The Black Blood Insects were a rather fascinating insect life form. Strictly speaking, they were underground creatures. Though they sometimes came up to the surface to forage for food, those times were in the minority.
Black Blood Insects fed on rocks, but not just any old rocks –they had to be rocks with mana in them. Such a rock was abundant in Purgatory and it could be classified as an unknown mineral of sorts.
Either way, all that wasn’t important to me at all. What was important was that these insects were edible…Speaking of which, the reason these insects had the words ‘Black Blood’ in their name was because their blood was black and…contained trace amounts of poison…
“How are they edible then?!” No.3 frowned slightly to show his displeasure at being led around like that: “Besides, can those tiny insects even produce a complete soul?”
As we had discovered with those Demon Fire Worms, creatures who were too weak barely had any Soul Force. At the time of their deaths, their soul would lose the protection of their bodies and be exposed to the air. At that point, if a soul was too weak, the soul would start to fracture and dissipate rapidly.
Soul fragments weren’t edible…not to mention that Mo Na and I didn’t consume flesh either…not devil flesh at least, nor worm meat or whatever rubbish meat they had here in hell. For the most part, we had been subsisting on fruits and souls. Besides, the thought of having to eat those disgusting insects honestly made me want to throw up there and then…but what choice did I have?
Since Nola mentioned that these worms were edible, she must have had some way to take care of the poisons within them. Thus, I wasn’t all too worried about that at all. Rather, what I was truly worried about was would Mo Na and I starve to death if we didn’t eat their flesh…
“Their poisons won’t harm us too much. If we roast them, the poisons would vanish. While these insects might technically be creatures of Purgatory, their fire resistance is actually on the weaker side. Just dropping into the lava lake is enough to reduce them to cinders.”
‘A purgatory creature that’s afraid of fire…also, what she’s telling me then is that by roasting the insects, their blood would evaporate and naturally the poison contained within the blood would disappear as well…heat really is the panacea for such stuff huh…’
‘If what she said was true, this plan might actually work, but…just looking at those things crawling down by my feet…is already off putting enough…expecting me to eat them is just…*blegh*…I’d rather starve than eat them…’
“Mama, those insects are hideous, Mo Na would rather starve to death than eat one…”
‘As expected of my sweetie, our minds are one and the same on this matter…but if we don’t eat them, how are we to survive then? Blasted things are so weak, their souls end up fracturing upon death so consuming their souls isn’t even an option…’
“There are insect queens amongst them as well, these queens are able to produce an edible soul upon death. Moreover, there are the soldier insects and general insects as well. They all leave behind a complete soul. I know that the general insects have a strength of One-stars but I’m not entirely sure about the queens. Still, there’s no way they would have a strength higher than the generals…all that was knowledge handed down to me by my elders long ago.” Nola then asked: “So what do you think?”
“Well, if they can produce souls, there’s really no reason to say no is there?” I exchanged a glance with Sinmosa and received an affirmative from her eyes as well. “If there was such a perfect plan to begin with, why didn’t you just say so earlier?”
“There aren’t that many Black Blood Insect hives to begin with and more importantly…” She paused at that point, seemingly not too willing to continue explaining based on that troubled look on her face: “You’ll know when the time comes.”
For us right now, only the word ‘hunger’ mattered. As long as those insects were edible, everything else could wait.
These insects had built their hives beneath the ground and would rarely venture above ground. They fed on rocks with mana and possessed an impressive digging ability. In actuality, it wasn’t only the blood of these insects that was poisonous, rather it would be more accurate to say that any fluid within their bodies was poisonous…
For example, the spit of these insects had a corrosive effect which they used to first dissolve the rocks they found into manageable chunks before carting them to their hives with their pincers.
Their society was split into four levels. Those of the lowest level were known as Black Blood Insects –they were basically the worker ants of the hive. Their job was to harvest and transport rocks back to the hive to feed the queen. Also, they performed other menial tasks as well, such as feeding, looking after the larva, enlarging the hive, etc.
