After my odd little meeting with Sarah I was summarily returned to my room. As the door slams home behind me and the guards take their customary places up above I have to wonder what the point of it was. What were they hoping I'd get out of it? Were they trying to show me they weren't monsters? How nice and good they are? Bit of a laugh when I'm going to get wheeled out of this room and made to fight to the death at any moment!
Did they really think bringing out another reborn human to show me how benevolent and wise they were was going to be enough?! Laughable! I will happily ditch the lot of them to get back to the colony. My siblings would welcome me and put me to work for the family in a heartbeat, mother would slap me on the head for being so foolish as to leave in the first place. Ah, I miss my mother. I was stupid for trying to run away and do my own thing. Who cares if the thoughts and desires of the colony get whispered into my head? Isn't it a good thing? Doesn't that mean I can be more helpful to the colony?! Isn't being helpful to the colony what an ant is supposed to do?!
I hope Tiny and Crinis are alright. Perhaps my stupidity would be easier to bear if it weren't for the fact I've dragged my two beloved pets into this situation with me. Tiny needs constant healing to help him survive the poisonous mana that's invaded his body, he needs me more than ever! He's too stupid to survive on his own! If I hadn't been so worried about lowering his fighting prowess I would have boosted his intelligence ages ago. Now it's too late. And Crinis! Poor Crinis. Such an innocent little blob of death murder. It was hard to give her such a dangerous task, and I know she'll go at it with all her might. Gah! If only I was stronger I wouldn't have been caught and put in this stupid position! My rage is building! Rage at the Golgari! But also, rage at myself!
I sit perfectly still inside my cell and stew. There's a large plate covered in Biomass nearby but I'm in no mood to indulge in it. Instead, my minds are full of visions of myself battling, tunnelling, escaping and getting the heck out of here! Of coming back with the colony and wreaking havoc amongst the Golgari! Twisted dreams of tearing down their cities and plundering their wealth are filling my bead! Is it an overreaction? Maybe! But my heart burns at the injustice! I demand vengeance!
I sit and seethe for an hour in perfect stillness. I can even see that the guards are perturbed by my lack of action. They see nothing, not even a twitch of an antenna. It must look as if I'm a statue, something not even living. It's quite nice, the ability of an insect to remain still. Eventually the situation changes though, but not through any action of mine. I hear the sound of the door swinging open in the above area, swiftly followed by shuffling footsteps, as if whoever had entered was dragging their feet.
When I felt the mind bridge reach out to me I felt as if I already knew which voice I was going to hear.
[How's things, Granin my man?]
[ I hate this.]
[I missed you too buddy.]
[Dammit it all to heck. This whole thing is stupid to begin with. I'm stupid, you're stupid, the cult is stupid.]
[You already said that, Granin.]
[It bears repeating.]
A minute later the ladder lowers down and a the large, grunting form of my favourite Shaper climbs down into my cell with me, eyed watchfully by the trio of goons up above.
[Uh,] I mumble, [How's Tiny?]
Granin fixes me with a steady glare before responding.
[That ape,] he sent each word with a bite at the end, [eats enough for five monsters the same size. My people can barely keep up with him.]
Typical. That fat monkey only cares about eating and fighting, if he can't fight, he'll eat twice as much.
[Let him out to fight every now and again and he'll settle down. He needs some activity to distract him from eating.]
[I might do that. Thanks.]
[No worries, Granin.]
[Look, I've been meaning to mention this for a while now. We Golgari refer to each other with our surnames, not our first names. Only good friends and family use first names.]
I pretend to be shocked.
[Why Granin, what are you saying? Aren't we the best of friends?]
[You know what, screw you.]
[See what I mean? We have this banter going on.]
Granin Lazus sat down heavily and ran one tired, stone hand over his face. The poor guy, I can sympathise with him somewhat. But hey, who asked him to knock me out and drag me here?
[Why don't you just tell me what you're doing here Granin? I know you didn't come here of your own volition, so the higher ups sent you for something. What's the scoop?]
I watch the Shaper release a pained sigh before he communicated again.
[Yeah. The people running this mad house have 'given' me the 'honour' of being your sponsor for their upcoming murder fest. Before you ask, let me explain. Normally when we bring a monster in and try to support it, one of the Shapers is chosen to be the sponsor. That Shaper and by extension the other members of their triad, are responsible for guiding the monster, securing it resources and generally pushing it as far as it can go down the path of evolution.]
[So you're like my trainer? What am I, a pocket monster?]
Granin looks at me, confused.
[I don't have pockets. I'm not even wearing pants.]
[Why is that, by the way? Your entire race just hates clothes?]
[Our skin is made of rocks. Other than covering our genitals, what would we need clothes for?]
The Shaper reached down with one hand to indicate the sizeable pocket sewn into his garment.
[You make a good point. So what comes next?]
[Do you ever move? You haven't shifted since I came in here.]
[I'm trying to weird out the guards above us.]
[I assure you, it's working. Look. I want to say, clearly, that I think this whole thing is insane. If I'd known what they were planning to do here, I never would have brought you in. I've spent my adult life in the cult and although I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of monsters, I believe the quest to find the next ancient is sacred. What's happening here? This blood sport? It's a betrayal of more than a thousand years of tradition.]
I'm actually touched.
[That's nice to know, Granin. Sincerely.]
[I still don't like you.]
[Aww. You just can't admit I've grown on you.]
[You know what else grows on me? Rock fungus.]
[Where does that grow? Not on the -]
[Yes.] Granin nodded.
Between the two of us a weary sort of silence developed. In Granin I had a sort of kindred spirit. A person who thought this whole thing was stupid and didn't want to involved, yet was forced to participate anyway. Which did beg a question.
[Why you, Granin? Why were you chosen to take on this role as my sponsor? You clearly don't want it, yet someone felt that you were the man for the job. Is it a punishment of some sort?]
[Pretty much.] A wide smile spread across the Shaper's face. [I don't know what you did but you managed to annoy the head honchos. They aren't big fans of you, even if you are one of the rare reborn monsters. They don't think you have a snowball;s chance in the Third Strata of surviving against their pet little projects, so rather than waste any resources on you, they put me in, someone they also don't like and don't rate so that you can fail quickly and get eaten by a more deserving monster. Once that's done, I'll get tossed back into the refuse along with my triad of outcasts.]
I'm kind of stunned.
[Don't they realise I'm going to eat them all?!]
[I don't think they have any idea who they're dealing with.]