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Chapter 527 – Barging In

Anger boils inside me at the thought that these moronic Shapers would dare to kill my siblings! Outrageous! They’ve nobody to blame for their current circumstances but themselves, I’ve no pity for them at all. My attitude toward the Golgari is hardening at a frightening pace. If I hadn’t had such positive experiences with Granin and his triad then there’s a possibility that none of the Shapers would have made it out of this assault alive. I suppose that’s a dark thought, but these people are messing with my family! That’s not something I can allow anymore.

[Crinis, do you think you could jump through to the Shadows in the next room?] [I’ll need a distraction. They’ll be on the lookout for a tactic like that.] [Not a problem. I can give you all the distraction you’ll need. Keep your senses open and wait for your chance.] [Right, Master!]

[That means you need to climb off me and move to the side.] [… No it doesn’t.] [Yes, it does! What’s the point of me drawing their fire and creating a distraction if YOU are the one being hit?!] [But…] [No buts! Get your nightmarish gloop over in that corner and wait for a chance!]

Grumbling and full of reluctance, I’m finally able to get Crinis to climb off of me and out of sight in a corner where she huddles pitifully, small tentacles extended in my direction trying to latch onto my legs.

I avoid her feeble attempts with ruthless precision, she’ll be glued back onto my carapace before too long anyway, I need to enjoy this brief moment of freedom whilst it lasts. Troublesome pet dealt with, I approach the fire zone at the end of the corridor, an area covered in ants clinging to any piece of cover they can find and blasting acid at the mages whenever they get the chance.

“No mage support?” I demand a nearby soldier.

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“They got tied up on other floors keeping the peace. They’re the only ones who can talk to these people, after all.”

Makes sense.

“Have negotiations been attempted here?” I ask.

“No. They opened fire the second they saw us!”

Hmmph.

“Well, it’s time they got what they deserved for it, don’t you think, soldier?”

“Yes, Eldest!”

I hunch out of sight and wait for the next barrage of spells to fly down the corridor. It arrives after a few seconds, a wave of fireballs, bolts of ice and other more esoteric magics that detonate, shatter and otherwise peter out against the rubble without finding a target. In the next moment the ants step from cover or raise their abdomens to unleash their formic acid spray.

POW! POW! POW! POW!

Solid jets of sizzling liquid streak through the air down the corridor to splatter against something out of sight and the ants begin to duck back down again in anticipation of the next wave of spells. This is the time I choose to spring from my cover and unleash my own barrage of acid!

POW! POW! POW!

A rapid fire trio of shots fly down the length of the corridor and impact against what is definitely a magical shield of some sort. The Shapers, who’d been preparing to return fire, are shocked to see their precious shield begin to bubble and steam as my acid begins to eat into it. I follow up with a solid blast of flamethrower magic as I charge down the corridor, my bulk taking up almost the entire space.

I’m not intending to harm the Shapers with this magic, I doubt they could be harmed by magic on this level, but I’m hoping it prevents them from seeing me coming. Flames belching out from between my mandibles, I race down the corridor like a freight train, but as expected, it only takes a moment until I can feel my flames being broken apart by the highly trained mages I’m attacking.

BOOM! THUD!

Spells begin to fly through the flames in the other direction, slamming into my carapace with impressive force. The best I can do to protect my eyes is lower my rear legs as I run, creating an angle to protect the top of my head, but the damage adds up. It’s not as if they can miss me after all. I’m a giant ant-fish in a rather small barrel at this moment. As long as they don’t get a lucky shot, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to puncture my carapace in a single shot.

SHING!

… Or not!? My momentum crumbles for a moment as an almost clear shard of ice flies through my flames and lodges deep in my carapace. Ouch! Someone put a huge amount of mana into that thing! But it’s only enough to slow me down for a second. The corridor is only twenty metres long and after another two strides I burst through the opening and slam bodily into their melting shield, mandibles snapping.

The room has nine mages inside, three full triads, not to mention the exact people I’m looking for! I can see Gravus’ face blanch as he realises exactly which ant has come to pay him a visit. Gweheheheheh. I’ve been wanting to see you, Gravus!

CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!

My mandibles flex and shatter their barrier with sheer force as I use my legs to knock the mages around, disrupting their formation. With all of their focus on me, that’s more than enough of an opening for Crinis to work her magic. The floor darkens to midnight black and a forest of tendrils rise as if growing from the floor itself. In moments, they thicken into powerful tentacles, latching onto the Shapers and curling around them as the dark mass of Crinis’ main body forms in the centre of the room, her mouths gnashing hungrily at the air.

I think two of the Shapers just passed out from sheer terror… the rest are tightly bound and aren’t liable to be doing much of anything until we decide to let them go.

Luckily not the three that I’m hoping to talk to!

“Get in here! Hustle now, I’m doing all of your work!”

Shashashashasha.

After I call out to the Colony they flood down the corridor and in moments the Shapers each have a set of mandibles around their neck whilst yet more ants comb through the room, a fairly plush looking study with an impressive desk on one side. There has to be some juicy loot in here, I hope we find it.

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“Get some mages up here, I want them to check for any enchanted items,” I say to a passing general and she snaps out a quick salute.

I probably didn’t need to say anything, no doubt they’d already sent for mages to sweep the area, but I like to feel as if I’m useful. With that taken care of, I gleefully spin together a mind bridge and prepare for a chat with some of my favourite rock covered people.

[Irette Plamine. How nice to see you!]

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