Nineteen of the Ancients rose during the Cataclysm, The Rending. They were nurtured in the heart of this world, the oldest beings of the Dungeon, they were old long before the Dungeon broke the surface. In darkness they had battled whilst the people of the surface were taking the first steps on the path to civilisation.
Their power was overwhelming. None could stand before them, when they moved, cities fell, nations crumbled and people died. Like immutable law they were heedless of the plight of mortals, more akin to the forces of nature than creatures.
We record their sacred names here, that future generations might fear and venerate them as they deserve.
Yarrum the Eternal Worm.
Theorazzn of the Decaying World.
Syssernix the Dark Spear.
Morribolg of the Fetid Earth.
Carriflare the Hell Flame.
Rigorite the Mountain Breaker.
Tarriflyx the Hunger.
Arconidem the Demon God.
Zothoth who Feasts on Sanity.
Torra the Dread Dog.
Gon the Sightless Freak.
Yolesh the Ever Dying.
Lerrewyn the Grasping Tree.
Horgran the Butcher.
Perrianon of Blood.
Kygar the Storm Bringer.
Ruminominex Shaper of Earth.
Braxxin who Froze the Sky.
Odren the Father of Monsters.
Excerpt from ‘The Gods of Rending’ in the imperial Library of Shuth, Author unknown.
Despite my misgivings about the current situation, I can see that Crinis is having a field day. I’ve been steadily making my way towards the area my two pets are active, trying together knots of monsters and hitting the occasional heavy hitter with a pair of gravity bolts, effectively locking them down for a period of time.
When I finally get a view of Crinis, she is merrily carving away at the monsters around her, rending them, twisting them apart, throwing them into her unending maw of eldritch terror and in general threshing the wheat that these monsters are to her. Only when something larger and more powerful approaches does she have any difficulty.
As I approach, a mighty looking Lion Ogre charged at her, its heavy feet thundering into the ground as the powerfully built creature reached out with its clawed hands.[Watch out, Crinis!] I shout.
Naturally she was totally aware of the creature through her tremor sense. Something that large and heavy had to be lighting it up like a firework. Before it can grasp her, ten tentacles explode out of her main body and wrap around the creatures legs, pulling them together.
Howling with fury, the Ogre can’t maintain its balance and collapses to the ground, shaking the earth so hard that several nearby monsters lose their feet. Despite hitting the ground so hard, the monster is largely unharmed. Snarling, the beast tries to rip at the tentacles binding its legs together but Crinis is already there.
Yet more limbs snap out, twisting and winding around the monster, holding its wrists and torso. Crinis isn’t strong enough to win a contest of strength against something as physically imposing as a Lion Ogre, certainly not one of this size, but she doesn’t have to.
A horrible buzzing sound erupts from the tentacles as Crinis unleashes her barbs. The tiny, hooked blades but back and forth at incredible speeds and by the looks of things, the Lion isn’t enjoying it too much.
Not content with this level of existential terror, Crinis unfolds her main body, exposing the black, empty void ringed by distended fangs that is her mouth, and clamps it down on her foes shoulder, tearing into it without mercy.
The display is made even more horrific by the fact that she’s still got tentacles out harvesting monsters around her, even as she takes on this big fish. I think her fear skill is kicking into effect actually, several creatures nearby are looking decidedly intimidated, hesitating as the bloodlust that filled them only moments before is drained away by the sight of this eldritch terror.
You do you, Crinis. You’re alright in my books.
Even so, I might turn myself around. It’s hard for me not to be able see what she’s doing but if I angle my body just right she falls into one of my more blurry patches of vision and I’m spared the full details of the gory scene.
My face is already starting to ache from repeatedly using my biting skills. I’ve had the mana flowing into my mandibles for some time already, improving my cutting power but eventually I’m going to run out of stamina.
Gritting my mandibles together I start to cut my way out of the horde, moving towards the colony.
The Gravity Javelins have been having a better than expected effect. After firing twenty or so into the creatures there are many little knots of monsters that are frozen in place. They aren’t smart enough to reason through the situation, so rather than try and move together, they just run about, smacking into the monsters around them and then getting pulled back together. The groups I stuck to the ground are even more debilitated. The further they get from the point I targeted, the stronger the pull. They’ve effectively been taken out of the fight.
Each spear hasn’t done that much work but cumulatively, the effect is substantially reducing the numbers of the horde.
I burst out from amongst the monsters and dash with all of my strength to get ahead of them.
Only to find workers running in the other direction, towards the horde.
The colony is already getting into the fight?!
Gah! My feet scrabble against the ground as I dig my claws in and try to turn around as more and more workers charge past. In the distance I can see the ant hill swarming with workers as they pour out of the many chambers within, rallying to the defence of the colony.
It wasn’t as if I thought I could keep them from the fighting, well maybe I did, but what I really want is to make sure as many as possible will survive.
So I turn, and I charge alongside my siblings. All around me now they are silent, the occasional clack of mandibles and the faint rasping of carapace as they run. To my antennae though, they are roaring.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! ENEMY! ENEMY! FIGHT!
The air is thick with the chemical signals of their rage. Their home is threatened and their Queen needs defending, so the colony will rise. The first workers smash into the edge of the monster wave, their mandibles working like machines. Wherever possible two or more ants will gang up on another monster, subduing it, latching onto its limbs and pulling it down before yet more workers approach to finish the job.
Before I crash back into the horde, I see something else developing in my side view.
The humans are also charging. Led by, believe or not, the one armed priest, they are wielding their motley collection of busted swords, farming implements and crude spears. Faces twisted with fear and desperation, but also courage and anger, they sprint as fast as their human legs will carry them towards monsters so much larger than themselves.
The last thing I see is the priests face, alight with joy and righteousness, before I’m back amongst the melee, chomping away and crunching monsters as fast my mandibles can move.