything unusual about your creation?]

[Of course not,] I deadpan, [pure ant right down to my claws.]

I have no idea if the humans on the surface know about monsters inhabited by humans from Earth like the Sophos are, but I'm sure as hell not going to be the one to tell them.

Enid frowns at me as she adjusts her shawl. I say nothing to appease her suspicions.

[Don't distract from the subject at hand, Enid! That ,] I stab one antenna toward the construction, [is going to cause a lot of problems.]

She could only shrug helplessly.

[I don't think even you could convince them to take it down. I'm not sure that I even want them to.]

[You've fallen to the dark side Enid.]

[The what?]

[Do not give up hope. There is always another chance to walk in the light.]

[I have no idea what you mean.]

I'm not happy about this situation, but I'm not sure what I can reasonably do about it.

Enid and I stand on a slight hill as we gaze at the feverish construction taking place not twenty metres away. Men and women sweat in the heat as they work, digging, flattening, squaring stones. The foundations are already starting to take place of what will certainly be a far too large a structure of imposing stone.

To one side, a worker is going to town on a granite boulder. Already the ant-like features are starting to take shape of what I'm told will eventually be a mighty statue of me. Ant observers are about the place as well, members of the colony who've snuck over for a sticky beak and see what the humans are up to. Turns out a couple of mages have even managed to unlock the mind magic skill. It's difficult for them to use it with any level of proficiency, or for very long, but already early communication attempts have been made.


For the most part, they've been asking the villagers how they do stuff. Tungstant is over at the forge right at this moment, along with a mind mage, hassling the smiths about their craft.. It started yesterday apparently, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will continue for a long time to come.

Even Beyn is down there working! The priest is still wearing his now tatty robes and is working with his one remaining arm, clearing rock and jovially encouraging the people around him. Not that they seem to need a pick me up. Ever since I've arrived their faces have been lit with joy and they've been working at a furious pace.

It all leads me to one, sincere conclusion: these people are very sick.

[This is a literal temple to a monster, Enid.]

[To you, Anthony.]

[And what exactly do you think I am?!]

[I'm not sure, why don't you tell me?]

[A monster!]

[Really?]
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[YES!]

[Hmmph. Not like any monster I've ever heard of.]

Gawd. Even Enid has been infected. It's contagious. Do I need to isolate this community? Set up a containment? It would be irresponsible to allow others to be exposed. Or indeed, if the wider world found out that these people were worshipping monsters, would they just get wiped out? Perhaps I need to isolate them for their own protection…

[You haven't sent anyone out of the village at this point, have you Enid?]

She nods decisively.

[Oh yes. There are more survivors out there, I'm sure of it. We also need to get far enough north to check what the damage was like to the neighbouring kingdoms. If they're fine they may be able to send aid. We also want to keep an eye on the main Dungeon entrance where the capital used to stand. Just in case anything comes up. We've had dozens of volunteers ride out, most of them yesterday.]

[Dammit! I was too slow!]

[To what?]

[… Nothing.]

As frustrating as this is, I'm happy to see the ants and humans coexisting in a peaceful, non-eating each other way. It seems as if the council has taken my message of trying to learn from our neighbours and have been pushing forward even more rapidly than I had expected. My shock just goes to show that I've underestimated the colony's appetite for work once again.

The village itself saw remarkably little damage during the assault. The people had wisely set their defences alongside ours, away from the established buildings of the village. As a consequence, the monsters left them alone. Garralosh wanted to destroy the people, she didn't really care for their irrigation system.

As I look across the village, the people seem happy, industrious. Farms are springing up, the houses are starting to get a little more of a permanent vibe to them. Even the kids seem happy.

[Looks like you've come through the crises okay then.] I said to Enid.

[Thanks to you,] she replied.

[Not this again.]

[I'm just being honest. None of us would have survived if not for you. I don't understand why you would be so against humans giving you such respect.]

[This isn't respect. You don't build a temple, to show respect. How can you not think this is weird?! Am I going to lose my cred as a monster over this?]

[I don't follow.]

Haaa. These humans are so tiring. I should get out of here before Beyn tries to speak to me.

[I'll be heading into the Dungeon for a while. Plus it's a lot harder for me to be on the surface now, so you won't see much of me. Maybe this temple situation might blow over if I don't show my face for a bit.]

Enid's snort speaks to what she thinks of that idea.

[Looks like the colony is going to keep hassling you guys for knowledge anyway. If you keep teaching them, I'll make sure that we keep protecting you.]

[Sounds fair,] she observed.

[I need to get out of here.]

I broke the contact with her and turned to walk back to the colony. These people are nuts.

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