[Not going to hurt me, eh? That sounds like something someone planning to hurt me might say!]
Aha! I'm not going to fall for your games! This is most likely to be a sneak attack! Although my escort still hasn't moved away, standing around in me a rough circle facing inwards, I don't imagine that they'd be too interested in staying around in the event another monster came over and started to throw down. Perhaps they aren't lying?
[Um. I'm not going to attack you. The Shapers wanted me to talk to you!]
[Oh really? If they wanted to talk to me, why wouldn't they just do it themselves?!]
I still can't identify the origin of this mind bridge. I know it's somewhere either inside this circular combat space, or just outside it. I can see other entrances spaced around the outside edge, there's a possibility the individual communicating is beyond one of these. The fact they've been able to disguise their mind bridge indicates that they have a not inconsiderable amount of skill, something to be wary of.
[I think… they mentioned that they thought you would respond better if you spoke to someone like you…]
[Someone like me? An ant?! Are you a member of my colony come to rescue me and suffered capture as well?! Impossible! How could you know where I was?! Are you from a rival colony!? Come forth and I shall exterminate you!]
[Wow, you're an ant? They didn't mention that. I wonder why? You aren't disgusting, are you?]
[I'm an ant! Of course I'm not disgusting! I'm the most noble and incredible arthropod of them all!]
[Okay! Settle down! You're really fiery. This isn't what I expected…]
[Well don't blame me for being a little tense. I get captured, locked up, told I have to fight in death matches and then marched out here without anyone saying a word. Then someone starts trash talking my species. I mean, how would you react?]
The distant voice seems to pause for a moment to consider before responding.
[You know what, I would be pretty mad. I'm sorry. I should have realised the Shapers would give you the silent treatment, they're often like that. I've been here for a long time, so I've kind of gotten used to it.]
Been here a long time? In what capacity?
[Who are you exactly? You talk about the Shapers as if you aren't one, which makes me think you're a monster, but you also say you don't intend to hurt me, which doesn't sound like something a monster can guarantee right now, considering the whole, 'monsters will fight to the death' thing.]
[Yeah, I don't know a whole lot about that. Look, I'm going to be straight with you, I'm a monster, like you. More than that, I'm a reincarnated human, from Earth! Like you!]
[Aren't you excited? I know I was when I finally got a chance to talk to someone else like me.]
[Don't you have anything to say?]
[Uhh, well. First of all, it's a little odd having this conversation when I can't see you. Second, I guess I'm a bit surprised. I really didn't think I'd be able to meet another reincarnated monster so soon.]
[Another one?! You already met one!? But you're so young! It took me decades, dammit!]
[Decades, you've really been here for a while then? Yes, I met with one, she wasn't what I would describe as … very stable.]
[Ah,] the voice sounded sad, [yes, that happens to some of us. To be honest, all of the people like us that I've met have been a little… odd, from the beginning. Including myself.]
[Indeed, that does seem to be the case.]
Except me, obviously. My life was pretty normal and I would have to say I'm quite well adjusted. Garralosh was crazy in the coconut though, for real.
[Feel like stepping out and having this little chat in person?]
I'd like to clap eyes on this individual, I'm sort of curious to see what sort of monster they happen to be. I also might be able to gauge their strength, just in case their words are a pack of filthy, filthy lies and I might have to fight them in the end. In my compound vision, I make sure to pay attention to my escort in order to witness any change in their behaviour. For the moment they appear, much as they always have, with a stony demeanour (heh), keeping a watchful eye on my every twitch.
[Alright then. I'll come out, just give me a second.]
One of the gateways on the other side of this circular death arena jerks outward. Not a smooth glide, as would happen if people with hands were pushing it open, but a solid jump, as if an elephant had just battered it with its head. A large shadow looms in the slight opening before the door jerks again, opening yet wider. A hulking mass of creature shoves its nose through the door and starts to squeeze through.
The head is the first thing I see, obviously. Even though the shape and colouration are quite strange, it's quite clear what type of animal this is.
[You're a bear!]
The pointed nose of the monster jerks up at my words, causing our gaze to meet.
[Oh! Ugh. You really are an ant.]
This ant hate is really rubbing my thorax the wrong way.
[Ant are clearly incredible and amazing. Why the heck would you want to be a stupid bear!?]
The massive bear monster shoulders through the door and ambles out into the open before starting to waddle over toward me. In terms of size, it's significantly larger than I am, bulging muscles ripple with each forward step of those large forelegs. At my needling, the bear peels its lips back to reveal dripping teeth.
[I cannot believe I would need to try and convince someone that bears are better than ants. Honestly, what is even with you guys? Why'd you reincarnate as such weird creatures.]
[Hold on there smokey. First, ants are for the win, second, what guys? Third, I kept pet ants, apparently that's enough.]
The bear's steps slow for just a moment before she continues to lumber toward me.
[Pet ants? Ants? How do you even keep pet ants?]
[Don't knock it until you've tried it! There's a whole community with tons of stuff out there. Lots of stuff on youtube as well!]
[I had no idea… As to the other guy, there's one more of us here. James. He came in a few years ago.]
Hang on a second. I feel as if I'm neglecting something. Something about the bear. Who told me about the bear? Was it Enid? No. Someone balder… The Sophos!
The huge bear's steps slow until it's within twenty metres of me before it stops and somewhat comically lowers its back legs to sit up facing me, scratching at its chin with one claw.
[Sarah?] I ask.
[Hey! How'd you know my name?]
[Did you happen to spend any time with the Sophos? Little bald skinny guys? Ride around on death worms?]
[I did! Wow. That was so long ago… just after I woke up in the Dungeon.]
[They told me it was fifty years ago!]
[Sounds about right.]
[But you're still in the second strata?! I thought you'd be way deeper! They seem to think so as well.]
The big bear hesitates for a moment.
[Look, let's talk. First, why don't you tell me your name?]