Chapter 859 – Assault on Orpule

I have seen many things, dear readers, been to many wild wonderful and dangerous places, but even I felt a moment of trepidation as we passed between the legs of a giant carved statue of an ant and the hard stone closed around us. My two guards and I had now left the world of the sun behind us and delved within the nest of the Colony. I have to admit that this is the first time in my long life that I’ve willingly plunged within a nest of monsters, though my apprehension was somewhat mollified by the smiling guide at my side and the children running before me.

“Was that statue another depiction of the… great one?” I asked my guide, Emilia, mainly to distract from my feelings of discomfort.

The young woman chuckled a little before replying.

“Although there are many, MANY depictions of the Great One, that statue is an exception.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes. That was a memorial placed in memory of Grant, one of the first twenty ants of the Colony to be raised by the Great One, and who sacrificed her life against Garralosh, helping to bring about that monster’s defeat.”

“Sounds like quite a story.”

“Yes. I was a young girl then, but I can still remember the sounds of battle from the shelter where the children were kept. When we finally learned that it was over I almost couldn’t believe it would be possible, that this beast who had destroyed kingdoms was defeated by these ants.”

We fell into silence as we continued to walk, the path sloping downward at a steady pace before it turned to the left and began to spiral. We’d gone down perhaps a hundred metres before the tunnel opened into a wonderfully pleasant welcoming chamber, with human attendants, comfortable chairs, thick woven rugs on the floor and core enchanted lighting along the ceiling.

“This seems… oddly luxurious,” I murmured.

“The Colony is quite spartan when it comes to their own accommodations, they usually don’t have rooms of their own but sleep in designated chambers with hundreds of others. When it comes to their guests however, they are extremely generous. Watch.”

So saying she stepped to one of the human attendants, dressed in much the same way as my guide and entered into a brief, whispered conversation. When Emilia returned to me the other woman had left the room, but returned a few moments later holding a tray laden with a teapot, cups and delightful little cakes. Such a sight warmed my heart dear readers, you can imagine how much I had missed my tea! And let me tell you that the ceramic work on the cups and pot where just spectacular. Ornate little flourishes abounded and when I leaned close I could see the flowers painted on the side sported small ants foraging amongst the petals.

We were invited to sit in the comfortable chairs and enjoy our snacks, which I did! I was halfway through the delicious cake when a realisation struck me. I turned to Emilia to see her watching me with a wide grin on her face.

“All of it was made by the ants,” she confirmed for me.

“Even the tea?”

“Especially the tea.”

  • Excerpt from Chapter Seven of ‘Traveling Tolly in the lands of the Colony’ published in the Monthly ‘Pangera Gazette’

Victor looked out at the transformed city of Roklu with satisfaction. Even now the plate bristled with ants at work, carvers and soldiers doing the heavy lifting and putting the finishing touches on the new defensive works. Small forts in the shape of anthills were now dotted throughout the city, giving the ants a fallback position and safe firing platform. The pillar above the city now sported similar protected hollows formed by bonding stone to the harder material of the pillar itself. Any approach to the city from the air would be subject to a bombardment of spells and acid that would put even the most powerful tier six minds to the test.

Although they lacked their human allies and the potent buffs that they provided it was hoped that these home ground advantages would be enough for them to utilise the sheer weight of numbers to the fullest extent, holding off any demonic assault whilst their own offensive reaped the rewards in Orpule.

Tens of thousands of members of the Colony remained within the city, dug into position and ready to fight at a moment’s notice. When the enemy came, they would be made to understand the folly of challenging the Colony!

“How goes the preparations?” Advant asked, crawling up into the central compound where the general had made herself at home.

“Just about done. The last few days have been hectic, but I think we’re ready.”

“There’s been plenty of work to go around,” the soldier agreed, “not that I was worried we wouldn’t get it done.”

“No, everyone knows how much is riding on this. With the Eldest personally involved, everyone is more than prepared to give their all.”

“Are you going to be alright here? Will the contingencies be enough to handle a tier seven if it appears?”

Victor shrugged her antennae.

“You cannot engage in conflict that is totally without risk. We have done everything we can to minimise it, but an element of chance will always persist. With the information we have to hand we have made the best decisions we could. It should be enough.”

“Well I wish you all the best. If all goes well, I’ll see you when the column returns with word of our victory.”

“Yes, shouldn’t it be leaving right about now?”

“The departure has begun. I just thought I’d check in with you before I went on my way.”

“Why thank you sister, that warms my heart.”

“You’re very welcome.”

The two enjoyed a moment of silence as they looked out over the vast emptiness that surrounded the city.

“All right. I’ll be on my way.”

“Tell the Eldest that we have things looked after on this end. Make sure they do their job properly.”

“I will.”

So saying the large soldier moved swiftly, dashing away and into the city to reach the edge of the plate. Before long she had reached the outside and began the long, arduous climb down the pillar along with a vast horde of her siblings. From a distance it almost appeared as if the pillar were alive, covered as it was in a writhing carpet of enormous ant monsters. When they reached the floor they spread out into one enormous column hundreds of metres wide that trailed through the Plains of Leng. Every ant stepped in perfect unison, the combined sound ringing throughout the stratum like a fearsome bell, like a giant knocking on the world’s door.

Even the ever present demon larvae, rattled by the vibrations that shivered through the solid stone beneath them, moved far afield from the mighty column, revealing wide swathes of the floor to light for the first time in centuries. The ants were on the march.

You may also like: