‘Hmmm…how should I say this, I think we got ourselves a slave…ahem, what I mean to say is that her position is basically that of a slave’s.’
Nola ended up tearing the golem apart as expected while we had a nice little talk with that queen ant. After ensuring that she wouldn’t put up too much of a fight in the short term, we proceeded on with our journey. As for that so-called tribute…well, it’s not like we had anything to do with it for now so we had the ants cart the poop back.
‘Come to think of it, exactly how much tribute has accumulated in the last 80 000 years…I bet it’s enough to make a horde of pooplems. Hmmm, if I ever manage to find the method of crafting golems, I should go back and harvest those poop rocks.’
Because we now had a forced companion by our side in the form of that queen ant, our food problem was basically settled for now. Before leaving her hive, we had her bring along a portion of her hive who would then provide her with daily nourishment while acting as walking rations. Mhm…they fed her and then fed themselves to us.
All the marching we had to do essentially meant that the queen ant had no spare time to lay eggs. Thankfully, she was able to control her need to lay eggs else we would have to rub her out…just based on that alone, I could say that she was a pretty smart one. She knew that we would never let her off the hook for such a reason.
The whole idea of bringing this queen ant along was to prevent any attack by some random golems. Even though we had the powerhouse of a salamander, Nola, on our side, numbers was still an issue. She was perfectly fine taking on one golem but what if there were two? She would have no means of protecting us all then. The fact that we discovered an additional use for the queen ant was crucial in preventing any further unplanned incidents.
Naturally, her job wasn’t only to act as a golem ward. She was useful in finding other hives at which point we would attack them for food. After all, the meagre amount of ants we took from her hive was definitely not going to be enough to feed us all.
Thus, the ants became the tribute she offered up to us. It’s not like she could find food for us, so feeding on her ant kin was fair and square. Right? If she dared to disagree, Nola was ready with a few choice words for her. I was, after all, a fair and reasonable person.
The thought of capturing more queen ants had occurred to me before but in the end, I decided that one was enough. Besides, these queen ants weren’t as brainless as I had originally thought , neither were they the most docile of ants. The more we had, the harder they were to control. Whenever we attacked a new hive, we first had to wipe out a few waves of ants first, forcing the queen out of its hive and then making her offer up some ants.
Throughout all that, I could tell that the our captive wasn’t exactly being very obedient. But before we reached our destination, I couldn’t exactly kill her either. Thus, I had no choice but to have No.3, Big 4 and Sasani keep a 24 hour watch over her, lest she tried to dig a hole and escape again. Or rat us out to some golem.
As facts would soon prove, I was right to do so. After she confirmed that we were all asleep, the queen ant promptly started digging a hole to try and escape. However, she ended up being caught by the ever-vigilant Sasani and was apprehended right there and then.
In order to teach this rebellious dunce a lesson, I had No.3 tear off one of her limbs as punishment.
Back when that punishment had just been enacted, she spent the better half of the day rolling about in pain, her insect face contorted in all sorts of weird angles. Yet just two days later, I found that her limb had regenerated, albeit shorter and weaker than before. At least it grew back…
‘And that’s why I say that the ability to regenerate is just invincible. To fiendish creatures, even a torn off limb is nothing but a small matter. Hmmm, what if we were to turn her into a meat farm then? Ahem, that was all Mo Na’s idea.’
With this ugly get-out-of-jail-free card leading the way, we smoothly passed through several defensive lines manned by golems and continued northward. All in all, we continued travelling smoothly for half a month before discovering a ruin.
Like a city that had undergone some massive earthquake, the buildings, all constructed of black igneous rocks, as was the style of Purgatory, had all crumbled. Of those which were still standing, they were all crooked and were basically half ruined. There wasn’t a single complete building to be found anywhere.
Stepping into the ruin, we continued northward as before. Because Nola’s body was massive, each step she took ended up crushing countless rubble along the way. Some of the buildings which had the fortune of surviving till now were finally put to rest with Nola’s passing, either because she knocked into them or because her thunderous footsteps ended destroying them. Thanks to that, we now had to guard against any potential buildings from collapsing on us. Thus, I decided to avoid any road with buildings nearby lest we ended up getting buried alive.
Also, I had Nola lead the way first, that way any building that could collapse, would collapse before we passed by. As for that queen ant captive of ours, she was restrained as before. Well, I really had no choice in this matter. Within the ruins, there was a noticeably higher concentration of golems. If I had to hazard a guess, this was probably the capital we had been searching for all this while. In other words, we finally made it…
At times, we would stumble upon a couple of patrolling golems. The moment they spotted us, I would have that queen ant step forward to try and explain our presence to the golems. Right behind her was Sasani who was ready to bite off her throat in a split second should she try anything funny.
Either way, all we needed her to do was show her face. Whether or not she spoke, honestly, made no difference. In fact, it would probably be better if she didn’t speak at all.
By now, she had basically realized that escape was impossible so she became a lot more docile and cooperative. After all, she wasn’t exactly that indispensable either. We simply had to find a new queen ant after killing her; it was merely a matter of convenience.
Having journeyed through the ruined city for two days, we finally stumbled on a relatively pristine building. Relative was the keyword there. It was a half collapsed castle that was surrounded by a completely black wall stretching over 100 meters tall.
‘Really though, did they have to build a wall so d*mn high? I mean, even back on Earth, the tallest ancient city walls that I knew of only was only 20 meters high. I’ve never been to a big city in the Western Human Realms, but of the towns and cities I’ve been to, their walls were merely 20 meters too, 30 tops. And yet standing right before me now was a wall that was at least 100 meters tall…isn’t that just a little too much?’
With that in mind, I turned to our tiny mountain of a companion, Nola…it was then that I realized why. Given that Nola’s race grew with their level, a Seven-stars must have been humongous. She was at least 10 meters long now, should she ever evolve, she would undoubtedly grow a lot bigger. When seen in that light, a 100 meter tall wall wasn’t all that weird anymore.
After all, human walls were made to handle humans and devil walls…were obviously made to handle monsters…
We found a collapsed section along the wall that so happened to be near the gates. Because of that, there were two golems stationed there permanently. Behind them was a mountain of crumbled rock wall that had basically become a testament their lonely and lifeless vigil. Had they not turned around to face us right there and then, I would have honestly mistaken them for broken down golems.
Seeing the half-ruined castle, I suddenly felt a heat rise up within me.
‘We’ve finally made it…our goal…In order to reach the Western Human Realms, I had to conquer all sorts of hostile terrain, endure all manners of hardships, survive betrayals, forge alliances, kill and so much more…all that within the mere span of two years. I swear, it almost feels like I had lived an entire lifetime in those two years…’
‘Finally, it’s over. As long as I can find that Fallen Angel Statue in the garden, I can…speaking of which, that Meisian had better come through here…those kitties are all a bunch of kooks after all. If that little black kitty were to say to me now: Nyahaha, oops, I gave you the wrong bit of information…’
‘I swear I’ll kill that stupid kitty, Anmi! Definitely! As for why it was Anmi…well, that was just a matter of different treatment.’
‘Still, what am I so worried about exactly? At this point, isn’t it a little too late to be wondering whether or not Meisian is even dependable? Bah, forget it, it’s not like I have any other choice except to trust her, right?’