Chrysalis Chapter 490


Chapter 490: The Worm Conspiracy

[Hell yes my invertebrate brother! This is what I'm talking about! Leave the crazies to be crazy and let's get out of here. We'll have a way better chance of surviving together than we would on our own!]

Jim the Elemental Worm of Earth is all in. Not too surprising considering he already wants to escape and has made no secret of it. His entire body wiggles with delight as he enthusiastically expresses his desire to get out of crazy town. Sarah is far less enthralled.

[Escape?! Why?!] she says, aghast. [The Shapers have taken care of you for years, Jim! You're safe here. Going back out into the Dungeon, it's insane!]

The giant worm doesn't stop its dance as he replies, exasperation clear in his voice.

[I've been telling you that I want to get out of here for more than twelve months, Sarah.]

[I didn't think you actually wanted to leave! Why would you ever want to leave?!]

[We are prisoners here. Well-fed and well cared for prisoners, to be sure, but prisoners all the same! Do you think just because they speak to you politely that you aren't a captive? Can you go wherever you want? Can you do anything without their permission? You need to wake up!]

[It's better than living like a mindless beast. You want to go back to kill or be killed?! Or more likely, spending months at a time hiding beneath the dirt?!]

[Whoa there,] I break in. [Let's just chill for a moment, that got heated fast.]

The two monsters are staring at each other (as well as a worm can stare anyways, I really don't think he has eyes) and Sarah is clearly agitated, her breath booming like bellows as she sucks in the air. From that brief interchange I get the feeling that they might have had this sort of interaction multiple times before, with much the same conclusion. Looks like I need to play the peacemaker.

[Look. I didn't mean to stir up any bad feelings here. Yes, the Dungeon is a scary and dangerous place where you have to fight to survive,] I say to Sarah, [and yes, you are in fact prisoners here kept under the thumb of the Cult,] I say to Jim. [I think we can all agree that those things are true, right?]

The other two former humans grumble in agreeance.

[Great. Clearly, Jim is less intimidated by the thought of surviving in the Dungeon than Sarah is, that's fine. There's no judgement here.] I try to move my antennae in a soothing way. Calming circles, all that jazz. [And it's clear that Sarah isn't as chafed by her restricted freedoms as Jim is, that's also fine. Let's just talk it out, work out where each of us stands and most importantly, not leak this idea to the Shapers and get Anthony brutally murdered, alright?]

I gave them a moment to collect themselves. Why are they getting all bent out of shape? If anyone has the right to be feeling a little tense at the moment, surely it's me!

[Okay, how about Sarah goes first? Is that alright, Jim?]

The worm gives a languid tail wave as a reply, indicating his lack of care.

[Alright then Sarah, tell us how you feel about the escape plan.]

I feel like I'm managing a couple's therapy session for my parents. At least this time nobody's screaming at me.

[Okay.] The gigantic bear nods her head and settles back on her hindquarters. She takes a few moments to frame her thoughts before she continues. [Obviously, it's been a long time for me. In the Dungeon, I mean. I had an advantage over the two of you, I suppose. I was reborn as a bear, not an insect. I don't think I was super powerful but I was quite strong and I was able to defend myself pretty well. But, I wasn't very good at it. Being a monster, I mean. I suppose it must sound silly, but, fighting and killing. I hated it. I found refuge with the Sophos for a time, but I wasn't comfortable there, they didn't understand why I didn't want to fight.]

I nod my antennae sympathetically. They wouldn't make sense of that at all. A monster that wouldn't fight? What's the point of it?!

[When the Shapers found me, I was almost mad from the fear and the violence. I just I don't want to go back I don't want to be on my own again.]

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[Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I think we can all agree that fighting to survive is difficult and scary. I think we can also agree that not everyone is wired to thrive in that sort of environment. I just want you to consider one thing Sarah. If you were to escape with us, you wouldn't be on your own, but would have people to talk to, people who could help share the danger with you. Something to think about.]

This is actually super tiring. I'm not built for this.

[Jim, why don't you tell us your thoughts about escaping?]

[Gladly! I am more afraid of the Shapers turning on me and stuffing me into this tournament than I am of the Dungeon. Simple. Remember, my experience of the Dungeon wasn't great, in fact it was absolutely awful! But I'll take that situation, which I can control, over being fed to some death weapon of a monster.]

Again, a pause.

[Great, I think that's helped clarify everyone's thoughts.]

Talking this reasonably is taking a toll on me. I think I can feel my headache coming back.

[Why do you think the Shapers would force you into the tournament, Jim?] Sarah asks her friend. [They love you here. They've always been good to you.]

[Things are changing, Sarah. I've said this before, but surely you can see it now. Look at Anthony! You never would have thought that he'd be stuck where he is now, would you? He's just like us! Why are you so sure that they won't do the same to you and me? To me, it doesn't make any sense that you ignore this possibility. Maybe you can afford to, since you're strong. If they put me in there, it'll be a slaughter. I can't afford the risk!]

[I have to agree that I don't particularly feel the love that you allude to here, Sarah. They've spent a lot of time and resources on you over decades. I feel like the new regime may want to collect at some point.]

She probably feels a little ganged up on with the two of us coordinating against her. To be honest, I don't really care if she decides to join the escape plan or not. We'd have a higher chance of success if she was with us, I've no doubt, but my larger goal is to try and meet back up with the Colony, something I'm not too sure either of these two would be enthusiastic about. One we get away from the Golgari, I'll be striking out on my own.

[Let me think about it,] Sarah finally mutters after a long pause.

[Sure] I say easily. [Just remember, don't get me killed. Please. I really mean it.]