[Stop wriggling!] Came the irritated thoughts of the monster.

Granin resolutely continued to wriggle. He wasn't about to remain locked in the jaws of a monster that wasn't under his direct control!

[If you don't settle down I'll either drop you and leave you for the silver surfer back there, or I'll start to wonder who your cult would rather see turn up alive, me or you!]

The Shaper couldn't help but splutter at that.

[You really think they'd welcome you after you killed the cult member sent to capture you!?]

The two of them were still speeding away, the six legs of the ant flashing with incredible speed to propel the enormous bulk of the creature forward. Behind them the nine warriors, led by a Balta so irate he was practically frothing at the mouth, or that might be acid, chased them through the tunnels.

[Split up ahead! Left or right? And you know what? I bet it wouldn't be the first time a cult member was killed by the monster they were supposed to look after. I can imagine Garralosh going through a few such as yourself…]

[Left! And I assure you that isn't the case!]

Despite his bluster, Granin couldn't help but reduce the effort he put into his wiggling dramatically.

[Much as I thought… Cosying up to monsters is rather risky work I would imagine.]

[Don't question the sacred mission of the cult!]

[Look, I'm not questioning it. I'm just sayin' that monsters tend to want to eat things that will give them experience. By the by, just out of curiosity, what level are you?]

[Not that high! Low actually! I barely have a class, in fact!]

[… Relax, buddy. I'm not going to eat you. You do notice me carrying you to safety right now? Are you experiencing all of the not being eaten that is occurring at this time?]

[… I am.]

[Right. Let's remember where we are right now. We are in a place tha - left or right?]
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[Great. We're in a place where I have no idea how to get back to where we were before. We could have travelled to the other side of the world for all I know. Not to mention you have my ape, and let's presume that there's a whole massive load of you stone-heads about the place right now. You understand what I'm getting at?]

[How are you casting all this magic while talking?]

[Multiple brains my man. Divide and conquer. Why?]

[Multiple brains?! You have more than one brain?!]

[Of course. I can devote an entire brain to thinking about how annoying running away from you stone folk is a massive pain in the business district at all times! Useful, no?]

[Wouldn't it be better to learn the Split Thought Skill?]

[The what now?!]

Granin bit his tongue (metaphorically) at that. Naturally the monster read into his sudden silence.

[Interesting… Wouldn't mind telling me how to unlock that would you?]

[I'd rather not.]

[Oh nooo. My mandibles are slipping.]

The powerful jaws holding him aloft flexed dangerously, pinching him around the ribs, but Granin was unmoved.

[I won't! I said too much already.]

[Tch. Cheapskate.]

[Left up here!]

[Right. Damn, these guys are persistent.]

Sword light continued to flash around them as the warriors gave chase, their powerful sword skills required the monster to skitter from side to side with insane reaction speeds to dodge or tank hits, focusing on keeping its legs unharmed. Bolts of purple magic flew out every few seconds, disrupting the followers' formation and occasionally scoring a hit.

[What does that spell even do?] Granin asked, bewildered.

[You want information from me but won't hand out your own? That's cheap, man. I'll share, that way at least one of us is a nice guy. It makes them heavier.]

[Makes them heavier? Is that… what kind of magic is that?]

[I think I'll keep that little titbit to myself. I do need a few strong cards up my carapace, after all.]

Granin could admit to himself that was fair enough. He didn't know what the cult had planned for this monster, honestly no idea. With the strange currents at play, it was probably for the best if this creature was careful with its secrets. It wasn't as if everything had gone according to his own plans up to this point.

[You really are keeping ahead of them fairly well.] He couldn't help but sound impressed.

[If you lot hadn't knocked me out, you really think I would have been caught so easily? I'd love to know how you did that.]

[You know mind magic don't you?] Granin was confused.

[Not as well as I thought I did apparently.]

The pursuit was hot and dangerous, but somehow Granin felt himself engaging almost against his will. Perhaps the threat of imminent harm was enough to lower his guard and make him open up to the creature.

[This is one of the things the cult could help you with. Developing your skills, teaching you secret unlocks and mutations. We have over a thousand years of history and research trying to get monsters to be as strong as they can possibly be.]

[It's not like I have much choice is it? I have to rely on you guys now. You've not given me a whole lot of choice on that front.]

[I suppose not.] Granin paused to reflect for a moment. [It's not usually like this, you know. You were human once, we know that. Normally we would reach out and speak to you, negotiate, see if your goals were aligned with ours. We don't strong arm intelligent monsters like you.]

[Something changed eh? We'll find out soon enough I suppose. Holy moly! Do these guys ever run out of stamina?!]

[Not likely. Our racial bonus helps us out on that front.]

[Racial bonus?! What the hell…]

[It's not like you monsters don't get your own perks. I don't get stronger by eating, for example.]

[Apparently you get strong just by being born.]

[Take a right here and slow down. You might start to see others of my kind, so be careful.]

[Slow down? I'll get chopped to heck!]

[No, you won't. We're close now and Balta knows it, he can't keep following for long. My people will come to meet us soon. It's over.]

[Alright then, you're the boss. I hope my ape is okay.]



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