chapter 222 – more marsh exploration

[You have consumed a new source of Biomass, Sus Aquarum armatae, you have been awarded one Biomass]

[Basic profile of Sus Aquarum Armatae has been unlocked]

[Sus Aquarum Armatae, Armoured Water Pig. This giant monster possesses robust defence, boasting a tough skin and extremely durable shell. Offensively, the Water Pig can deploy its vicious bite and has been known to utilise water magic to attack its foes]

Water magic huh? This one didn’t use it, but it may not have had the chance.

After the fight, I had Tiny tip the beast onto its back, a difficult feat, even for him, and then we commenced feasting on the creatures flabby Biomass.

Somewhat vindictively, I started on the legs.

How do you like it?! Damn pig!

My legs have regenerated at this point. The new limbs are still somewhat stiff and a little tender, nothing a day or two won’t fix. Having my legs get eaten is still irritating.

[“We need to make sure that we don’t get ambushed by these damn water pigs again guys”]

[Tasty] Tiny disagrees.

“Yeah! Tasty!” Vibrant registers her opinion cheerfully.

[I will be three times as vigilant! No such filth shall approach you again] Crinis is wiggling her tentacles in the air furiously to emphasise her words.


The unity of this group is severely lacking.

More to the point, listen to me dammit!

Other than Crinis, the other two are only interested in eating!

She might get a little over-enthused sometimes, but at least she listens and pays attention.

[Thanks Crinis, I appreciate your efforts] I give her a quick tap on the top of her tennis ball form with an antenna.



Standing next to me, elevating her main body on a few slender limbs, Crinis freezes and ever so slowly, begins to topple over until she’s lying flat on the ground.

“What happened to Crinny!?” Vibrant dashes over to the small mass tentacles lying unnaturally still on the ground, poking her friend with a foreleg.


All of them are useless. Hopefully, the next generation of ants will prove to be more helpful than this lot.

Did I just jinx myself? No flags! Shut up Anthony!

After finishing off the damn pig and letting Crinis recover until she’s able to take her place on my back once again, I pause to consider the next move. The lush growth of the marsh expanse surrounds us, pools of murky water everywhere and the extensive mangrove-like trees with their vast, overly fleshy leaves.

Those small shadows are still up there also. I can see them now, little shapes that change their position every now and again, shuttling about in their own airy domain. I think I’ll get myself up there, I’ve had enough grubbing about down here.

More than anything, I’m curious as to what these creatures are. What exactly are they doing up there?

Informing the others of my plan, I head straight towards the nearest of the trees and place one claw against the wood of its trunk. There is something odd about this bark. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Not that I have fingers. Leaning back, I reach forward with my front four legs and try to pull myself up.



What is up with this tree?! I can’t quite get my claws to dig into it? Not only do they slide off, refusing to grip properly into the soft looking bark, they also feel gummed up, as if coated in some invisible substance.

Damn tree! How dare you resist my claws! As an ant, I will not be denied my natural born right to walk vertically on anything I damn well, please! There are species of ants that can hang upside down on glass back on earth. For a tree to try and stop me climbing has lit a fire in my ant heart.

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I shall climb!

Determined and alight with the pride of all ant kind I kick sharply off the ground and latch onto the tree with all of my claws, gripping for all I’m worth. Come on advanced grip! Do me proud!

The tree isn’t having it. I can feel my claws sliding and locking up but I refuse to give in. Grip, Grip Grip!

Like a barehanded climber with six legs I reach and grasp, forcing my claws to bite deep into the tree and grasp hold before hauling the rest of my body up. Good thing I’m not that heavy for a monster relative to my Might stat. Even so it takes all my strength to pull my body up and by the time I reach the top I’m a heaving, gasping mess.

[Are you alright Master?] Crinis asks from my back.


Ah. This deceptively heavy ball of unending hunger was riding on my back. I forgot.

Still! That tree is resistant to climbing to a ridiculous degree. That was insane. I can walk upside down on wet rocks, no problem, but climbing this damn thing was nearly impossible.

Shaking myself, I push my legs back under me and look about. I’ve reaches the lowest of the branches that reach out across the marsh.  In front of me, I can see the thick leaves, each one larger than I am, and small shapes creeping over them.

Alright then. What are these things?

Bracing myself, I move out along the branch, gripping tightly and moving slowly, begin to creep out along the length of the branch towards its end. As I draw closer to the over-sized leaves, the creatures creeping about on them become more clear.

Small, soft looking green shells, round chubby looking body and thin, stick-like legs.

Only allowed on

Something deep within my ant brain sparks as if struck by lightning.

Are those… APHIDS?

Excitement begins to build in my belly.

Many people on Earth don’t realise it, but some species of ants are farmers, and used farming to produce their food for hundreds of thousands of years. Leafcutter ants harvest leaves, not because they eat the leaves but because they use the leaves to grow a species of mould, deep within their nests, that they eat. Herder ants, among other kinds, perform a different type of farming. They keep aphids. The aphids feast on the leaves of trees and plants, and when approached by the ant, they will offer up a sugary liquid produced in their business district, which the ants eat. In return, the ants protect the aphids and shelter them from harm, even picking them up and moving them to the best positions on the plant.

Looking at these little monstrous aphids, each one the size of a school bag, creeping about on the leaves, I begin to wonder about the possibilities that might present themselves. Ants and aphids have a long history of cooperative coexistence.

In the deep recesses of my brain, a farming scheme is taking shape.

Eagerly, I advance down the branch and step out onto the broad leaf on which one of the little green fuzzy little insects is feeding. The leaf manages to take my weight, and I gradually approach the little bug. As I draw close it the creature freezes and huddles flat on the surface of the leaf.

As I stand over it, waiting the creatures shivering gradually slows as I don’t attack it. Gradually, slowly, the little aphid excretes a thick, gel-like fluid from its back.

My antennae twitch at the scent.


My eyes gleam with avarice.

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