Chapter 479 – Antdustrial revolution

The history of enchanted equipment is as long and storied as that of Classes themselves. Though many gloss over or even ignore the manifold achievements of the crafters, it is an undeniable fact that without their expertise in producing powerful weapons and armour, the Sapient races of the surface would have had enjoyed none of the success in delving that they have achieved.

The early records of
System made equipment are completely lost to us, of course, but following the
Cataclysm there are many records of scavenging the strange wonders that had
been attempted and constructed in that time. A society put itself back
together, the uptake of talented individuals into the crafting fields was slow,
as the surface needed to be reclaimed and with the recent memory of the
disaster fresh in people’s minds, martial and magical classes proliferated.

At first, progress was
slow, staves that allowed mages to recharge their mana faster, shields that
were enhanced to improve their durability. Weaving mana into objects is as much
an art as it is a science, but slowly the Skills of the artisans rose and so
too did the demand for monster cores. A demand that quickly became voracious.

With more hands at the
till and more resources, developments came thick and fast. Agni Ruffterson
developed the first reflective shield, the lauded Ms Bromina Steelhand was the
first to channel elemental mana through a weapon, building the construct within
the weapon itself. It was the great mage artificer Wyrrin Lella who discovered
the secret of enchantments that could directly increase the Stats of a person,
and his research lead directly to the uncovering of Skill enhancing
enchantments. These breakthroughs changed the world and now even the meanest
mercenary delve will be equipped with such gear, as even a paltry +1 can mean
the difference between survival and an ignoble death.

  • Excerpt from ‘The historical significance and
    progression of the Crafting arts’ by T.J. Smithinson

“Why are five of
my best smiths passed out in the tunnels?!” Cobalt bellowed.

Only allowed on

The artisan in charge
of the new forge was  just as indignant.

“I told them to
wait until the chamber was properly prepared! The air vents aren’t in yet and
neither are the heat sinks! The second I turned my back they rushed in and
started working!”

Cobalt slapped herself
on the forehead with an antenna. These morons. She understood why they’d do it,
the pressure piling up on the worker caste becoming a mountain that pressed
down on their backs. This was the second forge they’d constructed inside the nest
in the past week and it wasn’t finished yet. Putting in the air vents required
specialised enchanted cores that drew the air in so it could expelled on the
surface, and the heat sinks were yet more enchanted cores that sucked the heat

and allowed it to be dispersed into specialised cooling channels.

It was all work, work,
work! The demands never stopped coming! More nesting space, more brood
chambers! Construction on the new deep nest, a secure location for the three
queens and a new launching point for the offensive, just inside the Second
Strata, had already begun. Combined with the relentless push for new territory
which demanded even more time for the carvers, they were pushed to the breaking

And they loved
it!  Cobalt and Tungstant had been relentless, chewing through work faster
than they chewed through dirt and their fellow caste members had done the same.
The council had to step in and send detachments of soldiers to enforce the
mandatory rest periods before the carvers had worked themselves to collapse.
Seeing their fellow caste members being forcibly dragged away, legs kicking at
the air had only spurred the remainder of the carvers to work harder! If they
were going to be forced to rest then they needed to complete more work in less

“Why are five
smiths lying down in the middle of this work avalanche!” The angry rush of
pheromones blasted down the tunnel.

“Hey, Tungstant,
what brings you down here?”

“Cobalt! I came
to complete the installation of the cores for the new forge. Did these idiots
try and work in there before it was ready?”

Cobalt gave a solemn

“Damn fools!
Everything we’ve learned about ant biology tells us how dangerous that is! Not
to mention they’re losing work time!”

The colony had been
furiously learning all it could in a huge number of fields but one which had
been the most impactful had been ant physiology and beyond that, monster
physiology. Things that they had known instinctively, preferred temperature,

moisture levels, humidity, where now being explored to discover the reasons
why. One of their primary discoveries as they’d ventured into the world of
forging, is that the damp environment they enjoyed in the nest didn’t mesh very
well with a blazing hot furnace for shaping metal. For the ants to work with
such tools, a specialised environment needed to be constructed. Experimentation
had started immediately, the heat sinks and air vents where the early fruits of
this labour.

“No help for it.
Come on then, Cobalt. You and I can get this done as fast as possible, we need
this forge operational.”

The two council
members got right to work. Tungstant had brought the required materials in a
carry bag slung over her neck, yet another creation of the carver caste, and
the two began installing the precious enchanted arrays with their empowering
monster cores in key locations around the forge. After an hour they were
finished and stepped back as the enchantments hummed into life. The air
immediately began to move within the chamber as the temperature dropped.
Everything seemed to be working properly.

They didn’t even have
time to congratulate each other before the five smiths barged into the chamber
and began to fire up the forges, preparing to heat metal and shape it to suit
the colony’s needs.

“Work hard to
make up for the wasted time!” Cobalt berated them before the two left the

“What’s next on
your agenda?” Cobalt asked as they sped away down the tunnels.

“I’m headed to
the new nest to oversee construction there. Things are getting to a critical
point and we need to make sure it’s secure.”

“Isn’t the Queen
already stationed there?” Cobalt asked, concerned.

“She is,”
Tunstant confirmed, “but the Core Shapers have set up their new
workstation down there and are acting as defence whilst the Soldiers are out,
From what I hear the entire area is crawling with their Shadow Pets. They
perform excellently in the Second Strata I’m told.”

“Makes sense I
suppose. How about the brood transport tunnel? We don’t want to risk moving
them through the regular tunnels, surely?”

“Work finished on
it yesterday and the scouts have started transporting brood already. Once
they’ve cleared the backlog the tenders should be able to handle the load.
Getting Carvers to learn some Earth magic has been a great call.”

The two ants quickly
reached a branch in the tunnel where they would need to part ways.

“Don’t forget to
take your mandatory rest periods, Cobalt,” Tunstant warned her sister,
“think of what the Eldest will do when they get back and finds out you
were skiving on taking breaks.”

Cobalt shuddered.

“Same goes for
you. Work hard for the colony.”

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“For the colony.”

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