Sometimes, I truly wondered if perhaps this queen ant had her head kicked in by a donkey when she was still a larva. A simple question ended up requiring quite a bit of explaining on my part before she understood what I was trying to ask. By then, my patience had basically been worn thin.
As I looked at that look of epiphany on her face, I celebrated quietly. At the same time, I questioned whether it was in part because my explaining skills were lacking…
“The Elders…said…long…long…long ago…people…collected…protection…fee…often…”
‘Protection fee, huh…so it’s not just the triads who do that now…’
Her answer didn’t surprise me all that much; it was perfectly understandable that someone would do such a thing given how many blasted golems there were littered about. Clearly, there was someone collecting poop to create golems.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that golems were a part of the capital’s defensive system. Having gained such an interesting piece of news, I continued pressing her for more information, which she did without holding anything back. At the end of that, I decided to let her go but just as I was about to tell her that, a thought occurred to me: ‘If those golems were made from excrement, or poop, would those golems try and attack the Black Blood Queen Ants?’
As for why I suddenly had such a stroke of inspiration, I couldn’t say for sure but in hindsight, I sure had a ton of reasons I could come up with to justify it.
First, Black Blood Ants were a vital part of the production process for golems so the people of Sable Radiance probably wouldn’t want to hurt them. Second, the ants themselves aren’t really interested in their poop so there’s no reason for them to attack the golems either. Given that neither side threatened the other, the golems really had no reason to attack the Black Blood Ants.
Lastly, and also most importantly, from the way that queen ant talked, I could tell that the Black Blood Ants had some degree of intelligence, perhaps not as much as the other races, but enough to definitely create a society. In that sense, it implied that the people of Sable Radiance had engaged in some kind of unique relation with the ants for ant poop. While I wasn’t entirely sure how close this relation was, it was most likely that of a master and a servant’s.
The weak served the strong. That was the law of nature, whether in this world or Earth.
If these ants were really slaves of the kingdom, then they probably wouldn’t trigger the external defense system as well! If the golems really won’t attack them… ‘I think there’s something we can exploit here…what if I were to bring along a queen ant and walk unopposed throughout the capital…of course, that’s just the best case scenario.’
Still, I knew that this was something I had to act on in order to prove.
“Nola, are you about done with eating?” As I said that, I glared at the queen ant to warn her not to move. I then turned to look at the feasting Nola: “If we end up meeting more golems later on, you should be fine, right?”
“Mhm.” She turned towards me and nodded: “If I were to meet one, I’ll show you the results you want.”
“Good, then go prepare yourself first, I have no doubt the next battle will come soon.”
Having answered my question, she returned to her feasting. ‘Looks like those three days were really hard on her belly…’
“Big 4, go have a look around, if you see a golem, try to lure it back here.”
“Understood, Master.” Big 4 sped off into the distance without any hesitation whatsoever, randomly picking a direction in the process. Because the golems were all roughly scattered about with no regularity at all, finding one was entirely a matter of luck and Big 4 had no choice but to search around aimlessly. If he was lucky, he should be able to find one soon enough, if not…well, who could say…
‘If my theory is correct, that golem should ignore the Black Blood Queen Ant, otherwise…well I just have to say sorry then…and who told you to be born so ugly, am I right?’
The search for golem proceeded very smoothly, requiring less than 40 minutes of waiting before I saw Big 4 barrelling towards us with a fully-limbed golem chasing after him. While this golem had all its limbs intact, it had a gaping wound, over 10 cm deep, raked across its body as if something had clawed at it. With how ghastly the wound was, it was hard to imagine how any one single creature could accomplish such a feat.
“Master! We’re back! There’s a golem behind me too…”
At the same time as his return, Big 4 yelled out a warning to us.
No.3 immediately tried to rush out to help but I promptly stopped him with my voice: “Steady there, No.3. I need you to carry this queen ant towards it first. I want to see if it will attack her.”
