Chapter 144 – talking points

The Queen was just as mentally invested in our contest as I was. With the sudden bite of Vibrant she has completely lost her focus freeing me from her mental assault.

I can’t waste this chance!

I leap forward immediately, mandibles wide open, ready to deliver the fatal blow. I’d originally wanted to keep this Queen alive for a few reasons. Firstly, reprisals. If her death was somehow pinned on us, or if people came following her trail, we could be in big trouble. At the very least we would have to pick up and relocate the colony again, something I’d rather not do if I didn’t have to. Secondly, information! If I were to take this opportunity to try and develop my mind magic skills I could communicate and exchange the safe return of this Queen for information of this world and the surrounding area.

This is critical info for me. The knowledge I could harvest from one captive human about the surface society would be worth mountains of metaphorical gold. Learning about the locations of cities, the culture, about the Dungeon, magic, weapon skills, everything!

Information is king! When an actual person I can interrogate falls into my lap I refuse to throw away the opportunity! Well, now that I know the Queen can assault my mind directly, I’ll have to give up on it. Who knows what is possible when you dominate another’s mind with magic? Not this ant!

Can’t take the chance! I’ll have to snip the neck zone and worry about the ramifications later. Perhaps there is still a chance I could get some information from the captain up above. Unlikely he would want to share after his Queen is trimmed but it’ll be worth a shot.

[Hold, monster!] a desperate voice rings within my mind.

I freeze on the spot. My mandibles are mere inches away from the royal neck. It would take me a fraction of a second to complete the motion and bring my jaws together.

Only allowed on

An uneasy pause.

We stare at each other, eye to compound eye. Flipping on my mana sense I can see that the Queen has managed to hastily construct a similar mind magic bridge to that which Formo the Sophos used to communicate with me. However, where Formo’s bridge was an immaculate golden lattice woven with exquisite, intricate care, this one looks like the technique used to darn socks. Rough!

I shouldn’t be too surprised since she did manage to construct it under duress. Hopefully she managed to make it so that works both ways. What the heck do I say though? This is a ruler, used to respect and deference. I should try not to be too rude. Then again she did try to stab me in the brain with magic, it wouldn’t pay to be too  polite.

[Speak! Or Die!]

I think I struck the balance there quite well. Good going Anthony!

Staring into the face of a terrifying Dungeon monster the Queen is managing to keep her equilibrium quite well, all things considered. With my words ringing in her mind she seems a little taken aback and pale as she ponders her next words.

[How is it you can understand me?] she eventually asks, sounding completely bewildered.

What do you want me to say? That I was actually a human in the past? That I was reincarnated into this body and have been making the best of my new life as a monstrous ant?

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[You tried to speak to me without knowing if I could reply?] I ask.

[When you were able to resist my mind blade, I thought it was strange that a monster would have such strong force of mind. When the alternative was having my head cut off, I thought attempting to communicate would cost me nothing]

True enough. Perhaps most monsters wouldn’t have been able to fight off that mind magic attack. Not that I was able to fight it off completely, rather I managed to not die until I was saved by Vibrant.

The little worker is currently still threateningly positioned near the Queen’s ankles, clicking her mandibles savagely. Clearly she isn’t satisfied with Queen’s current state of not dead. I have to think of something else to say now. Dammit this hard. Try to stay polite!

[Why should I let you live?]

Nailed it!

The Queen seems slightly taking aback by that statement. It takes her a few moments to reply.

[What is it that you want?]

Gah! More questions? I guess it seems reasonable that she wouldn’t know exactly what a monstrous ant colony would want with a living human Queen.

[You have attacked my family, injured my Queen and killed hundreds of my siblings. The first thing I want is an explanation for this invasion]

Not sounding too pushy I hope? Even in my last life I found it a little difficult to talk to people. I think I’m managing to strike the right tone.

[My soldiers and I were fleeing the … city, nearby] she points in the direction of the city I’d seen from the church, [we ran into your … siblings, by chance. At first there was only one but the further we pushed forward the more there were]

No need to remind me of the battle you started which resulted in so much ant death! If you’d backed away and gone in a different direction we wouldn’t have this situation!

[They were defending their home and their family. For the crimes you have committed against us we have executed all but two of you. Should you wish to survive and return to your people along with your sole remaining soldier you will cooperate and answer my questions]

[What questions?]

Oh, I’ve got a heck of a lot of questions. From that moment the interrogation continued for several long hours.

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