Before me in the tunnel twists a tangled trap of terrible centipedes. Clearly though, these centipedes are of a new and different breed. Bodies of sleek shadow flesh, segmented armour that practically smokes with dark wisps of mana and gnashing mandibles that gleam to my mana sense.

I mean. What the hell?! Why does the Dungeon love these stupid creatures so much? Of all the invertebrates that exist on Earth, or that the Dungeon could dream up and cobble together out of random insect parts or something. Why is it that the Dungeon is so prepared to lavish its love on these filthy centipedes?! I'm starting to understand the point of view of the Sophos more and more… Perhaps I'll do just as Formo suggested and eliminate every root and twig of these cursed creatures from the Dungeon just to expose their inferiority once and for all!

[Tiny! Crinis! Attack without mercy! Annihilate them all!]

DASH!

The three of us rush forward to do battle and the centipedes hiss with fury as they sense us approaching their nest. The creatures appear to have abandoned the built up mound style of nest I observed in the forest expanse and instead look to have dug out a pit into the tunnel floor. It's sizeable, more than ten metres across, and it is filled with the hideous things.

They gnash their mandibles, spit and splutter as we throw ourselves bodily into the pit. Dozens of centipedes rise up to meet me but they hold no fear for me. Even if this new species is larger and more formidable than the old version, I'll show them what I'm made of!

CLINK! CLANK!

Mandibles and stingers fly from every side only to bounce off my precious diamond carapace. I can't wait to upgrade it again, the day when I'm covered in precious diamond will come soon! Prepare to receive the bite of justice and destiny, filthy bugs!

Omen Chomp!

The mandibles of dark energy expand before me as my stamina plummets and six centipedes are caught between the ethereal jaws.

CRUNCH!

[You have slain level 14 Stitit Tenebris Scolopendra (II)]



[You have gained experience]

A whole new breed of centipede for me to destroy! I shall purge them all!

BOOM!

Tiny leaps down in the pit and collapses on the swarming monsters like a rockslide. A rockslide bursting with electrical energy for some reason. The sound of sparking lightning fills the air as his fur writhes with ropes of electricity that sizzle and flare every time he touches a foe, which is lots, since he's in a pit full of them. The cries of burning bugs and the scent of roasting Biomass fill the air.

Haha! More!

CHOMP! CHOMP!

The pit is filled with dozens of centipedes and their rage at having their home invaded is palpable. They bite and stab at us and we return in kind. Crinis is able to extend her limbs to reach every nook and crevice of this habitat and she begins to carve the creatures apart without mercy. I feel that my pets may have inherited my distaste of this creature. Which is a good thing! Hatred of centipedes should be universal!

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Despite being a new species, the clutch of creepy crawlies proves to be of little threat and we exterminate them in short order. A triumph for Ant kind over the weaker arthropod! And now, the feast!

[You have consumed a new source of Biomass: Stitit Tenebris Scolopendra].

[Basic Profile Unlocked]

[A new variant of the Claw Centipede, the Dark Arisen Centipede has taken on the properties of the second strata, such as shadow flesh, affinity for darkness and shadow, as well as enhanced poison abilities. Along with a general increase of toughness, cunning, might and will, the Dark Arisen Centipede is far more dangerous than its weaker cousins.]

You what!? Damn you, Gandalf! You've lavished this level of attention on these stupid creatures, and they're still so weak? I'm gonna eat them all! Just you watch!

We chomp our way through the nest of coiled insects, Crinis in particular shoving them into her cavernous maw with relish, before we continue to explore the tunnels. Having to pause and heal Tiny every so often is a bit of a pain, but otherwise we make good progress. We find a few monsters, but nothing so extreme as the spider for the next few hours and we begin to get into a groove.

It's taking a little while for me to adjust to being nearly sightless. After investing so much of my early Biomass points in my eyes, it's quite painful to come down to this strata and find myself totally blinded. I assumed it would be dark down here, but this level of dark is out of control. Goths would hesitate in the face of this much black. To my mana sense the walls positively pulse with the shadow mana that flows through the Dungeon veins, leaching out into the air and stealing away the light.

The monsters glitter, like small glowing points of shifting energy in a dark cloud. It's hard to make them out, but it's doable, and I'm getting better with practice. A few more Skill levels won't hurt, but I expect it's going to take a couple of days for that to happen. In the meantime, I think I can make do with what I have. Tiny's the one struggling the most. He's basically just operating on sound and the light he can produce from his electricity. Whenever he bumps into something he starts sparking just long enough for him to demolish whatever it was that got in his way, usually a rock.

The tunnel twists and turns, but always slopes downward. The further we go, the thicker and more dense the corals and plants become, forcing us to shift our path or cut our way through. It takes time but we progress at a steady pace. There are some smaller tunnels that shoot off this one, but most are too small for me to enter anymore. These places are the refuge of the weaker and smaller monsters, amongst which I no longer count myself a member.

After a few more hours we come back to the main tunnel that we broke off from. I can see in my tunnel map that we've moved basically in parallel but followed a far more twisting path. Not to worry, we need to continue gathering experience.

[Come on Tiny, let's follow a few more of the side tunnels before we get too much further. If we keep following this major tunnel, we're sure to connect to an expanse eventually and I want us to be ready.]

[Hurr.]

Tiny rumbles a growl back at me. I can tell he's still irritated by the shadow mana ripping through his body and the monsters we've battled so far haven't been enough to slake his desire for challenge. I'm not too worried though. I'm sure the second strata has way more interesting things to throw at us that what we've seen so far…

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