“Understood Master.” No.3 immediately caught one of the outer limbs of the queen ant and started dragging her forward. By now, no matter how dim the queen ant was, she could roughly tell what was going on. She immediately tried to fight back but unfortunately, she was no match for No.3 at all.
“No…no…” Unable to resist, all she could do was beg for mercy. The way she was moaning almost reminded me of a scene where a bad man was slowly dragging a frail lady into a dark alley corner…well, except that this particular lady was unforgivably ugly…at least that was how she seemed to me.
Sensing the golem, Nola paused her feasting for now, turned towards the distant golem and howled. Having done that, she raked at the earth a couple of times as if warming up for a fight.
“Let the queen ant have a go first.” Worried that Nola might just charge in right away, I anxiously reminded her to wait patiently. “I want to test if those golems would actually attack her. Of course, all this is just an assumption on my part so if anything goes wrong, I still need you to join in.”
“Mhm, got it.” Nola nodded her head and took up a wary stance. Should anything happen, she would immediately charge off into battle.
Body hovering barely off the ground, No.3 crossed shoulders with Big 4 as he swiftly dragged in the queen ant. Shoulders tightening, he made sure to restrain the queen ant after tossing her onto the ground. From her position, squished against the floor by a power she couldn’t resist, all she could do was wriggle her abdomen about in what to be the most pitiful sight I had ever seen in a long while.
Deathly afraid of the golem trampling on her, she desperately clawed her way forward but was summarily stopped by a cruel kick to the face by No.3. She stumbled backwards uncontrollably and just as she tried to climb up to her feet, she found herself face to face with a fierce looking No.3. Finally, she understood her position and quietened down, like some kind of wife who was a victim of abuse.
If she was lucky, that golem would simply pass over her harmlessly, otherwise…from the looks of things, that golem would most likely step all over her in its path towards us.
In order to avoid getting attacked by the golem, No.3 took to the air while still maintaining a vigilant watch over the Black Blood Queen Ant. The moment she tried anything funny, he was prepared to swoop in and give her the beating of her life.
As she sat there helplessly on the ground, the queen ant gazed forlornly at the airborne No.3. She wanted to escape but didn’t dare to try. She knew very well what would happen to her after failing so many times already. No.3 was faster and more powerful than she was so even if she managed to avoid the golem, No.3 would immediately take her out…
Still, even though she knew that she was just a poor test subject of mine, her will to live refused to die down. She waved her limbs about frantically while calling out to that golem using some kind of strange chittering sound. Even though I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say, I could tell from her actions that she was trying to tell the golem not to attack her…
With regards to that wishful thinking of hers, all I could say was: fat chance!
The queen ant had only one thought right now: run. Because she couldn’t, she was terrified. She wanted to beg for mercy but who knew if that would even work…what then?
The golem continued its thunderous march towards her and us. Honestly, there was just no way that golem could understand her…right?
Right when I was expecting to see an ant patty however, something amazing happened that left us all stunned. The golem suddenly slowed down and even came to a stop right in front of the Black Blood Queen Ant…
With that, the Black Blood Queen Ant was temporarily spared a horrific death. She weakly laid on the ground and gasped, deeply and greedily. The golem quietly stared at the Black Blood Queen Ant, neither attacking nor moving away. It was then that the Black Blood Queen Ant knew that she wasn’t out of the fire yet. It tried to crawl backwards but as it did so, her eyes came face to face with the golem’s own.
The golem’s eyes were red like a ruby. Because it was a magical construct, it had no emotions whatsoever. Being stared at like that must have been really stressful for the queen ant. Thus, merely seconds after escaping the fate of being stomped on, she fell to her knees and started begging for mercy once more.
What happened next truly exceeded our expectations. Just as the queen ant was about to wet herself, figuratively speaking of course, the golem suddenly turned around and left…
That’s right, it left, inexplicably and without any warning at all. It didn’t even look at us before leaving…even though we were supposed to be kill on sight targets. Because of that lone queen ant, it abandoned attacking us entirely.