[DIEEEEEE!] Crinis shrieks as she continues her furious tentacle assault, one that is matched by the dark flower in its intensity.
Their conflict looks like nothing quite so much as an enormous pile of shoelaces actively tying themselves into knots. That interaction takes a darker turn in seconds as both sets of shoelaces suddenly extend differing but equally savage barbs that start to tear into each other with abandon.
The tunnel reverberates with the sound of buzzing and rending as the two shadow creatures start slicing each other apart. Their shadow flesh is curiously pliable and doesn't offer much resistance to the cutting force as bits and pieces of both start to litter the floor.
[Crinis?! Are you okay there?!]
[DIE! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEEEEEEEEEE!] is all I get in response.
Holy moly! She has dived right off the deep end!
I need to assist. Not that I think Crinis will lose in this JellyMaw showdown. I just want to ensure that she doesn't get too torn up in the process. Indeed, already she's begun sprouting new tentacles to replaces those that have been lost and those limbs whip through the air to battle alongside their brethren in the great tangle.
From my precarious position on the ceiling I can see the shadow flower extend limbs like roots across the floor of the tunnel, burrowing into the soil, but I also manage to see the creatures own shadow deepening to black darker than night.
At that moment I make use of my new and improved business district to fire my sizzling product at the enemy!
POW! POW! POW!
How do you like that for an express delivery?! The acidic fluid rockets through the air fast enough to produce a piercing whistle, and the flower, not ten metres away from me, recoils as if struck by stones when my projectiles strike home. At that speed I suppose the liquid would feel rather solid, I hadn't thought of that. Though less splashy than usual, I'm happy to see that the acid still gums up and starts burning its way through the shadow flesh of the flower at a prodigious rate.
POW! POW! POW!
Plenty more where that came from, you offensive rose of death! And I mean, plenty more. With the full weight of my new production system back there, my acid has once again become the potent weapon it was when I'd first been born.
Ah, the nostalgia is real. Back when I was so weak that everything I saw was a threat and ranged combat was my only viable path to victory. The memories, the terrifying, harrowing memories. Things have come along way since those days, thank Gandalf.
For now, let's focus on what's truly important. Quenching the white hot rage that appears to be burning within the heart of my poor eldritch monstrosity of infinite horror.
The flower is not enjoying my new and improved product by any means. It writhes in pain, a hundred tendrils coiling around itself to shield it from my wrath. Not likely, you Crinis-irritating flower. It's way harder than that to get away from me.
My legs are still straining to hold my more impressive bulk attached to the ceiling, but I'm able to scurry forward to bring myself closer to the creature, just as Crinis completes her work with the shadows. Suddenly, a dozen ravenous, barbed limbs rise from the floor and latch onto the beast, hungrily tearing into its flesh.
Just in time for me to apply my mandibles.
A huge chunk of stamina drains away as the nightmarish dark mandibles manifest before me and slice through the air. Shadow flesh isn't the toughest stuff in the world to start with and in the face of such a powerful skill, the limbs that extend from the flower are shorn away like hair caught in a barber's scissors.
A frankly disgusting amount of limbs flopped to the ground and with a psychic shriek of savage joy, Crinis bounds forward, her jaws wide open to reveal the cavernous, dark void within. I have to admit, the Flower puts up a valiant defence. It has a remarkable amount of shadow flesh in the tank, and if I'm not mistaken there is something fancy going on with those roots.
Flipping on my mana sense, my suspicion is confirmed. The creature has penetrated tentacles deep into the ground and is sucking mana up at a furious rate. In fact, that might explain its prodigious capacity to create shadow flesh. If the creature had some sort of capacity to convert mana into shadow flesh at an accelerated rate, that would be an interesting solution to the problem that Crinis attempted to solve with her Shadow Flesh Generation Gland. I have to admit, this shadow flower is an interesting design based on the original JellyMaw.
Hang on a second… Design?
Suddenly suspicious, I turn my gaze at the creature itself. A powerful core blazes inside it. Probably not a rare but pushing the upper limits of special, for sure. I can't shake the feeling that this creature is a little more carefully put together than the Dungeons own scattershot approach.
[Hold on, Crinis!] I call.
[FEEEASSSSSSSSTTT!!!] She hisses viciously as her maw opens wide.
What I saw then, was not meant for mortal eyes. The process of one JellyMaw consuming another is, I can only imagine, the sort of thing dark gods whisper to each other at their evil clubs of nefariousness to make each other shiver. It was loud. It was messy. It was not quick.
When it was done, Tiny and I stood looking down at the now shrunken Crinis who appears to be covering herself with tentacles in order to shield herself from what she must assume is our judging gaze.
[Don't look at me!]
[I've disgraced myself!]
[You really haven't.]
[I lost control!]
[As if I haven't. Let's not mention Tiny.]
Tiny nods in solemn agreement.
[I am not worthy of your words, Master. Please disregard this disgusting servant.]
[That's isn't -]
Like a distant wave that rushed from a kilometre away to inside my head within a second, a formless pressure built within my mind and then exploded into my consciousness with an audible SNAP.
[Holy heck that smarts!]
[I SAY YOU CRETIN! WHAT IN THE NAME OF BOSH HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SERVANT!]
The mental contact is powerful, skilful and as loud as a foghorn blasting within an ear canal.
[You wouldn't happen to be a Sophos would you?]
[OH HO! SO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE YOU RAPSCALLION. I'LL STRIP OUT YOUR CORE AND MOLD YOU INTO A FOOTREST! HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU, SIR!]
Maybe you shouldn't have left your pet out in the tunnels on its own if you cared so much?!
[I COULD READ THAT YOU TWIT! DON'T YOU EVEN START ME! I'LL FEED YOU TO MY WORM AND LAUGH. LAUGH I SAY!]
I do NOT want to be fed to one of those worms!
[Wait a second! Any chance you know Formo? We came looking for him. He knows me!]
C'mon Formo. Please don't be a recluse that nobody's ever heard of.
[WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO? I'LL COME FIND YOU, OLD BOY! HOLD TIGHT!]
Thank you Formo. Thank you from your shrivelled legs to your bulbous, eyeless head.