Knowledge of Demon societies of the Third Strata is limited, to put it mildly. I’ve no idea why you would contact me seeking such knowledge, it’s hardly my area of expertise! I suppose it is true that my academy has amassed the most records regarding deep delves of the Dungeon, but that doesn’t mean I’ve had the opportunity to read them all!
Honestly Ranlon, I don’t know why you waste your time in that third rate college of yours. A scholar with your pedigree would be more than welcome here at the tower. I know of your distaste for ‘petty nobility and their feckless children’, as you have put it, but surely you must be feeling the pinch, rolling around in the dirt with those commoners.
As far as Demons and their ilk, I have managed to scrounge up a few records for you. Only a few groups have ever admitted to making contact with the Demon clans, the Legion, a few Mercenary companies of renown and several of the old empires. All of their public statements on the matter agree that the Demons were cordial, did not attack and allowed them to leave in peace, but in every other way they were detestable. Trickery, lies, deception and entanglement supposedly come as second nature to the Demon clans, making any negotiation with them a tangled nightmare.
A few successful trades have been reported, but those were only secured after shrewd bargaining and open threats of violence and retaliation from both sides.
Everyone knows that the different clans differ vastly from one another and that the wild ‘beast demons’ infest the tunnels of the third strata, but specifics are just impossible to find. I’ve put the word out that if a text should be unearthed from the archive with pertinent information to have it brought to my attention but that is the best I can do for the moment.
Do consider my offer Ranlon, I’d hate to see a mind so bright rot away for such paltry people.
Excerpt from ‘Letter to Ranlon’ by Magio Scholar Barrentalio of the Gold Tower.
Tiny, Crinis and I eventually retreated to a higher chamber and settled in for some rest time. I was vaguely aware of the immense amount of activity throughout the colony but so long as there was no attack or dire need of me I intended to let my aching body rest up.
And rest I did! For an entire day I did nothing but flop about, dip in and out of torpor and complain endlessly within my own mind about my aching core. Perhaps it was a little sad, pathetic even, but dammit, a little self-indulgent whining never hurt anyone! Well it probably has to be honest.
After another full day of rest the pain in my body had once again been reduced ever so slightly and I decided I’d had enough sitting around on my backside. Even Tiny looks like he might pass out from sheer boredom if we don’t go and fight something soon. Emerging from our chamber the frenetic atmosphere that has pervaded the colony hits me right in the face. Workers are rushing around with mandible loads of dirt, carting it to the surface for disposal and then rushing back down into the depths of the colony. What is going on?
Fighting against the flow of traffic I push my way down into the nest and eventually run into the Carver Ant Tunsgant.
“Hi there Tungstant! What is going on down there?”
The smaller ant turned towards me and responded somewhat tersely. “Finally emerged Senior? The hatching of the next wave of pupae is expected any moment and we are racing to finish the expansion project before they arrive.”
“Expansion project?” I mutter, “what expansion project?”
“In order to cater for the increased number of hatchlings it was decided that the colony needed to expand, especially the farming operation. The need for Biomass, experience and cores is going to rise dramatically after all.”
I suppose … that makes sense.
“Seems like a good idea” I stutter, “anything for me to do? I’m happy to pitch in.”
If there is work to be done, I’ll roll my sleeves up and help out. What is family for, after all? I’ve had my fill of self-pity for the time being . Time to work and contribute to the colony!
“Not at the moment” Tungstant immediately cuts down my growing enthusiasm, “preparations are basically complete and the hatchlings are expected any moment. The others are in position to welcome them and commence their training. I’m expected there at the moment as well. If you’ll excuse me Senior.”
With a dip of his antennae, the Carver ant is off, zipping down another tunnel and heading towards the brood chambers, leaving me somewhat at a loss, standing in a tunnel like I have a stick lodged in my market square.
This feels strange.
After being the catalyst for most actions around the colony for so long, it’s weird to wake up and find that not only have plans been made without me, they’ve been completed! The twenty have done exactly what I wanted them to do and take the lead for the colony without having to consult me, so why do I suddenly feel so empty!?
Overcome with a sense of loss, I rush to into the Queen’s chamber and push aside the tending workers until I find her.
“Mother!” I cried, “am I still special?!?!?!”
The Queen looked at me, a mixture of amusement and surprise warring on her face.
“What on Pangera has gotten into you, child?” she asked, bewildered.
“The other ants are running the colony without me!”
The Queen looked even more baffled if anything. “Child, no single one of us ‘runs’ the colony. We are all members of the family and we each have our own role to play in helping us to thrive. You have done much already for the colony.”
“Is that so?” I ask, wanting to be convinced.
“Of course” she affirms, “there are many things that only you can achieve to assist the colony. Do not worry if another worker is doing what you were once doing. Think instead about what it is that only you can do to help our family.”
After speaking to the Queen I make my way back to my chamber, somewhat embarrassed by my outburst and reflecting on what it is that I should do now.