After discussing a few other things with the members of the council in the forward HQ, I headed out, collecting my two pets, and made my way to where the delegation from the village was purported to be waiting.
I wasn't entirely clear on how the humans had attempted to communicate with the members of the colony, or why they would attempt such a dangerous thing. The colony was a lot more lenient towards the villagers than they had been before, but they were still very distrustful of anything other than our own kind. I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures, perhaps I should have seen this coming.
A kilometre away from the forward HQ I found a small collection of tents situated around a campfire, sentries at watch around the perimeter. When I take the whole camp in, it looks as if the village has only sent twenty, or thereabouts, people on this forward adventure. A mixture of men and women, and hopefully Morrelia somewhere in the camp. The rest of the villagers would be… interesting to deal with. If by interesting I mean, awkward as hell.
O my gawd. Is Beyn here?! The last thing I need is to try and fight a damned war with that lunatic one armed priest chasing me around!
With Tiny lumbering along behind me we don't exactly make for the stealthiest group of monsters, so they knew we were coming long before we walked into the camp. I was a little disconcerted to see that Morrelia has not made an appearance. Instead, I recognise the man I saw leading the weapons training in the village before we left, and he's also the guy we saw in the port city when we liberated it!
Now I recognise him! Didn't he also try to flex on Morrelia? Perhaps that's why he was picked to lead this group, he's clearly suicidal.
As I approached the group, the tough looking guard stopped leaning on his spear and stood tall before entering into what I can only describe as an interpretive dance.
Just. Just what is happening?
As he drew wide, all embracing circles in the air with his hands, his face a mask of pure concentration, my eyes slid to the villagers standing lined beside him. They were staring at me with a fierce energy in their faces and a fervent light in their eyes. These people look so intense! That guy literally has sweat dripping his hose he's so focused!
As the leader continues his slow, graceful gestures I'd begun weaving the mind mana transformation construct and then extended the mind bridge out towards the man. It took a little longer to weave the spell than it normally would, I was distracted by the bizarre yet fascinating movements being performed in front of me.
[What the hell are you doing?] I asked.
The man stumbled, cursed under his breath and looked about wildly, trying to locate the source of the voice.
[It's me, over here] I waved my antennae at him, [nobody told you I could make mind bridges? Did you speak to Enid or anyone before you came out here?]
The man looked at my slowly waving antennae, then reached one hand up to touch his head. His eyes seemed to not believe what it was they were looking at.
[Yes. Mind bridge. I, the ant, am talking to you. Please speak back with your mind.]
[Well this is some plops right here] the man thought at me.
[I'm not going to disagree with that] I told him.
[.. You heard that?]
[… so you're the ant monster… leader?]
[I suppose you can think of me like that. How exactly were you expecting to communicate with the colony without getting me to come over and talk to you? I'm the only one capable of mind magic at this point in time] I asked him.
He scratched his cheek with one hand and looked a bit embarrassed as he replied.
[Well, Morrelia had me practice the greetin' dance o' cooperation and ..]
[I'm sorry, what?] I broke in incredulously.
[The uh … greetin' dance of cooperation?]
[There's no such thing, is there?]
The man growled before he cursed out loud. The villagers next to him looked alarmed at what was coming out of his mouth and stared at me nervously, suddenly anxious at my response.
Chill out people, I have no idea what he said. I'm guessing it wasn't directed at me, in any case.
[I have to say, I'm impressed] I told him.
He looked at me, confused.
[Morrelia fed you that garbage and taught you that dance with a straight face the whole time? Can't have been easy.]
He nodded ruefully. [She's somethin' alright.]
I don't think he and I were quite on the same page with our attitudes re:Morrelia, but at least I appreciated the joke she'd sent my way.
[Okay, so you're here. I assume Morrelia has continued to delve with other villagers?]
[She sure has] he agreed, [We were wantin' to send her out for this, seein' as how you an' her have worked together before an' she seems comfortable with it, but she said that someone else should go an' help build relationships with the colony.]
And I'm willing to bet she recommended this guy, practically insisted that he go, in fact. Which managed to neatly put him somewhere that she wouldn't have to deal with him when she came back to town. Cunning, very cunning. Not a move I would have expected from Morrelia the berserker, but here we are.
[Ok, so you approached the colony and they managed to work out that you were offering assistance, and now I'm here to work with you. What's your name by the way?]
[Isaac Bird] he told me.
Isaac had a look on his face as he gave his name that I had come to interpret as the 'I can't believe I'm having polite conversation with, and offering my name to monster of the Dungeon. What a world' kind of look.
[Hey Isaac, I'm Anthony]
[Yes. Yes it has 'ant' in it. We all get it.]
[So, let's sit down and work out how this is going to go then, shall we?]
[Right you are, Anthony.]
So we got to talking.