Throughout this whole journey, as long as we had the Black Blood Queen Ant lead the way in front of us, the golems would ignore us. This time was no different, or at least it should have been so. Heart pounding with anticipation, I had the queen ant proceed forward as always while Sasani carefully watched over him. With him there, that bug didn’t dare to try anything funny.
Yet what I thought would just be a routine flash of our insect access card ended up failing –those two golems actually prevented her from proceeding!
As before, the Black Blood Queen Ant gingerly approached the golems. Up till that point, we had all assumed that everything would work, though my breath and fists were all tight at that moment. Yet just as she was about to squeeze in between these two golem guards, they suddenly moved.
The two constructs stepped out in unison and stuck an arm out to block the queen ant’s passage. By doing that, they had not only blocked that flustered queen’s way, but they had also tossed an icy cold bucket of water over my burning heart…
Thanks to all our previous encounters with the golems, while that queen ant was also just as terrified as she was now, she had basically become accustomed to this sort of role. Thus, the fact that she failed now was truly a surprise for us all.
The queen ant immediately retreated backwards in fright while we swiftly entered a battle stance. Yet just when we thought that a battle was about to break out, the two golems suddenly stepped back, following the exact path they used to step forward as if they were some kind of rewound tape. The both of them had returned to their original positions like nothing had ever happened.
‘What’s going on here…rather, what are you two trying to pull here? We were all raring to fight already and you suddenly just pressed the rewind button on us? Are you messing with me here?!’
Faced with such an unexpected turn of events, no one had any idea in mind so they all turned to me. At times like these, the decision making was often left to me since I was the leader. I turned towards No.3 who was also waiting for my decision: “Have that bug continue trying.”
“Understood, Master.” Having received his command, No.3 walked up to the bug who was currently cowering behind a pile of crumbled rocks: “Get on it, keep walking towards them.”
“You’re scared of death then?”
“Yesss…” She nodded her head.
Having his command rejected like that felt like a slap to the face of his ego so No.3 immediately lost his temper and yelled at the poor ant queen: “You might die if you crawl forward now, but if you continue to not listen to us, I’ll kill you right now! Don’t you dare doubt me! Don’t think for a second that you’re all that, we can simply find another queen ant to replace you! After all, we can easily just run away anytime but what about you?!”
“*weep*” Being yelled at like that brought the queen ant to tears.
At the side, Mo Na eagerly watched the spectacle with glee. The only thing she had to do now in order to qualify as a spectator was to clap her hands.
Probably noticing the growing aura of murder that was enveloping No.3, the queen ant promptly turned around once more to place herself in harm’s way. For that sliver of hope, she crawled ever so slowly towards the crack between the two golems. As she did that, she would turn around to find No.3’s terrifying gaze staring right back at her at which point she would quickly avert her gaze and continue crawling forward, never speaking for the entire way. At times, her attention would turn towards those three pairs of blood red doggy eyes staring at her…I bet she really hated those two right now.
Of course, it could just be me she hated.
For the second try, the queen ant tried to take a test step forward but just as she did so, she was stopped once more by the golems. However, the golems merely blocked her way and did nothing else.
‘Ahhh, how annoying. It was working fine last time so why not now?’
With no other choice, the queen ant meekly crawled back to us. Seeing that, the two golems returned back to their posts as well. Had I not witnessed this entire process myself, I would have honestly thought that they had never moved at all.
Rebuffed, the queen ant was deathly afraid that she would be tortured for failing once more. However, after that display by the golems, I knew that this wasn’t the fault of the queen ant.
‘Why isn’t it working now? Don’t tell me we’ve maxed out our insect access card?’
Beside me, Sinmosa suddenly chimed ub, having pondered this problem for quite some time herself: “Because it’s a matter of her social status?”
‘Social status? What kind of problem can she have there? I know she’s our slave and all…but in the eyes of those golems, she should still be a slave of the master of Sable Radiance…wait…I’ve heard of this before…a case where slaves aren’t allowed to walk on the streets like normal people…’
‘In fact, I’ve heard of more extreme cases in the human world where servants aren’t even allowed to eat on the table as their master, let alone slaves…even speaking had to be done with the utmost respect. In short, both parties weren’t on the same level, each had their own place in the social hierarchy so to speak.’
‘I doubt the world of the devils is any different either…so the reason why she was blocked wasn’t because of some complicated reason, rather it was simply because her status was too low?’
‘If that’s true, all we have to do is circle around the other way and pop through that hole in the city wall.’
I laid out my idea to the others who readily agreed to it since they had nothing better anyway. Either way, it was the queen ant who was leading the way so even if anything were to happen she would be the first to die…as for us…we had all the time in the world to run away and catch another need test subject.
As facts would soon prove, my idea was right. We actually made it into the castle courtyard. Throughout all that, the two watch golems didn’t even bother glancing in our direction and allowed us to pass through that hole in the wall.
Now that we were here, we basically had no need of the ants anymore. Truth be told, having those ants follow us was rather disconcerting for me as well. For the time being, we shouldn’t need them as food either. More importantly, the moment those ordinary ants tried to enter the castle, those two golems suddenly reacted and tried to chase them away. Most likely, it had to do with their status being too low.
After all, if their queen was already a slave, what about them…
The insides of the capital was a lot better than the scene we saw outside. At the very least, the buildings we saw were all intact. Thus, the moment I laid my eyes on what was supposed to be a castle structure, my excitement surged. Why? Because the so-called castle, rather than being a traditional castle, was actually a thousand meter tall mountain, standing tall as if it was some sort of pitch black sword.
All the structures had been carved into this giant mountain, with steps leading from the base all the way to the peak. Even though it was basically impossible for me to see what was on the peak because of our angle, I could already tell that there was a giant palace waiting for us to explore at the peak. If everything went according to plan, that Fallen Angel statue should be there as well.
Throughout the journey upwards, I discovered that the buildings here were all mostly for living, with no signs of any weapons factory at all. Truth be told, I was rather interested in finding out if there were any golem production facilities here. If it was possible, I would certainly love to find out how to create golems.
However, reaching the peak took precedence now.
From the multitude of buildings dotting the walls of this giant black mountain, I could tell that a large number of creatures must have lived here back in the day, not all of them were devils too. Most likely, the other fiendish creatures lived here as well. Though their rocky exterior was now worn out, I could tell that they must have been ornately decorated in the past. Yet after 80 000 years of wear and tear, was it any wonder that they were so dilapidated?
After all, time changed everyone, and that included buildings.
‘If this was China…it would be miracle if those buildings even survived 80 years, let alone 80 000.’
Initially, I had thought that this place would be swarming with golems and yet I found none at all.
Our road upwards proceeded smoothly and there, as I had expected, we found a giant palace waiting for us… ‘Hold on, that’s definitely a palace but it’s actually built by hollowing out this entire mountaintop!’ The entranceway to the palace was built in the fashion of a giant arc similar to the Arc de Triomphe. What was amazing however, was that this giant entranceway seemed perfectly new and metallic. In fact, there was no signs of wear and tear at all as if those 80 000 years weren’t even enough to leave a smudge on its impeccable face!
With how huge the entranceway was, even Nola, with her mountain-like body, was able to fit comfortably through… ‘I bet even three Nolas can fit through this gate. Can this even be considered a gate anymore? Maybe it’s actually a catapult for launching Gund*m…’
Just like before, I had the queen ant lead the way forward, just as a precaution against needless casualties. Still, it had to be said that the world we now found ourselves in was like a completely different dimension when compared to the outside world. If the outside city was an old photo taken by some black and white camera, then this palace had to be a perfectly realistic photo taken by the most expensive of cameras.
Everything had a surreal feel to it. Even though it was merely a single step separating us and the outside world, it was like looking into two different realms altogether, one fantasy and one reality.