Isaac and his squad packed their stuff and we began to mosey our way to the back of the horde. It takes an hour of careful movement, creeping where we can and trying to prevent the monsters from seeing us. The entire time I kept an eye on the sky, worried that any second a dark cloud would form and I'd be forced to start dancing the dance of life.
Thankfully, it didn't happen. Whatever the Kaarmodo was doing, it didn't appear to be scrying for my location, or at least it wasn't actively throwing at spells at me. I understand that I volunteered to draw the Wizard Lizard's attention to me in order to relieve the burden from the rest of the colony, but I didn't want to take that heat before I'd even started to engage the horde in combat!
So we crept, crawled and sashayed towards the rear of the horde and once we were there, we grouped up to hatch a plan.
[So you want to draw the attention, and lightning, of the Kaarmodo onto your head?] Isaac asked.
[That's right,] I confirmed.
[I love it,] he told me, [I won't stand next to you, but I love it. What do you want from me and my team?]
[We'll split up into two teams and engage separately. I'm assuming that once the Kaarmodo notices me, the fireworks might begin, so I'll try and be cautious but it makes sense that you stay a reasonable distance from me. When the lightning slash fire slash doom begins to rain on me, I want you guys to keep an eye out for the mage slaves.]
Isaac nodded as he rubbed his chin with one hand.
[You want us to try and find a chance to jump 'em,] he observed.
[Nothing fancy,] I warned him, [try and take a few pot shots. Chances are you won't be able to actually take one of them down, but if you can distract them, that'll help me a ton. Just remember, if you actually manage to take one of them down, you'll need to high-tail it out of here.]
The former town guard didn't hesitate to nod with vigour.
[I don't plan on letting me or my crew get cooked,] he laughed, [we'll tag along with you on this one. Give me a chance to talk with my people and we'll be in position soon.]
[You do that,] I told him, [we'll go get started.]
As Isaac gathered his team, who were still keeping a respectful distance from me, Tiny, Crinis and I made our way towards the horde.
It was stressful creeping up on the business end of the mass of monsters, half expecting magical death at any moment, but surprisingly, we continued to evade notice and it wasn't long until we'd managed to sneak close enough that the back end of the monsters marching away from us came into view.
Yes, even Tiny had managed to sneak up to this point, that's how little attention they were paying us.
It was almost a letdown. Here we were, hugging the ground, shoving our faces into the dirt, even Crinis is off my back and crawling tentacle by tentacle in order to lower my profile. Tiny is crawling also! His massive shoulders dig troughs into the dirt as he pushes forward with his butt too high in the air. We're really trying here but it feels as if the horde isn't giving us the proper respect!
We'll show them!
I grit my mandibles to contain my indignation and we crawl even closer, until the vast field of monsters is only twenty metres in front of us. So close I can smell them and sense the heat rising from the densely packed beasts into the sky.
Then I start weaving a spell.
Not the gravity bomb this time, I'm concerned that the Kaarmodo might sense the potent mana build up before I'm ready to release.
No, this time I'm aiming for the condensed water cannon. At this range I'll be able to slice through the closest ranks of monsters like a hot knife through a soft and meltable spread of some sort.
[Tiny, prepare to charge lightning,] I instructed my battle hungry ape friend and got a devilish bat grin in return.
[What about me, Master?] Crinis asked, eager for direction.
[You know what to do Crinis. Make them afraid,] I told my pet horror ball.
[Understood,] she purred.
As she continued to creep forward on her short, permanent tentacles the shadow beneath her body darkened to an impossible black and she began to extend tentacles into it. It wouldn't be long before she was ready to bring them up directly underneath the monsters before us.
As I directed my sub-brains to do the heavy lifting on the spell I was working on, I activated my mana sense. This Skill had been coming in handy lately and I honestly don't know why I don't have it on all the time. It does make more material things harder to perceive but when my number one threat is death by Wizard Lizard, keeping an eye on the flow of mana around me makes a lot more sense.
As my vision transformed, becoming coloured with the density and flow of mana around me, I grew shocked at what I saw. A vast confluence of mana was forming in the middle of the horde. It rotated slowly, like a tornado gathering speed and was beginning to pull the mana from the surrounding air into the centre.
Even the mana around me, on the outside of the horde, was starting to move, to flow toward that grand working that even as I watched continued to extend further into the sky and rotate faster.
What the heck is going on!?!?!
"GOOOOAAAAARRRRRRRRRR," a voice growled.
So deep had that utterance been that the ground beneath my feet trembled, the air itself battering into my ears. Garralosh! It had to be! What the heck is going on in there!
My heart began to speed up as the cyclone of mana grew stronger each second. What's happening?! Are they working a grand spell that'll annihilate the colony from here?! No way right? We're still two days travel away! What could they possibly need all this energy for?
It was then that I saw a figure stand up in the centre of the horde.
Garralosh stood tall, raising her massive body up onto her rear legs for the first time in my sight. She was huge. It wasn't easy to see at this distance but some things I didn't need the details for. Even from this far away the giant momma croc glowed to my mana sense, a testament to the mana packed into her body and core.
I switched off my mana sense so that I could better see her physical body and I could only swallow my shock. How the heck is she so massive?! Over ten metres tall, Tiny standing up wouldn't even come up to her waist. Even more intimidating than her size was her bulk. Garralosh rippled with barely contained strength, each of her arms thicker than Tiny's legs, and the ape never skipped leg day. Heck, her arms might be thicker than my freakin' body! The torso those arms attached to was equally huge, her entire body seemed to exude its own gravity, so densely packed was the muscle mass on that creature.
When she evolved she must have pumped points into muscle density rather than size at a crazy ratio to end up like that! It was less efficient than getting larger in terms of raw stats, but it did allow her to pack an incredible amount of power into a smaller frame.
The gigantic monster threw her head back and opened her jaws wide, exposing the absurdly long croc teeth held within. In order to blur my sight of those teeth, I flicked my mana sense back on and was treated to the sight of the mana cyclone inverting itself.
Instead of rising into the sky, the conflux turned and began to shrink, still pulling in the mana from the air towards the centre. All of that mana continued to flood forward and sink toward the hulking croc looming in the middle.
They're feeding mana to Garralosh! Trying to keep her core topped off!
In which case, now might be the perfect time to attack…