Not sure what I expected really. Did I think I would be confined? Yes, obviously yes. You can't just capture a monster and then let it wander around willy-nilly. A few questions are bound to be raised. Why the hell do you have a monster walking around, please kill it until it's dead, for example. Particularly if you're going to be supporting and strengthening said monster. I can't imagine most of these stone people are likely to be big fans of the endeavour. The whole 'Monsters v Everyone else' dynamic has been fairly well established by my experiences up to this point. For whatever reason these crazy nutters want to make a new big bad monster to go to the centre of the world and hang out with the other nineteen ancients.
I'm not keen on the idea. I want to support my family and help to develop the greatest empire of ant monsters that ever existed. Other than that, I want to sleep a lot. It's not too much to ask is it? I suppose there are other things I'd like to do. I wouldn't mind meeting up with another reincarnated human such as myself. One that isn't completely nuts, that is. Garralosh wasn't what I would describe as particularly stable by the time I met her. Although you could make an argument she wasn't too well held together when she was a human. Yikes.
It'd be nice to be able to chew the fat with someone who's had similar experiences is all I'm saying! I mean, they're unlikely to be an ant, so that sucks for them, but just because they aren't a member of the greatest species doesn't mean we couldn't get along and have a good chat. How's the Dungeon been treating you? Which Biomass flavour is favourite? How much do centipedes suck? That sort of thing.
I'm kind of hopeful they might have one here in this compound. From what I gathered, there's a few monsters tucked away here. 'Specimens' as that stone man would put it. Since they study individuals like me when they come across us, there's a chance one is kicking around nearby. Maybe I should try and reach out with mind magic? No, shouldn't risk it. The people around here seem strong at mind magic and not afraid to use it in nasty ways, something the Sophos never did since they probably never felt threatened by me.
After meeting a sortie of stone-folk who were friendly and dressed in robes that were tied around their waists (what is it with these people and being bare chested?! Why the shirt hate?!), I was promptly surrounded and escorted with all haste toward their compound. The 'outpost' was basically a fortress carved into the wall of an open section of tunnel, hardly small enough to be called a measly outpost!
Before I had too much time to take in the sights, I was bundled into a downward leading tunnel and shoved into what is essentially a cell. Don't get me wrong, it's quite a nice cell. Not on the level of what the Sophos provided for their pets, that was practically a day spa for monsters, but it's not bad. A little bit of space to move around in, even for me, some food and water provided, a cosy spot of soft materials to snooze on. No windows whatsoever and obviously hardened walls to repel physical attacks.
Above me on walkways that looked down into my cell, three shapers stood still as the stone that made up their skin and watched me carefully at all times.
No privacy! Good thing I don't need to use a toilet or shower. I'd be embarrassed! I have to say, it even makes me nervous to sleep. I've no doubt that all three of them are powerful mind mages, capable of launching fearsome strikes to knock me out if I'm doing something dodgy. I've actually attempted to speak with them a few times but I haven't gotten any reply, they rebuff my mind bridges and fray them before I can connect.
So, there isn't a lot to do, basically. If they want to win me over to their side and get me to work for their ultimate goal of raising another ancient, they need to make a bit more effort! I'm sure they will eventually. I suppose I just need to rest until they're good and ready.
I did consider running away, a few times in fact. The thought of carrying Granin away as a hostage had been sorely tempting, but ultimately I thought going along with the Golgari Shapers had been the safer bet. I have no idea where I am, or how to get back home, or how many hunters would chase me or anything about the situation at all.
From the moment they caught me in the expanse I've been in their power. I can only hope Crinis is able to complete her mission and perhaps then some help might be able to find me. I can't feel anything from the colony at this moment, none of their energy is reaching me, so I know they're some distance away.
Either I manage to convince the Golgari to let me go, which I don't feel is likely, or I prove to them that I'm useful in fulfilling their grand mission. The only other option is escape and I'm not certain I'll be able to survive that. Haaaah. This sucks. If only I'd stuck with the colony and helped them expand, I wouldn't be in this stupid mess! Yet another instance where avoiding my responsibilities has come back to bite me right in the profit margin.
You'd think an ant would learn.
Faintly I can hear the sound of stone shifting above me and a few moments later three new shapers enter with their rocky chests on display to look down at me.
As an insect can, I stare back at them without shifting my head an inch, remaining perfectly still. If it unnerves them at all, they give no visible reaction, only watching me silently. It's hard to tell, but I believe the three newcomers are older than the other three. Something about how brittle their outer skin is, or is it perhaps a little pale and ossified? Regardless, they feel like authority figures, something might be happening here.
Sure enough, after some waiting a mind bridge is formed and extended out to me. With nothing else to do my mana senses are fully attuned and for this reason I'm able to detect something strange about the way this bridge is formed. I don't think it's malicious in any way, but I feel as if it is woven between all three of them, and by all three of them at the same time. Is this the method that Granin and his team used to attack me?
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[We extend a greeting to you, reborn soul. We apologise for the abrupt manner of bringing you to us, but circumstances have pressed us into desperate measures.]
The three of them stare down at me like hawks. The words are friendly but the eyes certainly aren't.
[Nice to meet you folks! Gosh darn, I really hope I can be an ancient one day!]
Hah! Got 'em.