Upon evolving, these insects would become Black Blood Soldier Insects. Soldier insects had a head that was at least twice as large as the normal insects and their pincers became just as frightening as well. These insects weren’t in charge of harvesting rocks but were instead tasked with the safety of the nest. At times, they were dispatched to safeguard the worker insects when they called for help.
Black Blood General Insects were the evolved form of Black Blood Soldier Insects. At this point, their bodies were usually over 15 cm long, roughly that of a grown rat’s. Their appearance was basically the same as the Black Blood Insects except for a troublesome pair of wings that resembled Cicada Wings. Initially, I was a little puzzled as to why underground creatures would even require wings but I soon learnt the reason when we fought for the first time. Suffice to say, not every threat they faced came from below the ground…
The job of these generals were basically the same except that they were now mostly in charge of guarding the queen, given their relative strength when compared to the ordinary soldier. On top of that, they had one more unique job and that was to feed themselves to the queen. That’s right, feed not mate…
And now, we move onto the Black Blood Queen Insect.
The Black Blood Queen Insects were the highest authority in the hive but unlike normal insect queens, they weren’t just in charge of breeding but also creating food for the hive as well. Mhm, creating.
As mentioned before, rocks weren’t directly consumed by the Black Blood Insects but were carted back to the hives, more specifically, they were carted to the queens. With their astonishing appetite, the queens would consume all the rocks. The rocks would enter their stomach and after going an indescribable process, it would then be passed out in an indescribable fashion as well…
This excrement…was essentially poop and was also the food for the other Black Blood Insects. Those who weren’t familiar with these insects would probably wonder how could a single insect consume so many rocks…the fact was that the rocks that were brought back were all stored in the stomach of the queens where they would be rapidly processed and then passed out. Because of the sheer speed of this process, the queens were able to continuously eat and poop at the same time.
If someone were to carefully measure the inputs and outputs of this process, they would find that the rocks passed out by the queens were a whole 10% lighter than before. In truth, the queens didn’t actually have to eat that many rocks, they were merely doing that to extract the mana within the rocks. Because of their low intelligence, these insects only knew how to extract said mana through the most primitive of methods: eating.
Black Blood Queen Insects didn’t have to mate. Instead, each queen would pick a general to consume and by storing the flesh and essence of this general in their reproductive organ in their abdomens, the queen would then lay innumerable eggs after some time.
In that sense, these queens were really cruel mistresses…
Anyway, since we’ve decided to target these insects, there was no longer any sign of hesitation in Nola as she led us forward. By following one of the insects who was carrying a rock back to its hive, we easily located the entrance. All in all, we travelled roughly one kilometer before discovering something that looked like an ant’s nest. There, the insect we followed all this while lifted its pincers and disappeared into the hole, rock still secured.
Shockingly, the entrance of this hive was actually a meter wide in diameter. At times, we would spot a number of insects entering the hive from all the four corners with a rock in their mouths. Sometimes, we would instead spot some insects leaving the hive entrance without any rocks in their pincers. Although the rocks were all supposed to be found underground, there were still some rocks that made it to the surface. These rocks were what these insects were out looking for.
“This hole is rather small…can we even enter it?” As she sat there on my shoulders, Mo Na pouted a little before saying: “Mama, Mo Na is very sure we can’t enter.”
‘Of course I know that we can’t enter, who can even enter such a small hole…well, since it’s Nola who tabled this plan, I’ll just let her give us the solution as well. Still, I’m very very sure Nola can’t enter this hole…’
At that, our eyes all turned towards Nola in unison.
Naturally, she knew what we were trying to say with our gazes. She gave us a relaxed shake of her head and said: “There’s no need for all that trouble, all we need to do is throw some fire into the hole.”
‘Throw some fire into the hole?’
Before I could ask any further, Nola pointed her mouth at the hive entrance and spat out a ball of fire the size of a human head. As that ball of fire descended ever so slowly down the hole, the entire entrance seemed to light up in response. Soon after the ball disappeared, we heard a sharp cry echo from within its pitch black tunnel. Even without guessing, I knew that the cry was a sign that the insects were all rushing towards us.
After all, what creature wouldn’t flip out after having their home threatened like that?