I'm not sure how the slave mage felt as they flew through the sky and into my waiting mandibles, but it can't have been pleasant. I tried not to dwell on it in the moment. I've already had to defeat human opponents in the defence of my family, taking down the Setsulah shouldn't weigh on my conscience any more than that did.
I brought my mandibles down hard on the shield that protected my bag of experience. The spell was not so weak as to break as of yet, but my mandibles sank into it with a satisfying crackle. With the mage safely trapped within my jaws, there was only one thing to do. Flee!
Thunder crackled overhead as I pushed my tired legs once more and dashed to freedom, carrying my prize!
[Get out of there, guys! Tiny, pick up Crinis and run for it!]
Even if I thought, I was going to draw the majority of the fire, it was necessary for the two of them to get out of there as fast as possible. Tiny might be able to take a few shots of lightning but I don't want to put his tolerance to the test.
Nor mine for that matter! Lightning continued to crash down in my wake as I fled the scene of the heist. The Kaarmodo must be furious! Having to watch as I escape with one of its precious servants!
Starting to regret coming for my colony yet, you stupid Lizard?
I ran as far and as fast as I could, eventually leaving the range at which the Kaarmodo could threaten me. It seemed as if the Lizard wasn't willing to risk more of its servants trying to retrieve this one, which left it in an unfortunate situation indeed.
I won't go into the details of what came next, it's a little unfortunate. I was able to crack the shell eventually and … end the mage.
[Severing Bite has reached level 19]
[You have slain Level 48 Setsulah Bonded Mage Attendant]
[You have gained experience]
[You have reached level 40]
[You have reached the maximum level for your tier. Evolution Menu is available.]
At last.... AT LAST!
I've done it!
Not caring if the Kaarmodo was scrying from above, I threw myself onto the ground and wiggled with sheer joy, my legs kicking ecstatically in the air. Finally ready to evolve to the fourth tier after all this time! My levelling speed had been severely knocked back by having to fight against lower tier monsters this entire time, but I've finally done it. And just in time!
Suddenly recalling that I don't have the time to sit around wiggling, I righted myself and reached out to my pets.
[Are you guys close?]
[Nearly there, Master.]
[I'll come and meet you, we need to make our way back to the colony as quickly as possible!]
[S-So you've finally reached it?]
[I have indeed, Crinis! It's time for this mighty one to reach and even greater height!]
[That's fantastic, Master!]
Crinis is overflowing with happiness and congratulations, but all I can feel from Tiny is a grudging jealousy.
[Aww, not to worry Tiny. You'll get your chance to evolve soon,] I teased.
[Grrrr!] he rumbled back.
It didn't take long to meet up with my pets and we began our trek around the horde towards the colony. We made sure back off a good distance though, I'm sure the Kaarmodo is mad as heck about losing another servant and I'm not especially keen about dodging lightning bolts from on high the entire way back.
After a short while we ran into Isaac and his team who had managed a successful retreat.
[Ho there Isaac. Made it out alright I see.]
[Nothin' to it,] the former guard grinned. [You look like you got what you wanted out of it.]
[Sure did,] I happily admitted. [It's time to get back to the colony and prepare for the final battle. What are you going to do?]
Isaac stroked the scraggly beard developing on his chin after several long days doing it tough.
[I think it might be time to regroup. We've got, what, less than a day? My group needs a chance to rest and I want to ogle - I mean talk to Morrelia once before the battle.]
[Right you are then. Pass on my thanks to your group, they've been more helpful than I expected.]
[That seems unnecessarily harsh,] Isaac muttered, but turned to speak to his squad.
Oddly, upon hearing his words, they faced me and bowed low as one, their faces beaming with happiness and pride.
Never mind, I've got bigger fish to fry. Evolution! And I mustn't forget that my bite skill is on the verge of reaching the fourth tier also! Finally! I feel like I've been slicing limbs off of monsters for weeks now and only now am I close to getting the skill fusion that I've been waiting for!
I said our goodbyes to the squad who, for their own safety I recommended moved separately from us. No need to put themselves at greater risk than they had to. For our part, we crept our way around the horde, only approaching for me to YOINK the occasional monster into my waiting mandibles to train my Severing Bite skill. I didn't mind throwing away my gravitational mana in this way now, since I knew I'd be heading underground to evolve anyway.
For an evolution like this, tier four and with a rare core, I thought it would be for the best to be safely ensconced in the Dungeon so that my core would be charged once I awoke.
It took six hours of crawling and chomping on monsters for us to make it the front of the horde where we were forced to hang about for another few hours whilst I pulled more enemies to a gristly end before the voice of Gandalf rang in my ears.
[Severing Bite has reached level 20, upgrade available.]
It's all coming up Anthony! Muahahahahaa!
Now I can head to the nest without regret and submit myself to the painful experience of absorbing the rest of that rare core. Claws crossed, I won't die!